Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review

My reading has slowed down significantly. I blame the days getting shorter, and also after finishing "All The Light We Cannot See" no other books compare.  I only read two books in November and finishing one was a struggle.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This book was really good. I don't often read non-fiction, but when I do it's usually in memoir or biography form. It took me a while to finish the book because I couldn't read it before bed since I would have scary dreams about being a POW or eaten by sharks. I mostly read it on the couch while Charlie watched football. I kept gasping because things just kept getting worse for poor Louie. I can't remember ever gasping out loud while reading a book before. I wanted Charlie to read this book so we could have a book club but he was not into that idea. I don't want to read the science books he's reading so the book club idea died. I think it caught on with my brother-in-law and his wife though, so at least someone is doing it.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I liked Eleanor and Park so I thought I'd like this book by the same author, but I pretty much hated it. I forced myself to finish because although I hated it, I wanted to know how terribly it ended. ended terribly. In between each chapter was a clip from a fake book that was a lot like Harry Potter and it super annoyed me. Towards the end I just started skipping those parts to finish faster. I was annoyed by the whole book, I probably should have stopped reading it.

After returning Fangirl to the library I was uninspired by reading so I didn't get another book to read. That was probably a bad sign. To get myself back into it I've done what I usually do, read a book I've read 20 times already. In the summer the book is Summer Sisters,  in spring, The Times Travelers Wife, and in winter Little Women always wins. My copy is from 1921 from my grandmother. The old book smell just adds to the charm and comfort of reading it.  Reading it under a cozy Christmas quilt doesn't hurt either.

Do you have any good book recommendations? What book could you read 100 times?


Friday, December 5, 2014

December Bucket List

Did you guys know it's December 5th! I kind of forgot. I'm not sure why but I am not feeling the Christmas spirit as much as in years prior. Perhaps I was just way overboard back then? In an effort to get more into it I've made a bucket list. Some are admittedly things I have to do, while others are just fun and I like doing them.

  1. Cut our own tree and decorate it with ornaments that Blaze cannot destroy. 
  2. Put white lights in the windows of our house. (I already did this, and I love driving home at night and seeing the candle lights on in the windows, it reminds me of my home when I was little.)
  3. Watch Elf, It's A Wonderful Life, Love Actually, and Home Alone 2.
  4. Bake Christmas cookies. (Most likely using this recipe.) 
  5. Sip hot cocoa with marshmallows next to the pellet stove.
  6. Wrap all my Christmas presents at the same time while listening to Christmas music.
  7. Listen to the "Celtic Woman Christmas" station on Pandora until my ears bleed. 
  8. Finish sewing all my presents by Dec 17th so I won't be stressed out. (This means I actually have to start sewing.) 
  9. Eat dinner by candlelight every night.
  10. Decorate a wreath for the front door. (Sadly this year I did not collect milk weed pods to decorate my wreath, and now the snow and ice have come and ruined all the pods.)
  11. Go for a night walk when it's snowing.
  12. Have a bon fire. 
  13. See a Christmas play (this weekend we're seeing A Christmas Carol.)
  14. Go to the Newfound Inn for dinner and drinks, and to look at all the lights and decorations. (a three year tradition that I absolutely love and so look forward to.)
  15. Start a new tradition.
  16. Decorate the mantel.
  17. Send Christmas cards. (This year I really felt totally out of ideas and found cards on sale for 50% off that I loved, so I did not/will not be making cards from scratch. Had I realized how upsetting this would be to my aunt I may have re-considered. The convenience factor was key.)
  18. Buy presents for the giving tree. 
  19. Go to a Christmas concert.
  20. Take a family picture that all four of us look good in. (That could take until next Christmas.) 
One of my favorite Holiday sights. The Newfound Inn. 

What's on your December Bucket list? Any favorite traditions?


Monday, November 24, 2014

Things I Like and You Should Like Too

Here is a (short) list of things that I am really enjoying lately and want you to like too. Mostly so that we can talk about said things together.

Serial. I am obsessed with this podcast. I listen to it while raking, and while driving. The other night I sat in the car, in the garage finishing listening to the podcast. Don't worry I turned the car off so I would not die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Luckily my friend texted me to remind me of that, but I also knew to begin with too, but thanks for caring Chandra. It's so good, you should listen to it. I really need someone to talk to about it. I am only on episode 6 though, so if you're farther than me then I actually DON'T want to talk to you.

Watching stand up comedy on Netflix. A friend came to visit and made me watch the beginning of "New In Town" by John Mulaney. After he left I finished watching it and laughed hysterically. Then, still craving more laughs I started watching more. I've watched "Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats" and "Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive". Both had me laughing until my sides hurt. Now I have convinced myself I have missed my calling in stand up comedy because I think I am as funny as these people. Then I remember I hate crowds, and talking in public, and most importantly, that I am only funny to people who know me very well.

Buying flowers for myself. Flowers make me really happy. They also make me feel like my house should be clean. The flowers deserve to be in a clean house. Every payday I buy myself some flowers, and clean the house. Aren't I so exciting? I'm doing a great job of selling you on all of my awesome/cool things I do.

What awesome stuff have you been up to that I should look into doing so we can be cool together? 


Thursday, November 20, 2014


Last month I tried to do five things every day.

  1. Read
  2. Create
  3. Exercise
  4. Floss
  5. Have Patience. 
Can you guess which one had the lowest success rate? "Have patience", obviously. Do you even know me?

I even made a check list to chart my progress. Because, I like giving myself arbitrary checks. 

This month my journey continues. Part of me feels like some of these things have become habits, but another part of me knows that if I stop putting checks on a chart I will probably stop doing these things because I won't have to be accountable. Sounds crazy to feel accountable to a checklist on your fridge that no one else cares about, but I swear it works.  Especially for flossing. I tell myself I'll feel much better checking a little square to say I flossed, than I'd feel skipping it, so I floss before bed.

What counts as what you ask?

Read: books and magazines count. Online crap does not, nor does work stuff. My goal here was to unplug and wind down before bed. It's also kept me reading into the fall, which has not happened in the past. No time limit on this goal 5 minutes counts just as much as 2 hours. 

Create: Sewing, knitting, felting, scrapbooking, art journaling, writing blog posts, baking and cooking, yes cooking. all count in my book. I have figured out that if you force yourself to create everyday you get a lot more done. There is no time limit, I could sew for 2 minutes and it would count. But that never happens. Previously I would not do something creative because I only had 20 minutes and didn't feel like that was long enough to get into a groove so I'd sit on my butt and do nothing. Now I have 20 minutes to meet my goal so I'll do it. Another strategy I have found works for me is to stop while I am still inspired. Sounds dumb right? Actually it works because I am more excited to go back to the project the next day than having to start over again thinking of something creative the next day. 

Exercise: Running, crossfit, walking the dogs for 30+ minutes, hiking, and recently raking have all counted. I aim for 30 minutes or more, but will still give myself a check for 20 minutes. Mostly, as long as I sweat it counts. 

Floss: That's easy, did I floss or not? I hope my late grandfather who was my first dentist is happy about this goal. I also hope my dentist now will be happy about this. I'll still get cavities though I am sure, I think I have very porous teeth. Also I recently went to the dentist and the hygienist still asked me with the same tone of voice they always do "how often do you floss?" as if saying "you obviously need to be reminded to floss, because no one does this everyday."

Have Patience: This is definitely the hardest one to measure and to keep. As someone who writes measurable goals all day you'd think I'd have made goal 5 something you could actually measure, but no. I mostly mean this in terms of my home life, so it pertains to Penny, Blaze, and Charlie. I seem to do a relatively good job of having patience at work, which is surprising considering the maturity level of the children I work with. It's when I get home that I feel like I've used it all up and have none left to give. But in making this goal, and attempting to make it a habit, I have realized that there is not a set supply of patience in a day. I want to put a check on my chart so I'll bite my tongue, do something I don't really want to do, and be flexible. Funny thing is it's easier to keep doing this once you have started. Patience momentum. If you asked Charlie I am sure he would say he notices no difference in my behavior but I do notice it and feel much better going to bed at night knowing that I didn't snap at anyone. 

I thought about adding a 6th for November, but I think another month to get these more ingrained into my mind and my schedule will be good. I read it takes 21 days to make a habit. I must just be extra slow compared to normal people in habit making. 

What habit do you wish you had? 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe (ish)

I've been reading about capsule wardrobes a lot lately. Must be a new blogger thing. The basic idea is that you have 37 (or some number you pick) items of clothing, including shoes, that you wear for a three month period of time. Only those items. I read that people only wear 25% of their clothes anyways, so why not only have that 25% of the clothes out to pick from?

My brother in law is a self proclaimed "minimalist" and has been talking about that idea a lot. When he gets something new he throws out or donates something else. One in, one out. I've also been reading about simplifying your life, having only things that make you happy around, etc. All of these ideas collided with my summer to fall clothes switch over about a month ago. Usually I just take the fall clothes out and put the summer clothes away. This time I was (mostly) ruthless in my switching. I threw a lot of yucky clothes out, got rid of items I had had since college (seriously), and donated items I never wear. My biggest issues are items that I've sewn that aren't 100% perfect or ill fitting. I have a hard time getting rid of those things, even though I never wear them, because all I think about is how much time went into creating it.

Inability to give up clothes aside I did slim down my clothing significantly. I also put aside clothes that I couldn't get rid of right now, and if I think about a particular item or want it before Christmas I'll get it from the other closet and wear it, if not, it's gone.

Capsule wardrobes seem to work well for people who work from home and have a casual style. I'd say I have a casual style, but I cannot wear jeans to work everyday. Due to this trimming down my closet to 37 pieces seemed to daunting and downright impossible. I had 37 cardigans alone! I have since cut down the number of cardigans drastically by getting rid of the ones I never wear or the ones with stains and rips, why did I keep those anyways? I also got rid of about 6 pairs of work pants. I realized that it seemed like I had a lot of pants to wear to work, but I only ever wore 3 of them because they fit and were comfortable, the others were ill fitting, stained (seriously what's wrong with me) or just not a color/style I wear. One pair has 4 buttons and a zipper, which is way too much for someone who only has 10 seconds to go to the bathroom between students. They're gone! I did the same with my jeans. Who needs 6 pairs of jeans, only two of which you wear, when you only wear jeans on the weekends, and to be honest many weekends you just hang out in workout clothes/pj's/sweatpants anyways?

This is a very long winded way of me introducing my new style goals.

1. Buy or make only pieces you're sure you'll wear, fit with items you already have, and can be worn multiple times.
2. Diversify, match different items.
3. Have a color scheme.
4. Flip clothes hanger to other side once I've worn an item so I know I wore it this season.

I have a feeling no one will care about this post, but if I say it I'll feel more accountable and stick to it instead of falling back into my old habits. "Make it public make it happen."

Have you heard of this idea? Think you could do it?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Keeping It Real Race Recap

Well, I promised I would start sharing "real" stuff here, so the real truth is the race I ran on Saturday sucked.  It was a 12 mile trail race. Mistake one was drastically underestimating the elevation profile of this race. Mistake two was drastically overestimating how much I had actually trained for this race. Conclusion to these two mistakes, wicked bummer of a race.

The first two + miles were up a mountain, so I walked, and huffed and puffed. By the top my legs were jello so running down all of those switch backs was a real pleasure. It had rained the day before so there was ice everywhere, and lots of slippery leaves. This resulted in me tripping and in two instances totally wiping out. The people in front of me and behind me kept falling too so I didn't feel so bad, but I also did feel bad because it hurts to fall. I think I sprained my pinky finger catching myself, but everyone I ask says it looks normal. I also banged my knee on a root or rock or something hard. At mile 6 I told myself to drop out, but by mile 7, where you could drop out, I had convinced myself not to drop out, then mile 7.7 I was kicking myself for not dropping out. At that point my legs were alternating between feeling like jello or lead bricks. Since I was not having much luck getting my legs to work, and the tripping and falling kept happening, I decided to just switch my mind set to "I am hiking" and not "I am running a race, and sucking ass at it." The views were really great. You could see the lake and towards the end of the race you "hiked" past several water falls. People were very spread out by the last 4 miles so I was totally alone wondering if I was even going the right way, doubting all of my previous life choices.

The end of the race must have been designed by someone who really hates all people. You run up a road to the carriage house, then turn left and continue running up these old winding steps to get to the "Castle in the Clouds".  Charlie was waiting for me on the step, upon seeing him I immediately began to cry since the entire race had been very mentally and physically challenging. If I thought he would have said yes I would have asked him to carry me.  He walked with me to the finish line where I continued to cry until I forced myself to laugh at how stupid I was acting.

These are the stairs. I did not look .00001 percent as beautiful as this woman. At the finish line you have to turn around and walk your sorry butt back down the hill you just ran up. Seriously a sadists made this race up. Once we got back to the carriage house and met with our friends I sat down and was able to laugh about how seriously dumb the entire race was, and how delusional I was, and also how dumb it is that people willingly pay money to do this type of stuff. The after race food consisted of bagels, beer, whoppie pies and beef stew. The beef stew was all I could eat and was ice cold by the time I finished, so I took one bite and spit it out. Moral of the story is if you want hot food at the end of a race, run faster.

My new running friend had an excellent race so I gladly listened to her recant her success. Our other friend tried to run the 4 mile race but had an asthma attack and had to quit. Charlie finished 6th and "ran almost all of the race." Of the four or us two had a good race and two wanted to die. Pretty bad odds if you ask me. 

There was nothing but ice cold soup to eat so we packed up and set out to find food. I wanted to get ice cream at Ben and Jerry's in Meredith, Charlie was sure they were closed for the season. After looking it up online my phone said that they were open and I convinced him to take us, but once we got there the sign said "closed for the season." Google, you let me down. Instead we went to a pizza place next door and I had hot chocolate and gluten free BBQ chicken pizza. Probably a (little bit) healthier choice. Once we returned home though I made gluten free brownies to eat with vanilla ice cream on top. Not healthy, but who cares, I "hiked" 12 miles. Get off my case. It was delicious #noregrets.

On Sunday I was quite tired but managed to force myself to rake leaves for 3 hours, hang out with the dogs and do laundry. 

If you are wondering, I will not be doing this race again next year. Charlie said he would, he has issues. I'll go for a hike, take pictures of the pretty view and watch people try not to puke hiking up the last part of the course. 

I have not signed up for any more races, so staying motivated this winter might be an issue. I am going to try to run (at least) one mile a day from Thanksgiving until New Years. I did it last year and only missed one day. Running helps me have an easier time skiing, so I'll have to remind myself of that when I don't want to go for a run. 

I hope you had a less painful weekend than mine. What was the last really dumb thing you did? 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuff and Things

I was planning to come home after work today and rake, but the rain had other ideas. Instead of being useful I decided to waste my time and yours by telling you a lot of random things. This photo is not from today.

1. Seeing this pretty view every morning makes me not hate daylight savings time so much. I do wish those two dead branches on the far right tree would just fall off already though. Lots of people have been complaining about the sun going down so early, but I just see it as more sewing and reading in bed time.

2. We've started using the pellet stove again to heat the house, I forgot how great it is. I love to be warm.

3. I think my Christmas cactus has been spending time at Home Depot and Walmart when I am at work and thinks Christmas is a lot sooner than it is. Why plant, why? And yes, that is our smoke detector behind the plant, it seems to be going off a lot lately. I am not even the one setting it off.

4. This weekend Charlie and I are running a race. When we signed up it was an 11 mile race. Then we got an e-mail saying that due to weather and unforeseen trail issues the race had to be bumped up to a 12 mile course! Only in trail racing would this be acceptable. I am nervous because I've never done this race before, or even been to the area that it's held at. Most All of my training runs have been on flat trails and the race is up a mountain so that should be great. I have downloaded three new "pump up jams" for my ipod to help me run like the wind.

5. I went hiking last weekend to the top of the logging road with my sister in law, Meera. There was snow on the top of one of the mountains in the distance. Now I am very excited for it to snow. I won't be hiking up this hill when there is snow though.  Also, her little dog Raffi doesn't own orange gear to not be shot by a hunter so we had to tie a scrap of red fabric around his neck. It looked like a little scarf, so he looked like a mini French dog. It makes me want to sew him a beret.

6. I had to go to an unfamiliar grocery store the other day, and had only a little bit of time to find what I needed. Instead of wandering around (or reading the signs) I asked sales clerks where things were, I'm not afraid to ask for directions. This plan backfired on me when I asked a male associate "Where are your nuts?" Luckily he was nice and pointed my severely embarrassed red faced self to aisle 12, which was 6 steps from where I was standing when I asked him. The worst part is this is the second time this has happened to me. The first was in high school. I can't tell which incident was more mortifying. Probably the high school one as the boy then was much more attractive than the man this time. Anyways, to keep that from ever happening again I bought a huge container of nuts and will never buy them again, ever.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

How'd You Get That Way?

Once my brother said to a rather large female friend of my Grammy's "You're fat!" He was probably 3. She stuttered a response something along the lines of "well....yes.....I am" and then to add salt to her wounds Garrett said; "How'd you get that way?" Ever since then the phrase "how'd you get that way?" has stuck in my head. He wasn't asking to be rude, 3 year old's can't really be rude, he was asking because he was curious. I'd say we were both curious kids who grew into curious adults.

I like hearing back stories, finding out how people got to where they are now. I am awkward at meeting new people because I just want to skip the chit-chat and get to the "how'd you get that way" questions. I love asking how people met their significant others. I love to hear about how people chose their profession, or the house they bought. I also adore when people ask me the "how'd you get that way questions." Who doesn't love taking about themselves right? (why else would people have blogs?! am I right?)

The other day I helped a co-worker sew something for her mother-in-law. She watched me sew the item and then remarked, how did you learn to do this? I thought I'd share the (long) story here.

My mom has been sewing all of my life. She's made tons of clothes for Garrett and I, and even my wedding dress. She likes to sew, knit and cross stitch, so I grew up seeing her doing those hobbies. Honestly, I don't remember really learning to sew. My mom says that I used to sit on the table next to the sewing machine while she sewed and watch her. I do remember a few time when she would leave the room and I would jump off the table and sit in her chair trying to reach the pedal and sew. She says that sitting on the table lead to sitting on her lap while she sewed. I can only imagine how helpful I must have been (nawt). We had a vintage sewing table in the kitchen that I used to play with. It never worked, but I guess I liked to pretend. I'm not sure which my mom taught me to do first hand sew or use the machine, probably hand sew. Who wants their 5 year old to sew through their finger? I can remember hand sewing little clothes and pillows for my dolls. I also remember getting frustrated that my stitches were not the same size and were much bigger than my mom's; I tended to be a perfectionist even then.
I swear this is me, not a boy. 

I seemed to stick with hand sewing for a while, mostly because I didn't exactly know how to use the sewing machine very well, but also because the things I was sewing were rather small and were just easier to sew by hand. Garrett had a teddy bear named Baxter, he would pay me a penny for each item of clothing I made for Baxter. That one eyed bear had quite a collection of clothes after a while. One summer we decided Baxter should get married to my bear Kimberly (named after the Power Rangers). I spent hours making Baxter a tux and Kimberly a wedding dress. On July 12th (Garrett's birthday) Baxter and Kimberly got married; a stuffed leprechaun performed the ceremony, and there was a mini cake made from a bit of Garrett's real birthday cake. It should be mentioned that Baxter also needed many "surgeries" performed by my mom of myself to re-stuff him because his insides kept falling out. He was a very loved bear, and still lives with my brother.

Aside from sewing for Baxter I tended to get inspired by movies and books and try to sew clothes for my teddy bears based on what I had read or seen. I vividly remember spending hours making a hoop skirt from straws for a teddy bear after seeing Little Women for the first time. It never turned out the way I wanted it to though.

The summer between my third and forth grade year I started using the sewing machine more often. We had a babysitter named Elizabeth who lived next door. She would drive us to art camp and swim lessons everyday. Regardless of the weather we had to get out of the pond at exactly 1:35 in order to go to the market in town to get a bar of candy for each of us, and make it home in time for Elizabeth to watch her favorite soap opera, which came on at 2. Being home from the beach at 2 left a few hours of open time for Garrett and I to either get into a lot of trouble, or to crafts. Garrett usually chose the trouble option, and I usually picked crafts. I'd sew using scraps of fabric, make friendship bracelets,  and do little needle point kits. A few summers later when our parents started letting us stay home during the day without a babysitter I kept filling my free time with sewing. Whenever I ran into trouble I'd count down the hours/minutes until my mom got home to get me out of a bind.

I have mentioned here before that following patterns has never been my strong suit. Patterns for doll clothes and accessories were not as popular as they are now, so there were not many pattern options anyways, even if I had wanted or had access to something along those lines. I have also mostly been much happier to make up the pattern as I go. It's easy for me to visualize the end product and the steps to get there. I think this developed over time, but also has something to do with having a smidgen of the same skills as my dad. He's a carpenter and can build things with minimal measurements or drawings. When we build things together he only draws a picture so I can see it, not because he needs it. I'd like to think his ability either rubbed off on me or was just in my head to begin with. It was probably a mixture of the ability to visualize and many instances of trial and error that got me to the level of sewing I was at in middle school.

All through middle school we had to take Family Consumer Science, I usually messed up the cooking part but excelled at the sewing. We made lunch bags and stuffed toys. Some of the items we sewed I remember being bored by because they were too easy.  I also finished projects so fast that I offered do my classmates projects secretly; I was such a rebel in sixth grade. This was the point where I switched from sewing bear clothes to sewing purses and making shoes. Yes shoes. I was positive I would be a shoe designer in the future and used all the available resources I had to make this dream a reality. At that point resources included wood and fabric. Not the best shoe making materials. I had a pair of "high heels" made out of plywood and an old closet rod. I had to add a wooden lip at the bottom of those shoes so my toes would not slip out of my 5 inch heels. This pair never really made it to the wearing stage, as I was barely able to walk normally as a 13 year old with normal shoes. I made one pair of "flip flops" out of solid blocks of oak that I cut out using a band saw and a pencil marking of the shape of my foot. Then I covered the wood with fabric and made fabric straps to keep them on my feet, which I used a staple gun to attach. I proudly wore them to school one morning. My pride lasted all of 10 minutes before I started clomping across the gym floor to get to the point where my friends always stood before school started. Everyone in the whole gym (all 4 grades of students) turned to look at who was making the huge racket. Every step made an echo, everyone stopped talking to stare and my face got redder and redder. That was the end of my shoe designing career and the beginning of my "awkward phase".

After giving up shoe creation I went back to sewing. I made a lot of little drawstring bags and several purses. My mom was still helping me a lot, and also sewing things for me that I could not do myself. I had a hard time getting my ideas from my brain onto paper and into her pattern minded head to get what I actually wanted. Many times she'd listen to what I wanted, then when we were buying fabric would get a pattern that kind of fit what I was describing and use that. It was so nice of her, but I am sure I was not as appreciative as I should have been at the time. I think my body shape at 13 did not help either. I was as tall as I am now in 7th grade, and about 50 pounds lighter with no "shape" to speak of. Clothes obviously did not fit me the way I expected because I was too busy imagining myself to look like the models in my Delia's catalog to realize what I actually looked like. A pencil with acne. You couldn't pay me enough money to agree to relive those years.

Not having items turn out the way I wanted them too frustrated me, but also fueled me. I kept trying, and proudly wore my creations to school despite the ridicule I am sure I endured. My sewing and crafting in general went through periods of great enthusiasm and periods of not being interested all through high school. In 11th grade I got a job working at the town dump; still the best job I've ever had to this day. Lots of people would bring in clothes to donate and my co-worker Cathy and I got first dibs. Some things were really cool but not exactly my style or size. I'd take interesting things home and make them bigger or smaller, or add panels of fabric at the bottom of pants to make them longer. This was super fun, and saved me a lot of money. One cute boy who moved from England senior year signed my yearbook; "you look pretty good for someone who gets all her clothes at the dump." My heart melted and I was sure that meant he was in love with me. He was not.

High school was also the time that my great Grandmother gave me her old feather weight sewing machine and my Grammy bought me a sewing machine of my own for Christmas. At 16 I had two sewing machines, talk about lucky. Having my own machines to figure out how to use, and inevitably mess up was big for me. I didn't have to worry about screwing something up on my moms fancier machine. I also had a license and money (hello dump job) so I could buy my own fabric, talk about revolutionary. I could pick out my own fabric and supplies instead of relying on my Mom to drive me and pay for things. High school ended, thank goodness, and I managed to make it out alive.

At the beginning of college I focused primarily on school, diving, and finding a boyfriend, and left the sewing machines at home. I did buy supplies and create things I'd been dreaming about over vacations and breaks from school though. Lots of belts and drawstring bags. Once senior year rolled around and I had my own place to live, and had secured a boyfriend, I started sewing again. I made myself a Halloween costume with no pattern. I also made a lot of throw pillows and curtains for every window in our three room apartment because that's what I thought you were supposed to do when you moved in with your serious boyfriend; serious meaning you'd been dating for a year.

After graduating I had a whole summer that I was kind of lost during. I lived with my Grammy and worked at the local swimming pool. I had a lot of free time so I sewed Charlie a quilt; again because I thought that was what you were supposed to do when you really really loved someone. After the summer was over my sewing mo-jo continued into graduate school. I had classes all day for a few days a week and then had a few days totally off to myself. I could not possible study or read textbooks the entire day; sewing was a welcomed reward for writing a paper or reading a few chapters. It also filled my time between waiting for Charlie to graduate from college and move in, and when he was working on the weekends at his retail job. At this point in time I started sewing clothes from scratch instead of modifying clothes I already had. I still needed a lot of help from my mom and would save projects for visits to Maine where she would help me sew zippers or explain where I had gone wrong. This is when I started keeping this blog. I had been following a few sewing blogs, and felt like I wanted to share my projects too. At the end of graduate school my friends and I formed the very short lived "sewing club" where I tried to teach them to sew. One friend already knew how, and the other spend her time making us a delicious dinner. She has since started sewing a t-shirt quilt, so I feel like I maybe helped inspire her a little bit.

After six years of "higher education" I graduated (thanks Mum and Dad) and Charlie and I moved to the town I got a job in. We got a two bedroom apartment because Charlie was sick of hearing the sewing machine, and sick of the mess my crafting left everywhere. We were engaged and a lot of my free time went into planning a wedding and worrying about tiny details that only I noticed. I did find time to sew purses and the occasional skirt and top for myself. In the last four years I have gone through periods of being totally into sewing, and not so into it. Mostly due to what else is going on in my life, not so much a lack of interest but a need or desire to focus on something else at the time. I cannot even begin to add up the amount of time I have spent sewing in my lifetime. I was reading recently about the idea of "flow", when you're so immersed in an activity that the steps come easily to you, you lose track of time, you don't worry about screwing things up, and the task is just hard enough to keep you interested but not so hard that you can't master it. I'd say this happens a lot of the time when I am sewing now. I know it didn't used to happen, when I was still learning. Now it comes easily and I could sew for 2 hours and it feels like 30 minutes. This is highly annoying to Charlie, because 5 more minutes turns into an hour and I do not even realize it. And now we're caught up. I can sew button holes, follow patterns, and for the most part sew things without bursting into frustrated tears and running to my mom.

I think this (insanely long) post does a good job of telling my sewing story, but also explaining why I am who I am. Sewing has been a big part of my life and has helped shape me into who I am today. I'd say I stick with things longer than most people, think more outside the box, and am more creative than others in part thanks to my experiences with sewing.

Do you have anything that you think has helped shape you as a person?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Adult Sayings/ Mantras

I've been reading a lot lately about Mantras and sayings and "adult wisdom" etc. My friend commented the other day that I was one of the most "adult-ish" people he knew. I thought that was funny since I feel like the most un-adult person I know. Both ideas got me thinking about my personal mantras or things I say to myself to not flip out/be a better person, and to be more "adult". I realized that a lot of them came directly from my grandmother's mouth, and song lyrics. Just a few that I've been repeating to myself lately are:
  1. "If money can fix it, it's not a problem". My grandmother used to say this a lot. It doesn't mean you should just throw money at all of your problems. It means that if something can be fixed (with money) or replaced (with money) then why waste time being upset or worrying about it. 
  2. "Act the way you want to feel." This is a new one for me and needs to be repeated often. It doesn't mean be fake, but if you want to be happy you should probably act happy. Pretty obvious but I seem to tell myself this 3 times a day.
  3. "You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need." Who doesn't love to sing the Rolling Stones to themselves? Whenever I want to stomp my feet in 2 year old tantrum style I try to remind myself that things don't always happen the way you want them to, but you'll end up getting what you really need in the end. 
  4. "If it will only take a minute do it now." Just doing something, even if you hate it (switching the laundry, taking out the compost/garbage, emptying the dishwasher) is so much easier than thinking about it how much you hate doing it, or having to constantly remind yourself to do it. 
  5. "We shall all get there someday." This is from a longer quote from Winnie the Pooh, that I absolutely love. It says "Rivers know this; there is no hurry we shall all get there someday." When I was freaking out that our wedding wasn't starting at exactly 4 pm as stated on the invitation because guests were still arriving, not because I wasn't ready, my maid of honor asked me to repeat this quote to her. Saying it instantly calmed me down (well, except then 3 minutes later I flipped off my uncle, whatever). The end result was that I was married, it could have happened at exactly 4, or at 5, or 4:23. In the end who cares. I think about this a lot and try to share it with friends, some of whom comment on how they are not "where they should be" in terms of dating, being married, having a job, or a house, or a dog or a baby. Everyone gets where they're meant to go eventually. 
  6. "Everything happens for a reason." I've written about this before, but I really do think that things happen the way they are supposed it. It's easy for me to say this about past experiences, hindsight is 20/20 after all, but harder to remember in the moment. 
  7. "You have to work hard to be lucky." It kind of goes against the last saying, but you do have to work hard to get things you want. This was actually in a fortune cookie and I have it in my bathroom.
  8. "Be grateful." It seems I only remind myself to be grateful when something bad happens to someone else. I'm grateful I don't have Ebola, but only because other people do, and I've been hearing about it. Prior to hearing about Ebola I would not have. 
  9. "You can only control yourself." This has only recently become a saying of mine as it was news to me a few months ago. Mind blowing, yet so obvious. This applies to every aspect of my life and has helped me get over many small, and a few large instances of annoyance/ aggravation. 
Do you have any "mantras"? Anything you say to yourself to help you get through a rough day?


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fall Reading

My Summer post was much longer which just tells you that I had a lot more time to read this summer. I set a goal to myself to read (even for a minute) everyday. That has kept me going. Usually I stop reading until Christmas or so once school starts. Due to this new goal I have been watching significantly less TV, although going to bed later than I used to, for the most part, but sleeping better due to not looking at a screen for a few hours before bed. Enough rambling though here are the books I've read recently.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin- I heard about this through another blogger and thought it seemed interesting. It's about a woman setting resolutions every month to make her a happier person. It's the reason I set the goal to read everyday. I would not say I am an unhappy person, but reading this book made me think a bit more about things I could do to be happier. I read it in the mornings and on my lunch break, since it was factual and not something I really wanted to think about before bed. I'm hoping to keep this trend going as well, by reading non-fiction in the morning and fiction at night. I think I kept annoying Charlie and my friends by talking about the book too much.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell- This was reviewed by a blogger so I decided to read it. I didn't realize until I asked for it at the library that it was a young adult book. I had been trying to take a break from those, but oh well. The book was about two high school students who fall in love. Seems lame, but it was actually really good because the girl, Eleanor, has a terrible life and the boy, Park, kind of makes it better. In case you were not aware, I love sad books about depressing topics, so I liked this book a lot. It reminded me a little bit of The Glass Castle. As I said it's a YA novel, but had some pretty harsh language and broached other topics I would not necessarily want a youngster to read. Although whenever I talk about about censoring teenagers book choices I remember that my mom let me read She's Come Undone when I was 13. So see, I loved sad novels even back then! Thanks for not taking inappropriate book away from me Mum. You probably knew I would just sneak it anyways.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- I also heard about this book through another blogger. I really need to make some real friends apparently. Dare I say it's the best book I've read all year. Or at least top 3, but most likely number one. I loved everything about this book, even the ending, although I wanted the book to go on forever because I loved it so much. The authors writing style was so beautiful. I read that it took him ten years to write the book and I believe it. Every word flowed so well and painted wonderful images in my brain. It is told from multiple perspectives over many years, flipping back and forth between the years. It's about a young girl who is blind and lives in France at the beginning of the Nazi occupation and details her story throughout the war. It also follows the life of a boy who is an orphan in Germany and is sent to a Nazi training school where he learns to locate where enemy (to the Germans) radio transmissions are coming from. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It actually makes me want to start a book club so I can have someone to discus it with.

I knew it would be hard to follow All The Light We Cannot See so I am starting Unbroken now. It was recommended to me by a real life friend. I am also hoping to get my hands on Lena Dunham's book Not That Kind Of Girl, but it's brand new so I might have to buy it instead of wait 6 years on the interlibrary loan list. I also want to read Amy Poehler's book Yes Please, but it's also new and probably has a 10 year waiting list. Christmas ideas people! Dad! Dad I'm talking to you.

What have you been reading? I love recommendations.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bravery: Button Holes

I started this skirt in March, and got to the very end then chickened out of sewing 12 (12!) button holes. After wimping out I made this skirt without the button holes since the pattern is so well written and fits nicely.

Over the last 6 months I forgot how much time I spent on the rest of the skirt and my desire to have the skirt finished for my fall wardrobe overcame my fear of screwing it up. I practiced 5 times before starting on the actual skirt, which is good because the first 3 were absolute crap.

I am glad I conquered my fear, but kind of feel like I wasted a bunch of time because I only have to unbutton the first three buttons to get the skirt on and off. The rest could have just been sewn on through the two layers. Oh well, it was good practice. And it look more professional with all the button holes.

This is seriously one of the most detailed pieces of clothing I've even sewn. It's fully lined, has pockets (obviously), I sewed the seam by hand so you can't see it, and it has 12 buttons! I still can't get over the fact that I successfully sewed 12 button holes. That means this year I have sewed 16 button holes so far. That's 16 more than the other 27 years of my life. I feel like I can take on anything. Well, not really, but you get my drift. The best part is I didn't call my mom crying one single time, which I was sure would happen at least 3 times. I can't tell if that's a sign I am growing up (finally) or if that means the pattern was so well written that even a pattern hater like me could follow it. I would definitely buy another Colette pattern in the future.

It's a soft army green corduroy fabric. It's very comfortable and looks nice, IMO. In case you were wondering, this is how almost every photo shoot ends; with Blaze begging for treats and stealing my button hole thunder with his cuteness.

What's your recent success story?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekend and Race Recap

This weekend I did no house work or home improvement projects and it felt so nice. Sometimes you just need a break. On Friday we went to see a co-workers band play at the Greenhouse in Warren. Holy cow, how can a town that is not that far geography take one so long to get to? Once we finally got there I decided we should probably stay until the end of the show to make our travels worth it. That resulted in staying out way too late. 

Charlie wasn't feeling well on Saturday so instead of staying home with his germs I treated myself to a movie. This is the third time I've gone to the movies by myself and I don't know why I don't do it more often. I love going with people so I can talk about the movie afterwards, but not having to share popcorn was kind of like heaven on a rainy Saturday. The popcorn actually lasted for longer than the previews! I saw Gone Girl. Going into it I was a bit sad that I had read the book, which never happens to me, usually I like having read the book first. I just didn't want to know what happened, but I did. Despite knowing what would/was going to happen I was totally entertained and loved it. Well, as much as you can love a movie where you hate all of the characters. There were two men sitting across the aisle from me with their wives who were very surprised, and vocal about their shock, by the turn of events of the movie so that was entertaining to witness. Once I returned home Charlie was feeling better but I needed a nap. All in all we probably spent about 3 hours awake at the same time yesterday. Enough time to eat dinner and let Blaze do this. 

It's a good thing he's so cute. 
Charlie signed up for a 10 mile race, and then last week I realized my training plan was to run 10 miles this weekend so I figured why not do a 10 mile race instead of running on the same (flat) trail I always run on? I only regretted my decision once (during a particularly large hill). Charlie had a great race and finished 5th overall and 2nd in his age group with a time of 1:01:10. OMG he's fast. I wanted to finish in 1:30 or under, which is 9 minute miles. I ended up finishing in 1:26:48. New PR! I kind of worked myself into a tizzy around mile 7 thinking I was not going to make my goal time, so I busted out a few 7:55 miles (downhill thank goodness!) and also blasted some pump up jams on my ipod.  "Pump up Jams" in my book are "Running on Empty" by Jackson Browne, and "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift. I did not win any prizes and was 8th in my age group. Charlie said it was because we were in Concord, if the race were near our house no 20-29 year olds would have run it. I am trying to enjoy my last 1.3 years of my age group before I stop winning prizes until I turn 80.

The race was really nice. It was well organized and had more volunteers and people marking the course than maybe any other race I've done. Everyone was very friendly despite it being really cold and windy. I felt kind of funny sweating in a tank top and capris when people at the water stations were wrapped in blankets. The course was a bit hilly, but not much compared to climbing a mountain. I'd do this race again since Charlie and I talked about how 10 miles is a manageable distance and doesn't beat up your body to the extent that a marathon does. Have I mentioned I am never doing a marathon again? Just like to write it every once in a while to make sure I don't make that mistake ever again.
Is it just me or does the logo on the sign and shirt look kind of like someone flipping the bird?
After the race there was a lot of food, most of which I could not eat because it was full of gluten and I didn't feel like feeling like butt for the next two days (since I'll already be sore for the next two days.) As a side note I feel super annoying for writing that. I still sometimes can't believe I turned into one of those people. Charlie ate two mini burritos and two slices of pizza. I did have a bowl of vegetable soup that was ladled out of a gatorade jug but tasted delicious. Since the fare was less than filling I forced Charlie to take me to Friendly's for ice cream. The waitress was a bit confused when we told her I only wanted ice cream, I think she even looked at the clock to check what time it was. 11:45 is the best ice cream eating time if you ask me.

Excuse me Miss, does this have gluten?
I ate the whole thing and then had a belly ache for about four hours. Totally worth it though. I have said it before and I'll say it again, ice cream is the number one reason I run. Once I was showered I took another nap. It was not as great as Saturday's naps since Blaze kept scratching at my head so I'd wake up and take him for a walk. Still though, two naps in two days? Life is good.

Hope you had a good weekend!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Snaps From The Long Weekend

 Over the weekend Penny helped me decorate the outside of the house for fall.

We made a scarecrow. I rested the pumpkin on top of his shirt for a head, but overnight it rolled off his neck, down the driveway and across the road. I assumed some neighborhood kid had stolen it and smashed it, but alas my pumpkin just rolled away on it's own accord. 

Charlie and I did trail work. Sometimes on the weekends I wait until he gets dressed and then purposefully put on a matching outfit because I think it's funny. We wore the same sweatshirt that we both got for finishing the marathon last year, and our Carhart vests that we got for Christmas two years ago. 

Had pizza and beer at Schillings in Littleton. I was expecting a dumpy town but it was so cute and busy. 
 Dug up a bunch of blubs, and then planted other bulbs. It seemed counter intuitive, but I did it anyways.

Went hiking and picked out a Christmas tree. I swear this was Charlie's idea. You pick on you want and decorate it then go back and cut it down, you know, after HalloweenThanksgiving.

Harvested sweet pea pods. This was one thing I grew this summer that actually did really well. Hopefully I'll be able to use the seeds to grow even better sweet peas next year. 

Enjoyed cider donuts, hot cider and a game of checkers at the new and improved Cardigan Mountain Country Store

Took the dogs for lots of walks and runs. This walk involved a covered bridge which neither minded, and a wire suspension bridge, which both dogs hated. It was pretty funny watching them walk across it. It was the only time all weekend Blaze didn't tug on his leash.

I wish every weekend was a three day weekend.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Purple Skirt, Because Duh, You Can Never Have Too Much Purple

Holy Cow! Can you believe it's October and it's 70+ degrees out? I could get used to this. In an effort to be more "into" fall I have tried to dress more like it's fall. With the holiday weekend I was able to spend my extra time sewing. I was getting kind of sick of sewing quilt squares so I decided to finish two skirts I had been working on. This one was started in August with the intent of being used/worn this fall. I figured I'd better get crackin' if I wanted to actually wear it this fall.
It's from the Cyntha Rowley 2215 pattern that I made this dress out of over the spring. As usual I messed up the zipper, since there is a pocket where the zipper goes. Nothing a little seam ripping wouldn't fix. I also had to actually read the pattern, I so hate doing that.

My plan was to wear it today with my brown boots. I even painted my fingernails my most fall color last night. Except this morning I heard it was going to be 70 degrees so I just had to wear sandals for potentially one last day.

Despite saying I enjoyed the weather today I certainly look very annoyed in these pictures. Taking my own picture is definitely the worst part of blogging. And also having to spell check definitely every single time because I just can't figure out how to spell it. 

Also! Did you know you can plug in your e-mail address in the "follow me by e-mail" box on the left and you'll get an e-mail when I post. Never miss another fascinating post from me again. I can feel your excitement. 


Friday, October 10, 2014


How is it already October? I read last week "the days are long but the years are short", it seems like the days are long but the months go by in the blink of an eye. Currently I have been...

Watching Charlie and his friends run a marathon relay. It was fun to go to a race that Charlie was doing but I wasn't so I could watch him instead of plodding along 3 (+) minute miles behind him. My brother- and sister-in-law ran the full marathon and it was great to be able to pay back the favor of cheering for them during their marathon when they so nicely cheered for me last year when I hobbled 26.2 miles through the woods with bloody stumps for feet. They looked great.

Enjoying our ever increasing view of the mountains. One good thing about fall is that the leave fall off the trees that obstruct your view. I am very excited to see snow on that mountain.

Wondering why and how my tomato plants that were planted from seeds in April are just now ripe. What the what?

Making fall pretty for myself. I have always thought my issue with fall outside of it being the end of summer is that I am not super into the colors of fall. Yellow, orange and red are not my colors. And mostly I just see a lot of brown it seems. Organizing the leaves was a fun way to make me see and appreciate the colors.

Keeping the summer momentum of buying flowers for the house going. I am very proud of myself for sticking with the autumnal feel instead of going to my favorites; pastels! I even feel like I kind of know what I am doing when I pick out flowers now. And I am making friends at the florist.

Staying warm. One other good thing about fall is that we can use the pellet stove again! I love it and so does Blaze, see his tail wagging.

Finding a favorite fall tree. In college Lorelei and I had a tree outside our dorm that was so pretty in the fall, I think I took a picture (or 5) all four of that tree. Since then I try to look for a new favorite wherever we live. Luckily this one is in our yard. I've noticed I am drawn to the red trees more so than orange or yellow. Red leaves against a blue sky, I guess Fall doesn't suck.

Getting crafty everyday. I set a goal to myself to do something crafty everyday (forever). It keeps me from being lazy and watching TV mindlessly at night. Although lately I have been working on my felt ornaments and watching TV, but at least I have been doing something. Charlie and I are also working on a project together, that's been interesting. It's helping me with another goal "be more patient", for sure.

What are you up to?


Friday, September 26, 2014

Trail Race Success

The race this weekend went great. Thanks for your music recommendations friends. It was a 14 mile trail race, which involved climbing up a mountain and then running back down. I ended up beating my time last year by almost 20 minutes! I still can't believe it myself. In trying to think about the reasons I ran so much faster I have multiple variables that played in my favor.
  1. New shoes. Last year I was wearing Saucony's and they were literally shredding my feet to bits. I did this race as a training run for the marathon I did in November and got really bad blisters. Then like an idiot I kept running in the same shoes for two more months. I wrapped my toes in band aids, wore different socks, but never actually changed my shoes. Dumb Lauren. In April I bought a pair of Hoka's. They look like clown shoes but honestly feel like running on clouds so I don't care how dumb I look in them, and I don't care if my friends make fun of me. I had one tiny blister after this race, but nothing compared to last year. I also think the blister was due to the wet conditions of the race, not the shoes. They are much wider which always makes it easier to run on uneven trails. I love these shoes. 
  2. New Socks. A few people recommended Injingi socks after hearing about my blisters and they worked well. I only wear them for long runs because I hate putting them on, and also only have two pair.
  3. Losing weight. This seems like a touchy subject and something not a lot of people talk about, but I think it's worth mentioning. Since last years race I have lost weight. Not having to carry around the extra pounds for 14 miles was excellent and definitely made me faster. 
  4. Eating right. Another touchy subject, but here goes. I mentioned it in the spring back when I started eating healthier, but I have at least attempted to continue the momentum from that. I have stopped eating gluten, because I figured out through elimination that it was making me sick. I also have not been eating a whole lot of dairy, I did let myself eat ice cream this summer, because I love it, but I am not drinking gallons upon gallons of milk anymore.  I now tend to eat a lot of eggs, meat, vegetables and fruit. Since going gluten free I have been trying to do some gluten free baking, because I actually like baking (and have a huge sweet tooth) so I've been making cornbread and cookies, but trying to limit it to only weekends. 
  5. Cross training/ Crossfit. I have not mentioned this here yet but I have been going to a crossfit class since February. It's an exercise class that mixes cardio with weight lifting and strength training. After the marathon I pretty much took 3 months off or running (and most exercising) so when February rolled around I felt quite sloth-ish. I contemplated joining a yoga class, but then Charlie said he would do a crossfit class with me so we both joined. He has since stopped going to focus more on running, but I have continued to go. I was initially worried I'd start looking like a body builder but that has not happened, and I really don't think it will. The classes are always fun; what really keeps me coming back though is the people. I like running, but it's a very solitary activity for me. At crossfit there are lots of people around to inspire and motivate you. I would never do these exercises if there wasn't someone there to help me do it or to inspire me. Everyone is very nice and I love the energy. It reminds me of diving practice, doing fun but difficult things and having people cheer for you when you do well, and cheering for others as well. I like the team mentality of it, even though it's mostly individual. We also do a ton of squats, which have made my legs much stronger. I felt stronger climbing up the mountain on Sunday. My legs didn't burn, as much, as last year, and I felt less winded.
  6. Running less/no burn out. Last year I was running 6-7 days a week. I was running at cross country practice (slowly) then running on the days off to make up for the slow running or to get a long run in for training. This year I only ran 3 days a week. One short, one medium and one long run. I didn't ever feel sick of running or think to myself "ugh I don't want to do this." Well, I did say I didn't want to do it a few times but only because it was raining or I had to wake up earlier. I am also not coaching this year which has been fantastic. I finally came to two very important realizations. First is that if you like doing something it doesn't mean you will like coaching people to do that something. I kept feeling like I was doing something wrong for not liking coaching, and that if I didn't like coaching it must mean I didn't like running. But that's not true. Second was that I can say "no" to things I don't want to do. I didn't like it for multiple reasons, I tried my best, but ultimately I just didn't want to so I didn't. 
  7. Music. I mentioned this before but running with music really makes me go faster. I only had fast/upbeat songs on my ipod on Sunday and all the songs pumped me up and made me really enjoy running. I also think it helped the time go by faster. 
  8. Actually Stretching. People are right, you should stretch before you do do any kind of physical activity. I don't know why I took so long to figure this out. I do dynamic stretching. 
  9. Confidence. I talked myself up, before the race and during. I knew what my goal time was and kept reminding myself to keep up the pace in order to finish by that time, and kept reminding myself that I could finish in that time. 

I also think my galaxy running capris helped me run fast. Or at least made me think of funny space puns while running. I'll spare you. 

Charlie and I have already signed up for another trails race in November. It's not a marathon though, only 11 miles. If I ever say anything about signing up for a marathon again please knock some sense into me. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer Top #5

I feel like I am sewing a ton of stuff I had planned to finish this summer in hopes of wearing them before it gets too cold. I'm pretty sure I missed the boat on my Date Night Dress. This summer tanktop was finished in the nick of time. 

This makes the fifth top I've made using this pattern. So many that I don't even look at the directions anymore. I've had the fabric since when chevrons were first cool. I always joke that I have to wait for a trend to die before I pick it up. The chevrons feel no different. My Dad also jokes that New Hampshire is where trends go to die, so that saying works too. 

 I wore it on Friday, paired with the obvious choice, a cardigan. Wearing tank tops with a cardigan makes them much more wearable for New England. The next top I have planned is a version like this one by Rae


Monday, September 22, 2014

Date Night Dress and Slip

One thing I really wanted to sew this summer was a Date Night Dress and Slip. I finished it last week, but unfortuantely it's too cold to wear it. My plan was to finish it for an actual date that Charlie and I were going on last Friday. I did finish the dress and the slip, but it was way too cold to wear on our dinner/concert date. 

Both are made out of voile, my favorite fabric.  Very soft and cool, but not suitable for the recent cold temperatures. 

I like the flutter sleeves. I can't wait to wear it, but it seems like that won't be until Spring. 

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