Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

Lotion Showdown: St. Ives vs. Aveeno

The harsh conditions of winter can wreck havoc on your skin. I start to feel it immediately in my hands beginning in mid-October. As the winter months trudge on, my skin becomes more and more dry, flaky, and crackling.

It's a challenge to find a lotion that works well for my hands AND for my body. What works for my body is often too greasy or too sticky for my hands. It's seems to be a constant battle and one that I would prefer not to fight.

As a member of the Viewpoints Blogger Review Panel, I was invited to take part in a lotion showdown.  Viewpoints pitted Aveeno Skin Relief and St. Ives Naturally Soothing lotions against one another, and asked its bloggers to put each lotion to the ultimate test.

Although Aveeno is a highly trusted name in skincare, I tried to go into my testing with an open mind. I used both lotions for a 14-day period. I applied the Aveeno on the right side of my body and the St. Ives on the left side of my body for the best comparison.

EFFECTIVENESS

The first thing I noticed was that both lotions were equally effective. Both kept my skin moisturized for beyond 12 hours and usually up to 24 hours. I wasn't itching and my skin felt soft and smooth.

SCENT

There's no comparison here. St. Ives wins hands down. The scent was light, not too fruity or flowery. It left no trace of a scent hours after you've left a room the way many scented lotions often do. It had a faint smell of oatmeal and butter, which is a nice combination.

ABSORPTION

The Aveeno takes the cake here. It seemed to seep directly into my parched skin and didn't leave behind a sticky or pasty feeling. Whereas the St. Ives wasn't necessarily greasy, but it left my skin feeling wet as if the lotion was just sitting on the surface of my skin rather than being absorbed into it.

PRICE

The Aveeno retails for about $9 per 18 fl. oz. bottle. The St. Ives retails for about $4.50 for a 21 fl. oz. bottle. Big difference for lotions that are relatively similar.

OVERALL

This was a tough decision. I liked both lotions, but in the end, I have to go with Aveeno, primarily for its excellent aborption. But I have to say that I am not thrilled by the scent. While it's not overwhelmingly bad, it's just bland and blah. If you're on a tight budget, stick with the St. Ives. If you are in the mood to splurge a bit, spring for the Aveeno.

Either way, you won't be disappointed with either lotion!

Disclosure: Viewpoints provided me with 2 bottles of lotion to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.


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Menu Plan Monday ~ 2.25.13

I'm going to try a few new recipes this week. Keeping my fingers crossed that they'll be good enough to make it into the regular rotation. It seems as though I make the same meals over and over again.


Monday - Chicken tacos (using leftover rotisserie chicken from the weekend). I've been making my own taco seasoning because the packaged stuff has way too much salt and preservatives. See below for my recipe.

Tuesday - Creamy potato soup (an old standby and favorite). I might try to keep it warm in the slow cooker since we have some after-school activities and won't be home until about 7.

Wednesday - Baked chicken cutlets over sauteed spinach served with roasted potatoes

Thursday - French onion soup (my own recipe) with a side salad

Friday - Creamy asparagus pasta (trying this one for the first time.

Saturday - Chicken and rice casserole

Sunday - I'll be at a baby shower for most of the afternoon, so the Hubs has got dinner covered.

For more meal time inspiration, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday. To see all of my menu plan posts, click here.


Recipe for Taco Seasoning
1 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. ground cumin
1 tbs. garlic powder
1 tbs. onion powder
1/2 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes

Mix well. Store in an airtight container.

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Don't Stress Over Easter Desserts ~ Order From Shari's Berries

After planning and preparing a full meal for Easter, the last thing you need to do is stress about desserts. I love to bake, but there are just some holidays where I have so much to do for the kids (Christmas and Easter) that I do like to order from my local bakery or an online retailer.

This year, I decided our Easter desserts will be supplied by Shari's Berries. There is just too much to do to prepare for Easter. I'd rather not add another item to my list, which will only stress me out. While the desserts are in someone else's hands, I'll be able to focus on making Easter dinner, dying eggs with my girls, decorating my home, and helping the Easter bunny out. ;-)

As a trial run, I decided to place a small order with Shari's Berries for my daughter's birthday celebration and for Valentine's Day. When entertaining, it's always good to know what you are getting. A holiday celebration is no time for a surprise from a retailer you've never before purchased from.

As part of a partnership with Red Envelope Brands, I was given $65 to spend at Shari's Berries. One look at the Web site, and I knew my selection process was going to be a difficult one. Every product looked incredible!

In addition to chocolate dipped strawberries, Shari's Berries offers baked goods including cheesecakes, and chocolate delicacies including cake pops and chocolate covered Oreos.


So many yummy chocolate treats to choose from for any occasion whether it's a birthday celebration, anniversary or just because.

Despite the fabulous selection of chocolate and baked goods available at Shari's Berries, we were set on purchasing chocolate dipped strawberries. With something to fit every one's needs, Shari's Berries certainly didn't disappoint in the selection department. You can order strawberries by the dozen or half-dozen. Strawberries are also available in swizzled chocolate or gourmet covered chocolate (includes chopped nuts and mini chocolate morsels).

We eventually decided on the Cheesecake Trio & One Dozen Gourmet Dipped Strawberries. The price for the entire set was $59.97.

The strawberries and cheesecake trio arrived in pretty boxes tied with bows.

They were perfect! Loaded with gourmet toppings such as chopped nuts and mini chocolate morsels. Just waiting to be devoured!

And the mini cheesecakes? Oh. My. God. Cutest little things ever! And oh so good.

The cheesecake trio included a classic New York cheesecake, a rich and smooth white chocolate cheesecake and a delicious chocolate Rocky Road cheesecake (pictures above).

One recommendation I would make is to allow the strawberries to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving them. They will soften a bit and be easier to bite into. And the chocolate is less likely to break apart and fall off the strawberry.

Otherwise, the goodies from Shari's Berries were incredibly delicious. I've already chosen what I'll be ordering for our Easter desserts.

Shari's Berries has flexible ordering options. You can choose the date that your delivery is made, but keep in mind that certain dates, such as holidays and Saturdays have a delivery up-charge. Here is an example of the delivery calendar for March.



If you are considering placing an order for Easter desserts, take a look at Shari's Berries. Ordering is super simple. The most difficult part is making a selection from all of the fabulous desserts that are available!

Disclosure: I received a $65 credit to make a purchase from Shari's Berries. I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions are my own.

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Why the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Has Nothing To Do With Bathing Suits

One look at this year's cover, and it's clear: this year's edition of Sports Illustrated's annual Swimsuit Edition has nothing to do with bathing suits.

I mean, really, who wears a fur lined, hooded parka with bikini bottoms?

Sports Illustrated's 2013 Swimsuit Edition
Exactly. No one.

I am not one to bash this annual tradition of Sports Illustrated's. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I had the body to fit into any one of the featured bathing suits. I enjoyed perusing the pages for potential beach and poolside attire and quite possibly, my next exotic travel destination.

The annual Swimsuit Edition was a welcomed distraction from the technical jargon, sports commentary, and uniformed men who usually grace the pages of the magazine. But in years past, SI has veered so far off the path of actually featuring bathing suits. Now, they are featuring women's bodies as is evidenced by the subtitle, "Kate Upton Goes Polar Bare".

While the scenery from Antarctica is nothing short of spectacular, the pictures are anything but realistic. Who wears a bikini in Antarctica? Who lounges seductively on an iceberg while clad solely in a skimpy white bathing suit and a pair of furry boots? I suppose I should be satisfied that she's wearing a bathing suit. She could have her lady parts covered with strategically placed snow.

Sports Illustrated, if you are listening, here are some things to consider for next year's publication.
1) Necklaces and scarves do not constitute bikini tops....ever.
2) Body paint? Really? How is that anything close to a bathing suit? I want to see actual bathing suits, You know, the ones that I can wear to the beach or pool.
3) Antarctica? I know. I can't stop harping on this one. This is hardly a place where women are running around without wearing down parkas much less bathing suits.

A prude I am not. I've been to St. Barth's. I've sunbathed topless.

However, a Swimsuit Edition should be just that. It should feature bathing suits. Not necklaces. Not scarves. And certainly not body paint.

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Stonyfield Introduces Blends Yogurt

I love yogurt. In fact, so much so that I eat it on a daily basis. It's perfect for breakfast with a little granola tossed in or as an afternoon snack when I am feeling sluggish. I mix it in my smoothies, and I have even traded in sour cream for plain Greek yogurt!!! What? Crazy. I know. Try it, and just maybe you'll make the switch too.

But there is one type of yogurt that I am not crazy about: fruit on the bottom. So, when Stonyfield recently introduced its newest yogurt, Blends, and sent me free coupons to try it, I couldn't resist.

This thick and creamy yogurt is made with all natural and organic ingredients with full fruit blended in. Stonyfield Blends are available in both Fat Free and Low Fat varities and eleven different flavors, such as strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, and lemon. Smooth and delicious, Blends is a good source of calcium and protein.




I loved this yogurt for its smoothness. I want real fruit in my yogurt, but I don't like the texture of bits of fruit. Blends fully incorporates the fruit but without the chunky texture.

Blends is available in supermarkets and grocery stores throughout the United States and retails for about $1.10 per 6 oz. container.

Disclosure: I am a Stonyfield Yo-Getter and received coupons for free containers of Stonyfield Blends yogurt. I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.



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Menu Plan Monday ~ 2.18.13

Lent is in full swing, and that means meatless Fridays. Although we are sticking with an old stand by this week, my plan is to try some new meatless recipes over the next several weeks.


Monday - Cavatelli with broccoli (my own recipe, but here's a good recipe to try).

Tuesday - BLT's and sweet potato fries

Wednesday - Beef tacos

Thursday - Taking the girls out since the Hubs' has a late meeting, and I am attending an event for Meridian Momtourage.

Friday - Linguine with marinara (the Hubs' recipe).

Saturday - Chili (this is a recipe that the Hubs really wants to try. It's very heavy on the meat, and I don't particularly like barbecue sauce, but I'll give it a whirl.)

Sunday - Hubs is in charge.

What's on your plate this week? Do you follow any religious dietary restrictions during the Lenten season? If so, how do you change up your meatless Fridays?

Need more mealtime inspiration? Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday to see what everyone else is eating.

To view my Meal Plan Monday posts, click here.
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{GIVEAWAY} Box Tops for Education Pantry Stock Up

If you have an elementary school-aged child, you are likely to be familiar with Box Tops for Education.

Box Tops logo with websiteGeneral Mills began the Box Tops for Education program as an experiment on boxes of Cheerios in 1996. In its first year, the program earned $1 million dollars. To date, it has grown to include over 240 participating brands in addition to Cheerios and has provided needed cash for 90,000 enrolled K-8 schools.

School budget cuts have made the program more and more important over the years as it proicides unrestricted cash to aid schools with basic operating needs, such as field trips, textbooks, playground and classroom equipment, and arts and cultural program.

When my oldest daughter started kindergarten 5 years ago, I jumped at the chance to volunteer with the BOE program. I helped to collect Box Tops from each classroom on a monthly basis. Part of that responsibility included counting, clipping, and binding the Box Tops into groups of 50 so that the coordinator could send them directly to General Mills.

My daughters' school provides incentives to the winning classroom for each month including a small prize for each child and a certificate such as this one that my daughter received last month for being the classroom with the highest Box Top collection amount.
On average, schools in the US earn around $900 annually through the program, with some schools earning up to $20,000 simply by clipping Box Tops!!!! You can also participate in bonus programs and shop at more than 300 online eBoxTops retailers at the Box Tops Marketplace.

I recently caught up with Cathy, the Box Tops coordinator at my daughters' school. This year the school has a goal of $3,200.  On average, the school collects between $2,800 and $3,000 worth of Box Tops. All monies received on behalf of Box Tops collections are added to the general PTO funds and are distributed where needed. Those needs include field trips and kindergarten orientation.

Each month a winning class is chosen based on the class that submits the most Box Tops.The class received a small prize such as a pencil or an eraser in addition to the certificate shown above.

Box Tops are a great way to support your school by buying products that you use on a daily basis. It's super easy to contribute, and the return on your investment is huge!

I am making it even easier for you to make a contribution to your school by offering a Box Tops for Education Pantry Stock Up giveaway!!!



Filled with delicious and nutritious snacks and meal solutions, home organizing and cleaning products and cost-cutting coupons, the Pantry Stock Up gift pack includes:
  • New Peanut Butter Toast Crunch®  cereal
  • Nature Valley®  Chewy Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Cherry and Protein Salted Caramel
  • Fiber One®  Protein Bars
  • Progresso®  Recipe Starters
  • Food Should Taste Good®  Chips
  • Green Giant Fresh®   Box Tops for Education pencil pouch
  • Hamburger Helper®  Sweet & Sour Chicken and Parmesan Crusted Chicken
  • Betty Crocker®  Mac & Cheese and Au Gratin potatoes
  • Kleenex® wallet pack and 184 count box
  • Scott®  toilet paper (4 roll) and paper towel roll
  • Avery®  dry erase weekly calendar
  • Ziploc®  bowls and bags
  • Yoplait® Frozen Yogurt free product coupon



To enter:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find Box Tops on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

One winner will be chosen and notified via email. Selected winner will have 48 hours to confirm mailing address. If winner fails to respond within the 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.

All entrants must live in the United States and must be 18 years of age or older.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary box just like the one being offered in this giveaway. All factual information was provided by General Mills. All opinions are my own.
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The Best Beauty Products All In One Place at BeautySak.com

I love beauty products. So much so that I've been known to hoard collect a few. We all have our vices, right?

Last week while searching for a particular product online, I came across BeautySak.com, a site dedicated to offering the absolute best selection of nail care, hair care, skin care, beauty products and more. Now, we're talking!


It was love at first click!

When I first visited BeautySak.com I thought it was going to be just another site with beauty products that can be found pretty much anywhere. But when I saw the selection of brands, I was completely blown away. Wow! Brands that are otherwise reserved for the finest department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are available at BeautySak.com and at unbeatable prices!

deborah-lippmann-nail-polishSo, what exactly was I looking for when I happened upon BeautySak.com? I was in search of a Deborah Lippmann nail polish item. I originally bought the product from a home shopping channel which no longer carries the product. I tried my local beauty supply store, but nothing. After looking at a few other popular beauty sites without luck, I found BeautySak.com and kept my fingers crossed.

Sure enough, BeautySak.com had the product as well as many others by Deborah Lippmann. The best part is nail polish was almost less expensive I previously paid for it. Score! I added it to my cart and spent some more time browsing the site.

With brands such as Calypso St. Barth, Phyto, Peter Thomas Roth, Molton Brown, and Oscar Blandi, BeautySak.com offers one-stop shopping for all of your luxury brand needs. BeautySak.com doesn't cater to just the ladies. It offers a full range of products for men as well including facial cleansers, moisturizers, travel kits, cologne, and more.

The great selection of products isn't the only thing BeautySak.com does well. It also:
  • offers free shipping on orders over $50 all the time. 
  • provides knowledgeable consultants who are available to assist you with questions around the clock.
  • prides itself on maintaining an above industry inventory fill rate of 99%. That means that the product you want is in the warehouse 99% of the time. No back ordering. No waiting. No emails notifying you when the product will be available.
  • throws in some free product samples with every shipment. Yay!
The next time you need a replacement for your moisturizer, cleanser or even that luxurious scented candle on your nightstand, be sure to check out BeautySak.com.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
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Menu Plan Monday ~ 2.11.13

This week's a special week. In addition to celebrating Valentine's Day, we'll be celebrating Harper's 7th birthday on Wednesday!!
Monday - Leftover stuffed shells from the weekend. They were super yummy, but be warned: they are loaded with carbs. 

Cherry Tomato Spaghetti
Tuesday - Hubs has a business meeting, so the girls have asked for their favorite pasta, cherry tomato spaghetti.

Wednesday - Birthday girl's choice!! However, since it's Ash Wednesday, we are asking her to choose a place that offers some meatless options.

Green Chili
Image Source: Rachel Ray Magazine
Thursday - Green chili and cornbread. This recipe sounds yummy and looks easy.

Friday - I'll be taking the girls to a preview of the new Curious George exhibit at the Liberty Science Center. We are going to eat at Panera before we go to LSC.

Saturday - Make your own pizza night with salad. A family favorite!

Can't decide what's for dinner? Make it easy on yourself! Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday to see what everyone else is eating.

To view my Meal Plan Monday posts, click here.


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{Product Review} L’Oréal RevitaLift® Miracle Blur Finishing Cream

L’Oréal's latest addition to its Revitalift® product line is Miracle Blur, an instant skin smoother finishing cream that promises to erase the look of wrinkles, lines and pores. {Retail value $24.99}

By using "Opti-Blur" technology, Miracle Blur diffuses light on the skin for a soft-focus blurring effect. It promises to fill in pores and fine lines to create a smooth, flawless look. As an added bonus, Miracle Blur contains a broad spectrum SPF 30 for protection from the sun's harmful rays.

I was excited to try Miracle Blur. As a sufferer of rosacea and a forty-something with a few fine lines and wrinkles, I was ready to put Miracle Blur to the test. Before I started using Miracle Blur, I read the box. Once I saw the words "instant gratification", I was ready to apply it!

Rosacea can be very frustrating as it is not curable, but it is treatable. Some days my skin looks flawless, and other days not so much. It's difficult to manage unexpected triggers which cause flareups. I had high hopes that Miracle Blur would come to the rescue on days when my rosacea was not being cooperative.

L’Oréal Revitalift® Miracle Blur

WHAT I LOVED
  • It was thick without being sticky.
  • It offers great coverage without having to use more than a dime-sized amount.
  • It gave my skin a smooth, silky feeling.
  • It diminished the appearance of pores.
  • It helped to reduce some of the redness that results from rosacea, but I still had to apply concealer and a small amount of foundation.
  • It is fragrance-free.

WHAT I DIDN'T LOVE
  • I didn't notice a significant difference in the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles.
  • I didn't get the instant gratification that was promised. Results weren't instant, but the box promises further results after 4 weeks of use.
  • All the active ingredients are sunscreens. There were no active ingredients that actually target wrinkles or redness.
  • Directions for use are for the product to be used as a sunscreen rather than as a finishing cream.
  • It was a little pricey for what it offers. It's basically a $25 sunscreen.
Overall, this was a disappointing product from a valued name in skin care. I have used other products from the Revitalift® product line and have been very pleased with the results. But the Miracle Blur did not meet my expectations.

I certainly will not discourage anyone from trying Miracle Blur (all skincare products work differently on different skin types after all). Others may find the product to be effective. I will continue to use the product to see if my goal results are achieved after 4 weeks (as promised on the box). If they are not, I'll move on to the next big thing.

A few of my fellow bloggers have reviewed Miracle Blur as well. See what they've got to say.

Deborah and JoJami at Fabulous After 40

Erica at No Sleep 'Til College

Heather at Girl Gone Mom

Rita at Yippy Momma

Beth at Life in the BAT Cave

Disclosure: I received a complimentary 1.18 fl. oz. tube of Miracle Blur to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.
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Wordless Wednesday: Manasquan Beach 3-Months Post-Superstorm Sandy

Yesterday after I left the gym, I took a drive up to the beach in Manasquan. I haven't been to the beach since access was opened to the area. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I saw was unbelievable. Even after 3 months, there is still so much devastation and destruction. It's truly heartbreaking.

Gee-Gee's, a Manasquan Beach institution. No trip to Squan is complete without a slice of pizza from Gee-Gee's.

A few houses located along First Avenue in Manasquan.


Beach access is blocked.

Beach towns are scurrying to move clean up and restoration efforts ahead for the summer tourist season. I know I'll be happy to see our beautiful Jersey beaches and town restored to their splendor once again.
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My On-Going Struggle with Exercising and Tips for Staying Motivated

Hi. My name is Sheila, and I'm a yo-yo exerciser. I have been for years, but I'm hoping not to always be one.

For me, the desire to workout comes and goes in waves. There are weeks that I want to work out on a daily basis. Then there are weeks when I just want to forget that I belong to an expensive and exclusive gym.

This winter after a 2-month break from the gym, I sat down and and jotted down some reasons why I had lost my motivation. While I was pin pointing my lack of motivation, I came up with a few tips to avoid that pitfall in the future.

Tips for Staying Motivated to Exercise

1. Know your purpose.
Are you working out for weight reasons, health reasons, or because it's what all your friends are doing? Have a solid reason for working out, and you'll be likely to stick with it. After I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol over 3 years ago, my cardiologist recommended that I exercise to help keep my numbers normal. For me, my health is a huge motivator.

2. Change up your workout routine.
I am guilty of falling into the treadmill trap. Every day I hop on, and every day I do more or less the same routine. Well, of course, that's going to become boring after about 2 weeks. Find what you love, whether it's a sport or a piece of equipment and vary your routines. Keep them fresh and challenging so you won't become bored. Because I love the treadmill,  I've focused efforts on finding new routines that are challenging, and I've started running again, using this app.

3. Don't overdo it!!!
I am sooo guilty of this. I am blazing saddles when it comes to starting a new exercise routine. I go to the gym everyday. Hit the equipment hard. And then I hit a wall. The key to establishing a successful and long-term exercise pattern is to take it slowly. Every other day or every 2 days to start and increase after a few weeks. You will be more likely to stick with it if you approach it slowly and consistently.

4. Set goals.
Goals should be challenging yet attainable. If they aren't attainable, you'll feel like a failure and immediately give up. I like to set a long-term goal for the near future and set short-term goals that help me reach my long-term goal. This way, I feel as if I am making progress up until I reach my end goal.

5. Buy some new workout gear!
This is one of my favorite motivators!! Go shopping for some new sneakers or new workout gear. I am seriously motivated by new workout clothes.

6. Reward yourself!
All work and no play is no fun. Give yourself a pat on the back or treat yourself to something when you reach an exercise milestone. Everyone needs that dangling carrot!

I don't know about you, but I am so ready to hit the gym after writing this post. I hope you are after reading it!

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Menu Plan Monday - 2.4.13

The girls start gymnastics this week, so I'll be adding another slow cooker meal into the mix on Wednesdays.   I fear that if I have to start preparing and cooking dinner when gymnastics are over, it'll turn into ordering takeout. So, I am going to rely on the trusty ol' Crock Pot.



Tuesday - Creamy tomato basil pasta with garlic bread

Wednesday - Boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker with rice and sauteed spinach with garlic.

Thursday - Chicken Tortilla Soup (this is one of my all-time favorite soups!)

Friday - Family dinner out.

Saturday - Homemade pizza, side salad.

Sunday - Hubs is in charge. :)

For more meal time inspiration and to see what other's are eating this week, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Click here to view all of my meal/menu planning posts.
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