2018 Reading Wrap-Up

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For once, I completed my reading goal with time to spare & exceeded it by two. I set my goal at 55 and completed 57 books. Yay! 🎉 Now for the semi-disappointing news: I didn’t complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I could beat myself up, but reading is supposed to be fun, not a competition. Not all of the 2018 challenges matched up with what I wanted to read last year, and that is okay.

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📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read

📖 A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste

📖 As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

📖 The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

📖 The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

📚 A Book in Translation

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book You Can Read in a Day

📖 Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn

📖 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

📖 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Scream All Night by Derek Milman

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Athur Conan Doyle

📖 The Little Android by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 Pages

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

📚 A Book by a Favorite Author

📖 The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie Bookseller

📖 Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

*Note: This category doesn’t (necessarily) count. Even though Hiddensee is on an IndieBound list, I didn’t read it because of their recommendation.

📚 A Banned Book

📖 N/A 

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative Nonfiction

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your Own

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (Dutch)

📖 The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel (Mexican)

*Note: The definition of “ethnicity” is different depending on who you ask so I relied solely on where an author was born. I didn’t include British authors because of my own family’s roots, but perhaps that was just overthinking on my part.

I also read:

📖 A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet

📖 Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts

📖 Cress by Marissa Meyer

📖 Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 Fairest by Marissa Meyer

📖 Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 In The Woods by Tana French

📖 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

📖 Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

📖 Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel by Ginger Garrett

📖 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

📖 The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

📖 The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

📖 The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

📖 The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

📖 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

📖 Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

📖 We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

📖 Winter by Marissa Meyer

📖 Written on the Wind by Judith Pella

Total: 9(ish) Challenges & 57 Books

⬇️  Here are all of my 2018 reading-related links  ⬇️

2017 Wrap-Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vKpIwxNQxM&t=2s

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHZs4Lxxr30&t=714s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUz0HJjwdUg&t=1s

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BthNgFtCHOM&t=3s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyvAdtvthT8&t=14s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORnYN7RZZDo&t=4s

📚 Stay tuned for my 2019 reading plans! 📚  

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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Reflecting on 25 Years of Life

This isn’t going to be easy for me to write so while I take a few deep breaths, please listen to this song (or at least part of it):

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFeJkfB4xKo

“This is a story that I have never told. I gotta get this off my chest to let it go. I need to take back the light inside you stole.”

A few years ago I choreographed a dance routine to “Warrior” for a talent show. I hadn’t danced in awhile so it wasn’t my best performance ever, but something inside me needed an outlet. After I finished, I had to run to the bathroom because I was shaking so bad & sobbing. I’m not open about things in my past because I don’t think it’s something the public needs to know. However, if you are someone who is still healing, you are not alone. Middle school and high school were hell for me, but college was even worse. I suffered for so long and then turned around and made my precious family suffer because of my anger. I was angry at myself for being weak & at God for abandoning me. I hope my mom doesn’t mind me sharing this, but she has told me that she thought she would lose me in college because I was so close to the edge without caring. There is no sugar coating this: I wanted to die.

Tomorrow I turn 25 years old. The broken little girl in middle school didn’t think she would make it this far. The angry college student didn’t want to make it this far. God brought me this far, and He isn’t done yet.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”  – Psalm 40:1-3

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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Charmed Aroma

*Disclaimer: I was sent one free candle in exchange for a review. It was my choice to purchase more products with my own money.

– C A N D L E S –

☀️ Aloha Mango Necklace Candle ☀️

“Treat yourself to this luscious tropical getaway!! Juicy mango,freshly picked mandarins and sugared blackberries come together for an energizing burst of island aromas.”

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🍏 Green Apple Bracelet Candle 🍏

“Savor the first bite of crisp green apples in a sun-kissed orchard! Refresh your spirit with this juicy fragrance that combines the scent of apples with a sophisticated blend of peaches and exotic flowers.”

T h i s   b r a c e l e t   i s   w o r t h   $ 5 0 .

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💋 Sugar Kisses Ring Candle 💋

“Love is in the air! Fall in love with this romantic blend of strawberries, peach, cotton candy and warm amber. The sweet aromas will fill the air with magic and passion.”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

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🍓 Sweet Berries Earrings Candle 🍓

“Lure your imagination into a luscious field with juicy strawberries and plum blossom. The perfect blend of rich strawberry, juicy pomegranate and creamy vanilla will have you feeling ‘berry’ relaxed!”

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I sat within a few feet of each soy candle while it burned. The scents smell exactly as described. They are subtle at first but grow stronger after the first hour; they don’t hit you all at once but rather in waves every few minutes. For the Green Apple candle, I changed the location to a central room in my house; after the three-hour burning time, every open room smelled like green apples. The fruit scents are my favorite because I’ve transitioned into spring/summer mode; they smell even better when the candle is lit, like grilled fruit for a summer BBQ. Sugar Kisses was a pleasant surprise because Charmed Aroma was nice enough to send it to me for free. I am happy to announce that it is not sickly sweet like candy but rather soft like vanilla.

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💲 Comparing Jewelry Candle Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $25.99 to $44.99

• Diamond Candles – $24.99 to $39.99

• Fragrant Jewels – $24.95 to $26.95

• Jewelry Candles – $24.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $19.99 to $39.99

• JewelScent – $23.99 to $74.99

E X T R ABath & Body Works – $10.50 to $24.50 ( no jewelry! )

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– B A T H   B O M B S –

🌊 Sea Breeze Bath Bomb w/ Ring 🌊

“Ever dream of swimming with the dolphins? Take a dip into the turquoise waters and drift into a dream state.  This fresh-scented bath bomb captures the pure marine notes of the sea that will have you dreaming of your next getaway!”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

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This bath bomb turned my bathwater into a gorgeous shade of turquoise blue but didn’t leave any stains. After one hour my skin smelled like I had spent a day at the spa. I’m not really sure how to describe the scent.  It’s kind of floral but also a bit like watermelon. This is an odd thing to say, but the only thing I can compare it to is the Seabreeze Squeeze smoothie at Jamba Juice (cranberry/apple juice blend, orange sherbet, banana, raspberries, strawberries).

The first bath bomb arrived broken. I filed a complaint on March 31st and received a response on April 1st that my broken bath bomb would be replaced. I received an email on April 7th that Sea Breeze was out of stock and replied that Green Apple would be fine as a replacement, even though it isn’t what I ordered. My package shipped on April 19th and arrived on April 22nd. I wasn’t expecting it, but I did receive Sea Breeze. I am happy that the problem was resolved, and the customer service representatives were very nice. However, the process was frustrating. I initially wanted to place my first order back in February, but all the bath bombs on the website were out of stock. I waited a little over one month, and finally a new bath bomb was introduced. It arrived broken, and when I tried to get a replacement, it was out of stock. I said Green Apple would be fine, but my package took another two weeks to arrive because I was sent Sea Breeze. I ended up with what I ordered, but I wish someone had told me that was why my package took so long to ship. Due to lack of communication, I had no idea what was going on.

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💲 Comparing Bath Bomb w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $15.99

• Fragrant Jewels – $14.95 to $15.95

• Jewelry Candles – $16.95 to $17.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $14.99 to $16.99

E X T R ABath & Body Works – $6.50 ( no jewelry! )

E X T R ALush – $4.50 to $12.95 ( no jewelry! )

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– B O D Y   B U T T E R   &   S C R U B –

🍓 Acai Berry Body Scrub w/ Ring 🍓

“Engage your senses every day with the tropical sensation of Charmed Aroma’s Acai Berry Body Scrub. Our unique sugar scrub formula contains a balance of gentle exfoliants and deep moisture that leave your skin healthy and refreshed. Massage generously onto skin with warm water.”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 8 0 .

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💲 Comparing Body Scrub w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $24.99

• Fragrant Jewels – &19.95

• JewelScent – $27.99

• Jewelry Candles – $25.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $24.99

E X T R ABath & Body Works – $13.50 to $25.00 ( no jewelry! )

E X T R ALush – $6.95 to $22.95 ( no jewelry! )

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🌴 Mango Coconut Body Butter w/ Ring 🌴

“Pamper your skin with an indulgence that lasts throughout the day. This rich, luxurious cream with natural coconut oils penetrate deep into the skin’s surface, infusing it with deep moisture and a silky soft feeling that lasts for 24 hours.”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

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💲 Comparing Body Butter w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $23.99

• JewelScent ( créme ) – $21.99

• Jewelry Candles (lotion) – $22.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $24.99

E X T R A – Bath & Body Works ( cream & lotion ) – $5.00 to $16.50 ( no jewelry! )

E X T R A – Lush ( butter & lotion ) – $3.95 to $40.95 ( no jewelry! )

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🍓 Acai Berry Body Scrub & Mango Coconut Body Butter Bundle 🌴

“Pamper yourself with The Sterling Body Butter & Body Scrub Bundle. Each bundle contains (1) Sterling Mango Coconut Body Butter and (1) Sterling Acai Body Scrub.”

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The scrub isn’t chunky and abrasive but rather like a gritty silly putty. I know that’s a weird description! Basically it’s great for sensitive skin. I recommend soaking in the tub after using the scrub to let the numerous oils soak into your skin; the silky smooth results are worth it. The creamy body butter adds even more moisture, and the combination of scents are a tropical match made in heaven. The lotion did make my sensitive skin a little red, but the irritation went away within a few minutes. After nine days, I had used approximately 75% of the scrub and 15% of the lotion. Perhaps I used too much scrub at once but I would say the lotion is a better value for the price.

*Note: If you like the Mango Coconut body butter, you will like the Aloha Mango candle and vice versa.

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💲 Comparing Body Butter & Scrub Set w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $48.98

• Jewelry Candles – $59.95 for 3 products ( bath bombs, lotions, and/or scrubs ) or $65.00 for 4 products ( bath bombs, lotions, scrubs, and/or soaps )

• Jewelry in Candles – $30.00

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I placed my order on March 23rd. The package shipped on March 24th and arrived on March 31st. I am very happy with the quality of each product, and the beautiful jewelry is an added bonus. The earrings don’t hurt my ears, and the rings don’t make my fingers turn green. My one complaint is the Sugar Kisses ring has some kind of yellow glue on it which cheapens the look. The products are pricey so I wouldn’t recommend Charmed Aroma for value but rather a special treat every once in awhile. They are also a great resource for gifts. Happy shopping! 🛍️

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⚠️ For More Info on C H A R M E D   A R O M A ⚠️

➡️ Facebook

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➡️ Pinterest

➡️ Twitter

➡️ https://charmedaroma.com 🇨🇦 | https://us.charmedaroma.com 🇺🇸

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

My Links:

• Previous Post: Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Brain Fog

I had an opening shift at work this morning.  I’m not even close to being a morning person so it was already bound to be a bundle of laughs.  On top of that, my mind was in an absolute jumble.  I misunderstood words I read and instructions I received, and I couldn’t form anything remotely related to the English language.  I was incredibly frustrated and near tears by the time I clocked out.  My mom explained that since I’m susceptible to low blood sugar, it was most likely due to the lack of nutrition in my system.  In other words, I didn’t eat breakfast, and I should have.  I know I should eat from now on, but I most likely wont.  Why?  Because I’m weird and don’t like eating before work.

In other news, I’ve felt really encouraged and motivated recently due to the rise in number of followers on my blogs and Youtube channel.  Thank you so much for your support!!  If you haven’t checked out any of my other links, everything is provided down below.  Aside from this blog, I have an art blog and Youtube channel, and I’m all over social media.  Follow me everywhere to receive the latest updates on what I’m working on. :)

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: Show Your Colors

Previous Video:

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April/May 2015 Favorites

The following are my April and May 2015 Favorites.  If you do not want to read, watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf56IwSc6_0

If you want to read, proceed.  :)

– Tall, Decaf, Sugar Free, Iced Caramel Macchiato with Soy Milk, No Whip –

Iced Caramel Macchiato

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/iced-caramel-macchiato#size=155349&milk=64

An oldie but goodie drink that is cold and refreshing, perfect for the impending summer weather.

– Del Taco Beer Battered Fish Tacos –

Beer Battered Fish Taco

http://www.deltaco.com/menu-tacos.html

An enjoyable and delicious fast-food alternative to gourmet fish tacos.

– Ben & Jerry’s Milk & Cookies Ice Cream –

Milk and Cookies Ice Cream

http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/milk-and-cookies-ice-cream

Vanilla ice cream with a fudge cookie swirl (basically cookies and cream) and CHUNKS of chocolate chip cookies.  Mmm Mmm Good!

– Call The Midwife TV Show –

Call The Midwife

http://www.pbs.org/call-the-midwife/home/

Image Source: http://cluckcluckapp.com/stuff-we-love-call-the-midwife/

If you like time period shows, nursing, midwifery, heartwarming stories, or all of the above, this show is for you.  Me and my mom, a former nurse, are madly in love!

– Haste the Day Album Release Concert –

Haste The Day Album Release Concert

Above the Storm: https://www.facebook.com/AboveTheStorm

Silent Planet: https://www.facebook.com/silentplanetmusic

Phinehas: https://www.facebook.com/Phinehasrock

Haste the Day: https://www.facebook.com/hastetheday

Best concert of my life so far!  If you are into metal, show support for the four bands by visiting their respective websites and giving their music a chance.

– Merona Handbag –

Merona Handbag

http://www.target.com/p/merona-timeless-collection-crossbody-satchel-handbag/-/A-15129448

This roomy handbag has been my constant companion throughout the month of May.  It is not only conveniently big but also easy to pair with outfits.

– Mossimo Denim Vest –

Mossimo Denim Vest

http://www.target.com/p/denim-vest-mossimo-supply-co/-/A-17007505#prodSlot=medium_1_4&term=Mossimo+vest

Thanks to encouragement from my mom, I gave denim vests a chance and have no regrets.  This is a great layering piece for warm weather, and I will venture to say that it will be equally adorable in colder months with long-sleeve tops.

– ANNA Pointy Toe T Strap Ballet Flats –

ANNA Pointy Toe T Strap Ballet Flats

http://www.v-luxury.com/womens-shoes/flats/anna-womens-40-kylie-flats-19723.html#prettyPhoto

These flats are a dream come true!!  The color is beautiful, the shape fits my wide foot like a glove, and there is some cushion on the insole.

– Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask –

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser and Mask

http://www.neutrogena.com/product/clear+pore+cleanser-mask.do

When I turned 21, I started to get light acne.  If you have this same struggle, I highly recommend this product.  It does dry out your skin, but the effects are not drastic.  A little extra moisturizer is all you will need.  However, keep in mind that my results may vary from your own.

– Venice Dolce Berry Body Lotion –

Venice Dolce Berry Body Lotion

This product is no longer sold by Bath and Body Works, but you can find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dbeauty&field-keywords=Venice+Dolce+Berry

I am not a fan of berry scents; they tend to be too strong for my taste.  This lotion is a bit strong and headache-provoking, but the scent lightens when it comes in contact with my skin.  I have been wearing it ALL month.  I am glad I gave it a chance!

Image Source: http://www.archwayvariety.com/venice-dolce-berry-travel-size-body-lotion-bath-and-body-works-3oz/

– You’re Such a Budapest OPI Nail Lacquer –

You're Such a Budapest OPI Nail Lacquer

http://opi.com/color/nail-lacquer/you%E2%80%99re-such-budapest#dMgH24EiW4tQbwTS.97

This pale lavender color is gorgeous and so flattering.  It will definitely be on my nails this summer.

Image Source: http://www.peachypolish.com/opi-spring-2013-euro-centrale-collection-part-2/youre-such-a-budapest/

– Lauren Michele <3

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I Need Coffee!!!

Starbucks Nelson, Mitchell. Starbucks Illustrations. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <https://www.behance.net/gallery/Starbucks-Campaign/2142577&gt;.

Just in case you did not understand the title: I need coffee!!!!!!!!!! There is some repairs going on in my family’s house. One of the bathrooms being worked on is in my bedroom therefore I had to get up early in order to accommodate the workers. WHY WHY WHY??? This is so cruel. Waking up at 9am is not okay with me. I feel like a zombie. As you can tell, I am having a dramatic morning, which is why I am blogging. Drama is so much more amusing. Well, from your point of view. I am not so amused at the moment. I could be encouraged with, oh I don’t know, maybe some COFFEE. A muffin would also be lovely. The funny thing is I drink decaf coffee so my need is not so much for caffeine as it is for taste. The taste of (flavored) coffee energizes me. Sorry! I am not a purist. If anyone is curious, my current staple drinks at Starbucks are hazelnut frappuccinos (Tall, decaf, sugar free, soy) and iced caramel macchiatos (Tall, decaf, iced, soy).

Have a great day readers. Drink some coffee in honor of me! Please & thank you.

– Lauren Michele :)

11:35 am Update: I got my tall, decaf, sugar free, iced, soy caramel macchiato and a blueberry muffin. Yay!!

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