#171 – REACHING UP TO THE SUN

#171 - REACHING UP TO THE SUN

Well, this painting was not what I anticipated in the least, but yet here it is.

My goal for today was to play with the acrylic SPLASH Inks I newly acquired and celebrate their translucency. 21164-1049-2ww-m[1]I’m not sure what happened, but there is nothing translucent about my finished product. There are so many layers of paint it is quite actually the opposite!  I think it’s my age-old problem.  I am unhappy with that first layer of paint, so I add another…not exactly right…let’s add another…until I have six layers!  This is ok for traditional oils and acrylics, but for watercolors and Splash Inks you need to use the whites of your paper to convey the light tones of your painting.

So, I failed in that sense, but as soon as I got over that expectation, I had fun just the same.  I now know what multiple layers of Splash Inks look like!

The centers of the sunflowers were supposed to be loose and flowy, not dotty and psychedelic.  Again don’t know what happened there.  I also made each center a different color.  I’m not sure why I did that, but to me, it’s lacking restraint and preconception.  What I gather from todays work is that I still need to spend way more time sketching, planning out color, and coming up with a composition.  Winging it doesn’t exactly produce the results I’m looking for.

I’m being very critical today.  Sorry.  I’m sure it’s a buzz kill to hear so much complaining.

I think this has to do with the fact that I wake up every day not knowing what I am going to create. This stresses me out. I then add to the stress by stressing out on the now wasted hour or two I’ve spent not knowing what I want to create. It starts to take its toll.

So here is the advice to myself.  The same advice I give myself every ten days or so…

Mary, Mary, Mary.  This is not a race.  You do not win by rushing.  You succeed by flexing you art muscles every single day, just like exercise.  Just the act of showing up every day and creating something, is strengthening your skills.  Don’t be so critical.  Enjoy the ride.  The less stressed you are, the better the experience, the higher quality of your work.

SLOW DOWN!

Ahh, if only I had the wisdom to listen to myself, I wouldn’t get so bent out of shape!

Just like in the old Tom and Jerry cartoons, it’s like I have that angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.  Good thoughts and bad thoughts.  Each day, I never know who is going to win the battle.

My pessimist, perfectionist, critical devil won today.

But there’s still hope for tomorrow!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#170 – THANK YOU DAY

#170- THANK YOU DAY (1)

It’s that time of year again…

When us moms rack our brains trying to think of what to give teachers and bus drivers as thank-yous for taking care of our little cherubs.  Note I said MOTHERS.  Please some man stand up and correct me.  Tell me, as a dad, you are aware that the last week of school and the holidays for that matter, is when you have to come up with a thank you for the people who mean a whole heck of a lot to your kids. Tell me dads; tell me you’ve been feverishly plugging away on Pinterest looking for that perfect momento to sum up a year passed.

Yeah, I though so.

Do I sound a little unenthusiastic about this endeavor?  Yeah, it’s not my favorite. Thank you’s can be a little bit of a stresser for me.

What I know for sure is that I am not supposed to send in a mug filled with Hershey kisses.  My teacher friend confirmed this, they have plenty of candy filled mugs thank you.  I kept probing my school teacher friend.  I said “C’mon, fess up.  What would you actually like?”  My friend was way to gracious to give me the honest to goodness truth.  She just said what you’d expect a really sweet elementary school teacher to say “really, it’s all about the sentiment”.  I said “Fine.  More mugs for you then, you had your chance!”

I then asked my bus driver friend, she said no thank you to perfume but a coffee gift card would be great.  So there you go.  Coffee gift card.  I can do this!

So off I went walking around in circles  in the stores, trying to find the perfect teacher gift.

 I was thinking: What do I think the other families will be giving?  I don’t want to get that.  How much is too expensive?  How much is too cheap?  What is just right?  Do these tokens of affection get saved or thrown in a box in the basement until the five-year mark?

Oh the angst.

(I hope you realize I am just poking fun here.  This really isn’t a big deal, I just thought the angst might be more amusing for you the reader. Ha!)

#170- THANK YOU DAY (2)

So my kids go to an environmental school.   It’s part of the curriculum.  I make them wrapper-free lunches, they drink water from aluminum bottles, they compost food not eaten, they garden, they recycle, they sing Kumbayah….It’s a lovely crunchy-granola existence.   Of course this filters out another 80% of the tchotchke one might come up with for a teacher!  No plastic, no waste, the gift must have a purpose… yadda..yadda..yadda..no pressure here…..

So this is what I came up with:

#170- THANK YOU DAY (5) #170- THANK YOU DAY (4)

I bought enviro-water bottles made from glass and bamboo.  I attached some ice tea bags and dug up some of the most delicious mint I’ve ever tasted.  My girlfriend Erica brought me some last summer.  It is called mojito mint and it’s awesome…maybe the teachers can add a little rum to their mojito mint….Oh wait, I didn’t say that.  It’s for iced tea!

#170- THANK YOU DAY (3)

You would have thought it was catmint the way my cat kept sniffing it!  I used recycled cans to plant my plants.  Good thing right? whew…. and I had the kids create thank you tags with tags I found at our recycling center.  They might look a little homely, but it’s the sentiment right????

I went right out and bought those coffee gift cards but, I did want to make sure there was a little TLC somewhere in there.  I busted out my watercolors and made little school bus gift card holders.

#170- THANK YOU DAY (1) #170- THANK YOU DAY (6)

Inside there’s a pocket and all.  Next I will have the kids write a little thank you on the inside and my quest for the right Thank you gifts will be complete!

Until Christmas time….

I did drop these little tokens off at 3pm today.  I gave the teachers super hugs.  I especially thanked my son’s kindergarten teachers.  This fall they inherited a little monster.  His clothes were backwards and inside-out and he solemnly vowed he would never do anything that resembled “work” if he could help it!  They had their work cut out for them and they are sending me home with a wonderful little student.  The difference is like night and day!  I personally think a bottle of champagne and hair-dye would have been a little more appropriate gift, but I try very hard to come off as “normal”.

What it really comes down to, is I feel silly bringing in these little gifts.  I feel like I should be buying them a vacation home, a 24k  gold medal, maybe even a $100K check for putting up with a Walsh???  There is no gift in the world that can equivalently convey their importance in our lives.  Their patience. Their positivity.  Nothing.

As the teachers struggled to get all the kids back-packs on, their papers sent home, their final reminders about tomorrow, I faded into the background.  The school returned to humming with activity.

We got to say our thank-yous, but really, I don’t think they’ll ever know just how great we think they are.

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#169 – FUN DAY OF GLAZING

#169 - FUN DAY OF GLAZING (1)

Sad news.

Today was my last official pottery class until the fall.

I started taking classes in October and the only thing that I could do and do well, was make a mess!

Oh so very slowly I have begun to understand what goes into a piece of pottery.  I thought I’d sign up for a class and kick some ass!  It was the other way around.  I’ve finished almost every pottery blog with the words humbled.  It is way more difficult than I ever could imagine.

I look forward to classes in the fall.  hopefully I won’t lose all of my new-found knowledge and I can pick up where I left off.  Yeah, something tells me I’m going to be right back at the beginning making a big fat mess!

So today was a glazing day.  Time to put the final finishes on a bunch of my pieces.

#169 - FUN DAY OF GLAZING (4)

I had to redo the glazes on these pieces because the top glaze flaked off.  Quite the process.  I had to scrub the glazes off, let them dry for a week and reapply the glazes this week.  These are going to be vases that surround the umbrella on my mom’s picnic table.  We joke that pieces for my mom are cursed.  My last attempt broke into little shards in the kiln and these are off to a rocky start….I’m holding my breath mom :)

#169 - FUN DAY OF GLAZING (2)

I bought a bunch of really bright glazes.  Fire orange, bright turquoise and canary yellow.  These look matte and chalky now, but they are going to be blazing with color after they get fired!

#169 - FUN DAY OF GLAZING (3)

These were two vases I created from flat slabs of clay.  I stamped Pakistani wooden textile stamps into the slabs for decoration.  The vase to the left is going to be fire orange, hyacinth purple and black.  The vase to the right is going to be flaming red and orange with a royal blue rim.  I plan on putting yellow, red and orange flowers from my garden in them so I wanted them to be bright. Who am I kidding, I want everything to be bright!

#169 - FUN DAY OF GLAZING (5)

Lastly, I cleaned up and trimmed a bunch of pieces I threw last week.  I had fun carving textures into them. They will get fired in the next week or so and then I will have to sneak into the pottery studio for one more day of glazing.

It’s been quite the pottery journey the past couple of months.  I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard at my self in years!  Watching my blog once a week on Tuesdays has provided some comic relief.  I’ve had bowls fly across the room, thrown pieces collapse on the wheel and a couple of cases of the dropsies on my own pieces.

I’ve totally enjoyed the experience and hope someone out there who might have been afraid to try something new, got some courage to fail, oh sorry I mean, take a chance!  You can’t master anything without humbly being willing to learn.

:)

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#168 – BYE BYE BARN

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Today I decided, or should I say forced myself, to go back to this 24″ x 24″ acrylic painting of THE VIEW OF NEWPORT BRIDGE FROM JAMESTOWN POST #161.

This painting has been giving me a tough time. 

Through feedback from my wonderful readers, I’ve figured out it is most likely because the painting lacks bright color (which I am attracted to) and it’s a little too serious (I tend to look for more playful subject matter).

Both reasons have left me unmotivated and at a loss for where to go next.  Here is the progression:

#161- VIEW OF NEWPORT BRIDGE FROM JAMESTOWN (1) #163 - NEWPORT BRIDGE GETTING CLOSER (1) IMG_9520 IMG_9523

I had originally sketched in a little barn, but after painting it in, I felt like it was too corny and cliché.

So today I painted out the barn.

I also started adding extra layers of color to the foliage and fixed the steel girders on the bridge.

I started painting a field from left to right, but quickly it became a vegetable crop.

I still need to paint in front of the crop as well as add leaves and grass to the forefront of the painting.

I probably have one more days work. 

If you don’t mind, I am going to space this painting out and work on it again next Monday.   I feel like a child with A.D.D. being asked to stay still for 6 hours in a library!

I haven’t quit though.  I will see it through.

I promise!  :)

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#167- DUCKS IN A ROW

#167 - DUCKS IN A ROW

Happy Father’s Day to my awesome husband.

When asked what he’d like to do today – “Absolutely Nothing!” was his reply.

I even talked him out of mowing the lawn – which is the #1 thing I harass him about!

So I need to hurry this up, so I can return to doing NOTHING! It’s quite nice actually.  We don’t do nothing very often.

This is the card I made this morning for Father’s Day. First in line is my husband who is quite the businessman by day and quite the goofball by night.  He has on half of a business shirt and half of a tie-dye. Of course with Birkenstocks.  Yep, that sums up his appearance.  I made myself, my usual mismatched, over-patterned, colorful self.  You know, the more is MORE philosophy to style.  And then my two kiddos, an 8 year old girl know-it-all and a 6-year-old boy who must prove his “coolness” through scary clothing daily. My son wears the same Crocs every single day of the year.  In fact, we could say he is very successfully accomplishing a Croc 365.  My daughter tries to wear flip-flops and tank-tops with the first blade of grass poking through the snow.  She’s a bit of a hippie nature lover.

Anyway, I came up with “Thank You for Keeping Us Ducks in a Row!” while trying to come up with an image that summed up my husband.  I’ve heard people use the term “better half” loosely, but no joke, my husband is the better half!  On top of working all day long at his own business, he comes home and loves to cook us dinner.  He plays with the kids, reads them books for over an hour every night and he enjoys supermarket shopping!  I am the spaz and he is the guy re-organizing the dishwasher and methodically plugging away at the laundry. The man never gets sick, so he is always the one nursing all three of us back to health. Dad is our go-to-guy for anything tech related too.  He fixes our printer, loads up music, outfits us with every state of the art gadget we would otherwise never even know about. We’d be in the stone ages if it wasn’t for him.

So that’s what I thought of.  Ducks in a row.  Organized.  Methodical.  He circles his flock, keeps them from getting lost or going awry. He is the back bone.  He is the straight line.  He is what holds us all together.

We are very lucky.

Thank you husband.

Thank you father to my children.

I’m pretty sure I got the better end of this life-long deal!

As my father said to my husband when he asked permission to marry me…”No Backsies!”  This should have been a warning!

Love you!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#166 – FINDING BALANCE

#166 - FINDING BALANCE (2)

Boy am I beat.

Yesterday was a long day.  I drove a lot.  I cried a lot.

Today will be crazy in a different way.  We will be celebrating my baby boy’s 7th birthday.

Anticipating a little chaos, I woke up nice and early this morning to enjoy the silence and get a chance to paint.

Post #164 was me gushing over this new product I found, Splash ink.  I’m still gushing.  I absolutely love its fluidness, clarity & ease.  The color is so crisp and clean.  I just love it and decided to try it again.

For this piece, I cut out a whole bunch of circles from recycled cardboard boxes.  I placed them on the paper and moved them around until I achieved a visual balance.

I then painted the background color.  I wanted something tranquil and I knew I needed to put it down before I added other color, thus assuring they all flowed.

The rest was pure play.  Like Kandinsky, enjoying the response I got from bouncing one color off another.  Compliments, patterns, I spun the painting around and around adding color to all areas, one by one, until I found balance.

I’m proud of myself for leaving some white space.  This is hard for me. For the first time, I had gotten to a place where the painting did not seem to need anything else.  So I stopped.  Again, big deal for me,  I am more apt to keep going and paint it to death!

I think paying attention to the background first was key.   It made me think differently.

I always add every color under the sun to my paintings and then freeze because I can’t figure out what’s left for the background.

I will keep this in mind for my still lives and other work. It could make a difference.

What’s funny, is I couldn’t decide which direction I liked best for this painting.

#166 - FINDING BALANCE (2)

vertical

#166 - FINDING BALANCE (1)

or horizontal.

I guess that’s what’s great about it, I can enjoy both.

Have a great day everybody.

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#165 – RIDE ON OUT INTO THE DEEP BLUE SEA

#165- SAIL ON OUT INTO THE DEEP BLUE SEA (1)

This painting is in loving memory of our dear friend Brian who just passed away unexpectedly due to complications with surgery.  He leaves behind three gorgeous children and a very heartbroken wife.

Total sadness.

My way of knowing Brian is a little unusual.  For one week, for the last ten years, we have vacationed together.  I can’t say I know all of his trials and tribulations. The man I knew was always happy, relaxed, and enjoying life.  That’s what one does on vacation.

For one week every year, we meet up with my best friends.  It just so happens that for many years before that, their family always planned a week in Block Island where cousins, siblings, friends aunts and parents could all descend to the island for one week and play together.  This is how I came to know Brian. He was part of the family and they all let us tag along. Each individual family has their own cottage, but meals, beaching, hiking and window shopping are all ways we gather.  My first years out we were young and dating our significant others, but as the years passed, weddings were thrown and families were started.  We all have kids the same age now which has added a whole new dynamic to the vacation.

Brian was the fisherman.  Up at the crack of dawn, chartering trips to sea and later on enjoying his own little piece of heaven.  I always think of my friend’s mom who was always brave enough to venture out so early, dressed from head to toe in rain gear.  They would make their way back in the afternoon, with tall tales of their fishing exploits and always something for the grill.

This is what I envision.  A salty dog friend enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

#165- SAIL ON OUT INTO THE DEEP BLUE SEA (2)

So to our dear friend Brian.  The clouds have just parted here in Rhode Island.  The rain has stopped.  The waters have calmed.

Set sail my friend.  Head on out into the great unknown.

You will be missed.

We will look for you off the cliffs of Block Island, way out there on the horizon.

#165- SAIL ON OUT INTO THE DEEP BLUE SEA (3)

www.becreativemary.com

#164 – MAKING A SPLASH

#164 - MAKING A SPLASH

I had to walk away from yesterdays painting.  I am going to try to finish it Monday after taking a break from it.

On to today!

I have to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! To Andrea at South County Art Supply.

I have been complaining about my acrylic paints for months, mostly because of the mess I keep making!  My tubes are so junked up with excess paint, that the caps will no longer fit and the tops are all dried and caked causing me to waste way too much time on getting the paint out than painting.

First, South County Art supply special ordered me flip-top caps for the higher-end Golden Acrylic Paints. This has worked nicely, but I don’t know, there is something about acrylics that isn’t hitting the mark for me personally.  I don’t find it instantaneous enough to have to continuously mix paints.  Acrylics you mix and blend, watercolors you layer and they bleed into one another -instantly (meaning quick for my spastic personality!) I think I am more prone to use watercolors for their bright translucency  and bleeding capabilities. However, sometimes I am frustrated with the fact that watercolors will run and bleed when you don’t want them to.  Like when I accidentally spill water or hit them with my sleeve.  Again, I can be a  little spastic, I just can’t help it!

OK. Back To South County Art Supply….

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I popped in there the other day to buy supplies and Andrea surprised me with this little kit.

Splash Ink?  What’s that?” I asked.

She said she didn’t know too much about it, it is fairly new and her sales rep highly recommended it.  She told me to take it home, try it, and get back to her as to whether or not the product is any good.

Andrea, here is my answer:  YES!!!

I absolutely love it!!!

Check out the quick description on their website:  http://www.yasutomo.com

This is acrylic paint in clean no-mess bottles and it is very highly concentrated so you do not need to use much of them.  You only need 4 bottles!  Do you understand how mess-free that can be??? What I LOVE about these Splash Inks, is you can quickly let a color dry and then go over it with another color.  The color changes, but it does not move or re-activate the paint like watercolor sometimes does.  You can create fixed, calculated colors. You can also allow the colors to bleed like watercolors if you choose to by simply keeping them wet when applying them.  Acrylics don’t usually bleed and pool, but these liquidy paints do. They also come with this color chart, which I thought would be lame, but it is not.  Because the ink comes out of the bottle like an eye-dropper, You can be quite scientific and exact in color making.  1 blue + 40 yellow drops makes the prettiest green I’ve ever seen!

Also, the acrylic ink colors are similar to printing press colors.  Magenta, cyan, yellow and black.  Using these colors always produces crisp bright non-muddy colors, which if you couldn’t tell, I’m obsessed with!

I absolutely adore this product and look forward to using it.  It’s the best of watercolor and the best of acrylic, all in an itty-bitty package.

THANK YOU to Karen Thomas, the artist that invented these! Brilliant! kudos!

The packaging looks a little cheesy, like it is going to be some lame craft product or some infomercial product for 3 easy installments of $3.99, but it is not.  IT IS ALL ART.  I swear!

Today’s floral measures 16×16 on watercolor paper and I think it’s loose style and bright color was in response to yesterday’s painting, which to me, was a little too serious and mono-tone.  As I paint every day, I am starting to sense what makes my heart sing and what kind of goes…blah..for me.

IT’S GOT TO BE COLORFUL ALL THE WAY!!!

I have a little more time left today, so I am going to go back to playing with these paints some more.

I’m telling you, every time I go to South County Art Supply, it is like Christmas for this little budding artist! I feel really lucky to be on this journey!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#163 – NEWPORT BRIDGE PAINTING – GETTING CLOSER

#163 - NEWPORT BRIDGE GETTING CLOSER (1)

Took another stab at this view of the Newport Bridge from Jamestown RI.

Check Post # 161 for the beginning of this work.

Here is the progression thus far:

#161- VIEW OF NEWPORT BRIDGE FROM JAMESTOWN (2)  #161- VIEW OF NEWPORT BRIDGE FROM JAMESTOWN (1) #163 - NEWPORT BRIDGE GETTING CLOSER (2)

#163 - NEWPORT BRIDGE GETTING CLOSER (1)

First I redid the slope of the bridge to the far right.  I changed it by a half-inch, so you may not even notice.  Next I added the little cattle shack and then the greenery around the barn.  I then added the tree in the foreground but still have leaves to add.  I also worked on the over-all foliage a bit too.

I’m on the fence with this painting.  I want to quit it and banish it to the basement.

I do not like the quintessential little barn in the painting.  I find it annoying even if there really is a tiny cattle shack on this property in real life.  I feel like maybe I should pipe in little ducks and a rainbow too.

I could add some cows, but that might annoy me even more.

I could just paint over the barn and leave it plain old farm fields…I just don’t know what I want to do.

Here, I will ask you the viewers to vote:

I’m just not feeling it.  I sure could use some input.

On that note, I will leave you with some other cool photos sent to me by my mom.  She went on a sailing exposition and snapped a really cool photo of the lighthouse near the bridge.

#163 - NEWPORT BRIDGE GETTING CLOSER (4) #163 - NEWPORT BRIDGE GETTING CLOSER (5)

I just love how the bridge looks like it is springing out of the woods. Love it.

Thanks a bunch!

www.becreativemary.com

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#162 – SOMETIMES WHEN YOU FALL OFF THE WHEEL, YOU JUST HAVE TO DUST YOURSELF OFF AND GET BACK ON AGAIN!

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Why do I feel like I start off every pottery blog saying “Today was one of those days…”

As Yoda would say, “Master I am not!”

Last week I threw 6 beautiful mugs and now there are 4.

I left them uncovered last week, which made them very hard and difficult to trim this week.  My trimming tool got caught in the hard clay and flung one mug off the wheel and then smashed against the wall.  The second disaster occurred when I trimmed too much in one place and actually split the mug in two. Bottm-less cup of coffee anyone? Rhea, my instructor at Plum Pottery East, said “If you wanted 6 mugs, you should have made 8.”  So maybe I should say I wanted 4 mugs and that is why I made 6.  But really, I want more mugs. So after I finished trimming the few mugs I had left, I went back to throwing more mugs today.

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Yep, these puppies will be handle-less because they were just too darn hard to add handles too, but I was actually mentioning I wanted some mugs without handles.  So yeah, I meant to leave them out uncovered and make them too dry.  It was all part of my master plan!

So back to throwing I went…IMG_9275

Disaster….

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After disaster…

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Until finally I made a vessel I could probably drink out of.  But then, guess what?  My darling instructor tried to pick up the bat it was on and plop, it caved in!  HOW COULD SHE???

Luckily she indeed is a master. She threw it back on the wheel and made it look better than it did before. Thank you Rhea!  You can ruin then recreate my pottery any day!  I shouldn’t joke, she felt bad.  But really, it’s just clay. …You ruin one mug…you’ve ruined twenty…but who’s counting?

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Do you like this mug?  Yep, it was supposed to be a mug but somehow, when in my hands, things morph into something else.  I needed another vase oh so desperately. Not!

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On my last attempt, I did make a fabulous shaped vessel.  It looks like an urn perfect for sipping coffee, a mini coffee urn!  I wrote naughty things on my bat for my teacher to find.  I think she’s as warped as I am…I hope.  Nothing worse than a bad sense of humor!

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Finally, some survivors made it through the bisque firing process.  I will have to figure out how I want to glaze these next week. I almost like them the way they are!

So, I guess my great words of wisdom for this week would go a little something like this:

It is not so much about making something someone in your household might ever want to use, it is more about the journey and the good laugh you can have at your own expense at least once a week!

Just keepin’ it real!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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