9 Ways To Shop Smart and Save Money At The Grocery Store

Here are 9 ways that I use to shop smart, getting the most nutritional value, while trying to save money at the grocery store.

1 – Stock up when stuff is ON SALE.  Who wants to pay full price?  Not me, so when stuff I use often goes on sale I stock up.  For example, I use canned olives.  I like Lindsay Olives, but they can be expensive.   I have seen them priced at 2.99 or 3.99 a can at different stores.  I wait until they are on sale for .99, then I buy 6 or 8 cans.  Canned chili is another example,  my husband likes canned chili and it can be expensive for Hormel or Dennison’s chili, so I stock up when it is on sale.  Many canned, frozen, or packaged stuff like rice or noodles, can last several months, so stocking up when stuff is on sale is a great way to save money.  Especially when unforeseen things happen that cause you to put out extra money, your pantry will be full because you stocked up.

2 – Use Coupons to save money.  There are still a few coupons that come in the Sunday paper, for those who still read the newspaper.  There are lots of digital coupons out there on different web sites and most stores offer coupons too.

3 – Join the savings clubs to receive discounts.  It seems like every store has some type of savings or discount club.  Basically,  they want your info so they can send you advertisements and coupons.  So I give them my name and email and they give me discounts, not a bad deal.  I shop at Vons, they have a Vonsclub.  Free to join and you get lots of savings.  Plus, I get additional coupons emailed to me on the stuff I buy a lot with the Just 4 U savings with the Vonsclub.  I shop at Bevmo.  They offer a huge variety of alcohol, wine, and beer.  They have a club, it is free, join, and get discounts.  Why pay full price?

4 – Shopping at Big Box Stores is not always the best choice, in my opinion.  I am not a big fan of places like Walmart and do not shop there very often.  They don’t offer a lot of variety of different items, they are not always the lowest prices, and the quality of stuff is not the greatest.  Just because it is cheaper, doesn’t mean it is the best deal.

5 – Don’t limit yourself to one store,  shop around.  There are certain products at certain stores that I feel is the best product for the best price.  I shop at Trader Joe’s because they have stuff I like at a good price.  I try to buy natural and organic food whenever possible.  For example, ketchup and butter are two items I go to Trader Joe’s for because I love their product and the price is right  I shop at Sprouts, it is the only place I can get raw milk.  They offer many organic and natural products that I cannot get anywhere else.

6 – Buying Discount Meat is not a bad thing, in my opinion.  Meat is perishable, therefore the way it is packaged and stored is very important.  Meat usually has a “use by date”, which means it is suggested that you use it by this date.  Does that mean that after that date the meat is bad?  Not necessarily, nobody knows exactly when a piece of meat is going to go bad, it is a suggested date.  Meat that is within one or two days of the “use by date” may be marked down for quicker sale, so you can get a real good deal.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to pay some of these ridiculous prices for meat so buying discounted meat and meat when it goes on sale is the way I save money.  I also like to get meat that is vacuum sealed, it can last longer and easy to freeze.  The picture above is bacon that I purchased at a discounted price.

7 – Read Labels.  Do you know what you are eating?  Do you care?  I think you should, what you eat affects your health.  Processed foods are loaded with chemicals, refined sugar, and refined salt, they may be cheaper, but in the long run will end up costing you more.  Take a look around, there are a lot of overweight and sick people because of unhealthy foods.  For example, pictured above is the ingredients for Nutella.  Sugar is the main ingredient, that means sugar is the most of what it contains, bottom line, it is mostly refined sugar.  Next picture is JIF natural peanut butter.  Sugar is the 2nd ingredient.  Why is sugar there at all?  Peanut butter is made of peanuts and oil.  Think about it.  I believe reading labels will help you make smarter choices when purchasing products.

8 – Check out local farmer’s markets.  Depending on where you live they can be seasonal or year round.  I am lucky living in Southern CA, they are everywhere here.  Shopping at farmer’s market helps the local economy, which is important.  You can talk to the people, find out about the stuff they are selling.  Everything is fresh and local and usually cheaper than the store.  I fully support farmer’s markets.

COMMON SENSE

The dictionary defines common sense as: good sense and sound judgment in practical matters

9 – Use Common Sense, this is most important, I think.  Sometimes I think people don’t use their common sense or have been brainwashed into believing exactly what they are told.  For example, I personally know several people who pour milk down the drain when it has reached the date stamped on the carton.  Is the milk bad? How do you know?  Well you could smell it or taste it, that is what common sense tells me, if it smells sour or tastes bad, than down the drain it goes, but if it is OK, why waste it,  just because the date says so.  I have had milk go bad BEFORE the date stamped on the carton, does that mean I should still drink it?, Duh!  This is what I am talking about, common sense.  Most dates on food are a suggested use by date.

Use common sense when shopping.  Ask questions, read labels, compare products, that is smart shopping.

These are tactics and ways that I use to get the most value for the least amount of money.  I just want to share them with you because I want you to get the best value for your money.  I am not saying or suggesting that you do these things, only sharing what I do.   Thanks for reading.

Chris

 

 

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Key Lime Dessert Bars

Full of zing and zest, these Key Lime Bars are a sweet and tangy bite.

Lemons and limes are among my favorite citrus and readily available year round.  Key lime is a bit tangy than regular limes, in my opinion, so I like to use them for these dessert bars.

To make these you will need:

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter soften
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup regular sugar
  • key lime zest, I generally zest the limes I use
  • 3 Tablespoons of key lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, I use Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • powder sugar for sprinkling on top

Heat the oven to 350 degrees

Mix the flour, butter, and powdered sugar.  Using a 8x8x2, press into ungreased pan, build up edges a bit.  Then bake just the crust for 20 mins.

Meanwhile,  mix regular sugar, key lime juice and zest, baking powder, and eggs with a mixer on high for about 3 mins, I have also mixed by hand and it comes out fine, plus I get a workout, till it is light and fluffy, them pour this mixture over the hot crust.

Bake for 25 to 30 mins.  There should be no wiggly in the middle, once done, remove and it must cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut into bite size squares or bars.

I generally refrigerate overnight, it makes cutting easier and I think they taste best cold.  I also cut off all edges as I am cutting and removing from pan.  The edges have too much crust, so I don’t use them.  Hope you like them.

I use basically the same recipe for Lemon Bars and I use Meyer Lemons because I love the way they taste.  So if you aren’t a fan of Lime, try Lemon.

Cheers,

Chris

 

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Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

Bacon wrapped stuffed mini sweet peppers are packed with flavor.

 I just love mini sweet peppers.  They are fresh, colorful, crunchy, and bursting with flavor.  Stuff them and add bacon, because bacon makes everything better, and oh boy, what a yummy bite.  This has sweet, salty, crunch, and heat all in one bite.  These peppers are easy to make and you only need a few ingredients.  Great for appetizers, check it out.

You will need:

  • Package of Bacon
  • About 10-15 Mini Sweet Peppers
  • 3/4 to 1 pound of hamburger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Blue Cheese
  • Seasonings, Season liberally with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion
  • BBQ Sauce

Prepare peppers for stuffing.  Clean and chop off top, clean out the seeds and stuff inside and slice in half and set aside.  Finely dice the onion and jalapeno.  In bowl combine hamburger, onion, jalapeno and gently mix well.  Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese and sprinkle in the seasonings, mix gently.  Take the hamburger mix and stuff inside the cut mini peppers.  Fill all the peppers then take a piece of bacon and wrap around the pepper.  Use a toothpick to hold together if necessary.  Depending on the size of the pepper you can cut a piece of bacon in half and on larger peppers you can use a whole piece.  I use parchment paper to line  the bottom of a baking dish or baking pan and a rack inside so clean up is easier and so the peppers don’t sit in the grease.  Place all peppers on the rack in the baking pan and cook at 400 degrees for about 35-45 min.  Bacon should be browned and crispy all the way around.

After about 25-30 min they should be browned and a little crispy on the top side, take them out and brush them with BBQ sauce and then turn them over so the underside can get done and crispy.  Back in oven for remaining 10 mins or so.

Remove from oven and brush again with BBQ Sauce and they are ready to go.  I hope you like them.  Cheers,

Chris

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BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders with Coleslaw

BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders, just in time for game day.  Who will be winning this Super Bowl Sunday?  The fans, because we get to kick back and eat, drink, and if you are like me, yell at the TV.  I love to make appetizers and snacks for Super Bowl Sunday, or any day really.  Pork Sliders are a favorite of mine, had them at a restaurant and decided to make my own.  The pork, BBQ Sauce and coleslaw are all homemade.

This post contains affiliate links and links to my eBay store.

This is how I make BBQ Pork Sliders with Coleslaw.  Hope you enjoy!

I make the pork ahead of time so it is ready to go.

  • Pork shoulder or pork loin roast 2-3 pounds
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, granulated garlic I use Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Slider buns or hamburger buns

Place pork in crock pot, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Set to cook on low for about 5 to 6 hours.  When pork is done, remove pork and drain crock pot of liquid.  Once drained, place pork back in crock pot, then take fork and pull the pork apart.  It should pull apart easily.  Once all the pork is pulled apart, then add BBQ Sauce.

BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 24 oz bottle of Ketchup, I use Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar, I use Bragg’s Organic with the mother
  • 1/4 cup Organic molasses
  • 1/3 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of hickory liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, I use Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion(optional)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter, I use organic grass-fed butter from Trader Joe’s.  Do not use margarine or any kind of fake butter.  The butter is optional, I use it because it adds a rich, velvet like texture to the sauce.

Combine all ingredients in a medium size sauce pot and heat on low till warm to hot, no need to boil, heating only to combine the ingredients well.  I put the butter in last so that it melts well.

This is my version of BBQ sauce.  There are times when I have added real maple syrup or honey and reduce the amount of brown sugar just to get a little different flavor.

The best thing about making your own BBQ Sauce is that you have made it yourself and you know what you put in it.  If you read the labels on BBQ sauce in the stores, 90% of them have High Fructose Corn Syrup and that is not an ingredient I want to ingest.  HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch.  HFCS has been linked to many health issues and it is generally a GMO, which is a Genetically Modified Organism.

Back to the Pulled Pork, so the pork is sitting in the crock pot, now add that delicious BBQ Sauce and gently mixed it in.  It is ready to eat, or put it away for later.  On to the coleslaw now.

Coleslaw

  • 1 small head of green cabbage
  • 1/2 large carrot or 1 small one
  • 1/4 cup onion, I use maui sweet or walla walla onions
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • dash of Sriracha salt
  • pepper

In food processor combine cabbage, carrot, and onion, shred to how you like it.  I do mine really fine so it is easier to put on the slider.  Place shredded stuff in bowl and mix in mayo and rice vinegar, then add Sriracha salt and pepper.  Taste to make sure you like it, adjust ingredients if necessary to your own tastes.

Now let’s put it together.  Take the BBQ pork and put on slider/hamburger bun, place some of the coleslaw on top of BBQ pork and enjoy.

or if you prefer the coleslaw on the side

either way is yummy.  I like to serve with chips, so you have a nice crunch.

Hope you enjoy this, Cheers

Chris

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Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast, so many delicious ways to eat it.

I had some left over salad toppings from the night before, so I thought, why not?  Let me put this on some avocado toast.

  • Seed Bread toasted
  • Avocado sliced or smashed
  • diced zucchini
  • diced cucumber
  • crumbled bacon
  • shredded carrots
  • shredded red cabbage
  • sunflower seeds
  • salt and pepper

Toast your bread, slice or smash the avocado on the toast and top with rest of ingredients, Enjoy!!

  • Seed Bread toasted
  • avocado sliced or smashed
  • thinly sliced onions
  • chopped pea shoots
  • chopped pecans
  • salt and pepper

I am a huge onion lover so most of the avocado toasts I have posted have onions on it, but the great thing about this is, you can put whatever you want on it.  By looking at other posts, I have discovered things that never occurred to me to put on the avocado toast.  As I stated I am an onion lover, however some people find them too strong or just plain don’t like them, so to tone it down a bit I pickled some onions.

  • seed bread toasted or really any bread you want
  • avocado sliced or smashed
  • pickled onions
  • pickled mustard seeds
  • grape tomatoes sliced
  • sunflower seeds
  • salt and pepper

When I pickled the onions I used mustard seeds  so I thought let’s put them on the toast also.  The mustard seeds give it a nice burst of flavor.

Avocados are considered a “super food” as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which is a good fat for our bodies, fiber, and protein.

There are so many ways to enjoy avocado toast, just use your imagination.

Enjoy

Chris

 

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Mini Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Mini Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Looking for ways to eat lite this Winter, so am I.  My husband who is a Very picky eater needs to lose so weight, don’t we all, that goes for me too.  So I am wracking my brain trying to find healthy, low-calorie food that he will eat, not easy.  So this is one tasty tidbit that I came up with.

  • 1 cup baked chicken breast chopped in small bits
  • 1 large radish finely diced
  • 1/2 stalk of celery finely diced
  • 2 T pickled red onions finely diced, if you don’t have any pickled just use fresh
  • 1 t yellow mustard
  • 2 T sour cream
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dill
  • garlic granules
  • iceberg lettuce
  • avocado

In med bowl combine chicken, radish, celery, onions and mix gently.  Add mustard, sour cream, little sprinkle of salt, pepper, garlic, and dill and mix gently.  Take iceberg lettuce, peel off pieces to use for the wrap,  add about a tablespoon of the chicken salad to the lettuce wrap, plate and top with a piece of avocado and sprinkle with dill.

The mustard gives it a snappy bite and the dill makes it smell and taste fresh.  Using sour cream instead of mayo cuts out fat and calories and I did not even miss it.

Quick and easy to make plus a bit on the healthy side.  Hope you like it.

 

 

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DIY Roasting Nuts and Seeds in the Oven

Roasting nuts and seeds at home is simple, less expensive, and you control the oil and salt factor.  You can usually buy nuts and seeds raw in bins at certain grocery stores.  I like to buy them raw, so I can add my own salt and oil.

Fall and Winter are great times to buy nuts and seeds as they are usually on sale.  Plus the weather is cooler so firing up the oven to roast several batches of nuts is no sweaty affair and the house smells yummy.  So when I see nuts and seeds on sale, I buy a few pounds of each and pick an afternoon to roast all the nuts and seeds.  I like to get almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, and pepita seeds.  These are what I use most often when cooking and baking.  Occasionally, I will get mixed nuts, hazel, and Brazil nuts too.  So many good nuts out there.  I just love them.

 

You will need:

  • Nuts – raw and shelled
  • Oil of choice, I use either Grapeseed or Sunflower Oil
  • Salt, I use Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Gallon storage bag
  • Parchment Paper
  • Cookie Sheet

So here is what I do.  Let’s start with Cashew Nuts.  I take a gallon storage bag and put the raw cashew nuts in it, then add whatever oil you wish to use.  I use either grapeseed or sunflower oil.  These oils are light and mild in flavor, so it doesn’t mask the flavor of the nut or seed.  Also, I NEVER use Canola oil, but that is another story for later, lol.  Then I add my salt, I use Pink Himalayan Salt.  Shake it up, make sure nuts are coated with oil and salt.  Spread a sheet of Parchment Paper on a cookie sheet and spread out the nuts.  I roast them for about 15-20 mins at 350 degrees.  Let them cool, then place in airtight jars or baggies.

I do this same method for all the nuts I roast.  Sunflower seeds less time, about 10 mins.

You can also roast nuts and seeds in the shell.  I buy Pistachios in the shell because they are cheaper than buying them shelled.  Even on sale Pistachios can be a bit expensive.

There are a lot of options when you roast nuts and seeds yourself.  I have used flavored olive oils and different kinds of salt just to try something different.  I used Hickory Smoked Salt on Almonds and they were very tasty.  Give it a try sometime, I am sure you will like it.

Chris

 

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Prayer is an Amazing Gift

Prayer is an amazing gift God gave to us.  It is a way to talk to Him, give thanks, praise Him, ask for help, and basically turn things over to Him when life is too much to handle.  I am feeling quite spiritual this morning and just wanted to share.  I am a firm believer in God and feel my faith in God and prayer to be strong.  Usually I do not express my religious beliefs so publicly, however I am just filled with the spirit this morning.

I was introduced to the church at a young age.  My Grandma was very strong in her faith and went to church every Sunday and made sure I did too.  My Grandma used to threaten me with a wooden spoon if I did not go to church.  Sometimes the whole family went, or I remember occasionally just my sister and I went and we had to walk, but I was always there.  I attended Sunday school and then the main service.  When I was 10, I accept Christ and was baptized.   It was a great foundation for my faith.  I thank God for my Grandma because without my faith and belief in God and Prayer, I can’t even imagine where I would be today.

Grace Baptist Church in Glendora, CA is where I went to church as a kid.  I have many fond memories of that church and how it impacted my life.  Christmas and Easter were special times of the year.  There were always special services.  My parents were in the choir and it was uplifting to hear the choir sing.  There are certain hymns sung at holiday time that just make your spirit rejoice.  I loved the feeling I would get at those holiday services.  It was very spiritual and moving.  I will never forget those times.

Please note the picture above is just a stock photo, it is not Grace Baptist Church.

There is a saying, “Prayer changes things”,  I believe it 100 percent.  In the Bible, King James Version,  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Psalms 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Luke 11:9-10 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

I believe that God hears all prayers and He answers them.  It may be yes, no, or wait, or perhaps not quite the answer you were looking for, but He does answer.  Be humble, pray with earnest and He will answer.

I pray all the time and give thanks everyday for all the blessing I have in my life.  I pray to  God to help me with many things and it never ceases to amaze me how He answers my prayers.

Thanks for reading, I hope this was inspiring.  I believe in the power of prayer and prayer is always there, just like God is.

Respectfully,

Chris

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Make Your Own Chicken Stock Bone Broth

It is very easy to make your own Chicken Stock or Chicken Bone Broth.  Whenever I roast a chicken or two, I make my own stock from the pan drippings and the carcass.  You can make some wonderful stock for future soups, stews, or basically anything you would need stock for.  I generally freeze some when I make a large batch from two chickens, I find it freezes really well.  Here is what I do.

I use Organic Whole Chickens, rinse, pat dry, and season.  I season with granulated garlic, ground sage, ground thyme, salt and pepper.  I also put fresh herbs in the cavity of the chicken or on the chicken if I have them, usually rosemary, sage and thyme.  Bake at 350 degrees until juices run clear.  Have baked chicken for dinner and enjoy, lol.  Now for the stock part.

Remove any left over chicken and bag it for later use.  The picture above is my 2nd chicken and there was a lot of chicken left over.  Take all the skin and bones and put in a large stock pot.

Take the pan drippings, herbs, all that stuff in the pan and pour into stock pot.  That is all the flavor.  Yes it is a lot of fat, but it is so good, you can always skim off some fat later if you want.

Add water to fill the pot.  At this point you could add other stuff like carrots, onions, celery, or more herbs and spices if you choose.   Bring to boil.  Once it is boiling, turn down heat to low and just let simmer for a while.  I usually let mine go several hours.

Once it is ready, remove from heat and let it cool.  Use a strainer or colander to drain the stock.  Depending on how well you pick the bones clean, there may be useable chicken in there.  I pick through the bones to remove any bits and pieces that may be left as it is really easy to remove since it was boiled for so long.  I generally give these little bits to my cat and dog, they love it.  If picking through the bones is not for you, then just toss into trash.

The chicken stock should last in the frig for a couple of days.  If not using it right away, freeze it.  I use freezer bags, or storage bags.  I double up on the storage bags.  I use quart and gallon bags.  Make sure it is cool enough to pour into a bag.  Just pour stock into the bag and remove as much air as possible.  I place them upright in my freezer.  You can also use containers if you want, I just find the baggies easier to use.

I love making stock this way and use it for many soups and stews.  It is very flavorful and it keeps the flavor even when frozen.  Hope this is useful to you.  Since I have been making my own chicken stock, I have never had to buy it at the store.  Every once in a while I will buy some beef stock, but for most everything that uses stock I use my own chicken stock.  At one point about 2 years ago, I had so much frozen chicken stock, I started giving it away to my neighbors.  They were very appreciative.   Homemade is best, I say, so if you can make it yourself, you should do it.  Thanks for reading.

Chris

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A Time To Be Thankful and Reflect

I am reflecting and being thankful for today and for Friendships.  As I sit here drinking my coffee on this unseasonable warm day in Southern California, I am thankful for friends.  In my youth,  I was quite the social butterfly, however as I have aged, I have become somewhat withdrawn and tend to just hide away at home.  Recently, I have begun to take a really hard look at my life and have started to make some changes.  Awhile back I was really in need of a friend to talk to and I thought to myself, what friends do you have?  Some I have lost contact with, some I don’t talk to very often, and  some just drifted away.  I thought, what the hell is a matter with you?  You have a phone, call them you idiot.  So I have been trying to reach out and make an effort to be a better friend instead of just sitting at home doing nothing by myself.

I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.

Charles R. Swindoll

Your friendship has helped me grow, kept me grounded, lifted my spirit, and brightened my life.

We might not share the same blood. But we share the same thoughts, the same tears. The same laughter.

Friendships are important.  I am so thankful for my friends.  I didn’t realize what a difference it has made in my life.  I guess I had become more withdrawn than I thought.  It feels good to talk and hang out with my friends.  I am inspired and more positive because of my friends.  Having someone to talk to and get shit off my mind has been so helpful.  And being there to listen when my friends need me makes me feel better knowing I am being helpful and a friend to them.  Plus I have had fun, seems silly, but I feel as though having fun has not been in my life much.

Friendships are essential, I think.  I am so glad I have friends and grateful for them.

Don’t lose site of your friends, stay in contact.  It is so easy to just sit at home on social media, on your computer,  or in front of the TV by yourself and then so much time passes.  You don’t even realize how lonely you are or how long you have been hiding away.  We are social creatures and socialization is critical to a balanced mind.  So get out there and hang with friends.  It is so worth it.

your friend,

Chris

 

 

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