Tot Tuesday: Repurposing an oldie to make something new!!!

When I first started sewing, I made a ton of mistakes. Well now, who am I kidding…I still make a ton of mistakes, I just know how to fix them now (most of them).
A few years back, my mother in law bought my nephews a play kitchen for Christmas. The boys have grown out of it, so she got it back to give it to my kids…specifically my daughter who already thinks she’s a little domestic diva.
Please PLEASE excuse my messy messy house…I mean it’s always kind of messy but this was special circumstances because we hadn’t even been home a full 24 hours by this point…but this was her reaction to the kitchen:

She loved it! They had just woken up from nap and my son isn’t such a great waker upper, so unfortunately he didn’t really start to enjoy the kitchen until later.

Of course, the moment I saw her playing with the kitchen…I just knew she needed an apron. And fast. (Do I have an apron? No…but I probably should)

So I ran into my room where my sewing stuff is and  I grabbed the first thing I saw in the scrap box. A dress I made pretty early on that I had really messed up.

Pretty dress
Unfortunately it’s messed up

I split the dress at the side seams and decided to use the side without the error.

This dress had elastic straps, so I decided making it into a halter would be easier. I didn’t even waste time switching thread, I was in such a hurry for her to have her new apron (and yet I took pictures? hmmm)

I cut each strap as close as I could to the “bad” side of the dress
and carefully sewed the velcro together and than the fabric on top

I serged the sides and folded them over and topstiched so it would make a neat looking seam. I grabbed some light pink ribbon and sewed it centered across the bodice of the dress for the tying straps:

serged edges and than folded under to make neat seam on either side of dress

She loves it!!! Because the dress was originally made for her, it fits her perfectly and made use out of something that was destined for the garbage can anyway.

Repurposing old or unwanted clothing can save a ton of money.

I turned an old shirt of my husbands into an adorable dress for my daughter, just by using an existing dress pattern I owned and positioning it centered over the buttons.

Before you throw something out, think about if it can be used in a different way!

Make Ahead Freezer Friendly Breakfast or Lunch Burritos

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So the other day I mentioned making Freezer Burritos. Making your own convenience foods is a great way to save money AND it also is much healthier.



Have you ever had one of those convenience boxed breakfast burritos from the freezer case at the grocery store? Not only are they kind of gross and taste overly processed…they NEVER fill me up. Most likely because they are so packed with preservatives that there isn’t much room for the real food!


This recipe can be tweaked in whatever way you want. You can omit the eggs and sausage and sub in ground beef and beans to make lunchtime burritos. You can add whatever veggies you like. You can even add rice. Whatever sounds good to you!!

Freezer Burritos (makes 8)


  • 8 burrito sized tortillas (or you can use 16 fajita sized tortillas!)
  • 8 eggs (you can use half whole egg/half egg whites if you wish)
  • 16 oz of sausage of your choice
  • 8 oz of cheese of your choice
  • veggie of your choice (we used green onions; BUT they would taste great with yellow onions, red or green bell peppers, etc)
  • foil
  • paper towels
  • Ziploc Bag
  • Sharpie (or other permanent marker)



Crumble sausage and cook in pan. Meanwhile crack and scramble your eggs in a separate bowl.

Depending on what veggies you are using, you might want to cook them while you are cooking the sausage(in a separate pan). I used green onions so I just snipped the green onions into the pan right before I added the eggs.


When the sausage is almost done (don’t let it overcook! remember you’ll be reheating these), add the eggs and cook until the eggs are just a bit less done than you typically eat them.


Wrap your tortillas in paper towels and microwave…about 30 seconds (first make sure they pull apart easily and don’t tear).


Set up a burrito rolling station. Have all your components within easy reach.


Lay out your first tortilla and put 1/8th of the sausage/egg mixture along the center of the tortilla. Add veggies, cheese and whatever else you like. Fold down the top of the burrito, than the bottom. Fold over the left and than the right.



Wrap the burrito in a paper towel, than wrap it in your foil (NOTE: I rarely wrap in foil anymore! I just wrap in paper towels and put them in a Ziploc bag. Like this


Repeat for the rest of the burritos.


When you are done, write on your ziploc bag the date you made the burritos and label if they are breakfast burritos, bean and cheese, etc. Fit as many burritos as you can into the freezer bag (I fit all 8 into one bag).


Place in freezer. Take out as needed. Take foil OFF and heat up burrito in the paper towel for 2-3 minutes (the smaller they are the less time they need heating).



Serve with some salsa, or add some fruit for a fully balanced breakfast!!!

***Notice my sign is still on the bar? It’s actually working!!! More on that later 😉

Tot Tuesday: Sneaky Meatballs

Look how happy that little girl is. You’d never guess she has a belly full of spinach.

She does though. An entire serving.

Now how in the world did I get an entire serving of spinach in a 19 month old (I say my 19 month old because my 3 1/2 year old doesn’t eat anything anymore *sigh*)?

I was sneaky.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think kids should learn to like and appreciate fruits and veggies in as close to their natural state as possible. Lets face it though, did YOU like spinach as a kid? I sure didn’t.

So what’s a mom with a bag full of spinach to do?

Make chicken meatballs, douse them in spaghetti sauce…and sneak a bit of spinach in there when they aren’t looking!

Mama Heather’s Chicken Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2-2 cups fresh spinach (really it depends on how much you think you can get away with)
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella (optional, if I had had Parmesan I definitely would have used parm)
  • salt & pepper (I do not measure salt and pepper ever…unless I am baking, so put as much as you think you’ll like I guess?
  • pasta of your choice (we used spaghetti)
  • spaghetti sauce (jarred or homemade)
Heat up a small amount of olive oil in a pan…just barely enough to glisten the bottom. Add fresh washed spinach and cook until it wilts down. Remove from heat and place in blender (don’t clean pan, place back on low heat). Puree.
Mix ground chicken, eggs, breadcrumbs, and cheese together (by hand works best). Add spinach and mix it into the chicken being careful to make sure it disperses evenly (or else one kid winds up with a green meatball). The meatball mixture will be very sticky…that’s good.
Form the meatballs into golf ball sized balls and put in the preheated pan. Let cook a few minutes on each side. They won’t cook all the way through, and that’s okay. Once meatballs are browned, lower heat a bit and pour sauce over them. Put a lid on them and let them simmer in the sauce.

Now prepare your pasta. By the time your pasta is done, your meatballs should be cooked through.

Serve meatballs and sauce over spaghetti and watch them devour it!!!

DISCLAIMER: This probably won’t work for 3 1/2 year old boys that refuse to eat meat…just sayin’

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Making my own Bagels and Pizza Dough

 

A few weeks ago my husband bought me a breadmaker for an early birthday present. I’ve wanted a bread maker for a LONG time. I’ve made my own breads, bagels and pizza doughs from scratch for awhile.
I just didn’t always make them as often as I would have liked.

  • It’s very time consuming to make any kind of bread dough. I have a good stand mixer, but even with that doing most of the kneading, I still had to be pretty hands on deck
  • yeast and temperatures can be finicky. At least for me. I have always had issues with my breads rising correctly
  • laziness? It was just easier to buy bread at the store

Since I got this bread maker though…I haven’t bought one loaf of bread! I’ve been making it all from scratch. I’ve made french bread, regular white sandwich bread, wheat bread, pizza dough and bagels!

Everything rises and everything turns out PERFECT!

If I estimate a loaf of bread (we only buy the kind without high fructose corn syrup) cost me $2.50 and we go through 2 a week (yeah I know, we eat a lot of bread!)…the bread maker will have paid for itself in only 20 weeks. I’ll likely have it for years and years to come. When I also factor in everything else I can make in it, I bet this bread maker will easily pay itself off within half that time.

Here are some of my favorite recipes so far!

Bread Machine Bagels
from all recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 quarts boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Place water, salt, sugar, flour and yeast in the bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough setting.
  2. When cycle is complete, let dough rest on a lightly floured surface. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  3. Cut dough into 9 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each with your thumb. Twirl the dough on your finger or thumb to enlarge the hole, and to even out the dough around the hole. Cover bagels with a clean cloth, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle an ungreased baking sheet with cornmeal. Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, turning half way through. Drain briefly on clean towel. Arrange boiled bagels on baking sheet. Glaze tops with egg white, and sprinkle with your choice of toppings.
  5. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until well browned.
 

Another favorite of ours is the pizza dough recipe that came in the book my  husband ordered with the machine. It makes enough for two crusts. I made the dough on Sunday morning before church and put half of it in the freezer and half of it in the fridge. When we got home from church, I let the dough sit on the counter for a bit, and than made fresh pizza for lunch!

Basic Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 1/2 cups flour (I used bread flour)
1 tbspn sugar
1 1/2 tspn salt

2 tspn SAF yeast or 2 1/2 tspns bread machine yeast

  1. Place all of the ingredients in your bread machine according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Start the dough cycle
  2. When the machine beaps, immediately take the dough out and divide it into whatever portions you desire. Flatten each portion into a disc by kneading it a few times than folding the edges towards the center. Cover with a damp towel on the work surface to rest for 30 min until the dough has increased about 20% in size
  3. Roll out and shape the dough as directed in your pizza recipe. Or place the dough in plastic food storage bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours. To use, let dough sit for 20 min at room temp before rolling out. Dough may be frozen up to 3 months, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using

I love the fact that I am feeding my kids bread with simple ingredients and it isn’t requiring a ton of work for me to do so. The kids LOVE my sandwich bread. They call it mama bread and they beg for it all the time! That works for me!

DIY Paint Pasta Necklace Craft For Kids!

DIY Paint Pasta Necklace Craft

A fun and easy craft for all age levels! Make this DIY Paint Pasta Necklace Craft For Kids! This craft idea might seem simple, but your kids will love it! This is a great craft for your kids to make gifts for their loved ones.

So my son LOVES to paint. My daughter is less than enthused over painting, but my son would paint all day long if I let him (let’s face it though, painting requires a lot of vigilance and sometimes the dishes need to get done, blogs need to be posted, kids need to be fed…).

Painting on paper is fun, but painting on something out of the ordinary is EXTRA fun for a 3 year old.

Today I decided that I wanted something that would require a bit more precision and use of fine motor skills rather than broad brush strokes. So I pulled out the pasta!

Related: DIY Make Your Own  Play Dough Recipe

To make these diy paint pasta necklaces, you don’t need much in the way of supplies, and most likely you already have everything on hand:

Supplies:
*Yarn
*Paint (I used the Dixie cups to pour the paint into) You could use my diy make your own paint recipe for this!
*Paintbrushes or qtips (I like q-tips for this project because it allows for more precision with little hands, but always be careful when giving q-tips to kids!)
*Pasta (penne or ziti work best, penne has those neat grooves though!)
*Knitting needle (not pictured above…pictured later)

Start off by showing your little one how to paint the pasta. Give them a few to paint and let them have at it

Next let the pasta dry. My little guy did not want to stop painting so I handed him some paper and let him paint away while the pasta dried.

Once the pasta dries, cut a piece of yarn long enough to easily slip on and off over your child’s head. Thread the yarn through the yarn needle.

Take one piece of pasta and push over the needle and toward the end, leaving a bit of a tail. Tie the tail with the remaining yarn on the other side like this:

Make sure the needle is threaded through the yarn and hand your anxious child the needle (soft plastic only!!!) and show them how to thread the pasta onto the yarn. Depending on their age and dexterity, you might have to help a lot or a little with this.

My little guy had no problem putting the pasta on the needle, but he needed a bit of help knowing when to change his hands from below the pasta to above so he could slide it down.

When your little one is done, tie a loose knot at the end and slip it over their head (always watch your child when they are wearing anything around their neck and don’t allow them to wear this or any necklace unsupervised!).
Of course, my son refused to wear it. Tried to get my daughter to wear it and she wasn’t too pleased either.

At least we had fun making it!

You can find this and other arts and crafts in the tab on top of my blog labeled DIY Arts and Crafts

If you make this diy paint pasta necklace, let me know! And if you blog about it, link me! It’s not exactly a new concept, but it’s a lot of fun!

5 Things To Consider If You Want To Become A Stay At Home Mom

Consider THIS before you become a stay at home mom!

Are you considering becoming a stay at home mom? Maybe you are currently pregnant and you are trying to decide if being a stay at home mom is right for you. Or maybe you are currently a working mom who desperately wants to spend more time with your children? Either way, here are 5 things you MUST consider before you make the decision to become a stay at home mom.

 

We made the decision for me to be a (mainly) stay at home mom pretty easily. Both of our mothers stayed home with us when we were younger and we really felt like we benefited from that. We were aware it would require some sacrifice, but the sacrifices were worth it to us.

Plus daycare is SO expensive.

Staying at home full time is not for everyone. Some people simply can’t afford it and others simply don’t want to. That’s fine. But if you feel in your heart that you would like to stay home and just aren’t sure if you can swing it, here are some points to ponder:

Like I said, daycare is expensive.

How much are you really taking home after you factor in daycare, gas to and from work, clothing for work, work lunches, etc? I had a friend one time sit down and calculate all of that and realized her take home pay PER MONTH was only $150.

Related: 5 Simple Tips To Create Wiggle Room In Your Budget

They made the decision to cut out cable and just like that she was able to stay home with pretty much no impact on their income. The kicker is, that about 2  months in, they realized that there were so many more work related expenses they hadn’t factored in and they actually had more of an income with her staying home.

They didn’t even need to turn off their cable or sacrifice anything.

When you sit down and write down ALL of the costs related to working and having your children in childcare (include those $5 pitched in for birthday parties, baby showers, coworkers getting married etc), you might find that you really aren’t coming out that far ahead.

Maybe you calculate all of that and you realize that your income…no matter how much it is, is absolutely necessary with the way your current expenses stand.

Get creative. Do you need two cars?

Trust me, we prefer having 2 cars. We went several months last year as a one car family and there were times (specifically when I was needing to make dr appointments for the kids) that I thought I’d go crazy.

But maybe you live in a more walking friendly area than we do. Everyone has some fat in their budget. Maybe your food and household budget is what is eating at your income.

If so I encourage  you to read my posting on how to shop smarter. I’ve cut our grocery and household bill in half and it’s still going down currently.

With some strategic shopping, you might just negate the use for your income in that area alone!

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

I work a part time job during the school year. To be quite honest, it doesn’t bring in much income, but I get to take the kids with me. I work at a local church Mother’s Day Out.

It’s two days a week, my kids get to go for half price and we all get out of the house for some socialization. Maybe you can work part time for your current employer, or freelance in your field.

Everyone has a marketable talent, even if you think you don’t.

If you sew or craft, set up an Etsy shop or an Ebay store. Maybe you are really computer savvy, make up some business cards and hand them out to friends and family so if they know someone having computer problems, you can help them out.

Related: How To Earn Money From Home

Start up some childcare in  your home.

You get to stay home and make an income from the comfort of your own home.  (be sure to check the laws for your state on how to set up an at home daycare) Plus you get to help other moms!

Finally…

Think long and hard before you quit your job to stay home. Depending on your field, you might set yourself back in your career a number of years if you leave.

Also, staying home is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not even for me! The Mother’s Day Out program I work at is a MUCH needed break for me. During the summer, I go a bit stir crazy!

I truly admire stay at home mom’s that do not have an outside job or who never get a break AND do it all with a smile on their face. I personally could not do that.

If you truly have the desire to stay home with your children, really sit down and evaluate these things. You don’t want to look back and realize you could have done it and you didn’t. You don’t get those early years with your kids back.

And remember, it’s all temporary. In the grand scheme of life, how long are our kids  young?

You might have to give up something now, but it’s not forever.

Fun and Easy Make Your Own Play Dough Recipe

Make Your Own Play Dough Recipe

Check out this fun and easy make your own play dough recipe for kids! Slime is all the rage nowadays, but kids still love Play Dough! Mom will love this non crumbly, made from ingredients you already have on hand, non stinky play dough recipe! Hurry and make this play dough with your kids. It is an awesome sensory activity no matter what your age!

I detest the smell of Play Doh. I remember disliking it even when I was a little girl and I loved playing with it myself.

When I was newly pregnant with my daughter, I almost had to leave working in the church nursery because the kids were playing with play doh and the smell just overwhelmed me.

Not to mention…it’s crumbly, it sticks to your carpet, it goes dry very easily, it can be expensive (although if you are in the market for the real deal…this is a GREAT price right now!)!

The early childhood educator in me knows that there are many benefits to the creative play that play dough offers:

Play dough (and other art materials)

Any early childhood educator will tell you: The benefits of play dough are enormous. Not only does it give children a chance to get creative, it’s also great for small-motor-skills’ development (hand/finger muscles) and can be soothing in times of stress (think of the corporate executive’s squeeze ball)

So I was on the hunt for a make your own play dough recipe that wasn’t crumbly, was easy for my kids little hands to manipulate, and was low cost.

Related: Make Your Own Paint Recipe! Homemade Doodle Paint

I tried many different recipes. Some were rock hard, some started to go bad after only a day or two, and some required ingredients I don’t typically have on hand.I stumbled upon this recipe, and with some slight tweaks, it’s the best one I’ve found yet.

The consistency of the play dough is more soft and pliable than commercial play doh and it’s very easy for little hands to manipulate. It lasts a LONG time too.

Related: Fully Stock Your Arts & Crafts Closet On A Budget! 

Make Your Own Play Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • food coloring

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients (add food coloring last)*.
  2. Stir over medium heat until smooth.
  3. Remove from pan, let cool slightly, and knead until blended and smooth.
  4. Store in a plastic bag or airtight container when cooled.

 

*I added food coloring during the kneading process. I also found the dough was way too sticky while kneading and added a good bit of flour until I got the consistency I wanted.
You don’t need fancy toys to play with play dough, cookie cutters, plastic knives work fine (age appropriate of course).
However, you might check out this fun play dough accessory kit. It is very well priced and will last forever!

Works-for-Me Wednesday: How we keep our marriage strong

I first met my husband in December 2003. I was at a party, and I was not having a good time. In walked this cute guy with bright blue eyes and a baseball cap with his friend. My mood immediately lifted. We flirted back and forth for a bit and I remember thinking, I bet he has a girlfriend. He’s too cute/funny to not have a girlfriend.

I had heard of him before, we worked together at a large customer service center for a vehicle finance company, but I hadn’t seen him.

We had a mutual friend though, and after that first meeting, she started to invite him with us when we would go out. She would tease me about him alot, but I was convinced he wouldn’t be into me.

One night we all went out as a group and I noticed my friend was dancing around him. I remember feeling incredibly jealous, but noticed that he was staring at me the whole time.

That was the night we had our first kiss.

We started dating, kind of off and on (my fault, I was fickle!). After the last time I broke things off with him, he seemed to get the message and started distancing himself from me. I guess  it took having him out of my life to realize I simply could not live without him.

I told him how I felt (after several passive aggressive attempts to get him to make the first move), and we’ve been together ever since.

We dated a year, were engaged a year and got married at a beautiful resort in Jamaica in a gazebo on  a cliff overlooking the Caribbean :

We knew from very early on that we wanted to have children. So a bit over a year after our wedding, we had our first child Noah. When Noah was 14 months old we got pregnant with our daughter Elizabeth.

We’ve been married almost 4 1/2 years now, and are just as in love (probably more!) as the day we got married. We are the best of friends and we very naturally fell into a rhythm as parents. We rarely fight, and when we do, we’re over it pretty much right away. Being married to my husband is never hard. We’re not perfect, but we respect each other, we are not selfish with our time or our affection for each other, and we parent as  a team.

We accept each others shortcomings and we rarely ever nag on each other. When my husband comes home after a long day of work, he doesn’t survey the house and judge me on it’s cleanliness (we’d be in trouble!), instead he sees his happy kids and his happy wife and joins right in. I overflow with pride over what my husband has accomplished professionally and I praise him for his accomplishments. Our life is never a competition. Between each other, or with others.

I feel very strongly for a marriage to work you MUST respect each other. You MUST not hold a record of your grievances. You MUST compromise and meet each other halfway when you differ in opinion. You MUST put each other and your family at the top of your priority list (we abide by 1.God 2. Spouse 3. Children…in that order always). Most of all though, you MUST communicate.

These are the things that work to make our marriage solid and progressive.

You might wonder where this fits in on the topic of Family Friendly Frugality. It’s not going to save you money and it doesn’t come with a coupon. A solid marriage and a happy family doesn’t have a price tag attached. And of course families come in all shapes and forms. My goal of this blog isn’t just to save you money, I desire much more than that. I want you to leave my blog feeling inspired. Inspired to strive to be happy in all areas of your life, to be frugal, and to be creative!

Money Saving Monday

So if you’ve been reading, you know I recently scored about a months worth of meat and my freezer is jam packed! How did I get all of this meat? And how will I stretch it out over a month? It requires some planning and some creativity, but I can help you get the most out of your meat.

Tip #1
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again…when the price is low buy plenty and freeze it.You might wonder what a good price is for meat? It really depends on your area. Here I can get chicken thighs and drumsticks for $.77 a lb at rock bottom, but that’s rare. I generally stock up at $.99.
Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts bottom out around $1.88
90/10 Ground beef around $2.99 a lb
I try never to pay over $4 a lb for steaks and $.97 a lb for ribs.
Sometimes the sale is only on the meat sold in value packs. When you get it home, divide it into meal size portions and place in freezer bags. Be sure to get all of the air out of the bag and freeze it as flat as you can to maximize your space.

Tip #2
Make the meat a smaller part of the meal! Let the veggie or the carb be the star. Make a pizza piled with veggies and cheese and just a bit of meat. Make a casserole packed with pasta and veggies and half the ground beef you’d normally use. Bulk out a chili or a soup with beans.
When you put the focus on another food group, the meat isn’t missed as much.


Tip #3
Buy a whole chicken. I can get these for rock bottom price $.77 a lb but usually around $.99 a  pound.
Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken and add salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and roast at 350 in the oven for about 1 hr 45 minutes.
Take it out and let it cool a bit. Now pull off all of the chicken. Shred some of it and dice some of it. Put the chicken into individual meal sized baggies. You can freeze this so anytime you need cooked chicken to add to a meal, you can just pull it out and quickly thaw it in some warm water.
Now take what is left of the whole chicken and put it in a big pot with some water, salt and pepper, carrots/onions/celery (optional), and whatever seasonings you enjoy. Let it simmer for a few hours and really cook down. Now you have chicken broth! I divide this into 1 cup portions and pour it into sandwich bags. I lay the bags flat when I freeze them. Now anytime a recipe calls for a cup of chicken broth, I have homemade broth ready to go!
You can stretch one small chicken into several meals this way!

Tip #4
Have a no meat night each week. We don’t HAVE to have meat for dinner every night. There are other sources of protein! Some ideas:

  • breakfast for dinner. Eggs and pancakes, french toast and fruit, etc
  • make beans or legumes the star. Chili, vegetarian tacos, etc
  • Veggie plate night! You know how restaurants have veggie plates where you can order 3 or 4 veggies? Do this at home. Make 3 or 4 yummy veggie sides and you won’t miss the meat at all!

I hope you have learned some money saving ideas today! Do you have any tips on how to stretch your meat out? Let me know! I’m always looking for new money savings ideas!
Happy Shopping!

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