How This Situationally Anxious Girl Finds Relaxation.

So this is a hybrid post.

Originally I had planned to do a Wordless Wednesday post, as I continue to dig up and edit photos from 3-4 months ago, because that’s how bad it’s become. That’s how in over my head I’ve gotten with the whole living, parenting, photography, pets thing! That alone would have been my post. However, I decided to check out what Rabia and Lisa had going on for this week’s Tuesday Ten list because that’s always worth a look. What luck! It’s National Hammock Day, so we’re focusing on our best ways to relax.

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The Liebers

I think I’m bad at relaxing! I would go for these hot baths with Cassidy at spas in Calistoga, California and once the attendant would leave the room, I’d put cold water in my bath. I struggle with hot tubs and saunas too! I guess I’m ok at laying on tubes in the water. Maybe I don’t do it with as much pizazz as Scarlet does, though! There were grabby crabs in the water! I saw ‘em!

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I look more like Des does in this here photo, when I’m doing things other people find to be “relaxing.”

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However. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Even I know how to chill out, in my own ways.

Here are my top ten favorite ways to relax.

1. Crossword puzzles. Many, many crossword puzzles. That’s my version of a stiff drink at the end of a long day.

2. I watch bad TV. Actually I can’t even call it that. It’s not bad. It’s ABC Family, though, and it’s light & fluffy.

3. I like to listen to my favorite songs in my car, and I like to listen to them LOUDLY. And maybe thrash around a bit.

4. I like to read books at the dinner table. And the breakfast table. And the lunch table. And when I’m not eating too!

5. Oh, wait. My mom reads this blog. I’ll keep #5 to myself!

6. My kids. They can also cause the opposite of relaxation, but we can always love and find joy together. And that’s a big one.

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7. Occasionally I will draw someone I love very near to my heart. It’s hard to admit such weakness, but it helps so very much. This can be in person, by phone or by email or even blog. Writing. Connecting. That works really well for me.

8. Good sleep, enough water, good food, and occasionally spraying an herbal anti-anxiety spray into my mouth!

9. You can call it weird, or slightly OCD but I love to count sometimes, like if I’m on a plane and we’re taking off and landing. I like to count to 100 and see what has happened since I started. I also like to stare at my hands, reach for someone else’s hands, stare at the sky, or stare at a sunset. Grounding things are good things. They pull you in and soothe your soul.

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10. Editing photos, of course! And now it’s photo bomb time, from where we left off from last week. Children’s portraits:

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(The red in his eyes is most wonderfully ME!)

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It’s My SITS Day, Part 2!

Tomorrow, (or today if you’re reading this on July 22nd) is my Featured Blogger Day on SITS Girls!

I was about to spin a poetic tale about love, loss, Cape Cod and cookies, as well as it being my birthday week and the last week of preschool camp, but then I remembered the wonderful email I got recently to tell me that July 22nd is my second SITS Day!

I must welcome readers in the proper way. To start, here is my favorite “headshot”. My daughter took it when she was four.

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And here I am, welcoming you in the best way I can welcome people. I am very smiley in person.

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You may be wondering why I’m lucky enough to have a second SITS Day, just a little over a year after my first. I am lucky enough because I am a new Community Lead for this amazing group. I write articles here. And thank you, Janine, for this badge.

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Now you may wonder what the heck a SITS Day is. SITS Girls is an online community of over 75,000 women bloggers and counting. It’s a place to support, connect with, and learn from other bloggers on the forums, through tutorials and through featured posts and featured bloggers. SITS Girls shares tips on blogging, photography, social media, SEO, vlogging, and how to make money through paid blogger opportunities. Every weekday, they feature a blogger from their (our?) huge, growing community. Today, I’m so lucky it’s ME! Again. My last SITS Day brought many of you to me, and me to you.

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And what does SITS mean to me? Well to put it mildly – a lot! When I came here, a year and a half ago now and counting, I was really ready to connect and find my tribe. Or tribes. What has followed are some of the best connections I could have imagined. (I even know SEVERAL SITS members in real life now) When I say my life is more fulfilling with the SITS community in it, I’m not being corny or exaggerating. Whether you fellow bloggers are moms, or photographers, or writers, or all three like me…or whether we have nothing in common except for blogging, well, you’re here for me. And I’m here for you.

For a little background and history, first of all – hello! I’m Tamara, Owner/Photographer of Tamara Camera Photography.

This is me, modeling my favorite non-human thing (after photography, writing, moose and cookies) – sundresses:

I live in western Massachusetts with my husband and these two cuties. Scarlet is five and Desmond is two:

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We also have a foxy puppy named Athena, and two new kittens named Bella and Dinah. All three are rescue animals.

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We live in the woods of a small city/college town and we have four sprawling acres and a TARDIS shed.

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I’m also a writer – education-wise, semi-professionally, and with every fiber of my emotional being. It started when I was a young child and it will always be a part of me. It’s hard for me sometimes to work out the order of what I am and what I do: Mama, Photographer, Writer. No matter how you word it, those are the three most humbling and grounding elements of my life.

Thank you for visiting today! I’ve been really excited for this day.

You can find me on my Facebook page. I follow back and connect with other bloggers/photographers/businesses. You just have to tell me how to find you on FB in a message or on a post from with your fan page name or with a link and I’ll find you!

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Connect with me in these places! I always follow back and I try to say hello:

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Food, Folks & Summer Fun.

By the time you read this, I will be nestled comfortably in Cassidy’s family’s beach house in the heart of Cape Cod.

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Not to ever miss Ask Away Friday, I have a serendipitous switch this week with Tiffany from MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter. We both have summer foods and travels on the brain, and we both needed a last minute partner. Perfect, as I hadn’t yet swapped questions with my fabulous co-host. We’re doing a theme today – food & summer, and I think they go hand in hand quite nicely.

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Tiffany is a wonderful blogging friend, and like her title says, she is full of love, life and laughter – as well as great stories and photos of family life, travel life, and of course – Starbucks. She has been a wonderful and inspiring co-host for Ask Away Friday, and she makes fantastic graphics for her own blog and for all of us. Check her out -she will surely make you smile!

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Hooray, hooray, hooray for the all new #AskAwayFriday! Get to know our new hosts, meet our new co-host, and grab our new logo! Be sure to check out our new Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with! And always feel free to contact me here or anywhere if you want to swap with me.

What is #AskAwayFriday? Well…

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County as a place for us to connect with other bloggers by asking them ten questions to really get to know them. The sky is the limit with the questions you ask!

Meeting other bloggers and making new friends is one of the best parts of this online world!

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Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and
Amber from Bold Fit Mom

This week we welcome a brand new co-host, for the next two weeks, the amazing…Carol from Battered Hope!

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Carol from Battered Hope is an author, public speaker, health coach and so much more. She shares all those sides of herself with you on her site. Carol is always willing to share her story and her encouragement with anyone who may need it because as she says, “If I Can Overcome Tragedies, So Can You.”

Grab our brand new button, follow our amazing hosts, hop through the great link ups and make some new friends!

TamaraLikeCamera

Be sure to check out Tiffany’s answers to my questions about food and summer HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:

1. If you could pick a dish to represent each season what would they be?

Hmmm! I really had to think about this. For winter, there’s this chicken pot pie recipe that my brother taught us. It’s nothing like my mom’s from-scratch recipe of our youth. I mean, not at all. It’s all pre-made crusts, rotisserie chicken and frozen vegetables, but you know what? It hits the spot just right and the whole family will eat it. Well, it used to be that way. The children can be fickle and only like it on alternate Wednesdays. For spring, I’m going to say ice cream. Just ice cream. When all of the shops are opening and there are ice cream cakes and homemade ice creams, and an eight foot ice cream sundae that my friend made for my other friend? Yes, that happened. Sorry my photo is just a phone pic and doesn’t show the glory that it was:

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For summer, I will forever think about pasta salad. Tortellini pasta salad, with cheese, olives and pepperoni, if we’re being specific, which I think we are. For fall, Cassidy and his dad make this amazing pumpkin stew, with pumpkin, wild rice, sausage, lima beans, carrots and some other treasures. The bonus is that Cassidy bakes it IN a pumpkin! How about that one, eh?

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2. What is your favorite fruit?

This is hard and I want to answer, “EVERYTHING!” Or, “Depending on how I’m feeling, of course!” Fresh-picked berries are nearly unmatched. I can buy them at the store, but the taste of them when they’re fresh, sun-warmed, sweet and local? That is heaven. However, I have to say that apples win all. Apples are just always magical, and you can pair them with peanut butter or honey. I’m going to go deep here and say that when I was 16, I had a life-changing experience that I’m still finding the words to try to tell the story. It’s about growth, change, survival, adulthood, and learning the magic of yourself and your world. I can better talk about it now so I’ll probably have to write an update to that post. Anyway, when I was going through the scary growing stuff, I couldn’t really eat for 4-5 days. The only thing that sounded good to me was apples. So apples win it all.

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3. I know we’ve both had our battles with Mosquitos… What is your record number of bites at one time? *Mine is 8…so far.

Oh, I will never know! I’d bet at least 20 or 30. I got chigger poisoning on a lake once. My sister missed THREE days of work so I figured she must have had a really bad case but when I saw her, mine was a worse case. I’m strong, I guess. Once we went canoeing in some alligator-laden waters of Florida, and the mosquito bites I got were the kind that would have you waking up hourly to scratch the most intense itches imaginable. Then I got some nice scars too, I’m sure, but that’s a story for another day.

4. If you had to describe yourself as a fruit which one would you be?

Well most berries and apples can be sour or bitter. I’d like to think of myself as nearly always sweet. So I’m going with watermelon. Nearly always sweet, but probably too sweet sometimes. (yup). Sometimes seedy, and sometimes not at all!

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5. A day at the beach or at the pool? Why?

Beach. I’d bring my book and watch my kids splash around. Or I’d go alone and bring a book! I love the ocean because you never know what you’re going to find. Sharks, whales, dolphins, whatever. And the photography aspect is better at the beach.

It haunts, heals, intrigues and inspires me. All of it.

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6.Do you have any favorite photos of summer…?

You know, I have plenty! Ready for a photo bomb? I think I’m going to have to photo bomb this post..now…

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7. I know you have a love of sun dresses…definitely a perfect summertime look. What is your favorite dress and why (bonus for photo)?

You know, I don’t think I have a true favorite. I have many favorites and it would take too much digging to find photos of all, but this red one is a big favorite. It’s quirky and cute, and totally my color and very comfortable too!

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8. What is your favorite summertime meal?

Ice cream? Hot dogs? Pasta salad? Ok, my true favorite is a cup or bowl of clam chowder (New England style) and some sort of not necessarily healthy protein paired with great, crisp french fries. I’m thinking a great burger with pickles or fish and chips.

9. If you had to eat one meal for an entire week what would it be?

I’d need energy and health, right? So I’d choose a casserole. Cassidy makes a great cheesy quinoa (instead of pasta) and he adds ground turkey and abundant vegetables to it. It’s really very good and it’s fairly balanced. Balanced enough, anyway.

10. You’re going on vacation soon…what is your favorite part of getting away on a summer day?

Yes, I’m away right now. I think I have a very curious and energetic spirit, and of course my kids do, because they’re kids. The thing is – I never outgrew it. Never. I see the wonder in a day in a beach town, or in the water, or exploring a lighthouse.

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Thanks, Tiffany! That was totally fun and fit the mood of the end of this week. Happy Weekend, to all!

Be sure to check out our Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with or to just talk about anything #AskAwayFriday!

Would you like to join in on the #AskAwayFriday fun as a co-host? Click on the link below and fill out the form!
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1UhIFHDZT8-hFtNjHU7v5HHqM1N9JWq7eSd_5aO_MOdY/viewform

By adding your email to this link up, you will be added to email correspondence that may be sent by one of our hosts, you may opt out at any time.

Hosts reserve the right to remove any links that do not pertain to the #AskAwayFriday theme.



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Thanks for sticking around for #LOBS! This weekend’s theme is all summer vacations or staycations, so link up your summer posts about what you’re doing this summer, or what you’ve done in prevous summers. Anything goes! My co-hosts:

Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life


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Crystal from Mommifried


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Angela from WriterMom’s Blog


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Kristen from Four Hens and a Rooster


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Amber from “City Girl On Hicks Farm“.


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We’d all love to connect with you outside of our LOBS Link Party…Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram…wherever you’d like to connect! My buttons are all at the top of my blog. Write me a note letting me know that you are visiting from the Ladies Only Blog Share or #LOBS, either in the comments below or feel free to send me a tweet or leave me a note on Facebook! I will definitely respond and follow you back! And the rest of my co-hosts would be thrilled to meet you as well!

Now, let’s get started on the link party! Have fun and visit the links below. We ask that you try to visit at least three. Remember to leave a thoughtful comment on the new blogs you’ve discovered and let them know you’re visiting from the Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party! Feel free to pin your blog post to the Ladies Only Blog Share Pinterest board, too! In the URL field, place the link to your post. The name field should contain the title of your post.

Use the hashtag #LOBS when tweeting! Doesn’t it have a nice ring to it?

A few simple requests are…

** Follow and visit all of the hosts and co-hosts

** Link up your favorite post! Please try to stick to our weekly theme

** Please share this link party so others can join

** Visit at least three of the blogs on the link party

And now, party time:

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday: A Quirky Compilation.

I’m never really wordless.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. I’ve been known to be without speech at key moments in time – at the end of Lion King and American Beauty, and for 20 minutes after. During the whole of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and for about two hours after. When faced with grand surprises (puppies, 20-foot tall Christmas trees, and trips). When presented with public declarations of love, and/or engagement rings. Even then, I generally know what to say. Something along the lines of “Yes” or “I love you too.”

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I don’t get writer’s block, at least the way people describe the feelings of writer’s block. If I have to write something but need a break, I do the walk away method, or the call a friend method, or the go shopping for hot sundress method, or the eat ice cream with extra rainbow sprinkles method. If I don’t have to write something, I may not want to write. I may be too fried from SITS Girls articles, blog commenting, lengthy emails, and three posts a week – generally no more or no less, thank you very much.

And what I do get is busy – busy with packing for this weekend’s beach vacation (I may actually relax). Busy with letting Des linger in the sandbox at Scarlet’s camp. Busy with resting my tired, overthinking head. Busy with summer reading or making Wordless Wednesday posts that are actually supposed to be nearly wordless, and are getting to be three paragraphs in already!

I get busy editing clients’ photos. So busy I forget to edit personal photos for months on end:

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So I sat down yesterday and today and started catching up on all of the stories that happened in between the stories you see photos about. I do that. I jump around. A little here, and a lot there. There are moments that fall through the cracks, though. In between editing all of the photos from getting Athena, and then the kittens, to the graduations and birthday parties and so many other big things, I forgot to upload and edit the photos that tell less of a story – or just do so in fewer photos. Everything else.

So that’s what I have for you today – in this nearly but not even remotely close to nearly Wordless Wednesday. I have a quirky bunch of photos from early Spring on. And I think they tell stories – I can tell you the stories or you can tell me some stories. It will be a “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of thing. If you want to hear more, just tell me the photo and I’ll tell you more:

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The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name.

The word for today is “charmed.”

When I first heard about the Lost My Name books and went to their website, I was absolutely charmed by this video:

Pretty irresistible, right? I love everything about this family company and the beautiful books they create, and I loved the descriptions on their website about the meaning that goes into their books. Their words tell a story I want to hear more about.

From their team:

“The book was made by three dads and an uncle who started up the project as something small, and well, it turned into something really great!”

From their website:

Life is an adventure.
Fun, surprising, occasionally scary, mostly marvelous and intensely personal.

Our book is a celebration of that.
It tells the story of a child who has lost his or her name, and bravely sets off to track down the missing letters.

It’s a magical journey like no other.
Along the way the child meets lots of weird and wonderful characters, who each give the first letter of their name.

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Our book came last week. I had walked the long walk to the mailbox that day and Scarlet met at the door. “Did anything come for me?” She asked. “Actually, yes.” I said. “You got a wonderful book about a little girl named Scarlet who lost her name.”

She was so excited, which is rare to happen with books lately, because she wants everything to be a kitten, a camera, or a princess. However, she told me she had been thinking about a book about a little girl named Scarlet, and now she had one.

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While waiting for Cassidy to read it, she placed the book next to a sleeping Athena, hoping it would give Athena nice dreams.

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I actually read the book first, mostly out of curiosity, and because I have a deep love for interesting children’s books and I remember getting totally lost in books throughout my whole life. In fact, I used to like being sick because it meant I could read all day. I tried to imagine myself getting lost in this book. Even as an adult, the website and video intrigued me. Of course I can’t wait for her to read long books by herself, but there is something so special about cuddling up in cute pajamas (I don’t know why she chose Christmas pajamas in July) and reading a book together. I imagine and I hope that it stays.

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I listened in, but I also had to take photos because it’s quite rare for both kids to be sitting still and listening to a story.

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They went to bed soon after this reading, no doubt with adventures and journeys on their minds. The next afternoon while Scarlet was at summer camp, I peeked down and noticed Des flipping neatly through the book. Not only that, he was attempting to read aloud to our kitten, Dinah.

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Kittens, charmed books, and cute kids. You just can’t make this stuff up. You just have to photograph it.

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When you come back from the cuteness, Lost My Name has a 20% discount code for you! Link HERE. Discount code: camerablog20

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes, and because I really, really wanted it. Who wouldn’t? All charmed opinions are 100% my own.

My Husband Takes Over My Blog To Answer Ten Questions!

A few weeks ago, I had one of my totally weird ideas and I shared it with the Ask Away Friday community.

Remember when Des did an Ask Away Friday? Recently I thought it would be cool if I paired up with one of my favorite bloggers, but instead of asking each other ten questions, we would ask each other’s husbands to answer ten questions for us. And somehow, I got two takers already! Cassidy will be answering ten probing questions on my birthday (two weeks away, for those who want to send a moose), and today, he answers ten questions asked by one of my favorites – Christy of Sweet and Savoring.

I mean, come on – have you wondered things about Cassidy? I talk so much and he’s been silent..until now.

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(Above: Christy and her husband, Andy, who will be answering my questions on her blog.)

Hooray, hooray, hooray for the all new #AskAwayFriday! Get to know our new hosts, meet our new co-host, and grab our new logo! Be sure to check out our new Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with! And always feel free to contact me here or anywhere if you want to swap with me.

What is #AskAwayFriday? Well…

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County as a place for us to connect with other bloggers by asking them ten questions to really get to know them. The sky is the limit with the questions you ask!

Meeting other bloggers and making new friends is one of the best parts of this online world!

NEWAskAwayFridayHost550

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and
Amber from Bold Fit Mom

This week we welcome a brand new co-host, for the next two weeks, the amazing…Carol from Battered Hope!

Askaway-Carol-BatteredHope
Carol from Battered Hope is an author, public speaker, health coach and so much more. She shares all those sides of herself with you on her site. Carol is always willing to share her story and her encouragement with anyone who may need it because as she says, “If I Can Overcome Tragedies, So Can You.”

Grab our brand new button, follow our amazing hosts, hop through the great link ups and make some new friends!

TamaraLikeCamera

For Andy’s answers to my questions about photography, travel & life, go HERE. Here are Cassidy’s answers to Christy’s questions:

1. We get to hear what life is like from Tamara’s perspective all the time. Tell me what about a typical day in the life of Cassidy.

First of all, thanks for inviting me into this. It’s an honor to be “Ask Away’d”. I’m going to consider a “typical” day a work day. I am typically woken up by a kid or a dog. I am typically at work before 8am by choice. I’m an Operations Manager at a small company. I typically have an idea of what I come into work wanting to do and 9 times out of 10 my day never ends up like that. My workday can be anything from 1 to 100 issues ranging from completely unimportant to Defcon 5. I leave work when I decide to stop working on these issues and I leave work on the table every day without fail. No one watches my clock but me. Typically, I have 1-3 hours between getting home and the kids going to sleep – a strange couple of hours because it’s my favorite time of the day (being with the family) but admittedly I’m not always at my best. After the kids go to sleep, well you can skip ahead to #9 if you want.

2. I love Tamara’s How We Met Story! Do you have a favorite picture of her from your early years?

I’m going to choose:

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I took this photo lying on the side of Route 2 in New Hampshire on the first weekend we ever met. When I think about Tamara to this day, this is what I think of her; hands on her hips, fearless, happy, bigger than the tallest mountain around.

3. What has surprised you the most about being a father?

I think I always had some notion about the depth of love being a parent would bring so if I take this question at face value I will go with what surprised me most…and that is how much I get off watching my parents as grandparents. This is something I did not think about too much before we had kids so when I saw it/felt it, I wasn’t prepared for how great it makes me feel. It’s a completely unique and incredible feeling I get when I watch my folks with our kids. I have often said that I would give up my own time with my kids just to watch that and store up that feeling. I am aware that won’t always be available so I would like to bank as much of that feeling as I possibly can.

4. I love how you create such magical experiences for Scarlet and Des. Did you have a similar childhood? Where do you get your inspiration?

Yes, I suppose I had a similar childhood. I did have elaborate birthdays and trips to faraway places, sure. Although the details aren’t necessarily the same I would say that at the core of it all I was given a childhood where my imagination was allowed to roam free. I was also an only child (for a long time) so that gave me a ton of time with myself, my imagination, dreams, etc…That is my #1 inspiration – my own brain. As Tamara can attest, I don’t do Pinterest. I feel like I am barely scratching the surface of what I already have going on in my own head. A lot of the crazy things I have done around our home are ideas I have had in my head since I was a kid. Most of the time I feel exactly as I did when I was 7 years old – except I now have a car and a line of credit at Home Depot.

5. What would you do with the family if you were given $10,000 and told you could travel anywhere together?

I would suggest going someplace beautiful that none of us have ever been to where no one speaks English.

6. What qualities of Tamara’s do you see in Scarlet and Des? What qualities of your own do you see?

Qualities of Tamara in our kids: thoughtfulness, kindness, love of animals, and Scarlet has become an excellent amateur photographer.

Qualities of me in our kids: thoughtfulness, love of gardening and cooking, adventurous spirit, and Scarlet can be alone with nothing but her imagination for hours and be totally content (self reliance).

7. How did you get your job with ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) and how long did you work there?

One of the craziest things about that job is that I got it from an ad in the Sunday paper that was less than 1″x1″. I still have the ad. In college I was a Talent Buyer booking bands. I had been in San Francisco for 5 years managing restaurants and then being an IT Buyer during the dotcom boom. I saw that ad in the paper and thought it was the longshot to end all longshots. I ended up getting an interview which lasted 5 hours. Among the many questions I had to answer were: “The Model Shop uses turkey vultures to sculpt the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. How do you procure a dead turkey vulture?” and “In the Witches of Eastwick, we needed 10,000 orange tennis balls. Regulation tennis balls are yellow. Where do you find 10,000 orange ones?” and “What’s your favorite movie?” (I judiciously answered “Raiders of the Lost Ark”). I was called back for a 2nd interview that lasted another couple hours and I think I knew I had it at that point. The first car I ever owned (a very old Camry) died for good on the way home from the 2nd interview on the mountain leading to the Golden Gate bridge. I worked there for exactly 4 years (give or take a day). I was laid off right after Episode 3 wrapped. I have a real soft spot for some of the movies to come out of that era (Van Helsing, The Day After Tomorrow. Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter 2 & 3, Minority Report) because I bought things that I can see onscreen in those movies. I got to be an extra in EP2 and EP3. I learned a ton in those 4 years, did some awfully stupid things, and made some lifelong friends. I ended up later going through another 5+ hours of interviews to be the Operations Manager of LucasArts. A byproduct of both experiences is that I really like being an interviewee and an interviewer. Grill me for 5 hours. Sling any question you have at me. I love it.

This is a photo of me with a Timber Wolf I rented for Van Helsing (I actually got in trouble for this because I did not insure the ILM campus against potential Timber Wolf attack):

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8. You recently went to see Phish, and from what I gather you are very into music. Any stand-out concert/tour memories you’d like to share?

Yes. There are literally hundreds of Grateful Dead and Phish shows I could choose from. Hundreds that stand out. Hundreds that hold a piece of my heart forever. The one I will share is actually coming up on the 25th anniversary in a few days; 7/14/89 – The Who at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, MA. This was the 2nd concert of my life that I got to under my own power (aka, I was not driven to by mom or dad). This is, by far, one of the loudest concerts I have ever been to in my life. Aside from my own guitar playing over the years which as done the most damage to my ears, The Who did some significant damage that night. My ears were ringing for days after. After the obligatory set two closer “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, The Who came out for the encore without Roger Daltrey. Pete Townshend said, “Roger pulled something at the end of that song but we don’t need him to do this song…TWIST AND FUCKING SHOUT!” and then launched into that tune with Entwhistle taking the vocals. At the end, Townshend took his guitar and smashed his mic stand with it. I will never forget that moment. It’s one of many moments I have experienced in stadiums and ampitheatres across this country where I can pinpoint to the second where my life changed.

9. What’s your favorite way to unwind after a really crazy day?

Well, we’re talking about that sweet spot between the kids going to bed and me going to bed. 2-3 hours on average, right? These are precious hours. If I’m being honest (and I’m being honest) when I know the kids are down for the count I will head to the basement, smoke a bowl, come back upstairs and queue up one of two things on tv…either a) a series I have downloaded (I just finished Broadchurch and season one of Orphan Black) OR b) a movie which can range from good to extremely crappy – the most recent being “Noah” which is one of the worst movies I have ever seen and I was legitmately entertained for approximately 42% of it.

10. This has become a favorite question of mine: Write a haiku about yourself (a three line poem in which the first line is five syllables, the second is seven, and the third is five).

about circles, life
the gypsy flies coast to coast
he always knew home

Tamara again. Well. I’m stunned silent. Thank you, Christy, for these questions. Thank you, Cassidy for these answers.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with or to just talk about anything #AskAwayFriday!

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Over The Top.

Today, my little girl will turn five.

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It’s probably no secret that I’ve been out of sorts lately. I can’t put my finger on when I transitioned from stable to unstable, but I never quite recovered from the excitement of June’s birthdays and graduations. And from BlogU and my grandmother passing away. It seemed like everything happened all at once and I was so strong for so long, and lately, I have been giving in a little. Sometimes I just wake up and think of “Another Tricky Day” by The Who. “Another tricky day, Another gently nagging pain.”

It’s another day of being up too early, and of still not being sure of the kittens. They’re adorable and cuddly and sweet, but everything else about them is not for me. I don’t know if anything that uses a litterbox, has claws, and wakes up too early could ever really be for me. They are cute, though. And Des is very cute, but he spends a lot of time whining. Having five dependents needing something from me about two to three hours earlier than I’m honestly comfortable being awake, is.. well, it’s trying.

And it’s so hard to plan ahead feeling the way I feel but I try because it’s summer and usually in the summer I’m unstoppable. This year, I just feel stoppable. Too stoppable. I even made a fantastic meme to describe how I feel lately. That was fun.

However. We threw Scarlet a wonderful birthday party and I was fine and it was fun and her birthday itself, today, will be fun too. And at 4:55pm on the dot, I will remember every detail about her birth and I will potentially break into sobs at the fragility, not necessarily of life, but of time. I remember it all so clearly, and I remember the fill-ins from the past five years.

And we have lived. Together.

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And we will live some more. Together.

The party prep started early, but maybe not early enough as there was a lot of last minute scrambling. The essentials, however, were secured. A bubble machine, a cotton candy machine, and of course – a gigantic, ridiculously large bounce house.

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The night before the party, the kids could be found in the bounce house until nightfall.

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Cassidy was putting up his hand-drawn, hand-painted and hand-cut Rapunzel tower at 3:00am.

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Scarlet’s reaction to the tower the next morning was priceless.

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The grandparents arrived early. The decorations were set. The garish princess cake was purchased.

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The face painter (a friend), was set up, and then it was party time.

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Cotton candy machine = big hit. Who knew?

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And then, my favorite part.

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Over the top for a birthday party? Well, maybe. It was over the top in that totally Bowman way in which nothing else will do.

Make no mistake about it. The Bowmans throw a mean party.

One Small Voice.

For so long, on Friday the 13th of June and over that whole weekend, my one small voice felt silenced.

I wanted so much to concentrate fully on the enormity of that one big thing – Des’ second birthday and being two years past what it was like to meet him. How it felt to hold him against me, and even how it felt to watch him belong to someone else for a bit, as I was pretty much chasing an ambulance and then racing to a NICU two days after his birth. Post-partum, pained and shaken.

It all turned out ok, though..

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(I have since gotten him a haircut. He was starting to look like Pigpen.)

And I wanted so much to concentrate fully on the enormity of that other one big thing on the same day – Scarlet’s preschool graduation and being nearly two years past her entrance into this safe and healthy school that we chose. And how it was safe and healthy for ME. I’m losing my place there too. We’re finding another. It’s not about me, but isn’t it about me, just the same?

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(Me, around the same age – guess which one is me!)

My mom came for Des’ birthday/Scarlet’s preschool graduation and my one small voice was swallowed up by birthday presents and birthday cakes and new train sets, and Des’ need to hug my mom…every…30 seconds. It’s magical really.

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And I remembered what we had and what we have. I remembered that on the Wednesday morning before this, he came with me to my dentist appointment and lay in my lap stroking my arms for a half hour, until he fell asleep and I completed my dental cleaning/exam by running my fingers through his flippy, teen 80′s movie hair. If that isn’t bonding, I don’t know what is.

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My one small voice was swallowed up in the dark, rainy, humid day of celebration. I knew people could see and hear me just fine, but I still chose mostly silence. I was proud. I was nervous. I was annoyed at the pouring rain, for the second Des birthday in a row, and what an indoor preschool party and later birthday party would look like under low light. Good, but not as good.

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(You can spot her, right? In the black!)

I started writing this weeks ago, actually on that day or the one after. I’m continuing the draft after summer has already settled over us into a familiar but unfamiliar rhythm of summer camp and heat and air conditioning and small trips. However, the sentiment is still there. In fact, Scarlet is turning five this week. And I’ll be ready with a post and a cake and my camera.

The kids sang a song called “One Small Voice” and I about lost it every time I heard her rehearse it around the house.

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This is a boy she has known since she was three-weeks-old. Special, right?

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Then it was her turn to cross over the bridge to kindergarten. I got a little (a lot) verklempt.

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And then we left early, because Des fell asleep in my arms, and it was time to go home and celebrate his birthday. And nothing says, “I love you” like backwards letters on your “Happy Birthday” sign and a cake with 117 ingredients. Nothing.

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Big sisters are very helpful at blowing out the candles, as his efforts (below) were comical.

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And then it was cake time. Did he like the cake?

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Short answer. Heck yes.

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This is the one that inspired me to make a meme about cake.

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I think cake inspires some pretty great facial expressions, don’t you?

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Ah, the sweet red dye of birthday success.

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Five of the grandparents came, which was really special. And they all came to Scarlet’s birthday party last week too. It was not overwhelming at all. It was perfect. And Scarlet said about her real birthday, this Wednesday (much more on that soon), “Can we.. just spend the whole day just the four of us?” Perfect. She’ll be getting a kid REAL camera, and maybe a day at Six Flags.

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Such big kids, with such big lives, and such big plans. And big voices. We all have big voices when we want to have big voices.

The More Kisses & Illegal Fireworks, The Better.

So, what are you doing for the Fourth of July?

I’ve been remembering lately that my parents used to throw a gigantic BBQ pool party on July 4th every year. In my exaggerated kid memories, I think close to 2,000 people came. They would spread out their towels side by side, and not a square inch of grass could be seen. There were hot dogs and sparklers. There may or may not have been illegal fireworks, but it’s not like I’m going to confirm that here. I witnessed my first makeout session in the pool, by some of my parent’s friends’ amorous kids. I learned a lot in summer, and most of it was about what to do when you’re throwing a July 4th party. The more French kisses and illegal fireworks, the better. That sounds like a good quote, right? Right. In fact, hold on. I’m going to click to tweet that goodness.

This year should be fairly calm. I’m doing a wonderful Ask Away Friday sequel with my lovely friend, Lanaya, of Raising Reagan.

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What can I say about Lanaya? She’s beautiful and smart. She’s inspiring. She writes about parenting, work, life, fun, OCD, cupcakes, family and so much more. She’s a true friend and inspiration to me, and one day we’ll hang out by her pool. I know it.

Hooray, hooray, hooray for the all new #AskAwayFriday! Get to know our new hosts, meet our new co-host, and grab our new logo! Be sure to check out our new Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with! And always feel free to contact me here or anywhere if you want to swap with me.

What is #AskAwayFriday? Well…

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County as a place for us to connect with other bloggers by asking them ten questions to really get to know them. The sky is the limit with the questions you ask!

Meeting other bloggers and making new friends is one of the best parts of this online world!

NEWAskAwayFridayHost550

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and
Amber from Bold Fit Mom

This week we welcome a brand new co-host, for the next two weeks, the amazing…Suzanna from One Hoolie Mama!

Ask-Away-Suzanna

Suzanna is a new mama to the adorable Baby D and several fur babies, also known as the Hooligans! She is an amateur runner who is madly in love with her hubby and chocolate, as well as enjoying a glass of wine or two. Some of her other loves include photography and DIY projects. Be sure to stop by and show her a little love!

Grab our brand new button, follow our amazing hosts, hop through the great link ups and make some new friends!

TamaraLikeCamera

To read Lanaya’s answers to my questions, go HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:

1. I’ve known you for a while and while you have so many gorgeous photos of your family .. and a few cute clips of Des walking, I don’t see you in front of the camera much. I’m talking video camera. Would you consider doing a vlog? And no you can’t use the excuse that you are shy and timid in front of a camera!

Please pardon the shakiness!

2. If you had the ability to be famously wealthy like Bill Gates and had a very charitable heart {which, let’s face it, we all know you do!} … what famous attraction would you open up for anyone who wanted to go but couldn’t afford to?

I feel like we already think that way, on a small scale, and you’ll see that more when I finally write my post about Scarlet’s crazy birthday party. Well we have space in our yard, we have dreams and visions, and we have a great event planner here. (Cassidy) I feel I’d love to make a kidscape based on children’s wildest dreams. Maybe we’d have to know more about an individual family first, and then with no worries about money, but probably worries about time, we’d set into action and make it happen. I’d want a changing dreamscape/playscape, basically, depending on the dreams/desires of the families. We could do it.

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3. It’s the 4th of July!! What are you and the family doing to celebrate the birth of our nation?

Cassidy will be getting home from an overnight after a Phish show. If the weather permits, we will go to a local Fourth of July parade. I hear it’s very spirited! And then maybe some popsicles or ice cream. My favorite ice cream place is open tomorrow!

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4. In the spirit of the birth of our nation … Do you think our forefathers would be proud of what we have accomplished as a society?

Well.. umm.. I may be vague. I think it depends on the forefather. Some had dreams that may or may not have included the progression of our society. Others.. not so much. I think they’d be impressed with science and technology, no?

5. Your husband seems quite talented when it comes to planning parties – Alice in Wonderland last year, Rapunzel and her tower this year. Where does his overwhelming talent come from?

He is wickedly talented. I’m going to have to thank his parents and genetics in general for this one. He makes dreams possible. He believes AND he acts. I am one or the other most of the time. I think he was brought up seeing both of his parents create gardens and healthy, delicious foods, and homes and marriages and dreams. That stuff sticks, you know?

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6. How are all the animals getting along in your household? What is it? Two kittens and a dog now?

Yes, two kittens and a dog. Well the kittens get along great with each other. The dog sometimes just wants to lick them over and over and over. One of them, the black and white Dinah, doesn’t care at all. The gray kitten, Bella, will hide more often.

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7. Have you ever cheated on a test in school before?

Yes, I have. I mentioned in my last post that I had trouble with dissections and most of biology class topics. My teacher loved me and once he caught me cheating, he never looked at me the same again. That was just it. Very sad. Don’t cheat on tests!

8. What was the last song you danced to?

I don’t even remember but I think it was recent! I think it was P.Y.T. by Michael Jackson.

9. Is there one thing in your life that you just wish you could get a grip on but for whatever reason just never seems to come together for you?

I struggle very much with maintenance. I can get a burst of energy and go garden, eat healthily, cook a meal, clean a bathroom, but it’s just bursts. I seem to forget that bathrooms need to be cleaned weekly, if not more. And meals need to be cooked daily.

10. Have you taken Scarlet and Des to the movie theater yet? If not .. what’s the last movie you watched as a family?

Des just turned two so he’s not quite there yet, but Scarlet has seen both Frozen and The Lego Movie in the theater. Frozen was her first. I took her in November opening weekend and she sat on my lap the whole time. I kept thinking about what would happen if I had an anxiety attack or had to pee badly, but luckily, we not only survived it. We liked it.

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Be sure to check out our Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with or to just talk about anything #AskAwayFriday!

Would you like to join in on the #AskAwayFriday fun as a co-host? Click on the link below and fill out the form!
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Not Even Close To Wordless Wednesday: Ten Years & Ice Cream.

With the craziness of recent years and recent months. With kid birthday parties, puppies and kittens. With work and money and the day to day mundane tasks. With blog conferences, preschool graduations and summer camp arrangements. With travel, birth and death. Sometimes I can forget what it was that brought me here. I am publishing this post at the exact time I met Cassidy ten years ago, at JFK Airport. I realize I have told my story before and I figured there was nothing new I could add to it so I didn’t even think I’d write a ten years post. Last night I realized – there are photos. Many I’ve shown you and many I have not.

We met on sales emails, before online dating was even a thing. Emails were all we had at one point. The photos we shared described pasts, presents, and future dreams. They came alive. They are as much a part of our history as the air we breathe.

I will never run out of both new and old things to say. I can always add to this story, because this story grows daily. We made it all count. And we sent the photos and graphics and stories of our lives. This is what my life looked like, ten years ago:

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(The one on the left married us. The one on the far right was a groomsman.)

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(This one is actually more recent but it seemed fitting so I cheated with one..)

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We met on July 1st at JFK Airport. We rode the monorail until I got dizzy and then we talked in the parking lot. Then I got ridiculously lost leaving NYC and we wound up in The Hamptons on a beach. After that, Cassidy bought a map at a gas station and I found myself in western Mass for the first time. After an all-nighter, breakfast at Friendly’s and asking Cassidy’s mom’s neighbor for a key, we spent two days exploring Shelburne Falls, MA. Then we drove to Bethel, ME to the sight of fireworks welcoming us into town. We saw our first moose after a day or two in Maine. Then we went straight back to JFK Airport, on dark and winding roads, while listening to U2 “Achtung Baby”. Then we had to say goodbye for now, and eventually for two years.

We found each other again one day, at JFK Airport all over again. For now, we celebrate ten years ago. With ice cream?

And before I sign off for the night, I feel that it’s absolutely important that I participate in this week’s #TuesdayTen list. Rabia and Lisa are compiling and linking up posts about favorite ice creams! I have a lot to say about ice cream, you see.

The Liebers

So if you ever want to buy me ice cream and make your way into my heart forever, here are ten flavors I love.

1. Any vanilla-based peanut butter & chocolate type ice cream, including but not limited to moose and deer tracks flavors.
2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
3. Butter Brickle from Cliff’s Ice Cream in the 1980′s. Oh, happy day.
4. Burnt Sugar from Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream in Easthampton, MA.
5. Black raspberry ice cream, but not without rainbow sprinkles absolutely coating it!
6. Salted butter caramel type variations.
7. Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch.
8. Talenti Sea Salt Caramel.
9. Pumpkin Ice Cream (in the fall).
10. Peanut Brittle.

I like treasures in my ice cream. Textures. Chunks. Bits, pieces, odds & ends, and lots of it. Otherwise I do embarrassing things with rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream just to compensate for what is missing.