30 August 2012

Tips From A J.Crew Stylist


So...I finally was able to write out some more of the tips from Marina Dobreva, the stylist I met at J.Crew.  She also gave a presentation to a group of women in Brooklyn and I wanted to share with you her easy tips for putting together some great outfits.... (I wrote the tips out for you here on Babble!)

Have a great day everyone!

Mara

P.S.  I also wrote out some of her fashion philosophies in an earlier post, here.  And, Marina is taking on clients and would love to work with you!  She can be reached at marina@closeteurnyc.com.


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29 August 2012

Validation


This short film is really, really great.  A reader (Allysha Unguren) sent it to us and as I was watching it, Danny couldn't help but join me to see what I was all smiling about.  We both loved it.  psssst....it has a surprise ending that is so cute.  It will brighten your day.  ENJOY!

Mara

P.S.  Danny & I got asked to speak at an LDS regional singles conference in Manhattan (for men & women) on September 15th from 1-4 pm.  It will be at a Mormon church across the street from Lincoln Center at 125 Columbus Ave.  And well, just in case some of you might want to attend, we asked the event organizers if we could invite you and they said YES. :)  So, you're invited!  There will be hundreds of single people there from the tri-state area.  The scene will blow your mind, as it always did mine when I was single and making an appearance among that crowd.  But everyone is really kind.  Seriously.  I always felt grateful to have that resource for meeting a lot of really great people.  I'd love to hear if you plan to attend! 

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How Fun Are These Shoes?



Paint splatters.  Exclusively from Barneys.  Or your local handyman.



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28 August 2012

Depression & Choosing Happiness


Dear Readers - I am so happy today to have an important topic addressed:

How can you CHOOSE happiness if you are depressed?  

Choosing happiness is no small feat - for anyone.  I consider it one of the greatest human triumphs.  Seriously.  It doesn't just fall in your lap.  It's for someone who wants it with all they've got. 

So, for someone who has the added struggle of chemical or hormonal imbalances or very unhealthy & destructive mental patterns, etc...it can be extremely difficult to make even the smallest changes.  But, there's hope!  Read this inspiring post by one of our readers who shares her story about how choosing happiness became an option for her....despite clinical depression.
_______________________________________________________________________

by Alison Barnes

I'd heard it a billion times: you have to merely decide to be happy and then you will be.  I wanted to agree.  I wanted to be on that rosy colored boat with those happy people, loving life, feeling good, but it was a concept that I couldn't fully grasp.  I knew that there was a deeper reason why true happiness appeared just out of reach for me.  So I remained on the shoreline and let that boat go on without me.

As I have experienced different depths of clinical depression-- and in turn, tried different ways to pull myself out of that depression-- I realize that I can still choose happiness, in a way.  There are just a few more steps involved in that process.

Depression comes in many forms, and manifests itself in many different ways depending on the person and the severity of the depression*.  For me, depression is a chemical imbalance.  Even when things are seemingly going well and all logic says that I should be happy, that dark cloud
 is still looming.  In 2011, I hit my lowest low.  As a result, in January 2012 I moved back to my childhood home.  I had no job, and the school I was set to return to in the fall discontinued my admission.  For the first time ever, I very literally had no plans.  The only thing keeping me going was the anti-depressant I was taking- after a handful of duds, I finally found one that worked.  Unfortunately, my insurance did not cover the prescription, so I stopped taking it.  I once again 
relapsed into my lowest low.

  Despite the hopelessness I felt in this situation, and with the ever present cloud of depression overshadowing the whole thing, I now know I needed to hit that low to finally do something about it.

It is now August.  Since January, I have changed from prescription medication to herbal supplements, found employment, got readmitted to the university, stayed busy with a variety of creative projects, and found a renewed energy in life.  But it didn’t happen overnight.  Today I want to share with you how I got there, and how I finally learned to choose happiness.

When an individual is depressed, it can take every ounce of energy to be proactive about their health care.  Confessing the problem to a friend, calling a doctor, having to see multiple doctors and/or specialists, going through different medications and different doses, trying to find the right fit, and occasionally pursuing alternative medicine.  It takes its toll, and often times does not get done.  It can take years to find the right fit, and even then, our bodies are continually changing.  What works now may not work in 10 years.  It is exhausting and oftentimes that light at the end of the tunnel seems terribly dim.

But I tell you this with all sincerity: the fight is worth it.  It will get better, but you must work for it.

One of the greatest blessings in this journey is the company of friends-- friends who will not give up on you or abandon you when times get tough.  Friends who have enough compassion and love to see you through.  I have been blessed with a few choice friends who fall in this category, but I have also been cursed with those who have not seen me through.  It is heartbreaking.  But those few kindred spirits have been vital in my journey through depression.

To those with friends suffering through depression, please do not give up on them.  Please educate yourselves, be aware, and never be afraid to reach out.  Last month a leader from my church expressed the following sentiment: "If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if they need help—or would it be better to just jump in and save them from the deepening waters?  The offer, while well meaning and often given, ‘Let me know if I can help’ is really no help at all."  (Read full address, here.)  It is so true, especially with depression.  Those suffering hide it well (and I should know).  A smile may be hiding the deepest of pain, and the friend who notices such a deception is truly a lifesaver.

I believe that even with such a metaphysical condition as depression, "choosing happiness" is still an option, but it must be preceded by those terribly draining tasks of getting a hold on one's condition, which may include counseling, medication, greater self-awareness, etc.  Every person is different, thus making every person's treatment different.  But it is imperative that you keep holding on, keep pressing on.  It will get better.

As clinical depression becomes manageable, that's where the choice comes in.  You can dwell on where you have been, or you can move forward.  You can disregard your treatments, or continue on the path to stability and wellness.  The past influences the future, most definitely, but it does not define you.  I am grateful for where I have been, even the darkest places, because it has made me who I am today.

It gets better.  I promise.


* The National Institute of Mental Health offers information about the signs and symptoms of depression here.

Allison Barnes is a musician from San Diego, California, currently studying family science at school in Utah.  In January 2012 she made a goal to be more open about her struggle with depression in hopes that it would help someone else.  She can also be found here and here.

[Photo source: c-a-n-d-y tumblr (link is unfortunately inactive)] 

_______________________________________________________________________

Dear Readers - we would love to hear from any of you who have had similar success - or even those who are still struggling with this.  Allison mentioned the process is different for everyone - have you been able to make some positive choices (large or small) in your life despite great struggles?  What did that look like for you?  Your comments could be so helpful to anyone reading.  Love to all, MK



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27 August 2012

Visiting the Adirondacks


My body is quite sore.  So is Danny's.  :)  We just hiked 7 miles in to a lake in the Adirondacks - carrying all our supplies on our backs.  Oh man.  I've dreamed of going to that beautiful area of New York and it was everything I wanted it to be.  But um...the best part was hiking & camping with Danny.  You guys - he is the best outdoorsman.  I LOVED seeing him just so handy and smart in those woods.  And he made me dairy free hot chocolate to wake up to.  And he packed a mylar blanket in case I got a little cold in my sleeping bag (which I did).  And he boiled our drinking water from the running stream.  And he warmed some water for us to take a shower.  Yes, camping is supposed to be roughing it.  But not with Danny.  That man just spoiled me rotten. 
 
Happy Trails to all of you this week!  (I hear school is starting for many!  Good Luck!!)

Mara

(vintage postcard image here.) 

P.S.  Our photo shoot with Justin Hackworth was so fun.   I've heard so many people speak so highly of him so I was really excited about it...and yes, he was awesome.  Here is a little sneak peek from the day:  Ira Glass walked right into the frame during one of the shots!  (He's the host and producer of This American Life.  Are you a fan?)  And, crazy detail:  that was the SECOND time Justin crossed paths with Ira during his stay in New York.  That never happens.  You hardly run into friends...let alone famous people...and twice in 48 hours.  That is NUTS.  We need to hang out with Justin more often.


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24 August 2012

Being at Alt Summit With Danny


Danny is passed out on the couch, asleep.
It's the end of the day after Alt Summit NYC!
And I still can't get over the view on the rooftop of the famous 601 W. 26th St., where many creative hubs reside, including Martha Stewart Living, the hosts of the event.

Kinda funny:  Vanessa Holden of West Elm was on a speaking panel and mentioned that they had 47,586 followers of their "Chevron" Pinterest board.  Danny turned to me shaking his head and said  "What in the heck is 'chevron'?"  (note the sweater I was wearing :)  Despite his lack of design lingo...I think he did create quite the buzz, being one of the only males at the conference. :)

We LOVED seeing some friends we've made since blogging.  It's just so great to see their faces in real life even though everyone lives in different states (or countries.)  Danny especially loved meeting everyone as this was the first time he went to Alt.   And ohhhh...it was a delight meeting some of our readers!  (We just love meeting you guys :)  But how did I not make my way over to Tina Roth Eisenberg of SwissMiss?  She is one of my new favorite women (she gave the opening key note.)  I need to find a way to get to know her, especially since she lives right here in Brooklyn.  I'm definitely going to her next "Creative Mornings" event in NYC (it's a FREE lecture series for creatives which takes place in 34 countries.   Have you been to one?)

For now, it's time to prepare for bed.  Tomorrow we have a photo shoot with Justin Hackworth in the West Village.  What?!?  Yes.  I can't believe it.  I've admired his photography for years.  Have you seen his heart warming 30 Strangers Project?  Every year he photographs 30 strangers in 30 days - all mothers and daughters!  Gah!  Such beautiful portraits...

Happy Weekend to all of you!
May you have some happy, creative weekends!

Love,

Mara

P.S.  For a bit of weekend inspiration, here are a couple of my favorite posts: 
Are You Working Away at a Hard Marriage?
The Best Dating Tips We Can Muster

23 August 2012

Chuck Butler of Brooklyn

Chuck Butler socks
I couldn't resist.  I had to tell you all about our friend here in Brooklyn, Jeff Butler.  He owns Chuck Butler and sells SOCKS. :)  I seriously recommend checking out every page of his website, because it will make you smile (more like laugh out loud).  His branding is super charming and entertaining.  And don't miss his custom flags!

Danny has some of these socks and LOVES them....(and I love them, too.  One of my friends aptly gives the nickname of "Sexy Socks" to a guy if he has great looking socks...and I'd say that yes, great socks on a guy definitely do add some sex appeal. :)


Chuck Butler socks

I met Jeff a few years ago, before he launched his business, and it was so fun to hear a bit about the company in the making.  I'm always amazed to see things go from an idea to a full blown business.  Oh man.  That takes so much effort.  But it's really awesome to see it happen.

So, the website says that these socks are guaranteed to not be "wussy" or "itchy" and that they're "susceptible to theft from the drawers of boyfriends and fathers by the women who claim to love them."  But no fear, they sell sling shots, too.  To protect your socks.  Cause sockpapa says you're going to need one.   :)  :)

Meet Jeff, here.....(he roller skates, too.)



Cheers to great socks for all our husbands and boyfriends and dads (& grandpas).


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22 August 2012

The Happy Show


My designer friend, Linsey Laidlaw, went to Philadelphia to see The Happy Show exhibit by graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister.  She had the BEST things to say about this exhibit.  Danny and I had planned to go see it a couple of weekends ago, but then Danny got asked to speak here in Brooklyn last minute, so we had to cancel our outing.  BUT, I still had to share some photos with you...because I just LOVE the aesthetic and the message of this show.  You guys, the theme of the entire show is all about exploring the sources of happiness.  Can you see why I'm having a hard time choosing happiness when I missed this show?!?!  ;)

Well, if you are in the L.A. area - or in the surrounding states for that matter - I would put this show on your calendar because it's coming to you in the winter of 2013.  My friends and I are so hopeful that the show will come to NYC next.  (I kind of want to beg them.) 

Also, see Linsey's wonderful review & more pictures of the show here....she can fill you in more than me.

xo,

Mara

(photos from Behance, Aaron Igler, Freshness Mag)
 
P.S.  Something fun:  at the show, they ask people what their symbol of happiness is...

 

What would your 'Symbol of Happiness' be?   :)  :)
 
After the jump, read what mine would be and also see some of the super endearing symbols that people have drawn.....I just loved looking at these.....

21 August 2012

Our Favorite Restaurants in Manhattan

OK, I can't believe I've held out on you this long.  I mean, shouldn't all NYC bloggers provide their list of the BEST places to eat?  Yes, they should.  Because New York is all about the food.  And it's just a shame to not share our favorite places.

In honor of Alt NYC which will take place this week in New York, here are our mine and Danny's favorite places to eat in Manhattan (our fav Brooklyn places, which are many, will be posted in the near future):

Clinton Street Baking Company - best pancakes!  Worth the wait. Plus they're on the Food Network and all that.....but most importantly, they meet the approval of every New Yorker.


Joe's Shanghai - Best soup dumplings (dumplings filled with soup!) A must try!  And the turnip shortcakes.  And, you MUST go to the location in Chinatown for the full experience.  If it's winter time, even better.  Soup dumplings = warmth in your tummy on a cold day.


ABC Kitchen - awesome place to dine for a lunch date....when lunch dates call for dining,  which hopefully is often. :)  Organic and local.  Keep your eyes peeled for designers and celebrities.


Jane Restaurant -  Ok. Vanilla Bean French Toast.  Go there now and have some for me.  Plus, enjoy the setting near two of my favorite New York neighborhoods:  Soho and Greenwich.



Tacombi- This place serves tacos.  It's kind of like a warehouse feel - in Nolita - and they serve tacos out of a van which resides indoors.  Strings of lights hanging overhead.  Yes.  It's cool like that.  You'll feel like you're in Mexico at a taco shop.  And their branding is awesome. 


Patsy's Pizza - go here for amazing New York pizza.  I love their pepperoni, the Insalata Siciliana, and cannoli's.  And I love the west side location the best - super cozy (61 W. 74th St.)  Also, on Sundays watch for lots of single Mormons pouring in here after church and breaking the Sabbath.  Yikes.  I guess it's hard to resist.  :)

Levain's Bakery - um, the best chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips - ever.  74th St. on the Upper West Side.  I once snuck out of work and took a cab across town and through Central Park to get some of these cookies.  Danny and I also went here the very first weekend we met.... :)  I was in la la land :)



Stand - Oh man, roasted marshmallow shakes.  One of our favorite things EVER.  Not. to. be. missed.  Special trips just for the shakes are worth it.  We take all our out of town guests here.  And then before their trip is over, they always sneak back there on their own and get another one.  Every person has said it's like one of the best things they've ever eaten.  They really are THAT good!!  You have to trust me on this one.  (And that's from a girl who doesn't really have an affinity for marshmallows.)


Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem - The best BBQ ribs.  The best pulled pork.  The sides are amazing.  The place is huge which makes it feel like you're not in NY, but in some sprawling  restaurant in Texas.  Best day trip:  ride bikes along the Hudson River bike path, then go to Dinosaur for an early dinner, which is right off the path at 125th St.... doing this was one of my favorite NY experiences.
 

La Esquina - Really great Mexican food near Soho.  Love the vibe.  Love the "Employees Only" sign on the door which actually leads to a private party space downstairs for VIPs.  Watch for Beyonce and Jay-Z.   :)  Or hedge fund owners planning going away parties for their friends (I planned that once for my boss. :)


Momofuku - Love those pork buns!  Very cool setting.  Family style eating.  Great conversations with strangers in the waiting.


Shake Shack - Must get a shack burger and for sure some custard (unless you're dairy free like me).  I used to love either the flavor-of-the-day or a vanilla custard sundae with CARAMEL.  It's a good caramel.  I love the Madison Sq. Park location the best, esp. in the summer/fall/spring.  Can't beat eating outdoors among the trees in such a great setting, with lights hanging overhead.  SUMMER ROMANCE!  And the line is worth it. 



Cafe Habana in Soho.  Best Cuban sandwiches.  And LOVE the shredded pork platter with rice and beans.  And the cuban corn on a cob.  OK, and the lemonade.

                                                                                                      (photo via nummynims)

Rosa Mexicana - Must get fresh guacamole.  Perfect place to eat dinner after Lincoln Center (also where lots of Mormons visit after going to the Manhattan Temple.)  



Eataly - Ok, I shamefully have not been here yet.  But everyone I know and trust has been here.  And they LOVE the place.  So, tourists and NYers alike - go there and enjoy all the cheese and bread and pizza and gelato for me!!  And check out these two awesome blog write ups for some visitor guides by La Buena Vida & Linsey Laidlaw.  (photo by Nicole Franzen)  Cause yes, this place is so cool it's worthy of a 'visitor guide'.



Hecho en Dumbo - this amazing place moved from Dumbo to Manhattan (Lower East Side).  Please come back to Brooklyn where you belong!  The food is authentic - as in straight from Mexico.  And their tortillas are homemade.  Tacos are to die for.  And shredded beef anything.



Nyonya Malaysian- Get the Indian pancakes thingies that you dip in curry, and you'll be glad you visited.  Plus, enjoy a stroll around charming Little Italy.



Creperie NYC- Lower East Side hole-in-the wall.  Really great crepes, just like the streets of Paris.  Snag a seat on the bench out front with your date and share a crepe.  Nutella kisses would be nice :)


Geisha - love their sushi & tuna tartar salads (with fresh mint)!  [This was one of my go-to lunches from my hedge fund days.  Yes, we got lunches paid for.  :)  Kind of ridiculously awesome. ]



Taim - in the West Village.  GOOP says it's the best falafel in the world.  That's good enough for me.  The line is worth it.  Danny and I love this place.  Also, it's VEGETARIAN!



Pipas Tapas -  The perfect date night.  Chandelier lit setting.  Great food in lots of little courses.  Music and dancers performing.  All you need are two sets of knees under the table and you'll have one romantic evening.


Quintessence - For some healthy fare, which I love, go to Quintessence.  The place is so tiny and cozy on the Lower East Side on such a charming street.  The entire menu is made from raw food.  You just wouldn't believe how tasty and flavorful everything is.  My sister-in-law is a raw foodie blogger and treated me to this place when she was in town for BlogHer.  Do. not. skip. dessert.  It's amazing.


Macaron Cafe - I adore these things.  Yes, they're way better than cupcakes. :)  And just so pretty!  Love the salted caramel.  But every flavor tempts me.  Across from my old work place in Midtown (on 59th Ave.)  Hello, work break.



Laduree - It is the dessert dream of my life to go to Laduree.  It's straight out of Paris and fairly recently opened in New York.  I actually haven't been yet, but I am sure those macarons are divine (also, made with almond flour so they're gluten free!)  This location is near my old stomping grounds on the Upper East Side, where I used to work.



Carnegie Deli - Ok, I know this place is touristy.  But it's legit.  I love the fresh strawberry cheesecake.  And the pastrami sandwich, which seems an entire foot high.  One sandwich and one slice of cheesecake can feed a family of four.  (Trust me :)  Oh yes, and I go crazy over those fresh pickles (luckily those come for free with your $16.95 sandwich.)



Bar Pitti - I've been lucky enough to have a lot of authentic Italian food (my former boss had an Italian cook!) and when I tasted the food at Bar Pitti, I'd have to say it tasted pretty darn good.  You may be sitting next to a celeb.  But better yet, hopefully you're with someone you can't take your eyes off of :)


City Bakery - LOVE their baked mac & cheese (which they are famous for).  LOVE their choc. chip cookies.  Some of the best around.  They have delicious little tarts in various flavors (chocolate and passion fruit are delish).  And they have some of the fluffiest most tasty sugar cookies you could imagine.  Oh, and AMAZING hot chocolate - super thick & rich- practically like pudding!  And if you're having a little party or wedding or something that requires catering, call and book them ASAP.  (I got to do this once and it was worth it completely.)



Jacques Torres - Speaking of hot chocolate, they have some of the best.  Get the "wicked".  It will not disappoint.  And a small one is fine - - it is so rich it will be running through your veins slowly for a while.  I especially love the location in Dumbo...get some hot chocolate on a cold afternoon and then walk to Dumbo Park or across the Brooklyn Bridge...it could be your best day ever.


The Spotted Pig - get the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Basil Pesto.  To die for.  Worth going just for that.  Roasted carrots are yummy, too.  And combine this cozy little restaurant with a stroll on the nearby High Line and you'll have one of the most romantic dates in NYC.  (I know, because Danny and I did that very thing for our second date ever.  I couldn't stop smiling the entire night.  Danny was totally holding my hand under the table.  I really was about to die. :)



The Modern -   The Modern is inside the MoMA.  Danny and I were spoiled rotten and received two full course dinners at this restaurant for our wedding by one of our dear friends.  Is that not the best gift?  It was so wonderful to dine there as husband and wife.  We went for our first anniversary, which was such a fond memory.  The food was divine, the setting was spectacular.  This place is a MUST for your anniversaries or birthday dinners.

Oh so many, what did I miss?  Please add to the list!

20 August 2012

A Happiness Triumph

Oh, I love this.  There are just so many of you amazing people out there who are changing your lives in huge and little ways.  Check out this sweet little email we just got from a reader who is newly pregnant....  
 ___________________________________________________________

I just had to share my own little triumph with you.  I recently found out that I am pregnant after a while of trying.  I am over the moon excited, but I also am feeling sick.  Lame.  I knew this would happen, but for some reason I've been letting it get me down.  I had been feeling a little depressed and sorry for myself, which is super dumb because I am so blessed.  Anyway, so the other night I was laying in bed with my husband, feeling down about not helping around the house more, or not being the best mom to our little 2 year old, or whatever.  All because I was feeling a little sick.  (And, seriously, my "sickness" is SO tame compared to lots of women.  I'm just a total wimp!!)  So right then and there I remembered about choosing to be happy.  So I decided to do it.  My emotions have been CRAZY, but I decided to choose to be happy, even if I'm feeling like a crazy woman, or even though I'm feeling sick.  And it WORKED!  The past two days have been AMAZING!!  I still feel sick, but I've decided not to complain about it, or talk about it, and try not to think about it.  It's made a WORLD of difference!!  I'm almost my normal self and I'm not feeling bad for myself anymore.  I'm so lucky to even be able to have a baby, and I know that.  But it was putting the "choosing happiness project" into work that did it for me.  Anyway, I just wanted to tell you this because choosing happiness can be for any little thing!  Even something as silly as feeling sick and trying to be happy instead of sad about it.

-Anonymous
 ___________________________________________________________

You guys, choosing happiness is REAL.  I'm telling you - it really works.

P.S.  I am so, so happy to announce that we will be offering our series of online classes again SOON.  I'll keep you posted with the dates.  Our first class, 'Choosing Happiness', is coincidentally all about the nitty gritty behind what this dear reader just did and how we can all do it, too....even in crappy circumstances.  We have worked out a formula for exactly what we think makes it happen...and it has worked for people time and time again!   :)

(photo by Turning the Paige)

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17 August 2012

Love Announcements


It's been awhile!

Here we go with a few things we'd love to share...

-This J.Crew model is wearing Nars Schiat lipstick.  LOVE.  And a great all natural alternative would be Ilia's Neon Angel(photo from Behind the Line)

-You guys may know I'm such a fan of vintage Polish movie posters.  But look at these minimal movie posters, too!  So great - especially for kids' rooms.

-I am literally leaving my apt. in two minutes to buy heirloom tomatoes at the Farmers Market.  Must make this Panzanella salad NOW.  :)  (Recipe and photo by Rebecca of The Daily Muse.)


-Loved this article about gluten!  I think it's important for us all to be informed about it.  (Thanks, Gabrielle.)

-I love these fall shoes

-Can't wait to try this hair do.  And, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a haircut by Rubi when she is in NYC. 

-I'm way too excited about Jenny moving to Brooklyn! (I'm just loving reading details of her brownstone renovation.  :)

-Love this company called Tattly (fun & well-designed temporary tattoos.)  And loved the owner's write up of what she learned in the first year of business.

-And, 7 Ways to Have a Better, Happier Relationship.

Cheers to a happy weekend!!!!  Next week:  ALT NYC!  (dying.  can't wait to go.  Danny will be joining me, too.  If you're there, please say hello if I don't see you first!  :)

Much love,

Mara


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