GIFTING

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If ever there was a year to recognize a mom, this. is. it. She's juggled more than the already long list of usual mama duties. It's been a full year of zooming and schooling, with a side of constant snack prepping and dish unloading. It's also been a year of midday hugs between meetings and memorable family staycations. Pandemic or not, we all know moms rock!

1. NOVEL, EXPERIENCE :: Your Mama Book - A sweet twist on Your Mama jokes written by a powerful Latina. Read it out loud to your mom on her special day for a moment she won't forget.

2. USEFUL, LASTING, PERSONAL :: Modern Picnic Lunch Bag - This is the MOST chic insulated lunch bag ever. A must have for a stylish mama.

3. LASTING, PERSONAL ::...

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Self-care, R-n-R, a timeout - whatever you call it, we all deserve some right now. This week's gift round up includes items that encourage the ones you love to slow down, breathe deep and relax. Wishing you the same!

1. Useful, Novel & Experience :: Pebbl Chair - This innovative, portable soul support chair comes with a weekly guided Zoom meditation.

2. Personal & Lasting :: El Cosmico Robe

3. Novel & Lasting ::...

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March, you sneaky little devil. You're back and you had better be on your very best behavior! We're only allowing sunshine, rainbows and posi-vibes around here. If you've forgotten what that looks and feels like, check out my Friday Five.

1. NOVEL :: Sunny Pillow

2. LASTING :: Silk Lucky Charms Scarf

3. LASTING :: Zodiac Ring

4. USEFUL :: Beautiful Girl Blanket

5. USEFUL & NOVEL :: Flour Shop Cake Stand

xo,

Monica

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Phew, y'all. We're one week removed from the wildest Texas weather ride of our lives. Grateful that's behind us now. This week's Friday Five are items that either came in handy during the storm (headlamp beanie for those rolling blackouts) or have me appreciating the everyday (a nighttime glass of water) in a new way. No "Experience" items this week, we're set for a bit. Ha.

1. USEFUL & NOVEL :: Bedside Carafe & Glass Set

2. USEFUL :: Hello Sunshine Door Mat

3. LASTING & PERSONAL :: ?! Brush Pot

4. NOVEL & USEFUL :: Cotton Makeup Pads

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Dear Texas,

This was a doozy of a week. What started as a sweet repeat of snow on our Valentine's wedding day 17 years ago escalated quickly. Rolling blackouts, friends with no power for days, scooping and melting snow in a tub to flush toilets. Deep sigh. Then finishing up with a 69 minute wait for a Whataburger #1 (cheese, mustard & pickles only, please) birthday meal to celebrate my 43rd is one I will not soon forget.

Snagged a couple of this week's gem as a TO: Me, FROM: Me giftie.

Stay warm, stay safe and let's wear sport some shorts next week. Deal?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 :: Kacey Musgraves Fundraiser T

xo,

Monica

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Sure we're down to the wire on time and this Texas weather is nuts but don't let it keep you from wearing your heart on your (puffy coat) sleeve. Give these local businesses some lovin' and you'll get just what your sweet, heart desires.

1. Crystal Candle

2. Valentine Sprinkle Cookies

3. Lego Love Hardback Book

4. Moon and Star Necklace

5. Louis Sherry Chocolate Tin

xo,

Monica

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Double the love. Hers and His editions for this week.

Hers:

1. Novel :: Envelope Vase

2. Useful :: PJ Salvage Pajamas

3. Lasting :: BaubleBar Huggie Earrings

4. Useful :: Comme des Garçons Sneakers

5. Experience :: Feathers & Frosting Cake for 2

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More cards, more flowers, more love along with a few other ideas to show your sweeties - big and small - how much you wanna squeeze them & hold 'em forever.

KIDS

1. Useful :: The Comfy Jr.

2. Personal :: GoldenThread's Personalized Polymer Clay Jewelry Making Kit

3. Experience :: Goat Shenanigan's Goat Grams

4. Novel :: Candy Charcuterie Boards

5. Lasting :: Make Time to Play Checkers Game

xo,

Monica

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Bring on the sunshine and the positive vibes! This week's Friday Five has a theme that will turn any frown upside down. Enjoy :)

NOVEL :: Chinatown Market AirPods Case

USEFUL :: Smiley Face Spatulas

NOVEL :: Dusen Dusen Tissue Box

LASTING :: Smiley Denim Duffel Bag

EXPERIENCE :: Date Night/Take Out Greeting Card...

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Sharing my first TPP Friday Five - 5 gift ideas, one from each of my gifting strategies, sure to bring delight and smiles.

1. USEFUL :: Bala Wrist Weights

2. PERSONAL :: Grace Personalized Custom Name Necklace

3. NOVEL :: Celia B. Laptop Case

4. LASTING :: Type Set Co. Magnetic Letter Board

5. EXPERIENCE ::...

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Valentine's Day is basically my Christmas. I love the hearts, the flowers, the hugs and kisses and of course, everything pink. Lots of Galentine goodies to share here this week - treat those amazing women in your life or show some appreciation to yourself. Whatever makes your heart beat like a drummer in a rock band.

NOVEL :: 1. Big Heart Tea 2. Maggie Louise Chocolate Lip Sticks

USEFUL :: 3. Hair Clips 4....

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Cheers to all the newness of a fresh year and wondery of a new decade! I'm changing things up a bit here and aiming to offer a Guide to Gifting (giving from my favorite 5 categories :: something useful, novel, lasting, personal or an experience) each week featuring items or experiences that make my heart go pitter-pat. No time like the present, so let's go & let me know what you think.

As a Valentine's day sucker myself, I've got love on the brain along with a pull towards things that make life more organized and set the year off in the right direction.

NOVEL :: 1. Mini Heart Waffle Maker :: 2. Erin Condren Heart Paper Clips

USEFUL :: 3....

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Ok, saved the best for last! Annnndd if the kids on your list are like mine...they have had an open-ended, ongoing list for over a month now. However, if you need a little insight into what will bring a grin, here are my gift picks for kids, tweens and teens.

1. The Crayons' Christmas :: This is the third in the series of stories centered around these rowdy crayons and it's pretty fun. They each have their own personality and it's a hoot...

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Have a long list but a short budget? Here are a few non-dollar store ideas.

1. Expandable Flower Vase :: These gorgeous and genius collapsable vases do everything a regular vase does except collect dust. Stores flat. Easy to wash. Love this pattern too. Available at the cutest shop in San Antonio, Feliz Modern. NOVEL & USEFUL.

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For the man who has everything on your list. Consider these options - I've included a mix of style, comfort and fun items.

1. Burton Beercuda Sling :: Holds 5 cans plus a 6th in the front koozie to keep drinks cold and hands free. NOVEL & USEFUL.

2. BOSS Stationery :: Shop these locally and EXCLUSIVELY at Stag and find these and other non-traditional, statement making flat cards - these &...

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Time to give it up for the ladies! The sisters, moms, wives, aunts, and girlfriends that keep our lives rich and fantastic. Items range from useful to personal to lasting with a little splash of style in between.

1. Heart Talk by Cleo Wade :: Filled with poems, mantras and insights sure to inspire females of all ages to take a leap towards goals, dreams and joy. So much goodness which I cannot express as eloquently as she does. Pick up a copy, thumb through a few pages to determine if this will resonate with someone on your gift list. PERSONAL & LASTING.

2. Personalized Art Stationery :: A Thing Created has crafted the most chic and customizable stationery items for the thoughtful women on your list. Snail mail should always look...

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Let me begin by sharing that I have never been an outdoorsy kind of gal. Yes, I have always liked running and that typically happens outside. However, sleeping anywhere but my bed and listening to the birds while dodging bees has never really been my thing, until now. Seriously. It's such a strong pull that a quick run into REI this week had me yearning for a camping trip.

I'm a newbie to the Happy Camper life and I am loving it and all the goodies that come with it. So grab your hot cocoa, sit by the fire and check out my latest gift guide for items your favorite weekend warrior could put to good use.

1. Die Trying Chain Stitched Beanie :: Local and lovable, you'll want to browse their entire site. Get creative with this toasty topper - several beanie color options, thread colors and of course whatever name or phrase you want to use. Choose something serious or silly - either way this gift will earn you a bear hug. The price point on this level...

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As a die-hard Longhorn myself, I searched high and low to find the best burnt orange goodies your fan probably doesn't already own.

1. Russell Korman Diamond Longhorn Necklace :: This beauty shines nearly as bright as the Tower after a UT win. Exclusively available at Russell Korman, choose between white, yellow or rose gold and a variety of sizes to get just the right match for your fan. Prices range from $1,200-3,800. NOVEL, PERSONAL & LASTING.

2. Needlepoint Wallet :: Smathers & Branson's needlepoint items are sure to please any Texas Ex - items range from belts, koozies and bottle openers to their dapper wallet. Available locally at St. Bernard or find additional teams and...

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1. Herschel Supply Duffle :: A solid duffle to take on any kind of adventure. USEFUL, LASTING

2. Glass Ceiling Necklace :: What a strong but subtle way to remind those goal getters to let nothing stand in the way of their dreams. Sterling silver and made in the USA, New York to be specific. Love this one! NOVEL, LASTING, PERSONAL

3. Lucky Horseshoe :: Whether going off to college or into the real world, we could all use a little extra luck. This gorgeous yarn-wrapped horseshoe piece will be a constant reminder of all the good to come. NOVEL

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If there is anyone that deserves a great gift, it's a mom. Where would we be without these amazing, strong, loving women in our lives? Today I'm bringing ideas with heart and as always, options that fall into one of my 5 gifting categories: novel, personal, useful, lasting or experience.

I hope you'll find just the right item or be inspired by an idea you see here to find the perfect gift to bring a smile to your mama's sweet face. Enjoy.

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Happy spring, happy sunshine, happy open-toe sandals and of course, Happy Easter!

Today I am bringing you ideas to plump up those Easter baskets with goodies that your babes, kiddos and even tweens will want and need. My intent is always, always to offer gift options that fall into one (or more) of my 5 gifting categories: novel, useful, personal, lasting or experience.

While I love all the colorful chocolates and sweets that come with this holiday, I do think there is room to switch out an item or two and offer up goodies that can be enjoyed once all the eggs are found and the bunny has hopped on to the next carrot patch.

So, here we go:

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I've been on an evil eye, aka nazar kick for a while now. It's a symbol that offers protection and luck. Since we're at the start of one of the luckiest months out there, I figured I'd share a few gift ideas. I'd categorize most of these as NOVEL since this icon is definitely trendy and fun.

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We love our kiddos and want to shower them with all the sweet things at Valentine's. Here are a few ideas to keep it simple but thoughtful, after all they just unwrapped all. the. presents. in December.

Heart Shaped Sunnies :: An adorable treat they can use now and as we head into spring. A cute face + these shades will give you instant swoon-worthy pics for IG and Grandma. You can order these in individual colors or a whole rainbow pack. Sunnies for everyone! Consider these a NOVEL idea.

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It's almost Valentine's Day!!! This is my Christmas. I love Love and I reallyyy love Valentine's. It means folks are sharing and showing their love for one another and that makes me super happy. As I've mentioned before, it's also my anniversary and I remember trying to create a wedding day/evening that was a big, love-ly date for everyone that attended. I also remember flowers being extra insanely expensive on THIS day.

Now don't get me wrong, I adore flowers. I delight in receiving them and even gift them to myself quite often. However, I also like a good bargain for my buck and it pains me to know that lovely dozen roses cost 3x's as much as any other day of the year and they'll be in the trash in a week. Boo.

My solution....gift your sweetie or best bestie something floral with a little more staying power. Here are some ideas to get you started. Most ideas offered are pretty budget-friendly because, hello...we just wrapped up the holidays but I did include a splurge or two as well:

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Congrats, you checked all the lists, bought all the gifts, made it through the holidays and into the start of a fabulous, new year. But don't get too comfy, we're 30 short days away from my absolute favorite holiday ever. Yep, Valentine's Day. I know, I know you've barely caught your breath but don't panic. I am here. for. you.

There were gift guides a plenty in every direction for the holidays and don't you worry there will be more and this is GREAT. However, with all these images, ideas and choices coming at you, it can get a little overwhelming. So, I'm here to share my personal guidelines for GIFTING. While I'd love to do the shopping and wrapping for you (you know that's a service I provide, right?), we're getting close and I want to help you get in the right frame of mind for giving your loved ones something they will truly love. (Cue Cupid.)

Keep in mind, just because we are celebrating Happy Hearts Day does not mean everything must be red, pink and covered in chocolate. Let's think beyond the holiday.

When I am shopping for a present personally or for a...

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Ahhh, apple cider, cozy sweaters, pumpkin picking and leaves turning golden all around...wait, I live in Texas so none of this is happening yet. But it will eventually and when it does, I will be ready!

Autumn is such a fun season filled with parties and activities. I've whipped up several ideas to get you ready for any kind of fall-themed event that may come your way. Tailgating, costume parties or Friendsgiving, you'll be set.

As always, I like to offer useful, unique and thoughtful gift ideas that will surprise and delight the receiver. With the holidays right around the corner, I especially tried to keep the ideas cost effective so no one is breaking the bank. Also, these are ideas...you can click on the link, add to cart and have it arrive to your door OR keep a few of these in mind and grab a similar item the next time you're at your favorite store. I'm looking at you, Target. ;)

I do hope the weather takes note of this list and starts cranking up the air.

Here we go.

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Yay for summertime! Hot days, long nights, vacations, pool parties and lots of memory making fun. Our family is loving all the carefree time with friends and fam without the worry of 6:30am alarm clocks and packing lunches.

With July 4th around the corner, I'm guessing you have some good times coming your way too. Maybe you need a hostess gift or have a summer birthday to celebrate. I've got you covered with some cute, easy and useful gift ideas that won't leave your sno-cone budget dry.

1. Door Mat :: This is an unexpected but super useful gift to bring along for a summer soiree. There are SO many to choose from - keep it traditional or go for one with a funny phrase like, "GO AWAY." Tailor it to your recipient's taste. This one is from everybody's fave, Target but Amazon or Etsy can easily take care of you too. Roll it up and tie it with a wide grosgrain ribbon for a no-fuss presentation.

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Rad Dad Gift Guide, coming in HOT! I've compiled a list of non-traditional gift ideas to inspire kid-like adventure, killer style and fresh dad jokes. We're just over a week away, so I'll jump right in.

1. Razor DXT Drift Trike :: This one is at the very top of my list. Road and mountain bikes are quite personal and an investment. However, this hot little ride offers the chance to be a kid again WITH your kids. You can get it quickly via Amazon but keep in mind, assembly is required.

2. Adidas Adilette Cloudfoam Mono Sport Slide :: Keep Dad's kicking-back kicks on point with these monochromatic slides. These will have him in ultra laid back mode due to the Cloudfoam cushion sole which they've been using in their sneakers and it's A+. Reviews suggest sizing up for ultimate comfort. Available in black and grey, which would be my personal choice.

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Mothers. They are the connectors. We all have one. Every single person on this Earth came through a woman. Isn't that amazing? We all have this miracle in common. Me, you, Beyonce. It's definitely a reason to celebrate.

My mom has already said she doesn't want any THING for Mother's Day. Like most, her greatest wish is to spend more time with me and her grandkids. So we will have a family weekend together and create memories that can't be wrapped in a box. I do believe these are the best gifts we can give. An extra hour of sleep, a brunch filled with laughter, a phone call, a long hug, an "I love you". Those are the things I crave most from my children, well maybe not the phone call....yet.

But if you are looking for something special for Mom, I've complied what I think is a pretty unique collection of beautiful items she can truly use or enjoy. You won't find pajamas or a #1 mom charm here.

Enjoy!

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Cinco. de. Mayo. Easily in my top 3 favorite holidays. Some folks love Christmas, while others can't wait for the food and family at Thanksgiving. And yes, all of those are so special but my heart belongs to: New Year's Day, Valentine's Day and Cinco de Mayo.

It all started with a wedding. My husband and I got married on a snowy Valentine's Day in Austin, TX. It fell on a Saturday and I had waited 2 long years to make sure I reserved our church and popular venue on that specific day. I wanted all my family and friends to share this day of love with us. Five years later, leave it to our first born to make her arrival with fireworks in the sky on New Year's Day. Not to be outdone, our fiesta-loving son decided to arrive 7 days early and just in time for happy hour on...Cinco de Mayo.

So you can see why I can't resist a colorful piñata and the occasional margarita. I couldn't let this holiday pass without an official Gift Guide. Think hostess gifts, home decor or just a fun something for yourself. Enjoy!

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Administrative Assistant's Day is April 25th. If you have a go-to person in your work life making your job easier, now is the time to say thanks. Of course cold hard cash, bouquets of flowers and an extra day off are all excellent options to recognize a job well done. But, if you want to change it up a bit this year or need to re-org your gift list, here are a few items that can make everyday feel like a Friday.

1. Letter Board :: New day, new thoughts. A fun way to share quotes or birthday announcements.

2. Crosley Radio :: Classic meets modern technology for the home or office.

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I feel it's pretty safe to say that most people either are runners, know a runner or have a goal to run SOMETHING one day. I've dabbled in a little of everything from cross country in HS, to marathons to ultras. It's an infectious sport! Easy to do but not always so easy to conquer which is what keeps us coming back for more.

I'm kicking off my first gift guide with the very special occasion that is fast approaching...the BOSTON MARATHON. April 16, 2018 to be exact. If you are running or know someone running, CONGRATS because that is quite the accomplishment. And what better way to acknowledge this great feat than with a gift? Use my Runners Gift Guide now or tuck it away for another day. Either way, I'm excited to share with you my best gift ideas for the runners (or other active peeps) in your life.

Runners tend to be very particular about their race day shoes and gear. So, I've steered pretty clear of wearables for the start line and focused on items I've used and love as well as highly recommended items from friends and fellow racers.

Cheers to giving like...

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I'm 5 years and 1 month into this sweet, little gig I've created for myself making hand lettered loveliness for clients. I must say my very favorite part of this calligraphy adventure has been the moment when a client sees their project in person for the first time. I always send a sneak peek text pic but the best reactions are when a bride, a mom-to-be or a husband sees their flourishy words on paper. The excitement is infectious. It's the wildest transaction. I get paid to see their smiles and hear their kind compliments on a job well done. I'll never tire of this.

But I've decided I cannot stop here, so I am expanding The Pink Pen to now focus on gift giving services in addition to calligraphy. Your gift concierge with an eye for meaningful and unique items your loved ones will cherish.

Armed with a little background info from you, I will curate 2-3 gift options within your set budget. After you select one, I will gift wrap (no gift bags here!) and ensure delivery of your special package. Hand lettered card included of course!

If you prefer to...

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At this time last year I was busy packing up our home in Austin and getting the family ready to move to the Pacific Northwest, Washington specifically. If you were inquiring about calligraphy work, you probably received my auto reply with this news. Well, now we're back in Texas and I'm back on my lettering game.

Before heading to Washington, we would enjoy a not-so-restful family vacation (more on that later) for a couple of weeks in Colorado before heading into the biggest family adventure of our lives. Actually, the hubs and I have dubbed it our "10-month long vacation" in Washington because let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to head to Portland, OR or the Washington area, DO IT! It's absolutely breathtaking. Even the grey and rainy days were appreciated because they gave us a reason to do a little happy dance each time the sun made an appearance. Oh and when the sun shines there, it's like walking around inside of a big, beautiful Bob Ross painting surrounded by happy trees.

This Texas girl...

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Hello?! Is anybody out there? It's been nearly a year since my first blog entry here and I'd say the time is now for a fresh post! Here's why...

I took some precious time this past weekend to attend a workshop called, "Best Year Yet." Now 2013 was pretty darn amazing but I just know in my heart and feel it in my soul that there is more. More love, more gratitude, more success, more CHEER!

We started out the morning at this exciting event by reflecting on what we felt good about and what we accomplished in 2013. We had 5 minutes. Here is what I jotted down:

1. Launched The Pink Pen!

2. I completed 40 client orders in 9.5 short months.

3. Completed a sugar detox, twice.

4. Shared before & after pictures of my nutritional journey.

5. Adjusted my parenting approach & felt the difference!

6. Became more conscious.

7. Became more thoughtful & grateful.

8. Encouraged my little people to be grateful as well with (almost) daily, individual gratitude lists we put on a small whiteboard.

9. Donated all kid's items...

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There will be yet another candle on my birthday fruit salad? bagel? dinner roll? (Can you guess what I gave up for Lent?) this year. Unlike previous years I'm not the least bit sad for turning another year older. Instead, I'm celebrating entering my late thirties by starting my own business! I've always loved writing, doodling, calligraphy, colorful pens, pretty paper and being creative. Now I look forward to sharing these talents with the world.

While working for several years at lululemon athletica we were constantly goal setting and coaching one another on tapping into our inner greatness. It's taken me a while to realize that one of the things I am 'best in the world at' is hand lettering and making the written word look really pretty. It's tough to say that ("I'm best in the world at") but some things are right under your nose, or in my case my pen. Let me tell you, I make a mean poster for cheering my husband on at bike races, I often make birthday cards for friends and family and I've even had one of my...

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As you might have read on my About page, I love love! The hubs and I were married on Valentine's Day in Austin, TX. If you're from the area you may even remember my wedding day because it snowed a crazy amount that day. It rarely snows here and it's even more rare for it to actually stick to the ground much less be able to build a snowman. But there there were several of them staring at me with scarves around their roly poly necks as we drove slowly through the white stuff to the church.

So in keeping with my love theme, here are the goodies we hope will fill some hearts with warmth:

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