gifts for her


I just wanted to share a little something we have been mailing out for a couple of birthdays this winter and will be mailing as a few simple valentines. This time of year, there’s nothing like the gift of soft supple lips.

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or follow my 13 oz or less Pinterest board, or see it all right here):

A Disposable Camera | A Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

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If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. I also own an online chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. Stop by if you get a moment!
Are you ready for a peek at how my new stands turned out? I’m more than a little thrilled with them. It’s great fun transforming a set of thrifted candlesticks into bright summery treat stands for the next shindig. (See the first set I made right here).

Being able to take these apart to switch out plates is a big deal for me. Even though my kitchen now is roomier, much much roomier, than the apartment and condo kitchens I’ve somehow squeezed into through the years, space is still at a premium. Plus I like picking a melamine plate whenever I find one I like and being able to put it to use with the stands I already have.

Best of all, I figured out a new trick that will let you use any candlestick you fall in love with at the thrift store. Not just candlesticks that have a hole through the center.

The shopping is really the best part. (You can get glimpse here of the first set of these I put together.) But for this time around, here’s the list of what I picked up.

Supplies & equipment:
1. Set of thrifted candlesticks. I often find candlesticks at the thrift store that can be disassembled and have a hole all the way through the middle. To find out if a candlestick can do this, just pick one up at the thrift store and try to unscrew. But hole or no hole, any candlestick will work. On my last thrifting trip I fell in love with some sticks that did not have a hole through the middle, I discovered I could still make my stand interchangeable. Here’s my big trick. Are you ready for it? All you need to do is find a…
2. Cork that fits snugly into your candlestick. (You need this only if your candlestick does not have a hole all the way through the middle).
3. Drawer pull that lets you take out the screw. I picked up mine at Lowe’s this time around. Don’t you love the crystal knobs?
4. Allthread that fits your drawer pull. This just looks like a really long screw with no head or point. To make sure it fits my drawer pull, I try screwing it in right in the isles of Lowe’s.
5. Nuts and washers.
6. A few fun melamine plates. I picked up mine at Target.
7. Primer and paint, if you choose. I love Krylon.
6. A hack saw and drill. A wood bit works perfectly for drilling into melamine.


Here is a candlestick I took apart and found I could dissasemble and have two pieces with a hole all the way through the middle of each.

Yea for Krylon. So many possibilities with this stuff.

Now comes the easy part… Here is the how-to for putting it all together, whether your candlestick has a hole through the core or not.
1. Paint. If you’re planning to paint the candlestick, disassemble it, prime, and paint.
2. Drill. Tape the plate in the center and drill through your taped spot. Take it slow and easy, I’ve cracked a couple plates by being in too big of a rush.

3. Cut your allthread. If your candlestick has a hole through the center, use a hack saw to cut your all thread to the length you’ll need to go from the bottom of the candlestick to the top to screw into your drawer pull. Cut carefully so you don’t ruin the thread and are still able to screw a bolt or your drawer pull onto the end. If you are using a cork, cut a tiny piece of the allthread so it is just long enough to screw through the cork and into the allthread.
4. If your candlestick does not have a hole through the center, add a cork. Wedge in a cork where the candle would go. Make sure it is a super snug fit. Cut off any overhang. You want to make sure the plate will rest evenly against the top of the candlestick. Drill a small hole in the center of the cork where the drawer pull will screw in. Make the hole just smaller than the allthread, so it screws in snugly.

Here is a set I assembled by screwing an all thread through the center.

Here is a set I made by using a cork.
3. Assemble.
 Now you get to thread your whole creation together. If your candlestick has a hole down the middle, put the washer and screw at the bottom, then thread the allthread through your candlestick piece, then add the plate, and finally, screw on the drawer pull at the top. If you are using a cork, simply screw one end of the allthread into the drawer pull, then put the other end through the hole in the plate and screw it into the cork in the candlestick. That’s it. Now your stands are ready to party, or to fit neatly in your cupboard.Good luck! If you make a set, I’d love to hear how it goes.

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If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. I also own an online chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. Stop by if you get a moment!

A few months after discovering how to make this tiered cupcake stand, I walked into Pottery Barn and saw their awesome, summery, tiered stand and—being the incurable DIYer that I am—thought, I wonder if I could make that.

It is a serious condition sometimes. My husband claims he can’t take me anywhere without me wanting to try to build some part of something I saw when I get home.
I picked up the supplies a few months ago, when I was in Micheal’s with my half-off coupon, and have been waiting for an open Saturday to give it a shot. I ran across Lizard & Ladybug who had been thinking the same thing as me, and am glad I did. She made her stand with a length of conduit, and made it look so good that I returned the curtain rod I’d been planning to use.

This weekend I got to work and love the result. Though I have to admit, about half way through the process was wondering if I should have just shelled out for the Pottery Barn original. But hopefully I have a few tips that will make it simpler if you’re like me and love a good DIY.
supplies
tiered cake pans ($18 with my coupon)
drawer pull that lets you take out the screw (I found mine at Lowe’s, $3)
all thread that is compatible with your drawer pull (I try screwing it in right in the isles of Lowe’s, $2)
conduit ($3)
bolts and washers
melamine plate

hack saw, clamp, file (UPDATE: see below, you may not need these at all)
hammer and nail
drill
Don’t forget to use your coupon when you go to pick up your tiered pans. I used my JoAnne’s coupon at Michaels (you knew you could do that, right?)
I opted for a thicker length of conduit to keep things sturdier. I cut three lengths that were just over six inches long. If I did it again I think I’d cut them right at six inches.

The most challenging part was cutting the conduit. Cuts need to be perfectly straight in order to avoid a leaning stand.

UPDATE: Thanks to Layne and Nicole, I now know you can skip this part, entirely. You can pick up a pipe cutter for just a few bucks (thanks, Layne!), or you can have your conduit cut right in the plumbing section (thanks for letting me in on that little secret, Nicole! )

I started by using my hack saw to score a dotted line all the way around the conduit, to make sure it was even and matched up all the way around. Clamp the conduit, saw a couple times just to score the surface, open the clamp and rotate the conduit just a little. Repeat.

Then I used the same technique to slowly saw around the conduit, sawing little by little, opening the clamp and rotating as I went, until I had a nice even cut.

I then used my file to finish evening off the end. Hold the conduit close to the file to make the work quicker. Just don’t file away your fingers.
Now all the hard work is over. If you can get through this part you’re practically finished.

I marked the center of the top pan and used a hammer and nail to pierce a hole. I then lined it up with the other pans to find the spot to pierce the last two holes.
For the base, I used a melamine plate I had left over from my DIY cupcake stand. Lizard and Ladybug uses the smallest pan from the nesting set for the base, which turned out great. I just wanted to save that pan for actual baking. I think it will turn out the perfect sized personal birthday cake.

Drilling a hole in the center is not too tough. Just use a wood bit in your drill and take your time so you don’t crack the plate.

Finally, the only thing left to do is assemble everything.
That’s it. Now all it needs is some cupcakes or cups full of strawberries.
I think one of my favorite parts is the storage. Mine is now stored away inconspicuously in the cupboard above my fridge, waiting for our first summer shindig.

 

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Today for our handmade gift retreat I’m excited to introduce you to Anna of Noodlehead. Anna is my sewing hero and is one of those women who dreams up beautiful things and then
just
makes them.

You are about to see what I mean.

She also has two adorable daughters who get cool things from their mama, like adorable neck warmers and unicorn dresses. (My kids don’t even know what they’re missing. Maybe by the time the grandkids come along…) So, without further ado, here is Anna.

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Hey gift givers!  Just want to say a huge thanks to Amber for inviting me over today. Well, if you’ve ever read my blog, you’ll know I love making zippered pouches.  I think they’re the perfect gift for any occasion, but especially Christmas.  By just changing up the dimensions a bit or using different fabrics, you can make a completely unique gift for that person on your list.

Go ahead and try my Scrappy Make-up Pouch Tutorial!
The best part about these pouches is what you can fill them with!  It’s a great opportunity to stuff in some special treats.  How about some chap stick, a mini journal and a pen for that teenager?  Or for a preschooler I love to make it a crayon pouch.  Fill it with crayons and markers, maybe some stickers, and wrap it all up with a spiral art journal.  For a special woman in your life you can dream up just about anything to suit their hobbies and tastes, I’d love one with a box of chocolates and a gift card to my favorite bookstore.  And maybe even for that man on your list, you know – that guy.  Yes, just grab some manly fabric and make it a dopp kit, some cologne, fancy men’s products, a gift card for ice cream perhaps?!
I think no matter what you add inside, making it personal to your recipient will make it extra special and show that you really care, and may run a close second to that fancy sports car they’ve been dreaming of.

Happy gift giving!

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Are you the type who can go to a café all alone? Would you ever go to the theatre and watch a movie solo? I have a confession to make. I totally can. In fact, there’s no place I’m happier than in the middle of a big city, a new one if possible, alone and free to explore and take in the people and the sights.

My husband, who knows my vagabond-like tendencies all too well, surprised me with some very fun gifts for my birthday. Among them, an entire day off. I was given a spare but carefully chosen collection of supplies, including a very small picnic blanket and equally small library. And I was set free on the city. I roamed streets, met warm and wonderful strangers, and picnicked in the company of Hemingway. It was the most delicious day. Oh, and he also gave me a birthday dress.  (His bday is in less then two weeks. I am feeling a little pressure. Just a little.) The pic above is me about to be let in on what I’d be doing all day.

I was also spoiled for my bday by friends and family and by wishes from you.  So thanks to all of you.

And now, I am dying to know. What would you do with your perfect day off?

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Speaking of warm and wonderful people. I have one stopping by tomorrow as a kitchen guest. Here are two clues to get you ready. She has mad writing skills (not to mention handwriting to die for), and knows how to take a good road trip. Okay that was three. Be sure to stop by tomorrow to say hello and make her feel at home.

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Today help me welcome Stephanie of Stephmodo, a favorite of mine for all things kitchen and French (be sure to stop by her Etsy shop of French imports, you will be charmed). Stephanie put together this kitchen essentials list, perfect both for grads and seasoned cooks alike, and was so good to do it besides being 8 months pregnant (see her adorable maternity photoshoot here). I’ll let her take it from here. And thank you, Stephanie, for taking a moment from your preparations to bring us this list (friends, do you love those bowls?!)


1. Martha’s melamine bowl set (those colors…)
2. Wusthof Mincing Knife (perfect for cutting pizza, quesadillas or pb&j–my husband has a few things to say about this too)
3. Vintage Cast Iron Dutch Oven and Skillet (both found at an antique shop, although ebay is a good source too; we use these all the time.  I love the way they sear fish on the grill, roast chickens, and roast vegetables)
4. Microplane Zester (great for lemons or parmesan–best zester ever)
5. OXO Salad Spinner (say goodbye to wilty lettuce forever–I also use it as a crisper)
6. Zyliss Garlic Press (there is no other garlic press worth having around)

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I am thrilled today to have you meet my new sponsor. MaryKate McDevitt of Portland has been on my personal Etsy favorites list for some time. When I first saw her handpainted mini goals chalkboards, I was immediately in love. I am a list girl, and I especially like the idea of a simple list in plain view. Perfect for scribbling down my most important plans, like call grandma for roll recipe and make it with kids.

pretty handpainted mini goals chalkboards


on display at Orange Beautiful’s lovely Chicago shop

And as if the mini goals chalkboards weren’t enough to make your heart go pitter pat, you also need to see MaryKate’s mini goals clockboards. Now that it is June and I have officially kicked my husband off this blog until Father’s Day, I feel at liberty to tell you, I think a clock would be perfect for the garage or workshop. Especially if I left it at the right height, I am sure the kids could not resist doodling notes to him now and then.

MaryKate’s mini goals clockboards

a peek at how your mini goals chalkboard will arrive

Be sure to visit MaryKate McDevitt’s shop or flickr to see more of her lovely designs.

P.S. What’s on your to do list today?

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Mom Wants a Bra

05.05.10

Alright ladies, tell me truly, have you ever gone to be fitted for a bra? And then, afterward, did you go out and buy a really nice, really comfortable one? Has your mother?

Confession. I haven’t.

But incase mom might like a fitting and a bra, here is a great resource. The Undie Awards. Every year thousands of women and men weigh in on their favorite bras and undies. You can find 2009′s winner right here. Check out their bra fitting guide here. What a handy resource.

And here are a couple other great resources I’ve come across.
Petit Elephant has an excellet guide for fitting your bra to your body type right here.
—Never one to be left behind, Opra does too. You can find it here.
—And for brand new moms, Cake lingerie makes the most lovely nursing bras you’ll ever find, and they also do their own a great fitting guide. The helpful diagram above is theirs. Who knew that there was so much to know?

p.s. This gift might be best coming from a daughter to a mother. What do you think? Men, if you’d like to get something for the mother of your children, you may be safe going with a great sports bra.

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This post goes out to all the men who have ever thought about getting Photoshop for the photographing mother or wife or sister or lovely woman in your life (and who knows, maybe you secretly want it for yourself too). Men, now is the time to get it.

Have you seen what the latest version of Photoshop (CS5) can do? Holy smokes.

My sister works for Adobe and was telling me all about it this weekend. What you’re looking at below is a feature called content-aware fill. And it’s amazing. It’s photography sorcery. If you have 2 minutes, you can see a video here. And there are a few other super amazing new features in CS5. See a video here. I thought you might like to know.

And to my readers who are photographers, stick around. I have a giveaway coming later today that I know you’ll like.

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I think a fabric bloom is just the thing to give mom on Mother’s Day, don’t you? Something lovely for her to pin on to make her feel queenly. I’ve seen so many beautiful fabric flowers floating around that I thought I’d gather them here for a little inspiration in case you’d like to buy or DIY.

buy Heart of Light | Grosgrain tutorial | 100 Layer Cake tutorial

buy Emersonmade | Miss Priss tutorial | Prudent Baby tutorial

buy Twigs & Honey | buy Sarah Culleton (via here) | Ruffles and Stuff tutorial

Everyday Chaos tutorial | buy K. Autumn (via here) | Mama Monster tutorial

Salty Pineapple tutorial | Knit Picks tutorial | buy Tago Design

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Clickin Moms

If you happen to be a budding photographer, you are going to love one of my new sponsors. More on Clickin Moms coming soon.

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Seriously. I meet the most thoughtful people with this blog. I didn’t want you to miss some of these ideas. They’re brill. Just a few more picked out from many great comments and emails.


One more from the lovely and clever Jen, about the same lucky girl who got the shoes,

“They have four busy kids and she practically lives in their old mini-van.  She dreams of having a little car just for her to drive around, one with no room for kids :-)  She has been wanting a new car for quite some time, but it’s just not possible.  Her husband rented her a car for 40 hours.  I thought that was super thoughtful and original!  This was probably her favorite gift of the weekend.”

Photo from birthday mastermind Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, whose celebration you may have read about when I mentioned the paint fight. Both Jordan and Michelle’s friends used zipcar.com.

and a few more…

“my husband’s family makes a big poster on the front door and hangs it inside for the big day, and a few days after. the title says ‘What we love about the Birthday Boy/Girl’ and all the family members write something special.”
Thank you, Marta!

“In high school, I posted ‘Happy 18th Birthday Alina!’ fliers on about 20 telephone poles around Alina’s house.”
Thank you, Kristina!

“Hubby’s bday is coming up and I love spoiling him. For his 30th, I bought tickets to the Oakland Athletics game for us and 8 other couples. Each person got a goodie bag – water, peanuts, red vines, all things baseball. At the bottom of each inning I gave each person a small piece of paper that had ‘fun facts’ about him… We will NEVER forget that birthday…”
Thank you, Brooke!

“A friend of mine went out on her birthday to find her workmates had all made up t-shirts saying ‘I Love Jess’, and they gave her one saying ‘I am Jess’ to wear…”
Thank you, Clare!

“I’ve always kept really extensive journals, so for birthdays, I will sometimes make small booklets with pictures of me and the birthday boy, captioned with snippets from journal entries I’ve written about them — kind of like a very personalized version of scrapbooking.”
Thank you, Cyndie!



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This week I want to talk birthday surprises. We’ve talked about this a little here and there, like in one of my posts about seven things every child should have. But I’ve received a couple ideas from you that are nothing short of brilliant, and I was hoping to collect a few more. What have you done to honor someone on their big day? I’d love to hear ideas that work for grown-ups, and special surprises for kids would be great too.

We had my sister’s birthday this week with the whole family together and whipped up a couple surprises for her, starting with decorations. Remember this tutorial? We pulled it off with a few sheets of tissue paper and about fifteen minutes of cutting and hanging, and I was tickled with the result. Do you like?

We decided she needed something special to wear, so my adorable aunt whipped out her needle and thread and transformed the leftover streamers into a hair piece. I was impressed.

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p.s. I have a few trip highlights I was planning to share, but it looks like we’re extending our trip a day thanks to snowstorms. And it just doesn’t feel right to sum up the trip before it’s over. You know? So I’m kickin’ it one more day with the fam (one more day of great food and spoiled kids, I’m not complaining), and will sum up when I can.

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If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. And if you have a moment, stop by my chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. In the meantime, happy thrifting!

UPDATE: Find a simple trick I discovered to make a single-layer cake stand out of any candlestick right here.

At long last, here is the much-requested thrifted cake stand tutorial. This was a gift I made for my S-I-L for Christmas, and I’ve been wanting to make one for myself ever since. Of course, in my world, finishing a craft without a deadline is impossible. So I used last week’s tea party as the day by which it had to happen.

Because my S-I-L is quite the party hostess, I thought I’d like to come up with a version where the plates could be switched out.  You know, like the wristwatch you had in middle school with the interchangeable wrist bands (there are a few of those I’d still like to own). So keep your eyes open for more pretty plates, because you can switch out plates as your parties demand. Any plate with a hole drilled in the middle will do. Or add a tier by using a longer allthread and a few more candlestick segments. It’s all occasion!

So then, if you’re up for a little shopping and assembling, let’s get started.

Shop. First, let’s go shopping, the very fun kind of shopping. This is a good excuse to stop by your favorite thrift stores, flea markets, and houseware shops. Go in search of pieces that will make your heart go pitter pat. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A drawer pull you think is pretty. For me, this was a good excuse to stop by Anthropologie.
  • An allthread to match, so it will screw into the drawer pull. Pick these up at any hardware store.
  • A bolt and washer that fits, for screwing on at the bottom.
  • Paint, if you so choose.
  • A drill and bit for drilling a hole in the plates (more on this below).
  • A candlestick (or pieces of multiple candlesticks) with a hole through the center. Some have a visible hole, others need to be unscrewed and have the center dowel removed. When in doubt, try unscrewing.
  • A set of plates, melamine or ceramic will do.

I believe the drawer pull cost me $8. Everything else combined totaled a whopping $4.88.
Make sure your allthread and drawer pull are the same width. If your drawer pull has a rod like mine, you should be able to unscrew so the allthread can screw directly into the pull. It took a little torque but we got ours out. Pick up two allthreads if you’re going to want to change between two and three tiers with your cake stand. You’ll need an allthread for each different height.

Remember the hollow candlesticks I picked up for this tutorial? I’ve had no problem finding several every time I thrift. And especially if you’re planning to paint, you can use as many pieces from as many candlesticks as you like.
Paint. Time to get busy. If you’re planning to paint the candlestick, disasemble it and paint.

Drill. Next you’ll need to drill a hole right through the center of the plate. Both times I’ve sent Brent out to the workshop to take care of this for me. Though I do like the chance to use a power tool every now and then. His advice is to use a wood bit for drilling through melamine and a ceramic bit for ceramic. He also suggests picking up an extra plate. That way if one plate cracks a bit, you have a second chance. You can drill a few extra holes in your broken plate and get a little practice. He taped the plate right in the center, then drilled through there.

Assemble. Now you get to thread your whole creation together. Likely the allthread will be too long, so you’ll need to cut it off. If you want to alternate between two and three tiers, make sure you get an allthread that will be the right length for each. Finally, thread the washer on and screw the bolt on the bottom.
And there you have it. A pretty tiered cupcake stand, and an excuse to have everyone over for a party. Once the party’s over, just disassemble and store it flat until the next shindig.

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How was your weekend? I hope it was a good one. We had a nice, 3-day weekend. It was ideal, minus one incident.

Do you ever have one of those moments when you are sure you don’t deserve the people around you? I had one. My baby drifted off to sleep in the car on Friday, and I decided to let him stay there while I loaded the trunk for our weekend trip. We were in the garage, and I hadn’t thought about how we’d already started seeing mosquitoes this year. Oh, it was terrible. Three hours later I found myself holding my cooing baby, smiling adoringly up at me, from his face full of spots. I hate to even think of it. It didn’t help that the moment I discovered it was when we pulled up to my S-I-L’s house after we had been listening to Little Women in the car, the part about scarlet fever. Ahh. I was already considering my fragile place in the universe.

The advice nurse was on the phone with me for some time, answering an arsenal of questions about mosquito-carried diseases—I made her read me everything she had—and helping me devise the best method of treatment. I felt horrible. Plus, all weekend while we were watching the Olympics, when a proactive commercial came on I had to endure the jokes. Lesson relearned: I’m glad my family loves me despite myself. And I’m glad for patient advice nurses.

I did find some reading time, which was so nice. I dove into Tender at the Bone, a lend from a good friend. It’s the bio of Ruth Reichl, NY Times food critic and Editor in Chief at Gourmet (before it put out its final issues). All kinds of lessons learned here: I want to make a lemon soufflé for someone on their birthday. I want to earn the respect of my butcher so he saves all the best cuts for me. And I promise you I am making fried oysters this week (I made mussels for the first time two weeks ago and am feeling fearless).

The rest of the weekend was great too. We watched my little sister dance beautifully (any SYTYCD fans? She was taking class from Jaymz).  We enjoyed Grandma’s home cooking. And Brent and the kids got to spend a day in the snow, which I realize isn’t a rare treat for some of you right now, but for us here in Cali it’s good fun.

And to top off all that, my honey got me the perfect thing. Instead of a box full of chocolates he gave me a Le Creuset full of chocolates. Oh he is good. Plus my amazing aunt sent a few more hotpads she crocheted. They look so pretty in my kitchen.

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