30 Days. No Alcohol.

Last Thursday I had my first alcoholic beverage in 31 days. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you are probably very perplexed by this. As you know, I love my wine. And my beer. And my baileys. And my fancy cocktails. So let me back up.

In mid-March I went “glamping” along the Santa Cruz coast, which is basically fancy camping. You stay in a tent bungalow and inside it you have a real bed and electricity. It’s very basic and you’re still on a campground and cooking your meals via fire, etc., but it’s much easier than real camping. It was a blast. Unfortunately, while there I got bit by a deer tick (it seems disgusting bugs are very attracted to me). Because all signs pointed to the possibility of lyme disease, I was put on 28 days of heavy antibiotics. For 4 weeks, I couldn’t drink anything alcoholic. I’m pretty sure that this is the longest amount of time I’ve ever gone without drinking since I started drinking, and this forced sobriety proved to be a very interesting experiment for me.  Now that it’s over and regular life has resumed, I thought I’d share my insights.

Pros:

  • No hangovers! This is, hands down, the best benefit. Waking up feeling good every. single. morning. was really nice. Hangovers suck and the older I get the worse they seem to become.
  • Increased productivity! Shockingly, you are far more productive when you don’t spend half of your day nursing a hangover.
  • Weight loss! Though it wasn’t a significant amount, I did lose a couple of pounds without changing my diet at all — if anything, I was actually eating more sweets. I think this has more to do with the alcohol-related food decisions I would make vs. the lack of alcoholic calories. I no longer had pizza at 1 AM or had to carboload the next morning in an effort to soak up my hangover. When I’m drinking, I often eat really unhealthy food well past midnight, and I wake up being like CARBS CARBS I NEED CARBS!
  • Great sleep! I thought I would sleep less, but I actually slept more. My body loved the continuous nights of sober sleep, and I felt like I could have easily slept for 12 hours a day if I let myself.

Cons:

  • Boredom. I was very antisocial for most of this month. San Francisco is a big drinking city, and hanging out with drunk people when you are not drunk is very annoying.
  • People think you are pregnant. When you go out and order water, people assume you’re pregnant. Even when you explain that you’re not, you get the side eye because they think you are telling the “antibiotic lie,” and they continue to sneak glances at your stomach.
  • Lack of things to drink. Most bars have very few, if any, options for good non-alcoholic beverages.
  • My hangovers are now even worse. On Thursday I had less than 3 glasses of wine, but I woke up on Friday feeling like I’d had a crazy night out on the town. WTF? Apparently my body no longer knows how to process alcohol anymore. Not cool.
  • I’m now addicted to sugar. I craved sugar like a son of a bitch, and I ate an insane amount of desserts and sweets.

The pros are clearly awesome, but are they so amazing that I am going to give up alcohol for good? To that, I say: HAHAHA! I still love my wine. I love meeting my friends for happy hour and exploring cute new bars, and I love having boozy date nights with Kevin.

Overall I think taking this forced break was really great for me, and I definitely learned some good lessons from my booze free month. I developed some really good habits that I plan on continuing, and it also gave me a peek into what being pregnant is going to be like. Which apparently means that for me, being pregnant equals being very very bored for nine months and eating my weight in chocolate. Awesome!

For all of you alcohol connoisseurs out there like myself, what’s the longest you’ve ever gone without some boozy libations? Did it help change your drinking habits?

 

sunscreen-tanning-beach-bar-drinking-seasonal-ecards-someecards

 

P.S. I realize I’ve been absent from these parts for a long long time, but instead of writing some long diatribe about what I’ve been up to and why I’ve been gone and what my future blogging intentions are, I thought I’d just jump back into it, and pretend that we are the kind of friends that can go months without talking and it doesn’t matter, because when you finally do, it feels like no time has passed at all. 

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nancy @ adore to adornApril 21, 2014 - 9:53 am

lol. I have to say I agree with your list. I’m by no means a drinker because I’m a light weight and I don’t like feeling the effects. But, I do drink one drink if I’m out and keep it mellow. When I have enough food in me, I go in for more drinks. I also have the lovely Asian glow in me even when I’m not drunk in the slightest and that makes it really “fun” when you’re with people who aren’t used to how you are and they just assume you are drunk.

But, I love that first con point. If you’re not drunk, the drunks around you are definitely (to sum up in one word) annoying. hahah

xo,
nancy
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Kate AnnApril 22, 2014 - 1:18 pm

So happy to see you back! You were missed.

And So The Rain Falls

sfrain

The picture above was taken a few days ago, but I’m currently sitting in the exact same spot looking out at the exact same view, watching the rain fall. The only difference is that it’s even rainier today.

When I was 13 I started my first ever blog, on the long defunct website geocities. This was before blogs were even called blogs. This was my online diary! The internet had just started to become popular, and AOL was the coolest thing in the whole world. My blog was called “And So The Rain Falls” and my pseudonym was Victoria Valentine.

I thought I was very sophisticated at the time.

Tween drama at its finest.

Growing up in the dry arid valley of Palm Desert, rain was a rarity, so when it happened I loved it. I think that has stuck with me as an adult, because even now, when my twitter and facebook feeds are full of people complaining about the rainy SF weather, I’m loving it. To me it means cozy days inside with good movies and baileys in my coffee. It means cuddling with the people I love and warm fireplaces. It might mean doom and gloom for some, but to me it makes me feel cheerful and content.

I’ve been thinking about this blog lately and the direction it’s going. I’m not sure what I want to do with it, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering my posts have become more and more sparse as of late. I don’t want to let it go completely, as I really do love being part of the blogging community. I’ve met so many great people and made some amazing friends through this blog, and that’s not something I want to give up.

Anyway, I just thought I’d pop in and say hello on this rainy day. Let you all know that I’m still here! I’m still alive! And I’m still grateful for those of you out there that follow along.

Happy Friday! May your weekend be wonderful!

xox

 

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MichelleFebruary 28, 2014 - 12:23 pm

I feel ya. Sometimes I’m like…. uggghhh blogging. So then I just don’t. But then I find myself thinking about it again and feeling like writing, and that’s when I really enjoy it. Not when it’s forced, but just when there’s something actually on my mind and writing comes easily. When there becomes pressure, it’s just too much and not worth it. But I do sometimes wonder just how long this whole blogging thing will continue on for. I personally love having it as a way for me to remember. I often find myself looking back at posts and laughing or feeling happy about something that happened that I probably would have never remembered. So that in itself is motivation enough for me to keep writing and documenting. And yes, “the community” is nice as well, but I mean, that in time will fade I think…

I’m rambling.

I love you.

I love your blog.

Do with it what you will, but as long as it makes YOU happy :)

xoxoxo

LoraMarch 2, 2014 - 1:03 pm

I grew up with the EXACT OPPOSITE experience. The town I spent my childhood years in gets an annual rainfall of approximately 85-90 inches. Seattle gets about half that much, which is where I “escaped” to after graduating high school. Rain makes me sad and tired and cold and depressed and trapped. So I say bring back the drought, baby!

KariMarch 2, 2014 - 1:33 pm

I’ve been in a bit of a slump with blogging lately. I have felt more pressure to keep up with good posts and DIYs, but I find myself having to push myself to write a post on a Sunday. I don’t know if it’s just the winter weather here or something else. I think it also gets hard, because I feel I have to keep up with everyone else. Then that makes me tired, and I just want to watch TV:) I’m still enjoying the creative outlet, though, so not sure what the future holds. I think you can make it whatever you want it to be. If it’s something you just want to drop by every so often, then you can do that since it’s your blog. I think I’ve fallen into this trap that I have to blog a certain number of times a week, post to Instagram, etc. I have a full time job, so that’s hard to keep up. I hope you keep posting, though, because I really enjoy following along:)
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Accidental LondonerMarch 3, 2014 - 8:26 am

Such a pretty photo, and I know what you mean about cosy afternoons inside while the rain pours down outside. But after a while it always gets old for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love it for a day or two…but it’s been almost 10 weeks of this in the UK right now and I am SO over it.

Rain doesn’t make me want to head out and explore the city either, so my posts have slowed of late, over on my own blog too. I think you can’t force it with blogs (and if you do, readers can always tell). Just take it at your own pace and do what feels right for you, I reckon.

Kate AnnMarch 4, 2014 - 11:06 am

I hope you keep blogging. Even if it’s sporadic. You’re my favorite blog. :)

Ms. SageMarch 7, 2014 - 11:02 pm

Just popping in to say “hi!” I was actually a fan and follower of Victoria Valentine’s blog back in the 1990s. It’s cool to see that you’re still out there. I haven’t read anything in this blog (just got here) but I’m interested to see what “grown-up me” thinks of “grown-up you”(r) blog. LOL! :)

A big part of my job involves blogging, and yes, sometimes it can be realllllllllly hard to get motivated! My favorite way to do it is kind of ho-hum… but I make appointments with myself to just sit down and WRITE. I try not to beat myself up if the stuff I produce isn’t the world’s best; I just do what’s motivating me at the time, and if it isn’t up to my standards, I go back and tweak it later or I just deal with the flaws. If I’m still not motivated, I’ll resort to making lists or even an entry with copious pictures, but I still keep trying. Another good idea is to use a “notepad” type app on your cell phone, and keep lists of things which you want to write about so that you have something to discuss in your scheduled writing time.

MeganMarch 12, 2014 - 1:41 pm

I feel y’all! But you’re so good at it! I wanted to comment in regards to your rainy SF season… I’m headed there for work for my very first time and just wondered if I should prepare for rain? You’ve sent me some great tips on where to go when I was in Hawaii and wondered if you’d already written a post about your favorite foods, bars, destinations in your dreamy city? I value your suggestions!!!
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My Best (And Worst) Books of 2013

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip,
involuntarily, often helplessly,
into another’s skin,
another’s voice,
another’s soul.”

— Joyce Carol Oates

Last year I posted my best and worst books of 2012, and I thought it was about time to do the same for this year.

I love reading, and I do it all the time. In 2013, I read 27 books! Which is kind of a lot, I think? It may actually be a record for me. Granted, more than a few of them were brainless tween young adults reads that some people might not even consider literature, but I’m including them because sometimes those books are exactly what you need. A brainless read to whisk you away.

Without further ado, here are my “worth reading” and “don’t bother” books of 2013.

Enjoy!

Worth Reading

books

Tell the Wolves I’m Home– I read this without knowing anything about it, but I was pulled in from page one. It’s a sort of coming of age story about a 14-year-old girl whose best friend in the entire world is her Uncle Finn, an artist, who happens to have AIDS. It takes place in the 80s, a time when no one knew much about this disease. It’s told entirely through her eyes, and it’s heart wrenching but wonderful.

The Snow Child - This was one of those books that I was unsure about the whole time I was reading it, but once I finished, I couldn’t stop thinking about. It’s about an older couple living deep in Alaska, and the sudden child that comes into their life.

The Age of Miracles - I didn’t realize that this was YA until I was already a few chapters in, but this was hands down the best young adult book I’ve read in a long time.

Waiting To Be Heard– In light of (what I believe to be) the completely absurd and ridiculous verdict that happened last week regarding Amanda Knox’s case, I hope that more people read this book and support her. Sadly, it’s clear that her nightmare is far from over. While I think most people with even half of a brain will agree that Amanda Knox is innocent, there are a lot of people out there that disagree, and will do whatever they can to get her back in prison.

How To Be A Woman– Caitlin Moran is my feminist idol. I love her. I love this book. I think every woman should read it. I wrote a whole lot more about it here.

Sharp Objects - After reading Gone Girl, I decided to read Gillian Flynn’s other novels. Similar to Gone Girl, it’s a murder mystery that you won’t be able to put down.

Dark Places- This was my least favorite of Gillian Flynn’s books, and even saying that, I’d still recommend it. Perfect page turner, and an excellent audio book for a long drive or commute.

Crazy Sexy Diet - If Caitlin Moran is my feminist idol, Kris Carr is my health idol. This book has had more impact on how I eat, and and how I view food, than anything I’ve ever read. Kris Carr is a veggie rock star. I am not a vegetarian, and I still love this book. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in adopting a more plant-based diet.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – I recommend reading this without knowing anything about it. Don’t read the description, don’t read the reviews, just buy it and start reading.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats– This book took me awhile to get into, but once I did, it was worth the initial struggle. A beautiful love story set in Burma,with twists and turns and characters that will stay with you for days.

The Handmaid’s Tale– I cannot recommend the audio book version of this enough, which is narrated by Claire Danes. She kills it. I wrote a bit more about this here.

Orange Is the New Black: My Year ina Women’s Prison- As a fan of the popular Netflix series of the same title, I decided to read the original book it was based on. It’s fairly different from the series, and not as funny, but it’s just as good. An easy and quick read.

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape– So, the writing in this book is far from amazing, but if you’ve ever wondered just what Scientology is all about, this is an excellent source. It’s written by the niece of the current leader of the church (who is no longer a practicing Scientologist), and, well, it shows just how batshit crazy Scientology is.

 

Don’t Bother

The Cuckoo’s Calling– As the first adult book by J.K. Rowling, this novel seems to be all the rage. But it just wasn’t for me. I was never that into it, and though the ending is good, it wasn’t good enough to make me love the rest of the book. A lot of people loved it, but I found it pretty meh.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife– Boring. Very boring.

Shine Shine Shine– I was into this book while reading it, but overall I thought it wasn’t that great. It’s interesting, but really strange, and I was left feeling more weirded out than inspired.

The Unwind Collection: Unwind; UnWholly; UnSouled - Since I am a HUGE Hunger Games fan, a friend recommended this series to me. It’s horrible! I found this to be a big fat fail. I think I lost brain cells just by reading this. So stupid.

Neither Great Nor Terrible

And the Mountains Echoed - This book was a huge letdown for me, most likely because I had such high hopes for it. Khaled Hosseini is the author of both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, two books I absolutely adored, so I was expecting the equivalent of greatness when it came to his 3rd book. Alas, I was sorely disappointed. It’s not a bad book, but it’s nowhere as good as any of his previous novels.

Jodi Piccoult Audio Books - Okay… so remember when I had LASIK last year and had all sorts of compilations and couldn’t open my eyes for extended periods of time? It completely sucked, and since I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I listened to a decent amount of audio books. Out of all of them, I found that Jodi Piccoult books were my favorite. They’re not great literature, but they’re easy and entertaining, and they keep you interested from beginning to end. They have different narrators for each character, and for me, it almost felt like I was watching TV. Her audio books have quickly become my go-to for a long car ride, and even Kevin is into them. This year I listened to The Storyteller, Sing you Homeand Lone Wolf. The Storyteller was by far my favorite, but the other two are good as well.

Divergent Series– I read this series because I heard it was similar to the Hunger Games. It’s not amazing, but it sucks you in and keeps your interest. It’s the perfect read for when you don’t want to think but need to be entertained. I thought the first two books (Divergent and Insurgent) were better than the third (Allegiant),  but overall they were an enjoyable YA series.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) - A quick read, and lough out loud funny. No life changing messages, but entertaining.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead - I had mixed feelings about this book. While I believe in Sheryl’s overall message of empowering women, I felt like it was rather repetitive. I’m also not sure how relatable it is for women that don’t work in the corporate America environment.  However, a lot of my friends loved it, and I wrote a bit more about it here.

********************************************************

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you on Goodreads? If so, let’s connect!

You can find my 2012 list here.

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MargaretFebruary 3, 2014 - 6:10 am

I’ve definitely been interested in reading the Amanda Knox book- especially after the court decision last week. I agree with you that it’s completely absurd that she was found guilty…
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StephanieFebruary 3, 2014 - 8:20 am

I just pinned about 90% of your recs. They all looks so good!! I’m surprised you thought Proof of Heaven was boring, though! I found it fascinating. I finished it in about 3 days and it really stuck with me after reading it. I also really liked Mindy Kaling’s book. You’re right, it’s not life changing, but I thought it was sweet, entertaining, and definitely had it’s moments of “ooh, I might write that one down” for me.
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AngieFebruary 3, 2014 - 9:45 am

Thanks Serena. I recently read Gone Girl so I will have to try Sharp Objects. How to be a Woman and Crazy Sexy Diet also sound interesting. FYI I just learned with Amazon Prime you can borrow a free Kindle book once a month.

AnnaFebruary 3, 2014 - 10:57 am

Love this list — lots of good book club ideas too. PS: Look for my name in the thanks on the back of Allegiant! — Kevin’s coworker Anna :)

BrittanyFebruary 3, 2014 - 11:17 am

Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll have to check some of these out

LauraFebruary 3, 2014 - 11:37 am

Ohh I am so interested in the Amanda Knox story I really want to read that next. Currently I am reading the 19th Wife it’s pretty good so far!

StephFebruary 3, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Thank you! I love seeing other lists of favorites so I can add a few to my “to read” list.
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DJFebruary 3, 2014 - 7:49 pm

I was also totally underwhelmed by the Cuckoo’s Calling and completely loved the Age of Miracles.

Excuse me while I update my reading list….
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AmyFebruary 4, 2014 - 1:01 pm

I like YA fiction. Sometimes it is exactly what the mind needs to be reading. :) I want to read the Divergent series. And The Age of Miracles – based on your recommendation.
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RebeccaFebruary 5, 2014 - 4:38 am

Hey!
I love your blog! I have nominated you for The Liebster Award! :)
Check out my blog for more information.
http://www.Frow-Rella.blogspot.co.uk

AllisonFebruary 5, 2014 - 5:15 am

Great list, I’ll be putting some of these on my “to read” list!
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SophieFebruary 5, 2014 - 2:39 pm

Thanks for the tips Serena! I am a big fan of heart wrenching novels, so I will have to give Tell The Wolves I’m Home a try. I am also reading The Wave right now, which is incredibly sad and beautifully poignant at the same time. Let me know if you’d like to borrow it!

Megan C. StroupFebruary 15, 2014 - 9:50 am

I agree with your summary of Divergent. I thought the series was interesting, but I don’t understand why it’s getting so much attention when there are (in my opinion) much better young adult dystopian trilogies out there. But I actually thought Allegiant was the best book of the three (though I know I’m in the VERY small minority there! haha). I will have to add the Amanda Knox book to my list – I usually don’t read books like that, but based on your review, I’m interested!
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I’m baaaaaack!

Greetings friends in blog land! As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve been pretty absent from these parts as of late. While there are many reasons why, ultimately I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. Blogging had started to feel more like an obligation than a fun hobby, and more like a hassle than a creative outlet. So I decided to take a break from the blogosphere for awhile.

But I think it is time for the break to be over.

So, I’m back!

2014 has already been off to a busy start. We spent two weeks in Florida, in which Kevin worked and attended meetings while I hobnobbed with the retired crew, eating early bird dinners, lounging by the pool, reading books, and getting in a lot of quality family time with the in-laws.

The majority of our time was spent in Pompano, where Kevin’s parents spend their winters, but we also spent a few days in Miami. This is now the 3rd time I’ve been to Miami and I think at this stage I can confidently say it’s just not for me. It’s not a bad place at all, but it’s just not “me.” You know those places you visit and you connect with instantly? Places where you feel comfortable and happy and just content? Places you could see yourself living?

Miami is not one of those places for me.

I’m back in the city now, which is wonderful. I’m still in the process of looking for a full-time job, and when I’m not not job-hunting I’m trying to make money via various part-time gigs, and otherwise just doing things that make me happy. Plain and simple. I signed up for a writing class, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but never actually have.

Last night was the first class, and I was so nervous. I love writing but it’s a hobby, a secret passion really. I’ve never considered myself a writer, and I envisioned a class full of “real” writers. Writers with loads of published work and credentials and portfolios. But I signed up anyway and I went. And though I was nervous pretty much the entire time, it was really great. It felt right.

I still find myself day-dreaming about the Camino almost every day. I’ve now been home longer than I was gone, which seems so so strange. I miss it.

So, that’s what’s up with me! How is your 2014 going?

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Michelle LimJanuary 30, 2014 - 9:20 pm

gasp! you found a writing class without me?! Which one is it? I really want to find one too!

Lisa @ Two MartinisJanuary 30, 2014 - 10:59 pm

I’m glad you’re back!! Good luck with the job search :-)
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NicoleJanuary 31, 2014 - 12:16 am

I’m a Florida native…grew up in a itty bitty town called Hobe Sound about 2 hours from Miami and whenever I meet someone not from Florida and tell them where I’m from they automatically bring up Miami and how cool it is…blah, blah…well I’ve only been to Miami 3 times too! SO glad someone said it…Miami isn’t for everyone!

Also, good for you for signing up for a writing class! You will love it!

WhitneyJanuary 31, 2014 - 8:13 am

Oh I’m glad to see you back! I was just thinking the other day, ‘I wonder what Serena has been up to?’ (How weird is blogging that we start ‘missing’ people we don’t even know?) Hope the writing class was fun! I miss writing, I should look into some around here :)
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Megan C. StroupFebruary 2, 2014 - 10:26 pm

Welcome back! I am also trying to get back in the swing of blogging things in 2014. Sometimes we all just need a little break. :)
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[…] I am taking a writing class. Remember me mentioning that before? It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never did. I think part of why it […]

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014 friends!

photo 3 (1)

Yeah, yeah, I’m a day late, I know, but better late than never!

Kevin and I had a crazy holiday season, embarking on a ten-day California road trip, which allowed us to visit friends in Carmel, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Ventura, San Diego and Orange County. It was so great to see so many of our favorite people, but it was also kind of exhausting. Socializing can be hard work!

So, we are happy to be back in SF and looking forward to getting back into a healthier lifestyle. You know, eat better, drink less, and move more… basically what my resolution has been every single year for the past 10 years. Maybe this year is the charm?

Anyway, it’s a new year, one that will soon be filled up with new stories and adventures and all sorts of things I can’t even imagine. 2013 was a pretty amazing year for me, so I’m not sure if it’s going to be possible to beat, but I’m certainly up for the challenge!

How are you feeling about 2014? Any big goals? How were your holidays?

 

 

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nancy @ adore to adornJanuary 2, 2014 - 1:40 pm

2013 seemed pretty amazing for you!! Wishing you the best for 2014! =)
xo,
nancy
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MargaretJanuary 3, 2014 - 6:29 am

A California road trip sounds a heck of a lot better than the ridiculous snow we’ve been getting in Ohio! You definitely had a pretty awesome 2013- here’s hoping that 2014 is just as amazing!
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WhitneyJanuary 3, 2014 - 8:29 am

Aww you look so pretty! Hope your 2014 is everything you hope :)
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AmyJanuary 3, 2014 - 11:01 am

Happy New Year!

And I LOVE your hair.
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bpJanuary 14, 2014 - 12:50 pm

Self care! Number one thing for me this year is to really pay attention on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level to what is best for me so I can be my best for others. Feeling good is contagious and makes us so much stronger than we imagined.

Good luck in 2014!!!! This year IS the charm for you! ;)