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16 Things I Learned From Fortune Cookies

October 2, 2015

Serendipity. Great word. It means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise.” It was coined by good ol’ Horace Walpole back in 1754.

I’m sure you all knew that.

Why serendipity? It helps explain this post.

My last post was about leaving comments, which made me think of fortune cookies. Why? Because they contain little comments. So to speak.

I scratched out a few fortune cookie gags, and decided to draw them up. Did you hear about the fortune cookie with the recurring nightmare?blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Fortune cookie on psychiatrist couch telling of recurring dream he's in Chinese restaurant, someone breaks him in two and rips his guts out

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highAn understandable neurosis. Here’s a closeup.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
detail image Fortune cookie on psychiatrist couch telling of recurring dream he's in Chinese restaurant, someone breaks him in two and rips his guts out

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highBlankVertSpace.8pixelsSome fortunes can be intimidating. One should take them with a grain of salt. Or a low-sodium salt substitute… : )blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Aladdin type kid as snake charmer playing horn snake emerging from fortune cookie you will become musician better get used to being poor

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highAnyone notice the young musician has 4 fingers on one hand, and 3 on the other? Oops…blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
detail image Aladdin type kid as snake charmer playing horn snake emerging from fortune cookie you will become musician better get used to being poor

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI wondered if there were any fortune cookie sites. Silly me. There’s a site for everything these days.

I found one where you can submit actual fortunes received in a cookie. I did some calorie-free browsing, and selected 14 that made me stop and think, and another two that made me laugh. Here they are, along with some brief commentary:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

1. The project on your mind will soon gain momentum.

Not by itself it won’t. Thinking about projects becomes a substitute for starting them. Ask me, I know.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

2. Beauty is simply beauty. Originality is magical.

An essential truth, especially for an artist. Without a good idea, an original approach, even the most beautiful work won’t be compelling.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

3. You don’t need talent to gain experience.

You do need skills to succeed. But you don’t need fully-developed skills to begin. Jump in. Get experience. You’ll learn a lot as you go along.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

4. Too many people volunteer to carry the stool when it’s time to move the piano.

Ha! I usually volunteer to sit on the stool. Let’s face it: we only learn and grow when we take on significant challenges. Move the piano.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

5. You are what you are; understand yourself before you react.

We can’t “cure” a personality trait. But if we acknowledge a certain emotional tendency (a quick temper, for example), we can stay vigilant– and hopefully keep it from sabotaging us during a moment of crisis.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

6. One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears–by listening to them.

So many of us just want to be heard. We’re more open to another’s point of view if they listen with full attention to ours.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

7. Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos.

Every artist knows this. I think it’s true for any great venture, any line of business. Change and creation are messy. Stay calm, press on.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

8. The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands.

Also true for families and teams. We all need help. Disagreements are inevitable. Successful teams stick together despite disagreements.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

9. People enjoy having you around. Appreciate this.

Quick story: I once worked for an insurance company as a programmer-analyst. I was one of the lesser lights in the department. One day, feeling down, I told someone, “I don’t feel like I contribute very much.” The person (who wasn’t a close friend) said to me very seriously: “But you make people laugh– and that’s so important.” I was speechless. I can think of many people I enjoy having around. I bet you can, too.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

10. The measure of time to your next goal is the measure of your discipline.

File this one under Painful Truth. We know what we want, we (mostly) know what needs to be done. The missing ingredient is discipline.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

11. When you can’t naturally feel upbeat it can sometimes help you to act as if you did.

Easier said than done, but worth a try. There have been many studies which have concluded that acting a certain way can affect your mood.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

12. Customer service is like taking a bath: you have to keep doing it.

Ha! Also true for blogging. And social media. And marketing. And staying in touch. And keeping up with technology… Right. Pass the soap.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

13. Isn’t there something else you should be working on right now?

This one made me roar. Then I realized how true it was. We embrace distractions of all kinds– including, alas, social media and the internet.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

14. You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note.

And you don’t learn anything when everyone has the same opinion. Want to understand the value of diversity? Ask a fortune cookie.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Weren’t there supposed to be two more funny ones? Yes– and here they are:BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

15. Rarely do great beauty and great virtue dwell together as they do in you.

What’s so funny about that? It describes me perfectly… : )BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

16. I am a fortune. You just broke my little house. Where will I live now?

That one made me bust out laughing– and then I felt guilty for making someone homeless. I thought it was just a cookie. Who knew??BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.8pixels

Which brings up a existential question: do fortune cookies have feelings? Are they cognizant beings?? Well… maybe so.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Fortune cookie suicide fortune slip of paper as suicide note she left me, I can't go on

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI’m done. And I suddenly have the most intense craving for sweet-and-sour chicken and fried rice. How odd…blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
detail image Fortune cookie suicide fortune slip of paper as suicide note she left me, I can't go on

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Do you always crack open your fortune cookie and read the fortune? Do you ever actually eat the cookie??

Ever gotten a fortune that “spoke” to you, or came true? Care to share it?

Has anyone ever gotten the fabled “Help! I’m being held prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory!!” ??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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45 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2015 5:46 PM

    Fortune cookies provide both laughs and insight. Thank you for looking at the funny insights of fortune cookies. Love your art work!


    • October 5, 2015 11:05 AM

      Insight and dessert– now that’s a combo that’s hard to beat! Thanks so much for your kind words, Steve! : )


  2. October 2, 2015 8:17 PM

    I do eat the cookie when I crack open a fortune cookie. Otherwise I won’t bother to touch the cookie to break it. I don’t like wasting food just for my own curiosity…especially when 1 fortune cookie is harmless.

    I love some of those fortunes. Good food, cookie for thought. Mark. 🙂

    You could illustrate more fortunes. 😀 Makes a great T-shirt …for a group, etc.


    • October 5, 2015 11:14 AM

      An official fortune cookie eating policy! Well, I may have to formulate one now, Jean– you’re putting the pressure on me! : )

      Just for the record, I probably eat the cookie about half the time. Don’t think I’ve ever finished a meal in a Chinese restaurant– I love taking home the leftovers. I’m pretty full by the time I get to the cookie… : )

      Illustrate the actual fortunes… hmm! Now that’s an idea that hadn’t occurred to me. I shall have to ruminate on the matter… : )

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Jean, and thanks for your comment!


      • October 6, 2015 2:30 PM

        Funny, not being able to finish a Chinese restaurant meal. 😀 You need to invite more people to those restaurant meals…but then that might mean more shared food dishes. 🙂 I know someone whose brother produced a documentary film on their family restaurant’s fortune cookie making machine here locally. The film was aired nationally.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 6, 2015 8:37 PM

          Invite more people?? But, Jean– that means I might go home empty-handed and be forced to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of the week… : (

          A fortune cookie making machine?? Wowzer!! Now I know what I’m asking Santa to bring me for Christmas… : )

          Liked by 1 person

        • October 7, 2015 7:58 AM

          I forgot about those leftovers! 🙂


  3. October 2, 2015 8:29 PM

    Love the first cartoon & this fortune – “14. You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note.” Thanks for the fun post!


    • October 5, 2015 11:33 AM

      I’m good friends with the members of a local barbershop quartet. I’ve attended many of their concerts. It’s amazing the power that gets generated when four guys are singing four different parts of the same song. Yes, indeed– the power of harmony. Of course, the sparkly vests and bowties help, too… : )

      Nice to see you, many thanks for your kind comment!


  4. October 3, 2015 12:18 AM

    Mark you are my sage, so much wisdom contained within your commentary. Have you thought of turning this post into a book? I would be your first customer. As you are so wise, I wonder if you can explain this riddle I once got in a Christmas cracker and have been puzzling over ever since: Question: Why did the ship sink? Answer: Watermelon

    What am I missing, I just don’t get it?


    • October 5, 2015 11:54 AM

      Sage? You mean I’m a poultry seasoning?? Aye, there’s the rub… : )

      Hi, Jen! I appreciate your crediting me with so much wisdom, but I couldn’t have done it without the cookies… : )

      Turn the post into a book… hmm! I’m getting some interesting suggestions this morning, and I do appreciate them. An intriguing idea! I shall munch a cookie and consider it… : )

      Q: Why did the ship sink? A: Watermelon.

      After applying my formidable cranial unit to this very unsatisfactory riddle (and taking two aspirin), I can only suggest that ‘watermelon’ is meant to be heard as “water fell in” or “water met ‘im,” or the even more garbled “water got in.” I don’t like any of them! The whole business gives me a sinking feeling– sorry The Sage can’t be more help!! : )


  5. October 3, 2015 2:35 PM

    Mark … I love fortune cookies. Sorry in my intense craving for a sweet treat, I never considered that I was leaving them homeless. I did have one message that spoke to me and carried it around for years. Sad to say, it’s malingering somewhere in a forgotten wallet.

    I love your message #9.”People enjoy having you around. Appreciate this.” Wouldn’t we all want to receive – and believe – this message? I know I would.

    Roberta Frostbite (aka Judy Berman, aka earthrider) 😉


    • October 5, 2015 12:19 PM

      Roberta!– I mean, Judy! Good to see you here at Armstrong’s Jade Draggin’ Restaurant! I, too, have saved a few fortunes over the years. What they were or where they went remains an utter mystery… : (

      You’re absolutely right about #9. It’s hard to imagine a more uplifting affirmation. And I think it’s a common truth. There are so many people I, personally, enjoy having around– like you, for example! Guess it’s another case of how we chase after things, never stopping to think about the tremendous riches we already enjoy– like folks just being glad we’re around.

      Thanks for being one of my favorite riches, Roberta!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  6. October 3, 2015 4:47 PM

    Really love what you did with those fortune cookies! And I like those fortunes you picked out, especially 9. I know so many people who get themselves down people they can’t “get their level up” or are too “stupid” at school etc…and they don’t realise how great a person they are and that the rest shouldn’t matter with that


    • October 5, 2015 1:59 PM

      Another vote for #9! It was one of my favorites, too. You said it very well: there are many people who simply don’t give themselves enough credit. They think they have to do something grand in order to be seen as a worthy person. They fail to see how much they enrich others’ lives just by “being around,” being present in their lives, even if it’s only in a small way.

      You yourself are an excellent example. I’m very glad you are you, and present here on my blog. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment! : )

      Un autre vote pour le n ° 9! Il était l’un de mes favoris, aussi. Vous avez très bien dit: il ya beaucoup de gens qui ne se donnent tout simplement pas assez de crédit. Ils pensent qu’ils ont à faire quelque chose de grand pour être vu comme une personne digne. Ils ne parviennent pas à voir combien ils enrichissent la vie des autres tout simplement par “être autour,” étant présent dans leur vie, même si elle est seulement dans un petit chemin.

      Vous vous êtes un excellent exemple. Je suis très heureux que vous êtes vous, et présente ici sur mon blog. Merci pour votre commentaire très réfléchie! : )


      • October 10, 2015 11:24 AM

        Exactly, the little things are the ones with the most importance!
        aaaw thank you it’s adorable, but it’s especially because you’re a great person and artist that it is that way! You are much more amazing!


        • October 11, 2015 9:06 PM

          Yes! The little things are the most important– just ask any subatomic particle… : )

          Careful! You mustn’t give me too many compliments– you’ll make me blush and set off the fire alarm again!! : )

          Oui! Les petites choses sont les plus important– suffit de demander toute particule subatomique …: )

          Attention! Vous ne devez pas me donner trop compliments– vous me faites rougir et déclencher l’alarme d’incendie à nouveau !! : )


        • October 18, 2015 4:27 AM

          Exactly, science is here to back us up :’)
          Those compliments are well deserved, and they aren’t even enough to describe you well, so let’s make that alarm ring!

          Liked by 1 person

        • October 21, 2015 8:41 PM

          Yes, science is our friend. Whenever I need a second opinion, I always consult a subatomic particle! If the particle is French, so much the better!!

          So many compliments!– where shall I put them all?? They’re piling up like fortune cookie wrappers!! Oh, oh!! It’s hard for me to think with that fire alarm ringing incessantly!! I must get out my electron microscope and consult a subatomic particle at once!! : )

          Oui, la science est notre ami. Chaque fois que je besoin d’un deuxième avis, je consulte toujours une particule subatomique! Si la particule est le français, tant mieux!!

          Tant de compliments – où vais-je les mettre tous?? Ils accumulent comme wrappers fortune cookies!! Oh, oh!! Il est difficile pour moi de penser à cette alarme incendie sonne sans cesse!! Je dois sortir mon microscope électronique et de consulter une particule subatomique à la fois!! : )


        • October 22, 2015 5:05 AM

          The best thing with science, well, also with art and pretty much everything, is that it’s universal! No distinction would it be french or english or american or etc!
          Well then let’s put those piles in their houses, we’ll try not to eat them!
          Consult consult my dear sherlock, hope you’ll do well!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Martes de cuento permalink
    October 4, 2015 2:55 AM

    I liked what you say, especially Section 9, it’s nice to be around people like you, Mark, that make us think and laugh. A hug!


    • October 5, 2015 2:11 PM

      Blush, blush! If I were a Reader Rabbit or a Bibliophile Bunny, my fuzzy ears would be very red! I thought of you when I read Fortune #9. It’s quite extraordinary how our lives can be enriched by someone on the other side of an ocean. “Life is strangely wonderful. Appreciate this.” I’m sure I read that in a fortune cookie… : )

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m putting a hug on a boat and sending it to you– please be waiting at the dock! : )

      “Rubor, rubor! Si yo fuera un Conejo Reader o un Conejito Bibliófilo, mis oídos borrosos serían muy roja! Pensé que cuando leí la fortuna # 9. Es extraordinario cómo nuestras vidas pueden ser enriquecidas por alguien en el otro lado de un océano. “La vida es extrañamente maravilloso. Apreciar esto.” Estoy seguro de que he leído que en una galleta de la fortuna … : )

      Gracias por tu comentario preciosa. Estoy poniendo un abrazo en un barco y enviarlo a usted– favor, sea esperando en el muelle! : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • Martes de cuento permalink
        October 6, 2015 3:02 AM

        😀 😀 😀 How do you know I work at the docks? (it is real)
        Now I see approach your boat with a big hug, from the window of my office!

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 6, 2015 9:53 AM

          I knew you had to be close to the docks so you could ship your wonderful stories to your fans all over the world. We wait for them with breathless anticipation. I think I see one coming over the horizon now… hooray!

          Glad Mr. Hug arrived safely. I made him wear a lifejacket just in case. 😊

          Yo sabía que tenía que estar cerca de los muelles por lo que podría enviar sus historias maravillosas a sus fans de todo el mundo. Os esperamos con anticipación sin aliento. Creo que lo veo venir en el horizonte ahora … ¡hurra!

          Me alegro Sr. Abrazo llegó sano y salvo. Le hice llevar un chaleco salvavidas por si acaso. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

        • Martes de cuento permalink
          October 7, 2015 4:15 AM

          🙂 ¡¡Muchos, muchos, muchos abrazos y besos!! ¡Un barco lleno de abrazos y besos para ti, Mark!


        • October 7, 2015 8:30 PM

          Estoy flotando en un mar de abrazos y besos. Sí … Creo que podría acostumbrarme a esto … 😋

          Liked by 1 person

        • Martes de cuento permalink
          October 8, 2015 5:11 AM

          😀 😀 😀 😀 Care not drown, Mark! Hold on to a story;)

          Liked by 1 person

        • October 8, 2015 8:52 AM

          Voy a sostener sobre un Martes de cuento. Son excelentes dispositivos de flotación porque te levantan… 😊

          Liked by 1 person

        • Martes de cuento permalink
          October 9, 2015 2:24 AM



  8. Margie permalink
    October 4, 2015 10:13 AM

    This is one of your best posts ever! The fortunes you chose are so much better than any I’ve ever got!
    Yes, I always eat the cookie, and there are some good cookies and some not so good ones.
    I found a site on the internet that sells fortune cookies dipped in dark chocolate. There are so many fortunes that could go in Chocolate fortune cookies, like “Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and you don’t need an appointment.”


    • October 6, 2015 9:59 AM

      Ha! I know what you mean, Margie. I usually get fortunes like “You will stop and buy Tums on the way home,” or “Don’t be so cheap with the tip this time.” : (

      You always eat the cookie? I usually throw the cookie away and eat the cellophane. I may have to reconsider my strategy… : )

      Fortune cookies dipped in chocolate… what a mouth-watering concept! It would certainly help them go down a lot easier, too! Thank you for that delicious and therapeutic comment!!


  9. October 5, 2015 8:46 AM

    Haaahaaa!!!!!!!!!!! Can’t select a fav here; the entire post is wonderful!
    But #16 spoke to me most eloquently because my “mind-picture” of fortune cookies (when I think of them but don’t see them in person) always turns them into pale snails dragging tiny, piquant banners in their wake. Like the planes that trail ad banners behind them over the beach and fairs, etc.?



    • October 6, 2015 10:35 AM

      Ha! What an image! Pale snails dragging banners in their wake! Sounds like me dragging my beach towel over the burning sands… : )

      You are, of course, justly famous for your imagination, my dear Robin, and that was certainly a dramatic example– I shall never be able to look at fortune cookies quite the same way again!!

      Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for sharing that incredible mind-picture!! : )


  10. Lily permalink
    October 10, 2015 6:30 AM

    This was so inspiring! Most fortunes I get are cheesy and not thought-provoking at all, like “success will soon come to you.” I like how these ones make you stop and think… and maybe laugh! 🙂

    t was hard to choose to choose a favourite – they’re all really great! – but I think my winner is #2: “Beauty is simply beauty. Originality is magical.”

    #16 is also pretty funny… from now on, I’ll be more considerate when eating my next fortune cookie! 🙂


    • October 11, 2015 9:50 PM

      Hi, Lily! Glad you enjoyed the post. Your fortunes are too cheesy?? That may be a sign you’re eating in a pizza parlor, not a Chinese restaurant… : )

      I was struck by Fortune #2 as well: “Beauty is simply beauty. Originality is magical.” Sunsets are a good example. They’re gorgeous, but much the same. Once in awhile you get one with dramatic cloud effects and colors– special, but you know you’ve seen others like it.

      Well, the other night I was driving somewhere. The sun had just set, the sky was still bright, and there was this oscillating plume of jet exhaust smoke hanging low in the sky: thick, thin, thick, thin, then suddenly ending with a huge dramatic twist. In the next five minutes, it turned all sorts of colors, each sequence more striking than the last. Not a sunset, not environmentally correct, but… original! Magical! I couldn’t take my eyes off it. That’s when I drove off the cliff… : (

      But I must be OK ’cause here I am writing this comment! : )


      • Lily permalink
        October 12, 2015 1:42 PM

        Hmmm, you must be right! I did wonder what those things were – those circular bread-based products with various chopped foods placed on top… You mean they aren’t a new Chinese restaurant delicacy??

        Hahaha! Those darn cliffs. Always interrupting the magic. Are you sure you’re not magical yourself by being able to fall off a cliff but still being okay? 😛


        • October 14, 2015 10:20 PM

          Ha! Circular bread-based products– an excellent turn of phrase, my dear Lily! “Bread-based bistro”– yes! It sounds much classier than “pizza parlor.” I think it may catch on, and revolutionize the restaurant biz. You’re a mover and a parmesan cheese shaker, as I always suspected!! : )

          Ah!– surviving the cliff plunge. Yes, well, I had a bit of luck there: I was on my way home from a stir-fry-based oriental dining emporium, and happened to be traveling with a large quantity of leftover fried rice, which cushioned my fall. So I’m absolutely pip-pip, and fit as a fiddle-faddle. Of course, I still smell funny… 😳

          Liked by 1 person

  11. October 19, 2015 7:04 AM

    We don’t have fortune cookies in India,but this is super funny!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 21, 2015 8:50 PM

      What?? No fortune cookies in India?? That is an unspeakable tragedy!! Something must be done!! I shall fill my saddle bags with those tasty, crinkly, prophetic little treats and set off on my elephant at once! You may expect me in Mumbai tomorrow morning, and I’d be glad of a cup of tea and a biscuit… : )

      Glad you enjoyed the post, many thanks for your delightful comment! : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 23, 2015 8:22 AM

        😀 But we do have direct flights! So don’t bother investing in an elephant! Always welcome for tea and biscuits and some bhelpuri to carry back home 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 24, 2015 9:20 PM

          Ha! My elephant trumpeted so loudly when he read your comment, my neighbors hid in their cellars, thinking it was an earthquake. I roared pretty loudly myself! Thank you for being so kind and welcoming. I just googled bhelpuri, and it sounds delicious! Glad to hear about the direct flights, though my pet elephant will probably insist on coming, too. I’d better go check on him. I hear noises in the kitchen. I’ll bet he’s trying to cook up some bhelpuri!! 😄

          Liked by 1 person

  12. soul . to . earth permalink
    October 27, 2015 1:11 PM

    Your cookie’s angst is hilarious!!! 🙂 Just curious – is the art behind the fortune-ate cookie a Freudian slip or just a brilliant artist depicting what everyday people neglect to see?

    Also found in a cookie:: I contain MSG (message). 😀

    In India, I had the good fortune (and still do, here in TO) of eating Indo-Chinese food aka Hakka cuisine. With or without fortune cookies, this delish, yummylicious, searing hot (Chilli Chicken, anyone?) Chainese food delivers the kind of MSG that makes me sweat and smile all at once!!


    • October 28, 2015 10:41 AM

      Is there anything worse than cookie angst?? I’m broken up just thinking about it. Dang! Now I’ve got crumbs all over my keyboard… 😢

      My dear Radhika, you sweet nankhatai, you! That “art” behind the fortune-ate 😂 cookie is the good doctor’s diploma, which declares him qualified to treat pastry paranoia and various dessert delusions. So you’re right: it’s a psychiatry degree, which means it’s a Freudian slip of sheepskin. You can also buy Freudian slips in the women’s lingerie section, tho I daresay that’s something else entirely. Then there’s a Freudian shawl, also know as a shrink wrap… 😐🔫

      I contain MSG– ha! Everyone’s using acronyms these days, even cookies. LOL OMA SOTC (Latent Oedipal Leanings, Oh My Analyst, Still On The Couch) 💩

      Mmmm… Hakka cuisine sounds good. A great way to get chapped lips! Oh, waiter– I’ll have the Chilli Chicken, with a side order of Dong Bei Chow Mein, and don’t forget to put some General Tso’s Frosting on my fortune cookies. And be sure you take the cookies outta the crinkly wrappers before you put on the frosting… 🚑

      Thanks for a wunnaful comment which made me sweat and smile at the same time. And is continuing to do so… 😊


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