How to Create a Taco Bar


LET’S TALK SET UP


Setting up a food bar seriously saves me time + my sanity. It’s an easy way to present a main entree that each guest can make their own. Allergies? Picky Eaters?… all covered in this line up.

I love to make two to three different types of meat as fillings. Chicken, Pork, + Beef are all my go-to choices. If I know that there is a vegetarian in our midst I will add smashed black beans with a chipotle mayo on the side. Below I am sharing two of my favorite slow cooker recipes, one for beef and one for chicken. Just mix ingredients together and forget it. To accommodate all my slow cookers I add a power strip with 6-7 outlets + place it in the middle of my kitchen island. Shorten cords by wrapping with a rubber band.

The toppings bar is SO EASY. I like to collect and buy glass canning jars in sets of different sizes. Not only do they make perfect storage containers for dry goods like sugars + tea, but they are also perfect for presenting toppings, when done just screw the tops back on and store in the fridge. No extra mess! Add a sign, which I place in a cheap photo frame, listing everything being offered.

I love to set up my bar in a line, let me explain… Plates on one end, soft + hard shells follow, slow cooker meats are next, then the toppings. Putting them in order makes it easy (and less crowded) for your guests to grab what they need to construct their taco creation. The other side of my bar is all the dips + sides brought, potluck style, by my supper club ladies.

And there you have it, an easy, effortless taco bar!

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Photo Credit: Sweet Southern Life Writes

ALL THE TOPPINGS


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Photo Credit: Sweet Southern Life Writes

SHELLS
Flour | Corn | Hard

TOPPINGS

Radishes | Lettuce | Onion
Jalapeno | Tomatoes | Black Olives
Avocado | Bell Pepper | Limes

Cheese | Sour Cream | Cilantro
Taco Sauce | Salsa

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Taco Bar Topping Sign by Sweet Southern Life Writes

3 INGREDIENT SLOW COOKER BEEF TACOS


INGREDIENTS
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Envelope Taco Seasoning
1 – 10 oz. can Rotel (tomatoes + green chilies)

DIRECTIONS

Add all three ingredients into slow cooker + stir.
Set crockpot on low for 5-6 hours.
Stir to Break up chunks before serving.
Enjoy.

Original Recipe


SLOW COOKER
FIESTA RANCH CREAM CHEESE CHICKEN


INGREDIENTS
2 Tbsp Water
2 lbs. boneless skinless Chicken (thawed)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
1 tsp Ancho Chili Powder
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika

Add in Later:
1 (1oz) packet dry Ranch Seasoning Mix (3 Tbsp)
8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
Hot Sauce (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Lightly grease slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Add 2 Tbsp. Water.
In a small bowl create a rub by mix olive oil + spices (except Ranch seasoning). Rub mixture all over chicken then place chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker along with any remaining spice rub. Cook on high for 2-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours, chicken must be easy to shred but not dry (don’t overcook).
Remove chicken to a cutting board, and let rest for 5 minutes before shredding. Drain excess liquid in slow cooker + return shredded chicken to slow cooker.
Top shredded chicken with cubed cream cheese + sprinkle with ranch seasoning. Cook on high an additional 20 minutes then stir in cream cheese until chicken is evenly coated. Add hot sauce to taste.

Original Recipe

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Photo Credit Carlsbad Cravings

Thirsty Thursday: How to Build a Cinco de Mayo Drink Bar + Prickly Pear Margaritas


HOW TO


Decorations help set the ambiance of a party, but the drinks set the tone. Beverages are the second thing your guests will experience after the visual overload.
So how do you build a great drink bar?

I break it down into three simple categories:
1. Consider the number of guests: This is the most important step, and why it is first, because the number will help decide how many drinks to offer, how to cater to your guests likes/needs, + how much space needed for your spread.

2. Create a menu for cocktails + non alcoholic drinks: If my guests are women I usually add in one sweet and visually pleasing cocktail, a beer, and one or two champagne based drinks. If my guests are a mix of men + women I might create two cocktails; a sweet + a whiskey/bourbon based drink. Of course beer is always a big hit with all party goers + I would triple my recipes. Non Alcoholic drinkers can’t be forgotten! I always offer water, usually with cucumber, lime, or lemon, then add in one simple mocktail and carry basic sodas that fit my party theme.

3. Collect barware based off of what each menu needs: Straws, Ice, Champagne Glasses, Stemless Margarita Glasses, Beverage Bucket, Drink Dispenser, Napkins, Stir Sticks or Spoons, Rim station with Lime juice, Pink Salt, Jalapeño Slices, and Lime Wedges. Need height for your margarita glasses to be filled but don’t have a drink dispenser stand? Consider adding books underneath to create the clearance needed.


FAVORITE BARWARE


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Straws 1.|2.|3.|4.
Cocktail Napkins 1.|2.|3.|4.
Glasses 1.|2.|3.
Galvanized Drink Bucket 1.|2.|3.
Drink Dispenser 1.|2.|3.
Picture Frame


ALCOHOLIC DRINK MENU


Signature Cocktail
Prosecco / Moscato d’Asti with Peach Syrup
Dos Equis
Strongbow Cherry + Orange Blossom Ciders

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Drink Menu Graphic Credit: sweetsouthernlifewrites

NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINK MENU


Water
Goya Sodas: Cola Champagne, Fruit Punch Soda, + Coconut soda
Cream Soda
Signature Drink: Peach Spicy Ginger Mocktail

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Stir a splash of Peach syrup into Spicy Ginger Beer and you get an easy, delicious, Mocktail

PRICKLY PEAR MARGARITA


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Top each glass with slices of lime + jalapeños to give it a spicy (jalapeño), sweet (cactus syrup), + sour (lime) kick.

INGREDIENTS


12 oz (3.5 Cups) Tequila
12 oz (3.5 Cups) Sweet + Sour Mix
24 oz (6.5 Cups) Triple Sec / Cointreau
24 oz (6.5 Cups) Lime Juice
24 oz. (6.5 Cups) Prickly Pear Syrup

Sliced jalapeños
Sliced Limes
Pink Salt (Rim)
Ice


HOW TO


Pour tequila, sweet + sour mix, triple sec/cointreau, lime juice, + prickly pear syrup into a large drink dispenser + stir well.

Float Sliced Jalapeños + Limes in drink dispenser.

Dip rim of glass in lime juice + follow up with pink salt.

Fill glass with ice, pour margarita, + top with sliced jalapeños + limes.

Add a fun straw – Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Refried Beans


Not a Lover of Beans


I’ve had them all, refried beans that is, and I’m not sure I am the biggest fan. I’ve had tofu, black, pinto, ranch,… the list goes on, I liked a few but loved none of them. It wasn’t until I attended a Cinco de Mayo fiesta a few years back that I started adding cream cheese and I haven’t looked back since.
What makes this Tex-Mex version so unique? It can be used as a topper for tacos or stuffing for burritos, but it also makes a fabulous dip! Oh so simple by throwing a handful of ingredients together, add a bag of your favorite tortillas, and you have something worthy of a Super Bowl spread or your next potluck dinner.
And you thought it was just for Cinco de Mayo.


Ingredients


1 Cup Sour Cream
1 – 16oz Can Refried Beans
1/2 bar (4 oz.) Softened Cream Cheese
1 Package Taco Seasoning
1 Cup Shredded Mexican Cheese
Salsa – to taste (optional)


How To


Preheat oven to 350

Mix beans, sour cream, + cream cheese in a bowl until well combined.

Add taco seasoning and salsa + fold.

Pour into 8×8 baking dish. Top with cheese + bake for 25 mins.

Serve hot with corn tortilla chips.

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Slow Cooker Directions


Mix beans, sour cream, cream cheese, taco seasoning, salsa, + 1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese in your slow cooker bowl.

Set slow cooker on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours stirring when necessary.

Last 30 minutes add 1 cup Mexican blend cheese on top.


Make It Your Own


Here are some fun add-ins, pick one or add a few, possibilities are endless!

Offer wedges of lime on the side so guests can add another dimension of flavor.

Mix pre-Cook ground beef.

Fresh Cilantro

Chopped Jalapeños, Avocado, Olives, + Tomatoes

Mix Chopped Onion

Buy low-sodium/sodium free beans and add Garlic Salt.

SSLW March/April Favorites 2017

Hello blogosphere I’m back + I’ve missed all y’all! This past week I focused on being a mama + throwing a killer Cinco de Mayo party. That will be a fun post! However, I knew my dedicated readers would understand.

I, also slowed down on buying clothes + shoes these past two months, even downsized my jewelry collection until the past couple of weeks. I promise I’m not sick, I guess I was feeling pretty uninspired for spring shopping since the weather in Germany is still cold, windy, rainy, and at times snowing. A few days ago there was a bit of hope for warmer weather with 66 degrees and sunshine – that got me thinking about my spring wardrobe. I like to purge + replace twice a year as part of my spring + fall cleaning. My closet needed refreshing badly!

I am sharing 10 of my favorite things for March + April, at the very bottom are a list of store discount codes too. All are fashion, one beauty.


ONE


JCREW
Off the Shoulder Chambray Top
$59.50 
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Chambray is one of my favorite neutral fabrics because of its ability to match everything you pair it with. My fool-proof choice is to pack at least one chambray top when traveling.

A button up chambray (for example) can easily transition from day time by wearing it unbuttoned over a striped tee, white jeans with converse kicks. Transition to-night by losing the tee, buttoning your chambray, and changing your shoes to iconic nude Louboutin’s.

This season, off the shoulder is everywhere making this top from JCREW right on trend for spring + summer. How would I wear it? Pair with white, black, red, + dark skinnies/shorts. A great pair of nude shoes elongate your legs and versatility in color means you can wear a pop of color in your jewelry. Accessorize with a beautiful pair of chandelier earrings.


TWO


Nordstrom
Kate Spade Pretty Pom Tassel Drop Earrings
$98.00

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Speaking of fun chandelier jewelry I fell in love and immediately purchased these Kate Spade Pretty Pom Tassel Drop Earrings when I saw them.

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I spy with my little eye Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wearing Kate Spade Pretty Pom Tassels

THREE


Nordstrom
Kate Spade Pretty Pom Tassel Necklace 
$128.00

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While we are talking about pom earrings I also purchased this Kate Spade necklace without hesitation. It’s rare that I love a piece of jewelry so much I don’t think twice about purchasing, but what a fun, perfect pop of color!


FOUR


Nordstrom
Soludos Lace-Up Espadrille Sandal
$54.95
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I received a few messages asking where my striped espadrilles, in a previous picture featured on the favorite travel shoes post, came from. You will die to know that they are fairly inexpensive ($54.95), very comfortable, and totally adorable.

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Google Image

FIVE


Nordstrom
Tory Burch ‘Jolie Fleur – Bleue’ 
1.7 oz $85.50

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I ended up stumbling upon this scent when I was shopping at our local “American” store (better known in the Military world as the Exchange or PX). I took the risk without getting the chance to smell or try it on and I am so glad I did.

Perfect for the warmer spring + summer months for its light scent of grapefruit, tuberose, sandalwood, and vetiver. Jolie Fleur-Bleue is one of four other scents in this collection including rose, lavender, and verte (green).


SIX


JCREW
Perfect Fit T-Shirt (Stripe)
$29.50

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If you google ‘striped tee’ millions of images will pop up of outfits showcasing this well-loved pattern. Under white or camel colored sweaters, over a pair of black jeans, under a navy linen blazer with rolled up cuff khaki pants, tucked into the waistband of a pretty floral skirt, looking polished with a pair of red heels. Stripe colors in red, white, black, navy blue, pink, gold… This tee is always in my closet.


SEVEN


Anthropologie
Monogram Pendant Necklace
$38.00

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This necklace has been sold out since Christmas and after two years of trying to order and seeing the words ‘sold out’ appear before I can hit ‘buy’ I finally snagged one. I now understand the obsession. Oh Lord please lead me to beautiful monogramming.

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Two Peas in a Blog

EIGHT


Steve Madden
JSIMBA Clutch
$75.00

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Sweet Southern Life (Writes)

I adore Otomi prints in fashion, both on a person + in the home. So I easily fell in love with the colors, patterns, and fun poms hanging off the zipper of this beautiful clutch by Steve Madden.


NINE


Nordstrom
Emanuel Geraldo Straw Fedora 
$18.00

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This summer I plan to take a trip with my gorgeous husband, we can’t decided on Portugal, a cruise, or maybe the champagne region of France. No matter where we go, when the sun is out – which can be rare in Germany, I get sunburned – easily.

To save my neck and face the discomfort I always pack a hat. I love the white banding on this fedora, but the price is even more amazing! $18 for this beautiful number, so that means if it gets away from me at the beach I won’t be so upset… well maybe I would be – but not because of the investment.


TEN


Brooks
Vanguard Sneakers
$74.99

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Remember we talked about the importance of comfy shoes in Europe? Finding adorable shoes, that aren’t sandals or boots, can be difficult. Brooks knocked it out of the park with these Vanguard kicks. I wear them about as much as I wear my gold + white new balance.

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Google Image

Discount Codes


JCREW: 25% Off Tees, Shorts, Swim, Sunglasses, + More. Code: HELLOSUMMER + Free Shipping on orders over $150

Anthropologie: Extra 30% off Sale Items

Tory Burch: Nordstrom Price Match 10% off + Free Shipping

The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl


America Knows Her As a Jersey Belle


Jersey Belle is a reality TV series that made its debut the fall of 2014. The series follows a publicist girlboss from Jersey who is loud + proud… and also trying to fit into her life in Birmingham, Alabama. Juggling her marriage + three children she navigated, with much help from her southern belle girl posse + a bit of fumbled grace, thru the deep south lifestyle.
During the show we caught Jaime after she had made some progress assimilating. It was established she originally moved for marriage, to her sweet as sugar, southern husband Michael, made several friends, + already had three adorable children.
But what exactly was the whole story? That’s where The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl comes in.

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Official Book Summary


“Jaime Primak Sullivan, outspoken star of Bravo TV’s Jersey Belle, offers no-nonsense Southern-spun advice for navigating life and love with her signature charismatic Jersey charm in this winning fish-out-of-water tale.

Jamie Primak Sullivan, a Jersey-bred, tough-as-nails PR maven—and unlikely transplant in an upscale suburb of Birmingham, Alabama—has spent her entire life crossing the line: whether she’s pushing the boundaries of what proper Southern ladies consider to be “polite behavior” or literally traversing the Mason-Dixon line in the name of love. She isn’t afraid to say what everyone is thinking when it comes to love, sex, friendship, and many other topics that are all-too-often sugar-coated in polite Southern company. But when a meet-cute scenario right out of a Nora Ephron movie upends her life, Jaime finds herself a reluctant “knish out of water,” smack-dab in the Deep South starting a life with her new husband, the perfect Southern gentleman.

In The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl, Jaime shares hard-learned lessons on Southern etiquette, deep-fried foods, college football, and matters of the heart while living in the heart of Dixie, with her quintessential ball-busting, bullsh*t free, and side-splitting Jersey twist.”

– Amazon.com


 My Review


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I have already talked about my encounter with Jaime Sullivan in previous posts, but her show came into my life at just the right time. She is right in the fact that being southern might as well be a totally different country with a totally different culture + set of rules. At the time, I lived in El Paso, TX, a border town rich with Mexican history and Spanish culture. I was a total fish out of water. My accent + bright Lilly Pulitzer collection didn’t help.

I watched Jersey Belle for my own selfish reasons. The southern accents, green landscape, Lilly mixed with seersucker, garden parties, iced tea + bourbon drinking part of the US was a welcomed show once a week. I was so very homesick. I, to my surprise, walked away somewhat invested in the ladies of the Bravo TV show, even Jaime. I was really hoping for a season two *hint Bravo hint*

It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I started watching #cawfeetawk on Facebook + there was mention of a book, so I picked up my copy from Amazon having it shipped half way across the world to Europe. Now let’s be honest, I didn’t see this as a tale of a fish out of water so much as a written memoir. This book wasn’t anything like the TV show either. Instead I read it like a prequel to the show. It answered questions on how she met Michael, how she built a relationship with her Mother-in-Law when they speak separate languages, the birth of her babies, the hard times within her marriage, + how she fell in love with her ” southern tribe”.

In a nutshell the story in this book was about everything good in this life; love, friendship, faith, + family.

The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl happens to be a very quick + easy read. There are boxes at the end of chapters where the real lessons are labeled #cawfeetawk to wrap the story back around. These lessons aren’t necessarily southern but they are a great reminder on the power of forgiveness, allowing yourself to feel loss, the value of a good friend, + a the importance of sticking things out.

I really liked this book, mostly because I find myself feeling like a fish out of water quite  frequently, as my husband’s job makes us live all over the world. Jaime’s story reminds me that I am certainly not alone.

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#CawfeeTawk


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Jaime Primak Sullivan #cawfeetawk

If you love positive messages and real talk I highly suggest following Jaime’s #cawfeetawk program on Facebook live + on her youtube channel.

She is a girls girl, no topic is off-limits as she answers questions, shares parenting stories, talks family, marriage, being a professional, and gives positive words/advice on subjects that people always need support with.

Jaime’s main purpose with #cawfeetawk is to give you something to think about while drinking your morning coffee, a motivating message you needed to hear, + a whole lot of love.


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Thirsty Thursday: Key Lime Cream Pie


When a Drink Tastes Like Dessert


I don’t want to start this post off sounding like a whiner but we have a limited choice in alcohol, living overseas. Germans primarily love Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and other bourbon/whiskey type liquors from the US, so beyond that I am forced to rely on the limited American Class Six inventory and the kindness of a speciality liquor store in my village to place special orders.

I am still holding out hope that cake vodka and cucumber vodka will show up on shelves locally. I miss pineapple upside down cocktails and cucumber martinis with chili powder rims from my favorite restaurant, Anson 11, in El Paso.

Alas, Until that day comes I decided to pick up whipped cream vodka. I was pretty lost on what to make so I did what any basic person would do, took to Pinterest to see what delicious drinks I could create with my new vodka gem. That is where I stumbled upon one of my favorite desserts turned into drink form. I love Key Lime Pie so it would be really hard to make a terrible drink out of this dessert. My hopes and expectations were high.

Needless to say, it is far from terrible. I have been drinking a Key Lime Cream Pie Martini just about every day for the past week. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

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Ingredients


2 oz. Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka
1 oz. Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
0.5 oz Half + Half
Crushed Graham Cracker Crust
Fresh Lime Slices
Ice

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How To


Rim your glass with finely ground graham crackers.
Instructions: Place lime juice in one bowl and graham crackers in another. Dip rim of martini glass into lime juice, quickly follow with dipping rim into graham crackers.
Set glass aside.

In an ice filled shaker combine all ingredients + shake well.

Strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with graham crackers.

Garnish with a lime round.

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Barware


Copper Hammered Cocktail Shaker
Arguello Martini Glass
Dozenegg Glass Rimmer 

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas


Pin Worthy


Let’s be real, there are days where I just don’t feel like putting much effort into thinking about dinner but I still have hungry boys to feed. That’s where my slow cooker comes in and I have created quite a library of slow cooker recipes thanks to several years as a school carpool, soccer, cub scout, college student, now working mama.

What do I love about Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas?  It has a neutral taste making it a home run for picky eaters but appealing to those who like flavor, which can be added with toppings, very easy to make this your own. I also love that this meal can be thrown together with ease by using whatever leftover chicken, veggies, etc. you have. With easy clean up and add in the short cooking time (if you are needing dinner last minute). This recipe quickly becomes a dream!

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Ingredients


1 Large (or 2 small) Rotisserie Chicken | Remove bones + skin. Chop into bite size pieces.
1 Medium Yellow Onion | Chop + Sauté in 1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 (10 3/4 oz) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 (10 3/4 oz) can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Cup Sour Cream
I (10 oz) can Enchilada Sauce
1 (4 oz) can Diced Green Chilies
1 small package (16) Corn Tortillas | Torn into Chip Size Pieces
5 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese | Reserve 1 Cup for the Topping


Directions


Saute chopped onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft.
Mix soups, sour cream, enchilada sauce, diced green chilies, + cooked onion.
Pour half of soup mixture into crock pot.
Add half of the cubed chicken.
Add 2 Cups of cheese, then a layer of the torn corn tortillas.
Repeat the layers ending with the reserved cup of cheese.
Cover + cook. Low 5-6 hrs. | High 2-3 hrs.

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Topping Ideas


Chopped Jalapeños
Sliced Black Olives
Salsa
Sour Cream
Cubed Avocado
Fritos
Cheese


Tips + Tricks


Don’t have a can of Cream of Mushroom? Just use two cans of Cream of Chicken instead.

Add 1 can of whole kernel corn or add buttered corn on the cob as a side.

Need another healthy side? Try a side salad or fresh fruit.

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