She’s back for Christmas again!

Hi, friends; I have a long post that’s been ready for a bit now, but still doesn’t have any photos added to it. Soon, I hope. In the meantime, those of you who’ve followed Eclectic Home and Life in the past will be excited to learn that Selma is once again posting in December! So here you go . . . I expect the first post will be on Tuesday, but this is her lead-up to that:

https://eclectichomelife.blogspot.com/

Enjoy! I’ll see you over there . . .

Catching up a bit . . .

Well, after more than a year, I’m back! Much has happened during that time. I stayed with my cousins until early January 2020, then returned to Edmonton, AB, to stay with my youngest sister. The original plan was to get my last things from the container on my friends’ property and bring it all back to BC to live with the rest of my things (still in storage).

But then came the COVID-19 . . . unlike for many of you, life didn’t change much for me. I began going out only once a month, to shop for basic supplies, wearing a mask, of course. I was lucky that one of the ladies in my crochet group began making them, so I obtained some for me and some for my cousins and a friend of theirs. I never thought I’d see the day, but to me it’s worth it, just a small thing I can do to help others stay safe.

I began a blanket while at my sister’s; unusually for me, it’s black, grey and white. You may remember how much I love colour, but that’s what was available when I was shopping. I only went to the one store, so there weren’t many options. I completed the main body of the blanket, then bought more yarn so I would be sure to have enough to make a wide border. This time, there was a lovely red on offer, so it went home with me! I added a narrow stripe of red on both ends and then began on the border. I’ve not finished that yet, but soon . . . it’s just been too hot here (I returned to BC to my cousins’ in early July) – up to 98.6 F / 37 C on a couple of occasions.

More on the blanket in a bit . . .

When I returned to BC, I drove back with a friend from the crochet group and so was able to bring a few things with me. The rest went into a storage box at the U-Haul in Edmonton for now. And my friends who have been storing my things all this time have offered to store them for a while longer.

I stayed with my friend who brought me back for almost three weeks, just to be on the safe side, and continued wearing a mask when shopping and not doing much of that, either. When living in a ‘tinny home’ as it’s been called, one doesn’t need much; mainly food . . .

I’m living in the motorhome now, since 30 July (MH for now; still haven’t decided on a name for her), which is basically a tin can on wheels, so quite warm, let’s say, at present. And soon to be quite cold, too. The electrical system here won’t support heating on the scale I would need (the breakers blow), so I will be making other plans for the winter. There’s a good chance I’ll be house and pet sitting for at least a couple of months then, possibly more. The same place where I was self-isolating, so the animals know me and it’s truly a lovely home, with a fantastic view of the Enderby Cliffs.

Back to yarny things . . .

I ended up having enough yarn to make a second blanket, which I ought to be working on today. Well, actually, I should be finishing up that border on blanket number one, right?

The blanket uses three of the stitches I love from “Attic24”; Dahlia, Hydrangea and Sweet Pea. The arrangement is all mine.

I began this a couple of weeks ago, then the laptop began acting up after another ‘update’ . . . So, back again, this time typing one-fingered on a tablet. <sigh>

Tomorrow I’ll see if I can add some photos; then I can post this.

Hope you are all doing ok out there and maybe getting stuck into some hobby or other.

Since writing the above, I have almost finished a scarf for the coming winter. I used one skein for each half; last step is to join them with Kitchener Stitch. Once I find my yarn needles . . .

Here’s a photo of the halves:

I’m not fond of artificial fibres, due to their impact on our waterways and the oceans. I really have to get myself a Guppy Friend laundry bag.

The scarf is a simple design (my own) and is over 15″ wide. It will look nice with the new winter jacket and snowpants, both black. The yarn is Lion Brand ‘Scarfie’ and super-soft and snuggly. It’s 20% wool, which I love. I have a third skein and will make a matching touque and possibly a pair of mitts, too.

You know, I like the yarn so much, I’m thinking of making myself a cardi. That would be in the dark green / black mix, though.

Deja vu, all over again . . .

Note: I’ve been writing a post (Aug 2020), but just saw this draft that never got posted.

Well, my friends, if any of you are still dropping by to see what’s up at my end, I’ve been meaning to come and catch you up, but so much has been happening for me. And sometimes I’ve just been sloshing around in the doldrums, too . . .

My last post was about the motorhome I bought. I still haven’t lived in it and it’s parked at my cousins’ place for now. We put six new tires on, as some of the old ones were down to the cords (the inner ones that were hard to inspect unless you crawled under, which my cousin kindly did for me) and they were all quite tread-worn. Other work was done, too, some by professionals, some by my cousin. But then we had a series of tragedies. Not for me personally, but they affected me nonetheless. Counting a younger than me uncle, who died in January last year, we had six deaths in our family in less than a year. The first in the summer was the youngest daughter of one of my brothers, who died at the end of July. Then, about a month later, there was my cousin’s wife’s (I’ll call her S) oldest son, lost at sea for two weeks after a short after-work kayaking paddle. His body was found, fortunately, but much further up the coast. A month to the day later, S’s brother lost one of his daughters. She had a sudden heart attack at home.

So, as you might expect, even though I wasn’t close to any of these young people (all in their 40s), my life was still impacted. I felt lucky to be living at my cousins’ place. It meant I could take care of the house, garden and cat while they drove to the coast to await the search results and again later for the memorials. He lived on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, BC, so taking a ferry is necessary and adds to the time to get there.

I won’t say more about all this; it’s not really my story to share. But, in the end, I felt the cousins could use some time to themselves to adapt to the new ‘normal. Not that they would have asked for it, or indicate in any way that they wanted space, but I did feel it was necessary.

I do have a few photos, but can’t figure out how to add them from the tablet, so they will have to wait.

I did go on that cruise in October, returning in mid-November. More about that another time, as I don’t have the photos on the laptop yet. It was good, though, and I can highly recommend Viking in every way, especially when it comes to the food! While on that trip, my sister told me that I could come stay with them at any time and that her husband had told her to tell me that. So I accepted. She’s the one who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where I spent over 17 years with my parents and then my Mum and one of her older sisters. I hadn’t planned ever to live there again, but life happens . . .

At the cousins’, we kept Thanksgiving very low-key, just having the traditional meal. And Christmas, too, was low-key. We weren’t sure about gifts, so I had decided to leave mine in my room for them for after I left in early January. In the end they decided to put up their small tree and do gifts, so it all went somewhat as usual.

I crocheted two blankets for them back in the late spring, while I was going to my crochet group every Tuesday. So they got those and a few small items as well. And I got chocolates! and a gift certificate to Fabricland (also !!!).

Even before New Year’s Eve, I got busy packing and moving items into the motorhome to free up the bedroom that I’d been using so they could store things from the addition in there while they replaced the flooring with laminate, which they already had on hand. So the motorhome has plenty in it, but I still haven’t spent a night in it. Winter was way too cold, anyway, and we had a LOT of snow, starting early. I would have spent a fortune on propane and because the tanks are built in, would have had to drive to Salmon Arm to refill them as needed. So . . .

On 09 January the cousins drove me to Kelowna and I flew to Edmonton, arriving at midnight. I hadn’t told my sister when I’d arrive, knowing she’d have lost sleep just to pick me up. So I planned to sleep at the airport and that worked out pretty well. In the morning I caught the Airporter bus to downtown Edmonton somewhere and my lovely BIL came with his truck and picked me up.

The day before I left, however, somehow I pulled a muscle in my left thigh and so suddenly was quite inconvenienced and walking like a very old person. Not my favourite thing, I assure you! This was worse after I slept on the benches in one of the waiting areas.

The day I arrived at my sister’s place, the temperature dropped to almost -40 C (oddly enough, that’s about -40 F as well). So my sister took me to walmart and I found a good winter jacket and snow pants (first snow pants I’ve owned since my early teens) as well as three sets of black long johns and some larger T-shirts to wear over the long john shirts. Since then I’ve been quite comfy, thank you! The basement is cool enough that I wear my new jacket when at the laptop for long periods of time and that works well, too. It has a large hood trimmed with faux fur, so I look a bit like an Inuit person (I think so, anyway). They offered to turn up the heat, but this is a three storey house and almost all is open-plan so the heat would just run upstairs anyway. I do have a wee portable heater which is on the floor at nights and blows warm air under the bed. It all works well. I’m so fortunate I come from hardy ancestors on both sides of my heritage and have had plenty of practical survival experience all through my life.

On the positive side, since some of the trouble with my leg and joints is undoubtedly due to my increasingly sedentary life over the past few years, I have begun an exercise program (and kept to it!) and set a daily walking goal. I had a few false starts, but now I’m being rather rigorous about it and it’s already paying off. So I’m walking better and sleeping better and rarely need a pain pill anymore. It’s been many years since I even took a single pill, so it’s good to get back to normal.

I’ve got a space in the basement here, with a futon couch (been sleeping on those since 2011, so no big deal) and a large tv that’s set up for netflix. A real boon on those nights when I wake and can’t get back to sleep.

Best of all, I have a small table for the laptop and techie stuff, plus some of my daybooks. And at one end of that I’ve set up a folding table with plastic sheeting over it, so that’s where some of the creativity will occur. I have been accumulating supplies, as most of those I already have are in the storage in BC. And I discovered ‘gelli plates’, which most of you are likely familiar with. I took a couple of printmaking courses when I was in my 40s and its been a great love of mine ever since. Finding / making a suitable space in which to work has been the challenge. But now I have one! I confess to spending three hours in a dollarama store here a couple of weeks ago and coming home with paints, wooden things on which to paint, glitter glue and more. That same day I made my way to a nearby walmart and spent two hours there. I found some great deals on pyjama bottoms, T-shirts and other things I needed, plus the paints that dollarama was out of. At home I ordered some textile medium (but forgot to include acrylic extender) and the supplies for making the ‘gelli plates’. Once it came, I set everything up in the kitchen to create the plates, only to discover that we were practically out of white sugar. So I have had to wait until a grocery run was made and the sugar purchased. That happened this week. Now for an afternoon of uninterrupted time in the kitchen . . .

Did I mention that above my worktable I have hung two calendars? One was sent to me by a sweet fellow Riggie in Germany and features Runrig photos on every page. The other was a gift from a new friend in my Enderby crochet group. It’s called ‘Secret Garden’ and the photos of some lovely Europaean gardens brighten every day for me.

I’ll keep you posted on the ‘gelli plates’ and my success (or otherwise) with using them. I’m quite excited about getting back to monoprints . . .

Also on the creative front, I have finished my gold ‘boot socks’ that I made too-large on purpose and am part-way up the feet of another pair, same yarn, that will fit and which I can wear inside the first set. Once in the motorhome, I plan to stay very toasty warm and cosy!

By lovely BIL here has a friend, W. They each bought a pair of heavy-duty boot socks years ago from a lady in Saskatchewan. W’s socks, however, have developed large holes in the soles and the heels. I was able to source some unspun wool yarn from a local (Alberta, anyway) woolen mill and have been using that to mend the holes. It’s been a bit slow, as my knuckles keep cracking from the cold in spite of regular applications of lotion. The yarn is interesting in that it’s made up of five individual strands that are then wound into a large cake-shaped skein. I bought two skeins so that I could knit myself a pair of boot socks, too.

Nothing exciting on the food front to report, but I have been watching an interesting series on netflix called ‘Ugly Delicious’. The host is a well-known restaurateur from New York and I’m loving all the information he shares about foods from many cultures. Often they travel to other countries to learn about the foods first-hand. If bad language bothers you, you may not like it. I could do without it, but the rest of the show is entertaining enough to keep me interested.

Almost forgot . . . I have what I need to make a couple of journal covers, too. And a cushion cover. I’m planning to explore ideas that might eventually lead to a small income stream . . .

Day 3: Advent Sunday #1 (a simple ornament to make, too)

Today (03 December) is the first Sunday of Advent.

My family had no traditions based on church-going; my Dad was raised Mennonite (born in Russia, emigrating at age 1) and my Mum was raised, like most Norwegians, in the Lutheran church. But together they did not belong to any church, although they let us know early that we could choose any religion we wished and they wouldn’t mind, so long, said my Dad, as we didn’t try to convert them. Fair enough.

Anyway, the upshot is that I personally love the old traditions and yet have rarely practised them at home. So for now I enjoy reading about the traditions others follow and gathering ideas for the day when I am settled again.

As to Advent:

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The Advent candles stand for Hope, Joy, Love, Peace and Light.

I have been doing some reading on the traditions of Mennonites and Lutherans. Traditions and beliefs may differ, but I think we can find ways to bring Light and Love, Peace, Hope and Joy into these darkest days of winter (well, here in the northern hemisphere, they are, anyway) and also into these dark days in the world in general.

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Mennonites were among the world’s first peaceniks, from the 1500s to present times.

To add to the Peace in the world, I begin with myself, as I often find it easy to move from calmness to agitation, from positivity to negativity. I am finding ways to remind myself of my ultimate goal, which means abandoning any negative path I may step onto and returning to a positive path. Rhonda Byrne, who wrote The Secret and other books, says we don’t need to be positive 100% of the time; 51% will begin to tip the balance. So when I catch myself thinking negative thoughts (many times a day, still), I remind myself “51%” and that usually does the trick.

When dealing with a person who is unrelentingly negative much of the time, I find it helpful to remember that this is often a way of protecting oneself from hurt and disappointment. Then I do my best to accept them as they are and not get drawn into the negativity. It is quite a balancing act at times!

Symbols:

I don’t know about you, but I find symbols rich with meaning. They evoke days long past, not only in my own life, but through my family’s and the world’s long history.

Symbols that are meaningful to me include candles, greenery, shapes such as hearts and stars, angels and red berries. Colours, too, can  bring us feelings of Peace and Joy. Above are some examples of Scandinavian Wheat Weaving, a skill I hope to master one day. I’ve done a little some years ago and really enjoyed it. I like the circle with the greenery, too; If I were making this I’d use a small glass jar to hold a candle and wire that to the circle. If you try this, do be careful that the candle doesn’t touch the sides of the jar. I prefer not to leave candles unattended in a room, even if I’m only going out for a few minutes.

Something I did for a few years before I moved to Edmonton was to make a sort of ‘curtain’ across he large front window of the places where I was living. I had collected some shiny red mini-apples because I love their colour. I had previously placed them in an old wooden bowl I have, but one year I had an inspiration:  I tied a long piece of red yarn to each one and suspended them from the curtain rod. I hung them at different heights the first year; I just varied the heights for interest, after that I hung them so that they formed an arch. It was very simple and quite pretty.

My Auntie in Princeton used to make crocheted snowflakes (that look like very fancy stars) from cotton thread (sizes 10 – 30). ONce made, they are starched and pinned flat to dry. I have a couple of books with patterns and plan to carry on her tradition. She would make one of each pattern in her book, then give away sets. Before I begin giving them away, though, I plan to make enough for myself so that I can hang them in a front window. The apples may be hung somewhere else! [unless the snowflakes find their home on my tree 🙂 ]

I have also formed candle holders from crumpled tinfoil, setting a small red votive candle in the middle of each and lining them up on top of a short bookcase with greenery from the bottom branches of the Christmas tree tucked around them. The silver foil reflected the light of the candles and looked nicer than one might expect. And, for me, candlelight is always symbolic of Inner Light.

Make a Simple Cinnamon Ornament:

This is a great activity to do with children of any age and ability!

Simple and not too expensive ornaments to make are Cinnamon Hearts. I buy a large bag or more (you will need at least 2 cups) of ground cinnamon at an Asian market, where it is much cheaper. Dollar stores are a good source, too, sometimes. You will need a can or two of inexpensive unsweetened applesauce, too (again, at least two cups worth). Put two cups of applesauce in a bowl and add two cups of ground cinnamon to make a medium soft dough. Add more applesauce if the dough is too dry and more cinnamon if it is too wet. It should be similar to cookie dough. For variety, you can divide the dough and add other spices to each portion: ginger, cloves, allspice, mace, etc. I would use a tablespoonful first and then adjust according to how it smells to me. This spicier dough would be perfect for gingerbread boys and girls.

Christmas cinnamon dough 01

You can mould this into shapes if you like, but keep them fairly thin (about 1/4 inch) so that they will dry properly. I find it simplest to roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick, dusting a little extra cinnamon on the counter and on the rolling pin so nothing sticks. Then use small cookie cutters to cut out your favourite shapes; hearts, stars, etc. Gather the scraps together, knead them briefly, then roll out again and cut more ornaments. Repeat until it’s all used up! Then use a toothpick or a drinking straw to create holes that can be used to hang the ornaments later. Depending on the size of your cutters, you should get at least two dozen ornaments.

If you have time, you can place them on baking sheets or anything that will hold them safely and allow them to dry at room temperature. This works best in a fairly dry atmosphere. Or do what I do and line a cookie sheet with baking parchment and set your shapes on it. They can be close, but it’s best not to let them touch each other. Put them in a very slow oven (either set it at a very low temperature or pre-heat, then turn the oven off) and leave the sheets in so the ornaments will dry out. If you use the latter method and the shapes are not dry enough when you check them, repeat the process.

Once dry, thread a piece of yarn or ribbon through the hole and hang them on your tree, add them to a wreath or place them in a bowl in your entryway. they are lovely added to a banner made by tying several lengths of raffia together (use enough strands to provide the necessary strength, then join the bunches with simple knots), then hanging ornaments from it. Faery lights are nice to use, too, if you have an outlet close by.

Christmas cinnamon dough hearts 01

Add one to the ribbon when you wrap a gift (turn them into gift tags by writing the recipient’s name and the year on each with a glitter pen or fabric paint. The puffy paint works well, but choose a colour that looks good with the red-brown of the ornaments) or they can be offered to guests to take home as they leave. But for that, have some tissue ready to wrap them and perhaps a bit of cardboard (pieces of old cereal box sides work well) for support.

You can also hang some from a chandelier if you have one, or bend a wire coat hanger into a circle and cut the hook off. Tie greenery all around it, add some ribbon or yarn bows and hang the cinnamon ornaments (I like stars for this) at intervals. This is a nice touch for an entry or a hallway.

These keep indefinitely if wrapped carefully for storage and handled with care.

[The images for this post are ones I found on the internet, as I don’t have any of my own here.]

Well, that’s it for today, my friends. It’s nearly midnight but it IS still the 3rd! See you tomorrow! I wish you all Inner Peace through the coming days.

I have posted a link to this song before, but I think it fits my thoughts today and is worth remembering:

Let There be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin With Me.

 

 

Summer 2017 — 2/3 done and counting . . .

. . . well, it was 2/3 done when I began writing this post (sigh) and now the end is in sight. Some days, I have to tell you, I like to say that phrase differently: “The End is Insight”.

This will be a long post, I think, so do find yourself a cuppa, or even a bucket, of tea or whatever boosts your spirits, and settle in for a lengthy set of glimpses into my summer this year (so far). It’s great to have you here for a visit again; just like old times, isn’t it? I’ve missed posting (but you are about to see some of the reasons why) and I’m hoping that once the white stuff arrives I will be more settled and have time for regular posting. I’m already working on some posts looking ahead to Christmas. Only 100 days to go, you know, which will matter if you plan to make things . . .

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Two of the items I brought from my older storage units. The old scale lost its surface but works better than any new scale I’ve ever used. The bookcase will be holding crafty supplies now that we are nearing the end of summer.

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A few of my herbs. In the round pot are rosemarie, lavender and two basil plants, as well as heliotrope (because I love the scent and that it dates to Victorian times), a marigold and the two original iris plants.

Above are only a few of the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken of the Echinacea plants. My cousin S was given two by one of her co-workers and they spent last winter buried in the ground, but still in their pots. So I transplanted them to a new bed that my cousin M helped create. To their left are two zucchini plants and to the right, five more zukes. I bought the seeds and planted them later, so I’ve only had three fruit to eat so far, although there are at least two more waiting to be picked. I mistakenly assumed these were plants that would run and had planned to train them up the side of the shed wall. However, they don;t run and therefore are likely way too crowded. But they shaded the Echinacea, so all has not been lost.

Thee have been flowers galore:

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Healthy food likewise:

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There has been baking:

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. . . and putting by of foods (to use one of the old, beloved, terms):

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Did I mention the gardening and the fruit trees? We had two long beds, one smaller square bed and assorted containers including two hard rubber bowls that were originally meant to hold grain for horses. There are three apple trees and a plum tree, as well as a cherry (the cherry will appear in the next post) Here’s a few of the gardening photos:

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We have gone from the threat of flood (I posted about that a couple of posts back) to the even more real threat of fire and instead of bringing things from the storage to go through, I found myself taking my most precious things from here and putting them into the storage . . . We’re probably done with that now, but have had only one day of rain (and that was off and on), so I’m still living out of my suitcase, kept ready in case we suddenly need to leave. Some people had only twenty minutes warning; some had less.

The summer has included entertainment provided by Spooky the cat, visits to two fall fairs, a week-long visit to my one remaining Auntie, who is now 92, and a fair bit of crafting. But it’s getting late, so I will leave all that for the next time.

Thanks so much for dropping by, in spite of my long absences and irregular posting. I appreciate your visits so much! Until next time, then . . . Love and Light to each of you. You have all been in my thoughts and prayers, along with your families and friends. I know there have been huge challenges around the globe this past year.

Thankful on Thursday: Three Things

First of all, and this is not part of my ‘Three Things’, I’m thankful for this idea, which I found on The Snail of Happiness’ post. Feel free to start your own list or lists.

I quote Ms. snail here (in case you would like to leave a note with either or both of the ladies who began, and are carrying on, this lovely idea):  You may wish to let Ms. Snail know you are spreading the word as well.

“Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.”

Three things that I am thankful for today are:

A) A place to lie that is low-key, with little pressure and a lot of acceptance of me as I am. That’s not always easy to find.

B) More than enough to eat and nearly all of it healthy 🙂  As much as possible of it is grown here, much is purchased from local growers (sadly, we have just come to the end of the local asparagus season; no more until next year, as we prefer to eat seasonally.  The treats tend to be home-made, often baked by cousin S. She is a very good baker and those treats are tempting, I can tell you! This week it’s been rum and raisin chocolate muffins, with the raisins soaked for half an hour in a cup of rum before she began. The alcohol is baked out, but the scent and flavour remain . . . We have one a day, along with a cup of hot herb tea. Very nice, indeed.

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C) beauty, in such a variety of forms that I had a hard time selecting a ‘few’ representative images. As you can see I love nature and weather, and especially old things, with their peeling paint, their rust, all the details that tell me they hold a multitude of stories. I shall never know those stories, but I do love knowing they exist. To me, new things are, for the most part, soul-less and uninteresting. There are a few exceptions, of course.. 🙂

That’s it for today, my friends. In the face of daily challenges, personal or global, I think it’s good to practise gratitude for what we do have, large and small.

And a favourite classical piece to lift your spirits:

Let’s each be that wee girl, taking one small action and starting a flashmob of joy! Have a great weekend, all of you. See you again soon.  Love and Light  ~ Linne

Back soon . . .

. . . “God willing and the creek don’t rise” as we used to say. And the creek IS rising; many creeks, all over the central province.

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This is normally a small creek . . .

Roads are closed all over the place due to landslides and flooding. Heading to downtown Salmon Arm earlier today, we passed nearly two miles of parked ‘big rigs’, in some cases double parked, too. We ourselves had to change routes a couple of times on our way to SA and later on the way back from Vernon, where we’d had lunch and done a bit of shopping.

I’m doing better; nearly rested up from the long trip back from Tacoma.

Lots to write about and responses to your kind comments to catch up with.

Wait ’til you see what my friend and I were doing when we finally made it to creating . . .next post, I promise, but here’s a preview:

IMG_7803[1].Guess what these are? I’ll share soon. Anticipation 101, remember?

A new day is dawning . . .

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Take care, my friends. I wish you lovely days filled with creativity, laughter and all that good stuff . . . and maybe some chocolate!