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For the love of crochet…

If I say I’ve been off my game recently, it would be an understatement… Cooking has become a chore and not the enjoyable pleasure it once was, my kitchen is falling apart, we have had problems with mice, which I absolutely hate, and don’t cope well with, and Tate just needs his Mom, so it’s hard to get things done. I’ve struggled with crafting too, well that was until I started my crochet along blanket new inspiration and pleasure flooded through me… I enjoyed my first few rows so much I’ve started a second granny stripe blanket too!

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I am not an expert at crochet, but it is one of the things in life I am glad I have taken time to learn, it’s addictive and I love it! To start my crochet along (CAL) blanket, I have had to learn a new technique, which I have to say had me slightly complexed for a while, and then when I did get the foundation row going, I was not happy with my tension, but it is true what they say, practice makes perfect, and the more I’ve hooked the foundation row the better it’s got… Thankfully!

The whole idea behind the CAL blanket is to incorporate different stitches into the rows, learn new things and I think just have fun, so being an avid crafter I am so excited for this challenge, I’m also a terrible hermit in the winter months, so any excuse to snuggle on the sofa and crochet is good for me!

I look out my window as I type this, to a white world of snow covered grass, we have had a lot of snow since February started, we began today with a light covering of snow and this Sunday/Monday is set to see us with another snow storm, So as I crochet my spring colored blanket, I am dreaming of longer spring days, picnic baskets and my newly crocheted blanket, chillier spring soccer games wrapped in my blanket and hot drinks cuddled in our hands!

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The sun is shining today, but it’s cold and windy, I’m snuggled with my two babies on the sofa, I’m about to pick up my hook and crochet another stripe… Whatever you are doing today… Stay safe and warm!

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Color inspiration for my two blankets … I just love this!

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Pumpkins, boots and a touch of homeschooling…

I have to say I love everything about Fall, pumpkin flavored everything, cooler but not cold weather, wearing cardigans and sweaters old and new, and soups, hot and creamy… But, you knew there had to be a but, BUT I hate the thought of cold, cold winter on its way… The solution… Move to a warmer climate all year round! Easier said than done, but I’m working on it…

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I would love to live near the beach, hot summers and cooler winters are perfect by the beach… I see myself in an old house with my family living happily with the ocean not too far away, but for now we have to live and dream on… I would just like life to slow down a little bit, the last few back to school weeks seem to have been crazy, all ideas of routine and organization have flown out of the window… But I need to get back on track!

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Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with a lovely lady at Mabel’s soccer game… It was so weird usually when you tell people how many children you have they are aghast, but this lady lives on Long Island and has many friends with large families, 9, 10, 11 and even 12 children… Obviously I need to live there! We started our long conversation about people’s attitudes to breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, how everyone feels they have the right to have an opinion on whether you should or should not breastfeed and especially on the subject of extended breastfeeding, most people make it very clear that extended breastfeeding is not the norm and as such should not be done… But I like to be my own person and do things my own way! She then started to tell me that she home schools her four children, well actually her eldest daughter is now married, she got her masters degree by the age of 18, and she was home schooled… Very interesting to me, because I have been researching homeschooling my two babies, but again this is a subject where because it is not the norm of society most people frown and do not agree… Like my older children, it has been a subject for discussion in my house for many weeks now… Now I’m not sure if the negative attitudes are jealousy because they would have liked this option or just because they think I would be an awful teacher, as it has been said several times recently!

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Now before all the haters of home schooling start shouting, I am only thinking of this option, looking into the logistics and weighing up my beliefs and reasons for wanting to do this… Believe me I could change my mind, but events in the past have started me thinking maybe this would be a good option going forward… We will see, but for now I have started a little home schooling with Florrie… Reading, writing, the letter A for Apple is this weeks letter of the week… and just lots of fun!

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Fall to me means time to crochet, knit and sew… Cooking warm comfort foods and baking scrumptious goodies… In the coming weeks I am hoping to slow life down a notch or two, get back to basics and enjoy some time reconnecting with my sewing machine, hooks and needles… I have some gorgeous soft cotton yarn that is crying out to be made into hats for my babies!

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Menu plan for this week…

Lots of fruit smoothies, brownies, muffins, oatcakes and cookies!

Saturday
pork goulash

Sunday
Beef pot roast

Monday
Sausage and pasta pumpkin soup

Tuesday
potato and bacon soup served with garlic breadsticks

Wednesday
Home made pork flatbreads with roasted veggies

Thursday
Chicken dumpling stew

Friday
Home made pizzas

Everything I make these days, and I mean everything has added nutrition in the form of flax seed, chia seed and wheat germ… I use gluten free oats to add thickness to my casserole sauces, it cooks and thickens without anyone knowing I’ve added all this goodness! My other shout out is coconut water, I use it in as many dishes as I can, stews, casseroles, soups and smoothies, this is a wonderful ingredient, almost tasteless when it’s added, but oh so full of good nutrition and fantastic for your digestive system!

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Fabric, hooks and lots of yarn!

The sun is shining, the temperatures are above freezing, almost tropical… I have no doctors appointments of any kind today, yesterday I had a checkup at the OBGYN, my little man is head down, which explains all the pressure and many, many trips to the bathroom! It is time to catch up on the laundry and get my sewing machine out… Those burp cloths won’t finish themselves!

Burp cloths made and laundered, I moved onto my crochet edge blanket… I am absolutely in love with this blanket, I used a very soft shirting fabric, measured to 31″x36″, hemmed with a 1/4″ double turned in hem, sewn and then it’s ready to get out the yarn… Yay my favorite part! I used a tapestry needle and a no 2 cotton yarn, it was time to blanket stitch around the edges of each of the four sides of the blanket making sure each corner had one diagonal stitch also…

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After all blanket stitches were complete, it was time to add the shelled crochet edge… The finished result is a very cute not too feminine soft and cozy baby blanket… Perfect for a Spring newborn baby!

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I think my body is changing, my hormones are raging, the tears keep flowing and I am so incredibly uncomfortable, pregnancy should be 8 months, this last month is just not the best… So despite not being very organised, and not being actually ready for a newborn baby, my body and head is saying it is more than ready to have it’s little inhabitant out and get it back to me again! At my OBGYN appointment this past week, I had no signs of labor and hopefully next week I should have the date set up for my c-section, 3 weeks Sunday and counting… Carrying 8 children plays havoc on your body and that is why this little boy will definitely be our last child!

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A blatant plug for Florrie’s Attic on Etsy!

My house is so unorganized at the moment, I hate it, but with my lack of energy all I’ve managed to do is crochet and sleep… Adding to the chaos are so many doctors appointments, it’s just crazy, appointments for iron infusions, appointments with my OB and appointments for ultrasounds, in between my own appointments there has been Florrie’s checkups and vaccinations with the pediatrician… Just madness, but in the last week we have gone from a three car family, with 5 people scrambling to share 2 cars to a very comfortable 5 car family, less taxi’ing around for this tired momma!

On the subject of crochet, I have been concentrating on my Etsy shop and trying to add new products in the hope I can attract some new customers, I would love it if you could help me out and share my shop to others also my Facebook page… I would be very grateful if you could help me out!

Here are some of my new products…

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All of these newborn hats are just $10 each and ready to ship!

I have several new items I am working on, another baby blanket with the crochet edge, I am totally in love with these, they are perfect for the warmer weather of spring and then into summer, I love that they are very different, so with that in mind I am going to make some burp cloths, I love different looks that are not generic like shopping in Target, so I wanted to create an unique look for these… Watch this space!

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This is a newborn baby blanket, made with a very soft shirting fabric, it has a crochet edge… It is $18 ready to ship!

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Inspiration…
I am officially 32 weeks pregnant today, but I will leave you all with a belly shot from 29 weeks!

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Snow Day…

It’s cold and it’s snowing on this Saturday in December, due to children needing our cars today, we have no cars on our drive, so no getting out and about for us today… SNOW DAY! Luckily I planned ahead, my cupboards are stocked with food and I’m prepared for a warm winters day worth of comfort foods… On the menu today for dinner is another flat apple pie and a easy caramel sauce courtesy of the Pioneer woman, a cheesy fondue from Trader Joes and my favorite bread of theirs too, ciabatta together with a wholefoods recipe of pumpkin chili, converted to slowly cook in my crockpot!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us, not only is Christmas approaching too fast and presents need buying, organizing and then wrapping, my parents have arrived to stay with us, the older boys have all had final exams for this semester and have been working extra long hours due to the festive busy season in retail… Life has been chaotic, busy and just plain exhausting recently! Coughs, colds and sneezes are currently circulating our house, so we have not only had pregnancy doctor visits but doctors appointments to check on the coughs too, thankfully just winter colds, but still not very nice to have… I am not a fan of pumping drugs into my children or myself until I’ve tried more natural remedies, and thankfully my children’s pediatrician agrees with me, so my remedy healthy eating and lots of fluids… Fingers crossed for a germ free Christmas Day!

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Now for a shameless plug for my Etsy Shop Florrie’s Attic, In between all the chaos of the run up to the festive season, I have been crocheting for my shop… Please stop by and take a look Florrie’s Attic on Etsy

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This is a crochet hat and scarf it is made in a size that would fit any 8 to 12 year old girl, it is made in a charcoal gray yarn with a beautiful cream flower attached to the scarf! Although this item is ready to ship it can be made in a variety of colors and in three sizes, toddler, girls and ladies, please message me for details! Also these items can be shipped anywhere again message me for a shipping price!

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A quiet life… At last!

Life has been kind of quiet recently… Thankfully! I have been concentrating on learning to not spend money, all of my life I have been reckless with money and it’s just not a good thing, so right now I’m learning how to spend our money wisely… What that means for me is a lot more days at home not cruising the aisles in Target… Ha, ha! I have been completing projects that needed doing like hats for Florrie’s Attic, replacing all my cushion covers and a lot more home baking and cooking, which really gives me a sense of achievement when I feed my family wisely! My life is usually so busy and hectic I have really enjoyed some down time to get on with things I’ve wanted to do for a while!

After months of morning sickness we are finally back on track for a healthier diet, Mabel is very happy about this… I have been kind of menu planning, but not strictly, I have ideas of what our menu will be for the week and then I shop the basics and plan each day as I go. My favorite place for recipes at the moment is the whole foods app on my iPad, everything tends to be healthy and is easy to adapt to ingredients you have in. I am trying to bake sweet treats every day to help fill the gap with so many hungry children…

What we ate yesterday…

For breakfast Florrie and I had cereal, after that I prepared the pioneer woman’s pizza dough recipe, I had run out of olive oil so I substituted it with melted coconut oil, I wasn’t sure how it would work but I preferred it. I also put pumpkin chili in the crockpot, now this is a favorite of mine, but not such a favorite for my children, so the pizza was for them, I am loving homemade pizza at the moment, so easy and very tasty! My children are all so very fussy so I am now making very basic pizzas, last night was cheese and a chicken pizza, then I make up a salad and top mine with it, so good, last night I chopped some cherry tomatoes and shredded some baby spinach leaves, to that I added a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper, so yummy on the pizza! Finally I made some pumpkin oatmeal muffins, now I told my children they were apple as they think they do not like pumpkin, instead of sour cream I did add apple sauce, so I was not lying and they loved them, see they do like pumpkin, they just don’t know it!

Pumpkin chili in the crock pot

1 pack of ground turkey ( I used Costco fresh meat)
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of pumpkin purée ( I used Trader Joes organic)
1 sliced red bell pepper (I used 1/2 packet of Trader Joes frozen bell pepper slices)
1/2 pack of frozen artichoke hearts (I used trader joes)
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of chili flakes
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 can of drained black beans (or any beans you have to hand)
1 cup of red lentils 1 1/2 cups of water
1/4 cup of flour
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves

Lightly brown the ground turkey with the oil and then add to the crock pot, then add the can of tomatoes, the pumpkin purée, the pepper, artichokes, garlic, chili flakes, cumin, paprika, red lentils and water, mix thoroughly and cook on low for 5 hours. After 5 hours whisk in the flour to thicken, and then add the beans and spinach, mix again and let this cook for another hour… Serve and enjoy with the topping of your choice… I like grated cheddar cheese, slices of avocado and sour cream!

Pumpkin oatmeal muffins

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup fat free milk
(1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.
In your mixer whisk together egg, apple sauce, milk, butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, then add flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oatmeal and gently fold into egg mixture until just combined. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins and bake for 22 to 25 minutes. I then decided to melt 1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of coconut oils and then drizzled it over the muffins!

Both of these recipes are adapted from the Wholefoods app… Very healthy and extremely tasty!

With the clocks going back last weekend and the evenings getting darker so much earlier, my evenings seem so much longer… How does that work, more hours in one day, more time to knit or crochet… Florrie’s Attic has some new things arriving very soon!

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Blueberry Mojito time…

Paul has converted me over the last couple of years… I officially love mojito’s, I wasn’t sure about them at first, but Paul’s love of a nice ice cold Mojito has totally got me addicted now. Father’s Day in our house has come to mean, the last of the spring soccer games, followed by a cocktail or two on the deck all served with a nicely cooked BBQ and a slice of cake to finish everything off… Father’s Day our way!

So, I received my weekly zip list email last week and there was a gorgeous photo of blueberry Mojito’s, I followed the link and was inspired for our Father’s Day cocktail this year, but of course I forgot to bookmark the recipe so I had to wing it by adding blueberries to our Mojito recipe;

For each glass …
1/2 lime cut into 4 wedges
10 mint leaves
1/8 cup of white sugar
A small hand full of blueberries
Place all of these into the glass with a pestle grind the ingredients so that the juices and sugar make a nice paste, then add ice and 4-5 whole blueberries, top with 1/4 cup of white rum and 1/2 cup of club soda… Stir and enjoy!

We also had a BBQ this year, I had no back up plan if it rained, which it has done a lot this year! On the menu… Philly cheesesteak bar, grilled rubbed steak, grated cheeses, onion, peppers and toasted rolls, take your pick and create your very own Philly cheesesteak! We also had Italian inspired freshly made burgers… To your ground beef add 1 cup of freshly made breadcrumbs mixed together with a handful of chopped rosemary and another handful of thyme, then mix in one tablespoon of red chili flakes. In your blender add a bunch of fresh parsley, some freshly sliced Parmesan cheese, a clove of fresh garlic and a half of a red onion… Blitz until finely chopped then add into your ground beef mixture… Mix together thoroughly then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, mine sat around chilling for 4 hours whilst we went to our soccer games! Finally heat your grill, shape into patties and cook to your desired taste, grill the buns, then top the burgers with cheddar cheese, tomato and lettuce… Enjoy, Paul said they were the best Father’s Day burgers he had ever eaten… Maybe an exaggeration but they did taste good!

Finally on a Florrie’s Attic note… I spent my Monday morning wandering around Jo Ann’s Fabric store, possibly one of my favorite things to do, inspired by another order… Yay, I wanted some thinner cotton yarn for my hat flowers, I then had the idea I could sew little pillowcase dresses and add my crochet flowers for decoration, keeping in a theme of combining crochet with all my products. So totally inspired I bought the cutest yellow and gray fabric… All I need now is a spare hour or two and hopefully my vision will be ready to launch in my shop… So watch this space Florrie’s Attic!

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Project runway…

I am going to mumble on today about a few of my favorite new foods we have tried recently… The first and my most favorite is a new salad mix from Costco, I am totally in love with this one, but unfortunately I have not been able to get it now for 2 weeks… Boo hoo! It is a super food salad made up of kale, shredded brussel sprouts and other great green leafy veggies, you add to that dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a poppy seed dressing… I am telling you, it is out of this world delicious!

Another first try for us is the puffed and lightly sweetened rice rolls from Trader Joes, OMG, so good for a light low calorie snack, especially when you are craving something sweet! They are the right amount of sweet and fill an empty hole in your tummy with only 45 calories per roll… Delicious and good for you!

A favorite in our house, especially with Mabel is quinoa, this has now replaced her love of cous, cous! Quinoa is a fabulous healthy grain that is so versatile and delicious mixed with salads and endless other dishes, last night I paired it with a warm chicken curry salad… Super healthy!

On the subject of new favorites, but on a slightly different subject… Cooking, I am loving making warm summer salads at the moment… with our BBQ not working at the moment, we are still deciding which direction to go with this one… An overhaul and service or a brand spanking new one? Anyway warm summer salads have been a food direction I have come to love, especially with this new salad mix made up of my hardy green leafy vegetables and raw sugar snap peas, add to that whatever you choose, beans, pulses, healthy grains then I have been topping the whole thing with the warm casserole I have made, last night it was chicken curry, the sauce acts as a warm dressing for the hardy raw salad and tossed together is delicious, slightly strange I know, but it really does work well!

Changing the subject now… Crafting has become a big addiction in my life, I have sewn a tepee playhouse for my Florrie’s 2nd Birthday, crocheted three sun hats and knitted a cocoon blanket in the last month. My ongoing project is a granny square blanket and now my new sewing project is an outdoor seat cushion for my old wicker sofa for the new deck area… I am loving discovering how much I love to create handmade things for the people I love in my life! Happy crafting!

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Juice with me…

Organizing tip number 1… Do not pick up your crochet hook and begin another granny square… Bad, bad idea as you really don’t get a lot of organizing actually done, but your granny square pile grows nearer to becoming an actual blanket!
Organizing tip number 2… Stick to your list… Your plan of action is your key to all things organized!
And finally, organizing tip number 3…actually start your week with a positive attitude and the thought in your mind that your Mum will be arriving one week from tomorrow… Ahhhhhhh!

Guess what I am going to be doing this week?

Several weeks ago I bought a set of new plates and bowls, it’s time to get rid of all those chipped, mismatching plates that I have hanging around, so with that thought in mind, I decided it was time to do exactly the same with all our odd, well dishwashed glasses, so I bought a sparkling set of 10 tall and 10 short matching glasses from Costco last week! Finally my cupboards will have sets of nice new china and glassware sitting on the shelves!

Spring arrived here over this past weekend, things are changing today again, but I think it’s definitely time to give my closet a spring makeover… Time to put away all my grey winter clothes and bring forward the bright colors of summer!

As far as food goes, we have already been in the salad mode for a while, my fridge remains ultra organized, clean and healthy, my pantry is exactly the same… So no organizing required there! But my actual kitchen is in need of a spring clean and re-organizing, so I’m onto that this week, I am definitely the type of person that does not cope well in a messy kitchen, I also have a brand new juicer to fit into a cupboard somewhere so that I can free up my kitchen side where it is currently residing!

Super Healthy Smoothie Recipe
Serves 2

Freshly juiced fruit and veggies (I used a handful of spinach, 3 strawberries, a few slices of pineapple, 3 satsumas, an apple and 1 orange)
2 Activia yogurt
2 teaspoons of chia seeds

Freshly juice your fruit and veggies, then add two yogurts, flavor of your choice to the blender, add your freshly pressed juice and blend together… Serve in a tall glass then stir in your chia seeds! (Super tip of the week, chia seeds are the best value in Costco $14.99 for a huge bag… So for someone like me who uses them all the time, it’s a bargain!)

I have bought some preserving jars to store my juice in, and also to make up smoothies for Paul to take to work with him… A quick shake and his smoothie will be ready to drink!

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When life gets tough get your crochet hook out…

Well life has certainly been crazy for the last few weeks, crazy in a weird, not so good way really, but we are working our way though the craziness… I think when life throws you a curve ball it makes you realize we cannot take this life for granted, it makes us stop and take stock of the things that are important to us and then move forward… Well that’s what has happened to me!

Back to life as we know it… Well life as I know it anyway… the sun has been shining and spring has finally arrived here in our little corner of New Jersey, yesterday saw the temperature rising to 79f, I don’t care what anyone says, the feeling of spring and the thoughts of long summer days makes everything feel so much better, no matter what is going on in your life!

Healthy eating is back on the agenda in our house, after a few weeks of eating, well all I will say on this subject is JUNK food, and sitting around like fat cat couch potatoes… It’s time to break out the salad leaves and chop some tomatoes… My grocery shopping this week was so healthy, fruit, grains, vegetables and beans, it has freaked out my older children and now stop and shop is their hang out place for their addiction to all things unhealthy!

Weekly Menu plan

1). Broccoli rice bowl

2). Chicken … white bean ragout on toast

3). Chicken …Pasta salad with grilled vegetables and mozzarella – whole foods app

4). Grilled steak with Thai summer salad – whole foods app

5). Sausage. .. Red potato and asparagus salad – whole foods app

6). Kale, carrot and avacado salad – whole foods app

7). Lentil and cous cous salad with arugula – whole foods app

I have also picked up my crochet hook again, I love to crochet, it is very therapeutic… I love to knit also but there is just something about that hook compared to a pair of needles, it really helps to organize my thoughts and just chill out… I am making a blanket from last months Mollie Makes Magazine… Oh how I love that magazine… The blanket is super easy and my little granny squares are fun in different colors!

I am also in super organizing mode, my whole house has been a disaster zone, with all the craziness I have been very uninspired really, but the sun has inspired me to go crazy and get my house sorted out… For anyone that knows me really well, I am a huge shabby chic fan, I love distressed mismatched style and after living in this house for 4 years I really want to make it my own, pale colors, shabby chic, shaker style, stripes, checks (plaids) and faded florals, are all in the future of this old, newish house! Flea Markets are on the horizon for weekend outings this summer, also pots of beautiful geraniums out on my deck… Time for this one time decorating freak to get her long lost mojo back!

With thoughts of spring gardening, and pots of pale paint ready to adorn my walls… I will wish you all warm sunny thoughts and get on with my day!

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