Tuesday, November 30, 2010

REVIEW: Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks!

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks!
by Judith Durant
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing (November 13, 2010)


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I think that nearly every knitter I know has an obsession with sock yarn.  Whether it's because you actually love to knit socks, you're mesmerized by the beautiful hand-dyed colorways or simply because it's so easy to accumulate (after all, what's one more skein of yarn, right?)... chances are you've got quite a few hanks of sock yarn at home, as do I.  

Fortunately for those of us who claim know that "sock yarn doesn't count as stash," Judith Durant is back with the latest edition to her wonderful One-Skein Wonders series, Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks!

As yarn shops are devoting more and more space to sock yarns and independent dyers across the nation work their magic, our stashes are growing faster than we can say "cashmere socks!"  The possibilities of sock yarn seem endless and best of all, it's relatively inexpensive to bring a hank home here and there.  After all, you only need just one skein.  As those skeins continue to pile up, you've probably decided to explore your options of just what else you can knit with sock yarn... right?  Shawls, scarfs, fingerless mitts, baby hats -- you know you've reached for sock yarn to knit one recently! 

The patterns Judith Durant has chosen for Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders include baby clothes, mittens, scarves, hats, jewelry, cozies, bags, a dog sweater, a lamp shade and yes, even a few pairs of socks!  As with the past One-Skein Wonders books, all of the patterns were contributed by yarn shops and designers throughout North America. Knitters of every skill level will quickly find favorites... some knit up in fewer than three hours, others make creative use of sock yarn leftovers, and several make heirloom-worthy gifts.

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders features an updated, easy-to-browse layout.  The full color photos are now placed with the pattern instructions, which are easy to follow. The patterns have been categorized into 4 sections: From Head to Toe (and Fingers, Too), It's a Wrap!, Knits for Kids and Bag It and More. 

This is a must add book to any sock yarn hoarder's collection!  Don't be shy... you know that's you!  Put Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders on your holiday wish list or scroll down to find out how you can win a copy!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gina House, who designed The Ericka Scarf for Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders. I'm proud to call Gina a friend and honored to knit her designs!

Lapdog Creations: Tell us about the inspiration behind your gorgeous pattern, The Ericka Scarf.

Gina: The inspiration for this scarf came about from boredom, actually. I was fiddling around with the Noro Kureyon sock yarn and one of Barbara Walker's stitch pattern books one day when I was totally sick of what I was knitting. I loved the look of the sock yarn, but didn't think I wanted to make socks. When I saw an interesting mesh pattern in the book, I thought, "Hey, this combination might look amazing together!" And I thought it did ;)

Lapdog Creations: Do you tend to seek out one-skein patterns?

Gina: It's funny - I don't usually look for one-skein patterns for my own knitting (and, in fact, I tend to love patterns that use WAY more luxurious yarn than I can afford!), but I almost always use only one (or very few) skeins of yarn for my designs. I think it's because I love hearing about someone who knit one of my designs over a weekend and say, "That was so quick and fun. I love instant gratification projects!" So, I try to use really great, yummy yarns in small amounts for the accessories I design.

Lapdog Creations: OK, someone just gave you a gorgeous skein of hand-dyed sock yarn that you absolutely can NOT wait to cast on with... What type of pattern do you reach for first - socks or something else?

Gina: Hmmm...that's a good question! I seem to have grown out of my sock-knitting-frenzy phase and now I'm into my knitting-something-cozy-and-comfortable phase. If I had a gorgeous skein of hand-dyed sock yarn, I would probably start either a simple lace shawl design (to show off the awesome colors) or fingerless mitts. I also have to admit that I tend to horde my hand-dyed sock yarns. I have a number of skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Socks that Rock," Sereknity "Perfect" and Spunky Eclectic sock yarn that I just can't get myself to unskein. I have a mini-shrine (as one of my friends calls it) to this kind of lovely yarn and I just look at it and smile. Crazy, huh?

Lapdog Creations: Is there anything that you would like to add about your pattern, the book or sock yarn in general?
 
Gina: I would have to say that, although I've loved all of the One-Skein Wonders books, this is my absolute favorite - and not just because my pattern is in it! LOL! This book has a new layout that I really like and the full color pages make this book very attractive. It's also convenient that every single pattern uses the same weight yarn! Barely any thinking involved at all.
I've looked through the book almost every day since I've gotten it and I'm constantly finding new projects that I want to start. Such adorable patterns in here! I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to Judith Durant and some of the other designers from the book at a book signing in Nashua, NH and I must say that I'm thrilled to have my pattern in a book with such talent.
 
Thank you Gina for taking the time to chat about everyone's favorite obsession, sock yarn!  For those who want to learn more about Mrs. House, jump back to my September, 2009 interview and review of The Joy of Socks book and be sure to check out Gina's wonderful patterns on Ravelry or via her blog!

GIVEAWAY! How would you like to win your very own copy of Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks!? To enter:
1) Follow Lapdog Creations publicly (see "Followers" on the right hand side bar).
2) Leave a comment here telling me what your all time favorite sock yarn is and why!

To get an extra entry, send your friends here to enter and be sure to have them mention your name.... blog, Tweet, Facebook and text away
Winner will be selected by random number generator and must be a public follower of Lapdog Creations in order to win.
Deadline for entries is Tuesday, December 7 at midnight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey-Dog Day!

Happy Thankful-Dogs-On-Thanksgiving-Day-Thursday!  The Lapdogs hope that you all have a chance to stretch out and relax a little today...

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The Boys

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The Girls










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Lola
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Teutul

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Zeus

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Sophie
 Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.......

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears... Oh My!

I'm not sure what happened to the Wordless Wednesday blog - anyone know?  Today's post is picture heavy, so I guess that qualifies as somewhat wordless...

Enjoy the photos from our visit to Tiger World last month, including our absolutely amazing tiger & jaguar cub encounter!  We were supposed to do two separate 15 minute encounters, one with a tiger and one with a jaguar.  However, they surprised us by letting us do 30 minutes with all three adorable cubs, the white tiger Mohan and jaguars Dora & Diego.  Even better, we got to be little Mohan's very first encounter ever!  I believe he was 7 weeks old and Dora & Diego were about 11 weeks.

If you know me well, you are not surprised to learn that we have well over 200 photos from our visit. I'll share a few...

Our encounter with Mohan, Dora & Diego.  Dad C and I got to split the bottle feeding of Mohan!

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This is one the loves of my life, Brutus and his partner Cleo.  They are just too cute and too cool.  Brutus "sits pretty" for crackers (I actually spent so long tossing him crackers and peanuts that my arm hurt the next day!).


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Mufasa and Shirley...
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Jacob and Lil' Wayne...

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Meka and Malia, the adolescent cubs... We were originally supposed to do our tiger cub experience with Meka.

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Mama & Baby Peacocks and a beautiful Lynx...

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Radar... I just adore this beautiful boy!  He's grown quite a bit since our first visit in May, 2009.  We were having a nice little conversation here...


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And the lions sleep tonight....

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Missing Nana

I can't believe it's been 7 years already...

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White Tulip for Nana
Still a Favorite Photo
Getting Nana ready for the holiday season... and missing her dearly.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

REVIEW: Funtote Bone Carry-Me Eco Bag

Funtote Bone Carry-Me Eco Bag
Where To Find: Funtote
 
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With our ever growing "Go Green" society, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has begun stashing reuseable shopping totes in my car.  They work great, but they don't exactly fold up small and they're certainly not very chic looking either... 

So just what does a girl do when she wants to help mother earth and look stylish?  Why, she gets herself a Funtote Carry-Me Eco Bag, of course!  And if she happens to be the Crazy Dog Lady, she gets one in the Bone style. 

Funtote Carry-Me Eco Bags are made of ultra-strong high density nylon and they are super light-weight and waterproof.  They have a main compartment that is spacious enough for grocery shopping (or a trip to your LYS), as well as two large side pockets which are perfect for water bottles - one for you and one for your pooch, of course. 

FuntoteCarry-Me Eco Bags easily fold up into their unique designed compact padded pouch to carry around with you.  Currently there are six designs available: Brown Bear, Red Bear, Banana, Mushroom, Soybean and the one you see here, Bone.  All of the prints are silk screen hand printed with low impact environmentally friendly inks. Funtote Carry-Me Eco Bags are built to last, to save you money and to save our mother earth!

The Funtote Bone Carry-Me Eco Bag is, of course, for dog lovers!  The black and white print is adorable and like our pooches, commands attention!  How can you not smile when you see it?  It might even make those dreaded shopping trips more fun!  When not in use, the bags folds up into a cute little black padded bone which becomes a small zippered attached "pocket" when in use.  

Funtote3The bag is lightweight, yet strong enough to carry your groceries or books, and of course your yarn haul from the LYS or festival.   When open, the Bone bag measures 18" wide x 14.5" high x 5.5" deep with 22" long handles - perfect for tossing over your shoulder.  The bag can easily be spot cleaned with a wet cloth, but it is also machine washable - perfect for getting the dog drool off!

Get yourself a Funtote Bone Carry-Me Eco Bag and help save the planet in style!  They would also make terrific gifts this holiday season.  After all, who can't use a fun, compact reuseable tote? 

CONTEST!  Are you dreaming of a Funtote Bone Carry-Me Eco Bag of your very own?  Thanks to Funtote, we have one to giveaway to a lucky reader! To enter:

1) Follow Lapdog Creations publicly (see "Followers" on the right hand side bar).
2) Leave a comment here telling me why you want to win this bag.
To get an extra entry, send your friends here to enter and be sure to have them mention your name.... blog, Tweet, Facebook and text away!!!
Winner will be selected by random number generator and must be a public follower of Lapdog Creations in order to win.
Deadline for entries is Tuesday, November 30 at midnight.

Friday, November 19, 2010

REVIEW: Dogs & The Women Who Love Them

Dogs & The Women Who Love Them
Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing & Inspiration
by Allen and Linda Anderson
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: New World Library (November 1, 2010)

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The Anderson husband and wife team is back with their latest animal inspiration book, Dogs & The Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing & Inspiration.   This new book celebrates canine-female teams who have formed deep bonds of companionship.  Women from all over the country share their heartwarming tales that will make you smile, cry, laugh out loud and, for many of my fellow doggy Mamas, have you nodding your head several times as you read along.

There is something to be said about the bond between a woman and her dog.... the devotion, sincerity and joy shared by both often go unmatched.  Gildna Radner once said, "I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive."  So true.  Our 4-legged friends become a never ending support system during both the good and bad times... listening intently on every word we say, protecting us from anything and everything (or protecting the garbage from the trash man who comes to pick it up every Friday), curling up beside us (or in our laps; especially true for our larger canine friends) on the couch to watch our must-see shows, or becoming our own personal trainer by getting us up off that couch for another walk!

Whether you're a normal doggy Mom or a Crazy Dog Lady such as myself, you'll enjoy the tales in Dogs & The Women Who Love Them.  This is a book for dog lovers, so grab a copy for yourself or for someone you know will love it this holiday season!

The following is an excerpt from Dogs & The Women Who Love Them...

Life Lessons from Teddy
Diana M. Amadeo, Merrimack, New Hampshire

When our third child was about a year old, my husband and I were under pressure to adopt a family dog. During spring break I took the kids to the humane society, where we discovered that none of the pets tugged at our heartstrings. We were halfway out the door when an elderly man arrived with a tiny dog so dirty that it was impossible to determine his color. The man said the dog had been retrieved from the arms of his sister — a hospice patient who had chosen to die in her home. He guessed that the poodle was about a year old.

We asked to see the dog and found him infested with fleas. When the dog played with my kids, he ran around, over, and on them. He jumped up and planted big wet kisses on their lips. Then, tiring of the kids, he suddenly propelled himself onto my chair, licked my cheek, put his head on my shoulder, and fell asleep.

“What is his name?” I whispered.

“Teddy,” the old man said quietly. “My sister called him that, but you can change it.”

It was an impulse decision — the kids and I debated for only a few minutes. Teddy had become so happy and excited to meet us that he had melted my heart. I worried that if we waited to adopt him, the next person in the door would take him and my children would be disappointed. So I signed papers to adopt the dirty poodle and promised to have him seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian. I had a fleeting concern that there might be more wrong with him than fleas. I wondered if I should slow down and insist that the humane society’s vet check him out first. And I worried how my husband would react, since I had failed to include him in this decision. But my overriding concern was that Teddy had just been taken from the arms of his dead owner, whom he obviously loved, and rushed out of familiar surroundings. I didn’t want this emotionally fragile being to be caged with dozens of barking dogs.

After we brought Teddy home, I immediately flea-dipped him. To my surprise, he turned out to be snow white.

There was never a question about keeping his name, because it suited him. When we called him Teddy, he immediately reacted with a wagging tail and huge grin. I also felt that Teddy didn’t need any more abrupt changes in his life, such as a different name.

Teddy wasn’t housebroken, and his behavior was less than desirable. He was by no means a perfect dog. But his imperfection became downright endearing. Whenever he was reprimanded for wetting the floor, his cheerful demeanor — his wagging tail and smiling face — noticeably changed. His tail would drop and he’d hang his head in shame. I couldn’t help but grin, forgive, and try to teach him again.

Teddy did not like being alone. There wasn’t a cage that could hold him, a door he couldn’t open, and a latch that he couldn’t figure out. The first time we left him by himself in our home, he leapt onto my son’s desk, pulled off the window screen, and tore it to shreds. When we got home, he proudly showed us his handiwork. I found myself wondering how such a little dog could make so profound a mess.

When we had an oak staircase put in our home, Teddy somehow maneuvered around the barricades and left perfect doggie prints in the shiny new coat of polyurethane on the stairs. The next day our carpenter cried out in exasperation, “Teddy, no, no, no!”

As our family grew, we added a second-story porch to our home. The contractor worked steadily for a while and then left the project unfinished while waiting for the windows to arrive. One morning Teddy made his way onto the porch, spied the open cutouts where windows would be placed, and took off at full speed. As in the old Mighty Dog commercial, he soared through the air before landing on the ground two floors be-low. Immediately he began to cry, hold up his paw, and then limp pathetically. A squirrel gathering acorns caught his eye. In a flash Teddy, suddenly healed, took off to chase the squirrel.

After I had a severe exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, I was left relatively immobile and with visual impairment and hearing loss. Teddy never left my side. He’d lick away my tears of self-pity and place his paw compassionately over my weak hands. Wheelchairs and crutches followed, and Teddy remained by my side, smiling and wagging his tail joyously at my physical progress.

Spasticity can be very painful. Teddy always seemed to know when I was hurting. He would jump on my lap, lay his head on my chest, and give me comfort. His activity level slowed to match mine during my ten-year rehabilitation. We remained inseparable, with him as my shadow.

Teddy could sense my down days, and if I felt weak he would not leave my side. One day I was in the living room, unable to pull myself from the sofa. I was facing our glass front door and watching traffic go by. Normally, Teddy would sit at the glass door and watch the outside activity too, but sensing my weakness he remained leaning against me on the sofa.

A deliveryman brought flowers. He rang the doorbell, and Teddy growled but didn’t rush to the door. The deliveryman saw me lying on the sofa, and I motioned him inside. He walked in the unlocked house and handed the flowers to me. Teddy growled at the intruder and climbed on top of me. When the deliveryman left, Teddy jumped off my body and licked my hand, as if to say, “It’s okay. I protected you.” This tiny nine-pound dog had in his own way ferociously defended me. How could I not smile?

After we’d had Teddy for a decade and a half, his eyes dimmed with cataracts and his hearing progressively worsened. He began having occasional bouts of arthritic pain and developed lateral sclerosis of the spine. When he couldn’t make it up the stairs, my husband or children would carry him. About that same time, Teddy started acting confused and he frightened easily. Two years earlier, when he had first shown signs of heart disease, I had talked with the veterinarian about euthanasia. But Teddy had rebounded miraculously, and our life together had continued. Finally, though, despite medications of all sorts, his entire body was simply shutting down, and the time had come to ease his suffering.

The decision — whether or not Teddy should be euthanized — was left to me. I agonized over it, not only because he seemed to rally so often and come back after being close to death, but most of all because I loved him much more than I thought anyone could love an animal. I loved his silliness, clumsiness, kisses, and protectiveness. But I could not leave him in so much pain just because I needed my spirits lifted. When you love someone, you let him go.

I believe that the spirit of a living being never dies. For a week following his death, I could hear the soft clink of Teddy’s dog tags, and the familiar sound brought me comfort.

And then I had a dream. Across from me, Teddy sat on a stuffed, black leather lounger. He looked humanlike with his legs crossed. In one paw he held a cigar. In the other paw he clutched a double bourbon. He smiled and said, “I was dying anyway. Don’t sweat it.” Then he raised his glass in salute and vanished.

This type of dream was totally out of character for me. If, while awake, I had visualized Teddy after death, I would have seen him in the clouds and with wings. But in recalling his antics, I realized that the dream actually was Teddy delivering one more of the many life lessons he had taught me. For Teddy wasn’t perfect. He was silly. He didn’t come off as too smart. He lived life to the fullest, his way. And when his time came, he had no regrets.

Cheers, Teddy!

Meditation: The life lessons a dog teaches aren’t always lofty or esoteric. Sometimes, they are like Teddy’s — live and let live. When has a dog made you smile at the wisdom of his or her ways?

From the book, Dogs & The Women Who Love Them. Copyright © 2010 by Allen and Linda Anderson. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

About the Authors: Allen and Linda Anderson are speakers and authors of a series of twelve popular books about the spiritual relationships between people and animals.  They co-founded the Angel Animals Network in 1996 to increase love and respect for all life through the power of story.  They donate a portion of the revenue from their projects to animal shelters and animal welfare organizations. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This Stick Is Mine - Get Your Own!

Happy Dogs on Thursday / Little Friday / a week away from Turkey Day! 

Last Saturday night was Matt's kart racing banquet and the first time we had seen Stratton's humans (who run the racing program) since he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  As a gift for them, I took some of my favorite pictures of the big guy and put together a photo album.  As we were walking in, I was debating whether to give it to them at that time or at the end of the night.  Then, I was surprised when Debbie exclaimed that she knew how much I loved Stratton and had something for me...

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Isn't it beautiful?   I was truly touched that they thought so much of my love for Stratton that they had this made for me... and I will treasure it always.  Thank you again, Archie & Debbie.

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As the banquet was winding down, I checked my cell phone to find a missed call and voicemail from Jack's Mom.  I immediately knew it wasn't good news and when I checked it, my heart sank.  Jack had slipped out of his collar and gotten loose at 3:00 that afternoon.  I immediately thought of nothing other than rushing home, changing, grabbing Lola and heading out to search for Jack.  It took us a bit over an hour from the time we said "hold on, we're coming!" to when we got there.  We went running out of the house with canned food, leashes, collars, treats and Lola... but forgot one thing, flashlights!  Since the area they live in is so woodsy and they hadn't had a sighting since 6:30 that night (it was now around 9:30), we really didn't know where to search.  We drove around with Lola hanging her head and crying out the car window (I swear they know what's going on) for over an hour before realizing that Jack had probably bedded down somewhere for the night and we just had to hope he was safe.  We'd return in the morning and search on foot.... only when we woke up, I had a text message with the best possible news... Jack had returned home early in the morning, eaten the food they left on the porch and went next door to play with his doggy friends!  Whew..... I could breath again! 

Here are a couple of pictures Jack's Mom sent before his little trip through the woods, enjoying a peanut butter jar!

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I'll leave you today with some pictures of Zeus helping his Daddy do some fall yard clean up...

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Ize jus helping Daddy wit da sticks... can't u tellz?
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I haz jus dis one...
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Maybe dis one too...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fall Doggy Display

Happy Wordless Wednesday!  Fall sure is flying on by.... almost as fast as the hours in the day and as fast as review items are stacking up in the Lapdog household (i.e. stay tuned for several reviews coming just in time for holiday shopping)!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Get Your Shopping On!

Okay folks, Christmas is coming faster than a speeding reindeer and it's time to get your shopping on!  As for me personally... well I'll be doing as much as I possibly can from the comfort of my own couch.  Whether it's gifts you need to give or items to spruce up your place before the relatives arrive, CSNStores.com is your one-stop shopping place for everything from bathroom shelving to cookware to area rugs to childrens' toys to dog beds to telescopes to bedding to electric fireplaces!

I have once again teamed up with CSNStores.com to review another one of their products that might interest you, my readers.  Stay tuned... and in the meantime, hop on over to CSNStores.com if you're in the mood to get your shopping on!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cuddle Dogs

Happy Dogs on Thursday and Happy Veterans Day!  A big thank you to all those who serve or have served this wonderful country of ours.  That goes for the 4-legged veterans as well!

  
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Zeus & a Casey Jones Bone
If you only stop by on Thursdays, take a jump back and check out the review of Casey Jones Bones pumpkin treats - which includes a special code for 20% off your entire order!  The Lapdogs just can't get enough of them and there's a wheat free version available for dogs with allergies.

The temps are dropping in New England and that means cuddly Lapdogs!  These pictres of Lola & Teutul are actually from an August morning (gotta get that sunspot), but they seem quite fitting for today.

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Some random shots...

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Zeus, Tut & Lola .. "Treats, please?"
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Sophie... contemplating something wicked?

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Lola's CLOSE UP... Tut enjoying some sun

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Lola & Tut hope you have someone to cuddle with today!