Wednesday, 24 December 2014

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU!



I thought I had survived the lurgies that were all around me, but it didn't last.  For the past 2 weeks I have been dragging myself through the day and trying to prepare for Christmas.  And truth is, much of the time has been spent snuggled up on the sofa watching seasonal films and hoping that next day I would have more energy.    Thankfully today is finally the day.  It has been one of much present wrapping, cushion making or should I say the start of?  Whether my son gets the finished cushions on Boxing Day will be another thing, but I know he will understand if he has to wait another week.  After all, they were promised back in the summer, so he has learnt to be patient! 

 Wishing you a VERY happy Christmas and hoping yours is a healthy one, filled with family, friends and everything you wish for yourself.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

ZIZO - PERRY'S POT

The other day I took advantage of an unplanned walk in the park and discovered this wood carving.  It seemed a perfect photo for Helena's Zoom in Zoom out.

 
I've not seen it before and was interested to learn it is part of a  totem tree.
 


I understood what inspired most of the carvings as these relate to exhibits in a museum that stands in the grounds.  We have spent much time over the years watching bees flying in and out of a small hole in the window frame leading into a glass sided hive. You can see the honeycomb and watch the bees do their waggle dance as they communicate to each other where to find pollen. But Perry's Pot? 

I didn't have a clue.

And so I did a Google search.  It seems Grayson Perry, 2003 Turner Prize Winner and a artist well known for his ceramic vases, was born in Chelmsford and one of his pieces is part of the museum display.  I must check it out next time I visit and see what else I have missed!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

5 in 5 - December 2014 - MELANIE



Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia and she loves photography. Every month Melanie has taken part in this monthly neme and we managed to find a way round her not having a blog by posting here. I love that we have found a way for her to take part so once again Melanie, a big thank you, and over to you:

December 5th already and just 20 days until Christmas. A busy time for everyone on this lead up to Christmas. Although my cards are in the post I still have a heap of Christmas e-mails to write to friends who only ever hear from me by e-mail at Christmas. I have set myself a deadline to get these written before the end of next week as next weekend we have two friends arriving on a visit from the UK so my time will be fully occupied doing fun things with them. When they leave I shall just have a few cooking days before Christmas Eve when our daughter who lives in the UK arrives so with heaps to do and although I thought about taking a day out somewhere away from home to take photos I decided no. I had food shopping to do today as we have friends coming for brunch on Sunday so I decided to take my camera to the supermarket, something I have not done before. So here are my 5 in 5 photos with Christmas as a theme. 


Top left photo as I entered the store the door had a bauble wreath. 
The middle left photo as I walked through the door was a white Christmas tree. 
The middle photo with the candy cane was taken nearby the white tree with the fruit and veg, there were several more candy canes around the place. 
The large tree in the left hand photo was by the information desk, also near the fruit and veg.
 Then at the end of an isle was the ‘Everyone loves music’ display with its Merry Christmas sign, this is my bottom photo on the left. Incidentally I did get the shopping done as well as take photos and as I walked around with my camera taking photos not a single person asked me why.
             
As always, a big thank you to Melanie and I really enjoyed seeing this different take on 5 in 5.  It just goes to show you don't need to plan a special location - just grab your opportunity and see what happens!  This links with my own post this month, and if this has inspired you to take part in this challenge you have until 25th before this months link closes. It's great fun and this post should answer any questions or give other information that you need.

Links for this months posts are here and hopefully I'll be back with more photos from Melanie and myself next month. I hope you will join us!

Friday, 5 December 2014

5 in 5 - December 2014 - A WALK IN THE PARK

                                         Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of

 each month I post 5 photos that I have
 
taken in 5 minutes. 
 
 
This week I went to the dentist.  I arrived early and rather than read a magazine in the waiting room I decided to take this opportunity and my camera and go for a short walk in the park.  As always when taking my 5 in 5 photos I set the alarm on my mobile as this keeps me focused and to time, besides, I didn't want to be late for my appointment!
 
I was so glad I made this choice over how to spend my time.  I would have missed this lovely fungi
 

these bright holly berries


and this lovely seat.


There were lots of leaves on the ground

 
but some trees still held their colour and brightened my day.

 
When I got home and downloaded these photos I saw a similarity from photos that I took last year at the end of December. '5 in 5' photos of a walk, with a bench and my feet planted on the ground. The heavy frost in those photos makes me appreciate how mild it has been so far this year although we are warned things are to change. And while finding the link I also saw this post where I had written about the importance of taking opportunities as they arise.  A reminder to myself, and maybe you too.
 

If you are inspired to get out your camera and join in the '5 in 5' photo challenge here is the plan:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a timer for 5 minutes (I use my mobile phone).

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool below.
     You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos.


There are more details here.

And one more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your '5 in 5' blog page and be easier for them to find.


And don't forget, you have until 25th to post your link!
 
Thank you for popping by.  Your comments are always welcome and appreciated.
 

 

Monday, 10 November 2014

ZIZO - Poppies

For weeks I have planned to go to London to see the poppy sculpture 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'.  I have seen so many photos, breath taking images that moved and made me want to go even more.  I knew I would always live with regret if I let this spectacle and stunning tribute pass.

And so today I caught the train, joined the mass of people who were of the same mind, and took my turn to pay my respect and take photos.

 

It was just as I imagined, I'm so glad that I went.

Joining in with Helena's weekly neme, ZOOM IN ZOOM OUT.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

5 in 5 - November 2014 - MELANIE


Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia and she loves photography. Every month Melanie has taken part in this monthly neme and we managed to find a way round her not having a blog by posting here. I love that we have found a way for her to take part so once again Melanie, a big thank you, and over to you:

Already November and another fifth of the month.  I had been thinking about the subject/place for my five in five photos and was very tempted to take zoo photos as on Friday I am going to Adelaide Zoo with my daughter and grandson.  However Friday is not November 5th and I do really like my 5 in 5 photos to be taken on the day.  Then the thought came to me why not use my daughters chickens as the subject for my photos?  This is what I have done.  I do have chickens of my own but only four whereas my daughter has seven chickens so I thought seven would offer more choice of photos besides one of my chickens already featured in my very first 5 in 5 back in July 2013.  You can see her in Sandie’s blog of Jul 25 2013.  Anyway here are some shots of my daughter’s chickens. 

When I entered their hen house they all gathered round my feet and begun pecking my shoes but they quickly tired of that.  A couple decided the grain in their bowls was tastier and the others just wandered around.  The seven hens consist of three black hens which are the breed Australorp, an Australian breed, two white hens which are a leghorn cross, (the leghorn is a breed originating in Tuscany) and the brown hens of which there are also two are an Isa Brown cross.  The Isa Brown is not actually a breed but a hybrid.  It was difficult to decide which photos to use and I have done a bit of cropping in order to fit five photos into my collage. Hope you enjoy seeing my daughter’s girls.
 
 
I thought perhaps another time I will use my girls  in a photo but then I realised I’d like to show them off at the same time as you see my daughter’s girls so hope you will forgive a photo outside of the 5in5. I have one Isa brown girl who is the boss, one Brown Leghorn girl and two golden laced Wyandottes girls who I think are beautiful with the gold trimmed black feathers. Here they are:-
 
 
As always, a big thank you to Melanie and if this has inspired you to take part in this challenge you have until 25th before this months link closes. It's great fun and this post should answer any questions or give other information that you need.

Links for this months posts are here and hopefully I'll be back with more photos from Melanie and myself next month.  I hope you will join us!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

5 in 5 - November 2014 - MY WORKSPACE TODAY



Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
 
 each month I post 5 photos that I have
 
taken in 5 minutes. 
 
 
This month I thought I would share some of the projects I am working on. I am a messy working and flit from one thing to another so my workspace is covered and the floor around me too! Let's take a look:
 
I had hoped to finish these Halloween projects that are in various states of progress.... 
 
 
But no... other things were more pressing and so these still sit in a pile on the corner waiting for attention. I wonder if they will just be put away again until next year because that's what usually happens as Christmas overtakes. One day I will finish what I started, especially as I have ideas of what I want to do with these laser cut shapes from That Craft Place.  But as I said, Christmas is coming and so I thought I would make a Christmas project.....
 


 
I don't usually go for cute but each month as part of the Laser Cut Design Team I send off two projects to be displayed in the shop. And this snowman kept poking me saying, "Come on, see what you can do with me!"  And so after playing around I came up with the idea of putting him inside a glass snow globe. Having cut the hole and base on my Cameo silhouette I decided he looked a bit lost, and so I stuck him on the outside instead with the quote 'Why fit in when you were made to stand out!' I added ribbon so that this could be hung as a wall decoration and the snowman is ready to be posted a long with an upcycled box that I made using laser cut shapes.  You can see more of the box and a tutorial here
 
 
I have also been busy preparing for classes that I run. We have made advent calendars and a variety of books using different constructions and the next class is a day of making papery Christmas projects. I'm super excited, I have lots of ideas and one involves large letters. I decided the best way to make these is to cut them myself and so I took my silhouette from the back of the shelf and pushed myself to experiment. You see I don't use it enough to become familiar with it's working and so each time I have to relearn. That can take so long that I resort to other ways of getting what I want (or not!) So for the past week my machine has taken up much of my workspace a long with my laptop and I have been really happy with what I have achieved.  Yay!! 
 
Later this morning I am taking my silhouette and laptop to my friend Pauline's house where we plan to set up both our machines and help each other to master more.  We did this once before and was blown away by what we achieved with one of us watching a YouTube tutorial while the other followed the instructions. We're hoping for another successful play!
 
 
Here's more of my mess and some pots of glue. I have used so many different types of glue this past week as there was a request to make books with fabric covers as one of my classes. I spent a whole morning experimenting to find the right medium and sometimes what you think will be simple and quick isn't. Still, much learning was achieved and some lovely books made. There is also some stickles in the  background. I didn't realise I needed these until the other day. I'm not a sparkley girl as a rule, but I discovered sometimes there is a time and place for everything. 
 
Other books are also piled on my workspace. I am in the process of setting up an online 'stall' at CRAFTfest and event that runs for the next five weeks. I hope to have some of my handmade items on show by the end of today and that you will pop over to take a look. I'll add a link as soon as this is available.  Meantime I need to take make more to add to my stall and I'm thinking books (of course!) journals, cards and decorations to start. I'd best get going then!! 
 
 
As always, thank you for visiting and any comments are always warmly appreciated.  And
 this month I am linking to Julia over at WOYWW - why not pop over and see? It's always fun to see what others are working on. 
 
If you are inspired to get out your camera and join in the '5 in 5' photo challenge here is the plan:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a timer for 5 minutes (I use my mobile phone).

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool below.
     You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos.


There are more details here.

And one more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your '5 in 5' blog page and be easier for them to find.


And don't forget, you have until 25th to post your link!

 

Monday, 3 November 2014

A BOOK FOR MELANIE

I thought I'd share one of my recent makes, a giveaway that I offered to celebrate the 1st anniversary of my monthly 5 in 5 photo challenge.  Melanie's name was chosen in the random selection and she had mentioned to me that she wanted to make a book using the photos from her monthly posts but that she hadn't found the time.  I was wondering what I could send as a giveaway and I loved this idea...  in fact, I couldn't think of anything more perfect! 

It's been a secret and Melanie doesn't know that I have made this book.  At least, not until now, if she reads this post!   Hopefully it will still be a good surprise.


Each page shows Melanie's photo collage, one for each month of the year that she sent me.  And I designed the pages with a side pocket that would hold a tabbed insert. 


I wanted to include the story that Melanie had sent me with each photo collage and I love how her writing fitted perfectly onto each side.  I also love how these can be tucked away so that the focus is on the photo, but how the tab invites you to pull them out and read. 


 
 
I experimented with a new construction that seems to have worked well.  I didn't want to use a hidden hinge as these take space inside the pocket and this design allows the pages to open flat and for the inserts to fully fit inside.  I taught this construction at a recent class and it was well received.  Now I plan to make another of these books for myself because I loved seeing Melanie's photos in this way and I decided I want my own copy!   I also plan to use the same idea for my own 5 in 5 photos as there's nothing like the feel of a book and turning pages.  I hope Melanie will agree! 

It will soon be time for another '5 in 5' post so I hope you will come back on 5th.  And if you want to join in this monthly challenge, you'd be very welcome.  You can find out more here. Meanwhile I'd love to hear ways how you have shared some of your photos, thanks for popping by.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

HALLOWEEN HOCOS POCOS

Another Halloween has passed and another night of hococ pocos.  My daughter and her family love an excuse for some fun and much of their day was spent preparing.  And as always we joined them once it got dark.  We were greeted by strange looking small people.


 
The big one had a very serious face but I learnt that a zip had been glued onto her face (literally) and this made face movements difficult.  The effect was so clever I thought they had bought the mask, but no, they had made it by hand.  What's not to love about that!! 
 
And of course there was trick and treats. 
 
 
And children would be offered the cat litter tray.........
 
 Actually, these were shaped chocolate brownies in Rice Crispies and we loved seeing the  response they received!  There was polite hesitance and the odd refusal, but there was a huge bucket of sweets on offer for the not so brave or the very small.

And then it was time to go knocking on doors ourselves......

Some looked amazing and it was wonderful to see the effort and the way that some neighbours played along. 



And then there was this one...... 
As we approached smoke appeared from the front door, there was eerie noise and a huge white lady standing facing the door....


 
Then as we gingerly approached she s-l-o-w-l-y turned round.....  and walked towards us!!!! 
Boy did we SCREAM!! 
The little ones (and ones not so little!!) all ran back to the road leaving me in hysterics and grappling with my camera.  I SO wished I had caught this on video!!

 
There was reassurance, trepid footsteps back, and the white lady went out of her way to be friendly and explain to the little ones that hers was just a costume too.  She offered to pose for a photo.   
 
 


The very little one refused to look.... however she did agree to a high five with the white lady before we left.   And then it was back home, with the last laugh on us! 
 

Time to remove make up and retell the tales of our Halloween. 


 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

UPCYCLED BOX - TUTORIAL

I have exciting news because in September I became a Laser Cut design team member for That Craft Place, in Eastbourne.  It has been an exciting time and I have loved using these designs made out of MDF and chipboard and using them as a focus for my projects. 

I thought I'd share my latest make and a tutorial and as I love sewing (among so many other things!) I asked Lisa if she could send me some haberdashery designs.  A part from the laser cuts the materials are all up-cycled or what I had on hand, and if you use any of these ideas please do pop back and let me know as I'd love to see them.  Let's start, shall we!

I made this project on a craft retreat and there is a lack of photos of the stages as I did not plan to write a tutorial at the time (I was probably too busy having fun and chatting!)  But the stages are easy to describe so I'll take you through step by step:

First I took an empty box. 


1.  I painted the box white so that the colour did not show through.  Depending on your base colour you may not need to do this.  Wait for the paint to dry before you cover it.

2. I used tissue paper from a vintage sewing pattern to cover the inside and outside of the box.  Diluted PVA worked well, and I applied it to the box itself as the tissue is fragile.  That said, being so thin tissue is also easy to gently push into awkward corners so it is good to work with.  NOTE:  I worked out any wording or design that I wanted to show and cut the paper to fit.  You could also add the design as a layer if you prefer. Here is the back and underside:





3. While the tissue paper dried I started to work on the laser cuts.  This sewing machine fitted perfectly on top of the box and I looked at various ways I could decorate it.  Paint? Stamp? Ink? In the end I decided I wanted a pattern so I chose printed paper and used the sewing machine as a template to draw the outline on the back of the paper.  After I had cut it out I glued it into position using Collall.  Once it was dry I added a small stamped flourish and a some words. 




4. I hadn't taken any threads with me, but the great thing about being a way with friends is that someone always has what you need!  So I wound embroidery silk around the bobbin and used double sided tape to secure.  I then glued the sewing machine onto the lid. I used my glue gun but was too impatient to let the glue heat properly and it dried before it stuck
so  I borrowed Evostick from another friend and this worked a treat.  


 
5. I used Paper Arty chalk paints to decorate the bobbins and once dry I inked a line to add detail.  I wound round more embroidery silk and used Evostick to glue the MDF to the box.


6. I painted a laser cut button and used the same small flourish to add detail.  More embroidery silk was threaded through the holes to add texture and colour.  I used one of my rubber stamps to make a button card and glued the button on.


7. Finally I added the safety pin and needle and thread.  I love the detail of these and so I simply added a light wash of paint to define the thread.  Sometimes less is more, I think.





8. I added a couple of final stamped imaged inside the box  and now it is ready to post to Lisa for display in the shop.


 


I had great fun making this box and am working on another project that I will share once it is finished. Meanwhile if you would like to see what other laser cut designs are available why not pop over to That Craft Place and take a look? 

Thanks for popping by.







Saturday, 11 October 2014

5 in 5 - October 2014 - MELANIE


 
Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia and she loves photography. Every month Melanie has taken part in this monthly neme and we managed to find a way round her not having a blog by posting here. I love that we have found a way for her to take part so once again Melanie, a big thank you, and over to you:
 
The month of October has begun and another 5 in 5 shot to be taken.  It is a long weekend over here and days of being lazy and enjoying the sunshine.  Our temperatures have risen and this past week we have enjoyed temperatures in the high twenties and low thirties.  The garden is full of colour and it was an easy option for me to walk around the garden with my camera.  Top left are marigolds.  Our garden front and back has areas which are a sea of marigolds as they self-seed and I let them go where they like.  They are in the veg plot, in the herb garden and in the front flower garden.  Bottom left is a shot of lilies.  The lilies are next to our fish pond and in a bog area near the pond, heaps of flowers and such a stunning look of white against green.  In the middle is a shot in our bottle brush tree.  This tree at the moment is covered in the scarlet red brushes that the tree gets its name from. Top right is a shot of the blossom on our dwarf orange tree.  This tree is in a pot by the back door and the scent fills the air by this door.  The final photo is of flowers on our bird of paradise, a front garden flower which looks its best at this time of year.



The UK is beginning to see shorter daylight hours and there is a nip in the air which also means the trees are beginning to turn.  As much as I lover this time of year for its autumnal colours and offerings of fruit and harvest, these beautiful flowers Melanie has shared and the idea of sunshine and warmer weather is appealing.  That said, this time of year also invites me to light my log burner and there's nothing I like more than the smell of wood smoke and snuggling indoors with a good film or book.  I guess all seasons have their appeal and it is important we appreciate them so I hope you find something to enjoy, whatever the season where you are.  And this reminds me that I took some beautiful photos of spider webs last week, with this months '5 in 5' in mind.  I chose other photos in the end but I may just have to come back with another post for this months challenge!  And if you'd like to get out your camera and share some of your photos that would be truly wonderful!! 

If this has inspired you to take part in this challenge you have until 25th before the link closes. It's great fun and this post should answer any questions or give other information that you need.

Thank you to everyone else who has joined in or left comments. Links for this months posts are here and hopefully I'll be back with more photos from Melanie and myself next month. I hope you will join me!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

JUNK JOURNAL - sharing Debs story

In previous Junk Journal posts I have made reference to one of the swap participants, Debs.  Not only did I love the way she came up with her ideas but the story behind it and so I took photos of her journal and invited Debs to tell all. 

So let's not waste time and with a big THANK YOU - it's over to Debs!

1.       So, Sandie’s junk journal challenge, should I do it, too busy really, work and getting ready to go on holiday and on top of that having to pick up my new passport in person from Peterborough due to lost photos……..well, I combined that trip to Peterborough with holiday shopping and whilst very pleased with the clothes and cosmetics I came away from that trip totally inspired by the packaging that all the things had come in. I loved the colours and the feel of the bags, so it was straight into my stash to have the fun of looking at papers and ephemera that all of us can describe in our craft spaces. Old photo mounts, paint chips, post cards from Ikea, an old A-Z of London, an old botanical book. Although this was a junk journal and I knew some of the pages would not come back to me I still couldn’t help but think of the journal as a whole and carry the colour theme through the pages, oranges, greys and blacks inspired by the shopping bag from Taking Shape.  (A brilliant shop for the slightly larger and curvaceous ladies, clothing with attitude and quality).


2.       How to use the papers and bags……decide on a size, and go for it.  A really useful tip that helped was to use the Ikea postcard as a template for the page size and take the postcard to the shopping bag and move it over the printed patterns and also over the folded part of the bag to see how to deconstruct the bag but keep the interesting features (technical term here now….keep the folded part in as a feature….the folded part is called the gusset!!!!)



3.       A page simply cut out from a No 7 gift bag leaving the black cord handles on. After the journal was finished these handles were too long so I just tied a knot into them. Onto the inside flap by the handles I attached a clear acrylic name badge holder with a brad. A place for hidden journaling.




4.       Opposite this I used an old photo mount, used paint chips to add colour and then distress inks blended in to the colour theme. Ink also enhanced the slight embossing on the photo mount.



5.       This page uses the shopping bag from taking shape, I even left the name on the gusset as I liked the expression. On the reverse I utilised an existing fold in the bag and tucked in an envelope and card for more hidden journaling. The card and envelope from my stash, a TKMaxx find. I also distressed inked the inside of the page but has to go really carefully as it was glossy paper and took ages to dry.



6.       An Ikea postcard mounted onto a Chanel No 5 hand-out. I had used photo glue and this reacted with the  glossy card giving an interesting texture in parts. Who can resist a quote “A drop of No5 and nothing else”!!!!



7.       I always have books that I have got from charity shops or car boots that tell a story in their design, can work as personal references to friends and places, or they work as background papers. This is simply a page from a botanical book with torn strips from the London A-Z.


8.       Almost the same on the reverse but instead of the street maps I used the index of street names.


9.   The reverse of the Ikea post card was distress inked and a line of chandeliers stamped across the top of the page. Overlaid on the top and affixed with glossy accents is part of the packaging from Tresor perfume, you can see where the bottle fitted into the acrylic and a chandelier printed onto it.



10 . Utilising part of the taking shape shopping bag and paint chips this page was created. I even used an existing hole in the bag (where the handles had been) to add a tag. This tag was created from the label from one of the items of clothing bought for my holiday!!! I covered the name and details with a piece of coordinating card.


11.   Another photo mount, left fairly plain as I liked the muddy greys and old grey writing.


12.   Using the A-Z as matting and layering.


So the pages were done, and interestingly I had passed half the night being inspired by Sandie’s challenge and thinking I didn’t really have the time. Amazing where thought and inspiration can take you. So what do I do for the covers, this part is really serendipity. I looked around by craft space and of course it was cluttered,  untidy and with evidence of good intentions to tidy up and sort out, i.e. Ikea cardboard cartons for packing. Way to go!!! Took my postcard template to one of the cartons, tried it out in different positions and even the existing  perforations created a spine, the hand holds created a view into the journal and the lines for labelling the box fell into an ideal place on the cover. The handles from the shopping bag were used to tie the journal up and a clothes price tag covered and coordinated as an embellishment to the cover.


So thanks Sandie for this challenge.
Debs

I think you will agree that Debs certainly got her inspiration from this packaging and it was also a lesson for me.  I am someone who saves interesting paper and card for projects and perhaps in future I will use what I have to hand instead, as I love the way this journal came together and the story attached.  

When it came to making up the journals for the swap I had a small dilemma as Debs had gauged the size of her cover by her postcard.  The instructions asked for pages up to 6 x 8 inches and this meant some of the swapped pages would be too big.  I wanted to keep Debs cover so I used the back of it to extend the length and added a new back replacement.  I know Debs liked the detail of this packaging, and the 'hand hold' now left space for a tab to be added for a title.  I punched holes in the journal and used a thick ribbon to secure, adding the original handle from the shopping bag and tag as a  detail.  I hope Debs likes the result....
  


The  journals have now been returned to the swap participants and if you took part I do hope you like your package when it arrives.  And I wonder which of Debs pages you will find in your journal?!  



Thanks for popping by, for taking part, and again to Debs for sharing her thoughts and ideas.   It has been fun! 
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