Sunday, December 26, 2010

A gift for Brother

Could not resist these bread slice shaped coasters I found at a thrift store. I cut out some photos of my children and affixed them inside. Voila! Picture frames for my brother. Hope you all had a very joyful Christmas. It was simply magical here in the south...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Travels in RAW: take 1-- Falafel Patties

Before I take on my New Years Resolution in full swing, I figured a trial run was in order. I am using the book RAW as a reference and decided to try out the Falafel Patties given inside.

First you are to sprout some chickpeas. I loved the happy little tails that started showing the next day.

Then you pulse those and a bunch of other goodies, like onion, garlic, and cilantro in your food processor.

After a bit, it looks like this.

You then shape patties and dehydrate them at 90 degrees for about 8 hours. Your house will smell of cumin and onion. This is a good thing.

They are lovely when they are done. Speckled with green, crispy on the outside, and moist in the center. They have a nice "bite" from the onion and cilantro, but the chickpeas give it a nice mellowness in the end.

I ate mine on a bed of greens, with some homemade RAW cheese (with a touch of chili paste--cheating...i know), some chopped dates, a cucumber slice or two, and grape tomatoes. Oat crackers and an orange are great compliments.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Interviews with Children: Cohen

Name: Cohen Joshua

Age: 3

What do you want to be when you grow up? a heffalump or a bridge builder

If you could be any animal, which one would you be? giraffe

Why is the sky blue? Because it helps the moon go up.

If you could be any movie character, which one would you be? Piglet

Favorite word? apple

What is your favorite book? *points to all the books*

If you could have a super power, which one would you choose? Superman

What is your favorite food: apple

If you discovered something AMAZING on Neptune, what would it be? Superman will throw in the sky and throw him down on the snow.

What is your favorite school subject? color pages

If you could have any talent, what would you want the most? To read books.

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask yourself?
How do you...? I don't know. I can't talk.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Goodies Basket for Christmas

*spoiler for any member of the RHE Co-Op...

Traditional fare... and not so much. For the ladies and children at our Homeschool Co-Op.

Pumpkin bread slices, itty bitty banana chocolate chip bread loaves, peppermint bark, and
sunflower seeds (remember these?) all tied up with red yarn. Also (not shown), a whole tin filled with chocolate peanut butter fudgle.
fudgle: (fuh-j-l) n. a rich substance, somewhat like fudge and somewhat like a truffle...except not so rich.

Merry, Merry Christmas.

Interviews with Children: Keaton

Name: Keaton William Jackson

Age: 6

Favorite color: Probably green

What do you want to be when you grow up? A builder

If you could be any animal, which would it be? Lion. No, a snake.

Why is the sky blue? Uhhh....because it makes His world beautiful...?

If you could be any movie character, which one would you be? Aragorn

Favorite word: God

Favorite book: Ottie and the Star

If you could have any super power, which one would you want? Just.....strong

Favorite Food: pizza

If you landed on Neptune and discovered something AMAZING, what would it be? An alien

Favorite school subject: Math

If you could have any talent, which would you wish for most? Building really well.

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask yourself?
How do you make legos?
You get something plastic and then you cook it down and it makes legos.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Interviews with Children: Ashton

Name: Ashton Ellison

Age: 9. Well, almost 10. 9 and 1/2

What is your favorite color? dark pink or almost white pink

What do you want to be when you grow up? a vet

If you could be an animal, what would you be
? a horse or a wolf

Why is the sky blue? I don't know. That's how God made it..?

If you could be any movie character, what/who would you be? Spirit

Favorite word: manipulate. I like to say it. ma-nip-u-late.

Favorite book: I have three. Moonlight Shadow, Spring of the Poacher's Moon, and When Someone Leaves

If you could have any super power, what would it be? being invisible and having a force field

Favorite food: french toast

If you were to land on Neptune, and discover something AMAZING, what would it be? A unicorn

Favorite school subject: Science and History

What talent would you love to have? being a famous trick rider or a singer

If you were conducting this interview? What question would you ask yourself?
If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?
A dragon. Or, a unicorn. No, a horse.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

the husband purchases a dehydrator for his wife

Dehydrator's first use:

If I had known that homemade raisins were this delicious, I would not have been wasting my money on the nasty, gummy imitators that you can get at the store. And, they are HUGE compared to their mass produced brothers. The flavor is deep and intense, and almost sun-dried tomato like. I am in love.

Friday, December 3, 2010


i like these little guys. birthday present to myself, actually.

nesting tea cups, starbucks, $9.95.

i especially like the one-handled sides. they snuggle very
nicely in the palm and are perfect for individual pot pies or a brew of hot chamomile tea. (i also tried french onion soup...sigh...forgot to take the was perfection, though).

buy them for someone you love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

new year eats

my new year resolution lists are usually very small and simple. last year, my list said, "be healthy(er). laugh more. cook breakfast."
i did OK.
this year, my list reads, "be a runner. wake up early(er). eat raw 2 times a week."

a visit to S.F., CA a few years back, yielded me an interest in the RAW movement. the place was called Cafe Gratitude and there i feasted on items given names such as: I am Insightful and I am Cheerful. really. it was revolutionary [to me].

this book (shown above) reads like a life guide. and the simplification of instruction, as in: chop. mix. munch. ......

i will break this poor book's spine by year end. mark. my. words.

one thing is for certain, though, this book betters you if you have a food dehydrator. which i have not. (note to persons in the action of gift giving: jami needs dehydrator with at least a 90 degree temp setting function).

the end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Holiday Season!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A soup for Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells

-- from John Keats poem, To Autumn

Autumn Bounty Soup, AKA Rock Your Socks Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (for the slow cooker)

2 medium sized butternut squash, unpeeled, halved, and seeds removed
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup apple cider (or more if you like it sweeter)
3-5 cups broth or water (use more for a soupy consistency and less for a thick consistency)
1/2 cup instant potato flakes (used as a thickener and not absolutely necessary if you have an aversion to such things)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
3 to 4 good shakes of tobasco sauce (omit or decrease if serving to children or the heat impaired)

(special equipment: blender, mesh sieve)

Preheat oven to 350. On a cookie sheet place a quarter onion and a garlic clove or two in each seed cavity of the butternut squash halves (see picture above). This is not a necessary step, I just enjoy the way it looks and I don't have to scrape crispy bits of onion and garlic from the bottom of the pan later. Drizzle all pieces with copious amounts of olive oil, or less if you choose to not wear this soup on your hips. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to your taste preferences. Roast until squash is very soft when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes.

Once cool to the touch, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, onions, and garlic away from the butternut squash skin and plop gracefully into a slow cooker. Try to not let any pieces of skin mingle with the flesh as this will leave unsavory bits of chewy matter in your finished product. Once you have removed all the roasted pieces, you can add the remaining ingredients. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set to low for about 4 hours. It is OK to have large scoops and pieces in your slow cooker as they will all be subjected to rigorous pureeing in the next step.

After 4 hours has passed you can now begin the process of pureeing. You need a large separate bowl and a mesh sieve set over the bowl ready to go. Some may find this a tedious thing and if you would like a more rustic and textured soup you may use an immersion blender to break up the big pieces and serve as is. I find a smooth as pumpkin pie consistency more palatable so I do put up with the extra step. In small batches, ladle the soup into a blender. Do not fill the blender more than a 3rd full or you will wear your soup to the dinner table. Pulse until you see nary a chunk and pour slowly through the sieve and into the bowl. Let drain while you begin your other batches. Repeat until all the soup has been pureed. Using a rubber spatula, squash down (pun intended) the soup leftover in the sieve, getting as much soup pressed into the bowl as possible. Discard any solids left over. Pour soup back into the slow cooker and give a quick taste test, adding more of any seasoning if you feel the need. Cook an additional hour.

When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with a dabble of cream, half and half, yogurt, or sour cream. A little chopped cilantro adds color and flavor. An extra splash of hot sauce is also devilishly satisfying. I served mine with a simple pear topped salad and toasted crusty bread with an ample wedge of melty cheese atop.

Yield: a lot
Should you have any remaining soup, it freezes well for up to 6 weeks.

Harry Turns One

A Very Hungry Caterpillar cupcake cake for Harry.

So very sweet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Breakfast on a Tuesday

the simplest of breakfasts.

this is also my refuge whilst in the midst of veganism during lent or after a night of culinary indulgence.

whole grain toast, light smear of dijon, and thinly sliced lady pink apple. paired here with green tea.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grilled Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Sandwich

I told you I would try to take a picture!

This sandwich is RICH. Pair with salty items or a nice big dill pickle (neither of which i had, so here i ate it along side some summer squash and green peppers, and some figs on romaine hearts with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese). This also makes a good afternoon snack for kiddos. Make as directed below, except cut into thin sticks and pair with a nice tall glass of milk. Your children will wear delightful chocolate joker grins and milky mustaches too cute for wiping.

Grilled Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Sandwich

2 slices whole grain bread
1-2 tablespoons peanut butter (i used creamy, but chunky would be just as tasty)
1/2 of a semi ripe banana, sliced (bright yellow with no brown spots--maybe even a little green on the tips--over ripe bananas make this sandwich a bit too rich)
10-12 semi-sweet chocolate chips
itsy bitsy pat of butter

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium high. Spread peanut butter on one slice. Top with sliced banana and evenly disperse chocolate chips. Cover with other slice of bread. Smear a teeny bit of butter on the outside of both slices and grill about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until outside is a nice golden color and chocolate chips have melted.
Eat immediately.

*for anyone that i have told my dieting woes: you will kindly disregard this post and nary mention it again

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Toasty Salad Sandwich

if i could devote an entire blog to just sandwiches...sigh........
well, you get the idea.

i have stated in the past that i am unequivocally in love with and adore sandwiches.

this, pictured at top, is my favorite sandwich that uses up leftover salad toppings. we usually have a "build your own salad night" at our house 2-3 times a month, and there are ALWAYS some toppings leftover.
my favorite way to use up said toppings is smushed between two exquisitely toasted bread slices. Salad toppings can vary and change the sandwich dramatically. Any salad theme would work (greek salad toppings, taco salad toppings, cobb salad, ceasar salad....)

Toasty Salad Sandwich
2 slices multi-grain or whole wheat bread (or, my fav, ezekial 4:9 bread)
sliced cheese (try munster, sharp cheddar, or pepperjack)
salad veggie toppings ; pictured above: summer squash, green pepper, roasted red pepper, apple chunks, thinly sliced pears. (also try: avocado, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms...your options are hardly limited)
sunflower seeds (or other small toppings like dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and crispy rice noodles)
regular or low fat cream cheese (or, better yet, goat cheese)
good quality dijon mustard

with sliced cheese on one piece, toast bread until lightly browned in a toaster oven. once removed, slather a frugal amount of cream cheese (or goat cheese if you have it) on the slice of bread without the cheese. spread mustard on the melted cheese side and sprinkle with sunflower seeds (this is to give the seeds something to adhere to or they will all topple out as you take bites). place veggies on the cream cheese side and top with the mustard and cheese slice of bread.

i am thinking grilled chocolate, banana, and peanut butter sandwich for tomorrow. if i don't immediately gobble up the sandwich, and can bear to take a picture before consumption, i will gladly post the recipe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marinated Grilled Tempeh in Pita with Sprouts, Tomatoes and Vegan Chili Spread

Tempeh is a mild tasting soybean product, with a slight nutty crunch and texture. Here it works perfectly grilled and snuggled inside a warmed pita.

Marinated Grilled Tempeh in Pita with Sprouts, Tomatoes and Vegan Chili Spread

1 package tempeh (try Lightlife Organic 3 grain)
1 pita

for marinade:
1 lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste
1 small clove garlic, minced
fresh ground pepper to taste
teeny splash of olive oil (you can omit for lower fat version)

sliced tomato
alfalfa sprouts

for Vegan Chili Spread:
Vegenaise (or regular organic mayonnaise)
Chili Sauce ( try Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce)

For marinated tempeh, zest and juice one lime and mix well with other ingredients. Slice Tempeh into thick strips and place in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over and let sit in refrigerator for 1-3 hours, turning occasionally. Heat grill (I used my indoor George Foreman grill) and cook until sear marks appear and tempeh is heated through. Keep warm.

For Vegan Chili Spread mix 2 tbs Vegenaise with 1/8 teaspoon Chili Sauce (or more if you like a lot of heat).

Warm pita bread (in the picture above I did not cut mine or open the pockets--I served it gyro style) and spread with a little bit of Vegan Chili Spread (you will have some spread left over to put on other sandwiches or smear on crackers or dip veggies in later). Top with cooked tempeh, sliced tomatoes, and sprouts (or you can add any of your favorite veggies). Makes about 3 pita-wiches.

I served mine with a fresh fruit salad and some homemade iced peppermint tea.

The What and Why

***links have been fixed. let me know if any other links don't work and i will get on it!!***

Many have asked what I am using this year for homeschooling, and I thought best to go ahead and just post all my "what and why".

Preschool (Cohen, my 3 yr old):
What: Rod and Staff ABC series and Toddler Activity Books, and a bazillion manipulatives (anticipate my ultimate Preschool post in a few days/weeks--it may even be a week long event!)

Why: Rod and Staff still ranks high on my list of fav publishers. Pros: a simple biblical approach, uncluttered and easy to follow teacher manuals, and are uber inexpensive. I have used their preschool books with my older two and loved them as did my children. Also try their Math, which is very simple to follow, and their Grammar which is, in my opinion, VERY thorough (will have to supplement with a writing curriculum). Cons: (for grades above Preschool) colorless, redundant at times, my children HATED the phonics, but were both reading by age 6, worked, but your children may hate it.

What: RightStart (level E) and BJU (grade 2, 3rd edition)

RightStart--I was sold on Rightstart from the moment I researched it. Pros: different and ingenious approach to teaching math concepts, uses hands on manipulatives and games, easy and short lessons. I only wish I had known about this sooner so I could have started it early on with my daughter, who really struggles with math. Cons: some of the lessons lack a little in organization, colorless and a teeny bit bland, price (most kits cost well above $150-- BUT once you buy the manipulatives and games, using it with your younger children will only cost between $9-$20), some days there is a lot of teacher prep.
BJU (3rd editions)-- BJU is my fallback in a lot subjects if I do not find what I am looking for after many tedious hours researching. Pros: flashy, lots of color, teacher manuals are organized VERY well with color and are spiral bound --which I prefer, thorough and slightly challenging without being overwhelming, my children loved the stories and workbooks. Cons: you need all the components sold online if you plan on teaching from the workbook as scripted, quite a few lessons are not homeschool convenient (lessons use a lot of "put 12 students in one line, and 4 students in another line" examples when teaching a concept).

Ashton-- The Chronicles of Narnia and Guide, Black Ships Before Troy and Guide, The Twenty-One Balloons and Guide, Prudence and the Millers and Guide, and Beorn the Proud.
Keaton-- Rod and Staff Reading grade 2,

Why: no real rhyme or reason for my choices for Ashton, except I thought she would like them and I liked them...and she needed some lessons in Prudence and the Millers. Keaton's is going to be Rod and Staff because their Reading is straight from the bible and he needed to build some biblical knowledge. And the R&S workbooks include vocabulary and phonetic skills that he needed to work on (and I can combine his Reading and Bible conveniently this way).

What: Ashton-- Christian Studies by Memoria Press.
Why: I love the use of the Golden Children's Bible and the studies seem to be very thorough so far.

What: Prima Latina by Memoria Press
Why: Latin is huge for me. I have a 6 year plan for studying Latin and we decided to start off with Prima Latina because I had heard many good things about it. It has been easy to teach so far (I have no background in Latin AT ALL).

What: A Reason for Spelling (level B and D)
Why: Pros--my children like the tie-in story, different activities to tie in the spelling words, teacher manual is easy to follow, once you get the groove it is easy to teach with minimal to no prep work, no complaints from the children. Cons-- lacking color, some exercises are not easily implemented in a homeschool environment.

What: A History Odyssey, Level 1

Why: This is our second year using this curriculum. It is a 3 year course (for us, since we study it twice a week) and uses Story of the World and The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History. Pros: has done most of the organizing of lessons for you, maps and map work included, the use of Story of the World and The Usborne book (which are WONDERFUL!). Cons: some lessons are out of order with the Story of the World and may lead to some confusion, would not purchase anything else that they say are recommended (not worth the $$ spent). I would not recommend this curriculum, instead I would get the Story of the World and the Study Guide that goes with it. We are using A History Odyssey because I spent the money on it and am too stubborn to purchase anything else.

What: Apologia Zoology III- Land Animals
Why: because I had to...this is what our Co-Op is using. I am not sold on it yet (at least for younger grades) but it may grow on me.

What: Draw to Learn: The Book of Proverbs
Why: Pros-- my children love to draw, the reading is simple and short, my children whine when we DON'T DO IT. We completed Draw to Learn: The Life of Jesus last year and LOVED it. Cons: not flashy, sometimes the drawing assignments seem redundant and too simplistic.

What: Montessori R&D: Language Arts and BJU Grammar 4 (2nd edition)

Why: I love the Montessori approach. It is hands on and uses manipulatives and cards to teach basic concepts. I really had to search high and low to find this curriculum and am still working my way through it to decide if it works for our home. Pros: uses cards, games, and manipulatives to teach the basic parts of speech and sentence structure, affordable teacher manual. Cons: website does not list materials needed to complete each lesson, materials can be VERY pricey or you have to make them yourself, lesson layouts were not organized the way that I thought they should be (but that is just nit-picky-ness). BJU was my fallback for Ashton. I couldn't find what I wanted for her, and she finished her 3rd grade Grammar early so I had to purchase something early. The Montessori Language Arts is actually compatible with 6-9 year olds, so I may end up shelving the BJU for Grammar and only use its writing assignments.

What: A Child's Treasury of Poems and Poetry for Young People: Seasonal Poetry
Why: My children have memorized 4 poems per year for every year that I have homeschooled. I try to make them seasonal and they have 3-4 months to learn and constantly recite them. Keaton started out with simple haiku, but will this year graduate to a few more lines. I will list the poems they are learning:

To Autumn by John Keats
Velvet Shoes by Elinore Wylie
What is Pink by Christina Georgina Rossetti
The Wind by Christina Georgina Rossetti

Bed In Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dust of Snow by Robert Frost
Depression Before Spring by Wallace Stevens
The Owl by unknown (old folk poem)

Well, that's it! Enjoy your school year as much as I hope we will.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

in which the day met me

i spent the day to myself, at home, this very day. alone. what a glorious word to type. just saying it. ALONE. that word is something that a wife, a mother of 4, and homeschooler RARELY knows exists.
this was my time, spent doing what I like.

i sweat myself silly, toiling in the garden, getting dirt under my nails, and ingesting the ripe cabbage smells of late summer gardening.

i turned the AC as high as it would go, curled up with a blanket and book, and read for hours.

i ignored toys and laundry that were strewn about in rooms and under tables and chairs.

i didn't pull my chair up to the table to eat, deciding instead leave the chair askewed and placed one foot up on the seat of the chair, letting my knee curl up to my chin. and the other foot i let dangle above the floor in a willy-nilly erratic sort of way. there was no one to see. no one to tell me to show more propriety whilst dining.

i took a bath. a really long bath. and not because i needed one. but just because.

i changed out of my pajamas and got into a clean pair of pajamas, at 2 in the afternoon.

i did not look at school books or my calendar, or wash my dishes, or answer emails and texts.

i read some more.

i let myself get distracted watching butterflies court and twirl among the leaves of our fig tree.
i closed my eyes and tried to hear their love making. it sounded similar to the little pit-pat-pat that the rain gives just before a big ole downpour.

my family is due to return any minute. i missed them, in a way that any mother would. they are a constant part of my life, ever present. their little souls, even with the nasty bits that come with raising little children (and i hear even the grown ones), i missed. my head and body needed this rest today, though. a little windex clean for the brain does a mommy good.

ahhh, here they are. their tiny faces greeting me.....
and so, with that, i resume my former life. rested and content.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

simple pleasure

Ah, Sun-flower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done:

Where the Youth pined away with desire,

And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow
Arise from the their graves, and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.


we grew mammoth sunflowers this year, hung and dried them in our faithful school room, and today, under the sun - with sweat bees tickling our skin - we plucked the seeds from their clutching heads. hot work, but oh the bounty.
our plan is to bag them and sell them for 25cents this fall, that is if i can convince the littles to not nibble them all away...

Monday, August 2, 2010

where have i BEEN?

or did anyone notice?......

yeah, so, 6 months. 6 months we had no personal internet service at home. in that time, my husband and i built and concreted and steel rodded (and any other structurally sound additive you can think of) our already awesome relationship. it was so good for us on so many levels. but that would be a different blog, for a different time (i once promised no "emotional fluff" on this blog, and i think that personal diatribes on family philosophy and dynamics count as "fluff" --- not that there is anything wrong with that, in any sort, i just wanted to only do a nifty tricks and recipe blog and not too much personal life....junk).

let's just jump right back in, shall we?

two easy homeschool projects:

1. when studying julius or augustus caesar (or anything in ancient rome) , my curriculum suggested sewing a toga with a purple trim. to save time and energy, i went out to the back yard and picked some vines and made "laurel crowns". two minutes and some clear packing tape later:

*lesson learned long ago..."you don't always have to follow the project in the book, especially when kids really don't care either way, and as long as they can make or wear or play with SOMETHING!"

2. when studying the human body, try making these easy brain models. my curriculum suggested cutting a tennis ball in half and hot gluing items onto it (have you ever TRIED cutting a tennis ball....?). i had some styrofoam balls, which are much easier to cut, some quick drying gray paint, some yarn of two different colors, and some paper clips. voile! model brains.

step 1. cut styrofoam ball in half
step 2. coat top off each half with gray paint (or just one half if using for one child)
step 3. while the paint dries, cut 3, 12 inch strands of yarn to braid into one piece for each child (this will become the brain stem). i chose an off white yarn.
step 4. tie strands together at the top with a knot and braid the strands together. knot the end.
step 5. once paint is dry, pull one knotted end of the "brain stem" through one of the loops in the paper clip and shove the paperclip into the bottom of your brain along one edge, far enough to where the loop will hold the "stem" in place against the styrofoam. you might want to put it in at an angle so that the top part of the paper clip doesn't poke through the top of the ball.
step 6. cut one extreamly long piece of pale greenish yarn (about 1 yard long) for each brain.
step 7. on a paper plate, pour white school glue out in a large puddle and have the child soak the long strand of yarn from top to bottom.
step 8. have the child swirl the yarn all around the top of the ball. these will be the wrinkles on the brain. press the yarn firmly and let dry.

this project holds up really well over time, for when you need to review the different parts of the brain several weeks or months later.

posts to look forward to:
my curriculum picks for 2010-2011
yummy recipes
and a week long view of our daily homeschool routine


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