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Of cardamon pods...and other fortunate events

Over the past couple of months, I have been fortunate enough to be on the receiving ends of some very cool foodie giveaways...and one particularly awesome surprise gift! I'm sure most of you know what an amazing community of food bloggers are floating around...most of the people I've met are kind and giving of their time, advice, recipes and friendship. That being said I just wanted to send some quick shout-outs and thanks to several people. First of all...my surprise gift of Cardamom Pods! Thanks to the awesome Christo aka DoggyBloggy of Chez What? for sending me these beauties...A week of so ago, I had a recipe that called for cardamom seeds, but when I went out looking for them, I discovered that a tiny little bottle (something containing ~1 oz) cost in the area of $17.00! Ummmmmm...what!? Too rich for my blood. So I substituted and moved on. Well, substituted, voiced my opinion and then moved on. How awesome is it that he actually sent me a big bag full of cardamom pods to do with what I wish! I cannot wait to start making some cardamom laced sweets & savories! Thanks so much, Christo :) I recently had a delivery of this insanely HUGE basket full of goodies. I was the lucky winner of not 1, but 2 giveaways from Amanda aka HannahBanana of Nourish. This basket (from Skylar Haley) contained 6 different types of dried fruits (Montmorency cherries, Granny Smith Apples, Peaches, Blueberries, Raspberries and Mixed Berries). Have I ever mentioned that I love dried fruit? I soooo totally do. I'd never had dried peaches before...they were awesome. The kiddos loved each and every kind, too! The basket also contained some sparkling juices (like Meyer Lemon and Fuji Apple), some protein boost coffee drinks (oh yeah), an Energy drink (mmmm hmmm) and an amazing smelling Mango & Spearmint (natural based formula) candle. This was a basket filled with amazingly delicious goodies!The other giveaway I won from Amanda was a whole CASE of Zevia natural diet soda. That is a whole 24 cans! There was Cola, Ginger ale, Orange, Black Cherry, Root beer and Twist. These sodas contain zero calories and are sweetened with Stevia Root (a natural sweetener). Although we don't drink much soda in our house, we do buy some from time to time. Surprisingly my favorite was the Black Cherry flavor. It's flavor was understated & perfectly sweet (not cloying). We also made some root beer floats and creamsicle floats....yummy! Thank you so much Amanda for these awesome prizes that I won. I loved them all! Another cool giveaway I recently won was a pack of goodies from the lovely Peachkins of The Peach Kitchen. These are not your my everyday goodies. They are Filipino snacks! So cool! The first thing I dug into surprise, surprise was the bag of dried mangoes!! While I love dried fruit...I really love dried mangoes! They were soft and smooth and full of sweet, mango goodness. Awesome!A few other things that we all loved were these Spicy Garlic snacks...which reminded me of CornNuts. These awesome Clover Chips which were cheesy, puffed chip-like things. And these Choco Soaked Sponge Crunches! I didn't know what to expect when opening any of these...which made it all the more fun to dive in! Also in the package were some ramen-type noodle bowls and some seasoning packets which I haven't tried yet...but will soon...I cannot wait! Thank you so much Peachy...I adore my snacks straight from the Philippines!And I finally have the cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking thanks to an amazing giveaway from Mary of Deep South Dish...of which I was the lucky winner! I have wanted this cookbook for years...and the release of Julie and Julia has only refueled the need to have it in my hot little hands! How awesome...I am taking my time and hungrily paging through it trying to decide what I want to make first. Thank you again...so much...Mary! I will cook & post something from it soon. Last, but not least, I won this amazing Frommer's book called 500 Places for Food & Wine Lovers from Esme of Chocolate and Croissants. Perfect! I am drooling and daydreaming and scheming a way to get to at least a few of these places...soon! I am such a dreamer and this is definitely fuel for my fire...I am loving every minute of it. So, to all you other foodies, food lovers, gourmands, epicureans, gastronomes, hungry people out there...I know there are good people in this world. Kindness that touches you in some little way (like a bag of cardamom pods). I also know that it is possible for you to win that giveaway! Or maybe the next one...all you have to do is enter!