Friday, January 30, 2015

Cassi's Birthday Wishlist

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I'm turning 16 on Wednesday, which still seems so surreal to me.  I honestly don't feel 16, sometimes with dance my body feels about 96, but that's unrelated.  So yeah... Weird.

There really isn't anything I need this year.  Usually I'm low on something like socks or maybe I have no long sleeve shirts.  But, nothing this year.


I could always use more leotards, especially dancing 6 days a week.  I'm not interested in doing laundry THAT often.  I really like this one with mesh!

I've been reading SO MUCH lately.  I'm at the library often, so I can always borrow books.  However, I love having my own so much more.  It's nice to take notes in books and then I can loan them to people too.  I would really like all the Lunar Chronicles in hardcover (even though I've already read them & Fairest which is so good (review to come on that one)).  I've also been very interested in contemporary lately, so both of Huntley Fitzpatrick's titles would be great too.  Most of my Amazon wishlist is full of books I want.

The last thing I would like is a new laptop.  Mine is only about 4 years old, but it runs horribly.  The fan is constantly running really hard (not that it's doing much, most days it seems like it would fry an egg) and very very loudly.  It's also getting slower and slower which is incredibly frustrating for school work as well as blogging.  I honestly have no clue what kind of laptop I want, but I'm really not interested in spending $1,300 on one right now so we'll see I suppose.

So that's really it.  You can never lose with socks, though.

-Cassi

Thursday, January 29, 2015

DIY Thursday: Cute Valentines

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Valentine's Day is almost here. If you go to the stores they want like $5 for 20 cards. I know I'm exaggerating a bit but wouldn't you rather just making your own for more like three dollars? I know I would. That's what I'm doing this year- here's a few ideas on how you can do it too.




For the first idea, all you need is sweetheart candy class pack, a sharpie, and some creativity. This is the idea I chose for my Valentines. All you do is write "You're a" in sharpie above the word sweetheart and walla!: you're done. It's probably the easiest idea out of all of them and it only takes about five minutes to complete 32 of them.

For the second idea all you need is heart shaped marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, a sharpie, and cute bags to put them in. On the bag put "You melt my heart". This idea takes a little bit longer but is very cute for young ages. I thought about doing this one but did not want to worry about allergies in my class.  This idea is also a little bit more expensive around $10 or maybe even a little more.

For the last idea all you need is Starburst, bags to put them in, and a sharpie. All you need to do is put the Starbursts in the bags and then right on the bags "Hope your Valentine's Day is bursting with happiness". This is probably in the middle of the two money-wise.

I hope you didn't enjoyed these Valentines ideas- I know I did. They are all pretty easy for young children to help make, are cute ideas that don't cost too much money, and mean even more because you made them from the heart. I hope you'd like one of these ideas and one of them can save you money this Valentine's Day. Thanks a lot for reading this, and I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!


                                      ❤️Katie

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Recent Reads

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With a goal of reading 75 books this year, I've got a lot of reading to do!  Luckily it's one of my favorite pass-times.

I started to get into Morgan Matson's books with Since You've Been Gone.  I'd seen it A LOT on Tumblr, but up until recently I'd really avoided YA Romance as best as I could.  I'm so glad I've begun reading it, though.  Let's go chronologically through her books though, yes?


Amy and Roger's Epic DetourAmy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've always really fancied the idea of a cross-country road trip with friends, and I think that's probably why I loved this book so much. Amy Curry's father has recently died. Her mom is living on the East Coast, and she is still in California finishing up school! Now that school is over, her mom wants her to bring the car to the East Coast. One problem: she hasn't driven since her father died.

Enter Roger. He and Amy were friends when they were younger, but they haven't talked in well over a decade. He's going to the East Coast anyway, so he'll just drive Amy and the car over. Driving across the country with a practical stranger. . . nothing awkward about that.

Along the way Amy and Roger steer pretty far off Amy's mom's planned route and learn a lot about each other.

Sounds like a completely cliche YA romance novel featuring a road trip. Which, in a way it kind of is. But, I felt there was so much more depth to it than that. The plot had a good pace, always advancing and never too slow. I felt Matson's writing was excellent as well. Amy sounded like a teenager. Recently, most of the novel's I've read with a teenage narrator sound 12, instead of 17. This wasn't the case at all.

I absolutely loved this and would definitely appreciate a short novella about Amy and Roger after the book.


Second Chance SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another rather cliche YA Romance.

The story itself wasn't amazing honestly. Definite tear-jerker, but that was anticipated. Her writing style is definitely amazing though, so that and the Amy & Roger cameo is why I've given it 4 stars.


Since You've Been GoneSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was incredibly predictable. However, it was just a fun read.

One day Sloane just disappears. Emily and Sloane are practically attached at the hip so she is incredibly worried when she still hasn't heard from Sloane. Then a letter shows up with a list of things to do. Emily would have never thought to do most of these and is convinced she just might not. But, without Sloane Emily starts to get lonely and thinks doing all of the things on the list will bring her back.

I enjoyed it overall, and I think it's nice to have some predictable, just fun reads in between books that make you really think.


I received this next book from a Tumblr giveaway, along with Love Letters to the Dead and I'll Give You the Sun.

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Best book I've read so far this year. (Not that I've many to compare it to yet.)

After reading reviews and such I expected a plot twist (I mean it's called We Were Liars). But I just kind of accepted the first one, no big deal. Then there was the second one that changed everything. Yeah. Excellent.

I feel like all of these characters had quite a lot of depth. Probably the best written characters I've experienced in a while. Though all the liars are around 17, they talk like they're about 12 which makes a lot more sense later on.

I really really really liked this style of writing.  The random prose was excellent, as well as the small fairy tale re-tellings.

If you get the opportunity to do so, I would absolutely suggest reading this book.  So, so good.


Would you ever be interested in participating in a "book club" of sorts?  The books would generally be non-fiction, female empowering.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Health Benefits of Green Tea

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Rather recently, (not that recently in the grand scheme of our life) we discovered our love of tea.  I think we both kind of avoided it since we weren't huge coffee fans.


We even made this strange YouTube video with the process of making tea when we first started liking it. . . almost 2 years ago.



Not only is tea great it also has some major health benefits (and energy benefits if you go for caffeinated tea).  Of course, there are lots of different kinds of tea, which means they have their own features.  We're going to start with green.






Cheerios can step aside!  Studies show green tea is able to lower cholesterol and prevent many heart related issues.  Just don't load it up with too much sugar!

Ever find yourself walking into a room just to forget why?  Well green tea can help.  A Swiss study showed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brain.

Though there is no evidence yet that green tea kills cancer cells, it is known to help healthy cells in all different stages.

After a long day working, it's nice to unwind.  But, coffee just gets you wound up and then you can't sleep! Drinking tea helps you relax, because of a natural chemical called theanine.  However, make sure you are just heating your water to the temperature you want it- no need to get it boiling.  Boiling the water for brewing tea will get rid of theanine's effect.

In the winter, it seems like everyone is sick.  Sure you can spray Lysol on everything, BUT THERE'S A BETTER WAY I SWEAR.  Catechins, found in green tea have been known to have a major positive effect on your immune system.  Of course adding lemon gets you some extra vitamin C for that immune system as well.  That way you can stay healthy all through flu season!

It's a known fact that literally no one likes getting breakouts.  No one.  The antibacterial properties of green tea are known to fight off acne and the anti-inflammatory properties reduce swelling and redness.

Green tea, am I right?

-Cassi

Sources: x x

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Interviewing Our Great Grandmother

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We remember always having to do those annoying projects for school where you have to interview your family, but the questions were never any good.  So, we decided to interview our great grandmother, but this time ask our own questions.

C & K: What is your full name?

Jacqueline Marie Farella-err wrong answer- Gibson

C & K: What is your earliest memory?

Oh lord!  Climbing up the stairs of my grandmother's house.  This was in Chicago

C & K: What is your favorite memory with Cassandra and Kaitlyn?

When Kaitlyn was a baby.  She was really cute.  And she pinched Cassese.  He was 1 and she was 2.  Wait no.  She was 1 and he was 2.  Sitting side by side and she pinched him and he screamed!

And Cassandra. I remember that there was 2 babies.  Angie was born first.  Cassandra looked like a baby doll and Angie was the momma doll.  They were the cutest babies!  I never had an ugly baby.

C & K: Tell us about your ancestors.

Which one do you want to know about?  Your great great grandfather Don Pape Cassese?  Great-great-great?  He was very tall.  Good looking  That's who CJ is named after.  It was always a last name, never a first.  Such a beautiful name.

C & K: What did you enjoy most about having the bakery?

Oh that it closed!  There was a lot of beautiful memories because the kids were all there. [What was your least favorite memory?] I wish I could've been home more with my daughter who couldn't be there with her allergy.

C & K: If you could visit anywhere, where would it be?  Why?

I would rather be just where I'm at because my children are all here.

C & K: If you could share only one piece of advice with girls our age what would it be?

Oh no drugs.  Definitely.  Sex, that's okay.  Well, not for them.  Don't ever be afraid of sex.  Sex is not the worst thing.  Drugs are the worst thing.  Once you get to 18 and start drinking, [The drinking age is 21. . .] Oh yeah, 21.  Well, you don't want to over drink.


We had so much fun interviewing our grandmother with our own questions.  We're just happy to be able to learn so much from her.

-Cassi and Katie

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Recent Reads

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Love Letters to the Dead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel a bit torn about this book, but I really really did like it overall.

This book is comprised of letters, written by Laurel, a high school freshman, writes to her different idols. All of whom are dead.

I read Love Letters to the Dead back in December.  I found the writing similar to Ketchup Clouds.  However, I think this novel did a much better job of actually using the letters and working them into the story as well.  It was evident that writing these letters really did help Laurel.

On the subject of her sister’s death, I was honestly expecting a larger reveal.  (Another similarity to Ketchup Clouds)  Laurel blames herself for her sister’s death, when there really wasn’t anyway she could’ve prevented it.  I think this is huge, because in real life, people go through the same thing.  I’m sure so many families who had a loved one die in 9/11, or anything really, always think it was their fault, “If I only I hadn’t let them go into work that day.”  It’s still not their fault, but they feel like they had some way to prevent it, but there was no way of knowing what outcome that would lead to.

I also feel the delicacy at which the lesbian relationship is handled is incredibly important.  It isn’t made out to be a big deal- Laurel doesn’t really think anything of it.  I feel like most authors just put queer characters in their book as a punch line or for the sake of diversity, often without even flat out saying they’re not straight.  This didn’t feel like either.  There weren’t just hints of their sexuality; it was all there, laid out in plain sight.  Often times, it also seems like books with queer characters spend the whole time trying to learn to accept themselves.  Although, it is important to discuss the problems that sometimes arise when a teen comes out, in terms of being accepted, this wasn’t the only thing discussed about their relationship.  There was a lot of focus on the fact that the girls needed to love and accept themselves before they could come out in the open as together and I think that was extremely important, however there was more depth to their relationship than that.

At times, I feel like Laurel talked and acted a lot younger than she really is.  However, I feel at the same time that is how a teenager who lost an older sibling would act.  This is especially true, since her mother walked out and she can’t talk to her bible crazy aunt about stuff.  While it can be a bit annoying at times, I feel this was an accurate portrayal.

I really did like this book and I’m glad I was able to read it at my age.  I will definitely be suggesting it to most of my friends.



The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Lexicon of Life Hacks for the Modern Lady Geek

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Goodreads sent me this book in exchange for my honest opinion*

It starts off talking about different kinds of fandoms (ie. Potterheads, SuperWhoLock) and their shows/movies/books. This section obviously didn’t cover them all, but it covered most of the main ones. I felt this section was fairly accurate on the ones I knew about.

Maggs then goes through relevant lingo and I was surprised at how much I already knew. I felt the definitions were accurate as well as helpful. However, I did feel they were a bit random. I'm not sure all of them are relevant (I've never heard them) and there were some not covered people might not know.

She went into great detail on conventions. Maggs talked about a variety of cons and the fans that would want to go. There was also a lot on what to expect out of a convention- not getting to see EVERYONE, not getting a lot of sleep, etc. I think her section on what to bring was the most helpful, but that's just me. I’ve never been to a con, but the information seemed useful and I would definitely use her advice if I planned on going to one. Later, the book went over cosplay and such.

The last chapter is about feminism. It’s pretty short, but I do feel it’s an important chapter and that it does a good job of talking about feminism and its importance. I didn't expect it at all, but I'm very glad it was included. I don't think it is out of place at all especially since it is the FanGIRL's Guide to the Galaxy. Especially in a male dominated community there are a lot of problems that arise for women and I think this addresses them well.

Overall, I thought this book was really cute, and I'm already loaning it to friends.


We Were Liars

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Best book I've read so far this year. (Not that I've many to compare it to yet.

After reading reviews and such I expected a plot twist (I mean it's called We Were Liars). But I just kind of accepted the first one, no big deal. Then there was the second one that changed everything. Yeah. Excellent.

I feel like all of these characters had quite a lot of depth. Probably the best written characters I've experienced in a while. Though all the liars are around 17, they talk like they're about 12 which makes a lot more sense later on.

There really isn't much else to say other than that I absolutely loved it.


Cassandra's Books Read in 2015

Anna and the French Kiss
The Dress Shop of Dreams
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
Second Chance Summer
Skinny


Cassandra's favorite books »

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blog Lessons Learned (Post 400)

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Not only did we recently finish another year of blogging, we've also had 399 posts leading up to this.  We've learned a lot about blogging in the past year.  We had some really great months, and some horrible months.  We had some sponsorships go extremely well, and some fail miserably.  Overall, I think we're both happy to have the learning opportunity and I think that's what our blog has always been about.

Blogging Advice

But of course, if we've already gone through the process of these failures, we'll share them with you.  Sure, you might have a different experience, but this is just how it worked for us.

Quality over Quantity


I'm sure you've heard this before, but it's definitely applicable to blogging.  Last January we posted around 40 times.  Mind you, there are only 31 days in January.  We were making separate posts for our link up and would often make a normal post and a Polyvore post on the same day.  Our posts were pretty low quality in general, and I doubt anyone wanted to see them on their feed so often!

We suggest writing better posts, it might mean you have to take more time on it, but readers will enjoy it more thus making them more likely to return.  You may only get to post a few times a week with that method, but it's worth it.  As long as the content is high quality and relevant.

Life Happens


Just because you plan out a month's worth of posts, doesn't mean they're going to write and publish themselves.  We would make such detailed plans for each month, but wind up getting busy.  We didn't block off any time for blogging and then would up not having it!  Once we missed a few posts it was easy to essentially give up for the month and stop posting.  This is the worst thing to do!  Now we missed a whole month of posts and likely lost a bunch of followers.

Take advantage of the scheduling feature blogger offers.  We also find that just having some posts ready to go saved in drafts is nice when you were planning on writing one day, but couldn't.  That will give us more cushion, and making blogging less stressful.  With this, we'll be mindful about our time, and be sure to set some aside for blogging each week/

Promote, Promote, Promote


We saw a huge difference in traffic, just by tweeting about our posts more than just once.  We realized that not everyone will see it the first time, so it helps to share multiple times.  Sharing content created by friends of yours, or even just bloggers you admire also helps.  Your followers will likely enjoy their content, if they enjoy yours.  Plus it helps out other bloggers, and that's always nice!

We would suggest tweeting about all your posts.  We use If-This-Then-That for the first post, and then we tweet about the post again throughout the week!  When we read a post we like, we're also sure to share it then too.


Use Great Photos


Going back through old posts always makes us cringe.  Surprisingly, it's not because of our dorky writing.  It's mostly because of the photos.  AGH!  They were so bad!  We've seen so much more interest in our posts once we fixed our photos.  The first thing people see when they go to your blog will be photos and it takes a split second for readers to decide whether to stay or not.  Often, when I'm going through my Bloglovin' feed, I only look at the photo.  So if someone's photo sucks, I won't even look at the post!

We would definitely suggest using a nicer camera for photos, as opposed to an iPhone.  It's also good to go through and edit the photo, even just adding text is good and makes the photo look so much nicer.  Photos also work great as a sort of title for posts, so you can pretty much just type the title of the photo.  (For SEO purposes try not to have your photo placed before any text!)

Have a Clear Voice


Going back through our old posts feels very strange.  Sometimes we sound like teenagers.  Occasionally we sound like adults.  Then there's times where we sound like a business CEO.  Weird huh?  We're both teenagers, not adults and definitely not in charge of a major company.

When people come to our blog, it's weird for them to find us using different voices- the same way if you just walked up to your friend and talked in a different accent each day.  It's confusing and readers don't get to know you!  Make sure your posts sound like you- it's actually easier, anyway!



Even though there is a lot we could have done better, we aren't upset about what we did do.  We've learned a lot through this and we're happy to continue to find better ways to do things.  Can't wait to see where the next 400 posts bring us (hint: we've got quite the project planned for this summer!).

-Cassi & Katie


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snail Mail in a Digital Age

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We absolutely love writing and sending letters. It feels so much more personal than a text, and it’s exciting to go to the mail box and find a surprise inside. It’s so exciting to open a letter and see that someone took the time out of their day to write to you. Texting and emailing is so easy and fast, when you write a letter you have to stop what you’re doing. 

Read the rest of the post over at Rite While U Can.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Top 5 Cons of Wearing Glasses

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We've both had glasses for quite a long time.  If you have glasses, you know the feeling of realizing you should be able to see the leaves on trees, among the other struggles of wearing glasses.  So you can probably relate to at least some of these.

Glasses struggle problems


1. Drastic temperature changes leave you blind.
When you walk into your warm house from being out in the cold your lenses get crazy foggy.  Happens with hot drinks too.  You'll probably wait to see if it will return to normal, but of course it won't so you'll be forced to wipe them off. ugh

2. The rain.  And snow.
When walking in the snow or rain, your glasses get covered, even if you're under an umbrella the whole time.  Lens size windshield wipers would be nice. . .

3. Driving at night.
Glare. Glare everywhere.  Then there's driving at night in the rain and you might as well be at a freaking laser show jeez.

4. Laying down.
Sometimes laying down is the best way to watching TV.  But glasses cause this to be difficult and often painful.  However, if you take your glasses off you won't be able to see the show.  Then, if you accidentally fall asleep with your glasses on, they're going to be quite out of shape.

5. Taking pictures.
Even professionals can't always avoid getting the glare glasses cause with flash.  Be prepared to attempt to tilt your head at every angle possible to avoid it?

Do you struggle with any of these?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

10 Things You Never Hear Dancers Say

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1. Wow! I'm really excited to sew new pointe shoes this weekend.

2. It's not awkward to go back to wearing a leotard and tights after break at all.

3. Gosh I hope the rehearsal director makes us wear our pointe shoes the entire 4 hour rehearsal.

4. Stage make-up looks great on me and I think I might start wearing it normally.

5. I've never lost a single bobby pin.

6. Hairspray? Oh, I don't bother with it.

7. I hope we only do fouettes on the left today.

8. Nah, I really don't care what kind of costume I get.

9. Yeah, I had like 3 almonds for dinner.

10. Mark it? I'd rather do it full out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: When by Victoria Laurie

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WhenWhen by Victoria Laurie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A co-worker of mine at the library (can I call her a co-worker if I'm only a volunteer??) gave me a few ARCs before break and I recently got around to reading this one. I'd been putting it off mostly because of the cover. It just looked really strange.

I am so glad I got around to reading it. It's about Maddie Fynn, a high school-er who sees people's death dates. It's something she was born with and it just comes with everyone's appearance. Of course, she doesn't know what the strange numbers mean until her father dies on the date she depicts floating above his head. This leads to a lot of stress between Maddie and her mother, both feeling it was their fault he's dead, and that they could've saved him.

However, it gets worse. Maddie's mom is an alcoholic and thus can't hold a steady job. This leaves the money-making to Maddie so she does readings for people who pay her. When a costumer's son dies on the exact date she predicted, she winds up in a world of trouble. Police begin to think she's a subject and soon brings her best friend in on it too. Maddie has to come up with a way to prove that she and her best friend are innocent. At the same time trying to keep up with the bills she can no longer afford, and her drunk mother getting worse.

I struggled with this at the beginning, I really did. While the plot wasn't advancing quickly, there was a lot of information introduced all at once. The plot quickly got to a good pace, one easy to keep up with.

I think the only things that bothered me about this was Maddie and the fact that the introduction of every new character came with their death date. Maddie did not act like she was 16. The first time I found out they were old enough to drive, I was honestly extremely confused. The way she acted along with her constant whining reminded me of a 13 year-old. I think it's fair, however. Seeing as she grew up with a single parent who was drunk most of the time, it kind of explains it. Learning the date with the introduction of every new character drove me crazy. I honestly don't care, seeing as very few of them were relevant to the plot and I got used to just skipping over them anyway so I wasn't really paying attention to the years anyways.

Overall, I most definitely enjoyed this novel and would absolutely suggest it to anyone in middle school through high school.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 5, 2015

Katie's 2015 New Years' Resolution

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I have never really had or kept a new years resolution.  I thought since I'm on the fence about becoming vegetarian, maybe I should make it my new years resolution.


So, I thought what better new years resolution than being a vegetarian for a month? For me, there wasn't one.  Now, I realize that starting to have a New Years resolution this year might be a new years resolution itself.

My plan to stay meat free for a month is to think of it as a break from meat and not that I'm not supposed to have it.  I'll also keep my favorite healthy, meat-free snacks in the house, so I'm not tempted to eat any meat.

I think it's good to have a new years resolution, so maybe you'll think about it as well.  I feel that it helps you boost your self-confidence, know that you're keeping a promise you had with yourself.  I hope you all have a wonderful new year!

~Katie

Friday, January 2, 2015

Cassi's 2015 New Years' Resolutions

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I make goals at the beginning of every month and usually post them here.  It's so much more encouraging because if I don't accomplish my goals I have to admit it here.  With that in mind, I'll be giving a resolution update with my goals post.

New Years 2015 Resolutions Goals Cassandra Polzin

I've also noticed how easy it is to make a bunch of goals and then do nothing to accomplish them.  So, along with each goal and resolution, I'll be creating a mini "plan of action" so I can achieve it.

On to my resolutions. . .

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 in Pictures

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January




February


March



April


Nail Tutorial, Spring Nails, Nail Art, April Showers, Umbrellas


May


5k, Rainbow, Race


June



Green Bay, Wisconsin boat sun set marina lake michigan

July

green bay wisconsin wi lake michigan boat marina

Blue and Gold Macaw parrot dinghy boat marina

August





September


Multiply Tour Rosemont, Illinois Allstate Arena 2014


If I Stay Movie Tickets

October






November



December




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