Read With Me!

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/59043211-brooke-simmons

I’m not sure if i’ve told you this or not, but I do love a good book. I love to learn. I’m curious about a lot of things. This is where my book addiction comes into play. Now, I’m not the fastest reader on the planet. I’m not one of those people who can polish off a book in an afternoon. Some books I read faster than others – especially books I can’t put down which become my all time favourites like this one, this one and this one.

Over on Goodreads (my profile is here, let’s be friends), I have set a goal for myself to read 18 books in 2017. (I’m on #5). I’ve decided to start posting my book reviews here. Bare with me…this isn’t something that comes naturally. The first one will be a little thin. But hopefully I will get better at it.

Have you set a reading goal for this year? Have any book selections? I’d love to hear them.

Welcome, Goober!

About a month ago, we added a new member to our family. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve been bombarded with pictures and videos of our new little adorable dirt taxi. I introduce (duh da da dahhhhh)….Goober:

 

Goober was a rescue. It’s clear he had a home, likely with children based on his reaction to them (he loves them on TV and in person), and I would bet someone in his family owned a diesel truck. No one claimed him despite many, many efforts for a long time. He was alone in a lonely shelter, that also doubled as a fire hall in the middle of nowhere. It makes me sad to think about it actually.

Goober is my third lifetime rescue, and after a few experiences, I would honestly not do anything else. They may come with a small amount of baggage, but they love hard and are very appreciative of a warm, snuggly home. After casually looking at the PetFinder ads for several months, I knew Goober was meant to be ours when I stumbled upon his ad. I felt the same way when I found Charles:

Charles the Rescue Dog
Charles was an older dog we rescued and he passed away in 2014.

 

If you are considering your next fur-family member (of any sort) I would definitely urge you to start with considering a rescue. They are often wayyyyy less inexpensive than “buying” a dog, usually have a vet check done (not in Goober’s case, but I was ok with that to get him out of there), and if you are willing to put some time and effort into basic training, make amazing family companions. PetFinder is a great place to start.

Love from Goober…and

 

Thankful

So, I’m a Canadian, not an American, but yesterday was American Thanksgiving (ours is in early October). But I enjoy having a day to really take stock of what we are thankful for, and why not take 2? I loved watching the photos on my Instagram stream of beautiful table settings, turkey (and allllll the stuffing) and beautiful pictures with family.

Many months ago I implemented thankful journaling every morning as part of my morning routine. I do this more mornings than not, and try and write down 5 things I am thankful for. Some mornings, things just flow onto the page, other mornings it’s tough. But I push until I find things. So far I have 570 lines of things I am thankful for.

The days that are tough almost makes us appreciate our things even more. For example, “I’m so grateful and thankful for clean clothes”. This isn’t something earth shattering, in fact, we really tend to take this for granted. But how many people don’t have the ability to have clean clothes whenever they’d like? It makes you that much more thankful for the little things.

So in honour of my American friends and American Thanksgiving, I decided to randomly share 35 things from my journal over the last several months (representing every year I am thankful to be on this planet). This exercise felt very vulnerable, to be honest, but here it is. Some are simple, some are deep. (I’ve taken out specific names for privacy).

35 Random Thankful Journal Entries

  1. I am so grateful and thankful for bone broth that felt so nourishing and yummy yesterday.
  2. I am so grateful and thankful for positive feedback on my Module 1 – we are going to put out an awesome product!
  3. I am so grateful and thankful for another day to live my purpose.
  4. I am so grateful and thankful for a nice day yesterday – gym, lunch out, cleaning, laundry on the line, dinner with family.
  5. I am so grateful and thankful for going to the gym – I feel great and healthy!
  6. I am so grateful and thankful for the negotiating I did yesterday with XXXXXXXXXX that worked in my favour.
  7. I am so grateful and thankful for a good night’s sleep last night.
  8. I am so grateful and thankful for the opportunity today to make things happen!
  9. I am so grateful and thankful for the focus yesterday to get my rock garden complete and my veggie garden planted.
  10. I am so grateful and thankful for Universal connection and private moments.
  11. I am so grateful and thankful for listening to my body and allowing the rest and self-care I need today.
  12. I am so grateful and thankful for a change of scenery, a change of perspective.
  13. I am so grateful and thankful for friends I can talk with for hours!
  14. I am so grateful and thankful for my trusty MacBook that has been dropped and worked hard every day.
  15. I am so grateful and thankful for a beautifully cut lawn this morning.
  16. I am so grateful and thankful for fresh, organic food.
  17. I am so grateful and thankful for a beautiful day.
  18. I am so grateful and thankful for a cozy bed.
  19. I am so grateful and thankful for my new garden lights!
  20. I am so grateful and thankful for a lovely dinner out with XXX on Saturday night.
  21. I am so grateful and thankful for the release of attachment and feeling emancipated!
  22. I am so grateful and thankful for Bryan Adams tickets last night!!
  23. I am so grateful and thankful for amazing friends.
  24. I am so grateful and thankful for realizing sooner than later that XXXXXX is not the right person to be in my life right now.
  25. I am so grateful and thankful for an absolutely beautiful day on Saturday for swimming and relaxing.
  26. I am so grateful and thankful for good friends, laughing SO, SO, SO hard and enjoying our time together.
  27. I am so grateful and thankful for new frying pans!
  28. I am so grateful and thankful for time on my own to reflect.
  29. I am so grateful and thankful for all of the invoicing I will do today.
  30. I am so grateful and thankful for the things I will create today.
  31. I am so grateful and thankful for Tragically Hip tickets from XXX and XXXX.
  32. I am so grateful and thankful for a safe flight yesterday from Toronto.
  33. I am so grateful and thankful for being able to connect with XXXXXX yesterday and had a great lunch!
  34. I am so grateful and thankful for Sunday dinners.
  35. I am so grateful and thankful for having a great book to read.

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

 

 

 

Thankful

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

Hello my darlings. What a lovely time of year. The leaves are starting to turn here in Central Ontario, I’m not sweating to death daily and I’m currently cruising a turkey and wine hangover after a weekend of over-indulgence and Canadian Thanksgiving/birthday celebrations. And the most over-done thing in the Fall is Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Pumpkin Spice

“Squeeeeee-ing” women (and men) everywhere are flocking to the coffee houses to scoop up these syrupy, spicy indulgences.  Even though they are a bit annoyingly over done as far as the Facebook and Instagram posts, I do enjoy a PSL. But, my body doesn’t love sugar and most PSL’s hover around 50 grams of sugar. Each. Gross.

So I decided to whip up my own concoction which is just as good, or better than the stuff at the store that my body hates. And also inexpensive and incredibly versatile. You can customize your PSL to your tastes. I use real, unsweetened pumpkin which has tons of health benefits like vitamin A and beta carotene (eyeballs, skin), fiber (weight loss), vitamin C (immune function, cold fighter), potassium (natural energy) and carotenoids (eyeballs, skin, immunity).

Coffee

So be flexible with this! Sweeten however you want (or not want). Use coffee or espresso. Pick your milk – coffee cream or almond? You’re going to be your own barrista

I would suggest if you are making multiple PSL’s, do them one at a time in a small-batch blender like a Bullet or my personal favourite the Hamilton Beach Single Serve blender so that each cup gets the frothy fun that ends up being poured last.

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • Coffee/Espresso
  • Cream/Milk/Almond Milk/Whatever You Choose
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of unsweetened, organic, pumpkin puree (open a can and transfer it into Pumpkin Pie Spicea glass container to use throughout the week).
  • Sweetener of your choice – Amber honey, Stevia, or unsweetened…up to you.
  • Several healthy dashes of Pumpkin Pie Spice (make your own, or buy it pre-made). Plus some for garnish.
  • Healthy pinch of sea salt (important)

Brew your coffee or espresso. In a personal or small-batch blender, add the milk, pumpkin, sweetener, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add in the coffee and blend for at least 45 seconds. Sometimes hot beverages do a bit of splashing…just be cautious (ie: white shirt, hotter temps). Pour into latte mugs and sprinkle a bit more spice over the top.

Enjoy and Happy Fall!

 

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

 

 

 

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Mercury is Out of Retrograde

Haha…I saw this picture this morning on my Facebook timeline. Mercury is no longer retrograde. Let the computer Gods rejoice.

The Mercury retrograde phenomenon – for me at least –  is an actual thing. The day Mercury went retrograde (August 30th) my internet went on the fritz and my phone pretty much bit the biscuit. Throughout this retrograde, a tech project I’ve been working on has caused me many bangs of my head against the desk.

In Astrology, Mercury surrounds communication, travel, thought and logic. When it goes retrograde (the illusion of it moving backwards, even though it just slows down a ton), it has been known to snarl otherwise harmonious plans and communications.

And of course, it’s handy to have a planet to yell at when the internet goes down.

Mercury goes retrograde again on December 19th, 2016.

What shifts do you notice in a Mercury retrograde period?

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

 

Super Bowl Food: Sourdough Chili Bowls

Superbowl Sourdough Chili Bowls

You’re Super Bowl food prepping. I have an idea for you.

Who doesn’t love fresh, hot sourdough out of the oven? Then add chili, cheese, some sour cream and you have a hearty, tummy-filling meal that combines beautiful fresh bread with a football staple – chili. AND you can prep ahead which suits me fine. Oh, and it goes perfectly with cold beer.

Full disclosure that this is the cheaters version of sourdough. If you are lucky enough to have a sourdough starter hanging around…then please, for crying out loud, mail me some and use it for this recipe. If not, I promise you this still tastes like perfect sourdough and your Super Bowl guests will think you’re fucking amazing. Plus it’s ridiculously easy.

This recipe uses my 2 most used kitchen gadgets: my $10 VarageSale bread maker and my 7-Quart Slow Cooker (which takes the prize for most used around here). If you don’t have either, my love, feel free to improvise with a shorter cooking time version of chili on the stove and a stand mixer, should you have one. By the way, I never use my bread maker for actually baking the bread. But it does a perfect job of mixing, kneading and rising.

Also, I’m including my go-to chili recipe below, but feel free to substitute for your own…or use mine on it’s own or go bananas with creativity.

Brooke’s Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 can of black beans – rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of kidney beans – rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup of chopped white onion (I use pre-chopped)
  • 1 green pepper – chopped
  • 1 red pepper – chopped
  • 4 cups of mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 3/4 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp of cumin
  • 2 tsp of sea salt (or more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 smokey hickory BBQ sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot pepper sauce (I use Bajan hot pepper sauce)
  • 1 tsp cilantro paste
  • Shredded cheese, optional for garnish
  • Sour cream, optional for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, optional for garnish

Steps:

  1. In a large crockpot add in the can of whole tomatoes and crush with a potato masher to desired consistency.
  2. Add in all the beans, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Stir until combined.
  3. Turn the crockpot on low before adding the remaining ingredients.
  4. Cook low and slow for 6 to 8 hours.

 

Easy Mini Sourdough Bowls

(Makes 4 Bowls)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 4 cups of Breadmachine Sourdough Mix – I purchased mine at Bulk Barn, plus a handful for working with
  • 2 tsp of yeast

Steps:

  1. Put all of the ingredients in the bread machine and start the dough/pasta setting.
  2. Once the dough is complete through the dough cycle of the bread machine, lightly flour a clean surface with the remaining mix.
  3. Preheat oven to 375.
  4. Divide and cut the dough into 4 even sections and gently round the tops and sides.
  5. Transfer onto lightly floured cookie sheet or stone baking sheet (I use my pizza stone but a regular ol’ cookie sheet works just as well).
  6. With a sharp knife, cut in a tic-tac-toe design on the top of each loaf.
  7. Since every oven is different, I toss mine in and set the timer for 18 minutes. Check on them in 5 minute intervals after that. They are done just when the crust turns a golden colour.
  8. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Now, create the masterpiece:

Once the bowls are touchy-cool, take a bread knife and chop the “tops” off. You will want to ensure that you have enough room in the bowl for chili (read: don’t cut the top too low). Set aside those tops…they’re good for cheesy dippin’. You’re also going to want to scoop out the middle of the bowls too. Give someone the special job of eating this goodness with butter. YUM.

Sour dough chili bowls out of the oven

Put the scooped out bowls back on the baking sheet and hit BROIL on the oven. High broil if your oven has that feature. Scoop the chili into each of the bowls, top with shredded cheese and top the “tops” with shredded cheese. Throw into the oven for about 3-4 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly.

Once they come out, transfer to a plate and garnish with sour cream and fresh cilantro if you’d like.

Super Bowl Food - Sourdough Chili Bowls

I split up my leftover chili and freeze for different, quick weeknight meals like chili nachos, or chili sausages…or just plain chili. You could throw the remainder on some nacho chips with cheese for a second Super Bowl munchie.

Serve with cold beer, football and a fork.

Brooke Simmons

 

 

Holiday Survival, Reflection and The More/Less List

Is anyone else secretly happy the holidays are over?

We all have our baggage over the “warm and cozy” times. I suspect I’m not alone. Family, excessive consumption and no schedule. Sounds like fun…but I felt like a bag of shit when it was all over.

I realized this year more than ever, that without a routine I kind of flail around without direction. I think I secretly like having a routine and although the goal was to blob around for 10 days…I actually didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I thought I would.

Maybe that’s the point though. Maybe the point is to go back and appreciate your routine…as mundane as you think it is sometimes. Or maybe I’m becoming a sheep. I’ll have to let you know.

I thought I’d pop in and post since we’re all reflecting on the closing out of 2015. I’ve been hasty with my reflection because I’m headed out on a 2016 solo planning retreat in the upcoming weeks and wanted to save ALL the reflection for my journal by the fire. But it is a good time to take stock of the previous year, and I was thinking this morning about the memorable moments of 2015.

If I had to give 2015 a label it would be “Lessons”. It was neither good nor bad. I learned many things about myself, my business and the people around me that will help me propel a little bit (or a lot) deeper in 2016.

Some of the really cool things that happened in 2016 were: first time visits to British Columbia and Saskatchewan (I could probably reasonably not go back to Saskatchewan ever again…in the winter) and my first 2 flights in a DHC-2 Beaver!!! It was fucking awesome.

Shotgun in the older than dirt bush plane.
Shotgun in the older than dirt bush plane.

 

I also had the opportunity to hang  with Canadian music icons The Tragically Hip after watching an awesome concert just a few feet away from Gord Downey…if you are Canadian you know what impact they have had on our culture in Canada. I watched more car races and inhaled more fumes than I ever thought I would….and I actually enjoyed most of it. I had my bathroom overhauled in my cottage…goodbye turn of the century claw-foot tub! (It’s for sale if anyone wants it).

I developed some new kick-ass friendships and got into serious partnerships and collaborative journey’s with a few clients.

Hanging with The Hip
Hanging with The Hip

Also had a bit of turnover in my business, which at the time was super stressful but in hind sight for the better. Course correct and move forward. I learned to really listen to my gut and my intuition when it comes to the integrity of other people, which is many times painful, but it always works itself out  at the end of the day.

Give people what they deserve…either a lot or a little.

I’ve drifted away from a few people…kind of like the surf…not because of anything bad or wrong, but just because now is not our time. Perhaps it will be again soon.

I cut off shitty friendships…because nobody has time for that.

I learned that love gets packaged in different ways. And that it’s better to be open to different packaging than only focusing on how you think it should look.

I learned that money will respect you if you respect it. I learned that I get what I ask for. I learned that I need to improve in a few areas such as my expectations of people and my time management. I learned that I feel better when I get enough sleep and my body STILL doesn’t like caffeine. Or sugar.

I learned that it feels really, really good to give.

And so moving into 2016 and my planning retreat in a few weeks, I feel so open for things to come. Almost without exceptions but with an excited anticipation that really, without it being New Years, it’s a clean slate for me to design whatever my heart desires.

And that’s fucking cool.

And here…I bring you my second annual More/Less list (because resolutions are silly):

More

  • Blogging
  • Creating
  • Contracting out work
  • Writing
  • Furniture refinishing/decorating
  • Self care days
  • Abdominal muscles
  • Asking for what I want
  • Telling people what I need
  • Creative space/writing/time
  • Passive revenue
  • Meaningful interactions
  • Early, peaceful mornings
  • Whole-hearted pleasure
  • Positive people
  • Exploring
  • Home renovations
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Risk – Calculated
  • Saving
  • Meditation
  • Love
  • Letting things be
  • Sprouts
  • Fermented foods
  • Kombucha

Less

  • Facebook
  • Un-meaningful relationships
  • “Stuff” – Keeping up with the Jones’ shit
  • Late night work-a-thons
  • Alcohol – Monday to Friday
  • People with negative energy
  • Limiting beliefs
  • Forcing things
  • Listening to the critics
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Bending for others

What’s on your More/Less list for 2016?

Brooke Simmons

 

 

Oracle Cards: Proof is in the Twenty and 5 Ways to Use Oracle Cards

Oracle Cards_Proof is in the TwentyBuckle up.

 

I’m about to get woo-woo. Let’s talk Oracle cards.

 

What?

 

Oracle cards: Decks of cards, similar to the Tarot, but with different meanings, pictures and deities. Used for connecting spiritually to receive insight and spiritual guidance.

The Twenty Dollar Message

I want to share a cool story of what happened yesterday when I pulled my morning Oracle card.  Occurrences with Oracle cards often blow my mind, but it was so powerful it prompted me to share my deal with Oracle cards and why I think they are so freakin’ awesome.

 

I pulled my 1 card from the “Messages from Your Angels” deck by Doreen Virtue. Here was the message:

“As you honour and follow the guidance of your heart, prosperity is coming to you now”.
This honestly had no real meaning to me this morning as I had other issues on my mind and was frankly a tad stressed out. I further read the meaning of this card in the deck’s handbook and here is the line that was my take away:

 

“…in the meantime, allow me to help you through my heavenly contributions…”
This didn’t resonate immediately either, but I trusted it had meaning. I went on to get ready for my day.

 

I was scurrying back and forth between my bedroom and the bathroom, throwing on mascara, forgetting my bra, the typical female whirlwind, when something stopped me dead in my tracks.

 

There was a $20 bill laying on the floor in front of the bathroom. I shit you not.
My daughter was at a sleepover. I was the only one home…all night, all morning. I walked into this bathroom about 8 times already. I would have noticed a $20 bill.

Pockets! It probably fell out of a pocket when I threw my pants on? I checked. My outfit didn’t have pockets. There were no bags, shelves or anything close by that this would fall out of.

My heart got warm. If this wasn’t a sign from somewhere saying “Hey… I am totally here and listening to you, here…go grab yourself a Starbucks, Love.” then I don’t know what is.

My experience with Oracle cards started several years ago when someone I was dating at the time had a deck and pulled one card from it every morning. I wasn’t dating a hippie here, people. The dude was the Tasmanian Devil with a briefcase. But yes, he had a deck and used it. Which possibly contributed to his successes of selling ice to Eskimos.

I’ve gone on to purchase several of my own decks over the years and give them for gifts to those people who I’ve deciphered would totally dig a little spiritual wisdom on the daily. So far everyone who I’ve gifted with Oracle cards has come back to say they loved them and still talks to me and hasn’t had me committed or anything.

How I Use My Oracle Cards

I’ve incorporated them into my morning routine after meditation and Morning Pages. I pick the deck that I want to use that day and cut it in half. I then shuffle it while “tuning in”…to me this is just sending my energy to the deck. Once I’m done shuffling, I fan out the cards and simply pick one. Sometimes one stands out more than the others.

 

Retain the first thing that stands out for you. Is it the message? A picture? A feeling? A knowing?

I will say that 9/10 I get a very strong relatable message that smacks me over the head. A “physical healing” message the morning of a surgery I was having, an “end of life, rebirth” message the morning of a funeral of a family member.

Once I pulled a card that had a quote on it before I went to an appointment. While there, the woman told me her “motto”…it was the same quote…verbatim..that I had just pulled.

I frequently get “cheerleading” messages when I’m working on new stuff at work…which helps me know I’m on the right track and to keep going. However, the 1% of times where the messages don’t seem to match is when I’m totally out of alignment and monkey mind has taken over. This is why I meditate and do my morning routine before I pull my card.

Another note is that sometimes you can over read yourself. When I bought my first deck, I was so excited I went to my Oracle cards for everything. Don’t do that, their purpose is not for deciding what to have on your hamburger. You will get the messages confused and they won’t deliver as powerful punches as they really could. Honour these cards and make your readings sacred.

5 Easy Ways to Use Your Oracle Cards

  1. Daily Messages – Pick 1 card every morning for a daily message.
  2. Weekly Reading – Doreen Virtue does a weekly YouTube reading by picking 3 cards: the beginning of the week, the middle and the weekend. You can do this yourself with your own deck.
  3. Yes or No – Pick 1 card to help you to make a “yes or no” decision.
  4. Insight Message – Pick 1 card for a message when you find yourself in a confusing situation, or just need some insight surrounding something or someone.
  5. 3 Month Projection – Pick 3 cards to give you insights and messages to keep in mind 3 months into the future. First card is this month, second next month and so on.

My Current Decks:

Messages From Your Angels Cards by Doreen Virtue –  this was my first deck and is a good newbie choice. This was also the deck that delivered me my $20 message!

Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue – I love this deck, partly because of my love for all things Goddess.

The Psychic Tarot Oracle Cards: a 65-Card Deck, plus booklet! by John Holland – This is a big deck and has delivered some majorly powerful messages over the last year.

Magical Mermaids and Dolphins Oracle Cards: A 44-Card Deck and Guidebook by Doreen Virtue – This is my daughters deck that I gifted her when she was 13 because of her love of all things of the sea.

The Law of Attraction Cards: A 60-Card Deck by Esther and Jerry Hicks – This is my go-to gifting deck. Most people can swallow “Law of Attraction” before “Oracle” so it’s a safe choice to give to those you adore.

Happy Communicating!
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2015 Summer Reading List – My Reading List for Change

2015 Book List

 

This summer I decided to give myself an “assignment” – read 5 books.

For some of you I realize you could do this in a week, but in my world 5 is a pretty safe number over 2 months. (Read: not a fast reader/slightly ADD). I also like the term “assignment”. It makes me feel bossy and productive at the same time and that my excuse to go lay on the dock with a book and a martini all afternoon is totally justified.

These books also come with their own assignments. They aren’t read and put down kind of books. This is a read – make change – make more change type of assignment -– exactly what I wanted to move into the hustle of the Fall and some projects I need a kick in the ass to move forward on.

For example – Marie Kondo’s book is supposed to help me become an expert at minimizing my junk (impossible?) and folding my clothes into tiny squares. And Gary Chapman’s book is supposed to help me figure out why relationships sometimes suck the big one and how to make them not. And Pam Grout’s book is supposed to help me learn how to pull stuff out of thin air. Well maybe not thin air, but pretty damn close.

Not only that, but I wanted to read books that kept being mentioned in my life…popping up in conversations, mentioned on podcasts, books that friends raved about – repeatedly.

When something repeatedly shows up in your life, pay attention.

Here’s my “Reading Assignment” List for the Summer o’ 2015: (I’m reading them in this order).

  1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
  2. E-Squared – Pam Grout
  3. The 5 Love Languages – Gary D. Chapman
  4. The Artists Way – Julia Cameron
  5. The Desire Map – Danielle LaPorte

Stay tuned for my reviews as I complete the books and the “assignments”.

Would love to hear your reviews on these or what books are on your list for summer reading!

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