52 Project, Week 26: Watermelon

52 Project, Week 26: Watermelon

Summer and watermelon go together like pumpkins and autumn.   Watermelon is one of my favorite summer treats.  The kids usually flock around me when I start to chop one up.

This year, I grew watermelon for the first time.  We got a bunch of cute little watermelons that tasted amazing.  There really is nothing better than food grown at home. 

Watermelon is harder to photograph than I thought it would be.  I’ve always struggled to photograph the color red.  I’ve attempted to tackle it with roses but even then, they’re not exactly to my liking. 

That’s the kind of challenge that I don’t give up on.  I actually did this photoshoot 3 times.  The first two were not to my liking.  My last, I can finally say that I have an image I’m proud of.  

Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 25: Patterns
Next Week: Flip Flops/Sandals
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Need inspiration for your watermelon project?  Check out my inspiration board on Pinterest!

45 Inspirational Quotes for Photographers

45 Inspirational Quotes for Photographers

Here are 45 inspirational quotes for photographers to inspire and motivate you!

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
Ansel Adams

“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
David Alan Harvey

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
Andy Warhol

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
Destin Sparks

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”
Alfred Eisenstaedt

“Photography is a love affair with life.”
Burk Uzzle

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
Ansel Adams

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Ansel Adams

“Only photograph what you love.”
Tim Walker

“Photography is the beauty of life captured.”
Tara Chisolm

“I didn’t choose photography, photography chose me.”
Gerardo Suter

“It’s not the camera but who’s behind the camera.”

“A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye.”
Roger Kingston

“I think of photography like therapy.”
Harry Gruyaert

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely every hundredth of a second.”
Mark Riboud

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
Eudora Welty

You know you’re a photographer if the ocean is never just the ocean, it’s a backdrop.

A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.
Peter Adams

If you want to learn what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
Imogen Cunningham

“It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.”
James Lalropui Keivom

“Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”
Yousuf Karsh

“When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”
Wynn Bullock

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”

“The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.”
Susan Meiselas

“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images, I live with them.”
Bruce Gilden

You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again.  You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.
Joan Miro

“I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.”
Annie Leibovitz

“When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.”

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
Elliott Erwitt

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
Matt Hardy

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
Karl Lagerfeld

“One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.”
Annie Leibovitz

“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
Diane Arbus

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”
Alfred Eisenstaedt

“Through photography, I see God.”
Melissa Greeder

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it”

“When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking the answers to things.”
Wynn Bullock

“Art isn’t a result, it’s a journey.”
Seth Godin

“Veni. Vidi. Cepi. I came. I saw. I captured.”

“Eyes like a shutter.  Mind like a lens.”

“The earth is art, the photographer is only a witness.”
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

“The only photographer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be.”

“Photography is to place head, heart, and eye along the same line of sight.  It is a way of life.”

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”

What is your favorite photography quote?

450 Daily Life Ideas for Your 365 Project

450 Daily Life Ideas for Your 365 Project

Are you interested in having a successful 365 project?  Many people, myself included, start a new year full of excitement and high hopes about having a year full of beautiful images.  Yet, actually fulfilling this task is easier said than done.

I have always wanted to complete a 365 project.  I have tried a few times and ended up forgetting a day or two and gave up.  I think this is probably the case for a lot of people.  So after failing many times, I decided to try a 52 Project. 

It was a lot of fun!  I created a list of words that I wanted to tackle every week.  Unfortunately, I would hit a word that stumped me and fall behind.   I started skipping hard words and bouncing around a lot on my list.  I still kept plugging away at it, but the truth is, I didn’t finish.  I’m probably going to keep working at it till it is done though!

Although there are a lot of fun lists of ideas out there, I wanted a list that would be attainable.  I wanted a list that could be jumped around on.  This list must be something that I could do from home or during daily life, nothing crazy and extravagant.  This way, no matter what I have going on, I can look at the list and say, “I can totally do this today!”

So here it is, a huge list full of ideas that can easily be fulfilled and hopefully make your 365 project, and mine, a success!

Many of these are repeatable!  For example, What I’m Wearing changes every day!  I’ve listed every room I can think of in a house, but you can always add on a room if you have something extra.  These are all general ideas to work up your excitement and inspire you!  If the task is Bathroom, you don’t have to take a shot of the entire room, for example.  Maybe you love some art on the wall of your bathroom.

You can print these off and check off as you go.  You do not have to do these in order, jump around to find something that excites you.  I hope you have a successful 365 project and a fun year!
Download HERE

If you’d like a simple list to print instead, download HERE

52 Project, Week 24: Words

52 Project, Week 24: Words

It took me quite awhile to mull over what I was going to do with words.  Should I photograph a few meaningful words?  Should I photograph a journal page?  Should I go out and find some words that appeal to me?

What words are worth capturing for this project?  What words will have meaning and depth?  Should I choose my own language or another?  Words do always sound more romantic in another non-native tongue.

After Princess woke up and climbed into bed with us last night, I couldn’t fall back asleep.  I mulled over words, saving inspiration to my Pinterest board.  I put down my phone and attempted to go back to sleep when it came to me.  I wrote the whole blog post in my head and it sounded great!  Best blog post ever!  As I drifted off to sleep, I knew I would forget every word.  So I turned on the light and jotted down the most important part.

Words have power.  The power to build someone up or to tear them down.  Choose wisely.

When I think of all of the words that have made the sum of my life, there have been billions.  I learned to speak, I learned other languages.  I’ve heard others speak.  I’ve written countless school papers, letters, journals, work notes, and emails.  Words make up a large portion of my life.

Words create emotion that can touch deeper than any slap or caress.  Words can be cruel, hate-filled, malicious, violent, slanderous and life-shattering. Words can be kind, gentle, loving, hopeful, sweet and uplifting.  The bible says “Thoughtless speech is like the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise is a healing.”

Words must be chosen carefully.  I can remember vividly, words that I regret using.  I can also remember words that have changed my life.  I have deep sorrow for words never spoken.  I have tears for the memory of words from lips that have been silenced.  I have pain from words of vows that have been broken.  I have joy from words of memories of my favorite things.

Words can be a gift when used wisely.   In turn, those words can be a curse when used carelessly.  So think carefully about your words, friends.  Be careful, be patient and most importantly, be kind.

How have words changed your life?  What are some of your favorite words?

Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 23: Green
Next Week:52 Project, Week 25: Patterns
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52 Project, Week 38: Happiness

52 Project, Week 38: Happiness

Happiness.  What a word.  The dictionary defines happiness as a state of well being, contentment and joy.

In my notebooks over the years, I’ve made many lists full of the things that make me happy.  When I think of the words contentment and joy, everything on my list fulfills those two descriptions of happiness.

What about well being?  The dictionary defines well being as the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy.  That’s where it gets tricky.  You see, a lot of people are neither comfortable, nor healthy, yet they retain happiness.  They are grateful for their lives despite their hardships.  This is something that for the last year, I have been working hard on.

When you are a healthy, comfortable person, the little things are taken for granted.  It’s hard to imagine any life other than the one you are living.  Though you might try to be empathetic, you can never truly put yourself in someone’s shoes unless you have also walked that path.

Although my health has always been frail, it has never been as fragile as it has been this last year. I’ve lost count to the number of times I’ve had anaphylactic attacks and nearly died as a result.  I can’t say how many times I thought to myself, this could be the last year of my life, what will my family do without me?

I am not afraid of death or dying, having faced it so many times.  I think it would be peaceful to be without suffering.  Not that I want to die.  I love being alive.  I love waking up every day.  I delight in the weather, the seasons, my family, and what health I do have.  So many suffer so much more than I have.  I feel selfish when I think of my hardships because I do not deserve to complain about them.  I don’t feel I can, when there are so many who suffer more than I.

I like to focus on what I do have and what I can do.  I focus on teaching my children and maintaining my home.  I also focus on maintaining my health and my education.  I focus on my relationship with God.  I am thankful.  I am grateful.  I have joy.  I am happy.

Every person has a puzzle of their life.  When we are born, we’re given this giant jumble of pieces which makes up the sum of our entire lives.  As babies, we don’t even yet understand this.  We are new and young and innocent. As we grow, we begin to understand basic concepts, like walking, talking, and eating.  We don’t even realize that we’ve begun to sort out some of the basic pieces of our pile into categories.  Some of the like colors are being separated into piles.

As we grow, we begin to learn about EVERYTHING.  We learn about relationships, God, emotions, animals, history, science, art, and we begin to explore our world.  We still sort our jumbled puzzle mess into color categories, but we also begin to make basic connections and understanding that start to piece our puzzle together.

At some point, we begin to realize that by having discipline and choosing to do hard work, we can benefit ourselves.  We also realize the importance of helping others.  We discover that we can help ourselves with introspection and we try to learn from our mistakes.

We have a greater desire for connection and faith in God.  We work on developing our relationship with our creator and deepening our faith with more in-depth studies of the bible.

We might, at this point, begin to realize that our life is a giant puzzle.  We know that we can’t see the whole picture yet.  We can only focus on our little piece that we’re working on.  We know that God can foresee our completed puzzle and how our puzzle connects to the puzzles of others and the entire beautiful masterpiece as a whole.

For me, my happiness is a variety of things that make my puzzle feel more complete and whole.  It’s my happy memories, my future prospects.  It’s this present moment and my life where it is now.  It’s the fact that I’m alive and I can continue to have new adventures with those I love.  It’s my relationship with God and feeling safe in his protection and love.  It’s the giant puzzle that is my life.

What makes you happy?

Previous Week: Apples
Next Week: Explore
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What I’ve Learned From A Year of Dedicated Blogging

What I’ve Learned From A Year of Dedicated Blogging

I started my blog as a fun hobby.  In the first few years, I only made a couple of posts.  I knew I wanted to do more, especially since I was making the investment in paying for hosting.  Letting my blog sit there seemed like a waste of money.

It wasn’t until my circumstances changed that I decided to dedicate time specifically to blogging.  My health had taken a turn for the worse, I had to quit working.  I was struggling with accepting my new life and the depression that came with significant change.  I knew I needed to fill the void of work with a new hobby.

Blogging seemed like the perfect way to occupy my mind and fill my time with something positive.  Since I stopped taking professional portraits for other people, I reminded myself that I could still be a photographer, only, I would be taking images for myself.  I decided to challenge myself with something I have always wanted to do, a 52 project.  It was a lot of fun and I love the way my images turned out.  From there, it became easier to blog about things.

With the end of school nearing, I decided to add another challenge to my blogging, vlogging.  This took my blogs to a new level, as I had videos to go along with my writing.  I initially started vlogging for fun and as a challenge to warm me up to what I really wanted to do.  I wanted to do a video series on the challenges of severe, life-threatening allergies.  Along with this, I will have accompanying blogs that detail in writing the facts that go along with my videos.

Over the past 5 years of health struggles, I have done an extremely large amount of research.  Some of the things I researched had little to no information and I had to really dig in order to learn.  It was so hard to gain footing in the world of severe allergies.  Not many people are allergic to nearly the entire world, and there isn’t a handbook that goes along with it.

I knew that I wanted to help people and make their journey a little easier, by sharing my story and experiences.  I wanted to help someone avoid some of the mistakes I’d made in the beginning, or maybe find a new way to help them cope now.

I realized that I had found the purpose of my blog.  I guess you could say I found my niche.  This information isn’t only helpful for those with severe allergies.  It is beneficial for everyone.  I tell people that I am the canary in the coal mine.  If my health takes a dive because of my sensitivity to chemicals, then It can’t be very safe for other people either.  Even if they’re not having a life-threatening reaction to it.  Toxic chemicals are not beneficial to anyone.

Holistic health and nutrition can benefit everyone live a healthier, more meaningful life.  Living life without toxic chemicals reduces the risk of having cancer, heart disease, eczema, diabetes, and more.

I love sharing what I’ve learned with others.  Blogging gives me a platform so I don’t have to drive my friends and family crazy by constantly talking about the latest medical article I’ve been reading.  It allows me to share my photography.  It allows me to be creative and give me an outlet for my lack of ability to work.  Hopefully, someone out there will appreciate and enjoy my ramblings and my photography.

After a year of dedicated creating every month, I can definitely say that blogging is something I enjoy and will continue to do.  Thank you for those of you who have commented, shared, liked and followed me over this last year.  I have loved hearing that you enjoyed something I shared.  Hopefully, I’ll have more fun things for you in this coming year!

Love, Melissa

52 Project, Week 22: Self Portrait

52 Project, Week 22: Self Portrait

This is perhaps the most difficult photography project yet.  Like many of you, being in front of the lens instead of behind it makes me cringe a bit.  Attempting to photograph oneself requires more work, more equipment, and more bravery.  However, it can also be a lot of fun!

So what do you need for a self-portrait project?  Why does it require more work, and what equipment is necessary for a project like this?

More Work

Like all of my projects so far, I have usually researched the work of other artists.  I love using Google and Pinterest for this.  By using keywords for the general idea of what you’re looking for, you can find inspiration for your own project.  Plus, seeing all of the amazing things that others have come up with is great motivation!

Although, sometimes, even after all of my research, I scrap my whole idea and come up with something entirely new.  It’s all part of the process.  By finding what you don’t like about something you’ve tried, you find what you do like instead.

In the case of a self-portrait, you have to try to find ideas that can apply to a self-portrait.  Some angles and positions are tricky enough for a photographer and a subject, but for oneself, it can be next to impossible.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of posture and angles, due to being a portrait photographer.  In the beginning, I used to catch sight of myself in a mirror and pause, refine the pose, and mentally save the idea for later.  After several thousands of subjects later, posing became second-hand nature.  The downside to this is, I hate to be repetitive.  Too much a good thing can be bland.  So I try to mix it up and try poses outside of my comfort zone.  THIS IS NOT THE PROJECT FOR THAT.  Stick to the classic, tried and true posing for yourself.

When you’re on location, you won’t be able to see yourself to make sure you’re in a good pose.  The best way to handle this, besides bringing a full body mirror and a stand for it, is to practice at home in front of a full body mirror.  Turn around a few times, wiggle, then face the mirror.  Close your eyes and try to recreate the pose you practiced.  Open your eyes.  Once you have refined the muscle memory necessary, you’re ready to go!

To summarize what you might like to do for your project:

  • Reseach keywords on Pinterest and Google image search.  Good keywords are self-portrait photography.
  • Don’t be afraid to scrap your original idea if it’s not working out.
  • Become aware of natural bends and curves.  Watch people to see the angles and tilts of their heads, the bends of joints, like elbows, wrists, waist, and knees, the positioning of arms and hands, legs and feet.
  • Practice posing in front of the mirror.

More Equipment

This leads me to what equipment is necessary for self-portrait project.  The obvious thing necessary for this project is a camera.  Almost every camera on the market has a self-timer, from iPhones to high-end DSLRs.  Not every camera has a remote option, but should yours have one, it can make the job easier.

A tripod is also extremely helpful.  Yes, you can be creative and find ways around this, but the job will be more difficult.  A classic tripod is awesome, you can raise your camera to your eye level at any location.  A portable, flexible tripod can be great for trying some of those weird angles that I was talking about earlier.  For example, if you want your camera to be higher than your head, or if you’re in a small and tight location where there isn’t room for a traditional tripod.

A mirror is also a nice thing to have on hand.  If you don’t have someone (usually the photographer’s job) to check to make sure your hair and makeup are ok, then you definitely need to check yourself.  Otherwise, you could have a lot of post editing should you have a clump of hair sticking up at a colic.

Everything else necessary is only what is necessary for every photo shoot, which I’m not going to go into detail here.  I don’t like a lot of equipment.  I like to stick with the basics.  For a self-portrait, where you are the photographer and the subject, you don’t want to carry a large amount of gear and end up crumpled and flustered. Carry what’s light and easy, so that you can focus on the task and not the gear.

To summarize what you might like to do for your project:

  • Find out how to set up the timer on your camera.  Or figure out how to work the remote for your camera.
  • Figure out if you are going to use a tripod or set your camera on a shelf.  Make sure you have all the necessary pieces for your tripod.  Mainly, the attachment for your camera.
  • Gather supplies, including a mirror.
  • Ask yourself if each item you’re bringing is necessary or excessive.

More Bravery

As for bravery, I don’t like photographs of myself.  There are very few that I do like, much less love.  The idea of being the center of attention makes me cringe.  Taking a self-portrait feels like I am baring my soul, naked to the world for critique.  I overthink it and due to that, I haven’t taken my portrait.  Seriously, months have dragged by and my project is a little behind.

Silly, I know, when I’m writing a blog.  For me, this is kind of terrifying.  I fit the classic description of an introvert.  Every time I make a post, I have a small panic attack.  What if they don’t like me?  What if they hate me?!

Being brave enough for your own self-portrait is mostly necessary during the planning phase.  I tend to overthink everything, so if I can get past the planning phase and into the action, I’m a much more laid back person.

Once I’m on location and the camera is on, I’m focused on my work, all worry erased from my mind.  I love being a photographer.  I love working with my chosen beloved tool, my camera, analyzing light, hunting and seeking the details that make it come together, creating an image, a work of art.  I look back on my work years later and I am so thankful, for all of it.

So, despite the delay, I’m going to take the plunge and post my self-portrait.  I’m choosing to be brave.

How do you feel about having your portrait taken?

See my first attempt at a self-portrait project here:


Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 21: Simplicity
Next Week:52 Project, Week 23: Green
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52 Project, Week 42: Autumn Trees

52 Project, Week 42: Autumn Trees

Autumn is my favorite season.  Autumn trees are part of why it is my favorite season.  The colors of the leaves transform the world into a breathtakingly beautiful place for a short week or two.

Here is one of my favorite autumn trees poems.  While googling the words for this poem, I found out that it is actually a song!  I might have to learn the tune so I can sing it to my kiddos next autumn.

Come Little Leaves
by George Cooper

“Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day,
“Come over the meadows with me, and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold.”

Soon as the leaves heard the wind’s loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the soft little songs they knew.

“Cricket, good-bye, we’ve been friends so long;
Little brook, sing us your farewell song-
Say you’re sorry to see us go;
Ah! you are sorry, right well we know.”

“Dear little lambs, in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we’ve watched you in vale and glade;
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?”

Dancing and whirling the little leaves went;
Winter had called them and they were content-
Soon fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a soft mantle over their heads.

52 Project, Week 42: Autumn Trees

Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 41: Pumpkin
Next Week: Favorite Outfit
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52 Project, Week 49: My Cup

52 Project, Week 49: My Cup

I have an obsession with adorable cups.  I love drinking tea out of cozy mugs and lemonade out of mason jar glasses.  I drink water from a glass water bottle and kombucha in a little bit of everything.

I’ve worked hard to minimize the items in my kitchen.  I find the more dishes available the bigger the mountain of dirty dishes to wash.  My family would rather get a new dish than put a dirty one in the dishwasher or empty a clean load, or handwash something delicate.  I did most of the work and it was neverending.

So I got rid of the majority of our plates, bowls, cups, and silverware.  I gave everyone one complete set and got rid of the rest.  I even gave them each their own special spot on the shelf in the cupboard.

One thing I didn’t minimize was tools for making food since I do a large amount of cooking and baking from scratch.  The other thing I didn’t minimize was my cups.

I love my cups.  I enjoy drinking from them.  They’re part of my self-care routine because they make me smile.  When I’m anxious, depressed or having a bad day, they help cheer me up and calm me down.

I also enjoy serving company tea or coffee when they come over.  I love to share my cups.  They’re usually a conversation piece and cause my guest to smile.

I heard a story once about broken cups.  All cups have a lifespan.  At some point, that life will end by being broken.  Whether it is by our own hand or that of a guest, that ending is inevitable. If we should have company, and one of our precious cups should break, the natural inclination is to exclaim in horror over the loss.  Doing so, however, might cause discomfort and the deep remorse of our friend.  Out of a desire to be a gracious and hospitable host, we should smile and immediately put their mind at ease by saying something of the like of “Oh, that old thing?  Don’t worry about it.”.  Later, after they leave and we are alone, we can mourn the loss of our cup and maybe shed a tear or two.  Yet knowing the end was inevitable, that all cups have the destiny to be broken, it makes the loss that much easier to bear.  It makes forgiveness easier to give.

So though I love my cups, I don’t save them for a special day or hide them from my company to prevent accidents.  I use them and enjoy them as much as I can.

My cups are a source of more than the ability to hold liquid.  My cups hold personality and character.  For me, they hold memories, joy, and great comfort.

Tell me about your favorite cup!

Check out my video!

Previous Week: Baking
Next Week: Natural
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52 Project, Week 25: Patterns

52 Project, Week 25: Patterns

When finding patterns for a photography project, it can be difficult to find a satisfactory subject.  At least, it was for me!  I couldn’t find anything that really spoke to me.  I have already incorporated leaves into past projects and I didn’t want to be redundant, but that would have been my first choice.

Searching in the world, there are a lot of patterns, brick walls, playground equipment, windows.  Honestly, they all seemed so overdone and boring to me.  I really wanted to try something different.

I have seen a photograph similar to this before and I thought it would be fun to try it myself.  Let me tell you, this was no easy task!  It took A LOT of matches and I ended up with a few burnt fingers.

I tried so hard to get a perfect gradient.  Did you know that matches bend when they are burning?  Or that they shoot flames out the end of the match when you get too close to the end?  Also, not much holds the head on once it’s been torched.

For the really charred ones, well, everything past the fourth match, I had to deal with warping and bending of the wood.  My remedy for this was to burn a short section, cool and then burn another section.

For the last 6 matches, I had to be really careful not to burn my fingers.  I decided to burn the butt end first, then burn the remaining sections.  This is where the flames shooting out of the end of the match became a problem.

After numerous attempts at perfection, I said “Forget about it!” and became satisfied with imperfection.  I theorized that I could fix it in photoshop in a jiffy, but I earned that imperfection with a badge of honor… or burnt fingertips anyway.

Previous Week: words
Next Week: watermelon
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Check out how I did this in my video!