Shopping Challenge? Accepted!

As much as I am an avid shopper—both online and in stores—I've never had the desire to shop anything from The Shopping Channel. Well, I was given a challenge: I was told to go shopping and report back with what I found online at  I'm not one to say no to shopping—or a challenge—so I accepted.

The Shopping Channel has been around for over 26 years, giving Canadians a fun and convenient way to to shop for all sorts of things—things for the home, like kitchen gadgets, to jewellery, and even furniture. I never really thought of TSC as the shopping destination for fashion and make-up, though, until now. Things have changed... and there are tons of new awesome and fashionable products available, like the new Isaac Mizrahi Live! accessories and apparel line, Stila cosmetics, and so many other great finds. TSC also has a great new look, and shopping online has never been easier.

"TSC's brand evolution will make it a more dynamic and engaging destination for customers to shop whenever, wherever, and however they want." 

TSC has also completely redesigned their studio, so they're now better able to showcase the great products they feature. Included in the renovations? A brand-new, custom, state-of-the-art chef's kitchen, refined lighting, and a new boutique-feel jewelry set to make shopping even more fun than it was before.

I went on TSC website, and I spent hours... days, even... trying to narrow down what I wanted to use my gift card on. I had a hard time deciding, because there were so many things I wanted. I was trying to decide if I should get a new Kitchen Aid mixer, but because I don't love baking I decided to go back to looking at the things I do love: shoes, clothes and make-up!

And TSC did not disappoint. They have a great selection of Birkenstocks, Hush Puppies, and Sam Edelman shoes.

I fell in love with these Sam Edelman boots...

And these shoes...

But I still couldn't decide! So I started looking around some more, and decided to get this Isaac Mizrahi dress:

And this super cute lace top:

I am picturing wearing both to different festive events this holiday season. I know, I'm thinking way too far ahead, right?

Anyway, The Shopping Channel is celebrating National Shopping Day on October, 1st. As if we need a national shopping day—I celebrate shopping almost daily! TSC will be broadcasting live from NYC for the day, with a focus on fashion and beauty. What a great way to spread the word about all the fabulous new changes at TSC.

I want you to experience how awesome and easy it is to shop at the totally updated TSC, too, so... I'm giving away a $250 gift card to one of my lucky readers, thanks to The Shopping Channel! 

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

Disclaimer: I received compensation for this post. All opinions and views are my own. 


Gone Shopping

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I recently had the chance to do some back-to-school at Sears for my boys, and I hadn't been in Sears in years. I was surprised by how much it had changed since the last time I had visited, and I decided to go back to check out things for myself. (Shopping is always easier without the kids, right?) Anyway,  after flipping through the Sears Fall 2013 Look! report I headed to the mall to check things out for myself. The Sears Fall 2013 Look! report was filled with pages of the latest fashions and styles—from cute LBD's to 60's inspired looks.

I checked out Sears Canada on Pinterest, too, and was even more inspired to shop. It's hard to not fall in love with the new looks and styles supermodel Bar Refaeli (for Nevada, which was designed by the Buffalo group) is wearing on the cover and inside the magazine. I totally needed the jeans she was wearing so I went out and bought my own! And a new pair of booties, too, of course. I mean, isn't that what fall is all about? If we have to give up our flip flops, we certainly deserve new boots for a new season, no? By the way, if you've noticed how nice the new footwear is at Sears, it's because Nevada got a brand-new look with the help of ALDO group—they designed the entire collection!

I loved these shoes... I think the lace pair would be so perfect for the holidays with a sexy little black dress.

I ended up buying these boots, and a pair of classic black pumps. One can never have too many shoes, you know.

When I was shopping around in Sears, I noticed the awesome  fall sweaters, too. Sears really has improved the quality and selection of the items they're selling, but they've kept the affordable prices. (I bought my shoes and boots at 50% off!)

Thanks for sending me shopping, Sears Canada—I was very happy with what I saw in store, and I can't wait to wear my new boots!

Disclaimer: I have been sponsored by and compensated by Sears for this post. All opinions and views are my own. 

An exclusive sneak peek at the new Rideau Centre

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J.Crew. Victoria's Secret. Nordstrom. Three of my favourite stores. Three stores that as of yet, don't exist in Ottawa. But all that is changing, you guys. I'm so excited, you have no idea. Last night, I attended a preview reception at the Ottawa Convention Centre where some very exciting news was announced about Rideau Centre, my favourite Ottawa shopping centre. Before the big announcements were made, we were treated to yummy food and drinks, and had the chance to mingle with friends and colleagues.

Although I was only six years old when Rideau Centre opened in 1983, I have spent countless hours in this mall. (And I've spent countless dollars, too!) I've even worked in Rideau Centre—as a gift wrapper for Holiday Headquarters, briefly in Jacob, and as a server in Treats—my very first job ever when I was 16 years old. I'm almost positive not a week goes by that I'm not in the mall, shopping. Or looking. Or both. I spent a lot of my maternity leave in Rideau Centre, too, thanks to the convenience of the nursing rooms (and my never-ending need to shop for myself and my kids!)

Anyway, the big, very exciting news? Rideau Centre announced a massive expansion which includes major renovations inside and outside the mall. The redevelopment will add 230,000 square feet of leasable area including Simons, and the other stores I already mentioned.

Cadillac Fairview VP Ivan Boulva was on hand to talk about the changes along with Cindy VanBuskirk, General Manager of Rideau Centre. This major redevelopment project will take three years to complete, and around thirty new stores will open. How awesome is that for Ottawa?

The centre will also have two direct light rail transit points to Rideau Station, and the redevelopment will include a 35,000 square foot dining hall featuring 16 premium branded eating establishments.

Here are some of the gorgeous images of future Rideau Centre:

Gorgeous, isn't it? I am SO excited for these changes... for the new stores we'll be getting, and for our economy! 

Happy shopping, you guys. 

Top Looks For Fall

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I've finally come to terms with the fact that summer is over. I guess I don't really have a choice since it's fall, right? I sometimes have a hard time accepting change, especially when it's change I don't embrace. Now it's time to put one fashionable foot in front of the other and embrace fall and all the fabulous things that come with it—shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Maybe this is just a coping mechanism for me so it makes dealing with the fact that colder days are coming, or maybe it's just because I love to shop. Either way, there are so many wonderful things in store for fall. Literally.

Here's what you should totally add to your wardrobe right this second:

1.  A statement coat: Guys, I know. It's still September, and even though we can still technically get away with wearing flip flops, stores are already selling their hottest winter coats. I picked up my statement coat at Banana Republic the other day, (this one right here, because how cute!) so I don't have to worry about looking for a coat in the midst of our first snowstorm, and also because I wanted to get it out of the way as early as possible. Of course this winter I'll also be keeping warm and toasty in my beloved Canada Goose coat. (Thank you, Canada Goose!)

2. Cobalt Blue: I'm obsessed with this colour, and thankfully, it's everywhere this season. A cobalt blue sweater looks so hot paired with black leather leggings, your favourite pair of go-to jeans, and a pencil skirt. You cannot go wrong. So go forth and shop blue.

3. Cute boots: I love boots almost as much as I love my summer wedge heels. And every year, I need a pair or two. Or three, because we have such rough winters. I always need a pair of warm boots that are comfortable (and safe) for wearing when I'm with the kids, and I always need a great pair to go with skinny jeans and another pair to go with everything else. These are my top five favourite booties. 

4. LBD (with a twist): I have a lot of LBD's in my closet, because they can be worn all the time, no matter the event. This season, it's all about the LBD, but with a twist. Like this dress. I love it.

5. Little bit of lace: I've been having a love affair with lace for the last few months and I'm happy to see lace is still hot for fall. Ann Taylor has some great lace tops right now, and I'm stocking up. I think a lace top is incredibly sexy and perfect for the holidays... and yes, I'm starting to think that far ahead!

For more hot looks for fall, make sure to read my shopping blog. 

What are some of the looks you're lusting after this fall?

Greek Flavour

I have many amazing memories of spending summers in Greece when I was a child. Of course, one of the best things about vacationing in Greece—besides spending time with family and friends, swimming in the sea, and just having the best time ever—was the food! Greek food is my favourite, but to experience it in Greece is even better. Every breakfast was nothing more than fresh Greek yogurt with a touch of honey, which I enjoyed on my grandparent's balcony. It was perfection.

I'm so glad to see that the Greek yogurt craze has hit close to home, because I love that everyone can get a taste of how good Greek yogurt is without having to fly eight hours to try it!

The newest Greek yogurt I love is YOPA because it tastes as good as the yogurt I used to enjoy on my summer vacations in Greece, and there are a variety of delicious flavours

One of the best things about being Greek is how we include food in all of festivities. We have tons of OPA! moments to celebrate, from birthday to name days to holidays like Christmas and Easter, but it's also about the smaller moments, the ones that give you just as much reason to celebrate. For instance, a successful first week of school for my boys called for a special celebratory dinner. It's about enjoying all the little moments as much as the big ones.

Just so you can get a taste for how great the new YOPA Greek yogurt is, I'm giving away a $100 YOPA prize pack! (You can also take part in the #OpaYopa Twitter party taking part on September 24th at 8 p.m. for even more chances to win great prizes.)

Opa! Now go enter this awesome and oh-so-yummy YOPA giveaway! Winner will be selected on October 20th. (And this contest is open to Canadian residents only. Thanks!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure – I am participating in the YOPA Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills, and received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.


Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone And Dancing With The Stars

What movie defines your childhood? For me, it is Girls Just Want To Have Fun. I watched this awesome 80's movie countless numbers of times with my girlfriends. You could say we were a little obsessed. I still remember the entire movie by heart. We all loved to dance, of course, so watching the movie turned into a dance party, too. I'm pretty sure Sarah Jessica Parker wants to bury this movie, but come on—it's a classic!

Another movie that makes my top ten best movies ever list? Dirty Dancing. It's a movie that we all still love to watch... over and over and over (and over!) again. I'll never tire of watching. And clearly I love it very much. 

"I carried a watermelon" is one of the best movie lines, no?

I danced for many years, until I was in grade 10. (Then one day I forgot to show up for dance class because it was the CD release day for Guns N' Roses Use You Illusions I and II. But that's another story another day...) Anyway, although I never had dreams of dancing professionally, music and dancing always moved me and I loved being in the dance studio, learning new routines, hanging out with my friends, and performing on stage. The costumes, the songs, the excitement—I loved it all, so much. It wasn't about being the most amazing dancer—for me, it was about getting lost in the fun of it all.

As Jennifer Grey said... "Joy flows when there's dance." And this is so very true. I'm music obsessed, too. Music is like therapy, and so is moving to the sound of the beat.

I don't dance often unless I've had a few glasses of wine and I'm out with friends, but now, at least for two months? Dancing is back in my life!

I was asked to be one of the "celebrity" dancers for the 2013 Dancing With The Easter Seals Stars, and I am so excited for this event.  I'm 20 years out of practice, but apparently, learning the dance moves again is just like riding your bike—you never really forget. Here's hoping...

I've watched a lot of Dancing With The Stars on TV so I have a general idea of what's involved: meet your dance partner, work your butt off, select your songs and costumes, and perform, with the hope of winning, but most importantly—have the time of your life. (See what I did there?)

The only thing that'll be missing for me will be the bickering and fighting that some celebrity dancers and their partners get into. My dance partner is a nice, patient, kind man, so I'm not worried he'll lose it on me if I keep screwing up my steps. I HOPE.

All the money raised from this event is going to help children. Easter Seals is such a worthwhile cause, so I'm putting myself out there and completely stepping out of my comfort zone because it's such a wonderful charity event.

I'm doing two dances: Ballroom and Latin. I love my songs, and I'm excited and totally nervous to dance in front of hundreds of people who will be at the gala event on October 25th.

Even if you can't attend the event in person, you can still support your favourite dance team and vote for them online. If you're so inlined, I would love your support and vote.

Click here to vote for Loulou and Jonathan!

I promise I'll post video of me dancing, even if I fall on my face, step on my dress, or break a leg... literally.


One Kick At A Time

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My family and I recently went to a Toronto Argonauts football game in Toronto. It was a memorable experience, and the perfect end-of-summer event. My children were bright-eyed and had a dozen questions about the game. By the time we left, they knew more about football than I did! They were impressed, in awe, and became instant fans of the game. We can't wait to be in a football stadium again, cheering on our favourite team. Now, we have even more reason to love football, thanks to Sun Life Financial.

Sun Life Financial has teamed up with the Canadian Football League (CFL) and has committed to donating $101 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) every time a successful field goal is kicked during the CFL regular season, up to $40,000, in honour of the 101st playing of the Grey Cup Championship Game. The field goals will be tallied per team and the final funds will be directed to the affiliated JDFRF in the corresponding city. Isn't that even more exciting then a touchdown?

There is an awesome Kick Diabetes Facebook contest going on right now, too—not only will you have the chance to 'donate a kick' by selecting your favourite CFL team online, (it's so simple) you'll also have the chance to win one pair of 2014 CLF season tickets or one of 11 CFL jerseys just by entering. So awesome, right? You also have plenty of time to enter, because this contest is going on from August 22nd until November 2nd.

The best part? An additional $10,000 will be donated to JDRF in the city whose team accumulates the highest number of 'donated kicks' by the end of the regular season.

The JDRF is a global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, and has been a global leader in the search for an end to type 1 diabetes through research funding and advocacy for over 40 years.

"Driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers connected to children, adolescents, and adults with this disease, JDRF is the largest charitable supporter of T1D research." 

JDRF has always talked about a cure as a singular destination: a return to normal physiology. The mission of JDRF is is also to help those living with T1D: "... we recognize that a part of our mission must be to help those living with T1D today to live healthier, easier, and safer lives until we arrive at the end of that path." JDRF is committed to improving the lives of every person with T1D and to finding a cure for this disease.

I support the work JDRF does with schools, too—they provide a school advisory toolkit that offers collaborative methods for educators and parents of children with diabetes to make sure that children living with this disease enjoy the best possible school experience. I can imagine that as a parent of a child with diabetes, the day-to-day management can sometimes be challenging and overwhelming. To have complete support and understanding from the school is very important, and gives parents peace of mind.

Are you ready to kick diabetes to the curb? I think this is such a worthwhile contest and everyone can take part. Wouldn't finding a cure for this disease be amazing?

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Sun Life Financial. All opinions and views are my own.

Fab And Free Time At Murale

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Fall is the perfect excuse to update your look—new boots, new clothes, and new make-up. Why not step into fall with a fresh new look, right? I could (and often do) spend hours in Murale stocking up on all my beauty supplies. From all the cosmetics to the perfumes and body lotions, they carry all the products I love and use religiously. New blush? Check. New eye shadow? Check? New shade of pink lipstick, because that's all I wear? Check!

I love when it's Fab and Free time at Murale, because I get to shop for all the products I need and want, and then I get rewarded with a pretty cosmetics bag filled with—get this—over $288 worth of beauty products. Inside this cosmetics bag you'll find skin care, cosmetics, and nail polish from B. Kamins, Benefit, Bioderma, Clarins, Clinique, Darphin, Deborah Lippmann, Estee Lauder, Smashbox, Lancome and more. How awesome is that? Very, very awesome.

With Fab and Free, there is a two-part offer that you can take advantage of, too:

Fab and Free runs from September 9th until September 22nd. And there are two great offers you can advantage of, too: 

Part 1: From September 9 to September 22, you'll receive a cosmetics bag filled with 20 deluxe samples worth over $288 when you spend $125. (And you'll also receive a cute little booklet inside explaining all the products, too!)

Part 2: Inside this handy booklet you'll receive an Optimum Bonus Back Offer coupon valid in-store from September 23 to October 12, 2013. With this coupon you can receive 8000 Optimum Points when you spend $75 on any featured regular sized Fab and Free product. 

So, what are you waiting for? Time to head to Murale to do some fall shopping just for you... that new lipstick is just calling your name! Check out the Murale website to find the closest location near you.

Disclaimer: I am being compensated for this post. 

Goodbye To Summer

Summer is over, and the weather has gone from hot to chilly practically overnight. Any warm day we get in September I'll take because 17 months of cold winter is heading our way. Fall drinks are already back at Starbucks and I've finally given up my Pina Colada for a Cinnamon Dolce Latte at Starbucks. Yum, but still—sigh. Anyway, summer was wonderful. We stayed busy, we relaxed,  and we travelled. Perhaps getting laid-off was a blessing—the quality time I got to spend with my children this summer? I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was the simple things that I enjoyed the most.

We went for walks to the park, and visited the many great museums Ottawa has, and enjoyed BBQ season with family and friends.

We went for scooter and bike rides around the neighbourhood.

I cheered on my boys as they played soccer, and maybe wiped a tear away when they got their medals at the end of the season.

We swam, and swam, and swam some more. For every hot and sunny day there was, we were in the pool.

We went to Toronto and stayed at the wonderful Marriott Bloor Yorkville. We were treated, once again, to the amazing two-floor Presidential Suite, and the kids had a blast. We had a dinner party in our room with friends, too.

We took the boys to Legoland and to the Toronto Zoo.

We went to south Florida and stayed at our favourite resort, the Westin Diplomat, with my entire (big, Greek, and loud) family for our annual vacation. There is nothing I love more than spending time with my family on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and soaking up the rays at a beautiful resort. It was one of my favourite vacations ever.

We played tourists in our city and checked out the gorgeous sound and lights show, Mosaika, on Parliament Hill.

My boys spent a couple of weeks at Mad Science camp, together—which meant I had some time to myself. (Hallelujah!)

We took a trip to Chateau Montebello, which is even more beautiful in the summertime.

We headed back to Toronto and stayed at the beautiful Park Hyatt Hotel, and went to an Argos game.

One of my favourite things we did this summer was surprising our children with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls. We told the boys we were heading back to Ottawa after Toronto, and once we pulled into Great Wolf Lodge, they were so excited. (We were there last summer, too—it's perfect for kids.)

I even did my hair in the salon at Great Wolf Lodge... and surprisingly, I didn't come out looking like a wolf. I was quite impressed!

We even went peach picking in Niagara.

Here's a look back at some of my summer highlights...

I'm already in planning mode for next summer, but now, I'm going to start getting used to all the wonderful things fall has to offer. Here's hoping everyone had a smooth transition back to school! 


The List Of 37

Yesterday I spent the day thinking I was turning a year older than I really am. When I realized my mistake, (I am terrible when it come to math, obviously) I was relieved, and then I realized that I'm still over 35, so you know, whatever. Another year older... another birthday to celebrate!

In reality I'm beyond thankful for another year, and am feeling blessed. 37 is a great number, right? I still feel like I'm 26, most of the time. I sleep even less than most 20 year olds who go out all night long! (Remember those days? I miss those days, minus the evil hangovers.)

Looking back, I've got nothing but great memories. I wouldn't even trade the bad moments because they've shaped who I've become and they're part of my story. I miss certain aspects of the past, though, like high school, university and... everything in between and after. Nostalgic much?

Here are 37 of my favourite things:

1. My family. I love my family so much—husband, parents, sister, grandparents, cousins. We're a crazy, loving, loud bunch, and we see each other almost every day. We travel together, eat dinners together, and tolerate one another pretty well, too!

2. My children. The two best people in my universe... they're my entire life.

3. My best friends.

4. Getting into crisp, clean sheets after a shower late at night.

5. Pinot Grigio. Or a cold beer on a hot summer day, poolside.

6. The ocean. The waves. The sand. The beach beverages.

7. Beautiful resorts and hotels with amazing balcony views.

8. Shopping. Hours in my favourite store is one of my favourite ways to spend a day.

9. Airports. I love the craziness, I love the excitement, and I love to see people going somewhere.

10. Traveling. Even though I don't love flying, I like seeing new places. Aruba, California, England, Greece, Venezuela, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Florida, Maine, New York City, Washington D.C., Amsterdam... and so many more places I've loved visiting. On my bucket list of places I have to visit? Italy and France. So much to explore... so much more to see!

11. Countless hours in a book store.

12. A new book. I love to read, and I always have a book or two on the go. And it has to be a real book, too—real paper—no Kindle for me.

13. Blogging. And the people I've met. I truly love what I do, and I love the community, too.

14. My iphone. Definitely one of my favourite things.

15. My new MacBook Air! My ten year anniversary present. It's my new baby.

16. Long, long drives on an open road, with my music playing, and the windows rolled down.

17. Music. It moves me. 

18. Swimming.

19. Saks Fifth Avenue.

20. Movie popcorn.

21. Nordstrom.

22. My VW Jetta.

23. Christmas.

24. The smell of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion.

25. Fanta—but only the one from Europe, because it is totally better.

26. Long walks on a summer night with my family.

27. Swinging at the park with my boys.

28. Friends and nights of great conversation and laughter. And pizza.

29. A little blue box.

30. But maybe not as much as a brown box...

31. Going for a massage.

32. And a great blow-dry.

33. My children's laughter—and their silence when they're concentrating on something.

34. Great movies like Goodfellas, Casino, Godfather, The Usual Suspects, Dazed and Confused, Clueless, American Beauty—just a few of my favourites.

35. Great television shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Homeland, and Mad Men. Actually, these are the only shows I currently watch.

36. People who make me laugh, and people who are genuine. It's easy to see through people who are not.

37. Starbucks. I love my coffee.

All I really want for my 37th birthday is to turn more dreams into realities, spend as much time as possible with the people I love, and make this the year I focus on staying as healthy as I can. No excuses!  There's so much more to look forward to.

The Final Countdown

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It was a perfect summer.

In fact, summer was so great it feels like it was only two weeks ago that I was taking pictures of my children on the last day of school. I don't quite understand how summer went by so quickly, but here we are—a new school year is only 24 hours or so away. Wow. Sadness. Also? HAPPINESS. I'll absolutely be wiping away the tears as my boys walk into school, but? I'll also be really glad. I am so ready (as I am sure they are too) for the routine again. For more structure. And I am so looking forward to going shopping... all... by... myself.

I don't know about you, but I've been singing this song for the last couple of days. It's the final countdown, you guys. (Oh, 80's. I love you so, and all your ridiculousness.)

Here's to an awesome September!

Lunchbox Love

When my oldest son started school, he was four years old. I cried when he walked away from me, into the kindergarten doors. I wished there was a way I could have left him a note in his lunch box to remind him how much I loved him, or how proud I was of him,  and to remind him of how wonderful of a person he was. I often left him little pictures, and looked forward to the day he could read. Now my oldest son, heading into grade three, is a great reader, and I get excited knowing that the notes I put in his lunchbox will be read. And hopefully, these notes will bring a smile to his face.

I'm thrilled to be part of the Lunchbox Love Mom Panel, because I think these little notes are a simple way to keep a child smiling all day long—which in turn, makes me a happy mom. As we're just a couple of days away from starting the morning routine of getting the kids out the door and to school on time, I love that I have little notes to pop into my children's lunches that I know will keep them smiling throughout the day.

The mission behind Lunchbox Love serves a bigger purpose than just the note in the lunchbox, though:

 "It's the idea of communicating to our kids that we love, respect, and honour them. This is the kind of daily reminder that is the perfect way to bring positive messaging into our children's lives and those we love, especially when we cannot be there." 

The best part for me is that a portion of Say Please's profits are used to help feed children around the world. I love supporting a company who gives back in some way to children. 

I also love how on one side, the little note has some trivia and fun facts—things to get lunch time conversations going among friends over the lunch hour!

I'd love for you to try some of these awesome Lunchbox Love notes, too. I am giving away four packs for you to test out at home. I'm sure you'll love them as much as I do.

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I am part of the Lunchbox Love moms panel, and I receive compensation for my work with them. 

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