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Doghobbyshop.com is a SCAM

Doghobbyshop.com…This site is a scam. They claim to be closing with 90% off sales but have only been open for 15 days. They overcharge your credit card. The prices are too good to be true. Don’t fall for it.

An Internet search says they are owned by:

CARBALLO AVIATION LLC is a Florida Limited Liability Company from JUPITER in Florida, United States. The company is INACTIVE and it’s status is “ADMIN DISSOLUTION FOR ANNUAL REPORT”. CARBALLO AVIATION LLC has the Florida company number L04000055211 and the FeiEin number 20-1407740. It was incorporated 14 years ago on 26th July 2004. The most recent major event for the company was filed on 23rd September 2016.

Address

CARBALLO AVIATION LLC
129 COMMODORE DR JUPITER, FL 33477

Easy DIY Margarita or Cocktail Costume

With a few basic sewing skills, you too can become one with your favorite cocktail!

Supplies you will need:
Fabric – Green/yellow or other color that will represent your drink of choice (I used a fabric with a bit of stretch, but any fabric will do the trick.)
White fabric with “salt” design or you can use glitter on the fabric instead
White thread
Elastic
Empty paper towel roll
White and red paper
2 Printed pictures of a lime (I printed one on 8.5×11 paper)
Headband
File folder

To create the dress, simply wrap the colored fabric around your body and determine the length you want it to be – Mid-thigh usually looks best. Mark the length and cut off the excess length.

Once the fabric is the length you want, you can hem the bottom of the dress if you are looking for a clean look or just leave the edge raw which is what I did.

Next, wrap it around your body again and pin it so that it is tight enough on your body to take a “glass” shape. Remove the fabric and sew along the pins. Cut off excess fabric.

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Ignore the pencil marks (I used scrap fabric) and crazy stitching. I’m sure you’ll do a better job!

Cut a strip of white fabric and elastic to match the circumference of your upper chest (above the boobs). Sew the elastic to the back of the white fabric using your elastic stitch and then sew the fabric to the top of the dress using a straight stitch Sew it right sides together so that your seam ends up hidden on the inside of the dress.

Bam! You now have the glass of your drink. 1027170717

To make the straw, you simply hold an empty paper towel roll up to your chest and see how tall you want the straw to be. Make sure to leave some extra space for the straw to attach to the dress. Cut off excess.

Cut strips out of the white and red paper and simply glue it in a spiral onto the roll. Be sure to leave all the seams on only one side of the roll so that you can make that side the back of your straw and any imperfections will be hidden.

To attach the straw to the dress, just stick it in at the top and secure it with a safety pin.

The last step is making the lime – you can’t have a margarita without a lime!

Find a graphic of a lime on the Internet and print it to the size you want. Print two copies and then cut them out. Cut the same shape out of your file folder.

Glue the lime pictures to the front and back of the file folder and then attach it to your headband. How you attach it will matter on what type of headband you are using. Mine allowed me to hand sew it on.

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That’s it…..now you’re a margarita! Grab your tacos and go have some fun!

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Sorry for the bad pic. This is the only one I have!

DIY Taco Costume for Dogs

Turning your dog into a taco is easier than you think. There are several steps, but it can come together pretty quickly if you have basic sewing machine skills.

Supplies you will need:
Large yellow felt
Small pieces of red, orange, black, etc. felt
Green fabric
Brown fabric
Stuffing / fill
Elastic or velcro

I started off by measuring the length of my dog from neck to tail,  belly to back and across his back the wide way (straight lines).

Next use an appropriate-sized bowl to trace a half circle onto the yellow felt. Cut it out and then make sure the sizing is right for your dog by holding it against his body. If all is good, cut out a second piece.

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Next use your measurements of your dog’s back length and width to create a template for the “meat”. I made mine a bit wavy so that it wouldn’t look like a brown brick. 🙂  Once you have the template done, hold it against your dog to ensure it is the right size. Using the template, cut out two pieces of brown fabric and sew them right sides together leaving a small opening to flip it right-side out and also to stuff it with the filling.

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Once the meat is filled with stuffing, go ahead and hand-sew it closed as well.

To make the lettuce, cut out a strip of green fabric twice the length of your taco. Ruffle pin the fabric to the inside top of the taco and sew it on using a simple straight stitch. Be sure to use a yellow thread so that it isn’t visible on the outside of the taco.

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Ignore the messed up stitching. I redid it after I took the photo 🙂

You should now hand stitch the meat onto the inside of the taco shell right by the bottom of the lettuce.

The next part is your preference. I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to make straps and velcro to secure it to my dogs so I just sewed on some elastic under his chin, front legs and back legs. Alternatively, you could sew on two pieces of fabric with velcro in each area and secure it that way. Totally your preference.

You’re almost done! Now all you have to do is cut up some felt pieces for the filling. You could use yellow and orange for cheese, red for tomatoes, etc. You then just hot glue these pieces to the top of the meat.

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Mimi got a little tipsy and knocked her taco to the side

Viola! Your dog is now a taco. Don’t let him too close to the cat……he may get eaten!

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PS Later I added a whole and a harness clip extension to the middle of the costume so that I could walk the dogs on leash.

PPS I paired this with a margarita costume for myself. Tutorial to follow!

DIY Gumball Machine Costume for Pregnant Women

Making a gumball machine costume for a pregnant woman is super easy.

Supplies you will need:
White shirt
Red beret
Short red A-line skirt
Pom-poms – at least 1 inch (200 – 400 depending on size of belly)
Hot glue
Tin foil
File folder or other thin cardboard
Black construction paper

To start, you’ll need to find a pregnant woman and have her throw on the white shirt. Using a pencil lightly trace her belly, so you’ll know where to glue the pom-poms. You’ll want to be able to erase this line later on or cover it with the pom-poms.

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Once you have the circle, lay the shirt flat on a table. Arrange your pom-poms in the circle to make sure you have enough to cover the surface area. They should be close together with no shirt showing through. If you don’t have enough to cover the whole area, you can glue on some construction paper first to help hide the gaps. I only used 200 1 inch pom-poms but should have used at least 100 more.

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Once you have determined that you have enough pom-poms, go ahead and remove them and fire up that hot glue gun. Apply the glue to small portions of the shirt and stick a few pom-poms on at a time. Don’t try to rush and apply too much glue at once because it will just dry before you can attach the pom-poms.

Be sure to spread your colors around so you don’t have too many color clusters.

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Once that’s done, you’ll want to cut out a 6 inch by 8 inch rectangle from your file folder and wrap it in tin foil.

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Using black construction paper, you can create the dial by drawing a 1 inch circle (or tracing it like I did because I have no artistic ability whatsoever) and then simply adding a rectangle on either side.

For the 25 cent section, I simply cut out a 25 from the black construction paper and glued it onto a white square. Do the same for the black square. Easy peasy!

To attach the cardboard to the skirt, I simply fastened it with two safety pins at the top as I did not want to ruin the super cute skirt. 🙂

Now go ahead and throw on the shirt and skirt and top it off with the beret.

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Bam! You are now a gumball machine!

New posts coming soon!

My blog fell to the wayside for a while because life got in the way. I bought a house, moved, became a landlord, dog had surgery, adopted another dog, evicted my tenants and so much more.

It’s time for me to get back into writing since I “know” so much more now.

Stay tuned!

Frugality = sharing Chase Bank codes

Lately I have been on this frugality kick. I’ve gotten into reading Mr. Money Mustache and have been trying to declutter and reduce my overall spending. Additionally, I have been trying to increase my money intake and I hope to help you do the same.

An easy way I’ve made a few bucks is by opening up checking or savings accounts with new banks. One of those banks was Chase. Their bonuses are large and getting them is easy. Since I already have an account, these codes are free for you to use. However, it’s first come, first served, so snatch them up quickly. Please remember to comment if you used a particular code, so someone else doesn’t waste their time.

Happy money making!

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: XK47222242R2PDL6

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: WY632924E6D7D3YY

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: NJ69427242HMZ6VN

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$250 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$150 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

If you do both those offers, they will give you an extra $100.

Coupon code KV92722242HN4UDR

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code:HA792226496CW9VM EXP 11/21/16

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: MC32299242C6TN6A EXP 12/15/16

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: UJ79243673XGT9WC EXP 2/6/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: uj79243673xgv9d2 EXP 2/6/17

*******************************

$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: ZG2224246KKA4FWJ EXP 1/12/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: ZG2224246KKA4QWY  EXP 1/12/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: KQ272294AEJ6WD3F EXP 3/4/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: KQ272294AEJ6V97P   EXP 3/4/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: QD92236633RAY3AX   EXP 3/27/17

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Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade goes to the dogs!

I’ve been slacking on updating the blog. Life just got in the way, selling houses, moving back to NY, sick pets, new pets, old pets………who knew life could get so busy?!

However, I did manage to do something fun for once and wanted to post a couple of pics.

Coney Island’s Annual Mermaid Parade is always a great event. Creatures come from far away lands just to have a good time and show off their creativity.

This year I decided to attend the parade at the last minute, so I only had two days to throw together some outfits for the pups. I did a bit of cheating and altered a sailor costume I bought on sale last year for Eli and Mimi wore a custom-made bikini by none other than the multi-talented pet fashion designer, Ada Nieves. I added on some fairy wings because a beautiful beach babe just wasn’t cool enough for Coney Island!

The pups were chauffeured on their stroller with custom-made platform and they stayed cool with an icy cooling mat and chilled water. Eli was a good sport and kept his sunglasses and sailor hat on the entire time!

 

Thanks to Roland Marconi who took the best picture of my fur-kids!  Look how happy they are!
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Eli and Mimi were joined by their BFF Rita (Rita-TUDE) whose mom is the creator of PAWfect Dog Beds. If you want some comfy beds for your pet, you’ll definitely want to check her out!

Daniel Rose took this great shot of Rita.
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Eli, Mimi and Rita were so excited to be featured on Fox 5 news.
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Thanks for the company, Rita!  We can’t wait for next year.

 

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Photo credit to Bushwick Daily

Day 14 and 15 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

Day 14 and 15 – Saturday May 31 / Sunday June 1   

In the morning we had breakfast then took a medium tuk tuk to a temple of course, an Arc de Triumphe look alike and the COPE museum which is an agency that helps kids with disabilities like club foot. There were a few of these kids there and it made the experience uncomfortable – I’m not sure why. They also showed us an hour long documentary on the leftover bombs from the Vietnam War and how an Australian man was training the Lao people to deactivate the bombs and bombies (little bombs). It was really terrible to see how my country had ruined these lands for decades. People are still dying because of the war and the US is doing nothing to help. They haven’t even signed an agreement like other countries to help get rid of the bombs. I really should research and read to learn more about these things. Traveling makes me realize how uneducated I am about life and history.

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After all that we went back to the room for 45 minutes and then had to say good-bye to the Italians and travel on the bus for 45 minutes to the train. We had to pay 10,000 kip to leave the country. We walked through a checkpoint to be in limbo between Thailand and Laos and then took a free transfer bus to the overnight train station where we waited another hour.

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We finally boarded the train and it was worse than I imagined (I had pictured private rooms like I had in Egypt). It only had a curtain for privacy and the bed was very tight. In general the bed was comfy but it was so noisy from people snoring and walking that it was hard to sleep. (Yes, I realize to other travelers I sound like a whiny brat, but by this point of the trip, I was so hot and tired and fed up with everything that everything felt like torture.) Roomie and I watched part of a movie but were falling asleep. I spent another 2 hours in the middle of the night watching another movie. We got woken up early with people mulling around and the crew putting the beds back into chair formation.

From there we walked underground to the street the Centra Hotel was on. We dumped our bags off then most people went to a restaurant for breakfast but a few of us went downstairs to the grocery store to eat instead. Nothing looked appealing to me but I settled on Frosted Flakes and milk. It was good enough. Roomie and I spent most of the day sitting, reading and chatting. I wanted to go to a place where you could pet lions but she didn’t want to spend the money and I didn’t want to go by myself. (Yes, I know they are drugged and probably tortured……I am a terrible person and wanted to do it anyway.) We tried to find a spot for lunch but it was too hot so we went back to the grocery store where I had a sandwich. The tour operator loaned us his room to shower which was nice. We had ice cream on the roof deck then said bye and took a taxi to the airport. We checked all of us in then went to my gate. Took a selfie then said bye and kept waving until we couldn’t see each other anymore…. was a nice time.

The first leg of the flight was good. Had an empty seat next to me. Started to feel stomach sick during the flight so couldn’t really eat. Got off the plane and had to go through security again. The Abu Dhabi airport was really odd. It’s shaped like a circle and there aren’t many places to sit – just lots of places to eat and shop. Then all the terminals are offshoots and the bathrooms are blocked off to passengers only. It’s very strange and inconvenient. I went through security again and then was blocked from the bathroom area again – not fun! Luckily my belly behaved itself. Got on the second leg of the full flight. Couldn’t eat most of the dinner because it made me nauseous. Watched lots of movies and slept some.

Overall, I think I had a negative experience because I did not research this trip at all prior to booking it. I booked it solely on the facts that it was somewhere I had never been before and the tour matched up with the dates that I wanted to travel. It was also the hottest it had been in that part of the world in a long time – even the tour guides were sweating.

Had I planned better – packed different/more snacks, somehow been prepared for that unbearable heat (I think a different kind of sunscreen would have helped), massive bugs and rats, perhaps I would have had a different experience. Because I have been on tour that maximized time better and were more forthcoming in what you were doing and when, this experience was knocked down a few stars right off the bat.

Day 12 and 13 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 30 (Maybe) Day 12 – This morning we were supposed to go see the monks collect food on the street in Luang Prabang but my roomie and I woke up and were both stomach sick. Fortunately, we had 2 hours to feel better, but we were still sick all day on the 6 hour bus ride to Vietvienne. Fortunately at the rest stop there was a really nice bathroom that had stalls – one of which was western. The stalls were open on one side overlooking the mountains in the distance. It was private but gave you the illusion of doing your business in public – yet had a beautiful view.

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Our hotel room was okay. No major visible bugs, just a few geckos including a dead one being cooked by the sun on our balcony. There were several rat droppings all around the room so again we slept with the lights on. Dinner was at a restaurant down the street but I think I had food poisoning so I only got vegetable soup and then there was a bug in it so I didn’t eat it. I went back to the room and was sick all night. Fortunately, the TV started working but the AC never worked. It was a pretty unpleasant night.

The next day we went to see the elephant cave then tubing into Tham Nam water cave. The elephant cave was very simple but when we were standing there, a dog came running and slipped on the floor and flew right into the back of my legs…..it was pretty funny.

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My buddy. I wish I could have saved them all.

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Elephant Cave

Then he followed us – actually led us to the spot where we were going to tube into the cave. The walk to the tubing spot was pretty long especially since it was all in the blazing sun. The cave itself was pretty neat. The water was cold but refreshing. It was convenient to view the cave from a lying position. There were a lot of interesting formations. The only issue was the guide was going so fast that it was hard to absorb the beauty of the cave.

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From there, we walked back to the truck and drove to the kayaking spot on the Nam Song River. Supposedly it used to be a big drinking adventure, but I only saw maybe 5 spots along the way and they were all empty – perhaps because it is not high tourist season.

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G Adventures has its tours screwed up because in this town there was another good cave and the blue lagoon but there was only time to do one option. They really should figure out how to time things better. We don’t need to drive to the next spot in the middle of the day. Curfew isn’t until midnight in this country, so there’s plenty of time to drive off-hours. There also isn’t enough time after tubing to grab a proper lunch before you have to head off to the next city. Random but in the drive to the next spot, there were several trucks full of army men. I wonder who Laos is planning on getting attacked by.

I also started sharing my money with my roomie and ran out so I had no money for food. I kept reminding the CEO that we need to stop for an exchange but he told me we stopped at an ATM last night. I tried to explain that it is not the same thing and the ATM wasn’t even working but he liked to ignore me. At this point in the trip I figured I would cut his tip in half. At the beginning of the trip, I thought I would give him a huge tip but my liking of him dwindled every day.

On this day we had a crazy driver who drove really fast and hit all the bumps so we literally flew off the seat. By this time, I only had two days left on this trip but felt the end couldn’t come soon enough.

On Friday night upon arrival to the hotel, we showered and got ready for dinner. We went to another charity spot where the food was okay, but the prices were high. It was our last dinner with the Italians. I thought that perhaps we would stay out late or drink or have a toast or something but there was nothing. After dinner most of the group wanted to go for a walk – a walk to nowhere. Roomie and I declined and they had us walk back to the hotel ourselves even though we weren’t sure where it was. We went the right way but weren’t sure, so we had to ask directions. Luckily we were right down the block from the hotel. The night consisted of rat shit on roomie’s headboard, and she thought someone was breaking into the room so she woke me up for that as well.

Flying back early was a bit consideration at this point, but it was just another couple of days so I toughed it out.

Day 11 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 29 – Day 11 – (Honestly, the days start to get fuzzy with my pics and notes at this point, but you’ll get the gist)

We had breakfast then hopped on a bus to the elephant sanctuary where we rode elephants (in a chair on their back – two people per elephant). It was pretty fun. Even on the head, you never really felt like you’d fall off. Before riding them, we fed them which was cool because they were right next to you eating. After the initial ride, we were able to ride them on their head into the Mekong River to scrub them clean with a scrub brush. It was cool, but you got covered in poo because when an elephant’s gotta go, he’s got to go!

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We were able to rinse off and change then we drove to a dock where we took a boat across the river to the Pak Ou Buddha Caves (Tham Ting and Tham Phoum) which as you would guess, had lots  of buddhas. The caves were okay – nothing spectacular.

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From there we took the boat to a Ban Xang Hai (Whiskey Village) where they make wine and spirits. It was basically a tourist trap, and they sold jars of liquor with all kinds of insects and animals in them – even a bear cub. It was really horrible. Bears are endangered in Asia, and they kill them for profits. Complete monsters! At first I was going to purchase a scorpion liquor but decided I didn’t want to contribute to people with that mentality. (Yes, I realize it’s their culture and heritage, but I don’t have to like it or agree with it.)

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After that we took the boat back downstream to a spot closer to the hotel where the bus picked us up. Roomie and I showered then went to the night market again and bought some stuff. Then we joined the group at Lao Lao restaurant which had a really nice atmosphere with plants and jungle-like things. The only problem was that it was very dark, and we got a hot pot where you cook your own food on the table, so we couldn’t really see what we were doing. There were also a lot of bugs. For dessert we went back to the market and got 2 crepes to take back to the room and made tea.

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Day 10 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 28 – Day 10 – Breakfast was in an area a couple of doors down from the hotel. They served eggs, breads, juice, tea, water – overall good meal. Make sure to take a couple of tea bags to save for later as they supply a tea kettle in your room but no tea.

After breakfast, we took an open air taxi to a museum where they showed us how certain Lao people lived. A video showed us how they abuse and kill animals for sacrifice when they marry: it was terrible.

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Tourmates watching the video. I’m glad I didn’t

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Fortunately we had a nice change of pace and visited a beautiful waterfall with many levels. We swam in one of the lower pools and had a really great time. We should have packed a lunch and just ate there on the bank, but we ate at one of the cafes there instead. The food was good and cheap. Also, on this journey we saw bears that were rescued and are now being cared for. They were really cute..

 

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After lunch, we came back to the room and rested for a few hours then roomie and I dressed up nicely and went to the night market for an hour – where we sweated through our nice clothes, and I became a hot mess. Then we joined the group for karaoke; it was really fun. (This was our only night out of the whole trip. Quite depressing!)

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Karaoke always has interesting pics to go with videos but this one topped everything

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Day 9 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 27 – Day 9 – The morning of the homestay is a complete waste of time. Since you get woken up at the crack of dawn with the roosters and then the island is so noisy, you have no hope of sleeping in. Everyone just sits around and waits for the ferry. My roomie and I watched a movie on my phone. This whole day is a complete waste of time.

Finally, at 9:30am we boarded the boat back to the mainland. We then went to a market that was both indoors and out, but it was more of a local market with day-to-day clothes and food and lots of fancy jewelry. We didn’t buy anything and ate ice cream instead. Next we had lunch at a place with AC, Wifi and a Western bathroom. The food was okay – not great. There was a mall down the block so we went there to kill time. It was nothing exciting either – it mostly had stuff for locals. There was a supermarket there too so that at least that was interesting.

There was also a cage on the street with animals in it. It was really sad.

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From there we went to the airport for our flight to Luang Prabang. The airport is small but efficient. Once through the security area it has air conditioning. The plane was small but nice. They even feed you on the 1.5 hour flight – a fish stick in a bun with brownie and fruit. Upon landing we went to our hotel which was pretty nice – although anything would have felt nice after having a rat invade your bedroom! But really, I think this was the only room I took pictures of because I was so impressed. It was within walking distance to restaurants and the night market.

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CIMG1205Right after check-in, we went for dinner at an Australian pub. The food there was good and the atmosphere was fun. Afterwards, we went to the night market, but I wasn’t feeling well, so I sat on the floor and didn’t shop.

At least I got to sleep in a nice room that night!

Day 8 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 26 – Breakfast was across the street and not included so it was self-pay. It was very slow but good; I had french toast sans syrup. After breakfast it was back to the bus to the ferry to a temple then to the home stay.

On the way we went to see Wat Phu (mountain temple) UNESCO World Heritage site –  that had a lot of steps (77 at one point). We ate fresh mangoes off the tree. At the top, there was a fountain that claimed to have holy water. They had us put some on our heads 3 times and made a wish – which is kind of odd because if it was truly holy, we should have prayed or something instead, I would think. The experience was all very hot; my skin felt like it was literally melting off. I have never been that sweaty in my life. During the hike, we saw rocks that resembled an elephant and a crocodile.

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After we finally dragged ourselves (okay, maybe I was just dragging myself) back to the bus, we took a people-only ferry to the home stay. Well, “ferry” is generous.  It was a very skinny boat that only held 4 people. From there, we walked a long way on the beach to our homes. My roomie and I ended up with a house on stilts that we thought would keep the snakes and rats away. Instead a rat ran at the foot of our bed in the morning and roomie had heard them scratching all night in the wall by her head.

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We were lucky and our bathroom had a western toilet and was overall decently nice. Our beds were in a corner of the room where the owners slept in so that was a bit weird. Our house had no walls so it felt like modified camping. We slept under mosquito nets but bugs got in roomie’s bed anyway. We could hear the bats all night. Early in the morning the roosters began singing and all the people got up. When they walked, the whole house shook. Breakfast and dinner were served on the floor in a communal room.

When we arrived first arrived on the island, we walked around the island for a tour. Overall the houses and properties were well-kept. There was a resort on the island that was several hundred dollars per night and was very beautiful.

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I feel homestays are always a waste of time. You don’t socialize with the residents – they don’t even eat with you. My owner came with me to the bathroom in the middle of the night to turn on the lights and that was all the interaction we had. You are basically there to give them money and gifts.

Side note: Bring pens and paper from home so you don’t waste time and money hunting for these things during your trip. Anything you have that you aren’t going to use anymore bring it with you and stop letting it take up space in your house.

Day 7 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 24 – Day 7 started with breakfast in a building outside of the hotel but no one could tell me where it was. I found it only by finding another tourmate. I almost shouldn’t have bothered. There was only a small fried egg, bread with jelly. No water or juice, just hot tea and coffee. I was starving afterwards. Thank goodness I still had snacks that I brought from home!

The drive to Laos was a very bumpy road so no option to sleep. What should have been a fairly short drive took several hours longer because the driver had to go very slowly (although sometimes he didn’t and we literally fell off our seats!) These roads were paved only 3 years ago by the Chinese but cheap materials plus wear and tear makes it seem like they were never improved in the first place. We also had to do our first and only pee in the bush stop. After all these squat toilets, we were pros! During the ride, we also had our first taste of sticky rice that was made in bamboo chutes – was quite tasty.DSC01631

The Laos border was interesting. One bus drops you off, you hand your passport to a guy in a building through a window, pay your $10 or so and then you walk down a road to the border crossing. then you get on another bus.

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Our first Laos hotel had a gecko and a million ants in the bathroom. The AC also didn’t work. Soon after arrival, we went bicycle riding for 10 miles to the beach where we watched the sunset then quickly rode back in the dark. The road was full of holes, so it was dangerous and painful to ride. You also had to ride at a fast pace, and it was very  hot. Fortunately it was not as hot as it was during the day. The bugs came out and I ate at least one and I felt like a human windshield. I don’t know if I have ever felt that dirty in my life – bug spray, sunscreen, bugs and sweat. Awesome! At least the sunset was very nice.

We had dinner at the restaurant across the street which was okay. I  had banana pancakes and two big beers so I got a little tipsy which led me to ask to get our room switched. Our new room had working AC, was bigger, had a television and had no bugs. This didn’t prevent my roomie from waking me up to tell me there were geckos walking in the ceiling. The electric went out in the middle of the night so the room got hot again and was unpleasant. Since I was awake anyway, I went across the street to see the sunrise across the river. It was very nice. Then I went back to bed. We had to pack an overnight bag for the home stay.

I love how the boat is right in the rays of the rising sun

I love how the boat is right in the rays of the rising sun

Day 6 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 23 – Day 6 was a 4-5 hour bus ride to Kratie. Along the way, I noticed new types of houses of worship – Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah Witnesses in Kam Pong Chan. I thought it was interesting since up until that point (and for the rest of the trip) I only saw buddhist temples.

Soon after arriving in Kratie, we dropped off our bags at the hotel and went to lunch down the road. I had a big plate of rice with sausage and pork for only $2. It was quite tasty too. After lunch we rested and then took a tuk tuk to see the dolphins. It was pouring rain during the ride there, but it cleared up by the time we got to the river. At least my rain jacket was getting some use! The temperature while on the water was nice and cool which was such a relief after so many hot days. We managed to spot a lot of dolphins but you could only see a bit of their backs and their top fin. The boats we used were fairly small, so we only had 4 people in each boat.

DSC01628On the ride back to the hotel, there was a wedding taking place, so we stopped and they let us take pictures with the bridal party. They took pictures of us as well since we were as much of a novelty to them as they were to us. Further down the road, we spotted a nice sunset through the trees along the river. Fortunately, our driver stopped to let us take a picture but unfortunately it didn’t photograph well..

For dinner we ate at the restaurant right next to the hotel and it was quite disappointing. The food wasn’t good and it was much more expensive than our lunch spot. Also the electricity kept going out so that was kind of unsettling.

Upon returning to the room, I realized that management had been in our room when we weren’t there. When I brought this up to them they said perhaps it was to turn off the electricity. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would be willing to give them an extra couple of dollars for the electric to be left on so we could have a cool room and less bugs. I didn’t notice anything missing, but it was a reminder that we should never leave anything valuable in the room.

The room had a bunch of bugs in it at this point, so we sprayed repellent all around (I’m sure that was great for my health!) and went to bed early around 9pm. Fortunately, the cable started working again, so we were able to relax and watch a bit of television before sleeping. Unfortunately, the roomie thought there was a bat in the room, so she woke me up a few hours later. I thought she was nuts until I heard the sounds as well. I Googled and listened to bat sounds online; they sounded the same! I did figure that the bats were outside near the AC unit, but she was so convinced that it was in the room that I went to find someone to check it out. The hotel was a ghost town except for a few friendly roaches, geckos and a giant waterbug. I gave up and went back to sleep! Overall the hotel was okay, not disgusting. It had an all-in-one shower / sink / toilet bathroom but the water was warm and there weren’t too many mouse turds. It did look kind of dirty though. I did kill a giant mosquito on my pillow and it left a ton of blood behind. I decided to not be a diva and just slept with my head on the other side of the pillow.

 

Days 4 & 5 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 21 – Day 4 had a late start of 8am which was nice; however, the day consisted of a 7 hour drive on a private bus to Phnom Penh. The roads were really bumpy – the kind where you actually get tossed out of your seat at times. We stopped to use the restroom at a gas station and the squat toilets were clean and actually flushed. You will always have to bring your own toilet paper though – otherwise you’ll have to use the hose. Along the way, we stopped for lunch where they served tarantula. It was really disgusting looking but smaller than I imagined (smaller than the palm of your hand). A couple of tourmates ate the whole thing, but I only ate a leg – it tasted like crispy nothing.

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May 22 – Day 5 consisted of visiting Choeng Ek / the killing fields which was interesting. They haven’t excavated all the bones yet, so you actually end up walking on some which are still partially buried under the walkway. We then went to the museum which was where the victims were held and tortured. The cells were very small and it looked terrible. There were two survivors there as well selling their books.

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The white on the ground are bones.

 

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Many people didn’t know this was their last photograph before death.

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This building was full of skulls organized by age and sex

From there we went to lunch at a restaurant that helps homeless children. Then we went to the silver palace which had many buildings but also had lots of sections blocked so you couldn’t view them. There were nice gardens there at least. CIMG0640

From there we went to the Russian market where they sell goods that fell off the truck. The tuk tuk that took us to the palace market and hotel only cost 10 dollars and they actually wait for you while you explore and you just pay them at the end. We also walked to the central market where we bought pens and paper for the children of the house that we went to for dinner. The central market was more interesting than the Russian market. It seemed to have more quality things. The Russian one had a local section which was interesting but gross. Because it was raining and the market didn’t have proper roofing or drainage, the floor was very slippery. I didn’t take a close look at what they were selling, but I know there were full dead animals for sale, and it smelled really bad. I was happy that the vendors were not as aggressive as they were in Peru. However, I was not happy that prices were not super cheap like I thought they would be. I only bought fancy chopsticks for my sister. Afterwards, we showered and dressed for a dinner hosted by a local family which had mostly curry dishes, so I only ate a few shish kabobs, rice and some spring rolls. Unfortunately, they also served duck fetus, which was so gross to think about that I had to remove myself from that part of the table…..that meant I also couldn’t partake in the tarantula wine which was wine in a bottle with tarantulas. Overall it was a fine dinner except for the mouse turd on the table.

I do find it uncomfortable that the family does not join you for dinner. They simply host the meal and serve you. I would appreciate the dinner more if the family would eat the meal with me and have a conversation with us (even though it would have to be through a translator). Instead, you are solely there to pay them to feed you. There is minimal socialization which is disappointing.

The hotel in Phnom Penh was okay – pretty clean and only one gecko in the room. The elevator got stuck at some point so it was a bit nerve wracking to use it. The breakfast was a mix of Western and Eastern so it is overall good if you could ignore the mouse turds and roaches.

 

Day 3 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

CIMG0297May 20 – On day 3 we got up very early to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. It was nice but not amazing. Our guides also didn’t have us wake up as early as they should have in order to see the nicer views of the sunrise. After the sun was up, we went to see Ta Prohm where Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom was filmed. It would have been more interesting for me at the time if I had actually watched the movie, but now I can watch it and remember that I was there in person! Archaeologists are trying to put the pieces of the ruins back together in their original formation.  It’s amazing how they can figure all that out. There is also a fun picture to take – you can stand under rocks that look like a booty and legs and take a picture from the doorway. BAM! I stood under Angelina Jolie’s ass!

Stones that still need to be put back into their original places

Stones that still need to be put back into their original places

After those ruins, we went back to the hotel for breakfast which consisted of both Western and Eastern foods, then went back to Angkor Wat. I know I should have been impressed, but I’ve seen so many ruins in my life that I no longer am. There was also a dog on the ground that didn’t move, and I was worried the whole time that he was dead (he wasn’t). Being an animal lover, the stray dog population of Cambodia ruined many parts of the trip for me.

The highlight of the day was getting to feed wild monkeys. There were several babies in the mix and they were so cute! Luckily my roomie and I brought snacks to feed them.

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From the monkeys, we crossed the street to see another ruin (Angkor Thom) full of smiling Buddhas, but the day had gotten so hot that we rushed through it. I did manage to get a picture of my nose touching a buddha’s nose, so that was kind of fun. CIMG0513

After all that, it was only lunch time. Our guide brought us back to a spot right across from Angkor Wat which I felt was an odd choice – very touristy and average taste (I’m guessing he got kickbacks again.) My $9 lunch was expensive for Cambodia – I got pork with vegetables, a mixed fruit shake and a big bottle of water. I took my leftovers to feed stray dogs (FYI, the dogs must not be starving because they only ate the pork, not the rice!)

We all skipped the optional activity of riding an ATV to see the sunset; roomie and I had a couple of drinks in the pool instead and then napped. After the nap, I didn’t feel well, so I only had the worst cheese fries for dinner – french fries with two tiny pieces of cheese placed on top. Dinner took place at a restaurant that included a free dance show (not sure if this is because I requested to see Cambodian dance or if it was already on the agenda). The show was interesting- the dancers move slowly and tell a story with their dance. After dinner we got what they call ice cream, but it was really more like a sorbet or gelato.

To end the night we wandered around the area looking for a place to drink even though no one really seemed into it. A few of us attempted to get fish pedicures which have little fish (some bigger ones, too) eat the dead skin on your feet. It felt really creepy so I could only do a few seconds at a time. Ultimately we only sat there for a few minutes. However, because it only cost $3 and included a free beer, it was definitely a great deal! That would have cost at least 10 times as much in the states and is banned in New York!

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We ended up sitting at an outdoor bar where a couple of people got their obligatory drink. We stayed out until 11:30pm which was wild and crazy for that group.

Day 2 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

May 19 – Day 2 started off with a delicious Western-style buffet breakfast. This was the best breakfast of the trip, so eat up! Although if you get car-sick, you may want to rethink that as the bus ride to Cambodia was several hours long and very bumpy.

Don’t bother to get your Cambodian visa ahead of time. Crossing the border was quick and easy. It was really strange though. The immigration station in Thailand was big and formal; then you exit that building and enter a dirty, crowded area. You cross over the street to a tiny building where you stand outside and fill out an immigration form and hand it and your passport to a person behind a window. When he finally gives it back, you walk to another building to stand on another line in the heat to get all your fingers fingerprinted and a photo taken of you. Finally you are released and are free to roam Cambodia.

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Traveling to and entering Cambodia took most of the day. Upon arrival at our hotel, we checked in and then roomie and I got spa services. I got a Cambodian massage which was very odd. They had me undress (leave underwear on) and put on a full long sleeve and pants outfit which you wear the entire time. Then the lady gave me the worst massage I’ve ever received (and I’ve had some pretty bad Chinatown ones in NYC!). I was sore for days afterwards and not in a good way. Save yourself the $10; 5 beers will make you feel better than that massage! My roomie also got a heat rash from her body scrub. Perhaps try a Swedish massage instead. In the late afternoon, we visited the outside courtyard of where monks live and walked to the town to have dinner.

The hotel in Siem Reap was the best one you will have while in Cambodia. Don’t get used to it.DSC00479

Day 1 – G Adventures’ Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure

In 2014, I decided to take a trip to coincide with my boss’ vacation so I had very limited flexibility in which tour to take. I had originally decided on South Africa but the particular tour I needed sold out before I could book it. With only 3 weeks prior to my trip, I finally settled on G Adventures Cambodia and Laos Mekong Adventure as it fit snugly into my allotted time slot.

I’m still torn on whether or not this was a good decision. Over the next dozen or so blogs, you will be able to form an opinion of your own.

 

May 18 – Once you arrive in Bangkok, you must go to the lowest level of the airport to find the public taxis. The first thing I noticed as I exited the airport to get to the taxi stand was the heat. My glasses actually fogged up because of the heat and humidity. I thought I had experienced heat before…..I was wrong.

The taxi stand was very easy to find. To get a taxi I simply greeted the woman at the stand and handed her Centra Hotel’s address. She called a driver over and handed him a form she completed and off we went. Unfortunately, my driver didn’t actually know where the hotel was and he had to stop to ask directions. Luckily this didn’t add much time/cost to the meter. He also tried to have a conversation with me, but his English was so bad and I didn’t know any Thai so I had to just apologize and stay quiet.

The Centra Hotel was one of the nicest hotels of the tour so enjoy it while you can. Rooms are very clean, no bugs, working AC, great breakfast, free WiFi. It has a nice lounge area where you can leave your bags if you want to roam the city, relax on their couches or use their computers.  They claim it has a small pool but in reality it has wooden lounge chairs sitting in a few inches of water. The chairs are not shaded so this is not very refreshing.

I  had connected with another tourmate via the G Adventures meetup page. Since we were both arriving  on Sunday morning, we planned to tour the city together once he arrived. G Adventures does not make it easy to find one another upon arrival. It turned out two other tourmates arrived early that day and others a day earlier, but I only found one other tourmate because she was my roommate. Other people had to explore on their own.

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All 3 of us squished in the back. Watch your head!

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Big Buddha wasn’t actually so big compared to other Buddhas

My two tourmates and I ventured out and managed to see a lot in just a few hours. We took a tuk tuk from the big Buddha (which was on the same block as our hotel) to the river and only got charged 30 baht for the ride. This was because we agreed to pretend to shop in a store where the driver got kickbacks. We then went on an hour long khlong boat ride which cost 1500 baht – we haggled them down from 2000 baht. I also bought food to feed the fishes which was supposedly good luck. This was the highlight of the ride for me as the fish went crazy for the food. Our guide was silent for the duration of the ride so we didn’t learn about anything we saw. During the ride we saw various living accommodations which ranged from the crappiest hut to big beautiful houses – sometimes right next to each other. The ride ended in Chinatown which was just like the Peruvian markets I visited last year except these had a better variety of goods.

After Chinatown, we bargained with tuk tuk drivers until we got a 100 baht ride to the Royal Palace which a guard told us was closed to tourists (only Thai people were allowed in after a certain time).  We tried to get in anyway via a different entrance and were quickly approached by a tour guide who offered to bring us in and show us around for only 700 baht. This sounded like a great deal and it was! The entry fee to the palace was an additional 500 baht. Having a guide to show you around is definitely the way to go. We saw and learned about things that we would have completely missed.

I also had my first experience with a Thai bathroom. This one was very clean but had a variety of Western and Eastern toilets. You would think that perhaps they would line up the Eastern on one side and Western on the other…..nope! They were just randomly put in stalls so it was a crap shoot (hehe) to find the one you wanted to use. After the Royal Palace, we walked around the outside of the gates to see the reclining Buddha which was directly behind the complex. This Buddha was HUGE! Entry cost another 100 baht. From there we went to eat some street meat which was delicious. I also got some hard boiled fried egg in dough – kind of like a wonton – also delish. After that we went to the hotel via another 100 baht tuk tuk ride.

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Very difficult to get a good shot of the entire Buddha

We showered and got ready to meet the rest of the group for orientation and travel insurance check (I only used the insurance on my credit card which technically is not okay with G Adventures but the guy let it go). We all went to dinner at a restaurant diagonally across the circle from the hotel. The food was okay but was nothing special and overpriced. I’m sure the tour CEO got kick backs for bringing us there. Also a huge waterbug found a way to terrorize me all the way from America (they stalk me, I swear). I accidentally made a scene as I jumped up and tried to get away from it.  After dinner, we got water and ice cream and went to bed.

Happy Birthday, Matilda. I’m dressing up my cat for you!

Matilda’s birthday party at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City never fails to disappoint. It’s a big shindig, complete with fabulous food and drink, stunningly-dressed guests and, of course, costumed cats!

As usual, this year’s event was a sold-out affair. My cat, Milo, was fortunate enough to be invited back as a mewdel. He wore the uniform of a dog catcher. Milo did his job well and even caught a pug while on duty!

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While people always think he is unhappy mewdeling, I think he just has bitchy resting face. I only ever see a glimpse of a smile when I turn on the bathroom water faucet or take out his laser toy. Otherwise, Milo just has that slightly grumpy look going on!

Milo’s friends, Tigger and Zeus, were fellow mewdels, and he even made some new acquaintances, like Tigger’s new baby sis, Purrcilla and Thunder Folds.

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Tigger with a real policeman who was being honored at the event!

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Zeus manning his fire truck in case a real emergency came in

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Purrcilla making her debut appearance as a girl scout and enjoying the comforts of a litter box

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Thunder Folds with mom, Kate, ready to spring into action as a Red Cross Volunteer if a disaster occurred.

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We can only hope to be invited back again to see what creations Ada Nieves will dream up next year.

Until then…..

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