Date Night+Friends+Family=Winning!

I took the day off today, hence my late post this morning.  Um, I may have slept in until 10:00 today! Open-mouthed smile

When Tony and I were shopping on Saturday, we bought a sirloin steak that was on sale.  We had leftover shrimp from our Friday night red beans and rice with shrimp, so we decided to do a date night in with steak and shrimp cocktail.

If you haven’t tried it yet, this shrimp cocktail recipe is the best one I’ve ever found.  It works great on all sizes of shrimp, from small to jumbo – the magic temperature to take the shrimp out is 165 then they go into an ice bath.  The come out perfect every time.

Best Shrimp Cocktail Ever! (process courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)

  • 1 pound extra large shrimp
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (one lemon), + one additional tablespoon from a bottle, saving the shell of the lemon
  • 5 sprigs of parsley, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon, plus 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon laves
  • cracked ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine shrimp, lemon juice, reserved lemon halves, parsley sprigs, tarragon sprigs, pepper and sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan. Add 2 cups cold water and over medium heat, cook shrimp stirring several times until pink and the water reaches 165 degrees. Tony actually put our remote meat thermometer in the pan and once it reached 165 degrees, removed from heat, covered and let the shrimp sit in the broth for 2 minutes.  Then he strained the pot and put the shrimp directly in an ice bath to stop the cooking process for 3 minutes.

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I still have half of the sirloin steak in the freezer, and we still had leftovers.  I am thinking of making a beef pho with the leftovers.

Sunday was a busy day for me!  I was meeting my sister and our friends (and sisters!) Jacky and Jody for brunch at Jacky’s house.  I went to high school with both of them, but it’s been years since I’ve seen them – too long!  My sister still runs into Jacky quite often because their kids attend the same school.

I wasn’t nervous at all to see them – I’ve been emailing Jody back and forth since we reconnected over a year ago, and I follow Jacky’s blog – you should check it out – here are some of her amazeball dishes!

Um, can I just say that Jacky has my dream kitchen!

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I decided to bring lemon poppy seed scones.  I didn’t have a lot of butter on hand, so I wanted to use olive oil.  I ended up using this recipe.   It’s the first time I’ve tried Meyer lemons too – .75 each!

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Mixed in the poppy seeds with the dry ingredients.

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The only liquid was 6 tablespoons of olive oil, an egg, lemon juice and 2-3 tablespoons of water.

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The dough was super crumbly, so I added in 1/4 cup of water to keep the dough together.  I made 10 scones.  I was nervous about the texture, but the end result was delicious!  I made a glaze of 1/3 cup powered sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

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What a spread Jacky had!  Mini breakfast parfaits, candied bacon (cooked with brown sugar and cayenne pepper!), an asparagus and goat cheese quiche, fresh fruit, hash browns, fresh coffee – it was all amazeballs!

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My plate of goodness:

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It was such a nice visit, and hopefully it won’t be 20 years before we see each other again!  Thanks Jacky and Jody for a lovely brunch!


Then it was off to my Mom’s to celebrate all the March birthdays!  I think my birthday celebration has finally come to an end.  Here’s me and my Mom – I love how my boobs are resting on hers!  I had a glass of Hannah’s sangria, while delicious, it was too sweet for me.

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While we waited for my sisters family to arrive, we spent the afternoon playing Banana Grams – so fun!  I actually won a couple times!

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We ended up having a Mexican fiesta – crispy tacos, Hannah made chicken and beef enchiladas.  Hannah even made me her delicious pico de gallo SANS onions!  And her boyfriend Jacob made the guacamole – so good!

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Hannah being goofy with her cousins!  It was a really fun night – thanks for hosting Mom!  I got some more birthday loot too!  Hannah got me a new gym bag (my old one didn’t zip anymore) and my Mom got me a big towel and swim goggles.  My sister gave me framed art work from a friend of hers that took great pictures in Peru.

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Today is a chore day – finish up laundry, mop the kitchen floor, etc.  I am going to see if I can get in to get my hair cut – I might get it cut short!  I kind of like this look, since I have thin hair.


And if I could get her body with the hair cut, that would be great too!  Alright, off to get some stuff done – make it a great day!

Um, that’s a lot of bacon.

Afternoon!  Right now its sunny and 40 and I am on the deck grilling tomatoes to make baja fresh salsa for our March birthday Taco Fiesta tomorrow at my Mom’s house (and for blog reader Kris who won my birthday giveaway!).  Yep, in my bare feet – 40 is balmy people!

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Not sure I’ve ever mentioned it on the blog before, but my right foot is a size 8 and my left foot is a 6 1/2.  I blame my twin sister for sitting on the left one in utero, so that it stunted the growth.  I almost always buy slip on shoes because then they both fit. Open-mouthed smile

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While that grilled tomato screams summer, this is what my windshield looked like yesterday morning.

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I am going to pretend too that I didn’t hear that we may have snow in our forecast – positive thoughts, right?!

So you know Tony won’t eat leftovers.  Even filet mignon leftovers!  We each only ate half of our steaks at my birthday dinner, so I decided to make a filet mignon, spinach, egg, and brie breakfast panini on my rosemary artisan bread.  Um, you don’t have to guess, this was amazeballs.

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This breakfast sandwich came in at 393 calories – not bad!  I ended up running errands at lunch so no workout.  I didn’t make Souper Friday for the office either.  Hardly anyone was in, so I ended up heating up my Cincinnati chili for me and my one boss that was in.

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We both agreed that this chili is “company worthy” because its not too spicy, but I diced up jalapenos on top and that was just the added spicy kick this chili needed.

I met with our accountant last night to get our taxes done.  I was worried because this was the first year that I wasn’t claiming Hannah.  My only goal and my mantra as I was driving there was “please don’t let us owe anything.”  Well, good news – we don’t owe anything and are still getting $$ back!  #winning!

That meant Tony was in charge for dinner.  He bought shrimp and made red beans in rice in the rice maker.  He cooked the shrimp separately – of course made mine spicy (and it was delicious!) and it was practically ready when I walked in the door.  Thanks Tony!

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We actually got an early start this morning after lounging in bed for a while.  Love Saturday mornings for that!  We left the house around 10:15 to go to the grocery store and then we were going out to lunch.  We ended up going to the same place that my boss took me for my birthday lunch that had the amazing turkey sandwich.

But then I thought “they have Reuben egg rolls!”  But in the end, the Butchers Board pizza won out.

Sweet fennel sausage, pepperoni, proscuitto, Parmesan and mozzarella with an herbed tomato and basil sauce.

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They have a wood burning stove so it was a light, cracker crust, with just a hint of chew and the pizza toppings were so flavorful.   I was able to eat three slices and brought the rest home.

Tony?  The man loves a good BLT.  Check it out – is that the most bacon you’ve ever seen on a BLT before or what??!!

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You could almost use the leftover bacon for two breakfasts!!  So in the time it took me to write this post, my tomatoes, tomatillos and jalapenos are perfectly grilled.  The black parts are what make the salsa amazeballs.

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Off to get busy in my kitchen!  So excited for tomorrow – not only for our March birthday fiesta at my Mom’s, but I am having breakfast at Jacky’s house!   I went to high school with Jacky and her older sister Jody.  Jody was a senior when I was a freshman and I looked up to her as a mentor.  Jody is in town for the weekend, so my sister and I are headed there tomorrow to catch up – I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures.  I plan on bringing lemon poppy seed scones with a meyer lemon glaze.  If they turn out, I’ll post the recipe on Monday.

Enjoy your weekend and see you on Monday!

Chobani Banana Almond Muffins

So we’ve made it to Friday – woot!  I actually have Monday off and next Friday off for Good Friday, so next week will be a nice 3 day work week – gotta love when that happens!

Doesn’t everyone wake up an hour before having to leave work and decide to make muffins?  Yep, that was me.  7:00 a.m.  I usually have an iced coffee in the morning with the coffee from the day before before making a new pot.  I reached into the fridge for the coffee creamer, saw a Chobani staring at me and decided “I have time to make muffins!”

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I adapted the recipe from Chobani’s just a bit, because I didn’t have whole wheat flour, I only used two bananas, and I subbed in olive oil for the oil, and reduced that to 1/3 of a cup, not half a cup. And I added a pinch of coarse sugar and slivered almonds on top. Open-mouthed smile  Their original recipe made 18 muffins, I used a regular muffin tin and only got 12.  So I thought the calories would be about 160 each since I used less oil and bananas, but since I got 6 less muffins, they were each 219 calories.  Oops – I told my co-workers they were 160 calories!

Chobani Banana Almond Muffins

  • 219 calories, 7 fat, 49 sodium, 34 carbs, 1.4 fiber and 4.6 protein


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 container Lemon Chobani (or banana or vanilla would work)
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar

Heat oven to 350.  Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and mix well.  Mix the bananas, brown sugar, olive oil and egg together.  Combine the two.  I just used a fork to mix the two together.

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Spray muffin tin with Pam, divide batter into a 12 muffin tin pan.  Sprinkle the sugar and almonds over each muffin and press into batter.  Bake for 18-23 minutes.  Mine took exactly 18 minutes and they were perfect.  The topping gave it an added crunch and they were almost cake like – so fluffy on the inside.

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If you have a birthday coming up, or you need the perfect gift for the cook in your life, splurge and buy Williams-Sonoma’s Goldtouch muffin pan.  They have a whole line of Goldtouch products that are amazing.  While the price tag is high – $30 – it has a lifetime guarantee – if it starts to chip or anything, they will replace it for free.  Nothing ever sticks!

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One of my bosses took me out to lunch yesterday for my birthday.  It was a new to me restaurant just minutes from our office called Stone Eagle Tavern.  Their menu was huge!  Guess what is on their appetizer menu??  Reuben Egg Rolls!

But what caught my eye?  The turkey burger.  And not just any turkey burger, but a turkey breast burger!

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Wisconsin turkey burger – white turkey breast, charbroiled and topped with Brie, avocado with a side of cranberry sauce, on a soft pretzel roll.  YOLO!

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Let’s just take a second to stare at the perfectly creamy avocado and the melty brie cheese.  I told my boss “I probably will only eat half of this!”  Well, I ate the whole thing.  The fries were those skinny ones, which are fine when you first get them, but they get cold fast.  I didn’t care – this was the perfect combination – the schmear of cranberry sauce was the perfect balance to the brie, and guess what?  The burger was so juicy!  Hands down the best turkey burger I’ve ever had.

When I got back to the office, I texted Tony:

I just went to a great restaurant and had the turkey burger!”

Tony:  You cannot judge a restaurant by eating a horrible Turkey burger.

Me: But it was the best turkey burger I have ever had.

Tony: That’s like saying that’s the best time I was ever shot.”

Mind you, it’s probably been about 20 years since Tony has even eaten a turkey burger, and they have come a long way.  I may even recreate this one at home!

Guess what?  I labeled something that I put in the freezer!

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Sadly, I didn’t date it, so I can’t link back to the original recipe (well, I didn’t look very hard) but this was delicious.  The meat was super flavorful.  We each had about a 4 ounce portion, with white rice and rice vinegar cucumbers on the side.

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So it’s 16 degrees right now.  WTH?!  And Winter Storm Virgil might bring us some snow this weekend.  Gah – so over winter!  And guess what I got at work yesterday in the mail?

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Yep – a pre-season sale to order our office Christmas cards! 

Wow, I wrote fast today – I still have 25 minutes to get ready and out the door – I could almost go back to bed for 10 minutes! Winking smile

Happy Friday – make it a great day!

Cincinnati Chili, well kind of

Tony and I had to leave at the same time yesterday.  As soon as we walked out the door, this cold wind smacked us in our faces.  I actually wore a coat yesterday!  You know why?  It was 13 degrees, but because of the wind, the radio said the wind chill was –6.  ON THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be an end of our arctic air in sight – I don’t think we’ll even reach the 40’s until April.  I am so over winter!

I’ve written this before, but I usually bake 2-3 baked potatoes over the weekend just to have on hand.  They keep for a week in the fridge, if not longer.  Yesterday I made a breakfast potato boat.  Half a potato, scoop out the insides and then cook the potato with 1 egg, a slice of ham and baby spinach.  I put the potato skin in a separate bag and the egg mixture in a container.

When I got to work, I heated up the toaster oven to broil.  Stuffed the potato with the egg mixture, microwaved that for 1 minute, then topped with a sprinkle of cheese and broiled until the cheese melted.  Delish!

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I went to work out with my co-worker and he drove.  About 16 minutes into the workout he asked when I was going to be done.  His heel was hurting and he was just done.  So it was a quick workout – I did 30 minutes of 1:1 intervals – 1 minute at 6.0 mph and 1 minute of 3.0 and ended up doing 2.1 miles in 30 minutes.

Back when Tony and I were first married I could not make chili for shit.  We even had a party before we got married and had all of Tony’s friends over to meet me.  I made this giant pot of beef chili, spent all day on it, but it was super watery and didn’t resemble chili at all.

I believe I have come a long way in chili making!  My Buffalo Chicken Chili is one of the highest recipes on this blog, getting about 100 hits a day.   But Tony? He likes Cincinnati chili, simply for the fact that it doesn’t have beans in it!  So first time around, I serve it without beans, and since he doesn’t eat leftovers (much!), I added a can of black beans and kidney beans to the leftovers.  I haven’t figured out the calories for this one, but will update it soon.  This makes A LOT!

Cincinnati Chili


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 cups of water
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can black beans, drained (about 2 cups)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained (about 2 cups)

In a stock pot, put the meat and water in the bottom.  Let the water come to a boil, and using a wooden spoon, break up the ground beef.  Cook this down for about 15 minutes, adding any more water if it starts to evaporate, up to an additional cup.

Add remaining ingredients, stir and cook for 1 hour.  It thickens as it cooks.  Serve with cilantro, shredded cheese, sliced jalapenos and tortilla chips for dipping.

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The combination of flavors is really complex, you can taste the hint of cocoa powder, with the cinnamon and cloves, then a touch of sweetness with the honey.

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We had this for dinner over the weekend, I had a bowl and gave it to two of my co-workers yesterday and I probably still have 3 servings left to freeze!  #winning!

Remember the roast I marinated for Sunday Dinner?  Well, there was a lot leftover.  I am shocked as shit that Tony has actually been eating sliced roast beef sandwiches with the leftovers this week.   I ended up using the leftovers to make beef stroganoff, one of Tony’s favorite dishes. 

I had to redeem myself, because a couple weeks ago when I made sauerbraten, I told him I was making stroganoff.  Oops!  So I told him last night I was actually making stroganoff, and he said “well, I am cautiously optimistic that I’ll get that.”

I used the sauce from this blog since I was using leftover beef.  I really like the mustard paste called for in the recipe.

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After the sauce was made, I tossed in the beef just to heat through – about 2 minutes.  My dinner pictures turned out like ass – I had the completely wrong setting, so I am stealing Joelen’s picture – thank you!


The verdict?  Tony loved it!  Exactly the taste he was missing with the sauerbraten dish! Open-mouthed smile

I forgot to tell you guys the birthday loot I got!  My PIL gave me a Bed, Bath & Beyond gift certificate.  My boss gave me a Visa card, and Tony gave me all this loot – the big gift was the Modern Wave gift card to the local hair salon/spa by our house.  I need a hair cut desperately.  Now that I am middle aged, I can’t have hair longer than my shoulders – maybe I’ll get it cut short?!

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That Coppola wine?  It’s called Claret, and if you ever need to bring a nice bottle of wine to someone, get that one – its delicious and super affordable at $15 a bottle.

The best though was the card Tony got me!  Lyle the Squirrel!!

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It looks just like him!


Alright – I have to take Chobani banana muffins out of the oven, shower, get dressed, make coffee and leave the house in 15 minutes – totally doable! 

Make it a great day!

Turns Out Two Balls In My Mouth Were Plenty!

Thank you, thank you for all the birthday wishes yesterday.  I loved reading about all your favorite birthdays!!

The winner of the Bubba Keg and Salsa is. . .

Min:  1 Max:  78   Result:13

Kris  March 19, 2013 at 7:32 am Edit Reply

Happy Birthday!! I hope you have a great day. My favorite memory is a yearly one. My 2 girls make me a hand made birthday card every year & they are so precious to me!! Whenever they ask me what I want for my birthday, that’s the only thing I say.

Congrats Kris!  Send me an email at with your mailing address.

I ended up bringing in store bought muffins for my birthday yesterday, and had half a bran muffin with some strawberries.

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While I had two offers to be taken out to lunch yesterday, I opted to pass because I knew Tony and I were going to have a big dinner.  I opted to test out my knee since my fall.  I hadn’t worked out since last Wednesday!  I was going to swim, but my suit was still in my workout bag, slightly damp and gross from last week.

So I did a 5k for my birthday!

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And since it was 3/19 yesterday, I finished my cool down at 3.19!

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It drives Tony nuts, but nearly every day I see a clock hit 3:19 in the afternoon.  We can be out driving and I’ll see a bank clock, in a bar, doesn’t matter.  Sure enough yesterday I texted him at exactly 3:19! Open-mouthed smile

Okay, here’s a small world.  My boss has a sister in law.  When I told him I had a food blog, he said his SIL had one too – check it out:

A Life From Scratch

We have been leaving each other comments, etc., only to find out that she was the building manager in a building I used to work at, and when I used to forget my card key to get into the gym, I’d have to go to her office to let me in – we’ve already met!

Well, she had a recipe for baked chicken meatballs with marinara sauce.  You all know how I love balls!  I changed just a couple things – I used chicken breasts to make my own ground chicken, and I added crushed red pepper for some heat.  I just threw everything in my food processor and pulsed until combined.

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I got 36 meatballs from her recipe.  Topped with marinara sauce, then baked for 15 minutes.

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I ended up picking up a package of potato rolls, and ended up making lunch not only for myself, but my three bosses as well – am I generous on my birthday or what?  I made us each two meatball sliders, each slider had just one meatball.  At first I didn’t know if that was going to be enough, but turns out two balls in my mouth were plenty – hence the blog post title.  (Sorry Mom!) Open-mouthed smile

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I will definitely make these again – thanks Courtney for the recipe!

I got home, changed my clothes, put on some makeup (I know!) and we headed to dinner.  I started out with a glass of Pinot Noir at the bar.

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Um, turns out I may pour myself a heavier pour at home?!

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I asked Tony what this face was for and he said “just tell them I had gas!”

We started out with sweet and spicy calamari:

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So good – slightly too sweet and spicy for Tony, but he ate the outside pieces.

Then we split the lobster bisque:

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Then we each got the 6 ounce filet – heaven on a plate – and we got a side of tempura onion rings – I know!

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And even though we were stuffed to the gills, the server knew it was my birthday and brought us this plate on the house:

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Chocolate peanut clusters, strawberry ice cream and a strawberry chocolate cheesecake.  Um, just so you know, I deemed all of the above insulin worthy!

It was a perfect night to go out since it was a Tuesday, the restaurant wasn’t busy and we didn’t feel rushed at all.  And we had a gift certificate which helped – thanks J!

Thanks for a great birthday Tony and again, thanks for all the virtual birthday hugs!

Make it a great day!