January 2014 | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Introducing.... The Stokke Steps

This week saw the launch of the brand new Stokke Steps high chair - and today I visited the Stokke team at the Design Museum in London to see what it's all about!

My all time favourite baby buys have to be my Stokke Tripp Trapp and the newborn set that fits it. You can read exactly what I love about them here. But to be honest, it's the entire Stokke philosophy that I love; the fact that every product that they create is designed to strengthen the bond between parent and child and to grow with the child too.


The new Stokke Steps is, like the Tripp Trapp, an all in one seating system that is suitable from birth. It, too, is a modular system with a number of different parts that can all be bought separately, as and when required.

However the shape of the chair is entirely different and the accessories differ too.

The chair, which is of course the main body of the set, has a curved back rest and a generous sized seat which gives sideways protection and is super comfy to boot (of course I tried it out!). The foot rest is adjustable and enables children to climb in and out of the chair on their own. I would say that the main difference is that it looks like a high chair, whereas I think the Tripp Trapp looks more like a proper chair (albeit a quirky one!).



Then there is the newborn bouncer seat, which really is in a league of its own. I LOVED it. Rather than just bouncing up and down, or vibrating, like other bouncers, this seat is made with a unique cradling movement that mimics the feeling of being cradled in a mother's arms. It comes with a super cosy - and practical - newborn insert which ensures healthy spine development, and features adjustable seating positions to grow with the child (so no more hitting the floor with each bounce as your baby gains weight!). There is also a detachable toy hanger and the seat can be folded flat for easy storage.

The bouncer can also be used as a newborn attachment for the Stokke Steps chair. This allows your baby to sit up to the table with you from birth (we LOVED being able to do this with Evie) and also means they are up high and can easily be lavished with attention while you're pottering around at home!

Next up is the baby seat, which is for when your baby is able to sit up unaided, right through until they are safely able to sit on a chair by themselves. It can be attached and removed easily, without the need for tools, and the back rest is adjustable in height AND depth for maximum comfort and safety. Cushions are available as optional extras and a large tray is also available if you prefer to give your baby a place of his or her own to eat or play.


The Stokke Steps truly is an ingenious and innovative seating system and I have no doubt it will prove to be equally as popular as it's big brother the Tripp Trapp!

The chair is available in either pale beech or a darker walnut wood veneer and is currently being sold exclusively at Huggle in Swiss Cottage. Tomorrow it will become available at Peppermint in Chiswick and then Stokke will be revealing it at The Baby Show in February.xoxo
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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Introducing.... The Silver Cross Reflex



Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the brand new Silver Cross Reflex. There had been lots of hype surrounding the release of this uber stylish pushchair and it's easy to see why!



There is no doubt that this is, quite simply, THE BEST umbrella fold stroller I've ever seen. Those of you that follow me on Twitter will be aware of my quest to find the ultimate compact buggy and I genuinely think I might have found it. The Reflex combines the sturdiness of a high end travel system with the convenience (and price! - just £250!) of an umbrella fold buggy, plus it has heaps of innovative functions that put it way above any other strollers I've tried out in the past.

So I'm talking about the Reflex like it's merely a stroller. It's not. This pushchair is suitable from birth and can be converted into a parent facing pram (with the addition of the newborn accessory pack which consists of a hood, jersey wind stopper apron and a bamboo baby nest liner which creates a lie-flat bed unit). You can also use it as a travel system by combining it with the Silver Cross Simplicity car seat (the adaptors are included in the pack). But it's when you use it as a forward facing buggy that its wealth of unique features really come into their own.

It has an extra roomy seat with an ergonomic backrest that provides comfort and allows air to flow through. Evie is a chunky 30lbs at 14 months and it has looked as if she'd outgrow some strollers we've reviewed in the past fairly quickly. Not so with the Reflex. Aside from being large, the seat also has the best lie flat position in its class and I would also comment on how lovely and upright the seat is when not in reclined mode. The switch at the back of the seat to change position is very easy to use and there is an articulating bumper bar at the front that folds with the pushchair, so doesn't have to be removed.

The chassis is a beautifully elegant, lightweight, brushed chrome, can be closed one handed (yes really! How handy is that when you're holding your wriggly toddler in the other arm!) and is super compact when folded away (86x61x35cm and only 8.5kg). The best part has to be the LED lights on either side for extra safety, which would be an absolute godsend on the dark and unlit rural roads close to where I live.

Other features that I loved include:

Extendable handles - always handy.
An easily accessible basket which is larger than your average shopping basket.
A washable liner - brilliant if you have a child that likes to snack on the go!
A fully extending hood - great for when your wee one is napping as you can keep him or her in the dark, plus it has UPF50+ sun protection which is a necessity in the summer (particularly when abroad) and mesh panels to allow air to circulate when it's warm.
Magnetic clips for the footmuff which keep it firmly in place (and I should add that you don't have to pay extra for the footmuff either; its included in the price.)
A choice of no less than seven colours! - Chilli, Lime, Raspberry, Sand, Purple, Black and Sky Blue. 
These strollers are designed in Britain. I am very pro-supporting British workers and Silver Cross are the only pram manufacturers left in the United Kingdom.

Included in the price is the articulating bumper bar, the washable seat liner, 3 mode LED safety lights, deep padded harness and footmuff, easy access basket, car seat adaptors and raincover.



Evie isn't particularly keen on being in her current buggy but I actually had trouble getting her out of this one! I think it was down to the size of the seat and the fact it was so upright, enabling her to see everything that was going on around her. She looked very comfortable and very cosy.

This CGI video of the Reflex in action shows you everything you need to know - and just how easy it really is to manoeuvre and function.


The Reflex will be available from Silver Cross (here) from mid March. For more information check out the Silver Cross Baby blog here xoxo
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Friday, 24 January 2014

February #NYNYStyleProject

I can't believe we're coming to the end of January already, and that means we've nearly finished the first month of the #NYNYStyleProject prompts! The response has been totally awesome.... Search the hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and you'll find thousands of photographs and tweets from women all over the world that have been taking part. (Yes you read that right. THOUSANDS! And FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD! How amazing and humbling and inspiring and BRILLIANT is that!)

Seeing as we've only a week before February starts, we thought now would be a good time to launch the prompts for month two. If you're new to The Project, it's not too late to start! That's the best bit about it - you can dip in and out whenever you like. Read all about it here xoxo


Special thanks to Little Likely Lads, Rock n Roller Baby, Wishful Wonderings and Little Man's Mum for joining in with and blogging about the #NYNYStyleProject this month. Make sure you check them all out! xoxo
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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

How Would You Describe Your Style?



Somebody recently asked me how I'd define my style and I was pretty stuck. The truth is I wear whatever I fancy, so long as I feel comfortable in it. I'm a little bit 1940s housewife, a little bit 1970s hippy and a little bit English Country Casuals amongst others.... Mix them all together and what have you got? I'm fairly certain it doesn't have a name.

During the day I love nothing better than to wear a girlie tea dress with a chunky knit cardie and woolly tights or socks. I adore lace up shoes and knee high boots. I don't have a car and walk A LOT so I very rarely wear high heels. During the summer I tend to adopt a bohemian vibe and wear cheesecloth and lace and denim. I'm an apple shape - with skinny arms and legs and a belly that has definitely grown two babies inside it - so I like to show off my legs in tight jeans and short-shorts and then team them with loose tops that hide my middle. I love accessories of every kind. Rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings - I mix gold and silver regularly, much to my friends' horror. 

That all sounds rather whimsical, but living in the sticks I also have to be practical - and wellies, a wax jacket and lots of layers also contribute to my daily uniform. I spend a lot of time outdoors and this, together with the weather, has to be taken into account when I plan my day's attire.

It's taken a while, but finally I feel happy with my body and the way I dress it. My wardrobe is my friend!

What's your favourite day time outfit and how would you define your style? xoxo






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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Five Tips for Perfect Skin in 2014



With 2014 having arrived, it’s a great time to indulge in a few resolutions that will enhance your skin. The following five ideas will ensure you’re protected not just for 2014, but for the many years to come.

1. Sleep better

I know I've been banging on about sleep a lot recently and saying 'sleep better' is easier said than done (TRUST me, I know.... sleep is the Holy Grail in my eyes) but so many people simply don’t get enough sleep. Fast paced, hectic lifestyles can be really damaging to the skin, as the body does a lot of its repair-work while we’re snoozing. Though you might not be able to radically increase the number of hours you’re sleeping (especially when the kids have something to say about it!), you should try and remain consistent. If you have trouble sleeping, there are a number of things you can try. Taking a bath before bed can relax the body, quieten your mind and allow sleep to come naturally. Meanwhile, including a short period of reading before bed might offer a distraction from the day’s activities and prepare you for sleep.

2. Drink more

With a large proportion of the human body actually being water, it’s vital to stay hydrated. Dry, flaky and cracked skin is a common problem if you’re not drinking enough, and though you may attempt to cover this damage with makeup, it normally only makes matters worse. Drinking more water not only improves your complexion, but can also cure problems such as fatigue and headaches.

If you regularly workout, you might like to also use sports drinks to supplement your hydration. As you sweat, you can rid the body of many essential salts. Energy drinks and rehydration sachets replenish these lost salts and electrolytes, creating a holistic balance once again.



Juicing fruits and vegetables is another way to keep your skin in tip top condition. The first thing I notice when I juice fast is my complexion clearing up - and that's because I'm flooding my body with vitamins and minerals and enzymes, all of which are important for healthy skin.

3. Avoid the sun’s glare

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times or more, but the sun really does do a lot of damage to your skin. Just 30 minutes of UV glare on unprotected skin can cause problems, resulting in dryness, wrinkles and worse.

Luckily, protecting yourself from the sun is relatively easy, and you can use sunscreen to block out UV rays. If you’re out in the sun for a long time, make sure you’re carrying sunscreen with you so you can top up as needed. Wearing hats and sunglasses is also a good idea for the ultimate protection. And, if you stillcrave that bronzed-skin look, there are some fantastic fake tan products on themarket to give you a healthy glow.

4. Pay attention to skin care

If you want vibrant and youthful skin, then it’s important to pay attention to your skin care regime. You should develop a schedule that cleans your skin of dead cells, germs, oils and dirt without causing irritation. This means avoiding scorching hot water and using a gentle cleanser. Don’t scrub your skin, but massage your face in a circular motion, before rinsing away all debris and soap. Finally, for the best complexion, don’t rub your face dry, but pat it with a soft towel instead.

5. Know your body

Finally, it’s important to know your body so that if something out of the ordinary occurs, you recognise the symptoms. Take the time to look at your skin carefully and identify any permanent marks such as moles and freckles. If these change, then it might be advisable to see a doctor. Cuts and rashes should be dealt with immediately, instead of being left to linger. And, by knowing every inch of your skin, you’ll be able to stay protected and healthy.xoxo



This post was written in association with St Tropez.
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Saturday, 18 January 2014

Happy Birthday Bump PR!

Another day, another fourth birthday party for Daisy - only today's celebration wasn't for one of her friends from nursery, it was for one of my favourite PR firms, Bump PR!

As a blogger, I deal with PR companies on a daily basis and Lisa and the girls from Bump really are the best, and the nicest, in the business. I've loved working with them in the past and we were thrilled to be invited down to The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green to celebrate four fabulous years with them today.

 
 

Not only did we get to play party games and eat party food and cake, it was also lovely to get to spend a bit of time with some familiar blogging faces (I'm talking about you, Alice from An Essex Wife, Ruth from Rock n Roller Baby, Alice from More Than Toast, Katie from Mummy Daddy Me, Lucy from Dear Beautiful and Lauren from Real Housewife of Suffolk County!)


The kids had a blast playing pass the parcel, doing arts and crafts and racing Happy Hopperz across the hall, and it meant that us grown ups had a chance to chat and network. There was even a birthday raffle and I WON EWAN THE DREAM SHEEP (can you tell I'm excited?!) which I hope is going revolutionise night times in the Modern Mummy house so far as a certain insomniac baby is concerned!

 
 
After the party we had a chance to look around the museum. I've never been before but absolutely loved it - as did Daisy. With toys from all around the world and from hundreds of years ago to date, there was plenty to see, and lots of activities to join in with too. Daisy adored the rocking horses and the dolls houses. The highlight for me was spotting Jem and the Holograms dolls in the collection (remember them?). I had them all when I was little and it was a real blast from the past! 



Thanks so much to Bump PR for inviting us today; it was absolutely brilliant. Daisy even fell asleep on the train home! Now thats the sign of a great party! xoxo

 
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Friday, 17 January 2014

Statement Necklaces: My Top Five

Since the launch of the #NYNYStyleProject a little over a fortnight ago,  I've come to realise something.

Turns out I have a major thing for statement necklaces!

Not only have I been pinning images of them like a crazy woman, I've found myself commenting on virtually every #NYNYStyleProject photo I've come across with 'oooooooh that would look amazing with a statement necklace' - because it would!

Statement necklaces are the perfect way to inject a little glamour into a simple outfit, and here are my fave five.



Cut out gold statement necklace, £65 from Whistles


Semi precious arrow necklace, £18.50 from TopShop



Cannes statement necklace, £29 from Accessorize

 Stone spike necklace, £9 (sale) from Urban Outfitters

 Pink & crystal necklace, £12 from Next


If you fancy following my style board on Pinterest, you can do so here:

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The Evolution of Energy Consumption

The evolution of energy consumption through the decades
Be smarter with your consumption and choose the right energy tariff.
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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Chicco Oasys 1 Isofix Car Seat: A Review

 
Just before Christmas, we were sent the Chicco Oasys 1 car seat to review. I'd spotted it at the Chicco press day back in October and came back home raving about it to Himself. It was the perfect car seat; sleek and stylish, sturdy and supportive - plus with the handy added bonus of isofix fittings to boot.

Because Daisy has always been a skinny minnie, she stayed rear facing in her original car seat until she was eighteen months and then went straight into a stage two seat, which she still uses. But Evie, who exceeded 20lbs at around six months (YES! REALLY!), had to be moved into the next stage car seat much earlier.


There are heaps of things I love about the Oasys, but the main thing is the seat. It's huge and well supported with high sides and lots of padding which makes it look extra comfortable as well as being super safe. I also adore that it has a five position recline which means if your little one dozes off, you can put them into a more comfortable position to carry on snoozing. The button you need to press to change the position does require both hands (although that could be down to the weight of my chubster) so it's not something you can easily do on the move (even as a passenger) but that's not a deal breaker for me, I love that you're able to do it at all!

The seat is particularly easy to install - there are videos you can watch with a demonstration on how to do so (accessible by a QR code on your mobile or tablet - how very modern!) but the simple instructions on the seat itself were more than enough for me; I didn't even need to look at the accompanying manual. Once fitted, it feels so secure and the seat also has a top tether for additional peace of mind.

Other features include an easily adjustable (by button) head rest and five point harness and removable and machine washable seat covers (always handy as we all know how mucky car seats can get!). The seat structure, fabrics and padding are all perforated to allow maximum breathability too.


All in all we are very impressed with the Oasys, as we are with the Chicco brand as a whole, and we would recommend it to anyone looking to buy a stage one seat.
 
The Chicco Oasys 1 is available from all good retailers at an RRP of £269.99.


I was sent a Chicco Oasys 1 Car Seat for the purpose of this review. All opinions are entirely honest and my own.
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Monday, 13 January 2014

Brunch at One Canada Square

On Saturday I was invited to a a Tweet Up over brunch at the One Canada Square Restaurant in Canary Wharf. It's been a long time since I've been out for a long leisurely daytime meal without the kids so it was a real treat to get to sample all the breakfast dishes, plus my blogging besties Ruth from Rock n Roller Baby and Alice from An Essex Wife were there too, which made it extra nice!

The restaurant is situated in the lobby of the iconic No.1 Canada Square building, which is in the centre of Canary Wharf and the perfect place to step away from the crowds on a busy weekend morning.

We were treated to the most divine dishes ever - and the service was absolutely wonderful too.





One Canada Square is famous for it's Bloody Marys so my brunch started with one of their signature Canary Marys and an original Bloody Mary followed it down the hatch pretty sharpish!

We then got to sample bran, apricot and cobnut muffins, fresh fruit platters with toasted seeds and bircher muesli served with plums. These dishes were followed by hot plates of eggs benedict and florentine and, my favourite, soft shell crab benedict. Oh my!

The avocado and chilli on toast with crisp, streaky bacon was my absolute favourite, and left me too stuffed to try the buttermilk blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, but I got a second wind when the OCS breakfast appeared on the table (consisting of fried duck egg, crisp pancetta, chorizo, morcilla, hash browns and an English muffin).





I felt ridiculously full after that lot so treated my body to a Green Twist (a desperately needed fresh juice made up of apple, celery, spinach and spirulina) before shovelling a sweet and cinnamon-y chocolate cronut into my gob. It looked (and was!) too good to miss.



After all of that (and yes, I can confirm I ate every last morsel) I said my goodbyes to the hosts and my fellow bloggers and waddled to the tube. Needless to say I didn't need to eat lunch or dinner later on that day!

If you're ever in Canary Wharf and are looking for a fantastic place for brunch, you must give One Canada Square a try - you won't be disappointed.xoxo

I have not been asked or paid to write this post, however my brunch was complimentary.
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Tips for being happy & healthy every single day ♥





It can be easy to slide into the blues - especially during the January lull, after a fun packed Christmas spent with your friends and family permanently around you! I've already talked about this in my NYNYStyleProject posts, but if you don't look after yourself you'll start to feel you're not worth looking after, which can begin a negative cycle of low mood and low self-esteem. Even if you don't think you have much time or motivation, there are lots of small ways to look after yourself which can help to get you moving on up again.

Eat well, sleep well

Having a healthy body has a positive effect on mental health too. Try cutting down on sugar, which gives you a temporary high followed by a crash, and try to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet. If you struggle to eat fruit and veg then juice them!

Gentle exercise is a great way to unwind, and can help you sleep better. Sleep is important to keep you feeling healthy and able to cope with whatever life throws at you. Don't get into bed with your mind still racing over the events of the day, or worries about tomorrow, but relax beforehand with a hot bath or a good book. Obviously insomniac children may have something to say about this, but there are things you can do to make sleepless nights better. Go to bed earlier, have everything you need for night time wake ups to hand so that you don't need to hunt for things and turn lights on in the middle of the night etc. Little things like that make bad nights a whole lot better. Trust me, as a mother that has had one full night's sleep in four years - I know!

Look good

Looking good on the outside can help you feel better on the inside. Lipstick to brighten a dull day. A scent that reminds you of happy times and places. It works the other way round, too. Clean, fresh skin and hair make you feel good on the inside, and the outward effect is also visible. Don't just throw on the first thing to tumble out of your wardrobe, but take the time to put an outfit together. Other people will notice how smart and confident you look, and before you know it, you'll start to feel that way yourself. Check out my NYNYStyleProject in the tabs above for more on this!

Give and take

Have you paid anyone a compliment lately? Next time a colleague does a good job, or a friend is wearing a gorgeous pair of shoes, let them know you approve. If someone pays you a compliment, don't turn it down or try to disagree, but smile, thank them, and accept it as something you've earned.

Be kind to yourself

Most of us are our own worst enemy. Next time your inner critic starts telling you everything that's wrong with your appearance, your personality, or your life in general, imagine one of your friends saying that about themselves. Chances are you'd hasten to reassure them, pointing out their many great qualities and all the good things going on in their life. Try being as sympathetic and generous to yourself as you would be to someone else.

Rewards and treats

Everyone knows that it's good to pamper yourself once in a while, but somehow we all forget to make time for ourselves. Book yourself in for a facial or a massage, or go all out and have a spa day. Chances are you'll emerge calmer and happier.
If you don’t have time for any of those, get your preferred foot care products and massage your feet for a calming effect. For a more everyday treat, buy yourself something small but fun, like a magazine, or nail polish in a bright colour, or go out for a coffee. 


Finally, last thing at night, think of one thing you did well that day, no matter how small. Praise yourself for it, and {try your hardest to} sleep well! xoxo


This post was written in association with The Sanctuary.
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Daisy's Daily Outfit ~ A Smart Outfit for a Chilly Day


Red Sasha Military Coat | Monsoon | £45
Stripey mittens {just seen} | knitted by hand
Tights {similar available here} | Monsoon | £8
TrixiSweet T-bar shoes | Clarks | £32
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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Setting a Family Budget in 2014




One of my personal resolutions this year is to be a bit more financially savvy in 2014. I'm a pretty organised person (I'm a compulsive list maker!) and I am good in as much as I live within my means but I tend to spend whatever I have in my bank account and I think it's about time I got serious about my finances and started to save for a rainy day.

And I know I'm not alone in beginning to think like this. As 2013 disappears into the past, families all across the country are feeling the pressure financially. The Christmas holidays brought parties, gift buying, and unexpected expenses. From what I've read on Twitter, this year, it seems as if the majority of families are looking to take control of their budgets. The question is where to start! What is the best way to form a budget that you and your family can thrive on in 2014? 


Take a look at your expenses.


If you are already keeping track of income and expenditure, look at last year’s expenses and see if there are areas where you and your family can cut back. If your records aren’t up to date, start sorting receipts and tracking all your financial transactions now. Your expenses will fall into three different categories known as fixed expenses (such as mortgage/rent, insurance policies etc) variable expenditures (i.e. household maintenance, credit cards and other living expenses that can change from month to month) and discretionary expenses (restaurants, entertainment, and travel costs).

Once you've sorted your expenses, record them on a ledger (if you haven’t already done this). Your family’s spending patterns will begin to emerge and it's more than likely you’ll find an area that could stand an adjustment; something as small as cutting back on your daily cappuccino or lunch out can amount to hundreds of pounds each year.

I have some ledger pages at the back of my filofax (yes I'm old fashioned, I know) and twice a month I go through my bank statements online and check off the direct debits and standing orders that have already come out of my account and list the ones that are still to debit. That way I always know the balance I have to spend for the rest of the month. 

Set yourself some goals. 

The New Year is the perfect time to set new goals and this year why not make them financial ones! I read recently that you should always have at least three to six months’ salary saved for emergencies, such as the loss of a job or an accident. One of my plans for next week is to speak to my bank manager about my options for opening a savings account and get cracking!

This is also the perfect time to receive a free credit report. If you're looking to buy your first home this year then lenders will check your credit report to find out how good you are likely to be at making repayments on time. Paying off loans and credit cards can save huge amounts of money in interest rates. To find out more about credit scores click here. I've used Experian before; you can take advantage of a 30 day free trial (although don't forget to cancel before the 30 days are up!)

Family Budget Software


Although I'm living in the dark ages when it comes to diaries and ledgers (I like to put pen to paper!) there are several software programs out there specifically designed for family budgets. Keep track of expenses throughout the day with handheld devices and downloadable computer templates. Look for programs that are easy to use and readily accessible. Most programs can be tailored to your family’s unique needs and adjusted as your family grows and budget requirements change. 


It's not hard to take control of your expenses and I, for one, know that I feel a lot happier every month knowing exactly where I stand every month. Now is a great time to finally set aside short and long term saving goals and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Aside from meaning I'll have a little something for a rainy day, saving is a great example to set to your children (although to be honest, in my case, my girls are already doing a much better job of it than me! CHECK OUT THAT PIGGY BANK!) 

Do any of you save? Or are we all as bad as eachother?! xoxo



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