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Goodbye Crimbo limbo

Posted on 31 December, 2015

Today we finally say goodbye to Crimbo Limbo that weird time of the year between the 27th and the 31st of December . When nobody knows quiet what to do with themselves. The leftovers feel never ending and, in the case of this year, we linger from one storm to the next.

Tonight the limbo is over. A new year lies ahead.

So goodbye present opening …

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Goodbye over indulgence (although I can’t promise to stop entirely, there’s a Terry’s chocolate orange and some very fancy biscuits that will need my attention in the New Year) …

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But for now there is less than 4 hours between us and a New Year. Whatever it brings I’m in the mood to welcome it.

So I’m not going to promise anything for next year. No diet, goal lists or stoic resolutions.  All I want for 2016 is to enjoy the nice moments and weather the storms. For you however I wish you the best of everything in 2016 and thank you for reading,x

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The house of vinegar smells!

Posted on 3 December, 2015

IMG_3005Who makes chutney these day?

Surely the world of canning is reserved for wool spinning home schoolers, the frugal and maybe the occasional organic hipster. While that may be true I have added myself to that merry band of canners.

Despite (or maybe because of ) making three different lists I have spent the past two days completing a grand tour of every local supermarket. Lidl and I always been well acquainted but the staff are now becoming suspicious of my frequent visits. When I’m out of one supermarket I’m straight off to Dunnes for the things I couldn’t get in Lidl, then Heatons for the jars I couldn’t get in Dunnes. Last but not least to Aldi for an unexpected cinnamon stick emergency! Turns out Aldi don’t have cinnamon sticks so it was up to  Super Valu to complete the  full supermarket tour!!

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One word of advice would be choose your supply shop wisely, find one giant shop that has everything and save yourself a lot of rainy trips to the supermarket! (Or stick with the 4 ingredient Chilli Jam and make life yummy and simple!)

 

Once I had everything the process itself was very simple. I made three different recipes.

Christmas Ketchup,Christmas Chutney and the aforementioned Chilli Jam.

All from the lovely Nigella. We are definitely on first name terms after this pot bubbling marathon!

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I found the Christmas Ketchup Recipe in the Nigella Christmas book but I couldn’t find it online anywhere. I will admit I wasn’t too disappointed not to share that recipe with you. The end result is good but the recipe needed the most ingredients and required equipment like a mouli and funnel. While I made do with a sterlised tea pot instead of a funnel and a sieve instead of a mouli it caused me much more grief than the other two recipes and so my advise would be stick to either the Christmas chutney or Chilli Jam.

Often things don’t work out for me in the kitchen so I’m relieved to say I can confidently gift all of these I siphoned off a jar of each one for purely scientific reasons and I’m delighted with how the turned out.

The Christmas chutney is Ewan’s favourite. It has significantly  jazzed up his playschool lunches,m they look much less depresing now!

Steve and I have both voted for the chilli jam as our favourite. I will admit that my decision was influenced by the fact that it’s the easiest one to cook, 10 minutes boiling and leave it cool, ta da!

Despite it’s name it’s doesn’t send you gasping for the nearest fire extinguisher, nor would you spread it on your toast. The chillis I picked (the only ones they had in Lidl) were mild so it has welcomed warmth without leaving you short of breath.

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On downside was the house reeked of vinegar for about two days. But after plunging my family into freezing cold temperatures with all the windows open I’m glad to say I think the smell is finally gone and the jars look pretty nifty filled with yumminess even if I do say so myself! I can’t wait to dish these out to friends, family and neighbours!  In case you didn’t get the vibe from the Christmas cards, I’m loving Christmas this year!!

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An Interview with Ewan

Posted on 26 November, 2015

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Today we rented a book from the library that asks the child a few questions at the end.

Ewans’ answers made me laugh so I thought I’d share them with you.

What makes you happy?

Playing

Laughing (he said this twice)

Crocodile

A dancing bear

Books

My hair

Mummy’s glasses

Birdie

Playing with bus

Elfa (the character in the book)

Buns

Toys

Spooky things.

What makes you sad?

Upstairs in bed

Bad dreams

Monkey (no elaboration offered)

Someone pushed you

Mummy not nice about porridge

Me- When was mummy not nice about porridge?

Ewan- Mummy not nice about porridge, Ewan want grape instead.

(No idea what breakfast debacle this is referring to but clearly it has left an impression)

Pushing

Mummy drinking

Me- What? Mummy drinking ?

Ewan- Mummy drinking make me upset.

Me- Mummy drinking? What does Mummy drink?

Ewan: Mummy drinking lemonade makes Ewan upset.

Me: Oooh. Do you mean if I have lemonade and I don’t give you some?

Ewan: Yeah, mummy drinking.

Then his Dad walked in and he said he was upset about Daddy coming in.

What places do you like to go?

The secret place

Me: Where’s the secret place?

Ewan: Over the wobbly thing.

Me : Okay. Where else do you like to go?

Ewan: Left.

Homemade Christmas Cards

Posted on 18 November, 2015

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This year I’m all about Christmas. A few days after Halloween I thought Ewan should write to Santa. Steve luckily is more contained about the whole thing but as soon as the 1st of December comes it’s open season!!

Not at all put off by the calendar I decided to get cracking on with some Christmas crafts. For some reason I decided to tackle making 36 Christmas cards. Often when I see lovely DIY things on Pinterest, I think, “yeah it’s lovely but would you really be bothered!”

In truth if you’re looking at these and thinking, “Could I really be bothered?”

I’d say “It’s probably best to stay clear unless:

a) You have a crafting itch that really really needs a scratch

b) You have time on your hands

and c ) You really really like the people you’ll be sending them to.

If you tick all three boxes then please read on my friend!

I started with my beloved Christmas biscuit tins for inspiration/ stealing their design.

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I love the trees in the boxes on the left but after a few failed attempts at making a tree lino cut I gave up. I have one dodgy scraping tool and trying to get the detail needed on the branches proved too much for my little wonky tool. In lieu of not spending more money on another new tool I went for the bolder pattern of the stag/ reindeer instead.

I traced it from the tin first and then traced it on to the lino using pen which was easier to see on the lino than the pencil.

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I then started to cut away some of the lino with a scissors and used my wobbly scrapper tool to dig out the rest.

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I wasn’t sure how much or little I wanted to cut away from the body of the deer to create shadowing so I did a few test prints. I carefully cut out some more. When I wasn’t sure I drew on the parts I was considering cutting away to see what they might look like and then decided for or against cutting that part away. I ended up cutting very little away which I was glad about because once it’s gone there’s no sticking it back! This is how the lino looked before printing.

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Next I rolled my lino paint until it made a satisfying tacky noise. My roller also caused me problems by not rolling. So I invested in a new one. It turns out any lino printing tools with a red handle end up breaking.  Either they are poor quality or I’m a particularly vicious lino printer!

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I then pressed  the inked lino onto blank cards that I picked up at my  local craft shop and there you have it.

I wiped the lino clean with baby wipes and cotton buds, for the little knooks and crannies, between each print. As I went on I didn’t do this every time and found I could get two, or at a push three, prints before I needed to clean the lino. I just rolled the lino paint over the lino ,dabbed away any excess and printed again.

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After 16 reindeers I decided another patter might be nice so I tried again with the trees before bowing out and going for a dala horse instead. I used the horse I have to trace the shape. I cut away the pattern on the horse free hand and it looked pretty odd to start with. I kept edging away until it looked somewhat okay. Then I reminded my self never ever to try cutting away lino freehand again! Tracing is my friend.

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Many hours later my Christmas cards are complete.

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Now I just have to think of one million other ways to use the lino cut outs for other projects. Maybe a Happy Birthday Dalla horse or a Congratulations on your New Home reindeer card. This might need more thought!

For the moment I’m off for some mulled punch and butter biscuits. If you’re keen you can see my other experiments with printing here , here and here 🙂 And if you happen to have time on your hands you can check out all my crafting attempts here.

 

 

 

 

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Best of 100: All that glistens is not golden syrup

Posted on 7 November, 2015

Let’s start with the fact that calmly baking with a toddler is the internet’s biggest lie. So what did I decide to do with a toddler who woke up wired to the moon when I was pressed for time?

Yep, you guessed it bake a recipe that involves a half an hour in the fridge. Time which would be filled by Ewan repeating on loop,”It’s ready, it’s ready now”.

It is pretty hilarious to look at the hundred pictures now. Even though I looked at the photos a few hours after my stress levels went through the roof the pictures are already altering my memory of the event. I say event because that’s what it felt like. All looks calm and measured in the photos, it even looks fun. In real life it was a bloody nightmare. With his enthusiasm he tipped 75g of brown sugar over his head, into the cupboard and all over the ground and the chair he’s standing on. While I went to get the hoover he fueled his sugar high by stealing big clumps of butter to lick and smear everywhere.  It kept going like that until the slightly burnt male specimen made their way out of the oven. I will concede that baking with my little toddler man has occasionally gone well. We can happily make an easy bread and butter pudding together when he’s the right level of tired and I don’t try to photograph it. I have actually enjoyed doing that with him. But yesterday was nothing like our bread and butter pudding evenings!

I fear the odds were against us yesterday morning. As well as the time constraints of the morning I also decided that this would be the right time to take my 100 photos. The more I picked up the camera the greater the opportunities were for Ewan to spread the baking mess far and wide and practice his “wobbling like jelly” moves while standing on a chair . But despite the fact that I wanted a drink at 10:20 in the morning we actually ended up with something edible. And while I desperately struggle for positives in a day that went on to me getting a split lip from an accidental elbow in the mouth all I can think of was at least there were sugary treats to comfort-eat my way through the day!

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He sticks his tongue out when he's concentrating just like his Granny!

He sticks his tongue out when he’s concentrating just like his Granny!

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The high five guy in the middle and the big blobby dude at the end were my favourites!

Steve bought me back these chocolate icing pens from a recent business trip to Seattle. You heat them up in warm water and then squeeze out the coloured chocolate icing. What will these Americans think of next . Squeezable coloured chocolate, well I never!! They are pretty nifty I have to say and great for little hands to manage.

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Steve’s keen sense of smell meant he popped down just as the Gingerbread men came out of the oven and so he also had a dabble with the tasty icing.

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During the lengthy clean up I considered never ever baking again but due to a bad memory and the photo below I’m likely to reconsider. Although next time I’ll leave the camera down so I have some chance of catching dropped bowls!

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BOO!

Posted on 31 October, 2015

When Ewan was six months I started making him a costume. Those of you who’ve been loyally sticking by the blog over the years might remember that my plan was that after going to the effort of making it he would wear it for at least seven years. When I said that I hadn’t accounted for the strong will of a toddler. This year I talked him out of being a pirate by suggesting I would dress up as a pirate and he could be a scary orange monster. It worked but that thin logic is unlikely to hold up next year!

So in honour of the costume’s hay day here are some of it’s best moments!!

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I don’t know how you do it

Posted on 27 October, 2015

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Recently I met an acquaintance who is a full time nurse and a mum. The last time I met her I was still on maternity leave and I was still firmly  on the fence about whether or not I wanted to go back to work. So after a bit of chit chat she asked if I had gone back to work. I explained that I had decided to stay at home instead and luckily I was enjoying it so far.

What followed was an exaggerated version of something that I hear a lot. She was just more zealous than most.

It went a little something like this:

” Oh a stay- at-home Mum, that’s great, wow. Is it still just the one you have?”

“Yeah, he’s two and a half now”

“Wow, great. God I don’t know how you do it. I really don’t. I mean I couldn’t do it. God, no way. Staying at home all day; I’d go mad. Absolutely insane. At home ALL day, wow. There’s no way I could do it. Straight after my maternity leave I was back to work. I love working. God, there’s no way I could stay at home. Wow, I’d go off my game. I just can’t imagine it. Fair play to you though”.

The woman is lovely and I’m positive no harm was meant by what she said but the retort that was on the very tip of my tongue was:

” Yeah I know. I think it must be my low IQ that lets me be able to do it. I reckon I’m just dim enough that  I can stay at home all day so it works out really well”. ( Then I’d wander off absent-mindedly singing ABC to myself).

In real life I smiled politely and changed the subject.

Maybe I’m blessed with a fertile imagination but I can definitely imagine working full time and being a parent. I can imagine it’s bloody hard but nevertheless it’s within my realm of comprehension. But her response is typical of so many other responses I’ve heard where the mere thought of staying at home is incomprehensible. ” I really don’t know how you do it”. Surely it’s imaginable, they are parents after all. They parent daily, what’s not to get?

I will concede that there may be a bit of paranoia at play on my part and maybe I should take what she said at face value. Judging by the number of wows included in her sentences she is impressed. Maybe I should just think “I’m impressive, isn’t that great” But mostly I’m pretty confident that the subtext of our chat was ” My God, I can’t imagine staying at home, I’d lose my mind with the boredom of it. Being at home would rot my brain”.

I’m still deciding how this conversation is meant to go . Maybe I’m missing an obvious cue and we are meant leap into a self deprecating volley.

“I don’t know how you do it”

“Oh staying at home is easy.I don’t know how you do it”. “

“Oh work is nothing, I just don’t know you do it”.

Or should I go into an elaborate explanation of how exactly I do it.

“I don’t know how you do it”

” Well, Monday morning the day normally starts at about 7 and then …”

It’s funny how something that sounds like a compliment can leave you feeling like you are doing something insane with your life. I’m not walking on water I’m staying at home with my child.  Similarly working parents are working and parenting. Both are pretty simple scenarios to imagine.I would have thought. I’ve yet to nail down my response to the next unfortunate person who say “I don’t know how you do it” I might just go with a simple understated  “aaarrggghhh” and walk off. Classy and concise.

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Best of 100 Vol 3- Rugby World Cup

Posted on 21 October, 2015

This photo set is a bit of a cheat and it’s late! Some are taken with my big camera and some are from my phone. I intended to take over 100 with the big camera but it turns out when you go to Cardiff to watch a Rugby World Cup quarter final there is far too much rugby watching happening to be concerned about photos!

Last Saturday morning, my friend Niamh and I set sail for Cardiff filled with hope and giddiness about Ireland’s forthcoming rugby match.  We had meet up in New Zealand to watch Ireland beat Australia in the last World Cup in 2011 and I was looking forward to keeping up our tradition closer to home this time.

IMG_2726Even though the match was the main aim I was still pretty excited about going on the boat. I hadn’t been since I was a teenager and I’m easily excited about going out for a pizza so having a whole weekend away caused me to burst into song every now and again (lucky Niamh!).

Such was my excitement that we braced the chilly morning air to take plenty of boaty type photos.

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I became a little obsessed with the little red lighthouse below at Rosslare and Niamh reckoned I might make my quota of 100 photos on that light house alone such was my obsession with it. But the cold won out and we took shelter inside.

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The rest of the journey consisted of selfies, watching a replay of Ireland beating France (and re-living those horrible injuries), playing Who is it? (a cheap version of Guess Who) and eating a fry up. Perfection!

 

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Once we made it into Cardiff city it started to feel like we arrived at the hub of the World Cup despite the fact that it is offically hosted by England rather than Wales. Despite having only been there once Cardiff has a familiar feel to it. It’s an easily negotiated city and when your to do list is to watch rugby and soak up the atmosphere the city lends itself to both of those things very well. The huge stadium in the middle of the city has a smaller sister stadium in it’s shadow. The smaller stadium was turned into a Fanzone which allowed fans to gather and watch matches on big screens. The set up was amazing, every representative for the World Cup bowled us over with helpfulness, politeness and generally just knowing their stuff. The whole thing made for a cosy set up filled with buzzing fans (including us!).

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Despite only going from the stadium, to fanzone, to food, to the pub, to the train station we managed to spot this lovely little collection of bird houses which I now want to recreate in the garden but that’s another days work!

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Back to rugby. I had never been in the Millenium Stadium and it didn’t disappoint. Our seats were right up in the gods, the second row from the back, which meant a great view of the whole pitch with a complementary dose of vertigo!

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The thunder of noise that booms from the stadium is shattering. The blasts from a mainly Irish crowd of 72,000 strong is so rousing you think anything is possible. I felt so proud to be Irish and will admit to being a little teary after Ireland’s Call. While I had my niggling doubts the lift from the crowd made me confident that this would be it. Ireland would make history. Being part of a crowd makes you feel like more than a witness, rightly or wrongly you feel part of it. If Ireland made it to the semi finals I was pretty sure it was going to have something to do with Niamh and I being there! Before the match started we were enveloped in sound so load our own roars are inaudible!

Now, unless you live on Skellig Michael, you’ll know that it is Argentina, and not Ireland, who have secured their place in the semi finals. While it hurts to remember it, Ireland lost. Having watched it on the television I have to say the Ireland team look a lot better on screen than they did in the stadium. From our great height the green shapes looked slow, tired and almost frightened to come up to the Argentinians for most of the first half. I was anxiously awaiting half time in the hope that they’d come out a different team. That they did. They played like the determined Irish side we know and love so well and managed to claw their way back to be within a score of Argentina. But the Argentinan players were up to the challenge and in the end their pace left us breathless. Niamh described them as eels slipping past the Irish defense with ease (she’s fierce poetic so she is:). While it was heart-breaking to watch they were by far the better team. Despite the fact that the Argentinian supporters made up, I’d guess,  about 15% of the crowd  they made their voices well heard. They are amazing fans who manage to jump up and down while swinging their scarves around and it never gets tangled! Skilled really when you think about it! They celebrate with such absolute joy and pride that it’s hard to begrudge them anything. Even a semi-final place. Although that’s still a little hard to say.

All that’s left is for Argentina to go on and beat the Aussies for their deserved place in the final!

As for Ireland we’ll come back in four years time and once again a nation of rugby supporters will all start dreaming again.

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Best of 100 Vol 2

Posted on 8 October, 2015

I am loving taking 100 pictures in one day! I realise that this is only week two and my feelings may change but today was wonderful! Having to take the camera out made me get off my rear end and go somewhere that might look nice, which isn’t a bad thing to do on a bright(ish) autumn day. So after a recommendation from a friend we took off on an adventure to Doneraile Park. Calling it an adventure for Ewan meant it was an instant success before we’d even left town!

If I hadn’t had the challenge of taking a 100 pictures today I probably would have thought that sounds like a nice thing to do I should take Ewan and then would have forgotten instantly about it in favour of the routine things we do. I have been to Doneraile Park many moons ago but true to form I didn’t really remember it. It’s beautiful! Ewan was thrilled with the way in. You go into the woods through a formal garden and a big red door. Encouraging him back to the red door was the only way I had of getting him to leave. He loved it so much.  I was a bit nervy that I’d get terribly lost again and end up with a repeat of the previous disastrous “adventure” so we took a fairly straight forward route and hung out with the deer who were pretty interested in Ewan’s sandwiches!

The highlight of the trip for me was the squirrel hunt. Ewan was determined we were going to see a squirrel. Having only seen one once in my life the chances were slim but I said “sure, we might”. So he collected lots of acorns and went through the woods holding them up shouting “Squirrels squirrels, I’ve got nuts”. It was too cute for words! We didn’t find any but he soon found a stick which he called a fishing rod and the squirrels were forgotten.

Ewan and I had been rubbing each other up the wrong way for a few days now and I think we needed something to break the mould. Today certainly did that and I’ve promised him another adventure together next week. I can’t wait!

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Weeeeeeee

Weeeeeeee

Pond

Pond

Hmm you've got a little something...

Hmm you’ve got a little something…

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Anyone for a cheese sandwich?

Anyone for a cheese sandwich?

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Best of a 100

Posted on 28 September, 2015

The secret I’ve been harbouring these last few weeks is that  I have left my basic Nokia and have gone full swing back to a smartphone! Goodbye moral high ground I’ll miss you!

In the end there were too many things that drove me insane about having an extremely basic phone. A knock-on effect of going back to my smart phone is that I haven’t picked up my big camera since I got the new smart phone. It has been literally gathering dust, and I’m already forgetting the little tricks and tweaks I used with my camera to get the photos I wanted so I have committed to taking a 100 photos in a day once a week.

When Steve asked why 100 I said “just ’cause”. But since he asked it now feels like one of those things I might have read on the internet, then forget, then thought it’s my own idea. Well to the best of my knowledge it is my very own idea.(Cue comments with links to 100,000 other people who have been doing this for 5 years) In my mind my first 100 photos was going to be somewhere majestic. I had imagined a woods with long shadows. In reality I’m filled to my eyeballs with sniffles and cold induced self-pity which equates to “no intention of leaving the house”.

Sometimes I feel bad for Ewan when I’m sickly and not up for doing much but today was one of the days when it wasn’t really a choice. My body looked at the lovely sunshine outside and said ” pah you can keep it, I need a cosy cardigan,blanket and as many tissues as you can find!” and so here is what a cooped up day in the sunshine looks like.

While I took a 100 it would bore you senseless to see 100 over exposed photos, many of which are off my feet, so here are my top 10:)

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The puzzle we made 12 times today

The puzzle we made 12 times today

Whoo whoo

Whoo whoo

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Sweet sweet bed

Sweet sweet bed

My glamourous #ootd a nightdress, trackie bottoms and a cardi, bang on trend!

My glamourous #ootd a nightdress, trackie bottoms and a cardi, bang on trend!

Never a fun time:(

Never a fun time:(

Please make the nail cutting stop!!

Please make the nail cutting stop!!

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