Life Hacks, Part 2


It’s been awhile since my last Life Hacks post, so I thought I’d do round two, full of tips and tricks about everything under the sun a few useful topics.

Moving in with a significant other? Here’s how you can keep the peace even if your ideas of organization are world apart.

For my NYC ladies (or other small space gals)…how to maximize your square footage.

Need just one more pair of shorts for the summer? I’m loving this scalloped, lace pair!

Looking for a good chick lit novel for vacation? I can’t wait to read All Summer Long after seeing Ashley’s review (and I also loved Bookshop on the Corner, which she highlights!).

Need an easy dinner idea? My mouth is watering over Julia’s recipe for chicken taco bowls!

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Books on My Radar


Ok, I need to just, like, stop going on (ha, that’ll never, ever happen…) because every time I’m on there, I discover a dozen new books I want to read! Below are a few that have piqued my interest lately and are on my list to either buy (when prices go down) or check out from the library (if the waitlist isn’t too long!).

1) This seems to be marketed more toward college students, but I love self help type books, especially those geared directly toward young women.

2) Many people seem to have loved this one, and I’ve been stalking it on Amazon for awhile now! I’m not hugely in to politics, but who can say no to a funny book about working for Obama? If Mindy Kaling and Ashley recommend it, I’ll listen.

3) Laura Dave’s new novel about a culinary superstar who gets hacked sounds right up my alley (and seems like a totally different type of book than Eight Hundred Grapes, which I read a few years ago and enjoyed). Plus, who can resist the cheerful cover?

4) To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Sykes’ and Piazza’s other book, The Knockoff, despite it being quite popular. I stopped reading partway through a few summers ago and may have to give it another chance. In the meantime, I’ve heard good things about their new release, which seems like the perfect light read for summertime travel!

5) A fun fictional book about the life of a celebrity journalist in Hollywood is just what the doctor ordered for summer. I’d love to scoop this one up to bring on the plane to Paris–it sounds like something that’ll keep me entertained for hours!

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Greetings from Boston or Cape Cod, depending on when you’re reading this! I took a 10 pm flight up to Boston last night and will be driving down to the Cape today for a college friend reunion. I couldn’t be more excited–spending time with my college girlfriends brings me SO much joy, and while our trip will be fairly short, we’ve been counting down for months and can’t wait to reunite! There are six of us coming from DC, Boston, Connecticut, New York, and Wisconsin, so we’re looking forward to some much needed catchup time (and we’re sending love to the West Coast contingent of our crew who couldn’t make the trek out!). Think lots of beach time, wine + game nights, and more. I also purchased a palm leaf swimsuit for the occasion, which you may have seen on Instagram, and can’t wait to break it out…

On my playlist: The perfect summer beach jam and one of my faves from Summer ’16.

On my nightstand: I packed a few books for the beach and am excited to dive in, but in reality I probably won’t be reading much this weekend other than on the plane. I also ordered The Light We Lost but want to wait to start reading it until I know I’ll really have time to sit down and enjoy it (so probably next weekend when I’m back!). Is anyone else like that with books? Sometimes I feel like I rush through books when I travel, and I want to be able to savor this one because I KNOW it’ll be good! I’ve heard amazing things from everyone who’s finished it (but I’m also sure that I’ll sob my eyes out…another reason why I don’t really want to bring it on this trip!).

On my mind: Oh my goodness. If you need a new show, Friends from College (which seems to be a recurring theme in this post, ha!) is SO good. I started watching it last weekend and finished it within 24 ish hours (there were only eight 30-minute episodes, but still). One of my other college friends got into it too, so we’ve been texting nonstop about all of our favorite scenes/characters. Basically, the show revolves around a (co-ed) group of college friends who are now all living in the same city as 30-somethings (#goals). However, conflict ensues as one friend tries to get pregnant, two others maintain a complex romantic relationship, and more. The show definitely made me laugh out loud several times, and anyone else who has watched TV with me will know that this is a rarity (seriously, I was once watching The Office with a date and maybe chuckled a couple of times and he was convinced something was wrong with me…or maybe I do have a problem). But this show is funny and touching (the opening credits get me every time…#sentimental) and will have you binge-watching right away! You heard it here first (and if we’re friends IRL, you’ve already heard me talk about it nonstop). I already want to watch the season again!

On my wish list: Let’s just call this the summer of wicker bags? Everyone and their mother is obsessed with them and I can’t get enough either. I’m loving this one (which is only $22 on Amazon Prime, so it’s basically a no-brainer) and actually ordered it for my Cape trip, so I guess it’s actually off my wish list now.

On the agenda: After a BUSY work week, I’m excited for my time off–relaxation is just what I need! Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

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4 Things to Do For a More Productive Week

For weeks when you just need alllll the coffee (and maybe a few donuts).

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I’m so excited to be heading out of town this evening for a little beach getaway (and I can’t wait–more on that tomorrow!), but does anyone else feel like the days leading up to a vacation are always the busiest? Somehow, it always seems like I have the most projects due right before I head out of town–which makes the vacation time all the more rewarding, sure! But the days leading up to a trip (which are already chaotic enough) become even busier when there are major deadlines to meet. Here are a few things that have already helped me this week:

1) Do some prep over the weekend. In terms of prepping for my vacation, I did tons of laundry and packed my suitcase (I’ll just have to throw in extras like my hair dryer, straightener, sneakers, and toiletries before heading to the airport). In terms of prepping for work, I spent some time on Sunday afternoon sitting down with the article I’ve been working on and gathering my thoughts and jotting down some notes about topics to discuss with my boss before our meeting on Monday morning. I find that sitting down in my own (quiet!) home to think about a big project is much more effective than trying to piece together thoughts at my desk early in the morning before a meeting.

2) Stay on top of your food situation. I placed my first ever Prime Now order on Sunday and loved it! I had a lot of trouble getting the $10 off coupon (which you can apply to your first order) to register on the site, but after a long time on the phone with Amazon customer service (which is generally pretty darn great!), I placed my order and secured a TON of nonperishable grocery items (and, of course, two cases of La Croix!) for only $25, plus everything was delivered right to my front door in just a couple of hours. Technology, what would we do without you?!

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3) Do something fun. I hate when weekends go by and I feel like I didn’t do anything social or even just relaxing. But that’s often my own fault–you can be productive and still make time to catch up with friends, after all! I had a blast catching up with girls from various parts of my life on Saturday evening. Devoting Saturday night to purely just hanging out and having fun made it that much easier to focus on getting lots of things done (laundry, other housework, work prep, etc.) all day Sunday.

4) Try something new. Sometimes I’m eager to try something, like a new workout class or even a new dinner place, but then I get home from work and end up reverting to my usual routine. On Saturday, I tried a new spin studio in DC and absolutely loved it–I’ve already gone back twice this week, although I hate to use up my pack of classes so quickly! I was glad that I trekked out to the studio fairly early and tried the class when I had a little bit more free time–I hate getting to the studio four minutes before class starts, which is something I’m definitely guilty of doing. 😉 Taking a little more time to get familiar with the studio up front will definitely pay off in the long run when I am running late and already know how to use the lockers, set up my bike, etc.

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Picking a Neighborhood


One of the best parts of moving to a new city (or just finding a new apartment) is choosing a neighborhood. I’ve been really happy with the various places I’ve lived (New York’s Upper East Side, Philadelphia’s University City, and now, Georgetown), but of course I always experienced the “what if” feeling. What if I lived in downtown DC closer to some of my favorite restaurants and workout studios (well, then I would be farther from work). But what if I lived in Virginia and was closer to work (however, would I still be able to find that “neighborhood” feel?). You know the drill.

Several of my friends have either re-signed their leases, moved to a new spot, or are currently living at home and exploring apartment options. I thought I’d share a few of the factors that were important to me during my search, which are things I still think about fairly often.

1) Practicality. Are you close to work? If not, does that matter? If you’ve been dating someone in your city, how close do you want to live to that person? Is it really worth it to Uber pool across town several nights a week in order to see him or her, or do you appreciate having your own neck of the woods? For me, I basically live as close as possible to my office in Virginia while still living in DC, which is something that I wanted. Of course, if I lived on the other side of the river my commute would be that much easier, but I’m much, much closer to work than I would be if I lived farther east in the city. Things like proximity to a grocery store, pharmacy, and gym are important to consider. In Georgetown or Glover Park, for example, you’re not necessarily going to be near a grocery store depending on where you live. I’m not personally super close to all three of the places I listed above, but I’ve made it work. I’ve had to accept that not every city is going to be like NYC, where there are truly three pharmacies, three grocery stories, and three gyms/workout studios per block! In Philly, I didn’t necessarily fall in love with my neighborhood, but I was happy with it because of how easy it was for me to get to class, buy food, and dine out every once in awhile, so as a busy student, practicality definitely won.

2) Personality. What’s the neighborhood’s personality? How does it match your personality? Is your neighborhood a place you look forward to coming home to at the end of the day, or do you just feel blah about it? I know that while I’m personally a city girl at heart, I prefer living in a neighborhood rather than in a more city-like high rise. Walking and driving around Georgetown honestly makes me so happy, and while I’m farther away from other things, I love how gorgeous and safe it is over here. In New York, I liked living on the Upper East Side because of the similar neighborhood feel, but the experience was definitely worlds away from one of my friend’s–she lives in an amazing, 20+ floor building downtown! Do you want to live in the New York/DC that you see on TV, or are you ok being a bit more removed from all of the chaos?


3) Price. This is probably the number one factor for most people, but it’s definitely related to the other two. Maybe living in that cute but pricier neighborhood is worth it if you can walk to work (practicality) and cut back on transportation costs–honestly, not having to splurge on that monthly subway pass in NYC would’ve been amazing! Price is so personal and can vary so much from city to city, so there’s really no one “right” way to approach it. Also keep in mind that in some neighborhoods you can get more for your money in others. I knew people in New York who chose to live in Connecticut or New Jersey because they could get a little more space for their money, but in return, they had a much longer commute.

Have more neighborhood questions? I’ve lived in three cities (and apartments) in four years, so I’ve been there!  Drop me a note or leave me a comment and I’ll chime in!

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How to Make the Most of an Apartment’s Downfalls

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

As much as I love my apartment, it’s far from perfect. I kind of describe it to friends as having more than enough room for one person, but not quite enough for two people. The main reason for that is because of the lack of closet space. I have two closets–one in my bedroom and one by the front door–but they aren’t the most functional. In New York and Philly, I was VERY fortunate and had a walk-in closet area both times (although in Philly the walk-in was my only closet, meaning that it also held bulky winter coats, my vacuum, and more). In DC, my bedroom closet is very deep but only has one bar that I can actually reach (and I’m a pretty tall person). While I don’t have a TON of clothes (all my money goes to home items instead! Ha), things were still getting a little crammed in there since the closet isn’t very wide, either.

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

After checking out the Container Store and still not feeling super inspired, I decided a few weeks ago that (while it would be a little weird), I’d switch the contents of my bedroom closet with those in my front hall closet. I realize that it may be a little strange for a guest to open up the closet door and see all of my dresses and button downs hanging up in there, but how often do I have guests over? WAY less frequently than I get dressed, which I do, you know, every day. So far, the new system is working well–especially because it’s summer and I no longer need to grab a jacket on my way to work anyway, which means no reaching into the deep closet every morning.

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

Does your apartment have some less than perfect features? Here are a few swaps you can try:

1) Not a fan of your radiator sticking out? My current apartment had one of these covers installed when I moved in (which is nice, because I don’t think I personally would shell out $250 for one!). It definitely makes the space a little nicer looking, and you can even keep things (like a stack of coffee table books) on top of it, if needed.

2) While I wish I had a whole closet to dedicate to cleaning supplies and things like extra toilet paper and paper towels, I’m lacking in storage space. Have a thin, standup vacuum? Slide it right under your bed our couch rather than propping it up somewhere visible. Just don’t forget where you put it when it’s time to use it!

3) Need to cover 80 percent of your flooring with carpets? This was a rule in my apartment building in NYC, and one of my downstairs neighbors made it VERY clear that she expected this to be enforced…but what better excuse to try out this layered rug look? Don’t feel like you have to sacrifice style to be a rule-abiding tenant!

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Ways I’ve Saved Money While Traveling


Happppy Monday! Is it still possible to get the Sunday scaries during the summer? Because even though the days have been longer and the weekends have been lazier, I’m still feeling pretty busy at work right about now!

Going off last week’s post on packing tips, I thought I’d share a few super easy ways to save money while traveling. I’m all about treating yourself (especially when in NYC for a weekend…I’ll take ALL of the food and wine, please!), but when taking longer trips, I’ve found some simple ways to cut back.

1) BRING A BOOK FROM HOME. If you’re like me and like to read but also enjoy browsing the airport bookstores, this tip is for you. DO NOT (I repeat, do not!) buy a book at the airport when you could probably purchase the same item for much cheaper on Amazon (or when you could bring something that you a) already own and have been meaning to read for months or b) checked out from the library). I love using plane rides as a way to catch up on fun reading, but there’s really no reason to cough up $25 for a hardcover airport book! Just say no. 😉

2) Go to the grocery store. If your travel destination is close to a grocery store, do a quick shop for essentials (this is better for trips that are 3+ days long, because otherwise you probably won’t finish everything you buy). If you’re traveling with friends, decide ahead of time when you’d like to go out to eat and when you’d like to stay at home, and shop for food accordingly. Keeping healthy, affordable breakfast food such as egg whites, yogurt, or Luna/Rx bars around the house (or Airbnb) can be a smart solution if your group plans on doing fancier lunches or dinners out. Just don’t buy things that you won’t eat or won’t finish, unless you can bring them back with you or hand them off to another member of your group who’s staying longer…if you end up tossing half of the grocery store items you bought to be “frugal,” you’re not saving any money! Trust me, I’ve been there.

3) Don’t be shy about splitting. It’s easy to say “oh, I’ll get this Uber” and think that the charge is no big deal, but everything adds up over the course of a trip! My friends definitely aren’t shy about Venmo requesting one another $1.80 or so to chip in toward a $10 group Uber ride. It may seem silly asking for such a small amount of money, but it helps keep everything fair. You’ll thank yourself later when you have an extra $10 to put toward that second margarita at dinner.

What tips would you add? I’m heading to the Cape this weekend with friends and can’t wait. ‘Tis the season of vacation!

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On my playlist: James Taylor, anyone?! So excited because tonight we’re taking my mom to the James Taylor concert at Nats Park (my dad, sister, and I got our family tickets as a birthday present for my mom earlier this spring), so naturally, I’ve been listening to his music this week to prepare. My mom loves him and always had one of his CDs in the car when my sister and I were growing up. I distinctly remember her driving me up to Maine for my first year of college with “Carolina In My Mind” and other classics of his on repeat (hey, it was a long car ride). We’ve also listened to James Taylor and Carole King’s joint album MANY times, and I love the two of them together. Also, did you know that James Taylor used to be married to Carly Simon? Like, musical worlds colliding. But anyway, I’m a fan. As Taylor Swift says, “You said you never met one girl who had as many James Taylor records as you…But I do.” (Such a good throwback song!).

On my nightstand: Other than binge watching Season 3 of How to Get Away with Murder (it’s on Netflix, so it’s kind of a no-brainer), I’ve been reading The Attachments, which is a funny novel about two female coworkers who gab their brains out over the office email system, which is monitored by a guy who kind of has a crush on one of them…it’s a cute story but hasn’t been my favorite read, although I want to finish it because I hate abandoning books!

On my mind: So, this really cool new falafel place (called Falafel Inc, the Post did an article about the restaurant here) opened up right near me in Georgetown and I was thrilled to try their famous $3 falafel and pita sandwich earlier this week (and I know I’ll have to go back and get it again + try one of their delicious looking sides sometime soon!). The best part? Not only is the food cheap, but proceeds go toward feeding a refugee for a day. Talk about a win-win! I basically SPRINTED over there after work on Monday (at like, 5 pm) because I was so hungry and ready to eat dinner, haha.

On my wish list: I’m totally obsessed with straw totes/bags right now and love this half circle one from Tuckernuck! Also, weird wish list item, but I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’ve really been wanting to try these famous cotton candy grapes! I’ve been freezing regular green grapes and eating them while I watch Netflix at night (#coolkid, I know), and they’re SO good. Like not even in a “I’m trying to be healthy so I’ll eat these instead of candy” type of way…they’re just actually delish and I kinda prefer ’em to candy! If you haven’t gotten on the frozen grapes bandwagon, add them to your list! I bet the cotton candy ones would be good at their usual temperature but I’m also curious what freezing them would be like?! I just need to get my hands on them first…next time I make a Giant or Whole Foods run, for sure.

On the agenda: In addition to going to the James Taylor concert, I’m also planning on getting together with friends and probably having a lazy Sunday afternoon reading by the pool. Summer weekends are truly the best weekends! Hope you have a great one!

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How to Pack Efficiently


I’ll preface this post with a little disclaimer: I almost always try to pack as light as possible. I’m not one of those girls who hauls three bags through airport security and checks another two for a week-long domestic trip (or even for a six month international trip…but more on that in a second!). Then again, I’m not a fashion blogger who’s literal job is to bring a million different outfits on each trip, etc, etc. But I always have to laugh when I see posts about what a struggle it is to use just a carry on…because it really, really isn’t that hard. Promise!


I’ll be going to Paris with my family this summer, and I think we will be checking bags this time. You may be wondering why we wouldn’t check bags for a week-long, international trip, but when we spent two weeks in London between my sophomore and junior year of college, my parents insisted that we bring carry on bags (!) to last us the entire time. About six months later when I left for my semester abroad in Scotland, I brought along only one (really big) suitcase and a backpack. I ended up purchasing a small roller bag for weekend travel, and it was cheap enough that I could just leave it behind when the school year ended. But guys. I traveled abroad from mid-January through late May with one bag. You can do it for one weekend, I promise! 😉 Still not convinced? Here are a few tips of mine:

Scope out the scene: When traveling this past year, I’ve primarily been going to weddings or to visit friends. During my most recent trip to NYC, I opted to bring a backpack and a larger tote bag rather than a bag and a suitcase because I knew I’d be staying a couple of different places and didn’t want to have to wheel my suitcase around the city. For the weddings, I’ve generally stuck to a carry on suitcase and a backpack. My suitcase has definitely been filled to the brim, but that was mainly because I liked to bring a couple of different outfit options for each event–and I’m glad I did! I had bought a dress specifically for the wedding I was invited to in April, but when I realized how cold the weather was on the day of, I decided to wear a backup option and felt much more confident in it!

My friends and I have rented Airbnbs for several of our most recent trips, and they’ll often indicate whether important items such as hair dryers and towels are provided. Can’t tell based on the website? If you have friends arriving to the destination ahead of time, ask them to scope out the scene. I realllllly didn’t want to have to haul a huge hairdryer across the country with me when I was packing for Seattle, but a friend who had checked in earlier noted that each and every bathroom was fully stocked! When we were in Florida for another wedding, it appeared that our Airbnb had limited towels, and we knew we’d need several in order for the 10 of us to each have one to use at the beach and have a separate one for showers. We told some of the latecomers to pack as many extra towels as possible, only to find an extra closet full of them after the rest of our friends arrived–oops! But better to be safe than sorry, I guess! Moral of the story: Scope out the scene as best as possible before packing (or having friends pack) items that may be provided already!


Be practical: While I’m great at packing light, I’m not always excellent at actually bringing the things I need. My mom used to “joke” that I packed badly on purpose so that I’d have an excuse to go shopping whenever I reached my destination, but that really wasn’t the case. Promise! Later, I’d often bring too many things that I just never ended up using. When we go to Florida, I really only need to pack clothes, because I keep toiletries, hair tools, flip flops, and other items at our place down there, which makes things super easy! I’ve also learned that I’m mainly lounging around when we’re at home, so tons of Nike shorts and t-shirts are a must. My grandma’s retirement complex is a bit dressier, so I always bring some nicer options for when we have dinner over there. I used to bring a ton of cute casual outfits with me and never really ended up wearing them, because I’m really either fairly dressed up or really dressed down when I’m there. And as much as I try to convince my family to help me with some outfit shoots for the blog, the answer is usually no…. So most of the fun items will stay at home until they change their mind. 😉 Moral of the story: if something looks cute but it’s really unlikely that you’ll wear it, just leave it at home.


Don’t wait until the last minute: I’m that weirdo who always packs DAYS (if not more…) in advance. I enjoy packing and like feeling super organized before my trip (which is funny, because I could care less about getting to the airport early…as long as I have time to grab a coffee at the gate before the plane boards, then we’re good!). However, packing in advance will save you stress in the long run. I’ve definitely started putting items in my suitcase only to realize that I need to buy a new pair of tights or a certain toiletry before my trip, and if I know a few days in advance, it makes things much easier. Also, make sure you have enough of all of your prescription meds prior to a trip. If you’ll be traveling for a week or more and will need a refill before you leave, take care of that well in advance, too. CVS is everywhere (and I refill a lot of my prescriptions in Florida as needed), but depending on where you are and who you’re with, heading to the pharmacy could just end up being a hassle, so plan ahead! Moral of the story: Don’t wait until 11 pm on your first day of vacation to refill that nightly prescription.


Don’t forget something fun: When else are you going to where that adorable sequined sunhat if you don’t bring it to the beach?! I’m definitely guilty of buying fun, nonessential items for such and such trip that I’m taking, and I think everybody does that from time to time! Don’t forget to pack that special piece of clothing or accessory that you just had to get, and enjoy using it! Moral of the story: Just because you’re packing light doesn’t mean you have to be 100 percent practical 😉 Bon voyage!

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Behind the Scenes of a Home Tour Photo Shoot

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

I thought this would be a fun post to write since 1) it’s always kind of interesting to learn what goes on behind the scenes at any kind of photo shoot, and 2) home shoots are different than fashion shoots (although I still tried to get myself ready, too, should there be an opportunity to jump into any of the photos). I’ve had my home shot twice now, and while I’m no expert, I did find that I was 1) exhausted by the end of the shoot each time, even though I did literally nothing while it was taking place, 2) my apartment looks so much better through the lens of a professional than it does on my iPhone, and 3) even getting my small apartment all cleaned up can take quite awhile!

In case you have a professional home tour shoot coming up or just want to prepare to take some quality photos of your place, here’s how I prepared:

Both of my shoots were on Saturday morning around 11 am. This was an ideal time lighting wise (although my apartment is always very bright, so really any time of day would’ve been fine!). It also wasn’t toooo early (I like to sleep in a bit on weekends when possible!) and allowed for some prep time in the morning.

Though I had been getting my place ready throughout the week, making last minute decorating adjustments here and there, Friday evening gave me plenty of time to finish major cleaning (spraying and scrubbing in the kitchen, dusting my windowsills, tidying up the bathroom, etc). I also went to the store to stock up on fresh flowers and small touches like lemons for my bar cart (no, I do not have real lemons sitting around at all times, haha). All of this took a couple of hours and with my place sufficiently clean, I did a big vacuum, knowing I’d do another quick one in the morning.

Saturday morning was for last minute prep, like cleaning off my glass coffee table with Windex (and feeling very “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” while doing so), doing a second round of vacuuming, putting away shoes and other random things that I didn’t want out during the shoot (into the closet they went!). I then showered, did my hair, and got myself ready while waiting for the photographer, who did ultimately want me to jump into a couple of pictures!).

My most recent shoot took about two hours, and I think the first one I did took the same length of time. Man, I was tired and hungry after all that time, and I wasn’t even doing anything! I tried to stay out of the way during the shoot, but I did enjoy watching what was going on and helping make small adjustments to a corner of the room as needed.

I’m so excited to share the results of my most recent shoot once the piece goes live! For those of you who do outfit shoots, idk how you do it 😉

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