Monday, December 9, 2013

Early Morning Shipment

This morning I have this lovely little shipment to send to a costumer!  It is always exciting to know that a stranger wants and will have something I made in their home!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Crusty Bread


A few times this past month including today, I have been making this lovely bread.  I have always liked bread with a crusty outside and soft inside, but had never thought to try making it myself.  But after seeing this super simple recipe, it has become a new favorite!
It comes out so lovely, making it look like you're a master baker, while it is really easy.  And it's also pretty healthy - with no sweetner, not even honey.
Simply So Good: Crusty Bread
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.   (Note: they say you do not need a cast iron pot, just something with a lid that can take the heat)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bright Lights Conferences

Sarah Mally and I
What a blessing this past week has been!  Just one year ago I had no intentions of becoming a part of the Bright Lights girls ministry, then earlier this year I took over a group for a friend who was getting married, and now this past week I had the pleasure of helping out at the MN Bright Lights conferences!
 The Bontrager girls did some special music.  You know the Bontragers from 19 Kids & Counting episode "Duggars Do Dinner"?  Same family, and I do wish I had more of a chance to talk with these girls!
During the Strong In The Lord conference I was an assitant leader for a small group.  The days would be scheduled with all attendees (about 400 in number) switching from large group session in which Sarah and Grace Mally talked, and meeting in small discussion groups.  The whole conference went smoothly with many girls, and even a mother, responding to the Gospel message!
With two days spent at the church (sleeping over night there gave me opportunity for a late night discussion about books with two other sweet leaders) I went back home for a day of rest there, and then went back with friends to attend the Radiant Purity Conference, as I had never attended one before.
What a blessing that conference was also!!  The sessions were encouraging and challenging.  In the small group the discussions were great, which not all that long ago would have just seemed uncomfortably scary.  And making more lasting friendships was excellent!
And making so many amazing new friends was another big highlight of the week!  Fellowship can be so sweet with so many like-minded girls!  I collected as many email address and added as many Facebook friends as I could, but it would have been nice to get even more!

I and the small group leader I assisted signing books, there was a space in the back of the conference journals to collect signatures from people we met. 
I praise the Lord for the oppurtunity I had to do this!!  It will be a fond memory for years to come, and hopefully I can make more by doing it again another year!
Thank you for visiting!
Amber Nicole

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shop Finds: eShakti

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I had the privilege of playing violin for a dear friend's wedding.  But I didn't have something nice for a just entering the fall season sort of wedding, so I had to go shopping, sad right? ;)
I ended up buying my dress from eShakti, a wonderful online clothes store specializing in dresses of a 50's style.  I had a great experience ordering from this shop, but what's extra special about this shop is that for only $7.50 more, you can choose the length of your dress - made for modesty!  On some dresses you can also choose the sleeve length this way too.

I chose the "Joy Dress" in navy blue with a sweeping bow at the neck - well made.  The price came to $45 dollars after having it lengthed to calf length and using the $25 first time register coupon.  The dresses are already reasonably priced, but sales are going on at all times.
Probable return costumer: Yes!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Downy & Floral Grand Opening!

After about a year of delay, either because of having to fill in the details or just not feeling like I knew enough yet, I have finally took the plunge and opened my very own shop on! 
I would feel honored if you pay a visit by clicking the link below or using the widget on my sidebar.
Downy & Floral


This is a very exciting day for me and I appreciate your encouragement and support dear reader!
Amber Nicole

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Passing Summer Breezes

I wanted to share just a few experiences from this past summer as I look back..

We got to go berry picking and pick a parcel of fresh blueberries - always delicious!

Dad and I went camping in the Boundary Waters.  The scenery was lovely and I enjoyed stepping out of the country and into Canada for the first time!

 After getting back from our camping trip I had to set my mind to preparing for our Bright Lights Bible study retreat.  Ten of us girls enjoyed a full day set aside for seeking the Lord, studying His word, and prayer.  We were also blessed to be allowed to use a beautiful cabin on the lake!  We might just make this a yearly tradition!
Then a couple days later we got to again go to our favorite water park in Wisconsin.  It was a really fun and relaxing time!

Yesterday I had the great privilege of playing for a dear friend's wedding (I'm on the far left)!  I am so excited for my friend, but it's hard to believe how the time flies! 

As I am working towards opening my very own shop on very shortly, this past week I ordered my business cards!  This was our first time using, and we would for sure consider using them again!  I've always like the double sided kind of business cards with all the information on the back, but never suspected I would be able have it for my own cards!  The front side I drew myself (and that's as far as my artistic abilities go...;-)

 So keep an eye out for the grand opening announcement that my little shop has (finally) opened... scary! :-o  But I guess I can't sell anything with a closed shop, now can I!?  I'm also looking forward to it!

Thank you for visiting dear readers!  I hope everyone's fall season has gotten off to a good start!
Amber Nicole

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"When Will My Life Begin?"

Hello Everyone!  I think I am back to blog-y land, and first off I wanted to share a good post I found last week.  I thought it made some great points on the subject of the world viewing the keeper at home life as not good enough.  Take a moment to read...

Tangled - When will my life begin - disney-princess Screencap

When Will This Life Begin?
By Abigail Stricklen
"7 AM, the usual morning lineup:
Start on the chores and sweep 'til the floor's all clean
Polish and wax, do laundry, and mop and shine up
Sweep again, and by then it's like 7: 15.
And so I'll read a book
Or maybe two or three
I'll add a few new paintings to my gallery
I'll play guitar and knit
And cook and basically
Just wonder when will my life begin?
Then after lunch it's puzzles and darts and baking
Paper mache, a bit of ballet and chess
Pottery and ventriloquy, candle making
Then I'll stretch, maybe sketch, take a climb,Sew a dress!
And I'll reread the books
If I have time to spare
I'll paint the walls some more,
I'm sure there's room somewhere.
And then I'll brush and brush,and brush and brush my hair
Stuck in the same place I've always been.
And I'll keep wonderin' and wonderin'
And wonderin' and wonderin'
When will my life begin?

Disclaimer: I understand that in the movie, Rapunzel had been locked up in a tower with her deranged, evil kidnapper/mother for the course of her life. That is however, not the case of most of the girls watching the movie (Well, I certainly hope not). The message that the producers want girls to take away from this song (and the movie in general) is blazingly clear.

She starts her day at 7 am. "She rises while it is yet night." Proverbs 31:15
She sweeps, polishes, waxes, does laundry, mops, and shines. "She works with willing hands." Proverbs 31:13
She reads books. She educates herself. "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." Proverbs 4:7

She paints, plays, guitar, knits...good grief, where does it end with this girl? Again, "she works with willing hands."
She cooks! "She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household." Proverbs 31:15

"Puzzles and darts and baking, Paper mache, a bit of ballet and chess, Pottery and ventriloquy, candle making
Then I'll stretch, maybe sketch, take a climb!" Wow, she is one accomplished young woman, I'd say! All of these are wonderful, challenging things. She sure sounds educated and competent in many areas! "She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong." Proverbs 31:17

SEW A DRESS! "She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple." Proverbs 31:21-22

Then, she reads again, she paints the walls, she brushes her hair. Whew! What a day! Feels good to be accomplished and productive doesn't it?
But wait..... "Stuck in the same place I've always been.And I'll keep wonderin' and wonderin'And wonderin' and wonderin'When will my life begin? "

Your life? Look at the list of things you did today! That's not life? Your life hasn't begun even though you've just cleaned your whole house, read some good books, painted, played guitar, knitted, cooked, did puzzles, played darts, baked, did paper mache, practiced ballet, played chess, made pottery, practiced ventriloquy, made candles, stretched, sketched, climbed, sewed a dress, read again, painted some more, and brushed your hair? ALL IN ONE DAY?

Ok. Before you judge this whole post as me being derogatory, go read my disclaimer above. I understand Rapunzel's position. But that is most definitely not the position of any little girl watching that movie or listening to that song. Do you see the pattern? Every line of that song could be backed up by a Proverbs 31 woman verse! Rapunzel was a Proverbs 31 woman! What a great gal!
But she was wonderin, and wonderin, and wonderin, and wonderin, WHEN WILL HER LIFE BEGINNNNNN? (you know you just sang that)

Obviously, the producers of that movie wanted to get the message across that all those great things Rapunzel was doing were not good enough. Which is why she had to escape from her "authority," gallivant around the country with a cute criminal, fight a few evil, non-cute criminals, save the cute criminal from certain death by her evil mother (this is portraying authority as a bad thing), and basically be the greatest hero ever....because being a Proverbs 31 woman is simply not good enough. See what I'm trying to say here? Obviously Rapunzel's situation is an exaggerated version of some girl's lives. You want to get away from your parent's authority, you don't want to do what you're told, you want to go out into the world and be the hero. But guess what? When you do that...when you leave everything you've ever known with "Prince Charming-who-isn't-your-husband-who's-probably-gonna-end-up-being-a-lousy-bum-very-unlike-Flynn-Ryder, chances are.....YOU WON'T HAVE A CUTE FAIRYTALE ENDING. Because I PROMISE, you will NOT save him from certain death with whatever super-power you happen to possess (Face it, we all want sparkly magic hair and it's not gonna happen). You will never find your long-lost King and Queen parents because you left them at home, and you will most CERTAINLY not get a castle. Things will not turn out as ducky as you thought they would. But you will expect all of that because that is what everyone is telling you will happen! Go out! Face the world! Earn your freedom! Everything will be great and you'll even get a Prince and a castle at the end of it!
Nope, nope, nope, nope, NOPE.

Be content, ladies. The world wants to tell you that you're not good enough, but you ARE. There's so much pressure out there to be better than God's best. God's best is what we want to strive for. God told us what he wants us to be in his beautiful Word. Be content. Don't let the pressure of this world get you down. Keep on cooking and baking and cleaning and doing that gross laundry, BECAUSE THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH. It's GOOD! It's beautiful and praise-worthy!! Live up to God's standard, not the world's.
Okay, now I'm done picking on Tangled. I like that movie, haha.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Busy Busy!

Summer 2013 has been a busy, exciting, and totally new summer for me thus far!
In the beginning of June our Bright Lights Bible study group had a tea party, hosted at our house.  As you may very well know, I love tea parties, so it was very fun to plan and be able to spend extra time with Abby, our Bright Lights leader.  Even when it took all day for me bake the cookies, that was enjoyable too!

I re-did some cookies I had done for another tea party a couple years back. 
And the actually tea party turned out to be SO blessed too!  We were expecting about 15-20 girls, we had set the two tables, making our house look like a lovely tea room, for 18.  But the Lord blessed beyond our expectations, I started counting at 19 girls, and there was more on the way!  We ended with 24 girls in our house!!  What a wonderful time with a house bursting with joyful, beautiful girls!

Then a few weeks ago Abby emailed me, saying that she would like to have a Bright Lights retreat and she would like me to plan most of it, and this was emailed to me just a day before she left for a month in which contact would be more difficult!  :-o  But contact has ended up to be no problem, planning fun, and everything coming together smoothly so far!  I look forward to a whole day set aside to seek the Lord in late August!

Then just this past Wednesday was a super exciting day for me - I passed my driver's test to get my license!! 

The beginning of my test.
The part I was most nervous about was the parallel parking.  I had practiced a good amount before hand, but was still a little inconsistent in how close I got to the curb.  But that actually went smoothly while during the 90' back up I got a little close the cone (but thankfully no hitting!).  Over all the test was easier and faster than expected and it's such a relief to be done!  We had planned to go to Caribou afterwards, and I am happy that we went there to celebrate instead of drown my sorrows in coffee! :D
Now we have a busy week coming up with Anna and I helping out with VBS at our church.  Each year I enjoy this time with the kids, catching up with the other teens who come to help, and just that totally different week from any other week in the summer!
Well, it has felt good to be back to blog-y land!  Thank you for letting me ramble about some of the top things I have been busy with!

Monday, June 3, 2013

40's Luncheon - Farewell Bible study

Last Thursday we "celebrated" our final meeting of the girl's Bible study my sister and I have been attending.  Was it a flash back to another era or the end of an era?  Probably a little bit of both... 
Anna (my sister) is second for right and I am third.
For the past two to three years we have been attending this Bible study, making such dear friendships and sweet memories!  Amidst the tea parties, learning to crochet, dressing up, stories, volleyball, quilting, laughter, and crafts, I have appreciated the God honoring studies of the Bible shared together!  Although there will still be opportunities to see each of these girls, this special group will be missed!
It was time to move on,  but first to make a few final memories!  The theme was 40's, a fun era to choose!  We dressed up as best as we could (which I think we did quite well at), listened to old records, played Clue, had burgers and fries, shared prayer requests, and made sure to take lots of pictures!
Last Scripture passage shared. 
At the end we went to an old fashioned ice cream parlor where our leader shared her engagement story over delicious ice cream!  We will truly miss her when she moves away!
The whole day was so much fun, along with a twinge of sadness to see a good thing end.  I praise the Lord for the time He gave us together and that this party was not a real good bye!
Blessings, Amber

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Time Preparations

I wanted to make a skirt, not to difficult, I had made one before, and I got inspired by this pattern - I wanted a full skirt.  So I found this lovely blue fabric (linen I think), but quickly realized how much six yards of fabric really is...
At the cutting counter:
Employee rolling out yard after yard of fabric:  "What are you making?"
Me: "A skirt"
Employee: *silence*
Most projects take longer than expected, and this is where my work slowed down, while trying to figure out if I should really try this pattern or not!  Am I really suppose to be able to wear six yards of fabric!? ;-)
I actually ended up using a pattern we already had - Simplicity pattern 2843.  I used the pieces for the petticoat, shortened it, and added an elastic waist band.  And I am quite pleased with how it turned out, with only half the amount of fabric I think it is just as full looking as the other pattern!
So along with preparing my wardrobe for spring, we have also started planting the garden.  Thus far we have only planted about half, as the weather continues to swing back and forth from hot to cold.  But when possible it has felt very good to work under the warm sunshine, sweet smelling flowers, and fresh breezes again! 

"Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it:
No matter how barren the past may have been,
Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green:...
We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing
That the skies are clear and grass is growing:..."
Excerpts from "June"
by James Russell Lowell

~Amber Swanson~

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: Joyfully At Home & It's Not That Complicated

A few weeks back I finished two amazing books:
Joyfully at Home
by Jasmine Baucham
Through witty writing and wonderful personal stories Jasmine shares great truths and thoughts while staying very real.  Along with covering family relations, how she has answered all the what if and why questions, and filling our days, Jasmine talks about the "six key areas that keep us from finding the value in our single years:
A false view of marriage
A fasle view of husbands
A false view of self
A false view of singleness
A false view of God's sovereignty
A false view of the bigger picture"

"Jasmine paints a beautiful picture of how young ladies can become good daughters to their fathers and mothers, good sisters to their siblings, and gain vibrant confidence, godly contentment, and purposeful joy in their ministry in and from the home."

It has been about one year since I graduated from homeschool highschool, and it can be hard at times to know exactly what I should be doing.  But it has also been such a wonderful year at home, and Joyfully At Home is a very encouraging book in that area!  I have never yet regretted that I didn't go away to college!


It's (Not That) Complicated
by Anna Sofia & Elizabeth Botkin
Can you relate to guys in a pure way?  Or is a "it's complicated" Facebook relationship status going to be the way it is?  Anna Sofia & Elizabeth share their thoughts on a Biblical way to relate to guys.
Through reading their other book So Much More (which is truly another great book) I found it easy to think of them as not so real/down to earth as they seemed to be instructing only and sharing none of their own experiences, which Jasmine does so well.  But in It's (Not That) Complicated we do get more stories from their own life included with so many great truths to take away from every paragraph.  There is also comments from 14 guys to get their perspective.
From my reserved and quiet spirit and knowing that you do have to be careful in relationships with guys, it can be easy to choose the shunning relationship, but this book shares that you can talk to them - for the right reasons!
Read more praise for It's (Not That) Complicated on Anna Sofia and Elizabeth's blog.
Blessings, Amber

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Crocheted Rosebud

The plants outside are just beginning to bud, but I have begun my own little garden indoors.
I found these two delightful little patterns for crocheted rosebuds and leaves.  Both are very easy, the leaf only took about half an hour - instant gratification with charming results!
What to do with them now?  Well, right now they will just sit pretty in my room.  But I would someday like to make a whole crochet flower garden and then attach them to a pillow to brighten up any space!

I am also excited over a new magazine we have found..

Mollie Makes is a magazine, based in the UK, full of craft tutorials, lovely and inspiring pictures, and each issue even comes with a free gift!

I first found the magazine at Barnes & Noble bookstore, and it was nice to first look through the magazine before buying.  But if you find yourself buying every single issue, it would be cheaper to subcribe even if the $93.52 price tag seems rather steep right off the bat.

You can also find back issues on Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon, which is really nice!

Take a peek inside one.

I hope you will find time to take out your craft bag this weekend!  Enjoy!

~Amber Nicole~

Friday, April 26, 2013

Opening Lemons & Zesting Cans

  Last Friday evening you would have found me busy in the kitchen cooking dinner - chicken & rice and baked broccoli, which is delicious by the way! It makes boring broccoli into delicious broccoli, check out the recipe. Anyways, it's not that unusual to find me in the kitchen Friday nights, I usually try to cook dinner once a week.

  Cooking is really fun for me, I like to try out lots of new recipes - don't want it to get boring! :) And all was going well.. chicken was finishing up in the oven and it was time to put the goodies on the broccoli (lemon zest & juice and Parmesan cheese). So, quick grab the lemon, quick grab the little zester mechanism, and zest.. no zest.. try again... still nothing...

  I must have been distracted.. I am ashamed to say that I tried quite a few times, even going back to the fridge for a firmer lemon, before realizing I was trying to zest a lemon with the little can opener that makes holes in the top of cans! *forehead smack* I couldn't help but laugh at myself!


They kind of look alike, right? :)

Well, I do look forward to experimenting in the kitchen again, but maybe next time I won't be so distracted! :)
~Amber Nicole

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Leading Bright Lights

"My question is, would you be interested in praying about whether the Lord might want you to become part of the leadership of the Bright Lights group?"
This was asked by a friend of our's about two months ago, February 10th.  She was in a courtship relationship, thinking about the future of her Bright Lights Bible study, and wondering if I would be willing to slowly take it over!  This came as a total surprise to me!  First off, I really hadn't had much opportunity to talk to this friend, thus I didn't know her that well, so how was she suppose to think that I might be a good person to take over her Bible Study?!
And before this I hadn't been thinking about starting my own Bible study, or doing any such thing.  I'm more of a reserved person and not the greatest fan of talking, sometimes I think I would like to say "Lord, use my hands, use my feet, but don't take my mouth, I don't like to talk!"  But the Lord does like to use our weaknesses and make them our strengths, so I accepted!
And the timing of this was also perfect, as five days earlier I had learned that the girl's Bible study I was in was going to end after this spring.  I will really miss this group of girls!  It has been so special and we have made such good friends!  But it is amazing to see God lead in new directions!
So March 7 found Anna and I going to our first Bright Lights meeting!  Of course going into the unknown was a little scary, but it helped to already know a good number of the girls there.  And as Anna and I continue to go, I have been so blessed by all the girls there!  We have already made special and lasting friendships and every girl has been very welcoming from the beginning!
I have also enjoyed the singing of hymns around the piano, the encouraging lessons, and the Christ focus and the Spiritual challenges continuing through activities!
Then on April 4th I lead my first study!  The whole thing from preparing to presentation was truly led by the Lord - it went so well!  Joyfulness was scheduled to be, so that is what I spoke on.  But first we sang:

Rejoice Ye Pure In Heart
Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
As The Deer
He Giveth More Grace
Rejoice In The Lord Always (round)

Considering I had never really taught a whole lesson for so many people, it went very smooth, because all glory to God, He had brought everything to me, took away most of my nerves, and really was led by Him!

After that we really enjoyed doing some Sword Drills - the girls racing to look up more verses about joyfulness, then finished up with a little hand clapping game (learning each other's names better) before having our snack and socializing time.

I look forward to seeing what comes as time goes by!  It has been really exciting to see what the Lord brings - and sometimes so quickly too!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pride & Prejudice

The love has not been there long, but it is strong... I'm talking about Pride & Prejudice of course!  It really wasn't that long ago that I first read the book - but some of my favorite books were written over 100 years ago, so it of course soon joined the list!
Not long after we watch the 2005 movie version of P&P - an instant favorite with all of us ladies of the house!  We at times went a little crazy watching it so many times, but it is so good and with those kinds of movies, just the costumes can keep me entertained.
So with being a big fan of both the book and movie; the Keira Knightly version to be exact.  I'm sorry, no Colin Firth mentioned here, well, not anymore.  ;-)  I suppose I'm rather bias, being I have never really watched any other version.  But being such a big fan, it was enjoyable to see a BBC documentary on TV about Chatsworth.  Before then I didn't even know it was the "home" of Mr. Darcy but slowly I started to recognize the statue room and hall.  Through that documentary it was neat to see what usually goes on at that gorgeous mansion.  And it is said that Chatsworth was actually Jane Austen's inspiration for Mr. Darcy's home.

 Sadly you won't be able to meet Mr. Darcy or any of the other Pride & Prejudice cast there, but they still have the statue of Mr. Darcy as a souvenir.  Which I thought was neat. :-)

 You can also visit the Groombridge Place, a house with a moat surrounding it and the home of the Bennet family.  But I don't know if you can visit the potato warehouse where the first dance scene was filmed. ;-)

Over all, what a well made classic movie!  One of the must sees if you have not already!  And thank you for letting me rave on about it. ;-)

Blessings <3 and thank you for visiting,

Friday, January 18, 2013

There's An Etsy Post For That

I knew that Etsy has AMAZING things for sale, easy opputunities to sell your own items, and great help on how to do that.  But with the blog being such a vital way to share about yourself and steer people towards your crafting business, they also have some great suggetions on how to keep posts flowing to your blog (even if you don't have your own handmade business) via Etsy's very own blog, Storque.  I may not be very good at taking an every day week and turning it into a post, so I found this post helpful and fun.
And I thought I would try it out..
1. Three Things You See Or Hear Right Now I see my sister reading, I hear the clock ticking (it's evening at our house and in the evening it is very quiet), I see the book "How To Make Money Using Etsy" by Timothy Adam. 
2. Three Things You Did Last Week I made bran muffins (I think my next project will be poppyseed muffins), I babysat two of the cutest kids from our church, read lots of the "Adventures in The Northwoods" series (those books never get old however many times you read them).

3. Three Exchanges You Had With Someone Else I laughed over a Lazarus Bible story felt figure with a friend, talked to a man on the phone who was trying to get me to compare auto insurances, until he found out I was not the lady of the house, and heard one of our Awana Cubbies sing her clean up song: "clean up clean up, everybody scare yourself".

And I think I shall add my own section..
4. Three Things You are Thankful For  Pink cardigans and matching hair ribbons, the nice weather before the deep freeze, and family outings.

Well, I don't know if I could make a complete post from one of those items, but even listing it like that makes it fun.  And hopefully this will help and encourage me to keep posting regularly.
Many blessings,
Amber Nicole
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