Category Archives: Style

Safe-ing Face: What’s In My Makeup Bag?

I consider myself a makeup minimalist, who is a little obsessed with organization.  I used to maintain two makeup bags: one containing conventional products for my acting and modeling work, and the other containing green beauty products for my “off-duty” use.  This year, Melissa, owner of Citrine Natural Beauty Bar, introduced me to some ah-mazing non-toxic product lines.  So, I made it my mission to address all of my makeup needs in one green beauty bag.

Looking to “green” your makeup routine?  What you COULD do is toss out the toxic products, and replace them with safer substitutes.

The variety of green beauty options available now makes it easy to do a swap.

IMG_9660After searching for a travel-sized cosmetic bag to hold my brushes and makeup, I chose the Stephanie Johnson Grace Brush Case in Galapagos Grey. This textured faux reptilian case has 5 slots for makeup brushes on one side, with a protective flap to cover them, and an open compartment for makeup. Love. This. Case.

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Cheeks

Eyes

Lips

Tools

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The tools listed above stay in my makeup bag, so that I can grab it and go at anytime.  I also have a set of Ecotools brushes for at-home use.  Unless I need it for work or travel purposes, I apply my makeup at home and leave the majority of it there.  In my purse, I usually carry a smaller pouch with my lip color of the day, lip balm, and blotting papers inside.  I tend to change my lip color the most, depending on the time of day, my outfit, or my mood.

Which green beauty brands and products have you tried?  Which ones are your favorites?

Please comment and share!

XOXO

 

 

Seek the Unique

Daring enough to decorate differently, and in search of something special?

What you COULD do is bypass the beaten path, and seek other sources for home goods.

Here are 3 places that I turn to for unique pieces to add to my home:

1. Travel: I love finding decorative objects, while exploring other countries, and bringing them home with me. They add interest to my space, and serve as a souvenir from my trip.  Love that!

IMG_8896While vacationing in Greece, I found a ceramics shop in Chania, Crete, where I purchased this little lady…

IMG_8893She currently lives in my master bathroom, along with some other Mediterranean and Moroccan treasures, for an exotic spa feel.

2. Independently-owned import stores:  I love supporting small businesses.  Oftentimes, the owners will personally travel to specific countries to select the ethnic handicrafts that fill their stores.  I can get lost while shopping at these types of places because I feel like I’m treasure-hunting in foreign lands!

IMG_8898I long to return to Morocco.  Until then, I live vicariously through the Van Lith family; and explore their showroom at Tierra del Lagarto.  As I drooled over the contents of their most recent Moroccan container, I was fortunate to find this beautiful plate in a rare teal color.

3. Ethnic restaurants:  On more than one occasion, my husband has taken me out to dinner, and I’ve fallen in love with the decor.  He usually ends up negotiating the sale of an item with the owners, and having them add it to our bill.  Poor Hubby!  Lucky me.

IMG_8331 After dining at a Kurdish restaurant in Agoura Hills, California, I was convinced that I needed one of their beautiful table cloths…

IMG_8409What can I say?  I love ethnic textiles…*sigh*

So, the next time that you’re looking to add some accents to your abode, think outside of the big box stores, and seek the unique!

XOXO

 

Coptic Cross

Fashion is where you find it, and I’m all about the hunt.

In my minimalist wardrobe, I am fortunate to own a few luxury items. However, one of my absolute favorite pieces is an unexpectedly-acquired accessory.

IMG_8809In a world that’s filled with mass-produced merchandise and cheap knock-offs, what you COULD do is seek the unique.

IMG_8815This beauty came into my life, years ago, while dining at one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants.  As I paid my bill, I casually asked the owner where I could purchase an Ethiopian Coptic cross necklace.  After processing my payment, he reached into his cash register drawer and pulled out an Ethiopian Coptic cross pendant.  A local artisan made it, and gave it to him.  He, in turn, gifted it to me.  As a loyal patron, who has nearly a decade of memories at his now-defunct establishment, I feel grateful to have this special piece.

IMG_8806And do you know what???  I have received more compliments on this necklace than any other item that I own…HANDS DOWN!!!

So, whether you’re traveling, or at home, I encourage you to step off of the beaten path to find treasure beyond measure.

Take care, and have a great holiday weekend!

XOXO

 

 

Rainbow Grocery

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*singing*

“Sooome-WHEEERE, o-ver at Rainbow, are greaaat fiiinds…”

From herbs to housewares, there is so much to explore.

 

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And so my anti-Black Friday experience began at this AMAZING, worker-owned co-op in San Francisco.  No crazy hours, no camping-out, no crowds, no ridiculous lines, no pushing or trampling , no BOGOs or desperate discounts, and no commercial hype.  Just good people, with positive energy, offering great products, with smiles.  Sign. Me. Up.

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The spices and teas tho’…

I could [literally] stop there; but I didn’t, and I won’t.

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I live here, in the Bath and Body Department.  And THIS, my friends, is where I nearly lost my mind!  It happens every time.

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Despite my desire to [permanently] move in, I had to keep it moving.  So, I made my final selections and checked-out.  I appreciate the sweet employee, who suggested that I include one of their reusable canvas bags in my purchase.  It’s a souvenir that’s guaranteed to make me smile.

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But wait!  There’s MORE!  Did you know that they recently added a cafe???  Oh yes, they did!!!  I concluded my experience with a custom-blended Pumpkin Spice Latte, from their special Holiday Drinks menu.  YAY and YUM!

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Wanna see what I got???  Here’s a look at some of my loot:

Sjaak’s Almond Butter and Peanut Butter Bites

Matcha Green Tea & Spirulina and Coconut Ash & Banana Super Dark Chocolates by Vosges Haut-Chocolat

The Big Yummy Double Chocolate Brownie by Wholesome Chow

Herb Pharm Calendula Oil

Valentina’s Home-Brewed Magickal Mineral Bath Salts (True Love, Sweet Dreams, and Prosperity)

Propolis Extract by Y.S. Eco Bee Farms

100% Pure Virgin Coconut Hand Buttercream

Evan Healy’s Whipped Shea Butter for Lips

*singing*

“If happy, lil’ ole me can find…great stuff at Rainbow…

…GOOO…EX-PLOOORE…THOOOSE…AIIISLES!!!”

With Gratitude

During a recent trip to California, I dined at Cafe Gratitude. Previously, I had only patronized their Bay Area locations.  So, I was grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some heart-healthy food at this organic vegan eatery in Los Angeles.

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I AM…sooooo glad that I wore my Madewell Afternoon Dress in bright cobalt.  In doing so, I was *ahem* prepared to enjoy an abundance of vegan creations from their affirmation-filled menu…

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I AM…COMPLETE.  I love fresh juices.  For me, this blend of kale, pineapple, celery, cucumber, lemon, and turmeric, was the perfect “sweet green.”  Aaaaah!!!

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I AM…PRESENT.  How could I refuse the bruschetta when my friend passed the plate?  I must admit that it was hard to eat just one.  However, I felt the need to pace myself during our feast.  There was more to come.  Le sigh…

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I AM…DAZZLING.  I’m still thinking about this simple, savory, and satisfying caesar salad; and plotting to re-create the magic at home.  Yum!!!

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I AM…BLISS.  You didn’t think I’d leave without having dessert, did you?!?!  I’m convinced that this dreamy raw chocolate cream pie is one of the best I’ve ever had.  In fact, my son and I stopped short of licking the plate.  More, please, and thank you!!!

Cafe Gratitude is located at 639 N. Larchmont Blvd in Los Angeles.

Try it.  I AM…sure that you will like it.

Have a wonderful week, with an attitude of gratitude!

XOXO

 

A Healing Oasis At Home

Me in my master bedroom on Mother’s Day 2014.

During the weeks prior to my surgery, I was in major nesting mode.  Seriously!  You would have thought that I was having another baby!  NOT!!!  Since I knew that my hospital stay would be short-lived, in comparison to my recovery time, I planned to create a “new and improved” environment  where I could rest and recover, while surrounded by friends and family.  Although I added extra errands to my pre-surgery schedule, I was quite pleased with the results.  In fact, I was so excited to get home to my sanctuary, that it motivated me to do whatever was necessary to be discharged from the hospital as soon as possible.  Here are some things that I did to create a healing oasis at home:

1.  Add aromatherapy:  I purchased an aromatherapy diffuser and a “Calming” essential oil blend of lavender, bergamot, and clary sage from Desert Sage Herbs.  I plugged the diffuser into the wall and took my room from blah to spa!  In addition, I treated myself to Cire Trudon candles in the Abd Al-Kader and L’Admirable scents, and placed them in my entry and living areas.  *sigh*

2.  Plant placement:  What better way to liven up a space than with plants?  I visited a local nursery and brought home a Dracaena ‘Janet Craig.’  Low-maintenance, air-purifying, and health-promoting, I am loving it, and I look forward to adding more greenery to my mix.

3.  Bring on the bedding:  Knowing that I would be spending a lot of time in bed, I felt that it was important to make mine as comfortable and inviting as possible.  I managed to keep things budget-friendly by doing a “spruce-up,” as opposed to an “extreme bed makeover.”  I bought this sheet set in Midnight/Ivory during a sale at West Elm.  Yesssss!  Then, I found a Peacock Alley coverlet set at Tuesday Morning.  Score!  Finally, I purchased a duvet set at Home Goods, which had all of the right colors to tie my master bedroom together.  Gotta love it when that happens!

4.  Clear out the clutter:  I believe that clutter to the eye is clutter to the mind.  So, I purged and organized my space before surgery because I knew that I wouldn’t have the energy to do it afterwards.  I’m so glad that I did because I am enjoying my space that much more.  For me, a clutter-free, organized space produces a calming effect.  Ahhh…

5.  Let there be light:  I sleep next to a large window in my bedroom.  Everyday, I open my shutters to let in sunlight and to enjoy my backyard view.  It’s so simple, and it [literally] brightens my day!

6.  Soothing sounds:  I have surround sound speakers in my master bedroom.  So, I asked my family to play smooth jazz, classical, and relaxation music for me to enjoy.  One of my favorite Internet radio stations is Calm Radio Om.  Sooo nice!

How do you create a healing oasis at home?

 

 

5 Green Things I Did During Earth Week 2014

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1. Livin’ la vida local:  I love supporting “mom and pop” establishments in my area. My car, body, and garden thanked me for it too!

2. Drink my greens:  I enjoyed a Skin Rejuvenator juice, along with a vegan strawberry scone, at the inimitable Pomegranate Cafe.  This mother-daughter-owned vegetarian eatery is one of my faves!  And dining al fresco was the perfect way to spend the day.

3. Say “gracias” with green: Why not honor the Earth by showing some love to those with whom we share it?  I made a deliberate effort to give cash tips to all of the service providers who worked hard to make my life a little easier.

4. Grow some greens: I’m really excited about my Spring garden, and spent some quality time planting, seeding, pruning, and nurturing. Best. Therapy. Ever. *sigh*

5.  Grab and go:  When I purchased this cute top and scarf from Anthropologie for my Spring/Summer wardrobe, I declined a shopping bag and hand-carried my items.  Every little bit helps…

Truth be told, every week should be Earth Week.  However you choose to celebrate it, be creative and have fun!

Take care and have a great weekend!

 

My Moroccan-Themed Birthday

So, what does a world traveler with a baaaaad case of wanderlust do to celebrate her birthday?  She picks a destination that’s high on her bucket list, and lives it up locally until her desire manifests.

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A day trip to Tangier, years ago, has me longing to return to Morocco; and I have yet to do so.  My birthday theme was driven by my desire to check out Joya Spa at the Omni International Hotel Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley, AZ.  Joya Spa is the only Arizona spa to offer a hammam-inspired treatment.  So, I booked their “Hammam Experience,” and added 50-minutes of massage to it.  BAM!!!

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Before entering the spa, I had fun setting my intentions by placing three stones in the blessing bowl.  Unable to settle on just one, I chose rhodonite (work), rose quartz (love), and hematite (health).  What can I say?  I have a lot going on…

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Then, I placed my hand on the crystal just outside of the spa entrance and said, “Buh-bye” to any and all negative energy, as I made my way closer to bliss…

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Here, I was slathered with a soap that felt like melted butter, then scrubbed with a Kassa glove and black soap.  Afterwards, I was doused with 3 buckets of warm water.  My skin felt sooooo smoooooth…

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After doing a circuit from the steam room, to the cold deluge, then the sauna, I entered this room.  Here, my massage therapist worked her magic with a flower essence-infused oil that helped me to put things into perspective.  Zzzzz…

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Shhhhhh…this is the Whisper Room, where I luxuriated on one of these beds, underneath a cozy throw.  I need some of these linens in my life…

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“Cheers!”  The staff at Joya Spa offered me a complimentary glass of champagne, in honor of my special day.  How could I refuse?!?!  I graciously accepted, retreated to the spa terrace in my swimsuit, and “marinated” poolside.  I was able to soak up some much-needed vitamin D, while chatting with other patrons, and enjoying this view.  Ahhhhh…

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There…that’s MUCH better!  If you are in the Phoenix area, and looking for an exotic spa experience, with lots of amenities, then jump for Joya!

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After an awesome experience at Joya Spa, I drove over to this Phoenix gem for lunch. Don’t let the humble exterior fool you!  Owner, Zhor Saad, of Alzohour Market & Restaurant offers authentic Moroccan fare that will transport you to Marrakesh in a matter of minutes.

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For my birthday lunch, I ordered the Kashkbadem (roasted eggplant sauteed with garlic and mint), Harira (traditional hearty soup with tomatoes, lentils, garbanzos, and cilantro), homemade Moroccan bread, and pita.  LOVED IT!

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Of course, I had to order dessert, riiiiight?!?!  I splurged and chose the Kunafa, which was rich, sweet, and creamy, with tons of texture.  Mmmmm…

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And here I am with my lovely hostess, Zhor.  She works hard (often by herself) to serve home-style cooking that is fit for a king.  Just like my day trip to Morocco, I enjoyed my visit to her restaurant, and I look forward to returning.

Shokran to Joya Spa and Alzohour Market & Restaurant for making my birthday special!

 

 

 

 

 

31 Rue Cambon

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

Fashion lovers and Francophiles unite!!!

During a trip to Paris, I had the rare opportunity to tour 31 Rue Cambon and the private apartment of Coco Chanel.  This experience was one that I’ll never forget.  I shared it with my cousin; and now, I am going to share it with you.

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Just standing outside of the building at this famous address is enough to excite any fashionista.  We arrived early enough to take a couple of deep breaths, calm our nerves, and prepare to savor this incredible moment.

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In the lobby, we waited for our guide next to a console with a picture of Coco hanging above it.  It was almost as if we were checking in with Chanel before entering her domain.  It reminded me of how I felt on my wedding day:  I was excited and overwhelmed, yet determined to focus, so that I would not forget any details.  So, I whispered a quick prayer for calmness and clarity, then braced myself for all sorts of fabulousness…

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The Haute Couture salon is absolutely STUNNING in black and white!  This is where approximately 200 clients worldwide are shown exquisite pieces from Chanel’s Haute Couture collection, and have them made to order.  I could have luxuriated on the couch for a while; but there was so much more to see.

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The mirrored staircase (designed by Chanel herself) is truly spectacular, and I was more than happy to make the climb.  This is where Coco debuted her collections.  I’m told that there is a clever way to take a picture of the staircase where a heart shape is formed behind the subject.  I now have an excuse to return…

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The fifth step from her apartment is where Coco Chanel sat and watched her shows, spied on her guests, and observed people’s reactions to her collections.  Retracing her “steps” was such a rush, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

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Upon entering Coco’s apartment, guests are greeted by a pair of blackamoors.  Chanel referred to them as her “friends.”  Life-sized and impressive, they really make a statement in the entry.

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Coco’s use of Asian screens as wall treatments, her eclectic mix of furnishings, and one-of-a-kind pieces made especially for her by friends (i.e. Salvador Dali), lends a world traveler vibe to the place.  Love that!  As we sank into the silk-covered chair in the entry, we were convinced that we each *need* one in our lives.

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Chanel did her own thing, both in fashion and in home decor.  She had her famous over-sized suede sofa custom-made for the salon, which was considered radical back in her day.  Numerous celebrities,  politicians, and royalty have been entertained in this room.  I felt honored and quite comfortable.

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This gorgeous custom-made chandelier was hanging over my head, while seated on the sofa.  Adorned with amethyst crystals, CC’s, and 5’s (Coco’s lucky number), it had me completely mesmerized.  *Sigh*…

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Fresh camellias, Coco’s favorite flower, are placed on this table daily.  Although this is routine for the staff at 31 Rue Cambon, as a visitor it seems as though they are making preparations for Chanel’s return.  The bouquet was so beautiful and inviting, that I felt inspired to place fresh flowers in my home on a weekly basis.

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Coco Chanel’s apartment has amazing statuary throughout the space.  There are so many stories behind the items and their placement, and the vignettes are captivating.  I would love to have just one of her fabulous pieces!

171Notice anything unusual?  The apartment does not have a bedroom.  Coco used this space for work and entertaining, then left to sleep in her suite at The Ritz.  In lieu of a bedroom, there is a lovely sitting room.  I had no problem finding a seat and basking in the ambiance.  Once again, Coco made use of screens as wall treatments:  beautiful, meaningful, and functional, just like the pieces in Chanel’s collections.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?  I pulled up a chair at the dining table, topped with gold dishes and lions (Coco was a Leo).  But with the gorgeous chandelier, Italian mirrors, statuary, and screens, there was so much to take in.  Who could eat with all of that eye candy?!?!?  I can see where Chanel’s current designers draw their inspiration for each season’s collections.

During our visit, Karl Lagerfeld was working diligently in his 4th floor studio to prepare for the Chanel fashion show during Paris Fashion Week.  We had hoped to meet him personally; however, it was not meant to be.  Still, we could feel the creative energy flowing.  Next time…

As we descended the cream-carpeted stairs, said our thank-yous and goodbyes, and left the building, we couldn’t help but feel a little sad that our time had come to an end.  Once we were outside, it hit us…DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN???

It’s good to be back on the blog.

Bonne Semaine!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Proposal

On August 16, 1997, my best friend and soul mate asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.  The thought of that alone was overwhelming to me (Miss Independent here!).  But the way that he did it left me completely speechless (which is quite an accomplishment).  It was like a fairytale, and I felt very much like a princess.

Jerel had scheduled a double date with our close friends.  I was told to dress up because we were going out to a nice dinner.  My girlfriend and I were getting ready at my Oakland apartment, when the intercom buzzed and we were called downstairs.  When we reached the lobby, a red carpet was rolled out from the front door to a white limousine parked in front of my building (I could have passed out right then and there, but I didn’t).  The driver greeted us at the door, handed me a tulip, and read me an original poem by Jerel about a “tulip parade.”  When he escorted us to the car and opened the door, there was a HUGE teddy bear from FAO Schwartz sitting in the backseat.  My girlfriend and I maneuvered around him, settled in, and headed to San Francisco to meet the guys.  Having anticipated an engagement for weeks prior to this, I could tell that it was going to be a special evening.  Still, I didn’t want to get my hopes up, in case it didn’t happen (Yeah, I’m guarded like that).

On our way to the Bay Bridge, the driver pulled up to the toll booth.  The attendant greeted me and handed me another tulip (What?!?!).  We crossed the  Bridge, made our way into San Francisco, and stopped at the St. Francis Yacht Club (Um, okay…what are we doing here???)  The driver parked in front of the building, kicked me out let me out of the car, and he and my girlfriend made me instructed me to walk down the path until I reached the water.  LONGEST. WALK. EVER.  It was windy and overcast too (Gotta love San Francisco in the summertime!).  I thought to myself, “This is so surreal!…What’s at the end of the path?…Where’s Jerel?!?…Does my hair look okay???”

When I finally reached the end of the path, my man was standing there waiting for me and smiling.  Jerel had placed two chairs on top of a blanket, and had soft music playing in the background.  He greeted me, then seated me in one of the chairs, and read another original poem entitled “May I.”  The poem chronicles our relationship, and culminates in the marriage proposal.

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I responded, “Yes,” and some of our closest friends emerged from behind the rocks, where they had been hiding and snapping pictures of us the entire time (Sooo sneaky!).

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Afterwards, the limo driver picked all of us up and drove us to Harris’, where Jerel and his mom treated everyone to dinner.  At my seat, there was a framed copy of the poem that Jerel wrote and read to me, along with more tulips.  After our meal, we climbed back into the limo and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a magical evening that I’ll never forget!

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For your viewing pleasure, here is the AMAZING poem that changed my life:

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16 years later, I am humbled, grateful, and honored to be married to the man of my dreams!

 

 

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