Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Using almond pulp) + Taking breaks

IMG_3330 (640x427)Do we need more cookie recipes? I vote yes! There is something about cookies that shouts comforting. I love the smell of these when it is fresh out of the oven. I created these using left over almond/cashew pulp from our fresh almond/cashew milk. I hate letting things go to waste, and would attempt to make something out of the pulp each week. IMG_3326 (640x427)

To make them more crispy, I deliberately toast them a little more. I omitted any oil but use nut butter to bind them together instead. Anything with chocolate is good isn’t it? So in goes 2 squares of dark lindt chocolate. 

Otherwise, life has been a tad overwhelming in our household. Luckily, hubby and I booked in a few days to the gorgeous Southwest earlier. We had  total blast. We enjoyed nature, slept heaps and ate. Having a near 3 year old is never quite relaxing of course, but the down time was much needed.IMG_3328 (640x427)

Which brings me my next point, why is it that we struggle to take breaks? Do we need to redefine breaks? Does it have to be a long overseas holiday? Or a few days at home? 

When hubby and I spoke about that, we realised that we can never quite “relax” at home. There is always a project or something that needs to be done. Those days are welcomed of course. We often feel accomplished when a section of the house has been decluttered, or if I have created meals that will last us for days. Taking a break for us, means not doing the daily responsibilities, getting out to enjoy nature, and family time. 

We are still learning as a family of what we should do. No doubt it will change (kids club? Bring it on!). However, we shall take what we can for now!IMG_3329 (427x640)

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Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Respecting the process

IMG_3156 (640x427)When it comes to my self image, it is always a work in progress. You can read about what I wrote about self image, scales talk and food judgement in respective links. Over the past few months, I have more good days than bad. On those good days, I often am reminded by how far I have come and is respecting the process.

I accept that my body is mine and it is different. It has been through childhood obesity, and a fear of fitness. Some fears remain- I still struggle to participate in group sports games (although have actually attempted basketball and some form of soccer). I am the girl whose head just seem to attract any flying balls even when I am simply running OR standing minding my own business. I feel clumsy when I do any kind  of coordination exercises. I still cannot do a high box jump- not a lack of ability but my brain and my legs just can’t seem to communicate, and any technical work on weights takes me ages to master. I can hardly skip, and Asher will probably learn how to cycle before I do.  Heavy weights remain a challenge but I am getting better at it. IMG_3155 (640x427)

So with that into consideration, I’m doing ok. I do not have the toned arms that I envisioned myself having or the clear 6 pack (it’s just hiding). I feel soft some days and tougher on others. Like a dear friend once mentioned- me feeling crapped about myself or saying I feel soft or my tummy seems less firm may indicate other issues such as digestive or immunity rather than my immediate fear of “going backwards”. In reality, the core of the issue is that I have an underlying fear that I will return to my previous self in no time.IMG_3158 (640x427)

My fear is not unjustified. Look at this news article recently. I think healthy weight itself can be a mystery. For most, the formula isn’t too complicated. I took the “Low fat and just cardio like crazy” route and lost 32 kgs the first round. It wasn’t sustainable but I did it. Then, the 2nd time I did it, I took the “Nourish, eat well and just move smartly” method. Worked for me too. Still, with my experimentation of not weighing myself did result in some weight gain, I had to learn how to dial back food. 

The truth is, I may have to be careful for the rest of my life. However, I have embraced a few differences. I do not count calories anymore or keep a food diary. I try to eat well, and be kind to myself. The only “rules” I have is to always start with small bites, and avoid mainly gluten or refined sugar. If i do want to indulge in an extra coffee, I can. If I want to munch on a bliss ball, yes. I just stay away from processed food. I still cook most meals and move regularly. 

One thing I did note though, and with hubby’s observation..is that since I have started hitting my own goals on chin ups, pull ups, turkish get ups and doing double jb squats… I stand taller. I’m less self conscious. There is something about going against what I thought I could not do previously that helped. 

It will always be a journey of self. One that I’m learning not to rush it but respect the process. 

Oh, and enjoy this bickie with my coffee. It’s crumbier and easy. Yes it has some coconut sugar in it. But hey, it’s all relative. IMG_3154 (640x427)

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Chocolate Teddies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + A day at home

IMG_3144 (640x427)I haven’t done one of these posts in a while now. Documenting what I did with Asher in a day. I wrote about child led play back in June 2015! These days are getting rarer because I always seem to be busy. Busy with what? I wonder at times. 

Monday

6:30am- I woke up. AMAZED that it is a sleep in!! 

6:30-7:30: WOAH! Time to myself. Wash up, ate breakfast in silence. Catch up on emails, reading. Start to prepare broth for dinner.

7:30- Asher is awake! He greeted me with his messy hair and sleepy eyes. “Where is daddy?” 

(Usually daddy greets him while I take the night routine).

7:30-8:30am: Brush his teeth, change his clothes, feed him breakfast (Apple pie he wanted. I made some a few days before and I’m saying yes to that because I made it just a few days ago), vacuum, mopped… Asher joined in with me, spraying my enjo mop, pushing the mop, putting away the cords of the vacuum. 

8:30-9:30: Mummy’s guilt. I had to work. Settled Asher back to his breakfast, attempted to turn on music rather than tv but nope.. didn’t work. Tv it was.

09:40-09:40: Call time with daddy.

10-10:30- work time for me again. Asher started to play by himself. He checked in with me a few times. Started flipping and playing with newspapers near me. 

10:30-11:30: I got off work. Asher and I went outside. We turned on some music. We traced our feet and decorated it. We draw buses and ambulances. I’m impressed. Asher has started to draw! We worked on our letters. Today was letter A and B. We said A was for Asher, Ambulance, Apples and Ants. We went hunting for ants around the garden. Then we did B. B for buses (and that was where it stopped). We saw that a lemon was ripen, and we picked that. We smelt the lemon. Took it in. 

Then Asher wanted to make something.. so we made.. chocolate chip cookies! I followed this recipe again. He enjoyed whisking the egg up and mixing it all together. Best of all, he sneaked in a few of the sugar free chocolate in his mouth. While it bakes in the oven, I heated up our lunch

12- 12:30. Lunch time! He became distracted as the cookies were ready. Straight after lunch which was mushrooms, lamb roast and pumpkin…he ate 3 cookies… 

12:30-2pm: We clean up. Then as I decided to tidy up the study room a little, Asher took his trains and played there with me. I put things away, and he wanted to do some colouring. As I picked up a pen, he changed his mind and wanted stickers instead. Alright then! So we pasted stickers. Looking at different shapes and colours. 

He found his pair of safety scissors and we started practicing cutting. “open and close” He got the hang of it! We used a community news paper and started looking for transport vehicles. With my help, we cut 3 trains, 1 helicopters and 1 garbage truck out. He said we need to put it aside for daddy to see.

2-2:15pm: I started to wind him down. I said we can read but we need to pack up. So around the house we went. This time round, I was so proud of Asher. He “drove” all his vehicles back and “parked them”. I packed away his books. He allowed me to put his trains back to the play room. 

2:15-2:30pm: We read on the couch. Snuggled together under a rug. 

2:30pm: Nap time! Asher turned off the music. He caught a glimpse of chuggington on the tv as he pressed the wrong button. BUT! he allowed me to turn it off. He even commented that he turned it off. 

3pm: Ok, finally he napped.

4ish: Awake. Cuddles. Drink of water. Snuggles. Light afternoon snack while daddy comes home.

So there we go. Documenting this may not mean anything to anyone but myself, but this was one successful day where we truly enjoyed each other company. Yes, it is not perfect as I needed to work. Still, any time with my toddler…. is precious.IMG_3146 (640x427)

Speaking of which, here is the recipe for my chocolate teddies. I’m collecting cookie cutters these days. This one was in a shopping centre in Malaysia. It was $2 for 2 cutters. I used the smaller one for this one. IMG_3147 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’133′] 

A Simple Nut Free Chocolate Chip (gluten free, paleo) + Toddler Talk P3

IMG_3104 (640x427)Asher: Pretty toes! (Pointing to my pedicure then proceeding to kiss my toes).

Asher: Looking at my plain finger nails. “Not pretty fingers mummy” (Shaking head)

__________

Asher: “Mummy is pretty.”

Me: “Thanks ash! What about daddy?” 

Asher: “Not pretty.”

Me: “oh? what is daddy then?”

Asher: “Daddy is beautiful!”

Me and hubby: “awww.ok. What about you?”

Asher: “I am a good boy.” 

_________

Tap fell off.

Asher: “Oh no! Mummy broke it!”

Me: “Oh, the tap was already loose. I didn’t break it. Maybe it wasn’t fix on properly.”

Asher: Who broke it?”

Me: “I don’t know Asher. I think it has been that way for a long time. Who do you think broke it?”

Asher: “Daddy” 

_____________

Hubby parallel parked the car.

Asher: “Good parking daddy” 

_______________

In the car as we drive out. 

Asher: “Time to go home. I want to sleep in my room on my train pillow.” 

___________

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Asher is really into his bickies and cookies recently. In my attempt to experiment to make some at home, I read and discover the use of gelatine. The result was better than what I thought. The gelatine, egg and coconut oil bind it together. I used a mixture of arrowroot and coconut flour so it is not only nut free, but it provided a more “cookie” like texture. A winner in my books as it is really simple to whip up! IMG_3103 (640x427)

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Chinese Walnut Cookies 核桃酥(Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_3058 (640x427)I thought I have posted these before but I actually have not! Even before we were married, hubby absolutely loves Chinese walnut cookies or 核桃酥. They are buttery, short and melt in your mouth. They are the must have if you visit a bakery in hong kong. IMG_3055 (640x427)

I have attempted a few “traditional” recipes in the past, but none was even close to what we remember travelling through hong kong and even back home in Malaysia and Singapore. Then randomly, I experimented with walnuts and coconut sugar- BLAM! This was close. I love that these has a melt in your mouth texture, and with a strong walnut taste. They are not as short as the traditional ones, but as I have removed refined ingredients such as icing sugar and butter, I think I can compromise on that. Top it with a few walnuts, and I think it is a good enough cookie to serve for next year Chinese New Year celebration!IMG_3054 (640x427)

 

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Travelling with a Toddler + Chinese Almond Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Chinese Almond CookiesDuring my travels, what I missed most was having the familiarity of my kitchen and ingredients that I know can sit well with our values, principles and food philosophy. I do believe in diversity and regardless of where we are at, our body needs a break from the usual routine. Food included.IMG_1165

I was really impressed with how Asher was with food. He ate pretty much anything and embraced the local food delights. From a typical breakfast of Indian Thosai, to different kuehs -he tried it all. He was a little hit and miss with durian. He didn’t love it but neither did he dislike it. I would just have to keep introducing it to him. IMG_0660

Another thing that we were most proud about was how well he behaved on the plane. We did not need to use gadgets-though we brought it and prepared it in advanced. We put together a goody bag of new puzzles, books and drawing materials. We had small little toys still wrapped up for him to open up on the plane. The funny thing was, it was the safety card at our seat that generated the most interest. He was literally studying it on each flight. Otherwise, snacks, conversation about the plane, reading, toys and nap time kept us sane. IMG_0871

We had quite a lot of misses on the toileting side of things on the plane- to be expected. We brought heaps of clothing but on the way back, we conceded defeat and put him in training pants to reduce the pressure on him and us. Lo behold, he went to the loo on the plane when we stopped asking, and kept his pants dry mostly. He asked for the toilet when we landed and that was sufficient till we got home.I don’t blame him. I’m not a fan of air plane loos myself!IMG_0682

Among the few things that Asher pick up during the trip were

  1. Eating ice cream
  2. He tried some juice
  3. Local fruits like Jambu Air, Jackfruit and Dragon fruit
  4. Smother in love from his grandparents
  5. Sharing food! 
  6. Some cookies and chocolate IMG_0572

Thankfully, I have always kept an open mind that Asher will experience the above some time in his life time. Besides, what’s life without chocolate, cookies and ice cream? Now back at home, Asher continued to eat his usual foods without much complains but was excited about some custard and instant blue berry ice cream (Cue: frozen bananas and blueberries). IMG_3044 (640x427)

I created these cookies as an adaptation of the Chinese Almond Cookies that my family loved for many years. The original recipe was almond meal and icing sugar. This version uses honey. The glaze is what made the yellow of the cookie stands out. My grandmother loved this and would have asked me to make it over and over again. If I could turn that time, I would gladly make them daily…just for her..
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[yumprint-recipe id=’125′] 

White and Black Sesame Cookies (Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Paleo) + Chinese Traditions

IMG_3021 (640x427)Every year I say that I will endeavour to write and note recipes BEFORE Chinese New Year. It doesn’t seem to happen these days. Nevertheless, if you are following my Instagram, you would have noticed that despite my lateness- it didn’t mean that I have stopped baking cookies. I did! I just didn’t document it in time!IMG_3016 (640x427)

This year, I felt the immense sense of lost as we approach my grandmother’s 2nd year death anniversary. It is also the 2nd year we are celebrating CNY without her. As we were grieving last year, we hardly thought or did any celebrations. This year though, we attempted to do some spring cleaning, filled our cookie jars with some clean cookies and even attended a lunch with friends. 

As Asher grows, I am reminded by how far removed he is from family and friends. The slight fear that culturally, his knowledge will be even more diluted than ours. While we can, we decided that there will be a few things we would do to at least let him know his roots and where his ancestry is from.

  • We attempt to teach him CNY songs and wishes. Still a little early but he did say a sentence or two!
  • My parents forwarded some lion dance puppets
  • We followed some traditions like having tossed salad, saying greetings to friends and families, and the all important red packets
  • We connected to extended family members via face time.
  • We dressed him up in red and in new clothes. 
  • We took Asher for a hair cut

In time to come we will visit our family and friends in the festive season. 

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This was one of the cookies I created for CNY. Hope you will enjoy them.

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Fig and Hazelnut Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Toddler Play

Fig and Hazelnut CookiesA couple of weeks ago, I wrote generally about Asher’s play. I wanted to expand on that as in just a few short weeks, I have noticed his interest, concentration and language has shifted somewhat. In my attempt to be mindful and present focused, I slowed down and observe. It makes me realise how much he has grown since this post 6 months ago

Playing by himself– Since Asher was a little bub, he prefers someone to play with him. Understandably so, since playing with mummy or daddy is so much more fun than playing by himself. Lately though, I catch him wandering and exploring, coming up with little games by himself. His language has grown, and with that he reasons with himself. As he approach a puzzle, he talks to himself- problem solving along the way.  “This goes there. No it doesn’t. That one fits better”. Or “Hello yellow car, you need to go to the petrol station for fuel”. 

Imaginative play-That has expanded too. Using a water bottle as a “traffic light”. The tissue paper box as a “petrol station” or perhaps a block of towers as “school”. His ability to imagine and make things out of nothing still amazes me. 

Shopping/Role plays– This cracks me up. We have a play kitchen. He would take his shopping basket, fill it up with groceries, pay for it using his toy cash register and proceeded to head to the kitchen to pack away and cook us a meal. He was really pretending to be ME! He cooks us breakfasts (eggs of course), and make us tea. We have tea parties where he would pretend to boil water, complete with a jug of milk. We would pretend we are a zoo, and play act different animals (slide like a snake, crawl like a bear, hop like a kangaroo, walk like a duck)

Vehicles–  He is starting to categories now. He talks about emergency vehicles versus transport vehicles (Although of course emergency vehicles are also transport vehicles). We talk about ambulances, fire engines and police cars. We point out different reasons for using these services. He would pretend to be a pilot and want to fly a plane. Then a fireman next to fight fires. Of course he loves zooming his cars and play racing with them. We use concepts like fast and slow, over and under. We spoke about car safety and seat belts. We point out traffic lights in real life and talk about road safety (possibly a little too well because now he is scared of walking in car parks!). Hubby even takes things one step further and do mini excursions on the public buses with him! He is still into his Thomas the tank engines but thankfully has also expanded that to general trains and cars. 

Puzzles– Not only is he enjoying putting puzzles together, he is also liking flash cards. Matching games, and even counting ones. Although his concentration isn’t quite there yet and he often mis count, he makes me realise how fun learning can be. We match clock numbers to a real clock, we match numerical numbers to pictures of items. We have alphabet puzzles, transport ones and even robots where we have figure out the pattern. 

Music– Where do we even begin? He really loves music now. We bought him a drum kit and he totally loves it. He has a keyboard and he sings into the microphone. Then of course we have bells and tambourines. We dance to music and even when I’m doing food prep, he would start jumping and swaying, looking at me cheekily hinting that mummy should dance. 

Books-His favourite place to go to..the library. He loves books and more books. He likes books with transport, construction and more recently, even books on numbers. 

Rough Play– Tickles and more tickles. Jumping and running. He loves sitting on my tummy and then falling onto the carpet. We do old games like “aeroplane”- one that I raise him up using my legs while lying down. Upside down is another favourite. Climbing up and down stairs. I’m starting to introduce hoping to him. He likes his ball and would kick, throw and roll. We are attempting bouncing next. He loves his slides and play ground. IMG_2905 (640x427)

Messy play– He loves his play dough and painting. We haven’t got much into finger painting though although we have tried stamping. He enjoys water play quite a bit. 

Fine motor skills– We do a little threading, and he does like putting stickers on books. His pencil grip isn’t quite there yet but there is no hurry. His is interested in colours and doing a little scribbling at times. We do sorting out using tongs. We use colour pom poms and sort them into different tins. We try to talk about how sometimes we sort by shape, and other times by colours. 

Gardening– I can’t say I do heaps of that. Hubby do that a lot more with him. He would help to water the plants with hubby pointing out to him how things grow. He has a look of pride when he takes in some herbs for me as I cook a tomato sauce for instance. 

Playing with friends-There is still a degree of parallel play, but I’m noticing that he is starting to attempt to interact with his friends. Perhaps sitting near them and showing them his cars. Perhaps chasing them while “driving” his car. He would laugh and clearly enjoying the company of his friends. He has started telling me who his friends are, and would ask to visit them. He is still not very good at sharing yet- but at least would sometimes pass the item to me , telling me that he is done with it and wanting me to pass it to the friend. 

IMG_2901 (427x640)So there we have it. I might miss some more but just writing this down makes me realise how much he learn through play. Certainly toddler hood is all about fun and I wish he will continue to have this inquisition of learning. 

I am back to baking cookies more regularly and this was one using some leftover dried figs. Figs and hazelnut goes quite well together. Asher loves mixing things and sit on the counter top watching me put these cookies together. He makes me realise that everything is interesting, and while I’m easily on auto mode, being with him helps me to slow down and smell the roses (or the cookies in this case). That is the beauty of having a toddler. IMG_2906 (640x427)

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Vanilla Cookies Version 1 + Teaching sharing and Empathy

IMG_2837 (427x640)One of the joys of parenthood is to watch our little man grow. In his knowledge, reasoning and curiosity. The realisation that while the world “appear” to revolve around him, other people have feelings, thoughts and opinions. It is one of our goals to point out different ways we can encourage empathy, sharing and building relationships. 

One obvious challenge is that it is developmentally appropriate for a 2 year old to think about himself. After all it feels good- that’s all that matters to him at that age. My argument though is that what is developmental appropriate does not mean we do not expose him to what might shake his world a little. It might be a bigger shake up when he is 6 year old and continue to not show awareness of what is around him. The other thing that is frequently lurking at the back of my head are developmental disorders. Perhaps it is an occupational hazard but I do like setting little experiments to see how he responds to it- to my interest but as a little filling at the back of my head on what could be concerning or not. I think most parents do that, at least I hope that I’m not the only odd one out!IMG_2843 (640x427)

We also believe that it is our responsibility to teach him manners, thoughtfulness, being caring and kind (Asher’s future partner can thank us for that later). It does however, elicit some rather interesting responses. 

  • On sharing food- Asher has only started to share some with us. Often the most sour of grapes and when he has finished his meal. Still, we considered a win when he did attempt to give us a few pieces of pears on some days. Now, he would even use a small tongs and serve us food (ok, that’s because he likes tongs but hey, we try to reframe it to help him understand it is good to serve food to others when others want it and not when he wants to!)
  • Praying for others. We have our nightly prayers. When we pray for his friends, it’s really interesting to see the names he could recall and who he considers as friends and what they do during the day. 
  • Taking turns. Asher is better at taking turns than sharing. He soon realised that it is quite fun observing another child playing the same item and discovering different ways of playing the same toy. 
  • Sharing toys- woah! toughie. We are using words such as “It looks like you are not done with it yet, when you are, please pass it to xx. He/she would like to have some fun with this toy too” which most times now, he does! He would hand the toy to us to share to the other child. We find that this method works better than saying “Asher, you have to share now”. I like to think that it is a gradual process where he learned to hand that toy over. Sometimes, I would use “taking turns” as a gentler way rather than for him to give him a toy completely. 
  • Role plays with soft toys. We give cuddles to soft toys, have tea parties together where Asher has to pour out tea/water and cook meals for us. 
  • Role modelling- not just showing it to Asher but actually explaining to him why. E.g. we give Asher a dollar coin to put into the offering bag on Sunday. When we drop our offering in the bag, we ask him to do so and explain to him why we are sharing our money.
  • Read. We read about manners, about care and we read the children’s bible. 
  • Asking questions. When a baby cries, we ask Asher what would help baby feel better. Often he would say “baby crying and needs baby’s mamma”. Sometimes though he comes out with some funny responses “baby needs to sleep” or “baby upset”. If hubby and I has a cut on our skin he would stroke it and say “oh no”. Often asking if we need a band aid, a kiss or a ouchie spray. 
  • Teaching him how to say “I’m sorry”- we are not quite there yet. He refuses to say it! He would, however, shy away, often closing his eyes and pretending he isn’t there. I see that as a good sign that he realises he was in the wrong.

So there you have it, some of our ways that we are still fumbling along. Any ideas or suggestions are welcomed. IMG_2841 (640x427)

In the kitchen, we bake together. Sometimes we talk about who we bake for and how what he enjoys others would as well. This cookie was one of my little experiments. It wasn’t as “short” as I like to be, but Asher really loves this texture. I find that arrowroot provides that starch that some cookies need but also the butter to give it a really lovely flavour and melt in your food feel. Hope you enjoy having one of these with your tea or coffee. IMG_2840 (640x427)

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Blueberry Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (Gluten Free)

Blueberry chocolate browniesI am often surprised how my taste buds have changed over the years. Occasionally, perhaps I must have come across as a food snob. If I have, I really don’t mean too! I feel like I have gone from a easy going eater, to someone with a list of “not to have” whenever friends ask if there is something they could provide that we would eat. You see, in our day to day life, we truly live by looking at what we eat than what we do not eat. 

What we eat? It’s as simple as real food. I keep our fridge and freezer stock with lovely WA produce as much as we can. 

What we try to avoid? Anything from a package. IMG_2772 (640x427)

Sometimes we get the giggle and laughs that we are “too healthy”. 

I often say that we make choices base on our journeys in life. Perhaps you are some one who can tolerate more sugar and salt than we can. Perhaps you know someone who have battled cancer and is embracing the low tox life style. Whatever it is, as long as you are conscious about it- then that’s ok! IMG_2773 (427x640)

We do however, have friends who share similar food preferences. And also friends who lovingly read up, research and attempt to make things for us that are low tox, and high in nutrients. Aren’t these friends great? I received gorgeous chocolate cakes, bliss balls, brittles and even savoury items. 

When it was my turn to gift. I thought I would like to make a special friend some brownies. I still wouldn’t call them my perfect brownies but they are pretty yummy. Served cold from the fridge. 

 

To my friends who celebrate Chinese New Year! Happy CNY 2016! IMG_2771 (640x427)

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