January 2nd, 2012

Ok, it’s 2012. No more excuses. I am LITERALLY emerging from the WORST year of my life. Observe the treacherous evidence:

-Hair has fallen out in droves. (I’ve got the photos to prove it- though I’d like to keep the blog pretty, so probably won’t be unveiling the gobs of dead, fallen hair photos for now:)

- I had a full on stint with serious acne! (REALLY Universe? Really? I haven’t seen this many pimples since the 10th grade prom. :( All on my forehead no less, and all at a time when I had holiday parties to attend, was launching a new business venture, and basically couldn’t hide under a rock).

-Still recovering from my mother’s passing. Cancer. :(   Need I say more?

-Of course to top things off, I am now in the worst physical shape of my life. (This is one area at least where being vegan has provided its saving graces.) Though I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve worked out this entire year, true, the diet has kept things from getting completely out of hand. I’ve put on probably 5 or so stubborn pounds and most importantly I FEEL the most sluggish I have in a very long time. Most frighteningly, the leanness in my legs has plain and simply left the building.

So, with this in mind, I am nipping this mediocre living in the bud once and for all.  This past year has tested the limits of the tenacity and sanity I could muster, true, but I am STILL holding on. I am surviving and in 2012 I dare say, thriving! I am making over this life and this tired frame and dare I say, I am starting with my flabby thighs! If I can make them over, I can make over anything! I’m sharing this because if you are attempting to get in your best shape for your wedding, or maybe also because it’s a new year with new possibilities, should either of these be the case, (or if you just like to look at gorgeous legs and shake your head at the dimple-free unfairness) take note:…this type of madness exists, and I’m goin’ for it in 2012! How about you?

Carrie Underwood is working the toned legs in this oh-so-short flirty vintage dress on the red carpet. Darn! Inspiration!

JLO sports her irrepressible legs. Go Ms. 42 and fabulous (even though she DOES wear fur, which makes her decidedly less fabulous, but the legs look good)-Courtesy of Gillette


Jennifer Aniston giving great leg in a cute shortsuit. Another woman in her 40's who is looking better than ever if you ask me. Those legs-darn, now I have to give up that 2nd piece of bread for sure!

Looks like Dania Ramirez is getting in on the act as well. This short dress takes nerve, no? (Wonder what happens when she sits down)? Cute shoes too...

Couldn't leave out the Queen of all good legs, Fergie. Seriously, her physique alone made her so famous I was surprised to learn she can actually SING! Looks like she's set up an official "no cellulite allowed" zone in her neighborhood, this year, can I can move in?

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Celebrity/Runway Inspiration-Can YOU rock Braids for a formal affair?

May 29th, 2011

Hmmm. It seems ever since Jennifer Aniston sported a semi- braided look for the 2009 Oscars, whimsical braids have become all the red carpet rage and I can see why! I think braids add a flirtatious & chic “element” to an otherwise basic or simply traditional hairstyle. Our African sisters have been singing this melody for centuries, and it seems celebrities for one have caught on to the tune. (But) what of a wedding or similarly formal affair? Do you think these looks would suite a modern bride? What about a hair affair for the entire bridal party, while the bride wears a more traditional coif?  In today’s wedding world, I’m glad to see there are no rules, and with so much variety, why not incorporate something funky if you can?  If not sported as modern bride’s mane or  a look for an entire bridal party for a beach wedding or other somewhat casual but upscale event, is this a look you could incorporate for any frilly event? With these photos as inspiration, I think I’m going to try!

Honestly, I LOVE this look. If I could get extensions to lay like this I 'd throw a white flower in my hair & keep it movin'- who needs a veil!? :)

Nicole Richie sports a very pretty braided look I think could be quite fabulous for a bridesmaid, or any “updo” formal look, for that matter.

Pretty famous women w/braids

A pretty braided celebrity smorgasbord- what do you think?



Ashley simpson in braids
This is an interesting french braid or twist off-shoot worn by Ms. Ashley Simpson Photo credit: Dan Herrick-KPA/ZUMA KPA



Corn rows Ciara, r & b singer
This is quite the daring look for the formal affair- I really like it (and may even sport this for a week or two). VB says this type of braided look reminds him of the Predator- but that’s okay. :)



Movie & tv star Lauren Conrad with pretty hair
Lauren Conrad sports a partially braided “do” I think IS a DO! Photo courtesy of



Alicia Keys rocks intricate, fabulous hair
Alicia Keys sports an intricate semi-braided, ponytail look that was probably the envy of many onlookers…Photo Credit: Robin Wong / PR Photos



I have so much hair drama on a daily basis that any inspiration I can find as to how to win the battle and sleigh the hair dragon on a daily basis, I definitely appreciate! Nonetheless, I’d love your feedback as to if you’d dare sport such a look at a wedding, or keep it in your arsenal for other upscale (or even casual) events. I think “The Predator” never looked so good- but what thinks ye?


:) VB

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Oprah says farewell, another necessary tribute!

May 25th, 2011

Wow. Today marked a momentous event. I can’t believe it has been 25 years since Oprah began the nationally-syndicated, internationally loved Oprah Winfrey Show. I also truly can’t believe that I have been with her nearly everyday for each of those 25 years…laughing, crying, learning, thinking, giving gratitude, offering forgiveness, saying I’m sorry, and seeking to be my highest self as inspired by her example- and I know too, so have been many of you. Today the curtain closed on her show for the final time. :(

Oprah says farewell, in probably one of the most BEAUTIFUL pictures of her I have ever seen! – Courtesy of

Thank you Oprah. Thank you so much for changing the WORLD by shining your illuminous light on it. I salute you and all that you do, and sincerely thank you for being a friend, mentor, sister, mother, sage, and guide to a little girl (and countless little girls and boys and women and men) who needed one. What a legacy to have created. Thank you.

Ok, the next post will truly be focused back on wedded bliss and madness, and all things in between.

Much love,


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A TRIBUTE TO A GREAT SOUL, MY MOTHER (Written w/a very sad heart)

May 22nd, 2011

The time has come for me to write a tribute to my mother who passed away near the end of last year after a tragically short though incredibly courageous battle with cancer. It’s still hard for me to believe I am actually typing these words. This past year has been the most difficult of my life. About one year ago this time, I found out my mother had been diagnosed with stage four gallbladder cancer. Cancer of this type is extremely rare, less than 2,000 or so cases in the US each year. What isn’t rare unfortunately though is the heartache and struggle that watching someone with cancer can bring.

My mother bravely fought this battle and gave it everything she had. Amidst her very short journey with cancer, she endured chemotherapy AND radiation (something that, in retrospect, I wish she had never even considered)! She also lost close to 75 pounds in a few short months, and never was able to regain a normal semblance of her lifestyle, after her final round of radiation in late August, 2010. Vegangroom and I moved the to east coast to be by her side (and also for me to “nurse” her back to health as I was intent on doing. I hoped to aid her with a 100% vegan diet made up mostly of with freshly pressed organic vegetable juice, raw foods, and other healing supplements to give her immune system the kick-start it needed. My mother however, not being a devotee’ of the health and wellness lifestyle, wasn’t really “on board” with all of this. Loving her the way I did, I definitely did not (and could not) impose my lifestyle upon her (even if having to watch her die in the process- the most gut-wrenching experience of my life). By the time I made it home in late August following her second round of radiation, she was vomiting multiple times a day on a daily basis, and was mostly completely bed-ridden. It was all she could to embrace the Noni juice (which, surprisingly, though the taste made her want to gag (when going through chemo & radiation it seems one loses their taste for nearly all foods) The Noni juice seemed to lessen her nausea SIGNIFICANTLY, and in the very last days, was all her diet consisted of, along with Glucerna! (Ugh). The organic vegetables and other vegan healing foods I had hoped so desperately to get into her system along with any solid foods proved too difficult after the radiation have ravaged her system. She took her last breath with me (and a tiny group of family members) by her side on October 31, 2010.

I am sad to write that I am still no where near being healed from her loss. There is a constant pain and sadness that emanates from my breast at all times when I think of her.  What’s more, I feel extreme angst and frustration over the state of conventional “health care” in this country! The fact that alternative and non-toxic treatments for cancer and other degenerative illnesses are often discouraged (and even suppressed) by mainstream medicine is maddening to me. (Her team of oncologists definitely discouraged these). Should this horrifying disease affect anyone close to you (and chances are it will due to the rampant statistics- 1 in every 3 women will be affected at some point in her life)- please please educated yourself as much as possible as to ALL of the treatment options available to you!  I witnessed firsthand how chemotherapy and radiation took a thriving, energetic, passionate individual and reduced her to a frail, exhausted and helpless one! (I am talking CHEMO & RADIATION here-NOT cancer- cancer itself is actually a slow-growing problem in most cases! Radiation and toxic chemicals are NOT!) Please google or you tube “Healing Cancer from the Inside Out” to learn more about what I’m talking about and to find out more about alternative, IMMUNE-ENHANCING treatments. (If only my mother had been open and if only we had been exposed to this information earlier… Sadly, I was not, however I plan to make it part of my life’s work that other people ARE, starting with you- which is why I am so very thankful to you for reading this.

Of course, being the self-proclaimed tree-hugging, health conscious, vegan, liberal that I am, I LONGED for my mother to adopt a healthier lifestyle since the day it became evident to me that there was such a strong association between the food we eat and our health! Sadly, the conventional lifestyle was just too much embedded in my mother’s everyday lifestyle. Nonetheless, she accomplished more in her 67 years than most people could or would in multiple lifetimes! She (still unbelievable to me) as the product of a poor and single-mother household became NJ’s first African-American female superior court judge. She also was honored with innumerable accolades for her un-ending charitable and service-driven accomplishments. At her funeral, more than 2,000 people came out to pay her tribute. When the streets of Jersey City were lined with perfect strangers who removed their hats and publicly prayed and offered blessings to her as we passed them by and then when we passed in front of the courthouse to see a host of judges in their robes and sheriff’s officer’s standing at attention to salute her casket, it was the most moving sight I have ever seen.

Mommy, everything I’ve learned about love, life, laughter, giving, accomplishments, happiness, and all things beautiful, I learned from you. I will miss you until the day I see you again, and I will hold you in my heart forever. Yours truly and completely,


We really had to lobby to my father to get him to agree to the horse and caisson procession from the church, to the courthouses and then to the cemetery. I'm glad he agreed. It was what she wanted and the procession ended up being breath-takingly beautiful. May the horses receive the highest place in heaven for their service too! :)

This was one breath-taking moment. To think that before my mother, NO ONE like her existed on that bench, no persons and definitely not women of color- yet there they were, standing at attention for her. Historic and very moving.

REALLY appreciated the New Orleans-style band. God bless them.

May God bless and keep you all. Thanks for reading. :) VB

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Wedding album: Part Trois!

August 16th, 2010

So, I’m extremely slow & pretty darn busy! (I think we’ve well established that:). However here is the third installment of our blissful vegan wedding pics. Enjoy!! :)

I think I like this one...

We had an "Old Hollywood Glam" wedding theme + we wanted to celebrate our vegan bride ode & raw vegan dessert company (earthcafe) so we thought it would be fun to have a red carpet & backdrop. The favors for the guests were their photos on the red carpet at the wedding in a magnetized frame, wrapped in a sheer turquoise satin-y bag . I thought it was a cute idea anyway!

Our idea for favors...a bit of a feat to pull off (a) find 2nd photographer to take photos b) have photographer run to have photos developed quickly c) have wedding planner/wedding help organize photos & place each in frame & then in bag d) pretty display & guests have lifetime memory?? :)

You can also see the oh so sweet guest book we received from my dear friend Millan. WHAT a great idea! The guests fill out little individual cards that fit into tiny individual envelopes to make up the book. I loved it.

I SO wish we had more pics of the unimaginably great food! My biggest regret of the day is that we didn't get more food pics!!! :( Oh well- at least here you get a GLIMPSE of the caramelized grilled veggies w/pesto, baby apples & pears, exotic dips, etc...

I always kiss VeganGroom on his's our signature thing...:)

Me (veganbride) Vanessa & Sue marched on in a surprise dance number that was # 2 of a 4 dance medley that caused Vegan groom anticipatory nightmares for weeks...(let's just say- NOT a natural born dancer:) but hopefully thrilled the crowd. We were on very little sleep & even less rehearsal time- will love these girls forever for that!!

I thought this would be the last & final part of the wedding photo album on display here…however I realize that the wedding decor probably deserves its own chapter, plus there have been a lot of photos to fit in here already. Also, we’re about to embark upon our honeymoon anniversary trip throughout Europe! We are jazzed beyond belief & can’t wait to report back to you re. all of the beautiful sights & sounds, must-do excursions & of course, the best vegan eateries we can find from London to Florence, so be sure to stay tuned!

Overflowing love,

:) VB

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Wedding Album, Part Deux! …

May 24th, 2010

The real estate market has been INTENSE to say the least & can you believe it, we HONESTLY just got around to taking down our Christmas TREE this past weekend (embarrassed to say!) & have finally BEGUN filling out our thank you cards…

Needless to say, this team is a bit behind. Still, I hope you enjoy our wedding album as much as we did & even more, glean some vegan celebrating inspiration!…

Cry baby. :)

Love this walk...

Our original caterer flaked for part I of our vegan food "elixir suaree", thank GOODNESS for our angel, Melanie Edwards, who came through in the clutch, & hooked us up w/vegan sushi!! :)

I call this pic, "besos"...

Sooo sad we received very few pics of our insanely good VEGAN FOOD! Even my father was caught going straight for the stationery appetizers! A travesty, no less, that we are sans pics of the PASSED appetizers which included (the best) bruchetta I've ever tasted, mini "cheeseburgers,mini grilled "cheese" paninis, & heirloom tomato truffled martini glass mashed potatoes. Yes folks, this was "cocktail hour" #2, though this was only the beginning...

This would have been sooo magnificent had we been able to use REAL lit candles in the trees...The City of Pasadena shut that down. Fun theme though. Whaddya think?

Michael C's dinner menu? Absolutely, positivelynothing short of DIVINE!! The gods of great taste & good fortune were definitely smiling upon us...& my DEAR INCREDIBLE friend Sue, helped me search through craziness & high water, to get a deal on 80 square gold chargers...:)

Teaser: Coming up: red carpet, belly dancers, vegan cupcake bar, & of course…the culinary main event!…

Thanks & stay tuned!


VB :)

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March 22nd, 2010
Bride (really couple) of the month, Yay!

Bride (really couple) of the month, Yay!

Hi Family!

While I’ve been off immersing myself in all things real estate, good things are a brewin’.

A) A VERY cool site w/a VERY cool owner (Denise) interviewed me and selected me as bride of the month! I’m honored. She found us all the way in the UK & reached out to connect based on our joint mission: to help brides to be save the planet, eat better, and have more toned buts on their wedding day! (Lol) – if so chosen.:):) Check out the article & Denise’s oh-so-cool website and raw diet plan for bride’s to be here:


B) It’s that time again! You came, you saw, you asked, so we’re hosting another cooley-high, life-changing, Earth Cafe Cheesecake giveaway!

Rockin Raspberry Raw Vegan Cheesecake courtesy of You get the whole thing of course (whole cake!) Shipped to your door. Hand made w/organic ingredients, gluten-free, dairy free, "living", and full of flavor! You haven't died but you've gone to heaven!! :)

Rockin Raspberry Raw Vegan Cheesecake courtesy of You get the whole thing of course shipped to your door (individual slices sold in stores). Hand made w/organic ingredients, gluten-free, dairy free, "living", and incredibly good-tasting! You haven't died but you've gone to heaven!! :)

Opinions/predictions/questions about the real estate market?? Leave ‘em here & enter to win: .

Wedding Album PART DUEX coming SOON!…


:) V.B.

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February 15th, 2010

Well, let’s start w/the ceremony…

turquoise & blue aqua & red wedding theme

We made the pom poms, thanks to the Martha Stewart blog, we ordered the aisle runner online, picked up the fabric at a discount outlet, & had the dress shipped about 3 days before the wedding after dress catastrophe #1 occurred, (go back several posts if you don't know what I mean) bargained directly with a local flower designer & chose only roses to save cost & environment & at this point, could finally BREATHE, after having planned around the clock like mad people for 5 straight months!...Enjoy. :)

Touching wedding moments

Father, Mother, sister w/wet eyes...didn't even know. :)

Who needs an altar when you've got 8 foot tall manzanita trees, faux orchids, & a dream? :)

Who needs an altar when you've got 8 foot tall manzanita trees, faux orchids, & a dream? :)


We did it!

Everyone should have this feeling, at least one day in his or her life!

Everyone should have this feeling, at least one day in his or her life!

My favorite pic!

My favorite pic!

More to come, stay tuned…we have the outdoor vegan appetizer & elixir hour, the (LA tour in between)- the inside cocktail hour, the reception, the surprise, & then the grand finale! Love to hear your thoughts!


:) VB

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January 29th, 2010

Hi dearies! Are you a lover of a great massage, or would you like to spoil someone with a gift of one? How about even better…a great massage that you don’t even have to jump in your car & waste a gallon of gas to get, unless you want to? Well, you’ve heard of mail order flowers yes? Go Massage brings you “mail order massage” in the form of a professional masseuse who comes right to your home or office, OR you can use their concierge service & book therapeutic massage  at your favorite spa or hot spot, as well. You can’t lose with this one family! Hope over to my real estate blog, & leave a comment mentioning your favorite g-rated way of relaxing to enter. That’s it!! You know I love you, so stop by & be sure to say hi!!



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Phil Birdsell Saved the Day!

January 18th, 2010

Phil Birdsell Wedding Celebration Extraordinaire

The Vegan Groom Speaks up!

I confess that I’ve been feeling selfish lately.  Turns out that I have some really great wedding vendor info that I’ve been just sitting on, so I’m sharing it with you for your benefit, and to ease my conscious!

I’m going tell you all about one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time (besides the obvious VERY best decision of marrying Candy Tolentino, The Vegan Bride!).  Simply put, it was choosing Phil Birdsell as our wedding DJ.

About two months before the big day Candy and I were on a scouting mission at a local bridal fair when we first met Phil Birdsell. We weren’t there looking for a DJ -  we were just looking for DIY ideas – but, as will soon be elaborated upon, Phil Birdsell seemed to sense our needs.  My “first 3 second” assessment of  Phil was that he was friendly, really really into his craft, and very professional.  The remainder of my experiences with  Phil only confirmed my initial assessment.  The reason we weren’t looking for a DJ was because we had decided that in the interest of staying on budget that we probably needed to just throw a bunch of songs on the iPod and call it a Day. I’m REALLY glad now that we didn’t stick to our initial plan, because I’m afraid we might have end up calling it a Bad Day.

We met with Phil about six weeks prior to the wedding and talked about what we were hoping for in our event.  Phil was extremely organized, and was intent on understanding all of the ideas, nuances, and preferences that we had for our event.  He wanted to bring to life our our music, not just play his music.  He wanted to deliver exactly what was in our mind, not what was convenient for him to deliver.  For example, Phil asked us not only what the different genres of music what we wanted to have played during the different parts of our cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing, but he also asked us to give him any specific songs that we wanted so that he could make sure to include the.  And the Vegan Bride does lover her music!  I don’t think Phil realized that he was going to get such a long and obscure list of old-school rap and R&B songs when he asked that question!   Candy came up with a list of songs that people hadn’t heard for years.  Guess what?  Phil already had most of these songs and the ones they didn’t have he went out and found just for our event!

We were impressed with Phil’s preparation and organization for sure, but because this was my first wedding celebration, it still wasn’t obvious to me how important of a role the DJ plays in the pacing and cohesiveness of an event like this.  Turns out that having a great DJ is EVERYTHING!   Especially for our celebration.  You see, as our wedding day approached, we found ourselves SO behind we didn’t have time for a proper final meeting with Phil to carefully go through our timeline again, along with all the rest of our wants, needs, and details for the evening.  This wasn’t completely bad though, because it provided a wonderful opportunity for us to see the true talent Phil Birdsell has.  We basically gave Phil by a VERY rough timeline for the evening along with a quick note that said “Phil at this point we are so behind all we can say is that we’re glad we can trust your professionalism and know that you will pull this off for us and we apologize profusely”.  And pull it off he did!  From the announcements made to help direct our guests from location to location within the building to the announcements of the evening’s entertainment, to the introduction of the bride and the groom, etc.,  Phil was on point to make the evening a seamless experience for us and our guests.  The guests had NO idea that our event and entertainment program was not carefully planned and well rehearsed!  Can you imagine if they could tell?  Phil basically turned what could have been a mediocre arrangement of tradition and entertainment into a wonderful, seamless, and enjoyable event for us and our guests.

Based on our experiences, I cannot recommend strongly enough to work with a professional, and to NEVER work with a recreational DJ. If your DJ has a day job, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Go with a professional, someone who DJs for a living.  Phil Birdsell is a professional DJ.  His livelihood is at stake, along with his reputation, at every single event that he does.  And Phil takes his job very seriously.  He loves what he does, and he does what he loves.  I felt that our wedding was the most important job that Phil Birdselll ever did or would ever do, and I have every reason to believe that each of his clients feels the same way.  He’s NOT a guy with some sound equipment you can rent by the hour, rather he is a consummate professional that will bring an element of style at to your event you would otherwise not have.

To drive this point home further, let me digress for one moment…  As you may know our wedding celebration took place at two separate venues – the ceremony at one, and the reception/dinner at the other.  Because of the short amount of time between events (the guests were transported between the venues on a chartered bus) we elected it to have Phil join us for the reception portion of our event only, to allow him adequate time for setup sound checks, etc.  So for the ceremony, we hired a guy from craigslist with some speakers who was willing to push the play button for the CD that we created with selections for our ceremony.  This was an BAD choice.  It turns out that I forgot the CD of classical prelude music in the limo which caused about a 20 minute delay in getting it to the sound guy.  So in the meantime, as our first guests begin to arrive it to be seated, they got to enjoy popular Elvis hits.  Now this would have been fantastic, if our event was being held at Graceland, but it was not.   It was in a beautiful garden setting that begged for equally beautiful, soothing, and romantic music.  Now I know that I can be a bit demanding at times, but when you’re an advertised “DJ” who has agreed to provide and operate the sound equipment for a wedding ceremony, is it possible that a backup CD with a couple of standard wedding ceremony classics might be a good thing to consider bringing?  In the words of the Vegan Bride, “is it me?!”  Now, in case you missed the point of this story, let me summarize it for you here.  If we had used a professional DJ for the ceremony, as we arguably should have, then I (the Vegan Groom) would not have been up mixing my own CD of music for the wedding ceremony at five in the morning the night before the biggest day of my life and our guests could have heard exactly what we wanted them to be greeted with.

You should also know that in addition to being a professional DJ Phil Birdsell is also an accomplished entertainer.  Since we trusted Phil, we gave him carte blanche to sprinkle any impressions jokes or any other elements of entertainment over the event in keeping with our our theme and our agenda.  Now some people with big egos might have abused this and turned our event to showcase of their own talents, but not Phil, not in any way.  He knew exactly what and when to add to fill the slow spots and to enhance the bright spots of our evening.

As a final note, in good conscious I must  leave you with a warning.  There is one major downside to having Phil Birdsell as your DJ, and I’ll explain by way of example.  I recently attended a friend’s wedding and found his DJ to be so awful in comparison to Phil that it distracted me from being in the moment with my friend.  Their DJ did not even seem to know how to use his own equipment (the sound levels were WAY too loud causing distortion and muffling making it very hard to understand the DJ, the musicians, the toasts, etc.).  I also found the other DJ to be shockingly rude and annoying toward the guests.  What a shame!  So, as long as you’re okay with your event DJ (a.k.a. Phil Birdsell) setting a standard of excellence that may cause you to be annoyed with other people’s DJs, then with a clear conscious, I enthusiastically recommend Phil Birdsell  for your next event or wedding.  And even if going to busted parties is not your thing, I STILL recommend Phil Birdsell for your own event.  Just don’t forget to take your Prozac before going to every OTHER event for the rest of your life!

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