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Sunday, March 30, 2014

15 Pieces 15 Outfits: Spring or Fall Packing

I have been wanting to share the clothes I brought on our 2 week Europe trip last year. It was in late May/early June however we had some weird rainy and cool weather so it was more like Spring or Fall weather than summer. Now that Spring weather is about here fingers crossed it seemed like a great time to do this post. If you are taking a trip this Spring or Fall I hope this is helpful for what to clothes to bring for 2 weeks. If it is not going to be quite as cool, you can easily cut down on the outerwear items but with the weather we had I definitely needed them. I will share how I packed my clothes plus other items in my 1 carry-on (the Aeronaut) and handbag in a future post.

  • Pink and white striped top: Banana Republic Outlet, similar, similar
  • Purple top: Loft Outlet, similar
  • Mint graphic top: Loft Outlet, similar, similar
  • Gray graphic top: Target, similar
  • White long sleeved top: Loft Outlet, similarsimilar - this is also a great layering piece under other tops and dresses

*black leggings are also pictured (explanation under the Accessories section)



Items not counted in the # of pieces but that I still limited
  • Black leggings- Victoria's Secret, similar  - I almost included this in the count but they are as small as a scarf and you wouldn't have to pack them if it was going to be a tad warmer
  • Scarves- Francesca's - floral scarf similar & blue geometric scarf similar (plus a purple scarf I borrowed from my SIL one day but not necessarily needed for that outfit)
  • Jewelry- various earrings and necklaces that went with most of the outfits and didn't take up much space
Changing up accessories are a great way to make an outfit feel unique and don't forget you can share/swap if you are travelling with other ladies


Even though shoes are not in the pieces count, I kept it to two. If you needed to bring a million different shoes to go with your clothes that defeats the purpose of packing light and having a remixable wardrobe. Just make sure you can walk all day in your shoes without problems. Not once did my feet hurt on this trip because my shoes were comfortable.

Here are the 15 outfit combinations I wore on our 15 day trip. Some of the pictures I took on our trip and some I recreated later because I didn't have a photo of just me in the outfit or I was wearing my rain jacket over my outfit.

Here are 3 bonus outfit combinations that I didn't wear but it was nice to know I could have worn three additional outfits (without any additional pieces) had we gotten delayed or I wanted a outfit change. I suppose I could have also called this 15 Pieces 18 Outfits but that just doesn't have the same ring to it.

The images above are examples of photos I took of my trip wardrobe remix on my phone before packing. Each day before getting dressed I could look at them to easily choose an outfit instead of spending time trying to remember how I wanted to pair pieces together for 15+ unique looks. So as you can see below the images on the left-hand side turned into outfits I wore on the right-hand side.

Hopefully this is useful for someone else planning a trip! It was actually fun figuring out what combinations and how many combinations I could make and bring the least amount of clothes items. I wish I had done a better job of this when we went to Italy but I will utilize wardrobe remixing again for future trips.

Linking up to: What I Wore Wednesday, What I Wore to Work, Because Shanna Said So, Tucker Up, PTMT Get Pin-spired, Tip Junkie

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What I Wore: Big polka dots

I picked this sweater up for a steal over a month ago and had always wanted a polka dot sweater so I was very excited to wear it. I'm not as excited about it still being sweater weather here but if it is at least I have a cute polka dot one. It is supposed to warm up again in a couple days and fingers crossed it stays warm this time!

Blue polka dot sweater: Banana Republic Outlet, similar, I could only find one in blue but found some other colors: black, ivory, coral, black and white, gray
Black pants: The Limited, very similarsimilar
Gray boots: Born, similar, similar, similar
Pink necklace: Towne & Reese
Pink earrings: Towne & Reese, similar
Silver nail polish: Sephora (found at Marshalls), similar

Linking up to: What I Wore WednesdayWhat I Wore to WorkBecause Shanna Said So, Tucker Up

Monday, March 24, 2014

30th birthday gift idea

30 Gifts for Turning 30

My SIL turned the big 3-0 in the fall and I realized that I never shared this awesome 30th birthday gift idea that I did. I gave her 30 different gifts to open. Most of these were small affordable gifts and I utilized the Target dollar spot a bunch but there were a few more expensive gifts like the thirty-one bag and the platter and bowl set and a few $5-$10 gifts like the book and the tea towel. I wanted to have this kind of variety since 30 $1 items doesn't seem as thoughtful.

Here is a list of all the gifts I included and the note I wrote on each tag. Of course you would have to change some of this to fit the birthday girl or guy or perhaps the month/season of their birthday (e.g. the scarecrow is used since she has a fall birthday). An easy place to start is hobbies, teams/sports, activities and food the person enjoys.The key to making this even more fun and thoughtful is to include some inside jokes or personal things that you share with the person through gifts you pick and/or in the notes that accompany them. Note: the photo gifts and the earrings are not pictured above.

The 30 gifts
1. card: for turning 30
2. orbit gum: for a dirty mouth
3. candy: when you need something sweet
4. picture of our niece: when you need something sassy
5. bottle of wine: for after a long day (or even a short day)
6. picture of the 4 of us in Prague: for your adventurous side… and to many many more
7. purple sharpie: for a permanent honey-do list
8. pirate socks: for a pirats girl (inside joke)
9. pack of stationary: for passing notes
10. hand soap: for a germophobe
11. hand sanitizer: for a germophobe on the go
12. pack of travel size tissues: for your sinus challenged side
13. nail polish: to keep your uffizi's in tip top shape (the Uffizi reference is a Rick Steve’s joke from his Florence Italy materials)
14. roll of ribbon: for your wrapping side
15. recipe card with a recipe on it: when you want to cook
16. pack of fun colored baking cups: when you want to bake
17. chevron dish set – platter and bowl in orange and purple: for a clemson fan
18. Christmas tea towel: for the love of Christmas
19. mini altoid mints: because mini is just adorable
20. gummy bears: for your side that enjoys great tips from your SIL :) (from our time in Vienna)
21. silly putty: to make you feel young
22. advil: to make you feel old
23. book: for your reading side
24. cough drops: when you need a good laugh… make sure to make the sound (inside joke)
25. earrings: a little ear candy
26. picture of her with Eric and Keith: for living among twintuition
27. scarecrow: for your decorating side
28. purple tea lights: to let your light shine through
29. doctor kit: for your nurse side (she is a CRNA so this loosely fits)
30. basket: to hold all your stuff on the go

Here are a few close ups of some of the gifts. I made the scalloped tags using cardstock and my Silhouette machine.

This platter set is from Coton Colors. I actually bought this for Megan (and a similar one for myself) around the holidays the year before and had stashed it away for her birthday the next fall.

The organizing bag is from thirty-one. Megan loves all things purple and this was one of their brand new patterns. It was great to have a gift item that all the other gift items could fit in.

I wrapped them all in brown paper (except the pictures and recipe card were put into envelopes and of course her card was in an envelope too) and tied on the tags with purple skinny ribbon. And I loaded them up into the bag and compartments and zipped it shut.

She had a birthday dinner at a restaurant in Columbia, Saluda's, and opened her 30 gifts for turning 30! Some of them definitely made her laugh. 

This was a really fun project to do for someone having a big birthday that you share a lot of memories and adventures with!

Friday, March 21, 2014

What I Wore: Black and Brown

A couple years ago, most anyone including myself would have told you that black and brown do not match. A little over a year ago it started becoming a style to pair black and brown together and if done in the right way they contrast each other nicely. The key seems to be using brown as the accent in most cases. So if you have a black dress or black jeans pair them with brown flats or boots or wear a brown belt as opposed to trying to wear brown pants with black shoes (I just can't see that looking great but who knows what future style trends will be). You also have to make sure the shade of brown is not too dark so it stands out from the black.

I really love color so it's not often you find me wearing a lot of neutrals in one outfit but I do like this mostly black and brown outfit. I did have to sneak in another color with pink earrings :)  I wore this to work and and then out to dinner with friends to a local burger place we like, Bad Daddy's. It was cold and rainy but we still had a great time!

Black sweater dress: Old Navy, very similar, similar, similar, plus size option
Fleece lined black leggings: Marshalls, very similar, very similar - this is the brand I have my fleece tights in, similar not fleece-lined, similar not fleece-lined - I have these last two too!
Leopard infinity scarf: Nordstrom - This $18 leopard scarf is just the right mixture of shades especially for fair skin... I've tried on a few in the past where a color in the leopard too closely matches skin tone and doesn't look right. It is a great patterned scarf to own - so many pairing options! similar
Cognac boots: Born, similar, similar, similar
Cognac belt: Old Navy, similar, similar
Pink earrings: PickYourPlum, similar, similar

Linking up to: What I Wore Wednesday, What I Wore to Work, Because Shanna Said So,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Black Bean Patties with Avocado Tomato Salsa

I pinned this recipe a couple of weeks ago because we love healthy dinners but honestly I think I've only had a black bean burger once before and it was just okay. I don't like the idea of eating an entire patty full of beans but this recipe was promising since it only uses 1 can of beans for 4 servings so I decided to give it a try. I'll mention that Eric was extremely skeptical and said a few times that he might be eating cereal for dinner instead haha. Luckily they were really delicious and we'll definitely be making it again! The tomato/avocado mixture you serve it with adds a wonderful creaminess to the crispy burgers too!

Black Bean Patties with Avocado Tomato Salsa
from: Cookin' Canuck serves 4 (2 patties per serving)

- 3 pieces of day-old or toasted whole wheat sandwich bread
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp jalapeno, minced, seeds and membranes removed
- 1 tsp cumin
- 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/4 cups cooked brown rice (I used a Uncle Ben's microwaveable pouch)
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

- 2 avocados, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half (I used chopped Roma tomatoes since Eric doesn't like cherry)
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
(you could always skip this and use whatever you favorite jar of salsa is instead but I'm such an avocado lover that this salsa is the perfect topping)

Pulse sandwich bread in food processor to form breadcrumbs and then set aside in large bowl. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, then add garlic, jalapeno and cumin for additional 2 minutes. Scrape mixture into food processor.

Add black beans, brown rice, lime juice, salt and pepper to food processor. Pulse until beans are chopped but not pureed. Pour into the large bowl with the breadcrumbs and add cilantro. Stir well until combined.

Form into 8 patties. Place onto baking sheet lined with plastic wrap. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 4 patties and cook for 4 minutes on each side (there should be a nice crust on each side). Repeat with remaining 4 patties and 1 Tbsp oil.

To make the salsa gently stir together tomatoes, avocado and lime juice. Note: if you are not eating all the servings at one time (the two of us had this for two nights) then just use 1 avocado and make half of the mixture and make it fresh when you eat the leftovers another day.

Serve 2 patties topped with tomato avocado salsa. We also roasted some red potatoes and served those with our patties as well.

Although it is not super quick to make, (due to the chilling in the fridge and whatnot) this one is definitely a keeper! The leftovers tasted just as good heated up in the microwave. So if you are unsure of bean burgers (or meatless meals), this is a great recipe to try!

Monday, March 17, 2014

What I Wore: Happy St Patrick's Day

This has been by far the worst St. Patrick's Day weather I ever remember... 35 degrees and rainy/icy all day... yuck! How is it the middle of March? So yes, as you may have guessed I did not actually have this photo today and it's a good thing I didn't try for any outfit photos today. I hope Spring comes to stay soon!

I meant to throw on a gold necklace with this (like the one I wore here) but forgot so just pretend there is one :)

Green Sweater: Loft Outlet, similar, similar, similar - on sale
Black and white skirt: Loft Outlet, similarsimilar - really cheap, similar - polka dot, similarsimilarsimilar
Tan ankle booties: Target- sold out, very similar Target optionsimilarsimilar
Black leggings: Nordstrom - this is the newest pair of leggings I own (bought a few months ago) and I like them because they are thicker than my Victoria's Secret leggings (also great leggings) for cooler days but not as thick/warm as fleece leggings and they are super comfy. They run several inches long on me since they do not come in various lengths but they work great with boots by rolling them up. Yep, 3 different types of leggings for different purposes!
Black earrings: Towne & Reese, very similarsimilar, similar

Linking up to: What I Wore WednesdayWhat I Wore to WorkBecause Shanna Said So

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Round pedestal table redo

I am excited to share a furniture redo with y'all since I haven't done one in awhile. I took a scratched and beat up Craigslist table and turned it into the perfect kitchen table.

Early last year when we already knew the floor plan of our new house and that we would have a breakfast area in the kitchen, I began stalking Craigslist for a round pedestal table. I wanted it to be solid wood and have a leaf. Fortunately this was one of the shortest amounts of time I've hunted on Craigslist for something... in just a few weeks I spotted this ad and it meet both my criteria.

I contacted the seller and we drove to Rock Hill one day after work and grabbed it for just $60. If I had to guess I'd say the wood is oak.

Then it sat for awhile in our garage while we were selling our first house. When we moved to our new home, we set it up in the kitchen and just used it as is for awhile so we could have a kitchen table. Although we didn't have any chairs so we used folding chairs. Super classy I know.

In the fall we sanded it down with a palm sander using two different grits and wiped it down really well.

I hadn't decided yet what color I wanted to stain it or if I might paint it so I decided we should bring it back inside and use it for awhile while I made up my mind. Well after a few weeks and showing it to a few people, I kept saying how much I really liked it in it's natural or raw wood state. I was surprised because normally I like a medium or dark stain and it never crossed my mind to leave it natural looking but there was just something about the way it went so well with the dark wood floors and the white cabinets.

Here it is when we had a Clemson Bowl Game party at the beginning of January. Yep, totally digging the chairs ;)

And a better photo of it just in it's sanded form.

Well of course life got in the way over the holidays and such but finally a few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon putting on two coats of Minwax polycryllic (with fine sanding in between) to seal it and make it easy to wipe down. Before doing this, any time we used it we had to be really careful not to place anything that could leave a water ring or something. Polycryllic is key to sealing your furniture pieces and is non-yellowing whether you use paint or stain or nothing and I've seen it in choices of satin or glossy. I used satin. I also used the same thing on my Goodwill Dresser redo which I painted.

I am so happy with the after!

I didn't take any photos of the table leaf but applied the same redo process to it.

I also was stalking Craigslist for practically a year for 6 chairs for the table (started looking for these at the same time as the table) which I wanted to be all wood and not too big. Most of the time we would use four but I wanted two extras for whenever we used the leaf plus it never hurts to have a couple extra chairs around. After not finding what I was looking for (most had that wide fanned back with vertical rungs or were dining room chairs), I finally gave in and purchased some Threshold Dining Chairs from Target. They have a low back and are not large which is nice so there is no obstructing the view out the glass sliding door and they do not feel bulky yet they are solid wood.

I am very satisfied with the purchase and by ordering them during a sale they were only $38 per chair... not too bad. These will not be staying the same and keeping their dark wood stain... I have big plans for these in the future!

I really enjoy furniture redo's and seeing the before/after. Have you redone any furniture lately? This project has me excited to redo more.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What I Wore: Dinner in Columbia

We went to Columbia the first weekend in March to visit Keith and Megan. This was before a yummy Italian dinner at a local restaurant. You wouldn't believe how many shots it took with my phone to get this one photo that I could use. There may have been a few many drinks involved beforehand and lots of laughing and shaky hands. Thanks to Megan for coming through with an unblurry photo.

Gray & white striped sweater: Loft Outlet, similar, similar, similar
Coral skinny jeans: Loft, similar, similar, similar
Teal long lean tank: Target
Cognac faux leather jacket: Target, similar, similar
Cognac boots: Bornsimilarsimilarsimilar
Turquoise necklace: Vintage Warehouse in Lakeland, FL, similar
Turquoise earrings: Apricot Lane Boutique in Charlotte, similar, similar

Linking up to: What I Wore WednesdayWhat I Wore to WorkBecause Shanna Said So

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My nail polish routine

I used to rarely paint my nails (or have my nails painted). Having my nails painted was seriously only for special occasions like when I got engaged, got married and maybe for a vacation. If I ever did paint them myself another time they only lasted a couple of days before chipping or peeling and that didn't make it worth it to me.

I did paint my toenails frequently and my SIL recently introduced me to a top coat that was wonderful so I decided to try out painting my finger nails again. I read up some tips from other bloggers and did a bit of trial and error myself and this is what I have found that works best (I am no nail expert so if anyone else has tips those are more than welcome). The polish lasts and nails look great for at least a week... a few times it has even looked good for 10 days!

1. Cuticle cream - once or twice a week I use this cuticle cream. It smells wonderful and you can also find it at Walmart or Target.

2. When I paint my nails, I do it in the evening after I have showered and brushed my teeth, flossed, etc. etc. (done anything that might mess my nails up). Then I have an entire night of sleep where my nails are resting too before using them :)

3. First I use a base coat. I make sure to let that set and dry for 20 minutes. (I do all of this just while watching tv so it doesn't seem like a lengthy process)

4. Next I do two coats of nail polish. As I mentioned I recently added to my collection of nail polish by buying the more expensive brands at Marshalls/TJMaxx where they are marked down to $5 or less. My go to brand from Walmart or Target is Revlon Colorstay - $5, many colors to pick from and as the name suggests they do a great job of staying on. I make sure to wait 10-15 minutes after the first coat and after the 2nd coat.

I have both of these two colors and love them!

5. Then finally I do a top coat. This Sally Hansen Mega Shine Top Coat is what my SIL told me about and is the best top coat I've ever used. Although I have read a few bloggers mentioning a top coat from Ulta called Seche Ultra V so I may try that out at some point.

 Sounds like a lot but it's really not if you just do this as you are watching tv and having it last a week or more makes it worth it to me so I paint my nails now much more frequently. Hope these tips help you out!

Monday, March 10, 2014

What I Wore: Red Lips

What I wore to work. I don't think I've ever worn red lipstick unless it was for a dance performance or a play or something where I was supposed to. Again, red just can seems harsh and it's not a color I'm drawn to and sometimes red lipstick can look cheap if not done well. I saw this lipstick listed as a color that was great for fair skin tones so I bought it many months ago and hadn't worn it yet. It seemed appropriate to wear it with the red necklace so I busted it out and I did like it.. of course I think you need to be wearing the right colors in your outfit to make it work.

Also I figured I'd start better labeling my outfit posts so they all don't have the same title  :)

Black herringbone blazer: Loft Outlet, very similarsimilar, similar
Cobalt sweater: Banana Republic Outlet, similar, similar
Black pants: The Limited, very similar, similar
Black boots: really old Aerosoles, similar, similar
Red necklace: Pick Your Plum, similar, similar
Lipstick: Revlon True Red
Silver earrings: made by me

I have no idea what is going on with my right pant leg... guessing it was windy.

Linking up to: What I Wore WednesdayWhat I Wore to WorkBecause Shanna Said So

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Best Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

Whether you love your crock pot and use it all the time or are thinking "I never remember to use that thing... isn't it only good for chili?", you SHOULD make this crock pot recipe. It is super simple so you cannot mess it up and it tastes delicious. This is a dish to please everyone.

Below is a double batch recipe. If you are going to chop a few things and get your slow cooker out, might as well make more so that you don't have to do it as frequently. It freezes wonderfully. That being said, feel free to cut in half if you choose.

The Best Crock Pot Shredded Chicken
serves 8-10

- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 cups zesty Italian dressing
- 6 minced garlic cloves or equivalent of minced garlic in a jar
- 2 tablespoons of chili powder
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (you can leave this out or use parsley instead)

Put everything into the crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Note: It will not hurt for it to go longer. I have left it on low for 10 hours before with no problem (eventually I will get a new crock pot that has a timer and switches to warm).

Shred chicken with two forks.

Before cooking

After cooking and then after shredding

We usually have chicken tacos or chicken taco salad with this chicken but it would also be wonderful over rice, over pasta or on a bun with some cheese, lettuce and tomato. You could even add some BBQ sauce for BBQ chicken sandwiches. Or this chicken would go great in anything else Mexican food related... burrito, enchilada, nachos, you name it.

We love this chicken and others I've served it too like it as well! I've had many requests for the recipe so it was about time I posted about it. It is a staple in our house and I make a batch about once a month. It is also great for parties as it can serve a lot of people and can even be adjusted to make more as long as you have a big enough crock pot.

If anyone finds any other delicious ways to use this shredded chicken, please share!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What I Wore

A few years ago, when I first bought this light brownish color of pants for work I wasn't quite sure what colors would look good with them but they were a thicker material which I wanted for cooler days. Turns out they go great with orchid, magenta, dark blues, black, purple and as you can see orange. Clemson was playing basketball on this day so I decided to incorporate some tiger pride into my outfit!

Orange sweater: Banana Republic Outlet, similar, similar
Light brown pants: The Limited, similar
Multicolored chevron scarf: Julie's Boutique, similar
Brown boots: really old Aerosoles, similar, similar
Orange chandelier earrings: Towne and Reese, similar

Linking up to: What I Wore WednesdayWhat I Wore to WorkBecause Shanna Said So

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The BIG snow

Since it still feels like winter around here (with sleet and freezing rain yesterday), it seems fitting to post about our huge (huge for Charlotte that is) snowstorm several weeks ago.

The news had been predicting at least 6 inches for us over the course of two days (Feb 12th and 13th) but anyone around here will tell you they can tend to overreact and overestimate the change of snow. Nevertheless, my work sent an email telling us to work from home on Wednesday if we could. There had been a few flurries I saw swirling about from my cube on the 30th floor the previous evening but it was rain on the ground level. When I woke up Wednesday I expected to see snow on the ground... well there was nothing. I remember thinking there is no way we will get 6 inches if there is nothing now. Then about 10am it starting coming down and continued the whole day.

After I finished working Wednesday I went outside to get a few shots while the snowing had paused for a bit.

The crazy thing is it continued to snow through the night and the next day (they once again told us to work from home). It was the hardest snowfall I'd ever seen. Granted I haven't spent time up north growing up in FL but I've been on a few West Virginia ski trips and a NC mountains ski trip where it has snowed but never snowfall like this was. Around 2pm it stopped snowing and the sun came out so Eric and I ventured outside. We had at least 8 inches of snow... 9 inches probably in some places! Wow! Usually the most we ever get in Charlotte is 2-3 inches.

Thank goodness I have these super fab velcro snow shoes/boots from high school (for a couple of those ski trips I mentioned). Looks like I'm about to hop in my Delorean and head back to the future!

All the kids in our neighborhood were having a great time. This was the perfect snow for sledding, snowball fights and making snow angels. I tried to talk Eric into making snow angels but was unsuccessful.

Clearly tigers love the snow.

Temps at this point were above freezing so the snow was starting to very slowly melt but things were icy too. We decided to make a quick Walmart run with Justin who had been working up here/staying with us through the storm. Let's just say we had quite the interesting time getting out of our neighborhood on the snowy/icy roads even in his monster vehicle.

We saw that Walmart was closed (you know its a big snow when Walmart closes) as well as any other businesses/restaurants we had passed (McDonalds, Chickfila, etc.) but our favorite pizza place, Tony's, was luckily open and probably doing quite well for being the only place open. At 4:30 it was pretty busy. So we grabbed a pizza for dinner later and made the drive back to the house. Since a few others must have ventured out too, the neighborhood roads were a little easier to navigate.

Of course it got below freezing again that night and everything that was beginning to melt iced over so I worked from home again. They did a great job plowing the main roads so we had no issues making a trip to Columbia the next day to see Eric's family. Wouldn't want to miss making cupcakes with this adorable girl, now would I? Blue icing and all.

Even though temps continued to climb (even up to 60 degrees one day) and the snow was slowly melting, I could still see snow a week later... that's how much snow there was! I'm sure any of you who live like this all winter or see snow all of the time don't find this exciting but we thoroughly enjoyed our beautiful wintry wonderland. Although we were really ready to get back into the office the Monday after!

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