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Happy Memorial Day!!

I hope everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather and enjoying the company of family and friends! I also hope that everyone takes a moment to pause and remember the meaning of this holiday. I want to send a big THANK YOU to our troops and all of those who have devoted their lives to our country. You are constantly in my thoughts, and I am so grateful for your commitment.

Today has been a patriotic day for my food. One of the reasons why I love coming home is to use my mom’s dinnerware. I swear she has plates, cups and place mats themed for every major holiday. The summer months are all about the stars and stripes!I woke up this morning around 7:30am, and geared up to go for on a “Memorial Day Run” with my dad. Before heading out the door I had a light breakfast that consisted of 1/2 of a large banana, strawberries, sunflower seed butter and coffee (in my themed mug!) while reading my horoscope and completing the easy Monday sudoku puzzle in our local paper. Fun fact: I’m obsessed with sudoku. Every time I am home I retrieve the newspaper from our mailbox as soon as I wake up so that I can do the puzzle while watching the news and having breakfast.

My dad and I ran a surprising 5.5 miles (it has been an EXTREMELY long time since I have done this distance, 3 is usually my max.). The sun was hot during our run and we were BEAT by the time we returned home. My dad, aka The Breakfast Man, whipped up some omelets for brunch. My omelet was made with  Swiss cheese, basil, mixed cherry tomato and broccoli with a glass of orange juice and a large carrot on the side (don’t ask, I was craving a crunchy vegetable haha). We had brunch outside on our patio and it was fantastic!  I don’t want to be repetitive, but I LOVE COMING HOME! There is something distinctly  special about family time and good food.The run took a lot out of me, and I decided that I needed a bit more protein. I extended this brunch with a 1/2 cup of Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, strawberries, a handful of roasted almonds and cinnamon.The sun was out in full force today, thus the shadows in many of these pictures.

I’m off to do a few tasks before heading back to school my apartment later today. WHOA! I actually typed school and it took me a minute before I realized that I just completed college and now am in the working world. So the song goes, times are a changin’. I think we will have an early Memorial Day barbecue before I head back. I have to take advantage of our charcoal grill while I can because it’s back to a cast iron grill pan when I return to my mini apartment!

Always Remembering,

Nora

What are your plans for Memorial Day?

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I’m a little over excited for this post! I could hardly sleep last night because I had thoughts of fresh produce, artisan bread, flavored pastas and hummus running through my head. Today my parents and I ventured to my version of Disney Land: The Farmers Market. I have always been a Farmer’s Market enthusiast. I distinctly remember a time during my childhood when my family would go to Farmer’s Market almost every Saturday during the summer. I would always willingly hop out of my bed, excited by the prospect of finding handmade clothes for my barbie dolls and tasting locally produced cheese curds (I especially liked the pizza flavored cheese curds…I was a strange child.). There is nothing like waking up at 6am and entering a customer packed venue filled with smells of fried dough and dirt , to obtain “the good selection” of plants and produce. The energy at the market is what appeals to me the most. The vendors are so passionate about their products and you know you are purchasing something that was tended to with care. I always try to buy locally grown/ produced goods when I can because supporting the community is something that is very important to me.

The produce this time of year in Upstate NY is not at it’s best, however; we did not walk away empty handed. My mom bought several vegetable plants and herbs for her garden which will be amazing to have this summer–you can’t  get any fresher than straight from your own backyard 🙂 !

We made a stop at the Mediterranean store at the market for ground cinnamon, goat cheese, fresh hummus and kalamata olives. We also purchased some locally harvested honey and locally produced Bailiwick Cheddar Cheese from Wake Robbin Farm.

Our trips to the market are never complete with out buying a loaf of bread from our favorite vendor. Today we purchased one of our favorites: Calamata Focaccia. This bread never disappoints and has large pieces of kalamata olives under the top layer of airy dough sprinkled with sea salt. Simply stated: heaven in bread form.Because we tend to be Sunday morning coffee, biscotti and newspaper people, we purchased three of these lovely chocolate almond biscottis to round out our trip. I’m looking forward to trying this tomorrow, they smelled buttery and divine!

I’m off to enjoy some bread, cheese and wine with my parents!

Buy Local,

Nora

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My internet is up and I’m officially back to blogging :)!


I’m a planner and an organizer. After a few days at my internship, I have come to the conclusion that the 8am-5pm life was meant for me. Gone are the days of staying up until 3am for no reason, wearing the same sweatpants everyday, showering twice a week and living off of a Starbucks heavy diet. That’s right college is over….good riddance.

I’m not necessarily saying that I need a strict schedule but it is nice to have a semi-consistent set of obligations and goals. I like waking up early, working all day and relaxing in the evenings. Looking back at my college years, I’m not sure how I functioned. Sometimes I would finish my day at noon, or start my day at 2pm. I was constantly doing work into the early morning hours and was always awake by 9am because I am incapable of sleeping in. (Did I ever sleep???) Over the past few days I’ve been waking up at 6am, leaving by 7:30am, working until 5pm, going to the gym, arriving home by 7pm and in bed by 10:30pm. An hour and a half is exactly what I need to get ready and have breakfast before heading into work, however; it also requires a bit of planning.

Last night before I went to bed I prepared breakfast and lunch, cleaned my apartment (I hate coming home after a long day and having to do dishes etc) and got my bag ready for work. Doing these little things the night before saves time and frustration, allowing me to enjoy the peacefulness of the morning.

This morning I had a breakfast cookie inspired by Gina and topped it with plain low-fat yogurt (I love Greek yogurt but I was out and this is the next best thing. Low-fat yogurts are creamy and filling. I tend to pick them over nonfat varieties.), strawberries and cinnamon. The night before I combined 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1 TBS crunchy almond butter, 1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, 2 TBS vanilla soy milk, 1/2 of a banana (mashed) and cinnamon and placed it on a plate in the fridge over night. This was so easy and completely held me over through the morning. I will be repeating this in the future!

Shortly after breakfast I was craving juice. I didn’t have any in my fridge but remembered that I purchased a Red Rhapsody Odwalla a few weeks ago. I’M IN LOVE! This was so refreshing and a nice combination of flavors. It is the perfect drink to blend with yogurt and ice for a smoothie on a hot summer day.

It has been an EXTREMELY hot week, and I have been craving cool and crisp vegetables. For lunch I made a semi-Greek salad with 1/2 of a romaine heart, 1 large shredded carrot, 1/4 cup of garbanzo beans, 1-2 inches of cucumber, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, a handful of grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese and cracked black pepper. Along side I packed a homemade dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dried parsley flakes and had a serving of Dr. Krackers and a Jonagold apple.

I wanted something chocolate for my mid-day snack and reached into the bottom of my bag to retrieve the other half of my petrified Chocolate Almond Fudge Clif Bar.

The cable company gave me a time frame between 4pm-7pm for their arrival, so I came home immediately after work. They arrived when I was turning onto my road (!!!) and I was relieved that I would not have to sit in my sweltering apartment and wait. I debated going to the gym or going for a run, but it was FAR too hot outside today. I’m planning on catching up on some busy work, making dinner and heading to bed early tonight because tomorrow is jam packed with meetings and events. I am loving my internship and feel so lucky that I have FINALLY found something that I can dedicate myself to and enjoy!

Blogging,

Nora


Are you a planner or a “go with the flow” type?

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Well, it finally happened. I graduated.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day for graduation. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue, the sun was shining and the temperature was mild. Our main ceremony lasted nearly three hours and I left thinking, “That’s it?”. Four years and it is over in the blink of an eye? My parents and brother joined me in the celebration and presented me with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses after the ceremony (THANK YOU!!). We went to brunch at a local cafe (a few minutes from my new apartment!) and I ordered a breakfast sandwich with two eggs, goat cheese, portabello mushrooms, tomato, basil and ham on sunflower bread. I have more pictures but unfortunately I left my camera uploader at my apartment, so I’ll have to post them on Tuesday.

After brunch, I attended my department ceremony to receive my diploma. It was a small ceremony and only lasted an hour. As soon as it was over I sprinted back to my dorm-apartment and went into a packing frenzy. I didn’t even stop to take my high heels off, I just wanted to GET OUT! I ate my last Jonagold apple and started throwing things here and there until everything was in the car. I have been ready to leave for so long and did not want to spend MORE time than was necessary. My parents joined me in the packing craze and we were out of there in about two hours. I think we were all surprised by the amount of  ‘things’, especially kitchen gadgets, that I have collected over the year. It barely fit into two cars!

The insanity continued as we hulled garbage bags full of random items in to my new apartment. It was such a long day and I was so thankful to have my parent’s help. When we finished, we were extremely exhausted and still had a 1.5 hour drive home. It was nearly 8:30pm when we finally got back and dinner was Chinese food. My dad and I shared some Middle Ages Wailing Wench beer as we settled down and we feasted on wonton soup, mixed seafood and vegetables, rice and fortune cookies with a glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling. (pictures will be  posted later!)

I fell asleep approximately one hour later and woke up this morning feeling refreshed. I’m glad that I was able to come home for a few days to spend time with my parents and organize myself before starting the next phase of my life. I know that if I stayed in my apartment last night  I would have been anxious about getting settled and entered into another sleepless night and unpacking furry. I’m the type of person that likes to be completely organized before I can relax and focus.

I was really hungry when I woke up and after searching the contents of my parent’s cupboards and fridge, decided to create a gigantic yogurt mess with Greek yogurt, sliced almonds, Cheerios, banana, strawberries and cinnamon for breakfast.

I spent much of this morning generating a to do list, doing laundry, and configuring my computer. My generous parents bought me a new computer for graduation (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and I am organizing files on my old one before the transfer. This has NOT been an easy task. Much like my room at school, my computer is packed full of random files and pictures in an extremely unorganized fashion.

After a few hours of stressful computer sorting I made a peanut butter, banana, strawberry and cinnamon sandwich on two slices of whole grain bread with a side of baby carrots. Shortly after, I snacked on vanilla yogurt, dried cranberries, sliced almonds and cinnamon. I’m basically eating whatever I can scrounge up in my parents fridge. I’m hoping dinner has some sort of vegetable because today has been a fruit, nut and dairy filled day (good thing that those are my favorites!).

I’m off to do more computer work. I’m heading  into the real world tomorrow to face my apartment mess and work. I’ll be sure to post but I can already tell that insanity is in store.

Crazy,

Nora

Are you an organized person? What are your tips and tricks?

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Did I really just complete my undergraduate college education? Ladies and gentleman, at 4pm this afternoon I emerged from the confines of my minuscule apartment looking half-human and walked to campus to hand in my last college paper ever. It still hasn’t hit me yet. Do I really not have any readings to do? Tests to study for? Papers to write? As I sit in my room and type this I am in disbelief  that the past four years have finally come to an end.  It has been an interesting ride to say the least. The knowledge I have gained at this institution expands far beyond the classroom. I have learned a lot about myself and have grown tremendously. I have to take a moment here to pause and thank my parents.

Mom and Dad- Thank you so much for every opportunity you have provided me with. I am so grateful to have your love and support in my life. The road hasn’t always been easy, but you never stopped having faith in me and I appreciate that more than you will ever know. Thank you for never doubting me and encouraging me to pursue my interests. You are my best friends and every day I truly feel lucky to have you in my life. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

On to my day:

Today was such a scramble. I’m always such a mess during finals week between little sleep, weird eating and stressful studying. I’m glad that this marks the end of it! I started today around 7am and was under lock and key paper writing in my apartment until 3:30pm. I literally moved from my floor (everything was spread out on my floor…I couldn’t sit at my desk anymore!) to the kitchen all day long and finally sat in bed for some final editing and to provide relief to my numb “bottom” that suffered from my harsh floor all day. Yeah, it wasn’t a fun time.

Breakfast was exactly what I was craving: Berry Oats. Last night for dessert I had some luscious local strawberries with MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread.

I knew that I needed to have these again for breakfast, so I made a big bowl of oats for breakfast with strawberries and blackberries.Into my bowl:

Base: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 sliced banana, 2 tsp chia seeds, cinnamon, vanilla extract.

Toppings: ~1/4 cup Chobani Greek yogurt (last of it!), 3 strawberries, handful of blackberries and almond butter.

This was SO delicious. I really liked the melted Greek yogurt on top. It made my bowl so creamy and I loved the sour contrast with the berries. When I get more yogurt, I’m going to incorporate it into my warm oats more often!

This is the only meal that I was 100% certain of all day. As I got into paper writing the rest of my food was completely random and consisted of “I can’t focus, go make food” dishes. They were all consumed sporadically between the hours of 10am and 3pm. I really hate mindlessly eating, I never feel wonderful when I do and today was no exception. My stomach was…let’s just say a bit bubbly, but it got me through the day. I’ll try to categorize as best I can the randomness of food:

Morning Snack: Jonagold Apple with Almond Butter.

“Lunch”:

Lunch was a compilation of everything in my room/fridge/freezer that I could think to put together. I’m not sure what time this all actually took place, but I think it was a few hours after breakfast when I was getting into the really tedious part of my paper. I spotted a Luna Cookie Dough Protein Bar and decided I needed a little cookie dough to chug through more work. I ate half of it before lunch and the other half later in the day. Shortly after I decided that I needed to refocus and make myself a snack. I went back into my kitchen and prepared a plate of watermelon and pineapple. I wasn’t full and it was almost lunch time so after maybe 30 minutes I went back into the kitchen to make some real food. Remember that Multigrain bread I picked up at the bakery a while ago? Well it also comes in a Multigrain Currant variety(be still my heart, I’m in love with this bread), and I happened to have a few pieces in my freezer from a long, long time ago 🙂 . The pictures above are a before and after shot. I topped my toast with some natural crunchy peanut butter. After I made my toast, I thought to myself, “Nora, you can not live on nut butters, fruit and carbs alone.” And decided to make a plate of sautéed spinach topped with a runny fried egg, extra sharp cheddar cheese and hot sauce. Maybe I should just call this breakfast number two! It was so delicious, and held me nicely through the majority of my paper writing! I really love the combination of egg yolk and extra sharp cheddar cheese, it is so creamy and flavorful!

I finally completed the bulk of my writing around 2pm and determined I needed some editing food.I needed some greens so I made a mini “sludge” monster with 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk, 5 ice cubes, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop Amazing Grass GREEN Superfood, 1 heaping TBS Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa, and a big bunch of spinach. It looks like sludge, and wasn’t as good as my protein packed monsters, but it was still refreshing. After this freezing beverage I needed something warm so I microwaved a Medjool date with almond butter and cinnamon. I microwaved another unpictured date with just cinnamon after this. Still not satisfied, and now wanting chocolate, I used a random (embarrassing purchase… my campus store sells them so I picked up a bag a while ago.) rice cake as a vessel for MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and Raspberry Jam.

Today was a whirlwind, and I had a bunch more “finger swipes” of almond butter, some raw almonds, another apple and a big carrot somewhere in between. I think it’s safe to say: my paper was a nut butter fueled production.

It was a bit cool out when I finally left my apartment, but the walk was welcome. I was in need of a good leg stretch, and it settled the random bites of my day. I was fortunate to get to the Political Science Department mere MOMENTS before they locked the doors. My professor told us that the paper was due at 5pm, and the department locks  down at 4:30pm! I don’t know what I would have done if I left my apartment 5 minutes later.

I haven’t had time this week to exercise so I did a light 50 minutes on the Pre-core machine before heading home. I was planning to run but was felling a little “blah” when I finally got to the gym. I’ll tell you, paper writing + sitting + eating = exhaustion.

I wasn’t particularly in the mood for anything fancy for dinner, and wanted to continue my fridge cleaning so I used the remainder of my Bush’s Baked Beans for another Baked Beans and Sweet Potato dish. I served it with a fresh green salad and the last of my watermelon. I decided to cook my sweet potato in the microwave for the sake of time, and it wasn’t very photogenic. I ended up mashing it and topping it with cinnamon and Crofter’s North American Superfruit Spread (cranberry/blueberry mix) before adding my baked beans, which was delicious :).

For dessert I had a few squares of Green and Black’s Mint Dark Chocolate and a cup of Decaf Constant Comment Bigelow Tea. I needed something a little cozy to curl up in bed with because The Notebook was on and I had some blogging to catch up on :).

Hopefully, normalcy will resume tomorrow. I still think it is SO strange that I do not have anymore school work to accomplish. I have some personal projects and fun books to read, so I’m sure I’ll find a way to stay occupied. I think the most exciting part about finishing is that I now have time to do the things that I really like. I’m all for academics, but when it is a struggle to love and appreciate the material you are learning the work is tedious and stressful. I’m really looking forward to reading for fun and continuing my food/wine aspirations.

I have MANY more thoughts, but until I gather them I’m going to leave this rather long post be. I have one more week on campus for  “Senior Week”, which is filled with senior class functions (Finger Lakes Wine tour Monday…stay tuned!). I’m officially out of here after our graduation ceremony next Sunday. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Surreal Life,

Nora

Have you ever had a moment or experienced an event that seemed unbelievable?

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Hey everyone! I hope you all survived this Manic Monday! What makes Monday such a crazy day anyways? I swear I always feel like I’m being pulled in 7 directions, running around like a chicken with my head cut off (what a bizarre phrase.). I have lots of studying to get done this evening but wanted to post some of the foods that really hit the spot today. I love when I eat something and it is EXACTLY what I wanted.

“Breakfast” (I have to put this in quotes because this is not something I would typically consider breakfast.):

For once in my life I didn’t feel like making breakfast and I was in a rush to study. Good thing I have an ample bar supply! I know I said before that I wasn’t fond of these Chocolate Cherry Almond Luna Protein Bars but I think they are growing on me. When I went to my stash I was thinking Chocolate Peanut Butter Luna but this little guy just jumped out at me. It  COMPLETELY hit the spot and this mini meal held me over for a few hours!

Lunch:I’m still working on cleaning out my fridge  and I was craving some hummus and cheese on toast so lunch today was a monster sandwich. This monster contained: 2 slices of Ezekiel Bread, Cedar’s Original Hummus, Swiss Cheese, spicy brown mustard, spinach, cucumber, sprouts, Roma tomato and turkey breast. On the side I had watermelon and a Honeynana Chobani Champions with blackberries and 1 TBS walnuts.

Lunch was also supposed to have this beet, carrot, celery and ginger juice, but I think the beet was a little overripe (bad part of cleaning the fridge…things you forgot you had gone to waste 😦 ) and it tasted a little off.

After lunch I went to Barnes and Noble to study and of course I got a Grande Non-Fat Cinnamon Dolce Latte.I think I have it set in my head that I need a warm, sweet, foamy latte in my hands in order to focus on tedious material. I also had a bite of a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Factory Cupcake that they had for sampling! SCORE! Only 4 more days!

Dinner:

Brace yourself…

All day long at the Barnes and Noble cafe I kept smelling coffee, peanut butter (they have amazing peanut butter cup cookies that they heat up!) and maple. I was also FREEZING thanks to their work conducive temperatures so I wanted something cozy for dinner. I saw this sweet potato and baked beans concoction on Caitlin’s blog, and knew I had to try it. I picked up some Bush’s Original Baked Beans (has bacon, not the vegetarian!) a while ago anticipating the day when I would make this. I roasted the potato in the oven at 450 for about 40 minutes. I almost cooked the sweet potato in the microwave but I LOVE eating the skin, and it gets crispy and caramelized when you roast it in the oven 🙂 . I cut the sweet potato open, sprinkled it with cinnamon and topped it with baked beans. HOLY COW! Caitlin, you are a genius! This is the most surprisingly fantastic thing I’ve ever consumed. I swear I would be a very happy girl if I had this every night for the rest of my life. On the side I had some roasted broccoli, carrot fries and dill pickles. Everything was dipped in ketchup, even the sweet potato.

Dessert:

I was feeling a bit “All-American-Cookout” after dinner and decided to continue this theme for dessert.I give you: Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt topped with cinnamon, chunky natural apple sauce, a chopped Medjool Date and Kopali Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs. This tasted like a wholesome apple crumble. The date pieces give a nice maple flavor, and harden for an extra chewy texture. It was only missing one thing: Peanut Butter. I dove back into my freezer candy stash after the photo for a miniature Reese Peanut Butter Cup. Perfection.

Now I am full and satisfied and ready to get back to work. I find it makes SUCH a difference when I study with a full and happy belly. I am a million times more focused and productive. Although, I do start day dreaming about all of the things I want to make post-graduation after a few hours of reading Freud.

Studying Hard,

Nora

What is your favorite simple and satisfying meal?

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I’m not sure what my deal is but I am having the HARDEST time focusing on my exam. I think it is a combination of uninteresting material and the thoughts of finishing school looming in my head. I have been doing work at a snail’s pace, finding things to distract me left and right. Initially, I had planned to go to 4pm Vinyasa yoga as my “stress relief” after a long day of sitting and working, but I did not get enough done and my mind would have been wandering during the class. I like to go to yoga as a release but if I’m not mentally present during a class it defeats the point.

Anyways, I got to the bookstore promptly when it opened at 10am. Since I would be eating a lunch from home, I decided to be a paying customer and purchased a medium not-fat hazelnut latte. I’m also addicted and the warm, sweet beverage and it fueled a few hours of studying. I wasn’t starving for lunch, but my lack of focus caused me to break into my lunch box around 11:55am. I needed something to distract me /get me through some of my readings. I am such a study snacker. A few hours later I finally broke down and purchased a decaf coffee (I can’t handle THAT much caffeine in a day, but wanted coffee flavor and warmth) with a Kind Fruit and Nut Delight Bar. These are my absolute favorite! I saw them at the register while I was waiting for my latte and couldn’t get them off my mind.  I know from the past if I am thinking about a specific food instead of the material I am reading that I NEED to have it in order to refocus. Plus a snack that is sweet, nutty, crunchy and chewy….hello, ULTIMATE STUDY FOOD!

Side Notes:

1) I drank about a liter of water to sooth my throat during my during my book store camp out. Along with 2 medium coffees and my green monster–let’s just say I think people were starting to assume I had some issues. I literally had to get up, ask someone to watch my computer and walk to the restroom at least 6 times. At least I’m hydrated.

2) Each time I walked to the restroom, I passed by the cook book section, more specifically Martha Stewart’s Cupcake book, and realized that all I really want to do in life is bake, cook, read and write. You can expect billions of foodie things in my post-graduation state.

3) When I got home I noticed that I spilled coffee down my light gray shirt. I have also been sporting the “slicked back ponytail” look all day, so I must have been looking pretty fine.

Oy. I can’t wait for the college lifestyle to be over.

All day long I was subjected to coffee-house smells of dark roast coffee and warm egg and cheddar sandwiches. I have been craving eggs for a few days now but keep  having “food swings”, changing my meal decision each time I go to make them. Since I literally sat in the cafe area for the entire day, the craving finally stuck and I went home to make a basic cheddar, mushroom and broccoli omelet with a spinach, celery, sprout and strawberry salad and half an orange. I usually make egg white omelets but for some reason I love the pairing of egg yolk and cheddar cheese, so I made a two egg omelet. My throat is still a bit scratchy so I wanted something fresh and cool on the side. I randomly had half of an orange in the fridge, perfect for some extra vitamin c!

For dessert I had a Chocolate Chobani Champions topped with raspberry jam, roasted almonds and Kopali chocolate covered cacao nibs. I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate variety. For some reason it is semi-liquefied, a little too sweet and not chocolaty enough for me. Although, it did taste great with these toppings!

I’m back to the books, but think I need to get to sleep early tonight. I haven’t been sleeping regularly because I can’t stop thinking about how much work I have to do. I just have to keep telling myself that I only have one more week of this.

Slowly But Surely,

Nora

What are your study (or work)  skills/ habits?

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