#MySundayPhoto – What Progress Looks Like

 

“For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it”  Ivan Panin

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I know, I know its just an ordinary old tap attached to a nondescript brick wall.

Nothing interesting here except that I’ve not had a tap on this wall or in any vicinity of my back yard now for over ten years.

So to me it looks like progress and feels an awful lot like luxury.

No more joining two hoses together and dragging them the full length of the front yard and up the side of the house and right around the back, no more running the gauntlet up and down the yard to turn the tap on and off, no more looking for hose connectors gone astray, no more sloshing water in and out of the house to fill the dog bowl and water the chooks.

In short sheer luxury.

I now have water at my finger tips two feet from the chooks and not much further to the dogs. I can now hose the garden and the pot plants and the verandah and the kids jumping on the trampoline without working up a sweat.

But its been a little while coming.

Ten years ago now we began – and I use the word very loosely – “landscaping” our back yard. The tap that happened to stand between bull dozer and access to the back yard was a casualty. The pipe was capped and the tap itself put aside for the “time being”. That time being lasted until a few weeks ago when Ken and I started installing some drainage in the side yard – another project a long time coming. Unknowing and unskilled we’ve done OK  but we drew the line at putting in the tap. By some alignment of the planets and with a plumber actually willing to turn up when we wanted him to, which isn’t always a given around these parts –  the long anticipated backyard tap was reinstalled in a jiffy without fuss or fanfare. Joy.  After all that time so happy I could have wept – for the  tap now and for the progress made.

Something  banal and common place yes – but its looking kind of beautiful to me.

Whats looks like progress at your house?

What feels like luxury?

Lv Tracey xx

Joining in with #MySundayPhoto today

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Sitting Pretty

This chair  – – – 

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We’ve been keeping company now for ever so long – possibly longer that any other item of furniture I own apart from this bookshelf my Dad made. Not all furniture is created equal and not all designed to last the distance but in my books this one, she’s a keeper.

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Can’t remember where I found her. Most likely the op shop because that’s where I find most things. Maybe a road side throw out ? I do remember I was living in Sydney at the time in my ancient flat that hadn’t a whole lot going for it except a magnificent view of  Bondi Beach. I was doing an upholstery workshop just down the road and I needed a smallish item of furniture that was portable and could be made over in a couple of weekends. This chair was the perfect candidate with  good solid bones – I loved the curve of the arms and the little rounded turned out legs, still do – but her springs were all saggy and needed replacing. So during the course of the workshop I gave her new springs and webbing and fresh fabric and well she hasn’t looked back since. A little worse for wear in places now because its been quite a while but still going strong.

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A random meeting that I can’t recall and here we are still together all these years later. Some pieces of furniture just seem to suit your house and life down to the ground and this chairs one. Versatile – she fits in anywhere with anyone, not precious – she doesn’t need a lot of attention or looking after which is a good thing around here, she’s light enough to be picked up and moved easily and her small proportions work perfectly for my tiny house. “Style wise” she dresses up easy – looks best with something soft and fluffy thrown over her and with a few  cushions thrown on.

So far she’s lived in every room of the house bar the bathroom and including the front and back veranda. She spent a long time in Olivia’s room. A perfect chair for story reading and for putting dressed up dolly’s on. In my room there was more clothes being thrown on than sitting on but out front of the house she gave us a lovely place to enjoy the winter sun. Then for a while she was in the entrance near the front door but again more throwing on than sitting in.

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Right now though – – – 

She’s doing me a personal favour which is the reason she gets her very own post here today. I currently have her moved into the lounge room so I actually have a comfortable place to sit down.

See what I’ve noticed of late is that two children and one husband manage to take up all the available space on the two leather lounges we have, leaving me nowhere comfortable to sit. And forgive me but when I sit down to relax a little I don’t want to be squeezed in between and romped upon by an often less than fragrant  13 year old boy and the squirmiest 9 year old girl I have EVER come across.

So this seat has become MY seat and mine alone for now.

I read this earlier in the year on one of my favourite blogs and it’s somehow  stayed with me.

I felt a little lost in my own home. I can see my mama in my memory sitting on “her” end of the couch every single night with whatever book or cross stitch she was working on tucked into the end table beside her. I decided it wasn’t wrong in the least bit to stake my claim on my own spot complete with all my favorite books stuffed down beside me in a $2 yard sale ammo crate. Heather, Recollected Design 

Well I’m with Heather and her mama – we all need a sweet spot to call our own in our own homes , where our favourite book is in easy reach and theres a place to put our cup of tea or something stronger.  A place no one else is allowed to sit on or put their feet on or leave half of their sandwich or their school bag on.

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I’ve been missing that for a bit. Maybe I’ve just noticed it more since I have been working and don’t have time at home on my own during the day. Organising myself a comfy relaxing place to sit for a while in the evening, its such a basic thing that’s felt like such a luxury. I read more, I relax more, I enjoy Netflix more (which can definitely be a good thing at times)  and the real bonus I hang out with that odd smelling boy and that squirmy girl more. I think the squeezing in and having my cuppa tea bumped about put me off doing that for a good while. My two just love it when I stop all the rushing around and just be with them – – – – the rushing around a necessary part of life I know , but the sitting down just as much too. So while its been a small change, its made a big difference and they’re my favourite kind.  So if someone could just pass me my cup of tea please we’ll be all good.

Got a favourite piece of furniture ? Need to get  yourself a sweet spot. Would love to hear.

Tracey xx

 

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Simply Does It – Five Simple Refreshes For Your Home (and For Your Heart)

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The answer doesn’t always have to be long and complicated. Sometimes (not always but more often than we think) the answer is simple and sometimes its easy. In fact they’re my favourite kind. See I’m a great one for overcomplicating and overthinking things  – things like my faith, my writing, raising these two beautiful children  or even cleaning the bathroom sometimes – – – and it gets me stuck. Deer in the headlights stuck.  So what I’ve discovered is that simple does the job really well somedays and for me, seeing progress in even a small way can be all the boost I need to get me back on track and moving forward.

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So enough with the overcomplicating and lets go with a quick and easy post today.  Quick because you will be able to read it in 15 minutes or less and easy for me because  I’m writing about one of my very favourite things. So before this birthday month of mine expires entirely  I’m sharing five simple refreshes (or we could call them tiny changes) that I use all the time when my house is feeling a bit flat and lifeless – or I am.

1. Clean something. A surface, a floor, a corner, a shelf, just one small area. Pick the thing that’s bugging you the most or is the most visible. For me its quite often my kitchen bench – it seems to attract the most amazing amount of items in the span of a day so cleaning that down fresh always gives everything a lift including me but it might be the bathroom vanity, the coffee table, the sink, a work area, the front entrance, or just giving the floor a sweep – give something  20 minutes of your love and care and you’ll be amazed how much better it looks and feels.

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2. Bring in some green. In my opinion green makes everything feel better and somehow puts instant life and freshness into a space. A few indoor plants (or even just one will do) or a bunch of leafy branches from the garden arranged works wonders especially if its on your freshly cleaned down counter, coffee table or vanity. It won’t cost you anything and the stroll around the garden will do you good too.

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www.waterintowineblog.com

3. Have a rearrange. Maybe not the whole room in one go but a shelf, a mantle, the top of a dresser, a bookcase, a side table, a few chairs, anything really. A change – well it really can be as good as a holiday and who says everything has to stay in the same spot anyway. There’s a lot we don’t control, there’s a lot that is out of our power to directly change but a shelf or where I put a lamp shouldn’t be one of them.

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“Nothing is sacred around here.  Just because I bought something with the bedroom in mind doesn’t mean it has to live there FOREVER.  This is not a prison for my things.  I want my things to bring me joy and sometimes if they sit in the same place for too long, I don’t even see them anymore”. Edie Wadsworth.

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My favourite quick rearranges are my kitchen shelves, the cushions on  the lounge, the laundry shelves, my work area and the verandah out front. So go ahead and give yourself permission to change things around as much as you like  – you’ll be surprised what a difference a change of scenery, even a small one can make. Remember there’s no punishment if you put something somewhere and you don’t like it. Just try it somewhere else. Isn’t all creativity just a process of trial and error anyway.

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4. Set a surface free – this is a good one if your feeling a little or a lot overwhelmed by the amount of things you have sitting around and are just not sure where to start. It cuts out all the decision making and umming and ahhing about what to do with each thing. Just clear off one space – again a mantle, the top of a bookshelf, a buffet or a TV unit, a side table, a corner or a coffee table – anywhere thats annoying you because it simply has too much stuff on or in it – be it books or photo frames or vases or any number of cute things. Pack the items away and leave the space empty for a day or two. Just let it breath all on its own for a while and enjoy the uncluttered feel of it. The photos  below show the top of my TV unit that’s in our back sitting area all naked and my bedside table all cleared off because I can’t be trusted not to cram seventeen items on there at once.

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www.waterintowineblog.com

 It takes no time at all and when your ready –  only put back items that you really love and enjoy looking at. I can almost guarantee you wont want to overfill that space again and you won’t be tempted to drop just any old thing on there. We enjoy and appreciate the things we have so much more when they are  not vying for attention  in amongst a whole lot of other things. The other thing with leaving a surface empty for a bit is that it gives you a chance to rethink how you have been using it. So with the TV unit above I worked out when I cleared it off that I really don’t need another surface to put pretty things on. Given that its  a bit more of a utilitarian area what I could use up there are some baskets up there for storage.

As for the  items that don’t make it back on the shelf, here’s a couple of thoughts: keep a donation box handy  If it’s no longer inspiring or seen better days or your keeping it simply because it was a gift – it might be time to let it go. Less stuff to contend with on a daily basis – now thats a refresh in itself. Or for the keeps, just leave some things put away – all our nice things don’t all have to be out at the same time. They can be rotated just like the sheets and towels. In fact I try and have more put away than I have out these days so that when I do get something out that I haven’t seen in a while, I enjoy it more,  it makes a nice change and is way less expensive than a trip to the shops.

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5. Take a break. Now this ones about you. Sometimes when everything’s feeling a bit blah, it’s us not the house that need’s a freshen up.  When getting anything done feels like wading through mud its a sure sign we are just plan old tired and running low. Same goes if you find yourself going all day without sitting down or taking a break. I know it’s easier said than done but doing something to refresh yourself either body, soul or spirit  for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day will pay off on so very many levels.

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What refreshes each of us is entirely personal but heres a few thoughts: get outside in the fresh air, take a walk, read a good book with your feet up, watch a movie, spend some time in quiet and prayer, take a nap, get out with a friend, take time by the water, in the garden or enjoying a view, do something creative – not work creative but refuelling, just for pleasure creative. While your at it – drink some water and take a few  deep breaths. It doesn’t have to be luxurious or idyllic to work. It doesn’t have to be Friday afternoon and it doesnt have to involve a glass of wine. This recent instagram post I read sums the idea up exactly:

So much of life — pulls and minuses and divides us. But these evening moments of solitary walking around our little city lake – walking with seniors and students, Syrian refugees and soldiering on mamas – add to me. I don’t walk fast, I pray sometimes but mostly I just pay attention and I keep going. I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Sarah Bessey.

Author and blogger Emily P Freeman describes it as pressing your ear against the heartbeat of your own life (I love how she says things). Some describe it as  margin or white space, I just call it room to breath. I’ve not always been so good at that and no doubt I’m not alone but taking regular pauses where I’m not doing or making or planning or thinking so darn hard puts me in the direction of it. I know  I feel better when I rest and do something I like to do and better when I take time to breath deep and stare for a bit into the distance. Yes that so called unproductive “wasted” time, has a way of building and blessing and keeping us sane.

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“White space is anything but nothing” Bonnie Gray

So take a moment – take 20 or 30 or an hour regular like and do something that adds and refuels and refreshes you on the inside.

 So there it is –  a few simple ideas for refreshing your home and yourself. I have tried to keep this one short, sweet and of course simple  but if you would like a little more, here’s a few places where I am constantly inspired in pursuit of home and heart refreshment or if you’ve any simple refreshes that work for you please share away in the comments below.

Nesting Place

Chatting at the Sky, Emily P Freeman

Finding Spiritual White Space, Bonnie Gay

Now I know the posts of late have been few and far between but I have still been writing my weekly Women Connect posts. If you have a moment you can read them by clicking on the titles below or just browse the Women Connect page here.

On Making a Difference

Stay Awake To Love

Whatever!

Like Children

On Being Kind (To Ourselves)

Much love from my home to yours

Tracey xx

Linking up today with Works For Me Wednesday

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The Bench Least Likely

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Not too long ago my sweet little girl stopped me in the middle of what I was doing with a plea along the lines of “please please please can we paint something right now, I don’t want to do it another day, I want to paint something today. You MUST have something we can paint right now” Well as a matter of fact I did but right now? She’s not often so adamant and lets face it she came to the right person and she knew it. I need very little encouragement day or night to drop whatever I’m doing and start in on a random project. The “right now” was important to her so it took me maybe two seconds to give in and agree and another half a second to think of something we could makeover together.

It was a  little bench that I’d found at a garage sale for I think $5 that had been sitting on my front verandah just waiting to be “transformed”.  Now I have a thing for benches –  the older and more dinged up the better – a story for another day but  suffice to say they are just the handiest pieces of furniture to have around and I always have my eye out for an old one.

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This one though, I didn’t have great hopes for. Let’s just call it “the bench least likely to succeed”. It was reasonably well made with some nice details but the  thinnish nondescript wood wasn’t inspiring and there was a badly applied coat of thin white paint doing a poor job of covering its shortfalls. There just didn’t seem to be enough of it to make anything of, let alone something beautiful and without Livvy’s pleading there’s every chance it would have sat forlornly on my verandah a whole while longer.

 How often do we do that. Overlook things, people mostly because all their marvelous potential isn’t immediately obvious or on show, not made of good wood we think, not substantial looking enough, not up to snuff. Thank God that He sees things differently or where would any of us be.

“Christ came for the ones who dare to show up weak and heavy laden. For the ones who dare to show up ashamed and bowed down. He came for the ones who dare to say yes –  just as they are.” Come As You Are

So without too much ado and with only an hour before we had to leave to be somewhere else Livvy and I started our impromptu bench seat makeover. We gave it a really good sand to sort out all the rough edges. I use a little hand held mouse sander that’s very mild mannered so no problem for Livvy to use. These are only two “before” shots and they were taken after we had swung into action.

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www.waterintowineblog.com

Olivia chose the paint colour from what we had available and decided on orange because we seem to like orange around here and we could easily mix it from the same two cans of red and yellow gloss enamel that we used here. Mostly yellow with a dash of red and Olivia managed to mix a much prettier shade of orange than I did.

We gave the bench one good coat of paint during which time we discussed what a pretty colour she had mixed and how much fun it was  to be doing a project together and generally how clever we were to be doing a project “off the cuff” like we had cut school and run off to the movies together. Olivia was so happy – we were together, we were painting – life was good.

The next day when it was dry we decided to rough up the finish a bit and hit it pretty much all over with the sander again. It meant the original white base came through and it took the gloss off the orange making it look more worn and aged. With that we were finished and both of us a little taken aback with how it turned out.

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Astounded in fact. Our unremarkable little bench went and turned into it’s own version of a lovely swan and, Livvy kept saying to me, like we had a special secret, “didn’t we make it look pretty”. I think we did too. Very pretty and all of it a bonus – the prize the middle bit, us just doing something fun and spontaneous together.

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There will be a day when my girl will be grown and busy and won’t be wanting so much of my time so I’m thankful for moments like these.  It’s why Ken stopped watching the soccer last weekend to play Monopoly when Olivia asked him  –  and I got to hear them laughing big because Daddy drew the Chance card and won $25.00 in a beauty contest.

The pretty orange bench, as it’s now called has joined the little family of benches that we have here – its the baby, the cute little one. It made a great coffee table at an end of year get together we had out back, it happily seated three little girls at Olivia’s birthday while they ate cake and it stood in as a makeshift TV stand in Ethans room for a bit. Now it’s back to just cheering everyone up on my back verandah.

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www.waterintowineblog.com

 

So I’ll leave you with a  thought – seize the moments when they come – with children or sisters or parents or  friends and do something fun on the spur of the moment. You don’t get to do it everyday – – – but when you do it’s like gold. Works for me!

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If you enjoyed this post and know someone who you think might like it – please feel free to share.

Got a minute? –  you can read this weeks Women Connect post here.

Women Connect are short inspirational posts based on a verse or two of scripture. You can find all the previous posts here on the Women Connect page  OR If you would like to receive these posts directly to your inbox rather than having to come find them you can send me a quick email  and I’ll subscribe you to the list. Contact details and privacy statement are here.

Blessings from my home to yours and thanks so much for spending some time here with me today.

Lv Tracey xx

 

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A Quick Dip

Psst – if you’ve found your way here from Three Word Wednesday or Coffee For Your Heart (or any other fabulous link up ) you can read my link up post Chosen here.IMG_3012So now that my dishwasher is doing the lions share of the hard work in the kitchen I’ve had the luxury of 1. not having to do the dishes YAAY ! and 2. of being able to do a few little projects around the house – YAAY again ! The timing is kind of perfect because last weeks torrential rain has stopped and all of a sudden it’s spring round these parts.

So this is just an itty bitty bit of a painting project, but one Ive been wanting to try for a while now that involves my fondness for a cane basket or two. There are fewer thing’s handier than a sturdy cane basket and I’ve a couple that have been with me many a long year and have held everything from toys to dirty laundry, to clean laundry, to recycling and fire wood. They’ve worked hard – they deserve a makeover.

Now have you noticed around the shops lately, baskets, candlesticks, vases, stools, table legs etc that have been given the “just dipped it in a can of paint” look. Well I’m a fan – you get the best of both worlds – a bit of colour as well as the warm natural look of the cane, rattan or wood. So thats where my poor old unsuspecting baskets and a favourite pair of candlesticks come into the picture.

This is what I started with – looking tired and overworked.

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IMG_2911IMG_2942IMG_2905Heres a bit of preview of what I ended up with.

IMG_2960 As a by the by,  with Ken being a painter and decorator in his former life we have enough cans of paint in our garage to sink the proverbial battle ship – so much so that I’ve vowed to not buy another can of paint for any project around the house – ever. If I can’t mix the colour from what we already have – then we wont be having it.

So for this project I just used low sheen acrylic paint (Antique White USA)  for the white basket and the candlesticks and the orange colour I mixed from two cans of gloss enamel – not my first choice, I much prefer water based paints, but it’s what we had so decision made. I had red and yellow so I used mostly yellow and mixed in a bit of red to make a burnt orange – looks a little redder in the photos than what it really is. The colour inspiration was from my garden and some vintage wallpaper I have framed.

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IMG_2953IMG_2955So I  used masking tape to mark off the line and brushed  on two coats. If I was buying paint for this project I would have bought spray paint – it gets into the weave of the basket so much easier. Even with the masking tape, the texture and weave of the baskets meant that the paint still bled over the lines a bit so it was hard to get a really crisp line. Frustrating because I do like lines to be straight and crisp so I used a stanley knife afterwards to remove the worst of the over run.

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The candlesticks  I literally dipped into the 10 litre paint tin and just let all the excess drip off.

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IMG_3041The orange basket – too fancy now for firewood.

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IMG_3027And the white one is sitting centre stage  on my dining room table – here with a few friends.

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And here on an ordinary Wednesday when I’m making afternoon tea for the kids.IMG_3028To be perfectly honest the jury is still out for me on weather it was a complete success or not – I really like the candlesticks but not 100%  sure about the orange colour on the basket – a bit redder than I would have liked and its hard to know where to put the line – kind of like when your trimming a hedge and you don’t know where to stop. I don’t think they look worse which is always a plus. So therein is the reason I like fun little projects like these – they are not major design statements that set the whole tone of the house – it’s not a $2000 couch that I have to live with for the next ten years and while I try to get it right, it’s not something to worry about if I get it wrong. It’s just a basket that I can paint over in a week if I decide I don’t like it.

So the moral of the post is – if you’ve got an inkling with the change in season’s to change thing’s up around the house – just go for it. A splash of colour can do the soul good. And if your not overly confident with this sort of thing, my best advice for what it’s worth is:

1. Start small and work your way up – if it doesn’t work theres no great loss. Notice I didn’t just launch in and “dip” all the legs of my dining rooms chairs –  now that’s when the orange colour might really have been a mistake – yes still fixable but annoying and time consuming. So start with a basket, a pot, a picture frame and go from there. You learn something every time and you build your confidence – all good.

2. Keep a stash – knowing I always want to be doing a project at the drop of a hat I keep a little stash of various bits and bobs handy for small projects – paints and various size brushes , an old towel, hammer, nails, staple gun, picture hooks, masking tape, super glue, gap filler – for when you put the hook in the wrong place and leave a hole in the wall, plastic containers from food packaging that are good as paint pots that you can throw away etc.  My stash is in a kitchen cupboard because the garage is downstairs and a pain to find things in. I find if I keep the stuff I need close by it wont be such a big deal to start a project and get thing put away after.

3. Last one –  don’t try and do 14 new projects in one weekend – just do one. Be inspired by your own home – what’s crying out for a freshen up or a bit of colour, what colour do you just love at the moment – (paint sample pots are a great way to go if you don’t have the dubious honour of having a garage full of paint) Your list may be long (mine always is) but just choose one small thing and get the ball rolling.

A quick easy paint project is a great way to welcome in spring (or fall depending on where these words find you.) Works for me.

And if you want to know any more about why I love a quick and easy project this post will fill you in.

For some more inspiration on dipping things have a scroll through my Pinterest board below.

https://www.pinterest.com/kbtcross/dipped/

Got a minute – you can read my latest Women Connect post here

Thanks for reading and God Bless xx

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