My Current Skin Care Routine
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Here is a makeup free, edit free, harsh AF lit selfie for today’s skin care routine post. My skin is obviously far from perfect! However, I put a lot of effort into taking great care of it and I feel like it loves me back when I do. It’s our biggest organ and I think that it’s important to treat it nicely. I am someone that values feeling clean and soft more so than feeling ‘done up’ so skincare is definitely a passion of mine over makeup (although clearly makeup is very important haha). I’m a big believer that your makeup can only look good if the skin that you are applying it to looks good and is healthy.

I have really stepped up my skincare regimen within the last 5 years and have noticed a huge difference in my skin from so many of these products and steps. In today’s post, I break down all of my routines (the routine after I shower and before bed are the most important) and talk about the products that have been game changers for me. Because I am interested in skin care, I try a decent amount of products and always circle back to these because I can’t find others that measure up (I also rule out a lot of them because I’m so picky about scents..whoops). I know that there’s a lot of steps but they are worth it and can be done quicker once you get in a rhythm. If you don’t workout in the morning, just use my ‘Post Shower’ routine as your morning routine and my night routine as your night routine. Here it goes..

Morning Routine…right when I wake up, before I workout:

  1. Face Wipes: Leaning over a sink and half bending to wash my face really hurts my back so in the morning I will just clean my face with one of these face wipes.

  2. Eye cream: Since I’m going to shower after I workout, I am stingy with the amount of eye cream I use first thing in the morning but I use some none the less. I have a lot of lines under my eyes and pretty prominent crows feet (for a 29 year old) so I really appreciate how thick and ‘real deal’ this eye cream feels. I’ve noticed a difference since I started using in with how my under eye concealer sets as well.

  3. Moisturizer: I could bathe in this stuff I love it so much. It feels so luxurious when you’re putting it on and works so well. It doesn’t leave you greasy but still is so hydrating. Once again, since I’m going to workout soon after, I am cheap with the amount of product I use at this point in the day.

In The Shower…following my workout:

  1. Face wash: I do my deep clean face wash once I get in the shower after my workout (sometimes I don’t shower for a while after I workout though…whoops). I use this Clarisonic brush with my face was 2-3 times a week and the other days I put it on with my hands. You want to be careful about how many times you exfoliate your face in a week.

  2. Additional Face Wash For Breakouts: I add this in only when I’m having breakouts or am feeling like I’m about to have a breakout. I scrub it on the Clarisonic brush first and then use the brush on my face. I noticed that adding this additional face washing step it helps with acne when I see it! If I’m using this, I will use it before my other face wash because it doesn’t leave your skin feeling soft.

Morning Routine…after I shower following my workout:

  1. Toner: Toner is a GAME CHANGER for breakouts and clearing up your skin. I am so glad that I added it into my routine because I’ve seen big changes from it. This one smells awesome and feels different than the others that I’ve tried. It is pricey but lasts SO long. My bottle lasts me at least a year. I just pump it once into my hand and then rub it onto my face directly. Then, I let it soak in for a couple of minutes and put on my deodorant and stuff.

  2. Vitamin C Serum: This is the product that I most recently added into my routine and I’m so glad that I did. It has changed the brightness of my skin in a great way! I was reluctant to spend more money on my skincare routine so I held off on adding it for so long but now I realize that the bottle I bought will last for forever (I bet it lasts me well over a year). You need such a tiny amount and the bottle is so big. I heard that it can make your skin sensitive to the sun so in the warmer months I will likely switch this into my night time routine. I pump one pump into my hand and then spread it all over my face (its a tiny amount). I let this soak into my skin for a couple of minutes and moisturize my body in the meantime. If you do that, make sure to wash your hands well after so that you don’t get the body lotion on your face.

  3. Eye cream: Same daytime one as earlier in the morning. I’m trying to be better about remembering to apply it with my ring finger since its such sensitive skin.

  4. Face oil: This is a game changer for moisturizing! It will not make you break out, don’t be deceived. Just put a tiny amount into your hand and then massage it into your skin. After this, I want it to soak in for a couple of minutes so I brush out my hair.

  5. Moisturizer: Same product that I use first thing in the morning. I love that it has SPF 30 in it for the day time.

Night Routine…right before bed:

  1. Makeup Remover Wipes: If I’m wearing makeup, I start taking it off with these wipes. Then, I use this liquid remover on a cotton square and/or q-tip.

  2. Face Wash: Depending on if I wore makeup or not, I will actually wash my face with my face wash (if I wore makeup) or just use the wipes again (a lot of the reason I don’t wear makeup frequently is because it hurts my back so much taking it off so my goal is to use the wipes).

  3. Eye Cream: Using a night time specific eye cream has been so helpful for me. I’m not sure why but in the morning I can tell the difference if I used this one versus another one.

  4. Face Oil: This night time face oil is my great addition. I discovered it a couple of years ago and I can’t live without it. I used to travel without it but I was missing it so much that I now have to bring it where ever I go. If I don’t have it, my face feels so dry! I am more generous with lathering this on (I pump it into my hand and then onto my face) because I typically workout in the morning so I don’t care if my hair gets a little of it in it. If you’re worried about it though, I would just tie your hair up and then use a couple of small drops and you’d be totally fine. This product is pricey but lasts me half a year on average (and would last you longer if you weren’t as excessive as I am).

  5. Jade Roll: On the nights that I am dedicated, I will use my jade roller after putting on the oil to really make it soak in. I want to be better about adding in this step because I really only do it once a week on average. I really love it and feel it de-puff my face mainly, I just get lazy.

  6. Moisturizer: After letting the face oil soak in for a few minutes while I do other tasks to get ready for bed, I apply my moisturizer. Then, I try to do a few more tasks to let it soak in before getting in bed.

Weekly routine..once a week on average (some weeks I DEFINITELY skip):

Tanning Lotion: During the colder months, I use this awesome tanning lotion once a week or once every 2 weeks. One bottle lasts me a year so its definitely worth the investment. The cream is white and you cannot mess up the application. It’s SO easy, you just apply it like regular lotion and don’t have to worry about streaks. Just rub it in and then wash your hands and let it dry for a couple of minutes before putting on your clothes. I’ll apply in in the morning and then shower later in the day so that I don’t get in my sheets with it on, even though I’m sure it would be fine because the cream is white. It doesn’t smell bad but I just don’t LOVE the smell and I’m a psycho about being clean so I want to shower a few hours after applying it even though I know it would be more effective if I didn’t. It produces a really subtle and awesome fake tan and I couldn’t recommend it more. I put it on my face as well and have never had any issues. I get asked a lot about the brown bottle versus the white bottle and they’re the same thing.

Face Mask: On Sundays, I try and do a face mask. Full transparency, I probably only realistically do this half the Sundays of the year. I do my face masks after I shower because my pours open up in the steam. Some of my favorites are this one for brightening, this one for acne/general care, and this one for extra moisture and to use when I travel. I also just bought this one to try because I heard great things.

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New Years 2019
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Oh 2018, how I would love to forget the tragedy and pain that you brought. And yet, I don’t want to forget you because you were the last year that I got to sit in my dad’s presence.


My legs are split open over the line of the changing year with my head and heart tossing from one side to another. I want my heart to stop feeling like it’s gushing blood constantly like it has the last couple of months of 2018 and yet I’m desperately afraid of time moving forward and any of my memories...of the inflections of his face, his laugh, his hand gestures and his lingo to fade. 


If 2018 brought you good fortune, I hope it continues tenfold this next year. If it brought you heartbreak, I hope that 2019 finds a way to fill your soul with something else that you so desperately need. Happy New Year, friends. I’m so grateful for you ❤️ #FromCarlysHeart #2019

Teeth Whitening Review

My mom has the most perfect (natural) teeth on the planet. I remember being a kid and being amazed at how white and straight they were. Even before I really valued it, I knew that it was special. After all, its hard not to notice people’s smiles. Someone’s smile is so important. I feel like someone’s smile (and how much they use it) really gives you a sense of that person. I started valuing it from a young age and added it to my list of the many reasons that I wanted to be just like my mom.

When I was around 14 years old, a local family in my town lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire. My mom bought them tons of new clothes, toys and other things. The mom of the family was a dental hygienist at my dentists’ office so as a thank you she offered to give us all teeth whitening trays. My mom turned her down a few times but eventually accepted and continued her selflessness by giving them to my sister and I (I guess she also didn’t need it haha). I’ve used those trays on and off over the years but my teeth have shifted and changed since I was so young so I really needed new trays. I quickly found out that if you are not getting them comped like I originally did, they are actually really expensive!

Enter Smile Brilliant! Smile brilliant is an affordable and easy solution to teeth whitening. Its truly made for everyone because the price point is attainable and you can do everything from home. As you may know, I do as much as I can from home. I online shop, get a lot of my groceries delivered, abuse my Amazon Prime membership, and all that jazz. Therefore, I was pumped to not have to go to an office to get my trays made.

At first, I was slightly intimidated that making my molds was going to be confusing but it was SO easy! They give you fool proof instructions in your package. The whole process took me 10 minutes maximum.

If you’re wondering if teeth whitening is right for you, you should read this article 7 Things To Know Before Buying Teeth Whitening. They also have a guarantee program, which is outlined here.

I don’t drink coffee (I’m too naturally prone to anxiety to be able to handle caffeine), I don’t drink wine or other colored beverages (I don’t produce an enzyme to digest alcohol through my liver or I would gladly drink wine haha), I don’t smoke and I just generally avoid a lot of the things that would discolor my teeth to begin with. I think that this helps me see lasting results from whitening my teeth and its a silver lining to the rest.

Now, I will be using my system for years to come for ‘touch ups’ every now and again! Plus, I’ll be keeping up with my lipstick usage, which always helps my teeth look whiter, even if they have lipstick on them half the time like a crazy person!

My readers get 15% off with the coupon code thecozycurator15

Also, my readers get the chance to enter an awesome giveaway with Smile Brilliant! The giveaway is for a $149 Smile Brilliant credit. It is open until January 3rd and open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents. Enter the giveaway here!

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This post is sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

NYE Outfits
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Skirt, Top, Shoes

You guys know that I love a great excuse to get dolled up and fancy. I am either in sweatpants or a dress basically. My sister and I always joke because when she asks what I’m going to wear to something she goes so are you going homeless vibe or wearing a dress? I would like to add that I also wear athleisure a good amount haha. On NYE I like to take the opportunity to get fully dressed up. I’m not a big sparkle or glitz girl (except for when it comes to diamonds, I mean come on haha). Even if you don’t have fancy NYE plans, I think that dressing up in a festive outfit is a way to make it feel different than any other night. Well that and champagne but we all know I can’t drink so I have to wear extra glitter in my outfit to compensate.

This year, I will be in Florida for NYE. My parents always celebrated NYE with their best friends and when we were kids we used to celebrate with them. They recently moved to Florida so after my dad’s passing they kindly invited us down there to celebrate it with them. We are one big extended family (kids included) and so it will be good to all be together for it. It’s another holiday in the list of them all that is crappy this year so I am glad that we will be together as a group/fam. We are going to stay at their condo and all hang out. What are your plans for NYE? Are you going big or laying low?

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Banana Christmas Cake
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Don’t get me wrong, I love making Christmas cookies. I like making different kinds so there’s an assortment. I always think it’s fun for a group of people to try a selection of foods and talk about their favorite items and what they like about each one. I just went to Sidecar Doughnuts in LA with my friend and husband and had a great time ranking all of our favorites together. I could talk about food that I’m passionate about in great length!

Anyways, I’ve found that I’ve also enjoyed the aesthetic of a pretty Christmas cake so I made sure to find a time to bake one around the holidays the past couple of years. I love the festive but simple decorating ideas that you can do to them. I feel like it provoked a fun reaction from your hosts when you bring it to a gathering or from your guests if you’re hosting a party. People ooh and ah over the simplest things, like this cute gingerbread topper that I bought.

Since I created more a Christmas spice cake recipe last year, I wanted to do something a little different. I’ve made a bunch of cakes from scratch and some are worth it and some are really not because box cake mix for a funfetti cake, for example, is usually better and 1/102840th the work. However, this banana cake would be hard to find in a ‘cheat’ alternative so I think that it makes it worth the ‘from scratch’ elements. Plus, it was delicious!

Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 T lemon juice

3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature (let it come to room temperature on its own)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 T vanilla extract

1 t kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups flour

3 ripe bananas (approximately 1 1/2 cups), mashed

Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F

Coat 2 9-inch round cake pans (or 3 8-inch round cake pans) with nonstick coconut oil spray (or whatever nonstick spray you typically use). I used a foam-spring cake pan so that the cake would easily come out of the pan. Set aside.

If your bananas are not ripe enough, you can puncture some holes in the peel with a fork and then wrap them in a paper towel and microwave them for 30 seconds.

Mash the bananas with a fork on a cutting board until they are totally soft and slimy looking.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk and lemon juice and set it aside.

In your electric mixer with a large bowl and fitted paddle attachment (linked below), beat the butter and both types of sugar on medium speed. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add in the vanilla, salt, eggs, and baking soda. Mix on medium speed until smooth.

Alternate adding in the flour and milk on low speed a 1/2 cup at a time (make sure to start and end with flour).

Add in the bananas and mix on low speed.

Split the batter evenly between the cake pans.

Bake for 35 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test (you stick the cake with a toothpick and it comes out clean). Rotate the cakes in the oven halfway through baking them.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Icing Ingredients:

1.5 cups unsalted butter

1/3 t salt

5.5 cups sifted powdered sugar

7.5 t whole milk

1.5 t vanilla extract

Icing Directions:

In a bowl with a mixer and paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Lower the speed to low & add in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Best until all powdered sugar is incorporated.

Raise the speed to medium and add in the milk and vanilla extract. Beat for another 2 minutes.

Make sure that the cakes are completely cool before frosting them. Add a frosting layer between the 2 (or 3) cakes.

Garnish the cake.

Garnish Ingredients:

1/3 cup shredded coconut

Sprigs of rosemary

Mini gingerbread house

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Christmas Day Outfits
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Christmas Day is right around the corner. It’s one of those days where I’m looking to wear something that is equal parts cute, comfortable, and festive. We spend a lot of time lounging on the couch so I like to be comfortable. I also like to get on the ground and play with my niece and nephew (I mean, they obviously need to play with all their new toys and I want in on the excitement) so I like something that allows me to do that. However, you know I don’t pass up on opportunity to dress for a theme or holiday. These items are the perfect balance of dressy and comfortable. There are a lot of great sweaters here too, which are great for the winter months ahead as well. Just click on an image below to shop!

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Chai Tea Cocktail
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This time of year makes me want to have all the hot drinks! It’s alsp probably the biggest drinking season of all. I thought I would combine the two and make a hot cocktail. I made this for some of my friends when they came over and everyone liked it. Sometimes, I have to live up to the Cozy Curator reputation and this cocktail helped since it’s plenty cozy! Plus, it’s so easy!  This cocktail is perfect for Christmas celebrations.

Ingredients (Yields 5 Cocktails):

32 oz Chai Tea Latte Concentrate  (I used Oregon Chai Slightly Sweet)

15 oz Almond Milk (unsweetened)

20 oz Whole Milk

1 cup Whiskey

1 T agave (unless you buy sweetened almond milk & fully sweetened chai tea concentrate, in which case I would forgo this) 

1 T Ground Cinnamon

6 Cinnamon Sticks 

Whipped cream (for topping)

Directions: 

Over a stovetop, combine all of the ingredients except the whipped cream. Heat over low heat until it is hot while continuously stirring.

Pour into mugs & drain out the cinnamon sticks.  

Top with whipped cream and enjoy.  

 

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Holiday Party Outfits
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Jumpsuit, Shoes, Necklace

Who else has some holiday parties coming up? I have Jay’s work party, which is really a pretty lit party filled with 20-somethings who have that NYC-startup thinking going on. It’s such a fun time of year to dress up and really go all out. This time of year, along with vacation, are my favorite things to dress for. I love a good excuse to get fancy! A lot of these items are also perfect for winter weddings. I have one next week and I think that so many of these dresses would be perfect for it and the welcome dinner. I hope this helps get you in the festive spirit!

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White Christmas Margaritas
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Every holiday season I’m looking for fun cocktail ideas that aren’t loaded with a ton of sugar (for taste purposes, not splurging purposes because the holiday’s mean you can load up on sugar). Jay loves tequila so I wanted to incorporate that into a recipe, especially since its so rare for Christmas cocktails. These are so festive and taste really fresh!

Ingredients (yields 3-4 cocktails)

10 ounces silver tequila

8 ounces fresh lime juice

8 ounces coconut water (unflavored)

8 ounces coconut milk (I used SO delicious refrigerated)

6 ounces coconut rum

Springs of rosemary and fresh cranberries for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients in a large shaker.

Shake/mix thoroughly right before pouring.

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Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups
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The other night on Instagram stories I was talking about this healthy meal that’s a go-to of mine when I’m craving something hearty and cozy without the pasta. This meal just screams ‘home cooked’ in that way that makes you want to dim the lights and get in your coziest clothes while stuffing your face. However, this option comes without the major guilt. Plus, its surprisingly good (obviously, not as good) when you have it for leftovers the next day. I’m all about doing work that I can get 2 meals out of. In order to get 2 full meals for 2 people out of it, double the recipe!

Ingredients:

4 large zucchini (about 4 pounds)

Sprinkle of salt

Olive oil spray

1 cup fresh spinach

Freshly ground black pepper (1 T)

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

1/3 cut freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (divided)-I use Raos Arrabbiata sauce for an extra kick

2 cups shredded mozzarella (divided)

Directions:

  1. In the morning, slice your zucchini lengthwise into thin strips (about 1/8 inch thick). Lay the slices flat onto paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt. Lay another paper towel on top of the zucchini. Let is sit for a few hours (or until you make the meal that night) to lose as much water as possible.

  2. Once you are ready to prep the filling, spray a large skillet with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Sauté the spinach in the pan until it reduces. Set it aside so it can cool down.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese (so 1 cup), spinach, garlic, egg, black pepper, and basil. Stir to combine.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  5. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce onto the bottom of your baking dish. Set aside.

  6. Spread approximately 1 T of the ricotta mixture onto each zucchini slice and then roll it up and place it inside of the prepared baking dish. Repeat until the dish is filled with the zucchini roll ups. Then, top with the remaining marinara sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.

  7. Cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the lasagna rolls are heated throughout and the cheese is golden brown.

  8. Serve and enjoy immediately!

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Gift Guide-For Your Mom/MIL

Click on an image above to shop.

Today’s gift guide is for your mom or mother in law! However, I either own or want all of these items so I think its fair to say that they work for women of all ages. If you’re looking to drop a hint to someone in your life, just copy and paste the URL to this blog post and send it over to someone’s mailbox. Everyone needs a Mrs. Claus!

  1. Cardigan: The softest cardigan OF ALL TIME! It feels like a cloud and is so cozy and warm. It comes in multiple colors. It’s one of those things that you never want to take off.

  2. Slip on Sneakers: These are great for anyone who travels or is out and about. Its great to have a pair of sneakers that you can still dress up and look cute in. My mom and I both have a pair like this and get so much use out of them. These are nice quality and come in multiple colors.

  3. Instant Pot: This is a crockpot on steroids. It does the same type of cooking but at a way faster speed!

  4. Necklace: This is actually the last gift that my dad gave my mom (for her birthday) before his passing and I think that it’s a special one. Its rare to find a monogram necklace with diamonds on it. It’s so delicate and feminine!

  5. Curling Iron Trio: This is such an awesome curling iron set! You can adjust the wands to get different types of curls.

  6. Luggage: Who doesn’t want super nice quality luggage? I love how these are monogramed and so classy looking. They come in multiple colors. If they get scuffs on them, they clean up easily with a magic eraser. This is how you travel in style!

  7. Diffuser: This pretty diffuser is the perfect accessory to get someone into essential oils!

  8. Pillowcase: This silk pillowcase is a game changer! Besides the fact that it feels nice on your face, it has so many amazing properties. It doesn’t absorb the moisturizer/face oil from your face when you lay down on it like a regular pillow case does. That’s great because it protects the investment of our skin product! Also, it is better for your skin and wrinkle prevention. It has benefits for your hair too, including keeping your styled hair in place more so than a regular pillow case. It also helps keep your hair soft and shiny. Just make sure to follow the care instructions for washing because I learned my lesson the hard way with mine.

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Gift Guide-Under $25

Click an image above to shop.

Are you looking for a kicka** gift at a kicka** price? These gifts are perfect for coworkers, your friends, a secret Santa exchange and all of those other budget friendly gift necessities. The post includes items for men and women and a lot of them are unisex so that they can be used easily for a white elephant exchange or something of that nature.

  1. Monogram Coaster: I have this and use it on my desk! Its such a great item for someone’s nightstand or desk since its personalized. I love the style of it. The price point is ridiculously good.

  2. Book: This is such a cute coffee table book! My friend got it for me for my birthday last year, for obvious reasons. Its got great recipes and just pretty things inside!

  3. Travel Mug: This travel mug is incredible. It keeps things SO hot for SO long. We have one and I’m so impressed by it. I’ve always used it for mac and cheese to keep it extra hot!

  4. Candle: This monogrammed candle makes such a great hostess gift and/or gift for any woman in your life. Who doesn’t love a nice candle? Plus, its a neutral color, which I always think is nice for gifts for people’s homes.

  5. Baseball Cap: This hat is unisex and so cool. It’s classic with a trendy twist.

  6. Roller: This facial roller is so awesome. Its great for helping your face lotion or oils absorb into your skin and for combatting wrinkles. It also helps with inflammation.

  7. Neck Massager: My friend had this neck massager and my whole family fell in love with it. My mom immediately ordered all of us one and we’ve all been walking around with them on our necks for easy access and use. Its perfect for trigger points and for getting out knots that are hard to reach on your own.

  8. Toiletry Bag: This bag is particularly great for men’s travel.

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