Posts Tagged: butternut squash

Edible Inspiration: Week 1

Happy Friday thinkers,

I’ve decided to start a new series, highly inspired by this one–one of my most frequented blogs as of late–with a bit of a twist.  I will be posting weekly with images I feel have inspired my edible notions and yen.  As I am a visual person in many ways, my mind often seeks out visual stimuli to try and make sense out of the world.  I am able to capture some of those fusing moments through photographs, online videos, memes and gifs.  Sometimes it’s something as abstract as the angles of a building and oftentimes it’s something as obvious as the meal of the week.  Either way, I hope you will join me in this journey of Edible Inspiration!  And thanks again to Erin Boyle for rousing this idea.

1)  The happy golden surprise awaiting us in this week’s CSA box.  Summer butternut squash, yes please!

 

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2)These paint-stroked red peppers have added an extra crunch and carotenoids to our meals this week.  Happy for the zesty color and the nutrients.

 

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3)As simplistic as it seems, this large glass jar has contained some very important dry goods I keep on hand, and it makes me very happy.

 

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4)After a day of reading in bed and not feeling like a champ, this salad–with its iron crunchy punch–really helped give me a boost.

 

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5)This sweet meowmix often makes my day, but his always welcomed cuddles helped rejuvenate my mind and concentration.  Plus, Waits makes love to the camera, you’ll probably see much more of him. =(^^)=

 

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Thanks for taking a peek and remember…bite responsibly!  #edibleinspiration

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Splendid Springtime Spaghetti with Toasted Seeds

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Good Day Everyone,

Happy Vernal Equinox !

Springtime represents so many things in our society, that it’s hard to overlook this major transitional period–and subsequently positive alteration to the environment–by way of beautiful blooms, pollination and the beginning of a new growing season.  Spring washes over us all and makes way for sweet morning reads by a window and fresh spring salads to compliment the change of weather.

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As March settles in, I am finding my time being stretched in different directions and all I can think about lately is savory goodness to satisfy my longing to stay nourished through the busy days of work and creative projects. This recipe revealed itself one late afternoon while I was alone in the kitchen and peeking into our refrigerator for what we had “in stock” at the time.  These are the moments I enjoy most in the culinary experience because my imagination stands a chance.  Have you ever heard that we all like a range of options, but if you present too many, we’re less likely to come to a solidified choice?  Well on this particular afternoon, we were just scant enough in the produce department that is our kitchen, that I felt a happy inclination towards this vibrant and delicious spaghetti dish.

I  knew I wanted pasta, but mother time had not gifted enough to me in this instance to warrant making it from scratch.  However, I was able to use Tinkyada spaghetti noodles and they were just what I had in mind.  I wanted a noodle I could wrap my fork around and spaghetti, along with farfalle, remind me of Spring!  Also, I wanted to–as I’m sure most of you know about me–balance color, but I did lean on the green end for this dish.

I wanted to balance the semi-soft nature of the dish with something crunchy, and after cutting open the butternut squash, I was in luck; seeds!  I decided to combine the butternut squash seeds with the other three you’ll see listed below to make a nice crunchy medley.  Honestly, I initially wanted these roasted, but I went with toasted and I was pleased with the results, however I recommend trying both ways.  Additionally, I did not hull the butternut squash seeds but ate them as they are.

The peas and the butternut squash balanced their sweetness and semi-savory nature perfectly and will dance on your palette with divine texture and pleasure.

Take a moment this spring to appreciate the colors nature offers, appreciate the remainder of veggies nestled in your fridge and prepare yourself a happy Spring sketti!

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 Splendid Springtime Spaghetti (gluten-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 package gluten-free spaghetti (I used the Tinkyada brown rice kind, but the quinoa pasta is great too!)
  • 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes (cut into strips and re-hydrated if purchased dried–boil water and place dried tomatoes in hot water after removing from heat; soak for 10 min.)
  • 7 or 8 thin slices of purple onion (cut in half, and separate into slivers)
  • 4 white mushrooms (cut into thin slices)
  • 1 bundle of flat leaf parsley(leaves and majority of stems minced)
  • 1 1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked and drained)
  • 6 or 7 glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1/2 medium to large butternut squash (roasted strips)
  • A couple of glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A few shakes or cranks black pepper
  • All butternut squash seeds from cut squash (rinsed well and partially dried–either toss pulp or use for compost)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (raw; optional)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw; optional)
  • 1/2 avocado (per person, thin slices)

Instructions  (butternut squash)

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Rinse and peel squash and chop off bottom and top
  3. Slice in half through the vertical perimeter and then use seed scooper or large spoon to scoop out seeds  and pulp
  4. Place seeds into a bowl reserving them for the seed mixture topping (see above)
  5. Cut  squash into 1/2 inch thick strips, about an inch and a half long
  6. Place squash strips in medium bowl and cover with a couple of glugs olive oil, salt and pepper
  7. Toss squash with hands until it is lightly coated with oil, salt and pepper
  8. Distribute squash evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (flip half-way)
  9. Once baking is complete, place aside

Instructions (pasta dish)

  1. Begin by prepping all veggies
  2. Boil enough water to be able to submerge entire pasta amount (I break pasta in half); salt pasta once pasta is added.  Cook 10 – 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Gluten-free pasta can get mushy very easily, that’s why you want it to be slightly undercooked or perhaps this is your taste
  3. Drain, rinse and place pasta back into sauce pan or pot
  4. Add olive oil and all spices and marjoram to cooked pasta
  5. Add all veggies except butternut squash
  6. Mix well, but gently so as to not tear apart the spaghetti
  7. Add lemon juice and salt to taste and stir
  8. Keep over a very low heat to warm until the next step is complete
  9. In a bowl, mix together all seeds, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (lightly coating seeds)
  10. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, add seeds and toast until golden brown (note:  add the sesame seeds toward the end of the toasting process as they will brown much faster than the other seeds)
  11. Serve pasta in bowls and place butternut squash slices on top, then fan out avocado slices and finally sprinkle with seed mixture
  12. Serves:  Approx. 4 people
  13. Enjoy out on the patio, your front steps or in whatever immediate outdoors area you have and I recommend following this meal (15-30 minutes later of course :p) with a kombucha!

splendidspringtimespaghetti5I hope you all enjoy this meal and please let me know your thoughts and experiences welcoming Spring.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

My Comfort Foods, Now

Charles Schulz

Charles Schulz

Good Day Everyone,

There are moments when all we really want is something comforting. In fact, our choices are often affected by our moods.  Keeping in mind that ‘comfort foods’ are often associated with cravings, I’d like to share with you all a list of some of my favorite comfort foods as of late and give you a little perspective as to why I’m not turning toward the more grease/processed sugar/gluten-laden/soy-dense foods with any regularity.

First, to address why I try to stray from the aforementioned food categories.  More than anything, my body is so sensitive to even the most remote toxin that I’ll suffer for days in some shape or form. While this may have been something I was willing to put up with years ago, I’m coming to the conclusion that these days of suffering are more than just moments of uncomfortableness.  What do I mean?  Every time I throw off the balance of the pH in my body by some extreme (when I introduce foods I have an intolerance to), I suffer from a myriad of harmful affects that are making pathogenic layers in my body.  Yep, that’s right, layers. That’s how I like to think of it, that is.  I’m really hurting myself long-term if I eat my “naughty” foods often, and nobody else has to live with the aftermath but me.  Maybe you relate to this, maybe you don’t, but don’t forget our body is always talking to us, even if what it’s saying is less subtle.

Second, the list.  These foods are not all necessarily in season as of now, but have been at some point or another, comforting and calming.  I believe in loving what you eat and introducing love with each step in the process of preparing what you eat. Thus for me, comfort foods are a full-circle endeavor.  Let me share some of those foods with you!

  • basic soup:  Round up your broth, miso (white/yellow) for a more hearty less intense soup, and favorite veggies, and have a blast making a simple soup.  Often times, I’ll use up the veggies I think are on the brink of less fresh, and find a way to work them in.  I often serve with millet, brown rice or quinoa over a bed of greens.  This way your greens wilt, only slightly and stay a bright and lively green color.  Balance color if possible, meaning consider the rainbow.  Serve in your favorite large, deep mug, and start sipping and chewing away.

Why eat this?

Brothy soups are full of warm fluids to help flush out a lot of toxins from your body.  According to Chinese medicine, if you carry too much heat in your body, one way to help cool is by adding hot foods.  As strange as this may sound, it’s very helpful and affective.  Try having some hot soup with your cool salad to balance out your body.

  • butternut squash:  Although butternut squash can be cooked in many ways, one of my favorite ways is to roast.  Some days, there is NOTHING better than cubed butternut squash, lightly (and I mean lightly) coated with olive oil, and spices/herbs of my choice on that particular day.  My favorite combo of spices and herbs:  thyme, Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, garlic granules and a dash of paprika.  Mouth watering.  I typically eat this with a salad or by itself.

Why eat this?

CAROTENOIDS!  That lovely, vivid color that you see before your very eyes is packed with nutrients.  It’s also high in vitamin-c and loaded with beta-carotene (that will convert to vitamin A), which helps the integrity of the skin, wards off lung and oral cancers and improves eye-sight.  Color says a lot about a food’s beneficial properties.

  • roasted mushrooms:  More specifically, I work with baby bellas and white mushrooms.  Prepare by slicing them in half, create a light coating of oil, and mix with sesame seeds and Himalayan sea salt.  I typically serve this with a grain of some sort or on a salad.

Why eat this?

Mushibooms help to increase your immune system, so you can stay happy and healthy and boost your vitamin D.  Also, Mushies are loaded with b-vitamins; b-vits are responsible for turning the carbs you eat into fuel; very important!

  • frozen blended banana:  I made this for my mother a few months back when she came to visit us, and though I was initially hesitant to serve this to her, she loved it and immediately wanted the recipe.  (This went overmuch better than chia seed pudding, but I still love that too!) Peal and fragment the  banana into small pieces and freeze. Later, thaw slightly and blend with raw cocoa powder topped with raisins, chopped nuts, cinnamon, coconut shavings or nothing at all.

    Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

    Frozen Blended Banana
    Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

Why eat this?

Bananas are incredibly healing, easy to digest, and will provide energy without overworking your digestive system.   Additionally, bananas are an essential way to provide your gut with prebiotics, assisting in the proper absorption of helpful probiotics, later.

  • raw chocolate treats:  This is my ULTIMATE sweet tooth, sweet.  For me, there’s nothing better in the food world than a little nibble from a raw cacao  tart or truffle followed by a sumptuous sip from my next item on the list, tea.  Make it yourself or pick them up at the store, either way, these are a MUST, unless you dislike chocolate. :p

Why eat this?

Raw cacao is a better source of vitamin-C than trusty orange juice.  BAM!  Also, raw cacao is incredibly high (in it’s raw form) in antioxidants and (one of my favorites), it will help to balance blood sugar. 😀  Yes, please.

  • tea:  Tulsi Tea’s Red Chai Masala (herbal) or hibiscus chamomile, any brand or make it yourself. (Even better!)  I especially enjoy the red chai masala with  …CHOCOLATE on the side (as noted above)!  Make sure to let your tea steep an appropriate amount of time, typically 10+ minutes, covered.  I often use a small plate if there are no other options.  The hibiscus chamomile tea would also be a lovely afternoon tea, served cool, on a hot day.  Honestly, I feel like I’m treating myself.

Why drink this?

The red chai masala is high in antioxidants, which will help ward off any of those nasty oxidative toxins that have made their way into your system.  Also, this blend contains ginger which will help to aid in digestion or an upset stomach.  Hibiscus chamomile tea helps to sooth and relax, and in the process it assists in lowering your blood pressure.

  • roasted okra:  I know, I know, I’m obsessed with roasted veggies, but when they’re guilt-free and provide a form of contentment, I cannot resist.  I rinse them, chop off the stems and roast them whole, tossed only with olive oil and Himalayan sea salt.  Superb!

Why eat this?

Okra is delicious! What I’d like to highlight about okra is its mucilaginous (why it’s so slimy) quality that helps to relieve digested food from your body so it doesn’t hang around and fester, creating pesky problems.  Need I say more?

Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

Omega Bumpin’ Smoothie
Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

  • smooooothies: Although I enjoy a variety of smoothies, this particular smoothy is one I’m hooked on lately.  It’s filled with chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax, frozen peaches, spinach/kale, banana, cinnamon, olive oil, unsweetened almond milk and coconut water!  (Sometimes I add 1/2 of an avocado in place of the olive oil.)  Thick, nicely textured, not too sweet, and still hooks you up with greens!

Why drink this?

There are a multitude of ways this smoothie is fantastic, but here are a few.  The chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax will provide you with a fantastic source of omega 3 while also assisting in balancing your blood sugar, providing a complete protein source and more.  The olive oil helps to add a little extra weight to the drink, and by weight I mean it aids in making the smoothie more filling.  Also, cinnamon acts as an appetite suppressant, which is great if you’re going awhile between meals.

  • banana with raw almond butter drizzle:  This pretty much sums it up. I will often cut my banana into little chunks into a bowl, and then drizzle the almond butter over it.  Add all the extras you would like.  Sometimes, if I want an extra crunch, I’ll add 1/2 of a gluten-free English muffin, cut into small pieces, and layer the banana on top. Try adding extra fruit, nuts, or seeds to your liking!

Why eat this?

(see above) Although bananas and raw almond butter are not the ideal food combination, eating this delicious snack on an empty stomach, and not directly following a meal, should be ok to go.

  • greens with homemade lemon-olive oil dressing and walnuts:  Simple.  Greens of your choice (spinach, romaine, kale, sprouts, etc…), and toss with this zesty dressing, and for the extra texture/crunch, top with walnut pieces.

Why eat this?

The citrus juice will help you absorb the iron that’s stored in the greens.  Also, it’s a delicious combo. ^___^  If you’re weary of TOO much fat, maybe skip the walnuts, but I say, if you’re eating a whole foods diet, those walnuts (raw, soaked, then dehydrated of course) are your friend because they are just the right amount of monounsaturated fats (those omega 3s) to help your brain.

Whew, I suppose I comfort myself often, but another way to look at this list–and what you’re eating–is that it (consumption) can be a consistently enjoyable experience if you want it to be–we teach our body and our brain what to want.  I hope this list is of some help to you all and if you have any questions or thoughts, shout out!   And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy and Happy SxSW Eating Days,

 

RAM

New Year: Food for Thought (part 2)

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HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!  I’m here this morning to top off the final six of my 12 foods, lessons, concessions, thoughts and ideas of 2012.  I’m a day late with this one, but here they are nonetheless!  Tell me what yours are if you can think of any.

7.  Soup:  Hot, brothy, or even creamy soups…what more can I say.  They ease digestion and help eliminate those pesky toxins whilst adding a savory treat to your palate.  My favorite lately, a simple miso (I vary the miso type) with wakame or dulse and these big straw like rice noodles, so deeeelish.  I was much more experimental in 2012 with soups, here’s hoping I make even more in 2013!

8.  Squash:  We have gone squash crazy this month, wherein I’ve prepared more dishes from squash than I thought possible.  What is more, most thick skinned squashes have a much longer ‘shelf-life’ than most other fruits and veggies, thus they sustained us when we hadn’t yet gone grocery shopping.  Best discovery, delicata squash.  I prepared a dish wherein I sautéed delicata squash with a gluten-free pasta, chickpeas and greens…savory and delicious.  This particular squash has a natural umami.  Most adored squash, butternut…I could eat this EVERY day.  Most fun squash, spaghetti!  Most underrated squash, pumpkin.

  1.  Tamales:  Yes, I started off the new year the correct way–for me that is–and I followed through with something I’ve wanted to do for years now, make tamales.  In fact, I finished off 2012 by making my first batch and started off the new year by amping up my filling.  With the help of my love, we made a killer batch of spinach, mushroom, black bean tamales, and then pumpkin black bean tamales.  They were both a hit, and tasted delicious!  This was another way for me to get closer to what I eat because oftentimes we’ll get fresh tamales at the market on the weekends, it was nice to have my heart and hands close to such a delicate and unique process.
Waits Spock Runner

Waits Spock Runner

  1.  Waits:  As some of you may know, my kittle’s name is Waits, and he has had an interesting food journey this year.  I felt a strong need to mention him in my top 12, mainly because I feel we often forget about how important the diet of those we are guardian’s to, is.  Waits started off the year eating the same hard food we’ve given him for a long time now, and then began to have issues with his gums and lil’ teeth. He’s also quite eccentric about how and from what source he will drink water.  Though some disagree, we, for a time, were feeding him wet cat food–to relieve the pain he was experiencing munching on hard food–and as we adopted him at an older age, he–in some previous life–must have been accustomed to eating either wild animals outdoors, or a strictly wet-food diet.  Then, post-cleaning, we transitioned him back to hard food, much to his dismay.  The great part about Waits’ food journey in 2012, is that we’ve discovered he loves nori, chickpeas and ALL salty foods, acorn squash, and almond milk.  We also found a way to peak his water interest.  With all of his food troubles this year there have been great revelations, so my  hope is to start preparing more out of the ordinary snacks for him…wahoo!

  2.  Oats:  Oh, what to say about Oats. :p  I mention these, mostly because they have been a breakfast standard for most of 2012.  We buy gluten-free whole rolled oats, and dress them up in all sorts of ways in the morning.  I don’t know where my morning appetite would be without oats!  Cool finding:  Blended oats with all my ‘fixins’ is rather scrumptious and a welcome texture change.

  3.  The Farmers’ Market:  Some of you may have previously read my post on why I like shopping at the farmers’ market, but regardless, I couldn’t leave the market off of my list because it has been a remarkable learning and growing experience for me.  I’ve come to understand even more, a sense of community I don’t think I truly understood before.  I’m getting to know some of the farmers and coming to understand their trade with more intimacy.  I tried to grow a few things in 2012, and hope to do more this year.  My weekend routine was not the same if I had to miss our market trip; thanks to SFC and everyone who has worked hard to keep these markets up and running.  Eating local has changed my life in many ways.

Again, thanks to everyone who made writing this blog in 2012, more special than I imagined.  With the multitude of blogs out there, if you’ve ever taken the time to read mine, I am truly appreciative.

And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy and Happy New Year Vibes,

 

~RAM~

 

Eat Your Way to Stronger Immune System

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Although it is still hot here in Austin and in general the weather seems to be tumultuous across the states and I gather that with the onset of September comes a cooler breeze and a change in the season.  In an office, work-place, classroom or otherwise, a change in weather is a red flag to me that a large majority of your cohorts and peers could end up sick or convince themselves that they are sick.  Although I’m not a doctor nor a natural practitioner, I have some hints and tips about how I keep myself ‘up and running’ during the worst of times and the best of times.  I am of the opinion that we are (individuals) totally capable of NOT living in fear every time someone comes up with a cold or some other common illness. Our bodies shut down sometimes, but this is a sign they need to.  However, for the most part, we’re capable of keeping ourselves strong and able with a whole foods diet and few pick-me-ups.
(In no particular order.)
  • Kick-butt tea!  I make this mixture in the evenings mostly, but I double up in the mornings when I am feeling a hint of ick or a significant weather change overnight.
           Peel about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of ginger and cut it into manageable chunks.
           Place these pieces at the bottom of your favorite mug or tea-cup.
           Put the kettle on and just before the water begins to boil.
           Pour it over your chunks of peeled ginger root.
           Add  the juice from 1/2 a lemon  and stir.
           Next, add some stevia and as many shakes of cayenne pepper that you can handle.
           Swirl it all together and drink.
  • GAAAALIC.  Garlic is easily one of my favorite things to eat.  Bonus for me and all of you of course, it’s loaded with bacterial fighting goodness and it doesn’t injure or disrupt our bodies’ natural flora like otc stuff .  Additionally it’s anti-inflammatory, which is helpful for times of stress, exposure to radiation (possibly cancer patients) and for women during their menstrual cycle.  I like to mince a clove or two (or three) up and put it on top of basically anything savory that I’m eating.  Raw, lovely and potent.  I also discovered this method recently.
  • Greens galore!  Our bodies’ function best in an alkaline state, and greens are about as alkaline as you can get.  Drinking greencentric smoothies and juices along with green bedded dishes and salads of verde splendor; you will be on your way to a strong and healthy body.  Just remember to chew it up, even if it’s in liquid form.  Producing saliva in your mouth will aid digestion where it starts, in your mouth.
  • Almond me up.  Fights inflammation and works to ward off mean bacteria, almonds should be on your radar.  I like them raw, soaked and eaten over foods, made into dips and sauces and best of all ground up into almond butter.
  • Orange foods.  I knew there was a reason that many orange and dark-yellow tinted veggies pop up during the fall and winter seasons.  The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and butternut squash (to name a few) helps protect our most aesthetic organ, our skin.  Without healthy skin and a properly functioning way to excrete toxins through our skin, we’d be in bad shape.  I love to roast carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin with aromatic herbs and spices.  Pumpkin purée is also extra tasty over some breakfast grains like oats, quinoa, amaranth or millet.  Sweet potatoes also taste great mashed and served with a bit of cinnamon, walnuts and coconut oil.  Try eating these lovely orange veggies with a fat source for proper absorption.
No direct correlation with food, but these remedies are more connected to what you eat than you think:
  • LAUGH and laugh often and with full heart.  Comedic Moments and Films I recommend:
Buster Keaton  – Balloonatic (1923)

Woody Allen – Sleeper (1973)

Maria Bamford – Paula Dean skit (2012)

Lazy Sunday 1 – SNL

Lazy Sunday 2 – SNL

 

  • Liquify!  Drink plenty of water daily–I would recommend an amount, but I believe going off of one’s thirst is the best method, unless your thirst drives you to anything but water–because water helps to flush out excessive waste cells and gunk that builds up in your body.  Water also helps to carry oxygen throughout your body, which will in turn allow you to work at full capacity. H2O works to keep your mouth clean so extra harmful particles and bacteria don’t fester.  There are many more splendid benefits of drinking water for your immune system
  • Sleepy time.  Amongst sleep’s many wonderful attributes, among mammalian species, sleep helps to increase white blood cell count, which equates to a better functioning immune system.  I say, the more we rest, the less stressed we are apt to become.  Stress can lower our body’s ability to defend itself.  It’s all tied together.

I hope some of this will be helpful to some of you in the coming days, weeks, months and years to come.  Remember, all of our bodies are different  If you have any additions to what I’ve stated, please let me know, I would enjoy hearing from you.  Understand that keeping our body strong is something that should and easily can be an ongoing process.  Respecting those around you, the source of your food in connection to its proper season and the quality of its nutrients is an optimum way to keep your body and mind aligned with the earth and its effects on you and those you love.

And remember…bite responsibly…especially right now. ^____-

 

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~