30 November 2015

Maggie, version 2

We had a great weekend with a nice balance between work and relaxation. Jamie was here yesterday and he enjoyed helping us clean out kitchen cupboards by climbing in and bringing out the things at the back. Then it was just some shelf cleaning, deciding what would go back and getting rid of the excess. It feels so good to do that. I still have the plastic containers cupboard and the tea towel drawer to organise and will probably get to them this week some time.

I finished Maggie rabbit and I'm happy with it now. I knitted a cross-over apron in 8ply cotton for her. The top and bottom are seed stitch and the rest is stocking stitch. I did a new shawl too because I wasn't happy with the colour combinations of the purple and orange. Ecoyarns organic cotton in the Mercy colour looks better. I bought Alicia's pattern for a cute little knitted pinafore but didn't have the right needles so I made up the cross-over apron and I think it suits her very well. A couple of ladies told me about magic loop knitting, so I could use the needles I had to knit in the round, but I decided to go with what I know now and add magic loop knitting to my Christmas tasks. I'm happy with how Maggie turned out and I'll probably make another one next year for Tricia's grand-daughter, Alana.

I ordered a few things from the Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores last week. Enamel mugs for trips out in the car, two Robert Gordon Australian kitchen jugs, an enamel sugar bowl with lid and a fly swatter. I often use jugs in the kitchen and these two cornflower beauties will serve me well for many a long year. I have them sitting on the dresser at the moment so I can keep looking at them. :- )

Today I'll be baking bread in my new loaf tin. It's has perforated holes all over the sides and bottom to produce a crusty loaf. I'll let you know how that goes.  I haven't been making nearly as much bread as I did before since we switched our main meal to lunchtime. But I have to get back to a routine with my bread because often we end up with none in the house.

The year is beginning to sprint to a close and I'm quite busy with various things at the moment. I'm not sure how often I can come back to write here in the next couple of weeks. I'll just have to see how it all goes and assure you that I'll be here when I can be. I hope you have a good week.


28 November 2015

Weekend reading

Well, I forgot it was Friday, again. I haven't had much time for reading this week but here are my offerings to you. Better late than never. Enjoy your weekend and take some time out to relax.

Another sunrise.

Time online, all the time?
It's Impossible Pie Week on the forum. All sorts of sweet and savoury impossible pies are being made and recipes shared.
Why you only need five things on your to-do list
Easy pillow case with crocheted edging

26 November 2015

How to grow blueberries

I forget when we bought our blueberry bushes, it must be at least eight years ago now. We planted them along the fence line that we then had in front of the garden to keep our Airedale girls away from the tomatoes (they picked their own) and the compost. The blueberries struggled in full sun for a few years and although we got the odd berry, I can't say they were a viable crop for us there.  When we took the fence down, I put the blueberry bushes into pots to wait until the following spring when I intended to replant them in another spot. Well, those bushes started growing in the pots and looked very healthy so I decided to replace the soil, add compost and mulch and see how they did in the pots full time.

If grandchildren or birds discover the berries they'll be picked as soon as they change colour but leaving them on the vine for as long as possible will improve the sweetness and taste.

In that first year they gave us a couple of cups of blueberries, the following year there were more and this year the bushes are full of berries. They're in full sun most of the day and partial shade after about 3pm. I keep them fertilised with comfrey, a sprinkling of potash in spring and they're watered with rain water about three times a week. Good water is critical for blueberries. They thrive on rainwater and don't do so well on tap water containing minerals. They don't like any manures but they love acidic soil - so if you're growing camellias, you're in the right area for blueberries. I give them the cold leftovers and grounds of the coffee pot occasionally to boost the acidity in the pots a bit.

Keep the berries close together to aid in pollination. There are two blueberry seedlings on the side as well as one avocado I'm growing from seed. Propagation by cutting is quite easy and a good way to increase your stock of blueberries quickly.

As I was watering the garden yesterday morning, I noticed that two of the bushes are now as tall as me. They can be pruned which you would do after they finish fruiting. I prune ours like I prune my roses - vase shape, open in the middle, prune out any branches that cross over each other and any branches that touch. You can cut back any shoots that grow too tall. Once they get to the stage where you're pruning, they take off and grow into strong bushes.

Blueberries come in many different varieties and can be grown in cold and warm climates. We have Biloxi and Sunshine Blue. Of those two, here, Biloxi is the better. Both Biloxi and Sunshine Blue can set fruit without pollination from another plant but fruit is increased if you provide a means of cross pollination. Check varieties and pollination requirements here at Daley's site. It's easy to propagate blueberries. I took six inch cuttings at the end of winter and they started growing new leaves in spring. Doing this you can develop a nice stand of blueberries, just make sure you have the right varieties for your climate and types that pollinate each other. If you're growing them in the ground, they must have good drainage. They like to be wetter rather than drier, especially in summer, and here, watering three times a week with rainwater seems to keep them happy. Otherwise their a hardy plant, easy to grow, despite what you may have heard, and definitely worthwhile addition to the back garden.


25 November 2015

My tribe - near and far

You probably remember that I don't go out much. I am naturally a bit of a hermit so it's never bothered me that I stay in more than I go out.  Now when I do go out, I feel out of place. There is nothing familiar out there and the only place I feel at home, is, well, at home. But this week I will be out in my community again with a few talks at my local libraries. I actually enjoy these outings because after wandering about feeling like a fish out of water, I find my tribe waiting at the library. We talk, share, compare and laugh a bit, and I go home again feeling that, maybe, my little bit of the world is not so unfamiliar after all. There are still a few vacant places so if you want to come along, book on the Sunshine Coast Libraries website and I'll see you there.

I found a new friend today, someone I could easily live next door to. Unbeknownst to her, I crept into her kitchen, her home, her farm and looked around without anyone knowing I was there. Of course I wasn't there in person, I found her blog after she posted a comment here and followed the breadcrumb trail back to hers. I love finding blogs that feel very familiar to me. I realise all over again that I'm not such a funny fish out of place in the general scheme of things and that there are many others out there doing what I'm doing, finding joy in the small things and living true. 

Sally and Brian live on Jembella Farm in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, one of our great wine regions. They run their farm along biodynamic principles to produce organic food for their own table and for sale. They have cows, alpacas, bees, sheep, chickens and geese and live in what looks like a beautiful house, tucked into the valley away from the rat race. I'd love to have a cuppa with Sally on that shady verandah of hers. Go over, have a look and be prepared to be charmed by her and learn a little about how these small farms are run.

While I was there I noticed another familiar name - Farmer Liz, who lives closer to me here in Queensland. Liz runs her property with husband Peter using permaculture to produce organic food. She writes about her life on Eight Acres and has a lot of good information on her blog so she's worth a visit too. It makes me feel very hopeful for the future when I know that people like Liz and Peter are coming through as the younger generation. If anyone will save us from ourselves it will be people like them who do it. Check out Liz's info on dairy cows, cheese making, butchering, chickens and so much more.  I doubt I'll ever tire of looking at the faces of Jersey cows. 

I've added both Sally and Liz to my sidebar so if you forget to bookmark them you can find them again over there.

And finally today, my friends, I have the recipe for my new muesli, asked for by Jules. It's simple and you can use whatever dried fruit you have in the cupboard.
  • 3 cups of rolled oats - we're working our way through Quaker oats at the moment but we usually have the cheap Woolworths traditional rolled oats on hand.
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup flaked almonds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • dried fruit - as much or as little as you like. I used a small pack of dried peaches, two dried pineapple slices I had in the cupboard and a hand full of dried cranberries.
Mix it all together and that's it. Simple. I put the muesli in a bowl and pour milk on, then leave it in the fridge overnight. In the morning the oats are on their way to sprouting and the fruit is plump and soft. In summer you can just take the bowl out in the morning and start eating, in winter you can warm it up. I hope you enjoy making your own version of this. 


24 November 2015

Controlling your own life

Last Friday I linked to a forum post written by one of the members who is working on reducing her spending and doing the grocery shopping on, or under, budget. She wrote about  using a calculator to add the purchases as she shopped which helped her come in under budget. But the sentence that really struck a cord with me was this: "... it felt so good to be taking more control and knowing that it is helping me to reach my savings goals." I smiled when I read that, I've heard it so many times before, I feel it myself.

I get a lot of emails from people who've consciously moved away from the mainstream idea of living above their means to become more frugal and pay off debt. This usually involves writing up a budget and working hard to bring in all planned purchases under budget so that the debt reduction plan moves ahead every week. The common theme in these emails, and I felt this very strongly myself back when I changed my life, is the feeling of control you get from carrying out and repeating these humble actions.

When I decided I'd had enough and would change how I lived, I stopped listening to advertising and just concentrated on what I was doing instead. I thought that if I stopped buying 'stuff' I would be better for it. And that is what happened. Look at me now, I ended up here, living a life I could barely dream of back then. When you turn off the advertising and stop caring what your friends are buying you realise you don't need the latest dress, shoes or phone and at the supermarket you stop buying convenience. That results in less money spent and more debt paid off. When you keep repeating that and actively try to reduce your cost of living without sacrificing your quality of life you're well on your way to living the life you want for yourself.

And instead you do something like I'm doing today - cooking a piece of corned beef in the slow cooker to use as cold cuts because it's much cheaper than buying them already cooked, sliced and cold. This week I'm making good quality ice blocks for Jamie too. I have one of my sponsor Biome's stainless steel icy pole sets and I'll be filling them with yogurt and fresh fruit, and making an egg custard and freezing that instead of looking for expensive good quality ice blocks. It's not as quick and easy as buying cold cuts and ice blocks, it takes more time and effort but I'm not prepared to pay for someone else to do those things for me. I'd rather do it myself, know what's in our food and pay less. I don't get caught in that convenience trap anymore and I'm in control of my own life again.

Advertising and the habit of convenience tells you to sit back and everything will be taken care of for you. Everything is for sale as long as you work enough to pay for it. And that creates a cycle that starts with you wanting the best for yourself and your family, you work hard to buy the things you need and want, and tiredness creeps in, you buy more convenience to get you through and then you have to work more to pay for it. I know it's difficult finding the time and energy to become more productive at home when you're busy with paid work or small children. The trick to doing it is to choose the right things to start with. It's a slow process of picking what will make the most difference in your life, starting with that and adding more as you go along.

I'd encourage you to start with making your own laundry liquid , then use that to clean other things in your home so you can stop buying those cleaners and save that money. Homemade laundry liquid will cost you about three or four dollars for ten litres and even the commercial liquids in bulk packs will cost between $4 and $6 per litre. It works and doesn't take a lot of time to make - about 15 minutes for ten litres and that should see you through at least two months, depending on the size of your family. It might be a year's worth of laundry liquid if you live alone. Fifteen minutes every couple of months isn't much. Combine those savings with shopping at Aldi and cooking from scratch as often as you can and you're well on your way to significant savings and paying off debt. And when you do, you'll feel that elation that taking back control of your own life gives you. You never get that when you keep buying 'stuff', you just get to work longer.


20 November 2015

Weekend reading

I'm looking forward to the weekend. I have three busy weeks ahead when I'll be speaking at our libraries and sewing here in my work room. The weather is getter hotter now so there is less work in the garden but I still have those elkhorns to set up on the verandah. I'll take a photo to show you when I'm finished, it should look beautiful.

Thanks for your comments and visits during the week. It's always amazed me that I have such a readership and you're still here plodding along with me after all these years. Thank you. See you next week. ♥︎

We often see women's sewing blogs but here is one from Peter in New York. He's making some great men's clothes at Male Pattern Boldness including jeans, pyjamas and shirts.
This is for everyone who wants to make a natural door wreath this Christmas. Let's get rid of the plastic ones!
Thanks for the inspiration - 1st grocery shop under budget! This is a new thread on the forum so you'll have to join (it's free) if you're not already a member.
Five myths about the common cold
Mapping words aroundAustralia - do the survey
20 Fun and Creative Crafts with Plastic Soda BottlesI can't see myself ever using the Jedi knitting needles but there are some great ideas here for crafters.
How to make tomato passata - Italian family method
Garden party quilt
20 well-rounded and perfectly packed lunches

19 November 2015

A day in the life

This is my 2500th post.

I still get up early. It's a relic from the days when I was running my own writing business, editing the local newspaper and studying for a degree. My boys were in primary school then so if I woke early, I could get a lot of reading or writing done before they were up and the real work of the day began. So as is my habit, yesterday I woke early, got up, checked emails, comments and the forum and then started my day as a homemaker. After letting the chooks out and feeding them a large deformed cucumber from the garden, I looked at the blueberries and wondered if I should stake one of them, watered plants on the back verandah and lowered the sun screens in preparation for a warm day.

 I invented a new muesli for myself recently so I had a bowl of that for breakfast, sorted through knitting cottons and looked at my knitting basket for a while trying to decide what fabric I'll line it with. Tricia bought me this basket for my 60th birthday and it was lined with the original pink satin. She relined it, again in pink satin, but now that needs replacing. I want the new lining to be true to its 1940s era and when that's done I'll be very happy to have it back in service again.

After breakfast, the sun was hitting some plants on the front verandah so I watered them, sat on the couch and thought about moving a few plants around so they'll survive summer. But then the phone rang, I came inside and didn't give them another thought until now. There are many precious parts of growing old, like grandchildren and blissful days full of sewing and gardening, but I forget things now and I don't like that. It seems to be one of those things that comes with ageing for me so I'm not going to sook about it, and apart from this mention here, I'll just acknowledge the miserable fact and get on with it.

There is a fair bit of media interest in my library talks this year and yesterday, as I was talking to a journalist on the phone, Hanno brought me in a cuppa, and left the room silently, closing the door behind him. I doubt I could do what I do without Hanno. He has been at my side for more than half my life. I'm sure many of you feel the same way about your partners - they make so many things possible and often we just carry on like it's nothing. So let's raise our tea cups to our partners today and recognise them as the mainstays they are. I know it's not popular now to praise a husband, in fact often it seems the opposite happens, but I've never been one to run with any fashion, so my cup is full and raised high for Hanno. If your partner is a strong support for you, I salute them too. I hope you do too.

At some time during the morning, I cleaned the stove and made up a shopping list, I forget when they got done but at 11.30, I started making lunch. We had pork fillet and vegetables so it didn't take long to cook. After lunch, I talked with my Penguin publicist and another journalist and then went outside for a while to look at the elkhorn ferns in the bushhouse. I want to put them on the wall on the front verandah but when I took them out there, there were no screws on which to attach them. They're still sitting out there. I'll ask Hanno to put screws in the wall this morning and I'll hoist them up and see what they look like.

In the afternoon I did some washing, cleaned the bathroom and then a few bits and pieces on the computer. I'm trying to organise myself and my phone in preparation for the book launch and everything that will happen so quickly after that. If I put in a few hours of sorting out my address book and apps, it will make some things easier later on when we're far away from home. I get a bit anxious about going out and meeting so many new people but it's become part of what I do and as my mother would say, don't fuss Rhonda, just get on with it. That is my aim, but I don't aways succeed at doing it.

As usual, I ran out of energy in the afternoon and became quieter and less active as the hours passed. I had a piece of toast and iced water for dinner and did a bit of knitting in the evening before hitting the sack. It never takes me long to fall asleep and when I wake, there is is again, patiently waiting, another day in the life of an ordinary gal.


17 November 2015

The making of Maggie

She came into my life as a flat pack kit all the way from Alicia Paulson in Oregon. The kit was beautifully presented, with good quality materials, and it was a pleasure to work on.

She arrived in August - the makings of a little rabbit.

I didn't get around to sewing her until a rainy Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. Most of the time I spent hand sewing her, I listened to country music, my newest obsession.

Slowly she came together. The ears first, because that was my favourite fabric in the kit, and then her purple shawl.

She was impatient to have me sew her dress but other things took precedence and it took a while to get around to it.

When the dress was finished, she sat on my box of cottons waiting for her boots.

Then the boots took shape.
And I struggled for the first time with the project - doing up the laces on the boots. I had to undo it five times before I got it right.  When I left my desk to do something in the house, Jamie would bring in a little Lego animal that he'd just made and silently leave it next to whatever I was working on - this one was a cat.

And now she's finished.

I decided to knit her a little smock to go over her dress. The pattern, again from Alicia, advises circular needles and I don't have any that are such a small size. So I'm trying the pattern on flat needles. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. We'll see. Soon I'll wrap her so she can be given to a very special baby girl in my life. I hope she likes her as much as I do.


16 November 2015

How to develop self reliance

There used to be a time when there were no supermarkets - this was in my lifetime, few people owned a car or a phone, the only screens were at the cinema and most people knew how to cook and make general repairs and they lived their lives without much outside help. If a shoe sole was wearing out, the sole was tidied up, a leather patch was glued and tacked on, the patch was cut to suit the shape of the sole and it kept the shoes going another year. Everyone knew how to darn and mend clothes, backyard gardens and chickens were commonplace and haircuts were done at home. There were no convenience foods, few packaged products and every home had at least one person who could easily put up jam, relish, sauce and cordial, as well as store the surplus from the garden and make the daily bread and enough cake and biscuits for the family and visitors. Life was simple then.

Then it wasn't. That life started to quietly fade away in the 1960s and has been replaced by what we have now. First let me say that I love living during this time. I do not yearn for the 1920s, 40s or 60s. Life is easier now, but it's not nearly as simple and safe. We do have the luxury of choice though and many of us have chosen to modify the way we live to regain some of that lost simplicity and become more self reliant.  Those small adjustments make us more capable people and if we're going to survive during the difficult periods that no doubt will come along, we'll need some of the traditional home skills that we so quickly walked away from.

The ease we have now has been brought about by appliances that do a lot of our heavy house work in a very efficient manner, the abundance of good food, cheap shoes and clothing, a wide range of materials that were unknown earlier on and a better understanding of bacteria and viruses and how we should clean our homes. But all of it has to be paid for and often it means working longer to have the money to buy what you need and the convenience you desire.

So if you are going to buy into modern life, how do you develop self reliance? You develop the mindset, take responsibility for yourself and then carefully choose what you'll pay money for and what you can do yourself. Don't look at my life and think I'm the model for simple life. I've got time to do things during the day when you're probably at work, or working in your home looking after children.

If your time is limited, work out what changes will make the biggest difference in your life and go from there. If I were working for a living now, I'd take my lunch and a drink to work every day so I didn't have the added expense of buying something I could easily make myself. No matter how much time is available, most of us have to shop for food, so work out what your food budget is and change the way you shop to get the best value for money. Learn how to store food correctly so you don't waste any. Cook from scratch. That will save you money and keep you healthier because you won't be eating so many preservatives and food additives. If you have more time, do some batch cooking so you have a stock of your own frozen home cooking in the freezer and can feed yourself and the family without having to buy convenience or fast food on those nights when you're tired or running late.

Another thing we all have to do is clean, so find some reliable recipes for cleaners, soap and laundry products and depending on how much time you have, make as many of them as you can. This is a huge money saver and you'll have far fewer chemicals in your home as a result. Start with laundry powder or liquid because it's easy and quick to make and it will save you a packet. If you have more time, cut up old towels for cleaning rags, recycle a spray bottle, fill it with half water and half white vinegar and do some of your cleaning with that. If you have more time, make a citrus version of that. More time? Make your own homemade version of Gumption by mixing a cup of homemade laundry liquid with a cup of bicarb. Or learn how to make soap. If you have more time, do more.

It's the mindset that will see you through. If you convince yourself that being self reliant will make a real difference to your life, you'll eventually fall into the habit of looking for ways to make much of what you use instead of working longer so you can buy it at the supermarket. After a while, home production and being the person who makes that happen will become your new normal and you'll recycle, repair, cut back, save, mend, cook, preserve and make do because that is who you are.

It's a fine way to live - the choice about your level of self reliance is yours - but from my own experiences, the more I did, the more sense it made to keep going. Time is the the biggest barrier. The more you cut back and save, the less you'll have to work and that will give you time to increase what you do in your home. But what can you do right now? The important thing to do today is to make the commitment to develop the twin habits of self reliance and responsibility and then see where that takes you.


11 November 2015

How to store wool and cotton for knitting

I'm looking forward to receiving a parcel from Ecoyarns containing some of their beautiful 8ply hemp yarn. I also ordered two Malachite O-Wool Balance skeins and some of the new Clouds cotton range.  So I wanted to get my yarns in order. I usually knit in the lounge room and over the past six months or so I've had my vintage knitting basket on one side and a magazine holder on the other side of my chair, both full of wool, cotton, alpaca and various works in progress.  I knew I had to sort it all out and if I could do it before the parcel arrived, I'd be one happy woman. It doesn't take much to put a smile on my face.

These are mainly Eco-Organic Cottons that I've used for projects and have a little left over, or I've simply wound as balls from skeins.

Yesterday morning, after I had lunch in the oven, I started cleaning that corner of the room, sorting through my yarns, throwing out little bits of paper with instructions I'd written for certain projects, reminders of things I wanted to record on TV, the top of a nightie pattern I drew and some kimchi recipes from my friend Kathleen. The last two I kept. I discovered a lot of end pieces. I usually knit them into dishcloths but these had fallen to the bottom of their containers, so I put all the cotton together, packed away the wool in plastic boxes in my sewing room and sorted through half my knitting needles. I found a small jar in the cupboard and kept a darning needle (for threading in loose ends), embroidery scissors, stitch holders of different sizes, stitch markers and a needle gauge there in the jar.

These are my works in progress. 

Now I have to work out how to store my yarns. Many years ago, there was an outbreak of wool moths here that invaded my wool stash and I had to get rid of a fair bit of wool. After that I put all the wool in the freezer for a week to kill the moth eggs and larvae and then I bought some large Decor clear plastic boxes with lids. By sealing everything in those boxes, I've never had to waste any more wool. But maybe there's a better way. How do you store your wool?  How do you store all your yarns? Please share your ideas with me because I want to keep knitting for a long time and I want to make sure my storage system protects the yarns from moths and dust. I also want to be able to see what I have through the boxes so I don't have to rummage around to find what I need. Who knows, I may keep the system I've got but if there is some other way that's better, I'd like to know about it.

A friend sent me this book and I'm using it to learn a few new stitches. 

I've just started a forum thread about this topic in case you have any photos of your yarn storage you can share. Otherwise, just add a comment here and tell me, and everyone else, how to you sort your yarns.

9 November 2015

The fundamentals of simple life

Now that I'm not working at writing every day, my days have turned into splendid waves of sewing, waves of family, waves of cooking. It's wonderful to be absorbed with the fundamentals of simple life. There's not much thinking to be done, it's all repetition, routine and reaction. Tasks are carried out according to the way I did them last week and will do them next week. Cooking is a combined production of garden and kitchen, there's been some picking and pickling going on because it's that time of year. And through it all I try to react to whatever happens with grace and enthusiasm. I want everyone here to feel comfortable and content; I want to feel that way too.

We had our visiting German relatives here for abend brot on Thursday evening. Martina is the daughter of Hanno's late sister, Angelika. She's visiting with her husband Michael and their sons, Luca and Jonah. So Hanno made the trip to the German baker for brotchen (bread rolls) and rye bread, I roasted a chicken and then made chicken salad with pickled cucumbers, red onions, dill, parsley and mustard mayonnaise. At abend brot, the bread is placed on the table with platters of assorted cold cuts, some sort of mayonnaise salad and a variety of cheeses and everyone makes there own open sandwiches. When I lived in Germany this was the meal I enjoyed the most. It seemed to me, in 1979, to be liberated and humble and an easy way to feed good food to a family at a time in the day when everyone was tired and hungry.

On Saturday morning we took Jamie on a river cruise to look at the boats, wildlife and water in one of our local harbours.  We had a seafood lunch as part of the $33-each tour price ($8.50 for Jamie) and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There are very few tourist and entertainment events that we enjoy now. We just don't like all the hype, the crowd or the traffic.

During the week I preserved about 20 of our small Lebanese cucumbers. They'll do us through to Christmas now and I'll probably make up another batch this week. I have about 20 cucumbers in the fridge already and another 20 still on the vine. That is the thing about gardening, when harvest time comes, you need to be able to store an over abundance too so brush up on your pickling, preserving, dehydrating if you're growing common fruits and vegetables such as lemons, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers or beetroot.

I hope to finish off Maggie rabbit this week. I've blanket-stitched her body, attached the arms and legs and she looks like a rabbit now. Today I'll sew up her Liberty print dress, blanket stitch the boots and finish off her shawl. Then she'll be wrapped in tissue paper and wait quietly to be placed under a Christmas tree. She's been a labour of love that I've really enjoyed working on.

I hope you're starting to prepare for Christmas too. I don't want that last minute frenzy that used to occur in our home almost every year. I've outgrown that and now look forward to a period of quiet reflection, rest and family celebrations. It's so much better than Christmas Eve shopping, over spending and waste. But I know I'm preaching to the converted here. You're probably all doing much the same as I'm doing. I wonder if you are.

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