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Archive for September, 2009

We might be in a tiny bit of a rut. Or maybe we are busy. Or maybe innately lazy and distractable people shouldn’t start a blog in the first place? I’m talking about me, not you, Aki.

Aside from reviewing our Blog Dashbord for inspiration (Lots of people find us by searching for Hugh Jackman. Also, “why do my pants fall off my butt,”) I have decided to ask our Dear Readers what they would be interested in us exploring over the next week.

Work outfits or casual? Plus sizes? Budget?

Ideas welcome. If I burn out, I’m just going to start posting pictures of my kids.

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Vested Interest

This piece of clothing seems completely pointless to me.

This piece of clothing seems completely pointless to me.

Alright. Vests. Yay or Nay? Nay, right? What is the point? Talk about useless and non-functional. I’m not talking about outerwear like my down vest, or the fleece vest that my son is sporting. They actually add just the right amount of warmth when a full on jacket is too much or provide an extra layer of cozy underneath a coat. Other vests that are ok include fishing vests, running/biking vests, construction worker vests and life vests. Vests that are part of a regalia getup are ok too. Otherwise, what is the deal? Do you really need something to dress up your shirt? It’s basically your shirt’s accessory. Your shirt does not need its own entourage. Just get a fancier shirt!

Please weigh in. I promise I won’t defriend you if you like them.

Obviously not for warmth. What does it add to the outfit?

Obviously not for warmth. What does it add to the outfit?

A complete waste of fabric and buttons, in my opinion.

A complete waste of fabric and buttons, in my opinion.

An example of a functional: My purple Eddie Bauer down vest

An example of a functional: My purple Eddie Bauer down vest

Warmth is a good reason to wear a vest.

Warmth is an acceptible reason to wear a vest.

This is totally ok.

This obviously is ok.

This is perfectly fine too.

This is perfectly fine too.

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Transformation

illustrations by hiroe nakata

illustrations by hiroe nakata

Not only caterpillars. Buds become flowers, 

flowers, fruit.

-Miriam Chaikin,

from Don’t Step on the Sky, a handful of haiku.

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Bodies, Breasts in Motion

The Mariners Moose, modeling a Betsey Johnson 32D

The common theme I kept hearing about the past few weeks have all been about body image. We all have unfounded complexes about our bodies, men or women, young or old. We shouldn’t, but we do. We can’t help it. Sure, I’d love to lose 5 more extra pounds. But if I don’t, I’m ok with it. I am awesome as I am. My issue has never been about weight. I’ve never asked anyone “Does this make my butt look big?” because I actually like my butt, thank you. It’s fantastic. What I have wished for was to attract less attention to my body.

My breasts started sprouting out when I was in the 5th grade. I was too shy to approach my mom about a bra until the end of 6th grade. Consequently girls envied me and guys stared at me and I didn’t understand why that had to be. Very uncomfortable. I think I carried this into adulthood. I talk about my shoulders being too wide but really, it’s about my upper body being bigger than my lower body and yes, I do have shoulders slightly wider than the rest of my body but it’s because of my breasts that my upper looks so much bigger than it actually is. That’s why I don’t wear v-necks, crewnecks, sweaters, button down shirts. I know, I know. Insert here all your boobie jokes, how I should be thankful and how you always wanted bigger ones, you’re jealous, I look fantastic, etc. etc. Don’t get me wrong. I love them. They are great. We’re besties. I know I look good. I’m just not terribly comfortable attracting attention with or to them.

See how tiny my waist is? You're not looking at my waist though, are you.

See how tiny my waist is? You're not looking at my waist though, are you.

And it’s not just about the breasts. I’ve always been short and cute. I also have had long thick shiny healthy hair and was “the girl with the hair” and “that cute chick.” I wanted to rebel against the cute and exploited my body a bit during college and wore clothes in a way that people would find me sexy instead. In the end, it was the same. As much as I think I am cute and foxy I just want people to think I’m smart and funny. An older coworker once told me during college that he liked the way I walked. Around the same time a dorm mate mentioned how he liked seeing me in leggings. A stranger once approached me just to tell me I was pretty. Another stranger asked for my number because he thought I was a “classic beauty.” These incidents did not make me feel good about myself but rather made me want to run away and change into baggy pants. Which is just what I did. I bought a pair of men’s Union Bay cords at the Bon and wore them for all of 1995. I bought sweaters at Banana Republic in the men’s section. I wanted guys I liked to find me attractive (and they never did, strangely enough!), not a random stranger. I went back and forth hiding and flaunting. And now? I have a husband so I don’t really feel the need to dress in a way that attract special attention or to dress provocatively or show off or whatever. At all. I think I should look nice, though.

Look at me, in 1995. Baggy sweater I found at Banana Republic in the men's section.

Look at me, in 1995. Baggy sweater I found at Banana Republic in the men's section.

So when I see people being “fixed” by What Not To Wear and hear Stacy yelling at them “You’re tiny! You’re a tiny person!” I think that they usually already know. Just because you’re tiny doesn’t mean you want to prance around attracting attention or emphasize your curves. But I can also see WNtW’s point of view too. Sure, celebrate yourself and your beauty. Accentuate the positive. Look good, feel good. But maybe your body’s “beauty” isn’t for everyone to gawk at? There’s got to be a balance, right? I don’t want to fall into the Janeane Garofalo or Sarah Silverman mold where perfectly cute girls dress weird on purpose because they want you to focus on the funny/intelligent and not so much on looks.

Tricky. I’m a charming little person. And if I have all these weirdo complex thoughts about how I look and how I present my body out there, I can’t even imagine what people who don’t think they are a cute little person go through. I think there are probably several different ideas I’ve mentioned here that I can expand on which should be separate spin-off posts. But that is it for now.

P.S. I said I never cared if I was heavier or not. I lied. A few years ago I gained about 20 pounds. That was not pleasant. So I joined Weight Watchers and lost it all in 3 months. I don’t want to be like Tyra Banks and say “I was in a fat suit for a day so now I know how you all feel!” because I don’t. I’ve never been a large person. But I have experienced rapid noticeable weight change unrelated to pregnancy (and unlike most, I liked being gigantic during pregnancy, it was fun). I noticed then that people always said “Looking good!” “Wow, you lost a ton of weight!” “You look fantastic!” And again, this bothered me because hey, what was I before? I’m the same damn person, stop talking about my body! You would never say to someone “Hey, gained a bit there!” so why is it ok to say “Say, lost a little?”

Me, two weeks before giving birth. Being large was fun because when else do you get to pack it on?

Me, two weeks before giving birth. Being large was fun because when else do you get to really pack it on?

P.P.S. Does this post make me sound like a totally conceited jerk?

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Some Pants

Will the pants watch my child, do the laundry and wash the dishes?

Will the pants watch my child, do the laundry and wash the dishes?

Wednesday Survey time! Tell us about your pants. Do you have a favorite pair? Favorite style? Favorite fabric? Aren’t pants wonderful?

You know my story. As I mentioned in a previous post, my friend B started me on the path of designer jeans about 6 years ago and I haven’t gone back. My favorites include Joe’s Provocateur and Honey, Citizens Faye. I’m trying to collect James Jeans now just because it’s my son’s name. I know, totally shallow. I used to wear jeans because it was the default thing to wear. But now I LOVE wearing jeans. I have not owned (or if I have, never worn) a pair of trousers or chinos or khakis or what have yous in over 20 years. Time to branch out? Or just stick with what works? Not in a hurry to find out.

These are my best friends. They're each other's best friends too.

These are my best friends. They're each other's best friends too.

Did this pant change your life? Tell us about it!

Did this pant change your life? Tell us about it!

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Purple and black watercolor top, jean jacket, pencil skirt, red Cole haan heels

Purple and black watercolor top, jean jacket, pencil skirt, red Cole haan heels

Since I posted my Argument in Favor of Prints, I’ve been thinking how hard to judge a print on its own.  It’s all about the outfit.  Since I’m now worried about being all typecast as the Woman Who Wears Florals, I gathered some print-inclusive outfit combinations in an attempt to demonstrate that I do not look dowdy and lame. I hope (there are more floral prints here, with color and camisoles  ). 

These pictures don’t zoom in on the print, but that’s kind of my point.  I’m going for the Overall Effect that you’d get seeing me walk down the street.  Opinions? I know this isn’t everyone’s style (this is all my business casual work stuff).   Would these outfits work better or worse without prints? how would you adapt them to your own tastes if you were to dress Robin-Business-Casual for the day?

Ann Taylor Loft cardigan, gray skirt, Circa Joan & David heels.

Ann Taylor Loft cardigan, gray skirt, Circa Joan & David heels.

 

Bellatrix floral top (probably about $6 at The Rack by now) with gray suit

Bellatrix floral top (probably about $6 at The Rack by now) with gray suit

 

My husband is 8 inches taller than me, which apparently adds 10 pounds when he's the one taking my picture. I do think this is cute, though.

No matter how much you love someone, it is hard to be photographed by them when they are 8 inches taller because it adds like 10 pounds. I do think this is cute, though.

 

Target skirt that got ruiined in the dryer, brown top, gray Talbots jacket

Target skirt that got ruined in the dryer, brown top, gray Talbots jacket. No I do not know where the baby went in this shot, weird.

 

Kind of animal-ish print, gray skirt, tortoiseshell pumps

Kind of animal-ish print, gray skirt, tortoiseshell pumps. Baby is just about to run into the frame, I cropped her out.

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Afternoon birthday party: Purple floral ruffle tank from The Gap, navy capri pants from Dockers, brown embroidered flats

Afternoon birthday party: Purple floral ruffle tank from The Gap, navy capri pants from Dockers, brown embroidered flats

Aki once asked how my weekend style is different than my workweek style.  I don’t know.  If I have a genuine personal style, shouldn’t I be able to adapt it to different settings but still be “me?”

I used to think of Work Clothes as “dress up” and Weekend Clothes as “normal.” Whatever I did for work (nylons, blouses, heels) was a costume (imposed on me by Work). Out of costume, I reverted to jeans, sweats, t-shirts, men’s plaid flannel shirts.  This was “regular me,”  but not because I liked the way I felt or looked in these clothes.  It was just my Default Wardrobe, inherited from college, updated to include cuter t-shirts or jeans when I bothered thinking about it.

Sometimes, I’d want to look cute on a weekend.  But I wouldn’t want to wear my “work clothes.” Then I was stuck.   This is why:

To Church: Navy cap-sleeve cotton top, linen pants, brown embroidered flats

To Church: Navy cap-sleeve cotton top, linen pants, brown embroidered flats

1. My work clothes weren’t “me” and I didn’t like them.

2. I had no sense of style or identity apart from my job.

3. I tended to panic, buy cheap weekend clothes that were too trendy or lame, and then get frustrated when they wouldn’t work (or at least not for long).

Work wear is where my “dress up or give up” moment happened, but I’m trying to expand it to the weekend.  Here’s what works: For times I want to look pretty but casual, cute cotton tops are working  (I also can wear these to work on a casual day).  Knits are good if I’m going to sweat and need some mobility (long walk) but I like how structured cotton is more deliberate and pretty.  If I’m going to be indoors and it’s okay to be dressy (church, bridal shower), linen pants with flats are good. For more active times (kids’ birthday party, Farm sightseeing), sturdy washable capri pants are good.  Shoes I choose by ground type: Cute flats for indoors or easy paved walking, cute walking sandals for parks or beach, and serious terrain shoes for serious terrain (Tevas for low mucky tide, hiking shoes for hikes).

Golf Course patio dinner: White Costco tee, brown J Crew Skirt, Alfani Petunia Sandals, turquoise medallion necklace. Inset is the cardigan I wore over it.

Golf Course patio dinner: White Costco tee, brown J Crew Skirt, Alfani Petunia Sandals, turquoise medallion necklace. Inset is the cardigan I wore over it.

Also, I’m trying to wear necklaces all the time.  I like to take that extra moment to look in the mirror and say, “hey lady, you deserve an ornament where you’re going.”  It also turns a t-shirt into a look.

So here’s what I wore one sunny weekend in September.  I didn’t photograph what I wore to get bagels and clean out the garage, so you can imagine that same white t-shirt and brown capri pants.  Everything was comfortable, I felt confident and for the most part pretty. Most importantly, it was fairly easy for me to go where I wanted to go, because “what will I wear” wasn’t a big obstacle for me.

Also, isn’t the baby cute?

Beach picnic: Lands End Modern Fit tank, fleece jacket, Dockers Capri Pants, Clarks sandals

Beach picnic: Lands End Modern Fit tank, fleece jacket, Docker's Capri Pants, Clark's sandals

Full disclosure: White Costco t-shirt, pajama bottoms, slipper socks

Full disclosure: White Costco t-shirt, pajama bottoms, slipper socks

Nothing but cute

Nothing but cute

 

 

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Happy Fall!

Fall is my favorite season

Fall is my favorite season

Welcome to fall, everyone! Ok, technically it’s not until tomorrow but being from a different time zone I am allowed to celebrate things a day early. Besides, my name means autumn so I can celebrate it all year long.

Let’s talk about sweaters. I’ve also had a love/hate relationship with sweaters. My body temperature tends to run hot so I am always sweltering in sweaters. Sure, sure, I can always layer and take them off as the need arises but that’s just one more thing I have to think about, and I hate thinking. As a result my “sweaters” tend to become cardigans and I never own too many. And I haven’t seen most of them in about two years due to pregnancy and weight fluctuations. I brought them out of their sabbatical this weekend.

Camel zip up non-hoodie from the Gap. I forgot I had this one. I love it. I'll be wearing it a lot this fall.

Camel zip up non-hoodie from the Gap. I forgot I had this one. I love it. I'll be wearing it a lot this fall.

An exception to my rule: buttons. Blue hoodie from the Gap. Technically, this is a maternity sweater but anyone who sees this can attest that it was designed for a pregnant mouse or ferret. I'm wearing it for regular wear.

An exception to my rule: buttons. Blue hoodie from the Gap. Technically, this is a maternity sweater but anyone who sees this can attest that it was designed for a pregnant mouse or ferret. I'm wearing it for regular wear.

Speaking of maternity, on the other side is this. Gap zip up in a pretty pretty blue. It's regular wear but I bought it in a large to wear during pregnancy. So...am I still allowed to wear it? It's so pretty.

Speaking of maternity, on the other side is this. Gap zip up in a pretty pretty blue. It's regular wear but I bought it in a large to wear during pregnancy. So...am I still allowed to wear it? It's so pretty.

Charcoal grey zip up hoodie from j.crew. I found it at St Vincent De Paul for about $3. It had tissue in the pockets, haha. It's a little big but it'll do, pig.

Charcoal grey zip up hoodie from j.crew. I found it at St Vincent De Paul for about $3. It had tissue in the pockets, haha. It's a little big but it'll do, pig.

My first cashmere sweater in black. Got it at Bloomingdales in 05 after I lost a bunch of weight.

My first cashmere sweater in black. Got it at Bloomingdales in 05 after I lost a bunch of weight.

My oldest sweater. Sleeping on Snow from Anthropologie about 10 years ago? Green and yellow. I love the contrast seaming but this shoulder cut is probably not best if I want to de-emphasize my linebacker shoulders. But I love it.

My oldest sweater. Sleeping on Snow from Anthropologie about 10 years ago? Green and yellow. I love the contrast seaming but this shoulder cut is probably not best if I want to de-emphasize my linebacker shoulders. I will replace this one eventually.

After I got my first cashmere sweater I thought I needed more and got this at the Bon, Charter Club (no, not Sag Harbor). The neckline unfortunately doesn't really work. Does anyone want this sweater? It's not that long either.

After I got my first cashmere sweater I thought I needed more and got this at the Bon, Charter Club (no, not Sag Harbor). The neckline unfortunately doesn't really work. Does anyone want this sweater? It's not that long either.

This is a sentimental sweater that I'll keep. It's a little small but it's the first and only piece of clothing that my husband gifted me. It's sweet that he thought I was that small. I can bring it out for halloween? Very lady like.

This is a sentimental sweater that I'll keep. It's a little small but it's the first and only piece of clothing that my husband gifted me. It's sweet that he thought I was that small. I can bring it out for halloween? Very lady like.

Brown halogen sweater from Nordstrom. I had a better photo but it made my boobs look way too big. Had this one for years too, and love.

Brown halogen sweater from Nordstrom. I had a better photo but it made my boobs look way too big. Had this one for years too, and love.

This to me is almost too many sweaters. I’m glad I reviewed my inventory because I won’t be looking to buy any more this season. Or ever. Unless one of these is replaced. I’ve not had too much luck with yarny knitty things. What does your sweatering look like?

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Purses I Have Loved

My mom's old beaded bag that I used for weddings and other fancy events.

My mom's old beaded bag that I used for weddings and other fancy events.

Oh purses. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with them for about the past 25 years. It began in high school when I transitioned from carrying everything I owned in a backpack or tote to separating out the important items to its own special container.

I can even tell you when it started. In my junior year there was a transfer student named Kim Dent in my Personal Finance class. She would come swooping into class, set her books down, then take her purse to leave for the bathroom. How cool! How grown up! So urban! I immediately went out and got myself a little Liz Claiborne grey and navy shoulder purse. Then soon after, I purchased another Liz Claiborne purse, this time a bigger one that was RED with handles, like a cute old lady would carry around. I was hooked. I splurged for the next one which was real leather. I loved the smell. I was heavily into Anne Klein II at the time because the logo spelled out AKII which is my name (ignore the extra I. My goal at the time was to marry someone with a last name starting with I)!!

Then came the 90s and grunge and college so I don’t really remember what I was carrying, it’s all a haze. I have pictures of myself carrying around various cute bags and totes I no longer own so I must have still been enjoying being cute. I wish I had taken photos of all my purses because it’s really like those hairstyle retrospectives that magazines like InStyle sometimes show of celebrities. I can tell you stories of what I was doing then.

The only purse I still own from my late 80s: the Anne Klein II logo purse. I love the flap. The straps were too long and the shoe place I took it to to get extra holes did a terrible job. I'm afraid to get any more holes.

The only purse I still own from my late 80s: the Anne Klein II logo purse. I love the flap. The straps were too long and the shoe place I took it to to get extra holes did a terrible job. I'm afraid to get any more holes.

Then I started working and started carrying sleek, serious and perhaps more boring bags. One time, my dad’s AmEx card sent him a free gift card to Saks Fifth Avenue for spending a lot of money (for travel for work and stuff, ok?) and my mom and I went there all excited and then got all sad and depressed because nothing they carried in the store fit into our lifestyle or else the items we did like were excluded from the special gift card. But I convinced my mom to buy me a black leather DKNY bag which was $300 or something. Nothing fancy, just very basic, no logos, totally utilitarian. And it was free! Used that forever and still do, occasionally.

Then I left my depressing job and started working at the U and living like a bum with no direction. I was single, free, no car/debts, just cute. I took advantage and it shows. I wish I kept or had taken photos of all my UW Aki purses. I loved you all.

My first and only kate spade and I love love love love the colors. It's perfect! Except I never use it anymore. I can't let go though.

My first and only kate spade and I love love love love the colors. It's perfect! Except I never use it anymore. I can't let go though.

A splurge item, from Bally. I just loved it when I saw it in the window and I obsessed about it until I finally went back to get it. I love this guy. Never use it anymore. But I love it so, it still sits in my closet.

A splurge item, from Bally. I just loved it when I saw it in the window and I obsessed about it until I finally went back to get it. I love this guy. Never use it anymore. But I love it so, it still sits in my closet.

Leather heart pocket purse from Anthropologie. There's a little heart coin purse like attachment inside (shown above the two heart pockets). Again, don't use it but love love love.

Leather heart pocket purse from Anthropologie. There's a little heart coin purse like attachment inside (shown above the two heart pockets). Again, don't use it but love love love.

Another favorite from Anthropologie. I still break this out from time to time. The zipper broke but I sewed in a newer one. Not totally useful but I love so I keep.

Another favorite from Anthropologie. I still break this out from time to time. The zipper broke but I sewed in a newer one. Not totally useful but I love so I keep.

Actually, this was kind of a "miss" from that era. BCBG. I don't really use it or like it enough to keep it around but since it was so expensive I just have it. Does anyone want?

Actually, this was kind of a "miss" from that era. BCBG. I don't really use it or like it enough to keep it around but since it was so expensive I just have it. Does anyone want?

THEN. Then one day I was walking back from campus (ok, it was 11pm so yeah. But still!) to my apartment on 11th and I ALMOST GOT MUGGGED! I heard some footsteps coming up behind me and I tightened my grip on on the AKII bag and felt a tug at the purse and I grabbed on for dear life and screamed. They initially backed off but then came back again to try to grab my purse! Then some nice guys from across the street heard and went running after them. They were never caught but I did get to ride around in a police car with nice policemen looking for the hoodlums. Maybe that’s why I still have my AKII purse. It went through a lot with me.

Anyway. I decided I’m just going to start carrying bags that I can wear across my body so it’s harder for thugs to get to. Also, I will have both hands free for combat. My pursey evolution took a different direction then.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Your basic over the shoulder zip up no-nonsense combat fighting purse. I've had this style in about 4 different designs all from Le Sportsac.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Your basic over the shoulder zip up no-nonsense combat fighting purse. I've had this style in about 4 different designs all from Le Sportsac.

You know what? Then I had a baby. And this was my purse for the next year.

Pottery Barn diaper bag. Yes, it's shlumped and looks like the sorting hat.

Pottery Barn diaper bag. Yes, it's shlumped and looks like the sorting hat.

I’m back to Le Sportsac again though. But that’s as fancy as I get. I didn’t really realize until now but the almost mugging really changed the way I think of my purses. Sad. So now I’m on the opposite spectrum. I have all these nice cute fancy purses sitting in my closet that I’ll hardly ever use again (all are snap or flap and now I require zippers for security). So… here I am. I’m no longer a purse girl but there is one inside me. Part of me feels like it’s a waste because I get bored of things so easily. The other part longs for the fun light flimflam Aki days.
That’s my story.

Hey, at least I’m not carrying this around, ok?

My 10 year anniversary gift from the UW: an attache bag. But guess what? I used this as my overnight bag when I had my baby so there!

My 10 year anniversary gift from the UW: an attache bag. But guess what? I used this as my overnight bag when I had my baby so there!

P.S. Does anyone want this? I got it at the Title 9 warehouse sale last fall but only used it a couple of months. It’s in good condition. It lights up inside.

Totally cute Keen over the shoulder. It is usually $75 but I got it on sale for $24. Again, the curse of the sale. I didn't really NEED it.

Totally cute Keen over the shoulder. It is usually $75 but I got it on sale for $24. Again, the curse of the sale. I didn't really NEED it.

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AHOPE for Children is a program that provides support services to Ethiopian children, especially orphans infected with HIV.  How cool would it be if we could support them by SHOPPING?

Lucky us!  AHOPE has been chosen as one of Macy’s charities in their annual “Shop for a Cause” event. 

Free People Military Ruffled Jacket, $148 at Macy's

Free People Military Ruffled Jacket, $148 at Macy's

How it works:

-People like you and me buy $5 coupons from AHOPE

-On Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009, we go to Macy’s to get our $5 off AND an additional 25% off savings pass.

-100% of the proceeds from coupon sales of that go directly to AHOPE.  Our goal is to sell 2,000 of them to raise $10,000. Sound modest? That buys a substantial amount of food, medication, books and toys for the 100 children living in AHOPE’s Ethiopean orphanges.

-You’re also entered to win $500 from your local Macy’s store.  I personally think all contests are rackets, ever since I got screwed on Cosmo’s “Win a Date with Alex Rodriguez” in 1997.  So to make this one interesting, I’ll dedicate my potential $500 winnings in advance as an AHOPE donation.

I’ll make the AHOPE coupons available here via whatever email/paypal/Facebook machination we can figure out.  If Seattle-area blogreaders are interested, I’d love to meet at Macy’s (Southcenter would be best for me) on October 17 for a WGD shopping event. 

Shop on!

If you’re interested or involved with any other Shop for a Cause charities (there are hundreds of them), feel free to promote them and meet up to shop.

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