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Grown Up Shopping List

It’s a part of growing up…suddenly realizing you need those things that you didn’t think about till you were preparing to head off to college: pricy necessities that you realize that mom or dad provided for you up until this point. But how do you know what to buy? And when to buy it? And where to find a good price? That’s what you’ll learn in today’s blog: how to make a grown up shopping list for those certain items you’ll need when you’re living on your own:

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

Luggage: While many of you can still borrow this from your parents or friends, it’s really nice to have your own pieces that you can take on short trips (especially if you plan to come back and forth on the weekends). We love a weekender bag like the one from Sole Society, that’s very chic but also roomy enough for a 2-3 day trip. It’s under $100 and you can find it HERE. If you need your own rolling suitcase, consider investing in a nice one from Nordstrom or Macy’s, where they often have coupons and online sales. We like this one from Macy’s, that is more of an investment, but it’s high quality

Iron: You can definitely get by in college without an iron of your own (we recommend having a mini or portable steamer), but having a good one is truly an investment you’ll use for years to come. Especially with the many occasions that come up in college or life on your own to wear professional clothes, such as scholarship interviews, job interviews, or work in a professional environment, you definitely want the chance to have clean and pressed clothing. This one from Black and Decker is awesome

Sheets: You can go A LOT of years with sheets with low thread count, but we bet that when you try some higher end ones, you will never go back! You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get ones with higher thread count and organic or Egyptian cotton, and you’ll be much more cozy than the $10 ones from Walmart. We really love the Hemstitch collection from Target, and they start at just $70 for a full size set. Most dorm beds are twin sized but if you’re lucky enough to have an apartment with a full, they are your best value. If you have an XL Twin in a standard dorm room, you can also try these awesome sheets from Bed, Bath and Beyond for under $30

Cooler: Another thing that you may not realize you need, but that’s super useful and something you will reach for often! You will be able to take a cooler camping, on trips, and even for days at the lake, for years to come. A smaller version will be just fine until you have a family of your own, and you want one that can easily fit in the trunk. Of course, the Yeti brand coolers are the very best, but they’ll set you back about $150 for a personal sized one. The Igloo brand is just as durable, although it won’t keep your food cold for days and days, and it is just under $30 at Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

A lock box or safe: A mini or portable box is a great idea, even just to have a fire-safe place for valuables. As you enter adulthood, you will start to have important papers accumulate, like licenses, passports, applications, etc, that you will need a place to store. Look for a fireproof box or safe, with a lock or electronic code. It is best to have one that attaches directly to the floor in a closet or under a bed, so no one can run off with it, but that is tricky in a dorm room. If you can, see if you can store your most valuable possessions at a family member’s home, and keep other replaceable valuables in your personal safe or lock box. 

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Books and Podcasts to Enjoy this Summer

Summer…the perfect time to kick back and relax, and the perfect time to also catch up on the reading you’ve been missing out on while studying! Not only are books and podcasts a great way to pass time out on the lake or while exercising, they also encourage your brain to stay active and engaged, and many research studies show that reading books and listening to audio materials helps prevent depression and anxiety among teens and adults. We have rounded up our favorite new offerings below:

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

Serial: It’s remained a top podcast for a reason! We love the way the podcast shares important stories, and it’s hard to stop listening once you start. If you’ve never listened, be sure to start with season one, the story of Adnan Syed, and prepare to be totally captivated. You’ll be pulled in by the characters, and the way you will be left to come to your own conclusions. (Warning: Has language and adult situations surrounding a murder).

American Scandal: We love this one too, mostly because of the wide variety of stories and topics that you can choose from. Each leg of the series covers a different scandal in American history, and we are totally obsessed with the “Payola” one, which talks about the rise of modern radio and the financial scandals associated with it. It might sound boring, but it’s anything but. (Warning: has some language).*

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: Amazon has named this one of the best books of 2019, and we are pretty pumped to get our hands on it, too! Elizabeth Gilbert also wrote “Eat, pray, love”, and this one is another great work of fiction. It is about a young lady in the theater world in the 40’s in New York City. It’s full of glitz and glamour, and it sounds like the perfect book for a beach read. 

Educated by Tara Westover: There is a reason this book has remained at the top of the bestseller list, and it’s because it’s amazing. It tells the tale of the author and her dysfunctional family, and their upbringing “off the grid”. She prevails through a number of hard circumstances, and it’s truly inspiring. You’ll be left feeling encouraged and amazed by her resiliency, and the things that she goes on to do in life, despite an unimaginable childhood. If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, you’ll love this autobiographical work, too. 

Limetown: This is a fictional podcast, so it’s more of a radio theater type experience, but it’s the perfect thing for those long road trips..the time will pass in a flash! It tells the tale of a mysterious disappearance of masses of people, and you’ll be left wanting more, with every single episode. Make sure you download all the available episodes, because you won’t want to miss a single one. 

*These are suggestions, and all the advertisements on the podcasts do not necessarily represent the professional views of Creations by Jewel as a business :) 



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How to create an amazing resume

Making a resume: it’s not something that may be on the top of your to-do list for the summer, but it should be. No matter if you’re in the middle of freshman year or packing for college, learning how to make a resume is a life skill that everyone should know. Of course, there are plenty of resources like LinkedIn, where you can have a digital record of your employment and references, but many jobs require a paper or PDF copy that you will need to design, update, and store. Here are our very best tips on how you can create a resume that totally wows (and hopefully lands you the job of your dreams):

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Start with a list of your volunteer and employment histories: A simple legal pad or notebook paper will work for this step. Identify any things you’ve been involved in, such as volunteering at the Humane Society, working a part-time job (even if it’s nannying or babysitting), and anything that you can provide viable references for. You do not need to include your grade point average, or miscellaneous awards, unless they directly correlate with the job you’re applying for. Have a parent or other trusted adult check your list for relevant information, and to help you narrow down what is truly pertinent.

-Nail down your references and timelines: You don’t need to go back to your kindergarten years (please don’t!) to find relevant work history. It’s better to have less information than to try to scrounge around and fill it with things that have nothing to do with your reliability as an employee or intern. When you have narrowed down your specifics, make sure you contact anyone you worked under or for/with that would be a viable reference for you. You must ask their permission in writing, in order to include them on your resume as a personal or employer reference. Double check email addresses and phone numbers on anything you provide. If you’re unsure of when you started or stopped a job, make sure you ask the employer. 

-Always be honest: It is never okay to lie or include misinformation on your resume. As we mentioned, it is better to have a sparce, emptier resume that is truthful, than one padded with falsehoods. It will always be found out when you lie on one, and it sets you up for both legal trouble, and failing at a job. Only include experience you actually have, and only add names of people you truly know. Employers can see right through exaggerated lies, and you will always be on your toes, wondering if they will “find out” you stretched the truth…it’s best to always be honest! If you were fired or let go from a job and are embarrassed about it, be prepared with a truthful but concise statement because employers will likely ask you about a gap in work history.

-Design and save/print: There are so many awesome resources out there for resume building. You can google free templates from Microsoft Word if you want to keep things very simple and clean without much effort, but our favorite program is Canva for truly showstopping graphics and designs. They are free for almost all graphic elements, and only $1 for the fancier photos and fonts. It makes it a cinch to drag and drop your information into a beautiful and professional looking resume. Save a copy in Canva, where you can edit it as you add or take away work experience, and save a PDF and printed copy for your own files. 

Now, that you have a gorgeous resume, you are ready to go get your internship or dream job! We can’t wait to hear about it! Stay tuned here on the blog for more advice and tips as you prepare for college!

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Things to do in Houston in the Summer

Here in the great state of Texas, we know how to beat the heat year round but sometimes, we need new things to keep us busy! Whether you’re brand new to our gorgeous area, or you’ve lived here for ages, you might enjoy this list of things to do as you make your summer bucket list!

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor: This water park started as “wet and wild” splash park, and has since become one of the Six Flags attractions. It’s even better now, with improved rides and things to do, and you can even sign up for their new “meal plan” to enjoy it all summer long. Don’t miss the Vortex and Tornado rides, where you can beat the Houston heat while enjoying heart-stopping thrills!

Top Golf: These unique spots are popping up all over the US, because they are so much fun! It combines the fun of golf and skee-ball, with an interactive environment complete with food and drinks. You will love gathering with your friends and family to try this new take on the outdated mini-golf.

Escape rooms: These are the ultimate thing to do with friends or family. Consider trying an escape room with your graduating class, your best friends before your graduate, or for a family reunion! Most allow players of all ages to pair up with older ones if needed, and you can choose a more tame theme for something family-friendly. There are even some super spooky ones if you want to go around Halloween!

Space Center Houston: You can take a guided tour to the space center, where you’ll visit America’s history with the NASA space program, or you can simply head there yourself to view the many replicas and historical pieces (including rocks brought back from actual missions). TripAdvisor offers the specialty guided tours, that also include the Johnston space center as well. 

Photography tour: TripAdvisor also offers the Mural Tour, which is perfect for any influencers or Instagram-lovers! You’ll see some of the coolest paintings, artwork, walls and more that you can hop off and document immediately. It’s about 30 minutes long, and ends with a sweet treat. Well worth the $65 price tag, and perfect for gathering up your girlfriends and your smart phones!

Pack brunch and a picnic: There are countless, gorgeous parks in the Houston area, and all you have to do is head to a local grocer (we love Whole Foods) to snag your favorite goodies for the perfect summer afternoon. We recommend picking up salamis, fruit, cheese, crackers, sparkling water, and Marconi almonds for the best lunch spread ever. Then, decide whether you want to go to Discovery Park, Memorial Park, or Buffalo Bayou for your perfect lunch. 

Sunset movies at Rooftop Cinema Club: This is such a super-chic way to enjoy a movie. They screen classic and new movies, but the seats are limited so you’ll have to get there early. There are snacks available for purchase, and everyone gets wireless headphones so you can hear the movie and watch the sunset. It’s a one of a kind experience! 

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Inexpensive Coachella Style

So, maybe we don’t all have the means to end up at Coachella this year, but you don’t have to have tickets to the biggest music festival to look the part! The Coachella, bohemian style is a total hit when the weather warms up, even if you are just having brunch around town. It’s also a really fun style to bring into your senior session, and you can add a little polish and elegance to make it suitable for your epic photoshoot. But, those bohemian duds can really add up, thanks to many people scouring vintage shops for those special pieces. Here’s our best advice to finding the best items to boost your closet to festival-worthy:

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

-Free People isn’t the only brand out there: When you think of a festival look, many bloggers and laypeople alike head straight for Free People. Don’t get us wrong, we ADORE the gorgeous looks they are putting out, but when it comes to our pocketbooks…ouch. Remember that you don’t have to be brand loyal when it comes to saving money, and there are several brands that echo the same look as Free People. One boutique we love is Roolee. It’s online, it ships fast from Utah, and it has several tops, tunics, shoes, and dresses that would totally pass for items that would cost 10x as much. Check out these Yoko Flats, which are a pretty good dupe for the infamous Royale flat. 

-Start with the right foundation: No look is perfect unless you start with the basics, and work your way up from there. What we mean by that is: always make sure that you have proper undergarments, and well-fitted tanks, camis, leggings, and jeans to be your basis. When your bra, underwear, or shapewear fit properly, your outer items will fit better and can really improve the look cheaper pieces of clothing. If you need to, invest in a great pair of Spanx, and a professionally-fitted bra. You’d be surprised what a difference these can make when you begin to layer on those tops and dresses. And, there is no replacement for a great, sturdy pair of jeans that make you feel amazing. We highly recommend the Danny high-rise jean from Madewell. Yes, they are pricey, but they will become your everyday wear, and are well worth the money.

-Proportions are key: When you begin building festival looks, it’s important to remember to use the right proportions. If you have tight, minimal denim shorts, you can get away with a looser, flowing top with lots of details and embroidery. If you are sporting a longer maxi with cool sleeves, add chunky, neutral colored shoes to incorporate texture and height. Remember to stick with 1-2 statement pieces, so you don’t look tacky or distracting. 

-When it comes to makeup, look for the drugstore dupes: Makeup can be a huge piece that takes up your whole budget. Before you know it, you’ve spent $100-$200 at Ulta or Sephora and you haven’t even gotten to your wardrobe yet. We highly recommend looking at YouTube and other beauty blogger sites to find drugstore dupes (like this one) and splurging only on your foundation and skincare. This is especially true if you are buying specific makeup looks for your boho stylings, and not for everyday wear. 

-Shop secondhand: Yes, it’s true, and we know you probably have heard it before, but secondhand is the way to go. Not only is it better for the environment and more socially responsible, you’re more likely to find the pieces that will become the envy of your friends; that one of a kind leather jacket, a pair of wooden clogs, huarache sandals, or seventies vintage glasses. You will also pay much less, even at an upscale vintage shop, than you would brand-new for items that have not withstood the test of time. If you don’t have any local shops that you enjoy, check out online retailers like thredUp and Poshmark for the ability to shop and have them shipped to you. 

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How to Make a Budget for College

College is expensive. Anyone who tells you it isn’t… is probably lying! Ha! It’s really a wise practice to make a budget for any season in your life, but especially in college. You will be well occupied with your class schedule, and may not even be working part-time while you’re in school. So, without a big income source, how will you cover those many expenses? That’s where a smart budget comes in: you will never wonder how to pay your bills, and you will always know what’s left in your month allotment. Here are our very best tips to creating a realistic budget as you leave home for the first time:

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

Figure out where your income sources are coming from: Whether you are working or not while in school, you will have some sort of “income” source. It can be money from your parents, a trust fund, your own job, student loans, or any other sort of incoming finances. If your parents are supporting you in college, be clear with your expectations and how much you will be receiving. It’s not a fun conversation, but its really necessary with family, so no one has unfair expectations about their roles. If you are working, be sure to factor in taxes and fees that come out of your check, before you estimate how much you’re really taking home.

Next, divide up your upcoming expenses into categories. You will have many categories when it comes to college, but here are our suggested basics: Room and board, textbooks and school supplies, transportation, clothing, and discretionary spending. Room and board would include: cost of living on campus, or an apartment with utilities such as power and internet. Textbooks and supplies can include anything that you need for school, so don’t leave out items like scientific calculators, lab equipment, or any special uniforms or clothing. Transportation can include your own car, public transport, and any associated fuel or insurance fees, and clothing is self-explanatory. Discretionary spending includes any entertainment, spending money, or extras such as dining out with friends. We would also recommend adding a category for your cell phone plan, if that’s something you pay for.

Match up your expenses to your income, and figure out where the gaps are: If you are unable to meet your basic needs with your income, you will need to figure out a secondary plan, such as cutting out things like clothing money, or taking on part time work, such as selling clothes on Poshmark, or babysitting or tutoring. If at all possible, avoid taking out additional student loans because of the interest rates. 

Track your expenses: Once you have a written or digital (like an app) budget in place, begin diligently tracking your expenses. You can often find out where your biggest pitfalls lie by looking at your online banking statements and matching them up to your categories. Before you leave for college, one of the wisest things you can do is to save a large nest egg up, in order to cover emergencies such as new tires, unexpected travel (especially if you live very far from home), or a medical crisis. We recommend at least $2000 as an “emergency” fund, although any more than that would be very wise as well. 

By being diligent about managing your money in college, you are setting yourself up for success in the rest of your life as well. College is not only useful to gain academic knowledge, but it is also an important time to create healthy habits financially! 

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How to Care for Indoor Plants

We don’t all have a green thumb, but most of us have seen those drool-worthy shots on Instagram that feature adorable succulents and fiddle leaf figs, and wondered how we could tend our own plants! As you are preparing to leave the nest for the first time (heading to college), you might want to start caring for your very own little plant families, and so, we wanted to give you our best tips.

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

-Choose the best plants for your room or home: Some plants like cactus and succulents need constant sunlight, which will make them tricky to grow somewhere like a dorm room, so look for plants that match where you plan to enjoy them. If you have a lot of natural light in your apartment or room, you will be able to situate them in the perfect spots. The creeping fig and philodendron are two that don’t require much sun, and still give you the beauty of having indoor plants.

-Figure out how much water your plants need: One of the most common causes for plants to die is too much or not enough water. Each species of plant need certain amounts of water, so it’s good to figure that out before soaking your little pots. Soil should be moist, not saturated or dry. Watch for yellow leaves or browning on the edges of your plant as signs of it drying out.

-If you leave, ask someone to check on your plants: If you have a roommate or friend, ask them to look in on your plants and water/open the blinds if they can. That way, you won’t risk coming home from vacation to a bunch of sad and dead plants. Be sure to leave instructions if they are particularly finicky plants that need certain care, and employ a moisture probe if you are curious how much water your potted plants need.

-Water with your leftover cooking water: It sounds silly, but come leftover cooking water, such as that used to cook veggies or hard boiled eggs, can be filled with nutrients for your growing greenery. It also is a great way to use up water that would otherwise be tossed out.

-Watch the temperature: Your thermostat matters. If you’re sharing a dorm room, it may be tricky to come to an agreement on the heat or cooling systems, but remember that it does affect the moisture of each plant for it to be too hot or too cool. Look online for your certain plant species, to see if your types need a certain temperature range, and then aim for that when you set your thermostat. Also, remember that indoor plants help clean the air, so they are good for you as well as pretty to look at!

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How to find and earn scholarships 

When you consider the amount of student loan debt that the average American is in these days, it will inspire you to search out the maximum number of scholarships you can apply for. College is expensive, and the costs are only going up. While you may know that applying is smart, you may also wonder where you can even find the right scholarships. How do you know you’re not wasting your time, and which ones you qualify for? That’s where today’s tips come in…here’s how and where you can find awesome opportunities to offset those hefty student loans:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

  1. Figure out how much your deficit is. This should be step one for anyone applying to college. You need to know how much financial need you really have, and to do so, you’ll need to sit down with your parents or guardians and make a budget. You can request quotes for tuition, dorm life, and food from any prospective colleges that should help guide your numbers. You need to also factor in any travel costs (driving, car upkeep), things you’ll need like sports equipment or uniforms, and sorority associated fees, etc. Then you’ll be able to calculate how much you’ll need above and beyond what family or other assistance is already helping out with. 

  2. Brush up your resume and volunteer hours: Many scholarships are based on your community work or your extra curriculars; they look kindly on students who are well-rounded and efficient with their time. Obviously, you should also be striving for excellent grades in all subjects at school, and of course, keeping up with any other obligations like a part-time job. You should begin to take these things very seriously as early as freshman year, in order to keep your resume as strong as possible.

  3. Use scholarship search engines: You may be surprised at what scholarships you actually qualify for. If you have family members in the military, you may qualify for additional college assistance as well. Scholarship Owl is one that works similarly to a job search website, and matches you with the ones you best meet the criteria for. Fastweb is another one that is excellent and speedy with finding scholarships that you are already able to apply for. Using the web services helps prevent wasted time.

  4. Speaking of time: view applying for scholarships as a part time job…one you really want! If you earn scholarships, you will save yourself not only money, but time. You will have to take on less part-time work and stress if your school finances are more squared away. If you are really on a time-crunch, consider scheduling one hour a day to work on applications and essays, and block out the time just like any other activity.

  5. Stay organized: It is best to make a binder or dedicated area for all of your scholarship copies, forms, deadlines and essays. Make a master spreadsheet or calendar with all of the deadlines so that you don’t miss any of them. If you are asking for letters of recommendation from teachers or friends, be sure to get more than one copy of each one so you don’t need to bother them again. Try to make a master copy of your basic essay, so you can merely tweak and change it up for each application to save time. 

With these simple tips, you can devote your time to finding scholarships, and also increase your chances at winning them! Good luck!

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4 Practical Ways for Finding Joy

Image source: pexels.com

Image source: pexels.com

Finding joy is like finding buried treasure. It will take work, and you’ll go on quite a journey getting there, but you need to know where you can find it before you can set off. Thankfully, there are many maps to finding joy, and if you’re willing to put in a bit of work getting there, you’ll realize that it’s not that hard to find. Happiness and joy are different, in that happiness is fleeting and often brought about by things that happen around you, while joy is consistent, and comes from inside. In other words, other things can make us happy, but we can make ourselves joyful. Here are some practical ways for finding joy!

Treat everyday like thanksgiving - No, I don’t mean what you think I mean. I’m not talking about the food (although I can definitely whip up some joy with a bit of chocolate), what I’m talking about is giving thanks. When you make a habit out of being thankful for the things in your life, you’re automatically shifting your mind into a positive mindset, and slowly changing the way that you think about things. Do this for long enough, and you won’t be able to recognize yourself from before, because you’ll be so much more joyful.

Image source: pexels.com

Image source: pexels.com

Challenge yourself with something and commit to it - Here’s where that hard work comes in. The feeling of accomplishment is made up of joyful feelings, and is a very practical way to cultivate joy. Think of that project that you’ve been wanting to do for a long time - maybe you’ve been wanting to learn another language, write more short stories, beat the record on track team - and commit yourself to doing it. You’ll have to be more organized, and set reachable goals, but in the end, the effort will be so worth it, and the journey to accomplishing what you set out to will give you a big dose of joy.

Do something you love - This one only is hard when it comes time to stop. Think about the things that give you joy - whether it’s going out with friends, shopping, exercise, painting, etc. - and do that thing. It’s a surefire way to get a good grasp of joy, but you have to be make sure that the thing you love to do doesn’t become a crutch. You’ve probably heard the adage, “Too much of a good thing.” If you do something you love in excess, then that thing won’t give you much joy anymore. Do what you love in moderation, and you’ll be one joyful person!

Image source: pixabay.com

Image source: pixabay.com

Make time for laughter - Anyone’s who laughed knows that it makes them feel better. There’s no wonder that some of the most joyful people you know love to laugh! Think about the last time you genuinely laughed: how did you feel? As you grow older, you’ll have less opportunity to laugh, so while you’re young you should make it a habit. Maybe you have a group of friends that always make you laugh, or you love to watch comedies - you know what makes you laugh. Make time for these things, and you’ll find a whole lot of joy.

Finding joy isn’t as hard as it first seems, no matter where you’re coming from. The hardest part is putting one foot in front of the other, and making the effort to build up that joy. Give yourself time, and you’re sure to find that joy and hold onto it for years to come. If you’re a senior, then you have a unique opportunity to build that joy through a senior session with me. Contact me here to book your session!

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Snow Queen Stylized Shoot

Before there was Elsa and all her Frozen glory, there was the snow queen from Hans Christian Anderson’s book. Snow has long been an inspiration for many photographers and designers, and for good reason. Snow and ice are incredible, magical, and beautiful. There is a sense of mystery to the cold temperatures, and it inspired this styled session with the beautiful Abby and Kaitlynn. Kaitlynn is our usual hair and makeup artist, so she did her own styling, and the lovely Sylvie did Abby’s makeup this time. Both girls were eager to put their own twist on the idea of a modern day snow queen, and I loved having the creative freedom to make this shoot happen!

The first look was very “Elsa”, with a beautiful white outfit and shimmering makeup. We did a side fishtail braid, and added a bit of floral branches to create a true crown. The second look was warmer and had more of a holiday feel, with a crimson floral berry crown, and hints of blue in her shimmering makeup look. As you know if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, I really find inspiration in coming up with new and creative styling in my sessions, and this one was no exception. If you are a senior who wants really unique senior photos and has a special idea, I’d love to help you figure out how to make it happen…no idea is too crazy or too adventurous to try, and who wouldn’t want to have the most unique photos amongst their friends?

Contact me today!

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