Hard Rock Cancun – ScrapMuch? Reveal

Can you believe it’s ScrapMuch?! reveal time again?! Where have the last 2 weeks gone? I feel like June is just flying by, and I hope that summer slows down and doesn’t go anywhere near as fast as June has. Speaking of summer, I’m so happy that summer officially arrives tomorrow! We’ve had such a long, cold, hard winter that the arrival of summer is extra sweet this year.

Inspired by summer and sunshine I decided to scrapbook some pictures from a trip to Mexico for this week’s sketch.

Here is the sketch:

And here is my take on the sketch:
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Supplies used: Cardstock-Bazzill; Patterned Paper-Pink Paislee, BoBunny; Most circle elements (brads, rosettes, chipboard pieces, gems)-Pink Paislee; button-Bazzill; Floss-Close To My Heart; Ribbon-Pink Paislee; Tile-Pink Paislee; Sequins-Teresa Collins; Washi-Tim Holtz, Bella Blvd; Pearls-Melissa Frances; Distress Ink-Tim Holtz; Title letters-American Crafts, Heidi Swapp; Paint-Claudine Hellmuth Studio; Stickles-Tim Holtz, Mist-Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist

I went with a lot of purples because it’s a common decor colour throughout the resort at Hard Rock Cancun. I went a little wispy with the distress ink because it reminds me of the wispy clouds. The music washi tape is absolutely perfect for a resort focused on music. And it really is a beautiful life. I’m very blessed I’ve been able to take so many incredible vacations.

I only visited Hard Rock Cancun for a day shortly after it rebranded and I admittedly took TONS of pictures as the resort is FILLED with music memorabilia. In keeping with my new love for pocket page scrapbooking I added a second pocket page of some of the pictures I took that day.

Here are the two pages together:
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I just pulled some of the patterned paper and embellishments from the left side to add some cohesion to the right, and on the back of the right I’ll add more pictures and journaling and ephemera (aka “stuff”). The Christmas tree there was done up in music themed ornaments. That fancy decor on the wall is all cymbals. And the drums on display there are John Bonham’s from Led Zeppelin.

I would love for you to pop over to the ScrapMuch?! blog and see what the rest of the team has created this week, and then play along with any of the sketches this month. Be sure to share your creations with us in the link-up tool for a chance to win an awesome prize! Here is a run down of our Sketch-y Friday rules.  Just link up your creations in our sidebar to be entered into a random draw for our monthly prize.   You have until Sunday, June 29th, at midnight to participate in any of June’s sketch challenges, each linkup tool will remain open until that date!

Thanks for popping by! I will be cropping with the awesome ScrapMuch?! ladies tomorrow! Have a fantastic weekend!

Recapping Thanksgiving

For many years I’ve had a yearly tradition of going to Frankenmuth & Birch Run Michigan for US Thanksgiving and “Black Friday” shopping. I missed last year because I was just back from Mexico, and prepping to leave for Mexico again(!) and that was a more than worthy tradeoff, but I definitely missed it. This year I wasn’t missing it at all.

Somehow Frankenmuth seems to just do Christmas right. Maybe part of that stems from being the home of the “World’s Largest Christmas Store”, Bronner’s. Bronner’s actually even has it’s own wiki and some of the factoids about it are just mindboggling. One part of my yearly tradition involves going to Zehnder’s for their Thanksgiving buffet dinner. I’m not sure what they do to their sweet potatoes or their Hubbard squash, but those are 2 dishes I definitely can’t duplicate at home.

Here’s a shot of some of the decor in Zehnder’s:
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After dinner we went to the Premium Outlets in Birch Run for some all night shopping. I managed to score some incredible deals and get a lot of my Christmas shopping done! Yes, really! And it wasn’t even December yet! Canadian retailers have tried to drop prices to be competitive, but their deals don’t even come close to the ones I find on the US side, add in that the taxes in MI are significantly less than Ontario it all adds up to more money in my wallet. I don’t even give much thought to my hotel bill because I look at it as a cost of a mini-escape.

I must say though, I definitely do avoid Wal Mart, Best Buy and any of those stores that have people camping out, lining up for days, trampling each other to the death over ridiculous sales at least in the morning on Black Friday. I’ve been in a Wal Mart on the Saturday and it was shockingly quiet and easy to shop.  But I’m not one to risk life or limb for a sale, and this diva princess doesn’t camp. The closest I’ve come to unruly shoppers was some near anarchy at the Coach outlet one year when people cut the line repeatedly and security couldn’t be bothered to do anything to control the crowd. I still kept my distance because my health is worth far more than any Coach bag.

By the time it was time to come home on Saturday, my car was well loaded up with lots of goodies and gifts. The following pictures are of some things I somehow miraculously resisted bringing home. That didn’t stop me from snapping a picture or two…

Heck yes I need these Hello Kitty Vans.
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An egg cooker that will give you perfect soft, medium and hard “boiled” eggs.  It’s only $39.95!
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I really want to know..
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The purrrrrrfect kitty cat onesie jammies for this crazy cat lady…
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Polar fleece. Leopard print. HK. Pyjama pants. Shut the front door!
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These are the most badass Christmas cat boxer shorts I have ever seen. They’re also the only Christmas cat boxer shorts I’ve ever seen, but not the point.
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Black Friday, thank you for not disappointing for another year. Can’t wait to do this all again next year!

Better Late Than Never!

At long last I’m finally blogging about my trip to Las Vegas for Inspiration Unlimited 2012. A warning, this will be long and full of lots of pictures!!

I was genuinely concerned at the outset of this trip as my fankle hadn’t recovered overly well before I left.  I was still in physio and I  still couldn’t walk a heck of a lot. And If you know anything about Vegas, it’s that there is a TON of walking to be done!! This girl had lots of plans that I’d been making since last year when I realized how much I didn’t get done on my first trip: the Grand Canyon, Fremont Street, the iconic sign at the south end of the strip, watching the Bellagio fountain show, and riding the mechanical bull at PBR Rockbar.  I’m happy to say this time I accomplished all, bad fankle and all, except the mechanical bull. I feared getting hurt again/still/worse from getting tossed from the bull and I wasn’t sure how I could explain that to the physio after all the work he’d done on me all summer.

I got in on Saturday night, which also happened to be fight night at MGM Grand (that of course was not scheduled when I booked my plane tickets), which means Vegas was a zoo. I wanted to stay at Planet Hollywood for the duration of my time on the strip, but for that Saturday night PH was crazy expensive, and they had a mandatory Friday checkin for that night. I opted to stay at the cheap and cheerful Hampton Inn Tropicana for the one night. It was one of the only hotels that still had availability and not jacked rates. Minus the free airport shuttle that was a total disaster (that I waited almost 2 hours for a pickup), and trying to get a taxi to come pickup when it was time to leave, the Hampton was fantastic. The service was good, the location was great, and the room was clean. By the time I finally got there, my foot was swollen and sore from the flight, and I was tired so I didn’t venture out to the strip at all.

Sunday morning I was up early for Vegas time. I got to enjoy breakfast in bed from the buffet downstairs and watch the tail end of Sunday NFL Countdown, and the start of the first football games. Then it was time to checkout and move on (finally!) to Planet Hollywood. I was so happy to see this sign again!
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I love staying here. I love the atmosphere. I love the location. I love the amenities. I loved going up to the Heart Bar after finding my room to see how Sunday football really should be watched!
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Oh, and that room? I splurged a little and got a strip view. I couldn’t justify going to fountain view, and the advantage of where my room was is I had a great view of the Cosmo pool where Enrique Iglesias was playing that night! Free show! Here were my daytime views – first the Cosmo pool and Bellagio “lake”, and below directly below me to the PH pool, bar and outdoor gambling tables.
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That evening, still full of energy, after watching some of Enrique (who was fashionably late, natch!), I went over to finally watch a Bellagio fountain show. In my super quick stint on the strip last year I didn’t have time to stop and watch the show, this year, I made sure I had time!
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A beautiful end to a fantastic day.

Monday – I picked Monday to be a mostly relaxing and touring the strip day with plans of Grand Canyon for Tuesday, more relaxing and strip on Wednesday, before migrating to Green Valley Ranch and Inspiration Unlimited for Thursday. So I started off sunning by the pool with my Starbucks in hand.
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I tried to use my MyVegas rewards to get a Zarkana ticket but it wasn’t working, so I opted to go over to the box office at Aria and see what I could find. I did check with Tix4Tonight first, and while they said they could get me a great price, they had no idea where the seat was until I got to the box office at Aria, so it only made sense for me to do my own legwork. On the way into Crystals, someone in character was handing out discount coupons for Zarkana. I managed to snag an AMAZING seat at a FANTASTIC price. I celebrated my find with delicious pints and oysters at Todd English P.U.B.
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And a mandatory after-show touristy photo:
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Zarkana was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I saw O last year and it was definitely the better of the 2, but I wanted to see something new. Next up it was time to go across the street to the Cosmopolitan to the second feature at their “Dive-In Movies” shown on the huge screen by the pool. It was Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Another movie I’d been dying to watch but had never seen in it’s entirety. Well, my busy day and excitement caught the better of me. I got onto my comfy poolside lounge bed, got a great view, saw the first few minutes and the next thing I know I’m hearing Moon River and watching the credits scroll by. Yes, I slept through the whole thing. 😦 Sad girl.
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Tuesday – I was up bright and early, renting a car and I was on my way to the Grand Canyon, with detours to the Hoover Dam and old Route 66 with stops in Kingman and Seligman AZ. In the Pixar movie Cars, the town of Radiator Springs was loosely based on the town of Seligman. I have a ton of pictures from this road trip but there are some significant ones missing. Normally, when I travel I use at least 3 cameras to take pictures – my SLR, my point and shoot, and my phone, and sometimes even my Instax mini. When I got to the Hoover Dam I got camera cocky and only used my SLR. When I stopped in Kingman to review my pictures I discovered I had none! It seems I brilliantly left my CF card out while shooting. I’m just thankful I noticed it early on in Kingman, and quickly shed my cockyness and went back to snapping with 4 cameras..

FINALLY, after several trips to Phoenix and now my second trip to Las Vegas, finally I made it to the Grand Canyon, and it was every bit as spectacular as I’d hoped.
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I can’t get over how big it is. I know that sounds silly when it has the name “Grand” but seriously, so wide and so deep and so long. I took their shuttle bus system all over the park and found the views no matter where to be quite similar, and yet I couldn’t see a lot of the places I’d already been from one lookout point to the next.
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It’s definitely an excursion that should be on everyone’s bucket list to do at least once. And don’t waste your time with the tourist trap fabricated West Rim, go all the way to the South Rim.
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On the way back I made sure to stop at the iconic sign.
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With rental car I went up to my last stop, Fremont Street. In being fully honest, I really didn’t like it and it was the most unsafe I’ve felt on any Vegas trip. The canopy kept the smoke in, so that wasn’t overly pleasant at all. The laser show was a bit neat. The casinos were dingy and sketchy. The crowds were different than those on the strip. Most of them were quite fall down drunk and had ZERO respect for personal space. I downed a very overpriced drink and made my way back to Planet Hollywood where I settled in for a well earned sleep.

Wednesday was a relatively low-key day. I started off poolside with my Starbucks again, and Skyped home so he could see what he was missing (me, sun, palm trees). I went up to the Venetian because on my last trip I stopped at the Forum Shops at Caesars and didn’t make it any further north.
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I found my favourite slot machine in their casino and stopped when I was up $5.
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I fell in love with the Canal Shoppes.
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Some of the gelatos there looked positively heavenly. I’m not sure how I managed to resist but I did. That being said, I had a spectacular lunch there at Morels. I paid for the cheese fondue for 2 with a caesar salad and 2 for 1 vodka tonics on the patio that overlooked the strip and the outdoor canals. It was incredible and I was truly living the dolce vita that afternoon.

I went back to Planet Hollywood to get cleaned up for dinner as I had plans to go to Paris to try Mon Ami Gabi and go up the Eiffel Tower, yes another thing I hadn’t done yet. There was a red carpet event going on at Planet Hollywood I thought I may try to take in before dinner, but by the time I got back there, the area surrounding the carpet was already packed, and I’m short, and the celebs were late (natch!).
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Yes, I opted to give up on trying to fight for a glimpse of JT and Ben Affleck, and as I later found out Holly Madison too. Bummer!

I did make it up the tower for some spectacular views of the Vegas strip and the Bellagio fountains.
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I then went down and my patio strip side table was ready at Gabi.  I had a great spot to people watch, watch the fountain show over and through the palms, and my dinner was so incredible.
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After dinner I went back to the Heart Bar at Planet Hollywood for a nightcap or two of my new favourite cocktails, cherry bombs! So so so delicious! And I couldn’t help but take a picture of the super neat light up cocktail menu at the Heart Bar.
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And with that my time on the strip was over and it was time to relax and scrapbook to my heart’s content at Inspiration Unlimited at Green Valley Ranch.

Thursday – I took a taxi from PH down to the airport to catch the GVR shuttle. I took a cab last year and it cost over $40. For less than $20 to get to the airport it was well worth the leisurely trek as I wasn’t in any rush to get there before check-in time. What can I say about GVR?! I love the room and the property. I love the chill and laid back vibe. I love the view my room had:
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Inspiration Unlimited is bar none the BEST scrapbooking event I’ve been to. Teresa Collins is just incredible and I feel so lucky to get to take 2 amazing workshops with her. Ginger runs a super tight ship like a well oiled machine. The roster of instructors is always top notch. I fully plan on going to every one as long as they continue to exist. I’ve already paid my deposit to return next year. And one of the things I love about Inspiration Unlimited is the friends I see there year after year. I love our yearly reunions!

Here’s the worst picture ever of me with Teresa:
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In my defence, it was day 2 and I was tired from my week of adventures and full day of crafting the day before.

I got to make some neat projects:
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I resisted sampling some of these delectable treats from the pastry case at the cafe:
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I had so much fun reconnecting with these ladies:
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Missing Patty who was being our awesome camerawoman..
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I totally need to get more pictures with friends next year because I’m missing so many..

And then the ugly…

On Saturday night one of my girlfriends and I got violently ill from the buffet at GVR. I was so sick and it put an incredible damper on my final days there that I had hoped to spend with friends, and by the pool, and relaxing.. essentially anything but spending it in bed and getting very acquainted with the beautiful bathroom. I’m beyond disappointed to say that when I brought it up to the front desk when I was feeling well enough to emerge from my room in the hunt for some Gatorade, they showed no concern whatsoever, and suggested I should call the buffet manager in the morning. I had far too much to do on Monday morning that I couldn’t call the manager and it was time to go. I will return to GVR because that’s where Inspiration Unlimited is, but I will definitely consider alternate dining options while there.

Monday I had my traditional lunch leaving McCarran, cheese quesadillas at Sammy Hagar’s. I opted to skip out on the Can’t Drive 55 drink because my tummy was still queasy and recovering from the food poisoning.
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Southwest got me, and all my luggage home safe and sound.
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What an incredible trip. I had so much fun and I can’t wait until next September!

A lot of my projects are still in progress but will be shared when completed in a separate post (this one is long enough already!)

In 100% full disclosure I have not been compensated for my reviews in any way shape or form. 

New Challenge!

Hey everyone. I hope you’re all enjoying a great mid-summer weekend!

I spent my Friday scrapping (as evidenced by the posts). Saturday was super busy running errands. It’s kind of my current reality as I’m still not allowed to drive, so Steve drives me around on Saturdays to get things done. It’s usually a pretty welcome escape from my home/physio/home/physio/scrapbook/bake routine. Yesterday though was a bit too much, and resulted with me at home and fankle on ice and a Tylenol 3 to take the edge off the pain. I felt like it was a colossal setback. This morning I woke up feeling infinitely better! We had our fabulous routine Sunday mimosa brunch, pulled pork is cooking away in the crockpot and I’m back up in my scraproom tackling some other layout challenges while watching the first Sex And The City Movie on my laptop. Nice easy Sunday! Just what the doctor ordered (I’m not a doctor).

I’ve mentioned that I’ve gathered quite the stash of crafty stuff over my years of scrapping, and it’s becoming a bit overwhelming. In fact, I probably haven’t done any significant scrapbook shopping in easily a year. Enter Use Your Stuff. They definitely draw up some amazing challenges and I’ve wanted to play along for a while. The best part is, they’re helping me to embrace and use the old that I once loved/had to have/couldn’t part with/will definitely use at some point/saving for a special project/etc. Stop me if you’ve done any of this before. They have 2 active challenges at the moment so I started on the one that is expiring first: #93 – Ad Challenge. An ad is used as a leaping off point to inspire future creations.

Here is the ad:

And here is my subsequent all stash creation:

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Patterned paper is all oldschool Stampin’ UP! from the days when we use to have a hostess club that I *had* to have, flower is old Heidi Swapp for Advantus, there’s an epoxy cleary sticker in there from I have no idea what because I tossed the packaging long ago, the tag is 7gypsies, the flair is American Crafts circal 2010, the cardstock lettering (done in Bazzill of course!) is a Kerri Bradford cutfile for the Silhouette, ribbon is from my ribbon stash bin.

The pictures were all taken on one of my last days at Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson LV at the end of Inspiration Unlimited last September. It was the perfect way to end the whirlwind trip lounging by their amazing pool – starting with breakfast and on into the afternoon. For me, the ad inspired thoughts of escape – fun – relaxation. So these were the pictures I chose to work with it – a fun event, a great escape, and some much needed relaxation! Thank you to the great crew over at Use Your Stuff for this fun and inspiring challenge. I look forward to playing along with many more!

And in the spirit of scrapbooking stash, I know many of my friends can relate to this video. I sure did!

Have a great week everybody!

Let’s Get Sketchy – July Week 1

Evidently I’m tackling some challenges out of order… BUT… I’m using up ye olde stash and having fun (which is truly what matters most).

So, here I am with another Let’s Get Sketchy challenge.  I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from these sketches, and the people are sooo nice and friendly! I will be returning the blog love soon!  Without further adieu here is the sketch from LGS for July Week 1:

And here is my take on the sketch (that I also managed to use for some 2Peas challenges this week too! Yay!):

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The photo was taken from the couples massage palapa on the pier out front of Isla Mujeres Palace. It was absolutely amazing to listen to the soft waves and feel the gentle breeze while getting my massage. Definitely a highlight of an amazing trip.

Beantown, Boston Strong and BBQ

In April we made our yearly road trip to the Boston area for the NFL Draft. The trip was almost in jeopardy as the draft was a little over a week after the bombings at the marathon. I wasn’t concerned about our safety in the slightest, but I didn’t want to travel to a city that was on lockdown. In the end we went, and I did go down to Copley Square because it was history.
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The square was quite busy and remarkably quiet, and the memorials were mounting in so many forms: running shoes, local t-shirts, teddy bears, flowers, crosses, marathon volunteer bibs, etc. There were boards to sign and I signed 2 of them, but even then it was difficult to find some free space to write.
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The Patriots official draft party this year at Gillette wasn’t as good as past years – maybe because I knew we were trading out of the first round. But, the activities were pretty much the same as last year, and the player appearances were very structured, and nobody I was willing to wait in a super long line to meet either. I think I would have been better off at Vince Wilfork’s event because it’s more casual, more players go, and it supports a good cause.
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Mr. Kraft presenting members of the Boston PD with New England 1 jerseys as a thank you gesture for their efforts over the last week and a half.
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The Patriots manifesto, and part of what makes them so good, year after year.

Other highlights of the trip include indulging in SO. MUCH. LOBSTER. and sampling so many fantastic US craft beers that we simply can’t get here. One of our mandatory stops is dinner at Legal Seafoods, and I always get the lobster wrap, and this year I sampled their oysters too. In recent history I’ve grown to LOVE oysters!
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On the way home we made one last mandatory stop, to Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse NY. We stumbled on Dinosaur a few years ago on our way home from one of our Boston road trips. We were well on our way home, and starving, and I didn’t want to grab roadside fast food, so I loaded up Yelp and found Dinosaur, and it came very highly recommended. On first glimpse I was a bit concerned as it was a total biker hangout, but it was totally worth the risk. I actually like their BBQ better than Jacks in Nashville (and Jack’s is awesome!!). Dinosaur has gotten so popular that last year the wait was super long to get in and we decided to just carry on. This year we were prepared for the wait and waited an hour for a table, and I’m so glad we did!
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Carolina style pulled pork on a bun with a side of ribs. So good!

I’m so glad we made our trip to Boston. It’s a city I love to visit, and could probably live there if I was actually allowed to. The people of New England are simply great people, down to earth, hard working, friendly. I was more than happy to support the relief efforts when I bought my Adidas fundraiser shirt, and I wear it quite proudly. Worth every penny of $26.20!
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