Mar 28, 2011

My Best Life: Being Thankful


Daffodils Cropped
Photo taken by: Andy Melton
Last Week's Strategy

Last week's strategy was to start a "Joy Journal". It is often so easy to get lured into dwelling on the negative and forgetting about the positive things in our lives. Of all the strategies I have tried over the past three months, this has been one of my favourites! Every day at the end of the day, I think of ONE happy/joyful moment in my day and I record it in my joy journal. I was pleasantly surprised by how hard it was to decide on just one thing. So many wonderful things happen in a day!

I thought I would share my previous week's entries here with you:

My three-year-old daughter informed me that she has the day off today and she's NOT going to work at all!

Making a fresh loaf of banana bread. I love baking! The house smelled great and that first slice with melted butter on it tasted fantastic!

Winning a free Tim Horton's coffee in the Roll Up The Rim To Win contest.

My daughter actually gave me a kiss today. Normally her kisses are awkward head butts, however today she leaned in and kissed her mommy on the cheek! It melted my heart.

After we put my daughter to bed, my husband and I snuggled and cuddled on the couch while watching television. Our love and my love for him gives me much joy!

Today my daughter asked "What kind of baby animal is growing in Mommy's tummy? Maybe it's a penguin sister?"

Volunteering with a group of amazing women to wrap daffodils for The Canadian Cancer Society.

I love my Joy Journal. It brings a smile to my face and helps me have a more positive outlook on life! My Joy Journal will surely remain a part of my daily routine.

This Week's Strategy

There are so many wonderful people in my life. People who make this world a better and brighter place! A few weeks ago I had shared that I would like to help others live their best life as well. This is one of the strategies that came to mind, as it is easier to live your best life when you know you are loved and appreciated. This week I will reflect and give thanks for the wonderful people in my life. I will think of a way to thank them for the role they play in making me a better person and helping me to live my best life.

What do you do to show others you are thankful for them? As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a wonderful week.

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Mar 26, 2011

Prenatal Yoga Is Deepening My Yoga Practice


I have been taking yoga classes since I was pregnant with my first child. Over the past four years I have been practicing yoga off and on. This beautiful, fluid form of exercise which ends with a ten to fifteen minute rest is my absolute favourite physical activity.

However, today while at prenatal yoga class I had an epiphany. I realized that prenatal yoga has made me more mindful in my practice. Every week my growing body expands, my lung capacity changes and my balance is altered. Every week I need to check in with my body and ask myself how the pose feels, how my body feels, and adjust the pose so it benefits me and my baby.

Prior to this pregnancy, I used to push through the poses. I would follow the instructor's guidance and breathe in and out on cue. Today, I realized that my yoga practice is about me and my awareness of my body in its present state. I also came to accept that my yoga practice is a journey. Just as this pregnancy is a journey and my life is a journey. There are no mistakes. I learn in every moment. Today, I embrace the next pose and the next breath. Today, I embrace the changes I am going through physically, mentally and spiritually. I am on my journey. I listen to my breath. No one else can do it for me.
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Mar 25, 2011

{this moment: astronaut}

Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
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Mar 23, 2011

Decorating Challenge - Covering Glass Blocks

My husband and I were not a couple when he bought our condo. Why he bought it, I don't know. The people who lived here before us had no concept of interior design. Now I admit I've watched endless amounts of home decorating shows and I've consistently said that everyone has their own tastes in decor. However, I think most people would agree that decorating a kitchen with mauve coloured cabinets, yellow back splash tiles and completing the look with white and green laminate flooring is reprehensible! Were the previous home owners colour blind or did they just have a fascination with Easter colours? I kid you not... this kitchen made my head spin.

A couple years ago, my husband and I completely renovated the condo. We tore out the kitchen, we removed the eight different types of flooring from all the rooms and installed hardwood throughout. It was a huge task and we're still not done all of our projects but overall, we have decorated our condo to our liking.

However, there is another decorating obstacle which we now must overcome. Our condo has three bedrooms; a master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms. The two bedrooms share a wall which (brace yourself for this one) has a glass block "window" that is 40" tall by 54" wide. You guessed it, the previous owners installed it. Why did they put a glass block window between two bedrooms? Your guess is as good as mine. What were they thinking???

We currently use one bedroom for my daughter and the other bedroom as an office. However, in about four months the office will need to be a baby's room and we can't have light shining from one room into another. Our present solution is a large room darkening blind installed on the office side. This solution won't work anymore because it is the wall where the crib will need to go (and my thoughts are that blinds and babies don't mix). My husband and I have contemplated moving the blind into my daughter's room but quite frankly that's a joke. We both know that within no time she will rip that blind off the wall.

So here are some of our thoughts:

  • Mount a large fabric-covered cork board over the opening. The cork board can then be used to display artwork and pictures. The downside... the cork board we would require to cover the opening costs about $150.

  • Paint a huge mural on canvas and cover the opening. The cost would also be about $150 (and my husband and I would have to fine tune our artistic skills in order to pull off this project).

  • Another thought is to cover the blocks with a peel and stick paper. Then mount small wood strips to create a built-in book display shelf. We're not really sure how the wood strips would be mounted but this would be a very affordable solution.

  • Paint over the blocks with wall paint? Although affordable, I'm not sure if paint would stick to the glass blocks and this solution may pose a problem if we had to resell the condo. If we find a paint that sticks, I'm not sure how easy it would be to strip it from glass blocks.

That's all of our ideas for now but we would love to hear any other ideas and/or suggestions. I will keep you posted as to what we decide and how this project progresses.

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Mar 21, 2011

My Best Life: The Joy Journal

1 comment:
Last Week's Strategy

Last week's strategy was to eat more vegetables. I didn't get a chance to try a new vegetable this week but I did increase the amount of vegetables I ate on a daily basis. The easiest strategy was to have a daily salad with supper. I was also successful at packing and eating little snack packs of veggies.

A special thank you to DP for the suggestion to make stir frys. I'm including that strategy in my upcoming meal plans.

This Week's Strategy

As I shared last week, I have been struggling with Antepartum Depression. This week's strategy is tailored to help me cope with the emotions I've been feeling over the past few weeks.

Today, I am going to start a Joy Journal. Every day I will reflect and record a joyful moment from the day... something that made me smile or laugh. I want to find joy again but lately it takes some effort. A journal may help me remember the joyful moments on days when happy times are few and far in-between.

Do you reflect on your days? What do you do to find joy? As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a wonderful week.
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Mar 18, 2011

{this moment: hello}

1 comment:
Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Mar 17, 2011

The Cowgirl Phase

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A child passes through many phases in childhood. Whether it's the phase when they suck their thumb, they are attached to a favourite blankie or have an imaginary friend, these are phases that undoubtedly remain in a parent's memory.

Right now my daughter is going through one of those phases. My husband and I have fondly named it "The Cowgirl Phase". Rather than wearing a "twirly" dress or a crown, my daughter has become attached to a cowboy hat. She wears this hat from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to bed. She has worn it to birthday parties, to do baking, and to go grocery shopping. Occasionally she gallops around the house and hollers, "Yee haw! Yee haw!" We don't know how long this phase will last, but one thing we do know... we will never forget The Cowgirl Phase.

Eating breakfast in her cowboy hat.
Lounging around the house.
At a birthday party.
Just before bed.
Baking with Mommy.
Has your child been through any memorable phases? If so, I would love to hear about it!

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Mar 15, 2011

Antepartum Depression: Stopping The Tears

Antepartum Depression: Do you have it? How to cope with it.

I'm not going to delay or postpone this any further. It's time for me to be open. For the past few weeks I have been slipping into a deep antepartum depression.

It's hard to believe that for eight months my husband and I had tried desperately to conceive this child. We had been waiting, hoping, praying and then it happened... in November of 2010, two pink lines confirmed what we had been wanting for months. We were going to have our second child.

Joy to Gloom
However, over the past month my joy has turned to gloom. I've found myself weeping uncontrollably night after night. One evening I cried for almost four hours. I used over one and a half boxes of tissue to blow my nose and wipe my tears. This tearful episode ended with a massive nosebleed which had to be handled with toilet paper as I had used up all the tissue in the house. Comical in retrospect but in the moment I knew that something was horribly wrong with me.

My husband had been aware of these bouts of tears. He is such a supportive and wonderful husband. He offered more help, more chocolate, more time for listening but this was not enough. His caring, gentle demeanor made me feel guilty. I felt guilt that he has to be married to a monster like me, guilt that I couldn't snap out of this funk, and guilt that I am not an ideal wife.

Moreover, on a few occasions my daughter has witnessed my breakdowns. She is only three years old. She of course doesn't understand what's wrong with her mommy. She would try to help by getting a band-aid, by holding her pretend stethoscope to my head, or she would simply hug me. The fact that she has witnessed these outbursts has also overwhelmed me with guilt. I don't want my daughter to see me this way. I don't want her to have memories of a depressed mom.

In one of my distressed moments I actually wished I had never gotten pregnant. If I weren't pregnant I could be the good wife and mother that I was before this pregnancy. Needless to say, I was the first person to emotionally beat up myself for having such awful thoughts. I remember thinking:
What's wrong with me? I've waited so long for this baby, how could I ever wish such a terrible thing? I don't deserve to be the mother to this child, a mother to my daughter, or a wife to my husband. I don't deserve them and they don't deserve this life with me.
Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. The never-ending spiral of guilt. The worse thing is that it becomes a vicious cycle... the more guilt I would feel, the more depressed I would become, which would result in more guilt.

The Breakdown
Last Wednesday I went to my Ob-Gyn. I had no intention of sharing these feelings with her. However, a routine examination turned into a complete emotional breakdown. She was concerned that if these emotions aren't resolved before I give birth, I would have higher chances of slipping into a postpartum depression. She suggested that I try to relax more. She also said that we could try antidepressants but that she would prefer to keep that particular mode of treatment as a last resort. I don't want to be on antidepressants while pregnant! So what am I to do?

Why Me?
My doctor told me there are a few reasons why I could be going through this: 
  • The emotions of trying so hard for a baby and having a miscarriage back in July could be all hitting now that my hormones are out of whack.
  • The irregular heartbeat I developed as a result of this pregnancy has made me fearful of sleeping, which can also have a great impact on my emotions.
  • Stress from work.
  • Fatigue.
  • This long, cold, and dreadful winter.
  • I am juggling being a working mom and wife while dealing with the extra hormones and emotions that pregnancy brings.
  • I could be carrying a boy (which for some women creates extra havoc with their hormones).

My doctor also helped me realize how much I've withdrawn from friends and family over the past couple of weeks. I am sure that social isolation doesn't help when one is facing depression. So over the past few days I have been sharing my emotions with my family and a few friends. And today, I am sharing this with you.

In sharing these feelings with my family I have already started to feel better. They have offered some tremendous suggestions. As a result of their help, I'm resting more, doing things I love (i.e. yoga), eating delicious "mood foods", and making an effort to get out of the house every day. I must say, as I write this I am struggling with an all-out chest cold. I should be glum, I physically feel like crap, but emotionally I feel good. This is a feeling I haven't had for a long time and I have been tear-free since Friday.

What I've Learned
I never knew that antepartum depression existed. Apparently 10 - 20% of expecting mothers encounter some form of depression during their pregnancy. Moreover, 10% of all pregnancies result in postpartum depression. We hear a lot about postpartum depression but what about antepartum depression? It seems like the statistics are just as alarming.

I have also learned that there's a lot of public expectations and stigma around pregnant women. As pregnant women, we are supposed to be happy, glowing and delighted in the fact that we are bringing life into the world. These societal pressures only add to the guilt we feel when we aren't exactly feeling the way we're "supposed" to be feeling. There is also a stigma around the emotions a woman feels while she's pregnant. Her feelings are often dismissed as "regular" pregnancy hormones. Such misconceptions can lead to more depression and increased isolation.

I don't know if my struggles are over. I will continue to make a conscientious effort to find joy in my days and in my life. I do know that I can look forward to meeting this little person who is growing inside of me... the kicks I feel serve as a constant reminder that I am one day closer to meeting my new son/daughter. I also know that if my state of depression persists, there are other treatments I can explore. But for now, one day at a time. That's all I can do.
I just read about Antepartum #Depression by @DeliberateMom - Seek help if you're depressed. #pregnancy
UPDATE: If you're interested in seeing an update about my antepartum depression, CLICK HERE.

American Pregnancy. (2011).

Wrong Diagnosis (2011)

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Mar 14, 2011

My Best Life - Eat More Vegetables

1 comment:
"Avoid cutting yourself when slicing veggies.... get someone else to hold them while U chop" - Monday Munchies ~
This Week's Strategy

I'm willing to admit, I probably don't eat as many vegetables as I should. However, this is another positive side to pregnancy... an increased awareness of the amount of vegetables I should be eating and a commitment to increasing my intake.

I definitely need to eat more veggies, so here's my strategies for the week in order to increase the amount of veggies I eat every day.
  • Precut and bag 1 cup portions of vegetables for grab and bag snacks. I figure snap peas, cucumbers and carrots would be the easiest.
  • Eat a salad with dinner every day. We buy the prewashed organic mixed greens. While I'm precutting my snack bags I will also prepare the extras for the salads (i.e. tomato, cucumber, cheese wedges, celery).
  • This week I will buy and prepare some more "exotic" veggies (I'm thinking bok choy, artichokes, okra or kale).
  • I love noodle soup. This week I will cut and add at least 1 cup of veggies to my soup.
I need to make this positive change. If you have any further suggestions to help me eat more vegetables, please feel free to comment. I would like to know how you ensure you are eating enough vegetables every day. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a wonderful week.
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Mar 11, 2011

{this moment: lipstick}

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Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Click Here To Read More

Mar 9, 2011

The Best Playdough Recipes


As much as I love the convenience of commercially made playdoughs, I prefer to make my own. There is great gratification in making something like playdough and then watching your child explore and enjoy it!

Here my top three play dough recipes.

The Best Playdough 

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 Tbsp. cream of tartar
2 Tbsp. mineral oil (or baby oil)
2 cups water
Food colouring (for vivid colour use about half a bottle)

Mix dry ingredients in a large pot.
Mix water, oil and food colouring thoroughly and stir into the dry ingredients.
Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens.
When you find it difficult to turn your wooden spoon, it is done.
Remove from heat.
Cool slightly, then knead.
Store in a covered container or in a sealed plastic bag.

**Do not place this dough in the refrigerator!**

Kool-Aid Playdough

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid
2 cups boiling water
2 Tbsp. oil

Mix flour and salt
Dissolve the packages of unsweetened Kool-Aid in boiling water
Add oil
Add wet ingredient mixture to dry ingredient mixture.
Stir well.
Knead when cool.
Store in a sealed container.

I love this play dough for the wonderful scents! Grape, orange, cherry, strawberry.... However, the wonderful smell usually makes little children want to eat the dough.

Flour-Free Playdough

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1 1/4 cups water
1 tsp mineral oil (or baby oil)

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot.
Cook over low heat until mixture forms a ball.
Cool slightly.
Knead well.
Store in a sealed container.

This is a great recipe for children who are allergic to flour. This playdough keeps well in a sealed container and usually needs a bit of softening and kneading before play.

I love playdough! I love squeezing it and squishing it. I love watching my daughter explore it! I love the unlimited possibilities it presents and the creativity it fosters. I also find it extremely therapeutic after a stressful day.

I welcome you to share your favourite playdough recipes or comment on your own experiences with playdough!

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Mar 7, 2011

My Best Life - Volunteering


poverty (11)
Photo by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi 
Last week I shared that I wanted to live My Best Life but more importantly I wanted to help others live their best life. The experience of volunteering with those less fortunate was an eye-opening one. I've spent the last week meditating on how I can make others' lives better. I have composed a list of the ways in which I can help others and every few weeks I will share a strategy with you.

Since this meditation is so recent, I thought I would share my first action with you. My commitment is a strategy that goes beyond this week, this month, or this year. The strategy I wish to share with you is my commitment to volunteer more often.

I have a dear friend who recently organized a volunteer group. She finds volunteer opportunities and sends out an open invite to those who belong to the group. If we like the opportunity and are available to participate we e-mail her and let her know our commitment to contribute our time to the activity. I absolutely love the volunteer opportunities she has come up with.

My strategy is that I have made a commitment to volunteer once a month. If I can not volunteer, then I will make a donation to a charity. There is a monetary value to one's time... and if I am unable to help out on any given month, then I would like to be able to financially contribute to charities that help and benefit others.

Naturally, as I shared on previous postings, our household lives on a tight budget. So this initiative will really encourage me to volunteer more often. I want to make a difference in the world and I would love to hear your thoughts as to other ways in which I can help others live their best life! I may feature your suggestion on an upcoming edition of My Best Life.

Wishing you a wonderful week!
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Mar 5, 2011

Uses For A Lemon

Lemon Tree Very Pretty...
Photo by Rachel Titiriga -

Lemons. Our house is never without them. Lemons have the amazing benefits for cleaning, sterilizing and even beautifying! I have selected and shared some favourite uses for lemons.

Acne Fighter
Dab lemon juice on your blemish 2-3 times a day. The lemon juice dries and clears the blemish remarkably fast!

Breath Freshener
Rinse and gargle with lemon juice. It's a great natural way to fight bad breath.

Bug Repellent
Boil lemon juice and apply to your pulse points. Also place a dish of the solution in your tent or on your picnic table to repel the bugs. The active bug repellent ingredient in lemons is D-Limonene.

Cloth Diaper Whitener
After laundering your cloth diapers, generously spray the wet diapers with lemon juice. Let your diapers dry in the sun and they'll look three times whiter!!!

Beautify your kitchen with a beautiful bowl of lemons. They're pretty to look at, practical and they don't die like flowers!

Does your bowl that you stored last night's leftover still smell like leftovers even though you washed it four times??? Rub lemon all over the bowl before washing it... nasty smells begone!

Does your fridge stink? Wrap lemon skin in paper towel or gauze and let sit in your fridge for 2-3 days.

Lemon juice is a great natural disinfectant. Use on plates, cutting boards and counters!

Fingernail Cleaner and Strengthener
If you have yellow stains on your fingernails from coffee or cigarettes, soak your nails in a dish of lemon juice for 5 - 10 minutes. The stains will fade and your nails will be stronger.

Freckle Juice 
No... not the book. Lemon juice when applied regularly lightens the appearance of freckles.

Hair Highlights
For golden/red highlights in dark hair or to lighten blond hair, just squeeze the juice from 1/2 lemon into your hair and sit in the sun for approximately an hour. Afterwards, shampoo and condition as usual.

Of course!!! How could you not include lemonade??? Here's my favourite lemonade recipe:
  1. In a stainless steel saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-6 minutes.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and let the sugar syrup cool completely (I refrigerate the syrup to speed up the cooling process).
  4. Stir in 1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 7 lemons) and 4 cups cold water.
  5. Refrigerate until cold.
Metal Shiner
Combine lemon with your favourite soap and watch your cutlery shine! Works wonders when cleaning the inside of your dishwasher and your faucets!

Microwave Cleaner
Want a no-fuss way to clean your microwave? Place a cup of water in a dish and add a whole sliced lemon. Microwave in HIGH for 3 minutes. After the microwave beeps, let the mixture sit in the microwave (with the door closed for 5-10 minutes. Open the door and wipe away the grime easily with a sponge or wet cloth.

Sore Throat Remedy
Mix fresh squeezed lemon with hot water and a touch of honey. This remedy really soothes a sore throat.

Water Enhancer
Squeezed some lemon juice into your glass of water, or throw a few slices of lemon into a jug. Suddenly your drinking water has a whole new appeal to it!

Weight Loss
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, drinking a warm glass of lemon water daily "helps you lose weight safely. A regular intake of lemon water promotes elimination, a process that any weight loss diet needs before you can observe visible results" (Natural Therapy Pages, 2011). It is advised that the warm lemon water is consumed first thing in the morning. This combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise will assist with a healthy and steady weight loss.

Have you found any wonderful uses for lemons, if so, please feel free to share!
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Mar 4, 2011

{this moment: a glimpse}

Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Mar 3, 2011

Cabbage Rolls

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Cabbage rolls... my grandma used to make them for Christmas and Easter. When she was unable to cook anymore, my dad longed for his bi-annual dose of cabbage rolls. It was then that I was on a mission to make a cabbage roll that was as good as my grandma's.

Since my grandma never used recipes, I have spent a significant amount of time searching for cabbage roll recipes and I have taken the best elements from a number of recipes to make my own delicious concoction! Almost four years later and I've perfected this recipe... my dad says they are as good as Grandma's... and that says something!

The Ingredients

Large jar sauerkraut (rinsed and drained)
2 heads sour cabbage (boiled for 10 minutes, rinsed and separated)
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
Onion powder (equivalent to 1 medium onion)
2 - 4; 10.75 oz cans of tomato soup (prepared as directed on the can)
1 package raw bacon
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt & pepper (to taste)

The Process

Spread sauerkraut in the bottom of the casserole dishes; set aside.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, brown beef and pork.

Stir rice, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and ½ tsp cinnamon into the pan.

Wrap meat mixture in each leaf of cabbage.

Lay rolls on sauerkraut.

Pour the tomato soup mixture evenly over the rolls.

Lay strips of bacon over the rolls.

Bake, covered in a 350 F oven for 2 hours.

Serve with sour cream. Enjoy!!!

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