Posted on | December 2, 2013 | No Comments
When you were younger, you probably found yourself wishing occasionally that Christmas would last all year. What would be not to like about getting to open presents every day and eat huge amounts of food? When you get older though of course your views on this matter tend to change a little. For the adults in the family Christmas can be stressful and expensive – and eating that much every day would no doubt kill you within the year.
Still though, even as you gradually begin to turn into that jaded Scrooge you will still find yourself wishing that certain elements of Christmas could last all year. Maybe that would be the good will, the attractive decorations, the music or the closeness of your family. Christmas brings out our stressed side but it also brings out the best in us. So how can you make sure that those good elements last as long as possible?
Keep the House Decorated
Of course it’s bad luck to leave your decorations up past the first of January, but if you’re not the superstitious type then you shouldn’t let that scare you. If you’re a fan of Christmas decorations then there’s absolutely no reason not to keep them up where everyone can see them and keep your home looking glitzy and glamorous as a result.
And if that’s a little too odd for you, then how about you just keep it decorated in other ways? They don’t have to be Christmas decorations – you can make the house look just as nice with some nice flowers and ornaments and it will still keep the Christmas spirit alive.
One of the other great things about Christmas is sitting on the carpet with your family and playing board games, or just all having a good chat and a laugh over dinner. It’s a great feeling to get everyone together and Christmas is a great time to do that. But the point you need to remember is that you don’t need an excuse. Just suggesting to your family that you sit down and play a board game together, or encourage everyone to eat together at the table and you can enjoy the very same feeling of family and fun. And why not invite Grandpa round at other times during the year too? He might be grumpy, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without him…
Keep up the Goodwill
One of my favourite parts of Christmas is when you walk down the road and a stranger smiles at you and says hello. It sounds like a small thing, but that kind of cheer and good will is something that can really bring a smile to your face and put you in a cheery state of mind.
But do you know what? If you were the one to smile first and say hello, then most people would return the gesture no matter what time of year it was. The thing is, that deep down, a lot of us wish that it was still Christmas.
The Taste of Christmas
Our memories are tied closely to our senses, and particularly taste and smell. That’s why sipping mulled wine or biting into some Christmas cake can make those warm Christmassy feelings come flooding back. And many of the tastes we associate with Christmas can be just as enjoyable the rest of the year. If you want to relive Christmas for just a moment then indulge in one of these Christmas flavours and you’ll find you can almost close your eyes and hear the carols…
Have a Mini Christmas
If you find that all this isn’t quite cutting it and it still doesn’t genuinely feel like Christmas, then there’s nothing to stop you creating a ‘fake’ Christmas at another point during the year. Wait until the middle of summer and throw your mini Christmas with a fake tree, a small number of presents, a turkey dinner and some Christmassy music and for one day you can imagine it’s Christmas – and you’ll find it’s a great fun novelty to enjoy for a day too. Most of all though, if you have a mini Christmas in the middle of the year, then it will mean you only have to wait six months between Christmases…
Posted on | November 27, 2013 | No Comments
Holiday Wonder Diet
How about some unsagely advice?
The Absolutely….Without Fail….Holiday Wonder Diet.
Here’s a little remedy I found for holiday stress in my life – not that I adhere to it religiously, but it does have its merits.
This Holiday Wonder Diet is designed to help relieve holiday stress. It has proven especially beneficial to people employed in the tea and culinary industries. This diet has been tested on numerous Tea Room Owners prepping for Christmas teas, Tea Authors at deadline on their new tea books, Caterers, Baristas, the mail lady, Fed Ex driver and my son.
It was so successful that I thought all my friends might like to try it.
One half grapefruit with no sugar
One slice whole wheat toast – dry
6 oz. Skim milk
4 oz. lean broiled skinless chicken breast
1 cup steamed spinach (with stems removed)
1 cup herbal tisane
1 Oreo cookie
Mid Afternoon Snack:
Balance of Oregon cookies in package
1 pint Ben & Jerry’s “Roman Holiday” ice cream
1 cup herbal tisane (No Sugar!)
Two loaves garlic bread with cheese
One large sausage, Canadian bacon, mushroom, olive and cheese pizza
2 Hershey candy bars , No Nuts!
1 cup herbal tisane, No Sugar!
- Pumpkin pie with whipped cream eaten directly from the fridge is permitted after 6 p.m.
- If you eat something small, and no one sees you, it has no calories.
- If you drink diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are canceled out by the diet soda.
- When you eat with someone else, calories don’t count if they eat more than you do.
- Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER counts. This would include Hot Chocolate with brandy or Sara Lee Strawberry Cheesecake.
- Cookie pieces contain no calories, which occur only in whole cookies. However, nothing with peanut butter is permitted on this diet.
- Chocolate is the 8th Basic Food Group and is Universal in color. It may be substituted for any of the Food Groups green in color.
- Food items with the same color have the same calories: For example… pistachio ice cream and spinach … mushrooms and white chocolate.
If you will follow this diet religiously … which means NEVER EATING IN CHURCH … you will notice marked lessening of your stress level.
Good Luck with the Holiday Wonder Diet!
From my favorite stockbroker, D.A. Davidson.
Posted on | November 21, 2013 | No Comments
Christmas Traditions, Dinners and Celebrations
A lot of countries have different Christmas traditions, so I thought it would be fun to look at what they have on their dinner plate on the big day.
You’re probably used to a traditional turkey dinner you enjoy every Christmas. Even the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a few other countries are used to the same thing. Just because we have our own traditions doesn’t mean everyone else in the world eats the exact same thing. If you look around you will find there are some very different ways to do things. You might think they sound weird or marvelous, so let’s take a look at them so you know what they are.
Denmark Christmas Dinners
In Denmark they still eat a roast dinner as part of their main course except it’s goose, duck, or pork. They eat it along with a tidy helping of potatoes and red cabbage. One thing that is interesting about their Christmas dinner is what they eat for dessert. It’s not regular rice pudding because there is a single almond hidden inside. The lucky person who finds the almond is awarded a special present that is kept on the table.
Netherlands – Christmas Traditions and Celebrations
Some Dutch people eat a traditional Christmas meal, but others do things a little bit differently. They sit around in little groups and each person has their own frying pan. Everybody has to season and cook their own food in small portions. Before the meal the host should already have prepared lots of different meats along with chopped vegetables. The food is then eaten along with a selection of sauces, salads, and fruits.
Christmas Celebrations in France
Christmas dinner in France is a big event as the French love their food. The celebrations start on the day before Christmas, but they run into the next again day because everyone has to stay awake past midnight. In Provence, which is an area in the southeast of France they enjoy 13 different types of dessert. It must be hard to find room in their bellies after they’ve already devoured goose, duck, salmon, oysters, and liver during their main course.
Christmas Dinner in Japan at KFC?
Quite a lot of Japanese people definitely have a Christmas dinner you wouldn’t be able to guess in a thousand years. One of the most popular places to grab dinner is KFC. It’s actually so popular they let people reserve their delicious buckets months in advance to put their minds at ease. The reason they love fried chicken is because of an ad campaign that took off in the 70s. Fried chicken is the complete opposite of raw fish and all the other things they usually eat.
Italy – Christmas Feast
Italians from the south are in love with seafood and their Christmas dinner is called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. They just take 7 different fish and cook them in a number of different ways. Instead of having a proper menu they follow it’s a case of doing whatever they want. Some people even cook more than the traditional 7. If you’re wondering why they eat so many different types of fish it’s based on religious reasons.
Eastern European Christmas Dinners
We’re actually going to focus on Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine because Eastern Europe probably has more than a few Christmas traditions. They eat a meal which consists of 12 different dishes, but unlike most other countries these meals don’t contain any meat. It’s a little different to having a large bird sitting on your table. They have a tradition to honor their dead relatives during the meal and they even set a plate out for them.
Are you hungry yet?
Christmas is only a few months away so if you like some of these suggestions you might decide to do something different this year. There are so many options to choose from, but let us know in the comments below if you liked any of the ones we discussed.
Posted on | November 20, 2013 | No Comments
Restaurants in Sitcoms
It is a well known and often acknowledged fact that a certain restaurant, café or pub plays a very important role in our lives. These specific spots apart from serving food, coffee and drinks, work as a mood-enhancer, comfort-provider and a place where all your best friends meet and discuss why the Lannisters always win. In our television shows and some movies too, a certain place to sit and eat has often played a very important part, from plot of the story to character development or anything. Here are 5 of restaurants in sitcoms which play a big role in some of your favourite shows:
Friends: Central Perk, the iconic coffee shop which was frequented by the six protagonists on a nearly daily basis. Where else would Rachel get her first “real” job? Where else would Joey work to fund his demanding acting career and where else would Phoebe Buffay sing “Smelly Cat”? And most importantly, how else would we meet Gunther? Even at the café, the six of them aren’t the same until they have their “orange couch” to sit on. If someone else has occupied it, they will have to get up, it doesn’t work another way. Though Rachel was not the best employee they had (she would spit in the food of the rude customers) and Joey liked giving free food to pretty women, Central Perk has always embraced their flaws. Without Central Perk, it is unimaginable for us to see epic conversations happening between the six of them.
How I Met Your Mother: MacLaren’s Pub, alright they are not the same show, but if there are Pinterest boards and Tumbler pages dedicated to the similarities between Friends and HIMYM then something is on. Like Central Perk, MacLaren’s pub is the place the five protagonists of the show like to “chill”. They are also good friends with Carl MacLaren who works as a bartender there, and occasionally serves the five of them free drinks. Another “friend” Ted and Barney made here is Doug Martin, the hot tempered bartender who beat up three men for sitting in the gang’s booth. The group has a favourite booth near the bar, though they do sit elsewhere sometimes (more flexible than the group of people mentioned above) and don’t get as angry as Doug does if it is occupied.
Big Bang Theory: The Cheesecake Factory, like Joey, the lovely Penny too needs a job to pay her bills while she pursues what is left of her acting career. Even Bernadette worked here before she got her PhD and Howard. Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard are often seen eating here. The best thing about this place is that they serve free cheesecake slices on someone’s birthday when they come in, no free nachos are served though, never. As a matter of fact, the notoriously stubborn Sheldon, who originally ate only at Big Boy on Tuesdays, CHANGED his schedule and began eating at this place because of their delicious burger. That’s how cool this place is.
Harry Potter Series: The Three Broomsticks, the wizarding world wouldn’t be half as much fun if The Three Broomsticks didn’t exist. From the trio’s delicious butterbeers and sneaky tastings of Firewhiskeys, to Ron’s obvious crush on Madam Rosmerta, everything happens here. Hagrid invited Harry to cheat, no, learn that dragons would be the first task in the Triwizard tournament he was taking part in. But the best event that happened there was Harry’s explosive interview about Voldemort’s return for the paper Quibbler. It was like a slap on Umbridge’s face, surely, the finest moment in the movie (book).
Honourable mention: Hog’s Head, the other pub in Hogsmeade, where the weird ones go as Three Broomsticks attracts the coolest witches and wizards. But, the neglected Hog’s Head served as Harry’s first meeting with what would later be Dumbledore’s army, thus it deserves a mention here.
Seinfeld: Monk’s Cafe, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer have most of their meals here, from breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner. Some of the shows’ classic phrases too, like “yada yada yada” have been introduced to us viewers in the insides of this café.
A favourite place to eat or drink with the best of our friends is common in all of us; it’s good to know that the case is the same with our favourite television and movie characters as well.
Posted on | November 15, 2013 | No Comments
It’s Kindle Countdown Deal Day 1
What’s special about today? Many things, of course, and today the Kindle version of “17-76 Tea Party Award Winning Recipes” is on a Kindle Countdown Deals (a daily deal) for only 99 cents!
That’s 17 Jam, Marmalade, Jelly and spreads for your favorite scones. In the same cookbook and recipe collection, are 76 Scone Recipes for afternoon tea. They go just fine with coffee, too!
Intermixed are comments from historical times and you’ll see that I have a fascination with President George Washington and the first First Lady, Martha Washington.
Go here to receive yours today at 99 cents because with Kindle Countdown Deals, tomorrow it will be $1.99 and increase daily until it reaches the regular price of $7.99.
Do you love good deals as much as I do? A good resource for any tea room, coffee shop or tea party planner. Most of the recipes are part of my Tea Academy and Tea Business School classes.
Posted on | November 12, 2013 | No Comments
Kindle Countdown Deals
What are Kindle Countdown Deals? It allows readers and writers to take advantage of Kindle books that have been placed on sale from their original price.
Want scone and jam recipes at a great price? The best selling “17-76 Tea Party Recipes – Award Winning Recipes” – a collection of 76 scone recipes and 17 Jams and Spreads is available as part of the Kindle Countdown Deals from November 15, 2013 through November 21st!
It’s a really good deal and chock full of tried and true recipes from the Carnelian Rose Tea recipe collection, A Cuppa Countess Gourmet Guide and a lightweight family history.
The foreword is written by the famous James Norwood Pratt (he might say infamous). Reviewers include tea and food historian, Judith Krall-Russo, Pat Jollota, Pat Stephens, and Ethan Harris. Photos are by Kate Singh, Aevum Images.
Inside are jam and jelly recipes including Blackberry, Sage and Lavender, Chantilly Crème and Mock Devonshire cream.
Scone recipes include Stilton Scones (with permission from Stilton in the UK), a basic scone recipe that was given to me by a chef at the Ritz Carlton in London and my sister’s Blue Ribbon biscuit recipe.
Set Your Calendar for the Kindle Countdown Deal
Buy “17-76 Tea Party Recipes” for only 99 cents on Friday, November 15th and each day the price goes up a dollar until the Kindle Countdown reaches the full price of $7.99 on November 21st. It’s a sale price every day!
Why Kindle Countdown Deals?
Kindle Countdown Deals is a new promotion by Amazon for customer appreciation. And for me, since there were formatting issues with the original Kindle publication, I’m practically giving away the Kindle version of my personal scone and jam recipes in appreciation of good customer service to me. It’s kind of a pay-it-forward idea.
Try it! Only 99 cents! Nearly 100 recipes! That’s a penny each on Friday! (Or get it free with Amazon Prime.)
Love the recipes? Give is a big thumbs up with 5-star rating. Enjoy this Kindle Countdown deal.
Have a wonderful day and Happy Baking!
Posted on | November 2, 2013 | No Comments
The Love of Tea – New Book by Tea Sommelier Carol Mark
Press Release: The Love of Tea, Best of Drink and Food is a unique e-cookbook by Carol Mark, Certified Tea Sommelier, in that it is entirely based on tea, the ancient beverage which is having such a huge revival of interest. It is a tea, drink, and food adventure that uses no more than five teas that you probably already have in your pantry.
Certified Tea Sommelier
The author, Carol Mark, is a certified tea sommelier and offers a new twist on tea and food that you’ve never tasted before. Just wait until you try Carol’s rendition of Himalayan Tea Dumplings or her Tea salt encrusted branzino fish and shrimps as a fabulous meal for sea lovers.
Experience the best tea cocktails with tea infused vodka or mocktails such as the Cucumber Sandwich, the Lychee Anna May Wong or a JC Fireball. Tea is an important cultural past time, too. It is a kind of slowing down, which is having a revival in this day of technology where everything happens so quickly. Taking time to experience the ancient beverage in a modern context is one of the great charms of this unusual cookbook. Free Download Nov 3 & 9, 2013
About Carol Mark, Tea Sommelier
Carol Mark is the founder and President of The Love of Tea, a purveyor of specialty pure blended teas that support art and social change through its sales of tea. Carol was active in humanitarian aidwork including opening the first girls’ library in Afghanistan with FemAid until breast cancer when she focused her recovery on tea and her interest in the culinary arts. So, be bold and be creative in looking at culinary tea in a whole new way. This is an invitation to share Carol’s journey on the adventure of tea. Free Download Nov 3 & 9, 2013 THE LOVE OF TEA BEST OF DRINK & FOOD BOOK ALSO as BONUS FREE A Modern Afternoon Tea a 35 page book on staging a modern afternoon tea on November 3 & 9, 2013.
Posted on | November 1, 2013 | No Comments
The Psychology Of Restaurant Layout and Design
How A Few Changes To Your Restaurant Layout Can Impact the Entire Vibe of Your Space
Good business often comes down to understanding human psychology well. The idea of a business of course is to create products or services that people want and to then sell them to those people at a price that is more than it cost to create them. That means you need to get into people’s heads in order to know what it is they want, to understand how to make your offering stand out and feel memorable and to make what you’re pushing seem like even more of a great option and even more great value.
This is true no matter the nature of your business and that includes running a restaurant and restaurant layout. When you run a restaurant there are countless little factors and unconscious signals that speak to a customer’s mood and that can impact their enjoyment of the experience and their chances of coming back.
To demonstrate this, let’s take a look at some of the ways that psychology plays a role in the restaurant design and restaurant layout. Understand these principals and you should be able to increase your business and your customer satisfaction.
Colour psychology is an important consideration when designing any business décor. What you often don’t realise is that colours can make a big impact on the way that someone feels and this can even make them more or less likely to stay someone and to want to shop there.
For instance, one of the reasons that fast food chains often use lots of reds and oranges in their décor is that this colour can unconsciously cause our heartrate to raise thus making us a little less comfortable. This means that without knowing quite why, we are less likely to spend a long time in a fast food chain: and that means better turnover and more custom for the stores.
On the other hand, if yours is a nice ‘sit down’ restaurant that you hope people are going to spend a long time in, then you want to use neutral and relaxing colours. Blues and greens are particularly effective for this and will help to put customers at ease, thus increasing the chances that they will order something else after their main course.
In a theatre you will find that the heating is often kept relatively low and the environment is generally quite cool. Once again there is a rhyme and reason for this: this time it’s that keeping people colder means they are less likely to feel sleepy and more likely to stay alert and switched on. This means that they will be more involved in what’s going on and more likely to clap and cheer.
The opposite is true in restaurant layout. Here you want your customers to be warm and cosy, which will make them feel tireder and thus mean their bodies tell them that they need more blood sugar. When we feel warm and cosy we often want ‘comfort food’ and that could be the exact feeling that causes your customers to order a treacle pudding for desert or big pie instead of a small sandwich. Having the right music and the right seating can also help people to relax more.
One of the worst things in a restaurant is feeling as though you are crowded and can’t move. This makes it hard to relax and enjoy yourself and often makes you anxious to leave.
This is why it’s important to ensure that your visitors have plenty of space – but more important than that is to make them feel like they have plenty of space. Face their chairs outwards into the centre of the room, and arrange chairs around tables so that they aren’t directly opposite each other, and avoid busy patterns that make people feel crowded, and all this will help to create the illusion of space and freedom. Mirrors can also be highly effective by increasing the amount of light in a room and by seeming to extend the space that you’re in. That said, make sure that you space your customers out evenly so that it doesn’t feel too quiet and dead either.
All these tips demonstrate just what a big psychological impact a few small things can make in restaurant layout. It’s time to get in the heads of your customers as well as their stomachs.
The author of this restaurant layout post, The Psychology of Restaurant Design, is Billy Perez, a part of the team at Kap Furniture, leading suppliers of restaurant furniture. A foodie, Billy likes to experiment with food and visits restaurants that have something different and delicious on their menu.
Posted on | October 22, 2013 | No Comments
Purple Tea from Kenya
The Tea Research Foundation of Kenya has pre-released a purple tea variety in a strategic approach to diversity and add value to the its domestic and international tea markets.
No Longer Just Tea Bag Tea
Kenya is one of the world’s top producers and exporters of tea. Kenya is well-known for its classic tea profile and makes a valuable contribution to the world’s tea sources. About 96% of Kenya’s tea production is exported. Of the 96% exported, most is manufactured for blending and becomes “teabag tea”.
A cup of Kenyan tea has a piquant taste and medium body. Kenyan tea has a distinct bright color and aromatic flavor, thanks to the country’s tropical climate and rich volcanic soils.
On days that I need a pick-me-up or customers ask for a tea for headaches, it is Kenya CTC tea that I recommend above my favorite Assam-Ceylon blend.
For drinkability, it stands well on its own or British-style with milk and sugar.
Purple Tea Joins the Kenya Tea Family
Purple tea joins high quality black, green and orthodox Kenya teas produced for export. The purple tea clones are pre-released as part of the government’s vision 2030 and Medium-Term Plan 2008-2012 (MTP), targeting new tea products diversification and value addition in order to enhance productivity of teas as well as to boost economic growth in the agricultural sector.
The viability of purple tea as a product is not intended as a fad or fashion. It relates to anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants with health enhancing properties. Anthocyanins are used as food preservatives in the food industry, health care products and confectionaries. Other properties extracted from the purple tea leaf may be used in an extensive array of products and selected for RTD (ready to drink) and instant teas.
Purple Tea Attributes
Special attributes of purple tea clone TRFK 306/1
- Anthocyanin-rich (purple pigmentation) – suitable for high value pharmacological tea product
- Drought, frost, disease and pest resistant
- Yield potential similar to the high yielding standard check and commercial clone TRFK 31/8
- Wide adaptability and suitable for all designated tea growing regions
- Currently undergoing distinctness, uniformity and stability tests (DUS)
- Earmarked for release soon
Kenya’s Sustainable Agriculture
About 60% of Kenya tea exports are source from small scale tea farms and collectively sold through the KTDA, Kenya Tea Development Authority.
From an October 2013 press release, “Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) jointly with Unilever and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative on October 10, 2013 launched in Murang’a County the second phase of sustainable agriculture aimed at improving the lives of more than 560,000 small scale tea farmers.
The sustainable agricultural project has proved to boost tea production up to 30% in volumes, according to KTDA reports. This means growers are likely to realize high production of green leaf in coming years. The initiative adopts best practices in tea plucking, digging composite pits, pesticide use and protection, bio-diversity, soil management and fertility.”
The remaining 40 percent of Kenyan tea is grown on large, privately-owned farms. The owners of these farms process and then sell their tea through the Mombasa Tea Auction, the second largest tea auction in the world.
Tea Board of Kenya (Use keyword search “purple tea” for two downloadable pdf newsletters that incude more information about purple tea.)
Kenya Information Guide (for general information about tea production in Kenya)
Wikipedia (generic information about tea production in Kenya)
Posted on | October 7, 2013 | 1 Comment
It takes good customer service skills
Smart Tips for Customer Service Skills
The restaurant and hospitality business is booming, and has become quite competitive. Eateries are trying to outdo each other to attract more high-spending patrons. One of the most effective ways to attract and keep a satisfied clientele is through outstanding customer friendly service. The following smart brief restaurant tips illustrate ways to establish customer good customer service skills.
Smart Brief #1: Train Servers to be Friendly and Polite
This is probably one of the most important aspects of a good restaurant. Employees should be taught to respect customer concerns and to proactively handle mistakes. Simply using good listening skills can go a long way to defuse awkwardness between customers and servers. Encourage employees to smile and make casual chit-chat to help visitors feel welcome and appreciated.
Smart Brief #2: Cater to a Specific Clientele
If your establishment is family friendly, keep a ready supply of safe toys to occupy the little ones, along with an age-appropriate menu that includes healthy selections. On the other hand, if your eatery has more of a traditional tea room or tea bar lounge environment, help employees to select uniforms that are comfortable and appealing and appropriate. Servers should feel comfortable and confident when interacting with customers, not self-conscious or on display.
Smart Brief #3: Ambiance
Create an attractive physical environment. Display a welcoming atmosphere through a clean facility, eye-catching décor, clean windows and doors, and easy-to-read signs, as well as menus. Work with an experienced printer like EBA Printing Milwaukee to develop signage and menus that customers will appreciate. Color print that is easy to read for all entrees will help visitors select menu items.
Smart Brief #4: Service
Provide courteous service tailored to customers’ needs. If guests come to your tea shop to unwind or talk business, train the servers to approach customers with those interests in mind. Alternately, if your restaurant offers a buffet spread, ensure that all dishes are kept fresh and hot to the specified temperature. If there is a promotional angle to your establishment, like singing “Happy Birthday” on a customer’s special day, remind your employees to participate in an upbeat way unless someone is uncomfortable doing so.
Smart Brief #5: Turn a Negative to a Positive
Promptly address serious complaints or disputes. When a dissatisfied customer asks for the manager, calls the restaurant, emails, or sends a letter, the concern should be taken care of at once. Remember that an unhappy customer is likely to complain to possibly twenty people, and your eatery’s reputation will suffer.
Maintaining a positive workplace environment is good for everyone, from customers to employees and managers. Working with qualified professionals for printing services and training needs will optimize the dining experience and ensure repeat business.
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