Sunday, April 29, 2012

Do the Wave

I haven't made a wavy top tote since last year's sew-along (for all the info see the Sew-Alongs tab at the top). I had to follow my own tutorial for measurements and seam allowances it's been so long. I've never made one in plain black and white before, and I really like the way this one came out. I am madly in love with color and don't know if I could carry a black and white bag every day, but I really like the classic look of it. The request was for "no external pockets" so it went together so much more quickly--I don't know why but that outside pocket slows down the process something fierce.

Joann's seems to have discontinued the reverse of this print, but has maintained every other colorway. That bugs me. Especially because it made it really hard for me to find a good black and white floral a few months ago. Anyway, I like how this bag goes together pretty quickly but still looks a bit fancy because of the shiny pieces. One of the things I will never ever ever enjoy doing is putting in purse feet (unless I was stranded on a deserted island for years and was so happy to be home that any sewing-related task would be welcomed with glee).

I promise you that one day I will remember to brush off the lint before I photograph a bag :) I use a rigid bottom in this bag, and it makes holding everything in place kind of fiddly when you're placing the feet because you're working in a small area. I just realized how dumb I am - I should just turn the stinkin' bag inside out when I put in the feet. Better late than never, I suppose.

I'm really glad Joann's started carrying a limited selection of purse goods in different metallic finishes - I can get much more substantial rings in different shapes for cheaper than a package of regular d-rings. I wish they'd start carrying an assortment of non-sew-in purse frames, but I won't hold my breath for that one. I don't mind ordering off the internet, it's just that shipping sure does stack up for metal bits.

This was my final custom order for now, which is fine by me. I enjoy the extra dough, but the other projects have been piling up. I've got 6 cushions cut and ready to sew for the wicker sofa thingee on the porch. Plus I picked up some fun fabrics for a bit of patchwork play that my creative side needs to get to before it shrivels up with all the monotony I've been feeling lately.

I'm off to squeeze in some TV before I head to bed. I get to start my Monday with a meeting. Try not to be jealous of me.

Linking up here:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Some things must be blogged immediately....

You know how when you get something, no matter how silly it may seem, you feel the need to let the world know instantly? My new shoes got delivered today. I have been stalking that tracking number all week, and they're here - they're here - they're here!!!!!!!

I do love me some comfy shoes that are incredibly me in every way, no matter how many groans I may get. It's why I have green flats and blue suede's a little thing but it can make you a wee bit glad when you catch a glimpse of your feet.

I've been sporting these delicious gray shoes all winter:

They're amazingly cozy and comfy, and there must be a decent bit of support somewhere because they don't make my ankles ache. Plus they're lined with a wooly looking fabric, so they're soooo warm. But winter is over, spring is here, and new shoe fashions are in order. I showed you my rockin' Dr. Scholls' the other day, but THESE came in the mail today.

I tried them on, traipsed around, and immediately snapped a few photos. They're the most wonderful dotty satiny beribboned creations ever. EVER. I cannot WAIT to wear them.

I must now go eat pizza. Later taters!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Equal enough (if that's even possible)

Last week when I saw that our QAL block was equilateral triangles, I was all "Psh. Please. Easy. I just made apple cores."  You should already have that inkling that things didn't go well. BTW, I checked my apple core die and the curve is much less severe, so now I'm looking forward to using it instead of feeling nervous.

I made the template with no trouble. As I cut my triangles I noticed there was a slight offness to the pieces, but I completely ignored this and thought "It'll all come out in the stitching." And it did, but totally not the way I had thought.

It didn't come out tall enough and my random piecing isn't so hot. Let's look closer at some hungry points:

While we're at it let's take a closer look at my horrible point-matching:

I didn't want to unpick all the seams, so I decided to make another block. I was extremely careful with my template and my cutting, and things already were shaping up (hahaha--see what I did there? it's a triangle block? and things were shaping up? geddit? geddit? hello?). I reread the instructions and went along much more carefully. And, for the most part, I'm pleased.

This time I just stuck with my two favorite fabrics (as though you couldn't tell that already) since I have the most of those and the other fabrics are winding down to scrappy bits. I switched up the placement a bit and went with diamonds. There are a few little wiggles, but not so bad. They should quilt right out. And the points match much better this time:

Not perfect, but perfectly imperfect, which is how I like things. See you soon! I've got a new camera and I've been playing :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Most Random Post Ever

Here's some random stuff I'm going to tell you. You're welcome.

~ I went to yoga tonight for the first time since I don't even remember when. I feel like I did better than I thought I would, but I'll know for sure tomorrow depending on the extensiveness of the pain.

~ I played quizzo afterwards with my brother and sister Alicia. We did so terrible it was almost embarrassing.

~ I was wearing these shoes:

They are insanely comfortable and I've never received so many comments on a pair of shoes before. I almost didn't buy them. They fit great, felt good, I thought they were cute, BUT....they're Dr. Scholl's brand. There's nothing that indicates this is the brand anywhere visible, but it made me feel old or arthritic or something. I wish I could wear them all the time. They remind me of a cross between Converse 'Chucks' and bowling shoes. Those stripey cushions are getting recovered very soon--it's next on the list.

~ I tried on a few bathing suits this weekend. I used to worry about my bum. That's the part that fit in the suit. Apparently I've become fairly buxom. I ordered one today online that I'm hoping works out as far as support goes. It's red. It'll match these shoes that my sister Rachel bought me a few weeks ago:

The super best part is that piece that goes between your toes doesn't have the girth of a garden hose, so these will be nice and comfy. They're so completely me, too.

~ In a fit of extravagance I don't normally allow myself, I bought myself another pair of shoes that I'm waiting for to be delivered. They're so me there was no way I could pass them up. Wait til you see them!

~ Today my brother's mailman caught him singing "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" by Paula Cole while he was mowing the lawn. He had stopped the mower, but kept singing along loudly to his iPod. The mailman just stood there staring until he noticed him.

~ I got a phone message at work that read "John Doe CALLED to see if you read his EMAIL asking you if you got his FAX." I saved it for when I need a chuckle.

~ I'm going to go to bed now. Good night.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prom Purse

A few weeks ago (three, to be exactly exact) my aunt and cousin came to my sister's baby shower from a bit of a distance. My cuz is a senior, and her prom is on the way, so they asked if I could make her a purse to match her dress. They showed me a picture, and it's a light spring green, with some pretty daisies with iridescent centers across the top. My aunt said that grandma called it a celery green (which is different from the notion I had of celery green). Trying to match a fabric without a swatch of anything is kind of hard to do, and I was quite nervous that it wouldn't be just right. I found something in Joann's that I thought would be perfect, so I sent her a piece for approval and was told to proceed--it was perfect. It's actually called 'celery.' Note to self: always listen to Grandma.

A few things made me a little nervous. First, it was satin with a chiffon overlay I was working with--nice, squiggly layers. Second, I know from past experience I need to interface out the wazoo. And finally, my into-the-frame technique needed to be perfect because I had no idea how I was going to pick glue off of such delicate fabrics. Thankfully, everything went so smoothly I figured it would get lost in the mail because SOMEthing would have to go wrong, but nope--it made it to her door and I was told she loved it. Phew.

To keep the layers from shifting, I cut everything much larger than necessary except for one of the pieces of fabric that was cut to the pattern. I had 2 pieces of medium interfacing, plus some fleece in there.

I then verrrrry sloooooowly topstitched close to the edge of the piece cut to the pattern. Everything magically became one big layer sewn nice and neat. I then trimmed the other layers down to match.

It was then business as usual. Pressing was a bit of an issue, because I didn't want the iridescent dots to melt (or the rest of the fabrics, for that matter) but a press cloth worked perfectly to convince the seams to cooperate. I let the glue set up for about nine minutes before I slid it into the frame--I hardly had a drop of ooze, and it was on the frame so it was easy to pick off. Phew again. So here it is, all ready to go to the prom--large enough to hold everything, small enough to be feminine and pretty.

This was really hard to photograph for some reason. Also it looks crooked but it's not, I assure you :) I couldn't get the green as true as I would have liked in the pic. My original plan was to find some kind of daisy embellishment, but everything was too big or too little girlish. I think this dotty chiffon does a nice job--it matches the dress but it's not sooo matchy that it's reminiscent of the little Easter purse that used to come with your Easter dress (remember those? am I giving clues to my age? do they even do that anymore?).

My cousin is a bit of a flower-child hippie, so I wanted to pick a fun lining. Something that seemed kind of retro and summery but still matched the bag. Also, since it's the lining nobody sees it but her. I picked this cotton to use:

Usually when I work on something late at night I go to bed entirely tired of it and wondering if it's as bad as I think. But fresh eyes in the morning, with this sitting just so in the sun looked pretty. And silvery bits make everything look better.

I am so happy--I have almost emptied my project box of to-dos. No custom orders left--I finished the last one last week. All I have left to do is sew new cushions for the porch furniture and a few other small projects. Then I can stitch together the jelly rolls I bought a few weeks ago. Seeing them sitting on my sewing table is motivation for sure. Have a good Monday! It'll be rainy and blah here--hope it's better where you are!

Linking up here:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Need an Apple (Core) Martini

Oh my. I am plumb tuckered. Wow. Like seriously. I made an apple core block, and it did me in for sure. Now, I have this die for my GoBaby, but I felt like it would be cheating since everyone else in the quilt along was doing it the whole cut-with-scissors way, and I thought it would be nice to try a different method. If I could hit rewind I would totally cheat.

First, there was no way to cut these with a rotary cutter (for me, anyway--I'm sure a way exists but not in this house at this time). That means scissors and pins. And you guys know what happens when I have to cut a lot of the same thing with two are the same. I was super careful this time, and for the most part everything went well. It was just SUCH tedious sewing. I don't think the curve on my die is quite so tight, but at least the dies have built-in notches so the frustration of lining things up yourself is gone. I'm hoping the sailing with that is a little smoother...when I eventually get around to it. ANYway, here's the block I made this evening:

I can't decide if that center core is cut crooked or sewn crooked. I don't care that much, it just visually bugs me. I was verrry slow and careful and pin-happy with this, so everything lined up swell, for the most part:

I did have one issue that I just couldn't get rid of, no matter how many times I clipped the curves or how much starch I used--the cherry fabric wasn't sewn puckered, but it ironed up that way. Grrrrr...... it's a little bit thinner than the other fabrics I used, so I'm guessing that's where the problem is.

Both cherry blocks were like that, but none of the others. There was no way I was cutting more apple cores and unpicking and restitching, so those puckery bits are there to stay. I do like how the red border frames it all. I thought it was going to annoy me to have to sew that on, but it finishes it off nicely.

This was one of those blocks that had me with my shoulders unknowingly hunched up around my ears while I was holding my breath. I do love the look of the apple cores, though, so I will definitely be making a quilt out of them (the cheating way, of course).

TTYL :)  And happy Friday--it's finally heeeeerrrreeee!!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rapp 1984

Just a warning: nostalgic, rambly, and pic heavy. But at least there will be funny socks and short shorts.

If you ask sister Alicia (who teared up) and my mother (who was sick about it--almost literally) a tragedy of the most epic proportions occurred this weekend. My dad and my uncle Andrew took down the swimming pool.

 Seeing it from my dad's point of view, one could be convinced that this was a proper action to take: as work progressed you could see that there wasn't much life left in the pool anyway; the trees planted when the pool went up have taken over, constantly dripping leaves and keeping the pool in more shade than sun; and mostly because, just before Christmas, some $%*#&$# punks stabbed holes in the sides of the pool every few feet with what looked like a screwdriver while we were out enjoying a Christmas get-together. To my dad, it was a no-brainer. To everyone else, it was an assault on pleasant memories. Or, as Alicia said, "Goodbye happy childhood!" I can see both sides, but I was oddly not nostalgic and weepy over this. Normally I would have had my own personal sob-fest and only half-jokingly paraded around the yard in protest carrying a sign that said something dinky that rhymed with the word pool.

On Sunday, sister Rachel and her prego belly came over. We got "in the pool" one last time and just stood there looking around, like we were waiting for something to happen or to hear our memories brought to life yelling "Marco!....Polo!" Z-man got "in" too, and said that he could only swim length-wise once without coming up for air and he wanted to see how many times he could run (it was 5, if you're interested).

It's very eerie to take a gander at a spot where something so big stood for 28 years and to see nothing but rubble. In an instant--done. Gone. If you ask my dad it was way longer than an instant. All I know is I went to buy shoes and when I came back it was almost over.

Truth be told I haven't gone in much over the past bunch of years. Maybe once a season? I'm just not a sun person. I'd rather sit on the porch and read and sip my iced tea, and listen to the giggling and the splashing and arguing over whose turn it is to get the ball that got knocked out. But still...that pool is one of my earliest memories.

It was built in 1984, a basic 4-foot above-ground pool, about 15 by 30 feet. I think everyone in my family was involved in its construction at one point or another. I would leave for school in the morning with my mom (I was finishing up kindy-garden :) and walk through the yard and down the back path for one block into the schoolyard. I so vividly remember differing groups of men (not strangers mind you--uncles, cousins, etc.) digging the hole and then doing whatever else.

My grandpa was a landscaper--that's his big old yellow work truck in the background. The guy on the left in the long-sleeved shirt in the photo above was one of his employees. I don't remember if his name was Sonny or James (but I think it's the latter), but those two, and another guy named Claude, were my grandpa's "crew." I remember them always making me feel a little bit special, just by noticing me. Claude would bring candy for me and my brother, and on my walk to school Sonny/James would say "Good mornin' Miss Bethany!" It made me feel quite important indeed. That single little memory brings a tear to my eye more readily than the tearing down of it all...I wonder why it meant so much to me.

An excellent way to see how much time has passed is to pay attention to the trees. I cannot beLIEVE how small these used to be. I was only 3 when we moved in, but I remember the most hideous landscaping (and the inside had some interesting choices as well--especially the bathroom tile). My grandpa fixed it right up, he and his guys. I don't know that he'd have planted the same trees if he knew just how big some of them were going to get...

I have no idea why they kept working in the rain this day. But that's my grandpa and grandma and my cousin Peggie. Sadly, these three have moved on from this world, but I think of them often. When I'm sewing, of course, I think of my grandma. When I'm trying to convince myself to live in the moment and enjoy life I think of Peggie. And when I'm trying to decide if an action is proper, I think of my mom saying "If your grandfather had seen that he'd have killed you." Yeah, right. Pop-pops are such pushovers :)  We used to have a giant meat market (literally--fresh cuts of everything) just behind us, hence the wall of trees you see in the early stages of covering that lovely orange wall up there.

That was the backyard in 1984. Those saplings and tiny arbor vitae in the very back behind the pool are now humongous, but they're my favorites.

Here it is a few years ago at our Memorial Day wiffle ball game--you can see how the trees have grown waaaaaay huge (working on those is going to be part of the whole relandscaping part of this project):

We've been talking about what we should do in that spot. My sister wants an in-ground pool. I want holly bushes and a pink dogwood tree, and a spot where we can have picnics (FYI: I have never once claimed maturity :)  My mom wants to hit the rewind button and have it all the way it was. My dad isn't sure yet... But one question remains unanswered: where are the game announcers going to sit during our summer wiffle ball games?

Because I promised you short shorts and silly socks, here's a picture of what we did before ball games--that wonderful Italian pastime, bocce.

In case you were looking for me I'm in that there photo. That's my pointy elbow sticking out of my cousin's hip on the far right. I can just make out me, cocking my skinny little hip, pestering the hell out of her. I miss those days. Thank you, swimming pool, for being part of them :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Stitchy Weekend

Howdy! I have had quite a productive weekend that has left me feeling quite satisfied with my sewing progress. Right after work on Friday I headed up to Joann's to dash in and grab a half yard of pink and white striped replace what I bleached. It did not take me long at all to reassemble the bag and add it to the finished pile. One more thing I can cross off my to-do list. So here's that:

All the usual design, so I won't bore you with description. I just wanted to show you in a different colorway.

 I love these little polka dots. I wanted to stock up in the stripes, plaids and dots in each colorway in these basic nursery prints, but I have no idea what I'd ever do with all of them.

 If I hadn't used those stripes for these pockets I wouldn't have had to make a second trip. You could argue if I hadn't bleached it in the first place I wouldn't have needed extra fabric. But then I would argue that they shouldn't have sold me fabric with arbitrary marks on it. Sooooo....yeah.

I think I'm all done with diaper bags for a little while. I have made the pink one above, this purple butterfly one, two in this blue and green color scheme, and two in Dr. Seuss. That's six diaper bags in about six weeks. Three of them I banged out in the last week alone--definitely more efficient but not as satisfying.

I wanted to make something nice and simple, but still a wee bit different than what I've been doing. I had completely forgotten that I had bought a Fortune Cookie Clutch purse kit a few months back, so I dove into that project. I had a bit of a cursing spree getting the second side into the frame and I poked a little hole in the fabric (I let the glue set too long and really had to fight with it) but this little pretty is all mine and I don't mind the little hiccups that only I know about.

 I wish I knew how they figured out these kinds of patterns. The best I can do is make a pattern for the rectangular purse frames. I imagine it's kind of difficult, so I think I'm content to sit back and let others do the thinking.

The fabrics come in the kit--I was so excited when I saw the lining for this one was red and white polka dots.

I also finished up a purse for my cousin for her prom, but she won't have it until later this week and I don't want to share before she sees it. I'm quite pleased with my sewing progress. I got some shopping in, watched a cinematic adventure, did some knitting, and hung out with the sibs. I've had two excellent weekends in a row, and I wouldn't complain a lick if more of them want to keep coming my way. 

Linking up here:


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tumblers, Lampshades, and Other Messes

This week's quilt block would have excited me more if I didn't have a fabric cutter and the tumbler die. One of the reasons I got that thing was so I could make an entire tumbler quilt (and one day I will...). Even though I've already made a tumbler project, I decided to make this week's block anyway. And it made me really really really glad I bought the GoBaby. The template was easy enough to draw. But cutting out those tumblers (I needed 24) wasn't fun. It was a lot of repositioning and trimming and I managed to pull off my favorite trick of cutting the same thing over and over and coming up with different sizes. I don't think there is any way in tarnation I would make an entire quilt, or anything much larger than a quilt block, with this method.

That being said, here's my block:

Doesn't it look like a bunch of pretty little lampshades all lined up? I was originally going to use all of my fabrics, but I decided to make the lighter blocks all the same since I'm in mad mad love with that cherry print.

I almost didn't make this block. I was sooo short on time, but I ran into an unexpected block of it tonight so I whipped it up (hence the not-so-hot photos). I've been plugging away at those diaper bags and I'm almost done. I should be totally done, but I did something utterly stupid and am thus not finished. Wanna know what I did? I'm dreadfully embarrassed but I'll tell you anyway.

The fabric I'm using is a light pink and white stripe. I noticed, after the whole outer bag was constructed, that there was a spot of unknown origin. I tried getting it out the gentle way, but that didn't work. I got the bright idea to try a little bleach. The spot was on a white stripe, and I've done this before using a Q-tip, so I was all confidence. We didn't have cotton swabs, so I decided to use one of those cotton squares. Needless to say, I ended up with this mess:

The spot is still there, the color is messed up, and the fabric is distressed. Greeaat. So I figured I'd cut out a cute little heart applique and stitch it over the spot. Very excited I was. I used Heat-n-Bond sewable, and fused it all nice and neat. Know what happens when bleach that I guess I didn't entirely get off the fabric interacts with the heat and glue? It makes a big spot that's highly visible and purplish in color. At this point I was absolutely furious with myself. So as not to lose all my work, I picked out the stitches on the straps and the piping, pressed everything nice and neat and added "buy half-yard of striped fabric" to my to-do list. I suppose it could have been worse. But, on the bright side, the straps are already made (and I haaaaaate making straps) and a lot of the work is already done. I'll make the delivery date I promised, so all will be well. But I'm kind of hoping I don't have any more bright ideas. I'm getting tired of doing damage control :)

I'm hoping to show you the finished bag, sans bleach, this weekend. Have a happy Friday!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

You might yawn....

....because I've shown you this particular bag a squillion times before. But the thing I love about making made-to-order bags is that each one is different. This one came together almost like a dream. I usually have a few hiccups no matter how many times I make something--my mind wanders, I reverse something in my head and thus under my needle--but this one was so easy breezy. 

I'm not sure if it's this particular print, the dash of red, or what, but every time I glance at this one I get a little "Oh!" sort of thought flitting through my brain. The colors are just so classic, and the floral not an "old lady" floral. Side note: I apologize to any old ladies reading this. I use the term "old lady floral" a bit, and I mean nothing derogatory by it. I use it strictly as an objective fabric pattern term.

The pleats on this one came out with a bit more oomph than usual. I made it as I always do, but these would not succumb to the iron and are thus much more flirtatious and feminine. This is my favorite part of the bag to make. I adore pleats, and they're so simple and satisfying to pull off.

I remember that the first time I added this kind of pocket to a bag gusset it took me forever to figure out one. Now they're just like pshh, whatever. I now have a harder time remembering to make sure it's secure in the side seam when I stitch.

I swear that zipper pull is silver. The last time I ordered them I got matte silver instead of shiny. The matte photographs like bronze. That irks me to way too high a degree.

That single line of bias tape at the top of the slip pocket is my favorite part of this bag. There is something about that contrast that I just love. I have no idea why such a simple, silly thing should delight me so, but it does.

That's all I've got right now. I decided it would be a good idea to assembly-line produce three diaper bag orders I have. Two of them are repeats (see here and here), but the third is the sweetest pink and white thing ever. I've got the insides to whip up, and then the final stitch-together and they're done. I cannot WAIT to show you the wee girlie bag. Like so excited to show you I could squeal :)

Long weekends agree with me greatly. I don't wanna go to work tomorrow.

Linking up here:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

I hope you all have a lovely Easter, if it's your wont to celebrate it! If it's not, I hope you have a delightful Sunday, doing whatever it is you find yourself doing :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Abnormal Egg Dying

I was so stinkin' efficient today. We were let out of work early today for our long weekend. I came home, cleaned my car, cleaned and dusted the bedroom (and boy it needed it! slightly embarrassed....) and dyed Easter eggs with the boy. I couldn't believe he still wanted to do them, but he asked my mom to boil some eggs and buy the stuff so there you go. He has always gotten bored with it after about the 6th egg, and that still rings true. This year, though, he decided to experiment a little bit more.

He was trying to squeeeeeeeeze an egg to see if he could crack it. I jokingly said "Try hitting it on your forehead and see what happens." Apparently he thought I was serious, because whack!! And the durn thing cracked. He then proceeded to crack a few more in such a manner. Sometimes I sincerely don't know about that kid.

Once opened, he devised 3 "experiments." First, he removed the yolk from an egg and dropped it into the cup of dye. Just to see. Then he dropped the other 2 peeled eggs into different cups of dye. And we waited.

 In the blue cup--those little flakes you see? Egg yolk. It broke apart a little bit.

 Ugh, gross. This ended up in a few other cups before he was done with it.

He took out the yellow egg to see what was going on with it. And since it was sitting in vinegar and water he decided to take a bite. No difference was reported from an "ordinary" egg.

Then we moved onto the green egg, which sat for a full ten minutes. Unpeeled eggs absorb the dye so much better, but they're kind of wiggly and gross.

Wouldn't you think that the die would have gone through the egg? I'd have put money on it. I would think the shell is gone, that white filmy layer just inside the shell is gone, so what's holding the dye back? I guess a non-porous surface is...or something. I tried to sound smart but it faded quickly there... I'm wondering if we had just left it in the dye for a super long time if it would have eventually worked its way in deeper.

In a completely abnormal way, I really like this photo.

After the yolk ball was plopped into a few different colors, it still hadn't changed color much but looked really gross.

And when we cut it there was no dye on the inside, either. Side note: I can no longer eat the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. I'm sorry if you now can't, either.

Of course we had normal-looking eggs as well. It wasn't some kind of sicko egg-dying session through and through....

 Of course he couldn't dye an egg straight-up. He had to dip them in multiple colors "just to see."

Those little Paas color kits have not changed one lick in a gazillion years except for one thing--they don't give you a crayon anymore. How's a person supposed to make a polka dot egg without the crayon? Luckily this rainbow cardboard band stepped in to cheer things up.

So that's that. It was an oddly full day, but a good one. And now I've got all day tomorrow to do what I want. Which looks like it's going to be sewing. Diaper bags. I'm assembly-lining 3 of them. We'll see how that works out. Ta for now!


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