Baking With Almond Breeze

Disclosure: I received a free carton of Almond Breeze as part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program. All opinions are my own.

I have never been a big fan of cows milk and even as a kid, never really drank it. I would buy the smallest size carton available to use for cooking d, but even then would usually end of throwing out at least half before it was used.

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When I started making smoothies and protein shakes on a regular basis, I knew that I needed to find an alternative to cows milk, and I knew soy milk wasn’t for me either, so I was really happy when I found almond milk. I started regularly using almond milk whenever I made a smoothie, but still bought cows milk for all my cooking.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized I could use the almond milk in my cooking and baking as well. While I enjoy using vanilla almond milk, such as the carton of Almond Breeze I recently received, for baking; I prefer using unflavored almond milk for cooking (I made the mistake of using vanilla almond milk in macaroni and cheese once… it was not quite the taste sensation I was looking for).

Because of┬ámy work schedule, I am always looking for portable breakfast solutions that aren’t too heavy. I tend to get hungry towards the end of my work shift, but don’t want to eat a big meal since I go to be as soon as I get home. This week I planned to make some muffins and pancakes that I could carry to work with me, so it worked out perfectly to go along with my Almond Breeze.

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While I generally enjoy baking from scratch, my schedule has been super tight lately, so I have relied on packaged mixes for baking. I simply sub out the milk for almond milk and the end results are delicious!

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Do you enjoy cooking with almond milk?

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The World Keeps Spinning

And time keeps going by faster than I can keep up! Before you know it almost a month has gone by and I haven’t posted on the blog. After being sick in bed for over a week, then working oodles (yes oodles) of overtime for the last few weeks I feel like I am behind on everything!

Part of the problem is that I set ridiculously high expectations for myself that I can’t possibly meet. The other part of the problem is that I really did get behind on everything while I was sick and the extra hours at work, while great for my bank account, have made it hard to catch back up. So I’ve decided to give myself a break and let some stuff slide for a little while.

I always want to post daily and try to keep myself to that schedule whenever I can, but after the last month of not even getting a weekly post out, I’ve decided to ease up on the idea of daily posts and focus on trying to post twice a week. Of course I have a sponsored post deadline looming, so will actually be posting twice today! But I think taking the pressure off and aiming for two posts versus seven will help.

So here’s a quick update on what’s been happening:

~What I thought was symptoms of detox from eating healthier was actually me getting sick and I spent over a week in bed. I would get up to go to the bathroom and that was pretty much it. I did manage to drag myself to work a few of the days, but I also missed some work.

~The company I work for recently bought a second major retail website in our category and our call center is now handling the customer service for both websites. Unfortunately there are always growing pains and this type of transition rarely goes 100% to plan and this has been no different. Our workload has essentially doubled at the same time that the flu is spreading through the call center. Needless to say this is why I am working so much overtime (and even working remotely from home). I anticipate I will probably continue working the extra hours for at least one more week.

~My dad finally has a date for his bypass surgery and it is really soon (like next week), so I am trying to arrange a couple of days off work so I can be there for the surgery. I’m just waiting to hear from my manager if it will be ok to take the time on such short notice (I think she’ll be ok with it). Then I’ll get my train tickets and share a room with my mom for the 2 nights I’m there. Since my parents live in the middle of nowhere, Oregon, they will be traveling to Portland for the surgery. I could write an entire post about my anxiety about this, but I’ll hold off on that for now.

OK, so that pretty much catches things up… I’m off to do some food prep now (I’ll be sharing some of it with you later today).

 

 

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It’s Time for Some Thinking Out Loud

It feels like its been forever since I linked up with Amanda for some Thinking Out Loud! I’ve missed it!! And as always, please stop by and read some of the other great posts that are linked up today too!

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I had great plans for doing a big post today and maybe even some pictures, but then I fell asleep for 4 hours right in the middle of the day… oops! Let’s get to it…

~ I knew my eating hadn’t been great lately, but I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until I experienced detox reactions (headache, fatigue, etc.) Tuesday & Wednesday after cleaning up my eating this week. The interesting thing is that I didn’t eliminate anything, just reduced caffeine, processed foods, sugar & salt. Thankfully I woke up feeling much better today!

~ There is a ghost in our new location at work, and those of us on the overnight team are the only ones who have really experienced anything, though we have all had some form of experience with it since moving into the new building at the beginning of January. It freaked out a couple people on my team (and I really don’t blame them), but since its not my first experience working with a ghost, I’m probably the calmest of the bunch. Of course if she starts moving things around or manifests, that will change because that will freak me out ans send me running! But she doesn’t appear to be malicious in any way, so I think we’re ok (I hope). And I don’t really know if the ghost is a “she” it just feels like a female presence to me.

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~ Cheshire keeps trying to attack my hands as I’m typing. He also does this when I use the mouse. I’m not sure why, perhaps he just thinks I’m one giant interactive toy who feeds and snuggles him. It makes it really hard for me to get things done sometimes though! And since my desk is not very big, I usually end up with the keyboard in my lap since he takes up most of the desk top.

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~ I am currently undecided whether I’m going to go see 50 Shades of Grey in the theater or wait until it comes out on DVD. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the movie, though most of the people who really enjoyed the books (as I did) have enjoyed the movie. I have free movie passes, so it won’t cost me to see it, I just have to determine if I think it’s “pass worthy” or not.

~ Blog School just started and I’m super excited. I am really liking the assignments so far and am already making some adjustments to my content to reflect my desired reader, and bringing a bit more of a focus to the blog. Don’t worry, I will still be rambling on Thursdays most weeks and will still post pictures of the cats every so often (I mean really, my moniker is “fit kitty mama” how can I not post cat pictures?”

~It’s getting late, so I’m going to cut this short so I can actually get it posted on Thursday!

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My Story

It’s been a while since I talked about my story, and I feel like its time to share it again, as the blog is going through a bit of a re-branding and because I have fully recommitted to a healthier lifestyle.

I was always a chunky kid, I have never been skinny, though most of my younger life I was simply overweight, not technically obese. I suffer from chronic depression which surfaced in my life while I was away at college just after graduation. Living away from home, as well as a combination of traumatic situations that occurred, drove me into a cycle of overeating and sleeping. While I walked a lot (no car), most of my time was spent either sleeping or eating. I ended up dropping out after two years.

After moving back home, I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions and I had really low self-worth. I got a job, tried to be active a few times and continued with the cycle of overeating, constant treats, fast food and no exercise. I would break that up with periodic attempts to lose weight. This cycle continued for years until I surpassed overweight and firmly landed in the obese category (technically according to some charts my weight is considered to be morbidly obese).

It wasn’t until I first moved to Washington that I really started seeing success. I lost 50 lbs and was in the best shape of my life, though I still had a way to go on my journey. Unfortunately circumstances that brought a lot of the trauma from my past resurfaced and my depression (which had been a factor at numerous times on the past), contributed to knocking me completely off course just over 2 years ago and I was never able to regain my footing… until now.

Over the course of the last 2 years I slowly regained all of the weight I lost, plus an extra 10 lbs for good measure. I also lost all of my former fitness level, energy & flexibility. It didn’t happen all at once, and there were periods of activity, healthy eating and loss, but overall, I was on a downward spiral until realizing that I needed to take control of my own health before it’s too late.

So now here I am, slowly rebuilding what I lost (and losing what I gained). I have a lot of work to do, but I am finally in the right frame of mind where I know I can do it. And I hope to continue to share my story with all of you… my successes and struggles… as we take this journey together.

 

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Weekly Progress Report~ Baseline 2/16

I’ve gone back and forth with weekly, monthly, or no weigh-ins. I think each method that I have used serves a purpose at different times in my journey. And at the current point, I think that a weekly progress report will be best for me right now.

At the start of 2015, I said that my focus was not on losing weight, but on regaining my health. This is still very much true, but losing weight is definitely part of it. When I stepped on the scale at the start of the year, I discovered that I had reached my highest weight ever, over 225 lbs. In the last several weeks, with just focusing on my sleep schedule, I have lost 5 of those pounds. I put together a fun Pinterest project to track my pounds lost this time around and am focusing on the success and not what is left to go…

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So, currently:

Highest weight: 225.8
Current weight: 220.0
Pounds lost to date 5.8

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Right now, my focus is on the food. I know that for me to really be successful with my food choices I need to plan and prepare healthy choices and I need to allow myself treats. Without healthy food prepped and ready to go, I will make the easier choices of eating out or packaged convenience foods when I’m in a rush. Without planning for healthy snacks while at work I will end up snacking on candy & chips all night long. And if I deny myself treats, I will crave them until I go on a binge.

This week I put together healthy, filling lunches and snacks to take to work with me. I also planned for breakfast at work before I leave in the morning since I am usually so hungry when I get off work, but so tired I just fall into bed when I get home (then I wake up with a headache). I prepped a big salad for afternoon lunches and light, easy dinners before work. Since I work a nontraditional schedule, I end up eating 4 meals a day instead of the traditional 3; but I try to keep 2 of the meals on the lighter side.

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I am not counting calories or macros or tracking my food. I am focusing on predominately fresh, healthy foods and trying to watch my portion sizes (this is my biggest issue with food). I am drinking a lot more water again (big thanks to my infuser cup) and I have reduced my Dr. Pepper intake to 1 12 oz can with my lunch at home each day. I am not drinking caffeine at work right now, and so far seem to be doing well.

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In future weeks I’ll share some of my meal prep and menu plan with you.

This week, and perhaps for the next few weeks, I am not focusing on exercise. I do walk a round trip loop of 2 miles to and from the bus every day (.75 miles between bus & work, .25 miles between bus & home), and I am trying to consciously move more both at home and work, but there is no structured fitness happening in my life right now. This will definitely be making a come back soon, I’m just working on the energy level a bit more first.

So that’s where I am right now… how are you doing??

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There is Nothing Wrong With Being Your Own Valentine

When I was younger I used to hate Valentine’s Day. As a perpetually single woman, I always dreaded the day that celebrated couples. It would leave me feeling lonely, unloved and unworthy. In my mid-30’s I decided to stop waiting to meet someone in order to live my life, but I still shied away from the day of hearts and flowers.

Over the last few years I’ve slowly started embracing Valentine’s Day as a day of self-love. It started out the first year with writing a love letter to myself and has evolved into a day of spoiling myself. This year I went all out and bought myself some of the traditional gifts usually exchanged by couples… flowers, chocolates, even lingerie; because just because there’s no man in my life doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little of the romance of the day.

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This year I picked up 2 new nightgowns. I’ve always loved pretty sleepwear, but lately I’ve been sleeping in ratty old tank tops, so I decided Valentine’s Day was the perfect time for pretty new jammies!

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I also went the traditional route and picked myself up some chocolates…

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and flowers!

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Then I got a little non-traditional with mini cupcakes (because who doesn’t love mini cupcakes)…

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and some magazines…

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and a new CD!

In fact, I treated myself so much for Valentine’s Day this year, I just might have to link this post up with Becky and Treat Yourself Tuesday this week!

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Did You Miss Me??

Well I certainly missed all of you! If you came by my page sometime in the last 3 weeks, you probably encountered a lovely little post from my host, IPage, stating that my site was temporarily down. Unfortunately a nasty bit of malware made itself at home on my site, so these were shut down to keep it from spreading to any of you! After 3 weeks of stress, frustration, tears, emails back and forth with my host and my brother (who is my IT guru), and ultimately costing me a bit of money; I was finally able to get everything cleaned up on site and ready to get back to blogging!

During the time that I couldn’t actively post, I did a lot of thinking about this blog and its future. My posts had been very sporadic before the site went down due to a lot of personal issues and I considered just letting it go and calling it quits. But I realized I still really wanted this blog, I still wanted to develop and grow as a blogger. Being a blogger is part of my identity and has brought some of the most amazing people into my life. I love the blog community and my little place in it, so I knew that I had to get things working again, there was no other choice! There are some great things that I have planned and don’t be surprised if there are some changes to the look and feel of this space.

Getting back to where I left you before this all happened, I was re-committing to my health and getting back to a healthy lifestyle. My primary focus to start with was on sleep and I am really happy to say things are going very well on this front. I completely cleaned out my bedroom to create a calm and restful place. I also changed my sleep schedule and I think this was ultimately what made the difference.

When I first switched to the overnight shift, I was trying to stay awake all night on my days off as well, figuring this would help me to regulate my day sleeping better. I also thought that it would be better for me to stay awake in the mornings to take care of any errands or projects before I went to bed. This meant I was waking up just before needing to go to work, just as though I worked a regular 8-5 shift. What I found works better for me is to go to sleep as soon as I get home (and I do mean as soon as I get home- I feed the cats, change into PJs and go to bed). I fall asleep around 7 am and tend to wake up between 2 & 3 pm. I’m getting an average of 7 hours of sleep each day.

I had been so tired before that I would actually sleep almost my entire first day off, so I would get nothing accomplished. Now I sleep until about 2 pm, wake up take care of errands, chores, projects, whatever; and head back to bed usually around 9 pm (sometimes a bit later like tonight). I then wake up around 5 am and do whatever needs to be done on my second day off, sleep again that night, then take a nap before my shift on my “Monday”. This new sleep schedule has helped so much! I finally feel productive again!

My next focus, is my diet. I have been eating way too many quick and easy convenience foods and not enough real food lately. I’m putting together a meal plan and getting into a food prep routine so that I have healthy options on hand that are quick and easy as well… I’ll talk more about that this week.

Well that’s pretty much everything for right now… What’s been going on with you?

 

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The Road Back to Healthy

One of the things that I want to accomplish this year is to reclaim my health. I’m not saying that I’m sick or that I’m having any major health issues, but I am exhausted all the time and just don’t have the energy and vibrancy that I’ve had in my life in the past.

There are a lot of factors that are contributing to this… my non-traditional work schedule, sleep issues, eating too many processed foods, not exercising enough, etc. I am working on tackling each of these issues so that I can get back to feeling like me again!

The biggest thing that I think is affecting me right now is the sleep issues. I made the mistake when I had my 4 day mini vacation a few weeks back of sleeping at night again and I am having a really difficult time adjusting back to day sleeping. Right now I feel like I can’t stay awake on my days off (literally, these are the only days I seem to have no problem staying asleep), and I can’t fall asleep on my work days.This is a huge problem for a couple of reasons: I’m not getting the myriad of other things I need to get done accomplished, and I am constantly sleep deprived.

Yesterday I managed to sleep for 2.5 hours before the Seahawks took the lead in the division championship game. This meant that all of my neighbors started screaming and shooting off fireworks and kept me from being able to go back to sleep. I did manage to grab another 1.5 hours before I left for work… but only because I overslept. Today, I fell right to sleep just after 7am and woke up like clockwork at noon (I wake up every single day at noon no matter what time I fall asleep). I felt more refreshed with 5 hours of sleep today, but that’s still not enough and I run the risk of dragging during my shift tonight.

With being so sleep deprived, I haven’t been able to focus on getting blog posts written (I have a pretty simple post I’ve been working on for several days), get food prep done, clean my apartment, or even run errands. I am so tired I have no focus or energy to exercise and I grab quick convenience foods rather than cooking full meals. All of this is spiraling to make my energy level worse.

So right now I’m focusing on a few things: creating a better sleep environment (new pillows will be delivered Friday), using my awake time more productively, and getting as much food prep as I can get done in my awake hours. Where I would normally buy whole carrots and clean and cut them, I’m buying baby carrots right now; I’m buying prepped greens and fruit that requires no prep work (apples and bananas). I’ve been focusing on more water and less soda and picking up fresh pressed juices in the morning instead of donuts.

Once the sleep issue is taken care of and I have a more regular schedule again, I will be able to focus more on the food and exercise aspect of things to get my energy levels back where they should be. Plus I should be able to post more frequently and have a clean apartment again!

What are you working on right now?

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100 Things to Do in 2015

I am really enjoying the Sexiest Month Ever Challenge from ‘Sota is Sexy! So far we’ve tried new foods, had a dance party, meditated and done several other really fun things. Our challenge for Friday was to list 100 things that we want to do or accomplish in 2015. I decided to share my list of 100 with all of you…

1. Take the ACE Personal Trainer certification exam

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2. Move to Eugene, Oregon
3. Complete Blog School
4. Complete at least 2 races
5. Enroll in IIN

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6. Read 52 (or more) books
7. Complete 12 challenges
8. Attend at least one Blogger meet up or event
9. Declutter & donate the excess
10. Start painting again
11. Complete the 52 Week Life Passion Project
12. Try new workout classes
13. Make new friends
14. Travel to at least 1 new state
15. Create a meditation practice
16. Take control of my health
17. Create a gallery wall in my new home

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18. Celebrate the holidays
19. Develop a wardrobe of quality clothes
20. Try at least 2 new recipes per month
21. Go to the movies (at the theater) at least once a month
22. Regain (and exceed) my former fitness level
23. Redesign my blog
24. Find or start a board game meet up group

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25. Start baking again
26. Watch the entire series of The Office and HIMYM again
27. Do something new and daring with my hair
28. Expand my reading repertoire
29. Find some new music artists to enjoy
30. Do a Harry Potter movie marathon (and actually get them all done in one day)

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31. Develop a new fitness plan
32. Get a new yoga mat
33. Create and post workouts on the blog
34. Develop a daily writing plan
35. Light a candle daily
36. Post my favorite quotes
37. Devote dedicated time to each kitty daily

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38. Develop a new tea ritual
39. Go to a concert (haven’t been to one in years)
40. Eat at Il Fornaio
41. Go back to working days
42. Buy a spiralizer
43. Buy and wear a pair of red heels
44. Complete C25K
45. Become involved with a charity
46. Lose at least 25 lbs
47. Give myself monthly pedicures

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48. Give myself weekly manicures
49. Learn how to use Pinterest for my blog
50. Renew my CPR certification
51. Clean out my apartment
52. Work up to a 2 minute plank
53. Do the Advocare Challenge
54. Build new cat furniture
55. Buy a couch
56. Go dancing
57. Take a cooking class
58. Hire a health coach

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59. Take new head shots for the blog
60. Learn a new skill
61. Take a class in Tai Chi
62. Buy new pillows
63. Learn how to use a foam roller
64. Get a new job (in Oregon)
65. Try different diet plans
66. Try a juice cleanse
67. Try oil pulling
68. Complete 3 Pinterest projects
69. Complete a Diet Bet
70. Host an awesome giveaway

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71. Go to Disneyland
72. Improve my photography skills
73. Give myself a monthly facial
74. Get a massage (or 6)
75. Get a mammogram (my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and my aunt is also a survivor, so this is a big one)
76. Buy fresh flowers at least once a month
77. Make homemade pizza dough
78. Create an herb garden
79. And a small container garden

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80. Eliminate (or significantly reduce) soda
81. Create a new 5 year plan
82. Buy both of Tina’s and both of Cassie’s books
83. Make crab mold (an amazingly delicious crab spread done in a gelatin mold)
84. Post a vlog
85. Learn how to use Google +
86. Try some different subscription boxes (any recommendations?)
87. Make homemade gifts
88. Send birthday cards
89. Play the lottery at least once a month (can’t win if you don’t play)
90. Juice at least once a week
91. Go on a picnic

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92. Have at least one out-of-state friend come visit me (are you reading this Jeremy?? Kelly, Ashleigh, everyone else… you guys are welcome too)
93. Go on a personal retreat
94. Buy a waffle maker
95. Have an at home movie night (or day) at least once a week
96. Create a separate Instagram account for the cats
97. Set up a laundry system (because I hate doing laundry)
98. Set up a cleaning system
99. Set up (and actually follow) a budget
100. Buy a car (I’m really tired of public transportation as my only option)

What’s on your list of things to do in 2015?

Posted in Challenges & Events, Goals | 6 Comments

Reflections on a Sunday

I’ve been off work for the last 3 days, and am off work today as well. I’ve spent the last few days catching up on sleep, catching up with an old friend, and enjoying some really great movies. Today I’m planning some food prep and looking forward to the time I’ll be spending in the kitchen.

I’ve also spent a lot of time inside my head as I work on creating the life I want. Even more so yesterday after getting a phone call from my mom. Phone calls from my mom generally only mean one thing anymore and this one was no different. Don’t get me wrong, I talk to my parents every week on skype, but when my mom calls on the phone on an unscheduled day, it’s usually something about my dad.

My biggest fear has always been something happening to my family, though it was always my mom who had medical issues (she still does, but my dad’s have been more serious of late). With everything that’s been happening, that feel has been magnified of late, so much so that I’m scared when the phone rings at times.

This is the biggest reason that it’s so important to me to move to Oregon as soon as I possible can. I want to spend as much time with my family as possible.

I know a lot of this is my anxiety, which can get intense at the best of times in certain situations, but escalates even higher every time one of my parents ends up in the hospital. And the last 6 or 7 months have been pretty intense. With my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis and surgeries back in May, then everything with my dad, who is now on his 4th hospital stay since July and has already had 5 surgeries dealing with his foot and still hasn’t had the bypass surgery he needs.

While I am anxious, I am trying very hard to focus on the positive things, and to move forward with a plan (at least as far as the move goes). All that I can really do for my family right now is to pray and send positive thoughts their way… and to let them know that I love them. So that’s what I’m doing. Along with meditating, stretching and deep breathing to help with my anxiety (dancing works too).

I am taking each day as it comes and learning to embrace the moments… you never know how many moments you’re allotted in life until they’re gone…

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