Adventures in Strawberry Picking at Hunsader Farms

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When my brother and his family were visiting last week from CT, we took everyone strawberry picking. It was a great, delicious activity for everyone, especially the kids.

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Strawberry picking is fun but it’s a great, affordable activity for young kids. They get such a trill finding a ripe berry to pick. And depositing it into the bucket (or their mouths) is the best. There is a great sense of accomplishment when you have picked something.

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We went to Hunsader Farms in Bradenton since a friend suggested it. She was spot on with her suggestion since it was an easy, nice drive and there were plenty of strawberries to pick from from long rows of strawberries.

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Bring a bucket or a basket with you to Hunsader since they don’t have buckets for you. They have plastic grocery bags but for tender fruit like strawberries, I’d suggest a bucket to help prevent them not getting squished.

Also, don’t pull all the way down the rows in the strawberry fields, they are not open at the other end. Sure, you can try to drive through the ditch but the people who got stuck ahead of it wouldn’t suggest it. I suggest just parking on the main ‘road’ and walking so you don’t block anyone or get blocked in yourself.

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Besides the ripe, super strawberries that are warm from the sun’s rays, we snagged a few tomatoes from the plants that were past their prime picking season. Autumn eats them like apples.

Hunsander Farms also has a petting zoo but we just hung around the perimeter watching the talking birds. It’s $4 a person  for entry into the petting zoo and playground so not too bad but we just had enough time to enjoy it before heading back home to cook up all our veggies that we picked up at the store for our dinner.

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Not into Strawberries? Then be sure to check out all the other fruits and veggies that you can pick throughout the year. Want some Eggplant? Then go from Oct-Nov and then again in April- May. Or stop by in Nov- Dec and then again in May for tomatoes. And don’t forget that rhubarb is ripe in Jan-March!

I can’t wait to get back there for some green beans, zipper peas, and okra. And getting to visit the petting zoo next as well.

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Hunsader Farms

5500 C.R. 675

Bradenton, Fl 34211

941.322.2168

Mon-Sat 8am-4pm

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And some strawberry recipes for all those berries you pick!

individual-strawberry-monkey-breads-with-cream-cheese-frosting

Individual Strawberry Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Strawberry Margaritas with Homemade Strawberry Syrup

5 Minute Chocolate and Strawberry Shortcake

The Best 5 Minute Dessert Ever

Fudgy Strawberry Brownies-4

Fudgy Strawberry Brownies

Roasted Strawberries_04

Roasted Strawberries

Strawberry Agua de Fresca

Strawberry Agua de Fresca

Strawberry Nutella Waffles-1

Strawberry Nutella Waffles

strawberry pie_01

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Daiquiri_01

Strawberry Daiquiri

Fresh Berry White Chocolate Streusel Bars_02

 

Fresh Berry White Chocolate Streusel Bars

strawberry fizz

Strawberry Fizz

 

 

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Posted in Exploring, Florida | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Our New House!!!!!

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OMG!!!!!!! We closed on our house on Friday!!!!!!

I am so excited and yet do drained from the whole process.

Typical me was more excited about some bushes getting put in than signing for the house, but I just process things in weird ways.

Now that it’s been a few days and the dust has begun to settle I can enjoy it. We have been busting our butts moving our stuff in from my dad’s house to the new house. Thankfully we had awesome help from family while they were on vacation and from friends, who we then got to share our first meal in the house with (pizza!).

So I am just going to do a photo dump of the house that we moved into now, and then I will be sharing updates along the way once we have decorated and moved in.

Let’s begin….

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We selected the ‘Monroe’ model from Ashton Woods (builder) with Elevation ‘C’. We made selections to customize it, like adding in the 3rd car garage option.

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We also selected the 3rd option for the lanai (relates to the length of it), added in a slider (in lieu of a swing door and adjacent window) in the breakfast nook, and a 12′ slider (in lieu of 3 windows) in the family room.

As for the inside, let’s head in there.

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On the first floor of the house you have the dining room, family room, breakfast area, kitchen, flex space (aka office), and powder room. There also is a walk in pantry off the kitchen, closet off the flex space, and closet under the stairs to the second floor.

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You walk right into the Dining Room when you enter the house. It’s full of light from the orientation of the house and the pair of windows.

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From there you walk towards the back of the house to the Family Room. You have a view of the 12′ widow slider right upon entry into the house.

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The family room is straight ahead, and the open breakfast area and the kitchen are directly opposite that. The room is large- 18′ – 0″ x 18′ – 0″ which will work out for the furniture that we want to put in there. We don’t have large pieces or much but we want the space to feel airy and open.

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The Breakfast Area is the ‘every day’ eating area as it’s right off the kitchen and in the midst of the Family Room. We are putting in the small dining set that we had in Boston here and the larger newer set that we just purchased is in the dining room so that will be used for entertaining, when we don’t want to eat outside.

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Off the breakfast Area is the Flex Space, which will be set up at an office area in the future.
We will add a counter in here in in the future for a worksurface. There is a closet in there for some storage too.

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You enter the Powder Room by passing through the Flex Space. It’s basic now so we need to jazz it up with some linens and accessories. (I had a mirror for this space but now I don’t think it will work so that might go in the guest bedroom upstairs)

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The kitchen is the heart of the home. At much as ‘open concept plans’ are so trendy now, they work for us as we spend so much of our time in the kitchen making meals and just hanging out, so it feels great for this space to be so open and integrated with the rest of the first floor.

We selected a lot of options for the kitchen, which I’ll get into detail about in a kitchen focus post. It was important for us to spend our money on those upgrades for this space since it’s so visible to the rest of the house and how much time we spend in kitchens.

I can’t wait to start cooking in here!

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Across from the garage door entry, is the walk in Pantry that serves the kitchen. We had them remove all of the standard shelving so that we could put in our own shelving (I hate wire shelving!) so this is a big work in process now as we need to get up all new shelving.

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An open flight of Stairs lead you to the second floor…

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Our stairs are nice and open allowing a lot of light to come in from the window that is at the landing of the staircase. This was a design change made during construction. There was some drama related to it, but all worth it for this outcome.

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The first thing you see when you walk up the stairs is the laundry room so we will have to remember to keep the door closed  or deal with some visible messiess. We do plan on adding in some shelving and color to make it ‘pop’ since it is the first thing you see going up the stairs.

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Originally the Family Room on the first floor was a 2 story space but we filled it in (an option) to make this large Bonus Room. This is to function as the kids’ place room and our general lounge around room. We have a projector in Boston that we are going to install here so it will be great for movie watching. But we figure it will mainly be used by kids so (hopefully) their toys and mess will stay up here.

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The Fourth Bedroom (an option we selected in lieu of an open loft space) is the closest to the stairs, and is directly opposite the bonus room. We are going to use that as a guest bedroom as we didn’t want kids rooms that close to stairs. We already have a bed (queen sized) and side table here, but need to get a dresser (hopefully, I can find something cool off Craigslist) for the niche next to the closet. Eventually we think we will add a small TV on/over the dresser so that people visiting can escape the kids and enjoy some of their normal routine, like getting to watch some news in peace.

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Beyond the bonus room is our bedroom. YAY!!!!!

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We already have most of the elements for this room with the exception of bedding and some wedding pictures that we never had printed and framed. We purchased a new bed (king sized!) and are reusing a dresser (for Price). Some other elements that are getting re-purposed are some ottomans and a long side table. I just bought some window treatments that will get blended with some we already had so things are well under way for our bedroom.

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Besides the kitchen, we put some money towards our Master Bathroom Upgrades. So worth it to us. We layered a few options together to get a great bathroom. We each have our own sinks, a large shower, and a gorgeous free standing tub. I don’t love the color of the millwork in the bathroom (eww!) but it was hard to justify even more money towards a finish change in the bathroom that already had so many big and little changes. We can totally live with the ‘nutmeg’ finish, but I have a feeling I might paint them in the future. At least we have a great bathroom I can escape to for some R&R… ha, hardly!

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We have an amazing large walk in closet off our bathroom that we will outfit with come custom shelving (ALGOT from Ikea!). I am not going to have a dressing in our bedroom so it stays nice and open (plus we will have a playard that the baby will sleep in for a while so that will just clutter things up too). I am going to store all of my stuff in the closet so I will be getting my shelving and stuff done rather quickly (hopefully).

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Opposite our bedroom are the 2 kids bedrooms, full bathroom, and linen closet.

A linen closet is rather basic, no? Again, we didn’t want the standard wire shelving so we will install shelving in there.

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The bathroom is going to be used by the kids and guests so it will have a neutral feel to it. Right now we are going to recycle a lot of what we had for accessories and linens in Boston so it will have the sail cloth shower curtain (already owned) and nautical accessories that I have picked up over the past few years. Anchor all the things!!!!

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Autumn’s room (Bedroom 3 on the plan) is the larger of the kids rooms. There was no real reason to give her this room as opposed to the other room we are using for kids rooms, but that just worked well for her room. It has a walk in closet, which is overkill for her needs but I think I am going to make a little play nook in there. Her room is a mix of new and old things with a new bed and an old dresser.

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Lastly, is the baby’s room (Bedroom 2 on the plan) that is next to Autumn’s room. We already have most of the furniture for this room- either already opened it or already purchased. We just need to accessorize it with some artwork and get some drapes, but we have time since it’s weeks before the baby arrives and we had Autumn in our room for 6 months, so no real rush anyway.

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I will have updates in the upcoming weeks with process that we have made on the house!

Stay tuned!!!

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Nutty Cinnamon Rolls

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So we bought our house on Friday!!!!

And now we can’t move.

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I mean, we are actually moving out of my dad’s house, but physically, I am walking like an old woman who needs a cane. I didn’t do heavy lifting since I’m 6 months preggo, but I was still on my feet most of the weekend unpacking stuff. And that is a big change from my M-F, 9-5 routine of sitting on my ass all day.

But I am just so excited about the house being finally done. There are a few things they need to fix, but they are minor so no big. I am looking forward to bringing back up a kitchen filler panel millwork issue that I brought up with them weeks ago to which I got the lovely “well, that’s how we do it” response to which I said “just because you do it that way, doesn’t mean it’s right.” And now I have a legit argument for why they should have done it the way I told them to do it. Yo, mofo’s I do this for a living too, and I’m right…

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Other than that things are going smoothly and I figure I will be walking like a normal person again in like 2 weeks. ha!

I will share pictures really soon of the house and then in the coming weeks I will show how we have decorated each room. Our dining room is already in good shape so it just needs some decor up, which I have most of. yay!! So I think I will start with that.

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In the mean time, enjoy these Nutty Cinnamon Rolls. They are a subtle twist on the classic with the addition of nuts. Take the time to finely chop them and toast them and you’ll love what they add to your cinnamon rolls.

If you haven’t yet tried vanilla bean paste then I urge you to get some ASAP and give it a try. If you can’t get it then I really suggest that you use a vanilla bean for the glaze. It gives it great flavor and it’s super pretty to see all those specks. Just so fancy!

My dad hates nuts in baked goods (as well as ricotta in lasagna! what?!) but he happily gobbled one of these up. So I bet you will like them too!

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Nutty Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 large cinnamon rolls

Ingredients

For the Rolls

  • 1 Cup warm milk (100-110 degrees)
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (but not hot!)
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Cup finely chopped toasted walnuts/pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

For the glaze

  • 2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 vanilla bean paste/vanilla bean caviar

Process

  1. Add the yeast to the warm milk. Let rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, then slowly mix in the warm milk mixture. Add the butter and just mix to combine.
  3. Add in the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a hook attachment, work the dough until combined.
  4. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough into a smooth ball. Add the dough to a large bowl that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Rotate to cover the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size, at least 1 hour.
  5. Once the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease 1 9x 13 baking pan.
  6. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough out so it is approximately 14″ x 24″. Evenly spread out the melted butter on the dough. Then sprinkle with the cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts.
  7. Roll the long edge towards you and then cut into 12 evenly sized rolls. Arrange in the baking pan.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Make the glaze by mixing all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Drizzle all over the cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!
Posted in Baking, Food and Drink | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cinnamon Rolls

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This weekend was all sorts of perfect.

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My brother and his family came in on Friday night for vacation. It’s been a year+ since we have seen each other so it was great getting to hang out and catch up. Best of all was the girls playing really well together, like they had just seen each other the weekend before. And the age different (3 & 6) even worked out well.

On Saturday we went Strawberry picking. So fun with the girls. And delicious. I made biscuits for shortcake for dessert that night. It was great with the grilled veggies, burgers, and hot dogs that we enjoyed for dinner. So yummy.

Besides that they also had a blast putting on tons of make up from my big makeup kit. Shoot, as long as you are not fighting, yelling, or destroying something… do whatever. They were so proud of themselves as well. But, let’s be real, they need to work on their eye liner application skills. ha!

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And then Sunday was all about hanging by the pool. We had a leisurely morning enjoying breakfast before we headed out to the pool. The weather was great and the pool was warm so we had a blast lounging around and playing with the girls in the pool. Autumn was so worn out that she napped on me for 2.5 hours as we sat by the pool. I even napped. The best kind of day ever.

More family came over later on and we made homemade pizza (of course the girls wanted boxed mac and cheese…). The night wrapped up with baths and girls cuddled up to me while I read to them.

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I am loving this year’s weekly recipe theme. I love working with dough and perfuming our house with cinnamon and sugar is just so fun. Plus, it’s fun as hell to come up with different flavors and combinations for the cinnamon rolls, monkey breads, and pull apart breads. And since we can’t possibly eat them all, I love getting to share with with our neighbors when they are fresh out of the oven.

Rock on Monkey Bread Mondays!

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If you love peanut butter then you will looooooove these cinnamon rolls. There is just the right amount of peanut butter in them where you can taste it, and smell it, but it’s balanced out so nicely with the typical cinnamon and sugar in cinnamon rolls. Plus, the jam glaze on top rocks.

I always make PBJ’s with strawberry jelly so it just felt right to use that for the glaze, but if you like grape or something else then just give that a try. I bet a blueberry jam would be awesome on it too. No matter what, you can’t go wrong.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 large cinnamon rolls

Ingredients

For the Rolls

  • 1 Cup warm milk (100-110 degrees)
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (but not hot!)
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1/3 Cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

For the glaze

  • 1/2 Cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 Tablespoons orange juice

Process

  1. Add the yeast to the warm milk. Let rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, then slowly mix in the warm milk mixture. Add the butter and just mix to combine.
  3. Add in the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a hook attachment, work the dough until combined.
  4. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough into an even ball. Add the dough to a large oiled bowl. Rotate to cover the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size, at least 1 hour.
  5. While the dough is rising, cut the bacon into very small pieces and cook. Drain well and set aside.
  6. Once the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease 1 9x 13 baking pan.
  7. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough out so it is approximately 14″ x 24″.
  8. Mix the peanut butter into the melt butter and then evenly spread out on the dough.
  9. Then sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll towards you and then cut into 12 evenly sized rolls. Arrange in the baking pan.
  10. Bake for 24-26 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. While the rolls are baking, warm the strawberry preserves and orange juice together; mix well. Drizzle all over the baked cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!
Posted in Baking, Food and Drink | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: For Him

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Are you a planner for Valentine’s Day? Or are you scrambling at the last minute?

I fall somewhere in between for special occasions like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries. Sometimes I plan ahead well and other times I send people birthday gifts late… really late. Or I’ll be on my game and get a cute anniversary card weeks in advance and then keep it in my purse for 2 months past the anniversary.#theworst.

Well, if you are still trying to figure out what to get the guy in your life check out this list Price created to help you out do some shopping.

-Bath and Body-

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Shampoo and Conditioner – American Crew $20

A sure way to kick start his day is with a refreshing shower with this favorite shower products.

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Shaving/grooming products – Art of Shaving $20-$100

Grooming and shaving does not have to be the same old thing.  Mix up his habit with some great smelling products that will last all day.

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A cologne you both will love –$50-$120

Spend some dough on a dope scent! Fruit, floral woody, spicy?  Have him mix things up from season to season or for a special night out.

-Technology- 

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Headphones – Skullcandy $80

These headphones have a great rating, and they don’t break the bank. Plus, Bluetooth = no wires = no mishaps

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Firestick – Amazon $40

For those moments or days when you want to find the right thing to binge-watch. Get on it! You might as well, considering your cable bill is twice a much each month.

-Food and Drink- 

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Ice Cub Trays – glacio $15

Regular ice is for regular drinks. Make any drink special.

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His personal (and awesome) can/bottle coozie – Yeti Colster – $25

He will invite friends over just to show this off. You’ll be the hero for keeping his hands warm while keeping his drink cold. They make an amazing stainless steel drink holder as well. You cannot go wrong with either one.

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Meat and Cheese – Murray’s ($120)

For the fromageophiles in your life, any of Murray’s gift boxes would be a great option. Prices range from $50 for a Bacon Me Crazy box to the $120 French Connection box (pictured) to the $275 Weekend at Murray’s.

-Staying Active- 

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Running Shoes – Adidas $40 

Shoes are a tough sell but at least you’re expressing interest in his shoe-game and getting his old shoes left in the garage or used for mowing the lawn.

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Cooling Towel – Ergodyne $7

Speaking of mowing, he might need this for any outdoor activity. At less than $10 it’s an easy thing to keep in his car, truck, or boat and can be used any time.

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Fitness Membership  – Orange Theory

My husband has been attending classes at Orange Theory and has really been enjoying it. Yoga classes, spin classes, or rock climbing certificates are great ideas too so that your man can keep moving, gain strength, and gain confidence.

-Tools-

multitool

Multitool – Victorinox $93

These little things are really great for…well everything!  You never know what you can use it for on the weekend, loose screws or cutting open a bag of carrots, this can handle it.

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Portable Battery – Car Jumper $50

Considering how easy it is to get a dead battery, this is always a good option to have stored on the spare tire area or trunk. For $50 it’s piece of mind he’ll make it home or at least the auto parts store 🙂

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What are you getting your special guy this Valentine’s Day?

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