A dolls’ garden party for Ava’s 5th birthday!

dolls garden party dolls party

Ava recently turned 5 — the age where a birthday party really, really matters. We had family and friends over on the day of her birthday (the so-called ‘family party’), but she was also really looking forward to the party for her little friends.

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I had been really, really busy with work and all sorts of end-of-school activities, so I didn’t have the energy or time to prepare anything before the day of her party. But it was all fine — that Sunday morning, the warm sun came up (familiar?), so we transformed our back yard into a big dolls’ house.

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We put up the playhouse and the wigwam, and also created some other spaces using sticks and fabric. We made a dolls’ hospital, a dolls’ kitchen (using our wooden toy kitchen), a dolls’ dressing room and bedroom (we used baskets and baby blankets to make extra beds), a dolls’ play area with miniature dolls — we even had a dolls’ bathroom (the old baby bathtub and hooded baby towels came in handy here!).

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It was really fun and easy to set up, and so adorable once finished! I asked all of Ava’s little invitees (4 girls plus her 3 siblings of course) to bring their favourite doll, and that was all it took, really. They took over the garden immediately and had such fun.

dolls_party_16 dolls_party_20 dolls_party_11 dolls_party_19 dolls_party_13We were lucky to have the garden that day, but of course such an idea would also work perfectly indoors. Definitely a recommendation if you have little ones who love dolls!

xxx Esther

Beautiful sleepwear from Atticus & Gilda

Ivy in Atticus & Gilda pyjamas
Atticus & Gilda

Ivy in pyjamas

I discovered Atticus & Gilda at the recent Dot to Dot tradeshow in London and fell in love with this brand immediately. The gorgeous pyjamas and coordinating eye masks caught my eye, but really it was meeting and talking to the founders that drew me to this brand. Lucy Gaiger and Conchita-Maria Scott are two costume designers who have spent years working on hit musical theatre productions. They still have their ‘day jobs’ as costume designers, but decided to use their expertise to create a beautiful line of children’s sleepwear, made using the one-of-a-kind trimmings they’ve collected over the many years during their careers. The result is a collection of gorgeous, fairytale-like sleepwear, the type Wendy would wear in ‘Peter Pan’.

I managed to pick up some pyjamas for the girls before leaving London, and Ivy has been living in her pair (and eye mask) all week. I snapped the photos above while we were out visiting my grandparents in the San Juan Islands last week. I looked outside one evening and saw Ivy in her pyjamas with the setting sun behind her and quickly grabbed my camera to take a few photos. Magic hour in a magical place!!

Courtney x

p.s. They also make nice pyjamas for boys, and I was excited to see some overnight sleep sets (with toothbrush and eye mask) in their newest collection launching later this year.

Needle (or dry) felting

needle felting

My kids (and I) have a new hobby: needle (dry) felting. We really love it! It’s incredibly easy to do, and so fun. Relaxing too — the rhythmic movement of poking the needle in the wool is actually really nice.

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For needle felting you need just a few supplies: a sponge (a simple kitchen sponge works fine), some felting wool and some special, barbed felting needles. That’s all you need for making all sorts of shapes! An easy start, I thought, is to felt on top of wool felt sheets, and make pretty wool ‘paintings’ like this. Pim made a really sweet book marker as an end-of year gift for his teacher this way.

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conscious craft needle felting
Or, you can use cookie cutters as a mould and create independent shapes. Ava and Sara made really sweet hairbands — first they made little felt blossoms and hearts, then they felted them to elastic hair bands (using a piece of wool felt to ‘glue’ the hair band to the shape). It entertained them for a an afternoon and their hair bands turned out really sweet!

Conscious Craft has a perfect selection of felting supplies, and you can also buy a blossom hair bands kit here. Fun!

xxx Esther

I (Don’t) Like Snakes, by Nicola Davies

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I like snakes 3
One of Ivy’s classmates has a couple of pet snakes at home and this last term she brought the snakes into the classroom for the kids to see. The class spent a week talking and learning about snakes, and Ivy came home telling me all sorts of interesting facts. I was actually surprised by how interested she was on the topic of snakes!

So when I saw this new book, I (Don’t) Like Snakes  written by award winning zoologist Nicola Davies and illustrated by the talented Luciano Lozano, I knew I had to get it for her. It’s a really great book which combines a sweet narrative about a girl who hates snakes, with loads of interesting facts. A super clever and really appealing way to be both educational and fun!

A great book for kids in the 3-8 year range (though my 10-year-old enjoyed reading it too!). The book is just out and available from Amazon (UK and US).

Courtney x

Dream Car, by Huzi

dreamcar_3 Dream Car by Huzi

It’s always so great when children’s toys are not only great toys (encouraging kids to create, learn and be imaginative), but also when they look so good you’d rather display it on a shelf in the living room than hide it at the bottom of the toy box.

dreamcar_1 dreamcar_2 Dream Car by Huzi

The Dream Car, designed by Mike Mak for Huzi, is such a toy. Handcrafted from natural wood and finished with mat chalkboard paint, the dream car is certainly extremely handsome to look at. But it’s a clever toy too! It can be assembled and disassembled because of little magnets that make a fun clicking sound. It can also be drawn on — a pretty little box with chalk (and a clever eraser in the lid) comes with the car.

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Everything is packed in a beautifully designed gift box, proof of the designer’s eye for detail. A lovely toy, which will be played with for years and is sturdy enough to be passed down as a heirloom toy. It makes a wonderful gift, too!

xxx Esther

PS Casper’s PJs are from The Bright Company.

The Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping cloth

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Have you heard of furoshikis? They are square fabric cloths used in Japan to wrap everything from lunch, presents, picnics, pillows, groceries, you name it! Made from gorgeous printed cotton fabric, furoshikis are as beautiful as everything coming from Japan.

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furoshikis japanese wrapping clothBesides the primary use of a wrap, furoshikis are also great to be used as scarfs, napkins, picnic blankets, table cloths… The biggest size can even be used as a beach bag and once on the beach, it doubles as a perfect beach sheet. The uses really are endless!

Furoshiki japanese wrap cloth
You can find a lovely range of gorgeous furoshikis in different sizes at Musubi London, and here you can learn about the different wrapping techniques. (Don’t you love the wine wrap? What an awesome present to bring to a dinner party!)

xxx Esther

Harry by the Sea, by Gene Zion

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Harry by the Sea has been a favourite book in our family since Easton was a baby. In fact I was surprised to see that I’ve never properly mentioned it before (apart from a round-up of my boys’ favourite books here).

Marlow has recently discovered it, and she too is loving the funny story about Harry the dog at the beach and how he gets himself covered in seaweed and disguised as a sea monster. A sweet summertime story in the Harry the Dirty Dog series which was originally written in the 1950s (hence the cool 1950’s illustrations).

Courtney x

p.s. Marlow’s overalls are from Muny and her bow hair clips are from Numi.

Doodle Nest art books — the perfect way to preserve your children’s art

Doodle Nest book
Doodle nest art book
Doodle Nest Easton's art

As part of the process of packing up our house I’ve come across all of the children’s art from the past ten years. I don’t save everything they make, but I do like to keep our favourite pieces, and of course I always keep the sweet love notes and cards. As a result, we have several big plastic Ikea boxes in our basement holding stacks and stacks of the children’s art.

But for what? Sometimes I wonder what the point is when they’re just down in the basement in a plastic box, hidden away for who knows how many years. We used to hang our favourite pieces in a gallery art wall in the hallway of our last house, but we took them all down when we moved and those too went into a storage. I needed to do something to preserve and display our favourite pieces, and that’s when I discovered Doodle Nest and their wonderful service.

Doodle Nest takes you children’s art and creates bespoke art books, collages, and gift cards for you to keep and treasure forever. All you have to do is gather up your favourite art and send it over to the team at Doodle Nest, and they do all the work to create your book (see photos below of all the art I sent over! I love getting this behind-the-scenes glimpse of founders, Andrea and Constanza, as they sort through it all).

The behind the scenes at Doodle Nest
Doodle Nest behind the scenes

Doodle nest art book eastons art

Andrea and Constanza thought it would be fun to divide the book into chapters for each child, so they created a little profile page for each child with a photo and a self portrait. It is such a great way to view all the artwork on an individual basis, and I also love that they put the child’s age at the bottom of each piece, so that the kids know how old they were when they made each piece.

Doodle Nest book Quin's art

Doodle Nest marlow's art

Doodle Nest book Ivy's art

It really is such a beautiful book, and I’m so happy to have it.

Now… to find a special place to store it while we’re away for the next year… ! : )

Courtney x

Design your own butterfly wings

Seedling butterfly wings
Ivy with butterfly wings
Ivy received this Design Your Own Butterfly Wings Kit for her birthday a couple months ago, and in my haste to tidy up after her party I stuck it in our craft cupboard, hidden away until we found it last week! She spent an afternoon carefully colouring and glittering her wings, and then spent the entire weekend fluttering around in them.

I swear I was stopped at least ten times this weekend (mainly by grandmothers looking to buy for their granddaughters!) asking where I found them. It really is the perfect gift — one that encourages creativity, imagination and then… butterfly role play! What better?!

The kit is made by Seedling and can be found in the UK at Conscious Craft.

Courtney x

A summer picnic!

La Coqueta summer picnic

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I’ve said it before, but one of my favourite things about being in this business is meeting so many inspiring women, many of them mums (most of them mums, in fact) who run a business of their own which somehow connects to ours in one way or the other. It is an industry where women support each other and where small brainstorm sessions turn into exciting collaborations. It is a world where a group of friends can plan an after-school picnic, and because of the talent behind it, it turns out to be one of the most memorable summer garden parties — including delicious food, happy children, a dreamy garden and a water fight finale to end the day!

This past Friday, Celia from La Coqueta invited us over for a picnic in her beautiful back garden, the talented Skye McAlpine offered to cook the food, and Emma Donnelly came over with her camera to help document the day. It was a merging of different talents and good friends. Together we spent the day prepping for a picnic (by ‘prepping’ I really mean watching Skye work her magic in the kitchen!), and then, after picking the kids up from school, we all sat down to enjoy.

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The kids, all dressed in coordinating outfits from La Coqueta, played so well together — like one big family. They played games, picked flowers and berries from the garden, did cartwheels in the grass… and kept returning to the picnic blanket for a sip of mint lemonade and another slice of cake! Meanwhile, we mums had the chance to talk motherhood, careers, food, photography, and everything in between. I felt so lucky to spend the day with such inspiring women, and the kids keep asking if we can do it again!

I hope you don’t mind me sharing so many photos from the picnic. Emma managed to capture the day so beautifully, don’t you think?

Courtney x

All photos above are taken by Emma Donnelly (except the last two, which were snapped by Skye).

Where Bear? by Sophy Henn

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Where Bear 4
Marlow (2 1/12) has made a big switch lately in terms of the books she enjoys. Instead of the simple picture and word books she liked just a few months ago, she now prefers books with a story.  I suppose her attention span has improved a bit and she’s able to stay engaged until the end of the stories now, which is really so fun! I’m enjoying reading with her and observing as she discovers some of our favourite books (some of her current favourites are The Tiger Who Came to Tea , Sick Day for Amos Mcgee , and The Happy Lion ).

This new book, Where Bear? by Sophy Henn, is another one that she really loves. It’s a sweet story about a boy and his bear cub, and how the bear cub grows bigger and bigger and how the boy needs to find somewhere better for the bear to live. But… where bear? The zoo? The circus? The jungle? A cave? It’s a really simple story with the sweetest illustrations (and a cute ending).

“Where Bear?” is available from Amazon (UK and US).

Courtney x

Velveteen, a pretty collection and now on sale!

Velveteen
Velveteen is a brand we’ve known and loved for a long time. Each season we make sure to check out their upcoming collections at Playtime, and we’ve enjoyed watching this brand grow over the last few years, getting better and better each season. Their current Spring/Summer collection is definitely our favourite one yet! How pretty are all the colours and fabrics?! I love that the boys’ collection is just as nice as the girls’, with cute shorts and tees that are both simple and stylish.

I’ve just noticed that the Velveteen summer sale has started and all the pieces are now 40% off! A perfect excuse to pick up some summer pieces for the warm months ahead.

Courtney x

Hand embroidered beauties from Cabbages & Kings

Cabbages & Kings 2 copy
Cabbages & Kings shoes
Cabbages & Kings romper

Cabbages & Kings skirt

Cabbages and Kings
How dreamy are all of these images from Cabbages & Kings? Summertime sweetness right there: bare feet, tan little limbs, happy children, long grass, and whimsical pieces so perfect for this time of year.

I am such a fan of all the colourful Mexican embroidery and unique patterns, and love that the pieces are handmade and one-of-a-kind. Cabbages & Kings works with skilled artisans from communities in Mexico and Peru, supporting fair trade and ethical craftsmanship.

The dresses and skirts are so, so pretty, aren’t they? And the little shoes and bibs would make the perfect new baby gifts. Cabbages & Kings are currently offering Babyccino readers a 22% discount on their entire collection. Click over to their profile page on our portal for details and promo code. Hooray for summer!

Courtney x

Birthday gifts for a 10-year-old boy

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easton reading comics

I still can’t believe my baby is TEN!! It’s been an emotional year as I anticipated his birthday and reflected on the past decade, but then when the day finally arrived, it was happy and joyous (and I didn’t even shed a tear)! We celebrated our big boy with pancakes for breakfast, an afternoon spent at the school’s summer fair, pizza dinner with friends and then a sleepover party that evening. It was a happy day!

Following on from my post about what to buy a 6-year-old birthday girl, I’d love to share some of Easton’s favourite gifts he received last week. I’ll admit that I was really, really stumped for what to get him. And the sweet boy didn’t make it any easier, insisting he didn’t really need anything.

We only bought him a few small gifts, and the rest came from friends and grandparents. He ended up with the handsome selection of gifts below:

gifts for a 10-year-old boy

1. A simple Swiss Army Knife for carving sticks on the beach this summer.
2. A sweatshirt to celebrate double digits!!!
3. A subscription renewal of the Phoenix Comic magazine, because he SO looks forward to Fridays when his weekly comic magazine arrives.
4. A football from his favourite team
5. Adventure logs to encourage him to jot down all of his crazy outdoor adventures
6. A Swatch Watch!
7. A pack of playing cards because he’s really into playing cards right now (Crazy Eights, War, Go Fish, Concentration, etc.)
8. The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs, a comic book by the author of one of his current favourite books. (He’s really into comic books right now and I’m just happy he’s reading, so I’m going with it.)
9. A pair of swim trunks for the summer!

 

Please share in the comments below any other suggestions for what to buy a 10-year-old. I’m sure other readers would appreciate the tips!

Courtney x

Tuesday Tips: Traveling in Paris with kids

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Summer here and I thought it was high time to write down some random tips of what to do in my lovely city with kids. Paris is such a great place to visit and so easy to get around that it is a great destination with children, even young ones. But there are a couple of things that might be good to know:

  • Hilariously my very first tip actually has very little to do with kids and has everything to do with coffee and bars! Basically if you want to save a cent or two always order and drink a coffee at the bar in a Parisian café, not on the terrace. The price on a terrace can be more that double than the one if you sit by the bar. The same goes for most drinks. (By the way: a café is an espresso, a noisette is a macchiato and a crème is a cappuccino roughly speaking).
  • All neighbourhoods in Paris have little squares with play equipment (like place des Vosges on the photo above). They are simple, easy going and a nice way to get away from the crowds. If you are looking for a real park, go a bit further afield and head over to the Buttes de Chaumont, which is super French and has grassy areas, so a good place to go and kick a ball around.
  • My favourite Parisian street food is good old-fashioned crepes, and you can still find a lot of little hole-in-the-wall crepes stands that will throw together a “jambon-fromage-champions” (my personal favourite). My kids absolutely love them.
  • In restaurants do ask for a kids menu, even if it is not advertised. Especially less touristy places will often happily make a smaller plate for kids.
  • If you have the time to teach your kids just a few words in French, it is totally worth it. I have seen the sternest French waiter melt when he had been addressed in French by a little foreign tourist. Even “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “S’il vous plait” is enough.
  • When you ask for anything, be it a baguette in a boulangerie or directions on the street, start with “Bonjour” not “Excuse me”. It just the way we start a conversation over here. If not you might finish with your questions just to have a pointed “Bonjour” thrown back at you.
  • For me the best way to get around Paris, if you have a bit of time, is by bus. They use the same tickets as the metro, but are so much more pleasant and such a great way to see the city. The free public transport app is unfortunately only in French at the moment, but it is so easy to use that I think you could use it with even the smallest knowledge of French.
  • If you have even more time then the very, very best way of getting around Paris is to walk! Paris is much smaller than London and New York so it is actually easy to walk from one attraction to the next. On the left bank of the Seine a lot of the quays are closed to cars and are a lovely way to discover Paris. On Sundays the right bank of the Seine is also closed to cars.
  • As we now all know, French Kids don’t throw food 😉 which is actually only partly correct of course. But it is true that people expect children to behave in restaurants and will ask the waiter to ask you to be a bit quieter. Do not take it personally as it happens to French parents as much as it does to foreigners. I try to smile and apologise and that normally does the trick.

As I mentioned, this is a bit of a random list, but these are some of my top tips to visiting Paris. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them!

– Emilie

Bikinis. Yes or no?

Little Creative Factory swimsuits
Marlow and Ivy in Little Creative Factory swimsuits
I think I might be raising a bit of a controversial topic, one that could possibly split many of us down the middle, but I would love to know where you stand on little girls wearing bikinis? Is it completely normal and fun and innocent, or do you think it sexualises innocent little girls?

One of my earliest childhood memories is from my 4th birthday, receiving my first bikini. I remember how excited I was to wear it to the beach for the first time. I felt so grown up! I absolutely loved that thing. Yet even with this happy memory of mine, I still can not bring myself to let my own girls wear a bikini.

Why? I’m not entirely sure (even my own mother thinks I’m being unreasonable!). I just feel like a bikini top sexualises and highlights something that doesn’t exist. There is nothing sexual about a little girl’s chest, so when you put a bikini top on it, it draws unnecessary attention. In a way, I feel like a simple French-style bloomer (without a top) is more appropriate than a 2-piece suit. Not to mention, a separate top is so impractical and difficult to keep in place when swimming, etc. (But then again, I suppose it’s trickier to use the toilet in a one-piece!)

So where do you stand? Am I overthinking things?

Courtney x

p.s. The pretty vintage-style swimsuits the girls are wearing in the photos above are from Little Creative Factory who have a stunning collection of swimwear for both boys and girls (including bikinis as well!).

Edible Gluten-Free Play Dough

Edible Play Dough dough

My 1.5-year-old absolutely adores playdough but he also loves to put it in his mouth so as I tried to find edible playdough I came across this recipe and it’s amazing. It’s not only edible but also gluten free! How great is that? The only thing about it is that it only keeps for about a week (refrigerated in a sealed container). But the fact that I don’t have to worry about our little one eating it is worth it. And also I used natural organic food coloring so the colors were not as pretty and as vibrant as I wanted, and I didn’t get as much variety as I wished for (the blue one turned its back on me and became greenish – how weird is that?) but the kids loved it anyway. It’s done super quick and if you have a toddler at home you almost surely have all the ingredients already in your kitchen. Let’s see:

Edible Play Dough Ingredients

You’ll need:

2 cups of Baby Rice Cereal
2 cups Corn Starch
1 cup unsweetened Apple Sauce
6 TBSP Vegetable Oil
Food Coloring

Edible Play Dough

All you need to do is throw these ingredients together, mix well and knead into a smooth, pliable dough. In case your dough is sticky gradually add more rice cereal and in the opposite case (if the dough is dry and cracking) just water your hands and knead on and if necessary repeat. Finally divide your dough into as many pieces as you wish and add food coloring to each one, knead.

Voila! That is it.

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Hair style: the low flip ponytail


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This hair tutorial is extremely easy. Just brush your child’s hair, and make a low ponytail using an elastic band. Pull back the elastic band slightly to make room. Then, separate the hair approximately in the middle, creating a gap. Then, flip the hair over and pull through the gap.

sara_hair_4 sara_hair_3 sara_hair_5 Voila! Such an easy hairstyle, with such a pretty and elegant result!

Sara_hair_2xxx Esther

PS All pretty photos by Maud Fontein!

Exclusive Macarons Flash Sale!

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Macarons is a German-based fashion brand which we have always admired for their innovative way of thinking about fabrics and their never-ending enthusiasm to transform the fashion industry — for the better. Their perseverance to ensure that their collections are 100% produced according the GOTS guidelines, vouching for a strictly ecological, sustainable and fair manufacturing chain is truly admirable.

The Macarons collection are so, so adorable. The pieces are always special, made of the finest fabrics and finished in the most detailed way, with contrasting stitching or a coloured button here or there — details that prove the care and thought that the Macarons team puts in every item. I have passed down Macarons pieces from my bigger to smaller children, and once they outgrow them, my friends’ babies enjoy them and they still are like new. The quality is just so good.

So — we’re super excited to announce that Macarons is offering Babyccino Kids readers a hefty 30% off their entire collection*! This is really awesome — what a perfect opportunity to get to know this beautiful brand if you didn’t already — or to pick up some sweet summer pieces you had your eye on… (For instance — I love the stripy pinafore dress and baggy pants I got for Ava and Casper a little while ago, and if you have a toddler, this bubble suit is so, so adorable! And our babies have seriously lived in these overalls the first years — so practical!)

To redeem your discount, just check out using discount code BKSALE30. Enjoy!! (I just ordered these cool pants Pliso for Pim, he’s going to love them!)

xxx Esther

* Gift vouchers and cfm (cecile for macarons) items can not be included in the sale but all the other items are included.

Birthday gifts for a six-year-old girl

Ivy colouring chalk blocks

chalk blocks

Birthday season has just come to an end in our family, which consists of five birthdays in quick succession. Marlow is our odd one out with a birthday in November, but the rest of us all have birthdays in the springtime. Our birthday bunting literally goes up and down and up and down from April to June. It’s quite fun, but I’m always so relieved when it’s over.

Since it’s all fresh in my mind, I thought it might be useful to write down some of the favourite gifts each of my children received for their birthdays (not just gifts from us, but from friends and family too).  I’ll start with Ivy, who turned six in May, and who only asked for a compass for her birthday. : )

Gifts for a six-year-old

1. A pretty journal for writing down thoughts and discoveries (the same one her mama uses)
2. Cat ears headband — a fun accessory
3. A flower press to preserve her first 4-leaf clover and other pretty flowers and plants (a thoughtful gift from my sister!)
4. Eco-crayons that draw on paper AND glass! So fun!
5. A brass compass in its own leather pouch to learn her directions
6. An intricate and beautiful ‘Colour Therapy‘ colouring book
7. The ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ books because I remember how much I loved them when I was young (we also bought her audio books because she’s really into listening to stories while we’re in the car)
8. A blackboard blocks and chalk set to create her own houses, towers and towns

 

Please feel free to share other gift suggestions if you can think of them! (And obviously many of these gifts are great for boys too — I only specified a gender because it felt appropriate for some of the gifts.)

Courtney x

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