Friday, January 29, 2016

I'm Not Happy You're Sick, I Promise

I spent this morning doing something I really enjoy - cooking.

My house smells REALLY good - lasagne, tortilla soup and chili are all in little containers ready for delivery to a friend who is having surgery today.

I was thinking about how fun it was - I love cooking almost as much as I love stamping - however, I can't do it as often as I stamp because we can't eat enough food to keep up with all the recipes I want to try. At least when I craft, the end result is a card I can send off. But you can't just go put a pot of beans in the mailbox. Well, you could, but you'd probably get in trouble.

As I was enjoying myself, I felt sort of bad, because it's not like I'm happy about the fact that people get sick or injured enough to need meals made for them - I don't have some food version of Munchausen by proxy, I promise. Chefhausen by proxy?

I think that cooking and making cards for people are fun because it's something we feel like we can do in a situation where we are otherwise incapable of helping - we can't make people feel better or speed up their recovery time. But we can take away a burden with some yummy meals, and cheer them up with cards, so we do, and it's fun. So next time you feel like saying "let me know if you need anything" - just bring over some soup instead - everyone loves soup, and no one loves asking for help, so it's a win win. I read this article a long time ago and it really stuck with me because I used to say "let me know if you need anything" all the time. It's that Lutheran urge to be non-intrusive, I think. I've tried hard to lose that habit and say - "when can I bring you some: food, water, cards, groceries, whatever? instead. Amazing how many more people take me up on the offer with just that little change in language.

Not long ago, I bought this cute little Newton's Nook stamp set, and again - I'm not happy anyone isn't feeling well so that I get to use it - I'm just happy I get to use it. :)

I colored the kitty with my Caran D'Ache Pablo pencils, and deliberately left some streaks for sort of a stripey, furry kitty look.

The circle is from Simon Says Stamp stitched circles dies, and the cute stripey paper is the new It's My Party DSP stack from Stampin' Up! I created what looks like hard shadows around the kitty with a black pencil before popping the die cut up, and now I realize that the real dimension and the faux dimension sort of blend together and it looks a little flatter here than it does in real life. 

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Hard to tell here but there's clear Wink of Stella on the hat and on the kitty's ruff. 

Wanna stamp with me? The Understand Blue Mini-Retreat for April in Salt Lake is filling up - don't miss your chance! Register here!

And a few things in the random life stuff category - if you want a beautiful, custom address stamp or a stamp with your logo - check out Bossy Joscie - she does gorgeous, fast work, and I love the social media stamps, etc. 

Cat lovers - check out this kickstarter!  I've supported several Kickstarters, including Exploding Kittens and Louie's Box, and always been very happy with my preview products. 

I recently discovered a source for non-Chinese ginger and Turmeric too - it's grown on Fiji. Not cheap, but also not made of floor sweepings from a political prison. Also this is SIX OUNCES of ginger - that is a ton of ginger.

I am reading a non-fiction book right now, and I will say up front it's not for everyone - at times, it's very difficult to get through - but it's powerful. Also, by "reading" I mean "listening to on Audible." It's about a story that I never heard about - even though these events took place before the glorious 100% news blackout I've been on for many years. It's called Five Days at Memorial - and it's the story of five days at Memorial Hospital after Hurricane Katrina, where doctors and nurses were indicted for euthanizing patients, so that the staff could leave the hospital, which flooded a few days after the hurricane, and had also lost power. It's interesting because stories like this remind me of fiction like Lord of the Flies, Blindness (one of my top ten favorite books ever), and Jude the Obscure - none of them cheery in the least - but all of them grappling with that ethical question about just what you would do when the world goes to hell in a handbasket. I'm a very sunny, Pooh Bear type person, but I'm also a world class Irish Worryer Girl Scout - and I worry constantly about being prepared for things - and so I think that's why I'm drawn to these stories about people being tested. Part of it is information gathering - so I know what to do should the zombie apocalypse surprise me. I also think it it speaks to my belief in self-reliance - because if this book shows you nothing else, it shows you that the government and your health care system are not going to be there for you when things get hot, dark and dirty. That's a fact, my people. You, your family and friends are the ones who you should rely on when the zombies are headed your way.

It's a really, really powerful book and if you have the stomach for it, I recommend it. One of my favorite audiobook "sherpas" - someone who always recommends books I end up loving - Vicki Doyle - recommended this one to me.  Thanks Vicki!

If you have any audiobooks you love, I'd love for you to leave them in the comments - I don't really make time for paper books any more - I'd rather be watercoloring with an audiobook going. (And please note I say "make" time - we all have the same amount of time, and we all get to decide what to do with it. Unless, of course, you're on hold with AT&T.)

Anyway - thank you for stopping by! Make food for someone and listen to a good book this week - life is short! :)


Monday, January 25, 2016

A Sleeping Giant - AWAKE - BEHOLD, @sears !

I love it when a big, lumbering brand can beat back my cynicism with surprise and delight.

Someday, I pray, that AT&T will do this, but for obvious reasons, I'm not holding my breath.

But one brand did it this weekend, and my hat is so off, that it's like I never even had a hat.

That brand? Sears.

Yes, first of all, they are still in business.

Yes, they are still in the mall.

No, I haven't darkened the door of a mall or a Sears in 20 years.

But today - they surprised and delighted me.

We have a side by side refrigerator. It's an Amana, and it's beautiful and reliable, but the reality of a side by side fridge/freezer is that once you put a single serving (pint) of Hagen Dasz coffee ice cream into the freezer -  it's FULL and the ice cream will come shooting out and break a meta-tarsal the next time you open the door.

They are beyond impractical for people who love to make their own broth, or cook for the future as I like to do. I love making soups and stews and freeze-able things for me and my parents or friends who have surgery etc. - it's just something that brings me peace knowing that I can provide a meal for us or someone else because I did a little work in the past. I also REALLY like buying vegetables in season, and I love saving them for the seasons they aren't available. For example, during cherry fest at Whole Foods, I typically buy 6 pounds of cherries (they have a daily limit, which I'm quite certain was imposed because of me), and I freeze two pounds, make jam with two pounds, and make my homemade maraschino cherries for me and my sister with the last two pounds. Don't even ASK how many pounds of roasted hot Hatch chiles I buy during Hatch fest every year. I freeze endless quantities of Hatch puree for salsas and enchiladas throughout the year. Chiles and cherries might actually be my two favorite foods.

So it was high time for us to get an actual functional freezer that could fit some actual food in it.

We decided on a small upright from Sears, and chose the order online, in-store pickup option.

And thereupon discovered the magic of this giant, ancient company.

Today we decided to pick it up. We drove to Sears at the (shudder) mall, and parked in the pickup spot. We entered a little vestibule - not even the store, and saw a machine with instructions on it to scan our order barcode from our phone - wow - hello modern times! I scanned my bar code from my phone, and instantly my name and a timer appeared on a giant monitor on the wall.

In 3 minutes and 56 seconds, a nice young man appeared with our freezer on a dolly - and he quickly put it in the truck.

I was sort of paralyzed by the awesomeness of this instantaneous service.

It made me want to buy ALL THE THINGS from Sears.

Also at this magical machine, I noticed that you can return things. Scan your receipt, a person appears in UNDER five minutes guaranteed or you get a gift card, takes your items and your refund is returned to the purchasing card.

MAGICAL. They solved my one huge issue with shopping, which is actually entering a store of any kind - it gives me hives. Unless it's a craft store (I'm not deranged.)

All the respect to Sears. Who knew? Also, who knew that the latest hairy, unkempt hipster weird trend is grown men with skateboards? We probably saw a dozen of them in that 3 minutes and 56 seconds. SUPER weird.Shave and use your feet, people. That's all I ask.

Today post-freezer - I had some fun with a few stamp sets - the Number of Years Bundle, Bloomin' Love bundle, and the Sophisticated Script alphabet from Concord & 9th - all the letters connect so it's easy to make full words. I added some sequins from the Watercolor Wishes kit - defying all sequin hoarding instincts.

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Fun, right? I overstamped each one with the mini MISTI to make sure they were solid and bright - I liked the contrast of the crisp images from Bloomin' Love with the softer ones from Number of Years. 

True confession - I put this card in the mail today to Greg & Angie at Concord & 9th - WITHOUT AN ADDRESS. AND WITHOUT A RETURN ADDRESS. If this card makes it to them with just Greg & Angie c/o Concord & 9th - it will make everyone in the world a believer in miracles. 

Now for some EXCITING news - more exciting than the freezer - that's my mini-retreat in Salt Lake in conjunction with OnStage Live!

This will be from 10-3 (or 4) Wednesday - you will get a bag full of goodies and five hours of fabulous projects and techniques and the fellowship of your favorite stampers in the world! What could be better than that?

I deliberately keep these small, and I keep the price low - this is not a profit event, it's a fellowship event, so I'm just covering room cost & supplies, and as usual, I'll have FABULOUS prizes :).

Because it's small, it's first come, first-served, so don't wait - sign up here! And, if you are on my team, or join my team before the event, you will get a special reward at the event.

PS - today was the first day of the AMAZING Intermediate Watercolor class at Online Card Classes - I was in AWE of today's content. If you want to learn watercolor, this is the way to do it - Dawn Woleslagle is an incredible teacher, and also just a really sweet, beautiful, funny, kind girl. If you haven't spent your crafty budget this month - this is where you need to spend it.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

We Dreamed Of This Freedom

Do you remember - probably at moments when your irrational parents denied your request to have ONLY a Cadbury Fruit & Nut and a Coke for dinner and made you eat something horrid, like real food - a certain pledge you made to yourself?

(I'll pause while you fight back the feelings of resentment this has brought up.)

And then do you remember discussing in great deal with your friends the wide variety of candy and delightful baked goods you'd be having for dinner EVERY SINGLE NIGHT when you grew up?

The ferocity of that vow was so intense - we swore this again and again, while enduring the mania of our oppressors, who were so deranged as to think that SPINACH was an appropriate source of evening nutrition.

We marked the days until our all Now & Later & Pop Rocks dinners on the walls of our minds, like POWs.

And then - oddly - sometime in between those moments and real adulting, we all forgot that the whole POINT of surviving to adulthood is so that you can have candy for dinner.

What a cruel amnesia that is.

But tonight, I saw a post from my friend Vanessa that gave me hope that we call all still live the life we dreamed of as little tots.

This is the photo she posted of her dinner.
 She's living the dream we all dreamed.

We longed for this night as children, and she made it happen.

Let's not forget what it was like to be 7 and dream of what adulting would be like. Let's get out our crayons, our Lucky Charms and a nice cabernet and just retreat from the boring spinach-filled evenings every now and then. Life is short, and it should be magically delicious. Thank you, Vanessa, for this carpe diem moment.

I went to a crafty lunch with my sister yesterday - we vow to do these and then don't make enough time. We need to - they are fun.

I became briefly delusional, and somehow thought I was going to watercolor 20 roses over my lunch break, but that was nutty. I finished exactly one. But I like it!

The stamp image is from the Rose Wonder Bundle - gorgeous set with beautiful, intricate dies - and I stamped it in Daffodil Delight so that I could no-line watercolor. I used my Koi Watercolor to do that.

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Really fun and relaxing to do. I love the BIG canvas of this image - I like the freedom to blend color in larger images. 

This weekend I have my Balloon Celebration class, which is also my newest online class, featuring three designs that are punchy and simple, and perfect for making a big stack of birthday or all occasion cards. 

 I am excited because I have some new students coming and I always love people who are new to stamping catching the bug!

Oh and I have an AMAZING recipe for you - I made these this week after having them at an event and they are incredible! You do need a food processor for this recipe, which I realize is out of character for me.


Date Truffles (Vegan, Paleo, adapted slightly from this recipe)
makes about 2 dozen (original recipe says this but no it doesn’t)

2 cups cashews
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups soft Medjool dates, pitted (If you can get Del Real dates - they are AMAZING, whereas gross dried pitted dates from grocery stores are just sad - pitting is easy and quick)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the cashews and coconut until crumbly. Add in the dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process again until a sticky, uniform batter is formed.

Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons, then roll between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving. Store the balls in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.
Then I also have two book recommendations for you - they are both GREAT recommendations from friends, and I will now always listen to these friends. Big Magic - a fantastic book about creativity and the creative process, and Born With Teeth - a memoir, read by the author, Kate Mulgrew. 
When I get home from class I might just have a dinner of Pop Rocks in my blanket fort.


Friday, January 15, 2016

In Mourning for Longmire

Normally I don't watch shows until they've been out for several seasons.

That's what I did for Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, Person of Interest and every other show since LOST.

See, I watched LOST in real time and it was AGONIZING to a) watch commercials and b) wait in between episodes and in between seasons.

After every episode we used to gather around at work and breathlessly theorize about what the last episode's cliffhanger meant.

It took years off my life.

So, on the advice of my mother, I finally started watching Longmire.

Unfortunately, it was too awesome to pace out, and so I finished the fourth season tonight.

And the 5th season isn't coming until the fall.

And I'm sad. If you haven't seen this show - start watching it - it's spectacular in every way.


I love the bigger sense of justice in the show - it's most definitely a Western ethic - and I get it. It might be weird if you if you are from a more crowded place, but it's definitely something you *get* if you live in the Southwest, or have any contact with big spaces and tribal nations - a big part of the allure is that it's filmed in New Mexico, which is my favorite place on earth.

Walt has such a transcendent sense of right and wrong that is larger and more ancient than modern law. And honestly, fairer. Free of some of the noise of modern life. And, as a result, of course, the tragedies are bigger too. It's like Cormac McCarthy, Tony Hillerman and Thomas Hardy got put in a big blender and a TV show came out.

BUT - I now have to wait 9 months to see what happens and I'm not happy about it.

Not happy about it at all.

So I thought I'd pick a sort of western theme for today's video. I brought out the In the Meadow stamp set and did a bit of no line watercolor. Super easy and fun to do - the stamp set lends itself to watercolor.

I added a gorgeous sentiment from Concord & 9th By Your Side that I thought really was perfect for this image. The watercolor is my Koi travel set. I combined the Mix-Ability challenge and the Free For All challenge on this card, along with my Longmire tears.

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I did a quick fast forward watercolor video for you, in which someone bossy makes a cameo. Wait for it.

Now it's time for an overdue prize drawing - it's time to give away my Season's Givings prizes!

So here are my winners!

$75 shopping spree in my store!

Mystery Box #1

Mystery Box #2

Congrats to my winners! Email me to claim your prize.

I'm listening to a great book about creativity right now - I highly recommend it - my friend Bev Rousch started me on it - and she never steers me wrong.

It's called Big Magic - and the author is the narrator on Audible if you like audiobooks. Highly recommend.

I'll need a lot of audiobook recommendations to get me through 9 months with no Longmire so lay 'em on me, peeps!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

CHA Wrap-up

I had this crazy idea that I'd come home from CHA and be able to make a card or film a video or do something creative after absorbing the creative energy of my beloved tribe.

Sadly that was not to be today - duty calls.

But back in my quiet office, I've had time to process this trip and the experience, and I'm really in awe of the crafting industry.

I was in the lighting/electrical contracting business for nearly 20 years, and I attended a lot of industry shows. The format is the same no matter what industry you're in. The manufacturers buy booths, the retailers and distributors buy products. People make deals, track their budgets and form new relationships. The booths are sparkly creations dreamed up by talented designers. There are giveaways and swag. Everyone's feet hurt. You eat hot dogs. You drink terrible coffee.

But in all of my career, and all the shows I've been to - none have what CHA has.

CHA has love.

At CHA, the people you are doing business with are dearly beloved friends. They are people that you squeal when you see, and people that bring tears to your eyes when they leave. When they place orders, they are placing them with friends they've sent cards to, or will send cards to.

I can assure you no one is dying to take a selfie with their lighting rep.

But we were all dying to preserve just all the moments with all the talented people we love and admire.

And the people are GOOD people. Ethical people. People who care deeply about their customers and their retailers. They are friends. It's so, so unusual in an industry where the dollars are huge to see pure love and real friendship on this scale.

Some of the people who are just incredibly kind-hearted friends are the owners of your favorite stamp companies. Kelly Marie Alvarez from Lawn Fawn - you could not ask for a sweeter friend. Kelly always gets my secret Lydia Fiedler booth design award - her style is so whimsical and sweet.

Tasnim Ahmed from Altenew - gorgeous, sweet woman with a beautiful voice and a killer design sense. I am so lucky to have spent time with her. Her booth was incredible and you couldn't have gotten into it with a shoehorn.

Libby and Aaron from Hero Arts - you could not find two nicer people on the planet. I actually think that kittens and puppies seem harsh in comparison to these two. What an amazing company. So grateful that they took time to talk to me for a bit.

Greg Cottrell from Concord & 9th - Greg and Angie define sweetness and class. They are a joy to be around, and I'm thrilled for their success. They deserve it. Prepare for surprise and delight if you do business with them. Surprise and delight is my favorite.

My sweet friend and Splitcoast co-worker Dina Kowal, who owns DK Designs and has images with Impression Obsession, among others. Mitra - the owner of IO is a stellar human and runs a great business.

My other sweet friend and beloved Splitcoast co-worker, Lori Craig - is an instructor for Copic Marker, infinitely talented, and our advertising ninja. Also pictured are Dina, Michelle Woerner (who I FINALLY met) and Jeanne Streiff - our lead moderator at Splitcoast and a dear friend. Jeanne runs many design teams and does design work for many of your favorite brands, including Sizzix and Impression Obsession. Michelle works with Richard Garay.

It's just incredibly gratifying to work in an industry where you are always among friends. I didn't get a selfie with Heidi from Simon Says Stamp, but I wanted to say what a bright light she is - sweet, caring, funny as all get out, and would give you the shirt off her back.

I also didn't get a selfie with Suzy from So Suzy Stamps - but that woman - if I could have kidnapped her and forced her to be my neighbor, I would have. She and her mother are so much fun - if you are in New Mexico - please go see her. And prepare to laugh.

Iliana Myska - the inventor of the MISTI - had a fantastic show - she won the Hot Product award for the Mini and Mega MISTI (also called the Memory MISTI - it holds a 12x12 scrapbook layout) - and I have never seen a more deserving win. I cried like a FOOL. She is such a kind, smart girl - her inventor brain never stops. I could not be more grateful to her for her incredible inventions and for her friendship, and her ability to gather great people together for good.  She is now selling wholesale across the globe, so look for her products in independent stores in March. Simon Says Stamp has carried her products from the beginning and is on my list of beloved brands.

Now, on to some of my fave products from the show - things I hadn't seen before.

There were some BEAUTIFUL parchment craft tools from GROOVI / Clarity Stamp. I went 100% complete crazy fan girl when I met Barbara Gray at the booth - I adore her.

 Another hot product winner in a different category was Kat & Duke - a fantastic line of accessories for altering cardboard boxes for kids - I told them they need to make some for cats. Apparently I was not the only one that suggested that. Hashtag - crazycatladies.

Incredible hand carved shesham wood stamps from India - I just want to buy these and put them on a shelf - gorgeous. The company is Block Wallah. There's a lovely lady from Finland that started it and then moved to India to grow the business. Very cool, nice people.

Of course - Tim Holtz' crazy cats! I never figured out how to distract them all so I could come home with a set of these. Sorry Tina!

The Tattered Lace Dies booth was AMAZING - so many super intricate dies, dies for fondant - just really unusual designs that don't look like anything else on the market.

This booth - Two Lips Stamps - made me CACKLE - every one of their sentiments are hilarious. My friend Tina told me that Leslie loved these stamps.

I thought these Alice in Wonderland colorable cardstocks by Marion Smith were amazing.

A hot product finalist had the CUTEST product - again for kids - the kids products were incredible this year - these are little Buttoon-ies kits for critters you can make with buttons and some foam pieces and thread - no needles or anything that isn't safe for kids. REALLY adorable.  They also make on of my other fave products called Proggys - which are kits for plushies where you push felt through burlap with a big wood needle - not sharp. Another great kid craft.

And here are some of my favorite people on earth - Iliana, Kelly Latevola, Danielle Walls - owner of Neat & Tangled, Tasnim Ahmed of Altenew, Laura Bassen, Debby Hughes, and Dawn Woleslagle from WPlus9. I call this photo the creativity bomb - the talent here - wow.

Here was a late night selfie by master selfie artist Susan Opel, of MFT. Everyone here is amazing, and I love them dearly.

I saw Jennifer McGuire on day 2, I think, and I asked her what I asked everyone who stopped by the MISTI booth - "So what's your favorite thing you've seen so far at the show?" She said "People."

Don't think I can top that.

People are my favorite craft supply.


(PS - I'll be back tomorrow with my prize winners from Season's Givings - I'm behind - forgive me.)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

If Craft Products Were Sold by Big Pharma

You know I have a pet peeve about drug ads. I really miss the days when you and your medical conditions were discussed out of my earshot in your doctor's office.

I don't need to hear a long list of someone's embarassing fungal symptoms while I'm just trying to watch The Middle and have a pizza.

I also do not need to hear what is going to happen to the fungal victim should they try to seek treatment with this company's drug - the results of which are FAR worse than the fungus. The drug causes cancer, blindness, eyeball rupture and club feet - but it does WONDERS on the fungus. There's always 10 seconds of positive and 20 seconds of side effects.

Then three months later, you start seeing the class action lawsuit ads for the drug.

They should just combine them. 10 seconds of yay - your fungus will be gone, 10 seconds of Stephen King level  side effects, and 10 seconds of class action information sponsored by Dewey, Cheatham & Howe.

It's to the point now where I'm actually starting to think that all the big drug companies are just fronts for law firms. Pretty good idea, if you think about it.

I was wondering what would happen if craft products were forced to be marketed the same way.

Ads for the latest stamp & die bundle might go like this.

In an excited voice, a woman who sounds like a cross between Martha Stewart and Gwen Stefani says: "WAIT until you see the new Fuzzy Bunny stamp and die bundle - it's going to change your crafting life forever. Stamp little bunnies and cut them out in seconds, enlivening your spring crafting projects, bringing you inner peace and making you skinnier."

And then, at 10x speed in a voice more like Voldemort's, she says "Use of this stamp and die bundle may lead to stained hands, clothing and carpet. Dies may get lost or stuck to the back of your MISTI for months, causing you extreme anxiety. You may be accused of hoarding. You may BE hoarding. You may buy a brand new storage system based on this product alone. This may lead to you taking over the family dining room. You may scream at family members until you find your bunny die. You may experience feelings of wantmonster over other unbought bunnies. Say goodbye to the top of your desk for a few months. Craft Corp is not responsible for the hours spent on Pinterest looking for ideas for this bundle. You will see videos by Jennifer McGuire with other bunnies, neglect your bunnies and buy more bunnies. You may forget to bathe or feed people while playing with bunnies. You may buy six new packages of pink cardstock trying to find the perfect match. Bunnies may lead to the purchase of 400 Copic markers and refills. You may accidentally drink watercolor water while Instagramming your bunnies. If you feel you have been harmed by Craft Corp's bunnies, you may be entitled to compensation - contact Dewey, Cheatham & Howe today.

Today I'm the guest at the Fusion Card Challenge blog, thanks to my friend Stef, and this was our inspiration piece:

I KNEW what I was going to use the second I saw it.

First, I took the Brights Pattern pack and cut various width strips - I didn't measure - just random. I flipped some upside down to make the chevron pattern - I think I saw this first from Brian King.

Then I adhered them to a white card base, and cut an opening with my Ovals framelits, and stamped the sentiment from Enjoy the Little Things on the inside of the card.

Then I cut two roses with the Rose Garden Thinlits - one white and one Melon Mambo. I covered the back of the Melon Mambo outline with tape, and pieced the white pieces back into the outline and attached it to the card. The sequins are from the Watercolor Wishes kit - they are my fave sequins - so iridescent and pretty.

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Thanks for a fun challenge Stef!

I'm off to CHA so I'll be peeking things soon on my other channels.


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