Star Light Star Bright

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“Star light, star bright. The first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might. Have the wish I wish tonight”

Pinocchio delivered that famous line when one day he looked upon the glazing star, so luminously fixed in the night sky, and wished that one day he’d become a human boy. Flash forward 120 years later after Carlo Collodi brought his children’s novel to life, the very thought of wishing upon a star for a desire, a dream so far-fetched and improbable, remain naive and vacuous to most people. Image

However, many great inventions and enterprises trading equities around the globe do not achieve their monumental success without, at one point in time, a wish…a desire…a minuscule dream so small and insignificant that many deem preposterous. However, without igniting a dream, believing in its existence, and nurturing its growth, we wouldn’t be moving forward with our existence; rather, we would remain complacent in our current state of affairs and be bounded by the confining “can dos, can’t dos” of our daily grind.

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Like those of Evan Spiegel (who developed Snapchat as a project for one of his product design classes at Stanford) and Michael Dell (who founded his namesake company from his dorm room by selling computers built from stock components), they believed the trail of success starts with a solid foundation. In my outfit today I chose this black and white outfit with this star-spangled cardi (which reminds me of what Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wore; similar one HERE) because this color combo reminds me of the fundamental bearings of a stable core – one that is “tried and tested”; one that retains its value and withstands passing trends and time. 

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Thus I believe our lives should be led by a well-rooted foundation and our dreams catapulted with a strong mind, a tactful plan, and a bucket full of faith. Like a glazing star whose life begins with traces of hydrogen fuel and helium, ideas are like chemical infusions that, in due time, creates newer elements that propel our expansion, leaps and bounds, into newer and more fulfilling areas!

Shine on starlets!

Xo~ Lena

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Photos: Jason J Photography

Dress: Forever 21// Cardi: TopShop// Tights: Hue// Shoes: Vince Camuto// Accessories: H&M/Urban Outfitters

 

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Bittersweet Wonders

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Chicago in all its enrapturing sights and glory is a sprawling city with so many things to do. Bonafide comedy shows at Second City. Lush promenade walks along Michigan Avenue. Shopping mecca for those deep pocket spenders along Magnificent Mile. As devoted and mesmerized I am with the Beaux-Arts architecture, Praire Style industrial feats, and Euro-centric culinary delights the city has to offer, there are days when I just want to take a breather from all the movements, the noise, the smoldering sights and seek solace in a peaceful place.

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Do you ever want to freeze a moment and lavish in the stillness of time? That the daily iteration of errands to do, goals to meet, and tasks to accomplish have you looking for the “pause” button? As if being swept away on my feet by the illusory painted glory of the Windy City, I decided it was time to set both feet on the ground and travel to somewhere new. To breathe, to clear my head, to start with a clean slate. So off to the Crossroads of America I go. Bye bye Chicago, hello Mishawaka!

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Nicknamed the “the Princess City” of Indiana (strange enough there were no tiaras in sight), the neighborhood we stayed at on Bittersweet and Jefferson had a community spirit and “hometown” feel. Everything from the old-fashioned record player to the s’mores-friendly fire pit was quaint and endearing, not to mention the curated selection of quilted patchwork blankets provided for our stay. As if the cabin itself wasn’t alluring enough, we were blessed with the nature-infused visuals from the backyard. Pristine waterfront. Leafy greens in vibrant Autumn hues. The more I gazed into the clear horizon and took in the ethereal beauty of Mother Nature, the more the hovering cloud above my head began to dissipate.

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To keep my look simple and refined without compromising style and comfort, I wore a lengthy textured sweater over opaque tights. And because we spent a big chunk of our time strolling through the woods, I chose sole support and traction by taking these wedge sneakers out for a spin. The outerwear contenders were fleece jacket or navy coat with wool lapels, so evidently I went with the latter for its chic and edgy flair.

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Trick of the trade with pairing – strut layer upon layer by wearing a long jumper underneath a fitted coat. The peekaboo effect would not only give your outfit that fashionable nod of approval, but also ideal for girls with pear-shaped bodies that want to downplay certain areas (as the dual-layered effect takes the eye away from the hips). Not to mention so on-trend and sartorially astute! To complete this look I wore this tribal necklace to keep dullness at bay. Who likes a monotonous outfit from head to toe without a fun pop of color like this cherry red?

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They say that Mother Nature is always speaking. She speaks in a language understood within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer. And at peace was I after this mini getaway — refreshed, re-livened, and ready to take on the coils and fans of the bustling city again! Like the beauty we see around us, it was priceless 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Top: BCBG Generation// Tights: Forever 21// Jacket: TopShop// Shoes: Puma// Bag: Louis Vuitton// Necklace: Boutique in Bangkok// Shades: Prada

Photos: Jason J Photography

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Shades of Neoprene Blue

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” – Pablo Picasso

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There’s something palpably enticing about a nature-inspired artwork. Think of the inherent beauty spun from commonplace visuals we see around. The captivating light effects cast from the vast horizon of mere abyss. Or the iridescent glow from lush contrasts between water, boulders, and edifice. Simple bearings of nature can oftentimes inspire and motivate us to ponder, to visualize, and to creative wonders.

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In essence art has no restrictions nor bound by any absolute definition. A painter with an eye for precision and a desire to elicit a concept, a mood, or emotion with a vast array of colors is as remarkable a tastemaker as a designer with an eye for seamlessly executed textural stripes and crafty color coordination.

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Thus art and fashion have had a long relationship in fusing illustrative designs into ready-to-wear attires, with major glossies from Miuccia Prada’s illustrative murals of models’ faces to confetti-themed Miu Miu coats at Paris Fashion Week. So when dressing up becomes a work of art, it’s nonetheless the designing, the curating, and ultimately the pairing that makes fashion a creative playground that brings life to artistic designs.

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In my outfit today I wanted to relay the impact of art on fashion by choosing a stretchy neoprene sheath from Kenzo that boasts a vibrant, watercolor-inspired print throughout. I love the off-kilter stripes of yellow and blue and the clash of opposite wavelengths that create a shocking effect. A cult favorite moto jacket was in high demand for fending off the chills, and these lace up heels brought ultra back to chic.

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Every ensemble needs a wild card, no? So I took this avant-garde design up a notch by keeping my essentials in a tribal-infused trapezoid clutch. Take it from Picasso who believed the purpose of art was to wash the dust of daily life off our souls. So relax, have fun, and add that extra pep to your ensemble with a wild card pairing 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Dress: Kenzo// Jacket: Hinge// Shoes: Prabal Gurung for Target// Accessories: Topshop// Clutch: Boutique in Kenya// Shades: Prada

Photos: Jason J Photography

Find Similar Styles

Think Pink

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Fundraising for cancer research + designer runway show  = haute couture with a side of philanthropy!

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That’s the Think Pink Fundraising event that I had the pleasure and privilege of attending last night at the Four Seasons. The 3rd annual fundraiser was held in honor of the Lynn Sage Foundation, a research-funding platform founded by sisters Laura and Halee Sage in search of breast cancer cure upon the passing of their mother Lynn.

Not only did the event prompt attendees to join forces in rendering a positive social service, it was also visually gratifying to watch Chicago bloggers walk the runway show dressed in Nicole Miller’s Fall/Winter collection!

The Vogue-gracing designer is best known for modern aesthetics imbued with bright prints and patterns. Her signature looks for this season? Black and white River Stone pattern. Metal beading over solid black mesh. Edgy. Modern. Chic.

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So what would be the best way to showcase her design and support her philanthropic endeavors other than having Chicago’s finest bloggers walk the runway show! I was so thrilled to finally meet Vanessa Lambert, the brain and beauty behind What Would V Wear. Also it was my absolute honor to meet the host and stylist for the show –  Janet Lee Mandell of Fashionaholic!

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Here I had the pleasure of interviewing the fashion enthusiast and lifestyle blogger on how she began her journey. Read more about Janet’s story and thoughts on starting a blog, staying connected with readers, and collaborating with designers:

Q: Can you tell me about your blog and what motivated you to start it?

A: My blog is about my passion for fashion and how I portray that in my day to day life. I also offer travel and lifestyle content. I started Fashionaholic because I wanted to showcase my personal style and blogging was the perfect fit.

Q: How would you describe your own personal style?

A: Modern and edgy with high and low fashion.

Q: You have amazing ensembles! Where do you find the inspiration for your blog posts?

A: I love checking Instagram for inspiration, but honestly most of my inspiration comes from experimenting with different pieces in my own closet. Everything I wear on the blog I styled myself.

Q. You have a lot of followers to your blog and on facebook. How do you do this? Was there ever a time when you had say only one follower?

A: I worked hard at it over time, two years to be exact. It did not happen overnight! I also post consistently, use hashtags and creatively style my outfits to always keep my readers entertained.

Q: Once you’ve got the followers how do you keep them?

A: Keep posting! Once you’ve got a solid base of followers they will start to look forward to new content and check back regularly.

Q: What’s the biggest tip you have for anyone wanting to start a fashion blog?

A: Have your own style and voice, don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t get discouraged. I’m sure every blogger has had moments where they want to give up.

Q: What is the biggest challenge about fashion blogging?

A: Lack of time. I have a full time job and two kids, so it’s hard to juggle it all.

Q: How did your styling collaboration with Nicole Miller come about?

A: I had a contact at the company, but it never hurts to email designers you want to collaborate with. It’s worked for me in the past with getting into fashion week shows and collaborating on events.

Q. What advice do you have for fashion bloggers regarding blog collaboration with designers and boutiques?

A: Don’t be afraid to contact them! They want to work with fresh faces to reach new audiences and markets.

Think Pink. Dream Big. Achieve Wonders. A lesson not typically learned on a Thursday night now is it? 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Dress: Alexander Wang// Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo// Clutch: Tory Burch// Accessories: Topshop

Photos: Jason J Photography

The Fall Sartorialist

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Now that Fall is in full swing, there are many seasonal bearings to embrace that were absent in the beach-frollicking season prior. Pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks for some, watching leaves falling on the wayside for others.

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For most of us either in school or a 9-5 gig, we’d like to think of Fall as the bold resurgence of mix-match pairing. Sometimes all it takes is a new silhouette, layering technique, or a wardrobe staple to help you bring your oldies back into rotation. So don’t pack up your summer outfits yet, here are some tips on rekindling the old flame:

1.)  In-Vest: Cheesy as this sounds, you can up the fashion ante by investing in a solid vest. Whether it’s wool blend with satin lapels or faux fur with toggles, it gives your ensemble an edged up look.

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2.) Mix prints: Sartorial street style can a visceral instinct for some (or a styling entourage to get it down pat), but it’s not rocket science to master the MOD look. Geometric prints look awesome with plaid flannel, and black and white stripes goes well with bright colors. To avoid being drafted by InStyle as a fashion faux paus, make sure neither prints are too boisterous.

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3.) Accessories: Layered bracelets, chunky necklaces, or tribal earrings. On untamed mane days, give your confection a makeover with a wide-brimmed fedora.

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So create an exciting new look with the layering effect without forking out the greenbacks for a new wardrobe. Mix and match your wardrobe staples, and have fun styling the model YOU!

Xo~ Lena

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Top: Urban Outfitters// Vest: H&M// Jeans: Hudson// Shoes: Vince Camuto// Fedora: H&M// Bag: TopShop// Bracelet: Forever 21 + J Crew// Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs

Photos: Jason J

 

Earn Wings And Sky Out

“For me, time is the greatest mystery of all. The fact is that we’re dreaming all the time. That’s what really gets me. We have a fathomless lake of unconsciousness just beneath our skulls.” – Anthony Hopkins

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They often say dreaming is the foreground to imagination that’s free, unhampered, and limitless. As a child, we often use our wandering mind to dream the unthinkable, gather concrete mortar for our supporting blocks, and build castles in the air. Not ones that we live lavishly in complacency, but those that house our solid character and drive our pursuit. Our passion. Who we want to be, and what we want to achieve.

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To ponder is one, to chase after is another. Though dreams and ambitions steer our journey to new grounds, oftentimes we get so wrapped up in modern mayhem and digital conundrums (4G LTE where art thou?) that we forget our initial bearings and saunter our way to aggravated terrains. We forget our objective, we cede our motive. So to regroup my thoughts when they are scattered along four miles of Lake Shore Drive, I would take a breather by the lakeside and enjoy the view across the horizon.

Invigorating. Unruffled. Free.

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To tribute this journey of revitalizing self (and rendering positive impact on my surrounding), I picked out this embroidered A-line dress from Mata Traders. I love the hand block prints and craft designs as much as the company’s motive in making fashion an impactful metric for fair trade and creating a sphere of meaningful work opportunities for women in India and Nepal. Thus this statement piece coincides with the idea of educating and empowering self and others as the company’s mantra spans a long latitude with a socially-gratifying impact. Mata means “mother” in Hindi, and their clothing is a tribute to the female shakti power in each and every one of us! To find out more about this Shore Club Dress and learn about how their quality handiwork makes fair trade products fashion-forward and unique, check them out HERE!

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Fresh air. Breezy and potent by nature. Unhampered sight. Untampered mind. That’s the shakti power of Mother Nature 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Dress: Mata Traders// Sweater: Abercrombie & Fitch// Belt: H&M// Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs// Shoes: Vince Camuto// Shades: Prada// Bracelet: Topshop// Earrings: Anne Haywood

In collaboration with Mata Traders; thoughts and opinions are my own.

Navy Petals

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Summer is already better, but the best is autumn. It is mature, reasonable and serious, it glows moderately and not frivolously… It cools down, clears up, makes you reasonable…– Valentin

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This past weekend I took advantage of a warm, Autumn day and visited the Chicago Botanic Garden. The scenery and backdrops were astounding! From the ablaze fountain to the vivid landscapes, every moment taken in was a sight for sore eyes. Grey and charcoal were non-existent, mind you  o’ dull colors of winter.

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To match the jovial ambience, I chose a navy dress with splashes of floral prints and an orange tribal bracelet to amplify the color schemes. Nonetheless I brought out a POP of color by adding in a yellow bag with chic chain straps; this Rebecca Minkoff bag perfectly fits the theme because the vibrant yellow color along with the tassel details bode well with my summer dress. Throwing on a cashmere knit when the chilly wind breezes in, I was set from AM to PM.

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From the flourishing green pastures to the quaint Japanese garden, I’d recommend checking out this remarkable garden if you’re ever in Chicago. The mix-match colors really inspired me to reminisce on my favorite summer color. Yellow jazz, I’ve got you down pat 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Dress: Urban Outfitters// Bag: Rebecca Minkoff// Shoes: Nine West// Shades: Prada// Bracelet: Topshop

Photos: Jason J 

Sundae Funday! (West Loop)

Sunday morning. The day I wake up to a fresh start filled with infinite ideas and possibilities! The day my mind isn’t wrapped up in checking off chores and meeting deadlines but rather musing over jovial activities to engage in. Opening up the finely-stacked blinds and letting the copious light seep through, I smile at the myriad of visually-stimulating events before me — the vibrant color schemes of budding roses amid a patch of forest greens; the bustling noise of travelers pursuing after their destinations by foot or car; the happy sight of families strolling through the neighborhood park. Not to mention the annual Taste of Randolph food fest this past weekend in West Loop, where prominent restaurants west of Halsted Street stage multiple food carts filled with veal chops, Korean BBQs, gourmet tacos, and freshly-made margaritas (got a sombrero as a souvenir? Lucky you!)

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Though the aromatic smell of readily-cooked barbeque and free-range turkey burgers sure livens up any taste bud, I wanted to enjoy a quiet and soulful afternoon with yours truly, which nonchalantly my feet brought me to the West Loop Dog Park (or historically the Mary Bartleme Park; but without a doubt those fluffy canines sure brought some jazz to its original name). Though only encompassing 10 acres of land, the park not only holds a double-fenced playground for the 4-legged pooches (with artificial canine grass to provide for exercise and potty areas), but also a kid’s playground filled with slides, chain bridges, and tire swings mixed with obelisks and pyramid-infused structures.

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In my outfit today I wanted to bring out the blossoming livelihood of my natural surroundings in a myriad of colors like midnight blue, fuchsia pink, and mint green. Because the splash of colors scattered across this body-hugging nylon skirt are exorbitantly diverse, I paired it with a silk top that picks up one of the colors in its cosmos — flaming pink . Because my outfit was a “wild card”, meaning it weaves together a variety of tones and colorations (which coincidentally bode well with one another), I completed the look with a pair of nude sandals and minimal accessories — cat-eyes if you may 🙂

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Walking by the hip foodie restaurants, where the locals coined the term “Restaurant Row” (due to a slew of new eateries backed by iconic chefs like Stephanie Izard and Grant Achatz), I came to a mom and pop ice-cream shop with an Irish flair. Upon arrival at Cone (go figure), I was immediately drawn to the Irish Breakfast Sundae (which according to their website is served with Irish Breakfast and Maple Bacon topped with hot fudge and corn flakes (in my dictionary that means “decadence at its best”). As I walked out to the porch to take in that ample supply of Vitamin D before the storm hails in, I noticed that the wooden tables had chalks scattered across the surface. I picked a pink one and began tracing the drawings before me…1 dinosaur, 2 cats, 3 butterflies…where eventually I drew my own sketches. A multitude of hearts embedded in the wooden frames of my canvas. It vividly represents my mood and state of mind at that moment before I leave to beat the rain. I was happy. I sensed calmness. And most importantly, I felt loved 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena

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Top – Zara, Skirt – Topshop, Sandals – Calvin Klein, Sunglasses – Prada, Pouch – Forever 21

Credits: Jason J Photography http://www.jason-j-photography.com/

 

Creatures of Wonderland

“From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I’ve been told where I must go and who I must be,” says Alice Kingsley. “I’ve been shrunk, stretched, scratched, and stuffed into a teapot. I’ve been accused of being Alice and of not being Alice. But this is MY dream. I will decide where it goes from here.” – Alice in Wonderland

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As a child we were introduced to the spectacular wonders of adulthood through the stories livened by our elders. The achievement of a career well-pursued after. The moment a couple walked down the aisle in celebration of forever together. The minutes, hours, and days prepping for the arrival of a firstborn. Whether a particular second was resonated with a complete stranger, or a span of time shared between two love birds, there’s no definite weight to such special and invaluable moments other than those marveling in them. Oftentimes I find myself sit alone in a crowded arena and watch a bevy of passers-by materialize their characters with words and movements. I would wonder what their stories are–where they come from, and where they’re going to.

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Every person’s like a novel–though some may have covers more embellished than others, the depth of ink scribbled through the pages can only be captured once perused through. I think our lives are the same way–we often become enwrapped in the glitz and glamour of chasing after fleeting, nonchalant wind but only come to realize (sooner or later) that they slip through the corners of our hands. Sometimes I feel like my life is like a helium balloon; much like the breezy air sweeping me off the ground to lands untraveled nor foreseen, I forget my humble beginnings and the reason behind the commencement of my journey (see HERE). Which is why when I found out about the Wicker Park carnival this past weekend, I wanted to re-connect with my inner child and her playful spirit by engaging in adrenaline-pumped rides, zippy merry-go-rounds, and elevated ferris wheel above concrete and humanity to resonate with the early stage of life when everything was jovial, simple and carefree.

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In my outfit today I paired my vintage mint pleated skirt with some strappy sandals to bring out the unruffled, “gone-with-the-wind” look. I added color to the assemble by adding in a green belt of a seemingly darker hue and accessorized with double-tiered necklaces. My favorite item from this getup is my straw hat — the coral and mint bandeau added a pop of color to my pastel dress while resonating with its color hue. Completing the look with a mandarin-toned bag from Phillip Lim (similar HERE), which allowed me to carry just the essentials, I was ready to run with the chirpy little ones in line for the 10-story high revolving wheel! Up up and away, where my eye level soon became in tandem with the flock of birds flying by. As images materially unfold in front of me in a different light, I started to see my life more clearly. I was happy. And I felt more free 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena  images

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Credits: Jason J Photography http://jasonjphotography.zenfolio.com