DIY Memorial Day Decorations: Red-White-and-Blue Ideas Everyone Will Love

Creativity and Crafts
DIY memorial day decorations

Memorial Day is so many different things: the unofficial beginning of the summer. A day off work. The end of the school year. The day on the calendar after which your mom decreed you can wear white pants.

However, we all know the Federal Holiday commemorates something more. But through the years, as more and more time passes from those civics classes of our youth, it’s easy to muddle up some of our related holidays. So let’s take a moment for a mini educational opportunity, courtesy of yours truly.

Memorial Day: Last Monday in May. In remembrance of American service members who have died in armed conflicts.

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Easy Homemade Granola

Food for Grownups
easy homemade granola

I know what you’re thinking. Granola has a zillion calories.

It’s basically what squirrels eat to fatten up for winter.

So why would I want that when I’m trying to get tankini ready?

My answer is two fold here. Stay with me on this. The following is jam-packed with juicy nuggets of wisdom we need in life.

Sur La TableWhy Granola Is Worth It (And Other Life Lessons)

The first reason is because life is too short. It’s too short to miss out on the joy of homemade granola. Life’s too short to cut out delicious food from your diet by drawing a hard line in the sand. It’s too short to let a squirrel’s diet dictate what we eat.

The second reason, equally important, is that everything (well, almost everything) is okay as part of your diet as long as you stick to the serving size. Granola has a smaller serving size than say, green beans. It’s also so flavorful and yummy that you don’t need a lot of it to feel the flavors and textures tap-dancing across your tongue. I find myself pairing it with protein-rich Greek yogurt or covered with fruit and milk for a power-breakfast.

From a nutritional standpoint, the oats are filled with fiber and iron and the nuts and seeds are packed with heart-healthy unsaturated fats (like Omega 3s!) and protein. A lot of granola you buy at the store will be loaded with sugar, so my recipe leans on honey to sweeten it instead of actual sugar. With the oil, it’s still pretty high in calories but I find that if I stick to a small portion, I don’t have too much explaining to do with my Weight Watchers plan. 

Embracing the Crunch with Easy Homemade Granola

Granola is one of those things that all of my friends assume I make all the time since I moved to Oregon, the land of the sustainably grown, the Birkenstocks, the Subarus, and all things crunchy.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLCWhile I fully embrace the stereotypes of my new home, I truthfully don’t get around to making granola as much as I should. I don’t home brew Kombucha or grow my own food either. I just don’t have time. But on occasion, I’ll summon up the concentration in an afternoon while I’m writing to toast oats and nuts and coconut flakes, the base of my super-charged granola. If you are easily distracted like I am, it’s best to use a loud timer to remind you to toss the oats as they roast. It’s so easy to burn it and I’ve done that more times than I care to share.

But once the base of the granola is roasted, toasted, and aromatic, I’ll add dried fruit (like the dehydrated strawberries I have on hand in my prepared pantry) and other ingredients I keep in my pantry like like chia or cashews or vanilla. Then the pure crunchy magic happens.

My house smells amazing. My neighbors usually reap the benefits over the over-sized batch, and I’m happily snacking away as I get back to work on my book.


So have I talked you into it?

Let’s jump to the good part.

Here’s how to make my super-customizable, use-whatever-you-have-in-your-pantry, easy homemade granola.


easy homemade granola

Easy Homemade Granola

  • Author: Marie Bostwick
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not the steel cut kind or the instant oats!)

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

2 cups sliced almonds

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey (I use local, but just use a good quality here)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened small diced dried apricots

1 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cherries

1 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

Other optional goodies: Add dried blueberries or any dried fruit, spices like cinnamon, chia seeds for a little extra omega 3 punch, try maple syrup instead of honey, swap canola for coconut oil, or spike it with a little vanilla or a pinch of sea salt! I’ve also heard its delicious swirled with a 1/4 cup of peanut butter.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together the oats, coconut, and almonds. Whisk the oil and honey in a separate bowl, then pour over the oats, almonds and coconut. Stir until everything is cohesive, like in this picture.

Using two half sheet pans, pour the mixture equally into each. Roast, taking it out to stir occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn. When it looks beautifully golden brown and the nutty wafts are taking over your kitchen, it’s time to take it out. This takes about an hour for me.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly. It will need to be a little warm to stick to the rest of the goodies you throw its way.

Add the dried fruit and cashews. Now is the time to throw in extra flair like chia seeds or vanilla or sea salt.  I usually just throw into freezer bags and promptly send one to a neighbor. This makes a lot!

Serve with milk and fruit or sprinkle atop Greek yogurt for a fierce way to start your day!

  • Category: breakfast
  • Method: oven

Keywords: easy homemade granola, healthy breakfast ideas

One Point Weight Watchers Muffins with a Mexican Kick!

Food for Grownups
one point weight watchers muffins

I’m always busy.  Sitting still has never been my strong suit. You’ve probably picked up on this by now. But this month I’ve crossed the line from busy to crazy.

Right now I’m writing, blogging, training for my next sprint triathlon, gardening, sewing, preparing to host dinner for 10 next weekend, arranging itineraries for three sets of guests within the next four weeks and, of course, doing a lot of spring cleaning.


But it’s a good kind of crazy. I’m excited about how my new book is taking shape and am looking forward to spending time with the visitors who will soon be here.  Plus, I’m feeling very good about welcoming people to a bright and shiny, organized home!

The Perils of Going Pre-Packaged

Unfortunately, all this activity hasn’t left much time to organize healthy meals for myself.  Over the last couple of weeks, I found myself slipping down the prepackaged and prepared food slope.

You know what I’m talking about, right?  When you hop out of bed and hit the ground running, it’s so much easier to pour some cereal into a bowl than take the time to cook a healthy, satisfying breakfast. But not only does that cereal and milk cost seven of my precious Weight Watchers Freestyle Points, it leave me feeling hungry by mid-morning. Next thing I know, I’m in the kitchen, searching for a snack, and grabbing the first thing I can lay my hands on, frequently another bowl of cereal.

Sur La Table

If you’re trying to eat healthy, giving in to the convenience of prepared foods is definitely a slippery slope. After a few days of this, my scale showed just how far I’d slipped.

Crazy busy or not, I needed to find a better plan of attack for breakfast. Because not only are convenience foods unhealthy, they make you fat. Nothing convenient about that! continue reading

Summer Clothes: Six Easy Ideas To Update Your Wardrobe

Beauty and Fashion
summer clothes

If you follow me on social media you know that I’ve been on a cleanout binge lately. It was looking a little dicey at first but don’t worry. I survived the Great Office Cleanup of 2019 and made it out alive.

Spring cleaning is always on my mind this time of year, and the office isn’t the only room that’s undergone a purge. I’ve done a major clean-out on my closet too. Good thing because I’d almost forgotten what color the carpet was in there. (I’m kidding. Mostly.)

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DIY Flower Arrangements for Mother’s Day

Creativity and Crafts
DIY flower arrangements

If the Mother’s Day Gift Guide or the Mother’s Day Pistachio Bundt cake didn’t tip you off, Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th.

Yes. This weekend.

You’ve still got time to Amazon Prime her a copy of my latest book, but why stop there?

Wouldn’t it make your mother feel special if you arrived with a DIY flower arrangement in hand in addition to a little gift, a few hugs, and a card? (Seriously, Fierce friends, don’t forget the card!)

Nod your head. The answer is yes. Though some of you may be saying, “Yes. But how?”

Good news, friends. You’re in the right place.

In addition to my wildly popular blog on DIY flower arrangements, my lovely daughter in law recently attended a flower arranging class with some girlfriends. Naturally, I picked her brain about all that she learned! She took copious notes. And lots of pictures!

Here she is. Isn’t she adorable? As a side note, she is a mom herself, mother to two of my adorable and terribly advanced grandarlings.  This last part is my opinion but is, I assure you, utterly unbiased.

Daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law share a unique and special relationship. I have been blessed with THREE! Since I never had a daughter of my own (even though the doctor assured me my third son was a girl), I am delighted to have these wonderful young women in my life. What makes it even better is that we share so many similar and decidedly girly interests – cooking, sewing, reading, art, fashion, and flowers among them.  Small wonder that I refer to them as my daughters-in-love. I really do love them like my own.

As I said, the daughter and mother in law relationship is very special but sometimes it can be a little complicated. If you’re feeling the need to get a better handle on how to be a good mother in law, I wrote a post for that. You can save the flower post for later and head on over to the land of mother in law wisdom. 

If you are still on board with the flower arranging, let’s jump right in.


Choose flowers that you love in palettes that you love. If you can, hit up your local florist for discount flowers on weekends (apparently this is a thing! That’s what my DIL told me.) or even incorporate flowers from your backyard with some grocery store stems.

Cut each stem at an angle to maximize the surface area they can soak up water.

Trim all foliage off, since an excess of leaves makes the water dirty.

Choose a vase that will work well with your vision. Low, dense arrangements are definitely having a moment right now.

Cut a piece of fancy florist ribbon to wrap around the inside of your vase if you are using a clear glass vase. This stuff comes in all sorts of colors, resembling tropical leaves or simple birchwood and it hides the less than lovely stems all jammed beneath the surface. Another helpful tidbit is that you can re-use your ribbon! How cool is that?


A general rule of thumb is to place things in groups of threes. This results in a classic, well-balanced look that everyone loves. But don’t be afraid to bend or even break that rule of three.

There’s nothing wrong with trying a more abstract, bespoke style for your arrangement. Consider grouping flowers as you’d find them in a garden, placing a larger and showier blooms on one side of the arrangement or adding some unexpected design features. These more romantic arrangements are great examples of why balance and symmetry aren’t always the answer.

Here’s a couple of examples.

In this one, a monochromatic color palette is really punctuated by a succulent. And who doesn’t love a succulent? Apparently they can last for about 6 months if properly cared for so you can just keep reusing them. Genius! (I feel a blog post about a succulent door wreath coming on – stay tuned). 

This arrangement pictured below was made from a combination of grocery store stems and the daughter in love’s own flowers. Irises add a bold structural element and the whimsical wisteria vine up top makes my heart sing. Wondering what the tiny yellow flowers are? They are broccoli flowers. Because, why not?

Here’s some helpful tips to get you started on flower arranging.

Foundation: Start every bouquet with a foundational piece that offers a little structure and framework. Flowers like hydrangeas are good for sticking other flowers into and holding them in place. Hydrangeas come in all sorts of colors so this is a no-brainer step. Another flower that works well for this is spider mums. For the hydrangea, eyeball where to cut the stem. The lofty bloom should float right at the top of the vase without the stem touching the bottom.

Now, I’ve always used green florist foam to do this, also called wet foam. But my DIL’s teacher said that foam can inhibit the flowers ability to absorb water. She suggested using florist tape arranged in a grid on top of the container to create a structure for decorating. That seems like a great idea to me.

Flair: Now for the fun part! This is the time to go for those flowers that just make your heart happy. Look for pops of color, interesting textures, and lovely fragrances. If you are using roses, pull off the protective outer layers off. These “guard petals” are there as a buffer and aren’t as pretty as the inner petals. When using tulips, pull the lower foliage off and just leave a leaf or two in place. Again, too much foliage dirties up the water, meaning short-lived and sad-looking flowers.

Just for fun: Try adding a succulent to the mix or weaving in an aromatic jasmine vine or deflexus to give it a little depth and delicacy. Knockout roses from your own garden or even herbs like basil or lavender can add such a fun element to a bouquet. Not that the flowers need any help smelling amazing, but you get the idea.

See the jasmine peaking out from under the big yellow tulips?


Since we’re going to all of this trouble, let’s make these blooms last!

  • Fill your vase up with warm water to encourage growth. Your flowers might start really tightly balled up (peonies are known for this!), so this helps with that.
  • Change the water frequently, at least once a day. Nothing will ruin your bouquet like dirty water.
  • Use one of the flower food packets that comes with the flowers at the store for the first day. This will help them continue to open up. If you don’t have one of those handy little plant food packets, all of the old wives tales probably hold a little ruth – lemon, a drop of bleach, sprite, or vodka, a penny, or just a little sugar.
  • Be careful where you keep your bouquet. If it’s near direct sunlight or a fruit bowl, it won’t last as long (the gas emitted from the fruit as it ripens is the enemy for your arrangement).
  • As the days go on, pull out wilted flowers. They will have a negative affect on their friends. Feel free to even add new blooms or rearrange. You are not stuck with your design for the whole time.

See? Super easy.

This isn’t about skipping the florist and saving money, it’s about making something with your two hands for your mom. A one of a kind gift with her favorite colors and favorite flowers, perhaps even blooms from her own garden.

No matter what, make her feel special on Mother’s Day. And don’t forget a card!

50% Off 3 Months Bluprint + A Flower Bouquet through 5/11/19.

Mother’s Day Dessert Idea: Citrus-Scented Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Cake

Food for Grownups

My mom has always had a sweet tooth. I luckily inherited this trait from her, among many other things, like my curls, my gait, my love of storytelling, my resourcefulness, my love of crafting. So many good things. I’m so thankful and am extremely excited to be taking her on a camping adventure soon, one of my goals that I’ve been working toward this year.

Many of us cook for our moms for Mother’s Day, or we end up handling most of the meal with a few helping hands. No matter what, a Mother’s Day table should be graceful, feminine, pretty, delicious, and full of the familiar laughter of our closest family and friends.

I tend to think of Mother’s Day as a great brunch opportunity. Bring in the quiche, the green chile egg casserole, the healthy corn frittata, the sparkling peach Bellinis.  Roll out the pressed linens, the fresh flowers, and tablescape decorations and make it an experience instead of just a meal. This is the perfect time to go the extra mile to make something extra special and to bestow upon the meal a sense of occasion that leaves guests feeling loved.

I’ve been on a bit of a pistachio kick (hello, pistachio ice cream!), so when I saw a recent recipe for a citrus, pistachio and chocolate chunk bundt cake, I knew I had to try it. I ended up changing the recipe quite a bit, so this is what I came up with. I can’t even tell you how good this smelled, or how good the batter tasted (shhhh), or how it got better day by day. A leftover slice with a cup of coffee in the morning might not be the smartest Weight Watchers choice but oh, did it bring me joy.

Here’s the recipe. It definitely has an Italian flare, and since I think I might have been Sophia Loren in another life, this really hit the spot. Ciao Bella!


Mother’s Day Dessert Idea: Citrus-Scented Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Cake

  • Author: Marie Bostwick
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices 1x


Serve with Peach Bellinis and fresh fruit. Would look pretty all dressed up with some fresh flowers arranged on the cake plate.



Butter to grease the Bundt pan (I used a combo of olive oil and butter here, followed by a bit of flour to coat)
2 cup white sugar
Finely grated zest from 2 oranges
Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
1 cup good quality olive oil
4 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 eggs
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mini-chocolate chips or chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped up tiny


Heat oven to 350°F. Butter the nonstick Bundt and dust with flour.

Place sugar in a large bowl, add zest. Stir with a whisk and inhale the delightful citrusy aromatherapy. Apparently it gives you energy.

Whisk in olive oil, wine, ricotta and eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Slowly stir in dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate and pistachios.

Scrape batter into the Bundt pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Let cool on rack for 20 minutes in pan, then hold your breath, say a prayer, and turn over, lifting the Bundt pan away from your masterpiece. Pat yourself on the back. That was the hard part.

Dust the top with powdered sugar. Pretend it’s fairy dust.

Slice and serve and send the leftovers home with your family and friends. This cake is great the first day and even better the second and third, as long as you keep it wrapped tightly with plastic wrap at room temperature.

  • Category: cakes

Keywords: pistachio, bundt cake, brunch



Mother’s Day Gift Guide: Experienced Mom Edition

Cherish Relationships
mothers day gift guide

As I told you back in January, every year I spend a lot of time thinking through and writing down my goals for the coming year.

This year, one of my highest priority goals, involves my mom.

When I was a kid, she would come home from work on Friday, we’d load up the car with tents, sleeping bags, a cookstove, and the dog, and drive to one of many state parks. We usually arrived after dark and had to set up the tent by flashlight.  Since we were residents of the Pacific Northwest, we frequently found ourselves trying to build campfires with wet wood and or spending the weekend playing cards inside the tent as water dripped from the rainfly.

But rain or shine, off we went. And rain or shine, we always had a great time. Many of my very best memories with my mom were made on those camping trips. My mom’s enthusiasm for camping and love of the great outdoors was infectious, a love she passed on to me.

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What to Read Right Now

what to read right now

One of the main questions I hear as a writer from my readers is what books I’m reading right now. It’s sort of like they think I should be an expert in this sort of thing, just because I am in the business!

While I don’t think of myself as some fancy book critic, I will say I am a total reading enthusiast and usually have several books going at once.

I try to find a balance between fiction and non-fiction, books that stretch my imagination, books that simply make me sigh out of happiness at the end, books that teach me something new, or books that open doors to whole new worlds that I’ve never thought about before.

I know it sounds like I’m trying to confuse my brain, but trust me, it works for this girl. It works wonders. continue reading

Roasted Radishes with Feta Mint Sauce from My New Favorite Cookbook

Food for Grownups
roasted radishes

Someone recently wrote to ask an important question, “Marie, what’s your very favorite cookbook?”

Answer: “Whichever one I just bought.”

When I buy a new cookbook, I immediately race into the kitchen and start rattling those pots and pans, eager to try out those fabulous new recipes.  Every now and again, I end up being disappointed but usually not. As an experienced cookbook buyer (and experienced cook) a few minutes spent perusing the page is usually enough to tell me whether the recipes will end up tasting as good as the pictures make them look.

Like a lot of people, I do look for recipes online. When it’s five o’clock and I’m staring into the refrigerator and wondering how I can turn a particular ingredient into dinner, online recipes can be lifesavers.  But, at the end of the day, I still love a big, beautiful cookbook with pretty pictures and pages I can touch, feel, flip through, and scribble notes in.

I also tend to drip a lot of stuff on those pages while I’m cooking. That’s a big clue as to how much I liked a particular cookbook. The more drips and spills, the more I’ve used it, and the more I’ve loved it.

Earlier this month, while participating in a charity author luncheon during my Hope on the Inside book tour, I met Alana Chernila, a cookbook author. I’d been drooling over her gorgeous cookbooks even before I met her and absolutely knew I had to have one but hearing her speech and chatting with her really cemented the deal. She’s delightful!

Alana has written three cookbooks so far. Honestly, I’d have loved to get them all. But since my suitcase was pretty full, I could only bring home one. I went with her newest, Eating From the Ground Up: Recipes for Simple, Perfect Vegetables.

I chose this book because I think vegetables are too often overlooked in cookbooks and, indeed, on dinner plates.

Vegetables tend to be relegated to the status of “sides”, which is another way of calling them a culinary afterthought, playing a very distant third fiddle to what are usually considered the stars of the meal – entrees and dessert.  That’s such a shame because vegetables are not only good for us, they’re just plain good!

But I’m not sure I knew how truly, amazingly, mouth-wateringly good vegetables could be until I bought this cookbook!

It is fabulous and I’m simply obsessed with it! Not unpredictably, my copy of Eating From the Ground Up: Recipes for Simple, Perfect Vegetables is now my favorite cookbook. I have a feeling it will stay in that top spot for a very long time.

The recipes are terrific and the pictures of inspiring, but I also appreciated the little commentaries and essays that are included with each recipes. Alana Chernila is an excellent writer as well as an excellent chef. I enjoyed her conversational writing style and getting to know more about the background behind the creation of each recipe.

So far, I’ve made….

Roasted Asparagus with Yummy Sauce (she wasn’t lying about the sauce. Yummy!)

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Shallots and Pecans,

Swiss Chard Stem, Fennel, and Salmon Fried Rice,

Cauliflower Cheese,

Napa Coleslaw with Pecans and Peas

Every one was a winner. But even more exciting is the fact that I’ve only scratched the surface. There are SO many more recipes I want to try here!

Today I want to share a recipe that really intrigued me, starring the humble radish.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had many ideas about what you could do with a radish. Sure, you can slice it up and put it in a salad, or maybe spread a little butter if you’re feeling all fancy and French. But…apart from that, what else is there?

Plenty, as it turns out.

Did you ever consider roasting radishes? Neither did I. But after making Roasted Radishes with Feta Mint Sauce, I know that radish roasting will be a frequent addition to my culinary repertoire.

Radishes have a whole different flavor when they’re roasted. They’re much less sharp cooked. The taste is rich, mellow, and even a tiny bit sweet. The mint feta sauce is really a refreshing compliment to the radishes. On top of that, they are beautiful to look at! Put a plate of these in front of your dinner guests and people are going to sit up and take notice. Not bad for a humble “side”.

Here’s the recipe.


 Roasted Radishes with Feta-Mint Sauce

  • Author: Marie Bostwick
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x


Recipe is reprinted from “Eating from the Ground Up: Recipes for Simple, Perfect Vegetables.” © 2018 by Alana Chernila. Photographs © 2017 by Johnny Autry. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

“Roasted radishes are surprising — they get very juicy in the middle and sweet on the outside. Cooking radishes brings out an entirely different side of the vegetable, much mellower than the punchy bite of a raw radish. This is wonderful with standard cherry belles or French breakfast radishes, but it’s also a great way to work with mixed bunches of all different colors. Amethyst, a bright purple variety, is especially beautiful roasted. This recipe makes more sauce than you need, but you’ll be happy for the extra. Use it as a salad dressing, on other roasted vegetables or on grilled beef or lamb.”



1½ tablespoons olive oil

3 bunches radishes (about pounds), greens removed, halved lengthwise

¾ teaspoon kosher salt


6 ounces cubed or crumbled feta

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ cup (packed) fresh mint leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

Chicken or vegetable stock or water


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Roast the radishes: Pour the oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, tilting the sheet to spread it evenly. Place the radishes in the oil, turning to coat them, and then arrange each radish, cut-side down, on the sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast until the radishes are deeply golden on the cut side, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. While the radishes roast, make the sauce: Combine the feta, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mint and several grinds of pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding up to 3 tablespoons stock to make the sauce pourable.
  4. To serve, puddle the sauce on a platter or four individual plates. Top with the radishes.

  • Category: spring sides
  • Method: roasting

Keywords: healthy sides, spring vegetables, weight watchers freestyle

A Holy Week Playlist

Nurture Your Soul
Holy Week playlist

I listen music almost all the time; when I’m working, when I’m running or biking,
when I’m sewing, and definitely when I’m cooking. Making dinner after a day of
mentally wrestling with characters and plots absolutely requires a peppy playlist. And
possibly a few equally peppy dance moves? It’s been known to happen.

My musical tastes are wide and varied. I like Gilbert and Sullivan, Rogers and
Hammerstein. I also like Yo-Yo Ma and Mozart. And the Beach Boys. And Queen.

You’ll find a lot of Christian contemporary music on my Spotify playlist as well.
That’s something I tune into often when I’m working out. Those joyous, hopeful
lyrics lift my spirit as well as my feet.

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