So now I’ll tell you about how this coat came into being.

I started with this gorgeous Vogue pattern, undated of course but I think it’s around the early to mid 1960’s – very appropriate considering Doctor Who started in 1962. Look at that space-age scoopy neckline. Far out, man.

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I did make a wearable muslin of the dress, but I’ll cover that in another post some other time. It did the job though – I found out that a size 14 from that era had a slightly smaller bust than mine and was apparently 7 feet tall. Does that picture look above-the-knee to you? I had to take about 4 inches off the hem.

Laughably, the previous owner of this pattern had made the coat and had already shortened it at all the appropriate ‘lengthen or shorten here’ lines. Bless them; I went with their adjustments and hoped for the best.

Now, true to my usual obsessive desire to only use recycled materials, I dug this out of the refashionable closet.

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It’s one of those Indian-style pantsuits – a dress-length tunic and matching long trousers. The fabric is faux suede in very good condition. I remember buying this at the Laverton Markets in Melbourne about a year ago; my shopping buddy at the time thought I was nuts. I think it cost me $8. The pants are plain blue, and the tunic is crush-dyed.

I have to apologize that I didn’t take many construction photos. I was on a serious deadline and I knew there was a huge amount of work to do on this. I really, really wish I had taken a picture of the pattern pieces laid out on the deconstructed tunic and pants. It was like two-dimensional jenga. Amazingly, I only had to piece together the back sleeve and a tiny corner of the lower back edge. (Oh, and a section of the front self-facing, but that’s on the inside and so doesn’t really count.) Mind you, grainlines became a thing of dreams when I was laying it all out! I’m amazed at how well the finished coat falls considering!

I recycled a doona cover to use as the underlining fabric, and basted all the pieces together. This pattern was a little tricky around the armholes – wait, I’ll show you the pattern pieces. See, the sleeve front and upper bodice is all one unit. So then there’s some scary pointy bits that have to get sewn together under the arms. Whacky fun.

Vogue 7468 detail

So I was glad to have done the dress as a muslin, as it’s built the same way. Let me just say: BASTING IS YOUR FRIEND.

Well, now the coat was at a certain point in construction. It was time for the decoration to commence.

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Under Construction

What I wanted to do was embroider (or otherwise attach) a bunch of Gallifreyan symbols onto the coat. I found a neat little app on Googleplay that allowed me to translate words and phrases into Gallifreyan, but I was left with the burning question: how exactly was I going to do this??

Which is where the Op-Shop Gods bestowed some of their benevolence on me. There’s a big old Salvo’s near work and I whipped in there one lunch break while I was still stewing over the application problem. I knew my embroidery skills were in no way up to this task, so straight embroidery was out. I’d had thoughts about using t-shirt yarn and stitching it on. So I’d found a black cotton jersey skirt with the idea of cutting it into narrow strips….. but then I found this.

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Is that…. an entire reel of black satin cord?? for FOUR DOLLARS???

Yes. Yes it is. And now it’s mine. Decision made. The symbols would be ‘couched‘ on.

So I printed out my symbols in the sizes I wanted. Then I used some old carbon paper (filched from the chuck-out pile at work one day – I knew it would come in handy!!) and used my tracing wheel to get the pattern onto the fabric.

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“Donna Noble”

Yep, I named a bunch of companions on there.

Symbols closup

Yes, there is a little beading going on there as well. Quite a few of the symbols had ‘dots’ and I can’t do a french knot to save my life. I tried. But on another trip to another op shop, I scored a little baggie of tiny glass beads in perfect Tardis blue, and a necklace which yielded slightly larger black beads, and some larger again blue ones as well. All for the low low price of $3, which included a sweet 1980’s ‘Handmade’ magazine.

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The other sleeve says ‘Gallifrey Falls No More’. Awwww.

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Martha Jones has my back. So does Rose and Mickey, and Jack Harkness. Around the hem we have Susan Foreman, Sarah-Jane Smith, The Brigadier, Wilfred Mott, Donna Noble, Amy and Rory, and Clara Oswald.

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And that’s River Song up there over a TimeLord’s second heart.

I’m not going to lie. The couching and embroidery took FOREVER. There was a point at which I really wasn’t sure if I was going to get it done. I had to fly interstate one weekend – to Perth – which is a five-hour flight. I packed needle and thread in my carryon and hoped it was okay to travel. Thankfully it was, and I sewed for the whole flight. Needless to say there were quite a few late nights in the leadup to the big event.

I was sewing on the buttons at lunchtime on show day. Oh! The buttons! Big thanks to my mate Steve at work who burned his fingers making these buttons for me. They were plain gold (well, plastic), but with the help of some tiny printouts of the TARDIS and some heatshrink, they became TARDIS buttons!

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The starry print is the lining fabric. I actually bought that new – shock horror, I know, I bought something new? But I didn’t have anything that worked. And the Doctor always wants to show people the stars, so I thought I could just have some with me.

So let’s recap. Blue faux suede pantsuit, thrifted, $8. Doona cover interlining, thrifted, $6. Beads, thrifted, $2. Black cord, thrifted, $4. Buttons, from my stash, originally thrifted, $1. Lining fabric, new, $22. Quilting thread (for embroidery), new, $6. Hours and hours and hours of bespoke handsewing…… priceless!

I would have used this, but there wasn’t enough. So I just used it for the pockets. Thanks, Allison!

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But I made it! Hooray! Thanks to Kylie for supporting my geekery and taking some piccies.

Actually there are a few credits I would like to add! Many thanks to:

Kylie, for going with me!

Allison, for the pocket fabric and my Dalek beanie (IN-SU-LATE!!)

Steve at work for the buttons!

Denise at work for giving me lots of kudos, posting me on facebook and giving me a lift to the theatre :-)

Caroline at work for the nail polish assistance!

Salvos Tempe and Marrickville, for providing the exact things I needed, exactly when I needed them. At bargain prices.

 

 

Everybody loves an orange and almond cake.

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 Especially when it’s a birthday cake with candied peel and sweet dried figs, marscapone frosting and raspberry chocolate hearts.

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I was determined to create something to equal this amazing cake.

In the end I used a very simple whole-orange-almond-cake recipe from The Cake Mistress. I didn’t boil my oranges for quite as long as she did, mostly because I didn’t want to be up til midnight! So the oranges only got boiled for an hour, and they didn’t have a lot of cooling time either, once I’d pulverized them with my stick blender.

Orange Almond Cake

  • 2 Navel Oranges, washed
  • 220g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 250g almond meal
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Place the whole oranges in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain and replace the water, then boil again for another 30 minutes. Drain. Roughly chop the oranges (navel oranges don’t have pips, but if you use a different fruit you will need to remove any pips at this stage) and then blend or process to a pulp.

While the oranges are boiling, start working on the candied peel and raspberry hearts (see below).

Prepare a 22cm round springform pan: spray lightly with oil and cut baking paper to fit the bottom and sides. Preheat the oven to 160C (150C if fanforced).

Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the baking powder. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and use a spatula to carefully fold in the almond meal and orange pulp.

Pout the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-50min or until a skewer comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the sides. Keep an eye on your cake from the 30 minute mark – if it starts to brown too much, place a piece of foil over the top.

Remove the cake from the oven. Leave in the tin, and place on a rack to cool completely before removing from the tin. (At this stage, I drizzled the leftover zest syrup over the cake while it was still hot. You don’t have to do this but I love syrup cakes!)

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Decorations

Using a zester, remove peel from 1 or 2 oranges. If you don’t have a zester, use a regular peeler, but make sure not to remove too much pith with the peel. You want long thin strips of zest. Put 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the zest and simmer for about 20min, until the liquid has reduced. Place the zest and syrup in the fridge for a while. When cool, drain the zest, keeping the syrup.

Cover a small tray with foil. Place the sweet, sticky zest on the tray. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of caster sugar, and toss well to coat. If you’ve timed this right, your oven will still be hot; put it on the lowest setting and put the zest in for about 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice. It should go crispy and crunchy. Remove from the oven and allow to air-dry for as long as possible (I left mine overnight, covered with a clean cloth).

Take about 4 dried figs and slice them thinly. If they seem a little dry, soak them in warm water for a couple of hours.

For the raspberry hearts, take a piece of baking paper and draw some hearts on one side, about 3-4cm in diameter. Turn the baking paper over and place onto a clean board. Melt about 150g white chocolate (I do mine in the microwave, short bursts at low power, stirring in between). Add a few drops of raspberry essence. My chocolate went a bit stiff at this point so I added about 1/4 teaspoon of peanut oil. Using a small spoon, dab chocolate onto your baking paper, filling your heart lines.

Awww. Filling your heart lines. I like how that sounds.

Pop the board into the fridge until the chocolate has set, then carefully peel off the hearts and place in an airtight container until ready to use. I did two batches.

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Frosting

A search for ‘mascarpone frosting’ turned up an amazing looking almond praline cake which I pinned to try some other time! I used their frosting recipe, but I only made half the batch which turned out to  be exactly right for my cake. Basically just marscapone, heavy cream, vanilla and sugar (I added a little extra icing sugar as well). I whisked mine by hand and it thickened almost instantly – be very careful not to overbeat or it will start to separate and curdle!

Slather frosting all over your cake. Sprinkle with the candied peel and sliced figs, then decorate to your chocolate heart’s content.

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Hi guys!

Well the main reason for the dearth of recent posts is THIS:

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Thank you to the BBC for deciding this was a good idea! To promote the new Doctor, played by the craggy yet handsome Peter Capaldi, the first episode was screened in select venues around the world, followed by a Q&A with Peter and Jenna Coleman (the Doctor’s current companion, Clara). I was beside myself with excitement when I realised Sydney was on the tour itinerary! Literally; I was reading my emails at work and this popped up. I actually grabbed my computer screen with both hands and yelled ‘oh my GAWD!!!!!’ – to the utter bemusement of my collegues in the open-plan office where I work.

After several urgent texts back and forth with my sister, we decided that yes, it was worth the slightly pricey tickets. And as I said in one of those messages, ‘the question is not will I go, but what will I WEAR?’

And so I set myself yet another nigh-impossible dressmaking deadline.

I was going to cover all the process and construction, but that post was leaning towards ‘bigger on the inside’, so for now let’s just have a big reveal!

Coat 1

The Gallifreyan Coat

 

TAH-DAAAAAAH!

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(These photos were taken at work, just before I headed off to the premier.)

So, what does it all mean?

Coat 2

I used a neat little app I found on Googleplay to translate into Gallifreyan symbols.

 

Time And Relative Dimension In Space

The other sleeve says ‘Gallifrey Falls No More’. Awwww.

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Martha Jones, Amy and Rory, Jack Harkness

Yeah, I named a bunch of the Doctor’s companions on there.

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And that’s River Song up there over a TimeLord’s second heart.

I’m not going to lie. The couching and embroidery took FOREVER. There was a point at which I really wasn’t sure if I was going to get it done. I had to fly interstate one weekend – to Perth – which is a five-hour flight. I packed needle and thread in my carryon and hoped it was okay to travel. Thankfully it was, and I sewed for the whole flight. Needless to say there were quite a few late nights in the leadup to the big event.

I was sewing on the buttons at lunchtime on show day. Oh! The buttons! Big thanks to my mate Steve at work who burned his fingers making these buttons for me. They were plain gold (well, plastic gold), but with the help of some tiny printouts of the TARDIS and some heatshrink, they became TARDIS buttons!

DSCF8648

The starry print is the lining fabric. I actually bought that new – shock horror, I know, I bought something new? But I didn’t have anything that worked. And the Doctor always wants to show people the stars, so I thought I could just have some with me.

I would have used this, but there wasn’t enough. So I just used it for the pockets. Thanks, Allison!

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But I made it! Hooray! Thanks to Kylie for supporting my geekery and taking some piccies.

At the beautiful State Theatre in Sydney. After the show, I got as close to the TARDIS as security would allow.

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No, not very close at all. Not to worry. I went to the popup shop on the weekend.

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Wearing my Dalek beanie! (Thanks again, Allison :-) It was raining, and I didn’t want to risk The Coat getting wet. Hence my incredibly attractive army-green rain jacket.

I’ll follow this up with another post about materials and construction. For now, to any Whovians reading this, Capaldi is gonna be a great Doctor, and that first episode is a cracker!! (Oh, and Adam Spencer was a hilarious host as always. Although that crack about Prince Charles may have gone a teeny bit too far…..)

 

PS. Did anyone catch the Bowie reference in the blog title? How awesome would it be if Bowie ever did a cameo on Doctor Who!!! 

I made muffins.

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These are fruity coconut cream muffins. I had some coconut cream left over from the lamb & macadamia nut curry I made last night. So I thought, you know, I haven’t made muffins in ages. So I trawled the internet (and by trawled I mean a rather brief search) and slightly modified this recipe.

Fruity Coconut Cream Muffins (Dairy Free)
3/4 cup SR flour
1/4 cup ground oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 Tsp baking powder
3/4 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup almond or almond & coconut milk
1 egg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 apple, coarsely grated
1/2 cup diced dried apricots

Preheat oven to 180°. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cases.
In a bowl mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate jug or bowl combine all liquid ingredients. Add liquid to dry mix, stirring until just combined. Gently fold in apple and apricot.
Divide mixture between muffin cups (I only made 10 because they looked a little small).
Bake for 20min or until springy when touched.
Cool in tray for 5min before removing to a wire rack.

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Delicious when eaten warm!

I have been a bit lax with the posts, haven’t I? The fact is, I have had heaps of projects on the go – but quite a few of them haven’t turned out. Sad face. I haven’t even had any amazing finds at the op shop (well, except for the pie dish I found for my sister, but really… it wasn’t exciting enough to post.)

Then to top it all off, I got my overlocker out to use on a very simple project, only to find it kind of … doesn’t… work. I googled the fault; not a lot on the internet about a Huskylock 435, but the few I found with a similar fault all said they ended up taking it to the fix-it shop. Sigh. So that project went on the back burner, too.

So, being all frustrated at my lack of success – and lacking a bit of creativity, too, at the moment – I decided to fall back on some mending.

I picked up this fine merino thermal on my overseas trip last year. It was cold in San Francisco, and this was on the sale rack!

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You can see the big runs in the elbows and the frayed edge of the sleeve cuff.

I’ve been admiring all the beautiful Alabama Chanin creations exploding all over the internet. Amazing what you can do with two layers of cotton jersey and a needle and thread.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to attempt anything quite so glamorous with my daggy little thermal top. I don’t even really know the techniques – I don’t have the book, I’ve just looked at loads of pictures.

I remembered some stretch fabric left over from a top I made a couple of years ago, a whacky purple floral that I adored (and I wear the top all the time!) that would perfectly complement the purple thermal. One line of running stitches didn’t seem quite robust enough for me, so I enhanced it with a second line of running stitches and some decorative blanket stitching in a varigated embroidery floss I dug out of The Stash.

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Now I have cute little elbow patches! (oh, yeah, you’re not imagining it. Top left there is a pink, heart-shaped clock with a picture of Jensen Ackles as the face. There’s a guy who knows what time it is.)

There was another couple of small runs on the left sleeve there, but they were very narrow so I just seamed them out.Oh, and please don’t look too closely at the mending on the cuff – it was meant to look rustic but it just looks like a 5-year-old did it. Ah well.

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And just so you know I’ve not been just locked away in my sewing room moaning about all my failures, here’s what I did on the weekend.

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No, I’m not wearing my karate uniform in the picture, but I was when I won those medals I’m wearing!

sewing challenges 2014

I’ve actually managed to complete another of my sewing challenges for 2014! And it’s only, er, halfway through the year….

So I used an old Butterick pattern, number 6572.

Butterick 6572

I say ‘old’ rather than ‘vintage’ because as usual Butterick haven’t put a copyright date anywhere on the pattern, envelope or instruction sheet. This drives me nuts. However, there are ways to roughly date this pattern. For instance, the price there is in dollars, which means it’s post-1966 (when Australia moved to decimal currency).  Also, at some point in the mid to late 80’s, Butterick stopped printing the price on the envelope. So we’re somewhere between 1966 and, say, 1987. My best guess, based on the style and the artwork, would actually be very late 70’s or very early 80’s.

I tried Googling ‘Butterick 6572. Apparently Butterick has used this number more than once! I only wish I had this version. And then there’s this one! That second one is listed as 1970’s, which makes my earlier guess fairly likely.

Anyhoo, the reason I chose to make this one was all because of the Archer. I lurk around many blogs that have featured this sweet indie pattern, like here, here and, well, here. It’s pretty popular, and I do covet it. However, I steeled myself against buying another pattern (no, really, I have so many I need my own catalog) and decided to use one I already had.

I had a piece of vintage fabric too, and when I say vintage I mean I picked it up in an op shop for a couple of bucks. It’s a sort of brushed cotton/flannelette, brown with teeny white polka dots and little orange flowers.

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The pattern was completely uncut, which was lovely, so I copied the pieces I needed onto my old pattern standby, kitchen paper. Did some measurement checks, shaped it a little at the waist, pinned, and cut.

And, I used my beautiful 1962 (or possibly 1963) Pinnock “Zig Zag Deluxe” sewing machine for the whole project. It’s so very smooth and sweet to use. It’s a flatbed, rather than a freearm, which makes tubular sewing a little fiddly; and that’s my excuse for the ease in the sleeve heads being a little lumpy.

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So it does look a little like pyjamas, but I tried it on with jeans and it looked kinda cute. (I still have not found my camera tripod. I think perhaps aliens have taken it.)

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Oh, things I learned while making this shirt: curved hems are painful. I should have basted the d*mn things but noooo, I chose a marathon pinning session instead. This fabric presses really well though, and it looks fine on the outside, so as long as the dressmaking police don’t want to check my construction I’m good to go. (Although, having watched The Great British Sewing Bee, if Patrick Grant wanted to check my work I wouldn’t be arguing with him!)

Cream jacket

Last year sometime I went on a road trip through some country towns. As all op-shop-fanatics know, you can find some crazy bargains in the tiniest of country op shops. When I left home I had a list of op shops and their opening times and a schedule of which order I should attack them in. (I like me a list!)

And so it was at the Red Cross shop in Wangaratta I found this boxy blouse in a heavy cream polyester. It’s main redeeming feature was the draped collar. Also, it was on the sale rack.

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I held onto it for a while, but I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to do with it. When the weather started to get cooler I decided the time was right to make it into a lightweight draped jacket.

First of all I chopped off some of the length.

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Then I made a bunch of pleats in some strategic spots at that new lower edge.

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I pinned those pleats, then stay-stitched them. Using the offcut piece of material, I fashioned a band which got sewn onto that bottom edge.

As usual, I forgot to take pictures of the middle of the refashion. Sorry, guys. I chopped the sleeves as well at the three-quarter mark and gave them a nice wide hem.

I still had the original buttons and buttonholes at the front of the shirt which didn’t look all that pretty. I removed the buttons and used the sleeve cuffs, salvaged from the sleeve offcuts, to make little epaulette thingies to cover up the buttonholes.

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And that was it! I think I’m getting better at these on-the-fly refashions. I tend to dither a lot, but this time I managed to stay focused.

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I have worn this once already and received a few compliments! I’m still working out what it goes with in my wardrobe though :-)

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Because I’m daggy, I want to share this one with you as well. I have this little table-top ironing board, which is the handiest thing EVER in my sewing room.

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As you can see, the cover is getting a bit grotty. Sadly this cover is actually stapled to the board so I couldn’t just take it off to wash it. To be honest, it wasn’t that attractive anyway. I decided to make a new cover!

I turned the board upside down on some cute fabric and drew around it.

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Leaving a wide allowance, I cut that out, then folded over the edge and sewed to make a casing.

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Then I threaded some narrow elastic through that casing.

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I fitted the new cover over the board and pulled the elastic tight, then tied it off.

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(See that price tag? Three bucks! Thanks, Vinnies!)

After that, because I still had some of that fabric, and also because I am a total nerd, I did the same thing to my little sleeve pressing board.

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Cute, isn’t it? It gets cuter.

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Wait til you see the two of them together.

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Awwwww. What a cute couple.

 

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