11.30.2011

December is for Giving

Happy December friends!

This month is definitely one of my favorites. It’s just so full of family and friends and joy, December really is the most magical month. Not to mention all the presents we get at the end!

We all love getting gifts, which is perfectly fine! I have no shame in admitting that I have been thinking about my Christmas list for a while now, thus the reason for my Christmas list link up next week! But I love giving just as much as receiving. Even though I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet {terrible, I know}, I’ve already started thinking of the different places I would love to give to this holiday season.

Not everyone in the world is as fortunate as we are. We love getting gifts for Christmas, but there are so many people in the world that would just like a warm meal for the holidays. There are too many people who don’t even have a roof over their heads, or shoes on their feet. There are too many people, children and adults and the elderly, suffering in ways we can’t even imagine.

It may sound morbid, but remembering these things is what keeps me humble during the holidays, and what reminds me to give thanks for everything I’ve been blessed with in this life.

If you’ve thought about giving to charity this season, here are a few of my favorite places to give:

The Trevor Project

I will always remember the one Sunday this past January as one of the best days of 2011 for me. My dear, dear friend came out to me and my husband and our friend. We were the first person he told, and it meant so much to all of us. This past year has been a crazy roller coaster ride, with one learning experience after another, but it’s also been a year in which my already open eyes were opened just a little bit more.

Unfortunately, there are young people in this country that don’t have the type of support that my friend has. They struggle everyday with their sexuality, and it has come to the point where we are seeing a tragic increase in the number of suicides among LGBTQ youth. It’s heartbreaking and devastating, and I wish there was something I could do to help.

Recently, this same friend was given the opportunity to work for an incredible organization that aims to help youth in the LGBTQ community through counseling and suicide prevention. The Trevor Project does truly amazing things to let these people know that it really does get better.

TOMS

I’m sure that you all know of TOMS already, but have you thought of giving a pair to someone as a gift this Christmas?

TOMS’s simple mission is this: one for one. For every pair of shoes you buy, they will give a pair to a child in the world. It’s truly an inspired gift, if I’ve every heard of one!

International Women’s Health Coalition

Along with being the month of Christmas, December is also AIDS awareness month. The International Women’s Health Coalition focuses on helping women around the world, and they have a special campaign that targets young women that are in "triple jeopardy": female adolescence, sexual violence, and AIDS.

UNICEF

I’ve been giving to UNICEF {United Nations Children’s Fun} for a while now, because I love their mission, which is to provide for the children of the world. Their focus is in all areas, from health to education to disaster relief, and they really do have an enormous impact. One of my favorite things about UNICEF is that you can donate by giving an “inspired gift,” or purchasing something that would be used to help children, such as polio vaccines, clean water tablets, school supplies, or even toys.

The charity that I’m focusing on this year is UNICEF, and my goal is to raise enough money from my family and friends {and through my own giving} that would buy a bicycle for doctors and midwives to use. How amazing would that be?!

If you are interested in contributing to this little project of mine, just send me a quick email, and I’ll give you more information!

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I know that it’s almost rude to ask people to give right now, what with the economy as terrible as it is, and all the gifts we need to buy for the holidays. But I encourage you to give in any way that you can, whether it be by dropping off a bag of clothes to the Goodwill, donating canned goods to your local food bank, bringing a toy for the Toys for Tots box at work, or even volunteering your time for Habitat for Humanity. There’s something we can all do to help make the world just a little better place.

I truly believe that bloggers are an amazing community, and I know that we can do great things. As part of this social campaign, I would really like to know how much we give, and to what charities. If you feel like sharing that information with me, feel free to email me so that I can keep track of all of this and report on it at the end of the month. Who knows, maybe there will be something in it for you, too!

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11.29.2011

Wedding Wednesday: Something Charming

I’m not going to lie, with the holidays and the stress of my mom’s birthday party, I completely forgot to get a guest post for Wedding Wednesday today. But I’ve gotten a few requests to feature my own wedding, so I thought that might suffice for this week!

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What was the main inspiration you used when planning your wedding?

I don’t know that I really had any “inspiration.” I just knew that I wanted to throw a great party, something intimate and fun, on a budget, which I did!

What was your favorite resource?

When planning my wedding, nearly two years ago now, there was no Pinterest and I didn’t even know about Style Me Pretty. I mainly used the Knot and bridal magazines as resources.

What was one thing that you splurged on?

Our wedding was on a serious budget. Like, a really serious budget. But the one thing that we did splurge on was the In-N-Out truck. We could have just done a cocktail or dessert reception, but we felt like it was important to use to share one of our favorite things with our guests. I still hear, to this day, how our food was the best food that many of our guests have ever had at a wedding. Even the guys enjoyed it!

If you could describe your wedding day in one word, what would it be?

Romantic

Old, new, borrowed, blue?

Old was a piece of my grandmother’s wedding dress that I pinned to the inside of my dress. New was everything, pretty much. I borrowed my mother’s and grandmother’s rings and tied them to my bouquet. And I wore blue shoes.

What is one thing that you will always remember about your wedding day?

I will always remember seeing everybody I love in one place, for us. I’ll also remember all the tears {happy tears, from everyone} that took place that day!

If you could change anything about your wedding, what would it be?

I was not nearly as wedding obsessed then as I am now. I can think of quite a few things that I wish I would have done differently, mainly décor wise. But in the end, it doesn’t matter that I made my bridesmaids wear brown dresses, or that I didn’t have mason jars anywhere. Our wedding day really was perfect in every way important.

Any advice for future brides?

Don’t worry about anyone else thinks, really. It’s your day, and the only thing your wedding “should” be is what you want it to be. I have a lot of advice for brides, some of it kind of harsh, but it’s really only my opinion. You can read some of it here.

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Link up your own Wedding Wednesday posts below, if you’d like!

Oh, how Pinteresting!

A few of my favorite pins this week…

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But the winner this week…

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Virtual Coffee

Hope you didn’t think that just because I changed my blog name and design, I wouldn’t be doing the fun little things like Virtual Coffee anymore…

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If we were having coffee this week, I would tell you how excited I am for said blog name change and design makeover! I really can’t get over how happy it all makes me. It makes me feel like my event planning dreams are finally coming true! That being said, I do have one definite client scheduled for May, and I’m meeting with another bride and groom in a few weeks. Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

If we were having coffee this week, I would tell you that yesterday was rough. Really rough. The four day weekend made it really difficult to function yesterday, and I found myself falling asleep at my desk. No, really, I think I nodded off for a second or two. Hopefully nobody noticed…

If we were having coffee this week, I would tell you that even though it’s only Tuesday, I really want Saturday to be here! Husband and I are going to visit our favorite little wine town so that we can pick up our wine shipment and get a few Christmas gifts. Sunday my mom and aunt are coming to visit me and we’re going to the Reagan Library to see their Christmas trees. Should be fun!

If we were having coffee this week, I would tell you to get your Christmas Lists together, and be ready to link up next week for my Christmas List link up!

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I would also tell you that while it’s fun to get stuff for Christmas, it’s also fun to give. Keep an eye out for a little charity fun I’m having on this little blog here soon.

11.28.2011

Blog Design!

So I’ve been busy these past few weeks with a couple of blog designs, and I wanted to show you all two that I’ve been working on!

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What do you all think! I’m very excited about them, and they seem pretty happy too.

If you’re interested in getting your blog redesigned, feel free to email me or visit my blog design page for more samples!

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P.S....I'm over here today.

11.27.2011

Weekend in Review

This Thanksgiving week{end} was a good one.

Mainly because I looked cute.

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My husband said I looked like Audrey Hepburn on Thursday, which made me happy.

It was a good Thanksgiving, like I said. Full of yummy food {my stuffing this year was uh-freaking-mazing} and good times with family. We didn’t do any Black Friday shopping {for the first time in four years}, but I did see Breaking Dawn again {for the third time…}. Husband even went with me. He’s amazing like that.

The rest of the weekend was spent cleaning our apartment and putting up the Christmas tree.

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We had friends over tonight, and I made chicken pot pie. It was pretty good, if I do say so myself. And they seemed impressed too.

I’m not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. But the countdown is on until my eleven day Christmas vacation. Until then, I have wine tasting, visits with my mom, chocolate tasting parties, holiday cocktail parties, and blogger get-togethers to look forward to. Hopefully they keep me occupied.

Here’s a pretty awesome video for your Sunday night.

Yeah, that’s my husband and his brother.

Be jealous.

{P.S…if you haven’t noticed, I changed my blog name}

Something Charming

I don’t usually post on Sundays, but I made a {pretty} significant change last night that I feel needs to be brought to your attention ASAP.

If you haven’t noticed already, the name of my blog has changed from Where We Love is Home to…

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There are a few reasons for this change, the main one being consistency. As you might know, I am in the process of starting my own event planning business, currently called A Charming Occasion. At first I was attempting to maintain two blogs, this personal blog and a wedding blog for A Charming Occasion. That got to be too much work, so I decided to put all of my efforts into this one blog. That being said, I felt it was necessary to create consistency throughout my brand, and to eliminate any confusion as to what I stand for.

As of today, 11/27/2011, the address of this blog is still www.whereweloveishome.com. Sometime this week, however, it will be redirected to www.joelleduff.com. I will give you another warning when that change happens, but again, I felt it was necessary to let you know now. I am working with someone to make sure that there is little impact to my readers and anybody following my blog, and I am hoping that any links that once pointed to my original URL will still work when the change is made.

Thanks for coming along for this {crazy} ride. I really appreciate all of the support that you’ve given me this past year, and I hope you enjoy my new look and my new name!

11.22.2011

Wedding Wednesday: Walks with Bella

Today’s wedding for Wedding Wednesday is one of the prettiest that I’ve seen from a real blogger. Tamra from Walks with Bella has so graciously agreed to share with all of you some of her best wedding advice, which I just have to agree with!

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What was the main inspiration you used when planning your wedding?

Our inspiration was each other and the city we feel in love in, New York.  Our life is full of color, so we kept our colors black and white and allowed that palette to play as a canvas to us and our city.  We wanted to evoke an old school new york, with a modern, glamorous twist. 

What was your favorite resource?

Style Me Pretty, but also just fashion magazines as well

What was one thing that you splurged on?

My husband bought me the most amazing wedding shoes.  He saw them on me and bought them on the spot.  I'll never forget the smile he had on his face when I was trying them on.  He made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.

If you could describe your wedding day in one word, what would it be?

Perfect

Old, new, borrowed, blue? 

Old - I wore my Mom's wedding dress while I was getting ready.  New - my shoes, dress, lingerie.  blue - my shoes have a hint of blue.  Borrowed - I wore my sister's feather headpiece.

What is one thing that you will always remember about your wedding day?

I will always remember the speech my husband gave to our guests and then surprised me at the end by toasting me. 

If you could change anything about your wedding, what would it be?

absolutely nothing. :)

Any advice for future brides? 

Enjoy this special time of being engaged, it is such a short period out of your entire journey together, so savor the moments.  Celebrate the small wins, celebrate getting your venue, your favorite vendors, your dress, planning is much more enjoyable when you celebrate!  Most importantly, Hire a planner, it is the best money you can spend on your wedding.  They will relieve the stress and allow you to enjoy your experience being a bride.  Think of the planner and /or coordinator as insurance.  The bride and groom put so much time, money, and energy into a wedding, and having a planner will ensure it will be executed flawlessly. 

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Thank you Tamra for sharing your wedding with all of us!

Wasn’t she beautiful on her wedding day? And Bella is pretty darn cute too.

As an experiment today, I’m going to open up a linky party for anyone who has already put up a Wedding Wednesday post today. I know you’re out there!

Happy Wedding Wednesday friends!

Virtual Coffee

Happy Tuesday loves! Usually Tuesday is my hardest day, but I don’t know that it will be today. Tomorrow will probably be much, much worse…you know, with the four day weekend ahead and all.

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If we were really having coffee today, I would tell you that tonight I’ll be baking biscuits and making cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving day. They are two easy things I can make before driving down to Orange County to be with our families on Thanksgiving. I’ll also be working on a few blog designs and watching the X Factor {addicted!}. Hopefully it will be a nice and relaxing evening, since Wednesday and Thursday are sure to be stressful and hectic.

We’re only going to two homes for Thanksgiving this year, but we usually have three. Can you imagine, for every holiday, going to three different places? That’s three times the food and three times the family drama. But it’s also three times the presents on Christmas, so I guess that’s alright. We just decided to spend more time with two sides of our families on Thanksgiving, and spend a little bit more time with my dad’s side on Christmas.

This weekend will be spent shopping, watching Breaking Dawn {again}, and sleeping. The flea market is on Sunday, so hopefully I will find a few fun things there too.

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you that if you live in the Los Angeles area, email me! We are having a blogger meet up on December 18th, and we would love for you to join us!

If we were having coffee today, I would ask you to take a look at my announcements. There might be a few fun things on there that you might be interested in.

But we aren’t having coffee today, so that sucks…but if you do want to have coffee sometime, just let me know! I would love to meet every one of you!

xoxo,

Joelle

11.21.2011

Announcements

Hello friends! I hope you all had a fabulous start to this short, holiday week. Only two days of work left! I hope we can all make it…

Anyway, I have a few announcements for you this evening.

First of all, I’m hosting a link up starting two weeks from today!

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Get your Christmas list posts ready and link up here starting December 5th. You’ll have all the way until that Friday to link up!

All weekend my mom was asking me what I wanted for Christmas, and it was fun telling her everything on my wish list. But as fun as it is to think of all the things that I’ll be getting Christmas day, I still can’t forget all of the people in the world who don’t have anything. Which is why I always like to give at this time of year, whatever I can.

This year, I want to encourage you to do the same. I have a little something planned, but first I was hoping to get a few sponsors willing to donate items for a special giveaway that only those who donate to charity can enter to win. Email me {joelle@whereweloveishome.com} if you are interested in donating!

Don’t worry, I’ll announce soon what this little plan of mine is.

Along with any items donated for a giveaway, I’m also donating all of the money that I make through sponsorships during December to one of my favorite charities. I’ll let you all know soon what that is too. So, if you are interested in sponsoring this blog during the month of December, visit my sponsorship page and email me. If you choose to sponsor for two months, all of the money, not just one month, will be donated to charity as well.

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And lastly, you may or may not have heard that I am offering blog designs! I already have a few clients, and I am so very excited to show you all what I’ve come up with for them.

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I just love doing blog designs, which is why I’ve decided to offer any blogger purchasing at least $25 in blog design {the cost of a header} a free 200 x 125 button {the small ad above} and a month of free sponsorship on the blog. Visit my designs page for samples of my work and email me if you’re interested in getting your blog redesigned!

Hope you are all having a beautiful night!

xoxo,

Joelle

Monday’s Mantra

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xoxo,

Joelle

11.20.2011

Weekend in Review

I can’t believe it’s already Sunday night.

This weekend was good. Stressful, but good. I’m almost glad that tomorrow is Monday though.

My weekend started on Thursday night, when my friends and I went to see Breaking Dawn at midnight. Here’s my {short} review:

After the first half hour, I swore I was going to leave the theater hating it. I was really disappointed in the wedding, thought it was rushed and not nearly as emotional as it should have been. There was some of the cheesiest parts of the entire series {that wolf scene, really?} and for some reason they insisted on regressing back to the time of awkward vampire speed shots.

Once Bella got pregnant though, that’s when it got good. We were all so nervous about how they would portray her pregnancy and labor, but I thought they did an absolutely phenomenal job. It was graphic, but it was graphic in the book too. She looked like death, and I loved it. The shot where she was made into a vampire, where they pan over her as her body changes, was great. And the ending? Absolutely perfect.

So, I didn’t end up hating it. It wasn’t the best {New Moon}, but it wasn’t nearly the worst {Twilight}. I already have a date to see it again tomorrow night.

My mom’s party on Saturday night went well, even though there were a few hiccups. But the food was the good, the drinks were strong {thanks Robert}, and the company was nice. Overall, a great night. And I can’t wait to show you the pictures!

Today my mom and auntie and I went to lunch, and then did a little shopping. It was a nice girls’ day out.

I was too busy to take many pictures this weekend, but I got a few.

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xoxo,

Joelle

11.17.2011

Friday’s Fancies

Happy Friday lovelies!

Today is a glorious, glorious day. Would you like to know why?

Why Joelle?!

Because yesterday was my Friday. Today is like Saturday, except for I get a three day weekend. I’m throwing my beautiful mom a birthday party tomorrow night, which is why I am taking the day off work today.

It has nothing to do with the fact that I saw Breaking Dawn last night…

Anyway, it’s my mom’s fiftieth birthday, so I’m dressing up in style. Or, I would be, if I weren’t spending all day putting it together. If I had hours to spend getting ready and lots of money for my dress, this is what I would be wearing to the big party.

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{necklace, dress, clutch, shoes}

Any excuse to wear pearls, right?

Link up with miss {av} over at Long Distance Loving with your own Friday’s Fancies this week!

And I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

It’s a special day…

…because it’s my mom’s birthday!

And not just any birthday…

{I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you all this…}

…it’s her fiftieth birthday!

I still think she looks just as beautiful as when I was a little girl though. Isn’t she pretty?

Happy Birthday Mom

xoxo,

Joelle

11.16.2011

Get Organized: Email

Warning: This is a long and {kind of} boring post...

If you’ve been around this little blog here for any amount of time, you might know that I have a life goal of getting organized. Sound vague? It is. I haven’t yet defined fully what that means to me, and I don’t know that I ever will. I recently realized, however, that I really just need to take baby steps. Getting organized isn’t an overnight thing. It takes work. And while I get seriously stressed when things aren’t organized, I’m not an organized person by nature.

I’m the type of person that likes to list things out and figure out the ideal way to do things before I actually do them. I found myself swooning over Erin Condren planners and trying to find the best software to get organized, but eventually I realized that I’m trying too hard. Things really don’t need to be so difficult, and I can easily get organized without a bunch of fancy tools. So I thought that I would share with all of you how exactly I’m keeping myself organized these days.

Along with my blog, I also have a budding company and everything else in my personal life that I need to keep track of. This means three different email addresses, three different to-do lists, and three different calendars. If it sounds overwhelming, it is. Looking back, I probably would have done things a little bit differently, but this is how it is now. In the future, hopefully I will consolidate a few things {so be prepared, eventually, for a potential blog name change...}.

Anyway, the most useful tool I’ve found is, not surprisingly, Google. I do use a few other programs and apps, but Google really  has everything you need to get organized. Promise.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information in one post, however, so today I’m only going to talk about how to organize Google accounts and email addresses. I’ll cover additional topics in the future.

Google recently started allowing people to sign into multiple accounts at once, making it a lot easier to check multiple email accounts and calendars if you don’t access them from one account.

Instead of writing all of these tedious instructions in this post, I’ve actually put together a PDF for you to download here, if you’d like.

This works great for those who don’t want to forward emails to one account, but who want to access multiple accounts at once {for example, a personal account and a blog email address}.

I personally do not want to keep three tabs open at once in my browser, so I have chosen to forward my blog email address and my company email address to my personal email address. I’ve also configured the settings from my personal account so that I can send from any of these three email addresses without having to sign into the accounts at all.

Click here if you would like to see how to forward emails to one address and configure your account so that you can send emails from multiple addresses.

This was a long and lengthy post, so if you’re still here, bravo! Hopefully this will help a few people out there who wish to make managing their email easier. I wish someone would have told me all of these tricks, so that I wouldn’t have had to figure them out on my own, which is why I decided to write these posts.

Here are a few other topics that I think I might go over in future posts:
Scheduling and Calendars
Menu planning and grocery shopping
Using Google Documents
Managing to do lists with Google Tasks
Blogging tips and tricks
Organizing blog subscriptions through Google Reader

Let me know if you have questions about anything, and if you have a suggestion for something you want me to cover in a future organization post!

Sidenote and completely unrelated: Ever wonder what I do for my “day job”? Just click one of the links above. I write instructions for software. It’s just as exciting as it sounds.

Thanks for reading friends. And again, let me know if you have any questions!

Wedding Wednesday: The Whim Wham Life

Happy Wedding Wednesday friends!

This week I have the beautiful Bonnie from the Whim Wham Life here, talking about her fabulous day. I wanted to make sure I got her wedding on here early enough, since she’ll soon be too busy with a brand new baby!

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What was the main inspiration you used when planning your wedding?

My wedding was outside, in the country, surrounded by trees and a big barn. I was mainly inspired by where I live (Oregon), so we kept everything natural and fresh looking. (Green, brown, and cream were my colors).

What was your favorite resource?

My mom got me a subscription to “Brides” magazine, which was fun to flip through every month leading up to the wedding…and of course the internet: Martha Stewart, Design*Sponge, Snippet&Ink, Style Me Pretty, Ruffled, Green Wedding Shoes, and on and on.

Then, I got idea-overload-overwhelmed.

So I turned my computer off, closed my eyes, and dreamed up what my perfect Summer day would look like.

What was one thing that you splurged on?

Funny question, (in my situation)…we happen to have extremely talented friends/family. We were taken care of, from the food all the way down to the table linens. So, photography/videography probably would’ve been our biggest splurges…if my amazing brother-in-law and friend hadn’t done it.

Yep. I’m totally bragging.

If you could describe your wedding day in one word, what would it be?

Celebration

Old, new, borrowed, blue?

My Mom’s (old) wedding ring; (new) pearl earrings; (borrowed) some deodorant...lame; (blue) underwear.

What is one thing that you will always remember about your wedding day?

After months of planning and a whirlwind week leading up to the big day, I’ll never forget that quiet moment right before my Dad and I walked outside, down the aisle. It was like the whole world stopped and was cheering just for me.

If you could change anything about your wedding, what would it be?

Honestly, I wouldn’t change a single thing. It’s been over a year since our wedding, and people are still talking about it. That’s my little claim to fame.

Any advice for future brides?

*It’s your day! Stay true to yourself and your version of the perfect wedding.

*Delegate delegate delegate. You’ll stay more sane that way.

*Have fun with it! It goes by fast, and in the end, you’re married…that’s all that matters.

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What a beautiful day! And you’re so lucky to have such talented friends. You all did a fantastic job.

Thank you so much for posting today Bonnie! And congratulations the future addition to your family!

11.15.2011

Oh, how Pinteresting!

I do these a day early, but that’s alright.

I’ll still link up over at the Vintage Apple tomorrow!

Here are my favorite pins this week…

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And then there’s this…

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That’s the truth right there.