Creating a Wellness Bedside Table Tray

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I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve created for a bedside table tray to help with a new sleep routine! I’ve never been a great sleeper, even when I was younger I was never an amazing sleeper. In recent years I’ve had bouts of insomnia. It is pretty frustrating when you want to sleep so badly but just can’t. I’ve made a commitment to find ways to combat this. I’ve had sleepless nights for many reasons from not being able to shut my mind off, stressful times in my life and just simply drinking a late afternoon coffee. I’ve tried a lot of things but have never wanted to take a sleeping pill. What has worked the best is creating a night time routine centered on clearing my mind and finding calmness. I set out to create an environment conducive to my new routine that reflects the mindset I want to be in before I go to bed. When I look at my bedside table I remember my intention-I specifically placed these items here to create a peaceful atmosphere and provide tools for myself with this purpose. I find just looking at the tray even when I don’t need help sleeping reminds me to keep up with the routine.

 

My routine is as follows. First I do a bit to help my skin feel better the next day (I have dry skin) making sure to moisturize. Following this (as of the new year) I have been meditating for 10 minutes using an app on my phone. I have talked more on this on a previous post which can be read here. If I can’t sleep I use my earphones (so I don’t wake up my husband) to try a bit more meditation or listen to a podcast. If I really have trouble I’ve found using a ‘sleep,’ essential oil really helps.

Organizing my tray by adding some pretty objects along with some healing/wellness items has helped to create a little vignette that is focused on having a calm night’s sleep. It’s also the first thing I look at in the morning which symbolizes the intention of making my day great.

Here’s a little more info on what’s on my tray…

1.) Healing Crystals & Stones-Some may believe in them or not believe, but I’ve been giving these little guys a chance. If anything, they bring a beautiful part of nature inside. Thought to have metaphysical values, having them close by can provide healing effects. In this little dish I have quartz, rose quartz, amethyst, pyrite and green calcite.

2.) Moisturizers-I have very dry skin, if I don’t moisturize at night I feel it the next day.

3.) Brass four-leafed clover-Lets be real, this is just pretty. Having things that are aesthetically pleasing makes you feel good! I got it for Christmas and it’s from Indigo.

4.) Wedgwood ring holder-Just pretty again! I was amazed when I found it at an antique shop. Is there a more beautiful place to put your rings?

5.) Lip balm & Sleep Oil-I try to find organic lip balms that work well, the search is always on for the best one! The sleep oil is ‘Sleep 18,’ by ‘21 Drops.’ The instructions say to breathe it in and then put it on your forehead, wrists & neck. It really works!

6.) Apple iPhone EarPods-To meditate these really shut out all outside noise, I use calming music from my phone or an app for guided meditation.

7.) Coaster-Just pretty again! This one is from Anthropologie and I’ll reiterate, the things you find beautiful can’t be overlooked, the sight of some of these things can give you a little boost and create a fun-loving and familiar space!

 

 

Since creating this routine I’ve found to have a healthier sleep pattern. Putting in a conscious daily effort to combat sleep issues makes the world of difference! The bedside table tray has helped with this and was fun to create! Let me know any ideas you have found to help for a good nights sleep!

Lv, Julie♥

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It’s Never Too Late to Become a Hockey Fan!

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If you’ve grown up in Canada like I have you’ve been exposed to hockey in some way, to say hockey is a religion in Canada is not an understatement. From as far back as I can remember I’ve always watched playoff games. I’ve witnessed the excitement and passion Canadians have for these high-octane, adrenaline filled finals, especially if a Canadian team has made the playoffs.

Most people that know me would be surprised that I have a new-found love for hockey. In the last year and a half I have become incredibly fascinated with the sport. I’ll admit watching the first two seasons of Hockey Wives helped! I became interested in their lives and what goes into becoming a star player, including their grueling schedule. I witnessed the ups and downs of the lifestyle and how psychology plays a huge role in their game. I’ve enjoyed learning about the players off-ice discipline and was surprised to learn about all of their pre-game rituals and superstitions.

Watching the wives on the show led me to looking up many of the players online and studying their bio’s. When my husband realized this interest was developing he would say “the game we’re watching tonight has one of the wive’s husbands on it.” Then of course, I could relate! Sometime last year in the spring he realized how into it I had gotten when he started my car and my radio had been stopped on AM 590 (yes AM!). This was as “un-Julie,” as I could get! In saying that, I’ll explain, I’ve always had a wide range of interests, I wouldn’t ever want anyone to stereotype me, but this new interest went beyond. As far as he knew organized sports weren’t my thing, unless of course it was through a more patriotic ‘Canadian,’ lense when the playoffs were on. I had never spent any time learning all of the intricacies, politics and history of the game. My response to my radio choice was “I had a long drive home, my free Sirius radio subscription ended and I got drawn in…but why don’t they talk more about hockey…they are so focused on Bautista!” I’m a person when I latch onto something I’m interested in I want to know as much as possible about it, and because this was so out of my wheelhouse, it was a huge learning curve that I found really fulfilling.

I’ve progressed even more, and a lot has changed since then. Now I’m told by my husband I’m a real fan. I’ve read the odd story of a favorite player on Sportsnet and have since asked millions of questions. We PVR the games so if we are out one night, I don’t miss an important game and of course this helps so I can hit ‘pause,’ to ask questions. It was funny one night when I was freaking out that Carey Price (my favorite) was (what I thought) randomly leaving the net in the middle of the game. I was thinking…is he hurt? Why is he leaving? No one blew a whistle…whats going on? That was the night I learned all about delayed penalties. I’ve learned all about the pre and post lockout rule changes, icing, and offside plays. I have started having opinions on great hockey debates such as to change the ‘size of the net,’ vs. ‘goalie pads,’ the player “size vs. skill,” debate and whether NHL players should go to the Olympics. My husband thought it was funny when in January I wanted to start a pool, knowing its something you do before the season. I decided I had never been a part of one and it would be fun so I designed one. The winner makes the other dinner! He’s happy to go along with how serious I take it because he feeds off of my rookie-fan enthusiasm and thinks it’s hilarious! I have my 12 forwards, 6 defense players, and 2 goalies all picked out. After tallying recently, I’m winning by 30 points!

I love hockey for so many reasons. I love watching the underdog of any game shine in unforeseen moments of greatness. I love watching the facial expressions of the coaches and players when the camera cuts to them in precarious situations, I love the excitement of any game and competitive nature. I love to watch teammates treat each other like family, look out for rookies and protect their goalies. I love that there is a line of respect, carved out over decades that cuts through even the toughest of games. There are unspoken and unwritten rules that veteran and seasoned players have come to know. When a line is crossed a quick check into the boards or a verbal reminder ensures those rules and ‘knowns,’ are protected and immortalized. Traditions are valued and upheld while new notions of play are welcomed. When you watch hockey it’s a great metaphor for what I believe in. I love having traditions to look forward to all while being open to new ideas and the changes that will allow me to grow.

I can’t ever fast forward the anthem-that’s the best part. The looks on the players faces, imagining how loud a Canadian arena gets when the crowd sings along (pretty sure it’s the loudest in Montreal). I just enjoy the patriotic start as a reminder of what the game means to teams, fans, cities and countries.

I’ve only been to 3 games in my life, all in Toronto. Now it helps to actually know who the players are and a bit more about the game. It makes the experience all the more valuable.

Hockey Night in Canada

 

Going early is a must to see the players up close! Auston Matthews!!!

 

Tons of entertainment between periods, the whole experience is so much fun from start to finish!

I’m still a fan in training but am surprised by my own obsession over the game.  It’s so rewarding and empowering when you open your mind and push yourself to develop new interests.

Hope this inspires you to explore something new!

Lv, Julie ♥

P.S. There were two articles that I looked up when I started this journey and they really enforced my new found love of the game. One that you can read here was “Breaking barriers all in a day’s work for Maple Leafs’ Soshnikov.” Its all about rookie player Nikita Soshnikov, who came from Russia to join one of Canada’s beloved teams. The other article which can be read here is “Seven more years of Jagr? He thinks he can do it.” It details how Florida Panthers Jaromir Jagr, a legend of a hockey player, wants to play to the age of 50. Both articles look past the locker room and into the lives of players, hooking you into the story of their struggles, work ethic and determination to succeed.

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Juice Cleanse

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I’ve always liked January. It’s a month where anything seems possible for the year ahead and you can focus on the steps to making your dreams a reality. It’s a month dedicated to renewal, goals and hitting the reset button. I always think of a few things I would like to accomplish in the year. I think of places I would like to see, changes I would like to make to my house or things I would like to do. This year I started with a focus on meditation, you can see the post here. While I was researching all things meditation I listened to a podcast about meditation by the founder of a juice bar, Raw Republic in New Orleans. This inspired me to do a juice cleanse. I just completed a 5-day cleanse and feel awesome, it really does what everyone says it will and my skin is looking so much better than it did before!

I live in a small town so I found a company that happens to ship fresh cold-pressed juices all across Canada! Total Cleanse is based out of Toronto and has an amazing user-friendly website. Their juices are sooooo fresh and come in cute containers with numbered lids which makes it super easy to follow!

 

 

In addition to selling juices in their 2 Toronto locations, they are also sold in select Shoppers Drug Mart stores and Vince’s grocery stores so if ever I wanted to pick up a few when I am out and about, I could! The system I chose was a ‘purify,’ cleanse for 5 days which is one of the more intense programs. I really felt if I was going to try it, I might as well really try it!

 

With this program there were 2 shipments just to ensure the freshness of the juice as they have a shelf life of 4 days.

 

I’m feeling great right now and am glad to have tried something I’ve heard so many people talk about for so long. What an amazing kick-start to a new year!

Happy 2017!

Lv, Julie ♥

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I’m Giving Meditation Another Try!

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A very old photo of ‘my happy place,’ a lake I spent a lot of time at in my childhood!

It’s the new year and I love January! It’s a chance to start over and try new things. I love my holiday decorations but feel so refreshed when they are all away. The house looks clean and simple and is a reminder of new beginnings. This January I decided to give meditation another chance. I have tried it a few times but never made it a routine. I haven’t taken the time to properly research why I always felt I wasn’t doing it ‘the right way.’ I’ll explain what brought me to this decision as it’s important to understand the ‘why.’ I’ve always enjoyed anything that could improve a persons mental health. I most likely gave up on meditation because I wasn’t ready to let it into my life. I always feel a person needs to do new things when they are ready, forcing something never works and leaves you feeling disappointed in yourself. Any time I have worked on my mind and pushed myself on the inside, the benefits have helped me gain confidence, self-esteem and feel truly empowered.

I was listening to a guest on a podcast this week who was discussing meditation. It was Sheena Mannina, the founder of a juice bar in New Orleans, Raw Republic. Something struck a chord, in particular hearing her discuss how one really needs to give meditation a chance, a solid one week try to fully feel the results. Everything Sheena said made sense. I probably gave up in the past because as with most new things, I didn’t see an immediate result. Clearing your mind and truly focusing cannot be achieved in one 20 minute session. I was also intrigued by a 10 day meditation retreat she went on where you are not to speak (at all) for the entire time! I researched this and found out it was called ‘Vipassana Mediation.’ Continuing to read up on this intense form of meditation further solidified that I really wanted to try it out on a smaller scale.

To start I got out my iPhone and downloaded a few meditation apps to try out. Having a good app I am used to opens up the ability to meditate anywhere I am. I could do it on vacation, anywhere in the house and outside. I had read all about creating a quiet space so I felt the best way to achieve true calm was to use the headphones my phone came with (I had never used them and now love them for so many things). This really created a perfectly quiet atmosphere to begin.

A lot of apps use a guided meditation method which is great for beginners. One app I didn’t like was using a bit too much ‘guiding,’ for me. In this particular app you could choose specific meditation sessions such as ‘ family stress,’ or ‘holiday stress.’ The person talking on the app would say pointed comments to guide you that just opened up a whole memory bank of issues that I wasn’t into digging up. I prefer the guiding to be more open ended so I can insert any problems I may be having at the moment to work through.

I found an app I love called ‘Take a Break.’ It is free, simple, and just really spoke to me. There are controls to change the volume of both the person talking and the background music so you can adjust it to your preference. After a few sessions I didn’t want to hear the person as strongly as the calming music since I had gotten the hang of it. You can also set the music to loop so that after the person is through their guiding session you can do your own unguided mediation or just spend a few moments relaxing.

Downloading ‘Take a Break,’ in the app store. Its so simple to use!

 

Screenshot of the app in use

I’ve really enjoyed it so far and have done it all this week. I’m starting to see the benefits and am going to keep it up just to explore all the positive results it can have. As with anything new, I’ve found you have to make it your own, so that it works for you. One day I mediated three times for just a few minutes each because it was so relaxing and I had a few interruptions. I don’t worry about how much time I devote to it, some days I did only ten minutes, right now I’m just focused on doing it every day.

Thanks for reading and hope something in here inspired you!

Lv, Julie ♥

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Fresh Christmas Trees

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For many years we have bought a fresh tree at Christmas. From choosing the perfect tree to decorating it, it is always a classic Christmas tradition. The smell makes it feel like Christmas and every year each one looks slightly different! Having a fresh tree does come with challenges, most of which we’ve experienced!

Buying and maintaining fresh trees can be an adventure. We used to cut our own at a tree farm, and one year we actually got lost in the back woods on our hunt for the best one! We’ve gone through many tree stands and learned the one and only lesson-you get what you pay for, make the investment! Our first stand was affordable, it wasn’t secure and we ended up having to tie the tree to curtain rods and picture frame hooks using three lines of twine. One year we must have had a stretch of a few days where we forgot to water the tree. By Boxing Day, an inordinate amount of needles were on the floor and it ended up looking like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree!

Last year made for a pretty memorable experience. The night we decorated we were just about to fall asleep when we heard a huge crash. It was a distinct sound, a 7 1/2 ft tree crashing to the ground with the chiming, shattering sound of breaking glass. We both ran downstairs. Since my husband was ahead of me, as soon as he saw the tree he stopped me, and said, “Julie, it’s best you don’t see this.” There were dozens of broken ornaments everywhere, all bathing in sticky, sappy water. He did a quick preliminary sweep to spare me, just enough so I couldn’t make out all that was missing. Not long after I started to ask…’Rudolf?’…‘Clarice?’… ‘The first ornament we bought together?’ He broke the news on each one and it was pretty upsetting. I am one of those people who keeps old & sentimental ornaments, even if they have seen better days, they serve a good purpose on the back of the tree! After we cleaned up, we vowed that was our last year with a fresh tree!

So here we are. Nine trees, 4 stands, many cleanups later and guess what? I have not learned my lesson, I still bought a fresh tree this year! They are so beautiful! I’ve gotten over last years fiasco, having an excuse to buy a few new ornaments helped! We did however invest in a really good quality stand. When it was advertised as ‘commercial grade,’ I knew this had to be the one that would avoid all catastrophe. Click here to check it out!

Santa’s Solution Tree Stand

My advice for buying a fresh tree is to check daily for water and buy it in advance so you can go through a process I call ‘letting the tree settle in.’ It needs a few days in its stand without lights or decorations, just so its limbs can fully drink water through to the top. I do this now because in the past when I decorated too soon so many ornaments fell off limbs and strands of lights ended up being too loose. When the limbs ‘fall,’ the tree can completely change shape. This also gives you a chance to make any adjustments to the stand if needed.

Here is a guide I put together with some basics for managing a fresh Christmas tree!

Having a fresh tree does create a few challenges but if it works for you or you want to give it a try one year it really smells and looks beautiful. It is a traditional Christmas experience, even the hiccups make for great Christmas stories and memories!

Merry Christmas!

Lv, Julie ♥

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Holiday Gift Ideas

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I thought it would be fun to make up a few gift lists this year! A link to the first product collage I made for my blog with Photoshop Elements can be found here. I get great ideas from the lists that bloggers and TV personalities put out each year online and knew it would be so much fun to put a few together myself! I really enjoy the process! These two gift lists comprise of a few things my husband and I already have as well as items I have seen online or out and about! They are all items that I think would make great gifts this holiday season! Not all of the gifts are necessarily new items that are popular for 2016 some are just classic items that I think are great and are tested and true!

Gift Ideas for Her

  1. Teavana Matcha Tea –I really want to try this tea. In researching matcha tea, I have come to discover researchers have found lead in some varieties. You can read the article I found here. This particular brand has been tested!
  2. Sorel Out & About Leather Duckboot –I like this version of the classic Sorel boot. I have the proper winter boots but these look to be light weight and would be great for running around doing errands on days where there isn’t too much snow on the ground.
  3. Tarte Maracuja Oil –I have used this for years and find it especially good for my dry skin in the winter!
  4. Le Creuset Rustic Mug –This has always been my favourite mug, to me the size and shape makes it my ‘all-time classic,’ coffee mug. They come in so many colors, its fun to mix and match!
  5. The Magnolia Stories– I love Chip & Joanna Gaines! Their renovation and design show ‘Fixer Upper,’ is amazing. I was instantly hooked but when my husband witnessed Chip Gaines’ ridiculous antics on ‘demo day,’ he got into it too. It’s a show everyone can enjoy. I can’t wait to read their book!
  6. Rebecca Minkoff Initial Fur Bag Charm –I spotted these one day at Nordstrom and couldn’t get over the cuteness. If I had one, I might use it on a grey handbag for the winter or just use it for a summer bag, they do have other colors though!
  7. Popski Fur Pom Pom Hat –It’s easy to find a black or white fur pom-pom hat anywhere but Popski offers them in so many unique colors and styles!
  8. Lush Sakura Bath Bomb –These are great gifts for those people who love their baths! I would love to learn how to make these at home!
  9. Ugg Fluff Flip Flop –I have had 2 pairs of these slippers in the past 3 years and really love them! Your feet don’t get too hot because of the style, yet the fur keeps you warm!
  10. S’well Stainless Steel Water Bottle –These bottles come in so many colors and really do keep the temperature of a liquid warm or cold throughout the day.

Gift Ideas for Him

  1. Tiffany Collar Stays –My husband is always losing the plastic ones and finds they get bent, these really make a shirt collar look polished.
  2. HappySocks –They do what they say and make the people who wear them and those who notice, happy!
  3. 99: Stories of the Game –This is a great book for any hockey lover, with 99 short stories Wayne loves about players and their lives.
  4. RCAF Cap –For guys interested in aviation, this hat is part of the RCAF heritage collection and a portion of the sale supports veterans. The site ‘Red Canoe,’ has so many great gift ideas for those who enjoy historic Canadian logos.
  5. Ray-Ban Wayfarers –Sunglasses that always look good on everyone!
  6. iTunes Gift Card –Access to any number of songs, TV shows & movies available on iTunes.
  7. Lauren Green Tie –My husband wears ties every day and I have an obsession with finding new ones. I always find a few holes in his collection so I have an excuse to go on a hunt for new ones. Wool fabrics in solid colors are a good winter staple. He doesn’t have a deep forest green, so it’s on the list!
  8. Sonos Wireless Speaker –Every guy loves something electronic!
  9. Quebec Nordiques T-shirt –A cool t-shirt with a vintage logo that represents a beloved Canadian hockey team.
  10. French-Cuff Shirt –A staple shirt in any guy’s wardrobe and an excuse to collect unique cufflinks!

I do quite a bit of my shopping online these days but always enjoy grabbing a Starbucks and heading out to smaller shops and stores to find unique gifts. There is something about the music and beautiful store displays that makes holiday shopping an experience! I have always daydreamed that the song “Downtown,” by Petula Clark will start playing and some snow will start falling, creating a magical holiday shopping experience (LOL) but that’s yet to happen! I hope you have fun holiday shopping!

Lv, Julie ♥

 

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Flowers In The House

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I really believe nothing replaces the beauty of fresh flowers in a home. Since I can remember I have always been obsessed with flowers. I haven’t met too many flowers I didn’t like. I could even get behind a bird of paradise in the right setting. I can remember growing up always picking wild black-eyed susans and daises at the cottage, and roses from my grandma’s garden. I’d put them in a little vase and set them out for dinner. I spent 15 years working in flower shops throughout high school and university. I got to see so many varieties of flowers, greenery and plants. I saw them in all colors and grade levels. These years made me appreciate flowers in so many ways. I was so excited when the delivery truck would arrive and I could see what was ordered. I always was interested when something unique came in that I had not seen before.

When I was 15 I got my first part time job at a flower shop. I worked at many throughout the years including the floral department of a large grocery store (where I met my future husband). I remember at one shop there was a man that would come in every week and spend $50 on flowers. He said “my wife and I don’t drink or go out too much, instead every week we buy fresh flowers.” That always stuck with me. He was making the claim that they loved having fresh flowers in the house as part of their lifestyle but also that he had made sure to budget or justify the cost in some way. I knew that one day when I had a steady job I would love to have fresh flowers in the house too. Its just an investment in an instant “perk-me-up.”

Since being with my husband he always gives me flowers on my birthday, valentines and our anniversary.  Every now and then he has brought home a bunch of flowers “just because.” Those are the best ones! Yes I am lucky! He knows I have loved flowers all of my life that it will put an instant smile on my face-especially if I’ve had a hard day.

I start by putting them in a tall vase and then after a few days cut them down short and put them in a few smaller vases. You have to have fun with it, I usually pick flowers based on what looks the freshest but always consider the time of year. Nothing replaces red roses at Christmas with pine, cedar or fir greenery. In the summer, mixed colorful bunches with a sunflower or two are vibrant enough to compete with the lush gardening happening everywhere outside. In the fall using burnt colors and dried grasses, branches and berries create a nice rustic look. Other times of the year I like to do a monochromatic look, buying a dozen of the best looking roses always works. I always get cost effective flowers at the grocery store but for special occasions nothing beats the quality found at your local flower shop or those found at higher-end grocery stores.

I have a little tradition to take a photo of any of the flowers I buy or receive, its fun to have a memory of all of them to look back on! These are some of my favorites!

 

Birthday Flowers on Vacation
Birthday Flowers on Vacation

We went to Europe for our Honeymoon and happened to be in Austria on my birthday. That was a birthday to remember for sure! These flowers are some of the most special I’ve ever had because my husband surprised me and left the hotel, went across the street to a little mall and bought a vase and roses. It was thoughtful to keep up the tradition of flowers on my birthday even when we were away from home. And… yes I do thank every day I have such an amazing husband!

 

First Wedding Anniversary
First Wedding Anniversary

This year on our first wedding anniversary we went to dinner at a local resort. My husband had just had a work conference there and discovered they had this tiny private dining room. Since our anniversary was on a Tuesday we were able to book it. I thought it would be fun to take the first tier of our wedding cake so we could have something nice to look at on the table and have a piece after our dinner. With this idea in mind I decided to be a bit bold. I thought I could really have that feel of our wedding if I cut some flowers and put them in a vase from my wedding. I put aside the strange feeling of bringing all these things into the restaurant and went with it. I’m so happy I put in that extra effort, it made for a more memorable evening. I really personalized that little room!

 

Christmas Table Arrangement
Christmas Table Arrangement

I remember making this arrangement, It was a modern take on the classic “long & low,” arrangement we always made at the flower shop for table centerpieces at Christmas.

 

After our wedding we took home so many beautiful flowers. We decided not to go on our honeymoon until 3 weeks later so it was nice to enjoy them all. I have never had so many gorgeous flowers in my house all at once. I knew I would probably never have this chance again so I made a point to set them up and make a special dinner so that we could have some nice photos and a nice memory. On the last photo I put out our wedding table number and vow books and it was like we had another little wedding dinner afterwards. I just thrive on finding opportunities in life to enhance a moment and take memory making to the next level.

It was fun to share my love of having fresh flowers at home. I took a walk down memory lane while writing this and really reflected on how flowers can make a special time in your life all the more beautiful.

Lv, Julie ♥

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