Chops

My Sophie loves cooking shows. Particularly Cake Boss and Paula Deen's Home Cooking. So when I offered to teach her how to make a pot roast yesterday, she was quite excited, and had a gleam in her eye when I pulled out the cutting board and handed her a large knife.

She washed vegetables, learned how to peel garlic cloves and onion skins, and the best part of all: she got to chop carrots and celery. After I made the first chop to demonstrate to her how it's done, she told me that to her, chopping celery had always been one of the coolest kitchen sounds in the world. I laughed, and definitely agreed. There is something very satisfying about a clean cut through a bunch of crisp celery!

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Sophie was so happy with her celery-chopping ability that she asked if the celery base would rot if she kept it as a souvenir. I explained to her that yes, it would eventually rot, so she found a new use for it…

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After all the preparations were made, she got to work…

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Once the roast was in the post to simmer for the remainder of the day, she got to work on that celery base again, and discovered something very exciting: by peeling away the outer stalks, she revealed a tiny "celery tree," as she called it…

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The celery tree is still sitting on the counter this morning, although it's looking a little less excitable by now.

It was fun cooking with such an eager "student." Later that night, when we sat down to eat, she quietly asked me, "Even though you helped me with everything, is this still a dinner that I cooked all by myself?" At that moment, Mike and Sabrina said, "Sophie, your roast is great."

She smiled. 🙂

P.S. Mom, thank you for teaching me how to make pot roast.

Four Things.

First, I wanted to address everyone who emailed me about the crazy owl hat that Sabrina was wearing in the Park City post. I really wish I knew which shop we were in and what the brand name of the hat was, but I don't. I'm so sorry! If only I'd known how popular that hat would be, I would have just bought it! It was awfully cute, but hoo knew?

Teehee.

Secondly, here's a wonderful finish from GingerCat! She showed me her framed Olga, which she said reminded her of a black cat she used to own named Ninjakitty. I love that! Great frame, too!

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Number three: I must introduce you to my new friend David, from Germany. His mother, Heike, stitched the latest hare freebie, which David is holding. Please give a warm welcome to his cute self! (And thank you for sharing your finish with me, Heike!)

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Fourthly, I just wanted to say that I still get the urge to watch The Empire Strikes Back every time Tasha is around. Not sure why.

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Oh, and there's one more thing. Which would make that filthy. Fliffy. Fifthly: I apologize for the dumb owl joke at the top of this post. I tried to resist, but the force was too strong.

Teehee.

Canvas People

I've always wanted some canvas prints of the girls for over my fireplace, but I couldn't decide where to have them done. Since it would be my first "photographic creation," I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something that I wasn't entirely sure would turn out well.

Then I stumbled on Canvas People. And they were having a sale. 🙂 I took a chance, and I'm thrilled that I did!

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If you ever want a canvas made, I highly recommend this company. (Right now they're having a Valentine's Day sale.) My only suggestion – before you start creating your canvas – is that you use an uncropped photo, bc when they wrap the print around the frame, you'll lose the outside part of your image. However, they do show you a preview ahead of time so that you can approve your choice or discard it and start over. 🙂 The site is extremely easy to use, and they even offer different photo effects, if that's something you want done.

I had one made of Breanna too, but I'm going to make her pose with hers as soon as she comes home again. 😉

You can run, Bre, but you can't hide. If you want a homecooked meal, you will pose.

Thin Chance.

A few days ago I tried, yet again, to get a portrait of the three hounds together. I thought a box of Wheat Thins would be the way to go, since all three of them crave the things. So out I went with the bright yellow box, and out the three of them followed.

They stood very still for me individually, knowing that after roughly 4 or 5 clicks they'd get a reward. Here's how their portrait session went…

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No-no, Yorkie – don't look at the box. Look at me!

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Much better.

Don't look so inconvenienced.

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Besides, you look cute with that snowflake on your face.

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Okay, I want all three of you together. Together now, okay? Come on, let's go!

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Thanks, Tasha.. now you come here too, Yorkie!

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Oh, okay.. um, that's great Friday, but I called the Yorkie, and I need you to back up a bit.

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Yes, good boy. I know you're waiting. But I need the Yorkie.

Yes! Thank you! Progress.

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Perfect! Stay there! (Tasha, why is your eye twitching?)

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Okay, Friday, come on over!

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That means you have to get up and move.

And don't look so inconvenienced.

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This is the best you can do?

I give up.

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Did you dogs ever see the Beethoven movie? The one with the killer vet? Yeah, I'm calling him to do your rabies shots.

This isn't over.

Utah, the Final Chapter

On our last day in the Beehive State, we decided to head into Salt Lake City (since that's where our plane would be taking off) and find a good place to eat. The guy at the ski rental shop recommended this place called Tucanos Brazilian Grill, so after following the instructions given to us by the lady-who-lives-in-my-phone, that's exactly where we ended up.

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This is one of the most unique places I've ever eaten! They have these colorful markers at each table, and as long as the green end is up, a server will come to your table over and over again, each time with a different type of meat for you to add to your plate.

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In case you can't tell from the way Mike's tongue is situated, that green side was up for a really long time.

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He brought us barbecued chicken on one trip, and prime rib on the next. He showed up with grilled pineapple and honey-glazed ham, and then it was garlic seared steak. It wasn't until he brought us the chicken hearts that we realized we needed to, at some point, put the red end up.

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I can proudly say we all tried a chicken heart. And in my opinion, it tasted a lot like frog legs, which I've never had, but heard that they taste like chicken.

Btw, they have an excellent salad and soup bar too!

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Soon our server headed over with the dreaded dessert tray.

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Mike absolutely insisted on getting the raspberry cheesecake, so I told him to stop whining and order it already.

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Here's Sabrina with a mouth full of what she chose…

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And no matter where we are, Sophie manages to find plain vanilla ice cream with caramel syrup.

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Me? Well, Mike was supposed to share that raspberry cheesecake with me, but I got nary a bite. Okay, fine, I got several, but what I really wanted was a little something I like to call The Plasma:

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What a fantastic place to eat! We'll definitely be stopping there again, the next time we're in Utah.

I leave you with one more TubCam. This one is Sabrina's, and she took it all by herself on her cell phone. Hold on tight!

Pilgrimage

I started stitching twenty years ago when I found out I was going to have a little girl. I decided I wanted her room to be full of cross-stitched teddy bears, so I pleaded with my mom to pick up her long-forgotten hobby of stitching and help me get some decorating done. She agreed, since it was for her first grandchild, and we headed to the nearest place that sold cross stitch supplies and purchased a book called Priscilla's Precious Bears.

Soon we discovered Treasured Stitches, a cross stitch shop that was within walking distance of my parents' home (and co-owned by Darlene Anderson), and it is there that I discovered Shepherd's Bush patterns: my first true cross stitch love.

Mom and I continued with the teddy bear theme for Breanna's room, and they all turned out quite adorably. But oh, those sweet little sheep, designed by the hands of Tina and Teri Richards… who could resist them? I soon acquired quite a collection of their gorgeous patterns and kits, and even called the shop once, awkwardly asking them if they would please consider designing a "Quilt Gatherer" piece to go with their other 'Gatherers.

That must be one huge piece they're doing for me, bc I haven't seen it released yet.

Soon I became active on the internet, and met my first-ever cyberfriend, Chris. She was also a Shepherds Bush addict, and we exchanged many emails oohing and ahhing over whatever new patterns came out. When Tina and Teri decided to hold their first retreat, I could hardly breathe for wanting to attend. But alas, for one reason or another, I've never been able to.

Excuse me while I have a moment of morosity.

Okay, I'm fine now.

Every year that Shepherd's Bush has had a retreat, Chris has attended. And every year, I've said to her, "One day I'll go too!" My mom, knowing my obsession with SB, visited their shop years ago and had Teri autograph a shop-exclusive kit for me. I think if George Clooney would have walked into the room, I would have said, "Oh, hi, Mr. Clooney! LOOK WHAT MY MOM GOT FOR ME." (And then I would asked him to sit next to me and pretend I didn't know how to stitch so he would put his arms around me and hold the needle and fabric "no, like this," like they do in the movies.)

I cannot believe how chatty I am today.

Since it's entirely too late for long-story-short, I'll continue. Fast-forward to our trip to Park City… when I realized I was going to be within walking distance (66 miles in -3 temps is totally doable), I knew I had to be there. I simply had to go! So while Mike and Marty ski'ed the blacks, I headed to Ogden in our rented Ford Flex. Sabrina and Sophie came with me in case I swooned and needed smelling salts.

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Btw, that's Nancy on the left. Hi, Nancy!

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Here's Sophie, rifling through all the stockings… she found it quite amusing that the original name of the stocking I stitched for Sabrina is Sophie's Stocking.

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Somewhere in this glorious section of the store, you'll find Sabrina…

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And here she is again, telling me to take a picture of Primitive Needle's Adam and Eve… I love how Tina and Teri convert the color schemes of so many designs to their signature soft palette…

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I truly wish I could have photographed every nook and cranny of this transformed carriage house. What an experience it is to see something new every time you blink!

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I am so very happy I was finally, after twenty years, able to visit this loveliest of shops. I was also honored to meet Teri, who was as hospitable and kind as I imagined her to be.

When my girls and I got to our car, Teri came running after us, telling us she forgot to give us something. She then presented each of us with the sweetest little sheep pins, and I found the gesture to be so lovely that I felt happy the rest of the day.

Thank you, Tina and Teri, for sharing with all of us your amazing talent, and for being mindful of the nuances that make each visitor to your shop feel warm and perfectly welcome.

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Meanwhile, on Main Street…

While Mike and Soph and Marty and Beth and Nick and Zach and Gabby spent the day skiing, Sabrina and I stayed at the bottom of the mountain, perusing the colorful shops on Main Street, just in front of our condo. There were banners on every lamppost, announcing the big Sundance Film Festival event coming up the following week (I believe it's going on as we speak?), so the streets were very quiet and the shopkeepers were readying things for the windfall of celebrities that would be visiting them soon.

One of our favorite shops (and one of the few that were affordable to us, since we are not in the Hollywood income bracket) had lots of fuzzy snow hats. I liked the owl hat best, so Sabrina humored me…

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A few storefronts down, we happened upon a boot shop, where Sabrina found a pair she fell in love with… I also wanted a pair, but if I bought two pairs, I would not have been able to buy milk for the children…

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Doesn't she look happy? I'm so happy I sacrificed. Excuse me while I go get a towel to wrap my cold feet in.

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After she we finished shopping, we decided to head over to Deer Valley (where the rest of the fam was skiing) and have some lunch in the lodge. While we waited at the bus stop for the shuttle to pick us up, I looked down at our boots and thought how this might be the last photo I would ever be able to take of my daughter and I as sole sisters. After all, sister's got a shiny new pair to drink with her tall glass of milk.

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(Btw, as grungy as these poor Ugg boots look, let me express that they are worth ten times their weight in gold, and I plan to get mine cleaned and restored back to their deep chocolate color very soon.)

We made it to Deer Valley within minutes and before meeting up with the gang for lunch, Sabrina and I rode the Funicular, which is an outside elevator that takes you up to a mountaintop resort. Once at the top, we went to the look-out area and got to see the resort below…

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(Remember when Sabrina got those goggles in Breckenridge last year?)

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This is one I posted on my 365 blog

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Soon we were headed back down the side of the mountain, and met up with the others in the lodge. Here's sweet Gabby, who refused to have her picture taken, yet later fretted and fussed that there were lots of pictures of the other kids, but none of herself. 😉 Gabby, when I see you again, I'm going to follow you around with my camera everywhere you go, bc you are a cutie-pie!

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Hi, sweet Sophieeee!

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(I could just eat that child up, in case you didn't know.)

Eventually everyone tired, and we all decided to head back to our condos and get ready to meet up for dinner and the Auburn/Oregon game. Here's Beth, talking to our server, Sawyer, who kept calling her "Paulette"… (I believe I also heard him call Mike "Tweedle-dee" and Marty "Tweedle-dum," when really, it's the other way around.)

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If you're wondering where all the kids are, they were in a corner booth. Here was the seating order, along with the ages of the children:

Zach – 9.
Gabby – 9.
Sabrina – 17.
Sophie – 10.
Nick – 12.

Sabrina still isn't speaking to us.

Later that night, after everyone had said their goodbyes for the day and settled back into their warm rooms, I got to my stitching, Sabrina went to bed, and Mike busied himself with another game of Angry Birds on his iPad. Soon he got up to go check on Sophie, and after hearing her squeal, he came quickly out of the bathroom, his face red, and he laughing. He told me to go take a peek at her, so I did.

I assured her I wouldn't take an inappropriate photo.

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Now that's a vacation.

I'll be back soon with a few pictures I took of the lovely Shepherd's Bush shop!

Utah!

Hello everyone! I've missed you all! It's taken me quite a while to sort through all the photos we took on our semi-family (Bre couldn't come with us) vacation to Park City, and I'm still not quite finished. But I'd love to share with you what I've got for starters, and I'll finish Part 1 with Mike's TubeCam video, which we actually had to film twice bc the first time he pushed "off" instead of "on." 🙂

Can you guess which airline we flew? I have to say, they are the nicest people, and they don't holler at you for almost breaking their arm if someone's suitcase is too heavy for the overhead compartment. (Now that was a sight to witness!)(Btw, it wasn't my suitcase.)(Moving on.)

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And the goodies they fed us! Not just peanuts and pretzels, but these fabulous little snacks, which I haven't been able to locate locally…

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Sophie brought her Bonkers along…

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And I brought mine…

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This was the view from Sabrina's seat…

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Which means there was no escape from the man sitting next to her…

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Our layover was in Las Vegas.

I'm not too sure I like the gleeful expressions on my childrens' faces in this shot…

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(Thankfully, an airport lady shoo'ed them off before they started asking for quarters.)

Once in Park City, we stayed at the Marriott Summit Resort, which was absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend staying there if you ever visit this area!

The next day, we all headed up the mountain. I was NOT looking forward to this bc of a nasty fall I had in Colorado last year, but I gave it a chance…

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Sabrina is an excellent skier, but when I decided that I wasn't born to be an adrenaline-junkie like my husband and daughters seem to be, she stayed with me for the majority of the trip bc she was afraid I'd be lonely. ;)  (Besides, she was more interested in snowboarding, but the resort we ski'ed at – Deer Valley – doesn't allow 'boarders.)

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While Sabrina and I had an amazing lunch in the lodge, Mike and Sophie headed back up the mountain…

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Mike's BFF from childhood (Marty) and his family were vacationing with us, so eventually they joined up with Mike and Sophie. Sophie, please introduce Nick to blogland, will you?

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I love this next picture. It looks so travel-promo-ish. Or maybe Carnival Cruis-ish.

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Hi again, Nick!

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Here we are later that night, getting ready to go out for dinner… next to me is Gabby, and Marty's-wife-Beth is next to Soph… Gabby has a twin brother named Zach (he's behind Nick in the photo above), but he was in the corner playing video games, not wanting to join we chickadees.

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The next few days were filled with more of the same – skiing and shopping and swimming and eating – and tubing! If you've never gone tubing, you're missing out. Remember, I am NOT an adrenaline-junkie, but I love tubing!

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(Don't worry – I haven't forgotten about Mike's TubeCam. It's coming up!)

On the last day of skiing, Mike and Marty decided to ski the blacks. In case you're unfamiliar with ski terminology, here's a quick lesson: mountains have "runs" on them, which are the paths that skiers take to ski down the mountain. These runs are categorized as Green (easy), Blue (intermediate), and Black (advanced). The Black runs are then broken down into subcategories: Diamond (very advanced), Double Diamond (only experts should attempt), and Triple Diamond (you will probably die).

Here are the two besties, getting ready to attempt a very advanced run…

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Here's the part that makes my stomach flip: am I the only one who notices that the run just drops off?

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And am I the only one who doesn't think that narrow pathway is an exciting challenge?

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Let me interject a little back-story here: at dinner the previous night, I distinctly heard Beth tell Nick that he was not to go down the black runs with Mike and Marty. I saw the look in her eyes when she said it, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't to be challenged on it.

Unfortunately, I don't think M&M saw the same look I did.

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And I'm really sure Beth would not have consented to THIS:

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Let's take a closer look at that sign, shall we?

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I'm afraid I have to side with Beth on this one. The sign clearly states who best should ski the Mayflower Bowl.

I ask: Do these look like experts to you?

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I'll be back soon with more of our trip, but first… Mike's TubeCam! Hold on tight, bc it's much faster – and colder – than it appears!

Tubing in Park City, UT from Paulette Stewart on Vimeo.

P.S. I am only teasing about my sweet husband; he is, in fact, quite capable of skiing the blacks, and usually does so with Sabrina (while Breanna 'boards with the boys). 😉

I Spy

I didn't think I was going to be posting again until I returned to Omaha, but I've decided to pre-blog and schedule this to be posted for this morning. It's actually 10:25 pm right now, and I'm almost finished packing. I spent most of the day answering emails and mailing orders and running errands, so I'm taking a break!

I'd like to show you a scene from our home on Christmas morning. The room is in complete disarray, furniture shoved everywhere but where it should be, yet I'm still going to post this photo. My mother will be horrified.

Let's play a game of I Spy, shall we?

I spy Sophie's plaid pajama pants, handed down to her by Sabrina.

I spy a girl hoping that another present will appear under the tree for her.

I spy a woman in a new Vera Bradley apron, in desperate need of caffeine and another present.

I spy a girl in a Nebraska hoodie, angry that she didn't get the new Vera Bradley apron.

I don't spy the father in this family, bc he's taking the photo.

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Okay, now I'm done posting! See you soon!

See You Soon!

I'll be heading out of town for about a week, so I won't be posting until after I return. I sure will miss you all! Before I leave, here' a cell phone photo Sabrina took when we were celebrating my birthday at Olive Garden.  (Mike always treats the birthday-person to a birthday dinner of their choice. I couldn't decide where I wanted to go, but when Sophie reminded me of Olive Garden's Celebration Cake, I knew that was the place. It's my very favorite dessert!)

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Oh wait! Don't leave just yet! Among other lovely birthday treasures, I also got a couple of gift cards to a local camera shop. Mike got me one, and Sabrina got me the other.

Here is Mike's:

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Sabrina, being annoyed that she was issued a Christmas gift card to give as a birthday present, decided to make the best of it…

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I hope you all have a fantastic week, and I'll see you soon! In the meantime, go get yourself a Celebration Cake! Next to the buttercream frosting, the $6.95 price tag for the entire cake is the best thing!

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