Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Recommendations

Hello hello friends! You know the drill. Skimmers, recommendations are in bold (and typically clickable). My brother Sean is joining me this month. He turned 21 on the 19th and made some time for his old ass sister's blog posts. Thanks Swan!
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Among the realm of topics I could’ve explored, I chose TV shows because I feel they consume a large portion of a college student’s spare time. This is also a debate that you could have with almost anyone out there without reaching a compromise. It seems like no individual has the same “Mount Rushmore” of television shows as another. (Yes, I know I am discussing top five television shows while Mount Rushmore contains only four figures)  Nevertheless, here are five television shows that I could watch on a loop for as long as I can.  Keep in mind there are great shows that I have never watched or am frankly just forgetting. 

1. Entourage – I think it is fair to say that only males will agree with me on this. The idea of gaining superstardom and living with your best friends is pretty damn cool to me. I have seen every episode an embarrassing amount of times and I’ve never once been tired of it. 

2. Seinfeld – It goes without saying that this is one of the all-time most popular television shows. I also know that it is a true hit-or-miss show; if you like it, you probably love it and if you don’t, you probably think George Costanza is the most annoying person on the planet. I can place full blame on my brother for getting me into this show, seeing that he’s seen every episode seemingly a hundred times over. 

3. SNL – Say what you want about how this show has evolved over the years, but I always loved it through its peaks and valleys. In its heyday, it was piss-your-pants worthy with figures like John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Bill Murray, and Chris Farley among others.  It may have lost some consistency, but Lorne Michaels will always find a way to make me laugh. 

4. Lost – Lost was probably the most captivating show that I have ever watched.  Although it takes forever and a day to get through every episode, I’d do it willingly. 

5. Newsroom – I will preface this by saying this show is NOT in my top 5 all-time. I feel that I just found a loophole because it is a show I am currently watching and I could not decide where to go with my fifth choice. I really enjoy the perspective this show offers. It offers accounts of a fictional news team breaking some of the most important events of the last four or five years from the BP oil spill to the Boston Marathon bombings. The intertwining of personal relationships and professional obstacles surrounding these events make it very addictive.

Honorable Mention: The Office, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, True Detective, Dexter
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1. Try the local foods when traveling. I don't think you get the full experience otherwise. If I'm going to have a beer, I try one from a local brewery if it's offered. Out west I had the bison burger and tenderloin, the elk chili, the huckleberry everything. If it's local and in-season, even better. 

2. E-bags packing cubes. You can get them on Amazon but they often run sales on the E-bags site. You can purchase cubes of the same size or cubes of varying sizes. I took a large suitcase and used three large cubes, one medium, and four small. I took my suitcase into a hotel room once on our trip, and that was to re-pack it the night before we left. These e-bags made my life awesome on our road trip and were well worth the money to me. 

3. Jackery external batteries. I have two of these in orange and they freaking rock if you're on the road. They re-charge your phone multiple times and the color makes them hard to lose. 

4. Short USB cables to go with the above. They don't crap up my purse. 

5. Columbia Women's Arcadia II Rain Jacket - For a sweet $60 you, too, can be kept dry. I needed a rain coat for our National Parks trip because rain will not break me. This one was cheap and fits well. I only used it one day, but it was good as a windbreaker too. 

What are you recommending this month my friends?
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Culture of Luxury Books



Hello friends - the question - book or e-reader - and some other thoughts about it by Sophie White today as I attempt to get myself back together after vacation. Don't forget that the Show Us Your Books: Anniversary Edition link up is Tuesday, October 13. Enjoy! 
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In a world where the modern reader seeks convenience, such devices as tablets have slowly risen to replace paper books to introduce digital copies of the written word. For many, this is a sign of the rise of modern books, and it has since been forecast that paper books will soon be replaced completely.

Bibliophiles may disagree. With the role books has had over the centuries, some book lovers may think that they will never be completely erased, for culture is what they represent. But with today’s highly visual audience, publishers have raised the bar on books’ graphic appeal, introducing a niche of artistic designs and covers that attract collectors, putting more focus on luxury books.

The art of the printed word

The key to getting modern readers interested these days seem to be through a highly attractive book cover design. For bibliophiles, this is taken one step further and would include the overall design of the book. Still, for those looking to peek into high style and art, luxury books have found their place.

Whatever the case, it cannot be denied that books still hold their own magic for readers. There are also different types of books that don’t fit very well for digital copy. This would include highly photo-centric books that are best enjoyed in glossy volumes for full appreciation. These books are items of luxury and are considered as objects of art themselves, to be proudly put on display in the home.

A different sensory experience

One of the most important things a book can have is to capture and immortalize different facets of life – whether through pictures or words – and this is deftly achieved in books that hold both in equal importance.

Luxury books can claim to give readers a different, dignified experience for the senses. With beautiful, memorable photographs that can capture everything from art to fashion and travel, luxury books are themselves a reflection of culture.

The modern audience includes people who consume visual components every day – from advertisements on the street to social media pictures as well as television shows. With so much going on in daily life, books offer an escape and a sight into other worlds.

Printed books in the digital age

With the on-the-go lifestyle many people lead these days, it can be really useful to have a tablet from which to access different books anytime at any place. But the appeal of physical books will never truly go away for the most dedicated reader.

What is even more undeniable is the appeal of volumes of books laid out across shelves in one’s own home. It signifies a sense of comfort and relaxed coziness that book lovers value when they read. This is why home libraries are considered as valuable personal spaces of culture across the world.

Even as e-books rise higher in popularity, books will only evolve to become even more sought-after for creating personal collections in one’s own space. This is why books may never truly go out of print even as the juggernaut of modernism continues to roll.

Sophie White is a blogger based in Australia with a wide array of interests that have to do with high style and its appreciation. She is a bibliophile and true book lover, as well as having a keen eye for the latest in fashion and good food.  With her passion for sophistication and quality, she partners with Assouline, an independent publisher of lifestyle luxury books with boutiques around the world.

Monday, September 28, 2015

TWTW - the one where vacation ended

Friday we drug our tired asses around Jackson Hole to close out our fifth anniversary vacation. We did a little shopping, ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant (Merry Piglets) owned by a woman from Philly, and had our last huckleberry ice cream of the trip at Moo's Gourmet Ice Cream. After this vacation, I am obsessed with huckleberry. Jackson is a picturesque little town - as you can see below, even their utility stuff is pretty.We also encountered Ben Franklin outside of a gallery. Our anniversary dinner was a convenience store feast in a hotel room that my stomach is still recovering from - too tired to go out. First world problems.
A very nice send off from Jackson Hole at the crack of dawn Saturday and awesome skies on the way to Denver. 
We got home at 5 and immediately visited Wawa and DD before settling in on the couches with the dogs and the Pope on TV.
Sunday morning I dropped the Pope posse at the train station then did back to reality things like grocery shopping and $5.50 flower procuring. Produce Junction, ladies. Get some. 
I did a little food prep: scrambled eggs with spinach/green onion/cheese for breakfasts; and quinoa with yellow Campari tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and green onion for lunches. Dinners are baked Parmesan garlic wings with roasted baby bliss potatoes and steamed cauliflower and grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and rice. I just didn't have it in me to do them Sunday. I missed cooking and home cooked food. 
I went to a surprise 60th wedding anniversary lunch for my grandparents at Lamberti's Cucina in Feasterville. You can't go wrong with clams in white sauce. 
I meant to do more when I got home but I am not feeling well so I took a two hour nap and watched the Pope. Later I picked my Pope posse back up and Debbie, MFD and I ate pizza and naughty things at 9:30. MFD was over the moon to be in the presence of the Pope, his Mass pass and medals are below.
I am not a religious person but I absolutely love Pope Francis. He doesn't only speak about love and kindness, he embodies them. I cried four times on Saturday watching him walk the walk. I hope we all catch his kindness and spread it like wildfire. If you have the opportunity to help someone, just do it instead of convincing yourself of why you shouldn't. I'm proud of my city for hosting this wonderful event. Well done, Philly. 

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Easing back in today as my company is working from home while Philly cleans up from the Pope's visit. I'll be sharing some posts about our trip in the upcoming weeks, broken down by national park, amid other normal posts.

I love to travel, but I'm happy to be home. Just waiting anxiously on the arrival of my niece or nephew now! Come on baby! 

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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Best Multi-Functional Gadgets for Traveling

Hello friends! Since I just came off of a trip, this post provided by Jessie Hughes is timely indeed. More commentary from me at the end. 

The best way to explore the world is to leave your home base behind. A week stay at a hotel or resort limits you to a certain area and prevents you from discovering the tucked away corners that tourists never see. Backpackers, hikers, campers and train hoppers all know what it's like to bounce around different countries, regions and continents to gain a unique perspective on travel.
But this type of exploring also comes with a new set of challenges. Leaving the hotel room behind also means ditching the three-piece luggage and all the gear it carries. When you travel on the go, you must also travel light and smart, only carrying the tools necessary to serve more than one purpose. If you feel like living your next vacation on the road, on the trail or from train to train, consider these multi-functional gadgets to make it a success.
Apple iPhone 6s
Your best tool will always be your smartphone. You never leave home without it, and apps make it useful for virtually every situation. Your iPhone serves as a communication device, GPS navigation, social sharing, information source and much more. But because there isn't always power at every corner, pick up an external battery case to stretch out your charge for a full day or more.
DeLorme InReach Communicator
The iPhone is perfect for every moment — assuming you have access to cell service. But hikers and backpackers will be the first to let you know that the most scenic spots in the middle of Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park are miles and miles away from the nearest signal. Even though you should always learn to read a map and use a compass before hitting the backcountry, a GPS satellite device is perfect for emergency situations when you need guidance or even to call for help. The DeLorme is costly at $300, but it has access to text messages, phone calls, Internet, GPS and SOS from any place on Earth. A device like this could be life or death in the gravest of circumstances.
GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition
The iPhone 6s rocks a beautiful 12-megapixel camera capable of shooting 4K video. So, in theory, there shouldn't be a need to take pictures or video with anything else. But, your smartphone is your lifeline, and if you want that perfect action shot, it's not worth the risk of wrecking your No. 1 tool. The GoPro Hero 4 Black takes stunning, high-resolution pictures and 4K video, and it is both durable and waterproof. It's tough to bust a GoPro, and even if you do, all you lose is the ability to shoot pics and video.
iPad Mini 4
Depending on your need for late night entertainment when everything is winding down, theiPad Mini 4 can be a lifesaver when movies and TV aren't available in your room or campsite. Sure, you can do all this on your iPhone, but the iPad is a nice compromise between a size and weight that doesn't fill your pack but still gives you a large screen to watch at night.
Goal Zero Solar Charger
You have all these great gadgets, but how are you going to keep them charged? Don't assume there will always be access to an outlet if you're exploring the more undeveloped areas of the world. The Goal Zero solar charger is a portable option that harnesses the sun's energy and keeps your device's batteries full every day (so long as it isn't cloudy).
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MFD just got a new iPhone 6 before we left, and his phone photos are about 2480384 times better than the ones I took with my iPhone 5. He also brought along his iPad, which was indispensable for reasons listed above. We also used the GoPro Hero 4, which was awesome for both video and photos. 

What are your tried and true travel gadgets? 

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Five: Years of Marriage


Marriage is a lot of things, but when I think of how I would describe it, I most often think of a road trip. We all know no matter what external forces come up, a road trip is always only as good as the people on the trip make it. This is an especially fitting analogy as today is our fifth wedding anniversary and we are currently on the second to last day of a 10 day road trip through the the middle of a lot of nowheres with shoddy cell service. An appropriate test for a marriage, yes?

Relationships are work, which I wish they would tell you more about in books and movies instead of the gooey love stories they feed young girls who grow up thinking wonderful relationships just happen effortlessly to them, and the BS they feed young boys about how they just need to fix and save the day and be strong. Things in relationships are freaking hard sometimes, and it's okay to admit that. No person is perfect, so why would a relationship between two people be perfect?

MFD and I met in seventh grade and have been friends for 25 years. This month marks 13 years of us being a couple, 12 of which have been cohabitation years. And today? Today is our fifth wedding anniversary. We've had wonderful days that we wished would last forever and terrible days we couldn't wait for the end of; days where we felt invincible together, and days when we felt we couldn't scream loud enough at each other; days when our marriage felt like a tough old rock bridge and days when it felt like a chaotic landslide. Every time that was good and every time that was bad over the past 13 years together, we chose to stay in the car. We're still on the road. This is the truest quote I have ever come across about long term relationships:

The past 12 months have been more of a celebration of love, trust, and partnership and less of a need for tolerance and tenacity. We know that could be reversed next year of course, so we're enjoying it while it lasts in this order. A collage of the past 12 months:  (click on this to see last year).
1) September - our anniversary last year; 2) October - Halloween night; 3) November - Thanksgiving day in North Woods 4) December - Castaway Cay in the Bahamas; 5) January - New Year's Day to you guys, Mummer's Day to Philadelphia; 6) February - snowed in at home; 7) March - On my birthday in Niagara Falls, Canada; 8) April - Off to celebrate the marriage of friends; 9) May - Derby Day; 10) June - Swansboro, NC; 11) July - Stone Harbor, NJ; 12) August - Lake Chrisann 
Happy anniversary to us - we are both a work in progress, as people and as a couple. Here's to another year of growing together, keeping it real, having each other's backs, seeing the world, working hard for what we want and being grateful for what we have, living in the present, making dreams come true, and being in love.

p.s happy birthday to one of our BFFs, Amanda!

I am travelling, please forgive delayed replies to comments. 
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

fall goals 2015

Fall - the return of routine and to do lists, soup simmering on the stove and hot meals fresh out of the oven. Welcome back, favorite season. My seasonal goals:
                    

1. Become Bob MFing Vila in the home improvement project arena.

2. Get up 15 minutes earlier one weekday each week.

3. Attend Opera on the Mall and 20th Year high school reunion. Fellow classmates, did you get your tickets?

4. Participate in a Pancreatic Cancer Walk with my family in memory of my Grandmom.

5. Finish using the remaining nail polishes in my arsenal - for those of you playing along at home, I have used a different nail polish without repeating every time I paint my nails or toes since January 1 thanks to an idea from Steph @ Insert Classy Here. My collection is large but I'm nearing the end.

6. Outdoors:
       a) Clean old cushions and store.
       b) Winterize flower beds.
       c) Yard cleanup/winterization.

7. Check out the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk.

8. Gather whatever gear I need for Africa trip and make appointments for shots.

9. Get miles situation straightened out and book flights for New Orleans using miles.

10. Bake french bread.

11. Wish The Boss a happy 66th birthday today. (dunzo)

What's on your to do list this fall?

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

To borrow a phrase from basic bitches everywhere, I literally can't even.


You guys. Some of the things we've seen. The scenic vistas. The wide open spaces. The animals. The night skies - to borrow a line from the Counting Crows, we drove out to the desert just to lie down beneath this bowl of stars - we're not in the desert but it fits. I literally can't even with the beauty of this country.
Follow along on Instagram (@lifeaccordingtosteph) this week for trip pics.

I am travelling, please forgive delayed replies to comments. I'll catch you on the flip side. 
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Friday, September 18, 2015

Summer Goals - how did I do?

Summer 2015 ends calendar-wise in a few days. Here's how I did with my seasonal goals:

1. Make homemade cinnamon ice cream. Made on 7/11 and sweet Jesus it was delicious. 



4. Read an Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot book. I read The Mysterious Affair at Styles on vacation at the end of June. 

5. Purge and organize: utility closet. Done - second weekend in August. 



8. Conquer fears: cook on the grill and swim in the lake. I've been grilling like a champ, mofos! I made myself do it once a week to truly conquer the fear. I was in the lake on two different weekends on floats but not swimming. I'm counting it. 

9. Increase weights and maintain exercise schedule. Fail. I actually had a falter with weights in general and dipped down to twice a week for the fuck it phase. I battled back into my routine but am still not as fluid with it as I was going into the summer. I'm working on it though.

10. Watch a sunrise and sunset in a beach town in the same day. Sunday 6/28 in Emerald Isle.

Did you make summer goals? How did you do?

Happy happy birthday today to my longest time friend Jen. We've been friends for going on 36 years. And tomorrow to my youngest brother Sean, who turns 21. Be safe and enjoy your first truly legal beer, brother. Love you both! 

I am travelling, please forgive delayed replies to comments. I'll catch you on the flip side. 
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shit MFD Said Vol. 22


Driving through the middle of nowhere in upstate PA at midnight
Me: Holy shit, the high beams just went on by themselves!
MFD: Uh huh. 
Me: How?
MFD: Well Steph, it's fine engineering. 
Me: No. It's robots.
MFD: No. Fine German engineering. 
Me: Robots.

Discussing his birthday trip
MFD: How do we get in?
Me: I have a key. 
MFD: In a lockbox?
Me: No, she mailed me a key. 
MFD: The owner? What did she say?
Me: Don't try to get in on this now. 
MFD: What was the correspondence like? 
Silence
MFD: What are some of the rules?
Me: Rules?
MFD: What are they?
Me: The rules are the same for every house you rent. 
MFD: I just thought we could discuss them.

Him driving 
Me: I don't want to die on a back road in Levittown.
MFD: Steph, this is actually Bensalem.
Me: Whatever the location is, I don't want to die here.


MFD: Steph, do you like Yacht Rock?
Me: what is Yacht Rock?
MFD: Doobie brothers, soft 70s stuff. 
Me: Music we always listen to? Why are you calling it Yacht Rock?
MFD: It's what it's called. 
Me: You made this up? You've never been on a yacht.
MFD: NO. Sirius has a station now. Yacht Rock is my music. 
Me: I don't think the Doobie Brothers would want to be considered Yacht Rock. 
MFD: Michael McDonald would.
Note: after this conversation, Yacht Rock was mentioned AT LEAST once a day in our home for over a month

MFD: Happy half birthday!
Me: Thanks! Thanks for remembering.
MFD: You put it in my calendar. I have no choice but to recognize it.

I am totally the travel agent in this marriage.This is the conversation less than two days before we leave.
Happy birthday to my long-time friend Shelby today! Please visit her blog at Big Hungry Shelby and check her out on Twitter


All read and approved by MFD before they go live...
Shit MFD Said Vol 1Shit MFD Said Vol 2Shit MFD Said Vol 3Shit MFD Said Vol 4
Shit MFD Said Vol 5Shit MFD Said Vol 6Shit MFD Said Vol 7Shit MFD Said Vol 8
Shit MFD Said Vol 9Shit MFD Said Vol 10Shit MFD Said Vol 11, Shit MFD Said Vol 12, Shit MFD Said Vol 13, Shit MFD Said Vol 14, Shit MFD Said Vol 15, Shit MFD Said Vol 16, Shit MFD Said Vol 17, Shit MFD Said Vol 18, Shit MFD Said Vol 19, Shit MFD Said Vol 20, Shit MFD Said Vol 21



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

fire in the hole bites

via
Flashback: Matt Saracen throwing a football through a tire in his front yard while Landry makes witty remarks on the side and Grandma yells confusing things from the porch. That's a round about way of telling you foosball fans that these would be a good thing for you to produce for your friends on game day.

Fire in the hole has nothing to do with this post. I just felt like using it in the title so these are now called fire in the hole bites. What they actually are is chicken tenders stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos wrapped in bacon and grilled.

Ingredients (can be halved, I was making them for an event)
2 8 oz packages chicken tenders, pounded thin and cut in half
8 oz package of cream cheese
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 package of bacon, cut in half
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Pink Himalayan sea salt
Toothpicks, soaked in water

Directions
Grab a piece of chicken. Add a dab of cream cheese (just under a teaspoon) to the top. Top with some jalapeno pieces, pressing into the cream cheese. Dust with garlic powder and onion powder. Fold up or roll in half, wrap in bacon, and spear with a toothpick to secure. Top off with some pink himalayan sea salt.

Preheat grill to about 350. Grill until bacon is brown and crispy on both sides. Mine took about 10 minutes. Make sure you pre-soak the tooth picks. I did not and it was not cool. Learn from my mistakes! LOL

Clean up well with antibacterial everything since you will be handling raw chicken. Toss any cream cheese you don't use if it's been chicken contaminated.

Original recipe from Salad in a Jar.

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Haikuesday
Toothpicks on the grill...
Nearly caught myself on fire.
I still have eyebrows.
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Did you know today is my half birthday? It is. I think I'll have a piece of cake. You should too if for no other reason than it'll make Tuesday infinitely better. 

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Martinis & Bikinis

Monday, September 14, 2015

TWTW - the one before vacation

Friday night I had to work late and didn't get home until after 7. MFD was away for the weekend so I locked the doors, made naughty nachos, and sunk into Luther. Ruth Wilson is insane and awesome and not enough can be said about Idris Elba. 
Saturday morning I did a Target run for fun things like doormats and new glass water bottles and not fun things like toilet paper and sports bras. I came home to construction.
Yes, we are getting the backyard concrete done the week we go on vacation. We like to live on the edge. By we I mean MFD because this project so close to departure is stressing me the fuck out. There's no fence on one side right now so it's like playing goalie to the dogs. Not fun. I did get assurances that it was going to be poured today. If it's not, you will hear my scream this evening no matter where you are in the world. 
I met my BFFs Debbie and Michelle for lunch at Las Margaritas for a late celebration of Debbie's birthday. 
Before lunch I went to Marshalls. It was a bad one so I didn't expect the homegoods section to be awesome but it was. So I went back after lunch and secured things for a future decor project, including a clearance table I had to drag all over the store because they only had small carts. I was tempted to go to another Marshalls after that but told myself to slow my roll. Instead I came home, got in bed without dinner and watched more Luther. Then I was hungry at 9:30 p.m. so I had cookies and milk. Not nutritious but quite delicious.
Sunday I did the typical hausfrauing (sheets and towels and blah blah blah) and started packing for our trip. I'm waiting on the Amazon delivery of more e-bags packing bags but everything is laid out in the spare room and a lot of stuff is in the suitcase. I'm pumped. Do you guys print and bind your itinerary and confirmations or am I the only dork? I typically have it in my planner and phone but am worried about the lack of WiFi everywhere so I figured I'd be safe and have it all in hand.

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L'Shanah Tovah to all of my Jewish friends, and happy birthday to my friend Lauren. La, if you find an awesome new appetizer this fall as you usually do, please take pics and do a guest blog for me! xoxo


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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

Friday, September 11, 2015

life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness


This weekend, I'm going to do whatever I please in the greatest country in the world. Fourteen years ago terrorists tried to discourage us from living life the American way. We lost a great number of our fellow Americans. It hurt then. It still hurts now. We will not forget what happened that day or the people we lost. We will also never forget the awe-inspiring takes of bravery and sacrifice. That's the American way.

Unfortunately for those who sought to destroy us, Americans are resilient. Every day our best counter attack is carrying on as we do. This weekend, do it for the people who no longer have the opportunity. They would want you to. That, too, is the American Way.
via
Peace.
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