Thirty, Flirty, & Thriving

On February 17th, the day after I started my new job, I turned 30!

Thirty…wow.

It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been here for thirty years. I definitely don’t feel thirty, and if I’m being honest, I was not looking forward to hitting that milestone. But, I’m trying to be grateful for the years that I’ve been blessed with and focus on making thirty a great year!

I had a really great couple of weeks celebrating! I had lots of visitors and lots of fun!

The day before the big day, I started by new job! It was definitely the best birthday present :) On my birthday, we had cupcakes at work to celebrate, and then Colby, Joyce, Wade, the Littles, and I went to dinner after work! It was a fun night!

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On Friday that week, Mom and Dad came up, and we went to the OKC Thunder game! It was so much fun to get to have a night out with just the fam. Plus, it’s always fun to get to watch my favorite boys play in person :) Mom and Dad had never been to a Thunder game, and we had a great night!! Little did we know it would be the last time we’d see Kevin Durant play wearing a Thunder jersey, but we won’t get into that tonight…

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Sadly, the Thunder lost, but it was still a wonderful night!

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On Saturday afternoon, we met Joyce, Wade, the Littles, and my grandparents for lunch before Mom and Dad had to head back home. They hadn’t met any of the Littles yet, so it was fun for them to get to spend some time with these babies that we love so much.

Saturday night, Ashton, Cathy, and I went to dinner to celebrate! We had THE most bizarre waiter at dinner, so we basically spent the entire night laughing, which was so good for all of us!

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I am beyond grateful to call these girls my friends!

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The celebration continued the next weekend! Neely came to town to celebrate with me! We spent Friday night in our hotel room eating pizza and watching Fuller House, because #adulting. I mean, what better way to celebrate than by watching the reboot of your favorite childhood show?

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On Saturday, Caitrin came to play, so we had a fun day of shopping! I hadn’t seen Caitrin since Neely’s wedding, so it was wonderful to get to catch up and a perfect end to a wonderful weekend!

We stay at a hotel every time Neely comes because she’s highly allergic to the cat. We’ve stayed in a certain hotel near my apartment and had great luck with it. Until this trip.

Before she left Dallas, Neely bought some amazing cookies for us to enjoy over the weekend. We had one before bed on Friday night, and after a long day of shopping on Saturday, we were very excited about having more treats before bed. When we opened the box, we realized that a cookie was missing. We knew exactly how many we started with, and we knew exactly how many we’d eaten on Friday, so we knew something was not right. Someone had taken a cookie, and that was SO not ok. Our room bad been cleaned while we were gone, so we knew it had to have been a cleaning lady. Because we didn’t know what else had been messed with, we sadly threw the cookies away. But seriously, who does that?

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These first six months of my thirties definitely has been full of challenges, but it’s also been six months of new experiences and lots of fun! I am hopeful that it is just the start to a great new decade!

It’s Been Awhile

Well, hello friends! It’s been awhile! Life has been a bit of a whirlwind the last few months. I started my new job, and I’ve been spending my time trying to figure things out and settle in and find my place. Honestly, these last few months I’ve been happier than I’ve been in a really long time.

I’ve been missing this little blog for quite awhile! After talks with Neely and some friends from work, I decided to try and see if I can bring it back to life!

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So…here’s what you’ve missed!

I turned 30!

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Neely and Caitrin came to visit me

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My dad got his 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do

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Jessica and I finally got to celebrate our birthdays together

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I’ve had some really times with the Littles

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Our sweet Natalie got married, and we had a fun TVP reunion!

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Mom and I went to see Mamma Mia

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I joined Snapchat! I mostly post pictures of my cat and make funny faces with the Littles :) Come follow! @ashleylately23

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I went with Ashton, Cary, and Kiley to see 98 Degrees, O-Town, Dream, and Ryan Cabrera in concert! It was such a fun show!

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I also ended up in the ER when my weird heart thingy flared up at the end of the show.

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And of course, this little guy has been with me through it all.

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It’s been a crazy few months, and I’m excited to share more about what’s been going on in Ashley Land! Stay tuned!

My New Adventure

Hey y’all!

I’m not one for making New Year’s Resolutions. I’m definitely one of those people who tries and then gives up after a couple of weeks, so I stopped making resolutions a long time ago. But, when a new year is beginning, I’m always excited for the start of something new. A clean slate. A do-over.

Looking into 2016, I decided that I wanted it to be a year of change. 2015 was probably the hardest year of my life, and I have been determined that 2016 was going to be a better year, and I was going to make some changes. One of those big changes started much quicker than I could’ve ever imagined.

If you saw Friday’s post, you know that last week was my last week at The Vintage Pearl. I’m very sad to be leaving TVP, but I’m really excited about what’s to come.

Toward the end of 2015, I decided that I wanted to maybe start looking for another job. Since I left adoption/foster care, I’ve always had this pull to go back to working with children and families. Over the last few months, that pull became so strong that I couldn’t ignore it. I decided after Christmas that I would start job searching, just to see if there was anything out there.

I found a few jobs that sounded good, and after nudging from Ashton and Neely, I decided to start applying for things. Ashton encouraged me to set a goal for when I wanted to have a new job and to work toward that goal. Jokingly I said “maybe I’ll have a new job by my birthday!”, knowing full well that goal was nowhere in my reach. I turn 30 this year, so it seemed like a fun idea to have a new job for my birthday present to myself. I sent in my applications, and I started praying that I would find the right job by my birthday, still not believing it was possible.

God truly has great ways of reminding us that we should never doubt what He can do.

Today, I start my new job with DHS child care licensing.

Tomorrow, I turn 30.

It’s amazing, right? Everything just fell perfectly into place. This is a job I’ve looked at and applied for several times over the last few years, but the timing has just never been right until now. The supervisor I’ll be working for is wonderful, and the lead worker on my team is one of my former foster parents who I just adore.

I am so excited to start this new chapter in my life! I know the next few weeks will be difficult as I make such a big transition, but I really feel good about what’s to come. I’m excited to learn something new and have new challenges and new experiences.

2016 Grammy Predictions

Hey y’all!

Sunday night is the 58th Annual Grammy Awards show! It’s been a couple of years since I did my Grammy predictions post, so since I’m super excited about the awards this year, I wanted to bring back my awards show predictions :)

I’m going to highlight the major award categories and a few that I’m interested in, and I’ll share who I’m rooting for and who I think will win. I’m anxious to see how many I get right!

Record of the Year

“Really Love”-D’Angelo
“Uptown Funk”-Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
“Thinking Out Loud”-Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space”-Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face”-The Weeknd

Who I’m Rooting For: Taylor Swift
Who Will Win: Taylor Swift

Album of the Year

Sound & Color-Alabama Shakes
To Pimp a Butterfly-Kendrick Lamar
Traveller-Chris Stapleton
1989-Taylor Swift
Beauty Behind the Madness-The Weeknd

Who I’m Rooting For: Taylor Swift
Who Will Win: Taylor Swift

Song of the Year

“Alright”-Kendrick Lamar (Kendrick Duckworth, Kawan Prather, Mark Anthony Spears, & Pharrell Williams)
“Blank Space”-Taylor Swift (Max Martin, Shellback, & Taylor Swift)
“Girl Crush”-Little Big Town (Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, & Liz Rose)
“See You Again”-Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth (Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charlie Puth, & Cameron Thomaz)
“Thinking Out Loud”-Ed Sheeran (Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge)

Who I’m Rooting For: Little Big Town
Who Will Win: Wiz Khalifa

Best New Artist

Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Who I’m Rooting For: Meghan Trainor
Who Will Win: Meghan Trainor

Best Pop Solo Performance

“Heartbeat Song”-Kelly Clarkson
“Love Me Like You Do”-Ellie Goulding
“Thinking Out Loud”-Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space”-Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face”-The Weeknd

Who I’m Rooting For: Kelly Clarkson
Who Will Win: Taylor Swift

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Ship To Wreck”-Florence & The Machine
“Sugar”-Maroon 5
“Uptown Funk”-Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
“Bad Blood”-Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar
“See You Again”-Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth

Who I’m Rooting For: Mark Ronson
Who Will Win: Mark Ronson

Best Pop Vocal Album

Piece By Piece-Kelly Clarkson
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful-Florence & The Machine
Uptown Special-Mark Ronson
1989-Taylor Swift
Before This World-James Taylor

Who I’m Rooting For: Taylor Swift
Who Will Win: Taylor Swift

Best Country Solo Performance

“Burning House”-Cam
“Traveller”-Chris Stapleton
“Little Toy Guns”-Carrie Underwood
“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″-Keith Urban
“Chances Are”-Lee Ann Womack

Who I’m Rooting For: Carrie Underwood
Who Will Win: Carrie Underwood

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

“Stay A Little Longer”-Brothers Osborne
“If I Needed You”-Joey+Rory
“The Driver”-Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley, & Eric Paslay
“Girl Crush”-Little Big Town
“Lonely Tonight”-Blake Shelton feat. Ashley Monroe

Who I’m Rooting For: Little Big Town
Who Will Win: Little Big Town

Best Country Song

“Chances Are”-Lee Ann Womack (Hayes Carll)
“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”-Tim McGraw (Barry Dean, Luke Laird, & Jonathan Singleton)
“Girl Crush”-Little Big Town (Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, & Liz Rose)
“Hold My Hand”-Brandy Clark (Brandy Clark & Mark Stephen Jones)
“Traveller”-Chris Stapleton (Chris Stapleton)

Who I’m Rooting For: Little Big Town
Who Will Win: Little Big Town

Best Country Album

Montevallo-Sam Hunt
Painkiller-Little Big Town
The Blade-Ashley Monroe
Pageant Material-Kacey Musgraves
Traveller-Chris Stapleton

Who I’m Rooting For: Little Big Town
Who Will Win: Chris Stapelton

So those are my predictions! I really think this is Taylor Swift’s year! 1989 is a fantastic album, and I think all of the nominations are well deserved. Little Big Town has had such a great year with “Girl Crush” getting so much airplay, and I think it will win all the awards! I’m excited to see them being recognized so prominently.

Will you watch the Grammy’s? Who are you rooting for?

My Last Week at TVP

Hey y’all!

Yes, you read that title right. This week is my last week with The Vintage Pearl.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been with TVP for four years now. In some ways it feels like forever, but other ways it feels like it’s only been a short time. As excited as I am for my new adventure (more about that in another post), I’m sad to be leaving behind my team and my store.

Four years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I’d never worked retail before, much less managed a store, so I was pretty nervous, but I was excited to try something new. I spent a few weeks training in Tulsa at the studio, and on April 7, 2012, The Vintage Pearl Edmond opened!

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It’s been an incredible four years! I learned a lot, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something new and something outside my comfort zone. More than anything, I’m grateful for my girls! The girls I’ve had the privilege of working with have blessed my life probably more than they will ever know. Our first little team became so close so fast. I think Annie put it best when she said that we all came to TVP needing something, and we bonded together like a family right away. As the years have passed, we have added so many amazing girls to this family, and I can’t imagine not having them in my life. We have seen each other through some of our highest highs and some of our lowest lows, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a a group bond together like this one. I’m grateful to have been a part of it, and although I won’t be working with them every day, I know this is not goodbye.

I feel like there are so many things I want to say about them, but I think I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

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It’s so fun to look back on all of the pictures and remember all of the fun times we’ve had! We truly enjoy spending time together outside of work, and I can’t even count the number of dinners, movie nights, game nights, and other fun things we’ve done together! We’ve had three girls get engaged, and we’ve attended weddings for two of them (number three is later this year!). We’ve been able to celebrate so many accomplishments, and even when someone has had to leave, we’ve all supported their new adventures. I’m grateful to have their support as I start my own new adventure! When I look back on my time at TVP, I won’t remember the busy sale days, the difficult customers, or the loooooong Black Fridays. I’ll remember each and every one of these girls! I am truly blessed to have them in my life!

It’s a little bit sad to end this chapter of my life, but I’m really excited to see what God has in store for this new chapter! Check back next week for more info on my next adventure!

Grease is the Word

Hey y’all!

I’ve always been a fan of the 50′s. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the clothes, the music, the dancing, and I’ve always thought if I could pick another decade to grow up in, I would pick the 50′s.

My jump rope team in school did a show set to 50′s music, and it was the best! We were all obsessed with the music, and we LOVED getting to wear our poodle skirts! That year, my birthday party theme was 50′s, and it is to this day still one of my favorite parties ever.

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We all wore poodle skirts, we played 50′s music all night, and my cake was decorated to look like a record!

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Because of our love of the 50′s, Grease was one of our favorite movies! The music was so great, and while we all wanted to be Sandy, we also all had a part of us that wished we could be a Pink Lady :) We had our own little “You’re the One That I Want” performance!

FullSizeRender (4)My friends are probably going to kill me for posting these pictures :)

That year at the talent show at school, we performed “You’re the One That I Want”, and we had the best time!

FullSizeRender (1)That’s me in the middle, towering over all of the others. Haha!

When I found out that FOX was doing Grease Live, I was beyond excited! I feel like the movie represented such a fun part of my childhood that it’s always been special to me. I couldn’t wait to see it recreated, and I was THRILLED that Julianne Hough was picked to play Sandy!

I was super pumped when Ashton suggested we get a group together and watch it at her house. She invited a friend from work and a few TVP girls, and we had the best time! I really wanted to go full-on 50′s for the party, but I figured that since we’re grownups, I should tone it down a bit. I couldn’t resist getting a few fun decorations though!

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You have no idea the amount of self-control it took for me not to wear my poodle skirt and do the hand jive in the middle of Ashton’s living room.

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It was such a fun night! I loved getting to share my love for the movie with these girls, and I loved how FOX interpreted the movie. I have watched it I think three times so far, and I even rewatched the original on Saturday night :)

Did YOU watch Grease Live?

Six Years of Ashley Lately

Hey y’all!

I know what you’re thinking. Another post? So soon? Crazy, right? :)

I’ve been in a blogging funk over the last year or so, but I couldn’t let today go by without acknowledging this big day in Ashley Lately Land!

Six years ago today, I started a blog.

I had no idea what I was doing, and I had no idea what to expect. I thought it would be a space to document my life. I’ve always enjoyed writing, so I thought it would be this little creative outlet. I never imagined what it would become, but I’m grateful for all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had because of this blog.

I found a best friend that I can’t imagine life without. I met some amazing women all across the country that I would’ve never crossed paths with if it weren’t for this blog. I discovered some of the most creative, inspirational people I’ve ever known. I traveled to new places and spent time in some of my favorite places. I worked with some really cool brands and met a few famous people :)

It’s been such a wonderful six years. I feel like I say this every year, but it’s nice to have this little place that’s mine, and no matter how long I go without popping in here, you fabulous readers are still here for me. I appreciation your support and sweet words more than you know!

I hope to be around more in 2016! I’ve missed this place, and I’ve been feeling little bits of inspiration, so I hope I can make something come from it.

Thanks for a fun six years!

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*Yes, it’s from last year, but I still love it :)

Meet Colby

Hey y’all!

I’m taking a little break in my blog hiatus to link up with Kelly’s Show Us Your Singles! I surprisingly talked my brother into letting me do a post about him!

Meet Colby

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Colby is 26 and lives in the OKC area. He works as an exercise physiologist at a weight loss hospital, where he helps people with their workout plans before and after weight loss surgery. He loves his job, and he really enjoys helping people.

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Colby is an active member of the Church of Christ. He is a wonderful Christian man, and he is a great example to those around him. His relationship with God is very important to him, and he is looking for a girl that will share his faith.

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Colby LOVES sports! Baseball, football, basketball, golf, you name it, he loves it. His favorite teams are Texas Rangers, OU Sooners, Dallas Cowboys, and OKC Thunder.

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Colby loves children, and they love him. All of our friends’ kids pretty much think he is the greatest thing ever. He is so good with them, and I have said for a long time that he’s going to be a wonderful father. Some of our friends are foster parents, and he is an alternate caregiver for them, meaning he’s on a short list of people approved to babysit their kiddos.

Colby loves going to movies, sporting events, and just hanging out with his family and friends. He is very sweet, and he is just an all-around great guy. If you are interested, leave a comment or shoot me an email at ashleylatelyblog@yahoo.com, and I’ll pass the info along to him!

Four Weeks of Paleo

Hey y’all!

For the last four weeks, I have been following a (mostly) paleo diet. My doctor recommended that I try it because of some skin issues I’ve been dealing with for a few years. So far, I’m feeling pretty good and I’ve lost about ten pounds, but it has definitely been four of the hardest weeks of my life. I’ve gotten a lot of support and advice from friends as I’ve tried to learn this new way of eating, but it’s been a lot harder than I ever expected.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

1. It’s NOT easy. Changing your diet not just adjusting the things you eat. It’s adjusting the way you look at food completely.

2. The cravings DON’T go away so easily. Friends, blogs, and websites all told me that if I can stick it out for two weeks, the cravings for the bread, cheese, and sweets will go away, and those things won’t sound appealing anymor. Four weeks later, I wake up every morning thinking about how I would cut off my right arm for a Dr. Pepper and a piece of cheese.

3. Cooking just really isn’t fun. After working all day, the last thing I want to do at 6:30 pm is stand in front of a stove or a grill to eat something I’m not crazy about.

4. Reading food labels is terrifying. Because I’m eating grain-free and dairy-free, I have to read labels on everything. I’m shocked at the things I normally eat that have ingredients that I can’t pronounce. It’s made me a lot more aware of what I’m putting in my body, and even when this trial period is over, I’m going to be careful what I eat.

Even though most of it hasn’t been fun, there are a few good things that have come out of this new way of life.

1. Ten pounds are gone! It’s not a fun way to lose weight, but it works!

2. Salsa is a lifesaver. I literally put it on everything.

3. I have weird random bursts of energy in the evenings. One night, I mixed up some cleaner and bug spray, one night I cleaned A LOT, and right now I have three drafts of blog posts ready to go. I’m cooking a lot more and experimenting with new foods because I have all of this energy. It’s nice!

4. I will try new things when I’m desperate. Before paleo, I would’ve never eaten squash, but I made spaghetti squash a couple of weeks ago and actually enjoyed it!
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5. If you close your eyes, lettuce wraps almost taste like tacos. Almost.

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I’m excited for these last two weeks to be over so I can start introducing grains and dairy back into my diet. I’m hopeful that it’s not contributing to my problems and I can eat what I want again, but I will definitely be more aware of what I’m putting into my body.

Any advice for following a paleo diet?

Leslie Sisti

Today, the blogging community is mourning one of our own. Leslie Sisti of A Blonde Ambition passed away on Monday night from a heart condition that worsened over the last few months. When I saw the news on Tuesday morning, I was in shock, and I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I’m just heartbroken.
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Leslie was one of the first bloggers I started following on a regular basis, even before I started blogging myself. I’ve been following her for so long that I can’t even remember when I started reading her blog. A few years ago, back when blogging was just about sharing your life and meeting new people, I stumbled upon Leslie’s blog.

One of the things I loved about Leslie was that in a sea of mommy bloggers, she was a single girl about my age that I felt like I could relate to. She was a great writer, honest and funny, and her posts always brought a smile to my face. I loved her style posts and beauty posts, but I also loved when she just blogged about what was happening in her life. It was evident that she had a heart for God, and I love that she talked openly about her faith. She loved life, and she was one of the nicest, most genuine girls I think I’ve ever known. We started following each other’s blogs, chatting through comments and emails, and we eventually started talking on twitter and instagram, and I considered her a friend.
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I remember being so excited for her when she first talked about Stephen and how they met. I cried tears of joy when she announced their engagement. They seemed so happy together, and I love how the world of blogging brought them together. I loved following along through their wedding planning, and she was one of the most beautiful brides I’ve ever seen. I’ve loved watching her become a mother to Caroline and Ainsley, and I have looked forward to seeing their lives as a family of four.
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Leslie’s death hit me pretty hard. She shared about her health problems and that things weren’t good, but I never expected to wake up to news that she was gone. It doesn’t seem fair that such a sweet wife and mother was taken so soon. My heart aches for Stephen and the girls and Leslie’s whole family. I can’t imagine what Stephen is going through, and I feel sad for Caroline and Ainsley to have to grow up without their sweet mother.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to start a college fund for Caroline and Ainsley. Please consider donating if you are able. The link is http://www.gofundme.com/d53bgd5p8s, and I know it would mean a lot to the family. Also, please keep Leslie’s family in your prayers as they have a very difficult road ahead of them.

As hard as it is to lose a friend, I’m thankful to have known Leslie through the blog world. She was a light to all of us that knew her, and we will miss her terribly.

Leslie always ended each of her blog posts the very same way, so it seems fitting to end my post that way today.

Be Blessed Lovelies!