Archive for April, 2014

Mesa Verde…

I am sure many of you are planning a vacation for the upcoming months and I would like to share a beautiful place with you called Mesa Verde.

Mesa means table and Verde is green.  So Green Table would be the translation.

Mesa Verde National Park is a U.S. National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado.

It is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States and the Captain and I have had the opportunity to visit this site several times and I always find it amazing and beautiful.

One year while living in New Mexico, I took Only Daughter and the Beautiful Grand-daughters One and Two to visit this National Park.

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The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings are some of the most popular and most preserved ruins in North America.  .  Each of these structures ranged in size from one-room units to villages of more than 150 rooms. 

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The dwellings were built by the Ancestral Puebloans sometime during the late 1190s who began living in the pueblos they built under the overhanging cliffs below the mesa top.

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When looking at these dwellings, one can not help but be in awe of how these dwellings were built.

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Each of these structures ranged in size from one-room units to villages of more than 150 rooms. 

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There are steep canyons and rugged valleys. The Ancestral Puebloans moved onto the mesa around A.D. 500, but the cliff dwellings we see today were actually built around A.D. 1200.

Though the Ancestral Puebloans lived along the cliffs for that 700 year period, the cliff dwellings were constructed at the end of this time frame and then only lived in for about 75-100 years. No exact reason is known for the Ancestral Puebloans move away from these massive structures.

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This is looking across the canyon and down. 

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Love the explanations and drawings.

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Three primary construction materials make up the cliff dwellings: sandstone, mortar, wooden beams.

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A map to show you the location of Mesa Verde in Colorado…It is not too far from the famous four corners area which is the quadripoint in the Southwestern United States…the only place in the United States where four states connect. 

Can you name the four states?

Don’t worry, this is not a test!  🙂 The answer is at the end of this post.

 

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The PitHouse.

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The sun setting on the Palace dwellings. Awesome!

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The Balcony House is one of the park’s most adventurous cliff dwelling tours in the park.  To enter, you must climb a 32-foot entrance   ladder and crawl through a short tunnel to enter the “medium size” cliff dwelling.  The Balcony House is made up of 40 rooms.  

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Descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans include the Hopi, located in Arizona, and 19 Rio Grande pueblos of New Mexico.

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Luminarias at dusk…..

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The Sun Temple.

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As much as I love living in Paradise (Florida) I am so fortunate to have lived in New Mexico. 

Oh, the names of the Four Corners States? New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Arizona.

There is so much of America to see…so many beautiful places, one does not need to leave the country to see extraordinary vistas from Sea to Shining Sea!

Me 

Berries N’ Cream Crunch

Berries N’ Cream Crunch work not only as a breakfast… but can also work as a dessert!

It is that good!

 

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AND it is red, white and blue…just in time for the upcoming Holidays!

This recipe has been around a long time and it is so easy to modify it to what you have on hand or what you prefer.

Isn’t that what makes for a good recipe?

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Substitution of ingredients is sort of second nature to me.

Since starting this Blog, I have really jumped right in on making the food I make just a little bit better than the original.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work out as well as I would have liked…but the Captain is my biggest cheerleader!

He tells me a recipe is great but then he might say …what if you add cinnamon? 🙂

I really appreciate his input and the good news is…he likes everything I make.

Well, that is not quite true…

He does not like squash!  I made a  squash soup and he hesitantly ate it, but I could tell it was not his favorite! 🙂

About midway through the meal, he all of a sudden became so full that he couldn’t finish the soup! 😉

The Berries N’ Cream Crunch recipe below is always “finished”….by both of us!

Try it and let me know how you like it.

Me

 

Berries N' Cream Crunch
This is a great red. white and blue breakfast OR...it can be a red, white and blue dessert. It can be made ahead to be used for a quick on the go breakfast during your work week.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  2. 1 (1.5 ounce) envelope instant sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
  3. 2 cups blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries, mixed
  4. 3/4 cups granola cereal or Grape-Nuts™
  5. 1 cup blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries, mixed
  6. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  7. 1/2 cup sweetened whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the yogurt and pudding mix in a large bowl; beat with an electric mixer until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in 2 cups of the mixed berries and the cereal until blended.
  3. Pour the yogurt and berry mixture into an 8 X 8 inch baking dish.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate about 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1 cup of berries in a medium bowl and slightly mash with a fork. (optional on the mashing)
  6. Add lemon juice.
  7. Set mixture aside
  8. Spoon chilled berry-yogurt mixture into serving dishes.
  9. Top with a spoonful of mashed berries (or not mashed), and whipped cream
Notes
  1. You can vary the fruits to include whatever you have on hand. I have also experimented with the sugar free puddings i.e: the sugar free instant cheesecake pudding is delicious! Tastes more like cheesecake!
  2. If you feel you need a sweetener, try using a bit of honey added to the berry mash (or not mashed)! 😉
  3. I have also put a small amount of the granola in the bottom of the parfait glass and layered the strawberry/yogurt mixture and the whipped cream. Your choice!
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Deanie’s Stroganoff

This is a very old recipe given to me by a family friend.  Her name was Deanie…

I have always loved her name.  She had a very traditional first name that she did not care for.  Her middle name was Dean (after her Father) and she chose to use that name.  Of course her Mother added the “ie” to make it sound more like a girl’s name and it stuck.  

I like stories like that….;)

Deanie gave me a lot of recipes including an Old World recipe for Kolache, which came from her Czech grandmother!  I will share that recipe at a later date. For those of you who do not know what a kolache is…it is a soft pastry of yeast dough with a “thumbprint” or small hole in the center, which is traditionally filled with a sweet cheese or fruit.  They are so good that they just melt in your mouth.  I promise that recipe is coming soon.  This wonderful recipe came from Czech immigrants…. and I want to show you step by step. 

I like stories like that too!! 

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 This Stroganoff recipe also came from Deanie’s Grandmother and is more of a humbleized version of beef stroganoff.  Is humbleized even a word?  I doubt it!  I like to make up words…I am weird and quirky… I know! 🙂

Deanie's Stroganoff

Deanie’s Stroganoff

This strogganoff is made with ground beef and sour cream and served over noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.

Enjoy

Below is the printable recipe.

Me

 

Deanie's Stroganoff
An old world recipe using ground beef for the stroganoff! Very economical and delicious
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Total Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 small onion chopped
  2. 1 tablespoon butter
  3. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  4. 1 pound ground beef (lean)
  5. 4 ounces baby portabellas or white button mushrooms, sliced
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  8. 1/4 cup flour (for thickening, I usually use about 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup cold water)
  9. 1 cup beef broth
  10. 1 cup sour cream
  11. 1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  12. 8 ounces of wide egg noodles
  13. 1 teaspoon chopped dill
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in large saute pan on medium high heat
  2. Add onions and garlic and stir one minute to soften
  3. Add beef, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Stir flour into beef mixture and cook for about 2 minutes
  5. Cook pasta until al dente
  6. Stir broth slowly into beef mixture and add sour cream and mustard...reduce heat.
  7. Drain pasta
  8. Serve beef mixture over noodles.
Notes
  1. Garnish with chopped dill...this is very good. 🙂 Serve with a garden salad with choice of dressings.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

 

 

By the Sea…By the Sea…By the Beautiful Sea

There is a song that says…”By the Sea…By the Sea…By the Beautiful Sea”! (if you would like to hear this cheery song…please check out my feature video on my Home page….upper right corner….It is a happy song! And I like happy!) As the weather turns warmer (for most people) :)…thoughts turn to summer fun and that includes thoughts of picnic lunches, lemonade, and perhaps vacations by the sea.   sea1 Before we moved to Florida, this time of year would find my thoughts drifting toward the beautiful sea, warm sandy beaches, and a large colorful beach umbrella to provide a little shade. sea5 Add in the Captain and a picnic basket packed to the brim with cold fried chicken, potato salad, crunchy breads and cheeses, … a nice bottle of wine or a jug of lemonade…and I was a happy girl! (ok…happy woman) 🙂 Alas, we were land-locked!

land·locked
ˈlan(d)ˌläkt/
adjective
 1. (especially of a country) almost or entirely surrounded by land; having no coastline or seaport.

Living in the Midwest, one is landlocked….. unless you count the many lakes, … of which most are man made! (That doesn’t mean a lake can not be a fun place to be.  We have had great times at lakes in and around Kansas and Missouri…and many other states.) Now that we are in Florida, I can cross that off my “Bucket List” , as we visit the beaches quite often! My mental healing seems to come from the Sun and Sea! Perhaps it is the serenity and peacefulness and gratitude that rejuvenates me. I am going to share some pictures with you of one of the last business trips (which happened to be in Puerto Rico) my company provided me.   It was in November which worked so well as it was near my birthday. The Captain said lets make it a part of your Birthday celebration …. so when the 3 day meetings ended on Friday, the Captain and I took advantage of the sights of  Puerto Rico and we stayed an additional 5 days !  And of course that included seeing the Beaches and the Sea! iphone 622 Sunrise from our hotel room.   iphone 636 This pic is from my “birthday” hotel…there is an old fort to the right in the picture.   iphone 629 This view was from our first hotel room. Beautiful isn’t it?   iphone 601 Looking straight down from our balcony. I just love hearing the waves on the shore. Very calming!       iphone 646   Another view of the old fort from our balcony.   iphone 728 Loved the beautiful swans in the hotel’s ponds.   iphone 672 And the pool…   The Captain and I had a Stayca (otherwise known as a stay at home vacation)  🙂 last year…but we are planning to go to Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina in June to celebrate our anniversary.  And yes, you will note that both locations are by the sea! 🙂 Where are you planning a vacation this year?  Perhaps by the sea…by the sea…by the beautiful sea? Check out this cool video and the song….:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJhseCrVKZE

 

Me

Mean Green Smoothie

Mean Green Smoothie…yum yum!

I like spinach!

I never thought I would say that because growing up, we had cooked spinach out of a can which was my Dad’s favorite. (don’t ask me why)

Mom preferred fresh spinach but Dad liked the cooked right out of the can.  I tasted it once and decided spinach was not for me.

Over the years, I experimented with fresh spinach and discovered that I loved it in bacon-tomato-salad and I like it in green smoothies.

I have several recipes for smoothies and I have shared a few with you.

I would like to share another smoothie.

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My Mean Green Smoothie!

Enjoy!

Me

Mean Green Smoothie
350 calories, 10g fiber, 21g protein
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ngredients
  1. 1 frozen sliced banana
  2. 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
  3. 1/2 cup 0% Vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt
  4. 1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze (or other kind of milk)
  5. 4 cups baby spinach (or more, or less)
Instructions
  1. Start the blender on “high blend” until everything’s mixed up, then switch it over to “liquify” to get the drink velvety smooth.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Notes
  1. As I have told you before...I always have frozen bananas in my freezer just waiting for my next smoothie.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Peachy Keen!

Everything is just peachy keen!

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Yesterday Twin Number One said something that made me start thinking about peaches.

He loves fresh peaches, as do I.

We were saying how great it would be when the peach orchards (in the Midwest) would be bursting with trees laden with ripe juicy peaches.

The signal in the Midwest is an easy signal to spot.

Because the road side stands start sprouting up in the summertime with their bounty of bushel baskets of fresh peaches. 

There is nothing like the smell of a fresh peach with it’s bright, yellowish-orange skin. I love the softness of the peach which awakens not only my sense of smell, but my sense of touch… and it makes my mouth water.

Fortunately, here in Florida, we have fresh peaches in our local Farmer’s Markets. 🙂 Yay!

They are available around April 14th through the middle of May.

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They are available in other parts of Florida at different times of the year and are shipped to our super markets.

But I like to go directly to the orchards, Farmers Markets or visit the Citrus stands.

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I just love peaches! I love taking pictures of peaches too… 

So because twin number one was talking peaches…(he lives near huge orchards but they are long from being ready for harvest…a little b-r-r-r-r) I started searching through my recipes and found a sorta peach cobbler recipe that was in one of my grandmother’s cookbooks!

I modified it a bit, made it more like a very moist cake-like bar and have come up with this peachy keen recipe!

It is not a cobbler,  but more like a cake layered with peaches, oats, pecans, brown sugar, and a cream and powdered sugar drizzle over the top….which is optional, but why would you not include it? 🙂

I hope you like this peachy keen recipe as much as we do!

Oh, sorry Twin Number One….you have to come to Florida to sample this fresh peachy keen recipe! 🙂

OR, you can make it with frozen or canned peaches.

It would be good that way…just not as good as the fresh peach version!

Just sayin’

I love to tease my children….

I’m like that….yep, I am! 😉 

Yummy!

Me

Peachy Keen!
Yields 12
Wow! Peachy Keen is the right description for these creamy and moist cake like bars that are bursting with that fresh peach flavor. The bar consists of four layers starting with a butter, brown sugar and oats crust, a juicy peach filling, and topped off with a pecan/cinnamon crumble! Drizzle on a vanilla and heavy cream icing dripping it down the sides of each square bar and you will wish you had doubled the recipe (and you can easily)
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For the crust and the topping
  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled or quick oats
  3. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1 1/2 sticks of cold, cubed unsalted butter
  6. 1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the peach filling
  1. 1 large egg
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 Tablespoon flour
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 medium peaches, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
For the vanilla Drizzle
  1. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  2. 2 teaspoons heavy cream (or milk)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. *Prepare the baking dish by spraying Pam or nonstick spray. See note below regarding the use of aluminum foil suggestion in this step.
For the Crust
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until combined.
  2. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender or two forks until it reaches coarse, pea-sized crumbs. For the topping, remove 3/4 cup of the oat mixture to a separate bowl and add in the pecans. Set aside.
  3. Evenly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, using your fingers.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven.
  5. For the filling.
  6. Mix the egg and sugar together until smooth and creamy.
  7. Add the flour and salt and stir until combined.
  8. Add the peaches by carefully folding them into the flour mixture.
  9. Remove crust from the oven after 15 minutes and pour the filling over hot crust. Sprinkle with reserved oat/pecan mixture.
  10. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  11. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
  12. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to chill for 1-2 hours. (after chilling, cut into bars and drizzle the vanilla drizzle over the top)
For the Vanilla Drizzle
  1. Using a fork or spoon, stir the powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Drizzle over each square.
  2. Store cake-like bars tightly covered in the refrigerator. (stays fresh for up to 5 days, if they last that long).
Notes
  1. *If you place a large piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of your baking dish (8 x 8 in)..and spray with Pam or any nonstick spray. You will be able to lift the bars out without making them crumble all over the place. Just use enough foil to have an overhang on the sides to allow for easy removal.
  2. Cutting in the cold butter will take a little bit of time, but it is so worth it when you taste the buttery soft crust/topping.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Setting a Place at the Table…

Setting a Place at the Table!

Yesterday I showed you a few of my tablescapes and I thought you might be interested in setting a place at the table or … a few ways for presenting a pretty table.  

First a disclaimer…I am not an expert in table setting….or in tablescapes for that matter…I just put together what I think looks good… it may not be your choice of centerpieces, dinnerware or flatware.

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Setting the Table….Tablescapes

Folks who know me, know that I love tablescapes!

I get such joy out of setting a pretty table.

Do I set a special table every day?

No, not really! Mostly for special occasions… 

However, most of the time, I do try to make the everyday table attractive.

That is not to say I haven’t grabbed a paper plate and cup for a quick sandwich at lunch, especially if I am eating alone.  but I always have a full set of flatware.  

You just never know when you might need a knife or perhaps a spoon.

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Grilled Chicken Teriyaki

With warmer weather out thoughts turn to grilling and this chicken teriyaki is great on the grill.

The recipe calls for the chicken to marinate which infuses the chicken with the sauce and makes it simply delish!

Add slices of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from your garden and tall glasses of iced tea with lemon slices and you are set!

Enjoy!

Me 

Grilled Chicken Teriyaki
Serves 4
With summer grilling just over the horizon, try this and you will have your family asking for this recipe again and again.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or chicken thighs or legs)
  2. 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  3. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  4. 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  5. 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  6. 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  7. 1 teaspoon honey
  8. dash of ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, teriyaki sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, honey, pineapple juice and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag, and shake to coat.
  2. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours, turning every so often.
  3. Preheat grill for high heat.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate.
  5. Remove chicken from bag, discarding any remaining marinade
  6. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes each side, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork.
Notes
  1. This can be marinated for 4 hours or 24 hours. It works either way. You can also grill under the broiler if you don't want to grill outside. But it tastes so good right off the grill.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Saucy Baked Chicken

Do you want a baked chicken that can be made ahead of time and popped into the oven just before dinner?

Then this is the recipe for you. 

This is one of my “go to” recipes that works for company or family dinners.  

The sauce is so tasty your family will want this dish a couple times a week…it is that good.

I like chicken thighs as they do not tend to dry out and I just like the flavor of the dark meat. The Captain prefers white meat, so I combine chicken breasts and thighs, although a whole chicken will bake nicely.

If you have little ones who prefer chicken strips…this recipe works for chicken tenderloins, too. 

Side dishes are endless. Mashed potatoes, Rice, Couccous, and many other too numerous to mention.  Add asparagus or broccoli or green beans.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what your thoughts are.

Enjoy!

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Me

 

Saucy Baked Chicken
Yields 6
This is a quick and easy baked chicken that melts in your mouth. Add a garden salad, and rice pilaf for a quick midweek meal.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces
  2. 1/4 cup butter, melted
  3. 1/2 cup honey
  4. 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  7. 1 clove minced garlic
  8. 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  9. 1/2 onion sliced very thin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place chicken pieces in a shallow baking pan, skin side up.
  3. Combine the melted butter or margarine, honey, mustard, salt, garlic, cayenne pepper, sliced onions and curry powder and pour the mixture over the chicken.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours, basting occasionally with pan drippings, until the chicken is nicely browned and tender and the juices run clear
Notes
  1. Cover the chicken with foil so it won't burn, remove the foil after 45 minutes and cook till it is a nice brown. I like to turn the oven up to 400 degrees for the last 15-20 minutes for extra crispiness. I like to use chicken thighs, but a whole chicken works just fine.
  2. After baking, remove some of the fat and you will have a nice sauce.
  3. A serving suggestion is to serve the chicken on a bed of long grain/wild rice and top with the sauce. Garnish with parsley or chopped green onion.
  4. If you are pressed for time make the chicken in the morning, cover with foil and put in the fridge. This allows the sauce to marry with the chicken which makes the taste even better.
  5. Endless possibilities.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
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