Archive for December, 2013

Oklahoma!

December 30, 2013

We had quite an eventful road trip to and from Texas and Kansas this holiday. Most of the adventures happened while we were traveling through Oklahoma. While it has been some time since I’ve seen the musical Oklahoma! my adventure could easily be accompanied by music.

Let’s begin with some dramatic music, something like the Jaws theme as we were approached by danger. Or perhaps some scary music from horror movies when some dummy ventures off from the group even though there is a mass murderer about.

Okay, our trip wasn’t that frightening. But it was pretty intense. On the way from Kansas to Texas we ran into the ice storm that ravaged through Oklahoma. It was about 9:00 at night or so and we were just entering into Oklahoma City. We planned on stopping in Oklahoma City for the night anyway, but we were hoping to make it to the south side of town rather than the north. The ice storm forced us to stop early.

Oklahoma Ice Coating a Car

This isn’t our car, but the ice on ours was just as bad. I couldn’t get a good photo of our car because it is such a light color.

Oklahoma Ice Storm 001

Ice coating the grass after the Oklahoma ice storm looks very interesting. Maya and Pierson could not walk on it.

Oklahoma Ice Storm 002

The ice was just over a quarter inch thick in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Ice Storm 003

This brown shrubby grass clump looks like coral under the ocean.

The worst part of this adventure was that we couldn’t reach the pet friendly hotel we planned on staying at. So I had a heck of a time finding a place. It was absolutely awful! The Holiday Inn I called said they had no pet friendly rooms left. Other hotels I called either did not allow pets, charged crazy fees for pets, or did not allow large pets. My savior was Motel 6 and I will tell you more about that on my Pet Auto Safety blog post – Saved by Pet Friendly Motel 6.

Our trip back to Kansas from Texas was much better. Imagine some happy music from Mary Poppins or holiday music, Wizards in Winter from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. On the way back from Texas, we went through Tulsa, Oklahoma to meet Flea from Dog Treat Web with Jones Natural Chews. And we had the BEST TIME EVER!

First off, my husband and I were greeted with open arms by the entire family. We met Flea, her husband Chris, and her three wonderful kids, Mae, Oliver, and Squatch (his nickname).

Next, we were welcomed with a wonderful Polish dinner. I love food and have never had the opportunity to eat Polish food before, so this was a fantastic treat. The first dish was sauerkraut soup and it was absolutely delicious!!! Next up was kielbasa with a horseradish sauce and pierogi with a sour cream sauce. Both were very very good, but the sauerkraut soup was the best. The recipe belongs to Chris’s mother and Flea has been gracious enough to share the sauerkraut soup recipe on one of her old blogs.

After dinner, I got to meet Flash, Patches, Bosco, and Jimmy! Flash and Patches are so much more animated in person. And they are super cute. Both were very friendly too. Bosco was a sweetie pie as well. Jimmy didn’t like me, though. Perhaps if I had made my visit in the day time, he would have been less intimidated by me.

Oklahoma with Flea and Bosco the Cat

Bosco is such a handsome kitty. Despite the fact that Pierson kept eyeing him, Bosco could care less.

Oklahoma with Mae

Mae, Flea’s daughter, is so funny and sweet.

Patches in Oklahoma

This is Patches. Isn’t she adorable?

Flash and Patches Oklahoma 001

Flash and Patches pose for the camera. Flash sticks out his tongue. I don’t think he liked the idea of having to sit still for a photo.

Flash and Patches Oklahoma 2

This is a sweet photo of Flash and Patches. Patches is the girl with the white face and freckled legs and Flash is the nearly all black one.

Jimmy the Duck Oklahoma

It was dark outside and Jimmy the duck kept running away from me as I tried to flash a photo.

Me and The Good Flea Oklahoma

Flea and I get a photo together. I just love her hair and her friendly smile. 🙂

Dog Flash Oklahoma

Flash is so cute and spunky for an older guy.

After this were the gifts. Oh my goodness, the gifts! Maya and Pierson got some wonderful Jones Natural Chews treats as well as a humongous bone. Thank you, thank you, thank you Flea! As if Maya and Pierson were not already spoiled enough. 😉

Big Bone Jones Natural Chews 003

This big bone from Jones Natural Chews was almost too big for Maya to pick up.

Big Bone Jones Natural Chews 004

Pierson couldn’t pick up the Jones Natural Chews bone because it was too big!

There you have it, a new version of the Oklahoma! musical. It was a scary beginning with a very happy ending. A little adventure to spice up an otherwise long long long boring road trip. Did you have any adventures this holiday?

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Pet Blogger Gift Exchange – 25 Castles on 25 Clouds

December 28, 2013

Let me tell you about a great pet blogger, Lauranne from 25 Castles on 25 Clouds. This blog is the epitome of what blogs are all about… a way to keep a journal of our lives. This blog is about real life. There’s no underlying motive to promote products or make money, it’s purely authentic and sincere.

I’ve only been reading Lauranne’s blog for a short time. In reading the events of her life, I find myself thinking back to when I had to face certain trials. Although our situations are not exactly the same, I find myself being able to relate to her and to empathize with her situation. Lauranne doesn’t give the answers in her posts. She is merely taking a journey and sharing her journey with us.

Lauranne’s blog is about all sorts of things in her life. A part of her life includes two adorable dogs, Mity and BD. Mity is a Cairn Terrier, and sounds like quite the character. He loves other dogs but he doesn’t care to be petted… unless, of course, BD is getting attention. Lauranne describes Mity as part cat. He reminds me a little of my dog Sephi. Sephi let me pet her, but sometimes I could tell she only tolerated it for my sake.

Mity the Cairn Terrier

Mity the Cairn Terrier from 25 Castles on 25 Clouds.

BD is a Welsh Collie. He has some issues with aggression with strangers, but it sounds like Lauranne is really working with him on it. She is very dedicated to BD, even though BD isn’t her dog. He is a part of her life and I admire her for continuing to care for him even though technically he is not her responsibility. That is love.

BD from 25 Castles on 25 Clouds

BD the Welsh Collie from 25 Castles on 25 Clouds.

Lauranne lives in the UK so we did not exchange gifts. It would have cost more to ship than it would have to buy the gifts! Instead, we agreed to buy stuff for pets and donate it to our local shelter or rescue group. Isn’t that a fantastic idea?! I purchased bleach, paper towels, and kitty litter for my shelter since it was on their wish list. I also gave a couple of toys and donated some old blankets and towels.

So there you go! 25 Castles on 25 Clouds by Lauranne sounds like a great blog, doesn’t it? Go check it out and say hello. 🙂

Fun Holiday Pet Videos

December 24, 2013

Are things a bit crazy this holiday? Sit down, relax, and watch some adorable holiday pet videos:

This has been my favorite for a few years:

I just discovered this one. Maya would love this gift:

This has been my favorite for a few years too:

Here’s a cute version of the 12 Days of Christmas:

I so wish Maya and Pierson knew how to open Christmas presents. These wiener dogs are cute:

And you just can’t go wrong with Dexter from Dexter’s Ruff Life… my all time most favorite dog videos:

The Pets Add Life videos are my favorite too:

I hope you enjoyed these. And I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. 🙂

Tips to Help Keep Your Dog Happy and Stress Free During the Holidays

December 20, 2013

I wasn’t going to write a holiday pet post since everyone else is doing the same thing. But Ryan Novas offered to write one for me and this is a great article:

Cat Under Christmas Tree

With all of the visitors, travel, food and general stress that can come along with the holidays, they can be hard on a person, so just imagine what all of this is like for a dog who doesn’t even understand what is going on!  Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take that may help your dog deal with all the stress and stay happy.  From keeping your pet away from ornaments and wrapper paper, to keeping them on their routine, here are 5 things you can do to help keep your pet happy through the holidays.

1. Keep your dog away from the Christmas trees and presents

Bows, bells and boxes might mean presents and ornaments to us, but for a curious dog, these may just be things to explore and chew on.   Maybe you spent an eternity picking out the the perfect pair of dog slippers and then wrapped them up.  However, it may only take your furry friend just a second or two to tear off the wrapping paper and turn them into their newest chew toy. You may want to keep the room with the tree and presents off limits to the dog until everything has been cleaned up and put away.

2. Keep your dog on his or her routine

With everyone zipping around from one party to another, cooking, eating, and shopping, it can be hard to keep a schedule.  Despite this, keeping to your dog’s normal routine can help bring a little bit of normalcy back into their lives.  Try to make sure you are still feeding and walking your dog at the same time every day, as the familiar structure can be a relief to them in times when they may be feeling ignored.

3. Have a plan for when guests arrive

Some dogs are terrific with guests, and others aren’t.  You probably know which one yours is, and acting accordingly may save everyone human and canine plenty of stress .  If your dog is just jumpy around guests, take them for a walk, play fetch, and get them tired out beforehand.  If this isn’t enough to keep your dog on his or her best behavior, you should probably just have him or her secured in another room with a closed door before anyone sets foot in your home.

4. Let guests know the rules for your dog

Just like it is important for your dog to be on his or her best behavior around the guests, it can also be important to let your visitors know what is and isn’t ok to do with your dog.  This can mean letting adults know it isn’t ok to share bits of food with your dog during the holiday feast, or letting kids know not to pull puppy tails.  Taking these preventative steps may help make everything go smoothly and safely for your dog during the holidays.

5. Give them something special

Even if you follow all of the above steps, your dog may still get stressed out during the holidays.  So, why not show a little compassion and holiday spirit by doing something special for them?  Maybe give your furry friend that extra treat, a long belly scratch, a new dog toy or invite their friend along to the dog park.

Maya Playing with Killer's Toy 4

Maya is never short on toys to play with.

Even though most people consider the holidays something to look forward to, they can also be stressful.  Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to make them easier for your dog.   From keeping them out of areas with sparkly lights and gifts that can become chew toys, to letting your guests know what is and isn’t ok, these tips should help you to keep your dog and happy and safe through the holidays.

Tis the Season to Cuddle

December 18, 2013

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

My dogs Maya and Pierson are generally not allowed on the furniture. However, there are days when I’m not feeling well where I just want to cuddle. Maya and Pierson really look forward to these times. They know exactly what it means when I start putting the blue sheet on the couch and they get so so excited. Here are some photos from our most recent cuddle time.

Maya and Pierson Cuddle on Couch 1

I love cuddle time as much as Maya and Pierson do.

Maya and Pierson Cuddle on Couch 2

Cuddle Time! But wheres mom? Cuddle time just isn’t the same without her.

Maya and Pierson Cuddle on Couch 4

Yin Yang

Maya and Pierson Cuddle on Couch 5

Maya makes a nice pillow for my dog Pierson.

Maya Cuddling on the Couch 1

Maya loves to rest her head on my lap. She always gets the “shotgun” position on the couch next to me.

Pierson Cuddling on the Couch 1

Pierson likes to cuddle, but he gets hot easily and so eventually scoots to the end of the couch.

For more great pet photos, check out the Wordless Wednesday blog hop below.

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Also, join me on Meet the Blogger on my other blog for pet car travel.

Alternatives to Giving a Pet as a Gift

December 16, 2013
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Christmas Puppy

Puppy for Christmas?

The original article was paraphrased from an article I posted here previously and rewritten on PetAutoSafetyBlog. It was a good article and worth repeating. Pets are great, but they may not be the best Christmas gifts. Here is why and what you can do instead of giving a puppy or kitten instead:

Picking out a Pet is a Family Event
If you are considering giving your child or loved one a puppy or kitten for Christmas, consider giving a gift certificate or a promise note instead. This way the entire family can get together and decide which pet is perfect for everyone. If done after Christmas, this will also help all the pets which have ended up in the shelter because they were given as gifts and not wanted. This happens more often than you think so waiting until the entire family is ready and can decide together helps both your family and the pets that found themselves homeless.

Picking out a Pet is a Personal Experience
You wouldn’t go pick out someone else’s wedding dress, would you? The puppy or kitten you think is perfect may not be the ideal pet for the person you are picking it out for. Even if that person described every detail about what they want in a pet, it’s like finding the perfect wedding dress – the right pet is chosen based not just on a description but also on emotion. Also, that person may not really be ready for a pet. By giving a promise note instead, they can choose when the time is most right for them. The holidays are already overwhelming. It might be best not to overwhelm things more with a little fur-ball of mischief.

Give a Stuffed Animal with a Promise Note Instead
If you know for a fact that a certain person really wants a puppy or kitten for Christmas, giving a stuffed one along with a promise note instead is a very creative idea. This allows them to pick out a real live pet themselves and you have still given a gift on that very special day.

Give a Donation in Someone’s Name
Now that you know how many pets are abandoned after the holidays because people weren’t really ready for them, you can give homeless pets and a person you care about a gift by donating in their name to a shelter or rescue group. If someone you know lost a pet recently, giving the gift in their pet’s name is an even better idea.

Promise to Volunteer
If a good friend or family member wants a pet but you are concerned a pet may be too much for them to handle, give the gift of agreeing to volunteer at an animal shelter together. This way, the person can see how much work is involved in caring for a pet. They might discover they don’t really want a puppy or kitten after all, or they might find out they are allergic to animals. Also, if the person doesn’t have time to get together with you, this might be a sign that they wouldn’t have time for a puppy or kitten either.

Please don’t buy a pet for Christmas this year. Consider the above alternatives instead and save one of the animals who were given up because someone wasn’t ready.

DOGTV May Help Some Dogs with Separation Anxiety

December 13, 2013
DogTV

Does your dog watch TV?

Someone shared an interesting and very informative article with me, so I thought I would pass it on:

Nothing is worse than leaving for work or to run errands, only to be mournfully followed to the door by my dog’s heartbreaking puppy-dog eyes pleading for me to stay. Saying goodbye to my pup even for a few hours may be hard on me, but more importantly, and as other dog owners would agree, we worry about how hard it is on them.

According to the AAHA, about 10 to 15 percent of dogs experience some sort of separation anxiety. Unfortunately, when pets feel abandoned they may lash out by misbehaving, whether it’s peeing in the house, chewing on furniture, or partaking in other forms of destruction, or even just barking incessantly.

There have been previous attempts at aiding separation anxiety in dogs, including the Thundershirt, calming collars and simple training methods. Now, a recent digital option to help these anxious pups has appeared in the form of a new DirecTV channel, DOGTV. The channel was created by a group of leading dog experts, including scientist Prof. Nicholas Dodman and dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, and broadcasts 24/7 programming scientifically designed for dogs.

But what does “scientifically designed for dogs” really mean? The main features seem to be that the programs are color-adjusted for dogs’ eyes, and feature 3-6 minute segments meant to relax, stimulate and expose dogs to situations familiar to them from everyday life. It all sounds great in theory, but many owners will still question is if DOGTV actually works.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has stated that any relaxation and stimulation for pets is good, but has also cautioned that dog television may not work for every dog. There may be critics of DOGTV — pet owners who say it has no effect on their pets, that dogs won’t be interested in the visuals TV can present, or that their dogs simply bark at the screen. However, a poll taken by the American Kennel Club revealed that 60 percent of dog owners said their dog watched TV for short periods of time fairly often. So, if the channel can help relieve even some dogs who suffer with separation anxiety and boredom behavior, you may find, like me, that DOGTV is worth investing in.

As absurd as TV for dogs might sound, I must admit that my own dog, Oliver, seems to love it. I already knew he was intrigued by the television — whenever I turned on a movie, he stared at the screen until the movie finished, as though he was truly interested in what he saw. So I tested out DOGTV, and although I don’t have a camera to monitor his activities when I am not there, I believe the television shows distracted and/or entertained him enough to stop chewing my pillows. It provides him with the mental stimulation that I cannot give him while away at work, when he gets tired of sleeping and starts looking for something to entertain him. Instead of just looking out the window each day and then eating a pillow, Oliver has something to keep his attention and calm him down.

So, for pet owners who spend the majority of the day out of the home, and for dogs who suffer with separation anxiety, DOGTV may just be the solution to help not only keep your pet calm and entertained, but also your home in order and your favorite pair of shoes safe. I would suggest reading up on the science behind the new channel and the opinions of experts before investing in DOGTV yourself, but I think overall that the new channel is a great idea.

(The above was written by someone else. I have not used DOGTV for Maya and Pierson, but I can see how it could be helpful for some dogs. I’ve seen studies of how music can sooth a dog, so why not TV? It has sound too, plus visual stimulation. When I worked at a boarding kennel years ago, we had special “rooms” with TVs that dog’s parents could pay extra for. Some of our customers were certain the TV helped soothe their dog because the TV was on for them every day whenever they went to work. I imagine the voice of Rachael Ray and the voices of the characters on soap operas provided a familiar comfort for these dogs when their parents were out of town for several days.)

What do you think of the idea of DOGTV?

Wordless Wednesday – Drawing Zipper

December 11, 2013

Zipper was one of those very special dogs that stay in your heart forever. He was the dog that no other dog will ever compare to. As such, my friend asked that I draw Zipper for her fiancé as a gift. Here is a work in progress of Zipper:

Zipper the Dog Photo

My friend only had a few photos of Zipper to draw from. This one is a bit dark, but it was the best I could work from.

Zipper the Dog Sketch 1

First, I do some sketches. Zipper’s face isn’t quite right in this one, but the body looks right.

Zipper the Dog Head Sketch 2

Since only Zipper’s head needed to be fixed, I redrew the head. The ears are a little bigger, the face isn’t as long, and there are a couple of other subtle differences.

Zipper the Dog Final Sketch

When I felt I had all the shapes right, I did a final sketch and emailed it to my friend for her approval. She said it was perfect, so now for the next step…

Zipper the Dog Drawing 002

I trace my sketch of Zipper onto pastel paper.

Zipper the Dog Drawing 005

I always do the background of my art work first. I generally try to keep the background simple so as not to take away from the drawing of the dog. In this case, I chose green grass because I thought it would be a nice contrast to Zipper’s black and white coat.

Zipper the Dog Drawing 010

The next thing I do is the hardest, and for me, also the most fun. I draw Zipper’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Because this is not just a portrait drawing, these parts are smaller, making it difficult for me to add detail. But it came out pretty good none-the-less.

Zipper the Dog Head 001

Next, I add more detail to Zipper’s head. Trying to get the shading just right is difficult since the photo of Zipper is really dark. But knowing the shape of dog heads, I think I got this right.

More Zipper the Dog Art 06

Almost done! I’ve colored in Zippers body and begin to add shading.

Final Art Work of Zipper the Dog

Ta da! I emailed this to my friend and she absolutely loved it. She said it brought tears to her eyes. That, my friends, is one of the reasons I love to draw.

Visit the Wordless Wednesday blog hop below to see more great pics of pups and other pets:

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Make Your Own Dog Toys

December 9, 2013

Need to stretch your budget this holiday? Or tired of buying expensive toys only to have your dog tear them up in less than 5 minutes? Your dog doesn’t care how colorful or cute his dog toys are. So why not just make your own? Here are some ideas I like to do for Maya & Pierson:

Tennis Sock Toy

I wear socks all the time. And as such, I ruin socks all the time. While they may be no good for me to wear on my feet anymore, they might still be good for Maya to play with. Maya absolutely loves the tennis sock toy.

Maya's Tennis Ball Sock Toy

Maya loves playing with a handmade tennis ball sock toy.

The first thing I do is wash the socks. I either take a tennis ball and put it inside an old sock, or I stuff the old sock with other old stocks rolled into a ball shape. I then tie a knot at the base of the tennis ball or wad of socks. And ta-da! Maya has a tennis sock toy. My friend Joanne says I should call this toy the Barkypop. What do you think? 🙂

Tennis Ball Sock Toy

Make this great dog toy with just a tennis ball and an old sock.

Bottle Sock Toy

With knee-high socks, you can also make a bottle sock dog toy. Just stuff the old sock with a used water or soda bottle, and tie a knot at the base. Maya would love a bottle sock toy too, but I don’t wear knee-high socks. My ankle socks are too short to stuff a bottle in.

Handmade Fleece Toys

Have an old dingy fleece blanket? Rather than just throw it away, wash it and use it to make a variety of dog toys. Cut it into strips. Take three or six strips and tie a knot on one end. Braid them together and tie a knot on the other end.

Handmade Fleece Dog Toy

This handmade fleece dog toy is made from an old fleece blanket.

You can also use four strips and tie knots, one onto the other, to make a knot toy. If you’re fancy at different kind of braids, it can be fun to experiment to see what kind of different shapes you can make.

Maya Pierson Handmade Dog Toy 1

Maya and Pierson love their new fleece dog toy.

Maya Pierson Fleece Dog Toy 2

Maya says, “I want the dog toy!” and Pierson says, “No I want it!”

If you don’t mind sewing, you can sew the fleece into cool shapes. Don’t put in any stuffing of your dog likes to de-stuff his toys. Make sure your sewing is durable. Use yarn and double-stitch.

You can use other material too, such as from old shirts or old jeans. I, personally, don’t like to use other material because of the threads. Maya can be so destructive sometimes, she eats the threads and makes colorful poop! This is a concern for the sock toys too, so her sock toys are only given to her when I can supervise.

Maya Playing with Hand Made Dog Toy

This is a handmade dog toy made by some friends of mine. It is made by tearing material into strips, then braiding and knotting them together.

Bandana Ball Toy

Maya & Pierson won some stuff from Pruven some time back. It was fantastic stuff. One of the items received was a bandana with the Pruven logo on it. Bandanas were my dog Sephi’s thing and since she has gone over the rainbow bridge, I don’t feel like passing on that torch to another dog. So I have this wonderful unused bandana that I decided to put to good use:

Handmade Dog Toys 002

Cut from the four sides of the bandana towards the ball in the center.

Handmade Dog Toys 003

Tie the opposite corners together in a knot around the tennis ball.

Handmade Dog Toys 004

A fantastic dog toy made by tying a bandana around a tennis ball.

Handmade Dog Toys 009

Maya absolutely loves the bandana ball toy.

Handmade Dog Toys 008

I mean she really loves it.

Handmade Dog Toys 007

A lot.

Handmade Dog Toys 006

Did I mention how much Maya loves the bandana ball dog toy?

Handmade Dog Toys 005

Pierson likes it too, but Maya won’t let him have it.

A quick note on washing clothes you’re going to use to make dog toys – Consider the kind of laundry soap you use. You don’t want something with a bunch of chemicals. If you’re not sure about your laundry soap, just wash without soap. Add a touch of bleach to the load to disinfect.

So that’s all my ideas for handmade dog toys. Do you make some of your dog’s toys? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday – The Kibble Drop Puzzle Dog Toy

December 4, 2013

I got Maya and Pierson a new dog toy last week. They’ve never used a puzzle dog toy before so I was curious about how it would go. Kyjen has a lot of great dog toys, so I selected the one called the Kibble Drop. After seeing how it went, see if you can tell me which dog is the most intelligent:

Pierson

After about 8 demonstrations helped along with verbal cues, Pierson figured out how to use his nose to open the flaps on the puzzle dog toy to retrieve the treats. Overall, it took him less than three minutes to figure it out. And when we tried it again later that day, it took less than a minute for him to remember how it worked.

Pierson Kibble Drop Puzzle Toy 2

Hmmm. How do I get all these yummy treats out of this dog toy? It’s a puzzle. Can I solve it?

Pierson Kibble Drop Dog Toy 1

One-by-one, each flap is opened, and all the treats from the kibble drop are eaten.

Maya

Maya did things her own way. Rather than use her nose to lift the flaps, she picked up the entire puzzle toy and dropped it on the floor. The flaps flew open and all the treats spilled out.

Maya Kibble Drop Puzzle Toy 002

Rather than open the treat flaps on the kibble drop puzzle dog toy, Maya will either flip it upside down or pick it up… or both.

Maya Kibble Drop Dog Toy 001

Now that the puzzle toy is flipped upside down, the treats spill out, making it easy to get them all.

Maya Kibble Drop Dog Toy 003

All the treats are gone. Now what? Perhaps this will make a good chew toy.

.

Now, which dog do you think is the smartest?

.

I bought this toy and was not prompted by Kyjen or anyone else to tell you about it. Any opinions in this post are strictly my own. You should know, the link for this dog toy is to my Amazon affiliate link.

For more posts and photos of cute doggies, kitties, and other beloved pals, check out the link to the Wordless Wednesday blog hop below:

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