Though week

This week was tough! Not for what’s going on in my life, because life is being good to me. But for what’s going on in this world.

My home country is on the verge of a revolution. It’s been a couple of weeks now since the people decided to wake up for their social issues and take the streets with protests. The trigger was a 20 cents raise on the bus fares, but it’s not really about 20 cents. It’s much more than that. It’s the corruption in the government, it’s the precarious state of the public health systems, it’s the high cost of living, it’s the tax money being used for unimportant things while the basic needs of the people are not taken care of, it’s the poor education, it’s the very low salaries of people who matters compared to the incredibly high salaries of the corrupted politicians, it’s the fact that the high people does wrong, gets condemned but then nothing happens and they go on with their lives as it nothing had happened.

No one know what would come out of this, but I must admit I’m a bit skeptic about it bringing any good. It may cause a short term temporary nice result, then go back to the old crappy ways after people cool down and forget (and we do forget very quickly and easy, something with the water or the weather, maybe???…). It may cause the coming back of repression and dictatorship, like we had in the past. It may result in absolutely nothing. And it’s this uncertainty and this skepticism of mine that makes me anxious.

Then, coming back to my own little world, 7000 miles north, I just had the news that the massage therapist on my chiropractor’s office has passed away. The news came on Wednesday through an email and a facebook post on the office page. Both had the same message, announcing her death and asking people to post their experiences with her ‘magic hands’ as a memorial to her. (and her hands were magic indeed. She was the best massage therapist I have ever tried. Soooo good!!!) But it did not say the cause of death. And it shouldn’t really, as a facebook post is not really the right place for this kind of details. But I got curious and then on Thursday night, during class and while the teacher looked at other people’s assignments, I decided to bing her name to see if I could find something out in the Internet. And I did. And what I found had shocked me. She has actually been killed at the door of her own home, leaving behind a little boy. She was only 35! No one knows exactly by whom and why she was killed but police is investigating. And I’m still in shock. I keep thinking about his little boy. What’s going to be of him without mama? Where will he go?

So, as I said above. This was a very, very, very though – and sad – week!
I just hope for the best for the people back home and for the little kid who lost her mom.

Magic hands and people on the streets
Magic hands and people on the streets

Fresh Paint and Stand up Paddling

I know those 2 topics have nothing to do with each other, but I just happen to have both on  my mind and I’m too lazy to create 2 posts.

😛

So first, Fresh Paint.

I have a Surface RT and a Surface Pro machine. I use Windows 8 on desktop too. Ever since the Beta version of Windows 8, I’ve been playing here and there with Fresh Paint, but never too long, never to do anything that’s worth it.

Well… this has changed. Yesterday I sort of ‘discovered’ Fresh Paint and did a pretty cool picture on it. Then I got all excited, and did a second one and tried a third that didn’t turn out too well.

So today, while waiting for machines to install (several times, actually) I decided to try the drawing that didn’t look good yesterday.

To be really honest, it still doesn’t look good, but I must say it’s much better than yesterday’s attempts.

Here are the 3:

Now to paddling.

Since last year, I’ve been wanting to try stand up paddling, but never really got the chance. One of my friends back home, though, has been able to and today he posted pictures of a little trip he did with friends last weekend, in which they left a beach to some nearby islands. One of the guys was kayaking, but all the others, including him, were paddling.

The pictures look sooooo amazing, that it really revived my wish to try.

Here are the thumbnails( (very small to protect their identity) of his pictures:

paddling

I guess I’ll have to add this to my Summer to do list…

Da heck with You!

No, All-of you. Please don’t hate me. I’m not talking to All-of you.

I’m talking to the one You who tried once to kill my dear blog.

But You know what, the whole blog-killing stuff just did not work, as the blog is still here.

I resuscitated it!

And the message I have for You today is very simple:

This is MY space, the place where I write what goes on MY mind. Not your space for your mind.

So, if You don’t like what’s written in here, just DON’T READ IT!

And by the way, from now on, this will be my new tagline!

For the All-of-you who may be reading this but is not the You I’m talking about, my apologies for this post.

But I still have good news to All-of-you:

I AM BACK!!!!

YAY!!!

Delicious Mamouls

Have you ever tried it?

My husband has a friend a work who is originally from Lebanon. He went back home on vacations recently and came back to the US this week, bringing to my husband a tray full or mamouls.

Mamouls
Mamouls

When my husband brought it home he didn’t know the name of the thingy or what it was made of, so off I went to the internet to do my little research.

I went trough several pictures and sites of Arabic sweets until I found one site of a store that listed all the sweets they made and included a brief explanation for each. That’s how I figured the treat we got was a date-filled mamoul.

It is like a cookie with a filing. Pretty simple, very delicious. And, although it’s made out of dates and dates are extremely sweet, the mamouls are not so much. Yeah, sweet, but I can have 2 at a time without getting sick (i’m very sensitive to extremely sweet things and prefer not too sweet food – or too salty, but we’re talking sweets…)

It actually reminded me a bit of a cookie we used to eat as a child in Brazil called Goiabinha (or little guava). The idea was about the same, but Goiabinha had much less filling and the cookie wasn’t completely closed, so you could see the filing even without biting on it. Oh, and of course, the filling was not of dates, but guava.

Goiabinha
Goiabinha

Goiabinha also looks a lot like the Fig Newtons, but again with guava instead of figs.

Fig Newtons
Fig Newtons

Anyway, back to the mamouls.

The tray was big. My husband, in spite of liking sweets and loving goiabinha, hasn’t even tried yet. I don’t know exactly why. All I know is that the cookies are going away. And guess who is responsible for this?

Yep. Mea culpa!

Oh boy, when I thought I’d be back into a healthy light, sugar free diet with the departure of family, here I am eating data mamouls like crazy….

Bad, bad me.

Butterflies and Eagles

Today I have class. The school is about 2+ miles from my office building, so what I have been doing is to park close to the school, then walk to my building in the morning, and then walk back in the evening to pick up the car and go up the hill where the school is.

And between those 2 points, there is a paved bike trail that goes along the freeway and ca also be used by walkers and runners. That’s my route.

Today, when I was walking to the office in the morning I first almost bumped on a big butterfly. It was gorgeous, big, yellow with black stripes. Somewhat similar to a monarch, but bigger, bright yellow and (at least as far as I could see) without the white dots. I stopped and even tried to get my phone out of my pocket for a picture but it flew away faster than I was able to pick up the phone.

So I put the phone back into my pocket and look ahead to continue, and that’s when I see a bald eagle flying above the freeway. Behind her there was a smaller bird (maybe a crow?) flying in the same direction. The eagle went on, crossed the freeway and got out of our sight, then the smaller bird made the turn and came back.

It almost felt like the small bird was sending the eagle away. As if making her go away from his territory. Probably not, but it was what it looked like.

In any ways, I felt blessed to have seen 2 such beautiful flying creatures almost at once on my morning walk.

For good start of the day!

Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text – Mornings

 

 

This post was created in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text

I never considered myself good at drawing, but also never considered myself too good at writing either and I’m still here writing… recently I draw some stick-men images to illustrate my workouts on one of my blogs, and the drawing were a big hit among my workout pals. So I decided to try the same style for this challenge, just a different theme…

Is that fish playing dead on me???

I’m currently (until tonight) pet-sitting 2 molly fishes for my friend.

Her daughter asked Santa for some fishes and she got a 2 gallon fish tank and a gift card to go buy a fish.

Their first fish was a Beta, but it did not last long. Then they went back to the store and got 2 mollies, a yellow one named Belle (even though I later found out it’s probably a boy) and an orange one named Aurora.

But a couple of weeks ago they were in their way to sunny and warm Florida and needed someone to care for the fishes while they were out.

So on a Tuesday night, exactly 2 weeks ago, they dropped the fishes off at my place, for the delight of my kids (just hope this 2-week-stay of the fishes won’t give my girls any crazy ideas of getting some fish of their own!)

When I asked if the fishes would need to get the water changed or anything, they said that probably not, that water should last 2 weeks, all I needed to do was to feed them a pinch of the fish flakes 2 times a day.

Cool! That sounded easy!

By Saturday the water of the tank was nasty. Just awfully nasty! Foggy and looking pretty unhealthy for the cute little fishes. So I call my friends in Florida and they say that cleaning the filter would probably help, but if not I should leave 20% of the water for the fishes and change the rest.

I tried the cleaning the filter strategy first and it served nothing. So I decided to change the water. But changing almost the whole tank was tough: grab 20% of the water and move it to a smaller containers, fish the fish with a ladle (as I don’t have fish-friendly tools, like nets), remove the plastic weed and clean it up, find a colander to throw the water while keeping the pebbles, put the clean pebbles and weed back, temperate tap water and add it to the tank, and finally drop the fishes with the 20% of dirty water back into the tank.

Looots of work for 2 little creatures that don’t even interact with us!

Then on Wednesday the water was getting all filthy again. Thursday morning I could barely see the fishes + water seemed to be foaming on top (not the regular bubbles created by the filter piece… much more)!

So, in spite of being late to drop off the girls in school and go to work I decide to change water again. I was harder to get the Belle this time, as he would run from the ladle much more efficiently then Aurora. But I got it and went through the whole filter-cleaning-water-changing-weed-and-pebble-washing process again…

I was not convinced that this was working, so I decided to go to the pet store in the evening to get new filters.

Once there I also looked around for other fish products and ended up buying also a water testing kit to check the levels of pH, nitrites, nitrates and hardness, and a water conditioner to make my tap water a better environment for the poor thingies.

At the cashiers I mentioned my problems to the guy and he said that foggy and foaming water could be caused by too much water change, and asked me who much of the water I was changing. I told him what I have been told by the fish owners, that I was keeping 20% and changing 80%. He said it should be the opposite!!!

Oh no… I was doing it all wrong then. When I got home, I changed the filter first, tested for the water to find out nitrites and nitrates were the only numbers that were good, and then used a couple of drops of the conditioner. Things seemed to be getting much better after that.

But then on Monday, the last full day of the fishes at my place, the water was starting to get foggy again, and I decide to do a last treatment before returning them the next day.

I cleaned the filter, tested the water (much better numbers now!), changed 20% of the water only and used the drops again.

But when I poured down the 20% of clean water into the tank, some of the old food that was lying at the bottom of the tank started floating and Belle, who was the hungrier of the 2, starts eating from it. It felt a bit gross, but there was nothing I could do to stop him.

2 hours later, when my daughter and I went back there to feed them ‘fresh’ food, Belle was lying at the bottom of the tank, all static, as I had never seen him before. I got worried that he might be dying, but then he moved a bit, going to another spot at the bottom of the tank. My daughter was glad and said

“Finally he moved. Because if he died, Clara would be sad.”

Another 2 hours had passed and I went to check on the fish again, and he was lying sideways on top of the weed, breathing sort of funny (not that I really know how a fish is supposed to breath, but on my worry mixed with PMS, which always bring insecurities, it seemed as a weird breathing). It was just about to die!

I was devastated!  I killed the fish by letting him eat bad food on the very last day of them in my home. Poor little guy, so cute, doomed to live on such a tiny space and be taken care of by amateurs who knows nothing of it, like me… Oh no! Sorry little fish for letting you die! And then I cried. I really did, just like a little kid. Cried for the fish, so small, so fragile, so cute, lying there on the weed not able to breath well and all because I poured water too quickly and made bad food come up for him to eat…

This morning I woke up with plans to leave work early and go buy another yellow fish so Clara wouldn’t be too sad. I was also trying to figure out how to tell it to my kids. But as I was climbing down the stairs, I looked at the fish tank and noticed he was not at the weed anymore. Had him fallen? Then I get close and it’s also not at the bottom! I look and cannot see any of the 2 (just cleaning the filter did not work again, filter do need to get actually changed each 4 days apparently)! Then I search at the back and there they are. Both of them happily swimming!

What???? Wasn’t he dead last night?

Yay! Miracle! The fish came back to live overnight!!! I was happy again!

About an hour later, I go back there with my other daughter (they were taking turns in feeding the fishes) and as soon as the little brat seems me he runs to hide quietly below the weed.

Are you kidding me???? Are you playing dead with me???

Why, why why??? What did I do to you???? I even bought fish products to care for you!

My daughter pours the flakes in the water and he does not move.

She starts telling him: “Eat fish! Eat!”

Me: “Com’on sweetie. Let it be. Maybe he’s not hungry right now and will eat later”

She: “Eat now, fish. Eat!”

So now that! The fish is running from me, after 2 weeks of me caring from him. And all the cry and the worry and lost sleep last night for what? For a stupid ‘hide-and-seek-playing’ fish?

I know some people will hate me for what I’ll say right now, but at the moment I realized the fish was playing (or maybe just afraid of) me, the thought that came to my mind was:

“That’s why fish deserves to be eaten!”


(check seconds 0:48 to 0:55!!! or just read the preview above! although not really the case here, since the stupid brad was playing me, proving he had feelings!)

But no. I don’t really think like that. I was really sad for it last night. I guess I grew found of them, in spite of the feeling not being reciprocal. And next time I have fish on my plate I may even think twice before my first bite (just twice and then I’ll eat it anyways, because it’s yummy!)

Later, when I got to the office I did some research and found out that mollies do sometimes lay down sideways to sleep.

Fish

Humpf! Darn ignorance and PMS!!!

😉

Daily Prompt: Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Challenge on today’s daily prompt:

Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.

Oh boy! Big list….

  1. Stop being lazy at work and do work
    Well, it’s not like I don’t do any work, but I tend to prioritize and actually do only the tasks that motivates me and raises my interest. The others (which are most!) keep being proscratinated until the last minute, which sometimes comes a bit too late
  2. Floss daily
    Or at least some times
  3. Communicate issues
    I typically don’t have a problem communicating when it’s all good and we’re all happy and enjoying ourselves. But when things start to go wrong, be it at home, at work, or wherever, then I tend to keep it to myself, which does not help at all to resolve issues. Sometimes it can even make them bigger.
  4. Call Premera to ask for a second card for kid, so daddy can have one
    Wait! That’s easy! Ok, then. Doing it right after I’m done with this post. That’s a promise!
  5. Go find a job you really enjoy!
    Hum… that’s a bit hard, since that would mean quitting my current job and also figuring out what ‘a job I really enjoy’ would actually be… Tricky!
  6. Wear my glasses
    Wear what? Oh yeah… I did use to wear glasses, right? They even helped me seeing what’s being projected on meetings at work. But they broke like… 2 years ago? What? Are there stores that can make new ones? Really????
  7. Save money for retirement
    Huh? Will I retire? That’d be great. Especially if I don’t change careers. Can I retire now? Oh yeah! I may not have enough money to do so right now… Darn!
  8. Eat less meat
    Hubby’s comment when he saw me watching Forks Over Knives: “You’re not considering going vegan, are you? ‘Cause if you do we’ll have a problem.”  haha. Well… I’d have the problem that I’d have to cook 2 different meals always!!! But I am getting better at that and avoiding meat at lunch time during the week.
  9. Call family more often
    Also getting better at this, especially now with Skype. But mostly mom and dad. Siblings not so much. But hey! They don’t call me either… 😦
  10. Study programming and scripting to be able to do more at work
    Do I really need to do that? Nah….. Rather change jobs (go back to item 5)
  11. Feed the fishes we’re fishsitting for my friend
    No need. Kids do that for me…
  12. Fold the laundry right when it’s off the dryer, so it won’t get wrinkled
    Lots of laundry? At the same time as cooking and caring for kids? Hum… Tricky!… At least hubby finally learned how to fold them so now we can split the task. But doing it right off the dryer… still need to improve on that one.
  13. Don’t do facebooking and blogging at work
    When am I going to do them, then??? No way!

And probably many, many more that are just not at the top of my mind right now.

Update on item 4: didn’t call Premera right away and now they’re closed for the day… tomorrow…. :-s

My Next Musical Adventure

After getting used to listen to Serbian, Korean, Cape Verdian, Israeli, German, French, Hawaiian, Croatian, Nigerian, Turkish, Arabic, Catalunian, Irish, and Spanish music, my next musical adventure: Russian!

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Thanks to my friend Elena for lending me her CDs!

Dobro Jutro!!!

Weekly Challenge: Unique

As you may have noticed I did not add the word Photo at the title of this post.

That’s because the uniqueness I’m going to talk about is something I don’t have any pictures of my own to showcase. I can add some created by taking captures of websites, but no real picture that I took on the subject.

Today I attended a talk by Sal Khan, how was here to talk about his Khan Academy.

I had seen Khan Academy apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8, but I never paid too much attention to it so I did not know exactly what it was and what was their motivations.

So today, I went to his talk to learn a bit about it.

And I loved the concept!

Their idea is to provide people with free educational videos, that people can watch over and over in order to master a subject on their own pace and rhythm  The idea behind it was that on a classic classroom environment all students are supposed to learn an x amount of subject on a y period of time. But this may not be the greatest approach since each person learn on a different way and pace, so setting this strict timeline could make someone have a bad score or even fail a subject not because that person is not able to learn it, but because there was no time for that student to learn on his/her own pace. Then the student goes on to the next school year, with a weak foundation and tend to continue failing, because he/she still misses that  fundamental idea that he/she did not had a change to master the year before… He makes an analogy with games. You only go to level 2, once you master level 1. And that’s how he thinks it should be with education: you only take Calc 2 once you master (not just pass with a C) Calc 1.

To me it totally makes sense!

And that’s a unique way of seeing and thinking about education, which I hope may become the standard in a few years, but that for now, it’s just a crazy, unique, but wonderful, idea!

And now, just because the subject was introduced as a Photo Challenge, here are some images:

This image is property of Khan Academy.
Logo, taken from their website
This picture is property of its owner.
Sal Khan, Founder, Executive Director and faculty at Khan Academy.

Although this post is not a Photography post, it was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

Today I enter week 3 of being sick

Aarrrghhhh!
Can’t stand this anymore.
I’m actually feeling much better, so I guess that may be the last stretch, but still sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time.

A little timeline of my flu so far:

  • Friday, Jan 18th: started with some coughing and energy a bit lower than usual in the morning. Thought about skipping workout, but then decided to go anyways. Survived the workout very well, but could not concentrate at work at all. Brain fog was starting…
  • Saturday, Jan 19th: Took my oldest daughter to a birthday party 11-1, spend a few minutes outside at the party, while she was at the bouncing toy. It was freaking cold. Then from the party we went to a ‘open’ mall for lunch. The restaurant was warm but walking from the parking lot to it I got really cold again. During lunch I started feeling really bad. The afternoon was awful, with chills, no energy and a bit of cough. Started on DayQuil/NyQuil
  • Sunday, Jan 20th: as awful as Saturday afternoon.
  • Monday, Jan 21st: took the day off of work to get some rest and try to recover. The medicines were helping and I was beginning to feel better.
  • Tuesday, Jan 22nd: back to work, feeling OK, although still sick. Husband starts feeling sick too.
  • Wednesday, Jan 23rd: Felling actually pretty good. Planning even to stop medicine the next day. Husband calls me at 10 am saying he’s not well and is going back home. With him sick, I need to pick up the girls in school and be the sole provider for them at night. That sorts of overloads me a bit, but I’m still doing OK.
  • Thursday, Jan 24th: The overload of the day before + the no medicine in the morning brings me down a bit and I start feeling so so great again. Hubby still at home.
  • Friday, Jan 25th: Still going down, but surviving ok. Hubby goes back to work, but still feeling sick.
  • Saturday, Jan 26th: Start with sinus pain and runny nose.
  • Sunday, Jan 27th: Sinus pain is extreme. I stop the Quils and resort to Advil Cold and Sinus, that contains Pseudo-ephedrine. Ephedrine works like magic for my sinus, but does not allow me to sleep. Voice starts fading away. I cancel lunch I had schedule with a friend the next day. I have the last pill of Advil C+S at 7 pm, but still cannot have a wink until 5 am. And at 2:30 the pain is extreme again, being with no medico for so many hours. I take regular Advil (with no ephedrine) but it serves me nothing.
  • Monday, Jan 28th: I woke up at 7 (after only 2 hours of sleep), absolutely no voice. I email my husband asking them to call the doctor and schedule an appointment for me, since I can’t call anyone without voice to be heard. The earlier they can see me is 11:30. I take the girls to school, burn some time at a grocery store, then go to the doctor. She confirms sinus infection, faringitis and suspects pneumonia, sending me to x-ray and prescribing antibiotics + a few other stuff. Day off again. Stay home in the afternoon.
  • Tuesday, Jan 29th: still home, low energy, but feeling better than the day before. doctor calls that x-ray was clean, so no pneumonia, but the antibiotics are still needed for the sinus infection. She tells me to have the ephedrine back at least in the mornings to help me get rid of stuff.
  • Wednesday, Jan 30th: Back to work. Also back to ephedrine, but only until noon, so I can fall asleep at night. Expectorant that contains Guaifenesin only. Antibiotics. at the end of the day I’m extremely tired, my mouth is extremely dry and with a pretty bad taste (side-effect of the antibiotic). Mood is awful! But I’m feeling better and stuff are thinning and loosening up. Hubby is feeling worse and complains of sinus pain too.
  • Thursday, Jan 31st: feeling better, still taking all of the medicines, but found a solution for the dry-mouth: bioténe! Hubby goes to doctor and confirms sinus infection and get antibiotics too.
  • Friday, Feb 1st: Today! Entering the 3rd week. and as I said before:

Can’t stand this anymore.
I’m actually feeling much better, so I guess that may be the last stretch, but still sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time.

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My current best friends in the office

Infections (or Oh, crap!)

A couple of Fridays ago I got the flu. Felt awful over the weekend, took Monday off, then started to feel better. Wednesday I was feeling almost fully recovered. Then on Thursday it started going down again. Not as bad as the weekend though.
Then came weekend again and my sinus got to hurt like crazy. And my voice went away. So Monday I took the day off again and went to see my doctor. Left their office to take an x-ray at the hospital and with a diagnosis of sinus infection (I was already pretty sure about that one), throat infection (makes sense, hence the voice going away) and potentially and likely lung infection too.
Oh crap!
Peeking at the x-ray I could see some white where dark gray/black should be.
Oh crap again!
The doctor hasn’t called yet to confirm, but I guess she was right…
😦
Big oh crap!

Update: the x-rays showed negative for pneumonia! Yay!!! The little white I saw was actually my heart…

A Word a Week Challenge: Round

I have always wanted to do a post on Ferris Wheels. I like that gigantic rotating structure of the Wheels and how it looks both from near and far.
Last year I took a few pictures of different ones and was collecting them, but never got to actually create the post.

So this week’s Word a Week Challenge gave me the excuse I needed, with the theme Round. Most of them (if not all) were taken with a phone camera that wasn’t great, but I still like them for their shapes.

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Evergreen Fair
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Another one at Evergreen Fair
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Round structure and round cages
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Santa Monica Pier
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Disney – that was was awesome. We rode the swinging cage. It was me, my daughter and her bestie. My and my daughter had a blast, while the other girl was about to cry with fear.
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Seattle Pier
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Seattle Pier – is the crane holding it? 😉
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Vashon Island

This post was written in response to the Word a Week Challenge: Round

Trader Joe’s Delicious Chocolate

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Trader Joe’s and, while waiting at the checkout line, I noticed a cute box with a set of 7 different flavors of Dark Chocolate.

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I love Dark Chocolate! So I could not resist and bought it.
The flavors were not really the usual ones, and included:

  • Black sea salt with caramel
  • Orange hibiscus
  • Coconut caramel
  • Chili cinnamon
  • Almond ginger
  • Salt & pepper potato chip
  • Coffee and cocoa nib

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But Oh-My-Gosh!

Those things were delicious!!!!
Yes! All of them! Even the salt & pepper potato chips!

The only problem is that it was a temporary item.
So this morning I went to another store but could not find it anymore.
😦

I did find one of the varieties in a big bar (caramel with black sea salt), and a different one but from the same ‘line’ also in a big bar (toffee with walnuts and pecans).

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Bought them, before they are over too.

And btw, the toffee with walnuts and pecans is also delicious!

Looooved it!!!

Thanks Trader Joe’s!!!