Thursday, March 31, 2011
Caramelized Bananas Over Date Rice Pudding!
I have decided to end my day on a high note....

Caramelized bananas over Date Rice Pudding.

The illustrator does this with a little brown sugar, some vanilla and a little earth balance (although I think coconut oil would be heavenly too if we had some).

Seriously, I'm kind of over today and I don't feel like being a Debbie Downer. Nothing bad happened, I just haven't slept well in about 5 days and with all the number crunching I did this week, my brain is fried! My sweet husband made me this sweet treat so I'm going to enjoy it and call it a night.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:55 PM   20 comments
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Pasta Dinner, Well Sort Of...
Sounds like most of you are in the "I hate numbers" camp. Luckily we have the other camp to help us out! I'm almost done and will have them mailed out today! That feels good. Then they have to be looked over by the accountant and he can give me the bad news then. Oh well, such is life...and taxes!

Last night was a pasta night for ease of preparation. I did something a little different for me. We had left over mung bean sprouts hanging out in the fridge that needed to be used, so I thought to try something different. Yes, I can and will eat pasta, but I really burned myself out on it when we were in college and then when I was pregnant with Jay. We are talking almost every meal for about 7 years. It was always loaded with vegetables, but still I'm kind of over it. So, I sauteed the bean sprouts with some mustard greens and added a little tomato paste (totally thought of you Jessica and your sandwiches), with some garlic and onion powder.

This was so good! Since I only lightly sauteed the sprouts, they seriously had the texture of noodles.

I had it along side some savory nutritional yeast waffles. This meal is definitely not the norm and I know it seems weird, but it was definitely fun and a different spin on using mung beans.

Does anyone have any strange combinations they want to share?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:32 AM   23 comments
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Trapped Under Numbers...
It seems like forever since I wrote anything here! I'm currently trapped under a blanket of numbers. I have to finish closing out last year to send to the accountant and well, I am NOT a number person. So, to say I'm a little overwhelmed is an understatement. However, I am working on my skills of taking one step at a time and trying not to let the numbers get to me. I have already fixed a major problem that included allowing a certain 10 year old (Max) play games on my computer and lose the file I was working on only to find out I have been working from the wrong file. Yeah, fun stuff.

Anyway, I got up this morning and got a great workout in...which I totally needed and now I am heading back to deal with numbers. I will tell you that my incredible husband made me the best salad yesterday with leftover salad mix we brought back from a friend's house on Saturday night. A huge thank you to my friend for the salad since I haven't bought lettuce or tomatoes since December! The salad with the over easy egg makes the best lunch! I love the warm "dressing" the egg makes on the salad and super bonus, I get my B12 vitamins! Oh and things always taste better when someone else makes them.

As for treats yesterday, we finished off some date rice pudding. I loved the flavor dates added to the rice pudding. I decided to try dates instead of raisins since Jay doesn't care for raisins and he found a love for dates. Score.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great day today! If I'm lucky, I will be done with numbers today and free to bake!

Raise of hands...who likes numbers? NOT ME!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:46 AM   28 comments
Friday, March 25, 2011
Inappropriate Questions and Cinnamon Toast...
Yesterday was just weird. You all know that I basically work for the illustrator. He hates it when I say that, but really I do. He draws and I do all the other stuff for him (book keeping, collections, marketing, photography for his blog). Anyway, our desks are face to face and we spend all day everyday together. So, when one of us has a bad day, the other one does too. It's inevitable. Since I don't deal directly with the clients as much any more since he is doing more comic work right now, I just get mad when crap happens to him. Anyway, long story short, he was frustrated and we needed to get out to run a few errands, get some fresh air and get a little human contact with the outside world. Little did we know that the human contact part only made us wish we didn't leave the house.

We decided to go to Borders yesterday to check out the last bit they have left on the shelves. An aside on this, it makes me sad to see this happening to a bookstore. Granted, they were way over priced, but I hate seeing a place that we loved going to go away like this. I feel really bad for all of those people that lost their jobs too. Ok, so we were at the bookstore trying to get a little peace and relax...there was a kid (about four years old...Jacob Michael to be exact and I know this because his mom kept calling him this loudly) running through the bookstore screaming DIE, DIE, DIE. Really, this totally freaked me out. The mom never said a word to him to stop doing that, she was just following him around the store. Anyway, so we looked around at books, tried to relax and then went to the cash register to buy a couple of books we found. While paying, the cashier took it upon herself to ask what our (mine and the illustrator's) relationship was. Really, is that ok to ask? When I told her we were married, she then laughed and said she thought I was his daughter. Seriously? That was messed up...nothing like being told you look like a pedophile to bring your spirits up. I told him this was the equivalent of asking a woman if she's pregnant. NOT COOL!

This is what I looked like yesterday. I can't believe I'm actually posting this because it is not flattering AT ALL, but I can see that I did not really dress my age. I don't mind looking young for my age, but I didn't think I looked that young. Well, I still don't think I look that young...there was all kinds of "not too bright" going on with that woman. Anyway, it was weird.

See...we go together! We are the same age...well, I'm a little older than him! He calls me a cougar every year during that one month.

Speaking of youth, this is a throwback to my youth that I hadn't had for a while...

cinnamon toast. 

Jay left me with the heel end of the loaf of bread I made earlier this week and there is nothing better than toasting that up with a little earth balance, a little sugar and a lot of cinnamon! The key is to put the butter, sugar and cinnamon on before you toast it so you get these soft gooey pockets of cinnamon, buttery, sugar goodness. This was a standard breakfast for me growing up. This and cheese toast. Now I want monkey bread.

I'm pretty sure I should have been on What Not To Wear yesterday and yeah, I'm dressed pretty much like that today. Do you think it matters how you dress when you are casual? I don't think it matters. I mean you won't see me wearing my pj's out, but being comfortable is ok with me. 

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:04 PM   34 comments
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Cupcake Metaphor...
I feel like this cupcake is a metaphor for my life right now...

I know...over dramatic, but hey, that's my mood today.

After our discussion of over coming some fears in the kitchen, I decided to be bold and try to tackle my cupcake issues. Yes, I have issues with cupcakes. Namely gluten free cupcakes. Mine never rise like I want them to. Well they did today! That's one thing checked off of my list of cupcake accomplishments. I heard cupcakes are out, but really how can they be out? It's a cupcake for goodness sake. I'm a fan of the cupcake while the illustrator is more of a cake fan. I like single serve things and crusty exteriors while he likes the soft doughy insides of breads and cakes. It's all a preference...much like the flavors/textures of gluten free cakes.

Anyway, back to how this is a metaphor for my life right now, well it looks good and tastes good, but there is something that needs to change...

The flavor of the cupcake is good, but not great. I suspect my flour combination. No worries though, I will take one for the team here. Practice makes perfect, again another metaphor for my life right now...

I think I need to keep trying! Oh and did I mention I think I need a program for my addiction to seven minute icing!

This is in no way a negative post, I'm just in thought over load these days. Mind you, playing with cupcakes is not what I'm supposed to be doing right now. I need to finish up book keeping stuff. Oh well, it was a tasty distraction.

I need ideas for flavor combinations. Max watched cupcake wars the other day and now he is on cupcake mode. I'm happy to play his game, but I need some ideas!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 4:00 PM   25 comments
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Fish N Chips
I have such a love of food. I know that's a shocker to all of you. Rewind back to Saint Patrick's Day...we were talking about different things to eat that would celebrate the day. Now, I don't typically do this kind of thing, but I love the history of foods...why we eat them and where they come from. I realize that fish and chips are said to have originated in England, but this was what we decided on anyway. For me, it's all a train of thought...this is my problem with all recipes I thing leads to another to another and then get the picture. Anyway, when I mentioned fish and chips to the illustrator, he nearly leaped out of his chair with excitement. You see, he hasn't had this for about 2 1/2 years. This is a meal that he frequently got out since I don't normally fry foods at home (or at least I didn't, now it's about a once a month thing) and since he has been diagnosed with celiac, he hasn't been able to have it. These are things I forget about. The thought of things I can't have doesn't even bother me anymore. I shrug it off, but for the illustrator, it's a little harder since it is all still new to him. The poor man can't have Guinness, so we went for the meal he would have had with it.

So, since I was in completely unchartered territory with fish and chips, I did some research. I found the perfect recipe that works like a charm. I followed Tyler Florence's recipe for fish and chips and it was perfect for what I was looking for. I'm telling you, rice flour (I always use Bob's Red Mill) is such a great product and the use of seltzer/club soda here worked so well! The batter crisped up perfectly, stuck to the food really well and was not greasy at all. The only thing I changed was that I use peanut oil to fry. It doesn't smell up the whole house, which is a huge bonus to me (the fish did, but every once in a while your house should smell like Captain D's, right?). Not only did I do fish and chips, but I threw in some onion rings too since Max is a huge fan of onion rings and the fryer was already going.

Yes, this was a process, but for a fun dinner to make my men happy, I loved doing it. I use an electric skillet when I deep fry so I can control the temperature. That definitely helped since you have to do a double fry on the french fries.

I tasted the fries and the onion rings and they were really good. I'm not a fan of fried food in general. I just don't like the flavor frying gives foods, but these were really good.

For those of us that live without our favorites, it's nice sometimes to step outside of our comfort zones and try to make things that we miss, but are kind of afraid to make. I really liked how well these turned out and while I won't be doing this all the time, there is comfort in knowing that we can do this anytime we want to.

I have been doing a lot of stepping outside of my comfort zone lately. How about you guys? Any fears you've defeated lately? I am not a risk taker, so I don't typically do that kind of stuff. Ask me to bake something and I go for it, but I can be a real chicken with other things.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:50 AM   26 comments
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Caramel Banana Cream Pie Pavlova
I did not want to get up this morning! We watched The Switch last night and I did not end up going to sleep until midnight. I still got up at 6am to get my workout in, and ironically, it was a good one, but I have a feeling today is going to be a hard one to get through. The movie is great! It's the first one in about a month we didn't turn off for being so bad. Jason Bateman was incredible in it. The kid in the movie nails it too. Seriously, the illustrator and I both recommend it!

I could stick my face straight into that bowl!

Now, let's talk sweets! Anyone who reads this regularly or knows me...knows I LOVE meringue! So fluffy, high protein and well sweet! I have a little less guilt for the sweet treat since I cut the sugar some with stevia. I decided to do things a little differently this time and make mini pavlovas. I loved how my seven minute icing baked on my lemon meringue pie so much that I wanted to try a version on its own. These were like angel food cake and seven minute icing had a baby.

I love the rustic look of the lumpy cookies. I did that so I could get pudding all in the nooks and crannys. Also with the meringue baked there were parts that would crispy and parts that were gooey.

Crispy bottom!

We had bananas that weren't banana bread material yet, so I thought caramel banana cream pie would be a good choice on flavors.

I used my pastry cream recipe and used brown sugar instead of regular sugar to give it a caramel flavor. This pudding is so thick and creamy!

We had some plain with graham cracker crumbs sprinkled on top...

then we loaded them up with bananas! 

You would think this would be heavy and too much, but really the pavlova was such a nice light compliment to the rich caramel pastry cream.

Since I am not a huge fan of pie crust, this was perfect for me!

Mini Pavlova
(makes 14)

3/4 cup egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cups sugar (granulated or super fine)
1 TBSP cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 dropper vanilla stevia (I use NuNaturals)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a clean mixing boil (important to get the egg whites fluffy) mix the egg whites until they are at soft peaks. Next add the lemon juice and continue to mix. While the mixer is still running gradually add the sugar mixture a little bit at a time. Then add the dropper of stevia. Continue mixing until the egg whites are at stiff peaks and glossy.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, scoop about a half cup of meringue and shape it carefully to the shape you want. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the oven off and crack it open, leaving the pavlova in the oven to cool. Cook them in the oven for 30 minutes or as long as you would like.

**To make the pavlovas less browned, you can bake them at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. For this recipes, I wanted the slightly toasted flavor.

Caramel Pastry Cream
(makes 1 3/4 cups)

1 1/2 cups almond milk
3 egg yolks
7 TBSP brown sugar
4 TBSP cornstarch
15 drops vanilla stevia (I use NuNaturals)

In a small sauce pan, heat the almond milk to a boil.  Remove the milk from the heat and set it aside.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and brown sugar until it is fluffy and pale in color.  Next add the cornstarch to the egg mixture and whisk until there are no lumps.  Now, whisk a little bit of milk into the egg mixture and mix completely. Slowly pour the rest of the milk into the egg mixture while it is being whisked. Next, pour the egg mixture through an strainer back into the sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes just to a boil and it has thickened.  Take off the heat and stir in the stevia. Pour into a container, cover the top of the pastry cream with plastic wrap sprayed with a little cooking spray(directly on it so it does not form a skin).  Allow to cool.  If you are going to use it immediately, just leave it out.  If it will be a while, refrigerate it and remove it about an hour before using.

I am sharing this on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 8:03 AM   28 comments
Monday, March 21, 2011
Getting Caught Up and Repeats...
I'm finally getting caught up on some paper work today. Just so you know, I'm the worst at keeping papers under control. I am the paper person in the house. Anything that comes in goes to me. That means I have to sort, pay, file and recycle EVERYTHING! With two kids, a house to run and business stuff...that's a lot of paper! Let's just say it will always be a work in progress! 

For lunch today, I had chili with the last of my spinach on top and some carrots. I'm telling you, pinto bean chili is the "bees knees". The illustrator thought this was a weird combination. I told him I would have friends that would back my on this (you know who you are!)...this was so good. I just saved myself from having to wash another dish by putting my salad on top. Trust me, that's not weird, Max had chili for breakfast. I've had chili omelets, but straight up, no. Although, that is not the weirdest thing he did this weekend. He was loads of entertainment on Saturday walking around in a plastic bag. He wore the drawstrings as straps to the outfit. Let's just say this was his way of entertaining himself while cleaning. I would have put a picture on here, but you could see his underwear (thank God for boxer briefs) and he's 10...that would not be "cool". He's going to be the kid that out drinks the rest of them in college...PLEASE HELP ME! I love him and he is a character...I will leave it at that.

Tonight was salmon patty night with mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Sometimes, I just give them what they want. Don't blame me for the less that glamorous colors. My lunch was colorful...the 1950's dinner...not so much. Oh well, they love it and I can't argue with that. 

Sorry about doing oldies, but sometimes you want some favorite repeats! I am finally typing up new recipes to share. The carmel pastry cream is definitely one to make again! It is so easy and so good. I hope everyone has a good night!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:31 PM   14 comments
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Brown Food...
This has been a rather strange weekend. We had grand plans for yard work and house cleaning, I know hold your excitement. Well, we decided to clean the house on Saturday because Sunday looked like a better day to be outside. Um, yeah, we chose wrong. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday, we opened the windows and literally scrubbed the house from top to bottom. I even scrubbed the baseboards. It was definitely a spring cleaning and it felt so good. We also had to pull out some steel wool to work on the silverware and a few pots that were needing some special attention. The kids cleaned out clothes they have outgrown for us to donate. We even cleaned the dishwasher. It seemed to be having a little trouble getting things clean, so I read a few sites and instead of bleach, I put a coffee cup full of vinegar in the wrack (face up and full) and ran it though a sanitizing cycle. Then we got the scrub brush and really cleaned it out with baking soda. It worked so well! The dishes are coming out squeaky clean again. I had no idea vinegar would work like that. I'm going to start running a cup in there more often.

Anyway, well today I had ants in my pants. The house is clean and the weather was not warm enough for me to wash the car and with the wind and the possibility of rain, the illustrator did not get to work on the yard. So, I worked on cleaning more pots, washed bedding and then I baked.

I get stir crazy when I don't bake anything for days. With the house all clean, I needed the smells of fresh baked goodies coming from the oven. I have fallen in love with baking bread. It is probably one of the most satisfying things for me to have come out of the oven.

My peanut butter and apple jelly sandwich has a tongue.

The boys had grilled cheese.

Once I pulled the pictures off the camera, I realized the color theme of this post is brown...not so pretty. Pretty tasty though!

 This is our St. Patrick's Day gluten free fish n' chips! I will share this one this week.

I also made mini pavlovas with caramel pudding...

or banana cream pie...your choice. These were so good, but really ugly. I love the creamy crunchy good! The caramel pudding is knock your socks off good! I had to step away from the bowl.

I did make a huge batch of chili today for fun leftovers. I like starting the week with a big batch of something to keep us going for a while during the week for dinners or lunches.

I covered mine in nutritional yeast...which was delicious and then polished off the orange honey cream ice cream that I realized I still haven't shared yet. I have a lot of recipes that I will be posting this week. The fish and chips was a huge hit with the boys and way easier than I thought it would be.

Now, it's after 7:00pm and I am still in my pjs. I have to make beds, shower and then it is time to chillax as Max would say. 

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:14 PM   16 comments
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Matcha Cookies For The Green
I can't say we celebrate St. Patrick's Day here. Yes, I wear green (I don't like to get pinched...oh, that reminds me, I need to pinch the illustrator he is rebelling today with no green). I have a four leaf clover tattoo, so I wear green all the time. Truth be told, it is my favorite color. I also eat my greens...ALL...THE...TIME. So, when I started to think about what in the world I could make to celebrate the holiday, I was having a hard time. Honestly, I only cared because the kids asked. It finally came to me this morning. I decided to make matcha cookies!

I took my snickerdoodle dough ball recipe...

 made a few changes and added some green tea.

These little treats came together so quickly.

I love a quick treat.

They are dense, chewy and slightly sweet with a hint of green tea. Perfect for our afternoon treats. Do you do afternoon treats or is it just our family that act like 2 year olds and need a snack at 3:00 everyday?

I loved the color combination on these and I will definitely make them again with other colors.

Matcha Cookies
(makes 19)

1 cup white rice flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup brown rice Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 /4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
5 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup egg white (or TBSP flax meal mixed with 3 TBSP hot water or 1 egg)
10 drops vanilla stevia (or 2 TBSP sugar)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 TBSP almond milk
2 tsp matcha green tea powder

2 TBSP sugar for rolling the dough balls

Combine the white rice flour through the 5 TBSP sugar in a mixing bowl. Next add the egg through the almond milk and mix until combined. Split the dough in half and place the halves in separate bowls. Mix the matcha with one half of the dough until completely combined. Using a small scoop, scoop a little bit of the white dough and a little bit of the green dough into the scoop. Roll the dough to form a ball and then roll it in the sugar. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. 

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? I never really have since I don't like beer (I know shocking) and really isn't that what it's about? We decided to have fish n' chips tonight since the illustrator hasn't had that in years and he loves it. So, I am heating up the oil again...ugh, I hate fried foods. See what I do for love?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:07 PM   36 comments
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I need a brain break!
Yes, I need a brain break. You know one of those days or weeks that you think about nothing. Do those even exist when you're an adult? Do you ever get the chance to just not care about anything for a day? I know the kids are suffering from it pretty bad too since they lost all of their holidays to make up days from the winter storm we had here...I won't even get in to how over worked the illustrator is right now. The man is a saint for all he does for us.

So, today is all about the little joys for me...

I realize the holidays are long gone, but I just found this Nutcraker Tea and OH MY is so good!

left over pizza means I don't have to cook tonight...

Bob's Red Mill gluten free pizza crust is insanely good!

The boys have leftover pizza too (bacon and cheese) with a gluten free crust recipe I will be sharing soon!

I am enjoying these little bottles of Pom Wonderful since the nice folks sent them to me to sample! YUM! I have never had the juice before and it is so good! Sweet, tart and refreshing!

Which inspired the creation of orange honey cream ice cream with a pomegranate swirl (I promise to post this soon)...

I am so ready for spring break for the boys. I think we are going to hang out with family and try to relax some. I hate wishing time away, but I'd be alright if it got here just a little faster.

Are you enjoying any little things right now? Do you need a brain break?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:30 PM   21 comments
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Vanilla Soft Serve
I love waking up to rain. I know that seems weird, but I love working out when it's dark to the sound of rain. It's so peaceful. I enjoyed some interval training and muscle toning this morning and it felt so good. I am finally recovering from the B12/iron issues I was having. I love feeling good!

Now, how about some frozen treats...

I'm pretty sure the frozen yogurt industry lost out big time when I discovered I couldn't eat it any more. I ate some every night...and by some, I mean quite a bit. I kind of fell out of love with it since, at the time, there weren't many products that tasted anything like what I wanted. Not only that, but who can afford some of that stuff? Um, not me. 

Well, lately, I've been craving some frozen treats. It got really cold last week and while I still wanted it, I am cold natured to begin with...there was no way I was going to freeze myself for a treat. Luckily, the weather changed in my favor! Vanilla soft serve here I come!

I had to make pizzelles too! Warning, these things are addictive. Every time I walked by them, I grabbed one. 

They aren't super sweet, think graham cracker sweet and maybe not quit that much. Just a hint of sweet with a cracker crunch. 

Sandwiched with some soft serve...yum!

Now, I know most people probably don't have an ice cream maker, so I want to play with this and see if you need one or not. This is the first time I've used xanthan gum in ice cream and I LOVE the texture. You have to be careful with xanthan gum since it can make ice cream chewy...that is not what I am looking for. I used So Delicious Coconut Milk, so there is a hint of coconut. If you are looking for dairy free milks to use that don't have that flavor, use what you like, but make sure it has a little bit of fat in it. I used almond milk in another batch and it was a little less creamy, but softened up when it sat out for a little bit. This is a starting point for me to play with...

Vanilla Soft Serve
(makes about 5 cups)

3/4 cup sugar (I want to play with stevia, but for now I used sugar)
2 TBSP vanilla (we make our own with vodka and vanilla beans)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
1/8 tsp salt

Put 2 cups milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a blender. Blend well. Gradually add xanthan gum to the blender while its on. Put the remaining 2 cups of milk in a bowl and pour the contents of the blender in with that milk while whisking. Freeze according you your machine's directions. 

Since I woke up this morning in a good mood...I am going to work on accounting stuff and taxes! I know I can hardly contain myself. I hope you all have a great day!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 9:37 AM   35 comments

Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen
Home: Atlanta, GA, United States
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