Category Archives: Being Frugal

Natural Linens ~A Review and Giveaway~


Our family, like so many other families today, is always looking for ways to reduce our spending and give a little more wiggle room to our budget.  We also take great pride in producing less garbage than a family half our size, and I encourage our children to get creative and find new ways of further reducing our family’s garbage output.  (These are great lessons in stewardship for Mark and I and our children!)

When the wonderful family at Natural Linens contacted me, I saw this as a great opportunity to take another step in the direction of saving money, reducing waste, and I get to give a great organic product!

When looking over their store, I was intrigued by the thought of unpaper towels.  We go through a good bit of paper towels in this house, much to my aggravation.

Unpaper Towels

Being the retired cloth diaper pro that I am, the moment I opened up the lovely hand-wrapped package of unpaper towels I soaked them in a container of water for a few days.  (This greatly increases their absorbancy)

So, what did we use the unpaper towels to do?

  • They are awesome for cleaning glass and windows without leaving streaks or fuzz.
  • They worked beautifully when disinfecting the kitchen counters.
  • I was able to clean all of our doorknobs, door frames, and light switches with only one unpaper towel as opposed to 7 or 8 paper towels.
  • They make quick work of bathroom sinks and counters with only one unpaper towel for three bathrooms.

I love how thin, yet absorbent they are.  I much prefer them to wash cloths when cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, and they are perfect southern napkins!

Next, I would love to make the switch to cloth coffee filters and tea bags!

Reusable Coffee Filters

Reusable Tea Bags

Now YOU get the chance to win a set of their fantastic unpaper towels!

You know me, I like to make entering giveaways and getting additional entries easy.

How do you enter?  Simple!

Pop over and visit Natural Linens Etsy store and choose a product they offer that you are not already using.  Post a comment below telling me what that product is.  That’s it!

Earning additional entries:

  • Subscribe to Natural Linens newsletter (post a comment telling me that you did)
  • Like Natural Linens on Facebook (post a comment telling me that you did)
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook (you can do this once per day ~leave a comment each time telling me that you did)
  • Tweet about this giveaway (you can do this once per day ~leave a link in a comment)
  • Like Yes, They Are All Mine on Facebook (leave a comment telling me you did)
  • Share this Giveaway on Pinterest (you can do this once per day ~leave a link in the comments)
  • Share Natural Linens (Etsy store or FB page) on Pinterest (leave a link in comments)
  • Follow Natural Linens on Twitter (leave a comment telling me you did)

This giveaway will end at Midnight (12:00 am) on Sunday December 8th.  One winner will  be chosen via  The winner will be announced here on the blog and emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Any questions?

Thank you for joining in this giveaway and supporting a small family owned business.  Every time you share them with someone or make a purchase, you make a difference for their family!  Thank you!

All for God’s glory,


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Menu Planning- Stepping up our game

If you are like me and look for every great idea to trim your grocery budget, then you have already discovered the awesome grocery budget fat buster of menu planning.

Menu planning alone has not only helped reduce our costs, but is has also reduced food waste and given us far better meal options.  When you know what is being prepared and you have all of the necessary ingredients, then it is not a crapshoot to try and pull a healthy, filling meal together.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was the menu planner.  I checked our pantry and freezer stock to create a menu for the week as well as a grocery list.

Then it it hit me.  I have THREE teenagers and at least 4 of our children can cook!  Why am I the only one making these decisions and getting everything lined up for the week?

Enter in operation FAMILY Meal Planning.

After a little powwow, we came up with a new strategy, not only for meal planning but also for meal preparation.

No longer is it a toss up as to who is going to cook, what they are going to prepare, and on what night will they be doing so.

Here’s how we do it.

Our oldest three, Renee (16), Noah (14), and Emily Grace (13), and the team of Hannah (10) and Dad each take a night to fully plan and prepare dinner for the family.  I take the three nights that they do not claim.

Each one of our chefs-in-training puts together all aspects of the meal and makes sure that we either have the ingredients or they are written on the grocery list.

When I head out to Costco with my list, I know that we will have exactly what need for the week’s breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.

One of the great, yet unexpected, blessings of having our oldest children plan and prepare meals, they are getting inspired to try new dishes, new veggies, new spices, and new combinations.  Their creative juices are flowing!  {pun intended}

It does my momma heart good to see them researching new dinners to create.  Thank, you Pinterest!

Other blessings we noticed:

  • they are learning that planning ahead to ensure they have everything they need makes the job much easier and faster
  • they are widening their culinary scope and experimenting with new flavors
  • the new recipes are introducing new veggies and fruits
  • they are learning timing and time management to get all parts of the meal ready and on the table at the same time.
  • there has been finally come about a realization that they cannot “graze” in the pantry and fridge all of the time and still have what they need to prepare their meals.
  • bonus, this has worked so well, that they have also taken over lunches.

I love that my older kids will not be dependent on a microwave or takeout to eat in those beginning adult years that are in the very near future.  You never know, this may bring out a passion for cooking and a direction in life one of them never thought about.

Next, I need to get one of them interested in being a chocolatier.  *wink*

In your home, do the parents do all of the cooking?  Do you have teenagers who cook?  If not, now is a great time to start something new and get them interested in preparing fantastic meals and stretching themselves as chefs!

When you were a teenager, what were some of your favorite things to cook?

Mine, steak bites with onion and peppers.  Yum!

All for the glory of God,


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Middle Girl’s Room Makeover

Decorating a room to incorporate the likes, favorite color, toys, and personalities  of four girls ranging in age from four to ten is no easy feat, but I think I got!

The previous residents attempted a “tuscany” feel to several areas of the downstairs by using the stucco method and somewhat painting it with earthy colors.  The white you see is where there is no paint.  They didn’t quite hit the nail on the head.

I chose to cover up the orange flat paint with a very warm and soothing green eggshell.   Green is a color that is the common thread in each of the girls’ quilts.

It took me an entire afternoon to paint this large room.  What seemed to take up the biggest amount of time was moving all of the furniture and toys out of the way.  *grin*

I am still toying with the idea of building a shelf around the pole seen in the picture.  I found an example on Pinterest I really like.

Now we are ready to purge, build, and decorate!

Mark exceeded my expectations building bases for each of the girls’ bed frames.  After hanging the curtains and putting their beds together, I hung their name signs over each of their beds.  I want to sew a couple of throw pillows for each of the girls in their favorite colors to match their name signs and quilts.  That will happen as I find the material I am looking for on clearance.

Here is a view of the kitchen play area I created, as well as little Layla’s (4) bed.  She is not yet big enough for a twin sized mattress.

I created the “EAT” and “Say Grace” signs out of a couple of scraps of wood and some extra ribbon from my craft tub.  The chalkboard menu lists the specials of the day.  You can also see the footprint butterflies we made with each of the girls.

I gave away most of our plastic toy bins and containers and opted for this shelf and matching baskets.   I put a lot of time into searching and finding the right containers for the girls to organize their toys in.  I could spend a WHOLE LOT of money to buy bins that look good and will stand the test of time or something cute but cheap enough not to get all worked up about if it was torn up.  Considering I don’t have $300.00 to spend on the first option, I chose to go with cute and not heartbreaking if they didn’t last too long.  These baskets were less than $5 each at Old Time Pottery, and after almost three months… not one has been torn up or even nicked!  Booyah!

When Mark finally brought home the pallets I have been whining longing for, I made each of the girls a little place of their own to display their masterpieces.

In the corner opposite of their little cafe spot I created a place for their dollhouses and put some books on the wall.  I am keeping my oh so frugal eyes open for a chair or two to put here so they can snuggle up and read their books.

While I may have the bulk of their makeover completed, I have a few projects left up my sleeve.  I am on the hunt for little bedside tables to set next to each of their beds.

I am also looking for a great rug to put in the middle of the room.  It has to be an incredible price and incorporate the colors of the room:  green, blue, pink, brown, orange, and yellow.  I am sure the perfect rug is out there…somewhere.

Finally, I am going to paint one of their doors with chalkboard paint to give them a spot to let their inner Picasso and Van Gogh out.

Granted, it took me about 4 months to get their room to this state of completion, but I have done it all for less than $100.00.  Thank you Pinterest for so much frugal inspiration!!

All for the glory of God,


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Reclaiming An Old Frame

I am nearing the finish line on an incredibly frugal master bedroom and bathroom makeover.

My inspiration for the “British Isles/ British Colonial” design is a painting that has been hanging naked on my wall for years.  Yes, NAKED!

I have long intended on getting a frame to display my beautiful painting with the distinction it deserves, but a proper canvas frame is out of my extremely limited budget.  The best price I could find was $50.00 at Hobby Lobby.  I don’t have $50.00 to spend on a frame, so that means it is time for creativity!

Why not purchase a DIY empty frame?  This painting was created by a Haitian artist who crafted and nailed the canvas herself.  It is not of standard size.    Not to mention, all of the DIY empty frames I could find are for pictures, not canvases.  Sigh.

Over the past few weeks Hubs has been cleaning out and organizing our upstairs space.  During the overhaul he found an old frame and put it to the side to throw away.  While “shopping” upstairs for something to make a frame out of, I spotted it.  It is a true canvas frame!  SCORE a free frame!

While the length was near perfect, the width was far too wide.  I removed one side of the frame carefully.

I set the removed side in the appropriate position and used a marker to draw my cut lines.  I used a battery-powered skill saw to cut along the line I made.

Next, I predrilled and inserted 1 1/2 ” wood screws to put the frame back together.  I did this at all four corners to strengthen the frame.

Then, I attached to frame hangers at the top of the frame and inserted small screws on either side the painting to hold it in place.

The final step was to hang my beautiful painting on the wall and display it properly.  A good wiping and oiling brought the frame back to its warm and lovely dark wood glory.

Want to see what my frugal master bedroom and bathroom makeover looks like? I will be posting before and after pictures next week!

Thanks for stopping by!

All for the glory of God,


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Ginger Snap Crafts- Wow Me Wednesday!

New Life For Old Jeans!

If your kids are anything like mine, then you have more than your share of jeans with holes in the knees.  After a while, patching just doesn’t work any longer.

What next?  Let’s make those old jeans into some cute little shorts!

It is very easy and it only took about 45 min for this sewing machine novice to create 3 pairs of adorable shorts.

I started out by having Susu (6) put her shorts on so that I could carefully cut them at the appropriate height.  I cut them a little long so I would have enough material to hem and still have a pair shorts that are a lady-like length.

I folded the bottom of the new shorts under by 1/4″ and ironed them to keep the fold in place.  I then used my sewing machine to stitch that hem into place.

I folded the hem under by 1/4″ again and repeated the ironing and sewing process that I had just done.

Once the hems were secure I used a fabric glue to attach 1″ wide ribbon around the hem.

Make sure you start and finish the ribbon on the inside of the leg so you don’t see where the line is.  I chose three different ribbons to mix and match with the shirts she already has.

Here is Susu (6) modeling one pair of her new shorts.

I wish I had taken a few shots of the hems while I was working on them, but I was so focused that I didn’t think about it until I was done.

If you have any questions about how I did something, just ask!

All for the glory of God,


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Saving Money Without The Crazy

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know about my recent introduction to the tv show Extreme Couponing.

I am intrigued and fascinated by the dedication these people have to amassing great quantities of grocery store items and imitating said grocery stores inside of their own homes.  Shelves and shelves, rows and rows, and looming towers of toiletries, drinks, and boxed goods take up whole rooms!

While I would never buy most of what they hoard, some of the items have my frugal side perking up and taking notice.  Getting toilet paper, paper towels, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, ponytail holders, cottonballs, cottonswabs, and floss for little money or free is definitely something I am interested in!

After gorging on 8 episodes (thank you, Netflix!) in a row, I have been inspired to try the whole couponing thing again.  Will you see me with binders and boxes of coupons?  No.  Will I be dedicating 20 to 30 hours a week to couponing?  No.  I have a goal of saving money without the crazy, obsessive, diving-into dumpsters, and stealing peoples’ papers side of couponing.  *grin*

I challenged myself to saving just $15.00 per week.  That would be a savings of $780.00 per year.  Any money saved about that $15.00 per week is all gravy, my friends.

How did my first week go?  I saved $26.00!  Booyah!

Coupons and I, we hit it off quite nicely.

So, how did this healthy-eating family save money?  Let me share my oh-so-short, yet fun, jaunt into coupons so far.

Costco is my weekly grocery store.  By simply planning this week’s meals and food stock-ups based on the coupons they are offering this month, I saved $7.00.  That was easy!

Next, I focused on another store we use frequently, Earth Fare.  They offer coupons, put out a weekly specials flyer, and have a point rewards card for shopping there.  Just for signing up, I received an organic whole fryer chicken for free.  I also was able to grab up an Irish cheese they were offering free this week.  Their coupon book had coupons for a couple of items we needed for this week’s menu, and a little perusing on the internet afforded me a couple of manufacturer’s coupons as well.  Total saved at Earth Fare, $18.00!

While $26.00 may not seem like a lot to some, it is a great step forward and an encouragement to me.  Just a little preplanning and checking the internet for sales and coupons to the stores I frequent, and I can save a little cash.  That little cash adds up to big cash!

My minimum per week is still $15.00, but I am a person who loves a good challenge, so you know full well that I will be looking to beat $26.00 next week.  *wink*

Do you coupon?  Are you a healthy-eating family who coupons?  How is it working out for you?  Any tips to help me reach my challenge goal this week?

God bless,


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Favorite Thrift Store Finds- January

Yes, shopping thrift stores is a great way to save money and keep your budget under control, but I enjoy the thrill of the hunt!  *wink*  Finding a treasure, a diamond in the rough, amongst a bunch of junk, is more than worth the time.

Here are my favorite finds for January.

I have been on the hunt for an adorable coat for my sweet Susannah.  She has a coat that is just fine for wearing outside to play in but not for going out in public.  I happened upon a gorgeous, chocolatey-brown Rothschild coat for less than $4.00!  Yes! Score for this thrifty momma!   I also found this adorable skirt.  It has a little gold thread running throughout, and it adds a touch of sparkle.

We had two great finds for Renee, both under $6.00 each.  The first is a black wool jacket that is gathered at the waist.  I love it when she wears it with a silky scarf tucked under the collar and flowing down the front.

The second is an absolutely gorgeous blue suede blazer with a lovely detail.  The kicker?  It is a brand new jacket with the original tag still on it.  That tag read $79.99.  Booyah!

Some women love shoes, while others have a thing for jewelry, and still others for purses and different bags, I have a little thing for jackets and blazers.  I am always on the lookout for something that is suede, loaded with personality, or just a little piece of eye candy.  *grin*

The warmth of this burnt orange suede blazer looks fantastic with my cream colored shirt, blue jeans, cowboy boots, and some simple drop earrings.

My “fun find” was this lap harp I discovered buried under a bunch of kitchen odds and ends.  It is missing one string (easily replaceable), and it was handmade in Romania (how cool is that!).  We are a music family who greatly enjoys finding and learning to play new instruments.  After our trip this fall to Fort Toulouse’s Pioneer Days introduced us to a fantastic character who beautifully played a large version of a lap harp, I had to snatch it up ($3.00)!

My January finds also include a few Van Heusen shirts in pristine condition for Noah, a couple of shirts for myself, several pairs of blue jeans for the kids, and a small tablecloth.

I don’t usually shop for myself, but I recently accomplished a pretty aggressive purge of my clothing, getting rid of items I never wear, I have lost too much weight to wear, aren’t my colors, or have become worn out.  I thoroughly enjoy putting together complete outfits that cost me very little.  Not to mention, the vintage items I find in the thrift stores totally fits my classic yet bohemian style.

How about you?  Do “hunt” through thrift stores?  Do you enjoy finding treasures for next to nothing?

God bless,


Because that shade of purple just isn’t manly!

Our family’s recent move has greatly blessed us with more space, including much larger and better laid out bedrooms for the kids.  While there is decorating and arranging to do, one bedroom topped the list as imperative:  Noah’s (14) bedroom.

The boy’s room was PURPLE.  I am not talking about a light lavender or something easy to cover.  It was PURPLE, and, as Noah stated oh so insistently, purple just isn’t manly.

I must admit, we did have a good time picking on him for a few weeks about his lovely purple walls.  *giggle, snort*

Part of the floor that is not carpeted was painted an even darker purple.  Seriously.

He pestered and pestered me until I finally took him to select his new wall color.  Kids are good at that whole pestering thing, aren’t they?  I am sure he gets it from Dad.

We decided to go with a colonial color pattern that included most of the walls and the purple floor being painted a gray blue, while one wall was painted a cranberry red color as an accent.

The cranberry-red accent wall.

The cranberry red accent wall.  I am looking to cover the shelf with either a curtain or doors.  I would be able to paint the doors with chalkboard paint.  That would be a bonus.

Can you see Sherlock, the Chinese Water Dragon's, home on Noah's dresser?  That lizard just adores him.  I didn't know that was possible.

Can you see Sherlock, the Chinese Water Dragon’s, home on Noah’s dresser? That lizard just adores him. I didn’t know that was possible.  The mirror you see will be hung on the wall in that area next to Noah’s dresser.

We created a faux window with a sapling and a pair of cranberry red tab top curtains.  A saved-from-destruction chair, a stool, and a magazine rack create a great reading space, while the secretary and ladderback chair give Noah a writing desk for letters and his homesteading plans.

Reading, origami, pen pal letters, and homesteading plans!

Reading, origami, pen pal letters, and homesteading plans!

The area above the faux window is a perfect place to display his name sign. helped to really set the tone for the room with the quilt she blessed Noah with for the 14th birthday he recently celebrated.  His bedroom makeover was a part of his birthday present from Dad and I.

The cranberry red and the gray blue are a perfect match.  I will be using a few more accents in the room to bring out the green.

The cranberry red and the gray blue are a perfect match. I will be using a few more accents in the room to bring out the green.

We repurposed an old trunk and placed it at the end of his bed.  It holds his extra sheets and blankets.  I love this so much more than them taking up space in th closet.  I have cedar and lavender in the chest to give the sheets and blankets a great scent when he uses them.  On top of the chest is an old typewriter he is fascinated with.

He loves his room.  You can’t get a better thank you than the look on their face when it is all done.

Now that Noah has his own space, it is time to get to work on creating great spaces for the girls.  The only thing we purchased in Noah’s room makeover was the paint.  Everything else was found, given, and repurposed.  My goal for the girls’ rooms is to completely decorate their rooms without spending a dime.  I will be taking a lot of pictures and sharing just how we do it.

So, what do you think?  Is it manly enough for a 14 year old young man?  *grin*

God bless!


Why We Don’t Do Allowances

Some of my favorite posts to write are in response to my dear readers’ questions.    For all you who have queried on the topic of allowance, this one’s for you!

Over the years, we have struggled with consistency and the very idea of an allowance for our children.  Proper stewardship of money is far too important of a life lesson to ignore or be wishy-washy about!

Our recent financial life changes through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University caused us to look at how and why we teach our children about money.  It also helped me realize a couple of things.

I have never liked the idea of an allowance.  Why?  Ask five different people what allowance is, and you will receive five different answers.  Answers like:

  • Allowance is money we give our kids just for being kids.  They have to have money to spend don’t they? (I have heard this more times than I care to count!)
  • Allowance is money we give our kids for helping by making their beds (sometimes) and clearing their plate from the table (after I remind them a few times).
  • Allowance is money we give our kids for doing chores (that may or may not be done).
  • Allowance is money we give our kids when they ask for it.  (Seriously, this is also a common answer).

In our family, we do not believe in getting paid for doing nothing.  You are not entitled to money, respect, position, or special privileges, just to name a few.  Those are to be EARNED.

We have chunked the word “allowance” in the garbage and replaced it with the word “commissions”.  Our kids now earn commissions by completing assigned tasks on a daily/weekly basis.

Let me give you an example using our Littles/ Middles (ages 5 and 7)

There are four categories they earn money for:

  • Bed made every morning (this is pretty much a gimme, but it is important in helping them set good habits)
  • Once a week assigned chore (sweeping the porches and cleaning them up).
  • Straightening up their assigned area in the living room each night before bed.
  • Room cleaned up (toys put away, trash thrown away, and dirty clothes in hamper) by bedtime each night.  (This is not our weekly deep clean, just a clearing of the floors *grin*)

The older kids have chores and assigned areas that are more fitting their ages and abilities, also their commissions are a different amount.

There is another side to commissions.  What if they just decide to not do their chores and take care of their stuff?  If there is a reward earned for doing what they are supposed to, then there must be a consequence for not doing them.

Our system is:

Each of the four chore categories is worth a monetary amount.  If each daily item and  the weekly item is completed, they receive payment for it.  The Littles earn $0.50 per category per week, which means that  they can earn $2.00 per week.

Consequences are:

  • Miss one day (willfully and intentionally refuse to take care of their responsibilities)- loss of money for that particular chore.
  • Miss two days- loss of money and loss of all electronics for two days.
  • Miss three days- loss of money, loss of electronics,  2 more days of electronics and have to do an extra chore.
  • Miss four or more- loss of money, loss of electronics for 4 days, extra chore, and you owe us money.

We have not had anyone miss more than 2 days in the past 3 months since we have instituted commissions.

The other issue that comes with this is consistency…by US…the parents!

  • We HAVE to check nightly for items to be done.
  • We HAVE to gently remind the kids to make sure their stuff is completed.
  • We HAVE to pay them what they have earned.
  • We HAVE to make sure consequences are met.

I have a notebook specifically for recording each week what was accomplished and was not (I am a list person, after all).  I make myself check at the same time each night.  I have made it a part of my routine.

We have committed to a weekly family meeting on Sunday evening to pay commissions, pray as a family, and set our goals for the new week.  This has greatly helped me to be consistent and step up in the area of commissions!

You have to find what is going to help you be committed and that will help your kids be more committed.  When they see that this is just how it is going to work, they know that they can count on being checked and paid!

I hope this post has helped you in some way, and I am glad to answer any questions you may have!

God bless,


What’s coming up next on the topic of money?  The answer to what happens after our kids are paid their commissions!

A table fit for a large family!

For our family, a table is more than just a piece of furniture in the dining room.

~It is where we gather at meals to eat, laugh, and share the events of the day.

~It is where the kids express their creativity with projects and crafts.

~It is the hub of our homeschooling adventures.

~It is the place where many quiet conversations over coffee have taken place.

~It is where we play games and enjoy visiting with friends and family.

While surfing on Pinterest, I spotted the dining table I have always wanted.  I immediately pinned it to my Honey-Do List board and shared it with Hubs.

We sold our old table and chair set and have been making do with a table that only seats about two-thirds of our family while Mark and I have been working on our new table AND matching benches.

The man is AMAZING!  He takes whatever idea I have and makes it so much more than I could have imagined.  That, my friends, is a God-given gift.

Thanks to Pinterest (again) I created my own stain to give the table and benches an “old wood” look.    I soaked a piece of steel wool in a jar of vinegar for 24 hours.  Then, I added a scoop of coffee grounds and allowed the jars to set overnight.   I noticed that some pins used white vinegar, while others used apple cider vinegar.  I made a jar of both and tested them on a discarded piece of the wood Mark was using to see if there would be a difference.  There wasn’t.

First, Mark made the benches, and I stained them with 2 coats of stain each.  Each coat was allowed to dry thoroughly before the next was applied.

I used a small bristled brush to liberally apply the stain to the table and benches.

A little note about staining your wood furniture this way:  it takes a few minutes for the stain to start showing the staining process.  The wood continues to darken for a while after you have applied the stain.  Allow it to dry thoroughly before adding any more coats so you can see what color the wood develops.

Mark and I applied 4 coats of polyurethane to each bench and the table (with a very light sanding between each coat).

Here is our new farmhouse-inspired family table:

I love the warm old-wood look and feel we achieved.

One of my favorite features is that the benches slide underneath the table when not in use and give so much more space to walk around in the dining room.

In a pinch, I can fit all of the kids on ONE BENCH!  How is that for packing ’em in?!

If you have any questions about the process of building and finishing this table, ask away!  I will try to be as helpful as I can.

God bless,


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