Monday, 22 November 2021

The Rake's Progress


What can I tell you about Saturday? Between us, we spent over 6 hours raking up leaves.





And, as if tackling our garden wasn't enough for one day as there's been no sign of the council sweeping machine for months I took matters into my own hands and swept the avenue myself. The leaves are mostly from our garden and I'd feel terrible if some old dear slipped on them and broke a hip.


Several drivers stopped and said hello. I'm not sure if they were impressed by my efforts or whether my combo of vintage dress, ankle socks, stompy boots and massive pompom trimmed hat made me look like a bit of a bus nutter.


After half a pizza and some sweet potato wedges, we settled down with a rum and cola (or six) to watch The Americans, a long-running series about two Russian spies living in Cold War America. It's an excellent watch and with 75 episodes to catch up on, it should keep us entertained for quite a few weeks. The previous evening we'd rewatched The Talented Mr Ripley, the 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's masterpiece. I recently found out that there was a French adaptation starring Alain Delon, Plein Soleil (Purple Noon), released in 1960 which we're planning to watch soon.




On Sunday, after toast and The Andrew Marr Show, we drove down to the big charity shop with a bag of donations which we handed over & had a leisurely rummage before walking down to Wilkos for some household bits and pieces.


What did we find? An Outrage, London paisley shirt, a Monsoon Indian-printed dress (not my size, sadly, but its already found a fabulous new home), a Harris Tweed flat cap, a 1980s all-wool Benetton scarf, a vintage Foster Menswear deadstock fine-knit sweater, a 1970s Monsoon cotton velvet pinafore dress, a deadstock 1960s cardi, a 1960s Broderie Anglaise blouse and a Hollister cotton shirt.


If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I don't "do" knitwear but recently I've had a hankering for a chunky wool cardi to wear over my Indian cotton dresses (Vix, you've changed!) I'd looked on eBay but there was nothing grabbing my attention within budget. Would you believe the perfect cardi was waiting for me in the chazza? A vintage, handmade cable knit zip front beauty with tassel ties and patch pockets all for a mere £3.


Zips always tell a story!  CLIX Zippers originated in Canada during the mid-1930s. In 1963 a UK factory was set up and proved very successful, so much so that, in November 1970, Lightning Fasteners bought the company. Lightning Fasteners closed in 1980 and CLIX along with it. 


I'm delighted with my new cardi (well, new to me, it's at least 40 years old!) and, with our energy provider going bust and heating bills set to go through the roof, I think I'll be wearing it on repeat this Winter.



Lord Jon's come down with a cold (not the dreaded Covid, the tests were negative) so leaving himself & Stephen Squirrel to a lazy afternoon watching a spoof zombie film, I photographed and listed a few things on eBay and gave the spare room a clean.











With the chef not firing on all cylinders, it was broccoli & Stilton soup and a slice of bread for tea followed by a couple more instalments of The Americans. 


On Monday morning I awoke to a heavy frost. After my Wii Fit workout, I wrapped the eBay sales and joined Jon in the kitchen for a bowl of porridge with bananas and honey. We moved the doormat, shuffled the plant pots around by the front door and gave the step a sweep in readiness for Tim the painter who was due to start work at 9am.


Tim finished shortly after lunch. The old door was white but we preferred black, to match the window frames and the original colour in the old photos of Stonecroft. The new door is hardwood and, bar the rot, almost identical to the previous one. The joiner even found some glass panels that matched the originals.


We had the exterior painted five years ago but, as Stonecroft is south-facing, it doesn't stay pristine for long so we'll probably have it repainted in the Spring. If you look closely, you'll see that the bricks are different above the bay windows. Built in 1750 and originally three single-storey farm labourers cottages, the exterior walls were knocked down to form a single dwelling and an upstairs floor added sometime in the 19th Century.


As you can see, there was another flurry of leaves following our sweeping frenzy on Saturday. The trees are looking pretty bare now so hopefully, that'll be the end of our regular date with the rake until next Autumn.


 Jon, feeling a bit woolly-headed, retired to the lounge to watch some zombie nonsense whilst I messed around upstairs and, not wishing to disturb the snot monster, attempted to take a photo with the self-timer setting on the camera, which was easier said than done.


Check out my fair trade socks, a birthday present from Jon last year (they'll be a year old in a fortnight!)




Izzy arrived with the post, another bargain block printed dress I'd bought last week. I'd been in love with this beauty since I spotted it on a British website I follow that sells limited edition, handmade Indian dresses months ago and was delighted when a secondhand one popped up on eBay. The description said that the front had been sewn up and the tassel trim removed so it was a fraction of the original price. I unpicked the stitched front and found some cotton tassels on eBay for a couple of quid, so hopefully, it should be as good as new very soon.


I'll leave you with a tip. If you've got a fussy cat, leave their food outside. Stephen refused to eat these posh grain-free biscuits when they were in his bowl. Sprinkle a few in the garden and they're the tastiest thing he's ever eaten. 


I'd blame it on his old age but he's been a law unto himself for the last 16 years.

See you soon!

61 comments:

  1. About 40 years ago, I promised my bestie that I would knit her a chunky Aran Cardi, just like the one you bought. She's still waiting! Yours is fab and so cosy looking (I wouldn't shove it in the machine though). I am, however, nearly finished a lovely wee Aran hoodie for the youngest boy in our family. It's only taken me nearly a year! Trying not to think about the heating bill, it was nearly frosty hear this morning. Beautiful sunset tonight so I think more of the same tomorrow. I loved 'The Americans'. The male actor used to be in 'Brothers and Sisters'. I think he's Welsh. Have a great week and hope the snot dries up quickly. x

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    1. It would take me longer than 40 years to make anything that looked like that cardi! I bet your grandson's is gorgeous, I hope we get to see a photo of him wearing it when you're finished. He's a lucky young man!
      It's been really cold here, I had to chip the ice off the bin this morning!
      Your right, that actor in The Americans is Welsh although you'd never tell from his accent, would you? xxx

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  2. Six hours of leaf raking! Oh my, what an achievement. I've still got the leaf raking to do in our handkerchief sized garden, and I'm not looking forward to although I'm sure it would be done and dusted within the hour!
    I love The Talented Mr Ripley - which I've seen a few times - but didn't know about the French version. Will have to check it out.
    The chunky cardigan is gorgeous and perfect for wearing over your cotton dresses. You are allowed to change, it would be boring if we didn't!
    Your new front door is looking great, and I rather love the vibes of your self-timer photo!
    Love your new block printed dress which I can't wait to see on you.
    Hope Jon is feeling better soon. I was a bit worse for wear for a couple of days in the week before last. I'd quite forgotten what a cold felt like. xxx

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    1. I know - who needs the gym when there's leaves on the ground!!
      Leaf sweeping is okay when you get started, it's just working up the motivation to get the rake out.
      The French version of The Talented Mr Ripley has a different ending to the book & 1999 film apparently. I'm going to try and watch it this weekend whilst the other one is fresh in my mind. A bit of Alain Delon eye candy never did anyone any harm.
      I'm loving my cardis, I'm acquired three this week, it could become an obsession if I'm not careful!
      I'm sorry you had a cold recently, too. I had one when we got back from Greece, the first one in years, luckily it only lasted a couple of days but aren't they vile things? xxx

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  3. What a feast of utterly gloriosu eye candy in this post, thank you!

    Well done with the leaves - did you collect up the roadside ones and add to your compost heap or just clean the pavement? I bung leaves in with all the other compost materials, they all rot down in the end. I've done seperate leaf mould bins in the past but they end up a bit of a faff.

    Hope Jon feels better sooner rather than later. We are on at least week three, it comes, goes away, comes back again. Like you I've been doing the home tests and it's not Covid, fortunately.

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    1. My pleasure, Jayne! Thanks for reading!
      I just cleared the pavement. There were takeaway wrappers and dog sh*t in amongst the leaves in the avenue so I emailed the council and begged them to send the machine round. They've replied to say it will be dealt with very soon, I've got a job number so it must be happening!
      It sounds like you and Jon have the same super cold. He thought he'd shaken his off three weeks ago but it came back worse. He's feeling a lot better today, thank goodness! xxx

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  4. That's a lovely outfit to clean in. It must feel good to get those leaves out of the way. I did some leaf cleaning this weekend too, mostly sweeping them from my balcony. Your home and garden always look beautiful. Talented Mr Ripley is a movie worth rewatching. I didn't know there was a French version, I might look it up. I watched two French movies last month I can recommend: The Little White Lies 1&2. Phenomenal acting.
    That's a lovely knit, love the zipper. Lovely new purchases. The new black door looks great.
    P.S. Stephen looks very cute enjoying his snack in the garden.

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  5. stephens artistic eating manners made me laugh - cats have a head of their own is´t it? sometimes lisbeth is begging for food while her saucer is still half full - but it´s much more interesting and tasty if i place the thing just in another corner of the kitchen then usual!!
    the new front door looks elegant and perfekt to the house!
    fab new indian dress and your timer selfie turned out gorgeous. always love to see your cozy and stylish home.
    a get well soon to lord jon!
    xxxxx

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    1. Thanks, Beate! Jon feels much better now - the magic of a brandy nightcap!
      That's why we love cats, I think, so unpredictable and downright strange!! Stephen does the same, stops halfway through his dinner and sits and stares at Jon until he follows him to his saucer and stands and watches him finish it off. Strange lad! xxx

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  6. Your new dress is gorheous and I love your chazzer finds. The thought of raking all those leaves fills me with dread!! I know I've got to do some too!!

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    1. Thanks, Kezzie! Your leaves can wait till after the weekend, hopefully those high winds we've got forecast might do the job for you! xxx

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  7. Stephen is clearly a clever kitty. I used to say to my kids... Don't you dare eat all those sprouts/parsnips/carrots while I'm not looking or I'll have to give you a treat and I want to eat the treat myself... awkward little so and so's ate every single one just as I knew they would.

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  8. Love that cardi. What a find! I ventured to our local hospice shop to replenish my summer wardrobe. Our shops and such have just reopened. I was such an anxious mess that I only got a weeny pink miffy backpack for wee toddler grand daughter.

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    1. I felt like you did when our charity shops first reopened after lockdown, it's only natural. Well done for being brave and for finding something useful! xxx

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  9. When I want Vizzini to enjoy a new throw/blanket/old sweater, I put it down and point at it and say "NO!" in the Command Voice. He of course, ignores it, and settles on it immediately. Ha, reverse psychology always works on cats.

    I love raking leaves - I would have helped you! Self-timer pictures are easy, aren't they? That's what I've been doing for over a decade.

    Stay warm in your new-to-you snuggly cardi, Vix! It's wonderful!

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    1. I had to laugh at you shouting "No!" at Vizzini's new blanket. I might have to do some reverse psychology with Stephen when he starts nibbling at his fur, maybe telling him that he's a good boy rather than yelling "stop it!" at him!
      I would have loved your help with the leaves. It's really enjoyable once you get into it! xxx

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  10. My husband miss our leaves down to mulch. We'll sweep and bag a few for the back corner where neighbors are welcome to help themselves the the rotting stuff which when turned, they say makes a great garden fertilizer. I'm sure the people recall your garbage duty as well. My pup has been finicky. Maybe if he thought the neighbors cat would get his food he'd eat better

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    1. That was kind of you, sweeping up the leaves and letting the neighbours help themselves.
      I moan about doing it but sweeping the leaves is rather meditive and it's quite nice to do something seasonal rather than wishing it was Spring all the time.
      Maybe you should try giving pup a few al fresco dinners! xxx

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  11. Lovely block print dress (looks like Naked Generation?) and the socks are brilliant - I would like a pair of those as we are trying not to turn the heating up for same reasons as you :) The leaves will make beautiful compost - we are getting a lot come down from the overhanging trees in the woods but as we have a tiny garden clearing them doesn't take the 6 hours it has taken you thank goodness! Your cable cardi is a great find, will look good with all of your dresses.

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    1. It is Naked Generation! I've wanted one of their dresses for ages - I was excited to find one within budget. They're beautiful things!
      Leaf mould is brilliant compost and I'm hoping a few hedgehogs might hibernate in the piles we've left around the garden. xxx

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  12. ha ha ha Stephen looks so funny up on his hind legs! Cats have a very,"specific" psychology don't they? You wear that cardi so well Vix, as you do everything. I love that someone sat there 30 years ago and knitted that. I always wonder who did they knit it for and what thoughts were going on in their head whilst they did it? Your door looks very smart after it's paint job. I hope Jon is feeling better soon. Take care both Shelagh XX

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    1. Cats are very strange beasts, you never know where you are with them. I reckon that'spart of their appeal!
      Like you, I love finding something handmade and thinking of all the love that went into making it.
      We're really pleased with the front door (and the upstairs windows) the only trouble is that it's showing off how tatty the downstairs windows are now! xxx

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  13. Thoroughly enjoyed your posting this delicious buffet of textures and colors, Vix! No doubt about it: minimalism has its place and its place is not in my home. (Have been busy hauling out the jewel-toned throws and pillows with golden threads to refurbish my den for the long, dark winter ahead.)

    My two toms also disdain the pricey good-for-aging-felines kibble and cans. Bring on the cheap garlic-laden stuff that yields bio-hazard litter boxes, they say! Now I spread a layer of their favored junk food atop the health food and after the first taste test, they gobble it up.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Yes, minimalism has it's place, just nowhere near me!
      What is it with our old boys, prefering mass produced junk to posh, grain-free delicacies? I like your strategy. I'm opening cans of posh stuff and leabving it outside for the hedgehogs - and hopefully a stray cat or two! xxx

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  14. I haven't commented for far too long but I do love your amazing blog!!! I hope you tell everyone you knitted the cardigan yourself, maybe the socks too!!! But then again I am cheeky like that! I do hope Jon gets better very soon so you get your chef back, haha! Jayne xx

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    1. Fabulous to hear from you, lovely lady! If I told poeple I'd made those socks and the cardi I'd probably be getting orders!
      The chef's almost back to normal now, he's whizzing up spaghetti with vegan meatballs as I type! xxx

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  15. We too are caught up in the company going bump. As a skint and knackered frontline NHS worker married to a self-employed musician who couldn't work for 18 months due to lockdowns and suffering from COVID19 it's just what we need. Let's hope 2022 is better!

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    1. Oh VC, what a tough almost two years you've both had. Here's to a much, much better 2022 (and a mild winter!) xxx

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    2. Well we are both still standing eh so things can only get better!

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    3. Always a bonus! Take care both! xxx

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  16. Between the beautiful aran cardi and the socks you will be nice and toasty! I've noticed the increases in energy costs already as we have a smart meter and the costs are definitely higher. We reach 4.00 plus some days when it was quite a rare thing for that to happen previously unless we had the heating on all day. We haven't had the heating on all day at all and in fact use it less as once the fire is lit the central heating goes off. I'm sorry to hear about your energy provider what a pain.

    Well done on sweeping up the leaves -what a mammoth task! You are right they can be lethally slippery...

    Fab finds and e bay purchases.

    Hope Lord Jon feels better soon!
    xxx

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    1. Thanks, Vronni! The thought of a smart meter scares me to death, I reckon I'd beome obsessed with it and make Lord Jon's life a misery! xxx

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  17. Our garden is absolutely covered in leaves from all our big trees and at the moment I just cannot face going out to deal with them. I'm like Jon and have come down with a cold - all the children I help look after had streaming noses last week and were coughing everywhere so it was inevitable. Perhaps at the weekend I will be able to muster some get up and go to tackle them x

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    1. I'm sorry you've got this horrible cold, Jon had it a few weeks ago and it seems to have come back with aveangeance, no wonder they're calling it the Super Cold. Leave those leaves, wait till you're better! xxx

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  18. Testing testing testing this is my second attempt to comment ???

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  19. Omg, six hours raking leaves!, so much hard work!. Glad that you swept the avenue too, so nobody is going to slip on them! (My friend M. slipped on some wet leaves and cracked a pair of ribs, poor girl!).
    Lovely that you found that chunky wool jumper you were looking for!, it looks really cosy and perfect over your dresses!. Sorry that energy costs are increasing there too, we're having record electricity prices for weeks!.
    It's lovely to see your spare room decoration, your wardrobe and accessories hanging beautifully, a feast for the eyes!
    Sorry that Jon has got a cold too, hope he gets well soon!. You're looking fab in your self-timer photo!, love your socks!.
    besos

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    1. I know, it's absolute madness , isn't it? I know trees are good for the planet but they're murder on my Tennis Elbow! Your poor friend, leaves are lethal when they're wet.
      It's a bit scary the way energy prices are rising. I'm glad of my woolies this week, I'd not needed the heating on at all.
      Jon's on the mend now - phew! - he's an awful patient! xxx

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  20. I’m trying to comment via anonymous as the google one isn’t showing up
    Lynn xx

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  21. We used to have some neighbors who mowed their lawn every night and raked the leaves every evening. We caught them climbing their tree to pull the last leaves off. If any leaves blew over from our garden, they would bring them back across the road.

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    1. That made me laugh, I can just picture them climbing that tree and shaking the leaves off. There's nowt as queer as folk.... xxx

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  22. Myy arms are aching just looking at all those leaves. I hope Jon is feeling better soon. X

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    1. Thanks, Jules! THe's on the mend - finally! He's a terrible patient and I'm an appaling nurse! xxx

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  23. I do not envy you raking up those leaves!! we were watching them In yoyogi park at the weekend sweeping with their bamboo brooms with such grace. I felt for them and I wanted to buy them a tea. I love your bedroom. My clothes are piled everywhere. I need to do a cull but every time I do I wonder were a peice of clothing has gone and then I remember. So I keep things now.
    I am working my way through the handmaids tale and it isn’t for the weak of heart. I can actually imagine it happening in America! Barry M has 30 percent off this week so I did a little order through mum and I got the advent calendar. I won’t get it In time for Xmas but I am not too bothered. Love and hugs

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    1. Funny you should mention the banboo brooms, I was only saying that I fancied one of those besom brooms for leaf sweeping the other day. Jon says they used to use them when we worked for the parks department back in the 1980s, it's all those leaf blowers these days!
      I'm a bit ruthless when it comes to clothes. I wish I could come over and help you declutter, wouldn't we have a laugh?
      I'm afraid I gave up on the Handmaiden's Tale, I really struggled with it. Argh, don't tempt me with Barry M, I might have to look! Loads of love to you! xxx

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  24. Nearly crying here trying to post a comment, they keep disappearing.
    It’s not just on your blog Vix, it’s happening on all of them
    I’m trying again. Bear with me xx

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    1. Oh dear, technology is brilliant until it stops working. Don't worry, if I don't see a comment from you I won't think you've fallen out with me (honest!) xxx

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  25. I absolutely love that cardigan! And the socks are adorable too...!

    although this post reminded me, I've really got to get on and rake my own garden, I've been avoiding it...

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    1. Thanks, Katrina! Leave those leaves till after the weekend, the weather doesn't look great for gardening! xxx

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  26. As always, a feast for the eyes (a tasseled vintage cardigan? Only for you!) and by tiny kismet, just thrifted the movie poster version edition of Talented Mr Ripley - in my bag as I write. Thanks for the head up re Purple Noon (alain delon swoon) and have you read Patricia Highsmith? Her prose is pulpy and snappy

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    1. Oooh, a Talented Mr Ripley movie poster, I'm a bit jealous!
      I love your description of Patricia Highsmith's writing. I love her books, I've read a fair few but I might have to see if I can find any cheap downloads, I've not come across any in charity shops for a long time.
      I might watch the Alain Delon version this weekend, we've been warned that there's snow on the way. Eeek! xxx

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  27. Aaaah you can't beat a good woollie - both the cardi and the socks look really warm. The socks look hand made, and nothing is as comfy as handmade socks.

    I hope Jon is feeling much better now.

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    1. You can't beat a good woolie, it's taken me 55 years to realise this!!
      Those socks are handmade and fair trade, I love them.
      Jon's on the mend now, thanks! xxx

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  28. Go Stephen! Looking great in the cardigans.

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Lots of love, Vix