Dans le Lakehouse

Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

February 15, 2018

Sleek, Modern + Compact Treadmill | SpaceWalker Review

When Hubby and I moved from our suburban townhouse to our rural lakehouse we happily traded interior space for lake frontage, but losing a full height basement and third bedroom has proven to be a little more challenging than we thought.  We miss some things about our old house - including a spot to stash a treadmill, which we actually used quite often.  I had a friend who was a real fitness enthusiast and when we were too busy to connect in person we'd schedule "treadmill dates".

We would each put on our bluetooth earpieces and chat while we walked, neither of us minding that conversation was made more difficult by the whir and buzz of our treadmills.  Before Hubby and I moved to the lakehouse we sold the treadmill because we had no place to put it and we assumed we'd just naturally get fit by spending our time in the great outdoors.  We were right - in the warmer months.  We swim, stand up paddle board, bike, walk, canoe and sail (it's a surprising core workout).  In the winter though, we hunker down and eat indoor s'mores in front of the fireplace.  A wonderful way to embrace hygge, but terrible for our health!

Determined to get active during our hibernating months, Hubby and I started to shop for a small treadmill that we could fit into our office closet - formerly a nook with a filing cabinet and antique trunk:

We spent months emptying its contents until we had a beautiful blank slate that we plan to morph into a mini home gym with some additional DIY-ing (like adding some ventilation, an outlet, maybe a shelf for some weights and a small TV?).  But the first step was finding a durable treadmill that is compact enough to fit in there.  Many treadmills on the market need a massive walk-in closet to hide them or,  like our old one, they are too heavy and bulky for me to move on my own.

Eventually I found THE most perfect compact treadmill that's small, sturdy and capable, but it looks so stylish that it doesn't even need to be tucked away.  It's the Spacewalker by BodyCraft.  As my lovely Mom is demonstrating, it is so compact that not only can we store it in the closet, we can use it in there too!

I reached out to BodyCraft and they generously provided one for review (I was not otherwise compensated) - but I would purchase this treadmill in a heartbeat.  Most of the treadmill is a gorgeous creamy white but it does have a glossy colorful side, which comes in black or red.   Let's petition them to manufacture one in turquoise!

It is shipped fully assembled and although it weighs 90lbs, once it's out of the box it is surprisingly easy to move around.  Both my Mom and I can do it alone, thanks to a sleek design that's easy to hold on to - and a pair of sturdy wheels.

Once it's folded up, it's unbelievably compact - there are so many places I could tuck this in my home: beside the tallboy dresser in the bedroom, into our coat closet, or even behind the TV!

You can also flip it onto its side and tuck it behind a sofa or place it at the end of a bed as a bench.

Did I mention that this compact treadmill doubles as a small treadmill desk?  It's the perfect size to rest a laptop.  I have to admit that I will need some more practice to be able to walk and reply to an email, but it's perfect for watching YouTube tutorials or easier work tasks that don't require quite as much brainpower or coordination.

In terms of using it, I love how simple it is to operate.  This treadmill has everything I need: cupcake cup holder, built-in pulse sensors, quick access start/pause button, LED display, and a safety key that immediately turns off the machine.  Even though it's small, it's very sturdy, with a steel reinforced laminated melamine under the deck that can support someone up to 300lbs.  Although the deck is compact in size, even when I am walking at a good clip (you can do up to 4mph), it feels perfectly stable and I never feel like I'm going to run out of room.  I actually like how low it is to the ground because I used to feel a little dizzy on our old treadmill, which felt so high that I was convinced I'd get decapitated if I was running while the ceiling fan was on.  

You can read about all of the treadmill features on the BodyCraft website
Right now, BodyCraft is running a 14% off promotion (using the code LOVE14) which brings the total to $859.14 at check out, plus free shipping in the US.

Hubby and I are thrilled with this treadmill because it can be a bit of a struggle to find that perfect balance between form and function in a small home.  I'd love a six bedroom home or epic finished basement where I could have a photography studio, a sewing room, a home gym, a proper guestroom, a room for the pups, a chest freezer...  But I don't.  I have a perfectly lovely two bedroom house with a weird little fish room, a bunkie I only use in the summer, and a basement that's five feet tall with no visible stairs leading to it (what a mystery). 

Products like this help me feel so much more content with the space I have.  Who needs a massive home gym when I have a compact treadmill that looks sharp, functions beautifully, and helps me make the most of the space I have?   

Stay tuned for the rest of this closet turned home gym transformation...

A huge thanks to BodyCraft for sending me the compact SpaceWalker treadmill.

P.S. Thanks also to my beautiful Mom, for being my model.  Her striking leggings and teal (!) top are designed by a local designer who has her own factory in Katmandu, Nepal, with two retail locations (Elfarrow Apparel): one in my hometown and another on Salt Spring Island, BC.   

February 6, 2018

Loving My Small Kitchen: Tips, Tricks and Storage Ideas

WARNING: This post contains some ugly, poorly lit photos of the guts of my kitchen. Viewer discretion is advised :) 
I have a pretty small kitchen.  It has a humble little footprint with only four lower cabinets and two of them are corner cabinets, which I loathe.  When we renovate for real I plan to reconfigure things for smarter storage, but for now I've done my best to work with the space I have.  I used to batch cook and coast on leftovers but Hubby and I have been cooking more than ever before - sometimes we cook all three meals in a day from scratch, with nary a leftover to be had.  No matter how much we use it, this kitchen puts the FUN in functional. 

If you've ever been curious about where I keep my stuff, here's how I organize things in my small kitchen - and how we make this small space work for us.

Step One: I Changed My Outlook

It makes me laugh that some of the bloggers who renovate reasonably sized kitchens into epic, commercial-grade kitchens, with miles of cabinetry, are sponsored by those mail order dinner prep services.  I really can't judge though, because if I could have a massive kitchen I totally would and I'd hoard all of the world's best vintage Pyrex and Cathrineholm.  Mwahahaha.

Instead, I have a small space, but I have totally embraced it.  The BEST cooks in my family prepared delicious meals in tiny kitchens.  When I traveled to Hungary, where many of my relatives grew their own food and prepared amazing meals from scratch, I couldn't believe what their kitchens looked like!  Kitchen cabinetry like what we have in North America isn't the norm in other parts of the world.  Many of the kitchens I saw were a combination of old appliances, a hodgepodge of antique hutches and a tiny stretch of counter space.  My friend Dora would whip up delicious crepes before we went out to the bars (she's European - guests must always be fed!) out of a kitchen that was barely larger than my powder room.  Comparatively, my kitchen is massive and I've learned to appreciate the space I have and focus on what I love: the view, the openness, the easy work triangle and the way it just beckons people - it's always the hub of any get together.  Hubby and I have also learned how to work effectively in here: one of us does sous-cheffing on the end on the counter, which is wide and spacious - with a great view of the lake - while the other bustles within the U-shape.   

Step Two: I Pared Down the Clutter

When we moved, I really de-cluttered - including bulky kitchen gadgets and glass serving ware.  It was amazing how many things I wasn't using but was hanging on to, just because I thought I should, like the ice cream maker, bread machine - even the microwave.  I get a lot of flak online for not having a microwave but we literally never turned it on, so it made no sense to keep it.  Rarely used items we couldn't part with are stored in the basement.  The kitchen is now filled with things we use and love on the regular, but I continually re-assess and pare down (especially because I do add things every now and then, like my Veggetti).  I also love items that do double duty, like vintage Pyrex that is hardy and cute enough for baking/cooking, serving, and storing leftovers.  That glass cake stand turns into a punch bowl and I have pretty cutting boards that double as trivets and serving pieces.   

We even pared down our food staples!  I used to have so many kinds of flour and snacks and miscellaneous dry goods.  Now, instead of five kinds of cereal, we have one.  Instead of a million boxes of flavored oatmeal, we have one canister of plain oatmeal that we add fruit and nuts to ourselves.  By paring down the selection, we no longer forget about random stuff that goes stale, which was an added benefit (I always stress about throwing away food). 
Streamlining was the first step, but after that I needed to figure out how to store the stuff I did keep.

Step Three: I Turned Cabinets into Drawers

Here's the BIGGEST change we made, that's been the biggest eye opener for us: we turned the cabinet to the left of the stove into two "drawers"!  These new drawers help us access things in the back so much more easily now.  I am obsessed with kitchen drawers!  You can get these pull out drawer organizers in different sizes and finishes and they are so easy to install.

Instead of rooting around for things, I can just open one of my new drawers and easily see/access everything.  It's helped maximize 100% of the tiny amount of cabinet space we have.   

Step Four: I De-canted Dry Goods into Glass Jars

You might have noticed that my drawers have neatly lined rows of Mason jars.  Oddly sized boxes and bags of dry goods were so awkward to store so I started decanting anything I could into the same size jars.  It makes it easier to pack more into our cupboards, plus everything is sealed really well to deter little buggies and keep everything fresher, longer. 

Step Five: I Created Makeshift "Drawers" From Bins

Across from these new "drawers" I have another cabinet and that's where I keep spices, canned goods, cooking oils, etc.  I use two plastic bins for spices and baking stuff which act like mini "drawers" and makes accessing that jumble so easy. 

I keep my cooking oils, pepper mill, etc., on a plastic tray to save the inside of my cabinets from drips and make cooking easier.  (This tray is cute because it doubles for cooking/baking - it's oven safe!)  I just grab a spice bin (sorted by "savory" and "baking"), the oil tray and get cracking.

I do the same thing with baking ware (cookie cutters, flour sifter, powder sugar shaker, etc.), hot drinks (tea, tea bag filters, coffee, coffee stuff, what have you), magic bullet stuff, and Tupperware: they all go into big bins so I can slide out a bin and grab what I need without having to sift through mountains of teetering piles while I'm crouched awkwardly in front of these terrible corner cabinets.

I even corral pot lids into bins, so I can stack the pots easily and save space. 

Seriously, kitchen drawers (real or fake) are the way of the future.  A stackable set of bins, like this one, is another clever way to maximize vertical space in small cabinets.  

Step Six: I Added Open Shelving and an Open Pantry

The original upper cabinets were terrible: low, awkward, and deceptively small.  I couldn't open the cabinets to the right of the window without climbing onto the counter.  Between the wall mounted microwave and the fake cabinet above the stove, it looked like there was way more storage than there really was.  To make matters worse, the corner cabinets were really narrow and so I couldn't fit plates or mixing bowls in there.

Tearing the upper cabinets out and adding open shelving really added functional storage for us because we were left with nice, long shelves for uninterrupted storage of plates, glasses, mixing bowls, and casseroles - although I still wish we could have run the shelf entirely above the stove as planned (stupid building code).  That break in the shelving still bugs me.

Open shelving is really polarizing, but I shared my honest thoughts about them - including how I keep them clean - in this older post.  Although I will definitely (okay, usually) clean it first, I never style the kitchen for photos.  What you see is how it really looks - unless I'm in the middle of cooking, baking, crafting or re-potting plants, which are all tasks that I tackle here.  When I'm mid-task, it will look like a disaster but I always restore it to its tidy state when I'm done.  And yes, I use the stuff at the top, although admittedly I have way more Pyrex than I need for day to day.  I'm not bizarrely tall, but I guess I'm taller than average so I can grab stuff from the top shelf without a ladder - and I do.  Having pretty stuff that I use to cook, serve, and store food made this open shelving thing easy, but I've seen really eclectic open shelving that looks great too.  One day I'll have real cabinets again, but only if they go right up to the ceiling and actually offer up some storage.

In addition to swapping awkward cabinets for open shelving, what really gained us space was the floor to ceiling open pantry to the left of the fridge, which houses more serving pieces, our cooler for summer grocery trips, and also 12 massive jars for dry goods like cereal, flour, oatmeal, pasta, rice, quinoa, and marshmallows.  All of the staples, haha.

(We finally built a door for that lower cabinet, to hide the cooler, so I no longer have to crop this angle out of photos!)

Even if you don't want to swap cabinets for open shelving, if you're struggling with storage, adding a row or two of open shelves for dry goods storage in identical canisters, or putting a shelf under cabinets for plates and cute mugs, can help eek out a little more room in even the tiniest kitchen.  Plus it's so much fun to style and display stuff!

Step Seven: I Make it Pretty

Those massive food jars make cereal and flour look so good!  That's another trick in a small space: making things pretty.  Once things look nice, it becomes so much easier to store them in out-of-the-box ways.

Another example: by switching our mismatched and beaten up kitchen utensils for a brand new set of colorful KitchenAid utensils, I was able to put them on the counter in a cheap glass vase, where we can easily access them and free up drawer space.  That's the motivation behind picking as many pretty kitchen things as possible.    

In a perfect world, I'd love to put everything away, but for our small space it works really well.  There are so many really pretty kitchen staples available these days, things that you used to only be able to get in black or white but that now come in ever color and style (and fancy finishes and materials), like this super cute turquoise drain rack for dishes.  Even just investing in a few large canisters for the counter, or setting up a convenient little coffee station and liberating a sweet mug collection from the cupboard, can help ease clutter in overcrowded cabinets and drawers.   

Step Eight: I Go Nutty for Small Bins Too

My flatware habit is where I get into trouble with this small kitchen.

I have two sets of flatware, which is such a waste of space.  I really want to track down more of the vintage silver set (which belonged to my grandmother) and sell the brass set or keep it with blog props in the basement.  I use typical standard cutlery organizing trays plus some extra long and narrow trays from the buck store to keep everything sorted.

There's one little sentimental vintage bin at the back of one drawer and that's where I keep random things I couldn't bear to part with: a pez dispenser, a few serving pieces I rarely use, some forks for road trips. 

Bins really let me cram way more in and keep things functional - I even use them in the fridge!

Step Nine: I Gave up the Junk Drawer

I gave up the kitchen junk drawer and bought one of these "Really Useful Box" storage systems, which I stash in the laundry room cupboard.  It keeps those odds and ends (like rubber bands, twist ties, random junk) organized and frees up a kitchen drawer, which is where I used to toss stuff like that.

Step Ten: I Make Use of Other Storage

We hung our DIY fauxdenza in the dining room, which is a handy place to keep table linens, candles, napkins, and the plates and glasses we use on the patio.  We used to keep stuff like that in the kitchen, but we had to re-think where we keep stuff when we moved here.  Leaning on other spaces for storage helps make our small kitchen feel much less small.  Just shuffling things around a little and keeping the kitchen storage focus on things we actually use in there helped a lot. 

I've tried to include a few brand new, up to date photos of the kitchen - and as many shots of my cutie pies as possible - to help counteract those gritty views into my kitchen cabinets.

Hands down my best ideas have been to make dry goods storage pretty by decanting nearly everything into the same size jars and to turn cabinets into drawers - those pull out metal organizers are my favorite purchase ever.  Really examining what we need and love, from kitchen gadgets to grocery staples, and only keeping the things we want made such an impact too.

As I think about our kitchen reno (which is all of the time), let me know your BEST kitchen storage tips in the comments!  I am always collecting clever ideas for cleaning and organizing - and I know you all have some of your own tips and tricks that I could implement when I get to start this kitchen from scratch... 
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January 31, 2018

Treasure Hunting Report + Etsy Shop Re-Opening!

I have really slowed down my vintage buying in recent years.  Actually, I've been trying to buy fewer things overall. 

I'm in the process of an epic de-cluttering here in the lakehouse, but I will always love beautiful things.  I love finding the perfect piece for my home, or helping someone else find the perfect piece for their home.  Sharing vintage finds with people through my Etsy shop has been such an interesting way to connect with people.  Happy customers have written to me and explained why they bought a certain item, and so often it's because something reminded them of a loved one or cherished memory.  I've sold Pyrex bowls to complete sets handed down by a grandmother, replaced a family heirloom that was broken, and helped complete collections started by loved ones.  Many times I've sent a purchase directly to someone's friend or family member as a gift - I've even wrapped gifts and written accompanying cards with the touching words relayed by the sender.

Even though right now I'm struggling to find that balance between the stuff I love and too much stuff, I will always relate to how things can connect us to people and memories - and make us smile!

After a loooooong hiatus, my Etsy shop is open once again and I'm so excited for the stories I'll hear this time around.

The shops is smaller than usual, but I'll be adding many more listings in the coming weeks.  There are some major changes to the shop: I'm no longer running the shop with my Mom and Mummu.  I decided to go it alone because it was just way too complicated to figure out who I owed what to, and it was difficult for them to help me with photographing, listing, packaging, and mailing items because I live so far away.  We might join forces again in the future, but for now the Etsy shop is all mine.  Another update: I accept many more forms of payment now - pretty much anything, in addition to PayPal, which used to be the only method of payment I accepted.

I have only just started listing items, so be sure to follow the shop for updates.  I'll be trying to list 5-10 new pieces a week.  I'll be sharing sneak peeks occasionally here, but mostly on Instagram (I love Instagram Stories for that).  

As always, there's never any pressure to buy anything and I'll keep the shop updates to a minimum, but if something does catch your eye, remember that readers always get 15% off - just use the coupon code "DANSLELAKEHOUSE2018".

Some of the items in today's Treasure Hunting Report were purchased for the shop, but I did nab a few things for me!  If you follow me on Instagram, you already saw this mid-century modern lamp update: I finally found the perfect Lotte fiberglass shade for my yellow Lotte lamp!  When I purchased the lamp, it didn't have a shade so I added a simple white drum shade.

When my Mom and I traded the two blue Lotte lamps in my living room for my three yellow ones, Mom didn't love my shade selection and ended up packing the yellow lamp away.  Determined to help her love it, I found the exact shade we needed on Kijiji - but in Waterloo, ON!  Luckily my sweet Aunt and Uncle were kind enough to drive an hour to pick up the shade and then mail it to us.

The lamp is now reunited with its proper shade and looks amazing. 

I also found a vintage Melitta coffee pot for myself!  (Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter in 1908).  I had always loved my Mom's vintage Melitta porcelain pour-over coffee brewer because the coffee pot has a clever slit in the spout which prevents dripping.  I even spent $60 on Amazon buying a new version (of course it's a lot less expensive now, harumph), only to discover it no longer had that unique spout design!  So imagine my glee when I found this beauty for $2 at the Sally Ann.  I have never, in all of my thrifting, come across one and this is in mint condition.  I've been stockpiling the cones for years in case mine breaks, so I have a spare for this coffee pot.  I hate when my hoarding is rewarded.

I also scooped up a turquoise Fiesta tray - I think it goes under the cream and sugar?  I had been on the hunt for a turquoise plate to photograph food and treats for the blog and this will be perfect.

It's also my one and only piece of Fiestaware.

For the shop, I found the prettiest Melitta cream and sugar set, made in Germany, with a stunning indigo blue design, plus a Rosti Denmark kitchen utensil set in cheery yellow - these melamine utensils are no longer made in Denmark so this was a rare find, especially because they appear unused.

Just a few cute finds last week, but I have been secretly stockpiling shop goodies so this is just a taste.  You can see the rest of my current listings by clicking here, but stay tuned for more!  I'll be listing a lot more vintage finds, including some pieces from my own collections...

Here's that coupon code again, just in case: DANSLELAKEHOUSE2018.
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January 29, 2018

My Top Tips for Staying Cozy this Winter

This post is sponsored by Save on Energy, Ontario's go-to source for energy efficiency information and rebates for your home.  All thoughts and opinions presented below are my own.  

The staggering popularity of "Hygge" (pronounced "hoo-gah") speaks volumes about our collective desire to feel cozy and content.  But the Danish aren't the only people who crave cozy - many languages have similar concepts and words that try to capture that elusive feeling.

Swedes offer up "Mys," which touches on coziness and comfort with an emphasis on slowing down and relaxing, while in Norway people strive for a "Koselig" days, which has a complex meaning, but conjures feelings of warmth, comfort, and relaxation.  Those in Holland long for "Gezelig" - the mood of feeling cocooned, like being in a warm coffee shop on a cold winter day.  Having married a fella with Scottish ancestry, I personally enjoy the Gaelic "C√≤sagach" (which means snug), simply because it sounds the heartiest. 
However you choose to describe it, it's unsurprising that so many of us crave coziness and contentment - especially in the winter.  I've spent my entire life living in Ontario, Canada.  That is the equivalent of 33 winters spent trying to stay warm.  In the very first apartment I shared with Hubby, I was warm - for the first winter in my entire life.  We didn't have to pay for heat, so I kept the thermostat at an irresponsibility tropical temperature.  Our hibiscus thrived - a clear sign that it was way too hot in there.  Since then, adulthood, utility bills and environmental consciousness have superseded tropical indoor temperatures, so I have had to get creative.  What hygge, koselig, and c√≤sagach have all taught me is that staying cozy is a crafty combination of practical changes and mental shifts to fully capture that feeling of coziness and warmth. 

Here are my favorite lakehouse-tested tips for staying cozy - even when the weather network issues an Extreme Cold Weather warning and there's a blizzard roaring outside.

Let the Window Coverings do the Work

As soon as the sun rises, I open the curtains and blinds to capitalize on the heat from the sun, but once the sun sets, I close the curtains again to keep in as much heat.  Insulated curtains would be amazing, but the substantial tweed drapes in the bedroom and office do the trick.

Check Weather Stripping and Window Seals

Having a woolly dog is a great way to see where you're losing heat - just check out their favorite spots!  Can you guess where the cold spots are in the lakehouse?

By ensuring that weather stripping and window seals are in great shape, you can prevent as much heat from leaking out as possible.  No pup to help?  Hold a candle, as still as possible, near any doorways or windows - if it flickers, you might have some drafty spots to seal up.

Indulge in Hot Apple Cider - No Holiday Required

This fall was the first time I had ever made hot apple cider - seriously!  We had friends over for one last bonfire and because it was already getting pretty chilly, I just couldn't envision wanting a cold beer so I made hot apple cider in the slow cooker.  I made it without alcohol (because alcohol actually drops core body temperature), but kept some handy so guests could spike their own.  It was a magical night - we even saw the northern lights! - and it made me realize that I don't need a special occasion to make cider, which always felt so much like a "holiday" drink to me.  You can make hot apple cider from scratch, but you can also buy apple cider in jugs and then spice to taste.

Easy Slow Cooker Hot Apple Cider
  • 1 gallon apple cider or fresh pressed apple juice
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 2 sliced oranges (wash first)
  • A few 1" pieces of ginger, peeled and quartered
Add ingredients to a slow cooker and simmer on low for four hours.  You can also bundle the spices in cheesecloth or a tea bag designed for loose leaf tea, but I find the flavor is richer when the spices are loose - just strain as you serve and add rum to taste, if desired.

Invest in a Humidifier

Humidifiers are a fabulous addition to a home, for so many reasons: they can help plants thrive, ease sinus congestion, and re-hydrate the air - which means you can say goodbye to static and cracked skin.  But adding humidity to the air can also help a home feel warmer.  Not convinced?  After your next bath let the water sit, with the bathroom door open, and see if that little amount of moisture helps you feel warmer... 

Throw a Party

You can turn down the heat when you have friends and family over because body heat does wonders to increase the overall temperature in a room.  So, if you have the winter blues and just can't warm up, throw a potluck party or have friends over for some board games - bonus points for something that gets everyone excited and moving, like charades or twister!

Turn on That Ceiling Fan

It still feels counter-intuitive to me to turn on a ceiling fan in the winter, but heat rises so a ceiling fan - especially with our tall living room ceiling - helps push that warm air back down, where we can enjoy it.  The important thing to remember is that when ceiling fans spin counter-clockwise, the angled blades push cool air down, so in the winter set your ceiling fan to spin clockwise instead, which will draw the cool air up to the ceiling and force the warm air back down.  Some ceiling fans even have a "winter" setting.

Layer up Your Decor

I've never been a huge fan of seasonal decor because I'd rather spend money on permanent pieces, but I have to admit that this time of year I can totally understand layering in cozier textiles, like faux fur blankets, or maybe rolling out a cozy wool rug underfoot.  If a few decor touches help a home feel cozier, it's worth it!  Just make sure that no new additions (especially rugs) cover up any vents.

Hopefully these tricks help you feel cozier this winter - without reaching for that thermostat!  Nothing makes winter drearier than getting slammed with a massive heating bill.

If you're looking for more ideas to help make your home feel cozier, while also saving money on your monthly bills and supporting your community, visit www.saveonenergy.ca.  You'll discover new technologies, incentives, and tips for increasing your home's energy efficiency, as well as learning about how these changes can make a positive impact on your home's comfort and resale value.  I am always grateful for any information that helps save me money and feel more at home in my house, so I hope you'll find some great ideas!

Save on Energy is social!  Find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
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