Friday, May 31, 2013

Adorably Functional.

You guys know how much I love my diabetes accessories, right? I mean, if I have to lug around all of this medical crap it might as well be packaged in a way that doesn't scream "HEY OVER HERE DIABETES". I can't tell you how many small cosmetic bags I've bought for this purpose, and while those work okay, it's nice to use something that has compartments designed specifically for the stuff I'm putting in them.

Man, wouldn't it be great if someone could fuse cute modern design with the functionality of the plain black cases our gear comes with? Wouldn't it be lovely if someone mistook your diabetes bag for just a "really cute bag and where did you get that"? Wouldn't that be Super Awesometown?

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Check out what I've been using for the past couple months, because you could win one of your very own:




The creator of this adorbs clutch is Monica Vesci, who lives with diabetes herself. Frustrated that she couldn't find a bag for her diabetes stuff that suited her needs, she launched her own business earlier this year. In her words: 
"Women should not have to be embarrassed by an ugly black medical supply case while feeling insecure about their diabetes. My vision is to provide innovative, affordable luxuries for people living with diabetes. I’d like to empower women by helping them to feel more beautiful by taking care of their diabetes with style and pride."
I've enjoyed using this clutch and have a few thoughts to share on it, but before we get to the bags themselves, let's take a few minutes to meet the woman behind them:

Kim: Hi Monica! Can you tell us a little about your own personal experiences of living with diabetes?

Monica: I was a senior in high school when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1994. I had been ill for several months leading up to the diagnosis but it never occurred to me that my symptoms could be signaling a chronic disease. I had never heard of diabetes and I didn’t know anyone who had it, so it was a total shock. 

I came close to lapsing into a diabetic coma and was hospitalized for many days as insulin was pumped into me, working its magic. I was introduced to my diabetes self-care routine including carb counting, exercise, insulin dosing, blood sugar testing and a seriously restricted diet (no more Oreos?!) I took my diagnosis like a champ, accepting everything from the beginning and asked what I needed to do. Soon I was giving my own injections and thought “this isn’t too bad. I can do this”. I returned to high school and graduated. 

Determined to not let diabetes stop me, I left for college in upstate New York and met my local team of diabetes physicians, nurses and educators. I soon realized, however, that trying to control my diabetes was much more difficult than I had originally thought. I wanted to eat pizza, drink beer and go to the cafeteria at odd times like everyone else. But that would have a disastrous effect on my health. I was sleeping a lot, missing classes and defiantly eating things I was told not to eat. I hated diabetes!

I became depressed and withdrew from my friends and social activities. Taking medical leave, I returned to Philadelphia to get things under control. My physician explained I had accepted the stages of diabetes in the opposite order. People typically go through denial first and acceptance last, but I did the reverse. I accepted it right away and after a year I was in denial. 

A brief regimen of antidepressants and therapy helped me to get on with my life in a new, healthy way. I earned my degree in Fine Arts from Chestnut Hill College, in Philadelphia, and after six years of living with diabetes, I was finally accepting it. I was back in control.

How are you doing now?

My husband and I began pregnancy planning in January 2013. After years of multiple injections, I decided to try an innovative new pump to promote my potential health and that of our future child. Armed with research from my doctor, support from my team at Steno Diabetes Center and encouragement from my fantastic husband (who is a diabetes researcher), I am now wearing the Animas Vibe pump with the built in DexCom CGM to avoid having two medical devices with me all of the time. 

This has been one of the best decisions in my diabetes care so far. I love this pump and with my A1c where it is now we are well on our way to planning for pregnancy. It’s a very exciting time knowing that I am at my healthiest and ready to start trying for a little one.

Best of luck to you on your journey to pregnancy! (And could you sneak me one of those Vibes?) So what lead you to want to create your own bags, and how do you envision them fitting into PWD's lives?

I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. I love designing and I was tired of finding my used test strips and lancets all over the house, in my clothing, in my HAIR and in the bottoms of my purses. I wanted a more practical and safer way to carry my daily diabetes supplies, and, most importantly, a place to safely and discreetly dispose of hazardous waste while on the go. I hated digging into my bags to find something only to come up with a handful of used test strips and needle pricks. I wanted to carry my supplies with style and grace. There are other lovely products on the market but I feel they are geared mostly for children or young adults and I did not find them suitable for my needs.

The Camino Clutch is unique in that it houses a personal, removable sharps container in a discreet way. It allows the user to safely and securely dispose of used test strips, needle heads and lancets in an unassuming and stylish way. The puncture-resistant container has a screw top lid that can be tightened once the container is full and the hazardous waste discarded according to municipality standards. [Editor's note: I wasn't sure how often I'd use this feature of the bag, but it really has come in handy for the times I'm doing a pump set change at work.]

This is a classy-looking Clutch Purse with enough room to carry your glam stuff and your daily diabetes supplies. I designed it to make me and you feel beautiful with diabetes. Devoid of the standard medical kit velcro and elastic, the clutch can be carried on its own as a chic purse (perfect for running errands, a lunch date or a night out on the town) or thrown into a larger tote, gym or diaper bag.

Let's talk a bit about pricing, because while the bags are gorgeous, some may not find them as affordable as some of the other bags out there. How do you feel these differ from what already exists on the market, and how did you determine your price point?

We arrived at our current price point by adding up the cost of materials, production, transport and company operations. As a startup company, we are now learning that our price point is in the higher end of what our clientele would want to pay for a diabetes supply bag. This is something we are working on because we strive to be a company providing affordable luxuries for people living with diabetes.

Our clutch differs from others with on-trend style geared toward women and not children; the inclusion of the sharps container; high quality materials and production in the U.S. I began with an idea of a high quality bag produced in the U.S., so we chose a skilled, small-scale manufacturer in Brooklyn, NY. Although production time is a bit longer and production costs a bit higher, we chose this method because the quality is top notch. 

Anything else you'd like people to know about you?

My parents and I are co-founders of “Ace For A Cure: Smashing Out Diabetes,” an annual tennis tournament, in Philadelphia, with all proceeds donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for Type 1 diabetes research. Our 8th annual tournament will be played on June 10, 2013. Our tournaments, thus far, have raised $250,000 for diabetes research.

This fundraising initiative was launched because I was concerned that we were not doing enough to support diabetes research. We decided to go with a tennis format because of our love for the game.  It is a grass court, doubles format, round robin tennis tournament that has expanded to two venues this year—the Germantown Cricket Club and the Merion Cricket Club.  If you’d like to know more about the event, become a patron, volunteer or donate a raffle gift, please visit www.jdrf.org/aceforacure.

Very cool. Thanks for sharing your story, Monica!

What I like about this bag: it's sneaky in that it doesn't *look* like a diabetes bag, it's clearly very well-made (it actually reminds me, in terms of design, construction, and quality, of a Coach bag), it has appropriately-sized pockets and loops, and the sharps container is pretty genius. While I personally would prefer the outer material to be a bit more sturdy/stiff (it softens up a tad with use), I suppose that's a good thing for when you need to cram a bunch of stuff in there. It's a very roomy bag that is even long enough to hold a Dexcom G4 sensor still in its packaging - impressive! (I should also disclose that this bag was provided to me free, for review.)

So where can you find these goodies? Here:

Web:            monicavesci.com
Twitter:         @MonicaVesci
Facebook:     facebook.com/MonicaVesci
Pinterest:      pinterest.com/monicavesci/

And how can you win a free Camino Clutch of your very own? (You get to pick the design, btw - and
you can also pick one without a flap, if that's your jam.)
  1. You need to be a person with diabetes, or their caregiver.
  2. To enter, visit monicavesci.com then come back and leave a comment below about the strangest/funniest/weirdest place you have found a used test strip, and which Camino Clutch you would choose if you won.
  3. You can earn an extra entry for following @MonicaVesci on Twitter. (Be sure to mention that you are following her on Twitter in your comment below, for your extra entry to count!)
  4. Entries must be posted by 11:59 pm CST Sunday night (6/2/13), and one winner will be chosen at random*. The winner will be announced Monday morning on this same post - so check back here! (I'll tweet and post on Facebook when the update goes live.)
Good luck to you!

*Limited to readers in the Continental U.S. only. Please do not leave your email or web address in the body of the comment. $139–149 USD total value. 

UPDATE: Congratulations to the winner - Jessi Panke!



I'll be contacting you shortly, Jessi. Thanks to everyone who commented for participating!

57 comments:

  1. Beautiful!!

    Strangest place I've found a used test strip - ermmmmm, my panties. *blushes*. Sometimes, when out to dinner, I'll go to the restroom and while I'm peeing, will test. Probably not the most sanitary thing, but hey, at least I'm multi-tasking. One of these times, my strip must've fallen into my panties and I didn't notice until the next time I went to the bathroom. Oooops.

    If I won this contest, I'd choose the Camino Clutch in Koral Chloé Chevron. Gorgeous!

    Started following on Twitter, I am A1conceive. :)

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  2. One time I woke up to find a test strip in my bra. That was quite awkward.

    I would love to have the Camino Sans in Emerald Ikat Monica if I won!

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  3. What gorgeous clutches! Love them, Monica! The weirdest place lately that I've found a used test strip is in the corner of our garage. No idea how it got there! Those things are sneaky for sure. ;) I've also found one on the bottom of my shoe! My daughter LOVES pink so I know she'd love the Camino Clutch in Hot Pink Heidi! Even if I carried it in my purse with her supplies - it would be perfect! Thanks for the chance!

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  4. I also followed her on twitter. C:

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  5. I'm following Monica on Twitter now! :)

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  6. Wow! These are gorgeous! My daughter has no trouble finding a way to tote supplies around when she is in sporty mode--in fact, wedged in between her cleats on her soccer shoes is one of the weirder places I found a strip. Not what I thought I'd find when her teammate said, "Sophie, WHAT is stuck to the bottom of your shoe?!" :D But when she is in girly girl mode, there is NOTHING that really works. Can't exactly match the soccer backpack to a dress. She would LOVE the Java Giraf clutch if she won. Because (as she said picking out a green zebra pump pack recently), "Sometimes you just have to show your style!" :) -- (not sure how to comment with a profile...) Michelle (grovemichelle@yahoo.com)

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  7. Strangest place for a test strip - where hasn't a test strip of mine ended up? In stacks of my student's papers, under car seats, and more - 19 years of diabetes tends to leave no place uncovered. :)

    I'm also following Monica on twitter.

    I would like the Camino Clutch in Emerald Ikat!

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  8. Finally! These clutches are gorgeous!! My daughter would love one. She thinks her current case is so ugly! This would make her feel more "normal" - and stylish of course when going out with her friends. She said she would love the Camino Sans in Hot Pink Heidi! You have a new follower on Twitter!!

    Thanks for the chance!

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  9. Oh and the weirdest place I found a used strip was in my hair during a business meeting!!

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  10. These bags look super cool. Both my partner and I have T1D. I think the weirdest place I've found one was in my shoes and stuck to my socks. So weird!

    I'd love the Camino Clutch in Royal Princess Olivia.

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  11. Oh man!

    I love this question! I have been Diabetic for 27 years so basically WHAT IS NOT THE STRANGEST PLACE I HAVE FOUND ONE!? haha. I have found one in my bra before...I've found one stuck to my license when I was pulling it out to get into a bar.... I have found one in my lipstick before.

    I started following @MonicaVesci on Twitter, too! My username is @aurrea.

    If I won this contest it would be such an awesome purse to use instead of lugging around three different bags for my supplies. I would LOVE the Camino Clutch in Koral Chloe Chevron.

    ::crossing my fingers!!!::

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    1. *24 years. I accidentally typed my age. haha!

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  12. strangest place I've found a test-strip: stuck to the back of my leg (in public - oops) ;)

    I like the Royal Princess Olivia.

    Now following @MonicaVesci

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  13. Hmm....strangest place let see...well I find love baby's everywhere! I guess i would have to say in the bath tub drain..lol If I won I would choose the hot pink one. super cute.

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  14. What an awesome giveaway! If I won I would like the Turkish Timmi Chevron. That bag is gorgeous and would totally make diabetes way cooler :)

    I am now following @MonicaVesci on twitter.

    Strangest place I have found a test strip would either be my bra or in my bed.

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  15. I've had a test strip stick to the bottom of my foot before. Whenever I walk past a lone test strip on the sidewalk I always feel conflicted. "Biohazard solidarity." I'm not alone! (But I'm still not picking it up.)

    Camino Sans in Koral Chloé Chevron

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  16. I found a test strip in the dishwasher not all that long ago. I try to keep them under control with a little plastic baggie in my test kit, but they still find their way everywhere.

    I'm a big fan of the Emerald Ikat Monica design and would pick it if I won.

    PS: I just started following @MonicaVesci today on Twitter.. right before I discovered your giveaway!

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  17. Love these bags!

    The strangest place I have ever found a test strip was in the cat box. Yep. I was cleaning out kitties cat box and I scooped out not one, but three test strips. I have so many (all gross) theories as how they got there!

    If I won the giveaway, I would choose the Camino Clutch in Emerald Ikat Monica. Love the colors!

    I am following Monica on Twitter!

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  18. There were three of us growing up with diabetes, which made it really easy to always blame someone else for the wandering test strips. Since moving out, going to college, and getting married however, it's much harder to explain the test strip in my husband's sock drawer or my old roommate's purse. They HAVE to grow legs, there's no way I dropped them THERE!

    I really like the Camino Sans in Royal Princess Olivia... it really would go everywhere and with everything :)

    And I'm now following Monica on Twitter!

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  19. They end up EVERYWHERE! IT's like they multiply and conquer, LOL. I think the weirdest place was either the washing machine or the shower.

    These bags are spectacular and definitely filling a need for women with D! I love the Emerald Ikat.

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  20. Strangest place for me was when I found one in the hoodie of a sweatshirt. No idea how it got there.

    I love these bags! My favorite is Camino Sans in Royal Princess Olivia

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  21. My hair! I have no idea how it got there. Found it when I was brushing my hair one night right before getting in the shower, could have been stuck to a couch cushion and then transfered to my hair and I didn't realize it or could have been in my hair all day. No idea! If I won I would either pick the Emarald Ikat or the Java Giraf. They are all so cute it's hard too choose!

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  22. I'm also now following on Twitter. :)

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  23. I found one at my parents house this past Christmas...It was from a meter that was over 8 years ago :) ~Kate

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  24. Like everyone else...where have I NOT found one! Under my desk, under my bed, in my sheets, in my car...there's probably at least 8 in the bottom of my purse right now.

    I love all of the clutches, but if I had to pick one, it would be the Camino Clutch in Koral Chloé Chevron. Love the coral!

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  25. I have found them everywhere! But the most surprising was on the roof of my car after going 65mph on the highway. That sucker stuck on!

    If I was to pick a clutch it would be the Camino Clutch in Turkish Timmi Chevron. Beautiful!!

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  26. These are gorgeous!
    Just started following Monica on Twitter :) (@oneunitatatime).
    The weirdest place I've found a test strip is on my husband's face, as he turned over to look at me lovingly. Totally killed a sweet moment.
    Would looooove one of these as I'm on an Omnipod currently.. plus a dexcom. I would choose the Camino clutch in royal princess Olivia.

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  27. Finally, a clutch that's USEFUL!!!!!!!

    I'm a Type I diagnosed 3/31/93....shortly before my 24th birthday.I'd had those "white bumps" on my legs, arms and stomach for almost a year and had lost alot of weight.I was trying to go back to college and had to walk everywhere so I never put "two and two together".20 years later still going strong!!!!!!!

    I love the Emerald Ikat Monica clutch....:)

    *hugs*

    LadyM

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  28. These are beautiful, what a great idea! The weirdest place I've found a test strip is the bottom of my shoe, but I suppose that's not too strange. If I win, I'd love the Camino Sans in Turkish Timmi Chevron. I'm also following Monica on twitter.

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  29. I once found a test strip in my mailbox at work. I'm not exactly sure how it got there, because my mailbox is like 4.5 feet off the ground, but there it was!

    I think the Camino Sans in Royal Princess Olivia is soooo cute! That's the one I would want. :)

    I'm going to follow Monica on Twitter right after I post this!

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  30. I love these bags so much!!!! I once found a test strip stuck to my forehead after a night of sleeping. I looked in the mirror in the morning and it was plastered on my face!

    I am following Monica on Twitter now (@peytonclausen).

    I would LOVE LOVE LOVE the Camino Sans in Koral Chloé Chevron. So adorable and functional.

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  31. I'm a teacher, and I found a test strip inside of one of my student's backpacks. My kids are in first grade, so it's possible that one of my students picked it up and put it in there...I'm glad I found it before his parents did!

    I would love the Camnio Sans in Koral Chole Chevron.

    Also I follow Monica on twitter (juls2419)!

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  32. Love these bags! I'm always on the lookout for something that can fit everything without having to dig through a diabetes mine field. (Ever been poked with an uncapped needle? Always a surprise!)

    Weirdest place I've found a strip... Stuck to my boyfriend's lower back (most likely from the bed) or hanging from my dogs mouth (like a teeny tiny test strip cigar)

    And if I am lucky enough to win this amazing bag, I would take it in any color but I love the pattern of the Royal Princess Olivia.

    And finally I am following her on Twitter! (jianop)

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  33. The weirdest place I ever found a test strip was stuck to my cheek after waking up in the morning!

    These clutches are beautiful and if I am lucky enough to win I would love the Camino Sans in Java Giraf Jules. Wonderful idea and design!!

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  34. Not necessarily an odd place to find one, but I swallowed one one night. Exhausted, I woke to take a pill and check my bs. I swallowed the strip with a big gulp of water. I was awake after that. An odd place to find a strip was the hallway at work. I think the Royal Princess Olivia bag is gorgeous. Thank you. Tracy

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  35. The strangest place for a strip? I guess the most surprising was in the shower...where'd that come from?! My sweet girl would LOVE the Royal Princess Olivia. (as would I when I am toting her supplies!) I am following Monica on Twitter. Thanks!

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  36. Beautiful clutches! Love the giraffe one and hot pink Heidi .
    When I first started reading blogs and people would mention finding test strips in weird place , I thought that was weird . Now that we're 3 1/2 years into diabetes , I get it. I find my daughters test strips all over the place. The weirdest place is probably my bed - I bring it in here accidentally when I test her in the middle of the night I guess !!

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  37. ashlee p. "ol' strip on stomach"June 1, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    What a beautiful clutch designed for "us!" The strangest place that I've found a test strip... can there be a tie? I'd say 2nd place goes to the strip that magically appeared while showering. First place I must share with an ultrasound tech... "I know thats your infusion site, but I don't think you still need this guy do you?"Then she politely points to a strip stuck to my 24wk growing bump! Talk about embarassing, I swear I showered that morning, lovely, just lovely! All of the clutches are fantastic, I think that the Emerald one is particularly stunning!

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  38. I found a test strip across the street from my house on the sidewalk. Being the only diabetic (that I know of) in the neighborhood I figured it had to be mine. Still have no idea how it ended up over there, i've never tested outside! I love love love the giraffe print clutch. I followed Monica on Twitter too!

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  39. The weirdest place I've found my own test strip is in the dryer - not all that weird. The weirdest place I've seen any diabetes supply is the Medtronic pump site cap in the gutter outside a movie theater.

    If I win, I'd like the Camino Sans in Turkis Timmi Chevro. Remember how I didn't win ANYTHING during your giveaways in December?!

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  40. I can't believe I can't think of any funny places I've found strips! They are everywhere, so maybe no one place stands out...The floor of my car is a place I find them, since I'll often test while at a red light, super quick!

    I love these bags and if I win, I'd like this: Camino Sans in Java Giraf Jules
    And I'm following Monica on Twitter.

    Thanks!

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  41. i have t1d for 17 years and at the moment the only crazy place i can think of is stuck in the wood in my night stand door (so i can only see a part of it)! i would LOVE to win the royal princess olivia clutch with the flap! i am in love with these!

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  42. I found a test strip in my suitcase while in the middle of the ocean on a cruise. My diabetic daughter was at home and I'm not diabetic. She would LOVE the giraffe print bag!

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    1. My husband just told me a similar story. He won a suitcase from his job and was traveling from California to Minnesota, using the suitcase for the first time. He found a strip in the suitcase. I guess he really needed a little bit of my DNA with him while he was away.

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  43. I'm usually pretty deliberate about throwing away all my test strips, so I was surprised when I got to work one morning and found one in the middle of my office floor--it must have happened when the custodians emptied my trash at the end of the day!

    If I win, I'd love the Camino Clutch Turkis Timmi Chevron! Gorgeous!

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  44. OMG I love these clutches! So pretty.

    The strangest place I ever found a strip was on the floor of the chapel at school. But that's really not all that strange since I attend a medical school and there are many T1 students.

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    1. Oops I forgot which one I want :) I'd like the Camino Diabetes Clutch Bag in Royal Princess Olivia, please.

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  45. The strangest place I have ever found a test strip, I would have to say my Ear. lol. i would choose the royal princess olivia

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  46. This is kinda weird to be the place for the test trip, but I think that my aunt will love it. She's a fashionista and I believe that she will be happy to have this, she won't be putting her test strip in a dark container anymore or in a plastic bag, instead, she'll be able to put it in this very cute bag. :)

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  47. These bags are adorable!! I would love the Turkis Timmi Chevron. I am usually good about throwing my used strips away but a few weeks ago, I found one tangled in my cats fur.

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  48. I am also now a twitter follower!

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  49. The strangest place I have found a strip was inside my desktop computer when it was opened by a geek to install a new piece of hardware. These bags are so pretty and the one I would like the most to win is Camino Clutch in Java Giraf Jules.

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  50. I would love to win the Turkis timmi chevron bag - they're all gorgeous! Farthest place from home that I found a test strip was on the sidewalk while visiting Israel - weird to see something familiar when you're so far from home!

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