A Precious Little Bean of a Review!

By Charlotte Hodge

I will be honest with you I am not a hardcore coffee drinker. When I do want to have a drink of what some might call nectar of the gods I want a good smooth tasting cup. I was asked if I would like to try some from PLB “Precious Little Bean” coffee with a cause. They provide custom-labeled coffee for charity fundraising, corporate branding and more. Helping others is their passion. They donate profits from every purchase to charity. How awesome is that? I hadn’t heard of them until I was asked to try some of their coffee and then review. I thought what a great thing they are doing and it is an honor to be asked. Be sure you check out their website plbcoffee.com.

The coffee was delivered and when I opened the box the delicious smell that hit me was a delight to my olfactory system! Seriously some of the best smelling coffee I have ever smelled. It was sent to me from Nanea Hoffman. Check out her blog Sweatpants & Coffee at sweatpantsandcoffee.com.

 

I mentioned that PLB donates part of the profits to charity. The charity that is close to Nanea’s heart is Met Up – changing the landscape of metastatic cancer through direct action. You can find out more about Nanea’s charity at metup.org.

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Meet Jodi Zulueta aka Eldwenne!

Jodi Zulueta is a fandom jewelry maker based out Tennessee. She creates hand-made wire-wrapped jewelry based on characters from tv shows such as Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, Stranger Things, and more.

 Fans at conventions across the country love going to her popular booth to see her lovely new pieces of jewelry. Jodi’s jewelry is also very popular with the actors whose characters she bases the jewelry off of. Her Etsy store eldwenne is also a fandom household name.

 Jodi is also the host of a weekly livestream show called “So Get This” where she interviews cast from Supernatural and The Walking Dead as well as fans of the shows and artists also inspired by these shows.

Editor’s Note:   You can find Jodi’s jewelry at her site at Eldwenne’s Fantasy  or at a con near you.)

   How did you come up with the beautiful & unique name Eldwenne?

ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO OR SO I HAD AN INCREDIBLY VIVID DREAM WHERE I WAS IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE PEOPLE IN THE DREAM WERE CALLING ME ‘ELDWENNE’ – IT DIDN’T EVEN SEEM OUT OF PLACE.  IT REALLY STRUCK A CHORD WITH ME AND I KNEW THEN THAT MY BUSINESS WOULD BE CALLED ELDWENNE’S FANTASY – ELDWENNE, ME, MY FANTASY – CREATING HANDMADE JEWELRY.  MY FANTASY HAS NOW BECOME A REALITY AND I’M BEYOND GRATEFUL.

 

 How long have you been a jewelry designer & how long does it take you to create a piece?

I’VE BEEN MAKING JEWELRY SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL.  I’D GET JEWELRY AS GIFTS AND I’D TAKE IT APART AND PUT IT ALL BACK TOGETHER THE WAY I THOUGHT IT SHOULD LOOK.  AS I GOT OLDER I STARTED EXPERIMENTING WITH FOUND OBJECTS AND DEVELOPING MY OWN STYLE.  IN MY 20s I DISCOVERED WIRE AND I FELL IN LOVE. I’M 100% SELF-TAUGHT.  I FOUND THAT IF I FIGURED THINGS OUT ON MY OWN, THEN MY STYLE WOULD BE UNIQUELY MINE.

 

AS FAR AS HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE A PIECE – IT REALLY DEPENDS ON THE PIECE.  THERE ARE SOME PIECES THAT INITIALLY WHEN I CREATED THE DESIGN TOOK ME A WHILE, BUT NOW AFTER MAKING THEM SO MANY TIMES I CAN DO IT FASTER, BUT THEN THERE ARE OTHERS THAT ARE SO INTRICATE THAT NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I’VE MADE THEM, THEY TAKE HOURS BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEXITY OF THE DESIGNS.

ADDITIONALLY, I PAINT A LOT OF THE GLASS I USE IN MY PIECES AND THAT PROCESS IN ITSELF TAKES TIME.

 

What inspired you to make fandom jewelry & how fast does the inspiration for a new piece come to you?

 

MY FIRST FANDOM PIECE WAS CASTIEL’S GRACE (MISHA COLLINS OWNS THIS, BTW).  I HAD BEEN GOING THROUGH AN INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT TIME. MY HUSBAND WAS DIAGNOSED WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER AND WAS HOSPITALIZED TWICE, WE HAD THREE YOUNG CHILDREN AND AN OLDER CHILD IN COLLEGE, I HAD JUST BEEN LAID OFF WORK (I WORKED IN THE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY FOR OVER 20 YEARS, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A DEGREE IN ART).

*Note about photos: (credit Jody Zulueta-all rights to these photos are Ms. Zulueta’s and can’t be used without permission.)*

 

 WHEN I WAS LAID OFF, I DECIDED TO TAKE A LITTLE BIT OF TIME OFF BEFORE LOOKING FOR ANOTHER JOB BECAUSE I WAS SO MENTALLY/PHYSICALLY DRAINED FROM EVERYTHING. I DISCOVERED NETFLIX.  WHICH LED TO ME FLIPPING THROUGH AND FINDING SOME WEIRD SHOW CALLED ‘SUPERNATURAL.’ I WATCHED THE PILOT.  IT WAS OK.  THEN I WATCHED THE NEXT EPISODE.  AND THE NEXT EPISODE.  I BINGE-WATCHED EVERY SEASON THAT WAS THERE AT THE TIME AND THE INSPIRATION JUST EXPLODED.  THE CHARACTERS ARE SO WELL-WRITTEN.  THERE’S AN EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT IN THE STORIES AND THE CHARACTERS.  I ALWAYS EXPRESSED MYSELF BEST THROUGH VISUAL ARTS, WHETHER IT WAS A PAINTING OR A JEWELRY DESIGN. 

 AS FAR AS HOW FAST DOES THE INSPIRATION COME – IT HAPPENS PRETTY QUICKLY.  IF I HEAR/SEE A LINE FROM A SHOW THAT RESONATES WITH ME, IT INSPIRES ME AND I NEED TO SET TO WORK ON IT IMMEDIATELY. THAT DOESN’T MEAN THE ACTUAL PIECE IS FINISHED THAT FAST – IT JUST MEANS THE COMPULSION TO WORK ON IT HITS ME FAST AND HARD, LOL.

I COULD BE DAYDREAMING ABOUT A SCENE AND IT WILL INSPIRE ME. 

THE TITLES OF MY PIECES ARE WHAT COME FIRST BECAUSE THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I WAS THINKING OF BEFORE I MADE THE PIECE.  FOR EXAMPLE, THE TENACITY OF DEAN WINCHESTER, MY FIRST DEAN WINCHESTER PIECE, WAS THE RESULT OF ME THINKING ABOUT HOW DEAN APPROACHES OBSTACLES WITH EVERYTHING HE’S GOT.  NO HALF-ASSING.  SO I THOUGHT HE WAS TENACIOUS, HENCE, THE TENACITY OF DEAN WINCHESTER. 

 FROM THERE, AFTER I HAVE THE TITLE, THE REST IS KIND OF A ZONE I FALL INTO IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS AND THE PIECE IS EVENTUALLY DEVELOPED.

 . What is your fav piece you have designed?

THAT’S HARD – THAT’S LIKE ASKING IF I HAVE A FAVORITE CHILD, LOL!  SERIOUSLY THOUGH, I THINK ONE OF THEM IS THE BOND OF TEAM FREE WILL.  IT INCORPORATES A LOT OF DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES INTO ONE PIECE AND IS A GOOD REPRESENTATION OF WHAT I CAN DO.

What inspired you to become a vendor at conventions?

NOT LONG AFTER I BECAME INTERESTED IN SUPERNATURAL (OK, NOT INTERESTED.  OBSESSED) I GOT MY HUSBAND HOOKED ON IT AS WELL.  HE WAS DOING SOME RESEARCH ON THE SHOW AND DISCOVERED THAT THERE WERE CONVENTIONS FOR IT.  HE SUGGESTED I APPLY TO VEND.  MY APPLICATION WAS ACCEPTED AND I’VE BEEN DOING IT EVER SINCE – OVER 4 YEARS NOW.

 Your fav celebrity reaction to one of the actors seeing your jewelry?

WOW – THERE ARE A LOT…ANY TIME A CAST MEMBER APPRECIATES A PIECE I’VE DESIGNED INSPIRED EITHER BY THE CHARACTER THEY PLAY OR BY THEIR OWN PERSONALITY (I DO ACTOR-INSPIRED PIECES AS WELL) IT BLOWS MY MIND.

 RUTH CONNELL, KIM RHODES, BRIANA BUCKMASTER, AND SAMANTHA SMITH HAVE ALL BEEN SO INCREDIBLY SUPPORTIVE AND HAVE GONE OUT OF THEIR WAY TO SHOW THEIR APPRECIATION FOR MY WORK.

ANOTHER MOMENT THAT FLOORED ME WAS RECENTLY AT VEGASCON.  I HAD MET ALAINA HUFFMAN (ABADDON) ABOUT A YEAR AGO, FOR A TOTAL OF 2 MINUTES, AND SHE SAID, “OH! YOU’RE THE ONE THAT MAKES THE FIRE OF ABADDON PIECE!” THAT WAS AMAZING.  SO IN VEGASCON SHE WAS TELLING ME HOW SHE SEES SO MANY PEOPLE WEARING PIECES OF MINE AND SHE WAS DESCRIBING THE PIECES.  SHE SAID SHE RECOGNIZED MY STYLE SO SHE COULD TELL WHICH ONES WERE MINE. 

 RACHEL MINER – WITHOUT ME EVEN TELLING HER I WAS A JEWELRY DESIGNER, REMEMBERED ME FROM FACEBOOK AND TOLD ME HOW MUCH SHE ENJOYS LOOKING AT MY WORK.

 I COULD GO ON AND ON ABOUT HOW THESE INCREDIBLE HUMAN BEINGS HAVE GIVEN ME SUPPORT AND INSPIRATION…

 What fandom do you want to create jewelry for next?

I HAVE SEVERAL LINED UP: STAR TREK, MAGICIANS, AND CONTINUING TO EXPAND MY STRANGER THINGS COLLECTION (I HAVE 2 DESIGNS CURRENTLY)

Favorite city you have been?

HMMM…I LOVE NASHVILLE BECAUSE IT’S ONLY 45 MINUTES AWAY FROM MY HOME AND I CAN BRING MY ENTIRE FAMILY WITH ME.  IT’S HARD BEING AWAY FROM EVERYONE.

Do you make non fandom jewlery & if yes what is your fav piece you made?

I DO MAKE NON-FANDOM PIECES – I JUST RECENTLY STARTED A SERIES BASED ON FINDING EMPOWERMENT AND STRENGTH – IT’S CALLED ENCHANTED REALITY AND USES SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES.  MY FAVORITE PIECE FROM THAT LINE IS PROBABLY MY QUARTZ AND MOONSTONE WRAPPED IN COPPER TOTEM.

. Do you have any advice to any up & coming self jewelry makers wanting make their own business?

IF YOU’RE TRULY PASSIONATE ABOUT IT – YOU WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN.  BE PREPARED FOR A LOT OF HOURS.  YOU WILL BE YOUR OWN DESIGNER, MANUFACTURER, MARKETER, POSTAL SERVICE, ACCOUNTANT, ETC. IT’S NOT INSTANT SUCCESS, IT TOOK ME OVER 9 YEARS TO BUILD MY BUSINESS. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED.

CUSTOMER SERVICE IS KEY AND YOU NEED TO HAVE A THICK SKIN TO HANDLE SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT CAN ARISE.

AND I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH – ALWAYS ALWAYS BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS’ INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.  NEVER COPY SOMEONE ELSE’S WORK AND THAT INCLUDES USING ARTWORK FROM OUR BELOVED SHOWS SUCH AS SUPERNATURAL AND THE WALKING DEAD.  THERE’S NOTHING WORSE THAN FINDING OUT THAT YOUR WORK IS BEING USED BY SOMEONE ELSE AND EVEN WORSE – THEY’RE PROFITING FROM IT.

Since we are a lifestyle & beauty blog. Fav makeup brand & fav type of make up to wear?

I LOVE ELF LIQUID EYELINER.  I ALWAYS GO FOR A CAT’S EYE LOOK. RIMMEL IS MY FAVORITE BRAND FOR MASCARA AND BROWS.  LORAC HAS LIPSTICK TO DIE FOR. I NEVER WEAR FOUNDATION UNLESS I’VE GOT SPOTS AND EVEN THEN I ONLY DAB IT ON THE SPOTS IN LIEU OF COVERING MY FACE.

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Alcohol Addiction Awareness

The month of April spreads awareness on many worthy causes.  Here’s a list of some of them, though I can guarantee that I’ve missed some!

Autism Awareness
National Child Abuse Prevention
National Donate Life Month (Organ Donation)
Parkinson’s Awareness
National Cancer Control
Head and Neck Cancer Awareness
Testicular Cancer Awareness
Esophageal Cancer Awareness
Stress Awareness

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First and foremost!  Alcohol addiction is not having the occasional drink.  It’s not getting drunk every once in a while.  To me, it’s needing a drink all the time.  Being unable to unwind or relax or enjoy yourself without having a drink.  Needing to get drunk every weekend, regardless of where you are or what is going on.  It’s feeling the need to go buy and crack open a beer at a one year old’s birthday party.  Okay, that last one is personal, but I mean, really?!  Okay, back to the subject, my bad!

Now, this article isn’t going to be about that, I just wanted to clarify my thoughts on it.  No, this is going about something that I saw that just keep niggling at me, kept bothering me.  And then about my realization that that nagging feeling about it was a direct result of growing surrounded by alcoholics.

This little story is about a wine glass that my friend recently won and gave to me.  She doesn’t drink at all, and I, rarely.  But when I do, it’s a cold glass of Blackberry Arbor Mist.  (That’s right, I’m cheap haha!  Sue me, it tastes good!)  This glass is where the problem lies.  It’s cute, has some stripes and little phrase that, to most, is harmless and funny.  And it should be!  It’s was never meant to bother someone, and it really shouldn’t, honestly.

Wine is Cheaper Than Therapy

See?  Nothing inherently wrong with that, right?  Yet, it kept popping back into my head, whispering to me that it is not, in fact, cheaper than therapy.  If you come from an alcoholic family, wine is the LAST thing you need in place of therapy.   Wine could very well be the cause of your need of therapy.  Sure, maybe drinking a bottle at a time will make YOU feel better for a time, but how are those around you being affected?  Are you causing irreversible damage to a child’s psyche?  Is your vodka addiction causing you to lash out and hurt people?  Or, maybe, is your incessant need to guzzle beer until you can’t see straight raising a child who blows things out of proportion and overthinks things, to the point of writing an entire article on the words of an innocent wine glass?

Well, that may have been a bit telling, there, but seriously, I’m little screwed up.  I’m afraid of making people angry because of personal history, and so will go out of my way simply to try and keep other’s appeased.  I’m so afraid of the grip alcohol seems to have on my bloodline that I avoid it almost completely, save for my single glass of cheap, sweet wine maybe twice a year.  And I have become the black sheep of the family for NOT wanting to drink all the time.  And that is okay, because I would rather my own children not have the issue of losing sleep over, contemplating obsessively about, and being generally haunted by a simple string of words on a glass.

 

Wine is Cheaper Than Therapy

Except for when it’s not.

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I put out a call for short stories from those affected by alcohol for this little piece, and here are the results.  Do you have anything to add?  Maybe a story of your own to share in the comments?  Feel free to share whatever you would like!

 

With Love and any support you need,

Val

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It’s in the genes!

By: Michele Lemieur

 

Adoption can be scary and man don’t I know it! My oldest son is adopted. It’s something that we’ve never hid from him.  It’s an open adoption and that in and of itself can be terrifying.  His biological mother hasn’t seen him in many years, but we were blessed with a loving and supportive biological father.

You see, when Landon was a couple weeks old, we were at risk of his birthmother taking him back, but forces were working unbeknownst to us to keep us together.  We had found out that his true birthfather was not the man on his birth certificate. Our hero came in the form of a young man, who sight unseen and going on only what he’d been told of us, was fighting to keep his son where he was.

His nickname is Skip and he was raised in a military family.  He told me that he struggled with the idea of raising Landon himself, but knew being a single father just starting his own military career was not the life for a child.  We finally met him when Landon was about a month old.  Let me tell you that there is no doubting who this little boy looks like.  My son is growing into a nice looking man like his birthfather.

Over the years, our lives have changed, but Landon was the hub connecting us all.  His birthfather went on to get married and have four children of his own and after two tours of duty in Afghanistan as a field medic is now adjusting to civilian life. Skip’s parents have embraced us as family and we have enjoyed many gatherings together with all the kids.  I couldn’t imagine not sharing my son with this loving extended family.  They have enriched our lives more than I could ever have thought possible.

As Landon has gotten older, I see so many characteristics of Skip in him and not just the visible ones.  They ran a 5K together, enjoyed playing baseball, a silly rise of an eyebrow, and  most now fly fishing has been added to their growing list.  Just because Skip didn’t raise Landon, there are more and more similarities between them that can’t be explained by nothing other than genetics.

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Skip’s dad told me story about a conversation they had prior to his first deployment.  Skip was looking at fly fishing poles while stationed in Alaska.  He told his son that if he came home that he would buy that pole for him.  I love when they share these memories with me.  So needless to say, when I asked Skip for help in finding a fly fishing pole for Landon he was stoked!  Just recently, they were able to share some time together in the water. True memories made.

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Don’t let fear keep you from the greatest adventure of your life because it just may bring you everything you could ever hope for.  Because of one young man’s selfless decision, he made me a mom and I’ll be forever grateful.

Be strong! Be courageous!

P.S….all pictures are mine 🙂

 

 

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The Ordinary Review

By Josie Coffman

When my friend first asked me if I had heard of the Ordinary Skincare line I thought she was doing that thing you do when you can’t remember the right name. Turned out that really is the name. It’s a Deciem product and debuted last year to a whole lot of buzz.
I won’t lie, the biggest draw for me was the price. The most expensive product under the Ordinary line is the ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate solution 20% in Vitamin F at $17.80. That mouthful is a Vitamin C solution. Most other products are under ten dollars with many under six dollars. When you’ve been fighting off sensitive skin symptoms and wrinkles with ninety dollar Vitamin C serum and eighty dollar Retinoid those prices could almost made a girl giddy. So I went to their site at theordinary.com, had a look at their very helpful product guide and ordered a few things.

The products are not fancy. The name is not just a marketing ploy Not only is the packaging quite plain but so are the actual names of the products. The only one that doesn’t look like an answer on a chem final is the Buffet. And you’d need a degree to fully understand the product descriptions but you can get the gist amongst all the sciency language, and that product guide will help a lot when you’re planning a regimen.
The products themselves don’t have colors or scents and they don’t have the nice silky smooth feel of more expensive products but…so cheap! They are all vegan and cruelty free and made in Canada which has all those nice comforting regulations. Below are the products I’ve purchased and have been using for a couple of months. I have to say the results are as good or better than the expensive products I had been using.
Morning routine:


After cleansing (they do not have a cleanser and I don’t see any plans in the works to make one) I use the Buffet ($14.80) which is The Ordinary’s cocktail of helpful chemicals which is meant to target multiple signs of aging. Which is handy since I have them all. It’s clear and has a gel-like texture. My aging signs seem to be held at bay as well as could be expected without surgery.

 I let that dry a bit and then smooth on the Hyalruronic Acid 2% plus B5 ($6.80) which is also a clear gel and supports hydration. I have dry skin but with the HA it’s nice and hydrated.

When these are dry I finish with the 100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($7.90) which sounds like something a Bond villain would use to poison the world’s water supply but is actually a very light, clear oil. If you haven’t used facial oils I highly recommend them if your skin can tolerate them. The Ordinary has several to choose from. The squalane makes my skin dewy and soft but not greasy.

Night Routine

Again after cleansing I use the Advanced Retinoid 2% ($9.80). This is a milky, thin serum and has almost no texture once on the skin. Retinoids can be irritating so if you haven’t used one before read the info they provide. They have a 1% as well. Retinol is great for wrinkles and skin texture.

After this I follow with the Vitamin C Suspension 23% Plus HA Spheres 2% ($5.80). That name barely fits on the tiny container, but it works as well as the stuff for which I was paying ninety bucks. The problem for some here will be the texture—it’s vitamin C powder in a white, slightly oily suspension and it is a bit gritty. As you rub it in the sandy texture disappears but this could be a deal breaker for some. Since I only use it at night the texture doesn’t bother me. And there’s that low price. There are other C products in the line that wouldn’t have this texture but might not be as effective. Vitamin C can also be irritating so consider a different option if your skin is very sensitive but if you can use it, it works miracles for skin texture and elasticity.

Once this has been absorbed I follow with the squalane again. About three nights a week after cleansing I use the Lactic Acid 5% plus HA 2% ($6.50) —this a peel—simply followed by the squalane. It makes the skin very soft and helps with cell turnover but if you’re a sun person you might want to avoid it as it does increase sun sensitivity. I’m a pasty hermit so no problem for me.

The Ordinary does have a caffeine solution for dark circles and puffiness ($6.70) but not an eye cream which I need for hydration so I use a different brand’s product for that. And full disclosure, the one product I didn’t care for was the Natural Moisturizing Factors plus HA ($5.80). I found it a bit too waxy and not hydrating enough but it might work better for more oily and/or less mature skin.

I’ve been very happy with the results from these products and for me the lack of color or scent is a plus. And at these prices you can experiment and not feel too bad if something doesn’t work out, plus from what I hear they will happily refund your money if you’re not satisfied. They also have great customer service by phone and will help you find a routine that works for you. I’ve ordered a couple more products including a primer and I’m now eagerly awaiting the release of their ‘Colours’ line which is their version of foundation.

So if you want fancy packaging and products with a luxurious feel this won’t be for you, but if you’re just interested in better skin for a shockingly low cost–give The Ordinary a try.

 

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Once upon a time…..

By: Michele Lemieur

Once upon a time there was a book that attracted readers young and old.  I am sure that when Stephanie Meyer wrote Twilight that she did not expect the global ramifications that it would leave in its wake.  I personally was a late comer to the Twilight world, but soon learned that it was so much more than a young adult, paranormal love triangle between a human girl, a vampire and a werewolf.

After numerous times of picking up the book and putting it back on the shelf, I said ‘what the heck!’ and bought it.  I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for many years and was instantly hooked.  Bella spoke of a place that I once called home and my school district by name. I saw myself in her.  Having moved from Phoenix when I was a freshman in high school to a small town in Northern Michigan and her to Washington, her struggles were mine.

I power read that series within a matter of a few days. Seeking out others who felt as I did, I found myself on the TwilightMoms website where I discovered a page for Michigan Moms. Who knew that what happened next would change my life forever.  A Michigan woman invited me to join her yahoo group, MiTwi (Michigan Twilight Moms) only to find out she lived ten minutes from me.  So, I took a chance and called her and made a date to see Twilight.

Sonya and I became fast friends as did the other MiTwi’s.  Nine years later, our lives  are intertwined so far beyond a book series.  We encourage each other, support each other and love each other like sisters.  The core numbers have dwindled some, but we’re still connected via social media.  Some have gotten married, some have had children, some have new business ventures and others live vicariously through our international traveler.

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A seven years ago, I traveled to Forks with three of my girls. It was more than just about a book.  Sure we went to LaPush, Rialto Beach, the real high school, hiked the Hoh (rainforest that is), but we fell in love with this quiet little corner of the world. We all threaten to move there permanently one day. The Twilight craze had died, but the lifelong bonds that were made because of a book will live on forever.

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Sunset at LaPush Indian Reservation (photo by M Lemieur)

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Ya, that’s me. Happy. Peaceful.

P.S…..all photos by me 🙂

 

 

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