Quilt Time!!!

Yes, it’s been a while since we started collecting fabric for the Third Annual Amish Quilt Giveaway and the time to announce the winner is here! Well, it’s tomorrow. Today is about showing off this beauty! This is a postage stamp quilt, pieced and quilted by our Amish friends in Lancaster. Isn’t it amazing?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the quilt giveaway, this is something I’ve hosted for the past three years and plan to continue in the upcoming year. Readers and quilt fans submit a 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 piece of fabric–design of their choice. We collect the fabric and take it to Lancaster to be made into a beautiful quilt. The size of the quilt depends on the available fabric and usually the design is the choice of our Amish friends. They work during the spring and summer months to piece it and quilt it for us to giveaway in the fall. The timing is one thing that delays the announcement of the winner. Spring and summer months are the busiest for the Amish. Even planning for the upcoming fall weddings takes up time in the summer months.

But after tomorrow your wait will be over. Each entrant is given a number as the fabric comes in. Tomorrow, random.org will choose a number and the corresponding participant will be our winner!

Good luck to all of those who entered this year! And if you missed the deadline for this year’s giveaway, next year’s quilt is now open for submissions. See the complete list of instructions on this website’s QUILT PAGE. While you’re there, be sure to check out the FAQs for the giveaway and the official rules and regulations.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Oh, wait…you want to see the quilt? I suppose. LOL

Here is is!!!

Amazing, right? And the best part of all, it’s a community project. Readers come together and supply the material for a chance to win.

I wish we had a quilt for each and every one of you! But alas, there can be only one winner. Stay tuned for that announcement tomorrow. And good luck to all!

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Release Day!


It’s release day for Marrying Jonah! I’m so excited to finally bring you Jonah’s story! He’s been patiently waiting in the wings for his chance at his happy ending. And this one…well, I;m hearing that it;s the favorite for a lot of readers. Hope you enjoy!

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Marrying Jonah Amy Lillard a Wells Landing romanceLife isn’t always as simple as it seems for the Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma. Neither is love. . .

Everyone in town knows that Sarah Yoder is enamored with Jonah Miller, even though he’s been with his girlfriend, Lorie, for years. But all that changes when Lorie runs off with another man. Inconsolable, his faith in love shattered, Jonah resists everyone’s attempts to ease his pain—until the unexpected happens one night.

Jonah is filled with confusion. Sarah is not the woman he yearns for, yet he asks for her hand in marriage, if only out of honor. Still, he worries, can they live in harmony if their vows are built on a lie? As Sarah seeks spiritual advice, Jonah tries to look toward the future—and finally begins to see her for who she really is: A beautiful, strong-willed woman whose heart is pure and belief is true. But will it be too late for him to prove that he wants to be her husband?

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Let’s Talk About Witness

Someone (who shall remain nameless <cough> Stacey Barbalace) has got me watching Orange is the New Black on NetFlix. If you don’t know the series, it’s about a 30-something WASP who is convicted of drug trafficking (one bad decision 10 years ago) and sentenced to federal prison. The show is magnificent! But I digress.

If you want to know more about Orange is the New Black, click the link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Is_the_New_Black

In the series you get to meet other federal inmates including an ex-Amish young woman, Leanne. When the other inmates find out she was once Amish, they ask her all sorts of questions, including ones about Witness. Leanne exclaims, “That movie has so many inaccuracies.”

Now, I’m no expert, but the movie seems pretty authentic to me as far as the Amish are concerned. But I did notice one ‘mistake.’ Rachel (Kelly McGillis) has just lost her husband but doesn’t wear black as a sign of mourning. Keeping this in mind, I started to do a little digging.

I know Orange is the New Black had consultants and I’m sure that Witness did too. There was a lot of controversy when the movie first came out. I believe it was one of the first times that I had ever heard about the Amish. But those were the days before the Internet and before the enchantment with the Amish lifestyle had grown into what it is today. This article was published in 1985, the year the movie came out.

http://people.com/archive/john-hostetler-bears-witness-to-amish-culture-and-calls-the-movie-witness-a-mockery-vol-23-no-10/

It’s from People magazine and they are fairly legit. And I can see why he said what he said during the time he said it given who he is. Hope you followed that. <G> But if the movie were released today, I don’t believe anyone would think the same. The Amish (at least the ones in Lancaster) have become quite good at capitalizing on the English fascination with their day to day lives.

Wikipedia says the movie was not well received by the Amish when it released and that the governor of Pennsylvania made a public promise to not “promote Amish communities as future film sites. ” (That quote is from Wikipedia, not his speech.)

If you want to read more click the link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witness_(1985_film)

With all this talk of inaccuracies and opposition, I started digging again to see what had everyone all upset. From my investigation it appears that the biggest problem with the movie was the violence. Some even claimed that the Amish would not have let a wounded cop stay in the house to recover. And that may have been true at the time, but I’m not sure. It’s interesting to think about. Yes, the Amish are pacifists, but helping a fellow human being doesn’t mean you condone their actions or lifestyle. Just a thought.

Rachel had already been set up as a bit of a rebel (maybe that’s why she wasn’t wearing black) and seemed like the sort of person who would go against what others might deem proper. In fact, that’s one of the things I liked about her.

So I looked up movie mistakes for Witness, hoping to see the Amish facts put to the test. Instead, I found problems with congruence, a few technical mistakes, and an artistic license with physics. But not problems with the Amish details.

Movie mistakes: http://www.moviemistakes.com/film1619

I also found some trivia.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090329/trivia

All in all, I feel that Witness was a great story and despite the controversy, it remains one of my favorite movies.

What about you? Did you notice any Amish problems with the show? Do you remember the controversy when it was released?  Can you imagine anyone else but Harrison Ford as John Book? Comment below before a chance to win an autographed copy of Titus Returns.

And as always, thanks for reading!

 

 

Please keep in mind that I would like to start a discussion–a friendly discussion. Please respect other people’s opinions and in some cases agree to disagree. Thanks!

Amish Benefit Auctions

“If anyone sees his brother in need and fails to give…what evidence is there of God’s love?”
– 1 John 3:17

My husband came home today and told me that we were going to make another big pot of venison chili for him to take to work. He took one for a Valentine’s Day party and it was a big hit! But this chili they are going to sell as a fundraiser for a co-worker whose wife has cancer. I’m telling Stace about it, and she reminded me how this is so much like the Amish. (BTW–the chili recipe is at the end of this post.)

It’s widely known that the Amish take care of themselves. In fact, their sense of community is one of the many things I admire about them. One of the most popular ways that they support each other and their community is through various types of benefits and auctions.

Now they have regular auctions, though mostly for produce. But it seems that most go to benefit a family in need. Perhaps the biggest auction is the Haiti Auction.

According to www.pahaitiauction.com,  the purpose of this auction is to “bring relief to the hungry, sick, naked, and homeless of Haiti. The ultimate goal is to bring them to Christ through providing for their physical and spiritual needs. Relief is given throughout the country of Haiti without regard to race, religion, or creed.”

The auction is held throughout the United States in such places as Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. My friends attend this auction in Pennsylvania every summer. This year, I’m hoping to attend as well! The benefit is held in January for the Pinecraft community, but in July for Lancaster. Five or six tents are set up with auctions occurring in each tent throughout the day. Furniture, quilts, tools, crafts, gardening and farm supplies, firewood and more are put up for auction. Food is served in a special tent all day. At exactly 12 noon, an announcement is made over the loud speaker. Everyone stops, prays, then sings a song together. Can you imagine how amazing it sounds to hear hundreds of people singing together?

The highlight of the day is the silent auction. Many unique items are put up for auction, such as a day of labor supplied by a group of Amish youth, a wing supper donated by an Amish couple, and a ton of hay or straw.

Sometimes an auction is organized to help pay for the medical expenses of someone who has been injured or fallen ill. My Amish friend also attended a benefit auction recently that was held to help raise money for a man who had fallen out of a tree and was left paralyzed from the accident. Members of the community donated quilts, wall hangings, tools, pies, and more to be auctioned off. Everyone also brought a covered dish to share. After making a donation, attendees passed through the food line and enjoyed the various pot luck dishes that were donated.

The community also held a benefit for an Amish woman whose husband left her and her children for the English world. This was a different type of event called a “Stop and Shop”.  Several vendors (Pampered Chef, Tupperware, 31, Tastefully Simple, etc.) set up shop in someone’s basement. Friends, family, and neighbors stopped by to shop. They bought raffle tickets and purchased lunch and baked goods. Donations were also accepted. All proceeds went to the person in need.

The Clarita School Auction is held every September in the Amish community of Clarita, OK. Items are donated to help support the local Amish school. In fact, the Clarita School Auction is the recipient of the quilts made by the women of my Amish Quilting Circle Series. If you happen to be in OK around this time, you should check it out! Here’s the link for more information. http://www.claritaoklahoma.com/auction.html

I can’t help but wonder how much better our world would be if we took direction from the Amish and reached out to help our neighbors more.

Have you been to an Amish auction? What about a benefit for someone–Amish or English? Comment below and your name will be added to this week’s drawing. The prize up for grabs? A large print edition of Titus Returns. (It’s hard back!)

Be sure to check out the rest of the pictures from previous Amish auctions…

Haiti Benefit Auction 2014 & 2015

And as always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

This recipe is a jpeg. You can ‘right click’ and save it to your computer. Then you can print from there!

An Amish Year of Holidays

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When people find out that I write books about the Amish, it seems everyone has a question ready to ask. Especially around the holidays. Do the Amish celebrate birthdays? Do they give Christmas cards? Do they stay up late on New Year’s Eve?

As with the English, the Amish traditions vary from settlement to settlement, but for the most part, the Amish celebrate the same holidays we do.

After all, holidays are important to the Englishers. It only stands to reason that they are important to the Amish as well.

amish-holidays-memeI’ve asked my Amish friends about New Year’s Eve and most stay up and watch the clock tick over to a new year. They like to eat pork and sauerkraut (recipe below) on New Year’s Day and enjoy time with family and friends. However, for a great deal of the Amish especially for those working in rural settings, work continues as normal. Livestock isn’t concerned with human holidays and must be milked and fed regardless. (Just a note here–most of my Amish friends work for English companies and no longer farm for a living.)

Everyone loves Valentine’s Day. Couples make special plans, youth groups organize fun activities, and Amish school children make Valentines to give each other. There are special lunches to celebrate and cards are exchanged. And though we would like to believe that the commercialism of store-bought valentine cards, candies, and roses have not taken hold in the Amish culture, this isn’t the case for every district. A lot of this is determined by how integrated the Amish are into the English community around them.

Naturally, Easter is a big holiday for the Amish. And since the Amish hold their church services every other Sunday, it is possible for Easter to fall on an ‘off’ Sunday. Amish families can either attend a service in another district or observe Easter at home. Amish children color Easter eggs and even have egg hunts.

Surrounding Easter is Ascension Day, the thirty-ninth day after Easter Sunday. The day celebrates Christ’s ascension into heaven. The Amish also celebrate Good Friday and Easter Monday. Both days are usually filled with quiet reflection.

In addition, the Amish celebrate Pentecost. It’s the fiftieth day after Easter and is the celebrated day when the Holy Spirit appeared to the apostles. Some consider this the birthday of the church. Easter can also be a big time for school programs if they aren’t held at Christmas.

The Fourth of July is not normally observed by the Amish. They have nothing against it per se and some even set off fireworks. Though it seems more for fun than true celebration as the English do.

St. Michael’s Day is observed on October 11th. If you live near an Amish community, you may be surprised to find less traffic on the roads and a great many (if not all) of the Amish businesses closed for the day. The Amish observe this day with rest and fasting and preparing for the upcoming communion service.

This holiday was a new one for me. Most probably because it’s a Catholic holiday, though it is not celebrated on the same day for all who observe it. So why do the Amish celebrate a Catholic holiday? Most likely tradition. In the old days, a great many Amish were tenant farmers. They paid a certain percentage of their profits to the land owners on specific days. October 11 just happened to be one of the ‘quarter days’ (or payment days) and somehow managed to work its way into Amish tradition.

Halloween is not celebrated by the Amish for obvious reasons. However, many Amish decorate with pumpkins, though they do not carve them.

The Amish celebrate Thanksgiving much the same way English do with a big meal and visiting family. However, Thanksgiving falls in the middle of the Amish wedding season and can sometimes take a backseat to a wedding celebration. Traditionally the Amish get married on a Tuesday or Thursday. It’s not uncommon to have a wedding or even more than one to attend on Thanksgiving Day.

Christmas traditions between the Amish and the English are as kin as they are different. The Amish do not put up a Christmas tree, though they decorate in other ways—like with Nativity scenes and candles. They exchange gifts, though my Amish friend’s family draws names to keep things as simple as possible.

The Amish school children host a Christmas program. They participate in skits, Bible readings, and even sing a few Christmas carols.

For the most part, Christmas is quiet and reflective. The day after Christmas, or Second Christmas, is filled with visiting friends and neighbors. Second Christmas came about as an extension of Christmas Day itself. The Amish have such large families that it’s impossible to visit everyone they would like on one day.

The tradition of Old Christmas is still followed in many districts. This day (at one time the actual day Christmas was celebrated) is another day of reflection and visitation by families. Old Christmas falls on January 6th. Note: none of my Amish friends in Pennsylvania celebrate Old Christmas.

So as you can see, the traditions of the Amish are rooted in the past as well as looking toward the future. But as a devout society, the traditions of the Amish are bound in faith and caring.

What are your favorite holiday traditions and how do they compare to the Amish?

I hope you’ll leave me a comment and let me know you visited! Everyone who comments will be put in a drawing to win a signed copy of Titus Returns. My latest Wells Landing book!

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Amish Pork and Sauerkraut (serves 8-10)

1 pork shoulder (10-15 pounds)

4 pounds of sauerkraut

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse pork and place in a large roasting pan.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover with 1/3 of the sauerkraut.

Cover pan and place in oven for 90 minutes.

Remove and add another 1/3 of the sauerkraut.

Cover and place back in the oven for another 60 minutes.

Remove and add remaining sauerkraut.

Cover and place back in oven for another 60 minutes.

Remove and enjoy!

Be sure to serve with mashed potatoes and apple sauce.

Amish Quilts

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Most of us would agree that Amish quilts are something of a cultural icon. They’re beautiful as well as functional and serve as a form of entertainment and togetherness for the Amish women who make them.

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Quilt block from a quilt my Amish friend made for one of her daughters.

We have heard of or seen pictures of Amish women gathered around a large quilt frame, stitching and talking. Family members get together to make a quilt for a daughter who’s getting married. Friends and fellow church members may gather to make a quilt to send to a country in need, like Haiti. Or members of a district may work together to make a quilt to donate to an auction to help a community member facing hard times.

More Than a Marriage, the last novella in my Amish Quilting Circle Series releases at the end of February and features a group of Wells Landing Amish women who get together once a week to sew quilts for the Clarita School Auction. Most of you know that Wells Landing is inspired by the Amish settlement in Chouteau, Oklahoma. But the Clarita School Auction is one hundred percent factual and takes place every September. Click HERE for more info about the Clarita School Auction.

As much as we love Amish quilts, my Amish friend in Lancaster recently told me that the Amish girls of today are shying away from quilts and leaning more toward modern English comforter sets. This type of mindset could eventually lead to the discontinuation of the traditions surrounding these beautiful works of art. I don’t know about you, but just the thought makes me want to cry.

I love quilts and can’t imagine anyone picking a comforter over a hand sewn (or even machine sewn) work of love.

quilt-1-2-mkdWhich brings me to the good news part of this post. Amy’s Amish Quilt Giveaway (3rd Annual) is still underway! What does this mean for you? The chance to win a one of a kind Amish-made quilt. If you haven’t heard about the giveaway you can find all the specifics HERE. In a nutshell, I’m collecting fabric from my readers. In turn, you get a chance at winning the quilt!

And the best part is you don’t have to able to sew or quilt to enter!

So head over and check out all the specifics of the giveaway and send in your fabric! (Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited.)

And you can also join my Facebook page dedicated to the quilt HERE.

quilt-2-4-mkdI am so excited to be able to use this quilt to bring my readers together and for a little while keep this beautiful tradition alive.

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or email me at amylillard918@gmail.com.

Do you currently have any Amish made fabric goods in your home? Quilt? Doll? Potholder? Tell me all about it! Everyone who comments on this post will be entered into the weekly drawing. Up for grabs this week? A signed copy of Titus Returns, my latest Wells Landing Amish romance.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Wow! You Must Do a Lot of Research

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This is the second thing most people ask me when I tell them I write about the Amish. The first is usually “Are you Amish?”

Well, no.

The first time I can remember hearing about the Amish I thought the person telling me about them was lying. Most probably it was my brother who liked to tease me beyond belief. I couldn’t be sure anything he said was actually the truth.

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The next time I was watching Witness. I don’t know how old I was (at least seventeen, though). But I remember in the movie, the bad guys are looking for the Lapps. They call the local law enforcement in Lancaster who says, “Do you know how many Lapps are in Lancaster County?”

At the time I had no idea.

After that I didn’t think about the Amish much. I went to college, got married, and moved to the Caribbean. In fact, I probably didn’t think about the Amish again until my agent suggested I write a book about them.

Wait…what?

“Yes,” she said. “Write an Amish romance.” I really thought she was joking and when she didn’t call me back and tell me that she was pulling my leg, I went to Mardells and started my research.

For those of you who don’t live in the area, Mardells is a Christian bookstore owned by Hobby Lobby. I went to get fiction books about the Amish to read to get an idea what they were like. I mean, I knew all the elements of a secular romance. How different was an Amish one?

Turns out, they are incredibly different and not so different all at the same time.

amish-listBut reading fiction books with Amish characters is a lot different than non-fiction books, and I found myself reading and watching everything I could. From Donald Kraybill to Amish Mafia. Yes, I meant it when I said everything.

These days it’s still the same. I absorb whatever I can about the Amish, but my favorite way to do research is to visit the communities themselves. Even ones that I don’t plan to write about.

Why? Because the Amish are fascinating people. I find it simply amazing how the communities differ and the ways that they are the same. When we were in Pontotoc, we were warned by the locals that they were stand-offish and didn’t readily talk to outsiders. We took that knowledge, shoved it in our back pockets, then headed toward the Amish houses. By the middle of the afternoon, we had met Elizabeth Hostetler. She and her husband had moved down from Ohio to be able to farm—land was getting scarce up north. She was canning chicken and couldn’t talk to us long, but managed to share a few nuggets of information including Thanksgiving traditions, when the Mississippi Amish leave school (yes, it is different from Lancaster), and the truth about their rumspringa. I was told on my first visit to Ethridge, Tennessee (the parent community to the one in Mississippi), that they didn’t have a rumspringa or run around time at all. What we learned from our new friend is that they have one, but it is very controlled and very conservative. Those wild and crazy stories they report about Amish teens running amuck are not coming from Mississippi.

So how does a person go from not knowing much to writing books about the Amish? Yes, it takes a lot of research and nothing beats going to a community and visiting with the people there.

I’ve been privileged enough to spend an entire week with my Old Order Amish friend in Pennsylvania. Nothing compares to living the life every day. After a while I forgot that I was among Amish and I was just among friends. I didn’t notice the differences until we (Stacey, Sadie, and I) ventured into town on a Saturday. And I knew I would never view the Amish the same again.

This year Stacey and I hope to return to Pontotoc, Big Valley, and of course, Lancaster County. But even more, we want to take a Missouri trip and check out all the interesting Amish settlements in the Show Me State.

You can bet, I’ll come back and show you everything I learned.

What about you? Where is the closest Amish community to your home and have you ever been?

I’m giving away a signed copy of Just Plain Sadie to one lucky winner this week. Just leave me a comment below.

And as always, thanks for reading!!

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Not All Amish Communities Are Created Equal

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When I started thinking about this post, this was the title that popped into my head. Not all Amish communities are equal, not all are the same. They differ in their Ordnung, the written and unwritten rules that govern a settlement, but they differ in other ways too.

This week, I had a reader ask me about the use of tractors in my Wells Landing Series. I explained that it was an actual part of the Amish community that inspired Wells Landing. But it made me think about the different Amish communities, how they vary, and how we perceive them.

I just finished the first novel in what will be at least a three novel series set in the little talked about Amish settlement near Pontotoc, Mississippi. Yes, there are Amish in the South!

The Pontotoc Amish settled in Mississippi as a spin-off settlement of the Swartzentruber Amish community in Ethridge, Tennessee. Swartzentruber Amish are among the most conservative of the Old Order Amish, not even allowing indoor plumbing. But when I first saw the houses, I immediately wondered how these people scrape out a living.

lancaster-vs-pontotoc

Mississippi red clay dust coats everything. All the houses are covered in aluminum siding, mostly white, but there were a few red ones. Yes, red! There are no flowers planted out front, no cute swing sets for the children to play on. There are no phone shanties. But there are plenty of signs made out of the scraps of siding which bear the carefully lettered names of the items the family sells. The gardens are large and fields of cotton and peanuts are plentiful. Almost every house has a shed where they sell the products that they make—goat milk soaps, gel air fresheners, potholders, button necklaces, and all sorts of canned goods.

It’s a peaceful, though dusty, and has a beauty all its own. But it’s miles away from Lancaster County in both distance and attitude. But it’s next to impossible to visit the two areas and not compare them. And on the surface, Pontotoc can look at bit rundown. And my heart went out to the people who live there. But when we mentioned this to our Amish friends in Pennsylvania, their sixteen-year-old had an insightful theory.

It doesn’t have to be that they are poor, but that they have different priorities.

Wait…what?

Yes, even the Amish can have different priorities.

My Amish friends in PA plant flowers in their yards every year. Do you know how much water it would take to keep flowers alive in the MS heat? A lot. So they don’t plant them. Instead they grow muscadines, tomatoes, and corn. Something with more value, something worth the effort it takes to keep it alive. Just different priorities.

And just something to think about the next time you get to visit an Amish community.

Have you ever been to visit the Amish? Where did you go and what was something interesting you observed?

This week I’m giving away an audio copy of Caroline’s Secret. Just leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Happy New Year!

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I hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday. I had a great blog planned for this week and then life stepped in. Aside from my family being home for the holidays, I managed to come down with a sinus infection on top of having a looming deadline for the first book in my new Amish romance series.

So…That being said, I’m just stopping in today to announce the winners and talk a little about resolutions.

With so many pressures at the holidays, my resolutions include NOT writing a book next December along with my standard “Lose X number of Pounds.” Actually this year, I’m adjusting it to be “10 Healthy Habits I Want to Start in the New Year.” (Including breaking my addiction to Coca Cola.) When I have all ten I’ll let you know—LOL—but until then I’m crawling back into my writing cave to finish A Home for Hannah.

What about you? New Year’s Resolutions? Yay or Nay? Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of my latest Guideposts Sugarcreek Amish Mystery, Stranger Things Have Happened.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Amy

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