Meet in the Middle

Em & Sarah 4Wheeling

My friend Emily had suggested that I drop down to Indianapolis to check out her stomping grounds. It was appealing, a free place to stay but something was lacking….her. I about did a back flip when she called to tell me that her schedule was such that she could meet me and play my personal tour guide!

I picked her up at the airport, squealing with excitement upon seeing her and jumped out for a hug. There is something special about Emily. We were essentially set up on a blind friend date five years ago, her being the sister-in-law to one of my good friends who lived in New York. She was new to town, I was a girl about town so it was a perfect match. We hit it off immediately and proceeded to be the best of friends, our bond so strong it even survived her leaving me and Seattle for NYC.

I was so excited to see where she grew up and check out some of her favorite places (turns out Walmart is a favorite for people watching) and most of all hang out with a good friend. When we were walking the aisles in Walmart we decided that we needed a challenge. We each were to buy the other the most ridiculous thing for under ten dollars. I was pretty sure I had a winner with a black t-shirt with a large lion wearing a bow tie and glasses that said “If I said I wasn’t a nerd I would be lion” but Emily was victorious in her horribly placed horizontal striped tank top, hair scrunchies (they still make those, and I am considering bringing them back) and mesh hot pink gloves. This outfit was meant to be used for “Emily’s Bootcamp”, being the supportive friend she had “planned” a workout for us however the outfit ended up being used instead for a late night dance party and pottery throwing evening.

The time flew by fast and before we knew it goodbyes were being said. We each took a mesh glove Parent Trap style with plans to reunite them when I get to New York.

I wish I could take you through “Emily’s Bootcamp” however we ran out of time and decided instead to take a nice hike. I am better for having been to Indianapolis and Martinsville, Indiana, I am not skinnier, just better.

Complete with borrow glasses to complete the nerd look.

She thought she needed to borrow glasses to complete the nerd look. lol

Side pony pottery throwing.

Pottery throwing got a bit complicated.

Project Girl Get Fit

Project Girl Get Fit Sticker

I had the opportunity to meet yet another blogger while I was staying near Chicago. Casey  Divane who is a native to the area has been blogging at Project Girl Get Fit since the Spring of 2012. Her blog is full of inspirational quotes and stories in her quest to get fit. Always interested to turn the tables and ask others what people are always asking me, I inquired why she decided to start a blog. She told me that she had started working out and was enjoying how she was feeling about her self, she enjoyed writing and decided to bring the two together.

Casey chatted with me about her networking through being a Fit Approach Sweat Pink ambassador as well as a Tough Chik Ambassador and where she is connected to a large community of healthy bloggers. She has grown her Facebook to an impressive 3,810 followers! It is on my list of things to do, along with catching up on my blogging!

A huge thanks to Casey for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and show me the ropes of healthy living blogging!

Objects in this picture may appear more red than they are in reality.

Objects in this picture may appear more red than they are in reality.

The road is…longer.

SJM Quote Type

The sun is shining on me as I type this and I can see in my reflection that I still have a double chin. Sigh. I just cleared two months on my journey and figured it was time for me to provide you with an update. When I set out on this trip armed with my blog url and Facebook page I knew that I was setting myself up for a big challenge. I sometimes question myself, wondering why I decided to be so public with my struggle to get healthy. To take something so very personal and difficult and share it was a conscious choice but still a difficult decision. The difficulties don’t stop there. I am still struggling to gain control of my eating and exercise habits, sometimes choosing to hit snooze instead of getting up to workout or make a healthy breakfast. I have been relying on energy bars and nuts when with a little more planning I could be eating a more clean green diet.

Another trip challenge can be the lonely moments. One would think that if you were taking months to travel alone that you would be prepared to be just that, alone, however I have struggled. Facebook is a wonderful thing, it lets me see what my friends and family are up to while I am gone but it also makes me sad that I am not with them. I have never been good at missing out on a party and it seems that EVERYTHING everyone is doing WITHOUT me is the party of the century. In addition to missing my friends and family I am also really missing my Mom. I have had a lot of time to think about her and the void that now resides in my heart. I know that all this time to think is important and is part of the journey but it is also difficult, there is a lot of processing going on and that can sometimes be uncomfortable.

I can’t provide you a thorough update without including the high points as well. In these two months I have seen over twenty different groups of friends as well as met a handful of cool people along the way. I have river rafted, bet on pigs, camped at a music festival, met up with my Dad, hiked the Canadian Rockies, walked Color Me Rad, rode the Montana version of “Ride the Ducks”, swam in Flathead Lake, met Lyle Lovett, went 4x4ing, celebrated the 110th Anniversary of Harley Davidson, went to a renaissance faire, took an architectural boat tour, drove fast (could have been faster) in a Porsche, threw pottery, had a dance party, toured a sculptors studio, visited many an art museum, dined at Notre Dame, watched a behind the scenes filming of a sports show, pretended to be a weather girl and dined at a friends restaurant. I know I am missing some high points but I will stop there so I don’t make you all envious. I am also eagerly looking forward to the upcoming activities to include a long stint in NYC!

When I reread what I have just written I am proud and I know that all of these things are part of the entire experience. I am not going to be too hard on myself, yes, I am losing weight slowly off the interstate but at least I am still losing. I am making good choices the majority of the time and putting myself back on track after the bad choices. I am finding that there is a lot more to this trip than just my physical health, and I am so thankful that I was able to unplug from the “real” world for a bit to explore. Thank you all for joining me on this journey and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have something to say.

XOXO –

Sarah

SJM Weather

Image taken from: Roadtrippers

Image taken from: Roadtrippers

The Fit Girl’s Kitchen – Kat Pummill

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I had such a great experience meeting other food and fitness bloggers I decided to continue to try and find them along the way.  Enter Kat Pummill of The Fit Girl’s Kitchen, a blog that combines her passion for health, fitness and healthy cooking. Kat lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and in addition to a full time marketing job is a blogger as well as in the final steps of completing her certification as a Nutritional Health Coach.

I sat down with Kat at the charming Collectivo Coffee which is located across from the beach at Lake Michigan (seriously, who knew a lake could have such an amazing beach?) We sipped our coffee and chatted about her entry into blogging. Originally she was Instagraming images of the healthy food she was cooking for herself and her husband and people started requesting the recipes, she started the blog to share her meals with others. A quick perusal on her site and you will understand why her food was so appealing; Apple Almond Quinoa Salad, Watermelon Goat Cheese Towers and Greek Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops are among some of her shared recipes.

We chatted about my personal journey and the struggles that go along with it, such as finding healthy food to eat on the road.  When I asked her what she would do if she were in my position she said that she would source out stopping points for healthy food items prior to getting in the car.  When I asked what would be in her cooler she offered up un-salted nuts, apples slices w/ lemon juice (to keep the brown away), cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and her favorite energy bar, Larabars.

She also sent me on the road with some of her personal healthy living tips:

Eat more leafy greens   –   Don’t skip breakfast and ensure it contains both fiber and protein   –   Pick foods that have 5 ingredients or less on the label   –   Buy local as often as possible   –   Pay attention to hormones in your meat   –   Pay attention to your cravings   –   Don’t deprive yourself, everything in moderation.

I am so thankful that I had the time with Kat to learn from her healthy habits as well as to add another great person to my growing list of friends. Check out her site and perfect those recipes as I may find myself in your kitchen at some point along this journey.

Follow The Fit Girl’s Kitchen on Facebook!

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Dustin Maher, America’s Trainer to Moms

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Chalk one up to my Pro Sara Dean for suggesting I meet up with Dustin Maher in Madison, Wisconsin. I was at first hesitant to reach out to him as his his tag line is “America’s Trainer to Moms” and I am not a Mom, however, I knew that moms sweat the same as me and figured I would be in good company, plus they would be use to it if all of a sudden I fell into a tantrum or started crying suddenly.

I reached out to Dustin to introduce myself and tell him about my journey and he immediately responded with an invitation to his boot camp and this nice note ” I just checked out your website, really awesome. I always encourage people to live extraordinary lives and do things that others only dream of… You taking this trip fits right in line with my values”. With a proud bounce in my fingers I quickly replied and accepted the invitation.

I arrived at the park nervous and excited to work out hard, it had been awhile since I worked out in a group setting like this. I immediately spied a large hill and my heart sunk, I had a feeling we were going to run that hill. I hate running. I despise running in fact. I don’t know if it is the pressure on my knees, the jiggle in all my jiggly bits or the fact that I am ALWAYS and forever the last person to finish.  I fought my desire to flee and walked out to join the people warming up in the field. The group was very friendly and welcomed me with open arms. This group was so friendly in fact that no one made mention when a man (also not a Mom) showed up with his workout shorts with built in underwear on inside out. This was a very accepting group, which I was thankful for.

We finished our warm up and did some partner exercises on the children’s play equipment to include park bench dips, arm rows on the parallel bars and some humiliating bar work that had us hanging off a high bar while trying, and I emphasize trying to pull our knees to our chest. I grabbed the bar and hung for a minute while my partner waited to “aid” me in my knee crunch. I continued to hang there. I truly think that if my life depended on me getting my knees to my chest while hanging like a monkey, with my hands burning from the pressure of gravity I would not be here to tell the story. My partner was very encouraging, and essentially lifted my legs to my chest for me while I sweated through the humiliation and the realization that I hadn’t shaved my legs in days.

We transitioned from one humiliating moment to another when we started our cardio on the dreaded hill. Now it is important that I emphasize both Dustin and the others were very encouraging and were not the cause of any humiliation this is something I struggle with every time I work out in a group. Dustin had us running up the base of the hill, turning around and running backwards and then repeating until we were at the top of the hill.  Once we were at the top of the hill we did sprints (my movement could have looked like fast walking with arms pumping furiously) combined with jump squats. This worked me and I quickly wondered what the elevation was, hoping that was part of the reason I couldn’t catch my breath. When everyone was done waiting for me to finish my reps we all gathered at the bottom of the hill to do planks and end in some relaxing yoga stretches.

I left the workout proud of my accomplishments and even more proud of this journey, it is not easy to reach out to strangers, share with them your personal journey and then show up and do some hard work. A little personal pat on my own back, it looks less strange than giving myself a high five.

In addition to training over 350 people at his 10 fitness locations around Madison, Dustin is also busy creating home workout DVDs (30 to date) and driving a pretty special program called the “Million Mom Movement” through his Fit Mom for Life program. His initial goal is to create 14,000 fitness support groups nationwide.  These groups are comprised mostly of moms in communities throughout the county who connect with one another to train, support and motivate one another. If like me, you think 14, 000 is an odd number to begin with it will make sense when Dustin shares that this is the current number of McDonald’s in the USA and he feels that getting healthy should be as accessible as fast food is in our society.

I think it is pretty cool that Dustin is working so diligently to provide Moms all over the US the opportunity to gather and work towards a common goal.

I verbally asked Dustin my trainer questions and they are listed below “The dreaded hill picture”.

To connect with Dustin check him out here:  Facebook   Pinterest   Twitter   YouTube

Dustin Hill

The dreaded hill, objects are larger than they may appear!

Q. Why did you become a strength coach/personal trainer? 

A. When he was in high school Dustin did resistance training, which changed his body and helped with his confidence level. He wanted to share his knowledge so he started training friends and family and as they were showing positive results he knew he wanted to continue to help others.

Q. How do you customize your program to adapt to different fitness levels? 

A. Dustin discusses with his clients their goals and analyzes where they are currently in their fitness, he believes that everyone benefits from and should strength train. If a client is new to exercise he will focus on stability and plyometric moves, which are a slower and more controlled way of exercising.  As the client is ready he will gradually increase the reps, sets and the length of the exercise.  When he has different levels working out together he will do timed workouts and if some finish early he has them do additional exercise until the class has all finished.

Q. What do you do in your community to stay in shape outside of the gym?

A. Dustin runs stairs on a regular basis, plays basketball 1-2 times a week, plays Frisbee golf 5 times a week, volleyball, road bike, play tennis, competitive ping pong and ski hill jumping.

Q. Do you have a success story you are most proud of?

A. As with most trainers it was difficult for Dustin to choose one as he has had many success stories in his career. The one that stood out in particular was his client Becky, who is the only client that Dustin trains 1:1 as she is dealing with specific health issues.  Becky has lupus, arthritis, endometriosis and other autoimmune diseases that make it difficult for her to move her legs. When they began training Becky was a size 18, today she is down to a size 4. They have accomplished this all by focusing on upper body strength training and nutrition changes.

Q. What is your favorite workout soundtrack or song?

A. Dustin likes Hip Hop & Rap as well as Eminem “Lose Yourself” because of its fast beat.

Q. What is your most embarrassing gym moment?

A. When Dustin was in college he worked at a gym in Vale, CO. where Ryan and Trista Sutter, former contestants on The Bachelorette worked out. Ryan would always come in to the gym without a shirt. One day Dustin approached Ryan and asked him if he would be willing to take a shirtless picture to share with his friends back home. It turns out Ryan didn’t appreciate that and talked to his supervisor who had a discussion with him that it was very un-professional to ask.  While Dustin agrees that it wasn’t the most appropriate question to ask he thought it was a good lesson in getting out of your comfort zone.

GoMacro!

Go-Macro 1

It’s funny that the Huffington Post blog about Whole Foods,  “Surviving Whole Foods” has gone viral because that is where this story starts. I was wandering the aisles of Whole Foods looking for some quick food options that would be easy to consume in the car and filling enough that I wouldn’t be tempted at each exit I passed by the golden arches.

I reached for several standbys; Zing Bars and Larabars and then searched the shelves for something new to try. I grabbed a GoMacro Macrobar, did a quick perusal of the ingredients and satisfied, put it in my basket.  Once back on the road it didn’t take me long to break into my stash. I unwrapped the GoMacro Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip and within two bites was kicking myself that I hadn’t purchased more. Later when safely parked I looked at the wrapper to see where the company was located and saw that it was in Wisconsin, only about a half hour off the freeway I was taking between Minneapolis and Madison. I hopped on their website and sent an email requesting a meeting and tour of the facilities. In less than 24 hours I received a reply and an invitation to come by their offices to meet the founder, Amelia Kirchoff and her staff. I ecstatically agreed and eagerly anticipated my visit.

As I left the freeway to take the backroads towards Viola, Wisconsin I was amazed at the beauty. I drove by large lush trees, passed fields and valleys of brilliant shades of green and had to slow for several Amish horse and buggies. I am often times biased at the terrain in the Pacific Northwest but this trip has shown me that every region has its own beauty.

I pulled up to the headquarters of the family owned GoMacro and was greeted by their Operations Manager, Tony Saarem who took me through the history of the company. The company was the inspiration that came of a healthy macrobiotic diet that Amelia began shortly after finding out she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found great success in eliminating eggs, dairy, refined sugar, highly processed “foods” and animal products. She decided to start playing around with natural sweeteners and grains and fruit grown on her own farm, the end result was the GoMacro bar.

We were soon joined by Amelia who came from her home, the farm where they originally ran production out of their barn before moving to the current facility in town. They both gave me a tour of the operations from the shipping and receiving to the production facility where I saw the product being mixed, formed into bars and packaged.

They currently produce 20,000 bars a day, all of which ship to their customers in less than a week.  Their product line currently consists of 11 full size bars and four mini bars, all of which are organic, vegan, and gluten free.  However, they are constantly looking at new recipes, and Amelia can often times still be found in the kitchen, creating new products and is the final say in the research and development process.

Currently, their products are distributed in many independent health food stores as well as Whole Foods (sorry Seattle they aren’t in our region yet) and PCC as well as available for purchase on their website. Amelia’s daughter, Jola, manages the sales and marketing and is quickly increasing their distribution so if they aren’t yet in your local store don’t fret!

I was so happy to have had the opportunity to take a side trip off the beaten path to see this great company and even happier when I walked away with a sample box of all of their bars.  As I thanked them and walked away Amelia warned me to not eat them all at once, good advice as I could have eaten them for every meal if I allowed myself.

Go Macro Group Pic

Experience Life with Courtney Opdahl

Courtney

There are hundreds of things that cross my screen daily, whether I am reading the news online, checking out Instagram or perusing Facebook, it can be overwhelming and often times underwhelming. I had at some point “Liked” the Facebook page for Revolutionary Act, a site that is focused on providing people with the tools to live a healthy life, one being their “101 Ways to Be Healthy”.  Within the first few tips I knew this was something I could get behind, “Defy Convention” and “Repossess Your Health” spoke to me and my current journey. One morning as I was poking through Facebook a link caught my eye from Revolutionary Act, it was about the weight loss journey of  Courtney Opdahl, an editor for Experience Life Magazine which is the magazine behind Revolutionary Act.

As I read Courtney’s very personal article “A New Path” I was impressed and inspired by her ability to so honestly share her story. This honesty is something I aspire to, every blog post I write I am trying to be as open as possible, even when it is hard, even when its just a video of me sweaty and panting on a mountain.

As luck would have it Experience Life and Courtney were both located in the Minneapolis area and when I reached out to her she agreed to meet me for dinner.  We met at a restaurant called Ingredients Cafe  and spent the next few hours chatting about life, healthy living, Experience Life Magazine and whatever else it is two fun and funny ladies chat about over a healthy meal and a tall, crisp glass of…ice water. When it was time to leave, we shared a hug, snapped a quick picture and Courtney sent me on the road with several great magazines, a Revolutionary Act poster (which is safely rolled up in my car as I don’t have any walls at the moment) and inspiration to continue on this challenging journey as forthcoming and honestly as possible.

I hope you will take a few moments and read Courtney’s story as well as peruse both the Experience Life Magazine and Revolutionary Act’s Facebook and Websites.

Experience Life Magazine Facebook  /    ExperienceLife.com

Revolutionary Act Facebook  /   Revolutionaryact.com

Courtney & Sarah

Meet my new “Pro”: Anna Dvorak, Nutrition and Wellness Guide

Anna D Profile

I had no intention of going to Minneapolis. It wasn’t because I specifically didn’t want to go there I just had never thought of it as an option.  When I set out on this journey Sara Dean, one of the pro’s on my support team notified her clients of my blog through her newsletter.  One of her clients forwarded my blog to her friend, Anna Dvorak who reached out to me and invited me to her home in Minneapolis.

Who is this lady Anna and was she a serial killer was one of my first thoughts. I know that sounds dramatic but this was my first invite from a stranger and a girl can’t be too careful when traveling! It turns out that Anna is the furthest thing from a serial killer, she actually has made it her life’s purpose to help people live healthy, thus actually prolonging their life.

My first night in town Anna invited me to have dinner at the home she shares with her husband Chris. One of the things that I have been excited to do on this trip is to break bread with people, learn from what they put on their table and that night was a great lesson in how to eat.  We dined on a make your own salad of sorts complete with salad greens, quinoa, beans, cilantro, roasted corn, cucumber, red pepper, shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, salsa verde and a picco de gallo, this combination was amazing and something I would have thrown quite a bit of money down for in a restaurant. It was so exciting to know that I was nourishing my body while enjoying the food that I was eating. I never once felt deprived, never once yearned for bread, cheese or salad dressing which is not a normal occurrence in my diet. I was truly inspired by my dinner with Anna and Chris, the conversation and food were amazing and I left inspired.

Anna is putting her love and knowledge of food and nutrition to good use in her three Nourish e-cookbooks.  Each of her cookbooks focus on healthy yet flavorful foods that are geared towards those with food sensitivity, they all are 100% refined sugar free and mostly gluten and dairy free. Currently she is testing every recipe with a handful of people of all cooking levels to ensure the instructions are written clearly and easy to follow.  Her fourth cookbook is titled Fall which will complete the seasons when it joins Winter, Spring & Summer.

I am so excited to have Anna as part of my team and will look to her for guidance and inspiration when it comes to my diet, something that I desperately need. I hope to learn the skills to properly nourish myself on the road and can’t wait to increase my cooking skills for all of the amazing dinner parties I plan to host when I am settled back in to my daily life.

It will be good to be known for a tasty and healthy meal or two as opposed to just specialty cocktails and jello shots as my friends know me now.

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Yoga and BBQ with Jenn, Co-Founder of Fit Bottomed Girls

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Sometimes you meet someone and it seems as if you have known them for years, conversation is fun and easy and you feel as if you have an instant friend, enter Jenn Walters co-founder of Fit Bottomed Girls.  I have followed Fit Bottomed Girls for awhile and out of pure luck I checked the bios on their website to see if my path may cross with either of the founders.  I was in luck, Jenn was from Kansas City, MO which was smack dab in the middle of my path.  I reached out to her to see if she would be open to meeting me and she responded immediately with an invitation to join her for a yoga class and lunch.  It brings me so much joy to have so many people respond to my journey in such a warm and positive manner.

We met for a 10:00am Yoga Flow class that was being held in the basement of the Unity Temple located in the Plaza in Kansas City. I had purchased my own yoga mat for working out in hotels etc and was excited to roll it out for its inaugural yoga session. When it came to yoga I was essentially as new as my mat having only tried it once in my life. I have noticed that since working out regularly I have become more flexible so I had high hopes for this class. It seems that everything I do is a lesson in humility, the picture I had in my mind had me doing graceful yoga movements while reality had my sweaty wet palms sliding all over my mat.  Looking around I seemed to be the only person who was struggling in this manner, I didn’t know if it was my precious Pacific Northwest reaction to the heat or if I all of a sudden started crying from the center of my hands. The instructor placed a heavy wool blanket in front of me to help me from my slip and slide however it did little to help.

I survived the rest of the class without drawing too much more attention to my sweaty challenges and vowed NEVER to attempt hot yoga.  I am currently in R&D to create a velcro yoga mat and gloves combo.

Jenn and I dropped our mats in our cars and walked to lunch at Jack Stack Barbeque where she introduced me to true Kansas City BBQ with a burnt ends lunch.  The food was great but the conversation was even better.  I was able to chat with Jenn about the path she took to becoming a fitness blogger and the success and growth of Fit Bottomed Girls.  In addition to blogging about all things fitness on Fit Bottomed Girls they also have two sister sites Fit Bottomed Mamas, catering to women juggling the stresses of parenthood and Fit Bottomed Eats, the tag line says it all “Being a foodie with a fit booty”.

I left Jenn not only feeling as if I had made a new friend but also feeling inspired. It is so wonderful to see the successes of women who are working hard to create an online business and community which is benefitting so many people.

Take a look at their sites:  Fit Bottomed Girls   Fit Bottomed Mamas   Fit Bottomed Eats

Co-Founders of Fit Bottomed Girls Jennifer Walters & Erin Whitehead

Co-Founders of Fit Bottomed Girls
Jennifer Walters & Erin Whitehead

Fit Bottomed logo

Denver Snack Attack: The Crock Spot

Crock Spot

In a glorious turn of events some of my good friends happened to be in Denver the same weekend as me! They were in town for a wedding but also had plans to attend the Snack Attack Food Truck Challenge. Their friends who were originally from Sandpoint, ID owned and operated The Crock Spot which serves healthy and if I am to be the judge, very tasty cuisine.

The Owners, Stephen and Mandy spent eight months perfecting their fare using meats slow roasted in crock pots and mixed with various grains and sauces.  They launched their business first at Colorado Fresh Markets in 2010 and by 2011 they were mobile delivering their food all across the Denver area.  They rose to the top of the “food truck chain” when they were awarded the Editors Choice for the Best Food Truck by Denver’s 5280 Magazine as well as chosen by The Food Truck Network as America’s Favorite Food Truck.

I approached the counter and placed my order which consisted of a scoop of pearled barley, jalapeno shredded beef, chimichurri sauce and a hit of sriracha sour cream all served atop one another in a bowl.  I have never been a fan of traditional crock pot fare but my wariness disappeared after the first bite. The combination of flavors were amazing, the meat was tender and the grain filling.  This meal was a far cry from the traditional meat and potatoes I had tasted from other crock pots in my past.

In addition to the amazing food, the staff provides a fun and engaging experience. I loitered in front of the truck for quite some time before I finally took the hint and hit the road, kidding, they were so kind they would have let me stay all day which I considered or at least until dinnertime.

If you are in the Denver area follow them on Facebook to see where you can hunt them down around town, your taste buds will thank you! https://www.facebook.com/thecrockspot

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Owners, Mandy & Stephen Image taken from Crockspot.com

Owners, Mandy & Stephen
Image taken from Crockspot.com

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Crock Spot Dying for Food