Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How to Host a Mommy and Me Planning Party. #momlife


Need an excuse to spend time doing something for yourself? Perhaps a bit of "me" time in the midst of being an active parent? Well, I have invented a "planning party" that enables me to creatively utilize my planner while keeping an eye on my kid. I even get to spend quality time with him.

All you need is your planner, a planner or notebook for your kid(s), and some craft supplies. Oh, and some water so you guys don't get dehydrated. Sometimes my planning parties last a few hours! I think one thing that keeps the excitement going is that he gets to borrow my supplies. I keep them put away during the week and only let him use some of them during this special time.


Don't forget the stickers! I picked up two 500 count emoji stickers at the Dollar Tree for $1 each. I sometimes find good sticker deals on Ebay, at the local thrift store, or through careful bargain hunting. Stickers are a great way to talk about feelings, shapes, and colors. They're also good for communication through association. (The cake reminds him that his birthday is coming up. The hearts prompt him to tell me he loves me.)


Oh, washi tape. The first time I watched a planning video on YouTube where someone pulled out a washi tape from their huge stash I was baffled that one person could own so much decorative tape. So then I bought a box of it on sale at Michael's craft store, and now I understand. They lend a huge hand in the creative process.


My son likes "measuring" and cutting his own tape. He counts the shapes and talks about the patterns. Sometimes he'll mutter to himself things like he 'needs the cupcakes because mommy likes cupcakes.' I was very surprised at how excited he was and still is over washi tape.


While he's busy picking out stencils I'm using one to trace tennis shoes in each day of the week so I can track my steps. I also use small circles to track water intake. (You can read more about how I use my planner here.) These are the stencils I have.


I have been holding "planning parties" for about 5 weeks now. It started off as me wanting to explore a new hobby, and now it's a little party that my son looks forward to. Every Sunday he asks if it's time to get out the stamps and tape. Sometimes I put on music. At our latest party I had Depeche Mode on, and he told me he liked this music. (proud mom moment.)

I already ordered my planner for 2018 because I was excited to get it, I purchased a matching "imperfect" planner for my son for Christmas at a reduced cost, and there was free shipping. I got the Bloom Vision Planner for me, and the smaller version for my son, both in the fern design. I'll review them in a future post. Get 10% off here if you want to order one for yourself.


I hope this post inspired you to have a little planning party of your own or even just a crafting party with your kid(s.) What special activity do you do with your little ones?



This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.


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Monday, October 23, 2017

Last week's frugal efforts.


I would like to introduce you to my new craft cupboard. Someone locally was giving it away for free, and when I saw it I knew it would be the perfect home for my son's craft supplies and learning tools.


My son and I made gluten free raspberry muffins and mini muffins, chocolate chip mini muffins, raspberry and plain donuts and mini donuts. My plan is to freeze some for easy breakfasts. I used this pan for the smaller donuts, and this pan for the larger donuts.

My dryer is still broken. My mother-in-law took pity on my crunchy towels and took them to her house to re-wash. Besides that I managed to hang dry our laundry. We're saving up to buy a new dryer with cash and at the same time have the old one hauled away.

We went to a free Halloween celebration. It was pouring the entire time, but we managed to take a hayride, enjoy fresh s'mores and apple cider, and take pictures in the black light tent.


My son and I had a planning party. I bring out stamps, stickers, decorative washi tape, and stencils and decorate my planner (my new hobby). He likes to "plan" and write down important things like his preschool snack day in his little planner. I'll post more about this later.

What did you do to save money last week?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.
I started a Facebook Page for this blog as well as an Instagram Page. Please like and follow. :)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

No Meal Plan this week + fitness goals.


I didn't meal plan last week, and I didn't this week either. Between not following the plan and having my husband saying nothing sounds good and wanting me to think of something else I decided to not take the extra time to plan. My son is also in a particularly picky mood lately, and I'm just at a loss. I  heard about the below book recently, and I put in a request for it at the library.



I can say, however, that I baked lots of gluten free muffins and donuts this morning so I know what breakfast is for a few days. I also have leftover veggie pasta in red sauce to reheat in my lunch Crock-Pot.



Fitness goals for the week:
  • Drink enough water.
  • Use my under the desk exercise bike daily at work.
  • Take at least 2,000 steps daily. I know that sounds awful, but it's all thanks to my desk job.

What's on your meal plan this week? Any fitness goals you're striving to achieve?



This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

I started a Facebook Page for this blog as well as an Instagram Page. Please like and follow. :)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Last week's frugal efforts.

  • We attended a free pumpkin painting session at the library.
  • I signed up for an online library card for another county. They have a lot of ebooks my local library doesn't have! So much money saved.
  • I redeemed a $25 Amazon gift card and $25 PayPal cash via Swagbucks.
  • I sold several items from my Etsy shop.


  • We attended another free Home depot workshop for kids. This time my son made a helicopter.
  • My dryer is still broke so I hung clothes to dry using this drying rack in my living room.
  • I received a free cabinet from the local Buy Nothing group. I'll most likely use it to store craft supplies.
  • I forgot to submit the Scholastic book order on time so I saved $10 by not buying my son books.
  • When I was cold I put on a sweater instead of turning on the heat. Last year my reflex was to justify the heating costs so I could be comfortable.
  • I had a local charity pick up 5 boxes of donations, and I met with a couple different people to give them much needed items.
  • I've curbed the impulse to buy a rowing machine several times. I almost got a cheap one from a local Facebook group, but the seller was non-responsive. Maybe I'll come across another one soon.


What did you do to save money last week?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

I started a Facebook Page for this blog as well as an Instagram Page. Please like and follow. :)

Friday, October 13, 2017

I like working, but I hate being a working mom.

Last night I came home from work, unloaded the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, and threw an organic frozen pizza in the oven. Then I felt very sad. This is not the life I want. I want to make healthy food. I want to spend the day with my son exploring nature, making things, reading, and just plain being there for him. I don't want to be rushed and tired all the time.

What kind of life is that?

I have kept this blog at arm's reach so I don't get too personal, but I feel like it's time to get a bit personal so I can work through this turmoil and conflicting feelings and maybe help another struggling mom in the process.

I like working. I've worked since I was a junior in high school. But working a regular job just doesn't fit into my life anymore. The rushed story time at bedtime, skipping the occasional bath time because I just don't have the energy, and daily convenience foods just aren't cutting it anymore.

I currently have a full time 40 hour a week job, I recently picked up a side job, I'm an online student, and I have a website/Etsy shop selling jewelry I make. My husband works a full time second/third shift job, but he has no plans to change that at this time.

Ideally I'd like to blog, make and sell jewelry, and work my side job. These three things allow so much flexibility that I'd be able to work primarily at night or when my son is in preschool.




But how do I get there?

  1. I need to finish paying off some medical debt.
  2. I need to finish paying off a car repair.
  3. I need to build up our emergency fund.
  4. I need to save up for a used car.
  5. I need to price out health insurance because I carry my own currently through work.
  6. I need to source out more streams of income.
  7. I need to develop a spending plan so I know how much money I'd have to make.
I wish I knew before I became pregnant that I didn't want to be a working mom. Then I wouldn't have this struggle now. But all I can do is formulate a plan and move forward. It can happen. It will happen.

I understand that there are many benefits to being a working mom like contributing to a retirement plan, being relevant in the workforce, paying into social security, and being a good role model, and those are all valid benefits. For me, working a regular job makes me so unhappy, and I can see how my family is suffering. I love my job, and it is bittersweet to admit that it doesn't make me happy anymore. I want to be at home and work around my family - not the other way around.

Are you a working mom? Do you want to stay at home? How do you plan to get there?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Last week's frugal efforts.


We went to our local Home Depot for a free project. My son got to build a Fire Station bank. They provided the tools, paint, and project kit.


They even gave him their signature orange apron in his size to keep. After each project the kids get a special pin to put on their apron. All the staff were very friendly, and all the families that participated were friendly and respectable. It was really cool to walk into the area where a lot of young kids were hammering away with their parents. You can search your local store to see what free workshops they offer for kids and adults:

http://www.homedepot.com/workshops/#change_store


My dryer broke so I hung laundry to dry in the house. I use this rack, and I can fit two loads on it.

I brought out my old coffee machine since my Keurig broke last week. The pour over contraption isn't doing it for me.

We went for a free hay ride at a carnival.

I brought coffee and food to work.

My son attended a free indoor playground session.

I redeemed points for an Amazon Gift card from MyPoints.com


What did you do to save money last week?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan for October 9th, 2017 + Fitness and Food Goals



Here is my meal plan for the week. My son was thrilled about the waffles last week so I'm doing them again because a waffle maker = quick and easy. We didn't make the orange chicken yet from last week so maybe it will get cooked this week.

Breakfasts- yogurt, breakfast cookies, and/or strawberry fig bars.

Lunches - leftovers and oatmeal.

Food and Fitness Goals:
  1. Attempt to keep track of meals consumed especially when the meal plan doesn't work out for whatever reason.
  2. Keep track of my steps taken each day.
  3. Drink at least 64oz of water.
  4. Use my under-the-desk exercise bike Monday-Friday. (this thing is pretty cool! I can burn calories while sitting at my desk all day. My boss ended up getting one to use when watching TV.)
  5. Use my stationary bike for at least 30 minutes twice this week. The exact model I have isn't available, but this one is very similar. I like to ride this while watching a show, reading a book or Kindle, or listening to music.
What's on your menu this week? Do you have any food or fitness goals?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thankful Thursday - Rain + Firemen


It was a long, dry summer here in the Pacific Northwest. It barely rained. Our grass was dried out. The "dirt' roads were always dusty. Then summer ended, and here comes the rain! The grass is turning green in random patches. The dirt road has some nice puddles to splash in. The air is fresher, and there's nothing like the scent of fresh rainfall.


I'm also thankful for firemen. We were walking past the fire station and paused to look at one of the fire trucks. A firefighter, whom was on his lunch break, came over to us and let my son sit in the truck and play around for a few minutes. He also offered to let him to hold the fire hose, but he was too scared. He said we could come back anytime we wanted to check out the vehicles.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Blue Sky Planner Decorating Newbie + 8 Ideas for Using Your Planner


Here I sat with my preschooler at the kitchen table attempting to decorate my planner for the first time after watching some "plan with me" videos on Youtube and looking at pictures of planner spreads. I don't have a fancy planner, and during this first session I didn't have any washi tape or stickers. Basically I had a cheap Bic pen, a ruler, some stamps, and colorful ink pads.

Here is the Blue Sky 2018 version of the planner I currently use:



When I originally bought this I wanted something cheap and somewhat small that included both the weekly and monthly layouts so I could write down homework assignments, keep track of my expenses, and other miscellaneous stuff.

Then I discovered the Planner Community, and I wanted to start decorating my planner a little bit so I purchased these bullet journal stencils:



These excited me because they are more cost effective and environmentally friendly than stickers, and there are so many different ways to use them. I'll review them in a future post.

Why decorate a planner in the first place?

  1. It's a creative outlet. It's something quick I can do that is just for me. Maybe I can't spend hours creating like I wish I could, but personalizing each weekly spread is a great pick-me-up for the soul. I understand not everyone sees the point in planner decor, but for me; it brings me joy.
  2. It's something I can do with my son. While I'm planning out my week he is right there next to me talking about colors and learning how to use stencils and expressing himself creatively.
  3. It's more fun and motivating. Since I started decorating my planner, even the little bit that I do, I noticed that I use it everyday. It makes me want to keep track of daily steps and water intake.

What do I use my planner for?

  1. Tracking steps. I have a desk job so I am not very active during the day. Keeping track of my daily steps motivates me to do better tomorrow.
  2. Tracking water intake. Sometimes I get so busy I forget to drink water for hours at a time. Ever since I started tracking my water intake I strive to color in those 8 raindrop shapes (or triangles or circles.)
  3. Appointments, events, etc. I write everything down from school picture day to snack day to out of the ordinary work meetings. This comes in handy for my part time job when I have to spontaneously meet with clients sometimes. It's also nice to know in advance when my son's snack day is so I can make sure there is something suitable for his classmates.
  4. To Do Lists. It's helpful to have a little list to remind me to gather donations for pick up on Monday, to wrap my brother's birthday gifts, or to put something in the mail, just to name a few.
  5. Ideas, Goals, Etc. I like to write down future blog post ideas, a website I want to research later on, or any specific little goals I'd like to achieve that week such as being more present in the moment.
  6. Homework assignments. I am an online student, and it's very helpful to know what assignments, quizzes, and readings I have to accomplish each week.
  7. Blog and business stuff. I plan future blog posts, write down ideas and things to look into, and very soon I'll start planning social media for this blog. I design and make jewelry to sell, and I have a separate website, blog and Etsy shop dedicated to that. I actually just got a Mini Happy Planner to help me plan and run my business better. That way I can have the space to break out my business goals into manageable chunks each week.
  8. Tracking meals. I do meal plan, but if I'm honest that plan doesn't always get followed for one reason or another. Meal planning is a source of frustration for me so if I write down what meals are actually eaten each day then I can refer back to those pages to plan future meals that might actually happen.

Here is a picture showing my mad newbie planning skills:


The raindrop row is my water intake tracker. Super sophisticated. I use triangles now because I have a stencil for that, but I think next week I'll use small circles. I like how neat they look.

Here is a picture of my current weekly spread so far. I tend to fill it in more as the week progresses:


I really like the vertical weekly spread available in other planners, and since my planner is horizontal I decided to use washi tape to create boxes for lists. Before I got the tape I simply made lines with my ruler. You can see this in the first picture of this post. I used stencils to make the banners and circles for my lists as well as the shoe to write my steps in.

This post isn't sponsored. I have just started to see how useful a daily planner can be, and I was excited to share my enthusiasm with you. Thank you so much for reading!


Do you currently use a planner? If so, how do you use it?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Last week's frugal efforts.


We purchased the Nest 3rd Generation thermostat. It was on an Alexa sale for $199, and my local power company has a $100 rebate. I'm really interested to see how this lowers our power bills because in the winter time they are ridiculously high. This is apparently a "learning" thermostat so after awhile it learns your habits so it can auto-adjust. You should definitely check to see if your power company offers a rebate. My husband was able to install this himself in a matter of minutes.


My keurig machine is breaking so I attempted to use my pour over coffee maker. I need to practice it more though because the coffee was very weak. Do you have any tips? I used the same amount of coffee as I put in a reusable Kcup.

I attended a free small business class at the library. I learned a lot of great information, and I didn't know the local library had so many free resources.

My son made stomp rockets for free at the library, and he got more books and a couple Fall themed coloring pages.

I purchased two pairs of pants and a nice shirt in larger sizes for my son at the local thrift shop. I also got him an awesome dragon book and a huge book of  monster stories. I resisted a cute pair of pajamas because I knew he already had enough at home.

I've been entering giveaways for things I will eventually buy or would be nice to have.

I washed out a couple small containers from food items to reuse as craft supply storage.

I put out small bowls of apple cider vinegar with a couple drops of dish soap to get rid of the fruit flies. It's amazing how effective this is.

What little things have you done to save money last week?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan for September 25th + October 2nd + Food and Fitness Goals



I didn't post last week's meal plan because I lost track of time. My son and I were decorating planners and papers, and I broke out some washi tape for the first time. He absolutely loved that stuff. Then Monday came, and I didn't want two posts published on the same day. Then I felt awkward and decided to post it late with this week's meal plan.

The only reason why we ate out on Tuesday was because I was attending a two hour class at the library right after work.

Meal plan for the week of October 2nd:



Breakfasts- yogurt, breakfast cookies, and/or strawberry fig bars.


Lunches - peanut butter sandwiches and the ranch veggie chips my son won't eat, oatmeal, and leftovers.


Food and Fitness Goals:

  1. I want to start tracking water and food intake. (see pic below.)
  2. I want to limit sugar. It's that time of year where the big tin of butter cookies is available at Costco, where my mom bakes a lot of treats, and where coworkers bring in yummy things.
  3. I want to start thinking about ideas to make food easier. I read the other day that someone picks one meal for lunch and eats the same thing all week. Other people prep jars of salad to take all week. One reason why I struggle with meal prep is because it seems a lot of people use plastic bags and disposable meal prep containers. On one hand these items make it super easy to meal prep, but on the other hand there is so much waste involved. I could, for example, buy five reusable sandwich containers, but that doesn't quite feel right either. I really need to ponder this for awhile. Unfortunately as a busy working mom I have to cut corners sometimes and do what's best for my sanity and health.

I've started getting into using my planner "for real" and part of that is tracking my water intake. This next week I'm going to start writing down what I actually end up eating for each meal. This is for health and to gather data about eating habits. The shoe up there is to write in the amount of steps I take each day.

In case you're curious, this is the meal plan white board I use. This is the planner I currently use. I am getting a Bloom planner for 2018. It includes a water intake tracker on each day of the weekly spreads. (a feature I'm very excited about! My water drop drawings aren't very good hence using the triangles instead.)

What's on your menu this week? Do you have any food or fitness goals?


This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Inexpensive Birthday Cards - Great Last Minute Idea [Sponsored]


My brother's birthday was fast approaching, and I wanted to do something different for his card this time. I started looking at the various designs offered on Paperless Post's website, and I knew I found my answer. (how adorable is that cat!?)  Paperless Post is a website that lets you send all kinds of cards and invitations digitally. My brother has an interesting sense of humor, and when I found the wok-themed birthday card pictured below I couldn't deny that it was the perfect card for him.

I love the option to schedule the card. This is especially useful for a busy mom like me that often gets things done during the fringe hours or break time at work.

You can even send birthday invitations! This is something I'd use if my son was a bit older so I wouldn't have to worry about some kids losing the physical invitations, and I could track who actually opened it.



Features:

  • No ads! No one you send a digital card or invitation to will see any advertisements.
  • You can import your address book.
  • You can send birthday cards, thank you cards, invitations for various functions, and more.
  • There are many options for businesses including fundraisers, save-the-dates, and more.
  • Digital and paper options are available at different price points.
  • There are many ways to customize your card to add a personal touch like a back drop and fonts.
  • You can track the invitations and cards to see who has opened them.
  • You can personalize the subject line of the email as well as the sender name (you.)
  • The entire process from selecting a card to sending it is very fluid and easy. Plus there is a "help" button every step of the way.
  • You can schedule the card to be sent at a future date, and you also have the option to preview or cancel sending the card.


Cons:

  • You have to purchase coins, and you have to spend a bit more up front to get the best value. (of course this could be a great money saver depending on your needs.)
  • Coins cannot be used on paper versions of the cards.
  • The free options are very limited. (totally understandable though!)



Overall I was very satisfied with my experience. At first I was a bit skeptical because I love making and sending paper cards in the mail, and I disliked the spammy look of e-cards I have seen in the past. The cards from Paperless Post are adorable and will coax a smile out of even the most stubborn friend or family member. (hey if the above wok card can make my brother smile the sky's the limit!) I am excited to send more personalized birthday cards to other family members and friends, and I'm also excited to send thank you notes. The world can use more gratitude, and I cannot think of a better way to get the ball rolling than to send someone who is having a bad day an awesome thank you card like one of these:



Which card is your favorite?

This post was created in partnership with Paperless Post. Please see my disclosure statement here.

To find out more visit Paperless Post's website: https://www.paperlesspost.com

Monday, September 25, 2017

Recent frugal efforts.



I redeemed a $25 Swagbucks gift card. I'm going to buy this silicone mini loaf pan to make banana bread and snicker doodle bread for Christmas gifts. I usually use these paper loaf pans, but I wanted to try something new this year.

I entered some giveaways.

I took my reusable K-cups to work to make coffee after I ran out of the regular K-cups that I got on sale. I had to grind more coffee beans too.

I picked up more books from the library, and my son got a bunch too.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it on here yet, but I picked up a part time job that I can do on my own time when I'm not at my full time job.

We made foaming hand soap.

I put out a few little glass bowls with apple cider vinegar and a couple drops if dish soap to control the fruit fly population in my kitchen.

I saved some little boxes and a glass bottle to store beads and craft supplies.

What did you do to save money last week?


This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Menu Plan for the week of September 18th + Food Goal


Breakfasts this week will be scones from the Washington State Fair and yogurt parfaits.

Lunches for me will be leftovers and oatmeal.

Food Goals:
  1. I've been a bit stressed out so I'm keeping things simple this week.

This is the meal plan white board I use. 

What's on your menu this week?


This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recent Frugal Efforts



  • My son and I picked blackberries off the bushes in the yard for my mother in law.
  • We made foaming hand soap.
  • I picked up a huge stack of books from the library for myself and my son.
  • We have limited the use of the air conditioner.
  • I hung several loads of laundry outside to dry.



  • I made my sister's birthday cake. I attempted a purple and white zebra pattern, but it didn't work as nicely as I thought. (my son wanted the middle piece.)
  • I also made her birthday card.
  • I took my stainless steel water bottle to work.
  • I brought food to work. One day I had a work meeting, which turned into a free meal plus leftovers for another meal.
  • I followed up on my Ebates shopping trips that didn't credit, and I "earned" $5.xx
  • I received a free full-sized shampoo and conditioner to review.
  • My mom brought over a potty chair that she got from the local buy nothing group. I'm really hoping it will encourage my son to be interested in potty training.
  • I donated my Ebates rebate to a local food backpacks for kids program. 
  • I spontaneously made a double batch of banana bread.

What did you do to save money or be frugal last week?


This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan for September 11th + Food Goals


Breakfasts tend to be something quick like organic cereal, homemade waffles, homemade muffins, or a protein bar for my son or those Belvita breakfast cookies (big box from Costco) or a strawberry fig whole wheat bar for me. Sometimes I'll make a yogurt parfait or a protein drink. Plus coffee. Always coffee.

Lunches tend to be leftovers, pizza, Annie's mac n cheese, salad, oatmeal, or sandwiches.

Food Goals
  1. I want to use up things in the pantry, fridge, and freezer so I can clean them out and reorganize the contents.
  2. I want to keep dinners simple so my son can go to bed early since school starts this week.
One of my frustrations is that I didn't learn how to cook or eat healthy growing up so I'm trying to learn that and provide decent food with the limited time I have. I really do believe that when I eventually stay home I can take extra time to prepare healthier food. In the meantime I have to do the best I can.

This is the meal plan white board I use. 

What's on your menu this week?


This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thankful Thursday.


Oh, how I love books. I grabbed this inspiring stack of books for free from the library yesterday after a meeting. I am so grateful to be able to take all of these books home without paying for them (as long as I give them back on time.) If I had to purchase every book I had the good intention to read I'd be beyond broke.

The two bottom books are about makeup. Early yesterday afternoon I was thinking to myself that even though I don't wear much makeup, I want to wear less and be comfortable going in public that way. One book will teach me what kind of makeup to use for my skin type, and the other will teach me how to eat better in order to achieve healthy skin.

The other books are about slowing down, Hygge, and how to be happier through simplicity.

I love learning new things.


What are you thankful for this week?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Recent Frugal Efforts.

I took advantage of the heat and hung lots of blankets and sheets out to dry instead of using the dryer. I use this Portable Umbrella Clothesline Dryer.

I made foaming hand soap.

I redeemed an Amazon gift card from Swagbucks.


























I canceled several items on my monthly Amazon Subscribe and Save. 


I made an art wall in the hallway using all the projects my son made in preschool and at the library from the past several months. It made him happy, and eh, why not?

My son and I "donated" five books to the neighborhood library shack, and he picked out five books to take home.

My mom brought over a box full of pajamas and some shoes in larger sizes for my son that she got from a garage sale.



What have you done lately to save money?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement here.
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