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A Cheap Pair Of Curtains & A Harvest

Yet again it has been wet and miserable this week……the slugs are having a party in my kitchen garden!

But as I write my blog today the sun is shining beautifully, so I have taken advantage of this and hung out two loads of washing.  My daughters think I am mad when I sit watching my washing blowing in the wind …… watching it always makes me feel so ‘grounded’ as though life is somehow ok when my washing is out ….. daft I know.

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The last lot of laundry liquid that I made seems to have lasted me ages, but soon I will have to make some more.

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As it’s been wet this week I spent a bit of time in my greenhouse tying up my tomatoes and removing any side shoots.

I also nipped off the tops of my plants as they have all reached the roof of my greenhouse.  I then removed a few of their lower leaves so the air could circulate and the sun can get to the tomatoes to ripen them.

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I also tied my cucumbers to new string supports that I tied to my roof….hopefully they will grow along the string and produce even more cucumbers (you can just about see the string and cucumbers growing in the left corner in the photo below):

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I then put two plastic bottles that I had cut in half, into the compost next to the cucumber plants.  Cucumbers easily die when the compost around the stem is too wet (stem rot) and as it has been damp in the greenhouse (as we haven’t had much sun) I have been concerned that my cucumbers would sucumb to this.  When I now water, the water bottles allow the water to drain to the roots of the plants instead of sitting on the surface of the compost:

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I also continued to tie up the melon plants I have been growing in the greenhouse as well:

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So the greenhouse looks a lot neater now and I am so looking forward to the first tomatoes ripening.

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This weeks harvest:

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I started the week by picking my last spring cabbage.  The cabbage looked lovely on the outside but there was a fair bit of slug damage inside, however we had a meal from it and I managed to make some coleslaw with the remainder so it wasn’t that bad:

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I will be planting my curly kale next week in the space that is left in my brassica bed.

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This week the strawberries have been ripening well and they taste so lovely:

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 Most of the strawberries didn’t last more than five minutes before we all ate them.  However a few did make it into strawberry and chocolate pancakes that my daughters made….

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I have also been picking broadbeans (a variety called aquadulce) that I sowed in January:

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Normally I ‘pinch off’ the top three or four inches off each plant as soon as the beans start to form, as usually this is when I always see blackfly on the plants (blackfly love the soft growth at the top).  This year I left the plants as there really was no sign of blackfly and still there is no sign and the plants look so healthy….this is very unusual:

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My courgette plant has produced one more courgette……hopefully if the weather warms up I will get more.  However the courgette was quickly used in an omelette with the broadbeans and it was really tasty:

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The other squashes in my garden (patty pans and pumpkins) are also sulking in the wet weather too, however the butternut squash that I planted in a big pot is doing great and I have one butternut squash that is growing bigger each day:

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I also pulled up a few small onions this week to use as spring onions.  When I planted my onions out I spaced them very closely so I could pull them up and eat the thinnings, while the remainder could continue to grow to full size:

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And this week the first gooseberries were ready to pick.  I laughed at my eldest daughter when she ate one, as she said they were so sour……..she used to eat gooseberries like sweets and obviously her taste has changed as she has got older…..this happened to me as I grew older too.

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As it’s the beginning of July now, I decided to pull a few more stalks of rhubarb up.  I won’t pull any more stalks up this year now, so the plants can build their energy up again ready for next year:

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And finally this week in the garden I noticed my second early potatoes were starting to flower, so I decided to have a root around to see what I could find and I found these:

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These are a variety called ‘Marfona’ and my goodness they were delicious….but we always love the first potatoes of the year in our house!

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So all in all it was a good week for harvesting produce from my kitchen garden and homegrown fruit and vegetables always taste better than shop bought fruit and vegetables.

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This week in the home:

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I don’t know if you remember, but back in August / September last year my dad was throwing out two garden chairs and I asked him if I could have them as there wasn’t much wrong with them.

  I decided to go to a car boot sale to look for some cheap curtain material to cover the seat pads as they had marks on them.  I found some curtains for £3 which I was very pleased with:

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For one reason or another I didn’t get around to re-covering the seat pads and at Christmas I even used one of the curtains to cover a plastic box, so I could stand the Christmas tree on it:

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This week I finally decided to get the material out again and I realised that the curtains would actually fit across the bay window in our front room and the colour also matched the room too (though the curtains were far too long so they would need altering).  I have been looking for a pair of cheap curtains for this room since ever since I decorated it last summer, as our existing curtains were fifteen years old and VERY faded in places.

At the bottom of the ‘car boot’ curtains was some white paint, which is why they sold them so cheaply.  So I decided to get my sewing machine out and have a go at altering them.  The curtains were lined so I had to unpick the linning first and alter this as well as the curtain material:

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I have got to be honested, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I made it up as I went along….but it worked!

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I also made a couple of tie backs with the material that I had cut off (making sure I didn’t use the bit that had paint on) and I’m really pleased with these too:

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So for £4.55 (£3 for the curtains and £1.55 for the thread) we now have a nearly new pair of good quality, lined curtains that will hopefully last quite a few years and I did this with just a few basic sewing skill.

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So nearly everything in the room is second hand – the TV, the TV cabinet, the nest of tables, the lamps, the pictures, the cabinet, the settee and now the curtains.  It just goes to show that you don’t have to spend lots of money to furnish a room nicely.  Our room my not be everyones cup of tea, but it’s homely and we love it ……though we are still saving up for a new carpet to finish the room off!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

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Pumpkin Muffin Cakes With A Mascarpone Frosting

The clocks went back an hour last week and it really feels like Autumn is here.  There have been some beautiful sunny, crisp days this week and there have also been some rotten, wet days too:

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But the leaves are turning brown and falling and each day looks beautiful wether it is sunny or wet.

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This week I have been busy catching up in my home after last weeks decorating.  Someone asked me last week how I organise myself so that I do so much…..in truth, if I’m doing something like decorating, then the bare minimum gets done.  We have quick meals or freezer meals which I have cooked ahead of time and I keep on top of the washing, but everything else is put on hold…..as you can see from the mess in our kitchen in the photograph below:

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I have concentrated on finishing my daughter’s bedroom this week.  We had ordered some flat pack furniture that was delivered on Saturday.

The furniture is an early birthday and Christmas present for my daughter and she has also paid for some of it from her allowance too.

I have got to say that the instructions for assembling it were terrible and it took me ages to put it together and there was a small piece missing which the shop have promised they will post to us.

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But when they were finished they did look good and my daughter was very pleased:

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I also put her curtain pole back up after painting it, but found that the rings wouldn’t slide across the pole easily when I tried to shut the curtains.  So I used a wax candle to rub across the top of the pole and it now works well (this is something you can do with any curtain track that sticks).IMG_2739 IMG_2776

I am very pleased with the curtain pole, but it will look better when I get around to making the new curtains for her too.

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This week I also stained the old mirror from my youngest daughter’s bedroom, as she didn’t want it.

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As you can see in the photograph above, I used my very old tin of left over woodstain.

The mirror now sits in my eldest daughter’s bedroom, matching her furniture:

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Incidentally, my eldest daughter’s old mirror now sits in my bedroom, as the frame on my old mirror had final broken after twenty three years of use).

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As I still had some woodstain left, I used it to paint the shelves that again my youngest daughter didn’t want in her new bedroom.  The shelves now sit in my kitchen where the old chest freezer used to be before it broke.  These shelves will be great for both my daughters’ school work, to keep it tidy:

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Finally, we gave my daughters old desk to ‘Loros’ to resell and I put her old wardrobe onto ‘freecycle‘ and it was picked up by a lovely lady on Wednesday.  This wardrobe was given to us second hand, thirteen years ago and I think it still looked in good condition. So it was lovely to know that it will still be used, rather than ending up in a landfill site.

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Halloween

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Tomorrow is halloween and each year many pumpkins are carved and the insides are just thrown away and I so hate waste.  So I thought today I would share a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes with you:

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Pumpkin Recipes:

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Spicy Pumpkin Soup….the recipe is here.

 Pumpkin and Orange Cake….the recipe is here.

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Pumpkin and Apple Chutney….the recipe is here.

Pumpkin Lasange…the recipe is here.

Pumpkin, Raisin and Orange Muffins….the recipe is here.

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  Don’t forget you can freeze raw pumpkin.  In the photograph below you can see the frozen pumpkin that I used to make the cake recipe below…..this is raw pumpkin that had been in my freezer since January this year and I cooked it without defrosting it first.

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Also, most recipes ask for ‘pumpkin puree’…..to make this just cook the pumpkin in boiling water until it is soft and then drain the water and mash it.  I have found that you need approximately double the amount of raw pumpkin to make the pumpkin puree i.e 600g of raw pumpkin makes approx. 300g of pumpkin puree.

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Pumpkin puree can also be frozen in batches, ready weighted out for your favourite recipes.

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This year I decided to make a different pumpkin muffin with a mascarpone cheese frosting and it turned out well and tasted really nice:

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Pumpkin Muffins with a Mascarpone Frosting:

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Pumpkin Cakes:

230g self-raising flour

150g granulated sugar

100g soft brown sugar

100ml sunflower oil

3 eggs

170g of pumpkin puree

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

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Mascarpone Icing:

250g mascarpone cheese

50g icing sugar

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Extra bit of soft brown sugar for decoration (optional)

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Preheat your oven to 180C / Gas 4 /350F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into a bowl and set aside.

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In a separate bowl mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil until combined.

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Beat in the eggs one at a time.

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Mix in the pumpkin and vanilla.

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Fold in the flour from the separate bowl, a little bit at a time.

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Half fill muffin cases with the mixture and then bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

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Put the cakes on a cooling tray.

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When the cakes have cooled down, mix the mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice together and either pipe it or spread it on the cakes. I then put an extra pinch of soft brown sugar on each cake for decoration.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a great week!

 

 

 

Decorating Again & Judys Birthday

Yesterday it was Judy’s 5th birthday and we bought her a few little presents.  She gets very excited when I give her a present to unwrap and her little tail wags like crazy whilst she is trying desparately to tear the paper off with her paws:

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She seemed very pleased with the ball my daughters gave her.  You fill the ball with dry feed or treats and she pushes the ball around to make them fall out:

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And she also liked the ‘doggie treats’ and tennis balls that we gave to her:

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I also bought a ‘doggie cake’ from the pet store which she absolutely loved (unfortunately I didn’t get round to make a dog cake myself):

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Today it is a year since we brought Judy home from The RSPCA.  It really has been a rollercoaster ride, but I have learnt so much after all the training.  She has turned into a lovely dog and companion for me and I am so glad I persevered with her, rather than give up like her previous three owners did.

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This week in the home:

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This week I have finally got around to decorating my youngest daughters bedroom.

After clearing everything from her room I started off by removing the very old shelves that really needed to be replaced and filled all the holes around the room with some filler.  When it was dry I sanded the filler down until it was all smooth:

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I then sanded down all the woodwork in the room ready to begin.

I started by painting the ceiling and woodwork and then I pasted thick lining paper (1400 grade) on the walls to help to hide all the lumps and bumps.  We did consider plastering this room but it would have been too expensive for us and the lining paper was a cheaper option.

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When it was dry I painted the walls the colour my daughter had chosen….a ‘soft grey’ and I think she chose well (though I did have my reservations when she first told me she wanted this colour).

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I decided to paint her wooden curtain pole white, to match the room (it was previously a ‘wood’ colour).  It took three coats of paint and I couldn’t face painting all the curtains rings so I brought new ones, but they didn’t cost too much and it was still far cheaper than buying a new pole:

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I still need to put the curtain pole back up and I also need to put together the bedroom furniture that we are hoping to have delivered next week (an ‘early’ birthday and Christmas present for my daughter).

And finally I need to make a pair of curtains for the room….we looked in every shop I could think of for a ready made pair of curtains, but my daughter didn’t like any.  In desparation I took her to a material shop and she found some material that she loved, so I now have another job for next week:

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I love decorating, especially when I am pleased with the results.  I’ll show you a photo of the completed room next week.

Judy keeping me company while I decorated the room

Judy keeping me company while I decorated the room

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A few other things before I finish for this week:

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This week I made some butterfly cakes to show off the new cake stand my daughters bought me for my birthday last week……I really love this present!

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I also made some more dishwasher liquid out of soapnuts:

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While I was out and about this week I noticed that the seeds at Wilkinsons had been reduced to 20p so I stocked up with the ones I know I will definately use:

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In the garden this week I found that unfortunately the broccolli ’60 day raab’ that I sowed in the middle of August is flowering…..so it does grow quickly (as the name suggests), but it has gone to seed before it’s possible to get even a tiny crop, so I won’t be growing this again.  I made sure it was fed at the beginning and it was well watered when the weather was dry, so I can only think the ground wasn’t firm enough for it (brassiccas like the ground to be firm).  It was a free packet of seed so I haven’t lost anything but time:

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Also in the garden the leaves are falling from my neighbours trees and I will need to collect them up next week.  Previously I had grass in this area and I would just run over the leaves with the lawn mower to quickly remove them, however this isn’t possible in my vegetable garden so I will need to get down on my hands and knees:

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My Cosmos is still flowering well:

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And the tomatoes that I picked two weeks ago when they were nearly all green, are ripening well in my greenhouse…..(I am very pleased as I really don’t like green tomato chutney):

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So that’s it for this week.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog.

I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a great week!

Planting Leeks, Comfrey Feed & Wallpapering

Before I start today I wanted to remind anyone that is interested, that my usual monthly blog post of

‘What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In July’ can be found here.

There is loads of information in this post e.g. weather conditions expected, what to sow / plant / harvest in July, jobs to do and pests / diseases that you may encounter this month.

I hope it helps someone out there.

My New Kitchen Garden

My New Kitchen Garden

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In My Kitchen Garden This Week:

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This week I planted my leeks in a space where my lettuce and radishes stood last month.

I raked in some blood, fish and bone and I also top dressed the soil with compost as I am growing a second crop so quickly after a previous one.

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I then used my old wooden ‘dibber’ to make holes six inches deep into the soil:

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Then I cut the ends of the roots off each leek.

Previously it was thought that cutting the roots and the top off the leeks would stimulate the roots into growth…. I have read since that it doesn’t really make a difference.  I still cut the roots, as it makes it much easier to push each leek into it’s planting holes.

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I then pushed each leek into the hole I made with the dibber (sometimes it’s easier to twist the leek to get the roots to go down into the hole) and then I just watered each leek.

(You don’t need to back fill the hole with soil, as the water will settle the soil around the roots).

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This week in my kitchen garden I also planted the spring onions I sowed last month.  I am running out of room now and so I decided to use the space in between my fruit bushes (as their roots are still fairly small):

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I also sowed some more lettuce seeds in a very small space, again between my fruit bushes.  The weather has been so dry I watered the drill before I sowed the seed and then just pulled the dry earth back over the seeds.  This stops something called ‘capping’ which happens on a heavy clay soil.  It is when the wet soil on top of the seeds forms a hard ‘crust’ that the seed can not break through as it grows.

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Another job I did was to cut my chives down, now that the flowers (that the bees so loved) have gone over.  This way I will hopefully get another crop of fresh new growth soon:

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I also put some canes into the ground to support my Jeruselum artichokes, as they have a tendancy to fall over.  I also tied some string to the canes as well:

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Comfrey Feed:

The comfrey that I transplanted from the allotment has done really well and this week it is ready to cut down and use.

I chopped it up and put it in a pot, weighed it down with a brick and then just covered the comfrey with water:

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I then put a lid on the pot to stop flies getting into it and I will now leave it for a couple of weeks.

Comfrey feed is a high potash feed, so it is great to use once a week on all fruit and flowering plants.  You can read more about it here.

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To finish off the week I painted my second bench, to match the one I did last week and it’s come up well too.  I also had a general tidy up, putting all my seed trays and pots away:

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Finally, in my kitchen garden this week I noticed that my nastursiums are flowering.  These were found growing in my strawberry patch, so I transplanted them to each end of my runnerbeans.  I love nasturtiums as you can eat the leaves and flowers in salads, but they are also extremely good at attracting blackflies away from my runnerbeans, so I always plant them together:

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At home this week:

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This week I ran out of my kitchen surface cleaner so I made some more.

I use just white distilled vinegar and a few drops of tea tree essential oil.

White vinegar is a great mulitipurpose cleaner and if you add a few drops of Tea Tree oil it then becomes a multipurpose antibacterial cleaner, which is great to use around your kitchen.

You can read all about the wonders of using vinegar for ‘old fashioned’ cleaning here.

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I also decided to rejuvenate our bath towels and flannels as they were looking a bit old, as we have had them quite a while.  There wasn’t really anything wrong with them except they were all different colours and faded….so I brought a washing machine dye and here is the results:

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I was so pleased with them I decided to also buy a dye for my T-shirts that were also faded (but still had lots of wear left in them).  I dyed eight T-shirts all in all and you can see the before and after photo’s here:

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I was very pleased with them and now I don’t need any new T-shirts for this summer.

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This week at home I also cleaned the black mould from the PVC on our bay window:

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The only way I have ever managed to remove the mould is to use a mixture of bicarb and bleach (which I know isn’t an old fashioned method, but it works).  I have tried using lemon juice in the past but it isn’t quite as good.

I simply put some bicarb in an old tub and mix bleach in until it is a thick mixture (not runny) and then I use an old toothbush to thickly plaster it on the mould:

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I leave it for an hour or two and then wash it away using rubber gloves on my hands and this is the result:

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IF YOU DO THIS YOURSELF ALWAYS TEST A SMALL AREA FIRST TO MAKE SURE YOUR PVC ISN’T DAMAGED IN ANY WAY.

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If you remember last week we had the plasterers in to ‘skim’ the walls in our front room and ‘patch up’ our ceiling.  They did a great job on our walls but the ceiling was awful, so I spent a whole afternoon sanding it down!

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I then painted the ceiling, walls and woodwork and then I hung some wall paper on the chimney breast wall.

I love painting, but I’ve only wallpapered the odd easy wall over the years, but I thought I would give it a go.  I watched lots of ‘you tube video’s’ but still I found some of it very tricky (especially around the fireplace).  But I managed it and we think it looks nice and it has saved us paying out for a decorator.

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This room has desparately needed decorating for a long time.  We chose the colour of the wallpaper to go with our ‘charity shop’ three piece suite and we are really pleased with how the room looks now.  We just need a new carpet to finish the room:

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Happy Birthday Blog.

This week I have been writing my blog for three years and I wanted to say a big thank you for your continued support.  I originally only planned to write my blog for one year, but I have had so many lovely comments over the last three years that spurred me on to continue to write.

Thank you so much for reading my blog posts.

I will be back again next Friday as usual.

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Have a good week! 

Open Gardens And A Rethink!

Last Sunday we had a lovely few hours visiting the ‘Desford and Botcheston Open Gardens 2015’.

I love visiting open gardens as you can get so many ideas for your own garden and it doesn’t cost much to look around.  Also the money goes to charity.

I must say the all the open gardens were really nice, but some of the gardens (and houses) were absolutely gorgeous … and massive compared to my little back garden:

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But one back garden showed how you can make a small garden beautiful:

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I have never really liked topiary very much, until I saw this:

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I thought it was brilliant and it was just one of many in this garden….it has really changed my mind about topiary.

If you would like to visit the ‘Open Gardens’ in your area, there is a really good website here.  It will find your nearest gardens to visit, giving you dates and times the gardens are open.

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This week I have spent a lot of time removing all the wallpaper from our front room and I must say I am very tired.

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This is the room that we have been saving like mad to do, since we had the building work in our kitchen approximately eighteen months ago.  When the builders knocked the chimney breast down in our kitchen, they had to put in a steel support, which meant knocking a hole through to our front room….so we finally have a plasterer coming on Monday to skim the walls and ceiling over for us, as there are so many lumps and bumps everywhere.

I thought it would be easy to remove the wallpaper, but it took me ages as there were two layers of wallpaper and the bottom layer had been painted over a few times….but I got there in the end:

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Because of the time it took to remove the wallpaper, I didn’t get into the garden until yesterday.

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A Problem Area And A Bit Of A Rethink:

I had been a bit concerned that Judy (our lovely rescue dog) is still going mad running up and down barking when next door’s dog comes out into the garden at the same time.  I am still working on this with our trainer Steven Havers, but I know this is going to be a hard habit for Judy to break and it will take quite some time to stop it completely, though she is improving slowly.

Unfortunately you can see in the photo below, she has completely worn away the grass in the corner and I have had to put whatever I could find to protect my plants from Judy, as she jumps madly at them when our neighbours dog is outside.

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So this area was just not working!

Now when next door’s dog isn’t outside, Judy doesn’t run around the garden.  She just likes to sit and watch the world or fall asleep lying in the sun.  So this week I decided to bring forward the wire fence, so she is even further away from the dog next door.

I brought some heavy duty PVC coated wire fence for £17 and spent yesterday putting it up and moving the gate forward:

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I was then able to move the glass away from my peas as Judy could no longer get to them and I tied them to the chicken wire with some string to give them some extra support.

I just wonder now if the birds will find them instead!

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I then covered this area with weed suppressant to kill the grass underneath (this is the weed suppressant I won last year).  The weed suppressant will kill the grass by autumn and it will then be easy to just dig over the area without removing it.

As you can see in the second photo, Judy liked the weed suppressant too:

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When the weed suppressant was down I couldn’t help thinking it felt like a waste of space….so I nipped to my local nursery and managed to get a tray of twelve sweetcorn plants for £1….I thought this was a bargain!

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I cut slits in the weed suppressant, dug the grass out and put a little bit of blood, fish and bone in each hole and topped it up with compost.  I then planted the sweetcorn, gave it a good watering and then pulled the weed suppressant back around each plant:

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I am really not sure how well the sweet corn will grow as I only really prepared small holes for the plants to grow in and I have no idea what condition the soil is in ….but for £1 I thought it would be a fun gamble to take.

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The only other thing I did in my kitchen garden this week was to ‘pinch out’ the side shoots on my outdoor tomato plants.  This just means removing the side shoots that produce between the leaf and the main stem, using your index finger and thumb.  You can see my ‘before’ and ‘after’ photograph below:

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I then tied the tomatoes to their canes for support:

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So that’s it for this week.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog.

I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a good weekend!

 

Our Rescue Dog Judy & A Paint Job

My blog is a little bit longer than normal this week …. I hope this is ok with you.

A Bit Of Good News:

A lot of people have been asking about Judy, the rescue dog we brought home in October.

Her first day home

Her first day home looking very thin!

I have written about her a few times, but for those who don’t know, it was clear from the start that she had a lot of problems and by December she had bitten a dog and we had to contact a behaviourist for help.  We tried training her with treats, clicker training etc. and she had a ‘kalm aid’ in her food and a pheromone diffuser plugged in the house all day long.

We were beginning to think we were getting somewhere and then the next day for no apparent reason she would go backwards again and we were no further forward.  I have shed a lot of tears over this dog and I have been shouted out so many times for not controlling her (even though she was always muzzled and on a lead).

By February our behaviourist suggested we should think about re-homing her as she felt she was in the wrong environment.  However, as a last attempt to help her we decided to take her to the vets for tablets to calm her down, which did help her a lot in the home, but outside she still couldn’t tolerate cars, lorries, bikes, dogs, birds, men in dark clothes or hats etc. etc.

I have got to admit at this stage we found ourselves thinking that we couldn’t do anything to help her and we were devastated.

A 'cheeky girl' found cuddling my daughters teddies

A ‘cheeky girl’ found cuddling my daughters teddies

Then six weeks ago, a wonderful person called ‘Michelle’ from my gardening forum, emailed me to say she had just listened to ‘Steven Havers’ on Radio Leicester and he was a dog trainer / behaviourist and sounded really good.  I rang him and he visited on the 27th April.

I have been taking Judy to his classes each week since and in just five weeks, Judy will now walk along side other dogs on her extendable lead without reacting.  Mr Thrift counted twenty two dogs surrounding her a couple of weeks ago in his class and she wasn’t barking, lunging or taking any notice of them!…It is absolutely incredible to watch.

Previously in the home we had also blocked all our windows with a plastic ‘film’ to give a frosted effect so she couldn’t see out and bark at everything she saw…..this week we have also managed to remove the film and she really doesn’t bark too much at all.

We still have a long way to go, as she isn’t so good on the short lead yet and though she is better with cars she still doesn’t like the lorries and motor bikes and next doors dog is still a big problem for Judy, but we have come an awful long way in a short time.

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 We are very pleased with her progress and I’ve got to say Steven Havers training is brilliant….it is obvious that he has so much experience with dogs and right from the start he said that Judy wanted to learn.  He concentrates on training the ‘owner’ rather than the dog and he uses praise to reward the dog and not food treats.

Hopefully very soon we can also try and wean her off the tablets that the vet gives her.

So thank you Steven for your continued training and advice and thank you ‘Michelle’ for emailing me with his details.

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A Walk In The Park:

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Last Sunday I woke early and took Judy for a walk in Western Park at 6.45am.

The sun was shinning, there was no one around and it was so peaceful.  I felt like I had discovered a place that no one else knew about, it was absolutely magical.  I have never heard the birds sing this beautifully before.

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“In the 19th Century ‘Leicester Corporation’ purchased the land for £30,000 to create a park for the people of the ‘West End’ of Leicester and it is one of the largest parks in the City covering 73 hectares.  The park was opened in 1899”.

Leicester City Council work hard maintaining this park and they have recently put lots of signs around giving interesting information about the wildlife here:

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I have lived in this area for nearly twenty years now and it is only since October (when I have been walking Judy) that I have realised how beautiful the park is and how lucky we are to have it on our door step.

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There is also a 400 year old Oak tree in the park, that is nick named the ‘Old Major’.  I have walked past this tree many times without really taking much notice…..but when I stopped and actually took the time to look at it, it is absolutely magnificient.  My photograph below doesn’t really do the tree justice:

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There are so many beautiful places around me that I have walked past without noticing or never bothered to go and see.  I feel it is time for me to take more notice of the things that are right under my nose and I will write about them as I do.

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare”.

William Henry Davis

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This week in my garden:

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I started by thinning out my kohl rabi and my beetroot.  I used a pair of scissors to just ‘snip off’ the unwanted plants:

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My wall flowers had finally finished flowering, so I dug them up and planted the dwarf peas I was growing in guttering.  They were a bit ‘leggy’ but I’m sure they will be fine.  I am trying to plant in every area possible, so I thought the peas would grow nicely using the chicken wire fence as a support.  All I need to do now is stop Judy from destroying them!

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This week I also planted my french beans and some more lettuces:

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….And gave the area under my bay tree a bit of a tiny up:

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In my home this week:

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At the beginning of the week Mr Thrift was poorly with a viral infection.  When he started to feel a little bit better, I made him a vegetable soup to get him to start eating again.

I had an ’emergency’ bag of mixed vegetables in my freezer that I used and I’m glad to say Mr Thrift enjoyed it.

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(You can find the recipe for the soup here.  I didn’t use all the vegetables in the recipe, I just used the pack of frozen vegetables together with potato and onions).

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In the home this week I also made a big batch of pasta sauce to freeze.  I love the days when I can take something out of my freezer, defrost it and then just reheat it in the microwave and add it to pasta.

This recipe also doubles up as a pizza sauce too.

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I had also ran out of my dishwasher liquid, so I made some more.  I make it with ‘soup nuts’ and it saves me a lot of money in the long run.

You can find the recipe here.

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As you have probably guessed, I struggle to sit still and I like to keep myself busy….On Sunday I mentioned to Mr Thrift that our bathroom looked awful.  I gave it a lick of paint when we first moved into our house thirteen years ago and it hasn’t really been touched since then. The plan has always been to have a new bathroom suit as the bath, sink and tiles are really old and have seen better days, but we certainly can’t afford this for a very long time.

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Over the years our window blind had also become discoloured in places too:

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…..So on Monday I decided to spruce it up a little by giving it a lick of paint….it actually took two coats in the end, but I was very pleased with the result.

I put up a new blind and changed the light and shower cords, so they looked fresh and new.

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After I put the shelves back up I gave all the families toiletries a good sort out and put them back neatly.

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I then put our shower curtains back up….unfortunately we have to use the curtains to stop any water from going down the side of the bath.  We have tried numerous times to seal between the tiles and the bath, but unfortunately it never works as the bath is slightly too far away from the wall!…so we have resorted in lining the shower area with two large shower curtains.  Unfortunately this area doesn’t look good, so I cover it with a ‘nicer’ shower curtain on the outside of the bath:

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Incidentally, you can see in the photo above my handwash.  This is a Marks and Spencer ‘luxury’ hand wash bottle that I refill each time with cheap ‘value’ bubblebath…..no one ever knows and it saves me buying expensive handwash.

So overall, I am very pleased with our bath room.  It still needs ‘gutting’ in the future, but until then it doesn’t look quite as bad:

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Have a good weekend!

Using Up Stored Crops & A Bargain

I wanted to start this week by showing you a bargain that I managed to spot last week.

Our front room has been a bit of a mess since the builders finished our new kitchen in December 2013.  The builders moved our fireplace from the old sitting room to the front of our house and the builders also had to knock a hole through the wall, for our supporting ‘steel’ to rest on (as they knocked our chimney breast down to make more room in our new kitchen).

So we have been saving like mad to complete our front room, as we need the electrics sorting in there and the walls replastering too.  As you can see in the photograph below, we also need a new carpet (the carpet was already old when we moved into our house twelve years ago):

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Our settee and arm chair has also seen better days now and the removeable covers have torn in various places where the material had worn thin over the years too.  The settee also caused lots of daft arguements in our house, as three people are always squashed on the settee whilst the fourth person had the comfy arm chair, so we really needed a ‘three piece’ suite instead:

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So as you can imagine, our front room is going to be an expensive room to sort out.

My Bargain:

I nipped into town last week and had a quick look in a few charity shops as I was looking for a vase.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find a vase, but when I popped into the British Heart Foundation charity shop I found an absolutely lovely three piece suite for £165!  It was in really good condition and the price even included a matching pouffe.

Mr Thrift came back to the shop later that day (with me) to see the suite and we decided there and then to have it.  We paid £20 extra to have it delivered and it is now in our front room:

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The cream cushions are from our old settee, but it will save me having to buy any new ones for the moment.

We really don’t mind having a second hand suite when it is in such good condition and to be honest it was exactly what I would have chosen if I had brought a brand new suite.

So we are very pleased with our bargain, as this has saved us approximately £1500 and our local council has picked up our old settee and taken it away for free.

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Mothers day.

I had a lovely mothers day this year and my daughters gave me some lovely presents.  My youngest daughter made me laugh though, as she made me a book mark to replicate the one she made for me when she was eight years old.  I have always treasured this bookmark, like it is the crown jewels (which has always made my daughters laugh) and Mr Thrift even laminated it so it didn’t rip…..but now I have a new one (though I will still treasure the old one).

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This week I decided I wanted to make our kitchen a little bit more ‘homely’, so I ordered a ‘Home Sweet Home’ wall sticker from ebay for £11.49.

It was quite easy to put up, except I used masking tape to make sure it was straight before I stuck it onto the wall.  Unfortunately when I removed the masking tape a bit of the paint came off the wall too, so I also had to ‘touch up’ the paintwork afterwards.

I think the wall sticker looks really lovely and it does make the kitchen look a bit more homely too:

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My Seeds So Far:

This week I have been pricking out my seedlings and I have now moved them into my heated greenhouse, as there are too many for my kitchen.

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I now have the following things growing :

Greenhouse tomatoes, greenhouse cucumbers, lettuce, onion sets, white and red cabbages, corianda, mixed salad leaves and a tray of lobelia.

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I also have a couple of sweet peppers that have just poked their heads through the compost.

My garlic and broad beans are now ready to be hardened off, so I have moved them into my cold mini greenhouse:

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My onion sets have started to grow now too and I will also move these into my cold mini greenhouse in a few days:

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Cooking At Home This Week:

This week I have been busy trying to use up some of my stored fruit and vegetables.

I have made a blackberry cordial with frozen fruit from my freezer:

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 I have made tomato and basil soup with the tomatoes I put in my freezer last summer (incidentally, I froze the tomatoes whole without cooking them, as I knew I would be using them for soup):

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I visited my mum on Mothering Sunday and I thought it would be nice to take some strawberry muffins to share with my mum and sisters.  I used frozen strawberries from my freezer.

The muffins turned out very tasty, but I have just realised I haven’t put the recipe on my ‘recipe index’ , so for now I’ll just show you a photograph of them and I will post the recipe on my blog another time:

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I also made some parsnip crisps with one of my few remaining parsnips that I dug up recently from my allotment, before I gave my plots up:

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And I decided it was time to do something with the pumpkin that I had been storing in my bedroom over winter (very romantic I know).

I chopped it up and froze most of it on trays (so it doesn’t stick together when I bag it up):

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I did however keep some of the pumpkin back and I made a nice pumpkin and orange cake to share with two of my old friends who came to lunch today:

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So it’s been another busy week in the ‘Thrift’ household.

I will leave you with a photograph of my flowers.  I never did get a vase when I went charity shopping, so I used half of an old lemonade bottle instead to put my flowers into…..I don’t think it looks too bad after all.

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Thank you for reading my blog today, I will be back next Friday as usual.

I hope you have a good weekend.