Love Is In The Air

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A few weeks ago, Stephanie, the Community Coordinator from Bloom Nation contacted me about writing a post about the different ways we celebrate love, especially on the ordinary days, as opposed to holidays, birthdays, etc. Have you heard of Bloom Nation? I hadn’t. They support local communities by partnering with independent florists and showcase their handcrafted arrangements in their marketplace. What a cool idea!!Β  This is actually a concept I know very well! It’s something I’ve adopted in my own life for quite a few years. You’d be amazed how evenΒ  littleΒ  30 second effort can brighten an otherwise mundane or stressful day.

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When we were dating, and working conflicting hours, the romance seemed lacking and I gently suggested to my Sweetie that he didn’t have to make grand gestures all the time, but a little note here and there would really help us feel more connected while we were both working. Even a short note on a piece of scratch paper would work. It helped that we worked at a Christian Conference Center and could drop off notes easily. And I worked at the Registration Desk which ALWAYS had scratch paper available. AND, Pass It On cards were hugely popular at the time. Ever since then, we leave little notes for each other regularly. Of course there are dry times, but we always pick it up again. I pick up cute Post Its when I see them and they work great for a simple “I Love You” on the bathroom mirror or kitchen counter/cabinet as a surprise in the morning. Or his lunch box. The same with these pretty, already written notes from a notepad I bought a while back. Last weekend our church had a couples dinner and gave us 3×5 cards to write notes on for our sweeties. Several years ago I bought a little valentine mailbox and we started using it to leave little notes or pustichalks (just a little something), a term we learned from our Russian family members. This year we received this adorable mailbox from my husband’s wonderful cousin as the gift box! Perfect for this gingerbread lover. So this is our new giftie mailbox. And bonus, it’s bigger, so we won’t have to leave bigger things next to it instead of inside. πŸ™‚

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Of course, we still love to celebrate the regular stuff, like our anniversary this Sunday! And who doesn’t like getting flowers for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and just to show you care?! Sometimes we give flowers, and sometimes we do other things for each other. Sometimes we watch a special movie, go to a favorite location, have a special meal, anything that means something to us. For example, for our Irish related anniversary, we might eat Shepherd’s Pie and Soda Bread, watch something Irish related or honeymoon related like Ever After because we watched it on our honeymoon, listen to Irish music, watch or perform Irish dancing, you get the idea. Or watch our wedding video or peruse our wedding album. And enjoy the shamrock plant from our reception that was a table centerpiece. The main thing is, we like celebrating each other and people in general. Relationships are precious and special, so we like to celebrate that in little ways as well as big ways.

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And I love Irish Belles, usually found at Trader Joe’s these days.

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Because flowers ARE pretty and cheerful!

We apply this same idea when remember those that aren’t with us anymore. By doing an activity that reminds us of them. I drink black cherry Pop Shoppe Pop when I’m thinking about my dad. And I think of him when I have non-chocolate cake, because we were the only two family members, including all relatives, who didn’t choose chocolate for our birthdays. And sports always make me think of him and all of the different games we went to with my brothers, because I didn’t have a sister until I was 9, and she was a baby! My dad and I had a lot in common, including personalities. πŸ™‚

***** All of these months later I’m finally finishing this post after many health struggles, family emergencies, travels and stress! ****

I have a couple of little girls in my life and we like to connect by crafting and drinking tea together. Quality time spent chatting while doing things we love! Quality time is actually one of my Love Languages.Β  I often deliver flowers to one of the girl’s friends/neighbors on May Day that I’ve bought or we’ve made together. She loves it! πŸ™‚

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When we remember and celebrate our Chelsie we like to look at her photos, say her favorite phrases, listen to her favorite song (Diving In by Steven Curtis Chapman), set up the train, watch Mary Poppins or The Gnome Mobile because she looked like Karen Dotrice, etc.

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All of these probably reveal my love of themes! πŸ™‚

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A few other things we’ve done are kissing and saying I love you when we part, having a date most weeks, texting as a way to check in and stay connected during the day (including fun emojis the other might like πŸ™‚ ) and just trying to be conscious of being considerate to each other. Helping each other out when needed, or anticipating needs are some of the best ways of showing someone you care, in the most important ways.

The BEST way to let someone you love them? Show them you care about their needs, thoughts and lives. Throwing in a card, flowers or a gift are just the icing on the cake. The Lord really wants us most of all, to show we care though our actions! πŸ™‚

How do you show people in your life that you care?

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Homemaking LInkup

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Modest Monday: Denim Dress Revisited

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This week I wore my favorite (read only) denim dress, but paired with different accessories than I have before. I am not a denim lover, but this dress is so soft and is perfectly cut for my body type.

I found this new jewelry on clearance at Kohl’s, because it’s considered 4th of July jewelry. But you can see how it can be worn anytime. And I have a soft spot for flowers!! πŸ™‚

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What do you think of that weird hair coming out of the side of my head? It’s always windy here. πŸ™‚

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I’m also wearing a Cami Secret instead of a tank top or Halftee because it’s too HOT here for ANYTHING extra!! Here’s how I make them work, because they don’t work the way the company sells them.

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The earrings actually came with this necklace:

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But they match both! Yay!!

And then we ended the photo session for a fight. Sigh. That’s real life. Don’t worry, we made up. πŸ™‚

It happens, as we take these after church when we’re either hungry, tired or both. We like Sunday afternoon naps if we’re home.

Have a great week!!

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Homemaking

My New Pretty Dishes

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A few years ago I decided I wanted to switch out our retro 70’s dish set with something different. Then a couple of years ago my husband expressed the same thing. Yay! He took photos of a few plates at Daiso while he was out of town, and I spotted a different one in the photos that I liked. Was it porcelain? Were there other pieces so I could create a set? Blank stares…I looked at other locations on other visits and found nothing. As I started looking around, I found I was drawn to modern vintage flowered patterns. But…they were either super expensive or discontinued, and mostly from England and Japan. Can you say expensive PLUS overseas shipping?!!! Ack!! I was feeling pretty hopeless and about to give up and settle with something that wasn’t really my style, when Pioneer Woman came out with her line a couple of weeks ago. A lot of her line is mostly my style, so I thought maybe I could piece together a set from the line. Then…when we were visiting his parents again over the weekend, I asked which Daiso store is the LARGEST..and FINALLY found my new pretty dishes!!!! I ended up choosing a different pattern than the original one I fell in love with, which was more of an English style. I shocked even myself! πŸ™‚

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The best part? Husband approved, which also surprised me. He knows I’ve been discouraged though, so maybe that was part of it?! I picked the green cups with him in mind, and I actually love the combo! πŸ™‚

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Sometimes you have to get creative when you can’t find what you want or need, so I made my own set!

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I LOVE them!!

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I love, love, love them!!!

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My cupboard looks so pretty now! And our Ikea bowls are a good match. πŸ™‚

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Bye bye old 70’s dishes!

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Now I have pretty, everyday dishes that I love as much as our shamrock china!! πŸ™‚

What do you think?

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A Little R & R Wednesdays - a linky party

Abby’s Shoebox Dollhouse

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I finished another Shoebox Dollhouse for another young friend! And I’m already halfway finished with my third. It’s getting faster and easier as the routine is built and the supplies are gathered! πŸ™‚

Above is the Bedroom for the kids. The parents don’t get one. Haha! Of course, there are only kid dolls anyway. πŸ™‚

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Here’s the happy girl with the entire house in my fuzzy Instagram photo. I think this is the only photo that shows the American flag flying. See it on her cheek?

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The Bedroom:

I had a few pieces of furniture I had gathered from somewhere, including a toy box, so they moved in. Little baby doll, a “stuffed” bear and carriage(with a little mattress I made) are party favors from Dollar Tree. A gumball machine my Sweetie found for free at a garage sale. A sticker for a mirror, a crocheted blanket and sewn pillow and a matchbook dresser with flower thumbtacks from Daiso backed with little beads to cover the point. A sweet doll completes the look, with her fabric dress I made from pretty trim and lace to replace the ugly, plastic one she came with.

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I used scrapbook paper and wrapping paper for the wallpapers and floors. I love the little hat that was on some clearance cupcakes at our grocery store. a couple of years ago. I bought them for the hats!! πŸ™‚

Mickey and Minnie from a valentine heart box, and a clothesline holding dresses I cut from fabric after adhering them to heat and bond so they won’t fray. They’re hanging from little hangers I made from paperclips. And a paper umbrella is the light fixture.

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The guitar is another Dollar Tree item and the lamp is from a furniture pack (which also included the doll) I found there, after the plans were already in motion for her house.

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Here’s the Bathroom: A toilet made from an aloe vera bottle top, glued to a juice top, I think. I save all tops these days, so who knows? The rug is a coaster, the sink is a top glued to a pizza riser, and a faucet fashioned from a pipe cleaner. Another sticker mirror and a cram cheese container covered in washi tape for a bathtub. Also another paper umbrella as a light fixture. Stickers for artwork and I needed to build a shelf out of a jewelry box for a hair dryer, mirror and spray bottle from that furniture pack again.

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Here’s the Living Room:

My little lamp made from a mini cupcake paper and Q-tip and flower thumbtack, sitting on a Dixie cup and cardboard circle. Another coaster rug, a chair made from a box cut in half and glued together and a nut cup is a stool. A grandfather clock and another bookshelf holding pretty perfume bottles and a mini frame holding a “Frozen” picture becomes a TV. πŸ™‚

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A mini frame from the craft store with a bumblebee sticker as the artwork.

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And the Kitchen:

I forgot to take a photo of the entire room, ack! A sample cup from Hot Dog on a Stick becomes the base for the table, with a cardboard circle covered in washi tape for the top. Mini frisbee party favors become plates. This also highlights the Animal Cookie Circus cages on her patio. πŸ™‚

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An apron, broom and butter churn (really a ball catcher turned upside down). A hutch and one of the clothespin dolls I made before I found the other dolls.

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A stove with Velcro circle burners and a fun fridge and cake made from more tops.

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The stove and fridge are boxes covered with paper. I made the oven door with stickers and cut a door for the fridge, using pins I cut and bent away the sharp edges for the handles.

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A few years ago, our VBS theme was camping and I created a “firepit” for my classroom. I recreated that in mini form here, with twigs, sparkly sequins and pipe cleaners hiding underneath.

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What do you think of my tire swing and swing set sitting on the walkway here? A Yo-yo is the swing and Popsicle sticks with notches make the set. I thought I would need to hang the swing in front of the kitchen, until the last second when I finally came up with this idea!! YAY!!! πŸ™‚

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Plastic bracelets make a pool and a spool, a Q-tip and umbrella provide some shade.

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Annnnnd…the outer walls:

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The patio folds up and closes the house for transport. This box didn’t have an attached lid, so I masking taped a large piece of cardboard to the main box. It works as a great hinge. I cut the window, trees and flowers from scrapbook paper. Originally I thought I found the perfect box, that even had the mom’s name on it, but it was too beat up, so I did this instead. πŸ™‚

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The front door.

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The clasps.

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When I saw this paper at our craft store at 10 for $1, I immediately thought…ROOF!!!

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She’s a happy girl, with hours of play time ahead!! πŸ™‚

And here’s the First House I made!

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Modest Monday: Happy Birthday America!

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It’s been awhile, but here I am for a Modest Monday post. Shocker. With so much traveling and illness and foggy brain and catch up, I have hardly blogged at all the past few months. I’ll try to change that, but no guarantees, as life comes first. : )

Here’s what I wore for America’s birthday. I love finding everyday clothing items that can work for less cheesy holiday attire and/or period costumes, like this skirt. I also decided to have the red door in the background this time to go with the red, white and blue theme, (even though it’s my least favorite color). It’s on my in-law’s Colonial Wiiliamsburg, vacation home.

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Here’s a typical bobble head type photo I try to steer my Sweetie away from. He’s tall and forgets that if he’s too close…this happens. It wasn’t his fault this time, there was no way to back up on the small porch. πŸ™‚

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And what do you think of this adorable birdie ring I found at Kohl’s? So unique!! πŸ™‚

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Have a great week, and I’ll try to be back here in the next few days! πŸ™‚

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My Safer Hair Care Routine That Actually Works

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After two years of trying to find a way to wash my hair without all of the chemicals, I feel like I’ve finally found something that works!! Yay!! I went through so much frustration and a lot of gungky hair days to get here. I tried horrible baking soda and both kinds of vinegar, lemon juice, all of the Trader Joe’s shampoos, Burt’s Bees, African black soap, etc, etc, etc. Blech! And my hair was always dry and gunky. My scalp was completely out of control. Needless to say, I was frustrated, and even shed some tears over that horrible, untouchable hair. 😦

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You can see the thick layer coating my hair here. It was so hard trying to hide it as much as I could all of the time…and not touching it, yuck.

Then we got a filter for our shower head, because, guess what? Most people raving about these methods have soft water…and we have super, duper HARD water. Ack! I miss that super soft Oregon water. The filter helped a little, but not enough. Then I started this routine: aloe for the scalp and Suave Professionals lower sulfates shampoo and conditioner, rinsing with reverse osmosis water from my in-law’s vacation house.This was the BEST my hair had been for a year and a half!!! But it wasn’t great, my scalp became very irritated and I had to warm up the water every time, and carry some with me when I traveled. All of these were a pain. I started pouring brewed camomile tea and using it for one of my rinses as a natural way to lighten my ever darkening hair. ( I accidentally bought the one for blonds, instead of rooibos for redheads, but who cares because I now have a more important reason to use it. πŸ™‚ ) And occasionally mixing Tea Tree Oil into my shampoo for my poor scalp.

Then about a week ago, our water jugs were empty on the same day I decided to give Peppermint Oil a try instead of the tea tree oil that seemed to make things worse for me, and I found my new routine!!!!! πŸ™‚

So here’s my new wonderful routing that gives me back my freedom from carting around the water, and gives me back my softer hair again:

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Aloe on my scalp, rinse with Camomile tea, brewed and cooled. (Sometimes I skip the aloe now).

Suave Professionals Shampoo, rinse with shower water.

Suave Professionals Conditioner, rinse with shower water.

Finish rinsing with shower water. (Sometimes I still use the reverse osmosis water for rinses).

I use a little aloe as a gel for straightening my fringe (bangs) and taming in general if needed. And we now have our own aloe plant!!

Deep condition with coconut oil when needed.

Mix a couple of drops of peppermint oil into shampoo when need for scalp healing.

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It is actually in better condition now than in this picture, but you can see…no gunk!! And no more fuzziness on top, it was quite ridiculous!

And enjoy your soft and luxurious hair!! πŸ™‚

It’s so much easier to travel with a tea bag and a big cup than carting around soft water!

I’m still in shock over this fabulous discovery!! I think the tea does for me what the lemon juice/ vinegars do for others, but didn’t do for me. My hair has always been on the oily side, and they just made it oilier, the tea does not. This routine works better than any of the others I tried, and is so much easier for traveling!

Have you found a natural hair care routine that works for you and isn’t part of the “No Poo” fad? Share it here in the comments! πŸ™‚

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Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth
Β Homemaking LInkup

Wake Up Wednesday Linky

Our Irish Party

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Ack! I’m finally sharing about our Irish party with our friends! I started it days ago, but kept getting interrupted by more urgent things. Anyway, here it is!

We have some friends that love to celebrate the Irish culture like we do, so we sometimes have get-togethers in March and mix the American with the Irish cultures.

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So here’s our serving table with drinks, dessert and the food I forgot to photograph as I was hostessing. My mother-in-law brought some green carnations for the table. We had Bewley’s tea (my favorite tea!) in our Carrigaline shamrock tea cups, punch made from rainbow sherbet and 7up for an American touch, Shepherd’s Pie, Steamed Cabbage and White and Brown Soda Bread, served with Dubliner cheese.

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For dessert we had a field of shamrock cookies and some rainbow cupcakes. All yummy!!!! πŸ™‚

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And here’s our table, festive and fun!

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Some of the decorations:

Gnomes, mushrooms and egg cups as tea lights.

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Shamrock and flower plants and this adorable painted rock my Sweetie found for my anniversary gift!

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I made this table cloth several years ago, and collected the napkins from somewhere?

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We had loads of fun eating, visiting and listening to Van Morrison and The Chieftains. The girls were even surprised to hear they ate Brussels sprouts sneaked into the gravy of the shepherd’s pie…and didn’t hate it!!! πŸ™‚

The girls spent hours in the Bear House and Secret Garden, on the swing and saying hello to the horses next door. The adults spent that time catching up, visiting, eating and cleaning up.

And HERE are the recipes if you’re interested!! πŸ™‚

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Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

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Ways to Celebrate Ireland Day

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I’ve written a bunch of posts about the ways we celebrate Ireland. Our anniversary is just a few days earlier, and we both have Irish roots. I also lived there for two years as a missionary, so we like to celebrate the friendliness, beauty, food, music and dance of Ireland’s emerald shores. We sometimes do something more Americanized like lime and 7up punch, but we mostly do things the Irish way. So I’m including the links to all of my previous posts right here, nice and handy!

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Shepherd’s Pie

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Irish Soda Bread

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Mince and Potatoes

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Our Irish Anniversary

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Lily’s Brown Bread

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St. Patrick’s Day outfits, accessories, Irish Stew and Barry’s Tea

So, take a peek and see if there’s something here to help you celebrate Irish culture and all things shamrock!

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Love Day

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This time of year we are all focused on LOVE. And tomorrow we’re celebrating the love between two friends as they pledged their lives to each other. Such a fun way to celebrate LOVE and marriage! We’ll be remembering our own wedding, others we love…and the most important love…our Lord’s love for us. Unconditional, all consuming, gracious and forgiving. There’s so much more even to His GREAT LOVE for us! What a blessing!

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So, as I celebrate the beginning of our friends’ brand new marriage, my own 16 year marriage to my Sweetie, most of all I’ll celebrate the love of my God and Saviour, without whose love I would be lost and alone, but instead am cherished and cared for. I’m so thankful there is LOVE!! πŸ™‚