Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

Hello old and new friends!
For the new ones on the blog, welcome! For them oldies, sorry I have not been updating! I am back and with lots to post the next several weeks, especially with Christmas coming up SO SOON!

To start of the holiday season, I wanted to do a post on Giving Tuesday.

What is Giving Tuesday you ask?
Well it is a global movement for giving and volunteering! It’s a kickoff to the holiday season with a reminder that the world needs some love & change – and that we can be that change in the world, just a little bit at a time.

While it’s true that we should be giving back when we can throughout the year, I think Giving Tuesday is such a great day to rally others to help too. I think often we forget how incredibly lucky and blessed we are; we take for granted the every day necessities we have that others around the world don’t have.

SO with this post, I truly encourage you to go out and give back! $1, $5, $20, $100, $1000, whatever you can give – every little bit helps. Volunteer in your community, if not today then during this holiday season. Food kitchen, homeless shelters, caroling at hospitals/nursing homes. Trust me, even the littlest things make such a big difference.

If you are looking to donate and not sure where to donate to, you can:
1. Check out the Giving Tuesday website for ideas OR
2. I am also sharing three causes/organizations below that is near and dear to my heart

COMPASSION
Link: Compassion Website
I have so much love for this organization! They have such a big heart and passion for Jesus and for kids all around the world. They focus on child development – so it’s more than just giving them food, but it’s about education, health care, and just showing them love. Those who know me know that I have SUCH a big passion for kids and education, so because of that, I have had a sponsor child with Compassion for the past couple of years!

If you are interested in giving to Compassion, know that you can do more than just sponsor a child. You can help give clean water & sanitation to those in Africa or help rescue moms & babies in poverty around the world!

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND – ELEPHANTS
Link: WWF Website, WWF – Elephants
Ever since my trip to Asia two summers ago, I can’t ever get over how AMAZING elephants are. I am not joking, I have fallen in love with them. Sure they are enormous animals, but they are just so majestic, sweet, and beautiful. Unfortunately due to things like poaching for the illegal ivory trade and animal tourism, they are on the endangered animals list.

There are so many different organizations that are doing such great work to help with anti-poaching, awareness, and conservation initiatives around the world! One of them is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). a worldwide conservation organization. They do more conservation initiatives than with just elephants, so if you are interested in giving back to protect animals/wildlife, this is a great organization to consider!

KIDS HELP PHONE CANADA
Link: Website
Another cause that is very near and dear to my heart. If you have not read about my journey with mental health, you can read all about it: here.
Mental health is SO IMPORTANT. More and more people are affected by it each and every day. And more so, mental illness is so prevalent among kids/youths today. Unfortunately, a lot of the young people don’t know where to reach out for help or feel like they can’t talk to anyone. Listen to these stats:

  • According to Statistics Canada, teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 experience the highest incidence of mental disorders of any age group in Canada.
  • The second leading cause of death for young people is suicide.

That’s the reality today and we need to do something about it – we need to do what we can to help. One way you can help is by raising awareness about mental health and its importance. Another way is through donation to organizations, like the Kids Help Phone, who are helping those in our communities who are struggling with their mental health.
Again, there are many organizations that you can donate to regarding this cause, but this is the one that I am donating to this year!

Thank you for reading this post! And happy #GivingTuesday friends 🙂

Cheers xo,
Kim

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Homemade Apple Crumble Pie

Homemade Apple Crumble Pie

My favourite part of fall, specifically during thanksgiving, is the smell of fresh baked pie in the oven. Apple pie to be exact. And not just any apple pie, I like my apple pie with some crispy crumble on top. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and you are golden friends.

So today I am sharing with you all my recipe that is a combination of many different recipes over the past years right in time for thanksgiving next week. And just to make sure it’s thanksgiving worthy, I made sure to recipe taste it this weekend!

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Ingredients:

2 boxes of the Tenderflake 18 mini pie crusts or 1 box of the Tenderflake 2 regular pie crusts

Apple pie filling
6 smaller sized Granny Smith apples (use 4-5 if you are using larger apples)
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cornstarch

Crumble Topping
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Peel and slice apples. If you are making pie, I would slice it as you would normally but don’t make the slices too thick. If you are making mini tarts/pies, I would cube the apples because it is easier to stuff into the shells. 42913047_689296284775238_5150167092191821824_n43003369_110305016523786_8157628064730185728_n43167755_881648978693913_4158027761325178880_n
  2. In a pot, melt the butter. Add in the brown sugar, cinnamon and water. Once the ingredients are combined (it should look like a watered down caramel sauce), add in your apples. 42993582_2786096358083307_8148361715738738688_n
  3. Coat the apples with the sauce and add in your cornstarch. The cornstarch is used as a thickening agent to make the sauce less watery and more sticky. Leave it cooking as you stir the apples (around 2-3 minutes). You don’t want the apples to be mushy! Take the pot off the heat.
  4. In a separate medium/large sized bowl, melt your butter in the microwave. I find it easier to cut the butter into tiny pieces so that it melts easier. You can also melt the butter using a saucepan on your stove! If you are using a microwave, start with putting the butter for 30 seconds and if it is not completely melted, add increments of 15 seconds. Trust me, I’ve had my share of butter exploding in the microwave.
  5. Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt (a very small pinch). Mix until everything is combined – I usually use my hands to do this mixing! 43040036_153276095616783_5883655984890511360_n
  6. To make it easier for yourself, especially if you have 500 other different things you need to do that day, buy a premade pie shell. I love using Tenderflake! They have the normal 9 inch pie shell and the mini ones too! Follow the instructions on the packaging!42986549_503553733459182_8442532967963688960_n
  7. Preheat your oven to 350F. Fill your pie crusts with the filling and liberally put the crumble on top of your filled pie. If you are going to pre-bake your pie shells (usually for 8-10 minutes), put the crumble to about 15 – 20 minutes depending on your oven. I would check on it after 10 minutes. Basically you want your crumble to be a bit brown and slightly crispy, but not burnt! If you are making the mini tarts/pies, I put mine in for about 10 minutes and it came out great!
    If you are not pre-baking your crust, I would put it in for about 30-35 minutes! I tend to pre-bake my shells! 43062448_525295044585108_7075576269286408192_n

Let me tell you friends, I can just eat the crumble topping by itself because it is so yum! I’ve also used the crumble topping on top of a baked peach (cut the peach in half and bake it in the oven with the crumble on top for about 15-20 minutes) and it is delicious.

Don’t forget to put a good heaping of vanilla ice cream on top of your sliced pie!

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Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend my friends! May it be filled with lots of blessings, love, and happiness!

Cheers,
Kim

My Own Mental Health Journey

My Own Mental Health Journey

So closing out on Mental Health Week, I’ve decided that I wanted to share my own mental health story. This blog post will definitely be more serious than others that I’ve posted and will be one of the hardest to write.

Why do I want to share?
I think mental health awareness is extremely important. 1 in 5 individuals in Canada has some form of mental illness – that is a lot of people! But yet, the stigma around mental health and mental illness is still prevalent today. It’s not a topic that easily talked about, but in order to get rid of that stigma, we NEED to talk about it.

I also find that it is more relatable to some when they hear the experiences directly from another person, even someone that they know, someone who is in similar circumstances, someone similar in age, etc. So maybe by sharing my story and my experiences, that it will encourage you to share your experiences or come alongside to support those who are going through it.

Also, I was really inspired by Demar Derozan, Kevin Love and Channing Frye for being super vulnerable and sharing their own experiences. If you haven’t seen/heard of the videos, I’ve included them at the end of this post so you can take a look!

So I’ll start by sharing the background of what I went through, the struggles I’ve faced and I’ll end it by sharing some things that have helped me over the years & what you could do if you know someone is dealing with mental health struggles.

The Background

A couple years ago, I was diagnosed with mild depression and anxiety. I’ve probably had it years before, but I just never recognized the symptoms nor connected the dots. I used to cry for days – coming home from work, 95% of the time I would go to bed in tears without anyone knowing. I started to become less patient, moody, grumpy, and snapped more at the littlest of things. I didn’t want to do things, be in social situations, make small talk or be in conversations. I was surrounded by people constantly, but felt so lonely. I had little energy, but I put on a smile on my face every single day so most people could not tell otherwise. The first time I had a panic attack, was really scary. I was lying in bed, getting ready to go to sleep. Then I felt this wave of just dread or something I can’t really explain in words…I felt my throat closing up, I started tearing up, and I could not breathe properly. I was literally gasping for air and thought I was having a heart attack (though no part of my chest was hurting). It was extremely frightening and it was definitely not the last one I had.

Maybe it was stress, maybe it was life circumstances – things were changing in my life, but honestly a lot of the times I just didn’t know why I was sad. I could not point my finger and pinpoint it. It felt like I was either in a hole where it was super super deep and it is very hard to see the light or like a cartoon character that has that lone raincloud over their head. Sometimes the rain cloud is dormant, it’s kind of just sitting there present but not active. Sometimes the sun peaks through. And sometimes, it downpours and there is no umbrella.

Struggling through unchartered waters

I think the hardest part was recognizing and admitting that there is an issue. For me, it took someone else pointing it out for me to even think about or consider that this all might have to do with my mental health. The next part was what exactly do I do now? You can’t just shove it under a rug or put a bandaid on it…I needed to figure out ways to cope.

Another big struggle for me was actually talking about the issue. I’m telling y’all, the stigma is there. I know I struggled telling my family what I was going through, and when I did tell them and told some of my closest friends, they couldn’t 1) comprehend what I was going through and 2) that there is even such a thing. How do you explain WHY you’re sad when most of the times, you don’t even know why yourself?

Lastly, I also struggled connecting how this could ever go hand-in-hand with my faith? It was not so much WHY did this happen to me…it was more of a could I be a Believer and Follower of Christ and struggle with depression?

The compasses that helped me navigate through the storm

As a part of this post, I want to share with you all some of the things that have helped me the past couple of years. I hope that maybe one or a couple of these can be of help to some of you too!

  • The question of could I be a Christian and struggle with depression was quickly answered. Through my own research and also talking to others who have much more knowledge about this than me, I came across individuals like Charles Spurgeon and C.S Lewis. For those who don’t know who those two are: Charles Spurgeon is famous preacher and C.S Lewis is a famous author (hint hint Chronicles of Narnia). Both individuals are devoted Christians and at the same time struggled with depression throughout their lives.
    At the same time as I was doing my research, someone reminded me of this thing called Sin. Because the Fall, our world became a very very broken world and through that, comes illnesses: cancer, heart disease, leukemia, AIDS and yes, mental illness. Just because it’s not a physical illness that you can see, doesn’t mean that it’s not there. The bible tells us that there will be struggles our lives, there will be dark days, BUT and that’s the thing there is a BUT. BUT, look towards what is to come because of our believe and trust in Jesus. Revelations 21:4 says that there will be no more death, no more mourning, crying or pain – He will wipe it all aways. And this is something that I believe and truly hold on to.
  • Piggybacking off this topic, my relationship with the Lord also played a factor in navigating through the lowest of low days. When I am having a really bad day, I tend to want to listen to music to calm myself down. I shut the lights, I turn my phone off, and I put on music and a lot of the time it’s worship music. And through the music and the lyrics (e.g. Reckless Love and How He Loves Us), I am reminded of how much God loves ME. And His love truly washes over me, gives me peace and I can feel his presence there letting me know that I am definitely not alone.
  • Speaking of music – that is definitely how I get through my panic attacks. I lay down on the floor where it’s cold, I focus on my breathing and try to get my breathing to a normal pace, and I listen to music. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes 30 minutes. But this method of coping really helps me.
  • Talking to people – as scary and vulnerable you would have to be, it actually helps. Talk to someone you trust – maybe it a parent, maybe it’s a mentor at church, maybe it’s a friend, a sibling, a trusted advisor, a colleague at work, or maybe it is a professional – talking about your struggles and saying it out loud helps. And its true, some people might not understand it, but there are lots that do or even if they don’t 100% understand, are willing to listen – so look for those people and share with them what you’re going through. Sometimes a burden is too heavy to carry alone…you really don’t need to carry the world on your shoulders. Let other people be there for you and help carry those burdens.
  • Reflect on the things in your life that are negative and well… get rid of them or change them. I know that this is easier said than done, but I’m telling you right now that if you take the steps to do so, you’ll feel a difference. There were things/people/situations in my life that definitely did not contribute to me bettering myself and I had to slowly detach myself. Hard as it was, it definitely helped me get to where I am right now. My advice? Start with the little things, then work your way up to the bigger ones.
  • Do things for yourself. This one is also important and something that we tend to forget to do. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE THE PRIORITY. Doesn’t matter how busy work, or school, or life gets, you need to make time for yourself. So find things that you enjoy doing…your work will still be there, your school will still be there. Sports, exercise, cooking, baking, knitting, video games, movies, spa, travelling, music, art,  whatever it is. Make sure you take the time to get yourself refreshed.
    On top of that also, give yourself something to look forward to. It could be something small like going to see a movie with a friend this weekend to something big like going on a 3 week vacation somewhere warm. I found that by giving myself something to look for, it really helps me get through the not so good times knowing that something good is coming.
  • Last, remember…It is more than okay to not be okay. If you’re having a really rough day, then you’re having a really rough day. If you need to bawl your eyes out, you need to bawl your eyes out. If you need to take medication, you need to take medication. If you need to go see a therapist, you need to go see a therapist.
    I myself put on some really sad music or a really sad movie and I bawl my eyes out. Sometimes it just needs to be done. Then I go and watch Pride and Prejudice because that’s my jam and it helps me get out that funk. If I feel like I’m in such a mood and don’t want to talk to anyone, there is not point in forcing myself to because I’m probably just going to snap. I’ll take a breather, go to my room, listen to music, go sleep early, and then tackle a new day tomorrow. Friends, you do not have to be put together all the time, trust me.
    There is no shame in not being okay. 

Now what can I do as a friend?

I’m sure many people will and can tell you many different things, but I just wanted to share some ideas/advice from me/from what I’ve learned from other people.

  • Be mindful on how you respond when someone tells you that they are struggling with mental illness. Phrases like “it’s just a phase” or “there is no such thing” or “just get over it” does not help. Imagine someone comes to you and tells you they have cancer and you tell them “there is no such thing”. Wouldn’t that sound ridiculous? Just because you’re not going through it, just because you don’t see it, just because you don’t completely understand it, doesn’t mean that they are not going through it. Phrases like that hurts, more than you can ever know. It actually adds to the depression and the anxiety, because you feel like no one cares, no one understands, and you’re all alone.
  • Which brings me to the second thing, empathize don’t sympathize.
    Sympathy – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
    Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
    People don’t like being pitied…it’s not a good feeling. Instead, try getting to their level and try to understand their position. Maybe you haven’t been through something like this before and maybe you don’t 100% get it, but just be there, TRY to understand where they are coming from and the most important, listen.
    Sometimes, if your friend is feeling like they are in that hole, instead of waving from the top of the hole where they can barely see you, bring a ladder and get down there yourself…sit with that person and let them talk to you about how they are feeling. Trust me, as a person that has been through it, it helps so much.
  • Last, encourage your friend to get the help that they need. Sometimes you can only do so much and they need more than you can give them. So, encourage them to seek help from a professional. Adding on, trust is important but safety is the most important. If someone is going to do something that will hurt themselves or others, get help. Period.

I hope that what you’ve read has been insightful. Thank you for letting me share my journey with you – it gets easier and easier sharing with more people. It’s still an up and down journey for me, but I’m coping and am in a MUCH better place than before! If you ever need to chat or have any questions, feel free to reach out. As well, I’ve included some websites and numbers for you below if you want to talk to someone/have questions/want more details.

Cheers and God bless!
Kim

 

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Anxiety Panic Support
Canadian Mental Health Association: 613-745-7750/ 416-977-5580

Foodie Review: Labothéry Inc.

Foodie Review: Labothéry Inc.

Place: Labothéry Inc.
What: Bubble Tea
Address: 717 Bay St. Unit D, Toronto, ON M5G 2J9
Price Range: $$ (kind of expensive for a bubble tea)

So I’ve been seeing this come up EVERYWHERE – on instagram, facebook, snapchat. People have been going crazy about this new-ish bubble tea place in downtown Toronto, right by Bay and Wellesley. And for a reason too, it’s a pretty neat experience becoming a “bubble tea scientist” and choosing your own combinations to make your own bubble tea.

And for me, that’s pretty much what it is: an experience. A couple of friends and I decided to head down there for #FeastyFridays. If you don’t know what that is all about, feel free to check it out here. When you first come in, the wall to your right will tell you pretty much what you need to do. 30991176_10155635652807921_483561065_o30850115_10155635652862921_340352707_o (1)

Then you get to the make your own bubble tea part – if you are confused after reading that (which I was at first) or just overwhelmed by the amount of choices, there is this guy who is there to help you out.

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I decided to go for a milk tea, because I just love milk teas. Also before I went on yelp, someone there mentioned white chocolate and red bean combination that work and I was like, yum! So I decided to go with that combination and 30% sugar. Oh, you also have to get the “milk” for your milk team…which is powdered format (the “Original” tube below).

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Then you round the bend, and there’s like a refrigerated section or at least a section where things are in glass encased shelves. There you can choose to add your toppings or any additional things you want to add to your tea. So I wanted to leave it as is, but the guy said if I like milky milk tea, I should add evaporated milk (there are other milks too – soy milk for example). Seeing as I have never combined anything to make bubble tea before and they are the expert and I am not, I did. I also added tapioca as a topping (there are also aloe vera/green apple boba, lychee pearls and more).

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After you get all you things together, you go to the cashier where they will ask what kind of tea base you would like. I went with the original green tea (choices: black, green, or oolong). All together, my bubble tea came to about $8, which in my opinion is kinda on the pricey side.

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So what did I think about my epic creation (the bubble tea to the right)? It’s not great to be honest. For me, the combination was a little off and what really threw me off was the really powdery taste of the bubble tea. Yes, I could still taste the powdered red bean/white chocolate/milk that they mixed together. My other friend who got the fruity bubble tea really liked hers (the bubble tea to the left), so if you come I would really suggest going for the fruity bubble tea rather than the milk tea!

Overall, I think this place is all about experience. If you haven’t been, you should at least go once to see and experience what it’s like AND live out your dreams of being a mad scientist!

Cheers xo,
Kim

Foodie Review: Reggae Fusion

Foodie Review: Reggae Fusion

Food Type: Caribbean
Address: 3155 Winston Churchill Blvd, Mississauga ON
Meal: Jerk Chicken with oxtail gravy
Cost: $13 (incl. tax and tip)
Website Link

Friends, do you love Caribbean food? I sure do! Especially Jerk Chicken. I’ve had some really great jerk chicken over the years at random places throughout the GTA, but if you ask me for recommendations where to get some…I honestly could not give you a definite answer. Until today!

I was craving jerk chicken this weekend, so we decided to get some right after our church service yesterday. And lucky us, there was a Caribbean restaurant right by our church called Reggae Fusion.

The restaurant itself is not huge – I think a lot of people come to pick up food and not really do a sit down lunch/dinner. BUT there are tables so if you do just want to eat there, you have that option (which we took).

This review is going to be super short, because we only tried one dish there: Jerk Chicken. The Jerk Chicken meal comes with rice and beans and a side of coleslaw. Friends, DO NOT forget to ask for oxtail gravy, because the gravy is SO GOOD. I think that’s what makes it one of the better jerk chickens I’ve had…the gravy is extremely delicious. The chicken is also super tender and the seasoning is on point.
I got the large meal and it was pretty big – I was stuffed by the end of it. They also have a lunch special if you go during the weekdays!!

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Definitely recommend this place if you’re in Mississauga and want to try/currently craving jerk chicken!!

Cheers,
Kim

What’s in the lunch box? (Week 4)

What’s in the lunch box? (Week 4)

Did someone say chili?

It’s been kind of chilly (get it?) in Toronto, so I’ve been craving a warm bowl of something something. On top of that, my mom got a new crock pot a couple weeks ago and I wanted to try it out. I’d like to fully admit that after watching a certain show, I was super nervous leaving that thing on overnight. I’d like to confirm that my house is fine, I’m fine, and the chili is more than fine. So don’t sweat about leaving it overnight!

So yes, on the menu for this week is beef chili! Super easy to do, super QUICK to do in terms of prep, especially because you’re letting the crock pot do most of the work for you. My chili came out a little more liquid-y then I would like and a little less strong in terms of spice. I didn’t mind the more mild chili, but if you want to change it up and amp up the flavour town, I’ll give some tips in the recipe below!

Ingredients
Note: This makes quite a lot of chili, so you can either cut the recipe in half if you want less or just freeze the leftovers!

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 can of kidney beans (keep the juices)
  • 1 can of black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of beer (I used Heineken) or substitute with 1 cup of beef stock
  • 1/4 cup of tomato sauce (I used almost 3/4 of a can and it was WAY too much because there were already juices from the diced tomatoes and kidney beans. If you are substituting with beef stock, I would up this to 1/2 cup )
  • 2 tbsp of chili powder (I would add 1/2 – 1 tbsp more if you want more chili flavour)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 jalapeno diced (optional if you want to make it a little spicy)
  • a pinch of cayenne (optional if you want to make it a little spicy)
  • 4 shredded cheese mix and sour cream (optional toppings on top)

Instructions

  1. In a pan, brown your beef and break it apart with your spatula/cooking utensil (this is to make sure your beef are not in gigantic clumps).
  2. Once it’s cooked through, add in your onions, garlic, and all the other spices (salt, chili powder, oregano, cumin and the jalapeno and/or cayenne if you’re thinking of making it a bit spicy). Mix for 1-2 minutes.

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  3. Transfer all that goodness into your crock pot/slow cooker. Add in your beans (don’t forget to also include the kidney bean juices in the mix).
  4. Add your diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beer/beef stock.
  5. Put your crock pot/slow cooker on low – mine had a 8 hour option for low which is what I used.

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That’s all! You’ll have homemade chili in no time!
If you’re stirring your chili in the morning and it looks like there’s burnt bits on the edges, it’s all good! Trust me, it just adds more flavour!

Other tips: If you have a smaller crock pot/slow cooker, make sure that you’re not filling it to the brim. If you need, cut down the recipe in half because you don’t want your crock pot to overflow overnight. I have the regular crock pot and I filled it up about a little more than 3/4 of the way. I also put a large cooking tray underneath JUST IN CASE. But, nothing overflowed, everything was a-okay 🙂

Hope y’all enjoy this recipe! Let me know if you try it and what you thought!!

Cheers,
Kim

FEASTY FRIDAY

FEASTY FRIDAY

Hello friends!

IT’S FRIDAY! And what better way to celebrate Friday and the weekend by FEASTING on treats at work?

So I’m starting this Feasty Friday series on my instagram story and will be sharing the post on my blog as well! I hope you tune in, join in, and share your feasty friday treats!

Today I get double the treat! Celebrating a coworker’s promotion with this yummy goodness:

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Pressed sushi and steak from Joey’s – DELICIOUS, totally recommend it!

And then a little matcha froyo for Feasty Fridays with my gals!

Have a wonderful Friday y’all and the rest of the weekend too! ❤