Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Got a thermos of tea brewed, so I'm packing my dresses and lipsticks, saying farewell to my cats and we're heading out to my in laws for the holidays!

I hope every one has a great Christmas, and a happy New Year!

See you all again in January!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All a Flutter

Queen Victoria's Jenny Lind Fan
We all know the teasing beauty of the Sally Rand fan, huge drooping feathers that hide and reveal at the whim of the burlesque star! But before a fan of feathers received this ladies name, a fan of "feathers" received the name of a mid nineteenth century ladies name!

Named after the famous mind nineteenth century opera singer Jenny Lind (the Swedish nightingale) the Jenny Lind fan is made up of "feathers" sometimes real, more often of silk which form a smooth flat leaf over the sticks. It's always been one of my favorite styles because it's so unusual, and I love the way the uniform shapes open up like a rockettes kick line!

My Jenny Lind is somewhat larger than the originals, kind of an 1860's meets the 1900's, but to me that gives it something of the charm of the originals, with the added impact of later fans. There's over 2000 sequins hand embroidered on to it and it flutters like a dream!

Today we tend to think of hand fans as being small, about 8" long when closed, but for the 18th century, and much of the late 19th-early 20th century they were big! The point was display so they were the kind of size that made an impact, about 10-13" long when closed. I love a nice big fan, the movements always look more elegant and deliberate, and they have that great "hide and reveal" aspect of the Sally Rand to some degree that adds a little bit of mystery to them too.

Today I'm opening up a custom salon in the atelier section of Candy Violet! We're now taking orders for custom clothing, accessories, and of course fans! I'd love to get some fans into the wardrobes and hands of today's coquettes and quaintrelle. We'll be designing and making custom fans to fit any style, era, even costume or dress, special to each individual order.

I'd love to collaborate with any performers and pin ups and bring a real variety of fan to the scene today as well as costume and accessories, so please pass on our name if you can think of anyone who might be interested!

For right now though I leave you with the lovely Virginia Bruce as Jenny Lind....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lipstick Holder!

In my current search for all things vanity lately, I ran into the concept of the lipstick holder! These pretty little vanity table pieces come in all shapes, sizes and materials, and are a great way for a gal to organize her lipstick collection (and what quaintrelle doesn't need a bit of that?)

I' had been looking around to see what kind of styles they came in, and was just about sold on a gold bar affair with cupids on it (understated I know) when an even more unusual one turned up in the shape of a tulip. I put it on the back-burner looking for what else might be out there when along came a second one, this time a little shinier than the 1st. I opened the page and found this super glitzy tulip lipstick holder used to belong to non other than Hollywood legend Lana Turner! I'll admit I wasn't quite ready to drop the $130 for the Lana Turner estate lipstick holder, but did get lucky enough to snag one exactly the same, just showing it's age a little more, for a song.

The 2nd one I jumped on is currently sitting on my vanity with my favorite 3 lipsticks in it for easy use! I love the style and it really is a great way to keep those tubes in check! Plus it's kinda nice to know that once upon a time a Hollywood great was pulling her lipsticks out of a holder just like it.

I'm still looking to add a few more to my vanity collection, so I'm sure there'll be more on here later. The thing I love about this one though is that the tulips are kind of flexible, so they can hold the newer larger lipsticks as well as the good old fashioned Besame style smalls these things were originally designed to hold. I'll let you know how any future holders take to my bigger lipsticks when I get them!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Love/Hate Affair

Have you ever noticed when you pick up a new album there are a few songs you love instantly, and a couple you either hate, or just think are a bit "eh", but then after time end up loving the most and loving them forever? I find myself the same way with style periods. I used to think the "romantic era" was dumbest period of fashion EVER! But something happened and now it's one of my favorites.

The same thing with vintage fashion. My personal rule is once hats and gloves cease being the norm, then it's all just too modern for me. Out of the "styles before gloves vanished" I used to kinda find the late 50's/early 60's styles borderline to disliked till recently...

I don't know why but lately I've been loving a bit of late 50's/early 60's style (maybe Madmen madness has struck me too?) I kinda like how everything is a little bigger, brighter and super feminine. It all seems really playful, still smart and a formal, but with a little bit of girlyness.

Over the weekend I took my silver brocade cocktail dress out for a spin with a full parure of paste gems, and big up swept hair. It felt great to wear and very "me" somehow. I don't know maybe as much as I love the serious 40's styles and admire those elegant 1930's sylphs I was just born to be a bouffant and bright pink lips kinda girl? We shall see!

One thing for sure, I'm on the hunt for some polka dot gloves and bigger lashes in the mean time! ♥

What about you guys? Do you always stay faithful to one particular period or like to play around? Are there styles you used to hate but came to love? I'd love to read more about every one elses love affairs with fashion of the past!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

8 Year Anniversary

Yesterday was Dusty's and my 8 year wedding anniversary! Every year we try go out for one crazy meal to celebrate, and this year he took me out to Cityzen at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington DC, We got a nice quiet table, and spent a whole evening being brought tiny but insanely delicious food, including a 3 course dessert! I always feel lucky that we're both just as excited this day of the year as the day we got married.

It was nice being a December bride, because each anniversary we can look to the new year together  and hope that it will continue to be even better than the last one.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Vintage In My Supermarket!

Red is the color we most often associate with vintage fashion, but sometimes it's nice to shake it up with something a bit different. I find a good orange or pink a fun departure from fire engine red when it's time for a change. The other day I struck lucky on all color counts, and at the grocery store of all places!

I was out food shopping, and got stopped in my tracks by a rather bright vintage looking Jessica Biel, mimicking a 1952 photo of Dorian Leigh just next to her. Kinda like a magpie I was drawn right in (food stuffs be damned!)

It was the display for Revlon's re-launch of it's Fire and Ice red color which was super popular in the 50's along with 3 other retrorific shades! The collection has 4 lipsticks and 4 nail polishes. To add a little extra vintage charm they even went back to the old 50's script for the branding on the cases!

I picked up a couple of the nail polishes. Since I already have a few great reds, and a lovely muted pink (seen in an earlier post), I just got the Siren (orangy color) and Temptress (fuchsia) colors.  The bottles look super cute on my vintage style vanity, and the colors are a nice cream finish which is perfect for a retro manicure!

So far I haven't caved in on the lipsticks because the nail polishes go great with my Besame lipsticks in Carmine and Exotic Pink (now discontinued but we still have a few over at Candy Violet). I'm something of a Besame devote so it would take a lot to tear me away from them.

The Fire and Ice relaunch was a  few weeks back, but since I'm not a big cosmetics shopper it was news to me!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Sales!

I'm sure you're getting a jump on the holiday shopping just like I've started to do. To helps spread a little holiday cheer this year we're launching a big sale on both Candy Violet and Cute Salad!

New items added to the clearance sale including 2 one of a kind wool coats and kimono hoodies!
Free Priority mail on domestic orders!
10% off regular Items with coupon code: XMAS10
20% off for the first 5 customers with coupon code: EARLYBIRD10

(10 and 20% off offers exclude, atelier, gift certificates, custom and clearance items)

We're sure you'll find something great for the people on your list, or for yourself, you deserve a little treat too!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Table Top Living

This Thanksgiving, just as every day I was thankful that I married a fella that not only loves to cook, but is also mind blowingly good at it! In an effort to create a table worthy of the food, and bring a bit of extra retro charm to our "so close to finished" new kitchen/dining area I took to the thing I do best, sewing!

Long time blog followers know we've been working on a 1950's inspired red and turquoise kitchen for a while, and during Thanksgiving prep this year I managed to pull together a new red cotton table runner (reversible with a super cute Route 66 print on the other side) and a set of 6 gingham oil cloth place mats.

A super simple project the table runner is padded with thermal batting to keep the table top safe from hot serving dishes, and the oil cloth mats wipe clean fast for easy day to day living!

All little touches, but it's the bright little details that make a meal feel special and table seem inviting.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vintage Vanity

1940's ad currently on ebay
I love vintage style, and love a bit of vintage lifestyle too! A while back I fell in love with the idea of owning a vintage dresser set. There's something so glamorous and appealing about the idea of a lady picking up pretty matching beauty tools at a beautiful vanity table getting ready on a morning or, for an evening out (even if the reality has always been a million miles away from a Jean Harlow boudoir scene)

These days of course it's all high tech curling irons, throw away plastic combs, and hair brushes that look like they were developed by NASA. I love how the new stuff works, but miss how the old stuff must have felt. I was lucky enough a bit back though, to find a practically unused (maybe even unused) set, with  all it's pieces, even in it's original box from the 1940's!

Some items have been ready to go from the start, things like trays, pots and mirrors which just needed a bit of a clean, other things like the manicure set and brush need a little TLC before they are going to be usable again. The plan is to fix them up so that they can get a new lease of life all over again!
My vanity set!

 I hope I can bring things like the nail file back up to working condition, but in the mean time I'm pretty happy checking the back of my hair styles with the pearly pink mirror, and pulling bobby pins and cosmetics from the various pots, boxes and trays!

(have a spare $4,400? you could pick up a set that belonged to Ms Harlow over on Ruby Lane )

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mocktail Dressing

Our house is inching closer and closer to being truly civilized! tiling has half happened and painting is happening right this second. It'll be time for that Mocktail party in no time! the good news is not only is the house just about mocktail party ready, but as of today so am I! We launched a collection of 4 items perfect of party season over at Candy Violet today.

2 lush brocade cocktail dresses (I'm told the straight one is very Jackie O) and the first 2 items in the faux furrier collection. I love the way those vintage ladies looked in all their opulent furs, but I don't feel comfortable with modern fur, and still a little unsure how I feel about the vintage fur I inherited (Which still needs some care from a professional fur cleaner).
I love a good faux fur because you can get the glamor without the drama or ambiguity that surrounds the real thing. A lot of faux fur I've come across over the years isn't all the soft on the eye or to the touch (or is murder on the bank balance!) this little lot was a pleasant surprise when I first got to feel it. It's super soft and silky, and has a nice sheen to it. Really luxurious! Total glam and no one has to get hurt!

The hope is very much that the faux furrier collection really takes off, it would be so wonderful to give it it's own section, and to be able to bring to life even more of the ideas that have been floating round my head for so long now. I hope you'll be cocktail hour perfect this year in some of these new dresses, and that we can get you to snuggle up like a silver screen queen in some of our faux fur too!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Syrup Bonanza!

A big order of syrups arrived today for our soda making adventures here at Quaintrelle HQ! 6 full size and 24 tiny samples to play with. Rose and Violet are already 2 of my all time favorite flavors (I can never decide which one of the 2 is my all time favorite), the rest I'm just excited to try. Almond sounds like it should be a good mix for some interesting flavors maybe?

We're still moving on with our home re-model project, as soon as it's all done it'll be time for a fancy mocktail and soda party in our shiny new home!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vintage Nails

When it comes to vintage style, every once in a while you come across a little flourish that is as practical as it is retro chic! Today I thought I'd make a post about the wonder that is the vintage manicure or reverse French manicure. Back in the day ladies would leave the tips of the nail and/or the lunula un painted. I personally love the style for the way it looks, but for girls like me who work with their hands the extra couple of minutes it takes to do, saves plenty of time because your manicure lasts so much longer!

I know for me that the tips of my nail polish are always chipped by the end of the day when I paint them, and the base of the nail is quick to show wear shorty after. With the reverse French manicure these places are bare save a little clear topcoat, so upkeep is as simple as an extra lick of clear topcoat every couple of days, and your nails look spiffy for so much longer! The downside (there always is one) is that you do need to keep your nails a decent length, which is just as tricky for us handy types as getting nail polish to stay put. A basic nail care regimen can help with this though!

My Nail Care Routine:
  • Use a clear nail treatment as a base coat such as Sally Hansen's Miracle Cure To help fight flaking
  • Moisturize your hands every night with a good hand cream (Always a good idea for crafty types to help fight painful callouses caused by lot's of handy work)
  • Rub your nails and cuticles with cuticle oil every night to help promote nail growth, and healthy nails.
My nails still get broken when I'm working on heavier tasks such as metal work, but if I'm able to stay mindful when I work, it is possible to save nail disaster!

How to Paint the Reverse French Manicure:
Not as hard as it might seem. Instead of painting 2-3 stokes vertically top to bottom, paint about 2 strokes side to side with a nice curve to get those half moon shapes. Clean off any excess at the side with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover and "jobs a good un" as they say in Yorkshire!
This might qualify as a slow news day in the world of blogging, but for any crafty quaintrelle out there it might be as useful to you as it has been to me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Retro Sale

 A few people told me they were planning Mad Men based costumes for Halloween this year, so for anyone else having a similar idea, we're having a Candy Violet sale this week!! Daisy Cutter, Lady Luck and Day Trip items are all on sale till next Monday!I hope you'll stop by for some retro bargains (also great for people like me who are just always looking for new vintage styles to wear every day) Check over at to find out more!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oh Beehive!

A big part of quaintrelle life is style! So perhaps I should start adding a little more of that to the blog these days too?

Last night I was going out for dinner with my fella and felt inspired to give styling my hair into a beehive a try. I've always been a bit scared of them in the past because A) I had blue hair and would have looked like marge Simpson. B) I don't have much hair and didn't think I could to it. C) It looked tricky!

With the power of a little wool padding I was able to get some decent looking volume, and the style went together surprisingly fast! I used a tutorial from "Vintage Hairstyling" as a start and added a little hair rat know how to make it work. I'll try put together a tutorial on beehives for super thin haired girls on the website soon.

I think the beehive drive and a Mad Men marathon were the main inspirations for last nights look.
Jewelry & Dress: from Candy Violet
Purse: Vintage Enid Collins From Dusty's Grandma!
Shoes: Jessica Simpson(I was surprised, but they are really lovely, and comfy for 5" heels!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soda Jerk

On a trip to Philly last month, I was lucky enough to be staying in a hotel super close to the amazing Franklin Fountain! An old time soda shop selling had made sodas, phosphates and ice creams all in a super quaint building with a an retro radio kicking out jazz age hits. Now as some people know I'm an old school straight edge girl as well as a fancy quaintrelle, so this place was perfect for me, and sent me back home with dreams of sugar plum sodas dancing in my head.

This week Dusty surprised me with a box of flower flavored sodas to flavor drinks and pastries with (to me there is no group of flavors more quaintrelle than flowers, pretty, old school, rare and fancy).
Last night we finally splashed out on a Soda Stream, so with that and our growing syrup collection we're well on our way to a home soda fountain of our own!

My first drink is a mix of my floral flavor favorites, and a love of New York egg creams I developed since moving to the States. I'm calling it the floral egg cream and it's a cinch to whip up for parties, friends or just for yourself!

 Floral Egg Cream
1oz Flower syrup (I'm using the Monin syrups)
2oz milk
Fill the rest of the glass with soda water
Stir and serve!
(if you have an extra frothy rose or violet egg cream, why not sprinkle with candied petals to garnish?)

So far I've tried this with lavender and with jasmine syrups and they were both amazing, still waiting on my violet and rose syrups to arrive for my next flower mixes. I'll let you all know when we come up with some new soda successes for any one else interested in some home soda magic!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hand in Glove

Summers round DC are hot, like "this is your brain on drugs" hot, and this Summer has been especially hot. I have to admit when it comes to quaintrelle elegance 100°F temperatures don't lend themselves well to the snappiest of styles. The good news is the recent cooler days have put me in a mind for Autumn, which brings me to a recent style obsession of mine, gloves! For centuries no well dressed lady was stepping out without a pair of crisp clean coordinating gloves!

I've started building up a wardrobe of gloves recently. The goal is to have the perfect pair for every occasion and every dress! My trip to Nashville a couple of weeks back started me off with a few treasures! A superb ceder wood glove box with a kind of art deco feel (hand made by a Mennonite community close my in laws house), an early 1960's corsage (ok not gloves, but put it on the right wrist band and it's working with the gloves!) and 2 pairs of 50's gloves. The short beige ones are a super soft faux leather, and the longer pair go right up to the elbow with little claw set rhinestones. I've added to these my sweet little Dents crochet gloves. The goal is to start wearing them as a wardrobe staple in daily life. they look great, and so far are fun to collect!

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Day Trip Collection

I love a good shop update! Some new items in at Candy Violet this week. There's a selection of skirts and dresses in a super cute "day at the zoo" print, and a new purse based on old 1950's designs and covered in strawberries!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Come See us in DC!

I'm showing some Candy Violet designs in an upcoming fashion show in DC September 10th, 8:00pm. The theme is vintage styles from the 1920's-1950's. It should be a fun event to get dressed up for, and it would mean a lot to see some familiar faces (and pretty dresses!) from our local quaintrelle ranks!

Any one think they'd be up for coming along? Tickets are $15 and available here...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Macarons at Home!

I fell in love with macarons years ago, first Laduree graced my screen in the Marie Antoinette movie, then they peaked out from various skirts and dresses, and finally after a trip to Paris the love affair was sealed! I love them because of their diminutive size, rainbow colors, and the fact they so often show up tasting like flowers!

Whilst my love was strong, getting a fix was hard. So many shops sold rather dry under filled macarons that leave you wondering what the fuss is about, or they rocked but had to be special ordered, an my home efforts were rather pitiful . That is until I was presented with enrollment in to a macaron class for my birthday!! I had to wait for months for the day to come but after it did the macaron method mystery was finally revealed!

The class took a good 3 hours, but we all came home with some great little pastries, and this last week I finally had a try on my own with success!

It seems the biggest thing was to follow the rule of "let them sit before you bake" the 15 minute wait gave them a bit of a skin on top, and that let them rise soft and puffy into the sky, and they came out pretty and tasty!

I had a try coming up with my own flavors and have to admit my favorite home macaron was my favorite Laduree flavor, rose.

for mine I made a classic French butter cream filling with a splash of rose essence. I spread a generous layer of the butter cream onto the bottom cookie, followed by a dab of rose petal jam on top of the cream before sandwiching and leaving to set up in the fridge.

If you are a fan of flower flavors it's well worth a try, rose flavor can be hard to find, but I have been able to source a rose jam here in the states as well as rose extract, you can also use rose water instead of essence, and top with a dab of raspberry jam which are pretty easy to find in the local grocery stores these days(rose and raspberry go great together!)

Some Quaintrelle macaron Tips!
1: Wait: Definitely leave the whites out at room temp for the 3 days recomended, and let the macarons rest for the full 15 mins before baking them, and wait till the next day to eat them. I could never cope with all that waiting before but it really pays off!
2: Extra bang: To get multiple flavors from one batch, make a classic french butter cream to fill them, separate it into as many containers as you want flavors and flavor and dye each batch separately.
3: Remember art school: If doing say 3 flavors, pipe the first set plain white, the second add a little pink dye before adding to the piping bag, the second a little blue or yellow to make lilac or orange colors. You'll be able to get so many combos from one batch and really make a splash when you serve so many varieties for the same work as one!

I already have my next batch of egg whites sitting out on the table ready to go with batch number 2.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Building a Wardrobe of Jewels

Since as far back as the 17th century, a "lady of quality" would own at least one suite of matching jewelry called a parure, which would tell the world of exactly how much "quality" the lady was made. These precious gems would have been passed down over the years for generations to enjoy.

As a modern day quaintrelle and the Duchess of Fancy, I felt it was time I acquired a stately parure for myself! Of course I didn't have a suite of family jewels coming to me, so no diamonds here, but some dazzling paste! (even Marie Antoinette wore paste)

My first parure here consists of a pair of earrings, necklace, a hair pin (which can transform into a brooch), and of course a custom satin lined box fashioned after the style the old Georgian parures would have been kept in.

The design was inspired by a 1770's necklace and grew out from there.This set was started in the middle of last year and only just finished this weekend

One of the best finds for this project was the vintage drops in a mock alexandrite. The colors is a lovely delicate lavender in the daylight, but under florescent light the color turns a bright apple green!

As well as the changing colors of the stone, just like in the parures of old the aigrette is modular so that it can be worn as either a hair ornament, or as a slightly smaller brooch.

I've been wearing this set lately for dressed up occasions, but even for those jeans and a pretty top days, to give an other wise boring outfit just enough history for it to be something fit for a quaintrelle to be seen in!

As for whats next? I'm already working on my second parure which has many more pieces, and will soon be available for sale in my Candy Violet shop as a set or as separate pieces (as well as being open for custom work)! This months Quaintrelle life article will be all about parures too, so keep an eye out over the next few weeks for those!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pretty as Pie

More Cooks Country adventures, this time Stained Glass cake! I opened up the Cook's Country 2009 Annual, and there was this bright cake shining back out at me, and it was so colorful I had to make it!!

Apparently this cake was used in Jello ads back in the 1950's and was something of a retro favorite. I love a good bit of Americana and when it's tasty as well as fun and kitschy it has to happen!

I took one to our friends house for 4th of July and it was a big hit. Right now I'm trying to come up with a recipe for an elegant miniature rose flavored version for tea parties?

Here are a couple of vintage broken glass cake pictures from the late 50's...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cat Head Biscuit?

A few years back we were eating in a gas station/diner/place that sells kitschy fairies and knives, and the menu featured a "Cat's Head Biscuit" which was explained to us as "a biscuit the size of a cat's head" they were pretty good!

The other week we got our copy of Cook's Country and lo and behold a recipe for cat's head biscuits!

Sunday morning my husband and myself baked up a batch and they are super delicious. The size of our cat's head, and light and fluffy.

It seems the secret to getting your biscuits cat head size was to scoop the dough into the pan with a 1/2 cup measuring cup. You can probably try this super scoop with your regular biscuit recipe. but I can heartily recommend the Cook's Country one for a great biscuit. I'm thinking I might try some with raisins for a kind scone like concoction (proper English scones are more like what our American friends call biscuits than scones a lot of the time), or sprinkle some with sugar for strawberry shortcake. Either way I'm baking up cat head size from now on!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fancy Quaintrelle Hair and Clothes

So I have very thin hair, but always wanted some nice big puffy vintage hairstyles a la Carole Landis. The secret I have found is all in the hair rats! Check over at the main Quaintrelle Life site for more info and a how to, on finding rats in the craft stores and getting hair to new heights!

It's been a while since the last feature was added to the site, but now we are in our new home (well, domain) I'll be back to adding a new feature every month!

The article also features one of the new Petitie Trianon dresses newly up at Candy Violet for those seeking a bit of a fashion fix.

The chemise inspired dresses have been a favorite of mine for a few years now, I was really excited to be able to add them to the shops at last!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Red and Sparkly!

They said it couldn't be done!!! (ok exaggeration, they said "it shouldn't be done") but we finally got our hot new sparkly red counter top installed and it's everything I had hoped it would be!

We're still waiting to get the tile and paint up that will set everything off in a red+turquoise retro perfection, but things are already really coming together.

I have to admit as soon as it was down I spent a good 10 minutes playing around in the kitchen admiring the sleek shiny red surface and got to thinking, what if I had listened to all the people who told me to consider something less, well, red? I know I wouldn't have been as thrilled as a kid on Christmas like I was when it went down, and I know if i was buying this house I wouldn't squee for an Uba Tuba counter top the way I would if I walked in on a property to find this lipstick colored wonder slab. How many other people feel the same way? I wonder how many people do decorate in a way that makes their place "easy to sell" but secretly want something much more fun, and how many buyers really want something much more fun too?

There was a story someone told on Retro Renovations about how they went to look at a house which had a lilac bathroom suite and were crazy excited about it, but when they went back again later the awesome lilac toilet was gone and a  regular white one now stood in it's place (much to their disappointment)

I'll admit when the time comes selling this place with all the colors we picked and wallpaper we are about to pick (sin number 2!) might be tricky and I might be eating my words. But there might be a young couple coming in and losing their mind over the sexy red counter top the way I just did and thrilled to have found it.

I do know one thing though, as the white walls a beige carpets slowly disappear from our house, I find myself wanting to be in it longer and longer, and my husband and myself are happier and happier decorating for ourselves and not so much for the next guys who are going to live here.

(Edit: For all the people who've been googling for red counter top photos, check out the newer posts in the decorating tag for some bigger better photos)

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