Fifty Shades of Red....

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There's a small trilogy of novels floating around.  Maybe you've heard of them?  They're called Fifty Shades of Grey.


Everybody and their grandmother (really ladies??)  is talking about this book.

I guess the cat's out of the bag.  Ladies love their filthy novels.  Men have the buxom blondes of Playboy.  We have Grey

I have to say, this book was...interesting.  I am still confused as to whether I liked it or not.  Mainly not.  Ironically, the main reasons for this had nothing to do with the racy content.

The Good:
1.  A millionaire falls head over heals with a sweet little innocent woman.  I mean, he just cannot keep his hands eyes off her, and it helps that he is gorgeous with abs you could eat off of.  In this book, the sexy, tall blonde is not the hero.  The clumsy, intelligent brunette does.  More of this please! 
2.  The presents:  a fancy car, a publishing company, diamonds, designer clothes/shoes.  Listen, let me clear the air right now.  I do not aspire to this type of lifestyle nor do I condemn it.  I just find that it gives Mr. Moneybags too much control over your life.  As someone who hates to do what others tell her to do, it would never work for me, but on some days when I get home tired and grumpy from eating trying to bring home the bacon, I let myself escape to the fantasy, just for a minute.  Any woman who tells you otherwise is lying.  We all have a secret fairytale-rescue-princesss complex.  I blame Cinderella.
3.  Anything that girl did ignited a fire in Ryan Gosling's Grey's loins.  Is it getting hot in here??  I mean seriously...self-consciously chewing on your lip is sexy?....

The Bad:
1. I tried to read this book to my little sister as a bedtime story (19 years old, not so little anymore).  I am not allowed to bring books into the house anymore.  I will not be censored!
2.  The girl chews on her lip the whole time.  I could slap her.
3.  Grey is...messed up.  Again, I am not talking about the S&M or the red room in which it takes place...I am talking about the character.  Who knew broken came in such a pretty, kinky package?  The guy is controlling, obsessive, and damaged...I wonder if his character would have been as popular if he hadn't been rich....This does not please me.


I guess in real life a man like Grey would never change his...er...colors....but that's what fantasy is all about right?  This isn't some timeless piece of literature like Pride and Prejudice, but it's certainly a book you can giggle behind, preferably not in the presence of a family gathering to celebrate Independence Day, some of which will ask you if it's a book about home improvement and paint swatches....well, there's chains involved....

If you're in the market for a simple, entertaining book about a girl who gets literally anything in the world AND gets to tame the ultimate bad boy (which is the biggest load of....fiction), this is your book.  Until next time...

Laters, Baby.




Link Party:
Centsational Girl

Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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Party in the USA....

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Dress:  Dollar General
Shoes:  Collin Stuart for Victoria's Secret via mjrsales.com

On her last visit to Austin, my mother and I traveled to the Dollar Store because even though everyone was starving and waiting for us to finish cooking, we just had to have five bottles of bleach for the laundry room.  This is just how we roll around here, all irrational-like. 

Anyway, I saw this dress hanging on the rack on my way to the cashier.  I did not know Dollar General carried stuff like this.  There were only two dresses in this style, but now my sister and I both have one so we can match on our trips to the mall.  This is normal right?  and super cool too?? Whatever.  This is probably the most comfortable dress I own, and since labels mean nothing to me, I will wear it until I am fifty.

Have a great Monday everyone!!


Link Party:
The Pleated Poppy
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tgif

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South Padre Island, Texas
THE GOOD
-  Sister hugs.  Or better yet, boyfriend hugs.
-  The smell of bacon in the mornings, not to be confused with turkey bacon.  That is an abomination.  Not even worth my fatty arteries.
 -  The beautiful way my sister and her husband look at each other even through ten years of loving each other.

THE BAD
-  Why do plants hate me?  I basically touch them and they die.  My recently planted tomato plants are struggling to survive.  When I moved out of my previous home, I grabbed a dead tomato plant and flung it in the ground, taking only the pot and dirt with me.  When I revisited my roommate, he showed me the back yard.  That spiteful plant is GORGEOUS.  It grew, on it own, into a tomato TREE taller than me.  Right there were I threw it!  This is just hateful.

THE UGLY
-  The Colorado shootings.  There is so much ugly in this world.  Tonight, I pray for them.


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That time I almost died...

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I have received several e-mails asking about the necklace I wear in all my pictures.  Okay, maybe there were more along the lines of PLEASE WEAR SOMETHING DIFFERENT, but I know what you meant, don't worry... ;)

The necklace I wear is this lovely pendant by James Avery:

Yes.  It is a medic alert pendant.  I have a sulfa allergy, and believe me, with this allergy, you don't know you have it until it's screaming your name....

For the last two years, I have gotten sick wwwaaaayyy too easily.  If you sneezed, I'd get bronchitis.  If you wanted to find what food could give the worst food poisoning this side of the Mississippi, I was your girl.  The irony is that before those terrible two years, I had never really been sick but once or twice.

Anyway, one of these times I caught a stomach virus that gave me fevers exceeding 102 degrees for more than a week.  It's funny how you can feel so cold when your body is so hot.  I went to the doctor and paid $$$ for people to tell me that I was 100% healthy...except for my inability to eat, keep anything down, or regulate my temperature.  The sweet boy I love took care of walking my dogs, bringing me food and drinks, and even saw Sex and the City with me, even though my lights were out five minutes into the movie, and I covered him in fever sweat.  

Then as suddenly as as the sickness started, it was over, and I could not have been happier.  After a week's absence, I showed up to work on a Monday.  The only remnants of my sickness was a small rash on my hands for which my dermatologist prescribed a sulfa drug.

I took the drug around 8 p.m. as I was entering a bubble bath.  By the time I got out, I was shaking so hard I could barely walk.  I had a seizure, and I felt like my entire body was being pierced by needles.  On came the fever and off came the clothes.  I fell asleep shaking so hard that I could not even stand.  When I awoke, the fever was back and bigger than ever.  I dragged myself to the doctor once more.  How I got there, I don't know.  I remember struggling just to grab the keys to the car.  According to my doctor, I was "kind of having a mild Stephen Johnson Reaction".  I don't know if that's true.  My skin did not look nearly as horrible as the people in the pictures but I did have blisters on the insides of my mouth and boils? hives? alien babies? rashes covering all my body.  According to my upset physician, I should have gone to the emergency because I almost died.  I have to say that in the middle of the worst part, I was just focused on the pain.  The words emergency room never even entered my brain.  Some shots, pills, tubes of lotion later and suddenly I was sitting back at home again.

I couldn't eat.  I couldn't move.  My skin hurt so much I could not wear clothes.  I could not walk my beautiful dogs.  I was in so much pain, but I didn't want for anyone to see me (hello, naked here...), so I kept telling my concerned family and friends that I was feeling better even though when I was off the phone I would basically sit there and cry.  

Well, Older Sister called my bluff.  That beautiful woman and my brother-in-law showed up at my door, in the middle of the week, with an armful of food.  She fed me strips of chicken breast and cold grapes and squirted some of my many prescribed lotions on my body, from a distance of course because my skin was gross, the whole time squealing EWWWW every time I pretended to touch her.  Apparently Lobster Girl is no sexy beast :)  My brother-in-law could obviously not participate in this bonding ritual so that sweet man cleaned and vacuumed my whole apartment.  He was like a little tornado with my dirt devil.  This has to be the single most touching and humiliating moment of my life.  Of course she also tattled to anyone within ear shot about how sick I truly was (and how grotesque I looked).  Frequent responses were OH MY GOD..do you have a picture...haha...You're probably wondering the same thing....No.  I do not have a picture.  That would have been the most traumatizing nude in all the land.

Apparently time does heal all wounds because I finally ended up back at work only this time, I couldn't stand for anyone to touch me, and I was wearing long-sleeved shirts to hide my blotchy, scarred body.  For about a month, I could not stand to be touched.  Imagine someone touching you with a hot iron only the iron is not flat, it has needles in it.  I wore pounds of makeup on my face and neck to hide as much as I could.  Even months after everything had passed, when I would exercise, you could see the red scars on my skin.  

Putting on all the weight I had lost was another hurdle.  Even after all the obvious physical symptoms had faded, I had random pangs of nausea, and it was very difficult for me to eat.  It is hard for people to understand why I was obsessed with putting on weight for all those months.  Mainly it was because I could not eat.  It was not a matter of vanity but of health.  I am so afraid to ever be that sick again and how can you be healthy if you can't eat?

It has been more than a year now since this happened, and it was a giant wake-up call.  I completely changed the way I eat, and, with the exception of the occasional baked good, eat clean.  I drink teas and water now, not coffee (although I break this rule sometimes because I am human and coffee is heaven).  You know what?  I have not gotten seriously sick since then.  The occasional cold, maybe, but nothing serious enough to make me pass out in a public bathroom (true story).

The funny thing is that apparently, I had been exhibiting signs of a sulfa allergy all my life.  I had these constant baby hives on my arms and legs that made me self-conscious about wearing shorts, so I never wore them.  Since I learned of my allergy, I stopped using any products with sulfates.  Hello captain obvious...they all disappeared.  I wear shorts all I want now.  Cellulite be damned, I have a renewed appreciation for all skin.
Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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Smells like teen spirit

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Dress:  Forever 21
Shoes:  Collin Stuart for Victoria's Secret via mjrsales.com

It's sister date night!!!  Most people set aside some time during the week to spend time with their lovers, and since mine is in another city, I just eat Twinkies and watch Bridget Jones enacted the date night rule with my lovely sibling.  I wonder if she will pay for my movie....


Link Party:
Rae Gun Ramblings 
The Pleated Poppy
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If you like pina coladas....

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My sister's dog, Benelli.



Top:  Zara
Shorts:  Target
Shoes:  Zara

Recently, when I go to the closet to figure out what to wear, I find myself throwing a fit a la two-year-old when it comes time to wear jeans.  So.  Hot.  Outside.  Naturally, I just put on shorts and stay inside....and wear a sweater inside all buildings.  That's Texas for you.  Freezing inside, boiling outside.

Oh and you see that tiny brown sweetie with the raw hide in her mouth?  That is Sunflower, my sister's shih tzu mix.  She  looks like Falcor.  This makes her infinitely cooler in my book.  Also uglier.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_E3csB1OFC6o/TAWUoTGKr_I/AAAAAAAAAMQ/3-TVfD50Biw/s1600/falcor.jpg
Falcor from The Neverending Story

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Martha Stewart's Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

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This baking adventure started like all the other ones.  I woke up one morning and decided I really had to have strawberry cupcakes, so I went to the store, bought all the ingredients, waited four days until I had almost finished all the fresh strawberries, and then decided it was the absolute perfect time to bake the cupcakes that required a whole package of fresh strawberries.  Thank God I always keep a package of frozen strawberries in the freezer to eat with my ice cream have as a healthy snack.



The cupcakes themselves came out spongy and moist with a slight crispy crust around the edges that rocked.  The frosting took me about an hour or so to complete, which was an unpleasant surprise, but it is probably the lightest frosting I have ever had.  It is not overwhelmingly sweet and kind of tastes like you are eating a cloud.  Everybody loved them.  Some people even sent me angry text messages about how their diets were doing so well until I brought these into their lives.  Apparently these are a gateway drug for other sweets.  Who knew.
 
This recipe was a success, A+.  Nothing was burned down.  No one is throwing up violently.  Nothing but smiles to see here.  Warning:  You can't eat just one.  Enjoy.

Oh and if you discover that you didn't actually buy any cupcake liners once you have already mixed all the ingredients, you can just cut out little 5X5 in. pieces of parchment paper to use as cupcake liners instead.




Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
Yield: About 38 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 25 to 30 minutes
 
Strawberry Cupcake Ingredients
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour**
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 egg white
1 cup milk
2 cups finely chopped fresh strawberries

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream Ingredients
1½ cups fresh strawberries (about 8 ounces), chopped
4 egg whites
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1½ cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

Directions for the strawberry cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Mix the dry ingredients: flours, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3.  With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg white, on at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until well combined. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the chopped strawberries by hand.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. 
5.  Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. 
6.  Transfer to pans to wire racks to cool for 15 minutes; turn out the cupcakes onto the rack and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature in airtight containers before frosting.

Directions for the strawberry meringue buttercream
1.  Puree the strawberries in a food process or blender; set aside.
2. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.  The mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.
3. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy, glossy, white, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, scrap down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. 
5.  Add the strawberry puree and beat until combined. Stir the frosting with a rubber spatula until the frosting is smooth. 
6.  Keep the buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

**Cake flour substitute:  Use regular flour + 1 tbspn of cornstarch.


Link Parties:
Craft-o-maniac
Sugar Bee Crafts
Coastal Charm
Momnivore's Dilemma 
36th Avenue
Somewhat Simple
Shabby Creek Cottage
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The Walking Dead Season 3 Comic-Con Trailer

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I DIE.  

I am off to prepare my zombie survival kit.
Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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To Market, To market

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 Dress:  Ross
Shoes:  C. Stuart for Victoria's Secret via mjrsales.com
Belt:  J. Crew- Thrifted

This is what I wore this past Sunday on errand day.  I don't know about you ladies, but once a week, I grab my ten canvas bags and hit the streets. I meticulously circle ads, schedule the allotted time per store, and map out my day...and then get hungry halfway through my shopping trip and end up buying everything I need from one giant supermarket (H-E-B anyone?) so I can go home and eat my goodies.

I hear that Austin has several farmers' markets around here...maybe I will be paying them a visit soon.  I will let you know how that turns out.  I have only been to one market in Houston, and I left empty-handed.  Let's just say I was not willing to spend $5.00 on a pound of tomatoes.

Have a great Monday everyone!


Link Party:
 Watch out for the Woestmans
Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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tgif

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Austin, Texas
The Good
-  Margaritas...on the rocks...a proper way to end a week....BIG girl style....
-  Having the transmission specialist tell me my transmission was in excellent working order even though my car bucks like a bronco...
-  I planted my raised container garden!!!  Grow my pretties!!  I fully plan on purchasing an apron and collecting tomatoes into it a la Belle while I sing, ear drums be damned....

The Bad
-  Ear infections and weak immune systems...sigh...There is not enough vitamin C in this world....
-  Having the transmission specialist tell me that my motor is really bad..."really horrible", as in about to bite the dust...off to the regular mechanic I go, who by the way is Australian and super awesome and has a horseshoe mustache kind of like this...
-  I took Ducky out  on Monday, and, per usual, he starts going bezerk when strangers start making eye contact...one man pipes in "Maybe he's just upset at the sparkly collar he has on..."  Well, I NEVER...lol

The Ugly
-  The gentleman that bent down and barked at me at the mall.  Sir, I AM A LADY!  I only respond to whistling....and caterwauling....
-  The three car pile up that occurred right in front of me on Tuesday because someone tried to run a yellow...in the rain....
Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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and I'm feeling good....

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Dress:  Target
Shoes:  Gifted

One of the things I love the most about Texas, that bright shining sun.  I have traveled to places (which will remain nameless) where the sun seems a bit shy...no, not here....the sun is so bold it feels like you're an ant under a magnifying glass...The only logical solution is to wear shorts and dresses and spend as much time as you can either indoors or by a river/pool, so that is where you will find me this weekend.  In a pool somewhere with a large straw hat...the cool kid with a large perimeter of water completely vacant around her.
Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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Black Bean Burger

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Okay...so the last time I experimented with a recipe I found on the internet, things did not turn out as well as anticipated.  This time, I am giving this recipe a B+.


I offered my brother-in-law some burgers for lunch.  He politely declined saying he was full.  Later, I found out he had not eaten lunch.

Black Bean Burger

Ingredients:

Chipotle Mayo

3 tbsp light mayonnais
1 tbsp canned chipotle in adobo sauce

Black Bean Burgers 
16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into tiny pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped into tiny pieces
1 jumbo egg
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 cup quick oat
8 slices of whole wheat bread
1 tspn of butter
4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Seed the bell pepper and chop it up finely with the garlic.  You can use a food processor instead.  I just so happen to love to pretend I am Bobby Flay...

Rinse and dry the can of beans.  Add them to the food processor.  Alternatively, you can use a glass cup and smoosh them manually.  That's a word, right?

Combine all the vegetables.  Add the spices, eggs, oats, and hot sauce.

Form your patties, place them on freezer paper, and freeze for two hours.  

Heat up a skillet, toss on the butter, and cook your black bean burger patties.  Good luck flipping these suckers.  What I found worked best was cooking each patty one by one, and when it came time to flipping them, flip them onto your freezer paper covered hand in order for them to keep their shape.

Toast the bread you plan on using. Mix the chipotle and mayonnaise.  Spread on the bread.  Layer the patty on top of the cheese and mayonnaise.  Enjoy.




The main reason why I give this recipe a B+ is that I had to McGyver a way to flip them over without them falling apart.   They are actually kind of tasty.  Or as tasty as black bean burgers could be.  They don't really look too appealing, but that's my fault. I have limited cooking skills.  I only cook to remain alive.  I am the legend that single handedly took out the entire family with food poisoning for one grand birthday feast.  Mad cooking skills.  You are welcome older sister.

If you decide to try these, please approach with an open mind.  These are not whataburger replacements....and if a small woman innocently offers to share dinner with you please say yes.  Remember she is not above sneezing in the containers you packed for lunch tomorrow.

Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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Cha-cha-cha-changes...

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I think I am not alone  when I say we have all seen a dress like this:
http://img1.etsystatic.com/006/0/6886059/il_fullxfull.353985889_kq8s.jpg

These dresses are a dime a dozen at thrift/vintage stores and while I am a lover of all things cheap and get such a kick from finding amazing things for pennies, puff sleeves do not look well on about 90% of the population...although I have seen some drop dead gorgeous, model-looking ladies WORKING these on the street.  Because a model I am not, whenever I see these, I make an ACK sound and walk away-- that is until I saw a blue, gold studded Liz Claiborne dress.  It was lined and fit me perfectly, except for its puffy sleeves made me feel like I could flap my arms and fly.  For about five dollars, my seamstress chopped off the sleeves and instantly upgraded my dress into a modern piece.  Next time, I think I will keep a small cap sleeve, but for now, I love this dress.  I really wish I had taken pictures of what it looked like before. 







Dress:  Liz Claiborne- Thrifted via Goodwill
Shoes:  Guess via Ross


In other news, I am thinking of firing my little assistant...He runs around like he has ants in his pants.  I know this isn't Vogue but some degree of professionalism would be nice...


Link Parties:
Six Sisters' Stuff


Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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Celebration time, COME ON!!!

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On the 20th of this month, almost twenty nineteen years ago, my parents brought home a tiny creature.  I was told that I would be meeting my new baby sister...but the being they unwrapped had huge bulging eyes, spiky thick hair and tiny arms and legs...not at all like the Gerber baby I expected.  A few gray hairs (mine) and some growth spurts later, my baby sister is now a soon-to-be twenty-year-old nineteen-year-old computer science/political science double major (NNNEEERRDDDD...)  Fun fact:  My little sister never cries in movies.  I can be found crying in anything from a sad song to a moving commercial.  One fateful day, we sat down to see King Kong.  Girl could not stop crying for about ten minutes after the movie ended...haha...love her....
Anyway, it's her birthday and I get to celebrate it with her!!!  A whole weekend of cake, cupcakes, tubing on the river and other girly nonsense.  I. CAN'T. WAIT.  Because I love to decorate, I have thrown around a few ideas.  I am pretty much set on the desserts for her, given that she very specifically said she wanted chocolate cake and strawberry cupcakes.  I am using these photos as inspiration.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5259/5475803936_5d39730da9.jpg
http://www.recipage.com/images/user1453/1332781697/recipe_image.jpg

Decoration inspiration:
 
 
 
 
 
pink ballerina birthday party flowers and ruffle cake with topper 



Who are we kidding...it will probably end up looking something like this:

 
 
 

 I don't care that she is going to be twenty!  I will be throwing a pretty princess party for her...Stay tuned...

UPDATE:  It has been brought to my attention that my sister will be turning nineteen instead of twenty....boy is my face red...
Posted by : Linda Jauregui
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