Monday, April 14, 2014

April Showers Bring Paper Flowers!

Well, Spring is definitely here.  I had my first major allergy attack the other day - I spent most of the morning feeling a sneeze coming on, then once I sneezed, I couldn't stop!  It went on for a couple hours.  Riddikulus.

Luckily, these flowers don't emit pollen spores, so feel free to skip the antihistamines!  I found my inspiration over at Susie Harris.  Her project uses large egg forms and solid colors, but are stunning!  I recommend checking hers out, too.

Here's the list of the supplies:
  • various shades of stock paper
  • various patterns of scrapbook paper
  • a medium flower punch
  • boxes of corsage pins (found in the wedding section) - amount depends on how many balls you plan on making and the number of flowers per ball
  • smooth Styrofoam balls and/or eggs - I ran out of eggs, so I started with the balls I had on hand 

I love trips to the craft store.  I don't take them very often because we can't afford it.  I tend to get carried away.  The Big Guy is... less enthusiastic.  It's like clothes shopping for him - unless it's Victoria's Secret, he's not interested.  Men.

As for my wallet, this craft was kinder than most.  Stock paper and scrapbook paper are cheap in the singular, so that's a bonus.  Plus there is always some fun patterns and colors to work with, with every season creating more to pick from.

I started this craft before I got around to taking the pictures, in case you couldn't tell.  At least there was enough left undone.  And my enough, I mean a lot.  Like I said - carried away!  I also started with some egg forms that I had on hand - you'll see them in the pictures.  Then, when the trips to the craft stores yielded a lack of more egg forms, I moved on to the... round ones I had on hand + I bought another pack of six.

Speaking of "carried away", I was filling my Brita water container and found that my kids decided the fridge needed decoration.  You know the produce stickers on apples, oranges, and the like?  Yeah... stuck on every surface, even under one of the shelves!  (I only know that because our fridge shelves are clear - lucky me.)  I picked off as many as I saw, but next time I'm in there, I'll probably find more.

I recommend punching all the flowers out ahead of time - it's the most time consuming part.  No, really.  It seems like it's never going to end.  I promise it does, though!

Isn't Little Miss Sassy Pants a great hand model?  You know, except the chipped nail polish.  Ha!  She love to paint her nails - spends her allowance on nail polish, changes it often.  The bad part is that she forgets to open a window during the process, so we all get bombarded with the stench.  It doesn't matter how many times I remind her.  The joys of pre-teen girls.

So, after you've punched out all your flowers, it's time to start pinning.  One corsage pin per flower is all that's needed.

The easiest way I found to start is by laying the flower on the Styrofoam form where you want it to be, then stick the pin through the paper, into the form, as close to the center of the flower as possible.  Offsetting the stock paper and scrapbook paper has the best effect.

I used the line separating the two halves to be a great starting point.  It keeps the first row somewhat straight, setting a good foundation for the rest of the... project.  

I'm trying really hard to to say ball here, even though that's what they are.  It turns into the gutter in my brain.  Let's face it, most things do.  I'll admit it.  My brain is the gutter blockage yours needs to get by when you're trying to float by.  Sorry about that!

The first line is done.  Simple.  LMSP says it looks like a head-wrapping braid.  I thought "halo" or "headband" - but I like hers, too.  I really need to talk to her about cleaning under her nails...

She asked me why her brothers never want to help me craft.  I wasn't sure how to answer her.  All those old-school gender affirming roles came to mind, but I don't want to teach my kids that girls do certain things while boys do other things - that they don't co-mingle.  Especially in this "enlightened" age.

So I said it was because they would rather play video games, which is true.  A mother's job and all that...

After the first line, I transected the... form... with a not-so-straight line, creating some not-so-equal quadrants.  These sections being equal is not important, just FYI.  That was the point I was trying to make.  Perfectionists, beware

From that point, it's just a matter of filling in the quadrants.  Use your best judgments and realize that some of your flowers may end up being really close together, in order to cover the naked... form... completely.

I liked to start the quadrants in the area with the smallest angle, then continue until it's full.

The finished project.  Looks fabulous, doesn't it?  There's a small catch →  you remember that game, Kerplunk?  The one where you pull the sticks out one by one, trying not to make the... marbles... fall?

Try doing that backwards, without the... marbles.  Sometimes, sticking the pins in, you may find... well, another pin.  There's an easy fix for that.  Just pull out the pin and re-position it.  No big deal! 

I wanted a wire basket, but was in too much of a rush to look for the perfect one, so I ended up with a clean, white, Easter basket for display purposes.  

Well, that's it!  I imagine I'll be doing these for other holidays.  One of LMSP friends' moms came over and said that she had made ornaments for the Christmas tree that were like these.  Ideas, ideas!

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Only the Best

These are all about our bests!

1. What was your best birthday?

It's a toss up.  I believe it was my 10th birthday - my parents threw a surprise party for me at Godfather's Pizza.  It was awesome!  It was the one and only surprise party I've had, so it's an extra special memory.

The other would be my 21st birthday, but not for the reasons you may think.  All the guests at my party were friends of The Big Guy's, though I knew a few and I was the only one not drunk.  I got my buzz on then spent the evening chilling out and playing video games.  It was bliss, in its own way.

2. What was your best vacation?

Vacation?  What's that?

As a child - well, I was almost 17, but still - my parents took me on a work vacation.  Dad had a conference he needed to attend in San Antonio, so Mom and I tagged along.  We went to Six Flags and Dad rode all the rides with me, which I'm sure was terrifying for him - that's what made it so special.  I also ended up almost dying because of that trip, but that's another story.

Now that I'm all grown up (pfft - right), I haven't taken a true vacation, except last year.  The Big Guy and I rented a suite at the Golden Nugget in Wendover.  It had a Jacuzzi in the room and everything.  It was for our 11th wedding anniversary, so we went all out on the room.  It was fun.  We spent a lot of time in the Jacuzzi and even more time at the Black Jack tables.

3. What is the best date you've ever been on?

I'll be honest.  I've only ever been on one traditional date.  It was with this boy, back when I was in my mid-teens.  We went to Olive Garden, had Tiramisu, then made out in a photo booth (sorry, Mom!).  But it's wasn't the best date or even the most memorable.

Since I don't have a basis on which to determine my best date, I'll share my most memorable, instead.  

It was what The Big Guy and I consider our first official date.  It was July 4, 2001.  We spent the day together, then when night rolled in, we hung out at a friend's place for fireworks.  [The friend's] Dad was drunk and the one operating the fireworks, so you can imagine.  Then there were the tweakers at the end of the complex - one of which happened to be [the friend's] ex-wife - who decided to shoot bottle rockets at us.  It was intense and scary, but The Big Guy was amazing and protective.  There were more fireworks between us than in the sky above - I loved him even then.

4. What is the best movie (quality) you've seen?

Gosh.  These questions aren't easy!  There are so many quality movies out there.

Les Misérables is amazing.  I've seen it on stage, in French, so I understood the basics.  Watching the movie was enlightening and even more heartbreaking with that understanding.

Donnie Darko also comes to mind.  It's twisted, sure, but it also gives insight into mental illness and has the plot twist to end all plot twists.

5. What is the best TV show ending of all time?

Are we talking a - single show within a series - ending or a series ender?

In my experience, with the shows I've watched, the series never end well.  They end with too many questions unanswered, due to the fact that they are cut without notice.  I've only seen one show (so far) that went through all their seasons and closed out the series on purpose: Dexter - that was a terrible ending.

If you want to talk singular show, I wouldn't say it's the best ending ever, but again, it's one that I've remembered years later.  It was a CSI: Las Vegas episode a couple seasons back, when Laurence Fishburne was still on the show.  There was a killer that dressed in custom latex, used vague representations at the crime scene that explained everything and nothing, and even his name was false - an anagram.  Ian Moone - I Am No One.  They never solved it.  Come to think of it, I should write a letter.  I want to know what happens!

If you created this gif, please let me know so I can credit you.
Seriously creepy, right?

Thanks for joining me for another Sunday Social!  

What are your bests?

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Murder, She Wrote

Today's post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, but here’s a fun twist; those participating don't know who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now...

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them. Here we go!

My words are: hopeless, one thing after another, endless chatter, elated, victim
Provided by: Battered Hope 

His skin was smooth, the color of satin sand, another anonymous face in the crowd. He was disheveled in a tragically beautiful way. Strands of cocoa bean hair fell into his gunmetal blue eyes. It was love at first sight.

Dax was rushing from the coffee shop to work, late again. Today could very well be the day his boss fired him. He knew his performance was down, due to his sales. People were being smarter about their money these days and had a low tolerance for telemarketers, making it a rough business to be in. If it weren't for the fact he was behind on his rent and had no impressive, marketable skills to find a better job, he would have quit long ago. He was stuck.
Keeping his head down, he traipsed to his cubicle amongst the endless chatter of industrialism and brash bargaining. He plopped down in the uncomfortable chair that was his work home, without even an impression of a window to help pass the time.
Welcome to the cube farm, he thought wryly, powering up his computer and donning his headset. The next few hours were spent reciting blind dialogue and staring drowsily at the partitions. Dax was startled out of his mindless reveries by a low whistle from the next stall. Popping his head up to peek over the low wall, he noticed several other male colleagues had done the same.
“Looks like Clinton has the day off. Damn! Check her out, dude. She is sizzling,” Harvey, Dax's cube-neighbor whispered. “The things I could do to her!”
“Yeah, in your head, Harv. When's the last time a real woman even looked at you, besides your mom,” Dax replied. Harvey turned his head and grinned shamelessly.
“Wouldn't you like to know.” Shaking his head, Dax scanned the room for the subject of the conversation. His eyes landed on the food cart, his stomach reminding him painfully that he had skipped breakfast – again. No hot female in sight.
“Hey, the boys and I are headed out to Ninety-Nine after work. It's dollar draft night. You in?” Harvey said, drawing attention away from thoughts of food. Dax raised an eyebrow at the request, then reached for Old Faithful.
“Geez, dude. I'd love to,” Dax said, then flashed Harvey the bronze chip he received for 2 years of sobriety. “But I'm tapped out. Like I've been the last few times you've asked. You got Alzheimer's or what?”
“Shit, man. They serve more than alcohol there, you know,” said Harvey.
“And I'd rather not tempt myself,” Dax replied. “The courage to change the things I can, and all that.”
“Better you than me.” Harvey said. “Ooh, there she is. Ginger Snap in the house, yo.” At that, Dax snapped to attention. His eyes perused the room, looking for a flash of color. There she was, her copper curls barely contained at the nape of her neck by a small band. His breath quickened.
As her lithe body expertly maneuvered the cart through the trenches, his head began to swim. Her heart-shaped face seemed so familiar. He had seen her before, he was sure of it. The cart and its operator stopped one cubicle shy of his own and he inhaled a lavender scent with a hint of peppermint. He grabbed the top of the partition to steady himself as the room began to fade.
“Hey, Dax. You feeling okay?” Harvey's voice muddled in the fog of his brain as he fell...
...straight into a memory.

It was two years earlier. Dax was sitting at the bar in Mosey and Lar's tavern, drinking away his paycheck again, when he looked up and saw a flash of beautiful ginger curls that captured his full attention. She wasn't the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, but seeing those freckled elven features crowned with a lion's mane brought a smile to his face. He was enthralled by the way her tiny teeth bit coyly into the bottom of her full, cherry-colored lips as she contemplated her next shot at the pool tables.
As she's finishing up the game, he downs a quick highball of liquid courage and approaches her. She smiles at him and leans in. He smelled the mild scent of lavender perfume and mint toothpaste, with a subtle hint of vodka underneath. He moved in closer to wrap himself in it.
She smiled. “I'm Ava. What's your name?”
He managed to respond, “Dax”.
“Well, Dax, you look like a cool guy. Why don't you buy me a drink and we'll get to know each other.”
One drink turned into three or four and soon they found themselves entangled in the alley behind the bar, mouths open and curious about every inch of each other. He held her face with his hands and she clasped hers behind his head, pulling him closer. His finger trailed down her neck to her arm and back up until he cupped her breast in his hand. She sighed into his mouth, then pulled back.
“Dax, take me back to your place. In the alley isn't really my style.”
He gave her breast a quick squeeze and she giggled, then he grabbed her hand and started toward his car. When they reached the parking lot, he blinked his eyes several times, trying to ascertain where his car was. Once he found it, the stumbled toward it. He opened the passenger door for her and made his way to the driver's side. He fell expertly into the seat and slapped on his safety belt. Throwing the car in reverse, he made his way out of the stall, then floored it into drive. Ava's body shook with buoyant laughter.
Once on the road, headed toward Dax's apartment, she turned her body in the seat to face him. Dax smiled and glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. She was smiling back, carefree and beautiful. She reached over and gave his knee a squeeze. His smile broadened. Her fingers caressed his thigh, making their way north. Forgetting himself, Dax took his eyes off the road and got lost in her eyes.
Bright lights and a frantic horn blaring shocked him back to himself. Panicking, he jerked the wheel, shoving his foot down on the brake, trying to avoid the other car as they drifted into oncoming traffic. Their car took to the air, flipping once before slamming back into the ground, then continued to roll until it lost momentum. Dax heard screaming.
He heard a symphony of squealing brakes, then the pounding of shoes on the pavement. Amazingly, they had landed on the wheels instead of the roof. He tasted blood. Ava! He thought. It hurt to move, but he turned his head as best he could to look at her. Next to him was an empty seat.
Groaning, he reached down and unbuckled his seat belt and pushed his shoulder against the damaged door. It screeched as it tried to swing open. Tumbling out of the car, Dax attempted to stand. There were streaks of light in his vision and every noise was like a hammer to his head.
He managed a weak, gurgled call out to Ava before he stumbled and hit the ground. The starry sky blurred and he thought It's just one thing after another before he passed out.
He could still smell lavender and peppermint.

“Dax!” Harvey was shaking him. “What the hell just happened?” Dax blinked, confused. He was sitting in his chair, at his desk. Harvey was standing next to him, a concerned look on his face.
“I'm not...” he started, when his eyes focused on who was in front of him. “I... Wha... Ava?”
“Who's Ava? Are you okay?” the Ava clone asked.
Dax tried to shake the cobwebs out of his brain. Where's Ava? He asked himself. Then he remembered.  “I'm sorry. You just look like someone I knew, once,” he said.
Her plum-stained lips tuned up in a smile. “Well, I'm Kalin. And I assume you are Dax, as your friend here keeps calling you. You're pupils are still dilated. Maybe I should get you to a doctor.” Dax shook his head, which sent it spinning. He closed his eyes, trying to make it stop. “Yeah, I'm taking you to a doctor. There's a Doc-in-the Box just downtown. I won't take no for an answer.”
Afraid to move his head again, he whispered, “Thanks.”
With Harvey's help, Kalin guided him through the onlookers to the elevator and out to her car. Dax caught a fleeting glimpse of Harvey waving as they drove away, then closed his eyes.

Dax woke in a cool, dark room, the only light leaking out from a half-closed doorway on his right. He couldn't move and his mouth tasted of cotton. Lifting his head, he tried to move his arm to shield his eyes from the piercing light. He couldn't move his arm at all. Looking down, he found he was sitting in a simple wooden chair with his wrists, forearms, ankles and calves tied tightly to it. The fabric he tasted was a towel wrapped around his head and used as a gag.
What is happening he thought frantically. He tried to yell for help, but it sounded more like “hmm mph”. His brow started to sweat. He tried calling louder, but only managed a louder “hmm mph” than before.
There was movement in the doorway. Squinting his eyes to protect them from its overwhelming glare in the dim room, he saw a human shape. He thought to try saying help again, but realized that, whoever this was, was the reason he was in this predicament.
The figure moved from in front of the light and Dax saw it more clearly. Ava.
No, not Ava. Kalin.
“You're awake at last,” Kalin said, elated. “I thought you'd be out forever. Now we can start the fun!” Dax didn't know what kind of fun she had planned, but if it started like this, he wanted no part of it. Unfortunately, he didn't have much choice in the matter.
From a table he hadn't noticed earlier, Kalin picked up a small, square, mirror and looked in it lovingly. “I have waited a long time for this moment, Dax. I planned and I planned, then suddenly, it all came together!” She walked toward him with the looking glass, then stop an arms-length away, just slightly to his left. She gripped the sides of the glass and brought her arms up to batting position. “You have no idea how badly I've wanted to do this.”
There was a whoosh of displaced air, then pain erupted all over his face. Blood spurted from his face and tiny flecks of glass nicked his cheeks, ears, and throat. He took in an agonizing breath from his broken nose and let out a muffled scream. He looked up to see she had moved back to the table and picked up another mirror identical to the first.
Kalin smiled serenely. “Did that hurt? Good,” she said, not expecting an answer. He closed his eyes right before the second mirror hit his face. Blood was flowing more freely now, but he managed another stifled shout, this one weaker than the last.
She knelt down near him and looked in his eyes. “Poor baby. You're bleeding.” She picked up a large intact piece of the shattered mirror and turned it over in her hands. “Funny thing, glass. So fragile, yet so... injurious. One wouldn't think that something so benign could be so harmful.” She dragged the pointed end of the shard deep across the top of his thigh.
Dax tried feebly to move away. He was quickly losing what little strength he had.
“Oh, look at that. Big Bad Dax is trying to fight. Don't you know it's hopeless?” She laughed gleefully. “You should ask my first victim! He's probably still locked up in the boiler room at your office. Guys are so predictable. Show a little skin, give them a wink – they'll do whatever you want. Culinary Cart Clinton still thought I was just an innocent piece, right up until I slammed his head into a pipe valve.” She paused, then said, “I wonder if he's dead yet. That really wasn't part of the plan. But, hey. It got me to you, didn't it.” She chuckled under her breath as she pointed the bloody shard at his neck.
Dax looked at her in confusion. She did all this, just to get to me?
Like she'd read his mind, Kalin continued. “All this for you and you probably haven't guessed why. How Ava could have been attracted to a burnout like you is beyond me.”
His head snapped up. Ava? This was about Ava. He looked at Kalin again. Her mossy eyes stared right back at him. The same wild copper hair, same elven features...
“You see, now, don't you? Ava is... was my twin. You killed her. And for what... sex? She was drunk, you asshole, just like you. You were so caught up in getting it on, you didn't even realize she didn't have her seat belt buckled. You drove off like a crazy person, mind in the gutter, and Ava paid the price by going through the windshield!” She punctuated the last sentence with a forceful slice across his chest and arm, then did it again, making an X on his torso.
Stepping back, Kalin looked at him, battered and bleeding. It wasn't enough. She flew at him, helpless in the chair, and stabbed him repeatedly in a sudden fit of rage. She kept yelling, “You killed her. You killed her!”
Breathless, she slowly backed away, having spent the bulk of her energy.
Dax sat in the chair, which was now sitting in a growing puddle of blood. He struggled for breath, barely succeeding. His once lively eyes looked at Kalin dully.
“I'm sorry,” he tried to say through the gag. She shook her head.
“It's too late for that now, Dax. Our time is up.”
Seeming to weigh the bloody mirror in her hand, Kalin looked at it, then at Dax. She walked up to him and shoved the fragment into his neck, nicking the carotid artery. She kicked the chair over and sat down next to him. The last thing he saw was her, placing her fingers in his blood. She rubbed the sticky liquid between her fingers and thumb and smiled, then started to write.

“Murder,” she wrote

I hope you enjoyed my story!  Now, go read something happy.

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:                      Baking In A Tornado              Follow me home . . .       Stacy Sews and Schools              Outmanned                Someone Else’s Genius        Confessions of a part-time working mom                   The Momisodes               Impoverished Vegan              Spatulas on Parade                     Battered Hope            Evil Joy Speaks                      Juicebox Confession

  • This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
  • Short story "Murder, She Wrote" ©2014 by Robin Allen
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Easter Egg Wreath

Spring has sprung and Easter is just weeks away!  

I wanted to make more yarn wreaths, like the ones I showed you, but I saw a wreath over on Kennedy Klan News and became inspired.  Mine didn't turn out like hers, so you should click over there and check hers out, too.

I ended up going to 2 different craft stores - Michael's and Hobby Lobby - but part of that may have been for an upcoming spring project I'm going to share... once I get the pictures done, that is!  

These are the materials I picked up:
  • plastic eggs - bags totaled 72 medium eggs and I had leftovers
  • Easter grass - 4 bags, 4 colors (white, green, purple, pink)
  • 1 12-inch flat cardboard wreath form
  • a fabulous chevron bow, pre-made
This is what I had on hand:
  • twine
  • hot glue gun
  • extra craft sticks (for glue gun)

Little Miss Sassy Pants helped me with most of the creation of this wreath, when she wasn't distracted by this stupid XBOX game the boys got for free.  I had the table set up for photos and she started to clean up the "mess".  I had to stop her - it's controlled chaos, I said.  You know, for pictures.  So she tousled the eggs and grass out for me.  Little Sasquatch wanted to help too, but only because he wasn't getting his way in the aforementioned game.

The wreath form I bought had pre-drilled holes, which was handy, so I tied a little twine on first, so I could hang it later.  You can use ribbon or yarn... whatever you have handy.  You will want to get this on first, for aesthetic purposes (and ease, too).  Make sure the knot is nice and secure.  I had to tie mine twice because it came undone the first time. 

Due to the limited width of the form I bought, I started with a single layer of plastic eggs, secured with a dot of hot glue.  I tried not to follow any discernible pattern, lest I end up having two same-colored eggs side by side.  I also tried to make it so all the eggs weren't in a straight position or even facing the same direction. 

This is the first layer of eggs, finished.  Now, to add the grass.  I thought this would be the difficult part and I was right.  First, I mixed the grasses together so there wasn't just one color bunched in one place.  Now, I know there's a saying - that glitter is the herpes of craft supplies - and I agree, but I also feel that Easter grass is second in line.

Easter grass.  In order to avoid hot glue blisters, I developed a strategy.  I bunched the grass up on one side, put a dollop of glue in between the eggs, then pressed the bunched up part into the glue - first on the inside, then the outside.  Fingers were saved, but there was a hiccup.  Easter grass tends to be really long.  So, after it was all glued on, I gave it a haircut - mowed the lawn - whatever... 

Talk about overgrown.  It's pastel chaos!  After all that, I still had one more layer of eggs to put on.  It was at this point LMSP bailed in favor of mindless gaming.  Kids these days - ha!  I'm a 90's kid - I remember when the original Nintendo came out.  I even owned a first generation Gameboy.  Now gaming is high definition, which is great, but the some of the games haven't evolved in eccentricities.  There are still heroes running around and rescuing princesses - or protecting castles - from trolls and ogres.  I miss old school Mario - the original hero. 

For the finishing touch, I hot glued this awesome bow to the top layer of eggs.  From the front, I'm pretty sure the bow is off-centered and my OCD is telling me to fix it, but I almost like it better that way.  Adds character and all that.

Adds some great color to the house, especially since we have white door everywhere.  I can literally put it on any door in my house to add a pop of festive color!  Man, that grass still needs a trim...

*Just as a side note, using the plastic eggs will result in some of them popping open during the wreath-making process.  Just click them shut and, once they're glued, it should stop it from happening.* 

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

All a Twitter about Sunday Social

Hey y'all!

Today's Sunday Social is all about Twitter

1. When did you join twitter?
I'd say probably 3 years ago for my personal Twitter account; 2 years for the one specified for my blog.

2. Who is your favorite non-celeb to follow?
If I had to pick one, it would be Andi-Roo. She's hilarious.
Or Zero Decorum.

3. Who is your favorite celeb to follow?
Stephen King is now on Twitter!  I was so excited, I screamed.  I've been following his son, Joe Hill for awhile, but King is my fav author of all time!

4. Have you ever had a celeb respond to a tweet?
Not on my blog account, but on my personal account, Nia Peeples from Pretty Little Liars tweeted me once and I've had conversations with the amazing author Rebecca Hamilton
5. What is your favorite store/brand to follow?

6. Give us three tweeps we should be following.
Folks over at Impoverished Vegan
Shelly from Follow Me Home

Be sure to follow me at my personal account and my blog account!!

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