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SQUASH YOUR HUNGER BY GROWING GOURDS
AFTER THE PUMPKIN
e l l i u o t a t a R n u j Ca uash Stuffed Sq
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Fall is here, but thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an icy breeze on the horizon. Winter 06 SQUASH YOUR is coming. Are HUNGER BY you prepared? GROWING GOURDS
TRASH TO TREASURE REUPHOLSTERING FOR A NEW LOOK
CAJUN RATATOUILLE STUFFED SQUASH BOWL FOOTBALL FEASTIVAL
OUTDOOR GYM BUILD YOUR OWN FIT TRAIL
HOW TO UTILIZE MICROCLIMATES
AFTER THE FALL PRACTICAL PUMPKIN DISPOSAL
26 CUISINART SMART
STICK TWO SPEED HAND BLENDER Pressing one button detaches the stainless steel blending shaft from the 200-watt motor for easy dishwashing, or leave the machine intact and pulse in a bowl of soapy water.
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SPICY CHICKEN & WHITE BEAN SOUP
SMELLS SELL SLOW COOKER POTPOURRI
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LETTER from the Editor Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you have to put away your green thumb. Whether you’re sowing seeds of personal growth, home improvement or ensuring a healthy garden come spring, you can work toward your goals in any season. In this issue of Home/Garden Decorator, you’ll learn how to upcycle old furniture, grow squash, utilize microclimates, save money this winter and more. Here at Home/Garden Decorator, we know that a house isn’t a home until you make it yours. We hope you enjoy our home decorating tips. And remember, it’s never too late to get your home and yard in good shape for the winter!
Executive Publishers Greg and Suzanne Fox Jumpstart Publishing, LLC Managing Editor Suzanne Polk Fox Editor Liz McGehee Contributing Writers Tami Charbonnet Patricia Danflous Michele Robert Poche Anja Springthorpe Creative Director Dianne Waller Art Director Jennifer Caballero Design Tra Pham Web Neal Boyd Photography Richard Vallon
Best, Liz McGehee
Home Garden Decorator is a quarterly magazine that is a resource for readers in our community for home decor inspiration, creative DIY projects, gardening tips, home selling tips, product reviews and much more. From gardening to real estate, this magazine has something for everyone!
FOOTBALL FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY BY
ORLEANS IMAGE CONSULTING
COMPLETE GUIDE TO
BY ANJA SPRINGTHORPE
Have you ever thought about growing pumpkins or fresh zucchini but feel hesitant? Fear not â&#x20AC;&#x201C; squash is easier to grow than you think! Before starting to grow your own squash, decide whether you prefer summer squash or winter squash. Summer squash, like zucchini and yellow squash, have soft, edible skins that are harvested during the summer months, while winter squash requires a longer growth period. These varieties, which are harvested during the fall, have hard, thick skins â&#x20AC;&#x201C; think acorn squash and pumpkins.
WHICHEVER TYPE YOU DECIDE ON, SQUASH IS RELATIVELY EASY TO GROW IF YOU FOLLOW SIMPLE STEPS:
Seeding: Squash seedlings are susceptible to cold conditions. Preferably, you want to start seedlings indoors 2-4 weeks prior to planting. When moving outdoors, use bio compostable peat pots as they do not disturb the fragile roots. Alternatively, seeds can be planted directly into the ground.
Planting. After the last frost, plant summer squash seedlings
into moist, well-drained soil. Squash requires full sun exposure for optimal growth. Winter squash can be planted later in the summer depending on the variety. Some gardeners plant two rounds of squash during spring/summer for the maximum harvest. See your local garden center for guidance on the best squash variety and climate.
Spacing. If your plant is a vine or bush variety, ensure that there is enough space between each plant. As a rule of thumb, vine squash should be placed 8-10 feet apart and 1-inch deep. Bush varieties require around 3 feet of space.
Watering and maintenance Squash need thorough watering at least every other day. Once squash plants are established, cover the surrounding soil with mulch to protect the roots and keep weeds
away. Fertilizing is an important part of caring for squash plants. After the first bloom, fertilize every 4-5 weeks.
Harvesting. Summer varieties grow fast. Be ready to harvest every 3-4 days. Smaller, tender summer squash tend to have the best taste and texture. Winter squash is ripe when the color deepens or the skin resists puncture from fingernails. Do not pluck squash off of the vine. Leave a little vine attached to stem to avoid breaking the skin with the help of pruning shears.
Storing harvest. Summer squash can be stored up to 10 days in the fridge, while winter squash can last between 2-3 months if stored in a cool, dark and well-ventilated rooms.
Growing your own squash is easy, rewarding and puts fresh nutritious food on your plate.
AD Autumn 2017
CAJUN RATATOUILLE STUFFED SQUASH BOWL BY SUZANNE FOX This recipe is a combination of a French Provencal ratatouille and a Cajun stuffed bell pepper (minus the bell pepper)
INGREDIENTS • S mall to medium round winter squash or pumpkin for each guest • 2 cups cubed yellow squash • 2 cups cubed zucchini squash • 2 cups cubed chicken breast pieces • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (can substitute canned) • 1 cup mixture of diced onion, bell pepper and celery • 1 cup sliced smoked sausage • 1 jar marinara sauce • 1 bunch fresh basil chopped • 4 tbsp herbs de provence • fresh grated parmesan cheese • 1/4 cup olive oil DIRECTIONS Place squash on a baking sheet and cook at 350 F for 40 minutes or until squash is soft enough to carve.
Once cooled, scoop out inside t o create enough space for a large serving. Set aside. In a heavy Dutch oven, heat olive oil and sauté onion mixture until clear. Sprinkle salt and pepper and 2 tbsp of herbs de provence over chicken and toss. Add to pot along with sausage and cook until chicken is almost done. Approx. 20 minutes. Add chopped vegetables and sauté another 10 minutes. Add jar of marinara, the balance of the herbs de provence and the basil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Spoon into squash bowl. Top with grated parmesan cheese. Put in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or long enough to melt the cheese and heat the bowl.
BUILD YOUR OWN FIT TRAIL BY ANJA SPRINGTHORPE
e all understand that keeping active is an important part of life, supporting health and longevity. But not everyone likes grinding out workouts in the gym or paying expensive membership fees at health clubs. The solution may literally lay at our door steps. An increasing number of people recognize that gardens are an ideal spot for exercise. Being outdoors in combination with ease of accessibility – no drive to the gym – makes a private “mini” fit trail a great choice for workouts. Fit trails started to appear in public parks during the 1960s. Aimed to improve good health, these trails included different stations facilitating exercises for the lower body, upper body, balance and coordination. A garden fit trail can achieve exactly the same. There are many options to purchase a wide range of fit trail equipment. Whilst such products are specifically
Two to three highly-usable stations provide opportunity for a wide variety of exercises: EXERCISE BAR
Pull-ups, chin ups, leg raises, the bar lets you exercise upper body and core muscles. An exercise bar with adjustable heights allows for even more exercise options. Kids have fun too, developing strength and coordination.
Similar to benches in gyms, fit trail benches provide the basis for endless exercises, targeting all areas of the body. Decline pushups, triceps dips or single leg dips are just a few examples.
These are not just a great idea for children to practice balance, but an essential part of any fit trail design. Lunges, squats and a variety of core exercises can be completed on a balance beam.
designed for outdoor use and look professional, these can be expensive. Prices for a pull up bar alone range from $300 to $700. A good alternative is a DIY fit trail. Doing it yourself will not only save money, but will result in a fit trail that looks less like playground equipment and more part of your garden. Most of us already have a bench somewhere in the yard which is a great start. Adding one or two DIY stations, plus a spot for a rubber mat to do plank exercises and stretches, delivers all you need for that full body workout. The internet offers many great tutorials how to build a customized fit trail in line with your budget or exercise needs. Ask friends to help you build the trail. Pay them with free time in your outdoor gym for a fun reason to get everybody into the spirit of outdoor workouts.
Adding one or two DIY stations, plus a spot for a rubber mat to do plank exercises and stretches, delivers all you need for that full body workout. 10
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5 WAYS TO
Save $ this Winter BY LIZ MCGEHEE There are a million ways to make your home energy efficient for the winter, and now is the time to start.
Fall is here, but there’s an icy breeze on the horizon. Winter is coming. Are you prepared? 12
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Insulate and replace worn sealant. You’ve probably got a good idea of which rooms have poor insulation in your home by now. Rooms with large windows and doors leading outside are typically the primary culprits. To address this, you should tape clear plastic wrap on the inside of windows to prevent heat loss. An alternative to this is a heavy set of drapes. Consider replacing weathered seals around doors and windows too. You can also seal heating and cooling ducts. While you’re at it, check for disconnected ductwork and duct leaks.
Change your air filter. This should be done every three months regardless of the season. Dirty filters make your central heat (and AC) work much harder.
Turn your water heater down to 120 F. Unless you want to get burned by your faucet and your energy company, turn the temperature down. Also, if you use the hot or warm water setting to wash clothes, consider switching it to cold.
Invest in a smart thermostat. Use technology to your advantage and install a smart thermostat. These automatically cut off the heat while you’re gone and save you money. Some of the pricier models actually learn your schedule and can be adjusted from anywhere through smartphone apps.
Get your central heat cleaned. This is something you should do every couple of years. The last thing you want mid-winter is to be stuck in an icebox for days waiting for someone to come out and fix the heat. Don’t let it get to that point. Hire someone to give your heating a tune-up.
TRASH E R U S A E TO TR
REUPHOLSTERING FOR A NEW LOOK BY ANJA SPRINGTHORPE
hile I would describe myself at being relatively skilled at restoring furniture, I’ve always hesitated at the thought of doing an upholstery project. As it turns out, my worries about reupholstering have been unnecessary. Ever since we moved in to our current home, it’s been an endless stream of DIY projects for me and my husband. But one thing in particular stood out as the rest of the house progressed – an old storage bench located under a window in the dining room. The leather was disintegrating, the wood covered in stains and scratches. Finally, I had to try my hand at replacing fabric. After consulting the internet and watching what felt like thousands of YouTube videos, I finally decided on the fabric, purchased a good quality staple gun and began my project. By carefully taking off the old leather, I could inspect how it was stapled and tucked. All I had to do then was copy this using the new fabric. After sanding, painting and varnishing the bench, I set to reupholstering. Taking a deep breath, I carefully began
stapling the fabric over new upholstery foam that was glued into place. I would advise recruiting someone to help stretch the fabric and hold in place when stapling. The corners can be tricky, but a bit of practice will accomplish great results. The fun part is deciding how to dress, or rather hide, the staples. More often than not, I chose pins. I love the look of hammered golden pins, but piping and fabric trims are available in many different designs and colors. Before you plan reupholstering your three-seater sofa, practice on easy upholstery projects, like barstools, kitchen chairs or ottomans. Craft stores stock all the required tools and provide expert guidance when choosing the right type of fabric for your project. The best part of reupholstering is the money I saved. Fabric and foam are inexpensive but help create unique pieces that complement my home perfectly. Guests frequently compliment our newly-treasured storage bench, which has since become a coveted reading sanctuary in the house. The natural light and window view provide the perfect escape, which goes to show – one man’s trash is another man’s gold.
I would advise recruiting someone to help stretch the fabric and hold in place when stapling. The corners can be tricky, but a bit of practice will accomplish great results. 14
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FOOT BALL FE AST IVAL
BY SUZANNE FOX
ootball season is here, and with it comes tailgate parties, feel-good food and a time for families and friends to get together and cheer on their favorite team. Whether you are hosting a party for a high school team or this year’s Super Bowl, this Football Festival is going to be a hit! Easy-to-make projects and football-themed foods allow you to put this party together in a snap. Start the scene with artificial turf, which is available at your nearest home store. Create yard lines on your “field” using white duct tape. The tape is easy
to work with, plus, it’s temporary if you decide to alternate settings with soccer or baseball later on. Add a personal touch to the scene by hand-painting props in your team colors. We did this by pairing our blue-and-yellow decorative stars with black-and-white referee colors as seen on our concession stand and billboard. Next, place your props strategically in front of your homemade goal posts. If you want to break up the school colors, simply add a neutral color centerpiece to the midle of the table. We did this with our easyto-make, silver Lombardi Trophy.
With all of the toppings you can imagine, easy buffet-style chili fritos entice young and old fans alike. Transform these simple ingredients into a novelty by serving them right in the bag, concession-stand style. There’s no need for the same old chips and dip at this party. Quick Mini Chicken Tacos and Football Quesadillas’ put the fun back in finger food! Lastly, for dessert we created chocolate-covered Football Strawberries and Semi-Homemade Stadium Crowd-Pleaser Cookies and Brownies. Find the chili recipe for the chili fritos at HGDecorator. com. Serve the toppings in hand painted, football-themed mason jars or buckets in your favorite team colors. Try a recipe or one of our projects to create a fun tailgate party this fall. If you have a project idea you want to share with our readers, send pictures and instructions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MINI CHICKEN TACOS • 3 boneless chicken breasts • 1 pack mini corn tortillas, soft if mini corn tortillas are unavailable, buy regular size and cut with a cookie cutter
BAKED BLACK BEAN AND CHEESE FOOTBALLS • crescent rolls, canned
• 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed • cheese (whatever you like)
DIRECTIONS: Use a football cookie cutter (if you don’t have one, bend a round cookie cutter on each end into a point) Place a mound of beans and cheese on half of the football cut-outs. Place the other rest of the dough cutouts on top of the footballs with cheese. Use a fork to press the sides down to keep the cheese from oozing out. Use pieces of shredded cheese to create the laces. Get creative with your fillers. Add jalapeños, vegetables, or any type of meat. Younger crowds usually prefer the plain cheese.
• 1 box chicken stock • 1 pack taco mix • 1 lb shredded mexican or cheddar cheese • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
DIRECTIONS: Place the boneless chicken breasts in a pot with the chicken stock and envelope of taco mix. Boil until chicken is tender and shreds easily. Remove chicken from pot and chop or shred. Add cornstarch to broth, one tablespoon at a time until the sauce is thick enough to coat chicken. (mix cornstarch with a little tap water to dissolve, then place in broth or it will clump). Return the shredded chicken to the pot and toss until chicken is well coated. Spoon into center of tortilla round and top with cheese. Fold over into tacos. Press down gently to keep from breaking. Heat in oven until cheese melts.
locate the yard areas he that receive t most sunlight throughout the day
HOW TO UTILIZE
Microclimates BY LIZ MCGEHEE
You’re standing in your backyard under the scorching sun when you decide to walk under a nearby tree. Why? Because it’s cooler there of course. This change in temperature, lighting and other factors provided by the shade of the tree are a prime example of microclimates.
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ou can work with your established microclimate, or you can tweak it here and there to create the home landscape of your dreams. Either way, it will take some planning. Microclimates occur naturally, and it’s important to know how these differ from the predicted USDA Planting Zones before
planting new garden florae. If your backyard is populated with trees, it’s likely that the temperature will be lower than the surrounding areas. If you live next to a lake, own a pool, pond or fountain, the humidity and sun-reflection will be higher as well. Elevation changes in your yard can even create noticeable temperature differences. Don’t be afraid to ob-
serve a bit before taking action. Before you begin building flowerbeds, locate the yard areas that receive the most sunlight throughout the day. The last thing you want is to go through the effort of building a bed and planting new verdure only to watch your plants die in a matter of weeks. That’s about the time you’ll notice a patch just to the left of the bed that would have been a much better choice. If you had a vision or Pinterest board of your ideal garden, what would it look like? Write down the types of plants you feel drawn to and do some research. If you want to grow a nonnative plant or fruit that does well in tropical climates, consider natural heat sources and lighting. Planting near the house or garage or placing heat-absorbing rocks and boulders nearby will help. Think about whether or not your desired plants can withstand the exposure to naturally occurring elements, such as wind, humidity, snow, aridity and unpredictable temperatures. If you still have trouble deciding the best approach to your particular microclimate, there’s no shame in calling in the experts. Professional landscapers will be able to tell you if your dreams are realistic and help you come up with creative, sustainable alternatives.
AFTER THE PUMPKIN BY PATRICIA F. DANFLOUS
patch of brightly colored pumpkins in a variety of shapes and sizes scattered in gardens, on porches and on balconies may be the best way to celebrate – and decorate – for fall. But what do you do with those pumpkins when the winter winds start signaling it’s time for a change? You might be able to dress up the Halloween Jack-olantern to look like a turkey and extend its life just a little longer. But let’s face it, just like any fruit, there is only so long you can maintain a pumpkin before you find that it becomes a rotten mess. The right way to discard pumpkins may turn out to be just as much fun as carving a spooky Halloween face or decorating your home and garden, however. Before you head to the trash bin with your gourds, try these suggestions: • Roast the seeds. If you haven’t removed the seeds from your pumpkin yet, don’t wait another minute. Pumpkin seeds are healthy and goodtasting snacks. Rinse the seeds thoroughly, season with salt and/or olive oil and pop them in the oven for about a half an hour at 300 to 350 degrees. • Puree the fruit. If your pumpkin has not been carved as a jack-o-lantern, cut it up, steam it to soften up the fruit, and use a food processor to make pumpkin puree for baking. • Enjoy a pumpkin beauty day. Filled with vitamins and antioxidants, pumpkin puree is an excellent foundation for a facial. Experiment
with the mixture, using a ratio of one-fourth fourth cup of puree to one egg. Add honey, oatmeal, or almonds, for example, and smooth the well-stirred mixture onto your skin as a mask for a refreshing look. • Give it to your backyard friends. Cut the pumpkin in half or quarters for birds and squirrels. • Head to the compost pile. Cut up your pumpkin, or not, but adding it to your compost heap will guarantee a richer fertilizer in just a few weeks. If you are looking to start composting but haven’t gotten around to it, start with a pumpkin.
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Spicy Chicken & White Bean Soup BY MICHELE ROBERT POCHE
Next time the gang comes over, treat them to an old favorite and something a little different … all at the same time. The recipe yields 8 large bowls (or 12 smaller ones) and is best served alongside warm cheddar biscuits or cornbread. Touchdown!
INGREDIENTS • 8 cups chicken broth • 2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces • 3 15-oz. cans white beans (Cannellini or Great Northern recommended), rinsed and drained • 3 medium zucchini, diced • 3 onions, chopped fine • 1½ tbsp. cumin powder
• 3 garlic cloves, minced • 1½ tsp. chili powder • 1½ cups corn kernels, frozen or canned • salt and pepper to taste • 1 cup sour cream • 1½ cup cheese (cheddar or colby jack), shredded • ½ cup cilantro, chopped fine
DIRECTIONS Mix broth, chicken, beans, zucchini, onions, cumin powder, garlic and chili powder in slow cooker. Cover and heat on high until chicken is thoroughly cooked, approximately four hours. Add corn and cook an additional ten minutes until evenly heated. Ladle into bowls, season lightly with salt and pepper and top with dollop of sour cream, cheese and cilantro.
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Cheesy Cornbread INGREDIENTS • 1½ cups cornmeal • ¾ cup flour • 1 tbsp. baking powder • ½ tsp. salt • 1 egg • 1 cup milk • 6 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded
DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 425. Blend cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg and milk. Pour half of batter into greased bread pan (or preheated, oiled cast iron skillet). Sprinkle cheese on top to create an even layer then cover with remaining batter. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. Serve with butter and honey.
CUISINART SMART STICK TWO SPEED HAND BLENDER BY MICHELE ROBERT POCHE Q: What do soup, sauce, pesto, salsa, dip, coulis and condiments have in common? A: They can all be made with an immersion blender. I’m a big soup maker. Squash, Potato, Cauliflower … I love them all. But the dishwashing that comes with the job is enough to keep my soup-making activities to a minimum. So I began researching appliances and decided on the Cuisinart Smart Stick Two-Speed Hand Blender. With one of the highest Amazon ratings, the Cuisinart was available for $34.95,
putting it at the lower end of the price range. The day it arrived, I got to work immediately by boiling an entire head of cauliflower until soft. At this point, I usually need to chop and transfer everything to a processor/blender and add liquid to puree it. But not on this day. I drained the water and inserted the blender into the pot. To operate it, two buttons must be pressed simultaneously, easily accomplished with one hand. I employed more of a pumping motion rather than mixing (as with hand
Cuisinart Smart Stick Two-Speed Hand Blender.
mixers). The vegetable was no match for the Cuisinart and (bonus!) there was no need to alter the recipe with added liquids. And clean up? Simple. Pressing one button detaches the stainless steel blending shaft from the 200-watt motor for easy dishwashing, or leave the machine intact and pulse in a bowl of soapy water. Multi-purpose, space-friendly and uncomplicated … I plan to immerse my household in this new blender. (Yes. I said it.)
N I K P P UMPUREE SMOOTHIE
INGREDIENTS • 1 frozen banana • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt • 2 tsp pumpkin spice pie • 1/3 cup vanilla almond mik DIRECTIONS Put banana, pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, ice cubes and vanilla almond milk in an electric blender/mixer or NutriBullet. Combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass (or 2 small glasses). Add whipped cream and grind cinnamon on top, if desired.
SMELLS SELL Slow Cooker Cobbler PEAR COBBLER WITH OATS
Yield: 8 servings Prep time: 20 mins Total time: 4h
BY PATRICIA DANFLOUS
ome odors can cost you more than you think. According to ABC News, “Buyers don’t want to detect by smell what your favorite foods are and what kinds of pets you have.” While this news is common sense, you never really know what prospective buyers will pick up on. You don’t have to be a smoker, a pet owner or a frequent cooker to subconsciously turn people off before they’ve even had a chance to look around. Kill two birds with one stone this fall, and make edible, slow cooker potpourri disguised as cobbler. Visitors will instantly feel drawn in by
the sweet, cinnamon smell, all before walking through the door. Even if you’re not expecting a realtor to burst through the door with strangers, your friends and family will still appreciate this delicious scent. Not to mention, this delectable dessert is perfect for fall when the pears are perfectly ripe and delicious. Slow cookers add an undeniable depth of flavor that will have you and your house come up smelling like roses. If you’re in a hurry, this easy, low-maintenance dish is ideal. Just prepare in the evening and wake up to the perfect breakfast treat. Voila!
INGREDIENTS • 7 cups cubed pear (1 inch), peeled and cored • 1 cup cubed tart-apple (1 inch), peeled and cored • 1 tsp ground cinnamon • ¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg • 2 tsp vanilla • 1 pinch of salt • 1 cup brown sugar • 1 ½ cups rolled oats • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour • 1 cup milk • 1 egg • 1 stick butter, softened plus extra for greasing • 1 cup dried cranberries • ½ cup sliced almonds DIRECTIONS Grease the bottom and sides of a 6-quart slow cooker with butter. Combine pears, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Spread fruit evenly into slow cooker. Combine the next six ingredients and mix until crumbly. Add a little milk if mix is too dry or add oats if mix is too sloppy. Sprinkle the mix evenly over fruit. Sprinkle cranberries and almonds over mixture. Cover slow cooker. Cook for 6-7h on LOW or 3-4h on HIGH. To get a crisp topping, leave the slow cooker lid slightly ajar for the last 1h to release steam and moisture. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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