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I just sent out the December shipments for our earring clubs. This was the final month in our autumn round. The earrings this month are a little smaller and more casual than the two previous Autumnal offerings. I was thinking that after all the drama and sparkle, something that you could wear with a cozy sweater would be just about right and these are the perfect earrings for that!
I try to have a small bit of continuity between the two clubs each month. Sometimes it is the basic design or shape and sometimes a bead or stone. I like to keep the clubs related, but not matching. I thought turquoise would be a nice element for the December designs to have in common. I love turquoise and it just so happens that it is December’s birthstone.

The Fairy Tale club was designed around the tale of The Snow Queen.

I have always loved the story of The Snow Queen. In a nutshell, it goes like this. Once upon a time there was a boy and there was a girl, Kai and Gerda. Gerda loved Kai. Kai was a dolt and didn’t appreciate his good fortune. Naturally, shenanigans ensued. Enter the Snow Queen, who froze his heart with a shard of ice, swept him up into her sleigh, and took him away to her Ice Castle. Gerda, having none of that thank you very much, took it upon herself to save him and set out for the frozen north. Along the way she had many trials and in the best fairy tale tradition, she received help from the most unexpected sources, including a rather wise Bear. True Love did eventually triumph in the end. Gerda successfully made her way North without losing any toes to frostbite; she managed to defeat the Snow Queen, rescued Kai, thawed out his heart and then took him home to live happily ever after. The end.

I am fond of clever, plucky heroines who do the saving, as opposed to the ones who sit about wringing their hands, waiting to be rescued. Plucky heroines who are willing to talk to random Bears get bonus points and happy endings.

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In honor of wise bears and girls who listen, our Fairy Tale earrings for December are simple Zuni turquoise bears with AB crystal beads and oxidized sterling silver wraps.

Our Teahouse Travel Club went to the Himalayas this month!

If I were to list all the places I’ve ever dreamed of traveling, Nepal and Tibet and Darjeeling would be right up in my top ten. I’d love to see the snows of Everest (though maybe just from a distance, I don’t think I’d like to climb it). I love the art from this region, the tea that is grown here, the many cultures that converge here, and I love the food! So much history, so much happening right now, and the mountains are such an epic backdrop for it all!

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I loved these fun etched silver and turquoise Tibetan beads. I accented them with tiny faceted carnelian coin beads for a nice contrast of colors. These are light, funky and bohemian but still subtle enough that you could wear them just about anywhere!

Our Fairy Tales club got a sample of Snowbud tea from Adagio, in keeping with the snowy theme of the story, and our Teahouse Travel club got a sample of Golden Monkey from Harney&Sons. It is a particularly nice tea to enjoy with holiday treats.

Now that these are off in the mail, I’ll be turning my thoughts towards tea options and designing for the winter round. That runs January through March. Signups are live in the Etsy store and we still have spots left in both clubs. The new format of tea and shinies is getting a lot of great feedback from happy customers! I so hope you join us!

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Our new Earring Club format is getting raves! People love the new Fairy Tale and Travel themes and I’ve gotten such great feedback about the teas that augment each jewelry shipment. On a personal level, I’m really enjoying the enhanced creative scope, and it’s been pretty fun to pick out some fun new teas to share with you all each month. Not to mention, I get to try them too!

Signups for the Winter 2015 Earring Clubs are up in the Etsy shop – between now and January 15th. We’ve got two club options this time around, and there are only six spots in each club so you’ll want to sign up early and not miss out! Fairy Tales and Travel.

Each month you will receive a gorgeous pair of earrings inspired by a beloved fairy tale or an exotic place that you might like to travel to. You’ll also be getting a wonderful assortment of tea samples from some of my favorite tea merchants. Tea samples are generally enough for 2 – 4 cups, depending on the tea.
Each club is a steal, at just $99 for the entire 3-month club round, plus shipping. It works out to roughly $37 per pair of earrings, including the shipping charges. Most of our club earrings go on to retail for 2-3x that amount in our online shop and at shows. Club designs range from delicate precious metals adorned with elegant gemstones to chunky bohemian creations with art beads and hammered copper. You never know exactly what you’re going to get, but you can always count on something wonderful.

For November’s Fairy Tale club, we explored the story of Snow White, or the Snowskin.

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I’ve always been really fascinated by the Evil Stepmother. Why was she so evil? What happened to make her such an awful person? Was she always that way?

Fairy tales are often grim and the Snowskin’s sad tale is no exception. In order to get her happy ending, the poor girl has to suffer through an abusive childhood, waiting on seven slovenly (but kind!) little dwarves in an isolated cottage, several murder attempts that finally culminate in death by poison apple, and adding insult to injury, she’s kissed by an obsessive Prince who likes dead girls in coffins. But as with all good tales, in the end, good triumphs, true love wins, and Evil gets her comeuppance. In some versions, the Evil Stepmother is forced to dance in red-hot shoes at the wedding of Snow and Charming. In other versions, she is torn apart by horses. The Disney version is actually pretty mellow. Evil just falls off a cliff and she’s never seen again. We are left to assume she is dead, but then again she just as easily could be on a Mickey cruise, doing the limbo on the Lido deck.

I decided to design this month’s earring along the grim notes of the story. I chose the black druzy to be representative of the Evil Stepmother’s hard and blackened heart. The sterling bowl it sits in is, of course, a substitute for the box that Evil gives the Huntsman. “Bring me back her heart. Leave the rest.” Evil says. “Because, Evil reasons.” And you can’t really have a box (or a bowl) of heart without a little bleeding, can you? The result is a stunning ruby and druzy chandelier earring with some swing and drama, something that will work well at all the Evil winter parties!

The Fairy Tale Tea this month was in keeping with our theme, we sent sachets of a caramel apple tea from Adagio. A fine loose-leaf black tea blended with apple, cinnamon, and caramel flavors and I promise, all stepmothers and others involved with the making of this tea were of the Good variety!

Our Teahouse club went to Iceland, the land of Fire and Ice.

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Iceland is such a remarkable place with crazy contrasts of color and landscape, texture and extremes. I wasn’t sure which aspects to narrow it down to when designing the club earrings this month. I did the whole set up one way but I really wasn’t happy with them. After I did the Snow White design, I really loved how the crossbar and chain really set off the druzy, so I went back and totally redid the Teahouse set. For ice, I used a natural white quartz druzy as the focal stone. Each druzy is set off with Ethiopian opals above (Northern Lights), and luminous sunstone below (fiery volcanoes) – Iceland is the land of Fire and Ice, after all! I loved the contrast of the mixed metals – each druzy is wrapped in warm bronze and hung on cool sterling silver. These are warm and cool all at the same time, with all the swing and sparkle you could want in a holiday earring.

The tea sent out to our Teahouse club was a delicious white camellia sinensis tea called “Snowbud” from the Fujian region of China. It came via of my favorite tea merchants – Adagio Teas.

If you’re curious about what we did in October, well you can read about it here. December is the final month in the Autumn round and I’ve got some special treats lined up!

Our Winter 2015 Earring Clubs are going to be a lot of fun. The clubs run through January, February, and March. We will be exploring several of my favorite places and folk stories!

January: Little Red Riding Hood or Tudor England.
February: Beauty & The Beast or The Black Forest
March: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or Ireland.

I so hope you will join us! Signups for the Teahouse and Fairy Tale clubs are open now in our Etsy store! Space is limited!

Shop Update, part the first!

Working on a two-part, two-shop update this week! Today was a fun selection of earrings from our hand-colored “Artisan” line which all went up on the Etsy store today. They’ll be going up on our Shopify site later this week, along with a few other goodies.

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I’m really loving this hand-colored metal – it’s a lot of fun to do and it really hits the spot for me when I haven’t got time to paint!

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Some new Wax Seal options are up, compass roses are back and we’ve now got dragons!

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The nice thing about taking pictures of the new stuff? Totally a pants-free activity. Pajamas for the win!

When we first moved up to the mountains in 2013, I had three or four dream shows on my wish list. The two Fire on the Mountain shows, Twain Harte Art and Wine and the Sonora Christmas Festival, were really high up on that list. These shows were absolutely a “Congratulations, You’ve Leveled Up” kind of show for me. Imagine how gobsmacked I felt when Honey&Ollie was accepted into both! Actually, we got into all our dream shows this year. I guess that means we need to add more dreams to the list!

This past weekend of course was the Sonora Christmas Festival, and we had a wonderful time. It felt so great to wrap our 2014 show season up with a big, fun, family-oriented, local event like this. I enjoyed seeing so many of the faces that I’ve come to know over the last year and change. The FoTM community of artists is very tight-knit but friendly and we felt embraced and welcomed from the start. I feel like we made some new friends this weekend and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

There was some incredible pottery, art-to-wear clothing, great jewelry (we were proud to be included in such stellar company), and other craft categories in this show. Wood carving, photography, graphic art, weaving, great food and live music from bands like Golden Bough… there was oh-so-much to see and do! I finally caught up with a jeweler that I’ve been stalking online for a couple of years. I’ve coveted one of the sterling crescent moon necklaces from Mostly Sweet for ages. This year, I not only got one of my very own, but I got to make the acquaintance of the wonderful metalsmith who makes them. That was a real treat! Professionally she was really inspiring to me and personally she was just a really lovely person. If you like natural themes, clean lines and metalwork, you’ll definitely love her stuff too. I have a feeling I’ll be adding to my Mostly Sweet collection next year!

It rained all of Saturday and Sunday, which definitely cut down on the crowds a bit, but I’m starting to get used to that aspect of festivals in Northern California. People up here are pretty hardy and they do come out in the rain, if not in prolific numbers. Friday, the one day we had clear skies, was terrifically busy. All in all, we had fun, we made some money, we made some new friends, and we ended our 2014 festival season on a super positive note.

So what else is new in Honey&Ollie land?

Well! Let me tell you! I’m doing a small Etsy update with some of the new pieces that didn’t sell out at the Sonora show, so look for that later this week. I’ve got some fun new pieces in my patina’ed metal “Artisan” line.

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We added glitter… these were such a hit that they will definitely be returning to our lineup next year!

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I’ve got some other fun one-of-a-kind pieces going up as well.

The Winter Earring Club listings are opening up for enrollment at the end of this week! The new Fairy Tale and Teahouse clubs have been getting rave reviews. Space in these clubs is limited! There are only 6 memberships for sale in each club theme. Sign up early!

Listings for 2015 One Word necklaces and bracelets will also be going up in the Etsy shop soon and we’re offering updated versions of both designs, including a new, all metal version of our One Word bracelets. This was inspired by the many requests from our friends in the healthcare and culinary industries who have to worry about germs and frequent hand-washing! You will still be able to order the old style of silk wrap bracelet, but now you have choices and that’s always nice. Have you started to think about your word for next year yet? I’ve got mine, and it’s going to be a real challenge. Definitely one I’m glad to work with, though. I look forward to hearing all about your words in the New Year!

After all the traveling about to festivals we did this year, I’m feeling very grateful and happy that the rest of my work can mostly be accomplished at home, in my pajamas. Maybe I’ll put on yoga pants if I have to drive to the Post Office, though. Pants are never a bad idea when leaving the house, right?

Preparation for the Sonora Christmas Festival is in full swing here at the Honey&Ollie Secret Mountain Lair. I am a little bit panicked because I’m pretty sure I haven’t made enough inventory for what is reportedly a Big Damn Show. The show runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week and I believe that there is a small admission fee to get in to the Fairgrounds.

We have to set up for the show on Thursday morning, so we’re having our “just the highlights” turkey dinner on Wednesday. At least, that’s what I thought we were having. We had agreed that we were doing just a few of our favorite things, a mere nod to Thanksgiving. A “Skip the Turkey” nod to Thanksgiving. And yet, somehow, our nod to Thanksgiving has since morphed to include the turkey, gravy, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry, stuffing and not one but three kinds of pie.

I’m not sure what happened to my cunning plan. My, We Are Not Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner This Year Because Big Show Is Big And I Have To Prepare, Set Up, And Also Have A Panic Attack In My Studio on Thursday, plan.

I blame my mom because she’s the one who is insisting on lugging a turkey up the mountain tomorrow.

Me, two months ago: “Mom, don’t order a turkey. We’re just gonna cook a turkey breast or something.”

Mom, every week since two months ago: “Are you sure you don’t want me to order a turkey?”

Me, every week since then: “No Mom, I’ll buy a turkey breast and maybe a thigh.”

Mom: “Because, I could just order a turkey.”

Me: “Mom, really, I don’t want to cook a big meal, we’ll just do a breast.”

Mom: “How about I buy a thigh and a leg and the wings and the breast??”

Me: “Somehow I feel that you are missing my point.”

My mom: “HALF A TURKEY.”

Me, sighing: “Fine. Ok. Half a !@# turkey.”

Mom, a week later: “The butcher won’t sell me half a turkey.”

Me, burying face in palms, smacking head against dining room table: “Ok, how about I just get us a turkey breast.”

Mom, triumphantly: “I BOUGHT A TURKEY!! IT IS A CUTE TURKEY. 8 lbs of TURKEY! IT IS SO SMALL IT IS NOT TURKEY LIKE AT ALL THEREFORE I HAVE NOT VIOLATED THE TERMS OF OUR ACCORD.”

Me, giving up: “Fine. FINE! OK. Fine. We can cook the turkey. I’ll order a pie, we can make a small pan of stuffing and THAT IS IT.”

Mom: “Gravy.”

Me: “Ok. OK. Gravy. You can make gravy.

Me, later: “Actually I would like to whip up a small batch of sweet potatoes.”

Mom: “YAY SLIPPERY SLOPE! WINNING!”

Me: “…”

Mom, later: “Also I got a bag of these little Yukon potatoes. Just to toss in with the turkey.”

Me: “Giving up now.”

Mom: “Happy Dance Of Holiday Triumph.”

So… turkey.

I think that the next time we have a parley to agree on “just the highlights” I am going to get her to write down what the actual highlights are. And then I will engage a notary. Because between you and me? The list of “Thanksgiving highlights” keeps getting longer. I’m all, “Yo I thought we, like, came to an accord?” and Mom is all, “THE PIRATE’S THANKSGIVING CODE IS MORE LIKE A SET OF LOOSE GUIDELINES!”

I give up. Just hand me that pie plate, will you?

I probably won’t get back online before the holiday, so I am giving you your Black Friday Weekend Holy Cow There’s PIE! ShoppaPalooza Holiday Goodie a few days early. Just use the coupon code OLLIEFREE when you check out on our Etsy store – it’s good until Sunday night – and it will give you free domestic shipping.

Oh and hey, speaking of our NOT-Etsy store? It is now totally integrated with our Honey&Ollie Facebook page! Just click the green shopping bag under “Apps” on the left side of our page. Now you can totally surf the endless scroll and order earrings at the same time. WINNING! Unfortunately I haven’t figured out coupons there yet, so if you want the free shipping, you have to go to Etsy.

Happy Thanksgiving from the cats, the Captain, and me. We all have a lot to be thankful for this year. Not the least of which is all of y’all who have been so supportive of H&O this year. I throw you air kisses! MUAH!!

I’ve been compiling a list of events that I’d like to do next year. Some of them are a no-brainer. They were great when we did them this past year, we made good money, and of course we’re doing them again. And then… alas. There are a couple of events that we should not do again. We did not do well at them and I have no reason to think that the issues we had with them will change for the better. Yet here I am, struggling to cross them off of my master list of possibilities. Why? Well because they could potentially be awesome, if the stars aligned and reality totally reversed itself. Shutting off a possibility pains me, even when “THIS SUCKED!” is staring me right in the face, screaming.

It’s hard to say “no” to All The Things, isn’t it? I have always found it hard to connect with the idea that possibility does not equal reality. I was recently reading an article about Generation X hitting middle age (Gen X referring to those of us born who were born between 1965 and 1985 or thereabouts) and one of the points the article made was that it can be really hard for us – keep in mind that we’re talking about a very generalized characteristic of a group as a whole, here – to narrow our options down. The author’s theory was that, as children, we were told so often that anything was possible that it crippled our ability to settle on one thing. We don’t like to shut doors on possibility. We want to keep our options open.

I can’t speak for anyone else in my cohort, but this has been a recurring theme in my life. It began with elementary school report cards. “Rain is not living up to her potential as a scholar of advanced mathematics.” Well… no. Because, math. I was all about the potential in reading. Sorry Mrs. Kepner. But thanks for turning me on to Babar the Elephant! Don’t you fret about those addition tables.

See also: Dating, in my teens and early 20’s. “But he has the potential to be a really nice guy! I know he’s unemployed/is named Spike*/is commitment phobic/taking hormones for a sex change but didn’t actually tell me that he identifies as F not M until we’d been dating for 3 months **/has 4 girlfriends and thinks he would like to add a 5th***. No really, this relationship is potentially amazing!”

Apropos of nothing, I have a pet theory that most people who openly identify as polyamorous were probably born on the Gen X spectrum. I’d guess that the majority of statistical outliers (age wise) are actually pretty close to the cusps on either end, too. Heinlein may have planted some conceptual seeds, our parents may have had their key parties in the era of Free Love, but we’re the ones who took our 3 and 5 parent households to PTA meetings.

College? I’ve been going to junior college off and on for the last 25 years. Graduate? Why bother? Hey, I haven’t tried statistics and I just love a challenge. Sign me up! How about another anatomy class? Library science? Nursing? Art! I’ve had a great time at the smorgasbord of higher (ish) education, and I still have no desire to declare anything major. I mean, why? Fuck it, I’ll graduate when I’m 90. Maybe. Is an actual diploma really that important? That raku pottery class does look interesting, doesn’t it?

Narrowing my creative business down to metal and stone was a challenge and I still keep trying to figure out how to add a tasteful line of knitted accessories.

Religion? I know I was born Jewish, but Buddhism looks good too. Can I just take the high points from each and still eat bacon even though Leviticus says NEIN! and the Buddha says it is fraught with suffering and crap karma?

Heck, it even bit me in the ass with Crafted, “It’s got so much potential! Never mind that it’s at the ass end of nowhere, in a lousy location with no amenities, no foot traffic, and only a 50% occupancy! It’s going to be great! I will now proceed to throw buckets of cash at all the potential that is inherent in this scheme!”

Yes! And magic elves are also going to appear before me, with glitter mai tais, ice cream, and a pony!

If we are a generation that insists on embracing the power of And, then I am a pretty good example of that. Still, the idea that maybe I can start to narrow it down is not the most horrifying thing I’ve ever contemplated. I’m starting to accept the idea that potential is all very well and good, but you can’t take it to the bank. I’m even toying with the idea of making “No” my One Word for 2015. It’s a really challenging concept for me. It isn’t that I want to spend a year as the Enemy of Possibility; it’s just that I’d like to explore the idea that I can actually shut some doors and the world won’t end. Maybe bringing a little focus to bear is not the worst idea I ever had.

In the end, I did cross those two shows off my master list. It was hard and I keep feeling this strong urge to add them back. I will hold firm in my resolve! It’s ok. I can do this.

Besides, I found six other potential options for those weekends, anyway.

* Mostly I was just in this one to fuck with my mother, who could not embrace anyone named “Spike” no matter how hard she tried to be enlightened about it.

** True story. I was only 18 at the time and the idea that gender identity might not always mesh with physiological gender characteristics had not yet crossed my reality. Until that fateful day when the difference between physiology and identity came to the door wearing a lacy black negligee and I thought we were just going out for a casual movie and some Thai food. Surprise!

*** I hear that his romantic life doesn’t look quite so much like a Cirque Du Soleil juggling act these days.

Actually it’s the day after the day after the day that went sideways and things Chez Nuthouse have calmed down a lot. My blood pressure is pretty much back to normal and I no longer feel like my head and chest are going to explode. Lemon berry pancakes were finally acquired, the car made it home and the cats were super happy to see me come in the door. Ok, they were probably just super happy that the woodstove got lit, but I cherish my illusions.

The last Faire of the season is done and it finally feels like there’s a quiet space to sit down and relax. Except not really, because the biggest show of my year is in very 2 short weeks! I have to resist the allure of the cozy woodstove and the recliner that sits right in front of it (The Vortex of Nap), get into my (chilly) studio and start cranking.

I was in Costco yesterday, grabbing a prescription, and it is like Christmas threw up all over the store. Guys, can we slow down? You’ve had that stuff up since before Halloween. What about Thanksgiving? How can we skip over pie like this? Won’t someone think of the children pie?

This little Sonora holiday festival we are doing on Thanksgiving weekend is so wonderful, so magical, and such a treat to participate in, but the one downer is that we have to set up on Thanksgiving Day! Mom and I have to figure out how to do our turkey dinner and a show setup. Since I am local to the show, we have that luxury – we are applying creative stratagems as “do the bulk of the cooking on Wednesday” and “order the pies from the Sugar Shack” and “no nasty green bean casserole.”

It’ll be fine. It is just a shift and I really had to think about it before I applied to the show. I guess that’s what we all have to do as shoppers, business owners, artists, whatever. Find our balance with the season.

The truth is, I really don’t know how to handle the holidays gracefully. As a consumer, I just want a little peace and quiet. As a retailer, I’m being bombarded with helpful advice from “experts” and most of that advice boils down to “email lots” and “bombard them with your awesome” and “it’s all about the money.” I am left with a over-whelming sense of, “No….” in the face of that. Does my awesome have to bombard? Is shock and awe really a viable marketing strategy? How about an expression of core values in the way we choose to comport ourselves this season?

The pressure is tremendous on everyone this time of year. I have to work hard not to buy in to it. What if I miss out? What if people forget about me? What if sales tank and I can’t pay my rent? This happens every year. The experts say, “You are doing it wrong.” but when I am quiet and listen, and can disengage from the suggestion to feel fear over losing sales, I feel like I am doing it right.

Since I am going to disappear into the studio for 2 weeks, I thought I’d get this out of the way now. Here is what’s going to happen in the land of Honey&Ollie this holiday season (hint: it’s pretty much the same thing that happens every season).

1. A fantastic, fabulous, and exciting Etsy coupon code is going out to the mailing list sometime in the next week. That coupon is good from when it goes out to the list until the end of the year. Pre holiday, post holiday, you can use it any time you want, as many times as you want, up until New Year’s Day. You can sign up for the list over to the right there on the right, see? There’s a widget.
2. I am offering free shipping on Etsy orders on Thanksgiving weekend. The coupon code will go live on the blog on Black Friday morning. You can’t double up coupons, alas.

After the coupons go out, you won’t get any more holiday-specific emails or blather from H&O. Shop updates will be on the blog. The Earring Club signup notices do go out to the mailing list in December and I’ll be posting about them here as well. And, I will probably want to wish y’all a happy holiday at some point!

And that’s it.

Important shipping and ordering info!
1. The deadline for shipping in the Continental US is December 15th. I am not shipping after that date! Both the website and the Etsy shop will be on vacation from Dec. 16th until Dec. 26th. Both shops will re-open for orders on Dec. 26th, but we will not be shipping any product until January 5th. I need a vacation!
2. We stop taking custom and double wax seal orders on Dec. 10th, so I can meet the deadline and get you your goodies in time.
3. Gift-wrapping is always free. Just ask for it when you check out – in the convo section of your order form.
4. We ship anywhere in the US for you, if you give me the address where it is going. I’ll even write out a nice tag with whatever you want it to say!
5. You can upgrade to Priority shipping more easily this year, we’ll have an Etsy listing that you can add to your order for the extra postage.

I am not just grateful for my wonderful customers during the holidays. I am grateful to you all year round. I do not want to be like the big box stores and add to your holiday stress. Whether or not you choose to shop with H&O this season or not, please know that you are oh so appreciated by me.

And those turkeys, red maple leaves and pumpkins are staying up in my windows until December, oh yes they are! Twinkle lights are pan-seasonal, but turkeys need love too!

xo

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