Stick loom weaving

stick loom weaving
loom weaving close-up
quin stick weaving
Quin and Ivy weaving
Ivy weaving
finished stick looms
This has been a project I’ve been meaning to do for the past few summers on the beach, but have just never got around to doing. But then this year my year my friend, Kate, from Little Big House Tales made these with her kids (and put up a really great tutorial on her blog), and ever since we’ve been feeling extra excited about this project. All we needed was a grey day to curl up together and get out our basket of wool.

Last week we woke up to cloudy, misty weather and, knowing this was our day, I quickly fed the kids breakfast and then got out our collection of wishbone sticks we’ve collected on the beach over the past few weeks. We all spent the morning weaving together (all of us except Marlow), and it was really such a fun activity to do together.

The only tricky bit is preparing the loom and ensuring the string is woven tightly so it doesn’t move when you begin your weaving. I followed Kate’s instructions and sawed little etches into the sides of the sticks so the string would stay put. This was the time-consuming bit, but once this was done the kids were able to do the weaving on their own, only asking for the occasional help tying the yarn. It was such a fun (and addictive!) project. We’ve already started a new collection of wishbone sticks for our next cloudy day…

Courtney x

The Perfect Summer Craft: Paper Windmill!

Paper Windmill

Did you ever make paper windmills when you were a kid? We made them in kindergarten and it was one of my favorite crafts. I can still vividly remember how much fun I had running around with them and blowing at them later.
I passed a store that sells them the other day and instead of buying one I decided to make it (or a bunch of them) instead. With Tila. Isn’t it funny how the simplest crafts usually give the most joy to the little ones?
First I thought it might be ridiculous to share this DIY with you as anyone can do a paper windmill but when I actually tried to make one I realized I can’t! I remembered a few steps but the most crucial ones I forgot! I think there might be more mamas of my kind out there and this being such a perfect summer craft I decided I need to do it.

Paper Windmill

You need:
Thick Square Paper (double sided makes a better effect)
Push/Board Pins with long needles (at least 19 mm)
Wooden Skewers (30 cm long) or a thin dowelling
A Bead (optional)
Nose Pliers (or a hammer)

Paper Windmill

First make a hole through the skewer (about 2-3cm from the top) with a pin and use a hammer if you need to (also make sure to have something like a wooden block underneath to protect the surface from damaging when the needle goes through the other end) and take it out again.

Paper Windmill

Drew the diagonal lines or fold the paper in half diagonally, open out and repeat with the opposite diagonal.

Paper Windmill

Now cut from corners along diagonal lines stopping around 2 cm from the center.

Paper Windmill

Paper Windmill

Paper Windmill

Fold the four corners to the center of the paper, puncturing each with a pin (about 5mm from the edge) and then push the pin through the center, the bead and through the hole in the wooden skewer. You can skip the bead part but I find the windmill turns better with it.

Paper Windmill

Make sure to twist the end sticking out the back of the stick down and a little towards the stick.

-Polona

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

DIY: Seashell Mobiles

shell mobiles DIY
shell mobiles
Ivy making shell mobile
Ivy making mobile
making shell mobiles
Ivy's shell mobile
Happy Monday everyone! We’re back to regular posting this week. Thank you for all your sweet comments last week and for bearing with us while we enjoyed a blogging break.

The kids and I spent the week (hardly getting out of pyjamas!) in our little beach house on Bainbridge Island. We went for long beach walks, carefully observing the sea and beach life all around us. We watched eagles swoop down to catch salmon right in front of us, we watched seals bob their heads in the sea, we chased sea otters off our raft, we caught crabs and fish, and we collected seashells and sand dollars and all sorts of beach treasures.  At one point I asked Easton where his shoes were and he told me they had been up in the car for the past four days! I suppose it’s a sign of a good holiday when your kids spend all day barefoot and in their pyjamas.

During the week, we spent lots of time in search of seashells with holes in them so we could make mobiles. We occasionally found the odd clam shell with a perfectly symmetrical hole in them — so perfect for our little project. (I have always wondered how this hole is created in the shells and then someone on Instagram told me why, and it’s fascinating!!!) After we collected a big enough collection of these perfect shells, we then sat down to create simple seashell mobiles using string and driftwood. Ivy created her mobile all by herself, simply by tying knots in the string and threading the string through the seashells.

She was so proud of the end result (and so was I!) that we hung it up on the wall behind our bed. Such perfect decoration for our beach house (along with the dreamcatchers we made a couple years ago!).

Courtney x

See you next week!

kids on bainbridge island

Emilie and vivi copy

Esther's house in France

We’ve decided to take a little blogging break this week to enjoy some time away from our computers. We are each in our favourite summer spots enjoying slow, lazy days with our families, and we hope you won’t mind if we push the pause button this week and resume as normal next week? In the meantime, here are some of our favourite blog posts from the past year in case you missed them:

See you next week!

Courtney, Esther and Emilie xx

P.S. Photos above are from our Instagram feeds (Courtney, Emilie & Esther) where you can follow along this week if you miss us. ; )

Pretty stamps from Felicette

Felicette stampsMy love for stamps has seriously rubbed off on my children. We have quite a collection of them and can’t stop discovering more desirable ones. (BTW, I have this same problem with pens — I never seem to have quite enough of them. It drives my husband crazy, but I’m hooked!)

Felicette stampsWe recently discovered the stamp collection by Felicette, and oh, they’re so pretty and cool! I love the one with the glasses pictured — they’re just so Sara. She’s been using them for everything lately.

Felicette3 Felicette stamps  library stamp ex libris
Felicette also offers custom name stamps, which are perfect for the children to personalise stationary, for instance. And I love the library stamps (I still have my own childhood books and many of them still have an ex libris with my name in my childish handwriting — I love this!).

xxx Esther

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.

felting_2

felting_3

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.

felting_4
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

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

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!

DIY: Hairclips

Hairclips

Esther and her lovely Hair Style posts inspired me for this craft. Apparently someone’s eating Tila’s hair clips at our home because a week doesn’t go by that we don’t lose at least (!) one. Usually even more. So instead of buying them again I decided to make a few instead. And they turned out great! Like always I tried to find the simplest way and these are literally done in minutes – the thing that takes the longest is actually the drying of the glue.

Hairclips

So, the things you need are:

Some fabric leftovers
Scissors
Glue
Glitter and furry pom poms (optional)
Hair Clips (I got mine from Ebay)

Hairclips

Draw a shape (a star, a heart, a cloud etc.) on the back side of fabric and cut it out.

Hairclips

If you want to make it glittery, first cover the front side with glue and sprinkle generously. Let it dry for about an hour or so and shake off the excess. You’ll do yourself a big favor if you do this outside or you’ll have glitter everywhere like I do!

Hairclips

The bow is also really easy to do. First cut two strips about 6 and 4 centimetres long and one 1.5 cm wide and the other one half thinner. It’s even better if you have ribbons because they won’t fray on edges in time. Now glue both ends of the thicker strip together like on the second photo above. Fold in half and wrap the thinner strip around (begin and finish at the part where the thicker strip is glued together), glue in place and strip away the excess.

Hairclips

Done!

Hairclips

I also did one with pompoms where you only need to glue the three together but there are endless possibilities. Now all there’s left to do is glue the little embellishments on hair clips. So easy.

-Polona

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

Wee Gallery, 32 ways to dress a…

wee_gallery_2 wee_gallery_3 wee_gallery_4My children were each given a mini activity book from Wee Gallery recently and they’ve been a big success. With a very simple concept (dress the cat / bunny / fox etc), these sweet little books appeal to different ages, and make the cutest little presents.

wee_gallery_5

I also think they are great for traveling, or to take to restaurants, for instance. Just pop a few in your handbag for instant entertainment!

xxx Esther

Woody knitting toy

woody sewing sheep Ivy with woody sheep
sewing woody sheep
wool and sheep
ivy sewing

This past Christmas I discovered the ethical French toy brand Les Jouets Libres when looking for gifts to give my nieces and nephews. They make the most beautiful, old-fashioned wooden toys, the kind of toys you keep forever. I ended up buying this pretty stacking toy for one and this colourful blocks set for another, both which were made from sustainable wood and eco-friendly dyes.

Les Jouets Libres has come out with a new toy, this lovely wooden knitting sheep, and I recently picked it up for Ivy who has lately been showing interest in sewing and weaving. The concept is really simple — it’s a wooden sheep with little holes, and kids can thread the wool in and out of the holes to cover the sheep in a woolly coat. It’s a great way to teach kids the basics of sewing, encouraging them to learn dexterity and patience. Ivy has now covered her sheep in wool twice, and it was impressive how much better she was the second time she did it.

“Woody” is available from the Les Jouets Libres site in France or from EeenyMeeny Kids here in the UK.

Courtney x

Stitch ‘n Kids: the braid star

star2

I saw this braid star at my friend Elke’s house and went to buy one for my children as I’m always interested in these kind of simple crafting tools. And it has become an instant hit in our household! Simply a wooden disc with 8 slots, it’s the perfect entertainment for children aged 4 (depending on their motor skills) and up.

When we were visiting Courtney and co in London last April, I brought braiding stars for all of the kids. They all made each other friendship bracelets and it kept them busy and calm at the same time (exceptional!!).

star1

With the summer holiday rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to mention the braid star as it is such a perfect item to bring along while traveling. Small enough to keep in your handbag, and it will keep children perfectly entertained on an airplane, in the back of a car, on a train, etc. Plus — they can make presents for all the little friends they meet on their travels!

I picked up our braid stars at De Zaailing in Amsterdam, but I found similar items on Etsy, and here, in case you’re interested.

xxx Esther

PS I really like the thought of asking my children to weave their own colourful shoe laces with the braid star!

Easter Craft: Hen Egg Cups

egg carton hen
Easter holidays are here and I’ve prepared a new Easter craft for you. This one I absolutely love because it’s so very simple that even very young children can make it, and it takes very little time to finish so it’s also perfect for those types of kids that can’t stay still for very long, like my Tila. She loved this craft and has even made one for her (boy)friend from school! (Also, it’s a great way to make use of all the left-over Easter eggs.)

Hen Egg Cups
Things you need are:
-Egg carton (you can only make 2 chicks from one carton)
-Orange and Red Crafting Paper
-Feathers (I used white and yellow)
-Wiggle Eyes (or black paint)
-Scissors
-Crafting Knife
-Glue

Hen Egg Cups
1. Cut out the edge part of the egg carton like on the photo
2. Trim the excess around the upper edge
3. Take the red paper and cut a comb (or as we call it – the crown) and an orange beak (shape of rhombus, folded in half). Check the width of the top of your cardboard’s peak for the comb first and then about a centimeter below the top for the beak. And make both a few mm narrower to leave a little room for the edges. Cut notches the notches to fit the comb and the peak
4. Put a little glue at the bottom of both pieces
5. Insert them into slots and either glue on wiggle eyes or draw them on.
6. Put a generous amount of glue on the inner side of the back part (where the should be) and glue feather on.

Now wait for it to dry and insert an egg! Give it away or not 😉

-Polona

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

Triangular crayons!

Triangular crayons

Last week in New York we had dinner with the ever so sweet Annie from Brimful, and she brought us a few sweet and thoughtful gifts. One of them is a little container with crayons, which is nothing that special in theory, except for the fact that the crayons are triangular! How clever! Not only are they easier to hold for little toddler hands, but also, they won’t roll from the table to break on the floor. So simple, and yet such a major improvement. (The crayons Annie brought us are from P’kolino.)

xxx Esther

 

The Little Things… making pompoms for a spring branches bouquet

The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet
For this The Little Things post, we’ve been making pompoms for an Easter Tree-inspired, spring branches bouquet. The great thing about making pompoms, is that it appeals to different ages, and both boys and girls absolutely love making them.

The Little Things -- pompom spring branches The Little Things -- pompom spring branches
Isn’t there a magical attraction to wool? The moment I pull my suitcase with yarn leftovers out, my kids are in for a treat!

The Little Things, mocking pompoms for a spring branches bouquet The Little Things -- making pompoms for a spring tree The Little Things -- making popmpoms for spring easter branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things -- making popmpoms for spring easter branches
There are two easy ways to make pompoms. For bigger pompoms, we cut out two times two circles of thin cardboard. You can just use a cup and an egg cup for example, to determine the shape. Layer both cardboard circles, cut through them so they have an opening to the centre, and start winding the thread around. The talented Sara from SakaDesign made a super handy (and very cute!) tutorial for us, that you can easily print if you would like to:

pompom tutorial

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things -- making pompoms for a spring tree
We gave Ava and Juul, both 4 years old, a thicker yarn so they saw quick results. Pim and Sara used a thinner thread, and they also liked to use different colours for their pompoms. (Just cut the first colour and start winding with the second one.)

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches Juul’s little brother Mees was too small to make pompoms, but he was super helpful on his messenger bike, delivering the yarn to whoever needed it!

The Little Things -- making pompom spring branches TLT10 TLT11 The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches

Once there’s a thick layer of yarn around the cardboard shapes, you can cut through the sides, in between the two layers of cardboard. I took care of this part of the process, as it’s really a bit tricky to do.  It’s a kind of scary at first, but once I discovered that the cardboard keeps the yarn in place it was pretty easy. Then, secure the pompom by knotting a string of yarn around the middle, in between the two cardboards. Get rid of the cardboard. You can leave the ends of the yarn you used to knot the pompom together quite long so you can hang the pompom from the branches later.

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches

The second method we used, to make cute, tiny pompoms, is even easier. You just use a fork, wind some thread around, then secure it by knotting around the thread through the middle tines of the fork. Cut the edges, and done!

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches

You can make the pompoms more fluffy by holding them in the steam for a few seconds. (Be careful for the heat!)

The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet

xxx Esther

PS – This is the newest post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking these beautiful photos, and Sara Musch for the handy download. Postman Mees’ adorable outfit is from La Coqueta, Ava’s dress is from Kallio, and Sara’s dress from Mabo Kids.

Matisse’s Garden by Samantha Friedman & Cristina Amodeo

Matties's garden
matisse's garden_inside
matisse's garden book

If you are anything like me you can’t resist a museum shop. I found this book on a recent trip to the Tate Modern and bought it as semi-compensation for missing their exhibition of Matisse’s Cut-Outs last year.

I really love taking my kids to art exhibitions, even if it is not always their bag yet. My eldest (who is nearly 8) is starting to be interested in his own perceptions of what he is looking at and I love those dialogues with him. My middle one (the girl) loves drawing and painting and is often inspired to do an art-project as the result of a visit, and my youngest (3) is … to be honest … really, really horrible to take to museums!!!

So we missed the exhibit but … we found this book! Surely the next best thing? The book, published by MOMA, unfolds the artistic process that Matisse went through to develop some of his famous Cut-Out works. Told, as a story, we learn about Matisse, the curiosity and experimental nature of artists and, of course, some of his most famous works.
The book has been illustrated in a cut-out style, which nods to Matisse but still has its own individual look and then the pages unfold to reveal some of Matisse’s finished work which example that part of his artistic journey.

Lioba doing Matisse art project
henri matisse art project
Lioba and art project

We really enjoyed the book and it was also fun to have a go at producing a cut-out ‘art-piece’ with my daughter (a few phone-pics here to see). You can pick up a copy of ‘Matisse’s Garden’ from Amazon (UK and US ).

-Mo x

Color-Learning Easter Egg Magnets, Montessori Style

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

I’m trying to teach my 14-month-old simple things like colors or at least color distinguishing so I wanted to make something that would help him with that and since Easter is approaching soon I wanted to do something in that spirit so this is what I came up with. Easter eggs magnets in 6 basic colours made of two pieces that can be mixed and one day hopefully matched correctly. But since I didn’t want Tila to feel left out I made some for her as well. Hers are also a little decorated and made of three pieces. She has so much fun creating all sorts of combinations.

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

They are really easy to make and there are various materials you can paint and decorate them with like acrylic paint, deco markers and even washi tape. You’ll also need a few other items like:

Hard cardboard
Sharp scissors (you can also use crafting knife but I prefer a sharp pair of scissors because I’m simply too clumsy for the knife)
A pencil
Egg Shaped Cookie Cutter
Self-Adhensive Magnetic Sheets (Ebay and Amazon are full of them)
Sealant or Varnish (optional)

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

I know I say that every time but this craft is as easy as they get.
First you need to make an outline of that egg cookie cutter on the cardboard with a pencil and cut it out (like I said, you can use crafting knife or scissors).

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

Then you paint the eggs. If you want to decorate and divide them into three parts you should first paint them and after the paint is dry, divide the eggs into three equal horizontal bands with a pencil. Then decorate each segment separately so try not going over the lines when drawing textures.  And you don’t need to erase the lines, you’ll cut along the lines later and they’ll be gone.

If you want the magnets to last a little longer than a few days, use a sealer (if you’re using water colors or regular markers you need to use spray sealer otherwise the paint will smudge; tried and tested!).

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

After everything is thoroughly dry, cut out a piece of magnetic sheet, stick it on the back of the egg and trim the excess.

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

Mix and Match Easter Eggs Magnets

If you’re doing the single-color eggs draw a horizontal guide line on the back, in the middle (you can use a piece of paper measuring equally in height and a little bit more in width as the magnet with a guide line in the middle to help determine the centre; see the photo above). Cut along the line and you’re done.
If you’re doing the other ones cut along the lines you drew previously on the front

-Polona

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

Secret Garden, an intricate colouring book


secret garden inside

My mom bought this Secret Garden colouring book for my kids last year and it was recently rediscovered when we went through our crafts cupboard last week during the move. My kids (especially Quin) have enjoyed colouring in the intricate colouring pages, and the end result is so pretty I’ve started hanging up all of their coloured pages on our walls. Even I have enjoyed colouring in the pages with the kids — it’s one of those colouring books that appeals to kids and grown-ups alike (probably best for kids aged four and older — you’ll see from the top photo that Marlow took it upon herself to colour the cover and it’s not really the desired result you’re looking for with a book like this).

The Secret Garden colouring book is available from Amazon (US and UK ) and I’ve just seen that there is also a set of colour-in postcards  in this same series. So pretty!

Courtney x

Valentine’s Craft: Animal Brooches and Magnets

Animal Magnets and Brooches

Valentines day is tomorrow already and a DIY is in order! Tila has a few very good friends in her kindergarten and I thought it would be nice if she gave them something tiny to let them know how special they are to her.

Animal Magnets and Brooches

So I bought a box of plastic animals (the whole box of about 15 animals cost around 5 euros) and decided to make them into magnets and pins. Tila also wanted me to paint them but you can easily just leave them as they are (especially if they are hand painted, like Schleich figurines) and only glue magnets and/or brooch pin-backs on one side.

Animal Magnets and Brooches

I painted them with Montana spray cans but you can easily go with acrylic paints (just don’t forget to use a primer first to prevent chipping). If you decide to spray paint, apply several thin layers and wait a few minutes between coats or until completely dry to the touch. (Don’t spray too close like I did or you’ll get one very thick layer of paint that will take ages to dry! Spray about 15-20 cm away.) After the final coat is done it’s best to wait overnight or at least a few hours before gluing the magnets and pins on. We also added tiny hearts on their behinds (except for the lion, because the boy it’s meant for hates hearts. But we still hid one on the back ; ) .)

-Polona

PS The glue I’m always using and is also on this photo is UHU’s Bastelkleber and I absolutely love it! I used it on almost every surface already and I think it works even better than super glue plus it’s solvent free and transparent when dry.

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

Shoe Lacing, Montessori-Style

montessori craft project
I am a big fan of Montessori methods of education and I’m still mourning over Tila’s Montessori daycare she went to in France. There are none here in Germany in the area we live at the moment so I try to implement as many Montessori principles at home as I can.
I especially love their toys which are in fact called ‘materials’ simply because they are designed with an aim to help children spontaneously learn when working with them. There are many ways to make Montessori-style materials at home and most of them are very simple so I thought about starting a series of “Montessori-Style Crafts” posts.

My first project in this series is a fun and super simple craft that can be actually done by kids themselves and its purpose is to help learn how to lace and unlace.

1

Things you need are:
-Shoes
-A piece of thick cardboard big enough to fit the shoes
-Paint (I used watercolors)
-Knitting needle or skewer

2

First make the outline with a pencil

3

Go over with a black marker and draw in the rest of the shoe like the eyelets and the tongue, I even had to do pink toe caps.

4

Paint the shoes and make holes in the eyelets using a knitting needle or a skewer.

learn to tie your shoes craft project

Now put the shoelaces in (or even better – let the kids do it) and you’re done!

-Polona

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

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