Weekend Recap: Projects & Peaches

Saturday morning I took Kidd for a quick run. He actually went again later that day with Ivan, so he slept pretty good that night. We just bought him a new harness that fits him a bit better an minimizes his pulling. We really just need to put the time and effort into leash training him. He listens well, he just gets so distracted on walks.

That afternoon I went to check out the new Gordman’s that opened up in the Meridian Mall. The company asked me to check it out and do a post on my thoughts, so I browsed the whole store and did some shopping. I’ll post more on that later this week. I did find some great deals though! I got some reebok running tights & socks. I have an obsession with workout gear, it’s kind of ridiculous.

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When I got home I found that our travel posters arrived in the mail. I’ve been on a quest to de-girl the house now that Ivan has moved in and we’re doing sort of a travel theme in the living room. I found these great vintage travel posters online and I ordered a Detroit one created by American Airlines and a Phoenix one created by Delta Airlines. I think they turned out pretty great. I’ll post a step by step DIY post on them this week too. I couldn’t afford a custom framing and they are odd sizes, so I just hacked it.

Saturday night we went over to a friends place for a BBQ. We had a good time and ended the night with taboo. Ivan isn’t really big on games, but even he enjoyed it. Hopefully he’ll play more in the future.

Sunday was mostly spent cleaning. We also had my grandma over for dinner. We served up grilled chicken kabobs, salad and roasted butternut squash. For dessert I grilled up some peaches and served it with vanilla bean ice cream. It was the first time Ivan had ever had grilled peaches and he loved it. I have a feeling it might because a staple around here.

Today I am linking up with:
Erin at Her Heartland Soul for Weekend Snapshots
Tara at Running N Reading for Weekend Update
Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in my Mondays

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Weekend Recap: Wedding Bells & Weekend Projects

We had such a fantastic weekend. On Saturday we celebrated my parents 25th Anniversary. They didn’t have a big wedding the first time – they just went to the courthouse. So this time around, they wanted to have everyone there. We had the reception at the Hawk Hollow Chapel; it’s part of a local golf course complex.

We started the weekend off on Friday with a nail appointment and girls night dinner. Then Saturday morning my sister, my mom, my grandma and I all got our hair done together before we headed to the chapel.

For the reception we rented out an enclosed patio at a local restaurant. It was absolutely fantastic. Both of my parents were glowing all day long and it was just such a happy event. Plus, we got some fantastic pictures of our family – I can’t wait for the photographer to edit the pictures!

I spent most of Sunday relaxing. I had a few errands to run and I got a few projects started. I’ve been working on “manning up” the house. Ivan moved in right after we got back from Washington and the place is entirely too girly.

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I took down a girly mirror that I had in our living room and replaced it with two clocks. I set them for us (Detroit) and Ivan’s family in Phoenix. I’ve been wanting to do a project like this for a while and it was actually incredibly cheap and easy. I purchased this little blank sign from Michaels and broke it into two separate boards. I also bought black alphabet stickers while I was there so that I wouldn’t have to mess with hand-lettering or paint.

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I found some cheap clocks at walmart for $3.88 a piece. I spent a grand total of $16.01 on the project and I have to say, I’m pretty happy with it.

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We also ordered some vintage travel posters to hang on the opposite wall. Hopefully they’ll help de-girl the place a bit.

I also changed out the bathroom art. I did have this beauty quote framed, but I decided to switch it out for a little bit of OutKast love. Ivan thinks it’s funny, so it’s a win in my book.

Today I am linking up with:
Erin at Her Heartland Soul for Weekend Snapshots
Tara at Running N Reading for Weekend Update
Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in my Mondays

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Product Review: OZZY PAWS Deluxe LED Dog Collar

So, as I’ve told you guys before, our new dog Kidd is incredibly active. He’s very well behaved, but he requires a lot of exercise. We’re lucky enough to have a dog park about a mile away from us, but we usually just take him for jogs and walks.

IMG_0414 Because we usually take him at least twice a day, we often find ourselves walking him at night. Our streets aren’t very well lit in our neighborhood and many of them don’t have sidewalks. Our streets also don’t curve, so people tend to drive pretty fast. In my opinion, this is a recipe for disaster.

That’s why I bought the Ozzy Paws LED Dog Collar. It’s a dog collar that completely lights up, it’s not reflective, it’s LED and it’s $11.99 on Amazon. You can set it to 4 different settings (slow blinking, quick blinking, solid and off). It’s VERY easy to change between the settings, you just press a large button.

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My dog has a 17.5″ neck and I purchased the large size in blue. The collar seems sturdy, but I don’t ever use for leash work. Kidd has a harness that we use for walks, so I’ve never actually tested it with a leash. We only put it on him at night too, so we haven’t truly tested it’s durability. We really just use it for the light – and it does a fantastic job at making Kidd visible.

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I feel much more comfortable taking him out at night now. I like this so much better than a reflective leash or collar because it’s ALWAYS visible. I feel like the light has to hit reflective material just right and sometimes it’s too late. I still move way off to the side for moving cars, but at least I know they can see me.

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H54F: girls Nights & MSU Pride

1. Ivan’s Back Tonight
Ivan left for Arizona about a day and a half after we got back from DC. He left me with unpacked boxes, an overflowing house and a brand new dog. 2 weeks later… I’ve gotten about halfway through the house purge, unpacked all of our stuff and have eased into a new routine with Kidd. It’s our first time officially living together with all of our stuff. When we were in DC we subleased a furnished place, so I didn’t have to find a way to make all of our stuff fit. It’s actually been easier than I thought to throw a bunch of stuff to the curb.

Anyways, he’ll be back at about 10:30 tonight. He actually flew into Chicago yesterday morning for a few interviews with law firms. I’m ready for him to come home though. Its’ been a long two weeks.

2. Tailgate Ready
Kidd and I are officially tailgate ready now. The jersey I ordered from ebay ($13 WITH shipping!) for me and the bow tie collar I ordered from etsy for him have arrived. We are officially ready to hit the football tailgates.

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3. Date Nights with My Girls
With Ivan gone, I’ve had a few free nights to hang out with my girls. I had my friend Jacquelline over Tuesday for a night and movie night. We watched the Wedding Singer, drank some wine and babied the dog. It was a successful night in my book. Then on Thursday I met up with my friend Maurica to go see Trainwreck. It was the first time seeing her since we got back from DC, so that was nice.

4. Goodbye Lunch with my Mini
While I was in college I worked as a nanny for this fantastic family. They had one little girl and she became my mini-me. During certain times of the year, I’d have her 5 days a week. Since she started school and I started my big girl job, we haven’t been able to hang out as much. Now the family is moving about an hour and a half away and we had a goodbye lunch yesterday. I was sad to see her go, but I know we’ll keep in touch.

5. Back into Running
I’ve gotten back on the running bandwagon. Kidd is super energetic and requires at least two walks a day. We’ve been running in the mornings before I go to work and then going for long walks when I get home. It wears him out and keeps me on track with my runs, so it’s all good. That’s actually one of the reasons why we decided on him. We are both active people and we wanted a dog that could keep up :)

Running Recap
Sunday: 2.18 miles
Wednesday: 2.01 miles
Thursday: 2.26 miles

Also, while you’re here… be sure to enter my Neocell giveaway.

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Today I am linking up with:
Tif at Bright on a Budget for High Five For Friday
The Farmer’s Wife for Oh, Hey Friday!
Fitting It All In for Five Things

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Review & giveaway with Neocell: Beauty Biotin Bursts & Collagen Sports Recovery!

I received these products free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Biotin Bursts

I’ve had issues with my hair for as long as I can remember.  It’s thin, it’s fine and it comes out easily. I mean, really easily. Every time I brush it, every time I comb it, every time I shower… I find hair everywhere.

When I started taking these bursts, I didn’t really have high expectations… simply because my hair is so difficult. The biotin chews are supposed to increase the shine of your hair and the body of your hair. I was honestly suprised at how After a few weeks, I was able to comb my wet hair without shedding.

I did notice that my hair started to get greasy even faster than normal around the crown on my head. I used a clarifying shampoo to clean my hair out and that helped a lot. It took a few washes to get my scalp oils back on track, but now it’s all good. I’ll continue using these chews – I love how they’ve helped my hair. I have noticed that my nails are a lot stronger as well.

They taste great and are much easier to take than pills. I’m horrible at taking pills, so these chews are a fantastic alternative.

Collagen Sports Ultimate Recovery

I few months ago I took up running. I’ve been steadily pushing myself every week and I’ve gotten to wear I can run 3 miles straight. This might not seem like a lot to some people, but for me, it’s huge. My boyfriend is a big fan of pre-workout powders and shakes, but I wanted to try something to help me recover. When I ran across NeoCell’s Sports Recovery powder, I knew it was something worth checking out.

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I’ve been taking the recovery powder after my runs. I usually throw in half a serving of the power (15 grams of protein is enough for me) into my berry smoothies. I’ve definitely noticed that I don’t feel as sore the next day. My legs aren’t tight and I haven’t had any soreness in my knees. I tried the Belgium chocolate version and it tastes fantastic in smoothies.

The fine folks over at NeoCell are giving me a prize pack of these products to giveaway to one lucky reader. You can enter below!

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July Reading Challenge Update

I’ve been keeping on track with my goodreads reading challenge for the year. In fact, I’m a little bit a head. As of this morning, i’ve read 41/50 of my books. If you’re on goodreads, let be friends :)

july1 1. Defiance (Defiance #1) by C.J. Redwine
While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel’s father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city’s brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father’s apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Rating: 2.5/5
Thoughts: While I enjoyed the premise of Defiance, the book itself could not live up to it. The characters were rather flat and unlikable and the world building was almost nonexistent. Two major red flags for me.

2. A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House #1) by Kathleen Baldwin
It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…

Rating: 4/5
Thoughts:  A School for Unusual Girls was just a great time. It’s a quick, fun read that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Georgie and her friends are delightful, quirky and just plain entertaining. It’s a humorous and adventurous story that makes a great quick read. I’ll keep an eye out for the second one.

 

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3. By a Thread (Elemental Assassin #6) by Jennifer Estep
I never thought I’d need a vacation from being an assassin.

My name is Gin Blanco, and I’m the assassin the Spider. All the Ashland’s lowlifes are gunning for me and trying to make a name for themselves by taking out the Spider. So I think it’s a good idea to get out of Ashland for a while until things cool down.

So I’m headed south to a swanky beach town, along with my baby sister, Bria, for a weekend of fun in the sun. But when an old friend of Bria’s is threatened by a powerful vampire with deadly elemental magic, it looks like I’ll have to dig my silverstone knives out of my suitcase after all. But this time, not even my own Ice and Stone power may be enough to save me from coming home in a pine box.

Rating: 4/5
My Thoughts:
Spider’s Bite, the first book in this series was the first Urban Fantasy I ever read. Obviously I was a fan, because now 80% of the books I read are urban fantasies. By a Thread was a great addition to the series. It’s always a great time with Gin & company. I’d definitely suggest these books if you’re a fan of the genre.

4. The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

Rating: 3/5
My Thoughts: 
I’m having a difficult time putting my feelings on this one into words. I finished it in one sitting, so it definitely hooked me and held my attention. However, I can’t remember the last time I felt so frustrated with characters. Every single one of them irritated me and they all made reckless, frustrating decisions. America would completely change her mind within a matter of pages. She would be all in with one boy and then 5 pages later say she had no feelings for him at all. The next 5 pages, she’d change her mind again. I’ll continue reading it, because I just have to know how it ends, but I still am harboring some ill feelings towards this one.

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5. Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) by Ilona Andrews
On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Rating: 3/5
My Thoughts: I throughly enjoyed the beginning and end of this story. I loved the main character, Dina and I thought the storyline had a lot of potential. Things seemed a bit rushed for me (it’s a short book) and I wasn’t able to get too much of a grasp on all of the characters. All things considered, I enjoyed it, but I feel like there should have been more development.

6. Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts #5) by Stacia Kane
Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.
 
As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

Rating: 3/5
My Thoughts:
I was disappointed with this one. This series has been one of my favorites for a long time, but I was incredibly disappointed with the lack of character development in this latest installment. By book 5, I’m ready to see some development in the main character.

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7. The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson
Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

Rating: 3.5/5
My Thoughts:
I enjoyed the sequel to Kiss of Deception, but I liked the first book more. It certainly kept me entertained and intrigued though. I’ll admit I did skim through some of the fantasy mumbo-jumbo.

8. Outcast by Adrienne Kress
After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.

Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is.  He thinks it’s 1956.

Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass.

Rating: 3/5
My Thoughts: Outcast has a great premise but I was a bit let down. I loved the characters and I loved their interactions but the plot was just all over the place. I felt like I was waiting for a bit of an explanation and then in the last 15% of the book the author just threw everything but the kitchen sink at me. It was almost like the author couldn’t decide what she wanted the big reveal to be, so she just include all her possible ideas. It was too much. Plus, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the way it ended.

july5 9. TEN by Gretchen McNeil
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Rating: 2/5
My Thoughts: I read the book this is based off of, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, in middle school so I thought a retelling would be fun. Unfortunately, this did not do it for me. It was incredibly predictable, the characters were one dimensional and I just couldn’t get into it.

10. Earthbound (Earthbound #1) by Aprilynne Pike
Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told.

Tavia immediately searches for answers, desperate to determine why she feels so drawn to a boy she hardly knows. But when Tavia discovers that the aunt and uncle who took her in after her parents’ death may have actually been responsible for the plane crash that killed them – and that she may have been the true intended victim – she flees for the safety of Camden, Maine, where the boy she sees in her visions instructs her to go. Now, Tavia is on the run with no one to trust. No one, that is, except for her best friend and longtime crush, Benson.

Tavia feels torn between the boy who mysteriously comes to her at night and the boy who has been by her side every step of the way. But what Tavia doesn’t know is that the world is literally falling apart and that to save it she will have to unite with the boy in her visions. Only problem? To do so would mean rejecting Benson’s love. And that’s the one thing Tavia Michaels swore she’d never do.

Rating: 3/5
My Thoughts: This one had an interesting premise, but I was not a fan of the main character. She was very wishy-washy and I felt like it took her way too long to figure things out.

 

Today I am linking up with:
Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books

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Weekend Recap: Dog Allergies & Dress Shopping

I know I’ve been kind of M.I.A recently, but it’s been crazy busy around here. We got a dog the day we returned from our summer in DC and it’s been pretty non-stop from there. We got back on last Saturday, picked up Kidd that night and then I took Ivan to the airport on Monday. He’s still in Arizona visiting his family, so it’s just been me and the dog for the past week.

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Kidd is very energetic and requires at least two walks a day. He’s been an absolute doll, but it’s still a lot of work. Plus, I’m pretty sure he’s got some sort of seasonal allergies. He’s been red and pretty itchy. I was afraid it was the food I gave him, so I switched him back to what they had him on at the shelter, but now I’m rather certain it’s something outside. The vet told me to give him some benadryl to help him until we can get to our appointment on Tuesday. So that’s been fun.

He’s getting very attached to me though. When we first got him, he liked me, but he was more attracted to Ivan. Now he sleeps with mommy and loves to cuddle on the couch. He’s turning into a big momma’s boy. He’s been gaining weight too, which is fantastic. He was much too small when we got him.

My sister, mom and I have also been in scramble mode for my parents upcoming vow renewals. My mom has wanted to do a 25th anniversary renewal for quite a while, but because of family circumstances we thought we were going to cancel it. We decided to go for it at the last minute and now it’s about 2 weeks away. We just started planning about 4 days ago. We’ve already found her dress, booked the chapel and reception location and found our bridesmaid dresses.

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I’ve also been doing some major cleaning. Ivan is officially moving in with me now, so we’ve got all his stuff in my house now. Of course he left right after we got home, so it’s been up to me to make everything fit. Plus I’m a bit of a hoarder, so I’ve had to get rid of a lot of things in order to make room for him. I think I’ve been doing pretty well. I cleared out half of the closet space, which was a huge accomplishment. I donated 3 big trash bags worth of clothing. It was difficult, but it was necessary.

I also decided it was time to donate some books. I LOVE my books, but I felt it was time to part with some of them. Plus, I found out that yesterday was “Book Lovers Day”, so it felt right to give them new homes. Hopefully they will find a loving home :)

Today I am linking up with:
Erin at Her Heartland Soul for Weekend Snapshots
Tara at Running N Reading for Weekend Update
Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in my Mondays

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