We love any reason to celebrate—traditional holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and, of course, the off-beat and oft-forgotten wacky national days. This April 3 is one of those off-beat holidays that we very much plan to celebrate, because it is National Chocolate Mousse Day! A longtime favorite of the Apricot Hill team, we are going to take a moment or two this Wednesday to revel in the celebratory spirit and fast on one of our favorite desserts…Chocolate Mousse!
Our founder and CEO, Nancy Aust Strickland is quite an accomplished home chef with the ability and fortitude to prepare a dinner herself for two or twenty-two. She also knows her audience, and how to keep them happy. To make birthdays around our office, she puts in the extra effort to prepare the birthday boy’s (or girl’s) favorite sweet treat. The one that gets requested time and again is her chocolate mousse torte (http://myapricothill.com/card.php?item=333). This Wednesday I can think of no better way to celebrate this hallow day than to convince her to whip one up for the office. (Nancy, I hope you read this in time…)
We are ready to start the celebration. How will you celebrate National Chocolate Mousse Day?
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April 3, 2013 No Comments
I was flattered last Sunday when two ladies at the Club stopped me to compliment my play coming up the 18th fairway. They also commented on how nice it is that I every time they see me I am happily playing golf with my husband and appear to enjoy every moment of it. I thanked them quickly advising that they were correct; I enjoy every moment golfing with my husband though I do not necessarily like the way I am playing every moment.
On Monday the Apricot Hill team assembled to ideate on social media promotions. To date, our Apricot Hill team has been reticent to engage in one-off promotions across social media channels preferring to focus our energies on building our FREE Card Exchange and planning for the introduction of our Apricot Hill Membership Community next month.
The notion of creating a Valentine’s Day promotion was tossed out and caught. What better time to test the social media waters than to stay true to the essence of the Apricot Hill Woman by engaging our Apricot Hill community in a “Behind Every Great Woman is a Great Man” Valentine’s Day promotion. After all, if you understand the Apricot Hill Woman you appreciate that the Apricot Hill Man is paramount in her life and critical to her success and well-being.
Consider that an Apricot Hill Woman is a wife, mother, co-worker, friend and community leader. She has a defined lifestyle and a well-managed life. She can also be a handful and, like a lioness on the Serengeti, hard to tame. However, she is as comfortable in the kitchen as she is in the board room; decisive when it matters, flexible when necessary; handy not helpless. She continues traditions while creating new ones; is devoted to entertaining with him by her side; and never forgets to write a thank you note. She yearns for simplicity looking for a place where laughter and love trump schedules and spreadsheets.
But what is it about him that makes him so special and ideal for his Apricot Hill Woman? The Apricot Hill Man is wise, disciplined and ethical. He is decisive, respected and successful. He is mannerly, extremely patient and amused. He is always in control but never controlling. He is proud of his Apricot Hill Woman, her best friend, confident and playmate. He knows when to hold her hand or simply wave as she goes off on a shopping spree, or for that matter, a tangent.
Valentine’s Day provides us with an opportunity to shower our Apricot Hill Man with love while engaging Apricot Hill Women everywhere to join. This year, we invited one of our favorite purveyors of gentleman’s lifestyle essentials, M. Dumas and Sons to partner with us. From Vineyard Vines and Southern Tides to VK Nagroni and Social Primer we have ten days of giveaways, perfectly suited to the style and sensibility of our Apricot Hill Man.
Apricot Hill made it easy for all. Log onto Facebook, LIKE My Apricot Hill’s page, SHARE and COMMENT, cross your manicured fingers and hope to win. In the meantime, do what we do, let your Apricot Hill Man know how much they are loved and appreciated each day. After all every day is Valentine’s Day with an Apricot Hill Man by your side.
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February 4, 2013 No Comments
This month MyApricotHill.com celebrates National Mentoring Month by featuring the efforts of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, an organization that for one hundred years has worked to connect adults with children in mentor-child relationships. Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has lifted millions of children from struggle to success while fostering lifelong bonds of friendship with their respective mentors.
Mentoring, as an action, has been paramount to me throughout my life and career. Serving as a role model and mentor to countless young people has made me proud and filled my life with enduring friendships. Mentoring is simple and rewarding.
My first BBBS experience was as a Big Sister to Rashaan during my college years in Rhode Island. Post-college I had the good fortune to be mentored by some amazing, smart and successful women, and men, in New York and Washington. During the Reagan years I began to mentor interns and staff on my own. I am proud to have mentored dozens of creative, smart and driven young people helping them to fine-tune their focus, harness their strengths and develop their professional and cultivate inter-personal skills as they set out on as they were building careers and growing as adults.
Today I am proud of my “alumni” network and thankful for their friendship. It’s inspiring to open Outlook to find an email advising me that the way we “handled a client crisis,” “executed an event,” “facilitated a partnership agreement,” “organized a project” or “managed a peer” served as the blueprint for how they handled a situation in their current business environment.
They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. They are correct. But at the end of the day a core set of values and a subscription to time-tested business principles is what you need to succeed. However, don’t ever undervalue common sense and street smarts. They go a long way too.
- Organize. Set a personal protocol for time management.
- Balance. Find the place where laughter and love trump schedules and spreadsheets. Set a goal to get there.
- Lead, don’t reign. Although you may want to smile and wave from your balcony, participate in the process alongside your employees and peers.
- Let your brain catch up before you open your mouth.
- Play fair, be responsive.
- Hail Sam Walton! Return calls and answer emails before you leave the office each day.
- Don’t ask anyone to do something you would not do, or have not done, yourself.
- Anticipate problems. Pre-think solutions. Don’t be caught off-guard.
- Be decisive when it matters. Be flexible when necessary.
- People can be mean. Women are meaner than men. People will be jealous. Rise above it. Do your best. Shine like a star in a clear night sky.
- Workplace bullies compensate for their own deficiencies, most are insecure. Stare them down, don’t confront them (they thrive on confrontation), work around them.
- Ideate, evaluate then initiate. Successful brands and reputation need building blocks.
- Know your audience. Understand who they are. Set and meet your own expectations, then exceed theirs.
- Girl and Boy Scouts got it right. Be prepared; for everything and anything.
- Santa knows best. Make a list, check it twice. Go ahead, check it three times.
- Excellence is what we aspire to.
- There’s nothing remotely wrong with love, laughter, sarcasm and wine.
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January 9, 2013 No Comments
Saturday afternoon my friend Nancy and I headed to the Nail Spa for pedicures. She’s been busy settling into her new home and I had a rare no-golf Saturday. It was a much-needed respite and overdue appointment for both of us.
Upon arrival, after a warm greeting from Donna and Cindy, we stopped to select our polish. Although I had brought my favorite, standard dark shimmering pink O.P.I. polish “That’s Berry Daring” with me, I, of course, stopped to peruse the selection with the idea of “trying something new.” Nancy stopped to inventory the selections and immediately selected “Dutch Tulip” as she has for at least eight years.
Knowing that I had a back-up, I gravitated to a metallic platinum beige with a hint of creamy pink that, on a Range Rover or Lexus would look spectacular, but for my toenails may be bold. In a moment of sheer madness I told Donna I’d take the plunge and give it a try. With trepidation and disbelief Donna dutifully applied the paint. Once completed my toes were beautiful; undeniably shimmering like a sleek Lexus coupe barreling down the Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Santa Monica. I did it! I ventured into a new style dimension. I was not just “on trend,” I was “trendy.”
Fifteen minutes later I arrived home. I looked down to recognize the blue and pink grosgrain ribbon Eliza B. flip-flops as mine leaving me to wonder from where did those toes come? At that moment I knew it was time to mitigate the disaster…knowing I wasn’t physically and mentally prepared to live with platinum toenails. Brilliantly, if I do say so myself, I applied a coat of pale raspberry pink polish and top coat immediately changing the complexion of the polish to a wonderfully rich sparkly pink. My toes were back without incident or further concern.
The experience was important on a couple of levels as it reaffirmed my belief that a true Apricot Hill woman understands and appreciates that classic values and sustainable style will guide her through life. You have to believe in yourself. It’s okay to have flair and live it up on occasion but you’re not seven and this isn’t dress-up in Mom’s closet. It’s real. Respect your personal style and style compass; be true, live sustainably; wear pink polish.
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November 12, 2012 No Comments
It’s Halloween and the Apricot Hill team is busy working on features for our holiday and end-of-year editions. As many of you know, My Apricot Hill’s digital lifestyle magazine editorial content is rooted in our experiences. Virtually all of our original content has a personal connection to a team member or is rooted in an experience some or all of us have had.
In review of my editorial assignments in the days ahead, one assignment resonates deeply with me. It’s a Stewardship piece about “doing the right thing because we can, every day” and it’s personal. Years ago when my son was two I introduced him to a holiday tradition that I grew up with. Essentially, before he was permitted to write (or in the case of a pre-school tot, dictate) a Letter to Santa, he had to go through his playroom, his toy chest and his clothes to assemble a trunk-full of toys for needy children or people in need. And since Mama drives an SUV, he’s had to work hard.
For fifteen holiday seasons like clockwork the weekend right after Halloween, we do just that. Now the toys are smaller and the clothes are bigger. But the enduring value of the tradition is unwavering. We will work this weekend to gather together a trunk-full of toys, games and clothes for, in our case, Our Ladies of Mercy.
One other holiday tradition that we celebrate as a family is the opportunity to participate in the Angel Tree at our club. We each pick an ornament off the tree and set out to gather together a thoughtful assortment of gifts for the intended boy or girl recipient. It’s a tradition that delivers deep personal reward.
Today, on Halloween, our hearts are heavy given Mother Nature’s recent wrath bringing no treats only tricks to our friends to our north. In talking with friends in the northeast it’s more warzone than wonderland. Although we live in a region prone to tropical storms and cyclones, seeing the destruction a storm’s wake delivers is always a gut-wrenching wake-up call and admission of our collective vulnerabilities. You just never get used to it.
So, this weekend, in addition to gathering together a trunk-full of toys, games and clothes for our local ministry, we will also gather together blankets, coats and necessities for the many people devastated by Sandy’s path. So many good-willed people and organizations have set up collection points to assist our northern friends. Cash donations, pet food, clothes and gift cards – anything can make a difference.
I have asked our My Apricot Hill team to post on our Facebook page a list of organizations across the United States coordinating aid to our friends in the northeast. Please visit our Facebook page, lend a hand and please inspire us by sharing your efforts in doing the right thing every day, because you can. NAS
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October 31, 2012 No Comments
The last six months have been tremendous, a rush of excitement and challenges as we are about to publish the sixth edition of our digital lifestyle magazine – myapricothill.com. Apricot Hill is the place where an inspired lifestyle meets a well-managed life; a place where laughter and life trump schedules and spreadsheets. A place based on six lifestyle tenets — Style, Traditions, Entertaining, Destinations, Vitality and Sustainability – where each tenet is a resource, a tool to define your lifestyle.
There’s a lot of excitement today as we count down to Apricot Hill’s FREE Card Exchange going live. Card Exchange is a digital power tool! Everyone is welcome to build a virtual library of Apricot Hill Experience Cards. Cards feature original content from our magazine, content from brand sponsors or topic-specific feature cards. Initially we are offering a beta preview with a limited number of cards. Please take a few minutes to peruse Card Exchange and begin building your own FREE Card Exchange Library.
So what is Card Exchange? Understanding that our busy lives benefit from short, concise, and yes, complete, information delivery, we set out to deliver just that. The design inspiration for Card Exchange is derived from, simply stated, recipe cards. Simple and to- the-point, they give us all we need to complete the task at hand. Short, concise cards; easy to view, store and share all with rich content on a limitless spectrum of lifestyle topics and resources.
What will Card Exchange do? Simple and refined, Card Exchange will expand your scope of interests and fine tune your focus. All in one place and more than just pretty pictures, Card Exchange is the complete picture. It’s all we need to be inspired and make ideas come to life. No more bookmarks, no more jumping around.
Card Exchange invites you to search an ever-growing library populated with Apricot Hill experiences as well as those of our favorite brands and business partners. Browse the latest uploads, view what’s trending and use keyword search tools. Check it out and tell us what you think.
Tablet, how we LOVE you. Designed to work great on tablets, the card format fits perfectly within the tablet’s horizontal screen composition so viewing and using cards is easy.
It’s FREE to everyone. So go ahead, build a personal library from a limitless resource of Digital Cards. As we grow, so does your library. It’s true, Card Exchange inspires us.
It’s almost 2013 and we can’t wait! We are just a short time, weeks really, from introducing a Membership Community embedded with online personal tools designed to capture, organize and share ideas, milestones and experiences.
What’s in it for you? A lot. Let’s face it, we all feel bombarded by schedules, we balance personal and professional demands all day, every day; we all want simplicity, control not organized chaos. Remember when the kitchen desk served as the hub, the mission control, of our home? The kitchen desk is where we managed our lives; still do to some extent. Photos, files, schedules, invitations and even recipe cards – all in one place — Apricot Hill is taking the KITCHEN DESK and moving it ONLINE.
Managing life is personal. Manage it and make it personal with Apricot Hill’s online tools enabling you to create your own personal cards. Go ahead — capture, organize and share your ideas, milestones and experiences. Then, share them by secure email or opt-in to share with your fellow members in a dynamic trading environment.
We are looking forward to the New Year. Join us.
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October 25, 2012 No Comments
“It is better to be respected than loved.”
Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey
Time for Strong Leadership
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered a passionate, powerful, on-point keynote speech at the Republican National Convention last night. I have long been a fan of his straight-forward, no-nonsense, determined leadership and policies.
His speech last night resonated with me. The theme, “it is better to be respected than loved” addressed the strength, conviction, character and fortitude required to lead our nation, address its challenges and fix the problems our country is facing. Sharing the wisdom of life’s lessons learned, imparted by his late “tough as nails” Sicilian mother who “didn’t suffer fools,” was a brilliant tactic. Clearly her conviction to her principles nurtured and raised a formidable son – a respected leader, a well-rounded and loving family man. Governor Christie continued quoting his mother, “Love without respect is always fleeting but respect could grow into lasting love.”
I am a person who stands for what she believes in and isn’t afraid to say so. I am respected for being a person who will get it done and deliver; make sense, solve problems and offer solutions; motivate, mentor and inspire while understanding and giving care when I am needed. I am respected for my classic values, sustainable style, cherished traditions and personal philanthropy. As a leader, having earned the respect and trust of people around me, I appreciate that admiration and love may, or may not, come later.
Subscribing to the principles of Servant Leadership, I whole-heartedly agree with Governor Christie. You can’t lead if you haven’t served. You have to influence by managing resources; affluence by promoting good citizenship and stewardship and confluence by building consensus and nurturing stakeholders. Our leaders have to do what is right for individuals and the greater electorate over the long-term rather than what is popular in the short-term.
Governor Christie said, “Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say ‘yes’ rather than to say ‘no’ when ‘no’ is what’s required. It’s time for tough choices.” I believe it’s time for leaders to challenge the status quo and our comfort zones, say “no” when “no” is required. At this point our leaders must produce and deliver; doing things others thought couldn’t be done. I believe it’s time for strong leadership and leaders to guide and lead our great nation. NAS
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August 29, 2012 No Comments
The PGA Championship concluded last Sunday. A great experience, a great tournament — so well organized and executed. Although, volunteering from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. wore thin by Sunday, it was spectacular walking The Ocean Course at daybreak each day. We saw the world’s best golfers practice and play just feet away from where we were sitting or standing. We had a wonderful time, made new friends and look forward to playing The Ocean Course Labor Day Weekend as part of the PGA Patriot Golf Day event. For the past five years, the PGA supports the Folds of Honor Foundation by donating proceeds from rounds played over Labor Day weekend at many participating courses.
Just as things around My Apricot Hill returned to normal, if that’s what we call it, everything went awry Tuesday evening as Annie’s best friend and co-worker Lucy decided to jump or fall from a moving car on the way home from work. For the record let me explain that little Lucy gets car sick and rides in the car with the window half down. Lucy was seen rolling across the road from Natalie’s rearview mirror before charging off into dense woods along our riverfront country roads; likely stunned and potentially injured.
The Apricot Hill team assembled at the point where she was seen bolting into the woods searching for our smallest, spry and perky officemate until dark. Again, at dawn and throughout the week we searched and searched driving on dirt roads, calling out to people we could tell our story to. We hung posters, delivered flyers, called shelters, visited fire stations and farmers’ markets, posted on craigslist and fidofinders.com. We offered rewards, connected with animal communicators and prayed that Lucy was alright. We explored 200 miles of backwoods, country and unimproved roads talking to anyone and everyone we could simply asking for help to find Lucy. Lucy became known as “the dog on the signs.”
We met strangers who became instant friends upon learning of Lucy’s plight and our shared adoration for pets in general. No matter your personal viewpoint on politics, the economy or favorite sports teams when a furry friend goes missing we are united. Bottom line, Lucy, the 18-pound Terrier mix, once-rescue dog went missing and we take care of our furry friends. Horton the Elephant would be proud and Brian Williams would tear up. I saw pure unselfish determination to save Lucy as it became clear that our collective Apricot Hill productivity was dwindling as energies were redirected toward a viable search and rescue operation.
Although hope never faded, reality poked at the distant sensible chasms in our minds. We may have, for a moment, given up the ghost as Friday evening rolled around. But dawn a new day, and the power of believing reign supreme. Little Lucy found her voice. She started barking only to be heard by a nice family living on a beautiful piece of property along Bohicket Creek about 500 yards from where she went missing and 50 feet from where we walked, searching, yelling her name for days. First, a couple of barks in the late night hours from an undetermined location, only to be followed by more hearty constant barks in the early morning leading to Lucy, tangled and stuck under brush and tree limbs, tick bitten and miraculously healthy.
On Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m., the nice family called Natalie, Lucy’s human, to advise they found her. We met Natalie at their home as we headed to our tee time only to witness a grand joyful reunion. Natalie whisked Lucy off to Riverbank Veterinary Clinic where Dr. Linea found road rash and lots of ticks advising that the only thing now lost was a pound on Lucy’s small frame. A good scrubbing and she’d be as good as new.
Annie was not herself all week. She didn’t want to play at the office and didn’t care about playing fetch at home. She was a mess. Saturday afternoon when we got home from our golf round Annie was spirited. She knew Lucy was okay. Good thing. Annie turns eight on Tuesday; can’t imagine celebrating her birthday without Lucy. With the kindness of strangers, and the love of Lucy, Apricot Hill is back together, productivity is high. It’s time to soar. Welcome home Lucy and Happy Birthday Annie! NAS
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August 20, 2012 No Comments
What ever happened to “Dress for Success”?
The whirlwind summer continues. Given all we’ve accomplished from college visits and volunteering at the PGA Championship and from Apricot Hill business commitments and travel to back-to-school preparation; it’s been rapid-paced excitement.
For those of you who regularly visit our lifestyle eMagazine, myApricotHill.com and read my Apricot Hill blog, you appreciate that My Apricot Hill is founded on respect for tradition, classic values, sustainable style and stewardship. My Apricot Hill’s six lifestyle tenets define lifestyle, and with our Membership Community and sharing platform, help you manage life.
I remarked earlier about our recent journey to visit colleges in Virginia and the wonderful experience we had. However, there’s a lingering bee in my bonnet that I believe is worthy of discussion or at least consideration.
For many young people today going to college after high school is expected. For many families like ours, it’s mandatory. College is a rite of passage, an anticipated next step on life’s path. For most young people and their parents, college is a daunting expense worthy of sacrifice and commitment. As a parent, college presents a chance for our children to build a life that is equal to or better than ours. I believe that being accepted by and going to college is a privilege.
My child has been raised to understand that college is indeed a mandatory next step in his life path and to appreciate that college is a privilege afforded to those who have earned the opportunity and respect the institution that provides the opportunity. From my perspective, college is not an entitlement granted to everyone; it must be earned, respected and appreciated.
I was fascinated to read this week, that in South Carolina alone, more than $1.1 billion in financial aid was offered to the Class of 2012. That’s incredible. Our young people have more than one billion dollars of opportunity to take the next step on life’s path, dream about what they want to be and plot out what they want to accomplish. I applaud states, colleges and private and public grantors for providing opportunity to young people across the United States.
So, how does this connect to the bee in the bonnet?
What part of respect, commitment, daunting expense, sacrifice and privilege are young people, and for many, their parents, missing? I was raised, as my child has been, that the way you present yourself shows respect for the people you interact with. I was stunned to see children and parents parading around college campuses for interviews and tours looking like they were running Saturday morning errands or heading to the gym. Reciprocally, I was stunned to see college admissions representatives looking equally as shabby in “daisy dukes” and tee shirts or cargo pants and sneakers while leading college tours. Immediately our college applicant knew that these schools were not for him.
I am uncertain as to which scenario is worse. The one where parents are prepared to stroke an annual $50,000 tuition check for their child’s college education and they all show up on campus in “looking for the hiking trail through the forest” attire. Or, the one where the high school senior and parents show up looking as if they are prepared to clean the garage or work out at the gym while expecting the institution to provide financial aid for some or all of the student’s tuition. A fine goal to set and achieve but with it comes an implied modicum of respect. Please understand you are the fortunate one is being considered and potentially granted the privilege of acceptance to the institution you are applying to and approved for financial aid.
Surely if a student expects financial aid then darn straight they should look their best, presenting themselves as worthy of the privilege to be accepted to attend and potentially represent the institution. If the student isn’t seeking financial aid then they need to show respect to their parents and the institution.
If there ever was a time to revisit My Apricot Hill’s lifestyle eMagazine and explore the value of a navy blazer, a protocol for wearing flip flops and buttoning buttons this is it. For a moment on these campuses I thought I was sitting waiting for a flight to depart on Concourse B in Atlanta watching people walk by who clearly don’t have mirrors at home. Remember the days when we dressed for air travel?
Show some respect; college is a privilege. What ever happened to “dress for success” nevertheless “dress to impress”? NAS
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August 13, 2012 No Comments
It’s been a busy few weeks as myApricotHill.com readies to launch a free preview of our ideas and experience sharing CARD EXCHANGE and private Membership Community.
Not too busy, however, to embark on a whirlwind, four-day, 1,200 mile tour of four colleges in Virginia with our high school senior.
Our first visit was to Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Virginia. Founded in 1775 and set among 1,300 acres, Hampden-Sydney is one of three remaining men’s colleges in the United States. Rich in tradition and history, Hampden-Sydney was, as expected, impressive; a place where young gentlemen thrive and where personal leadership and initiative are celebrated.
We continued on to Richmond visiting two schools and having the pleasure to rest overnight at The Jefferson Hotel. Then on to Williamsburg to visit the College of William and Mary, founded in 1693. it is the second oldest college in the United States. Steeped in history, tradition and academic excellence, William and Mary is a formidable institution that stands the test of time while balancing its growth and infrastructure rooted in historic Williamsburg, one of the most popular and well-managed tourist destinations in the country.
Our whirlwind tour was meaningful and important to our college applicant. He evaluated each school with discerning maturity coupled with what seemed to be immediate gut reaction. He talked to school representatives, asked questions and tried to picture himself at the school interacting with fellow students. Self-assured, confident and responsible, he has advised that he is done looking at schools and has set his sights on a goal. He’s come to his own conclusions, his own plan that will hopefully lead him to an amazing college experience. We are so proud and fully support his plan for this rite of passage.
From a parent’s perspective, this was an emotional journey through Virginia as it seems like just yesterday that we went through the stressful admission process for first grade. (Truth be told, applying for first grade seemed much harder and more stressful than the college admissions process does today.) But wait, hold on, stay calm and enjoy his senior year. We (I) have a year to prepare for college and what some friends, who have just dropped their kids at college for the first time, have called their own journey home, “the trail of tears.” But, that will have to wait. We are so excited about the year ahead! NAS
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August 7, 2012 No Comments