My Favorite Poem

I wore braces on my teeth for 4 years when I was a youngster (under 30)! For Christmas my mom bought me a book of poems by Shel Silverstein. My favorite poem in the book, still to this day, is as follows:

“The walrus got braces, and now his face is a tangle of wires and steel. He’ll sit and he’ll wait, ’til his tusks are both straight, but meanwhile, they’re ruining his meal.”

There is a picture of a walrus with brackets, wire and steel on the page. The walrus looks as miserable as I felt on days when I went to the dentist and he would tighten my braces. 

I was thinking of this poem today. It made me laugh. 

Happy Monday!

Namaste.

Sarathlete

MODEL NEEDED

This Friday afternoon, as I sat in my hot, stuffy office cubicle, I yearned for a bit of joy. So, I logged into Facebook to live vicariously through my friends’ status updates for a few moments. As I started to peruse the news feed, I came across this post from my friend, Tim Fealy:

NEEDED.. 1 or 2 attractive friends (man or woman but size small or medium) to model a “boot camp” shirt by the military tank this afternoon. Msg me if you are able to. Shirts provided. And I can pay you with a shirt. Thank you.

First, I thought to myself, “You can do this”. Then I wondered if Tim would be willing to trade the free t-shirt for a service donation to my marathon charity (Opportunity Enterprises—OE for short) instead. (FYI, a service donation is an exchange of one person’s time for another person’s donation to a charity.)

I messaged this to Tim: “I can help. I get out of work at 5pm. I work right at the intersection of Taft and Route 30 so I’m close by.”

Tim messaged me back with instructions on where the set for the photo shoot was. I was excited! A model? Me? Who knew?

I reviewed my self-doubts noticing one particular doubt I’ve always struggled with—my non-model body. Let’s face it—being 5 feet tall with an athletic, curvy build isn’t what usually graces the front page of magazines. Instead of having a sinewy Kate Moss-like body, I am built more like Olympic gold medalist, Shawn Johnson. I convinced myself that being built like an athlete wasn’t necessarily a bad thing at all for modeling at a fitness-related photo shoot. I was going to be photographed for a race called Beast Boot Camp 5K. Perhaps I could model fitness. Perhaps my strength would come across in the photos.

When I showed up on set, I found a tiny Sara looking up at this giant military war tank:

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Photo taken by http://posttrib.suntimes.com/photos/galleries/index.html?story=8977789

By the way, funny tidbit, those Christmas lights are still on that pine tree to the left of the tank. You can see them clearly in the daylight!

Once I put on the Beast Boot Camp 5K t-shirt, I got it in my head that I should climb on top of the tank. Despite my flip-flops not making the climb an easy accomplishment, with a helpful hand from Tim I managed to monkey-climb my way up to the first level of the the tank and eventually climbed to the second, upper part of the tank. Once on top of the tank I found I had to relax and breathe to calm my initial fear of heights. After a few breaths I was able to weave my way around the tank to pose for photos like a spider on a web. Once Tim started taking pictures I found I’d left my fear of heights in the lost-and-not-wanted-anymore bin, at least for now. I felt so free on top of that army tank modeling a camouflage Beast Boot Camp 5K t-shirt.

I took an assisted lift from Tim to get down from my jungle gym in the clouds that I’d found. I posed for a few pictures on the ground next to the tank and then—the photo shoot was over…

So now what?

Tea with the photographer is what! In exchange for helping out my friend Tim I received the offer of tea and conversation with a friend at Sip Coffee House in Crown Point, Indiana.

I never got to ask Tim about a service donation to my marathon charity. I also hadn’t seen—and still haven’t seen—the photos that he took of me atop of and next to the tank. We sat in comfy chairs at Sip, had tea and a hot cocoa and chatted. Tim gave me some much appreciated advice about my blog—to write more frequently.

I’m so glad I answered Tim’s Facebook ad. I got to be a model and a friend tonight by taking a leap of faith and answering an ad I found on Facebook for a MODEL NEEDED.

Peace,
Sara

How To Make Rejuvelac, Part 1: Soaking

Rejuvelac is a fermented beverage that is made from a sprouted grain such as rye, soft white wheat berries or quinoa (the list goes on).

I’m going to show you how to make rejuvelac at home. This will be a multi-day process with minimal work and lots of results.

Here’s what you will need for Part 1:

  • 1 cup of grain. I will be using rye berries on this post. I recommend non-gmo, organic berries if possible. I get mine at a store that sells them in bulk. For me, the cost per cup is $0.75.
  • A 1/2 gallon glass jar with a wide mouth, like a Mason Ball canning jar. Michael’s, a craft store, sells them in different sizes.
  • 1 square of cheesecloth, which you can purchase at the grocery store.
  • Water. Purified or tap is fine.
  • A rubber band or Mason jar lid, used to secure the cheesecloth.
  • A wooden spoon.

Here are step-by-step instructions (with pictures included) on soaking grains for making rejuvelac.

  1. Take 1 cup of rye berries and put them in a 1/2 gallon sized Mason jar.

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  2. Put three or more cups of water into the jar to cover the berries.

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  3. Take a wooden spoon with a long handle, put the handle into the water and stir briskly. By doing this we are making sure that all of the berries are completely immersed in the water.

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  4. Remove the spoon. Using scissors cut a small square or rectangle of cheesecloth to cover the mouth of the jar. Secure the cheesecloth with either a rubber band or the lid of the Mason jar.

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  5. Walk (or run) away and let the berries soak overnight (or about 8 – 12 hours).

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I usually start soaking them in the morning before work so when I get home they’re ready for the next part—sprouting!

Peace,
Sara

My Review of Wine & Canvas South Bend

I have taken four painting classes with Wine & Canvas South Bend. Do not let their company name fool you. Even though they are called Wine & Canvas South Bend, they travel to Northwest Indiana locations including the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville, Indiana and Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Indiana. Wine & Canvas South Bend also offers classes at their studios located in Elkhart and Granger, Indiana.

I found out about Wine & Canvas, for short, through a Facebook friend, Robin. She was sharing a Wine & Canvas event link on her Facebook page. When I went to the Wine & Canvas website and checked out their calendar, I was hooked. I loved the variety of paintings that were offered. I located to my purse, fished out my debit card and signed up for four painting classes on Thursday nights at the Radisson Hotel. I was ready to paint!

The price is $35 per class which includes art supplies such as an apron, gallery-wrapped canvas, paint, brushes, easels and an artist to guide you through the class. Classes are approximately 3 hours long. Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and food are not included in the price but are available to order for an additional cost. At the Radisson, the food and drinks come directly from the hotel’s restaurant, T.J. Maloney’s. By not including food and drinks in their price, Wine & Canvas is able to keep their prices low.

Here are the four paintings I’ve completed:

My first painting was called Paradise Moon:

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This painting is called Vintage Romance:

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This painting is called Quiet Moon:

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This painting is called Moonlight Flight:

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The painting classes are a fun, indoor activity which gave me a chance to dip into my artsy side. I did my paintings during February and early March, which made the rest of the winter fly by because every week I had a new painting to look forward to.

Here are two other things I discovered along my the way after attending the four classes:

1. Get there before 5:30pm to reserve yourself or your party a seat in the front. Wine & Canvas pre-seats larger parties of 6- – 7 people so all of the group members are able to sit together. Canvases are used to reserve spots. If you get there early and no one from a pre-seated large party is there yet you can ask one of the assistants to move the parties’ canvases down a few spots so you can sit in the front row. There’s no reason you have to sit in the back when you arrive that early. Wine & Canvas rewards people who arrive early.

Shown below are the canvases reserving spots for a 7 member party:

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Shown here is the rest of the empty room.

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If you want to sit front and center, just ask!

2. The start time is advertised as 6:00pm, but the actual start time is 6:15pm. I verified the start time with Torie Jaques, an employee at Wine & Canvas South Bend, over the phone. I asked Torie why Wine & Canvas doesn’t show their actual start time on the calendar. Her response was, “If we adjust the time on the calendar to 6:15pm or 6:30pm, then we would have to wait for late comers to arrive and not start the class until 7:00pm”.

Here’s what I do to pass the time because I arrive very early:

Upon arrival after work at 5:10pm, I check in and reserve my spot right up front. I leave the painting room and come back at 6:15pm. Meanwhile, I find a spot inside the Radisson to relax, either at Starbucks or one of the many tables set up around the hotel, and pass the time with a quiet activity such as listening to music, reading a book or writing in my journal.

I hope you try out a class. I hope you enjoy yourself and the beautiful painting that you will produce!

Peace,
Sara

Opportunity Enterprises – All About Kids!

I’m running the Chicago Marathon again for charity. This year, my goal is to raise $1,285.00 for the charity Opportunity Enterprises (or OE for short) by race day—October 12, 2014.

Founded in 1967, Opportunity Enterprises is a non-profit organization striving to help children and adults with mental or physical developmental disabilities reach their fullest potential and live a full, enriching life. As OE says, “We’re in the business of Amazing People”.

This is my first year running for OE. I chose to run for them because they are a successful local charity in the business of helping people with needs. What really excited me was their program “All About Kids” that I will be helping to raise money for. “All About Kids” tries to catch disabilities in children as early as possible, then intervene using clinically proven techniques designed to reduce or eliminate a child’s need later in life. (If you feel that your children may not be meeting their developmental needs, you can contact OE at 219.464.9621.)

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We all have the opportunity to help makes changes in people’s lives. For me, running a marathon and raising money for a charity, such as OE, is a great way to start making those changes happen.

You can help me make a difference in someone’s life by supporting my Chicago Marathon run and pledging a donation to OE.

(If you do not see me in this picture waving at you then you’re on the wrong page!)

By making a donation to an amazing local organization, you can help people in your community less fortunate than yourself thrive in their lives. One hundred percent of the money you donate goes to OE directly to support their different programs for disabled people in need.

Please help make a difference. This year, it’s All About the Kids!

Peace and Love to Everyone,

Sara

What Do I Do With My Almond Milk Once I’ve Made It?

A friend asked me yesterday how the plain almond milk I’d made tasted. I told her it tasted like milk. I’ve been a vegan for two years and the taste of dairy milk is lost to me.

So I went to my husband, Pete Sawochka, the only vegetarian in the family who cannot give up dairy milk and cheese, and asked him to describe what dairy milk tastes like compared to my almond milk. Here’s what he said: “Well for one thing dairy milk not as sweet naturally. And if you’re talking about whole, dairy milk has a full, fatty flavor to it and the almond milk tastes a little water. Lastly there’s a taste in the main core flavor of dairy milk that’s just not there in almond milk. I would recommend sweetening the almond milk if a person is trying it for the first time.”

Pete is right. The taste of the almond milk is very bland with a very slight hint of almond in the background. If you’re trying almond milk for the first time, I recommend sweetening to start. One batch of almond milk we made yielded three cups. Add 1 or two tablespoons of either honey, agave nectar or other natural sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. While the milk won’t have the fatty taste of the whole milk, the sweetness of the milk will make up for that filling, fatty, smooth flavor that is missing. As a side note, if you drink skim milk like I used to, the thinness that skim milk has is very similar to the flavor of plain almond milk.

What can you do with your almond milk now that I’ve made it? I recommend you think of where you usually use dairy milk and replace it with almond milk. It’s great with cereal, works fabulously in a smoothie or replace it in a recipe that calls for milk in baking or cooking.

Here’s a super-chocolatey, sweet shake that is delicious and you can use your almond milk in it. In fact, I made my own almond milk for the first time last week in order to use it in this recipe and it worked out great. I did not sweeten my homemade almond milk because this recipe is already naturally sweet. Here’s the recipe:

Take 1 ripe avocado, 1 banana, 3-4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 or 3 dates pitted, 3 cups of almond milk and 5 or 6 ice cubes and blend the ingredients in a blender like we used to make the almond milk and enjoy! If you have a chocolate craving it’s awesome. And it makes enough to share a glass with family members!

My last tip has to do with the nut pulp we were left with. I’ve read that the pulp makes a great gluten free flour for gluten sensitive or intolerant people. Take the nut pulp, crumble the nut pulp in a thin layer on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate between four to six hours. Then blend the dehydrated pulp in a food processor or sift the flour after blending for a super fine texture.

I hope you enjoy the almond milk plain, sweetened, with some cereal for breakfast, in a smoothie or if you swap it out for dairy milk in a recipe.

Enjoy! Thanks for tuning in!

Sara Sawochka

Let’s Get Nutty—Making Almond Milk Day 2

Here we are on day 2 of making our own almond milk!

On day 1 we soaked our nuts to soften them to get them ready for the blender as you can see below. The nuts are soft so any sturdy blender will work. High speed blenders like the Vitamix or household blenders like my pink Kitchenaid will work!

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Other items you will need tonight besides a blender include cheesecloth or nut milk bag, colander, water and water.

Alright now let’s make our milk!

First, strain the almonds that were soaking into a colander. If you touch one you will notice how much softer they are now. Give the nuts a quick rinse with some fresh water.

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Second, put the nuts into the blender along with three cups of fresh water. Do not use the water you used for soaking—it’s dirty and you want to start fresh!

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Third, blend water and almonds together.

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Now you’ve got almond milk! How easy was that? Easy!

Here’s the last step. We need to clean our milk out a bit. We’ve got nut pulp in there. So now we will take a nut milk bag or some cheesecloth and put it over a bowl or large measuring glass to catch the milk.

Here’s cheesecloth from Home Depot:

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Here’s a nut milk bag I ordered from Amazon:

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I’m going to continue on using my nut milk bag. See below where I drape my bag over my large measuring glass:

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Take the blender and pour the milk out of the blender and into the container with the cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Do not overfill!

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Next pick up the sides of the bag and slowly lift the sides of the bag upwards and lift it out of the container:

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Last step is to softly squeeze the the bag and watch the nut separate from the nut pulp. You will start with a fat, puffy bag. When you’re finished squeezing the clarified milk out from the pulp you will have a super, skinny bag. See below.

Fat, puffy bag:

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Squeeze the bag softly at first. The milk will become projectile if you squeeze too hard.

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Super, skinny bag:

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All that’s left to do is pour your clarified nut milk into a storage container like a Mason Ball jar. Put the container in the fridge and let chill to use later.

Here’s the milk separated from the pulp:

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Here’s the pulp:

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Sexy nut pulp close up picture:

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The one cup of nuts soaked, blended with three cups of water and separated from the pulp gives you three cups of almond milk:

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If you want more milk then soak more nuts like we did yesterday and blend with the one cup of nuts and three cups of water ratio.

I got nutty and made lots of milk for myself!

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Last week it took me an hour and thirty minutes to make enough for the week. It’s so easy to make!

The milk tastes fairly bland because it is just nuts and water at this point.

Check out tomorrow’s final post on making your own almond milk and we will go over what you can do with the fresh almond milk you’ve created.

Thanks for getting nutty with me!

Sara Sawochka

Why Do You Love Me?

It’s nice to know you are loved. In this case it was so much better when I just asked about it instead of waiting for someone to tell me they loved me. But when the opportunity arose—I hesitated.

This year for Valentine’s Day, my friend Tim posted the following for his Facebook status:

“From now until Valentine’s Day, I am going to tell Facebook friends Why I love them. If you wish to be included, comment with “Why do you love me?” and I will tell you.”

When I first saw this I wasn’t sure what to think. Tim posted the above statement on February 12th which gave people a chance to respond. At first I hesitated and didn’t respond. I was afraid if I responded I would get a foolish answer. The thought of being publicly embarrassed in a virtual social venue terrified me. Stupid, huh? Not really when you think about it. No one really likes to be embarrassed—even the people that say they do don’t like it at heart. We want to hear good things about ourselves. We want to be appreciated. Anyways, I waited a few days before I responded with “Why do you love me?” to Tim’s post.

The reason I responded? It was because I saw the responses that were coming from Tim as other people responded. I noticed some people responded with doubt with responses similar to the following statement, “Well I don’t know if this is a joke or not, but what the heck…Why do you love me?”. It’s very similar to the reluctance I experienced. So I took a risk. I was loving the responses Tim was giving to his other friends so I asked, “Why do you love me?” and about a day later I received his response:

Tim wrote: “Sara Sawochka—I have loved you since you came to the Thanksgiving run I hosted in Crown Point. I think you came dressed as a pilgrim? To me, you just seemed too cool and that’s before I even knew you! Then I loved you for your writing and your passion (whether it was running or animals or any variety of topics) and your honesty! You would include things in your writing that were very personal and I admired you sooo much for being able to share so much of yourself. Then, you went to Comic Con and it’s an easy thing to make fun of, but I really think you genuinely appreciated it and that is where I got to know and love Pete Sawochka.”

To answer Tim’s post, I was at the Thanksgiving run which I thought was incredibly creative and so fun. I was not dressed as a pilgrim but I was there! See below:

Love at first sight!

Love at first sight!

Other than me not being dressed as a pilgrim, Tim hit the nail straight on the head!

And as for loving Pete Sawochka—no comment on the love between Pete and Tim! It’s between them! But let me tell you that these two really clicked at Comic Con.

Thank you so much for your kind words Tim. They meant so much to me. They made my day, my week and my month!

Don’t be afraid to ask for love like I was. Don’t hesitate. Go for it! It’s sooooo worth it to hear how you are loved. Love is all around!

Love,
Sara Sawochka

Let’s Get Nutty! Make Your Own Almond Milk

Hey, do you want to learn how to make your own almond milk?

Did you say YES??? I thought you did! So, here we go:

Day 1 requires 1 cup of unsalted, whole almonds, a glass container that can hold 3 cups of water, 3 cups of water and 12 – 24 hours to soak.

20140220-220957.jpgFirst, we will soak our nuts by taking one cup of almonds.

20140220-221441.jpgAny unsalted, whole almonds will work like. I like the unsalted, whole almonds from Costco.

20140220-222047.jpgPut the cup of nuts in a bowl or glass jar, fill the container with three cups of water and walk away. The nuts have to soak for preferably 12 – 24 hours to soften them up a bit for their future spin in the blender. Convenient, huh? That’s what I thought!

Here is a picture of 3 cups of water over 1 cup of nuts in a glass container.

The nuts will absorb the water so tomorrow when we make the milk we will have bigger, softer nuts! Go ahead and laugh because it’s both funny and cool!

Talk to you on Day 2 when we make our milk!

Sara Sawochka

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving, to me, is about being grateful and giving thanks for what I do have. Not regretting what I do not have.

I didn’t do the usual 30 separate Facebook status posts for the month of November because I know myself well enough to know that I’d rather give thanks at one time, in one blog post, as opposed to mentally beating myself up because I missed two days on Facebook and then having to play catch-up. It’s not my style.

So from that last paragraph I found 4 things I’m grateful for:

1. Being able to share this blog post with you.
2. Working on not beating myself up all of the time and learning, through yoga, how to let thoughts enter my mind, acknowledge them and then move on.
3. Knowing myself well enough at 32 years of age to know what is and is not my style.
4. I never do “the usual”—to quote myself!

So what does a unique, vegan girl and her vegetarian husband do for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, we usually spend Thanksgiving with my grandmother. Since Pete and I have been together, my husband always cooks Eggplant Parmesan and we take it over to my grandmother’s house to share. My grandma always takes all of the leftovers and we laugh, like that’s a surprise to us. For some reason, we always take my Monster (a/k/a Kasey—my dog that eats everything that’s not food). This year, since my yoga studio is open on Thanksgiving morning, I will be going to a class in the morning.

And the list of gratefulness continues:

5. Having one tradition left with the Dalton side of the family.
6. Obviously—having a dog called Monster that we can take places, knowing that she will be good the entire time we are there.
7. Being vegan.
8. Having a husband that became vegetarian because he respects, not only my veganism, but me as well.
9. Having yoga classes to go to in general, and a studio to go to that’s open on Thanksgiving morning.
10. Having another option for exercise on Thanksgiving that does not involve getting up and standing outdoors in the cold to run any distance at all.
11. Having a husband that cooks.
12. Sharing a meal that doesn’t involve harming any animal.
13. Having a portion put to the side that is vegan with no Parmesan cheese all for me!

After we share our meal, we visit with my grandmother in her living room and watch TV. Afterwards, as we drive home, we gawk at the Black Friday shoppers that are all lined up outside of Best Buy at 9:00pm on Thanksgiving day. As I go home, visit with my other two dogs and eventually go to bed I think to myself how grateful I am that:

14. I’ve spent a wonderful day with my grandmother and my husband.
15. I’ve got two other dogs waiting to greet me when I get home—Mr. Biggs and Bonnie.
16. I have my grandmother in my life.
17. I do not have to stand in line at any store on Thanksgiving night, outside, in the cold.
18. I do not have to stand out in the cold ever and will always have a home.
19. I have a job and could go out shopping the next day but choose not too.
20. Did I mention how grateful I am that I don’t have to go out on Black Friday? Well, let’s square that to infinity and beyond and you’ll know how grateful I’m for that.
21. I have a car that gets me to places I choose to go, like my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner or work or to out to play with friends.

So that leaves me with nine more items to be grateful for. Honestly, nine isn’t enough. Ten isn’t enough. Eleven and twelve wouldn’t be enough. However, I set the list at 30 so here’s the rest. If I had to list only nine more things that I’m grateful for, they would be:

22. All of the lesson’s I’ve learned in my life so far and to come.
23. The coffee I drink after yoga is over.
24. Having time off to spend time with family and friends.
25. Life from my mother and father.
26. All of the following activities I’ve been able and am still able to participate in: dance competitions, 1/2 marathon, a full marathon, triathlons, swimming, cycling tours and hot yoga.
27. The willingness to try the activities in post 26.
28. Teachers that give up their time to teach.
29. The beautiful autumn we had and the exciting winter to come.
30. The ability to smile.

If there had to be a 31st gratefulness post, do you know what it would be?

31. Soooooooooo grateful for not having to go shopping on black Friday.

No joke.

Have a wonderful day of giving thanks!

Sara Sawochka