"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mop Philosophy Monday

 We spent some time up north at a chalet in the woods this month, it was so quiet that I felt the world had been completely altered.  Then I realized, oh yeah it's just quiet.
This is Georgian Bay
 The chalet is close to the water and the ski slopes, fingers crossed I'll have some snow-filled photos to share in December.
The necessary roaring fire:
Toe Warming
 Back on the home front I've been getting ready for the holidays.  Mailed out the gift boxes the end of October... ordered Christmas cards... bought the Diptyque holiday candles... once again FORGOT to start a brandy fruitcake...
Diptyque Holiday Candles 2015

They smell like magical trees.
 I've done a bit of wrapping, like these gifts of new flannel sheets for our son that Ole rascal.  He asked for them, I guess this means he's becoming very adult-like?
 Do you find the act of wrapping Christmas presents practically demands a wee tipple?  Me too and look what I discovered: ginger liqueur.
The King's Ginger
Deadly good ginger liqueur.
 I bought a new cookbook with a cheerful cover:
 I've made a few things from it so far so I can give it the official thumbs-up.
 The chick pea pancakes were delicious:
With fresh coriander.
 I finally chose a fabric for the foyer draperies.  These last details are taking me forever, especially for a typically quick decision-maker like myself .  Patterns, colours and texture we'll be seeing every day for a long time...and I have to say the "hard" materials of renovating are easier choices, buy the best flooring etc that one can afford and make sure the installation is expert.  I find the soft, fun finishes the toughest to wrap my head around.
This is only the sample.
Waiting to see the actual fabric which can sometimes differ.
 I've been working on a special volunteer project this month and while it's been interesting it's also a challenge.  Applying a methodology to the everyday workings and concerns of an organization in order to propel it forward, and using an appreciative process to do so... it is always difficult to marry theory to practice though, isn't it?
Appreciative Process: focus on the values and life-affirming attributes. 
 Speaking of volunteering, I'm getting ready to help a bit with one of my favourite "Living On Less" series in the new year.  I'm thinking about budgeting tips and systems, and while we have a good introduction to tracking money on a weekly basis I'm trying to set up something easy and long-term, something that doesn't involve a computer spreadsheet (not all of our participants have access to a computer, or while they might they are not comfortable using software etc.)
 So far I have an idea of index cards used to track categories for a month, an excellent tool to see the budget numbers at year's end too.
Monthly outflows for the different categories would be very simply recorded on the cards.  The categories are the trick but I'm thinking that beyond the obvious "groceries" and "drug store/medical" they could be personalized according to the participant's lifestyle.  My goal would be to have the system ready in kits for our group.
Any tips for simple long-term budgeting I could use?

In other Mop Philosophy work are you doing any prep work for the holidays?

Are you in the US and looking forward to Thanksgiving?  Wish I was there!

I hope you've been well Darling Tooties.  I'm working on a winter wardrobe colour story which should be ready this week, I'll update with a link to ole Frock Philosophy when I get it together.  I've been thinking about it all while wearing nearly the same thing for weeks, more on that because it's a good foundation outfit concept for busy times.

Be as good as can be expected,
xoxDani

42 comments:

  1. I think of all the people that could teach budgeting and home organisation it is you Dani!! I have no tips that you don't already seem to have.
    You're so organised to be wrapping the presents already. I have bought most of my gifts but they are stashed in cupboards still.
    Looking forward to your frock philosophy post- I'm already in sundresses... Despite it being Spring it's been 38 which is pretty warm!
    Oh and love that fabric- just go for it! I think if you really love something you should go with it as you won't tire of it even if you're looking at it all the time. Sometimes the last few decisions are the hardest I think. Xxxx

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    1. Heidi when my kids were young it would have been like torture for them to leave wrapped presents lying around. We sometimes even stored them at the office until Christmas Eve to prevent the snooping.
      I wrapped up all of the presents for my brother and his family and for my sister back in October, I feel like the festive season has been going on for some time... I luff it.
      The fabric is a good one and the colours really bring life to the foyer which otherwise has a large modern painting... it was between that and a mustard chinoiserie, I was torn but good thing I decided no on the chinoiserie because it was 3X the price and way out of the budget I had set, my designer brought it over by accident!
      I adore summer for throwing on a dress, so many layers are involved in getting through our winters. Looks like it will be a milk one though, we just had our first snowfall yesterday. XO

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  2. The last few decisions are the worst! And they're always the ones I think I'm excited to make at the beginning. I'm sure you won't be surprised I have no budgeting tips to offer.
    I'd love to visit Georgian Bay. i loved Sarah Richardson's series 'Sarah's Summer House' where she did the cottage and bunkie! oh I am in full-blown Thanksgiving mode and my poor mother is feeling the wrath. She has me on pins and needles wondering if the tablecloth will actually be finished. This is a problem we have every year! The skirt for the tablecloth has 54 feet worth of fabric (only 10 inches wide). Her design, not mine. I'd never ask her to make something so complex! She is an actual perfectionist, unlike me, so deadlines come and go. I'm headed off to the grocery now!
    Oh, ginger liqueur? I will look into this. Totally agree, a drinke-loo (as my GG called them) is always in order for a festive task. Happy to see a post from you!

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    1. Stephen Andrew SO TRUE, they are always the decisions you look forward to the most and then it ends up being torturous.
      But I think you are brilliant at sourcing beautiful things for your home on a budget, silver and dishes and LeCreuset on sale. You would be very helpful at Living On Less the week we have our kitchen, we do big batch cooking and discuss meal planning to maximize the food budget.
      I've been to an island cottage near the spot where SR has hers, she flies in on their plane and the local cottagers are quite grumbly about some of the things she brought in to use at that summer house, it went against the culture there a bit... oh it seems people will complain about everything doesn't it.
      I can't believe this is happening with the tablecloth, it sounds so ambitious and I hope it is finished in time, but do you have a back-up plan if it's not?
      You'd love the ginger liqueur, also the bottle is quite fetching. XO

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  3. Yes, Thanksgiving! Our favorite holiday, the girls',too, although, sadly, one of them cannot be with us this year due to distance. We used to have about 20 staying here for 2-3 days and do the whole meal ( never buffet), setting up extra tables, but now we travel to our niece's where there will be 26 of us with all the babies. I have roasted down 3 of my "Winter Luxury" pumpkins, homegrown, and am devising a mushroom leek concoction for the vegetarians ( not me!). One sister is making all the pies this year. It will be a scene! Cannot wait. We and other daughter will volunteer Wed at the shelter for the evening meal, a humbling experience, believe me.

    I don't use a computer for keeping track of $; I do all the investment stuff on paper with my little calculator. I am extremely good at this, if I don't say so myself, and do spot on projections. I don't do a budget in any formal sense as we use the principle of spending as little as possible on things we can and splurging on other things like travel. We try not to waste energy; I have annual #'s for oil, propane and electricity going back years. I love frugal blogs-- do you know Frugalwoods, a young couple on Cambridge MA?

    Your young man is indeed growing up if he is requesting flannels for Christmas!

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    1. Lane you'll mis your daughter but will you do facetime maybe, then you could pass around the iphone/ipad and she could see everyone and even the pies. Your Thanksgiving sounds dreamy and did you say BABIES, that is going to be the best. The food you are bringing sounds so delicious, those are some fortunate vegetarians.
      I hope things go well when you volunteer this week, I bet your work will be very much appreciated.
      I think you could teach me many things about tracking money etc, like you I prefer pen and paper even though I have tried more sophisticated tracking techniques. I track utilities going back years too and it worries me to see those numbers creeping up every single year because I know how that affects so many people on a fixed income. I don't know Frugalwoods but I will go look them up straight away, thank you. We saw our son yesterday for brunch in Toronto and he really is growing up, he's a bit of a worrier these days as he finishes up his first degree and tries to decide on grad school, big decisions these days. I found some nice German flannel for him in a handsome plaid, I think he'll love it! XO

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  4. Hi Dani, so lovely to find a post from you this morning! Well done on being ahead of the game for Christmas gifts. I sent off my packages to the UK at the end of October, and we took pressies to Nova Scotia in the summer. Just have sister-in-law in Tucson and also the boys to buy for now. Sheets - what a great idea!

    We love Indian food, but you do have to be careful ... while I was still doing the running clinic I made a dal for supper one night, it was VERY spicy and at the end of my run I was in pain from the sweat dripping down my face! So, no more exercise after Indian food!

    I agree with Heidi - you are the perfect person to teach budgeting and home org. No tips from me, but good luck with this project. Looking forward to your winter colour story, have a lovely week.

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    1. Patricia you win for getting ahead of the game on Christmas presents how smart to take them out east when you had your visit this summer! Very clever because packing up and hauling things to the post office is a lot of work as you know.
      I can't believe the dal run, that's so strange! I'd be in a panic. Of course I don't run anymore even though I miss the runner's high, good for you for doing that clinic. I finally joined a gym so that I could get some more intense cardio workouts beyond walking Scout all around the city. Well I don't know if I'm the perfect person for the budgeting and home org but I do find it interesting and I'm always learning. Keeping an open mind is important. With snow finally here it seems a good week for a winter colour story! XO

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    2. Dani - I joined a gym too! I've been doing the weight machines (for the old bones) and a bit of running on the treadmill - it's not exactly my comfort zone, but I try to go when it's relatively quiet. We haven't had any snow yet, but I'm sure it's on it's way!

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    3. Patricia I said I wouldn't join another gym as it's not quite my scene either but I found one that isn't too fancy and I'm the same I just go in and use the machines. And the sauna for a treat. It's true doing weights is good for keeping up our bone strength though I'm not sure why, at least those machines make it easy don't they. XO

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  5. Dani, Georgian Bay looks lovely and I would love to get up there too someday! How nice you got to experience quiet. I think it's so refreshing and essential. You sound ahead of the game on Christmas! Good for you. I do feel like we are a bit hampered to do it here as Thanksgiving takes priority and If you decorate or shop before it seems everyone says you are hurrying the holiday. I think we should switch our Thanksgiving to October like you all. It just makes sense, but then so does everything Canadians do, unlike here!
    I love your fabric. I think it will be pretty in a foyer. Will you share pictures when it's all done? Love to see it...Nice you are doing a budgeting group. You are so orderly and methodical. I'd love to know your secrets and I hope you share them. We are getting ready to go away to the beach this Thanksgiving. It will nice to have 5 days off with the kids. Hope you have a beautiful week! xo Kim

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    1. Kim I hope you have a wonderful beach holiday, 5 days with the kids that's the best treat. I will share the draperies, I'm hoping to have them by Christmas but I won't stress over it. The Living On Less program is such a good one and it emphasizes not only living on lower incomes but also a low environmental footprint. It's really interesting and we cover a range of topics and I'd love to include them here in my blog posts. We hired a fabulous new co-ordinator for the program this summer and I'm really excited to work with her.
      I always wish we celebrated Thanksgiving along with our American neighbours and family, but I guess the October date suits our climate as the leaves are usually spectacular on Canadian Thanksgiving. Here we wait until after Remembrance Day and then it's all Christmas all the time!
      You'd love Georgian Bay, it's where we'll be skiing this winter and we're very excited, it's quite close to where we live and very country-quiet. I crave trees and nature especially during our long winters! Enjoy your family this week XO

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  6. What a lovely get away. Thankfully rain has started early here and there is snow in Lake Tahoe. Hopefully we'll get there early next year. We are in need of an escape but there is little time due to Slugger's upcoming basketball season. The final one of his high school career. We've been busy with college applications and the like.
    Thanksgiving is at our house - 15 for dinner. I've started the shopping, but will finish most of it tomorrow morning. I don't like to have the poultry too long-little else fits in the fridge once the turkey is stowed, so it is mostly a matter of real estate.
    I've gotten some Hannuka shopping done and a bit of X-mas purchases made. My boys are at the age of wanting cash for the holidays - so it is far less festive than when they were younger. Of course they're getting shoes and clothes and the nieces and nephews still mostly want stuff, but not for long-cash is king in the world of tweens and teens.

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    1. Julie I am very familiar with the world of tweens and teens and so true cash is king. And in my daughter's case Starbucks gift certificates. I so enjoyed buying Christmas gifts for my cute 1.5yo nephew, I miss him so much.
      I can't believe it's already the end of high school for Slugger! What a busy and exciting year you will have. It's such a big change and if he's anything like our kids a wonderful time, they've loved their Uni experiences so far and are zipping through.
      Oh my gosh I hope Thanksgiving goes well for you! I'm doing Christmas Eve this year for the first time, 20 for dinner and I've got to plan it really well so I don't have a breakdown. Have you read Stephen Andrew's blog? His series on Thanksgiving prep is pure genius. I have the same issue with the fridge real estate so I'm going to buy a big ole cooler for extra drinks etc. Have a great time with your family this week! XO

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  7. Dani,
    We have 6 inches of fresh fallen that complicated the weekend and another winter is already upon us. You know that King's Ginger goes quite well with Elijah Craig bourbon in a drink called The Royal Reverend (can't recall where I first heard it....) and it's how Men on the Move toast their Muses in Chicago.

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    1. WHO is this Mossy character, hmmm he looks and sounds familiar. Gosh that drink would have me under the table, though I bet it's delicious and very warming indeed. You have our snowfall, I luff it even though it always takes some getting used to. So many people get caught out without their snow tires on yet etc, I know that's happened to us in the past. XO

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  8. So happy to find a post from you, Dani!

    I find that when setting up any system, you have to approach the task from the point of view of the person who'll be using it. If it's too much trouble, well, they just won't.

    And of course, it's important to remind people, women especially, that their TIME is valuable. Not just in terms of saving money and boosting self-esteem, but also with respect to making choices possible. A simple example: my family would be horrified at a Thanksgiving dinner without little onions. Peeling and prepping them, and making the sauce, was an annual nightmare, and left me with little energy for socializing. What a great day when I discovered that our market sells peeled and prepped little white onions! Next step - instead of carefully stirring a sauce, I roasted the little onions in a little olive oil and balsamic. Big improvement, and the time I saved was well worth the extra few cents for the pre-prepped onions. I chose to spend it chatting with guests, someone else might choose to spend that time perfecting the table setting.

    and I love the fabric! and Georgian Bay looks like a perfect retreat...

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    1. Hi Fred thank you!
      Little onions, I know that pain. How smart to find them pre-peeled. Time is valuable and so is keeping the irritation level down. Oh my, good point on the budgeting system. It's a tough thing because let's face it most people don't like doing it. What can I set up that will be minimal fuss but still effective? I'm not sure but I'll keep working on it.
      Georgian Bay is an interesting area for skiing, the water looks so pretty from the slopes. In the northern part there are many island cottages, very low-key, big rambling places perched on rocks. It's lovely.
      I hope your Thanksgiving goes well and that everyone appreciates those onions XO

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    2. I have never seen fresh pre-peeled little pearl onions, but I have also found that no one notices if I use frozen!

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    3. Hexicon I wondered about the frozen ones so thanks for the tip, I'm trying them.

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  9. Georgian Bay sounds like a idyllic spot to escape to for some peace and quiet...love your new candles and the cookbook sounds like fun. I have been using both my Vikram Vij Indian cookbooks since the weather has turned cool. The warmth of those Indian spices and their fragrance in the kitchen are so conducive to cocooning. I use a notebook to record all my clothing purchases since I retired and I find it is really helpful...I have started a similar one for the garden. We have had some big ticket items like the grass installation and the new greenhouse...next spring it will be pots and plants and seeds, so much less expensive unless we get "carried away!"
    I purchased 3 Diptyque candles at Holt Renfrew when we were in Vancouver a couple of weekends ago...love their scents. A little bit of luxury goes a long way to keeping me happy...I have had the Ginger of the Indies and my goodness it's tasty!
    Enjoy your week.
    XO

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    1. Hostess I think your greenhouse is such a wonderful addition to your garden, it will pay for itself in bliss. It is easy to get carried away with pots and plants, good idea to keep track of the expenses in a notebook. But think of the bounty you'll have, and in your climate you'll be able to grow things in the greenhouse nearly year-round?
      There's something about late fall and Indian spices that just go together beautifully, don't they. My kids always love the smell of it cooking too. Oh, Diptyque, I am very addicted to their candles, they are a luxury but they last a long time, and they do make terrific gifts too.
      Ginger liqueur is really TOO good, but perfect for winter. You'd love Georgian Bay especially in the summer with your boat! XOX

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  10. Well, Dani, what can I say, you are Mrs. Organized Extraordinaire! Since beginning my new life in America (over two decades now), I've not felt comfortable leaving the arrangements for the big day so very late in the season. You see, that big American holiday a month before Christmas seems to dominate in these here parts. All emphasis goes towards that and Christmas gets left as an afterthought I'm afraid. I cannot get into the spirit until at least the first week of December, which inevitably leaves me pressed for time to get everything done.

    Your break by the lake looks lovely and relaxing, which I'm sure was just the rejuvenation you needed to get you in the mood for some organizing.

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    1. CD I think it must almost have been a culture shock to move to the US and discover the seriousness of Thanksgiving! I've always been jealous of the way Americans approach the holiday to tell the truth, but I hadn't considered that it would push the preparations for Christmas so late. That wouldn't work for me, my brother lives in the far north of Canada and I have to get the gifts out by the first week of November at the latest or he won't get them in time. There is a downside to the long run-up to Christmas though: buying gifts and forgetting about them! I shopped for my siblings in October, sent out the packages and then put off any shopping (with the exception of client gifts which need preparing in November) until December. Our kids will get ski equipment this year which makes for an easy list for me, it will be small treats and then a big trip to the sports store.
      The chalet break was so lovely and we'll be back this winter which is so nice to look forward to, it's really peaceful but also an active outdoor break: good for the heart and mind. I hope you have a wonderful week with your family XO

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    2. By the way, I thought of you when out shopping for Thanksgiving dinner supplies. Absolutely no Bells Seasoning whatsoever. Nada. I'm now convinced it is an east coast thing. By some miracle, if I do ever run into a box or two, they'll be winging their way to you.

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  11. Looking forward to another color story post! If you like Dark & Stormies (ginger beer and dark rum), try a Very Dark & Stormy (dark rum, ginger liqueur, and champagne)! I'm in complete denial about the holidays and will be until I teach my last class of the semester on Dec. 1. Cheers!

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    1. Hexicon I think a Very Dark & Stormy sounds delicious! Uh-oh, might have me falling down but I'm going to gather all of the ingredients anyway. Thank you. You have a busy time ahead of you and complete denial is necessary to accomplish what you need to... the Christmas shopping will all be waiting for you and the deals on gifts might even be better. Good luck to you in the final stretch! And in the meantime have a Happy Thanksgiving XO

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    2. Yes. Love a d&s. Will try this.

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    3. Stephen Andrew just another way we'd get into trouble in the winter while wearing our sweater outfits.

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  12. Hi Dani,
    So glad to hear you are going to be doing Living on Less again - I thought it was a great program, and am still liking the 'make your own' cleaning mixtures. I have a pencil and paper budget/spending tracking system that I've been using for almost 20 years now that I'm really happy with - takes just a few minutes a day and then maybe 30 minutes, tops, at the end of the month. Happy to share more details/examples with you if you're interested. I don't even want to think about how soon Christmas will be here! Very impressed with your use of the long-range thinking...
    Cheerio,
    Local Sue

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    1. Sue so good to hear from you, I keep looking for you in the grocery store but no luck! ;)
      Your system sounds like a good one, I'd love to hear details. As you may remember we devote a week of the program to budgeting and I'm trying to think about how we can extend that to a yearly system which would be helpful for long-term planning. I hope you will participate in the next session, we have a new co-ordinator who we hired in the summer, she's great. New ideas and methods... and repeat participants always bring wisdom to the group, Mondays beginning in January! Send me an email so we can arrange a visit at my house and we can discuss all. I'd love to see you XO

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    2. Hi Dani - Sent you a message at the mop gmail address - hope that's still the right one.

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  13. Lovely to hear from you in blog land. The fabric is perfect and I'll be shaking down my local LCBO for some of that liqueur. Sounds delicious! Xo (and let it snow snow snow!)

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    1. Jen you must find it! Heads up I had a look for it at the store on Dundas but nope not a sign of it. But they also didn't even have Pommie's cider there so who is even charge of buying for that store, what an extreme oversight. Isn't the snow so pretty, Scout is in heaven she just loves it. XO

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  14. Your first photo is great and I like the fabric you've chosen for your foyer curtains/ drapes.

    You post inspired to make an orange syrup cake instead of running to the shops to buy an overpriced one for Dear husband's birthday as it is his birthday. Nearly died though when I saw the cost of hazelnut meal $10.00 for half a kilo. Thought about substituting almond mal which was nearly half the price but didn't. Enough savings in using ingredients in pantry. Den xx

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    1. Den orange syrup cake sounds much nicer! Our hazelnut meal is priced as if it were gold here as well. But so tasty. Thanks for reminding me as I need to buy some for the holiday baking, it's nearly time to get started on a few things... I'm with you on using up the pantry ingredients, I'm working on a day-by-day, use it up and clear-out of mine just now. Hope your hubs had a nice birthday. XO

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  15. hi dani! your fabric is gorgeous! gorgeous! it's smart to take your time with those finishes b/c if you are anything like me i get tired of pattern pretty quickly. these are going to be so beautiful!

    i'm hosting thanksgiving for 24 or so. i'm super busy at work and the weather is supposed to be cold so where am i going to put these people in my tiny house? i know in the end it'll all work out but the perfectionist in me is really stressing me out! take care and thank God your thanksgiving is in October. xoxo

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    1. Janet I do get tired of pattern quickly so I'm a bit nervous. But I think they will be gorgeous and the foyer needs lined draperies for the winter, and to keep the heat out in summer, geez it's a miserable climate here at times, too cold, too hot... and also the foyer needs the colour, especially with the modern art piece and 20 pairs of Birkenstock sandals lying all over the floor...
      24 for dinner? Are you making up for your non-social time in Utah? My gosh that's a whole bunch. If I lived near you I'd come help. But don't stress and be all perfectionist because I'm telling you something I know is true: people will be happy just to be there, squished or not, however casual, it will be beautiful. XOX

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  16. Your get away looks beautiful! I know what you mean by extreme quiet. It's do out if the ordinary it does feel like the world has shifted on its axis! Christmas gifts already?! Oh no, I haven't even begun to think of them. I'll have s look for some of that liqueur. It sounds warming from the inside out. Xx

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  17. Oh Dani, have missed your goodness. That fire! My husband now says no to ski weekends so will miss those fires and that getting away, the drought has put paid to fires in Oakland.
    Also am loving your wicker and paper records, I'm reluctant to do all my everydays on my phone, love that tactility of paper.
    My Dad always said Money burned a hole in my pocket, even as a kid, and yet for years I lived in london on practically nothing (scrapping under my bed for coins at the end of the month) - but am not good at budget. Well done you.

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  18. I have always tracked expenses in a casual way. I only broke food and utilites out to track separately, but totalled out spending every month/year for the past 35+ years.
    Connie

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  19. fabric is beautiful. Don't talk to me about budgeting- on the day I get paid the money shoots into 5 different accounts and I try to live off the smell of an oily rag for the next 14 days x

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