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July 2012

July 31, 2012

How To Make A Cloud

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A few years ago, I had great fun creating some great big clouds to be used at the entrance to The Farm Chicks Show. But before we got them to the show, we had fun with them at home. The boys thought they made cool photo ops.

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But how do you make a cloud?

It's actually pretty easy, as long as you have some time and a bit of patience.

To start, cover your work surface with a big sheet. Tape as many blown-up white balloons together as you like, to form your perfect cloud.

Next, mix up a big batch paste of water and flour and whisk until smooth.

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Gather up lots of newspaper or newsprint paper and tear into thick shreds (3"-6"). Dip shreds into the paste, removing excess paste as you lift from bowl, and smooth all over the balloons, until they are fully covered.

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Allow to dry completely. (This can take up to 24 hours).

Next, cover the clouds with pillow stuffing (polyester fiber). To do so, use a spray adhesive, and spray little sections at a time, and adhere little bunch by bunch of the stuffing. Repeat, again and again, until the cloud is all covered.

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And just like that, a cloud is born.

aecb60a724b2e7e32b6913d685d73ecfImage from The Farm Chicks Show by Christina G. Photography

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there, Username: thefarmchicks

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July 27, 2012

The Originals

Something I have great admiration for are the originals. Those people who have original thoughts, are creative, and do what they do because it's just who they are. I love that about my family history and know it's why I'm not overly interested in trends or what's popular at the time. I want to blaze my own trail.

Years ago, my mom and dad were blazing a trail of their own and my dad's amazing ability to turn waste into our family Gypsy Wagon was documented by Lloyd Khan in his book, Shelter. All images and copy are from the book, with the exception of my comments directly below some of the images.

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Some years ago Joaquin De La Luz traded his '48 Triumph motorcycle for this vintage Chevy flatbed, and with little money, much imagination, and found discards set about making one of the most unique homes ever to roll along America's roads. For the past five years, Joaquin, Gypsy and their three kids - Heather, Bear and Serena - have moved around the country and were last seen parked along California's Feather River. Following are some tips on mobile design, and living on the fringe prepared by the De La Luz family, and from the photos you can see it's true when Joaquin says: "I love trucks."

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I have found more freedom in my building designs by not confining my ideas to a planned form. If you plan what you are going to build then you have to find materials to conform to that plan.

Every area has its own unique throw-aways.

If you build a house on wheels it is best to build the frame of good solid material, preferably all the same dimension.

Bending bolt shank works better than lock washers on house trucks (esp. metal framework). See sketch above.

Never use less than 5/16" nuts & bolts on house trucks. (When bolting studs together).

Make truck level before starting to build.

Use a square: it pays off in the long run.

Notch every corner you can when building with wood.

Junk building material does not mean junk workmanship.

A good solid frame is most important even if you have to buy the wood.

I have found it  much easier to find building materials to cover a building with than to build the framework with.

Build house trucks with as low a center of gravity as possible, It is better to have steps over wheels than to have floor too high from chassis. This is very important. It means you can have more space inside and lower clearance from ground to roof outside. 4" makes a big difference.

Lower center of gravity also means much better handling on the road.

Heavy leather makes good hinges for cupboard doors.

A chainsaw can even cut round shapes like archs for truck roof.

I have found the chainsaw the most useful tool for my style of building. I used my chainsaw to build the entire framework for my house. It was built with green Douglas fir rough cut 1 x 4 that I bought new from a mill. Every board was dripping wet as it was winter in Oregon at the time. The chainsaw cut smoothly thru every board, an unequaled feat for sawing wet wood. A mini chainsaw is best for building with.

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Found fretwork adorns the handmade dutch door, the dishrack finds a home on the door, an old found animal horn tip works as a latch. ~Serena

Utilize beer cans by cutting them into pleasing shapes for shingles - light weight - no rust.

Use bailing wire for "ground wire" cutting electrical installation costs in half.

After cutting out rear wall in cab of truck, join house with cab with an old inner-tube, cut & tacked to keep air tight. (Rubber allows for movement between house & truck.)

The waste of America is the richest in the world.

Building with cast-out wood you are sometimes faced with cracked pieces - cut different shapes out of whatever metal is available & tack over crack to strengthen.

Old produce crates make great spice shelves etc., many uses!

Old cans that have been discarded such as anti-freeze cans of 1 gal. size cans, can be cut and used for punched tin cupboard, making holes with a nail.

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My affinity for calico was born with the curtains seen here. My mom's necklace doubles as a work of art in the window. A found tobacco tin holds pens. The treadle sewing machine I learned to sew on. ~Serena

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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July 26, 2012

A Recent Story...

This morning I thought I'd Share a recent feature from Spokane Coeur d'Alene Woman magazine. Special thanks to the magazine and writer Judith Spitzer for their support by writing about women such as myself in small business.

FarmChick

Farm Chick Serena Thompson

July 15th, 2012

It is 8:15 a.m. on day one of the Farm Chicks Antique Show and founder Serena Thompson props open a door to the entrance of the main County Fairgrounds Building in Spokane. Early admission ticket holders, mainly women, are waiting in lines, rain pouring down hard on this Saturday in early June. They don’t seem much bothered as they crowd in close together, three or four to an umbrella.

Clutching a cell phone and pen in one hand, Serena reaches down to push a wooden door jam under the door with the other hand, and pushes it into place with her foot. Dressed simply in a striped orange and white t-shirt, jeans and flats matching the bright tangerine in her shirt, she looks as calm as the proverbial cucumber. She is a little tiny thing, barely five feet tall, slender, with long, dark thick hair, parted on the side. She keeps tucking the hair on the right behind her ear to keep it all tidy and in place.

Minutes later 300 women stream through the doors. Some are soggier than others, shaking rain off umbrellas and jackets, most are smiling and carry at least one big bag. Excited and boisterous, these women are not quiet. The noise level in the entrance immediately goes up from about 30dB to over 85dB, roughly the same as a jackhammer at 50 ft.

They are here at this show because they are card-carrying members of a club that loves vintage, retro, recycle, re-imagined, reused, repurposed, handmade, shabby chic and junking. They also unabashedly love the Farm Chicks. It’s not just an antique show, it’s a happening, a gathering, a place to nurture themselves, other women and antiques used by other women (and men) back in the day.

Those who know Serena, and some who don’t, stop to get a “hi how are you” or a hug as she helps hand out flyers and quells any last minute conundrums via cell phone. The heavy lifting has been done over the past few days, but mostly over the past year since the last Farm Chicks Antique Show. This year officially marks the 10th anniversary of the much-beloved event.

While preparations for a show as big as Farm Chicks might sound like a crushing undertaking to the average entrepreneur, Serena says the show feels huge but not overwhelming. She works on the show every day from what she refers to as World Headquarters. “For the past two years we’ve been growing the business,” she says. “It was a challenge adding a new bay last year but now it’s really a well-oiled machine.”

The day of the show starts when she arrives about 6:30 or 7 a.m. “I just kind of get everything rolling for the day,” she adds. Two days earlier she and her crew, which includes oldest son Cody, 21, are at the fairgrounds working on displays, marking the floor for vendors and getting “the big pieces in place.”

“On Friday all of my vendors come in and set up; it’s fun,” she says with a smile. “It’s like a family reunion.”

Vendors come from Utah, Montana, Idaho, across the state and even as far away as Minnesota and Canada.

By Saturday morning, the day of the show, she says, “it’s quite calm and peaceful, all the work being done already.”

Serena calls herself a full-time mom but that’s kind of an understatement. She and her husband Colin have four boys ages 12, 13, 14 and 21. Which means when she started the sale over 10 years ago the boys were 2, 3, 4 and 11. “It was hard in the beginning,” she says. “We took the kids everywhere with us and at the show we would try to find ways to keep them involved. You always make do.”

Making do is something she knows only too well. She, her sister and brother were raised in the late 60s and early 70s by two “hippies” as she lovingly refers to her parents. “In the 60s they set out on a hippie journey traveling the country and doing what hippies did,” she says.

What they did was travel the back roads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico in a gypsy wagon where Serena was born, delivered by her father. Later they settled into a tiny cabin in the woods of Northern California.

“We were dirt poor,” she says matter-of-factly. She remembers going through landfills with her parents and collecting old toy trucks to use for storing onions or buttons or such. “My Dad would use old scraps of leather for hinges and my Mom would use old material to make our clothing,” she says.

Early on she was inspired by her parent’s thriftiness and style. “They were so creative. I gained a clever knack for thrifty creativity and turning ordinary objects into something useful.  And I dreamed of the home I would create for my own family someday,” she says.

As her family continued to travel she loved finding things others had thrown away and finding useful ways to reuse them.

At a certain age though, a girl just wants to be like the other girls. “When my sister and I got to be older and wanted to look like the other girls, my dad bought a converter, which is something you can attach to a car battery, and it takes a little of the juice and you could plug in a curling iron and have a few minutes of power,” she says with a laugh. “And then he rigged up something to hook up to the blower so we could attach a hose and dry our hair on the way to school.”

Although her early life was difficult at times, she now appreciates some of the hardships her family went through.

“I’m so thankful for that experience and I have a great appreciation for that because now I almost do better having less, and figuring out how I can make something out of nothing. I think if you’re born with everything you need, you don’t appreciate it as much,” she says.

“That’s how I was always raised. That’s how I got interested in antiques and being resourceful. For me it was something I really loved.”

Suffice it to say her gratitude didn’t surface immediately.

“The day after I graduated from high school, I moved to Barrow, Alaska to a tiny little village as far north as you can go,” she says. “There was a family there from my home town who ran an airline. I ended up being a ticket agent and thought I’d move there for the summer then come back and go to college.”

The summer turned into seven years. She ended up enjoying being self-sufficient and making a lot of money, a lot compared to what she grew up with.

Eventually she attended a “small vocational college” and met her future husband. She came to Spokane during a summer visit to “meet the parents” of her then-fiancée Colin. “I fell in love with the area and was so tired of no sun for so many months. Spokane is so beautiful in the summertime and we decided to move here,”

Thompson says.

Spirit of the Farm Sale

Before the Farm Chicks Show became the Farm Chicks Show, it was a little sale in a friend’s barn. Thompson asked her best friend Teri Edwards to join her in her venture of selling “funky old items” and within two years the sale was so popular they had to move it out of the barn to the Five Mile Grange Hall. They quickly outgrew that venue and moved to the town of Fairfield in 2004, where there were buildings as well as tents, erected at the town park for the growing number of vendors.

In 2009 there were two major shifts: Edwards retired from the business leaving Serena the lone Farm Chick to manage the business, and the show moved to the Spokane County Fairgrounds where it hosts more than 200 vendors and elbow-to-elbow shopping on the first day of the show. It is, according to Country Living and Flea Market Style Magazines, one of the best sales of its kind in the country. Both vendors and shoppers come from across the U.S. to attend the big sale. This year more than 10,000 visitors passed through the show in two days.

Husband Colin has always helped out in the business end of Farm Chicks, since he is a business manager and accountant; Serena relies on him to take care of the financial areas. “If a business doesn’t have sound financial footing you can really get into a bad situation,” she says. “I can’t do both things at one time. I can’t be creative (and do finances for the business) at the same time. It works out well for us so thank goodness,” she says.

Today she says she’s the luckiest girl in the world and wouldn’t appreciate what she has if she hadn’t experienced a childhood without all the necessities like indoor plumbing, electricity and luxuries like dishwashers and television.

Her creativity abounds. She blogs about all things domestic, vintage, crafty and foodie. She is a contributing editor for Country Living Magazine has authored two books: one with her friend Teri called Country Living The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen: Live Well, Laugh Often, Cook Much, and Country Living The Farm Chicks Christmas: Merry Ideas for the Holidays, which she wrote by herself. Both books center around ideas for entertaining, crafts and recipes woven through with delightful stories of family and friends.

What is a Farm Chick? A Farm Chick is a girl who sees the world through rose-colored glasses. She loves her family. She laughs a lot. She’s farmgirl meets Fifth Avenue and with a little style, she’ll change the world.

Note of Correction From Serena: Although the article states I was attending the vocational college in Alaska, I was actually an employee there, as was Colin.

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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July 24, 2012

A Weekend to Remember

We've just returned from Portland - a Mother's Day gift trip, just redeemed, from Colin and the boys.

Our destination was Portland's Culinary Workshop where Colin had booked some cooking classes for us.

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I won't exaggerate and say that Colin loves to cook. In fact, he does not, so the gift was extra special to me.

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I'd never taken a cooking class until this and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The first night, we prepared Vegetarian Vegan Delights and the next, Thai Street Food.

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Our chef instructor was Susana Holloway. It's funny how no matter where you go or who you meet, you'll always find others who are living out their dreams. And that's Susana. Time with her was warm, happy, and well spent. A real treat. I think any new knowledge is a gift.

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How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it.

How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it.

How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live 'em.

How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give 'em.

~Shel Silverstein

For more information on Portland's Culinary Workshop, click here.

To follow Portland's Culinary Workshop on Facebook, click here.

Special thanks to Susana and Portland's Culinary Workshop for a fun and memorable weekend.

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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July 23, 2012

Meet The Farmer: The Bosmas (Cherry Hill)

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I headed over to Cherry Hill to load up on some pie cherries. I love how some of their pie cherry trees mark the entrance to their farm where they can't help to just lure you in.

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Pie cherries tend to be smaller than other varieties, and a lighter, brighter red as well.

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They also tend to very juicy. My hands and arms are always left dripping in cherry juice when I'm done.

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Ronda and Jeff Bosma (and their children as well) have been running their orchard for over 12 years now. When they acquired the farm, many of the trees were dead or dieing and they were forced to remove all that couldn't be saved. And in the process, they planted hundreds of new ones. Their farm is host to hundreds of cherry and peach trees as well as raspberries.

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Two years ago they build their beautiful new barn that now houses their seasonal fruit store and antiques corner.

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Ronda Bosma (pictured)

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A few notes about pie cherries:

I find that the pie cherries tend to easily pull off of their stems when I'm picking them, which means one less step for me when I go to make my pies.

I use a handheld pitter to pit the cherries.

Due to the juiciness of the pie cherries, Cherry Hill lines their boxes with paper to soak up some of the juice. Even so, after a few hours, the juice will make its way through the box. It's a good idea to process your cherries soon after picking. (And don't worry, there's still plenty of juice in there to make your pies deliciously juicy).

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When you support your local farmer, your supporting your community as well. God bless the farmers who work the land and provide us with the food we eat.

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Ronda Bosma, (pictured)

You can find out more about Cherry Hill by visiting their website here.

My Meet The Farmer series is my way of shining a light on the wonderful farmers that work the land all around our home. Watch for more features in the series here on my blog.

July 19, 2012

The Float House

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It was a beautiful night at Nancy's float house. The mountains turned pink and the water smooth as glass.

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Pretty as a picture.

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Shouldn't life always be this way? Simple. Happy. Fulfilled.

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I say yes.

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A homemade treat.

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Summer's fleet.

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Life's complete.

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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July 18, 2012

Life's A Dance You Learn As You Go

42 years ago today I came into this world. Born in a little dirt-floored cabin in the woods where my parents had temporarily parked the gypsy wagon.

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Delivered by my father, with my five year old sister playing nurse. They named me Serena Melegra Ume De La Luz. Melegra meaning miracle and Ume meaning part you, part me - something that came into my dad's mind when he held me for the first time. "She's part you, part me!", he exclaimed to my mom. And so it was.

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Joaquin and Gypsy (9 months pregnant), my parents.

Today, as with every day of my life, I wonder at how I came to be. At what a miracle life is, no matter what we have or don't. And it's those thoughts that define me. That make me grateful for my roots that made me the person that I am today.

Life's a dance we learn as we go. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow. Don't worry about what you don't know. Life's a dance we learn as we go... ~John Michael Montgomery

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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July 11, 2012

Meet The Farmer: Roening's

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Today I went cherry picking at Roening's Orchard, just a few minutes from our home on Green Bluff. Rick and Claire Roening operate the orchard, which has been around since the 1800s.

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Rick Roening (right) and grandson, Nathan (left)

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The original farmstead barn, dating back to the 1800s.

Today I was on the hunt for the very first cherries of the season on the Bluff: Cavaliers. They'll soon be followed by Rainiers, Bings, and many more varieties. I really love them all.

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When Rick and Claire took over the ownership of the orchard nearly ten years ago, they promised to keep the original Royal Ann cherry tree - a favorite of the family. The orchard now boasts about 200 peach trees and 400 cherry trees.

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As is with all of the farms here on the Bluff, it's a family affair at Roening's. And there's just something very special about being able to buy your fruit from the family that produced it.

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You can find more information about Roening's Orchard here.

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My Meet The Farmer series is my way of shining a light on the wonderful farmers that work the land all around our home. Watch for more features in the series here on my blog.

 

July 10, 2012

Summer Fun

I'm the girl who wishes it were summer all year. Everything is just better when the sun is shining.

A few weeks ago, Heather and I got to spend some time together. It was laughy happy.

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The boys and I took a trip with my nieces, Chloe and Annie. It will always be one of my happiest memories.

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IMG_1549And other than that, I'm like a sun camel. I need to save it up for future months. Sigh.

In other news, Souvenir is here! Souvenir is here! What is Souvenir? It's the beautiful, wonderful grass-roots lifestyle magazine created by Heather. It's most definitely her most wonderful edition yet and it's available now. You can purchase it online here.

And just a little note about Souvenir... when you purchase this magazine, you're supporting other women out there like you and me who are just doing what they love. Living happy lives, making beautiful things, creating wonderful food, and making the world a better place to be. With no advertisements either. It takes a lot of hard work to put together such an amazing magazine.

Thank you for supporting Souvenir!

And happy summer to you.

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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July 09, 2012

Feasting At Home

Today I want to introduce you to Sylvia who has the most fantastic food blog, Feasting At Home.

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Here she is delivering some of her amazing food for a shoot I was producing.

It was a terrible, horrible stormy day and we were trying to shoot an outdoor event. In the hours we were sitting and waiting for breaks in the thunder, lightning, and torrential downpours, we had plenty of time to catch up. I loved getting a chance to visit with her as I find her work really inspiring.

Do you love beautiful, wonderful food? Then you'll love Sylvia, and Feast.

July 06, 2012

Word From the Country

Hi Friend,

I'm sending word from the country.

Summer is here and it's been so peaceful.

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We've been quietly traveling the backroads of this land that we love. Sometimes the sound of silence is the best sound indeed.

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I'm thinking of you while I'm about.

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Love,

me

P.S. I've answered your business questions here.

My friend's mom is doing lovely things. You can read about it here.

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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