Limited Closet Space

I love heritage homes. The character and custom look of an older home is almost impossible to capture in the newer homes that being built today. The amount of oak and natural woodwork simply can not be afforded by the average home owner. There are so many wonderful aspects of owning an older home, but with the character and beauty come many obstacles as well. Our home was built in 1921 and is approximately 2300 square feet. Our basement is not yet finished and although we still have ample living space, it seems as though adequate storage is a constant battle. Both of the upstairs bedrooms were remodelled at sometime prior to us purchasing our home and they both have the luxury of walk-in closets. However, the rest of the house is limited in closet space and I am always thinking of creative ways to use our space more efficiently. Such was the case with my 2012 closet make over. Tim works shift work and I have always found it more convenient to use the closet in the spare room, so that I can try to avoid going in and out of our bedroom while he is sleeping.

Spare Bedroom Closet:

Below is the spare room closet which I use in addition to one of the small closets in the master bedroom (for dresses).  The closet  is 33″ wide, 9’6″ tall and quite deep at 33″.  The space was being used really poorly, so I decided to embark on my first “build” project without the help of my husband! The original closet had one bar going across the closet at about 70″ or so with one shelf sitting on top.  All the rest was empty, unused space (other than the pile of junk I had piled up on the floor under the hanging clothes.)  Too bad I forgot to take the true “before” picture.  It was like one of those closets from a sitcom or cartoon in which the contents of the closet falls out every time you open the door!  Anyways,  I researched closet make overs and had an idea of what I wanted to do, but had to work up the courage to get started.  I am a project queen, but my husband is always asking how and why “my projects” always become “his projects”. I was so fed up with relying on him to make the cuts and use the wall plugs, etc, that I decided that I would learn to do these things myself.  What better place to start than a closet, where all of my mistakes and  slip-ups can be hidden behind closed doors.  I must admit that there was some frustration along the way and my husband notes that he has never heard of it taking so long to mount a few boards, but I literally had to learn everything.  I had used many tools before, but my husband would always get the drill bit I needed, find the proper screws, use the wall plugs if needed, etc.  I was determined to complete this project without him and at a minimal expense.

First Step:

Clean out the closet.

Getting Started:

  • I had to remove the single bar as the height would not work with my new plan.
  • I had to patch, prime and paint the closet. It was in pretty rough shape and had probably not been painting in decades. I kept it white, but the fresh paint made it look a hundred times better!
  • I then installed “cleats” (I actually know what those are now!!) to support the three shelves and the double hanging bars.
  • My husband was going to help set me up to use the table saw for the shelves,  but he was busy and I was on a mission, so I just measured them out and used the electric jigsaw to cut them.  They may not be perfect, but they seem fine to me – and I did the cuts all by myself!!  Besides, at that height, who will ever see them?
  • I also wanted to incorporate vertical storage up the front sides of the closet to make use of the empty space there.  Old closets are often very deep and there ends up being “dead” space at either the front or back that is often rendered useless. I figured out a way to make this space work for me. I purchased pegboard at the Re-store for $5 and cut, primed and painted it white to blend in with the rest of the closet. I had never used pegboard before and fortunately I was smart enough to figure out that it couldn’t sit flush against the wall or you wouldn’t be able to insert the pegs into the board. I used scrap wood to build a simple wooden frame on the back. (I even mitred the corners.) I then screwed the peg board securely to the wall with long screws, through the wood frame. This provided about a 1/2 to 3/4″ gap between the wall and the back of the peg board, so that the pegs would insert properly.
  • I went to the dollar store and purchased several little nylon fabric covered bins (or some kind of fabric similar to nylon). They had cute little handles at the ends and you could tell they were constructed from heavy cardboard (beneath the fabric). I used my We R Memories Hole Punch/Eyelet Setter to punch two holes in the backside of each basket and then set eyelets around the rims to avoid damaging the baskets with the pegs.  The eyelets also gave the basket a nice “finished” look.We R Memories Punch and Eyelet Setter
  • I then “stacked” these vertically along the front of the closet.
  • I also wanted to use the inside of the door to maximize the space.  One of the things I wanted to include was jewellery storage of some kind.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to use, but knew I hit the jackpot when I came across an old wooden spoon rack at the thrift store  for $2.50.   I simply painted it and drape my necklaces over the little rungs originally intended for spoons. It ended up being the most exciting part of the make-over!
  • I added some additional pegs for bracelets and an antique cheese grater serves as storage for my earrings.
verticle peg-board storage

I purchased this antique cheese grater for $3 at The Old House Revival Company (one of my favourite stores) and repurposed it for earring storage.

  • I followed Anna White’s tutorial for making a simple book shelf from a pallet. I love pallet projects as you can generally pick these up for free. I made a few of these and use them for vertical shoe storage. They only hold a few pairs, but take up much less floor space. I made the cuts following her simple instructions and just stained the pallet shelf for a nice finished look.
  • The three shelves above the two hanging bars are quite high and very accessible without a stool. I can reach the bottom shelf, but the other two are too high for me. I use these shelves for off-season shoes and purses. (And no this is not an optical illusion, this closet really is this high.)high shelves
  • I just added my final addition to the closet last weekend. I was keeping my scarves in one of my black baskets, but really wanted to hang them instead. I installed an old towel bar that was being stored in the basement and slid on some old curtain rings that have little clips on the bottom. My scarves now hang beautifully and don’t get creased.


I have to tell you, this closet is jam-packed! The “new” closet offers double the hanging space, triple the shelf storage, the little baskets hold my socks, underwear, workout gear, and tank tops. In addition, I managed to accommodate more efficient shoe storage, jewellery organization and most recently a great place to hang my scarves. I loved this project not only because the result was great, but because it truly was my very own build. If you look closely there are a few “boo-boo’s”, but you really have to seek them out to find them.  Happy organizing!

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Pork Mushroom Casserole

We got this recipe from a brochure put out by the Manitoba Hog Producers many years ago. It is very good and the paprika adds a bit of zip to the recipe. The mushroom gravy is great on both rice and potatoes.

pork mushroom casserole

Pork Mushroom Casserole


4-6 loin chops (3/4″ thick)
Salt, Pepper and Paprika to taste
2 T. butter
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 T. parsley flakes
1 can of mushroom soup
1 can of mushroom stems and pieces (we use fresh)
1/3 cup milk

Season chops with pepper and paprika. Sauté chops at low temperature in butter until brown. Season with salt. Transfer chops to baking dish. Combine celery, onions, parsley, soup, mushrooms and milk. Pour the mixture over the chops.  Cook covered in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn the chops and cook for another 30 minutes or until the chops are done and the meat is no longer pink. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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Is Technology Causing Anxiety?

My son is a worrier. It is not debilitating and seldom prevents him from doing things, but the anxiety is present. He asks a million questions and can be known to perseverate on certain things. He will often ask us “What if…” questions and his mind is always on. A few months ago, he said something that really stopped me in my tracks. We have always grimaced at the words “I’m bored” and basically said that only boring people get bored. We would make lists of all of the different things he could do and encourage him to develop new interests and hobbies. The trouble with Shay is that he has always focussed on one or two interests at a time, and has zero interest in pursuing anything else.  His current passions are Minecraft and hockey. When he is unable to play either of these two things, the result is often “I’m bored.”  These words triggered a conversation between Shay and I that left me feeling quite “yucky”.  I was explaining to him how important it is to have time when there is “nothing to do” and to learn how to handle boredom. His response was this….Shay said that he doesn’t like being bored because that is when he has time to think and his worries start, as long as he’s busy he doesn’t worry.  I was not only surprised by what he said, but also that a 9-year-old could even make that connection.

I have a total love/hate relationship with technology. I don’t text and rarely use my cell phone, but I do blog and use the computer regularly. I love how it has made my job and life simpler in so many ways, but I hate what it is doing to the children of today. As a kindergarten teacher, I have a “bird’s-eye view” of the disintegrating language and fine motor skills of our pre-schoolers and it is alarming. In my own house, we try to monitor the use of the computer, iPods and video games, but it is a huge and often overwhelming task. It is a constant battle and despite our efforts, we too seem to be raising technology dependent children.

This quick video really helps explain how technology is impacting society and really makes me wonder how strong of a link there is between technology and anxiety disorders.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

After seeing this video and the impact that social media is having on loneliness, I decided to see what the experts were saying about anxiety and technology in general. There seems to be plenty written on the addiction to social media and how that affects people, but in my son’s case it seems to be more about distraction and keeping his mind occupied. Are we creating a generation that are uncomfortable with simply being themselves? I think as parents, we need to be super aware and diligent and keep the lines of communication open, so that we know not only what our children are doing, but how they are feeling.  How sad to think that video games, iPods, computers and cell phones are replacing the personal connections and relationships that are the true foundation of life. If children are constantly being entertained, there is little room for creativity, problem solving and reflective thinking. As a result, they grow-up not knowing how to handle “alone time” and despite the hundreds of friends on their social media sites, our children are left feeling lonely. I think this video really “hits the nail on the head” and that these issues are reaching epidemic proportions. The scary part is that is unlike protecting your child from drugs and alcohol, technology is permeating every generation and society has become so dependent on it that there really is no way to avoid it. It is no longer the wave of the future, but rather life as we know it.  We need to learn how to adapt and ride this wave in order to help our children thrive and cope in this technologically advanced world we live in.

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Broccoli Apple Soup

As a soup lover, I am always on the hunt for new and delicious recipes. I found this recipe online several years ago and it has become a staple in our menu. I love the combination of flavours and you never have to worry about it turning out bland. It is thick and delicious and super easy to make.

broccoli apple soup

This isn’t the best photo. I was racing out the door to hockey and thought I should snap a picture. If the truth be told the edge of the bowl is a little messy because it was not until my second helping that I thought about taking a picture.

Broccoli Apple Soup


  • one large head of broccoli
  • 2-3 Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored and chopped
  • 50 g (2 oz). of butter
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 750 ml of vegetable stock
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 oz. of cream
  • grated cheddar
  • croutons


  1. Discard the tough stem from the broccoli and coarsely chop.
  2. Melt the butter. Sauté onions and apples for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the stock and broccoli. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Purée the soup. Return to the saucepan and heat slowly. Add pepper and cream.
  5. Serve with grated cheddar and croutons.

This Broccoli and Apple Soup recipe was originally found on

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Thrift Shoppin’

The other day when I was trying to find a match for my wreath fabric, it just so happened that both fabric stores were in the vicinity of two major thrift shops. I love a great deal and while some get their fix at the mall, for me it’s Kijiji and thrift shops. I was already out and the bonus was that I had no family with me, so I was able to make the pit stops and check-out what the local thrift stores had in stock.  Between the two stores, I spent $35, but I am so impressed with what I got that I just had to share.

Keys to Thrift Shopping

I try to go every few weeks or so, as stock is constantly changing. I often have a list of specific things I am looking for, but when I don’t I am always looking for items that are well made, sturdy and have a nice shape or design element.  Generally, I peruse the following:

  • furniture (I rarely find good deals, but always look. I find that many of the items are over priced based on their condition and quality).
  • glass wear ~ I can often find things like vases, decorative “jars” with lids, pedestals, etc.
  • wooden accessories ~ salt and pepper mills, spoon racks, serving trays, fruit bowls, etc.
  • wrought iron

Saturday’s Thrift Shop Finds:

This was purchased at my first stop for $25. I got three great wrought iron pieces. The top left piece is a stand for a plant pot and the two below are wall mount plant holders. All of the pieces are well made and very sturdy.  I also picked up a great molded picture frame. I will be painting this out at some point, but don’t have a specific plan for it. Just loved the size and shape. I got a set of three matching pedestals of varying heights and a glass bowl. I love setting a nice table with a tiered look, so these pedestals will come in handy. I think they might actually be candle holders, but they are completely flat on top, so they can serve a variety of uses. I already have a plan for the little “welcome” sign. I love the shape of the wood and it will save me some time and energy.

When I stopped at the second thrift shop, I picked up the following items.

The first little collection is a set of things I bought for school. I am in the midst of creating a Boston Pizza center in my classroom. I plan to convert my play kitchen into a pizza center and went thrift shopping specifically to find wooden serving trays or dishes. The larger wooden tray is actually some kind of “lazy Susan” gizmo. It actually has a base that rotates. I am not sure, but regardless of what it is/was, I will be removing the base and converting this into a “medium” pizza for my center. The little set next to it “killed two birds with one stone” so to speak. The handle can be removed from the middle and the wooden base will become my “small” pizza. The salt and pepper shakers will be used on the table in the “pizza restaurant”.  The second photo shows a large wicker tray. I was specifically looking for something to sit under our fig tree pot. It has a very large pot and it is difficult to find a base that is big enough. This tray is huge and I am not exactly sure how it will look, but for a few bucks I thought it was worth a try.

Macklemore’s Thrift Shop ~ A Parody

When I was planning this post, it made me think about when this song came out. I loved this song when it was first released and my kids seemed surprised that I let them listen to it.  I knew there was some offensive “language”, but I had heard worse. It wasn’t until weeks later when I was singing in the car, that my daughter rolled her eyes and asked….”What are you singing?” I replied, “What come on sing-a-long….”this is TEAM awesome”!  She proceeded to explain to me that the song did not say TEAM awesome, but something far less appropriate. Oh. I shouldn’t actually be too surprised by my lyrical mishap as I am actually quite notorious for this. In fact, it wasn’t more than a few years ago that I learned that there was a song called “Dude Dresses Like a Lady”. Now just imagine my surprise when I thought back to my youth and how I had loved to sing along while “Do the Lucky Lady!” played on the car radio. Ugh. I really should just stick to listening to my pod casts and not even try to be “hip”.  I thought you might enjoy this Macklemore Parody.  (Not squeaky clean, but not too bad.)

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Okay, Not So Simple Rag Wreath: Part 2

In all honesty this project is simple, but time consuming. The tearing and tying took quite a long time and it certainly didn’t help that I spent an extra couple hours driving around trying to find more fabric because I ran short. I think when all is said and done, I probably used about 2 meters of my base off white colour and about .6 meters of the printed fabric (.2 of each).  That’s a lot of fabric. Thank goodness I finally broke down and bought a Fabricland membership in September ~ that has paid for itself already! My wreath is large (18″ ring) and very full, but oh so beautiful. I am so happy with the final product and had so much fun designing the finished look.

Burlap Flowers:

I really wanted an elegant meets rustic look.  I purchased regular burlap in its natural colour as well as an off white shade.

IMG_9041I then googled tutorials for how to make burlap flowers and these are the two I ended up using to make mine. The first video is the tutorial I used to make the main flower for my wreath. I used both colours for this and I found the tutorial pretty easy to follow. I was a bit confused with how to fold the flower with the glued edges touching, but was able to figure it out through trial and a bit of error.

Here is my version of this flower.

rustic burlap flower

The second tutorial I used was from Craftaholics Anonymous. Linda gave a great tutorial that was super easy to follow and the little rose buds literally took no more than a few minutes to make.

I made the bow on the top out of a combination of wire ribbon that I purchased at 90% off last January and a long piece of burlap. I love the natural look of the wire ribbon combined with the texture and colour of the burlap. I added a button to dress it up a bit.

I decided to hot glue a piece of extra “rag” fabric to the back of each flower as well as the bow. It was easy to shove the ends through the wreath between the first and second rings and the third and forth rings. This allowed me to pull the ends through and tie the embellishments on.  I didn’t want to use glue as I was afraid I would ruin it. This also allows me to remove them and change-up the embellishments for a different holiday or look.


Rag Wreath Reveal:

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Date Night Movie Review

I haven’t had a chance to get back to the wreath yet, but hope to finish it up today. As mentioned, I ran out of my basic off white fabric and had to run out to the fabric store. I live and work in opposite ends of the city and ended up having to visit both stores before I found the matching fabric. In fact, I almost gave up because the clerk and I were unable to find it. It wasn’t until we took the “best match” to the cutting table that we found the bolt of my actual fabric. Someone was definitely watching out for me. Note: make sure you buy enough fabric for the project the first time – do you have any idea how many shades, weights and textures of white fabric there are? Needless to say, when I was not at the hockey rink I was out fabric shopping.

Captain Phillips

The great news is that my dad offered to stay with the kids in the evening while my husband and I slipped out for a very rare “date night”. It seems that life is so busy that we rarely take the time to go out together. I know that it is really important and we need to do it more.  Well, the stars aligned and we had a free evening as did my dad and we made it work. We seldom go to movies (about once a year) and so it was surprising to learn that we had both had earned a free movie pass through our SCENE cards. We have been talking about getting out to a movie for a few weeks now as we have had about 3 or 4 movies on our radar.  We decided to head out and go to which ever one we could get into.  A gal a work recently saw “Captain Phillips” and was raving about it, so we ended up seeing it and were totally impressed.  Here is the trailer.

5 stars
We both loved the movie. It was one of those movies that you are so captivated by that you are riveted to your seat and hardly take time to blink. There wasn’t a dull moment and we spent the whole ride home talking about it. It is an absolute must see.

Date Night at a Glance

Really, date night is all about wellness. It is about taking time to get out of the house and reconnect as a couple. I find that working opposite shifts and with the pace of life in general, it is so easy to get in the rut of just doing life. It was so great to chat in the car without interruption and enjoy a great movie together. We were only out a few hours and were home by ten. My dad stayed after and we played a game of Canasta. I absolutely love playing cards and board games, so all in all it was a wonderful evening. We need to do that more often!

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Simple Rag Wreath

Sorry for the late post, but my day off was Monday this week which meant I had to work 4 days in a row.  I am so used to a mid-week break that those 4 days in row seem really long. I stayed up late (on Fridays that means past 9) and started a project I “pinned” a few years ago.  I have wanted to make one of these wreaths ever since I saw this rag wreath. I absolutely love this!!!

rag wreathI am pretty confident when I say that mine won’t look nearly as beautiful as this one, but I am so going to try!

Rag Wreath Tutorial:

Anyone who knows me knows that I am “head over heals” in love with white.  (Some day I will have a white living room sofa!)  There are many rag wreath images and tutorials on the web, but most use Christmas prints.  I really wanted a more elegant look and the example above was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, some of the tutorials are a bit vague and so you have to do a bit of piece work, taking instructions from several sites to figure out exactly what you need and how to proceed.  Although a bit time-consuming, it is very easy (at least so far).

Materials for Rag Wreath:

  • fabric (still sorting this out as I ran out and am heading out to buy more today – so far I have used 1.6 meters. I am so glad I am a Fabricland member.)
  • wire or plastic wreath ring (I got mine at Michael’s for about $4 with a coupon. They only had one size, so mine is 18″.)
  • scissors
  • embellishments (ribbon, burlap, flowers, beads, etc.)

Rag Wreath Preparation:

I took my fabric and cut little slits every 1 1/2″ along one edge of each piece. You can make the “rag” pieces as narrow/wide as you wish.  Some tutorials suggested 1″, but I felt that I wanted my pieces a bit wider, so I measured and slit at 1 1/2″ all the way along. Using the slit as a starting point, tear the fabric the entire length.  You will end up with long strips, all 1 1/2″ wide.  Again, I saw many suggestions for length ranging from 5 to 12″.  I measured my longest piece of fabric and picked a number that was divisible.  The length does not have to be perfect, so all of my strips are cut between 7″ and 8″.  I want my finished rag wreath to be very “full” looking, so I figure longer and wider is better.

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Rag Wreath Assembly:

Begin to tie the strips of fabric on to the wire wreath. I am not really sure if there is a “best” way to do this or not. One site suggested not going section by section, but rather wire by wire (there are four wire rings).  I did a bit of both.  My base fabric is an off white muslin and most of my wreath will be made with this solid off white. I originally purchased 1 meter of the solid fabric, but ran out with the outside ring and part of the third ring left to complete.  I will buy another meter and probably end up with extra.  I bought .2 of the other two cream printed fabrics and had about .2 of a meter of the beige gingham on hand.  I wanted the prints to be randomly distributed throughout the wreath.

Based on my research, I knew this could be a bit time-consuming, so I set up for the job. I built our first fire of the season, got myself a glass of wine (and set it out of spilling distance), parked on the floor in front of the TV and started tying. I started by tying rags on the inside ring.

tie on strips

It was at this point that my husband asked me…”exactly what is the look you are going for here?”

I was a bit concerned that the printed fabrics would run out if I did not at least count out the sections. I ended up randomly placing all of the strips from two of the printed fabrics first. I then went back and filled in the space with my solid fabric and the third print. I tied my strips very close together so that each section was filled tightly with fabric over the wire.

I am really liking the look so far, but can’t wait to complete the rags, poof it up and begin to embellish. I am not exactly sure how I am going to “pretty” it up once all the rags are on, but I did purchase burlap to make some flowers. I am hoping to finish it up and post part two Sunday or Monday. Stay tuned!

Halloweeen Rag Wreath

Halloweeen Rag Wreath

I found tacky tinsel wreaths at the dollar store the other day. Toss the tinsel and you have yourself a great frame for a beautiful rag wreath. I actually bought one for $2 as I thought I might make another one of these wreaths for a gift or another holiday theme. I have seen Valentine’s, Halloween, Christmas and fall rag wreaths that all look great.  You could actually have one for each season! Cheaper way to go if you are interested in making one.

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Bran Muffins

This recipes was passed along from a family friend many years ago.  It has always been my favourite bran muffin recipe.  They are super moist and delicious. I am always playing with the basic recipe depending on what I am craving. These are packed with fibre and my son calls them “Poop Muffins”.  Ha! Ha! It is for this reason that I rarely serve them to company.  Not so much because of the effect they might have on guests, but more to avoid the embarrassment my son asking if he can have a “poop muffin” in front of company.

bran muffins

Basic Bran Muffin Recipe

1 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 cup bran
3/4 cup white sugar
2 T. wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Mix the above dry ingredients in a large bowl.


6 T. oil
1 cup hot water
1 cup raisins
1 egg, beaten

Mix wet and dry ingredients just until blended. Bake in greased/lined muffin tray at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  I usually cut small squares of wax paper that sit in the bottom of the greased tray.  My mom used to do this and it seems to help prevent the bottom from sticking to the pan. Turn cooked muffins upside down on a cooling rack.  Once cool, store in an air tight container or freeze in a ziplock bag.


In lieu of the raisins I have used, cranraisins, dates, prunes, chopped apple, etc.

In my last batch, I microwaved about 3/4 cup of dates with a T. of water and heated until the dates were soft enough to stir. I then added a banana and mashed it together.  I also threw in 1/2 of chopped walnuts.  Get creative and toss in what ever you fancy.  Enjoy!

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Rainbow Jars

Here is another quick and easy project that could be used in a children’s bedroom, classroom, office or even for a Rainbow birthday party decoration. Again,  I can’t take credit for this idea. I saw it on pinterest and just had to make a set for my classroom.

Rainbow Jars:

  • Purchase a set of jars at the dollar store.
  • Add water and food colouring to each jar.
  • Seal and shake to mix.
  • Place on a window ledge to catch the light.

You will notice that I don’t have all of the colours of the rainbow and they are not actually set-up in rainbow order.  I played with the order until I like it. Unfortunately, when I was taking the photo for this post, it was overcast. When the sun shines in the classroom windows, it creates a beautiful reflection of light and colour through the jars.  The children love to look at them.

rainbow jarsThe original poster had the jars set up in her kitchen.  I am not sure that would work for me, but it gets me thinking that it might look cool to create a set in different hues of the same colour for home decor.

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