Monthly Archives: December 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 19)

1.

Yesterday, I had the lucky occurrence to join the thousands of people who have dropped their mobile phones into the toilet. It was in my back pocket and flipped out. Mad Skillz.

2.

If you ever have the misfortune of dropping your phone into water, throw it into a bag of white rice ASAP. The rice will act as a desiccant and help to draw the water out of the device. Then start your Internet search on what to do next. Most will say, leave your device in the rice for 2-3 DAYS. Like I said, mad skillz.

3.

I usually don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I am going to take a stab at them this year. I resolve to read The Lord of the Rings and Anna Karenina, all the way through. With both of those books, I make a valiant effort and get started… and then… just… peter… out.

4.

DH and I are debating “camping” out for the Rose Parade. We are not allowed to occupy Colorado Blvd until 11a the day before (so Jan. 1 since the parade is being held on the 2nd due to city regulations,) however. Plus, I don’t know if an all night party with a 4yo and a 2 yo is really the best idea.

5.

DH was very generous this year and if you are on my Twitter feed, you know that I was the lucky recipient of a Dyson Vacuum. Little did I know that this marvelous piece of engineering would bring out some inner OCD tendencies and make my house cleaner than it has EVER been.

6.

At Christmas Eve Mass, the cantor was this amazing 13 year old (my guesstimate.) Her final communion song choice was “O Holy Night” and she nailed it. Then… everybody clapped. In fact, the people in front of us pretty much jumped out of the pew. OK, what’s the big deal? Clapping at Mass, for me, is a pet peeve of mine and I find myself praying about it a lot. Why? For me… when we applaud at Mass, it seems as if we are celebrating the person (the cantor or the priest) for something THEY have done, rather than saving our glory for God or that the Mass would be somehow less meaningful or holy if we didn’t have “performers.” Opinions on the matter really varied on my FB page, and then someone sent me the Holy Father’s view on applause during Mass.

7.

“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly – it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

Word.

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Be sure to head over to Conversion Diary to read more Seven Quick Takes!


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Things that I know

I may never have over 1000 twitter followers

I may never have over 1000 “likes” on my FaceBook page

I may never be invited to a big blogging conference

I may never be a popular “mommy blogger”

But I do know…

that for my husband, I am his Complement

that for two little girls, I am their first example of God’s love for mankind

that for my friends, I am as Christ to them and they are as Christ to me

that there is nothing wrong with having faith, in a world full of pain

that as a broken person, I am more than happy to lean on the crutch of Christ

And to steal from Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt, “…that may be all I need to know.”

(Image from Danyso.blogspot.com)

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What I’ve been reading Wednesday: December Blogs

OK I’ll admit it… much of my blogging time has turned into Pinterest time. It’s hard to find time to sit at the computer with the little darlings about and, as a dear friend of mine knows as we have been commiserating together, 4 year olds can be a beast on their own.

But with that said, I want to share some great blogs that I have been reading this past month:

 

Two Catholic Girls– two college girls writing about Catholicism. Makes me happy for the future.

Bad Catholic– I’ve been reading this one for a while. College guy writing about Catholicism. Again, makes me happy for the future.

The Nerdy Wife– She’s cute. She’s nerdy and she’s preggo!

Catholic NewlyWed– New mama and her DD has the SAME name as my DD2!!

 

There are more, so many more, but I want to same some for next month!

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Manners Monday: Reclaiming the fine art of the Thank You note

Ah. The day after Christmas. Boxing Day if you are in a Boxing Day country. Personally I think Boxing Day is a great idea… why don’t we have Boxing Day? Or just celebrate St. Stephen’s Day? I know, it’s just an excuse to go out and shop, but the extra bank holiday might be appreciated by some. Anyway…

Gifts have been unwrapped and put away. Paper and packaging has been cleared away. New play-doh that came out of the can in such vibrant colors are now a sad shade of beige. What’s next to do? Thank You Notes. Time to write the Thank You notes.

What?! You may think that Thank You notes are antiquated and a throwback to the dark ages before we had stuff like email and unlimited minutes and instant gratification but that is what makes Thank You notes (or letter writing and manners in general) is fine art that transcends all social and class lines. It really can be the great equalizer!

Writing a note by hand allows you to put to paper human emotions: joy, sorrow, gratitude, love, nostalgia. And if you think about it, those (and anger) are among the first emotions we learn to articulate verbally.

Before sitting down to write your notes, gather your supplies:

Pen

Paper

Envelopes

Address Book

List of gifts and their givers (if needed)

According to Margaret Shepherd, author of The Art of the Handwritten Note,  your Thank You Note should have five characteristics. It should be: generous, specific, prompt, succinct and personal.

Generous. Send the note even if you’ve already thanked the giver in another way.

Specific. Mention the gift but thank them for the THOUGHT behind it.

Prompt. Send the note right away, but don’t let lateness stop you from writing at all.

Succinct. Keep it short by writing about any unrelated matters in a separate note.

Personal. Write it by hand. No form letters, printouts or greeting cards.

Things to say:

Thank you so much.

It’s just what I’ve wanted

How did you guess I wanted a [the gift]

I am enjoying wearing, playing with, looking at, eating, listening to, reading [the gift]

You were so thoughtful, kind, generous

Things to avoid:

Thank you for the gift [this may imply to the giver that you have forgotten what they gave you or that you lost the gift. EXCEPTION: when the gift is money in some form. In that case, thank them for the “gift” but then be sure to tell them what you are planning to do with the gift.]

You shouldn’t have 

Thank you for dinner. [Was the rest of the evening just awful?]

I’m exchanging it. [Wow.]

IT’S THE BEST GIFT EVER!! [makes you sound a bit insincere.]

Now some of you, like me, are parents. And since you are a parent, that means you have children. If you have taught your kids to say “thank you,” you can teach them to write thank you notes! When it comes to kids, you have a new options. For the first five years, or so, you can write on your child’s behalf. I, personally, write in the child’s voice. For an older preschooler, they could dictate to you what to write or copy a few lines down that you have written for them (if they can write their letters) or they can write their name at the end of the note.

For older children, help them enjoy writing notes by employing some of the following tactics:

Schedule time together to write. We all know how kids fare better when they know what to expect and when, so set aside, in advance, a set an hour or so on a specific day to write notes

Support your child. Give your child their very own stationery and special pen. Make sure your child has all of the needed addresses or address the envelopes for them as they write the note.

Personalize it. If you child likes glitter, stickers, stamps, or the like, let them add the embellishments to their note.

Model. Your child will not want to write thank you notes if they do not see you writing notes. Just as your child sees you saying “Thank You” in person, let them see how that gratitude is translated into a thank you note. Make sure your child sees how enjoyable RECEIVING thank-you notes is by reading the notes you receive aloud and posting them.

Join them. Sit down with your child and write something as well: your own thank-you notes, journal, a letter, etc. If nothing else, it’s helpful for your child for you to be there, to offer support with spelling, advice and phrasing.

Have the gift at the ready. Kids are concrete. They remember the here and now, so it might be helpful for to have the gift in front of your child when they write. Ask your child how they felt when they received the gift. If they were not too keen on the gift, ask them to imagine how happy Auntie was picking out the gift for them.

Reciprocity. Help your child understand the pleasure people get from being thanked by making sure they know what it feels like to give a gift and then receive a thank-you note. If you write a thank-you note to your child, it is a concrete example of how thank-you notes make people feel. And how cool is it, as a child, to receive a thank-you note from a grown-up?!

I hope this takes some of the scare out of writing thank-you notes and encourages you to start a new tradition of your own!

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Filed under christmas, etiquette, family, gifts, holidays, manners, monday, mothering, toddler

Seven Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 18)

1.

A few weeks ago, I contemplated wearing a head covering everyday when I went out, rather than just at Mass. The thought being, if we are called to pray without ceasing, and since woman is called to cover her head when praying, then it follows that (a modest) woman should consider covering her head at all time. Right now it’s still hit or miss with me and it makes a great option when one is having a not so good hair day. (No worries, I do realize that the state of one’s hair should not be a factor.)

2.

Grandma sent this gift to the girls. They will absolutely love it, but I don’t think that the phrase “Pop N’ Lock” was meant to be used in this manner.

3.

One of the first friends I met here in Pasadena happens to be a hair stylist. I took DD1 in for a haircut and DD2 decided that she wanted her hair done too. So here she is, getting her first blowout:

4.

Pardon the blurriness… one of my handmade Christmas gifts to give. It was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest.

5.

Wednesday I talked about my favorite secular Christmas song. My favorite religious Christmas songs are: “Mary, did you know?” “Adeste Fideles” “O Holy Night” and “Hark! The Herald Angels sing.”

6.

Yesterday, my hubs surprised us by coming home at 2:30p. He had us all get ready to go out because he had a surprise for us. This is where we headed and we had a blast!

Seeing the girls on ice skates for the first time was pretty funny. They have these walker-thingies for the little non-skaters to use. I can tell you, I was really glad I took that ice skating class in Grad School!

7.

This is the photo that was chosen for our Christmas Card this year. I wish you all have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and Happy Winter’s Solstice!

Be sure to head over to Conversion Diary to read more Seven Quick Takes!


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My new favorite secular Christmas song

I usually do not play Christmas music in the house until after Gaudate Sunday, mostly because: A) It allows at least 2 weeks to focus solely on Advent and B) it keeps me from wanting to pull my hair out at the endless looping of the same songs.

This is challenging because, everyone else starts playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving! (Or earlier in some cases…) Now that I am playing Christmas Music in my house, I’ve decided that I have a new favorite secular Christmas song.

Past title holders have been:

Silver Bells

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

(It must’ve been) Ol’ Santa Claus (Harry Connick, Jr.)

Sleigh Ride

The Christmas Song

White Christmas

The Christmas Waltz

Usually, how it works, is that the favorites tend to get replayed over and over and over again. And, in an odd move by this ESTJ, I pick the song based on how it makes me feel! So this years’ favorite?

Baby, It’s cold outside!

 

I know, I know… I’ve heard it called the “date rape” song too, but come on! To me, it’s a cute, flirty song sung between a courting pair, back in the days of  gentlemen, ladies and scotch.

I love how she sings that her mother will worry and her father will be pacing the floor and sure it gets a little weird when she asks what he put in the drink and kind of funny that she’ll stay for cigarette more. And he lays on the flatter thickly: “Man, your lips look delicious” is repeated at least twice in some versions!

So, in my Christmas Playlist I have three versions:

Dino (Dean Martin)

Ella Fitzgerald

Kurt and Blaine from the Glee episode last year (2010)

 

So that’s it. Maybe it’s my song this year because here in Pasadena… It’s not so cold outside!

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Seven Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 17)

1.

My quick weekend trip back to Missouri was lots of fun. It didn’t allow nearly enough time to me to see a lot of people but I’ve already decided to make another return trip, sometime in the Spring and maybe I’ll take the kiddos with me.

2.

The reason I headed back was to attend the baptism of my Godson, and here I am with one of the newest members of the Catholic Church.

He just looks priestly, right? 🙂

3.

It’s a little over a week until Christmas. Guess who still has not found a gift for her husband. Yup. Me.

4.

The Bear has been pretty clear about wanting a Play-Dough Ice Cream maker and a Barbie “Beetle” for Christmas. She has become enthralled by Beetle cars… whenever we run errands, she keeps a running tally of Beetles. I wonder if I can find a toy Beetle that has not been branded by Mattel?

5.

Yesterday, using some Pinterest-piration, the kiddos and I made Salt Dough Ornaments. I used my KitchenAid mixer to knead the dough together but forgot to prick the ornaments before baking, so some kind of puffed up, but they look pretty neat. We are going to paint them today. You can find the original post, with directions, here.

6.

Yesterday, I started detoxing from sugar. You might think it’s extreme to call it a detox, but that it totally what it is. And yesterday was horrid! I let the girls have a TV day as I just felt ill all day: Headache, shaking, nausea, tired. Today is Day 2 and I am feeling much better. I am not as trembly and my head is not as achy, but not 100%. I am following the cleanse guidelines from here. I know that it’s crazy to start this right in the middle of the gluttonous season known as the holidays, but I like a challenge. Plus, I am really tired of people asking when the baby is due. I. am. not. pregnant. I just look 6 months along because I am perm-bloated and stoppered up. TMI, I know.

7.

Tomorrow, we bake Christmas cookies and make Christmas candies!! I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a masochist, but I’m starting to wonder…

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Thank you so much for all of your prayers, positive thoughts, cards and gifts! It really did brighten my life in this dark moment. It’s so hard being away from friends and not having a support system (yet!) and it’s great knowing that you are all there!

Be sure to head over to Conversion Diary to read more Seven Quick Takes!


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Words to live by, a farewell to Mom

A few people have asked me if I said any words at my mother’s funeral. If you know me well, you know that I did. What I had to say was short, sweet and not without a point. I think I drew a laugh when I walked up there with my iPad, but it’s so much easier than dealing with papers!  Without further ado:

On behalf of my mom and the rest of our family, thank you all for coming here today. You were all affected in one way or another by my mother and I know that she is glad for your being here.

When I was in my mid-twenties, my mother and I had an interesting conversation. It was a conversation about what she would like to happen in the event of her death. Up to that point, our family was no stranger to tragic events and while that was a very somber topic, it had it’s merits.

(A little history: My mother’s youngest brother was found murdered in his home around Thanksgiving. Her younger sister died from surgical complications around the holidays. My brothers lost both of their grandparents… around the holidays, and their father OD’d… can you guess?? Yup. Around the holidays.)

While the details may have changed, there was one point that always remained the same… that she wanted a true celebration of life. No mournful music, no wailing, no gnashing of the teeth. A true party, where people would exchange happy memories, look at old pictures, laugh and have a fun time.

(We ended up having mournful/ happy music. Somehow, the organist made the music mournful. Oh, well.)

She always said she’s prefer cremation over burial because she dreamed of having her ashes sprinkled among the elephants on the African plains. I told her that I’d take her to the Zoo and sprinkle her there and we’d call it even.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul reminds us to:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus.

We are not called to be overjoyed with my mom’s death but we are called to be grateful for all the ways she left her mark on our lives.

My mother and I had a bit of a strained relationship at times, but I will attest that the last few years have been nothing but joy, with a little exasperation mixed in for good measure.

Maybe 5 years ago, my mother became very interested in family history. She wanted to find out where everyone came from and how we came to be. I remember how excited she would be when a new lead would pop up on her ancestry.com site and she would either call, FaceBook or, her latest joy, text message me. She really missed the closeness of family that she experienced growing up and she began working on bringing the family closer, starting with reigniting family reunions. But, I think you will have to agree that this might be a drastic way to bring the family closer together.

If nothing else, please do not let my mother’s death be in vain. Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans across all ethnicities and accounts for half of the deaths of American women. Heart Disease kills more women than breast cancer, but yet it’s danger is relatively unknown.

To often, we as women put ourselves 3rd, 4th, 7th, or just flat out last on the list but that helps no one. You were put on this Earth for a specific role- one that no one can fully fill. I am blessed to have loving aunts, a fantastic step-mother and a wonderful mother-n-law to lean on in tough times, but they will never fully fill the void my mom left behind. Visit your doctor for a yearly check up, know your numbers, be proactive and don’t become another statistic.

If you have been to a wedding in the last 2000 years or so, you know what St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; than I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

My faith gives me the hope that I will see my mother again, united with He who is Love along with her little brother, little sister, parents and relations until the end of time.

So there you have it.

Little excitement heading my way… tomorrow I am quitting sugar COLD TURKEY. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow and why I am doing it (basically, I am tired, grumpy and tired of looking 5 months pregnant.) I am preparing my family for the evil beast that could result of sugar withdrawal symptoms. Stay tuned!
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Filed under family, life, wednesday

Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Homemade Gifts

We are down to  2 Saturdays until Christmas! I am hopping a plane back to the midwest to attend a baptism in a few hours leaving Daddy and Daughters home for a little Daddy-Daughters weekend, in which they will be taking the Christmas Card Picture (hint… The Wisconsin Badgers will have something to do with the picture!) and possibly getting the tree. I am a little sad to miss out on the tree hunt, but I am very excited for my Godson, Cazimir’s, baptism.

So far, we’ve covered ladiesgentlemen and those-hard-to-shop-for ; this week… easy-peasy homemade gifts for even the most non-crafty! I’ll admit right at the outset… some of these ideas came from Pinterest. Pinterest is a crafty and non-crafty girls’ dream! But beware… it can be addicting. You’ve been warned.

Fleece-Tie Blanket.

This is an easy craft that doesn’t take that much time. You need two pieces of fleece, both the same length. Lay one piece on top of the other and make continuous cuts around the outside, 2″ (5cm) in length. Once all of the cuts are made, tie one fringe from fleece #1 to one fringe of fleece #2 all around, using square knots. Once you’ve finished, you have a great, practical gift for anyone! One key thing to keep in mind, make sure your shears are sharp because fleece is very dulling.

Gifts-In-A-Jar

I personally love gifts in jars. They are pretty to look at. They store well and when you are done with them, you have a new jar! For most food-based gifts-in-jars, you will need a 1-QT Mason Jar with lid. You can jazz the jar up with some scrap fabric, ribbons and a hot glue gun. For bath/ beauty gifts-in-jars, the Pint Sized Mason Jar should suffice.

Chocolate Holiday Cookies (from Taste of Home)

1.5 c. All Purpose Flour

0.5t baking soda

0.25t salt

0.5 c Dark Cocoa

0.75c sugar

0.3 c baked brown sugar

1.25c red and green M&M’s

0.3c white baking chips

1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a 1 QT jar, layer (in order) the flour mixture, cocoa, sugar, brown sugar, M&Ms and baking chips. Cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to one month. (Makes 36 cookies)

To the jar, add the following directions:

This recipe makes 3 dozen cookies. Store the mix in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month. To make these festive cookies, you will need:

0.75 c butter (softened)

1 egg

1.5 t vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, egg and vanilla until well-blended. Add contents of jar and stir until combined.

2. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 in apart onto an ungreased baking pan. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in airtight container.

Mmm-Good Pasta Soup (from Taste of Home)

0.5 c. dried split peas

2T chicken bouillon granules

0.5 c dried lentils

2T dried minced onion

1t dried basil

1t dried parsley flakes

1 envelope vegetable soup mix

2c uncooked tricolor spiral pasta

1. In a 1QT jar, layer the first seven ingredients in the order listed. Place the pasta in a 1QT resealable plastic bag; add to the jar. Seal tightly, store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. (makes 3.5 QTs soup.)

To the jar, add the following directions:

This will make 3.5 quarts of a delicious soup… enough to feed 14 people! You will need:

Contents of your soup jar

10 cups water

3 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained.

1. Remove pasta from top of jar and set aside. Place water in a Dutch Oven; stir in soup mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Add the chicken, tomatoes, and pasta. Cover and simmer 15-20 min longer or until pasta, peas and lentils are tender.

Bath Seeds

1 c. baking soda

0.5 c citric acid (order online)

0.5 c cornstarch

2T plus 1t oil (almond, sunflower, coconut, mineral, canola or baby)

2t water

1-2t essential oil (order online)

0.25 t Borax

food coloring

Mix baking soda, citric acid and cornstarch. Mix the wet ingredients and the Borax and slowly add to the dry ingredients, mixing constantly. Mix SLOWLY or you will get bubbles. Pour into a 1 QT jar and add the following to the label:

Homemade Bath Seeds

Use 2-4 Tablespoons per bath

And now, from Pinterest!

Reindeer Thumbprint Ornament from Little Bit Funky

Memory Ornaments from InMyOwnStyle

T-shirt Shag Rug by Rags by Sock Monkey

Crayon Monogram by Chic and Chic Nursery (great for teachers!)

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Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! This has been a fun series and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!


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Filed under christmas, crafts, family, gifts, hanukkah, holidays, saturday

Seven Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 16)

1.

This is my first post since we’ve returned from my mother’s funeral service. As much as we tried to put the FUN in funeral, it was still a bittersweet event. Not only did people tell me how much I reminded them of her, but I’ve realized that my mom was a people collector just like me. She had made so many contacts and so many impressions that the fact that she was gone was very apparent.

2.

Case in point, after the military service at their cabin in the woods (and you could totally spot us city folk from the Nordwoods folk, by the fact that our feet were freezing as it had snowed,) the hubs, my BF and I headed into a bar for a beer. (It’s Wisconsin.) The other bar patrons asked if we were visiting and I told them that I was there for my mother’s funeral. A bit of time passed and one of them said… “Not Stephanie?! You look just like her!” Everyone in that little town knew her.

3.

One thing about funerals are the old pics that get pulled up. Here is a pic of my parents and my grandparents in the 70s.

IDK what gets me more… my dad’s hair and Tom Selleck ‘stashe or his 3-piece suit.

4.

One good thing about the trip is that we were able to introduce the girls to an Old Milwaukee legend… Real Chili!

They had hot dogs.

5.

For me, one of the most touching moments of our trip back was the fact that my husband’s family (Mom, Dad, Brothers, SIL, our niece and nephew,) as well as my dad and stepmother,  all drove over for the funeral. Why? In the words of my MIL: “Family is family.”

6.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. To celebrate, we made blue frosted cupcakes.

Can’t really tell in the picture, but the cream cheese frosting kind of took on an “odd” texture. But they were still yummy.

7.

Today, I tried to become an official California Resident. However, since the fact that I needed additional proof that I am an American Citizen was missed (needed to bring in a passport or birth certificate and marriage license) I spent 40 minutes at the DMV for nothing. The other gem of the day? Because we’ve owned the Swagger Wagon for less than a year, we have to pay the SALES TAX difference between MO and CA (even though the van was bought in MO.) That grand total was $1300! To register my car!  The DMV worker *suggested* we wait until after we’ve owned the van for a year to avoid the extra cash out of pocket. Hot. mess.

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Thank you so much for all of your prayers, positive thoughts, cards and gifts! It really did brighten my life in this dark moment. It’s so hard being away from friends and not having a support system (yet!) and it’s great knowing that you are all there!

Be sure to head over to Conversion Diary to read more Seven Quick Takes!

Tomorrow I have a 7a flight out of LAX but I will try to get my “homemade” gifts post out before then.


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