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

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HGW-XvQ6N0&t=9s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo45XqUaUFo

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyEZ9gzZb8c&t=288s

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

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

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMmn3r4M4_Y&t=5s

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! 📚  

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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A Laugh a Day Keeps the Doctor Away | Blogmas 2018

I thought three days off from my retail job would be sufficient enough to recharge my batteries. I underestimated the amount of items on my to-do list therefore I went into the first of five straight shifts even more exhausted and on the brink of illness. I could cry thinking about what I have left to do & my efforts to hold everything together. However, I don’t want stress to ruin this time of year for me once again. Let’s all take a moment to bask in the glow of some Christmas humor. Please, on my behalf, laugh until your sides hurt. ❤️

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-gallery-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-gallery-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-gallery-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-gallery-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

Black, Cuyler. https://www.cuylerblack.com/inherit-the-mirth-gallery-1/. Accessed 14 December 2018.

•  •  •  •  Nativity humor brought to you by Cuyler Black, creator of Inherit the Mirth  •  •  •  •   

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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No Calm Before The Storm | Blogmas 2018

I feel like such a failure! I promised more blog posts, & here I am starting Blogmas 2018 on December 7th. I hate to give excuses so all I will say is . . . life happened. 😢

In years past, I’ve opened up about my lack of holiday spirit. This year I’m craving the joy that’s been missing. The past few months have been an emotional roller coaster ride, and it seems like the medicine I need is a heaping spoonful of cheesy Christmas romance best served by Hallmark. Unfortunately my schedule filled up quickly. On top of my retail hours, I’ve been filming, editing, & uploading Vlogmas videos on YouTube. This week I’m participating in TisTheSeasonAThon, a holiday-themed readathon, & next week I start working on Artmas 2018 for my art blog. Other than that, I’m free as a bird. 😂

I’ll end with some positivity. I am currently sitting in a recliner with a homemade frappuccino watching holiday baking shows. A Christmasy end to a bah-humbug day! I promise to check back in with you very very soon. 😘

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Lazy Winter Days

The holiday season is officially over, and I have yet to start my Christmas do-over. My work schedule was supposed to slow down, but I’ve been receiving extra hours & shifts. On one hand it’s a nuisance because I was looking forward to days of rest, but on the other hand I desperately need the money. I can no longer afford to “play” instead of work, which is why kids should never be in a hurry to grow up. Adulthood isn’t all bad, but it definitely isn’t as carefree as childhood. Anyway, I’m not here to rant about the struggles of adult life. I was blessed with a couple of days off from my retail job so I’m taking full advantage. Yesterday I did nothing, and it was pure bliss. I may have snuck in an hour or two of work in the evening, but most of the day was dedicated to binge-watching El Barco. After a refreshing night’s sleep, I started the day with a pumpkin frappuccino & a pumpkin bagel. I am currently watching season three, episode one of El Barco and blogging with my new Elretron typewriter. It uses Bluetooth to connect to my iPad, but the keys look, feel, & sound like I’m back in the 1800s. I get the best of the old & the new! I never invest in anything on Indiegogo, but this one time I’m glad I did. Once I’ve used it consistently, I will be putting together a full review so watch out for that. I go back to work tomorrow so I’m off to enjoy the rest of my semi-lazy Thursday. If you’re still on a holiday break/vacation, enjoy the rest of your time off. :)

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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The Last Jedi | Blogmas 2017

⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ DISCLAIMER: My intention is not to spoil the movie for you, but spoilers are hard to avoid once you’ve seen and want to talk about it. You have been warned! ⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ 

I recently saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi and loved it, but I’m still dealing with a lot of feelings. The severity of my emotions caught me off guard, and it wasn’t just because of Carrie Fisher’s death, although that sadness is still very fresh. This is the end of an era, a transition from the old to the new. I’m excited about the next generation of characters, but that doesn’t make the change any easier. When the twins reunited, Luke said the words “No one’s ever really gone” as he placed Han’s dice in Leia’s hand. From that point on, I couldn’t stop crying. That one poignant moment sums up my experience with this film. I know that’s a really short statement about a really big movie, but I honestly can’t bring myself to say anything more.

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

➡️   ➡️   ➡️   A R T M A S   ⬅️   ⬅️   ⬅️

F o u r   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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White Christmas Pie | Blogmas 2017

I recently reread White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter and decided to finally try the recipe at the end of the book. Let’s do some baking!

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1/4 Cup of Cold Water

1 Tablespoon of Knox Gelatin

Combine the gelatin with the water, mix well, and set the mixture aside while you move on to the next step.

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4 Tablespoons of Flour

1 1/2 Cups of Milk

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

1/2 Cup of Sugar

Put the flour, milk, salt, & a 1/2 cup of sugar into a saucepan. Over low heat, stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil it for 1 minute & remove from the heat. This can take a long time due to the small amount of heat so once I saw a few bubbles, I used a lid to capture the heat and encourage the cooking process, and it didn’t affect the pie at all. Mix in the gelatin, which should now look a bit like a sugar scrub, and set the mixture aside for 15-20 minutes. Once it’s completely cool, whisk until all the lumps are gone.

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1/4 Teaspoon of Almond Extract

3/4 Teaspoon of Vanilla

1/2 Cup of Whipping Cream

Whip the cream until it thickens. Add the almond extract, vanilla, & whipped cream to the saucepan mixture, and mix well.

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1/4 Teaspoon of Cream of Tartar

3 Egg Whites

1/2 Cup of Sugar

1 Cup of Flaked Coconut

Beat the cream of tartar & egg whites until the mixture becomes stiff. Add a 1/2 cup of sugar and beat again until soft peaks form. Fold this mixture into the saucepan mixture, and then fold in the flaked coconut.

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Two 9-Inch Pie Crusts or Shells (baked)

Divide the filling between two pie crusts/shells. The recipe does not fill both all the way to the top so if you’re better than me at math, feel free to make the recipe a teeny bit bigger to fill two pies to the brim. If you want to stay traditional, sprinkle flaked coconut on top of the pie. If you want to be fancy, use a piping bag to decorate the top with whipped cream before sprinkling with coconut flakes. If you want a bit of Christmas color, use crushed up candy (the peppermint flavor of candy canes would be a delicious addition) or dyed coconut. I saw a pie online with a wreath of red & green coconut flakes around a white coconut center; you could take it one step further and enhance the color of the wreath with some candy. Now we come to my genius idea. I love the combination of chocolate & coconut so I decided to use a chocolate graham cracker crust. At the last minute, I decided to go all the way with my non-traditional pie & toast my coconut flake topping.

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The original white Christmas pie was good but a little too sweet for my taste, an easy fix with an unsweetened pie crust rather than a sweet graham cracker shell. I might be a tad bit biased, but my pie was definitely the winner of the two. The chocolate and toasted coconut made the pie less sweet but no less delicious. Success! I will definitely be using this recipe again.

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❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

➡️   ➡️   ➡️   A R T M A S   ⬅️   ⬅️   ⬅️

S i x   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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You Just Made The Naughty List | Blogmas 2017

I’ve been a busy bee working on Artmas, Blogmas, & Vlogmas these past few days. I’m working at my retail job almost every day for the next two weeks so the time to get ahead is running out. I’m trying to think happy thoughts to keep my mind off of the impending insanity. First of all, I’m seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight with my family. FINALLY!! Second of all, I have a funny story to tell about my neighbor:

A few days ago, I was standing at the kitchen sink looking through the window at the backyard (let’s pretend I wasn’t simultaneously looking and wishing for snow that will never fall). Out of nowhere, a medieval-looking tool moved into view above the fence and slowly made its way to a frond on the nearest palm tree. Against such precise motions, the poor frond never stood a chance. The tool disappeared from view only to reappear and cut down another frond. This seems like a good time to mention that the palm tree is in my family’s backyard. It would’ve made more sense if any of the frond victims had been hanging over the other side of the fence, but they weren’t. I know there is a certain amount of give and take between neighbors, but that sort of action seems so childish. Oh well! It gave me a good laugh. 😂

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

➡️   ➡️   ➡️   A R T M A S   ⬅️   ⬅️   ⬅️

S e v e n   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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I’ve Lost My Touch | Blogmas 2017

My North Pole elf powers have taken a serious hit in the past few years. In 2016, I had to repurchase two gifts due to damage. This year, I received two damaged gifts and was only able to successfully replace one. The other was a handmade, custom item and arrived twice in terrible condition due to measurement issues; I chose to walk away with a refund rather than risk receiving a third defective product. Seriously, what has happened to me?? Gifting used to be my cup of tea, and now I can’t seem to climb out of the funk I’m in. I carefully observe the recipients so I can pick the perfect gifts; I make an airtight budget so I can save and spoil my loved ones; and I buy from trustworthy sources (eBay has disappointed me one too many times). I’m still satisfied with my 2017 gifts, but I can’t help feeling disappointed. On top of my misery, I can’t see Star Wars: The Last Jedi until Monday night. UGH!!! On the bright side, I have a day off (from my retail job) to relax a little bit. Even though I have a to-do list of work that has to get done, I will definitely be squeezing in some baking, Christmas movies, & reading. Happy Saturday!

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

T w o   D a y s   U n t i l   A r t m a s . . .

N i n e   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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• Previous Post: Moment of Weakness | Blogmas 2017

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Moment of Weakness | Blogmas 2017

It finally happened. My Scrooge veneer cracked, and I shed a Christmas tear. Yes, it was a cheesy Hallmark movie. No, I don’t feel any shame. It might’ve had something to do with staying up until 3am the night before, but we’ll ignore that detail and say that I was overcome by the spirit of December. I also want to give credit where credit is due. Finding Santa was a good movie, and that’s saying a lot considering I don’t often enjoy a new offering from Hallmark, otherwise known as Christmas Incorporated. 😂 I’ll add to the good news by announcing the arrival of grandma’s cookies. See?! December isn’t a total loss yet. My elf ears are starting to perk up, and we still have a little over one week of celebration left. 🎉

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

T h r e e   D a y s   U n t i l   A r t m a s . . .

T e n   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

⬇️ Important Links ⬇️

• Previous Post: The Great Dreidel Caper of 2017 | Blogukkah 2017

• Previous Video: Feliz Navidad | MyWebRoom | Vlogmas 2017

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The Great Dreidel Caper of 2017 | Blogukkah 2017

Let’s ignore my slacking and move on to my Hanukkah tale:

For Vlogmas, I wanted to film a few Hanukkah-themed vlogs including a video on how to play dreidel. I dug through my memory chest to get my trusty old dreidel from a VBS years and years ago. I was surprised to find it missing but figured it must have been placed elsewhere in the chest. After a thorough inspection, I became slightly more frantic. Fast forward a few days later. I checked the chest one last time before trekking out to the garage; I was on the hunt for the backup dreidel stored with the Christmas decorations. I carefully went through each box which is no easy task when you’re paranoid about dying from black widow bites. I will now add some holiday humor to describe the fruit of my labor (or lack thereof): I rolled the dreidel, and it landed on nun. Two identical dreidels mysteriously missing when needed most. Target did come to my rescue, but I still can’t believe I had to buy TWELVE dreidels. Is it really that hard to sell one all by itself?? At least it was only $3. 😑

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

F o u r   D a y s   U n t i l   A r t m a s . . .

E  l e v e n   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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

– Lauren Michele ❤︎

⬇️ Important Links ⬇️

• Previous Post: Filming Frustrations | Blogmas 2017

• Previous Video: Learning Hebrew For Hanukkah | Vlogmas 2017

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• Lauren Michele’s MyWebRoom

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