Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sunday Favourites Valentine's Day Special #395

With Valentine's Day coming up in a few days, today I thought I'd put together a Valentine's Day themed Sunday Favourites post in lieu of my usual Sunday Favourites. (I say 'usual', but this is the first Sunday Favourites I've managed to put together so far this year! Haha)!

I've packed the post full of Valentine's Day inspiration, with heaps of craft, foodie, and decor ideas to give you some last minute V-Day ideas. Don't worry if you're not a Valentine's Day fan; it's basically a round up of cute heart-shaped things, which I personally think can be enjoyed all year round, whether you're loved up or single! Hearts are for life and not just for Valentine's Day!

A Kailo Chic Life have a great DIY for geometric heart flower vases.

These DIY Valentine's poppers from The House That Lars Built are so cute.

The House That Lars Built can also teach you how to make these adorable DIY Valentine's heart pom poms. I really want to make some!

This pretty conversation heart cake from Club Crafted would be perfect for a Galentine's Day party.

It's always fun to wear themed outfits to embrace the festivities, and these DIY rhinestone Valentine's Day shoes by Club Crafted would be a cute finishing touch for any casual V-Day outfit.

I want to make this DIY pom pom tassel heart wall hanging from A Kailo Chic Life to hang up all year round.

Club Crafted's lips pull-apart cupcakes look so damn cool.

I love how The House That Lars Built have decorated this house for Valentine's Day.

Oh Happy Day can help you make the easiest Valentine's heart garland to set the scene with this Valentine's Day.                   

These heart-shaped lofthouse style sugar cookies from Sprinkle Bakes look adorable. And they're pink!

How pretty is this Valentine's baby's breath heart wreath from The House That Lars Built?!

Haven't got lots of time to spare for baking this week? Take a shortcut with these strawberry cake mix cookies from Sprinkle Bakes, which are made using a boxed cake mix. Genius.

This Valentine's charcuterie board from Club Crafted looks amazing. There's also a recipe for naturally pink heart-shaped beet crackers.

Oh Joy's candy charcuterie board would make an ideal Valentine's treat for anybody with a sweet tooth.

This free love birds heart cut file from Persia Lou is so beautiful, and perfect for all your Valentine's Day crafting needs.

I love these printable Valentine's papel picado streamers from The House That Lars Built. I'd want to keep them on display all year round.

And this clever Valentine's napkin folding guide from The House That Lars Built will help make your dinner table look the part this Valentine's Day.

If you'd like more Valentine's Day inspiration, you can find all of my previous Sunday Favourites Valentine's Day Specials here, and heaps more ideas on my Valentine's board on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading!

Will you be celebrating Valentine's (or Galentine's) Day this year? Or are you celebrating being single, like me?

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Wednesday Wish List

I was aiming to post this week's Wednesday Wish List yesterday- y'know, actually on Wednesday- but my new bedroom furniture arrived before I could add any text, and then I got lost under a mountain of stuff as I started emptying old drawers to fill up new ones. By the time I'd stopped for the day, I was too tired to finish the post, so I'm just going to post it today instead before I get back to organising the bomb site that is my bedroom. Better late than never, right? When you see how cute this week's favourites are, I think you'll agree.

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So, yesterday morning, Erstwilder launched their adorable Valentine's collection 'With Love', which features fifteen designs inspired by vintage Valentine's Day cards. Having a soft spot for kitsch, mid-century-style fashion, and with the jewellery being utterly adorable, I'm naturally head over heels for this collection. It is the cutest thing I've seen in ages! And they even come in red heart-shaped boxes, which just adds to their appeal.

They're perfect for Valentine's and Galentine's Day celebrations (or just for wearing all year round), and so lovely as presents for your Valentine- or for yourself. I've decided to be my own Valentine this year, so I was up before 6am yesterday morning to shop the collection. I treated myself to two of my favourites- the skunk and the pink kitten brooches, which both look so darn cute- and was definitely lucky to get my hands on them before they sold out. (As the quantities are limited, some designs always sell out almost immediately, so you have to be ready to pounce at the moment they launch to stand a chance of getting your favourites). I really want the swans, dog, donkey, and bluebirds, too, but I was good and restrained myself because I'm trying to save for a Nintendo Switch Lite. I'm hoping to pick up other designs later, but in the mean time, gold star for me! 

Most of the designs are still available, so I've linked to as many as I could find in stock in the UK above. You can also shop directly with Erstwilder in Australia here, or through their stockists around the world here.

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Alongside the With Love collection, Erstwilder have also released a selection of Valentine's Essentials heart studs and drop earrings. The earrings have been made from complimenting resins so that they can be mixed and matched with the brooches and necklaces, but they make a great statement on their own, too. I have so many of their earrings already and I wear them with everything. I have similar red ripple resin drop earrings, but I'd love to add the others to my collection. I'd happily wear all of these all year round. Again, I've linked to what I could find in stock in the UK above, but you can shop with Erstwilder and their stockists worldwide via the links I shared earlier, too.

If you'd like to see more of the fashion pieces on my wish list, check out my style wish list boards on Pinterest. You can also find all previous Wednesday Wish List posts here.

Have you bought anything from the With Love collection yet? Which pieces are you favourites?

Thursday, 30 January 2020

20 Questions Book Tag

I've had this tag post sitting in my drafts waiting to be answered for over a year, so I thought it was about time I gave it a go. 

I can't remember if I was tagged, or if I stumbled up on the post somewhere, but there are twenty bookish questions, and I'm going to answer them honestly. If you want to know what my favourite books are, how I feel about cliff-hangers, or who my favourite author is, than keep reading!

I give you the 20 Questions Book Tag.

How many books is too many in a series?

It depends on how much I'm enjoying the series. I think my preferred length is probably three; that gives you a decent amount of reading time with your favourite characters, and plenty of time for the story and characters to develop without getting stale. Any more than three and I often find a series loses its quality and my attention. If I'm really enjoying a series, though, I will take as many books as I can get!

How do you feel about cliff-hangers?

Oh, I hate them so much! I despair at having to wait a year or two (or worse, years) until the next book is released to find out what happens next. I can live with them if I have the next book in the series waiting to be read, but I like a story to be neatly wrapped up by the last page of a book, with an ending that leaves room for a sequel without leaving me in suspense.

Hard-copy or paperback?

I love a pretty hardback and enjoy collecting them, but I actually prefer reading from paperbacks. I just find them easier to hold with my arthritis since they're lighter and smaller than most hardbacks- plus they're easier to carry around with me on the go, usually cost less, and generally take us less space on the bookshelf. Paperbacks are definitely underrated!

Favourite book?

It's a tie between The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Stand by Stephen King, and The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen. I also have a soft spot for Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Our Endless Numbered Days by Clare Fuller, and The One by John Marrs.

Least favourite book?

It has got to be The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. I read it in my early twenties after enjoying the movie, and it was without a doubt the most boring, badly written piece of crap I've read in my life. Even by Nicholas Sparks' standards, it was awful.

Love triangles, yes or no?

Yes, I guess. They can be pretty entertaining- at least until you feel devastated for the good guy who gets his heart broken when the other two finally get together.

The most recent book you just couldn't finish?

The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris. I started reading it in late autumn, and must have set it down after about 70 pages as I found the voice of the main character, a thirteen-year-old boy with autism, face-blindness, and synaesthesia (a condition where the stimulation of one sense evokes another sense), so annoying. Even though it wasn't his fault, he was coming across as a whiny brat. I'm going to try to go back to it at some point, as the storyline sounds interesting and unique, and it was beautifully written, but right now I don't have the patience for the whiny narrative.

A book you're currently reading?

I've just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and have moved on to a psychological thriller called What Remains by Tim Weaver. It's book six in the David Raker Missing Persons series, which I've really been enjoying over the last few months.

Last book you recommended to someone?

The sequel to the Tattooist of Auschwitz, Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris. It's an amazing but absolutely devastating novel based on the true story of Cilka Klein, a young Jewish girl who survived three years at Auschwitz Birkeneau being raped by Nazi commanders and doing what she had to to survive, only to be sentenced to fifteen years in a Siberian work camp on liberation. Why? She was accused of being a Nazi collaborator and a spy by the Soviet Army for simply being multi-lingual and having hair on her head, when all she had done was endure years of sexual abuse as a Nazi's play-thing from the age of thirteen. Cilka was sent to Vorkuta, a brutal work camp in the arctic circle where, like Auschwitz, she also endured hard labour, starvation, rape, and poor living conditions, along with the bitterly cold Siberian climate. She was just sixteen. In time, she befriended a female doctor, and began working in the hospital where she thrived nursing the sick back to health, and helping babies in the nursery. While her jobs saved her from hard labour at the mines and earned her some small 'privileges', I'd be lying if I said her life in the camp suddenly improves from here. It's a harrowing tale, and utterly heart breaking- two months after reading it and my emotions still haven't quite recovered- but it's so well written, and a compelling read I'd encourage every adult to read. I couldn't put it down, and flew through it in two days. I didn't know much about Vorkuta or Soviet work camps before reading this book, but it's opened my eyes, and makes me want to learn / read more about what happened there.

Oldest book you've read?

I'm not a hundred percent certain, but probably one of the Shakespeare plays we studied at school like The Merchant of Venice, which our good friend Google says was written in 1596. Actually, now that I think about it, it must be The Bible. I'm not religious, but I was raised catholic as my Dad and his side of the family all are, so I went to a catholic primary school where we had to go to church, as well as read and learn passages from The Bible during R.E. lessons. (Not that I can remember any of it now). I absolutely hated it. I tried to relate, but even as a child, I knew religion wasn't for me.

The newest book you've read?

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris. It was released in October and I read it in November.

Favourite author?

I'm not sure I could choose just one favourite author. At the moment, I'm loving anything by John Marrs, Paul Pen, Clare Mackintosh, and Frances Hardinge, and I've also been a big fan of Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk's books since my teens. I love Audrey Niffenegger's writing style, too, but can I call her a favourite when I've only read two of her books? It's been ages since she last released anything.

Buying books or borrowing books?

I prefer to buy books because I like to own my own copies, and see my bookshelves grow and swell with books I've read and enjoyed. I do borrow books from people from time to time, and I loved borrowing books from the library growing up, but I admit I haven't checked anything out since my early teens. I really should reregister, and start using it again.

A book you dislike that everyone seems to like?

IT by Stephen King. As much as I've loved every other Stephen King novel I've ever read, I just could not get in to it. I found it really slow and boring, and lacking the thrill of his other books. I don't get the hype at all. Give me The Stand or The Tommyknockers any day!

Bookmarks or dog-ears?

I'm a bookmark kind of girl. Anyone who dog-ears books is clearly a psychopath.

A book you can always re-read?

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I've read them all several times to date, and I'm currently tempted to re-read them all again.

Can you read whilst hearing music?

Only if it's not too loud and not too heavy. I find it really hard to switch off and concentrate on what I'm reading when there's a lot of noise around me. I prefer to read in silence or with the music / TV on low in the background.

One POV or multiple POVs?

I think I prefer multiple POVs- as long as there aren't too many of them. I enjoy reading from different perspectives, getting to know the characters better, and following their different storylines within the main story.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Unless the book is short (say, less than 250 pages) or I'm on holiday, I usually read books over multiple days. I can read a book in two days, but getting through a whole 400 page plus book in twenty-four hours is very rare for me.

One book you read because of the cover?

I can't think of a single book I've read because of the cover.  A pretty or interesting book cover might lure me in, but I always choose books based on the blurb.

And that's the 20 Questions Book Tag.

I tag... anybody who wants to have a go!

If you decide to give the tag a go, make sure you leave me a link to your post in the comments, as I'd love to read your answers to the questions!

What are you currently reading?

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Wednesday Wish List

It feels like forever since I last shared a wish list on the blog, even though in reality it's only been about a month, so I thought it was about time I revived the series and showed you what's on my wish list right now. 

Here's my first Wednesday Wish List of 2020:

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I'm loving many of the brooches, earrings, and necklaces from Erstwilder's latest collection 'Insects and Bugs', which was released last week. The twenty-one piece collection features a cluster of everyone's favourite creepy crawlies, with everything from bees and butterflies, to fireflies and cicadas made in to brooches, earrings, or necklaces. I couldn't resist the bumble bee brooch, Bumble Butt, and added him to my collection last week, and would still love to get my hands on the fireflies, stag beetle, snail, and cicada brooches. I'll pass on the spiders. You can shop directly with Erstwilder in Australia here, or find a list of stockists around the world here. I've linked to as many pieces still in stock in the UK as I could above.

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Deer Arrow's new Retro & Sweets jewellery collection is perfect for a sugar rush without the calories. I mean, seriously, how cute are these sweet brooches and rock candy pin set? I want them all!

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I'm swooning over Unique Vintage's Valentine's collection, especially these pretty pink and heart print pieces. I'd wear them to death all year round. I particularly love the look of the cardigans, and the skirt. I've linked to the plus size pieces, which go up to a 5x, but you can find separate listings for the clothes in straight sizes on the website, too.

I love the look of this forest green croc-effect satchel from Shein. The colour is soooo dreamy. (I'm a sucker for anything dark green). The bag is so inexpensive, though, that I'm questioning how good the quality would be. It has to be too good to be true.

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And finally, Kimchi and Coconut have rereleased their Aussie Animals range to help raise money for people and animals affected by the devastating Australian bush fires, with 100% of profits to be split between several charities. I already own the platypus and quoll brooches (review here), which are both adorable, but I'd love to add the koala and kangaroo brooches to my collection. They've been on my wish list for years, and with profits going to such a good cause, perhaps now is the perfect time to treat myself? Hmm...

If you'd like to see more of the fashion pieces on my wish list, check out my style wish list boards on Pinterest. You can also find all previous Wednesday Wish List posts here.

Any favourites this week?

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

My Goals For 2020

I'm a little bit behind with my New Year's posts (how is it already the 15th?), but I'm finally here to talk about my goals for the year ahead.

I've never been one to set myself big, life-changing New Year's resolutions. It's not that I don't have aspirations I want to work towards, because I do; I just don't like setting myself up for failure with unrealistic, high-achieving goals I'll never conquer in a year. If at all. Let's face it; I'm not going to lose half my body weight, become a billionaire, buy a mansion by the sea, or discover life on other planets any time soon. At least not this year. Never say never.

I prefer to set myself lots of smaller, fun and attainable goals to work towards during the year. Goals I want to do, need to do, and know I can achieve if I put the effort in. I like to give myself things to aim for and look forward to each year, but without any unnecessary pressure. If I achieve my goals, great; if I don't, that's okay, too. It's not the end of the world. (Although, being slightly obsessive, and competitive with myself, I always try to smash as many of my goals as I can to feel accomplished when I cross something off the list).

This year, I've come up with lots of things I want to attempt before 2020 comes to an end, from reading a ton of books to blogging more regularly, and I'm here to talk about them today.

Read 52 Books

It's fair to say I officially found my reading mojo in 2019, and I want to continue reading as much as possible in 2020. I've set myself the challenge of reading at least 52 books this year- one for each week of the year. It's only five more books than I read last year, so I'm confident I can do it if I keep up the pace, and make time to read every day. I've finished one book already, and am half way through a second, so I'm on target, and looking forward to working my way through my TBR pile. 

Shop For Presents Throughout the Year

I want to try to shop for presents for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions throughout the year, to spread the cost, and be super organised this year. I wasn't last year and I was stressed about it in the run up to Christmas. I don't want to be worrying about how I'm going to afford to finish my Christmas shopping in December again, or still be shopping for presents days before Christmas, so I'm determined to pick up presents whenever I can. I've already bought half a dozen little presents for the present stash, so I'm already off to a good start! Let's hope it can continue.

Get Back in to Surveys Again

I didn't participate in as many paid surveys as I would've liked in 2019, as I often couldn't be arsed to put in the effort, but I want to get back in to them in 2020. I'd like to be able to earn some extra money to put towards a Nintendo Switch Lite so I can play the new Animal Crossing game when it comes out in March, and also to help pay for presents. I earned an extra £50 on Swagbucks alone in November and December, and the extra money really came in handy over Christmas. You can find out everything you need to know about earning money through online surveys here.

Blog More

Last year, mostly due to my health, I blogged less than any year since I began blogging here in 2012. I only posted a handful of quality posts all year, and while I got back in to the swing of things in December, it  wasn't the year I'd hoped for the blog. This year, I hope I can blog a lot more quality content, more regularly, with a better variety of topics. I want to feature more books and stationery, more beauty, more fashion (mostly reviews of accessories, not outfits), more crafts, more lifestyle, more chronic illness posts, and hopefully even some more adventures. Basically a bit more of everything. I want to create content I'm excited about and that you'll enjoy. I'm going to try my best to work hard, but it will depend on my health, and if it will let me. I'm actually going to listen to my body and put it first when I need to rest, and not force work when the words won't come; I want blogging to be fun, and not a chore, or counter-productive to my health. I guess we will see what happens!

Instagram More

I would also like to work at Instagramming more this year. Looking back on my grid, I realised just how little I posted to it last year, and I'm shocked by how little I did. Sometimes I went months without posting anything- mostly because I was too unwell to take photos or didn't have anything interesting to post. I used Insta Stories a little more often, but even that needs improvement. So, this year, I would love to fill my grid with photos, and also try to update my Insta Stories more often so I have more to look back on. Is there anything you'd like to see more of from me on Instagram? More books? More brooches? More Rosie spam? Let me know!

Do More Crafting

One of my goals last year was to do lots of crafting, but I was unable to do much at all because my arthritis got worse and I had difficulty using my hands far too often. I'm going to be optimistic and hope I have a better year this year, with plenty of good periods between flares (at least in the warmer months- I'm going through the worst flare right now) when I can use my hands to craft to my heart's content, so I've made lots of crafty goals for 2020. Some of my creative goals include:

♥ I want to do lots of cross stitching because I did very little in 2019, and that's just not like me. I have a mandala and a Christmas picture I need to finish off before I can begin some new projects.
♥ I'd like to attempt more embroidery projects, and improve my embroidery skills.
♥ I'd love to try punch needling.
♥ I want to try weaving something on a loom. I bought a small circular loom two years ago, and still haven't used it, so it's time to start weaving.
♥ I know this has appeared on my new year's goals list every year for years, but I would love to learn how to crochet something- perhaps a granny square blanket or a cute soft toy.
♥ I don't know why, but I really want to try needle felting.
♥ I want to make lots more fabric hoop art so I can make a feature wall out of hoops on my bedroom wall.
♥ I need to get around to making some more felt floral wreaths, and the Christmas ones I've been planning for about two years. I have all the supplies so I need to get making.
♥ I also have a pom pom star wreath to make, which I was unable to do this Christmas.
♥ I'd love to make some kind of brooch board so I can display my ever-growing collection of resin and acrylic brooches.
♥ I'd really like to relearn how to use a sewing machine- I've not used one since I was thirteen.
♥ And I want to make more time to paint.

Take a Holiday to Cornwall

My older sister and I are hoping to take a holiday to Cornwall in September, although this is dependent on whether the sister and brother-in-law move back to England as expected at the end of the summer or not. If they have to stay in Germany longer, we won't be able to go this year. I'm really looking forward to the prospect of a holiday as it's been almost three years since my last one, and I'm in desperate need of a holiday. I can't wait to get back to my favourite places in the country, and hopefully visit some places I've never been before, too. In the mean time, I just need to hope I'll be well enough to go, and figure out a way to manage a week's holiday with chronic pain a little better than I did last time.

Find a Way to See Ronan in Perranporth

Ronan Keating, one of my favourite musicians (hey, don't judge; he's amazing!), is headlining Tunes in the Dunes on Perranporth Beach in Cornwall in May, which just so happens to be my favourite place in the entire country. I've always dreamt about seeing a gig on that beach and combining my two favourite things- concerts and the beach- and now it's a possibility and I'm dying to go. The main problem is, I can't stand up long enough to get through a standing gig and I'm too much of a seat snob to sit near the back of the crowd, so I need to figure out a way to get around it so I can go. Maybe if I cover myself in heat patches, drug myself up, bring a camping chair, and hold on to the front row barrier, I could survive long enough to get through it? I don't want to keep missing out on everything I want to do just because I have chronic pain.

See Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act

I really want to go see Sister Act in the West End again this summer when Whoopi Goldberg is back in the habit as Deloris. I saw her in the show about a decade ago, when she starred as Mother Superior, and she was fantastic, so I would love to see her take on her original character on the stage. I've no doubt she'll be amazing. I must get tickets!

Try Physiotherapy Again

Once my neck injury has improved a little more, I'd like to have another go at physiotherapy for the rest of my body. It's been years since I last had any for my chronic pain, and even though I never saw any improvement in the past, I figure it could be worth another try as my health has worsened a lot since my last stint. If I'm lucky, it might help the pain; if nothing else, it might at least help me to build up a little more strength in my limbs and get me out of the house a bit more.

Revisit Pain Management

My rheumatologist also wants me to revisit pain management, which I'll admit I've been anxious about after being treated so badly by a pain clinic in Oxford when I was first referred in 2013. I know it's worth a try, though, even though I doubt they'll be able to offer anything I haven't already tried, and I really have nothing to lose at this point. Once my neck is a little better, I'm going to organise an appointment (I've already got the information for self-referral- and a choice of hospitals, so I don't have to go back to the assholes in Oxford), and give it my best shot.

Eat Healthier

I've gained a little weight over the last few years from being house bound and not looking after myself as well as I should, and I don't feel comfortable in my own skin anymore, so I want to try to lose some of the extra pounds I gained last year. I can't do vigorous exercise to help shift it, but I want to at least try to move around when I can, eat healthier, and look after myself a little better. I'm not aiming for huge weight loss, but it would be nice to lose a dress size to fit back in to most of my clothes again.

Replace My Bedroom Furniture

My bedroom furniture is falling apart, and my parents have very kindly offered to help me replace them, so I need to decide which pieces to replace them with. I think I've finally decided on a white painted oak set with oak tops. I just need to choose which chest of drawers to buy, and find a dressing table I like to go with them. And then I will have pretty new furniture! Yay! I'm hoping to finally sort this goal out this week.

Get a Hair Cut

More a short term goal than an on-going one, but something I really need to do ASAP this year is get a hair cut. I haven't had my hair cut in almost three years now, and my long bob is now a long mane flowing almost to the bottom of my back! It looks a mess, it's driving me mad, and it's too much work to look after, so I'm dying to get it cut shorter. I can't decide exactly what length I want to trim it to, but I won't be going as short as a bob this time. I'll probably have at least a foot chopped off, though. I've been desperate to get it cut for years now, but I've not been well enough to get down the hair dressers or sit long enough to get through it at home. I was hoping to get it done before Christmas, but I've not been able to bend my neck forward without pain, so it keeps getting put on the back burner. Fingers crossed I can get it done soon. I miss having nice hair.

Some Places I'd Like To Visit in 2020

♥ Cornwall- including my favourites, Perranporth, St. Ives, St. Michael's Mount, Padstow, and Porth Beach. I would also like to visit Kynance Cove, Heligan Gardens, and some other Cornish places I've never been to before.
♥ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter World for Hogwarts in the Snow. (Marie and I have talked about going at Christmas time).
♥ London- for some sightseeing (by tour bus).
♥ Bourton-on-the-Water.
♥ The beach. Preferably Perranporth, but any sandy beach will suffice. I'm dying for a swim / paddle in the sea.
♥ Badbury Clump woods when it's carpeted with bluebells in the spring.
♥ A lavender field- there's one in The Cotswolds but I've forgotten the name of the place.
♥ A sunflower field- if I can find one close to home.

And those are some of my goals for the year ahead.

What are your goals or resolutions for 2020?
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