Hello, I'm glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your visit. It has been said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This blog is about me, my adventures, silly moments, and keeping in touch with you. Life is exciting and so full of possibilities, so let's enjoy the journey together.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Primary & Play-dough

On Sunday I taught primary.  The lesson was on the Golden Rule and the lesson suggested making playdough for the children to make something that resembled a treasure that was special to them.  So I got to work and made some playdough.

I have to admit that it was kind of fun. . . I haven’t made playdough since the daughter, the genius, and the musician were just little tykes


. . . that was forever ago


but I thought I would share with you our little adventure.


first I had to make the playdough. . . 


Just in case you want to make your own playdough you can
click this little bar
and like magic the recipe will appear!


combine all your ingredients together in a medium size sauce pan.  Make sure your pan has a sturdy handle to hold on to, because this stuff gets sticky stiff, I mean we are making playdough, so imagine yourself trying to stir playdough on the stove.  You need to have a firm handle to hold while you stir while it’s cooking.

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it begins out like a thick soup and gradually begins to look like this

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then this. . .

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and finally, it looks like, well. . . playdough!

next let it cool down a little . . .

or a lot. . . if you are like me with wussy fingers that can’t handle heat

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dig the playdough out of the pan and knead it for a couple of minutes.  I wanted several colors so I divided mine into six portions.  If you only want one color you can save yourself a little mess and color the mixture BEFORE you begin cooking it. 
(I also made a double batch. . . it made quite a bit)

because I kneaded my colors in after the playdough was made, and didn’t want hands and fingers that looked like they came directly from a Dr. Seuss book I put on gloves that I could just throw away when I was finished.

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This was my first color. . . Pink!  . . . I love pink

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When I was finished coloring my playdough my hands would have looked like this!

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But I had 6 delightful balls of playdough for primary

The lesson recommended that the children create something that looked like something that they owned that was like a special treasure, that they cared about a great deal.

This is what my class came up with~ ~ ~

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a glass bear with a blue heart, a kitty-cat

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a blanket made by grandma with flip-flops on it, and a pet dog
after the lesson they had no interest in coloring their golden rulers, they wanted to play with the playdough. . . so they did

a dish for the dog
a bed for the cat

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someone made a snake

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this is mine. . . yup, I decided to join in the fun too
So we had fun in primary today, I hope they went away with what was supposed to be the object of the lesson. . .

I had forgotten how fun playdough can be :-)

The Golden Rule  

Do unto others as you would like them to do for/to you
be nice
respect others, and their property
 return things that you borrowed
help others
share


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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oatmeal Spice Cake

This past few weeks we have been in complete disorganization due to some unwelcome guests.  The genius and myself have not had much motivation to put the kitchen back together because. . .. well the week after Thanksgiving. . . we get to empty it out again.


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So in contemplating what to write about this week I decided to talk about the daughters favorite cake. . . Oatmeal Spice Cake.  This is the same cake we creatively rescued just a couple of months ago. . .I have gotten more than one request for this recipe.    I have pictures ready, so it was an easy solution for today’s post.

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to begin with you need the yucky kind of instant/quick oatmeal, it’s the only time I use this variety of oats but regular oats just don’t quite work out the same, but rest easy, in this cake they work out fabulously!  I’m not quite sure why anyone would eat these for breakfast unless they were camouflaged in cake. . . they are slimy and simply disgusting


. . . enough said about how I feel about quick oats 

and on with the cake
Anyway, cover these with boiling water and just let them rest on the counter somewhere.

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in the meantime combine the sugars and Crisco with an electric mixer.

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and beat it to death
add in the egg and vanilla and mix just a tad bit more

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combine all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir to evenly combine them

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add the dry to the wet and with the paddle attachment or a large spoon mix until everything is well combined and moistened, be careful not to over-mix the batter, just mix until everything is mixed together.

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pour into cake pans.  one recipe will make a 9X13 or if you want two 8" round cakes you will need to 1  1/2 times the recipe.  I used springform pans, but you can easily use regular pans too, just remember if you want to dump them out to put on a platter, make sure to rub them with crisco and dust them with flour first.

(I made  a double batch of batter to make two cakes 
so the daughter could take a little cake with her)

put them into a hot pre-heated oven and let the magic happen without much help from you~

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you know they are done when the cake just barely pulls away from the sides and if you insert a toothpick it won’t have any batter sticking to it.  I usually run a knife or flat angled spatula around the edges just to make sure.

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most peeps won’t have this tool, but I am looking for a rich, decadent filled layer cake so I will torte mine to achieve that.
  
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I have four perfectly level layers to fill with topping and cream cheese icing.

If you don’t have a cake slicer like this you can use dental floss and toothpicks to keep everything lined up. . . 

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first level the top of your cake. . . cut off the rounded top part from baking. . . 

then mark both the top and bottom layers with a toothpick.  Because it is impossible to cut perfectly even through a cake. . . 

the toothpicks will by your guide and keep everything lined up as you reassemble the cake and it will be level when you are done.

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Then place your floss where you want to cut.
Try to keep it as even as possible around the cake.

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Pull both ends of the floss together and it slices through your cake very nicely!  similar to the same way as I cut cinnamon rolls it’s just that a cake is bigger and laying flat when you cut it rather than on it’s side. . . 

oh, and it’s already cooked.

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Leave the toothpicks there until you are ready realign the top and bottom cakes together, after they are filled with yummy filling,  The toothpicks will act as a guide when reassembling your cake.

It is my recommendation that you use unflavored dental floss.  Somehow mint mixed with spice just doesn’t work so swell. . . at least in my mind it doesn’t.

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So you don’t have to move your beautiful creation, or fuss with attempting to clean your serving platter, simply put 4 strips of foil around the bottom of your serving platter like this.

NOTE:  DO NOT use just one big piece. . . it won’t work

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place your cake over the center of the foil

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One layer at a time put the filling of your choice in and stack them up until . . .

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there are no more layers to add
for this part it’s okay if you get crumbs in your icing. . . 


crumby icing doesn’t matter until the next step. . .


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ice the entire outside surface with cream cheese icing. . . 


this is where you don't want crumbs in your icing. . .


and put the yummy coconut topping on top of that

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next drizzle warmed, not hot, caramel sauce around the edges.  Make sure you use a good, thick, high-quality caramel topping, and be careful not to get it too hot.  

For this cool drizzle effect. . . 

squeeze, relax & drag, squeeze, relax & drag. . . . 


repeating this around the entire cake.
This will take a tad bit of practice but the effect is well worth the effort.  If you don’t have a pastry bag, put the warmed caramel sauce in a baggie and cut a small hole in the corner to get your nice little drizzles.  If it is too hot it will just run everywhere, so be careful not to get it too hot!

your cake is finished. . .

simply, gently, pull the foil from under the cake one piece at a time. . . 



. . . that’s why one piece of foil won’t work


now you know one of my little tricks. . .

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perfecto- - - you have a perfectly clean surface to present to your guests.
you certainly could add a border at this point if you choose to, but for today we decided not to do that part.


The genius has helped me to create a “Button” so if you want the recipe you just click on it and it will magically open a printable copy of the recipe for you.

. . . Pretty cool I think!


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pie Anyone? . . . It’s Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is without question my favorite holiday of the year.   

But because of our war against the bugs we are still living out of boxes for the most part and decided to simplify dinner. We went out for Thanksgiving dinner.

However we still made pie!

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It all began innocently enough. . .
The daughter and her hubby, the businessman were going to contribute by making pie to bring.  The daughter wanted to make an apple pie and a pecan pie.  Perfect, those are great choices.

The daughters first Apple Pie without one-on-one tutoring. . . very impressive for a first time pie creation!  She was a little distressed about it but we made her bring it anyway. . . it looks okay, but the flavor was good. . . . and let’s be honest that’s the most important part!
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Then I received a call from the musician even though we were eating out, he still wanted to make HIS pie. . .

His choice. . .

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. . . Apple

okay, we can do that.  He also wanted apple.  Apple pie is good we’ll just have two of them.

Then the genius wanted to make a pie. . . .

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. . .Banana Cream


Yummy!
my favorite pie is cherry. . .

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. . . so we made a Cherry Pie too


the businessman announced he didn’t want to make pie . . .


. . . He wanted to BUY his pie! 



. . . . WHAT you ask. . .  he DOESN’T want to make pie?????


ouch. . . 
 
absolutely tragic. . . 


it hurts to even type that sentence, I can’t imagine what you are feeling while reading it!

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okay, this year we’ll be  nice. . .  


and get you your favorite pie

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. . . Peanut Butter-Cup Pie

. . . come to find out. . . the businessman doesn’t care much for pie!  This keeps getting worse. . . I don’t know if I can handle this or not. . . This should be a deal breaker. . .

not like pie????  


Okay genius and musician. . . cute girl, nice girl, and no weddings in Nov, Dec, Jan ~ ~ ~
or. . . the first two weeks of September. . . AND likes pie kind of girl. . .

make sure to take notes on these VERY Important instructions. . . .

Peanut Butter Cup Pie from Village Inn. . .  for the rest of you, we were nice to the businessman, and by the weekend’s end, he admitted that Cherry Pie was pretty good too. . .

ahhh, progress. . . 

I’m feeling better already


I have to admit his pie does look pretty good, and in the end it tasted good too

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ooohhhh. . . . What about our famous Pumpkin Cream Pie?

I have been working on perfecting this pie for a couple of years now and

I can honestly say. . . 


I believe we have arrived!  


. . . Perfect results every time


This quest actually began as Grandma’s pie.  My memories are of Thanksgiving dinner and the endless talk about how amazingly wonderful Grandma’s Pumpkin Cream Pie is, none of that pasty baked custard stuff people are used to.  No  No  No. . . this is creamy goodness with no oven required



except for the crust which is baked in advance. . .  anyway every year the main topic of conversation centered around this pie. . . then every year they would complain about how it wouldn’t "set up this time”, but it’s good. . . just, well. . . runny,


well, let’s just call it. . . .

. . .temperamental


cook over double boiler
perhaps more thickener
forget the double boiler
don’t cook too long
cooked too long. . . 

the list of reasons for failure seemed to endlessly evolve around these same points each Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. . . as a child. . .

                                                             teen. . .

                                                                    pre-adult. . .

                                      adult. . . . 


so following the tradition for Pumpkin Cream Pie
a couple of years ago I set out to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

I have studied the science of thickeners

what they do, why some work, and some don’t

I have tested

run trials

researched

read

studied

and tried various methods and have finally come to the final product. . . 

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Perfect Pumpkin Cream Pie. . . Consistently!

That's why we had to make Pumpkin Cream Pie! to make sure I have conquered my quest

In the end what began as a simple 1 or 2 pies ended up being a ridiculous

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grand total of 7. . . yup ~ ~ ~ we got a little carried away ~ ~ ~

seven pies for Thanksgiving. . . 


that’s more than one pie per person in these parts


Don’t ask me how we plan to eat all of these pies. . . I haven’t figured that part out yet.


we are going to be eating pie for a while.  Just for the record the pecan was the first to go, then the Peanut Butter Cup followed by the Cherry.  We are still working on the rest after sending pie home with anyone who would take pie.

I think I will give pie away. . . 

take it to work. . . 

give it to the neighbors. . .

No pie for Oscar Dog. . .

it makes him sick, 
I don't like cleaning up after sick dogs!


It’s all good pie, but a person can only eat so much pie.  The best news is that in addition to perfecting our pumpkin cream pie. . . I have also created a pretty great crust for our other pies too!  To me that’s success and I’m a happy camper today!


For us here at our house Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie!  


But Let’s get back to dinner for just a minute. . . 


My great regret of the day is that I forgot to take my camera to dinner.


the restaurant of choice was The Elements.  


As they escorted us to our table I was thinking you are kidding me. . . 


they took us to this wonderful round table decked out in linens and crystal. . . right in front of the fireplace!  Which was in front of a large picture window looking out over the patio which was graced by a River.  While it’s a tad bit chilly for an outdoor meal,  it was beautiful nonetheless, and let’s be honest, I was in heaven in front of that fireplace. . . . I couldn’t have asked for any better.

Initially I was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough food, but couldn’t have been more wrong in my musings.  Turkey, the most incredible moist turkey breast I have ever had the pleasure of eating. . . stuffing. . . sweet potatoes. . . mashed potatoes, salad. . . fresh, perfectly cooked, green beans. . . amazing gravy. . .  then. . . .



. . . . Deseret!

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We had our choice of pumpkin cheese cake 

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or this apple galette with the most amazing ice-cream in the center. . . 


. . . oops, I already ate that part. . .


there’s ALWAYS room for ice-cream!


We were all sooooo full from dinner that we ended up taking our desert home with us to eat later, the plate presentation was delicious, but trust me we didn’t have any problem eating until we couldn't eat anymore!

While the food looked beautiful, it tasted as amazing as it looked.
However, I'm still feeling a little nostalgic for leftovers of turkey and stuffing, and. . . . well everything that goes with Thanksgiving leftovers. . . we'll try for new years. 

We had a busy, productive, fun weekend that I will share with you in future posts but for today~ ~ ~


. . . would you care for some pie?


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Monday, November 14, 2011

. . . and the cupboards are bare!


Today I am complaining! 

Or, I guess we could label it venting. . . 
at least I think that sounds a little more tolerable

Remember when we were so excited for the missionary (now the musician) to come home, well perhaps we should have held off a little on the excitement. . . .

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see, as a result of him coming home he brought some VERY unwelcome house guests!  The tragic part of this is that he isn’t even here to be part of the fun they have caused.

just in case you’re a teeny-tiny bit curious as to who these house guests are. . .

image image

the kitchen has been taken over by no other than the invincible cockroach,
(while this is what our roaches look like, the blue one  from the internet)

Jut to clear up any confusion. . . I have done nothing but be disgusted by them.  


I know for a fact that they are living inside the door of the dishwasher, (where the arrow is pointing), because I have personally watched them take refuge there, as well as behind the stove.

At first I thought they were just a funny little bug migrating in from outside looking for refuge from the oncoming winter and was just disposing of them accordingly.  When the musician was home for the b-day celebrations I heard this wee little conversation coming from the kitchen. . .


“don’t tell mom”


DON’T TELL MOM. . . . WHAT???  


except is was more in the form of a demand, than a question ~ ~ ~ those obnoxious little bugs were identified. . . cockroaches!

The genius served his mission in Florida and also had plenty of experience with these little critters, why he didn’t identify them sooner is still a mystery to me, but in the end  the decision was made. . .

WAR!

I called the exterminator first thing Monday morning

I’ve never had to call an exterminator before. . . this is a new experience!

Our instructions were as follows:
  • clean out ALL cupboards
  • empty out the closets
  • clear out the storage room as much as possible
  • move couches and anything else that could be moved, away from the walls
  • in short. . . get stuff off the floor, away from the walls and clean out the kitchen!

So the genius and I went to work

. . . and just for the record it was a ton of work

with not much of a reward at the end


seriously, it was no different than moving, without the reward of moving to a new house, or a new neighborhood


we decided to simply buy boxes to put most of our stuff in. . . we didn’t have enough laundry baskets to complete the task at hand

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my word, I have a lot of stuff, some “stuff” has permanent residence in the garage, we just piled the extras in the middle

I seriously need to consider getting a bigger house and garage or to simply get rid of some of my long held treasures. . .

. . . but that is a debate for another day.


Today. . . I just need to get the house emptied out by 11:00 am Wednesday.

I think I may liquidate some stuff with this process. . .

see, I think I have waaaayyyy tooooooo much hanging around!

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the genius did a great job of taping all the boxes. . .


in fact I think he kind of enjoyed that part


. . . there were boxes everywhere


almost $30.00 in boxes. . . but this was a desperate situation, 


and we easily justified the purchase of boxes today.


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I didn’t have to work on Tuesday and so ALL DAY LONG we boxed up the kitchen.  

Even though this project WAS exhausting, mentally, physically, emotionally 

the genius summed it up like this. . .

“I am all about taking shortcuts. . . but not with this, let’s do it right!”

so onward we forged. . .

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What wouldn’t fit on the table, or in a laundry basket, went into a box
and then to the garage, or to the middle of the room

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we stacked as much as we could in the middle of every room

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we emptied the closets

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and piled it everywhere we could. . . it just needed to be off the floor

I have to admit, the kitchen was the most challenging, by a long shot

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but we found some interesting treasures in the process. . .

I’m glad we found this guy hiding back in the corner! 

not much longer and we would have been cleaning this cupboard out anyway.

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how many of the same item does a kitchen need? 
Some of these haven’t even been opened. . . 

Note to self ~ ~ ~ do inventory before going shopping!


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. . . All day Tuesday, until 1:00 AM. . . up at 4:30 am. . .

. . . the genius kept slightly different hours but we were pretty exhausted by the time the exterminator arrived at 11:00 am sharp

all that work. . . and he was done with his part in about 35 minutes!

ugh. . . I couldn’t get sleep after work until. . .

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I cleaned off my bed!


did I mention that I have toooooo many treasures


I like to keep busy and active


which means. . .


lots of stuff. . .


I think I just need more space ~ ~ ~ !


. . .  now. . . we get to put everything back
                                                                       . . . . .
                                                                                         . . . . .

                                                                                                            . . . . . only to


repeat the whole process in precisely 4 weeks, 

yup, exactly 28 days from now we get to do this again. . .

what does this equate to?

Very LITTLE motivation to put it back the house back together

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It took me 20 minutes to find my oatmeal and salt for breakfast the next day 
and another 10 minutes to locate the pan to cook it in!


The good news . . . the silver lining:

  • we haven’t seen ANY living bugs of ANY variety since Wednesday
  • We have found a small handful of dead bugs. . . I think we call that success!
  • The exterminator told us if we didn’t see any evidence of bugs between now and 28 days from now we could put the closets back together
we are hopeful. . .

and have slowly been putting the closets back together


the kitchen and the pantry are different . . .


they will need to be done regardless of what we don’t see. . .


  • We also know how many boxes we will need if I ever do move

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  • the cupboards are clean. . . top to bottom
  • no more bugs. . . The daughter hates bugs!
  • I have been able to get rid of some stuff. . .

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. . . some to the D.I. (our local thrift store). . . NO, NO, NO!  NOT the bike, but other stuff

. . . some to the landfill (3 large garbage bags full)

but most of it. . . 

will find a spot in the cupboard or closet that it came from.



Thank you for being willing to listen to my whiningventing!  But honestly, this project just about put me over the edge.  As for right now, I think I will just go and empty another box.


. . . and the process continues. . . are you bored?   Visitors are always welcome!

Well, that is. . . unless you are a bug. . .



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