Katniss’ Red Fire dress


One of my sisters commissioned me to make this for our youngest sister’s Christmas gift. 🙂 Katniss’ interview “girl on fire” dress from The Hunger Games movie. It differs from the original dress in that I added cap sleeves for modesty. It’s a red silky materiel with an attached ruffle of sparkly red lace, and a red wire ribbon flounce/bow.

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It was fun getting to go back to my old hobby! 😀

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies


I know, this review is late- sorry! Also, it goes without saying, but there are spoilers. Images are from the Hobbit Facebook page.

I feel like there isn’t much to say because, well, it’s basically one big battle. As the title reflects. But here are some thoughts. Before I get started, let me just get out of the way what I didn’t like about this movie and about the Hobbit trilogy in general.

• It’s too long and drawn out. It just feels…”stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread” (Bilbo in FotR).
• The Fili-Tauriel-Legolas love triangle. So ridiculous. And the tension between Legolas and his father Thranduil because the latter doesn’t approve of her. Legolas leaves in the end because of this.
• The title. It was supposed to be called There And Back Again (which would’ve been much better) but with the move to a trilogy, the title was changed to the current one. It made a huge deal of something that took a few pages in the book and sounded like any cheesy action flick.

And I was pretty annoyed that the killing of Smaug was over in like 5 minutes. Bard was such a hero and that part was so spectacular.

20150422-214153.jpg And then- whoop, it was done. That said, this movie was a satisfying ending to the Hobbit trilogy. The focus moves from killing the dragon and taking the mountain to international relations 😛 The Elves have heard of the turn of events and come bringing relief for the people of Dale (which is really decent of them, seeing as how Thorin’s company didn’t even offer after inadvertently unleashing the dragon on the town); they also wouldn’t mind some of the treasure that’s just been freed up. Dale’s mayor and Bard, leaders of the townsfolk, agree to seek some help from Thorin’s company in the Lonely Mountain, as they’ve suffered the brunt of the dragon the company stirred up, and were also responsible for killing it. These both are reasonable requests. 20150421-230751.jpg But Thorin is so full of himself, proud, greedy, struck by gold lust, and absorbed with finding the Arkenstone and being the king that he rejects all attempts to talk. 20150421-230643.jpg He ends up sending for reinforcements and his cousin Dain comes with a Dwarf army. Talk about a mess caused by selfishness and bad communication. Tensions abound. 20150422-210921.jpg20150422-210930.jpg20150422-211617.jpg The White Council also makes an appearance as they go to rescue Gandalf and come upon the Necromancer in Dol Guldor. Elrond, Saruman and Galadriel get some epic fight scenes in. But they made Galadriel use the “dark” mode that was used in “Fellowship” to indicate how she’d become with the power of the Ring. That was weird as she had a strong, good power that she would’ve used to cast down dark powers; she wouldn’t have gone “dark.” There was a great line used by Galadriel in the White Council parts—

“I am not alone.”

While the evil feels confident against just one of the Council, Elrond and Saruman appear, showing that evil flees in the face of united goodness.

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

20150421-230541.jpg 20150421-230549.jpg So, battle lines are being drawn between the Elves and Men on one side, and the Dwarves on the other. Bilbo tries to smooth things over by giving the Arkenstone to the Men for them to bargain with, as he knows Thorin really wants it. He totally loses Thorin’s friendship over this. He is courageous and commendable, for all he wants to do is make peace.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. -Romans 12:18

20150421-230849.jpg Ultimately, Thorin’s cousin Dain arrives with a mass of Dwarves ready for battle intent on “liberating” Thorin’s company from the Lonely Mountain where the Elves and Men have “besieged” them, and a battle appears imminent. Gandalf arrives just in time to refocus them onto the real threat, Azog and Bolg’s huge Orc army arriving just then. So, finally the Elves, Dwarves and Men join forces to defeat the real enemy. There were quite a few heroic scenes as the Dwarves rally behind Thorin, their rightful King. 20150422-210248.jpg Thus, the battle that comprises most of the movie. It was filled with unrealistic but cool stuff, like Legolas jumping UP falling rocks like stairs. The killing of Fili and Kili was definitely not done in the best way either. They fell defending Thorin in the book, so I was expecting a heroic stand, but was quite disappointed. Fili being ambushed was really sad, and worked in the movie story, but Kili’s dying in defense of Tauriel was ridiculous and took the focus off the family bond among Thorin and his nephews. 20150422-212856.jpg But everyone good had a hard time against their foes. Bolg fights Legolas and Thorin and Kili and Tauriel and still is ok. Thorin is killed because of a stupid mistake in not making sure Azog was dead. But it was nice that the book was followed in Bilbo getting knocked out on a rock, and the Eagles saving the day. 🙂 20150422-212549.jpg20150422-212822.jpg So it was sad because three members of the Company were lost. But Thorin and Bilbo part friends. Then Bilbo returns to his home in the Shire only to find his house a mess and his belongings being auctioned off as everyone thinks he’s perished. So it’s not as neat an ending as Return of the King, but it works. The messy houses fades into the scene in the beginning of Fellowship, as Bilbo is making party preparations and Gandalf comes to visit. And totally made me want to watch the LOTR saga again 😀

So though it wasn’t the best Middle Earth movie or even the best of the Hobbit trilogy, this was a nice ending to the Hobbit movie trilogy. And the ending song was just perfect. So sad 😥

And to finish things off, here’s a cool wallpaper generator: http://wallpapergenerator.thehobbit.com

Graduation trip journal (part 2): Into the West


September 22, Tuesday – our cousins had a few more goodies before we left that evening. We went to the Philadelphia Art Museum, before which are the famous “Rocky steps”—the steps the boxer Rocky (played by Sylvester Stallone) ran up in the movie series “Rocky.”IMG_2097IMG_2106

There was also a nice view of Center City, the historical part of Philly.IMG_2115

Said goodbye to our cousins, and boarded our red eye flight to Las Vegas.

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City lights from plane window

Once we landed, we embarked on another adventure as we needed to be in Idaho for my dad’s business meeting the next morning. We rented a car and my dad drove through the night to get there on time. We took a break for a few hours to sleep, but it was tiring!


September 23, Wednesday – We reached Idaho. It’s an underestimated state! It’s really pretty—green and farms everywhere, besides mountains and prairies.
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After our meeting at lunchtime, we decided on the spur of the moment to go see Yellowstone National Park. That’s the way we roll 🙂 We glimpsed the Great Tetons on the way there.IMG_2178

Once inside Yellowstone, it was great to just be surrounded by nature: the Old West kind of nature.IMG_2227

And there were buffalo. Lots of buffalo. We’d only seen buffalo once before, when we went to Utah this May. So it was real fun to see them again. Here, as there, the buffalo weren’t afraid of or spooked by humans. We’d see some grazing by the side of the road, and stop to take pictures.

IMG_2361 Buffalo grazing beside the meandering river,IMG_2331

fishers wading in knee-deep in said river,IMG_2353

beaver dams, rolling hills, glimpses of mountains behind, sun flashing behind the trees…IMG_2289IMG_2291

…it was a beautiful drive. 🙂 We didn’t go very far into the park (didn’t realize till we got there and got a map how big it is!) but we went to see Old Faithful. Unfortunately, it’s going off its steady rhythm because of all the junk people are throwing in. But about 40 minutes after the previous eruption, it erupted again. It was steaming quite a bit, then suddenly- IMG_2451

Fwoosh! The water shot up in a steaming flume. IMG_2462

It didn’t last very long, but it was so cool. Then we drove to our hotel just across the border in Nevada.


September 24, Thursday – We explored the somewhat remote Nevada town we’d stayed in the night before. It was small and quaint, the kind of place where everyone knows each other and people are friendly. At the same time, with the big open spaces, dusty roads, and mountains around, it had a very Western feel.IMG_2730

The feeling was definitely that of a small group of people who’d banded together to make a good living for themselves in the desert. Besides, of course, the couple of flashy casinos that were there ripping people off because it was, after all, Nevada. 😉 Then we drove into Utah to stay with our friends who hosted us when we visited there in May.


September 25, Friday – Spent time with our friends in the morning, then had a leisurely drive to our hotel in Las Vegas. On the way, we were treated to a veritable light show in the heavens! First came a gorgeous sunset, as the sky flashed with gold.IMG_2918

Then—we saw it farther off and soon we were driving through it—rain! That was followed by a stunning double rainbow.IMG_2951
But it wasn’t over yet! That night we were treated to a lightning storm! We could see the clouds lighting up, and sometimes the lightning flashing. There were some big bolts! I didn’t get any pictures because we were driving, but it was really spectacular! So, four sky wonders in one day—it was a magnificent day in the West. 😀


September 26, Saturday– My dad had a meeting in the morning, so I hung around the hotel. Then we had lunch in the hotel (it was one of those big deals with hotel, restaurants, and gambling in one). Vegas has cheap food to bring people in to gamble: we just come and enjoy the cheap good food 😉

And finally our trip was at an end. We got to the bus stop and the bus took us home to California. It had been an exciting trip, but we were glad to be home.

Random thoughts #15: Wind, Kid talkers, & Foreign


I’ve seen it get so windy the stream of water from a water fountain was getting knocked around.

Kindergartener 1: “I’m scared of monsters.”
Kindergartener 2: “Monsters aren’t real.”
K 1: “I know. But I’m scared of spiders and snakes.”
K 2: “Spiders and snakes aren’t rea…”
:p

Kinder girl, a little confused on her announcement of her dog’s pregnancy: “I’m making new puppies. Um… I’m getting new puppies hatched.”

A 3rd grade girl was chatting with my coworker, and mentioned wanting to go to a “really good” college. My coworker asked “Oh yeah? Which one?” The answer: “Oxford.” #booyah

I’ve seen it get so windy a bee couldn’t fly straight.

Once I opened wordcounter.net and the page came up, containing the last college essay I pasted in there 3 weeks back 😮

Time for “Guess That Kindergartener-Mangled Word”! Here it is: “BEKUTOR.” And the answer is… “COMPUTER”!

Leprechauns and faeries. Easter Bunny and Father Christmas.

3 posts before this one is the first post in a mini-series about my trip to New York City this Fall 😀

“At Rome things can or cannot be done; when you are told anything cannot be done, there is an end of it.”
“It is much more convenient at Paris,—when anything cannot be done, you pay double, and it is done directly.”
-The Count of Monte Cristo.

I haven’t been to either Rome or Paris (YET), but nonetheless I thought that quote ^ was hilarious 😆

Good thing da Vinci studied birds to learn how to fly, and not dragonflies. Dragonflies’ flight is so erratic.

A 1st grade girl drew a picture of the Titanic at daycare. I asked if she was learning about that in class, and she nonchalantly said, “No, I just watched The History Channel.” So sweet that learning is so natural to her.

We were watching “The Jungle Book” in daycare, and one little girl asked, “Does he [Mowgli] grow up to be Tarzan?” Noooo…but…good question…

Talking to people from other counties is SO. Much. Fun. Not even sure it classifies as a “conversation” since they do most of the talking, but still. Plus, the accents!!

How come Dr. Pepper tastes so much like cherry? 😕

Speak life, speak life
Through the deadest, darkest night
Speak life, speak life
Though the sun don’t shine
And you don’t know why

-“Speak Life,” TobyMac

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
~Isaiah 55:11

Speak God’s Word. It won’t return void.

And because I haven’t put a picture in this post yet, I’ll close with this, which you may recognize as the 2012 National Geographic photo contest winner. I love nature photography and I LOVE tigers (so exotic, clever, and majestic!!) so I love this photo!

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Random thoughts #14: Nautical, classics, beverages, & brothers


“One o’clock precisely!” (Love that book! Read it here for free 8) )

When the theme from a movie you haven’t watched in ages comes on the online radio station you’re listening to. Whoa, blast from the past.

Pretty neat to watch a girl with long, thick hair braid it up into something cool. Like, you can’t even see it and you’re doing such a good job :O

Ah, it smells like rain. 😀

I’m in a nautical mood. Just finished reading Treasure Island, visited a Maritime museum, saw ships in a bottle, spent some time at the beach, volunteered at a VBS with a Sea of Galilee theme, heard a presentation on “US history through maritime song,” visited a lighthouse…

Bullfrogs and butterflies
They’ve both been born again…

I’d like a boat ride. Or a ship in a bottle.

Did you know how they make ships in bottles? The boat part is small enough to fit through the bottle’s neck, and the sails are all folded down and attached to a string. The boat is slid into the bottle, then the string is pulled, and the sails go up. Voila! You’ve got a boat in a bottle.

You know what’s super cool? Taking pictures of the moon with your new zoom lens. 😀

A rockin’ Christian worship song (in English) song came on the radio and my littlest brother wanted to know if it was Spanish. 😐

Pineapple soda is a paradox. Like…this tropical, fresh taste of pineapple, and then this clearly artificial carbonated fizz.

*two younger brothers are playing with action figures*
Littlest brother: “Superman is losing.”
Older brother: “Superman doesn’t lose.”
Littlest brother: “I said losing, not lost.”

Green tea is pretty awesome 😀

My favorite name of God is “I AM.”

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-image via kcame.org

Goodreads


Hello to all my followers! This is just a note to let you know that my previous post (which you got an email about) was a book review I accidentally posted on my blog instead of my Goodreads account – sorry about that!

And here’s a little bit about Goodreads. It’s “the worlds largest online book community.” Once you get a free account, you can virtually “shelve” books, write book reviews, find friends, participate in giveaways, have fun with trivia and quizzes, and chat about books. If you’re a book lover like me, chances are you’ll find it a great place! I especially like it because I can keep track of books I’ve read and reviews I’ve written. Here’s a link to my page with the books I’ve reviewed.

Check it out, and have fun! 🙂

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Review)


(Contains spoilers.)

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Wow! This is now my second favorite Marvel movie, after The Avengers. It’s especially relevant because of all the surveillance going on now. This movie finds Cap in an America dealing with freedom, restrictions, expanding government, privacy, and how to balance it all. And he doesn’t give up on an old friend, which pays off!

Few initial observations:
•The Falcon is a nice addition to the team – a real friend for Cap.
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•Can I just say it’s really annoying whenever someone in Marvel “dies”? 🙄
•The Winter Soldier…wasn’t in the movie as much as I was expecting. The story turned out great anyway, but they only just opened up the possibilities with Bucky here.

I like how the privacy intrusions committed by SHIELD and the government all turn out to be bad, because Hydra is revealed to be in charge. The movie makes a excellent point about how complacency, apathy, and backing down results in a loss of our freedom.

Dr. Arnim Zola: “HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize was that if you tried to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. … HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. … People will fight for their freedom if people try to take it from them. But if you cause enough trouble, people will willingly give up their freedom for a more secure world.”

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson

Steve Rogers: “Don’t let control take the place of freedom!”

As SHIELD crumbles, Cap and Natasha Romanoff are forced to go on the run.

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The unstable situation is reflected close to home for Cap as he observes Natasha’s style—one of being willing to do anything, to play the games and tell the lies, in order to stay alive and do her spy work. Cap, on the other hand, holds to moral standards. And that’s refreshing to see in this day and age.

Nick Fury: “Now Agent Romanoff is comfortable with everything.”

Natasha Romanoff: “I find that it’s easier to keep your true self buried under several layers of untrue selves, to protect yourself.”
Steve Rogers: “That’s not a good way to live.”
Natasha Romanoff: “No, but it’s a good way not to die.”

God doesn’t ask us to sway our standards with changing situations; following God’s Word ensures success.

The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; he will not be afraid, until he sees his desire upon his enemies.
– Psalm 112:6b-8

He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.
– Deuteronomy 23:4

Through it all, as Captain America fights for right, others join him. His dedication to truth, honesty, and friendship influence those around him to those things as well. His shining example is the cause of much good in this movie.

Steve Rogers: “The price of freedom is high, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay!”

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Random Thoughts #12: Actually, foods, & these kids


1st graders playing “pretend” during recess:
“Okay, and pretend I didn’t care.”
“No, pretend you did.”

Oh hey! Those peanut-flavored Cheetos things I talked about last time? Dipped them in frosting and they tasted much better 😀 Vanilla was best XD

I actually like those apples that wrinkle up when they get dry. Yum 🙂 I need to do that drying apple slices for snacks thing.

The captions on our iPad got messed up so the first lines of dialogue came below and subsequent lines came on top. And now Elrond talks like Yoda. XD

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When jump ropes tucked into little girls’ back collars and drifting down onto the floor turn them into Rapunzel…that’s imagination for ya!

Interesting is… A pair of women’s pants that are “raisin” in color.

This kid had a toy truck that actually folded out into Optimus Prime 😎

However did this knot get into this single strand of my hair?

Why do all the pictures of Sleeping Beauty have her in a pink dress, when for most of the movie she’s actually in a blue dress? Besides her waltzing about the forest in a peasant dress, she goes into the castle, pricks her finger, falls asleep, is woken up, and dances with the prince ALL in a blue dress. The only times her dress is pink are when it’s being made and during her wedding dance, at which times the fairies are alternating it between blue and pink. But in all the common Disney princess pictures, her dress is pink. 😕

My littlest brother to older sisters: “Can you do me a favor? Can you make more fireworks?” It was so cute, particularly because he’d never before used that first sentence 🙂

Chili hot dogs are better than chili cheeseburgers.

My littlest brother had a hard time understanding why, when my sister had an earache, she got shots in her arms and legs, not her ears.

Once you start eating it, it’s hard to stop. You do realize I’m talking about watermelon, right? 😉

This lady was wearing a plain grey-and-white striped maxi dress, but she’d jazzed it way up by adding a hat, hair tie, earrings, necklace, belt, purse, and sandals—all silver and sparkly. Completely transformed it 😎

Teal and bright cherry red. At first, they’re a bit of a jarring sight when you see them on alternating nails, but after some time they actually seem to meld pretty well.

An out-of-towner accidentally drove his car into a deep ditch on the side of a country road. Luckily a farmer happened by with his big old horse named Benny.
The man asked for help. The farmer said Benny could pull his car out. So he backed Benny up and hitched Benny to the man’s car bumper.
Then he yelled, “Pull, Nellie, pull.”
Benny didn’t move.
Then he yelled, “Come on, pull Ranger.”
Still, Benny didn’t move.
Then he yelled really loud, “Now pull, Fred, pull hard.”
Benny just stood.
Then the farmer nonchalantly said,
“Okay, Benny, pull.”
Benny pulled the car out of the ditch.
The man was very appreciative but curious. He asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.
The farmer said, “Oh, Benny is blind, and if he thought he was the only one pulling he wouldn’t even try.”

I think this joke actually has a point. Unlike Benny, we do have others around us who are on the same mission. Reminded me of this verse: “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18).

Don’t despair, there are others out there who still love God and want to follow Him!

Summer kids movies: “Earth to Echo” & “Dragon 2”


At my work (daycare), we took the kids to see a couple kids movies recently: “Earth to Echo” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Here’s what I thought 🙂 (Contains spoilers.)

Earth to Echo

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“Earth to Echo” is a movie about how some kids find a lost alien and help it get to its spaceship and get home. Just some initial observations: it’s filmed like the boys are filming it with handheld cameras, each of the pre-teen boys has his own cell phone, and they use the word “Dude” way too much. You’d think it’s a nice kids movie and all, but it actually features kids breaking rules and doing all the wrong things. But somehow that’s ok because of their quest to help the cute little alien. Quite the “ends justify the means” story.

The movie makers made the story so that these kids “have” to do all these things you’d never want your kid doing. Like lying to their parents and sneaking out of the house. Like sneaking out to bike out to the desert at night. Like going into a bar and to a wild teenager party (dim lights, drinking, dancing, women, and all). Like stealing and driving (on the road!) a car and a truck. Like avoiding and fighting police because they’re conveniently the bad guys. Like chatting about “hot” girls and kissing. Like breaking and entering. AND did I mention that these kids can’t be more than 12 or 13?! And the only kid who has any moral scruples and protests is made fun of, and then ends up just going along.

Oh, but they help the little alien escape the bad guys and get away to its home. Yeah, it’s got a message of friendship as these kids face danger, help each other, make friends with the alien, and grow to appreciate each other more…all while disobeying their parents and breaking the law… Which is supposed to make all that bad stuff not so bad at all? Quite fitting that the company that made it is named “Relativity Media” 🙄

All in all, not a recommend. This is no family-friendly movie.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

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I haven’t seen the first one in this series, but that didn’t seem to be a problem; this story was good on its own.

Dragons. They used to be the terror of the Viking village, but now the people have learned to get along with them and have domesticated some. But now rumors fly of a stranger who’s capturing dragons for a dragon army of his own, which he’ll mind control using a huge “Alpha” dragon, and then use to terrify the villages into submission. How do they stop him?

This story does stay true to the real meaning of family as a close-knit unit, though there are some problems at first.
• Hiccup has grown some years, and it’s time for him to get ready to take over as chief, but he doesn’t want to be chief, and ignores his father’s talk and training to go exploring. By the end, though, he does accept this responsibility.
• Hiccup disagrees with his father on how to handle the hostile stranger, thinking he can go and talk him into a peaceful solution (he is later shown to be wrong about this, and realizes it). Yeah, the peaceful way doesn’t always work.
• But the strangest thing regards Hiccup’s mother, who believed dragons were good even during the wars against them. She was presumed dead in a dragon raid when Hiccup was a baby, but was actually carried away, and in this movie, is revealed to have been living with the dragons for 20 years because she chose them over her family life (she didn’t know that the villagers and dragons are now friends). That, I thought, was not a right choice at all, and surprising for a mother to leave her baby (Hiccup). But when Hiccup and his father find her, she is apologetic for her selfishness and agrees to return, so that was good. The whole family fights together in a battle, which is very neat. Family is encouraged in this film.

Another positive message is the one of how powerful unity is. Hiccup’s friends don’t desert him in tough situations. He and his family together are a formidable force in battle. All the dragons standing together defeat the huge “Alpha.” Shows what being united and brave can do 😎

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This movie was better than I expected. Still some things to think about, but a good movie overall.

“the Tree and the Stars”


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There are banners, there are jerkins…and now, there are car decals, all emblazoned with the White Tree of Gondor 😀

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