She’s Like Texas and She Likes Me

AKA: My Love Letter to West Texas

Dear West Texas,

“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion… Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. … Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.” John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Before I go into some stories and pictures of some of my ROOTIN’ TOOTIN’ West Texas girls, I need to first explain one thing.

West Texas is not merely a place. It’s a feeling.

It’s a feeling like, no matter if you go to the grocery store, gas station, or the annual German Food Festival in Ballinger, TX, you are LOVED by someone – if not by everyone – you see. When people ask, “How are you doing?”, or, “Is your grandma feeling better?” they are not asking to be polite. They are GENUINLY interested in you and your family’s well-being. You feel IMPORTANT.

It’s a feeling like, you are lost in world of people you don’t know, but when you encounter someone from West Texas, you feel like you’ve found your soul. For example: you could be in the middle of the Caribbean, on a cruise boat, with over 5,000 people, and a random person swims over to you in the pool. Quickly y’all discover that not only are you both from surrounding West Texas towns, but also that he has been working with your best friend’s dad for over 20 years! (This one is an actual REAL event that just happened, seriously.) You feel like you are FOUND.

It’s that feeling when your phone rings while you’re in your office and you see it’s an area code 325. Immediately you know that it’s going to take you only ten seconds to realize the six degrees of separation and come to find out they are your best friend’s, cousin’s, sister’s twice-removed daughter. You feel CONNECTED.

It’s that feeling you get, when you walk into a room full of your boyfriend’s ENTIRE FAMILY – NONE of which you have ever met and before – and before you can even say, “Hi, My name is…” his grandmother is hugging you like a long lost relative! (And lemme tell you- just because she looks delicate and petite – that woman can throw a bale of hay, straight over her shoulder and load it into the trailer, while simultaneously driving the John Deer down the wheat field. So, you better hold on and hug TIGHT!) You feel LOVED.

It doesn’t matter if you’re from Lubbock, Midland, San Angelo, Snyder, Ballinger, Winters, or IF you just went to school at Texas Tech for less than 3 years. Doesn’t matter, you are West Texas through and through. And, honey, once you go West Texas, well you ain’t ever comin’ back!

 

Wall, TX

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb

So it should come as NO surprise to you that when I met this next bride, I successfully completed my six degrees of separation tasks – and then some!

Well, first things first. Our bride Little Miss Sally, is now officially a DOCTOR!! Miss Smarty Pants has added TWO new titles to her name this spring!! Beyond being a doctor and embodying all of her other enduring qualities, what I found most impressive about Sally was the PRIDE her grandmother had when speaking about her. It’s true, you learn the quality of a person not by how they described themselves, but how others do. Five minutes and you better bet she was going to brag your ear off about little Miss Sally and her whole family. (And RIGHTFULLY SO! She was a certified triple threat!) But, her grandmother didn’t stop there. She spent the next 20 minutes exuding SOOO much PRIDE about her town and the masterful weddings they produce, as a VILLAGE, she could have made the Pope, himself, blush.

Sally got married in the German community of Wall, TX. Remember that little old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” – Wall is the modern day village through and through. In preparation for a wedding the bride will enlist her guests and friends to fulfill “duties” for the big day’s festivities. For example: Preparing food, serving food, decorating, and setting up, and so on. The bigger the job – the bigger the honor! DISBELIEF– After hearing this I proceeded to find my jaw; it was lying somewhere on the ground about ten feet away. In a world that has become so selfish and judgmental, I was both refreshed and RELIEVED to find that if you went west, you were going to find some loving, caring, humble cowboys AND cowgirls! (DISCLAIMER: My boyfriend has requested that I explain two things. 1. “NO, everyone in West Texas does not ride a horse to town”…**just a few**. 2. “Not everyone dresses like a cowboy”… he said while standing there in fully starched Cinch Jeans, starched Cinch button down and his George Straight cowboy hat…)

Sally’s wedding went off without a hitch! But, NOT without the WHOLE village, to support a wedding that traditionally accommodates anywhere from 500 to over 700 people!! A. VILLAGE. If y’all think I’m kidding, check out these fabulous pictures!!!

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Allure Bridals Style: ALB9152

Veil: Toni Federici Style: Pageant

Heandband: Erica Koesler

Photo Credit: www.kristinbednarz.com

Ok, I could write a novel – NO, a series of novels – about ALL of the FABULOUS west Texas brides but instead I’ll just let you see all of the FABULOUS pictures!!

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Stardust Celebrations

Designer: Hayley Paige

Veil: Toni Federici Style: Marigold

Photo Credit: www.nbarrettphotography.com

 

Miss Amy Henderson and her Handsome Hubby. Amy also reigns from the great town of Wall, TX. Amy is a firecracker—lots of sass, style and charm! I had a great time getting to meet Amy and discover we had at least 20 mutual FB Friends. (Hey now – that’s impressive for my not-so West Texas upbringing. I felt #FAMOUS!)

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Stardust Celebrations

Designer: Augusta Jones Style: Ali

Belt: James Clifford

Photo Credit: LLC.www.photographybyrachelelaine.com

Kristen has become a very dear friend of mine and it all started with the preparation for her wedding, which was last November. Her good old-fashioned farmer boy, Cody, happens to be my boyfriend’s best friend. (Boyfriend promised I could discuss him throughout this blog as long as I didn’t use his real name. So we will call him Brett. THANKS JUSTIN!—OOPS!) Kristen is from here in the DFW area and the wedding was in Grapevine. However, the two now live out in Winters, TX and are both alumni of Texas Tech. So Kristen, if I get to play the West Texas card then you, my dear, MOST certainly do too!

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Allure Bridals Style: 8634

Veil: Edward E. Berger

Photo Credit: www.photobybetsy.com

Alexandra was a fellow Pi Phi at Texas Tech with me and resides in Lubbock, TX. Not only is Alexandra and AMAZING photographer, she did my senior pics for graduation, she is also one of the sweetest, God-fearing, most humble woman you will EVER have the honor of meeting. She takes pride in her craft, and also time and care to get to know who is on the other side of her camera. We had a pleasure helping Alex fit her PERFECT gown for HER big day and we are always THRILLED when she gets an opportunity to photograph our clients! If you are in the Lubbock area in need of photography, whether it be for a wedding, engagement, bridal portrait, senior photos, or family photos, I HIGHLY – HIGHLY – recommend calling Alexandra. I promise you two things with this: 1. You will have AMAZING photos and 2. You will leave with a new friend for a lifetime.

ALSO, huge shout out to this BEAUTIFUL bride, it is her THREE YEARS Anniversary today!! CONGRATS!!

 

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Maggie Sottero Style: Vienna

Photo Credit: Allee J. Photography

 

Melissa was ALSO a fellow Pi Phi at Texas Tech with me! Not only have we had the pleasure of altering Melissa’s gown, but Ruth was also able to help her sister years ago as well! Melissa was one of Alexandra’s FIRST weddings to shoot back when she was still in school! –I told you, once you go West Texas… well y’all know the rest by now! Anyways, I have stayed friends with Melissa and I absolutely love her unwavering positive outlook on life. Melissa now resides in Lubbock, TX with her hubby and is a personal trainer!  Brides-to-Be in the LBK, I highly recommend calling Melissa if you are wanting to look extra good for your wedding day!! Melissa is an AMAZING trainer but more importantly, very much like Alexandra, she takes the MOST pride in the relationship she has with her clients!! She uses every workout to uplift and motivate through Scripture! For more details check out Steadfast Fitness!

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Allure Bridal Style: C207

Veil: Bel Aire

PHOTO CREDIT: www.alleej.com Allee J. Photography… too many AMAZING pictures!– Not just because I happen to Love Alexandra dearly as a friend, but I am AMAZED at the beautiful work she creates!!

Isn’t this little gem is just the cutest little friend you ever did meet! Paige is a contagious the seconds she walks in the door, she explodes with love and laughter! I mean just look at her in these pictures?!—You’re smiling already, I can see it! Paige was just as sweet to work with, as she is ABSOLUTLY ADORABLE in these photos.

These beauties have captured the heart of some pretty awesome men. And what can I say? West Texas has definitely stolen my heart. These girls make me feel, CONNECTED, FOUND, IMPORTANT and abundantly LOVED.

I could go on for a lifetime. The serene feeling I get when pulling up to a wheat field overlooking the West Texas sunset, that feeling is PRICELESS.

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www.alleej.com

 

Adios,

Niña Esclava

 

From Tears to CHEERS!

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

“I sunk into a depression only Hamlet would recognize.” –Lola, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen 

​In order not to be a hypocrite, I feel morally responsible to detail all of my wardrobe tantrums, before I untangle a story about our next bride. I really thought I was saving this lengthy chronicle for a therapist but, here we go…

1992- Upon my demand for a new outfit THAT same day, my mother spent all afternoon sewing me a new dress. When it was finished, she gave it to me to wear. I refused. Mom cried in the closet for an hour. — Yes, you did the math right. I was a mere TWO YEARS OLD.

1995- My mom bought me my first pair of pants so I could play at recess. I proceeded to assume she was attempting to make me a boy and subdue my constant dress demands. I cried all the way to school.

1997- My mother got my brother and I dressed for school. It was his first day in Kindergarten. Upon the realization that his outfit didn’t match mine (for literally the first time EVER), I cried incessantly. — I’m sure she was SOOOOO sad to see me go off to school…

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“Um Hi?! Who are you and why are you stealing all of MY attention???”

Outfit Coordination Debut, Circa: 1993

1998- My mom got tired of sewing ALL of my outfits so she bought me a new wardrobe from GAP kids. My whole class teased me about wearing ONLY GAP and I received the nickname “GAP Girl.” I had mild depression about not being able to wear tacky sparkle tops from Limited Too.

1999- MAJOR milestone: I convinced my dad to take me shoe shopping. He bought me my first pair of NON stark white leather Keds aka Nikes. Stepped in mud that day. CRIED. — Only beneficial takeaway, my dad continued to do my sneaker shopping from this point forward, including now! Thanks for my Christmas Nike’s Dad!!!

2001- Doc Martins became cool. My mom FORCED me to wear them every day. She specifically loved when I wore them with this denim dress she bought, deeming it my “Ralph Lauren Look.” I protested daily, for a year. I am now apologizing for this…. Doc Martin’s have a positive lifetime effect on your calf muscles.

2002- Dallas got its first Abercrombie Kids store. At age 12, I was already 5’8” and nothing in the ENTIRE store fit because I was an “adult” size. (I refuse to acknowledge, pudgy middle schooler, adult sounds better) I debated anorexia for a week, but I decided against it because I couldn’t give up cake, and ice cream… AND CHERRY PIE!!!

2003- Avril Lavigne made skater clothes cool. The meltdown for this came about 3 years after the fact when I realized how ridiculous I looked.

2006- I discovered the clothing GODS aka Anthropologie. Anyone who knows me, knows this store is my Achilles heel. I started worshipping the store…. Mom cried over her bank statement for a week.

2008- Prom Drama. Go back a blog to “A Wish Your Heart Makes” for this explanation.

2009-Present- Everything after High School is still too soon. I will not own up to these travesties just yet— maybe when I turn 30.

I now feel that I have washed my slate clean.

Tears… 

“I wish you could step back from the Ledge my Friend…” –Third Eye Blind

Now I have preached this since day one, but very frequently making a dress YOUR dress requires some customizing. People don’t fit into boxes and no matter how pretty the dress is, sometimes it just needs a little something to make it right! This was the case with our bride, Megan.

Megan had purchased a gorgeous Watters Bridal gown (Style: Claire). She also had bought a belt to accessorize it with (James Clifford Style: 11311). When Megan came in for her first alterations appointment, something still just wasn’t quite right. So, we decided to order some lace and build a custom bodice that was much more “Megan!”

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 Watters Bridal Style: Claire

(Original Gown, picture from Designer website: www.waters.com)

Gown and Belt all purchased from Stardust Celebrations. www.StardustCelebrations.com

Customizing is sometimes a very tough process and trying to match visions can be hard. This truth is, I unfortunately am not Mel Gibson and I do NOT know what women want… Hell, WE (women) don’t know what WE want! (All men everywhere, you are welcome for this statement.) As I have dictated earlier, even I have a very hard time visualizing exactly what I am wanting out of a garment.

So, when Megan came in for her second fitting, we made a “mock up” of the bodice. I’m not going to get into the details (mostly because Megan works for the Rangers and Mama really needs suite tickets… hahaha KIDDING, I just really like Megan and we have become friends since), but long story short, there were tears and laughs and a decision to start over with a new game plan. We had a re-do of Megan’s second fitting, where we still weren’t exactly where we wanted to be but, mutually had come to a final decision for the look of the gown.

Megan’s final fitting was flawless! There were tears and I almost panicked before realizing they were tears of JOY! It was 100% more amazing than we all hoped for it to be. The NEW bodice fit Megan like a glove, and it gave the dress that little extra PIZZAZZ!

Take a look for yourself!

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I am such a sucker for a FABULOUS veil pic!!

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Photo Credit: Ross & Kandice Photography

www.rkphotograph.com

To…CHEERS!      

 “I’ll meet you at the altar” “I’ll be the one in white!” Stephanie Meyer, Breaking Dawn                

We continued working with other brides through the holidays and I always wondered how that big day went! Well, like most things, including the completion of this blog (EEK!), I procrastinated and forgot to get back in touch with Megan after the big day.

Then one day while out celebrating St. Patrick’s on lower Greenville, fate intervened. I ended up at a house party of a friend of a friend’s, brother’s, girlfriend’s house… ok, possible exaggeration. Anyway, as I walked up, who do I see?! None other than Megan! We celebrated her new marriage, I met her now HUBBY, and I got to see pictures of the final product on the big day! It was nice to be able to see a client outside of the store. (It’s much more fun than being a teacher out grocery shopping and having a student catch you buying beer… That may or may not be a true story of a friend.) I was thrilled to get to spend time with Megan and see how pleased she was with her gown! And now I am beyond thrilled to be able to share it with you!

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I love this picture, because you can see all of the FABULOUS new detailing of the custom built lace illusion. We extended the buttons throughout the custom lace illusion and through the zipper of the original bodice, to give it a fluid transition. 

Megan was absolutely breathtaking at her October 2014 nuptials!!! The gown was perfect, the day was perfect, EVERYTHING was PERFECT!

So, Dear Megan & Keith….

CHEERS!

To Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever After!

 

Adios,

Niña Esclava

#ConfessionsofNiñaEsclava

 

 

Timeless Romance

Time Warp

“When I get home I Shall write a book about this place… If I ever get home.” –Alice, Alice in Wonderland

Out of nowhere, an elevator appears in the middle of the street. I exit the car in confusion; I don’t remember this tunnel emerging from the busy Dallas streets before.  Then from behind me, I hear a man beckon for me, “Miss Calvert.”

Entranced, I look up to see a nice looking man in a suit. “Yes?” I reply.

“We have been awaiting your arrival. Please take the elevator to the lower level,” he stated with an ever so childish grin.

I got in the elevator and hit the button for the lower level, unsure of where this rabbit hole was going to lead me, but too curious to turn back now.  I started to hear the sounds of rain drops. I turned behind me to see a beautiful underground waterfall emerging. Was I in Narnia? Was this some kind of Secret Garden hidden below the busy streets of Dallas?  The doors opened and I was greeted by two smiling faces and the sudden aroma of sweet, savory smells. The ladies lead me into a time capsule of a room. I felt as if I had emerged from the elevator and stepped into a scene of one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books – Where nothing is too glam, too glitz and rich in every way possible. I had discovered the hidden gem of Dallas called Dakota’s Steakhouse. (Y’all mind you I have lived in Dallas my whole life, and how I missed this AMAZING place is beyond me?!? – I blame my parents.)

Fast forward to me swooning over the entire place, mainly the elevator, because it made me feel so regal and glamorous. I finally controlled myself and stopped taking selfies literally EVERYWHERE, enough to sit down and enjoy my lunch.  The food was nothing shy of, THE ABOSLUTE BEST FOOD EVER. Y’all, I have lately, out of nowhere, spent my time going bankrupt over fine dining. That being said, I have done my homework on good food in the Dallas area, and let me tell you… I would eat at Dakota’s every single time. The food is just as entrancing as the scenery. I literally ate until I developed a food baby… OK, FINE… Maybe they were food twins, but it was AMAZING! The chef was sweet enough to come and greet us after lunch. Joseph Hoffmaster, the chef, was much younger and much more handsome than I had envisioned. He was very poised and extremely kind, double bonus! As I sat in the room I couldn’t help, but to slowly begin planning my dream rehearsal dinner inside my head, and that’s when I decided- this place was just too good not to share!! (I did seriously consider keeping this my little secret, so y’all are welcome!)

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Yes, I took multiple pictures of my AMAZING food!

 

Dakota’s

“Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country.” -C.S. Lewis, Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Not that I should have to give you more reason to pick Dakota’s for an upcoming event, but Janay, Dakota’s Sales and Marketing Manager, is the bomb.com. She is the sweetest and is your contact for WHEN you choose to book an event at Dakota’s. Janay is extremely knowledgeable and helpful with a very soothing demeanor. The perfect combination for someone you want handling your events! So what does Dakota’s have to offer you, my darling bride?! Here’s a list of the events that Dakota’s currently offers for you:

 

Chefs Table:

“We have our private Chef’s table that accommodates up to 12 guests. This can be reserved for lunch or dinner.”

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Waterfall Patio

“Our renowned subterranean patio complete with waterfall, retractable roof, fire pit and private bar. The patio can accommodate up to 60 guests for a seated event or 120 for a cocktail reception.” **MY FAVORITE OPTION**

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Wine Room

“Our semi-private Wine Room can accommodate up to 45 guests seated and 60 for a cocktail reception. This room also offers A/V capabilities.”

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Restaurant Buyout

“The entire restaurant is available exclusively for a buyout and seats approximately 125 guests inside with additional seating on the patio for 60 guests. We can host a reception style event for 200 guests.”

Dakotas_8154Y’all did I even mention the LIVE piano playing they have?! — *cue sigh*

Off-Site Catering

“From 30 to 300, we can accommodate your off-site event needs.”

For more information on Dakota’s visit their NEW website: www.dakotasrestaurant.com

Basically, Dakota’s is your go-to for a dinner rehearsal or a small intimate, but TOTALLY FAB reception.

 

Secret Gardens and Pretty Princess’ 

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”  -Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

So, what makes me really trust in Dakota’s? We recently altered a gown for one of our brides, Melissa, and she had her dinner rehearsal done at Dakota’s. I have never seen someone more pleased with the service, food and quality of a venue. Melissa and her now Mother-in-Law Carolyn were ecstatic to introduce me to Janay and tell me all about Dakota’s!  They were right!! (side note: Carolyn has worked at Lulu’s Bridal Boutique for over 10 years now, which made this bride and her experience with us extra special!)

Melissa had her dinner rehearsal at Dakota’s Friday and then was married Saturday. We were so happy to be able to help her for her BIG DAY! The dress she picked from Stardust Celebrations was beautiful and timeless. Just take a look for yourself!

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Photo Credit: Harry Harjabrata, www.harryphoto.com

 I just loved getting to work with Melissa and, through her, also get to meet Janay with Dakota’s! Whether it is with a bride or visiting a new place, I always love getting to escape the everyday and live in the world of enchantment.

Glory of LOVE

  Wind Beneath My Wings

“So it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be really hard. And we’re going to have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want you, forever, you and me, every day.” – The Notebook

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My mom (aka the reason all of this exists- literally… she birthed me) will be officially married 30 years this Monday. HOLY COW. I don’t know which one of my parents I am more impressed with. I’m not sure who managed to “put up” with who in order for all of this to happen, but against all odds, it did. Like my dad posted on Facebook, “The devil’s been chasing us for 30 years now and still hasn’t caught up yet!”

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Classic 80’s ski wear.

Throughout my life, both of my parents have had their own business endeavors. My dad and grandfather owned a Collision Repair Center for over 25 years, and, my mom of course, started this whole crazy bridal business. No matter whose “turn” it has been, the other was always right there helping in anyway possible. (My dad can actually press a wedding gown better than our whole staff put together. The BEST part about this is watching my FURTHEST THING from girly father press a wedding gown, and no matter what he says, HE LOVES IT). The downfall to this is that if we ever find someone who give us a reality show, my dad would undoubtedly be the “Si” and hit of the show— sooooooo not fair.

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Ohh the early days…

In all seriousness, my parents have been the best role models for being entrepreneur’s and what for exemplifying what true love really looks like. This is not because everything was all lovey -dovey and perfect 24/7. It is because even when they drove each other crazy, when life threw some heavy unexpected hits or my brothers were a complete pain in the ass (NOT me, I was perfect), they held on. When the easiest option is out, they choose each other every time. They choose to fight through it and come out stronger than before.  Out of everything I have learned and taken from my parents- and they have taught me many things- this perfect example of what love should be is by far the BEST gift they ever gave me. I had them both together my entire childhood, side by side. They have been the wind beneath each other’s wings for 30 years… 30 YEARS! (My dad is totally going to give me hell for this “sentimental post” later, WHATEVUUURRRR).

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That one time my parents had matching braces, hehehe

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Tease it to Jesus

“The higher the hair, the closer to God.” – Every Southern Woman Ever

Well y’all my parents got married in the “Dallas” era — big hair, big dresses and even bigger personalities. As I have told y’all before, it wasn’t too long after this that my mom turned her sewing hobby into a career. In honor of their 30thanniversary and it being VALENTINE’S DAY, I decided to make an ’80s montage of my mom’s early work. It has literally taken me days to compose this blog, solely because I cannot stop laughing every time I pull the pictures out.

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 This, my friends is my mom with one of her first bridal alteration clients. She also looks like a boy. I really fail to understand how all of you 80’s kids went from Madonna…. to this?!?!

80’s Montage, Lets start with the dresses she custom made from SCRATCH!

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Blush and Bashful.

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Ursuline Graduation, Class of 1988

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On the left is one of our lifetime friends and practically my 3rd grandma, LaVerne. On the right is my mom rocking her own ensemble.

 

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

“You’ve got to give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.” – “Glory of Love”, Bette Midler

(Y’all should know by now, that I seriously love, and I mean LOVE, Bette Midler)

Well y’all, I haven’t learned a lot in this short life of mine, but I have two valuable lessons for you. 1) The 80’s are NEVER. COMING. BACK. EVER. And 2) Love truly DOES conquer all. No one said this life was going to be easy but it’s easier when you’re doing it with your best friend. My favorite part about my job is getting to watch people find their soul mate every day. If you haven’t found yours, well he’s out their sister! And trust me… He’ll be worth it!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!! & Happy 30th Wedding Anniversary to my Parents!!!

 

Ps.  Special shout out to MY Best Friend and Love, Justin. (He is going to totally kill me for adding him to the blog. I maybe promised I wouldn’t—but hey it’s Valentine’s Day. I should get a free pass.) So Justin, I LOVE YOU!!…

 

Now if y’all could all do me a favor and convince him I. NEED. A. MINI TEACUP PIGGY. that would be totes awesome.

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Adios,

Niña Esclava

#ConfessionsofNiñaEsclava

 

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