Monday, November 30, 2009

Kitchen Updates-Before

Ok I have a ton of pictures of this so I am going to break this up into two posts; so I don't drive you people crazy with photo after photo of meaningless remodel pics.

A year ago we decided to rip out the carpet on the kitchen floor. That's right; CARPET! The previous homeowner had carpeted the kitchen, bathroom, and enclosed "sun" porch in indoor/outdoor, dingy, gray, gross, yukky, nasty,....... carpet.

I hate carpet now.

So we ripped it out and thought we'd run to Home Depot, buy a roll of linoleum, slap that down, and that would be that!


Ha, ha.

Ha HA ha ha.

After ripping out the carpet, we went crazy with hammers and pry bars and ripped off the brown 1970's paneling..... and the beaded board underneath that..... and thus began the Great Remodel of the Blanchard Farmhouse.

Out came the cabinets. Out came the ceiling. Out came the doors. Out came the ..... squirrel nests inside the ceiling?! Basically, we gutted the place.


Ripping out the sink cabinet.



The layers of flooring come off. The black and white stuff underneath was insulated with newspapers from the 60's.


Measuring for cabinets.


New insulation


New drywall


Mudding the new drywall


Oops.... measured wrong.... the new oak cabinets don't fit.... Back to Home Depot.


NOW they fit.


Brutus approves, at least.

So this was between Nov. 2008 and March of this year, when all remodeling stopped to make time for planting corn and oats, and for Kevin's short job at the Bio fuel plant.

Updates later..... It looks a whole lot better now.......

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Thanksgiving was at MY house this year. Seems like we have a little more room than everyone else at the moment. So on Wednesday Kevin, my niece Lexy and I started the Great Cleaning of 2009 to get ready.
We've been doing the drywall portion of our remodel, and there was dust everywhere throughout the house - even upstairs. (More on that later with some Kitchen Updates.)
By Thursday, it was mostly clean, but I still have not gotten to the upstairs rooms yet and here it is Saturday.
Luckily, I had hardly any cooking to do this year; my awesome Mom, sisters, and sister in law did most of it.
I did get a pumpkin cooked and made 2 pumpkin rolls. (I learned from Kevin's Mother last year that you have to make them in 2's - one for the actual dinner and dessert, and one for Kevin - and his nieces and nephews - to eat all by themselves.) I also made a pecan pie after my sister Naomi called me on Thanksgiving morning and said sis-in-law Sherry's awesome chocolate version wasn't what she wanted. FINE, I said. I'll make a plain one. So I whipped out a crust and turned out the pie.

I also tackled the turkey this year. Kevin and everyone were out in the woods and I was alone in the house, wrestling a 23 lb. turkey. I talked myself through it:
"I can do this. I've watched my mother do this a hundred times. Ok, you slimy bird, I will get you in that cooking bag and into that oven without dropping you....."


My brother Eli had knee surgery the day before; but he was determined to spend the day out in the woods with Kevin. He did it; although he was in a LOT of pain. (I love Abi's face in this picture.) Despite it all, he carved the turkey, and gave me a tutorial on making perfect gravy. I know how to make gravy, but his is special....

Noelle, the potato queen. She won't let me mash them anymore. She's got to do it just so.


My brother Lael's eye is messed up, as he got "jumped" by some thugs at a capture the flag game a week or so ago. He was beat up pretty bad, and they kicked his face; breaking his cheekbone and damaging his eye. This looks pretty good compared to before. So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful that my little Bro is ok and wasn't hurt worse that that! Who knew capture the flag could be so dangerous?

Sneaking my sister's famous lime jell-o salad. Tisk, tisk.



Impossibly adorable Pennell offspring. One wearing Uncle Kevin's tall boots....


A sneak peek at my 1800's log wall! I have worked so hard to strip the paint and whitewash off of it to reveal it's gloriousness....more later.


Custom artwork on my 1920's living room door. Courtesy of Brendan - or Alana? Or, was it Emilie and Ethan? No matter. A little Kilz and a top coat and we're all set. I have to paint that room anyway.

I had a great Thanksgiving! I love and adore my family! Onward to Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why Pumpkin Pie And I Don't "Mix"


(This is an early 1920's postcard from my vast collection.....)

I wrote the following several years ago and thought it would be appropriate for this Thanksgiving..................

Making a pumpkin pie is not a science. It is really easy. The recipe is right on the label of the canned pumpkin you buy in the store. For as long as I remember, Mom would dump all the ingredients in the blender, blend it up, and pour it into a pie shell. And hour or so in the oven, and pouf! The tender holiday dessert we all know and love. I did it myself, once or twice.

Then I decided it was just too easy. I got bitten by the Martha Stewart bug one Thanksgiving. What Mom had taught me was run of the mill kid's cookbook stuff, I thought. Plain bread stuffing? No way. Cornbread and kale stuffing. Green bean casserole? Heh! Some broccoli concoction looked more complicated. Pumpkin pie made from the stuff in the can? No thanks. Canned pumpkin was for the amateurs.

I plucked our harvest pumpkin off the front porch, baked and pureed it, reserved what I needed for a pie, and froze the rest in convenient little baggies, all the while wearing a self satisfied smirk. That pie turned out all right, but I must have angered the Holiday Baking gods, because I have had no luck with baking pumpkin pie since.

The next Thanksgiving pie turned out gorgeous - until my brother Eli took his first bite, and immediately dumped more cool whip on it. So as not to upset me, he kindly asked what was different about the pumpkin pie this year? I grabbed a bite, and it dawned on me as I spit it out: I forgot the sugar. That's OK, I thought. I'll show them at Christmas!

On Christmas Eve, I did my pie baking. I rolled out my pastries, lined my pie plates, pulled out my blender, and reached for a can of pumpkin - MIX?! Add eggs and milk? What is this all about? Turns out Mom reached for what she thought was canned pumpkin and grabbed the mix instead, when she was doing the shopping. The pie turned out all right, but mix is mix, and I could just hear the pie jeering at me from the buffet: "I'm a MIX! I'm a MIX!"

The next Thanksgiving, I was extremely careful, and I managed to turn out a beautiful pie. I secretly patted myself on the back for this redemptive culinary offering; and set the thing on the counter to cool with the pecan and other pies. Everyone who came through the kitchen admired it, and suggested that, maybe, after years of mediocre pie, we were finally getting a proper pumpkin pie.

Until I opened up the cabinet overhead and PLOP! - a can of green beans fell directly into the center of the perfect pie, splattering filling all over the place, including me, as I stood there in utter disbelief. We ate the pie anyway, after having spooned it out in gobs, instead of slices.

Never to be discouraged, I tried again the following Christmas - and dropped the whole pie as I took it from the oven. Pumpkin pie filling got all over the oven, the floor, the wall, the fridge - we had to thoroughly clean the oven before the turkey could go in.

This past Thanksgiving, 2007, I tried yet again. I baked the pie; it looked terrific - and nobody wanted any after dinner. Apple and pecan were the choices of the evening. No matter - there were always leftovers to be accompanied by a delightful slice of pumpkin pleasure.

The next day my sister Noelle (who was following my pumpkin pie baking drama year by year with a sick fascination, and is always ready with a running commentary on my progress - or lack of it - ) fixed herself a slice, with her classic whopping gobs of cool whip. ("Want any PIE with that cool whip, Noelle?") She never finished it. It all got tossed.

"It tastes fermented," she scoffed. "Nobody remembered to stick it in the fridge." She went away snickering.
Sure enough, one whiff of it was enough to curl your toes, and cross your eyes. Not even my Dad, who will typically eat anything even if it is remotely questionable, could eat it. That pie went into the trash and nobody had pumpkin pie with their leftovers in 2007.

How many more pumpkin pie sacrifices the Holiday Baking gods will require, I don't know; or how many more pumpkin pie casualties the family will face before I triumph over my foe: The Holiday Pumpkin Pie.

Note: The past few pumpkin pies I have made were fine. And, I still do it sometimes with a real pumpkin. In fact, when the grocery had no canned pumpkin this evening, I ran by my Mom's, picked up her pumpkin, baked it in the oven for a hour or so, and now I have fresh natural pumpkin waiting in the fridge. And, this year, I am not baking a pumpkin pie. I found something so much more delectable - Pumpkin Roulade; with cream cheese filling........ Yum!!
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Pets and Pain

I have been thinking these past few days about the 12 years I had Sebastian; and all the good memories and fun times.
I've also been feeling incredibly sad when I come home from feeding the horses and walk in the door and a portion of my brain still expects Seb to be there in the back porch room, napping on his doggy bed, waiting to greet me with such joy as he always did.
Or when I find myself saving a piece of bread or meat for him as a treat, only he's not here.
Or when I picked up all his tennis balls and put them away. Or when I picked up his bottle of medicated dog shampoo from the sink.


Anyway. I guess I have mentioned that I wrote several comic poems for my nieces when they were quite young. I love writing funny rhymes, kind of like Dr. Seuss. So naturally I wrote one about my dog. Here it is:

"I am a Bad Dog" - July 14, 2004

I am a bad, bad dog.
I have been very naughty.
I have snuck into the neighbor's yard,
And used their green grass for a potty.

I am a wicked dog.
I like to do bad stuff.
My mommy says I am whimpy
But when I am wicked, I feel tough!

I am a VERY bad dog.
I like to eat stuff I shouldn't.
Like garbage, and trash, and anything rotten -
If I wanted to stop, I couldn't.

I am a stinky dog.
I do not like to smell nice.
When I think about having a bath,
I'd rather have fleas and lice!

No matter how bad I am,
And though can be an abomination,
My mommy loves my fun loving heart
And calls me her special Dalmation.

*wiping away tears*............

Monday, November 23, 2009

The photos that were supposed to be in my post but Blogger ate



This is the second time in a week Blogger - or Firefox - or my wireless internet from Ntelos - ate my photos. They're there on minute, and gone the next.
Go figure.
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Saying Goodbye to Sebastian


I lost my dog Sebastian this past Friday. Unless you are a "pet" pr "animal" person, you probably have no idea the amounts of grief and pain a pet parent goes through when they loose a pet.
Seb was my first dog; my only dog; and a really special dog.
Like almost all my pets, horses, etc. He was a rescue. I found him at the barn one morning when I was meeting my farrier (blacksmith) to put shoes on one of my horses. He had a collar and a half a leash.
We found out from calling the number on his tag that he had passed through a couple of owners in his 6- months, finally chewing through his leash and escaping from the porch rail he'd been tied to for the day.
He had run 15 miles or so from Roxboro, NC to my parent's farm in Milton, NC. Starving, alone, and needing a family, I took him in.
He became best friends with my sister's black lab, Misty, and together with our dogs, we romped all over the surrounding countryside; in the river, the woods, with our horses......

(In this picture, if may look like he was chained to that porch swing. He was never chained anywhere; I won't chain a dog. That is the swing's chain.)
Life with Seb was not without challenges, and being a Dalmation, he was inherently hyper, goofy, and got into trouble. I took him through Obedience school and after that he was much easier to handle.
He was run into by a car and lived; suffered through an ear flap hemotoma and laser surgery to remove it; once he got a huge fishing lure stuck in his gums after rooting around under the chest freezer in our garage.

Misty died two years ago the week before Thanksgiving. We were heartbroken about it, of course. Especially my sister. We buried her beneath a huge oak tree on a hillside on our parent's farm overlooking the horse pasture.

Seb only lived with me in my "new" married home about one year. His health was declining and I knew it. He was till happy to the last, however. He was 12 years old - pretty old for a Dalmation.
I will not go into details about the state of his health, of the specifics of his last few hours here on earth. Though I wanted him to die peacefully at home with me, it wasn't going to work out that way. Instead, my husband carried him to the truck, to the vet's; and we had him put down. But I wasn't there. I couldn't watch. I stayed at home, and lost it.

We buried him beside Misty under the oak tree; together again - within days of the exact 2 year anniversary of Misty's death. Call me corny and childish, but I plan on planting a fern between them. Yep, just like the book.

Goodbye, Seb and Misty. I love you and miss you both.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Before I was married, I used to think:

"When I am married and have my own home, it will be spotless, tidy, perfectly decorated to my tastes and specifications, and it will be a cinch to keep in perfect order, what with just my husband and me living there. It won't be like my girlhood home where my 7 siblings and I grew up, when my mother struggled to keep things together......" Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Yeeeaaah......... whatever. I got my man, and with him his farm and 1920's era farmhouse. Great, right? Of course! I love old places! It was, until last year when we decided it would be "fun" to remodel. "This won't take long at all," we thought. "This will be a breeze." "We'll have it done by spring and then I can blissfully paint and decorate, and buy antiques and rugs and artwork to hand on my walls............." Well, we haven't really remodeled anything yet. So far, we've just demolished things, and stopped there.

Yeeeeeaaaah......... Uh-huh.

The reality is this: The remodeling is far from done. Nor will it be done anytime soon. I've come to accept that. This is going to take years at the rate we're going.

I've bought a lot of artwork, decor, collectibles, etc. And they are all packed away in boxes still.

I haven't painted my living room or parlor/office.

And as for housekeeping? For just two people living here, we sure create a lot of mess! There are two of us and yet I do laundry almost every day. This time of year is such a nasty time of year - my husband comes in from hunting and tracks mud all over the place. We have 2 wood stoves - which I LOVE!- But bringing in the wood for them leaves untold messes. I clean floors several times a day - on a good day; when I bother.

My kitchen is not just a place where I prepare meals in a frilly dress, heels, and pearls with every hair in place, wearing one of my organza hostess aprons, serving it up on my antique Blue Willow or Homer Laughlin china.
It is a deer and cow meat processing center; a canning and picking center; a jam and jelly kitchen; a bakery, a first aid clinic, a vet clinic, a baby chick incubator/brooder, recycling center, and tool shed, among other things. It is in a constant state of mess to one degree or another.

I HATE duvet covers! I have one of those "hotel" types; off white; and I stuff the comforter in it. Or I try to. Every time I take it off to wash it, It goes back on lumpy and uneven. ARRRGG!
And it was a BIG mistake to make throw pillows out of vintage white linens. I have a pile of them all over the bed; and every one of them is covered in black and gray cat hair. *SIGH*

I don't mean to complain, here - I am just illustrating how my teenage dream of keeping my perfect house is shattered all over my dirty floors, swept up, and dumped in the trash.

And don't even ask me about all the STUFF we both brought into the marriage.... for two people only married just under 2 years, we sure have a bunch of stuff. Stuff we don't use; stuff packed up in boxes; stuff we don't want to toss because of whomever gave it to us; stuff that we mean to fix; stuff, stuff stuff. I still have STUFF given to us as wedding gifts, still in gift boxes. Hunting stuff, riding stuff, embroidery, sewing and craft stuff, my antique stuff ("Oh - I'll sell it! Uh-huh -) I feel a purge coming on!

Ok. Maybe I am just stressing because the Family is coming over for Thanksgiving next week and I have so much stuff to do, and clean, and put out of reach of little fingers. Or maybe it is the fact that all I've done for the past two days is clean messes in the house, or clean the barn.

I feel like I have turned out to be such a failure at housekeeping. For all my efforts, I seem to get nowhere.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Funny Pictures on a Gloomy Day -- Take 2!

Well, that was weird! I posted this post this morning and it was fine. When I looked in the evening, Blogger had eaten the pictures! Aaaargg! So for those of you who didn't see the pics, here they are again.


(As I said in my original post,) This is my nephew Owen, being held by his nanny, my sister Naomi. And as I said, outfits like this should not be sold in stores, or only as Halloween outfits! I guess it's not too bad, but to me it's just - I don't know. Not right. Sorry, Noah and Katie (Owen's parents....)


This is Phillepe - my teenage cat. Not quite grown up, not still a cuddly kitten. Kevin brought in some wood for the fire and left this mess; Phillepe found it, and thought it was a great napping spot!


And check this out! Is that me wearing said Phillepe on my head?!

It's a 1950's fox fur hat I bought for my Etsy shop, actually. As I mentioned before, I set the thing on my piano and left it there. Every time I passed through that room, I did a double take - "What cat is that on my piano?"
Only to realise it was the goofy hat. Phillepe thought it was a great play toy, and fought with it and carried it around until I discovered him and put it away: "We don't play with the shop inventory, Kid...... Mommy is putting this away and you can go play with your other toys." Yes, I have these conversations with my cats, all the time.

I am NOT crazy.

Anyway, I just felt like this was a good goofy picture day, what with the nasty rain and cold creeping in. If you missed this before, I am sorry! It's Blogger's fault!

Y'all come back now, 'hear?
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

How to wear vintage.

I think this is something I will start doing on a semi-regular basis. How to wear vintage - or, how not to wear it! Not that you people are dummies; but sometimes a little illumination on a matter puts something simple or basic into a whole new light. (Gee how obvious! Illumination usually does put things into light.... :))

Nevertheless: the possibilities with a vintage piece are endless; as with any good wardrobe pieces; vintage or otherwise. I don't usually dress in head to toe vintage. That is just not always practical. I usually focus on one vintage piece - a skirt, a velvet jacket, a hat, a dress, shoes.

For example: Behold, the plain, old, pleated, plaid, 1970's-ish skirt. Blah on the hanger. Hideous to some, perhaps. My mother used to put these on me all the time; with tights, buckle shoes, sweaters or blouses. She worked that schoolgirl look with these skirts.


I found one the other day on a clearance rack at the Goodwill. I will not tell you how much - or little - I paid. It might make you sick.


Tights, Mary Jane's, a black sweater, and a velvet beret, and I am transformed from a humble looking American girl into a Bonny Highland Lass!


If only I had a pair of knee high wellington boots, I might keep this skirt, and wear it to muck out stalls properly, like a lady.
You might hate plaids, or pleated out of date skirts, (I myself was sceptical about even buying it in the first place) but this look is timeless.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Giveaway

I loved my last giveaway so much that I am doing it again! All of these items being given away are similar to items offered in my Etsy shop Carolina Roses!


This time I am giving away a beaded, white clutch handbag (it has just a few of it's seed beads missing) two floral hankies, and two pair of vintage style earrings (One of the earrings is missing a small pearl bead that could easily be replaced).

Just leave a comment on this post, or any post - just make sure to reference the giveaway! You have from now till Thanksgiving to enter. Sometime on Thanksgiving Day I will choose a lucky winner!
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The First Christmas Project of the Season

It is never too early to start on Christmas projects. Today was nasty, cold, rainy, and windy and I was trapped inside anyway; So I pulled out an old idea and went to work.
I have always despised traditional Christmas "stockings", and find them somewhat tacky. No offense to you readers if that is what you have; but for me personally, I cannot do it. So now, getting ready to celebrate our second Christmas together as Husband and Wife, I decided it was high time we had our own Christmas "stockings." Vintage, of course.

First I dug out a very old torn, stained, worn out, brocade, fringed, monogrammed table scarf. I cut off the side with the monogram and set that aside for another project. Then I cut the remaining piece in half lengthwise, and went to work with needle and thread:

When I was done, what I had created was more like Christmas Tube Socks. There is no foot to these; I didn't want to cut the vintage fabric; so I just sewed them into long tubes.


For Kevin's, I went with a row of vintage buttons, and no frills. I sewed the buttons on in a very different kind of way; something I saw on Esty recently and got inspired to try on a project. I love the effect! And a very masculine-vintage look. He liked it.


For mine, I cut off the needle woven fringe; as it was very tattered on my piece. I added, instead, a bit of lace from a bunch of trims, ribbon, lace, and other stuff in a hatbox my Grandmother gave me from her mother dating back into the early 1900's - 1930's. I also added some really cute sage green velvet ribbon and a few satin ribbons as streamers, with a vintage pearl button.
I was going to monogram mine, and couldn't find my monogram templates and was too lazy to draw my own, or free-embroider it; as I would usually have done. Maybe later.



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I like my Christmas Tube Socks. They look very old fashioned and vintage; they are not too loud; they are up-cycled from cast off linens; they're perfect for us. I think I might make some more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Me Plunder


Above is the fruit of my hard labors this afternoon in thrift stores in town. Three hours, $20.00. Haven't a clue? Lemmie break it down fer ya:

1950's "yo yo" covered pillow. These are extremely desirable to collectors, as a "folk art" type of novelty. Very popular amongst the "Farmgirl" set. I snatched this one off the shelf so fast I'm afraid I drew attention to myself. Then I hid it as best I could under my arm before plunking down a measly $1.00 and practically sprinting from the store, stashing it behind the seat of my truck, and speeding off. It will fetch anywhere from $25 - $40. It needed some repairs.

Vintage cut work embroidery hanky; beige on white. $.25.

Tiny shillouette in a gold frame. Also a quarter.

Next Store yielded:

1950's brown snake skin pumps, $4.00 Exquisite! Too small for me though. They are for the Etsy shop.

A not so vintage black velvet hunt cap for myself. I was going to buy a new hunt cap for showing my Thoroughbreds next season and I was planning on spending $100.00 on a good one. I picked this one up for $7.00! Yay! Crossing THAT off my "to-buy-for-my-horses-and showing-and-eventing-and everything" list. Now I can apply that savings to my new tall riding boots budget. Hehehehehe

1960's - 70's brown corduroy infant boy's overalls. My mom used to put these on my brothers back in the day. $.50

Red Wool little girl's cap with black velvet ear flaps. Adorable. Though, upon closer inspection at home, I am not sure quite how vintage.....? $1.00

China plate with roses and lilacs. Made and painted in Germany. $2.00

Wooden spoon. I like wooden spoons. A quarter.

I also passed up a red plaid 1960's cape. It was amazing. I think I will go back for it. There was also a 1960's red plaid pants and shorts set with a swell top like Jackie O style, with big black buttons..... It was SO plaid though! I don't prefer plaid myself, but plaid is all the rage and vintage plaid is a good buy. I just don't usually go with trends; if I buy a lot of plaid and don't sell it and next year is is out of fashion again, I am stuck with my plaids for years until the fad comes around again.

Anyway! A typical shopping day for a hard working "vintage-ista".
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Why Not?

Don't judge me for posting pictures of my cats, people. I am not a crazy person. I promise. I just happen to like cats. Really, really like cats. And I just happen to have a few really, really spectacular cats. My cats like to be around my husband and I all the time. If I am working at the computer, they are right there. Brutus prefers the printer/scanner as a napping spot. It is really funny - he won't move half the time, so if I need to copy something or scan something, I lift the lid with him on it, and he just sleeps away! Slob.



Brutus weighs 13 lbs., by the way. And yes, I confess, my "desk" is a royal mess.
My "desk" is actually a board rigged on two file cabinets.
I just haven't found the desk I want yet. Or if I have, it's a $4500.00 antique.
You see my problem?
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Sunday, November 8, 2009


One of my favorite parts of a movie is the blooper reel. So, going through some pictures from the past summer the other day, I realized I had a lot of blooper material. Enjoy!

The famous safety test of the car seat on the tractor fender for having Brendan in the hayfield;

Naomi finds out dress+horse's stall fan=not such a great idea;

And Eli, all ready to go fishing - or shooting - or both? - on Memorial day.



Eli assumes the position.

Ok, ok, let me explain. This was pretty late at night, when I get kind of silly. I had bought some new horse clippers and there was this plastic hairdresser's cape in the package. I put it on backwards like a super hero. Kevin snuck a few shots. Ha, ha, Kevin....

I don't know who is winning here - Kevin or that naughty bad donkey? (We had to rope them so they could get their shots and hooves trimmed.)

Oops. Cisco broke the water pump at the barn..... let's hide.

I am still going to take your picture, bub. No getting away from it.

Overheard this summer:

Alana: "An EGG just fell out of that chicken's BUTT!" (No kidding! So that's where they come from!)
Katie: "Here Ethan. Eat this piece of steak."
Ethan: " But, it has grass on it!"
(The steaks had been rubbed with a blend of herbs..........)
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