Maybe Matilda: March 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mr. Mood Swing

Every day, it becomes a little more painfully obvious: we are getting further from sweet, chubby, angelic age one and, step by terrifying step, approaching the dreaded two.

I’ll let little Mr. Mood Swing share a few recent examples from this emotional journey:

DSC_0388-1 4 seconds later . . .

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Being offered a piece of donut, homemade (and so delicious!) by his Grandpa Brown:

DSC_0545Oh wait . . . hang on . . .

DSC_0551 That’s what I thought.

I have no freakin’ clue what this one was about:

DSC_0528 But I’m not terribly sympathetic to whatever plight he was suffering through, since it was miraculously fixed 2.4 seconds later.

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What, you think it’s funny to interrupt me while I read?

DSC_0548-1 (This is the face I get 99% of the time now when I try to take pictures. Charming.)

Must . . . not . . . smile . . .

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Thank goodness his completely unpredictable mood pendulum swings both ways. I hate to say it, but let’s be honest: this kid is not a pretty crier.

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I’ll give him this—it’s never boring around here. And if, for some reason, it ever is, just wait about 5 seconds until his next mood swing hits . . . it’ll sure get interesting quickly.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

House Hunting: And so it begins . . .

I think I mentioned in a post recently that we’ve started searching for a house. This is something I’ve looked forward to for a long time and expected to be very exciting. I was right, it is exciting, but not so much in the “kid at Disneyland” way . . . more in the way that being chased by a rabid dog is probably exciting. We’ve had a few Disneyland moments, but plenty of rabid dog moments, too. Maybe house hunting is kind of like being chased by a rabid dog through Disneyland? Actually, house hunting with a plentiful budget is probably Disneyland. Our budget = rabid dog. There are plenty of houses on the market in our price range, but 90% are short sales (which makes me a little nervous—after 5 years of waiting to buy a house, I’m not sure how much more waiting I want to put myself through), and the 10% that aren’t short sales are generally pretty scary.

We’ve been renting for about 7 or 8 years now and you know, it’s starting to feel a little old. Renting has its perks--no repairs, no yard work, no snow-shoveling--but it certainly comes with its own set of issues . . . no options in style/paint colors/etc., Satan’s-minions landlords like we had in our previous rental, slow-moving [but very friendly!] landlord who hasn’t fixed our broken toilet in the 9 months we’ve lived in our current rental . . . you know the drill.

We took our first trip out with our realtor a few weeks ago and it was certainly an eye-opening experience . . . our eyes are bulging-out-of-their-sockets open now.

Our first stop was at a 150-year old ivy-covered stone house north of Salt Lake. I’m a sucker for old houses—one of the homes I grew up in was a 200-year old farm house in upstate New York, and I love the charm and personality that come with an older house. The MLS listing for the gem we looked at has been taken down so I can’t snag a picture to include, but I’m sure you can use your imagination. The pictures made the house look country-cottage-y-adorable, set in a big yard with a fence, and the interior shots looked spacious, bright, and welcoming. The house was near the top of our price range, but I was dying to see it, so it was our first stop.

I pictured Thomas Kincaid cottage charm . . . I got Scooby Doo haunted mansion. The house was a nightmare. The ‘spacious yard’ in the pictures turned out to be a little patch of dirt circled by a fence with half its slats missing. The inside was shockingly awful . . . dirty beyond belief (I actually said at one point, “I wonder why they gave all the trim this gray antique glaze,” running my finger over it to come up with a handful of nasty, 150-year old grime), ceilings that even we shorties could barely stand up straight in, a maze-like layout that had us lost and confused more than once, itsy-bitsy door-less-and-closet-less nooks that were billed as bedrooms, additions that didn’t line up or connect with the original structure (picture the floor just ending and starting up again, 3 inches over and half a foot higher), a staircase to nowhere (not making that up—a door in the wall that we expected to be a closet was hiding a staircase that went up about 6 steps and then just stopped). Even the realtor was shocked—he said he’d never, in all his years as a realtor, seen such deceiving photos on a listing. I still think it would make an amazing house . . . if a buyer is willing to put probably $50,000+ into repairs and updates and a complete cleaning overhaul. I am definitely not that buyer. Strike one.

After stopping by a few townhouses that I was not terribly impressed with, we looked at another house that I had hardly even wanted to see—the listing price was over $10k out of our price range and I didn't particularly want to fall in love with a home I knew we couldn’t afford.  But the house was amazing . . . it was in our dream neighborhood—the one we can’t actually afford but love to drive through, slowly and creepily, peering into people’s windows—and had everything we wanted in a home. Clean, spacious, updated, with plenty of room to grow . . . and it was a HUD home, which meant the government was just trying to sell it fast, so maybe we had a chance at it! We put in a bid as high as we felt comfortable going . . . and didn’t get the house. Not surprising, and we hadn’t gotten our hopes up too high, but of course that hadn’t stopped me from planning out all the decor, checking out paint samples, and window shopping for new furniture. Smart moves on my part, all around. Strike two.

Which brings us to this past weekend. Our realtor was out of town, so we thought we’d just drive around to get a feel for some different areas and maybe drive by (creepily, of course, that’s how we do it) some homes on the list of places we wanted to check out when our realtor got back. As we were driving, we spotted a for sale sign in front of a home that we hadn’t seen in the MLS listings . . . it was in a decent-looking neighborhood with a pretty-okay-looking exterior. It wasn’t an amazing house, but I saw potential. We hopped out to grab a flyer—the price was near the bottom end of our budget—and saw that the home was vacant and shoppers were encouraged to take a peek. We looked through all the windows and decided the previous owners must have moved out mid-renovation . . . all the carpets were ripped up, doors were missing, etc.

No big deal—if we got at at or below its listing price, we could afford to put some serious work into the place. I was actually a little excited at the thought of all the renovations—for the price, we could not only snatch that house up and remodel it to be exactly what we wanted, but we’d probably still come out with extra money bouncing around in our house budget. The backyard was what really sold me—it was set on a corner lot and had a spacious, beautiful yard, fully fenced with a garden in one corner, a stone walkway and patio. I pictured myself setting Forrest free in that gorgeous yard while I sat inside eating cupcakes and watching Ellen. It was a lovely moment.

We called the listing agent twice without hearing back from him and started to get anxious—what if someone else had snatched up our bargain house? What if someone was signing a contract for it right now? In typical fashion, I was already planning the new floors I’d put in and shopping around for outdoor furniture for that amazing backyard, working on my garden layout (I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever owned in record time, not sure why I thought I could handle a garden).

Last night, we finally got a call back from the listing agent who was very excited to hear from some interested shoppers. He and Jeff had a long phone conversation—well, it was long on the agent’s end. Jeff got maybe two words in while I watched his expression morph slowly from excitement to horror. Wonder why that house was such a bargain?

It was a meth house.

A meth house.

A METH HOUSE!!!

The agent was telling Jeff not to worry—the previous owners were just recreational users! It’s okay! Just recreational meth users! They weren’t making meth! Just using it for fun! No worries! It’s cool!

And the meth-lab-tester-people had to tear out all the carpets because they tested positive for brain-damage-inducing meth levels! No biggie!

Oh, and the druggie previous owners also stripped the house before they left! There are no toilets! Or sinks! The furnace is gone! The water heater, too! It’s just an empty, hazardous, life-threatening shell of a meth house! When would you like to come see it?!

Strike three. The search continues. I can only hope that this weekend’s showings keep up this streak of rabid-dog-chase excitement, because I sure would hate to get bored by this whole house-hunting thing. It is just as exciting as I had imagined.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

I’m a dum-dum + giveaway update

I certainly don’t consider myself a computer/internet wiz, but I was starting to feel pretty swell about my technology skills . . . I can write a blog post! I can search for people’s names on facebook without accidentally making their name my status! (Jeff’s grandma does that—cutest, most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen.) Heck, I can even make words send you to other places! A technology goddess, I tell you, right over here.

Until this morning. I have 3 separate email accounts (a business one, an older one I never use, and a current all-purpose one) that are all imported into the all-purpose email account (3 emails become one! Internet genius!). I’ve noticed a bit of a decrease in the amount of mail I’ve been receiving lately, but didn’t think much of it . . . after all, I am posting less often on the blog than I used to and am certainly not putting much work into ye olde etsy shop, so I wasn’t surprised to be receiving dwindling numbers of messages.

Then, this morning. I somehow wound up in the settings of my email account, where I noticed a disturbing little line of text that said something like this: “Messages from maybematildaquilts [att] gmail [dot] com (my business email address) have not been retrieved since March 10, 2012.” WHAT?! My business emails—of all the email addresses to not retrieve, the business emails!—haven’t been imported to the only account I check

I think that sound I’m hearing right now is my Internet Goddess award being repossessed.

SO. If you wrote one of the 50+ emails that was waiting in my untouched, undisturbed business email account, I am very sorry to have not responded for weeks. I’m working on it. Among those unnoticed emails was one from Tanya of 5 Berries Patterns, the giveaway that’s running right here right now, explaining how I could get you your 30% coupon to use in her shop if you gave her a facebook shoutout!

(In case you’ve forgotten about this giveaway, here’s a reminder of the dresses I made using one of her scrumptious patterns:)

DSC_0528 (BAHAHAHAHA!!!)

If you already left a comment on the giveaway post saying you gave a facebook shoutout, I’ll be emailing you shortly with your coupon code! And if not, what the euphemism are you waiting for?

Go to facebook +

Post a link to 5 Berries Patterns as your status +

Come back to the giveaway post and tell me you did it (make sure to leave an email address!)

= I’ll email you a coupon code for a 30% discount in her shop.

Got it? Awesome. Have a nice weekend. I’ll just be over here, massaging my pride, and maybe reading Internet Basics for Dummies. I want that Internet Goddess award back.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scavenger

Forrest has become quite the little scavenger lately. He searches the house each day for interesting items (“interesting items” usually means a sippy cup—he finds beverages most interesting) and stores them around the house in cunning hiding spots. The other night after he went to bed, I spent half an hour searching for the sippy cup full of milk I knew he hadn’t finished . . . it finally turned up the next morning, still full of milk, inside one of my galoshes. Very sneaky—I’m always finding things in strange places. I was folding laundry yesterday and a contact case fell out of a shirt. I have my suspicions about who put a contact case in the laundry basket.

IMAG0166 I have photographic evidence of his scavenging habits. They’re all cell phone pics so, you know, enjoy this artistic brilliance.

IMAG0180 Favorite puppy? Into the washing machine you go. I’ll come back for you later.

IMAG0168 For reasons clear only to a toddler, this pitcher has become a favorite toy recently. It has also become a favorite hiding spot, and the poor child seems truly surprised when we’re able to easily find the treasures he’s hidden inside it.

IMAG0167I spent a good amount of time the other day searching for my dry shampoo . . . why did I waste time looking through the bathroom drawers and cabinets when I should have checked his little red wagon first?

IMAG0156 Now, this one makes more sense . . . a sippy cup fits right in with all those kitchen utensils.

IMAG0147 Under the cushion of the rocking chair makes more sense as a clever hiding spot for the sippy cup, in theory . . . but in practice? It wasn’t very hard to spot.

IMAG0161 I shouldn’t have been surprised to find a contact lens case in the dryer after finding this thermos artfully hidden inside the laundry basket.

IMAG0148 Butter dish on the computer chair. Sure, why not?

This concerns me slightly in planning for a second child someday . . . where will I find his poor, hypothetical future sibling hidden?

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Monday, March 19, 2012

5 Berries Dresses (and pattern giveaway)

It’s official: I’m going to need a daughter someday. You got that, Universe? Message received? I sure love my little fellow, but I can’t deny that sewing for little ladies is just a lot more fun than sewing for misters.

DSC_0550a My little niece up there thinks so, too.

Tanya from 5 Berries Sewing Patterns offered me a pattern to sew up and review, as well as over $70 in patterns to give away to you guys . . . yowza!

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I chose the Eloise Dress pattern—I loved the classic shape and the playful, feminine ruffle around the keyhole . . . adorable!

DSC_0546b It was so much fun to sew, and I love the finished dresses on my pretty nieces! I think they like their new dresses, too . . . their mom reports that they refused to take them off for the rest of the day, even after a rough-and-tumble playground session in them (during an afternoon that was probably a tad chilly for sleeveless outfits). I’ll consider that a success.

DSC_0554 All right, let me tell you a little about the pattern and my thoughts on sewing with it. All of the patterns from 5 Berries are instant downloads, which is awesome—that means no waiting for the pattern to be emailed or snail-mailed to you. When I buy patterns, I’m excited to start them now, so it’s awesome to be able to get going right away without a wait!

The pattern itself was extremely detailed and well-written. I always get a little nervous sewing clothing—I love to sew, but clothing is not my forte and I don’t have tons of experience sewing clothing from start to finish. But even though the pattern I chose is rated an intermediate level, I didn’t have any major issues while working on it—the instructions were well-written and detailed, and there was a photo to help explain every step along the way. The only question I had while sewing might be obvious in the picture above—the skirt isn’t as full and gathered on the black/white dress as the pink version of the dress, because I misinterpreted the instructions and only cut the skirt half as wide as I should have—whoops! It still came out adorably cute and is plenty wide for playing in, and Tanya even changed the directions in the pattern to make it clearer so no one else will make my silly mistake again. It’s pretty near foolproof now!

DSC_0542 My favorite feature of the pattern was the plentiful photos throughout—I find that so helpful when I’m sewing! The directions themselves were clear, but there were photos for every step, making it almost impossible to mess anything up or misinterpret instructions. I loved having the photos to refer to as I sewed . . . they really helped me create a more professional-looking product and avoid unnecessary mistakes.

DSC_0555 I even learned an important sewing skill that I’ve been terrified to try until now: buttonholes! I love the look of the buttons on this dress . . . it almost reminds me of a wedding dress with buttons from the neck to the hemline. And of course I had to go with purple buttons and a purple sash for this little princess’s dress. I’ll give you three guesses on her favorite color. (Answer: “poh-pole.”)

(And if the dresses look a little short on the girls, that’s my fault . . . I didn’t measure them for sizing [naturally] and didn’t take into account how tall they both are for their age! They’re definitely above average in the height department, so I should have cut the skirts a tad longer. Next time.)

collage And despite the dressier style, these dresses also make great outfits for playtime. They have plenty of room for little ones to climb, and run, and slide, and swing.

DSC_0521 Ahem. What? I had to try it on someone before giving it away! Jeff was horrified that I would put our son in a dress, but found comfort in the fact that he was clearly not enjoying himself.  Unlike a certain photo I have of Jeff himself as a toddler in a dress and hairbow, where he’s beaming and laughing in his getup. I’ll resist posting that picture. But I can’t help but notice that Forrest looks rather darling in that dress, wouldn’t you agree?

Okay, now for the giveaway!

5 Berries is offering two prizes today—a first place winner will receive $50 in patterns of their choice, and a second place winner will receive $22 in patterns of their choice!

To enter to win:

1) Visit 5 Berries Sewing Patterns, then come back here and leave a comment telling me your favorite pattern from the shop.

2) Give this giveaway a shout-out on facebook (something like: “I’m entering to win $50 worth of children’s clothing patterns from 5 Berries on Maybe Matilda!” with a link to this giveaway page), then leave a comment telling me you did so (as well as a link, please!).

There you have it! Please leave separate comments for each entry, and make sure I have a way to reach you, either by including your email address in your comment or by enabling email on your Google account (follow the instructions here).

One last thing!  Whether you win the giveaway or not, posting a link to this giveaway on your facebook page will earn you a 30% discount to use at 5 Berries on any amount of patterns! (I forgot to discuss with Tanya how to get/use your coupon code, so I’ve sent her an email and I’ll post with details later about how to redeem your coupon! Check back soon!)  

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pi(e) Day and Simple Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

I’m pretty lame when it comes to holidays. I don’t do much decorating (this past Christmas was actually the first year we’ve ever put up a tree), I don’t have traditional recipes I make each year, and I don’t make my child a special holiday outfit to wear. I have nothing against any of that, I’m just lazy and cheap and can’t seem to get excited about spending weeks creating handmade holiday decorations only to take them down again 2 weeks later. I know, I’m a grinch. Sorry.

But a semi-made-up holiday all about pie? Now THAT is a holiday I can get behind.

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Speaking of Pi Day, I was very disappointed by the conspicuous absence of a solid Rebecca Black “Friday”/Pi Day parody. Don’t even waste your time youtube-ing it. Internet, you have let me down!

We celebrated Pi Day yesterday with this Frozen Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie (recipe here), which was a-freakin’-mazing. It’s not really the first thing that comes to mind when you think “pie,” but Jeff always, without fail, requests cheesecake if I give him dessert options, and the poor boy’s been working those adjust-y fingers to the bone lately, so I figured a cheesecake pie was the least I could do. Well, the very least I could do would be nothing, which is what I normally do. So this was the second-least I could do.

The pie was so, so tasty, and I really wanted to make homemade hot fudge sauce to top it off. I have nothing against store-bought hot fudge (I have certainly been known to eat it straight from the jar), but homemade is definitely better, and definitely less expensive. Most of the hot fudge recipes I looked at called for a lot of ingredients that I don’t normally have in the house—I try pretty hard, actually, to not keep standard dessert ingredients like baking squares or chocolate chips or heavy cream on hand because I really don’t need to give in to my 10:30 at night “let’s make cookies! A lot of them! RIGHT NOW!” whims—but I remembered a recipe from a neighborhood cookbook Jeff’s mom gave me (the absolute best cookbook I own, actually . . . everything I’ve made from it has been delicious). It uses normal, pantry staple ingredients that even a non-pantry-stocker like me tends to have sitting around, and oooooooh, it is good. And it was contributed to the cookbook by someone named Margie, and I really feel like I can trust recipes from a person named Margie. That just sounds like the name of somebody who can really cook, am I right?

Simple Hot Fudge Sauce

6 tablespoons margarine or butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 cup evaporated milk

Melt butter/margarine in saucepan. Add sugar and cocoa and mix well. Add evaporated milk gradually, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.

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Mmmmm. Thick, rich, delicious hot fudge. No unusual ingredients, no emergency run to the grocery store, no way to accidentally ruin the recipe. Simple and delicious. Thank you, Margie, whoever you are.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Is this real life?

(If you’re stopping by to enter the 5 Berries pattern giveaway . . . we’ve postponed until next week—sorry for the inconvenience! Check back Monday, March 19th for the giveaway!)

These past two weeks have sure been a doozy. (Or, since it was multiple weeks, am I supposed to pluralize and call them doozies? That just doesn’t sound right. Doozies? Doozy? I give up.) We took a whirlwind trip to Pennsylvania to visit Jeff’s family, then came home and started house-hunting (yikes). I played single mom for a few exhausting days while Jeff pulled 12-ish-hour workdays, all while I was crocheting like a madwoman to stock up for the Queen Bee Market next month.

My fingers hurt. My brain hurts. My ears hurt, because of course Forrest is teething (constantly) and misses his dad and is not shy about expressing his anger. My hat is off to actual single mothers. And last night, I woke up to my sleep-talking husband sitting up in bed in the middle of the night, demanding to know who I was and what I had done with Forrest. (Yes, I’m a kidnapper. I took your child and then climbed into bed with you and fell asleep. That’s what we kidnappers do, didn’t you know?)

Anyway. I’m sure what you REALLY wanted to hear today was a crazy story about a naturopathic nutso calling me fat, right? Isn’t that what you scour blogs for? That’s the reason I’m a blog reader, really . . . I just keep waiting for wild fat stories. Well, today I. CAN. DELIVER! This should be a nice Monday pick-me-up for you . . .

The reason Jeff was having such long days at work was to man his office’s booth at the Salt Lake Tribune Home and Garden Show. He got me a few free tickets, so my sister, sister-in-law, Forrest, and I headed up Saturday afternoon to check it out. We were standing by the Vitamix booth, scoring ourselves some free smoothies and doing our best to avoid eye contact with any salespeople. I’m a master of the awkward mumble-and-sidestep move to get around booth pitchmen. I feel like wearing a sign to these sorts of things—“I have no money. I seriously cannot buy your stuff. But I will gladly accept your free samples.”

I feel a tap on my shoulder as someone says, “Ma’am, is that your baby?” In a moment of panic, I spin around, expecting to see Forrest has escaped from his stroller and is being carried off by a stranger (the sort of person who will later fall asleep in our bed after kidnapping our child, I’m sure), and see a middle-aged man pointing at Forrest (who is just sitting in his stroller). I say yes, and he immediately launches into an extremely confusing sales pitch . . . after a brief intro of himself as a wildly famous and successful naturopath (which I somehow doubt), he starts talking about his wife, who was able to have a vaginal birth against all odds, and don’t we all dream of a vaginal birth, and wouldn’t you like to have a vaginal birth, and so on. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in the position of having a male stranger accost you in a crowded room and preach to you about the excitement and wonder of a vaginal birth, but I’ll tell you this: it’s kind of awkward. I didn’t particularly want to hear about his wife’s vaginal birth. I got really tired of hearing him say the words “vaginal birth.” You’re probably getting tired of it, too. And all this time, I still had no idea what he was trying to sell me . . . a vaginal birth? Do they sell those these days?

He finally hands me this little card, pictured below, and says to me with great intensity, staring me down in a sort of sisterly, compassionate, I-feel-your-pain kind of way, “I know how hard it can be for moms to lose weight.”

DSC_0523-1 OH NO HE DIDN’T! Tell me that a stranger, a middle-aged man, did NOT just approach me, ask if I was a mother, and tell me he gets it. He can finally help me lose all this baby weight I’m dragging around. Really, sir? This is your sales pitch? To find women carting children around, approach them in the middle of a huge group where they can’t possibly escape from you and your uncomfortable vaginal-birth-ridden sales pitch, and tell them, “I can help you lose that disgusting chub clinging to every inch of your body!”?

While I’m puzzling through all of this, wondering if this is real life or maybe there’s a hidden camera somewhere and this will be airing on TV later, he’s pointing at the woman on the card and telling me that if she did it, I can, too! With his help and his magical herbs, I can lose the stomach pooch (that’s a quote! he seriously said “stomach pooch!”) that plagues us mothers! I think he started to realize how awful this was sounding (and maybe noticing the looks of complete bewilderment and simmering rage on my face), so he tried to backtrack with a less-than-tactful, “And I, uhhhh, I’m only offering this to you because you look, uhhh, fit and slender! I don’t even try to talk overweight people into this program because they just don’t care about their health!”

GOOD SAVE, DOC. First I was a chubby, poochy, pathetic and unmotivated mom who needed your rescuing, but now you’ve changed your mind and decided that I am actually slender and that is why I need to lose weight with your assistance? Not to mention that you think being overweight means you just don’t give a crap about your health? I would have to disagree with that statement . . .

He finally bowed out not too gracefully by letting me know that I could email him with any questions and he’d just looooove to work with me. I bet. I do have a few questions, come to think of it. Mostly about the nature of his sales pitch and the questionable wisdom in calling potential customers fat. I’d also love to learn a little more about his wife’s vaginal birth, because I certainly didn’t hear enough about that.

(By the way, this is SO not a request for compliments and reassurance about my figure. I feel just dandy about my appearance and my health, no thanks to Mr. Nutty Naturopath up there. It was just one of those “is this real life?” moments that simply cannot be kept off the internet. And if you are interested in his products or want to get his email address . . . I am definitely not passing it along to you. A salesman of his caliber needs to go out of business, pronto.)

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