La Belle Lolita

All the beautiful things...

Alice in Wonderland–JSK
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lunarcrystal

Hey everyone!


New listing on Etsy! I put in size variations for custom orders. As stated in the listing, it can be made in just about any fabric you want. I also still have more of this Alice fabric from Lecien. Feel free to contact me!


Check out the listing here (click here) . . .


Alice in Wonderland JSK - Black Red-1Alice in Wonderland JSK - Black Red-2Alice in Wonderland JSK - Black Red-3


Promotional Video
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lunarcrystal

Tried my hand at some chroma key. It was fun!


Oh, and also I talk about my awesome tights that more people need to know about. :)



Cyber Monday Sale on Etsy!
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lunarcrystal

Right now, I’m offering 20% off my Etsy shop for all my blog readers. Just type in the coupon code blog20 during checkout. Many items have free shipping included, too, so be sure to look for that.


Offer is good until Dec. 10th!



The (false) Value of Clothes
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lunarcrystal

I find myself in constant frustration regarding the prices of handmade garments. Mostly, I’m frustrated by the general lack of understanding of their value. It’s no secret that we have cheap clothes now and that it’s ruining the market for custom or handmade one-offs. So I’d like to address this.


Consider that the minimum wage in the US is $7.25. That’s federal. It’s different, too, depending on where you live. I’m in New Mexico, so that’s $7.50/hour. So, I don’t have an army of workers making 100+ units of a single dress. This is mass production, and the combination of output as well as foreign labor wages, makes mass produced clothing less expensive.


I’m just one girl, and I can only do so much. But when I make a dress, I do everything from the tracing or drafting of my pattern, cutting, construction, details, and finishing. I even package my garments when they’re shipped to my customer. At my fastest, I could make a simple men’s western shirt in about 5 hours. Add in time for cutting, and it’s more like 6 hours. If I’m paying myself minimum wage, that’s $45 for just my time. Materials for that shirt, which is about 2.5 yards of regular fabric at $4/yd and another 1 yard of contrast at $9, plus tax (and sometimes shipping) . . . materials alone then would be anywhere from $22 – $28. For one shirt.


I’d like to then sell that shirt for $65-75 dollars. That’s still if I’m paying myself NM minimum wage, I copy, cut, and sew as fast as I can, and buy the bare minimum of materials. Do you see where this is going?


you sew right make it for $50


Clothing manufacturing has been outsourced and exploited for decades now, and it’s driven the price of clothing down to where home sewing can’t compete. The only way we can compete is by marketing our garments as special, unique, and custom. It should have value as a unique item that don’t have thousands of copies being worn on other people’s bodies.


The sad thing is that Etsy has been infiltrated by sellers that are more than likely dishonest about their “handmade” label to the garment they sell.


 


 


Some examples


Rockabilly Dress


Shop: LadyMayraClothing


This dress is selling for 49.90. I’m sorry, but that’s just not right.


It’s also labeled as “Gothic” and “Lolita” in the same line as “Rockabilly” which has nothing to do with Lolita or NeoVictorian fashion.


Also, it’s being sold from Bangkok, Thailand. I’m really not sure how they can conceivably sell this dress for under $50, if it’s apparently handmade by one person. I don’t believe this for a second. OR maybe their cost of living is much lower than ours. The picture looks commercial, though, and the quality looks mass produced. They claim to have more than 10. All of their dresses look mass produced, and are priced generally the same.


This is falsely listed as “handmade” in the way that we’re familiar with it. And it has hundreds of favorites. 


Blouse from China


Dress from chinaA chiffon blouse like this for $40??


Oh, look, it’s from China. This skirt for $40 too?


The lace and the ruffles take time to ruffle and apply. The chiffon needs to have a finished edge, which also takes time. Look at the pintucks, for goodness sake. $40?


This same Etsy shop is selling another chiffon blouse, with pintucks and lace, for $30! This is just unfair, and the only thing I can do is point it out and hope people agree with me about the true cost of clothing. Especially special niche fashions like Lolita.


So is it suddenly okay for TaoBao Lolita sellers to sell on Etsy, a website that is meant to be a hub to buy unique and truly handmade items?


I made headdresses! And updated things!
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lunarcrystal

After much suspense, we have finally added new products to our web store! And be sure to stay tuned, because we’ll be adding a lot more stuff. Most of it is handmade by me, and some is sourced to be a good inclusion in one’s beginning Lolita wardrobe (make up, eyelashes, etc.)…


Clothing


Most of my sizes are default small or medium. The mannequin shown in all pictures is a 26.5″ waist and 34″ Bust, which according to this chart, is a small. However, things like skirts, jumpskirts, and even dresses (one pieces) have shirring in the back to allow for multi-size wear. The tea party dress, in particular, could fit up to 38″ bust and 32″ waist. It is loosely fit on the mannequin I have and has full shirring in the back – which is why it’s classified as a M/L.


Custom sizes are always available upon inquiry. Please be sure to take your measurements correctly with a tailor’s tape measure (the soft ones, not a carpenter’s tape measure :P ).


Black and Gold Filigree SkirtTea Party JSK-1 Pintuck Blouse 1 - Short Sleeve-1 Ice Cream Parlour Skirt-1-2 Creamy Bloomers-6


Headdresses


In the first picture, I used a pattern from Otome no Sewing Book 5. I call it a rigid headdress because it has an ultra firm inferfacing. The second is a typical round headdress but the lace all around it was crocheted by hand (by me!) as well as hand made ribbon roses with pearl accents. The third is a flower crown type headband. I enjoyed wearing it on Sunday of the Santa Fe Comic Con. :)


Pink Lace - Rigid Headdress-3 Crochet Lace Round Headdress-2 Pink and Purple Rose Half Crown-2


Otome no Sewing Book 5 – Rigid Headdress


Rigid Headdress 3_smOkay, so it’s always possible something got lost in translation. A lot of the time, I don’t translate every word in the instructions given in these books. Most of the construction methods for the clothes are basic (to me) and I can figure out how things are put together without painstakingly translation everything that’s said. I also draft lining pieces and make my clothes fully lined, which is not included in any of these books. For the blouses, I add things like plackets instead of just leaving the seam a little open, therefore making my work a touch more professional.


I made this “rigid headdress” according to some of the instructions. I had to cut out a piece of Ultra Firm interfacing (Pellon, our trusty interfacing friend) 9cm x 24cm. However, now that I look at the directions, I think this was slightly wrong, as it was indicating how large to cut the overlayed fabric to the “bonne foundation” ( ボンネ土台 ) piece. The ボンネ土台 or “bonne foundation” (bonne = bonnet) is listed as a “commercially available” item and to buy 1 unit. So it’s a ready-made thing that, if you were living in Japan, you could probably buy at any of their major craft stores (Tomato!! <3 ). Unfortunately for me, these things are impossible to find here in the states. I can barely find it if I put in the Japanese text into google, even! Lots of pictures, but this tells me nothing about what they would be called in English, or where I can buy the “bonne foundation” thingy anyway.


I guess if you were into millinery and hat making, you’d use buckram with millinery wire (part of the instructions indicate bending the headdress to the curve of one’s head). You’d make your own shape similar to what’s pictured – I noticed a tapering at both ends in the pictures of the finished product and wondered why it looked different to the pattern piece indication that’s perfectly oval. After making this tapered oval shape out of heavyweight buckram, you’d line the edges with wire and cover it crinoline bias tape. Then make the exact same shape out of quilt batting. Make the shape indicated in the book (9cm x 24cm) and cover your piece, basting around the edges, and pulling the thread to gather it on the underside of the head piece.


I’m sure all this is much easier if you could just buy the base “bonne” thing, but you could make it yourself. Or you could do what I did and just use Ultra Firm II by Pellon.


Some places in the U.S. like Hobby Lobby carry Clover brand products, and I went ahead and bought four different sizes and types of “flower making plates”. A little time consuming, but it does make pretty flowers! My headdress, however, was made with tradition ribbon roses using 2″ double face satin ribbon. No template needed for that. :)


Here are the instructions for the headdress and flower making.


Rigid Headdress 1Rigid Headdress 2


Santa Fe Comic Con 2015
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This was my first year attending the new Comic Con in Santa Fe. Brought to you by the same company as the Albuquerque Comic Con, which I have attended several times, and twice now as a vendor! It goes without saying that we sure had a good time at this one. Here’s a quick clip of what my table looked like!



I want to thank everyone who came by my girly little table and said nice things about my work, and especially to those who purchased items from me. I truly appreciate the support. Though I’m loath to confess a bit of my personal life, things have been exceedingly difficult this year, and I don’t think I would have been as successful as I have been without the help of some very good, kind, and compassionate friends. This explains why I haven’t updated this website since February. I was forced to move out from my home of seven years, and find my own way. Why this has happened is perhaps too sensitive to share. All I can say is that life happens, and everyone is on their own side.


Due to this, I found myself scrambling to make do over the summer and floundering a bit, as life is wont to do. This year has yielded some extraordinary opportunities, however, and if it hadn’t been for a little tragedy, I might have never found them.


Santa Fe Comic Con 2015 070While I have been ensconced in Taos these last seven years, an opportunity to work in film in costumes – in Albuquerque – has proven itself to be very attractive. I got my first chance to try this new thing over August and September. I worked as a Costume PA (production assistant), which is how costumers enter into such a business to learn the ropes. The hours were very long, and tiresome, but amazingly I found the energy to run around for 12 hours or more, 5-6 days a week for four and a half weeks. And I enjoyed myself! The people are wonderful, caring, and creative, and I couldn’t ask for a better career. While I look toward becoming more regular in this field, I plan to attend a few conventions as a Lolita vendor and advocate of alternative fashion. ^.^


I still intend to produce unique pieces of clothing as a seamstress and indie designer as well. I have been more inspired lately than ever, and I really hope to tap into that energy to be more prolific in my work.


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Things I sell: Basic Lolita clothing (blouses, skirts, JSKs, loungewear) – jewelry – eye makeup products and eyelashes – hosiery – hair accessories. Find me @ Storenvy!


I love eyelashes, and Dolly Wink are my favorites, but they are pretty expensive. Two pairs for $18 – $20! So I found some unknown brand that I tried first, and found the quality to be very much the same to Dolly Wink’s fine fibers, with a fine lash band as well. And guess what – you get FIVE pairs of them! They feel just as light and last just as long. YEGZ eyelashes are sold for $10 from my booth. I also carry some Japanese styles as well, and while those are slightly more expensive, you still get 5 pairs of them for the price. Not bad, huh?


I have a special pack as well from my booth. Mascara and eyeliner, your choice of eyelashes, and BB Cream (1, 2, or 3 tone), altogether for $25.


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That eyeliner is a brand called Ling Mei. Again, I test everything before I sell it. I found this eyeliner to be long lasting, really bold and dark, lasts all day, is water resistant, and has beautiful packaging. I tell everyone that I’ve had the same one for two years and it’s still going! (and you can revive things like eyeliner and mascara with a little contact solution! Hey!) It’s also 2-in-1 with a gel pencil top, and liquid pot bottom:


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Best White Tights Ever!


I sell something I like to call the Best White Tights Ever! If you’re into Lolita, maybe you don’t like wearing knee-highs or thigh-highs like me. Maybe they’re really uncomfortable. Maybe they keep falling down. Maybe it’s winter where you live and it’s too cold for such things!


New White Tights 2014 January_smI sell really thick, white tights made for adult women. They’re ballet style tights, that have the feeling of slight compression and are 200 denier thickness. I find these perfect for winter and really hard to ruin with runs. You can wash them in the washing machine! And they can fit you if you’re tall, or perhaps a little larger figured.


Did I mention they feel amazing on my legs? So smoooooooth….


 


 


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Thank you again for coming by! And for attending this year’s convention in Santa Fe! Here are all the lovely pictures I took of some great costumes, young and youngish. :) Hopefully we’ll see some of you again at the next convention we’ll be attending, ConJikan! We’ll be hosting a Lolita 101 panel, and a tea party!


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Manicure Mondays
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I discovered the home manicure. I’m not talking about a file and polish. I kind of fell in love with professional manicures a couple years ago before my trip to Japan transpired. I was a nail biter, you see. Life long, since I was three years old. In my adulthood, I had somewhat staved off my habit, but still found myself nibbling at snags and such. My nails have always been quite brittle because of the nail biting. Even when they were finally allowed to grow long and (slightly) stronger, they still tore and broke easily.


So I got fed up with short, not so feminine nails. Found a local nail salon. Got acrylics. Not crazy long ones, but with extensions cut to a “sporty” length, they were longer than I could ever grow them naturally. And they were strong! I was so happy, I kept going in for fill-ins every few weeks for the next couple months. Taking them off was not so easy, of course. I thought two months was enough time to have pretty nails, and taking them off to let the nails breathe would be another couple months.


The soak-off at the nail salon was the longest hour of my life… Especially with the inane talk shows they had playing on the TV at the time. Well, this is how we learn.


After a break, I had them done again, on and off for the next year or so. Spending $25 – $30 every time. I felt I had watched the process enough times that I could teach myself how to do it at home.


YouTube is also an incredible resource for learning.


UV Gel Nails


Nail VenusI had heard of “Gel Nails” before, but no salon in my area (that is the small town of Taos, NM) offers gel nails. They do the old fashion acrylic powder with various colored tips to choose from. Most people settle for the tip color variation rather than get the full deco nail treatment that has been popular in Asia for the last decade or so now.


AND – something that kind of bothered me – in my preparation before ever embarking on having my nails done with acrylics, I read everywhere that there’s a procedure to follow as far as preparing the nail, pushing back cuticles, making sure the nail is cleaned with solution, etc. My local nail salons did not do these things, probably for the sake of expediency. Though I read these were important steps to take to be sure the health of the nail underneath was not compromised, and to keep the acrylic layer from lifting too soon.


Luckily, I never experienced adverse effects from having the acrylics applied haphazardly. I also doused my nails in tea tree oil, and vitamin E just in case. Amazingly, my cuticles had never looked better than when I have my falsies on.


Anyway, it’s huge in Asia, and if you go to a place like Tokyo, you’ll also notice it’s expensive. Just the base treatment (without all the nail art) will run you $50 bucks to start. They charge per nail, and for each element you choose to add to your design (they have an a la carte kind of thing).


Don’t get me wrong. “You get what you pay for…” certainly applies if you get your nails done professionally in Japan. You’ll get a great result. For quite a bit of money. Many women have them there. I can’t tell you the countless amount of ladies I saw on the Tokyo subway with awesome nails, covered in gems and metal studs, perfectly rounded and polished.


And the magazines on the subject are numerous! Here’s just one called NAIRUAATO (Nail Art)… which I think is a special issue of Nail Venus, the main magazine I’ve seen for nails in Japan (they seriously have tons though). Nail salons from all over Japan will submit their top nail tech’s latest designs, and you can browse them like a catalogue. As well as some tutorials for the DIY crowd, and advertisements for nail schools.


Nail Venus 2Nail Venus 4Nail Venus 3


DIY Gel Nails


Not wanting to spend that kind of money, in Tokyo or elsewhere, I decided to go the DIY route and investigated tutorials online, as well as supplies and kits. For $50 dollars, I could get a basic UV Gel Nail kit on eBay (or Aliexpress) with free shipping. It even comes with a UV lamp, and several colors of gel, as well as the clear, pink, and white basics. Brushes, solutions, nail buffers, files, et al. As you see here:


UV Gel Nail Kit


Even rhinestones, uv gel top coat, clippers for artificial nails, stickers for builder gel… The brand name that I could read is called “Fina” (the cursive F at the beginning is sometimes misread as Sina or Lina). It comes from China, but that doesn’t detract from the quality – for a home DIY experiment, anyway. This is really affordable.


You can be as creative as you want, and do your nails so often that if you’ve ever had them done professionally, you’ll know this will pay for itself after just two or three times. If you’re the artistic type and want to start learning to do your own nails professionally at home, this is a great way to begin. And this is just the starter kit!


The amount of different elements you can purchase, inexpensively, to add to your nail art journey is boundless it seems. You can use your own nail polishes, water transfer decals, stickers, nail stamping kits, charms (they sell special tiny ones for nail art specifically).


It might take a little practice, and you may need to set aside enough time in the day to do so, but once you get going, it’s a really fun art project that saves you money and makes your nails look great.Vogue nail drill


I learned that you don’t need all the professional solutions they sell (like the nail shine liquid or nail prep solution). You can just use rubbing alcohol for both prepping the nail (to dry it for better adhesion of the gel) and for wiping off the excess gel after a UV cure.


Also a helpful thing NOT included in this set (I bought mine separately) is an electric nail drill. Now, the pro salons have a Dremmel set up. But you can buy electric drills that are less robust AND Affordable (I’m talking $12-$30). The one I purchased was the Vogue electric nail drill, and it comes with a bunch of sanding drums, as well as special bits for other things.


A Warning



  • Be careful of storing the gel pots sideways!! THEY WILL LEAK . . . and then you’ll have quite a mess to clean up afterwards, probably with lots of rubbing alcohol to get it all off of everything it leaked on. Speaking from experience. heh.

  • Take care of the nails after they done. Tea tree oil to keep little gremlins at bay, and cuticle oil like Sally Hanson’s Vitamin E oil.

  • Try not to immerse them in water too much. But hey, you have to wash your hair and hands sometimes, right? Just be aware of the possibility of lifting, which happens no matter what. Though you want to try to keep your nails looking nice for a least two weeks. The stuff will fall off on its own. Then it’s time for a redo or you take them off. Your call.

  • Make sure you’re familiar with the removal process of fake tips and acrylics. I usually snip mine all off as short as I can without hurting myself or my natural nail underneath (which thankfully grows as they’re protected by my gnashing teeth), sand off the gel coatings carefully, and then do the foil wrap method. Doesn’t take long if you only do three or four coats of the gel base on top of all your goodies (rhinestones, stickers, et al).


 


Happy DIY!


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Otome no Sewing Book 2
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lunarcrystal

Cover (744x1024)I feel that perhaps an analysis of one of these mooks is long in coming. With the new free online OCR, I can finally translate these books a little better. Japanese character recognition has been very elusive up until now.


This is a sewing pattern book/magazine (mook) that is published by Boutique SHA (They have a blog in English!). This is the same publishing house that released the earlier versions of these books called Gosu Rori, but have since cleaned up their format to make a nice layout that’s much less busy than originally presented.


Read more…>


Albuquerque Comic Con 2015 @ ABQ Convention Center
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Updates pending! As soon as I get our photos together from the con!


In the meantime, I want to say thank you to everyone who supported my business this weekend. You have no idea how much it means to me when someone buys my work. I sold an Alice apron, my sunflower JSK, and my Sailor OP! I’m just amazed at the overwhelming positive response. It’s really encouraging and makes me want to try more.


I can’t believe I don’t have a proper picture of the sunflower dress. I decided NOT to add the yellow ribbon bows to the final piece, and you can’t see the bottom hem with the yellow dyed cotton lace. I’ll have to make another one, I suppose!


Craft Carol 244



Above is my prototype for the apron. It’s an Innocent World design, with a few minor tweaks, from GLB no. 9. Below is my booth at Comic Con this year, looking a little sparse on the last day! Thanks again, everyone! Storenvy will be updated soon!


My booth at ACC 2014


Please feel free to send me questions, comments, or commission inquiries! I’m alive this year!


Life and New Life
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lunarcrystal

Well, I suppose things never go the way we initially intend them to go. So far, this year has been so much of a roller coaster that it’s been hard to get my act together. Many changes happened and kept disrupting the delicate balance that is my life right now. Still trying to figure myself out and decide on solid goals. I feel I’m still young enough to be able to be indecisive.


photoAside from a lot of personal stuff that I won’t talk about here, my precious cat Merlin ended up getting killed by either a neighbor’s dog or coyote. We have coyotes where I live, in the high deserts of Northern New Mexico. I was so completely devastated, I went into a depression for two solid weeks. He was the best little cat anyone could ask for. Willful, strong, quick, and oh so loving. We had a special relationship. I loved when he climbed onto my shoulder so I could chauffer him around. He was an ear nibbler. He would wake me up with ear kisses. I’m just so sad that I won’t get that back. Stupid cat, I love him so much.


In lieu of that, I knew he wouldn’t want me to waste the space in my home. He was a very happy little cat. The best thing I could do to honor his memory is to save a new little kitten and give them a happy, loving home. I ended up getting two of them. Brother and sister, I’ve named them Zephyr and Luna. Yesterday was their first day home!


Zephyr and Luna 003 (1024x683)Zephyr and Luna 005 (1024x683)


So, with new kittens to care for, I’m cheering up a little bit. This whole year has been weird so far, and I can’t figure out why it had to be. Apparently, among all my friends, there’s been quite a bit of upheaval in our lives. Some less than others. In any case, I’m trying to get back on track here. Motivation is in short supply when there’s so much bad news to read in the headlines.


Albuquerque Comic Expo 2014


I was thinking earlier this year to attend ACE as I did last year. I had a table and sold jewelry and a few other sundries that I like; stationery, watch necklaces, tattoo tights, et al. But with the sudden death of my cat and now new kittens to raise, I need to stay home with them instead. The convention will be next weekend, and I might still go down for a day while my husband watches the kittens. I just can’t commit to the whole weekend.


Storenvy


You may have noticed the tab on this page entitled “Shop” takes you to my new(ish) Storenvy shop. I’m trying Storenvy instead of Etsy for a couple reasons. One is you can custom design the store front. Two, the listings are free. The overall layout of a store is much more personal. AND I can sell other things that I didn’t personally hand-make. Like liquid liner, or other cosmetics in cute containers. Asian style eyelashes. And tights. I LOVE tights. Especially good white ones that you somehow can’t find in adult sizes. Or Tattoo tights. Those are fun.


But I also have things like jewelry, resin pieces and other things. I made some awesome lip balm flavors as well. And eventually I’ll be listing my clothes. Making clothes takes a while when I’m all by my onesy though, so the little items and third party items are up there first.


Here are some items I just got in:


Beauty Angel Mineral BB Cream from Korea. Comes in three shades, 1 – 3, although it tends to blend very well in general with any Caucasian skintones. I’m still on the lookout for darker tones for those with darker complexions. As these come from Asia, however, I haven’t had any luck yet. I know that Western companies are now carrying what they call “BB Cream”, offering it in more tones than just the three. So far, those products just make me break out.


I’ve used many BB Creams from Asia, though, and have never looked back. These particular creams are really light on the skin, feeling like powder when it dries, and it has a floral scent as well. These are my new favorites.


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Liquid Liners. Maybe its because I live in a small town, but a good liquid eyeliner seems really hard to find at places like Walgreens, Walmart, and especially the grocery store. And when I DO find it at those places, it’s subpar. Again, that’s probably just me. But I figured I’d look for some quality liquid liner from Asia. Behold, I have. :) And they come in cute packaging. Also, mascara in cute bottles.


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Watch necklaces. I love these things so much, I think I’ve started collecting them. There are so many different styles, and when I see one I like, I can’t seem to help myself. Plus, they go fantastically with the Classic Lolita look. Or any Lolita look. Here’s some new ones I got in.


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Hopefully, I will be posting more often now. I have so many projects on my plate, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. But I’m taking it a step at a time. Please check out my storenvy, and if you have any suggestions, feel free to share them. ^.^


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