Lived-In Luxe

A few years back, I was studying Interior Design, for almost two years, and because we almost share the same classes with Graphic Design, I changed my specialty and jumped into the graphic world. If I had continued after graduation for another two semesters, I might have been holding both degrees. I was excellent at both.

Little did I know, that a few years from that point, my life and career path would totally change and take me in a different direction, and both options would be more of a hobby, but I’ve been always open to change. Look at me now! I’ve moved in two months from my hometown Amman, leaving behind my family, friends and blooming career in social media and blogging for love. I got married without a wedding or planning, or even a waiting apartment.

After eight months of living in a hotel, I missed the feeling of a home, I missed my things, my closet, and my books. Mostly I missed Amman’s larger spaces. In Kuwait, the prices for larger apartments is absurd, but lucky for us, my husband found a new building and he leased our apartment which happens to be located in the heart of the best three locations in Kuwait and most importantly it’s near a bookstore!

Our families wanted to help, and they did, but the rest was on us! Hamad and I were a bit preoccupied in being newlyweds! It took us sometime to make our small apartment into a welcoming, beautiful home.

Little by little, our small apartment jumped from being empty to being full of things, and from being white and new, to being colorful and homey. I’ve been in love with colors since I was a child, I know that the new decor trend is the white-on-white spaces, mostly Scandinavian with minimal things, but it’s simply not me. I like white, but I love things.

A few days ago, I was recently inspired by Arhaus to share my dream living room! I was super excited for the project because funnily, I was already writing about the best things to have in a living room in small apartments!  Eventually it changed my post into something a bit different.

If you love decorating like I do, I’m sure that you have walked into different stores, with different budgets, took many photos, and imagined both your current home and your dream home. I have always done that. But since I got married the dreams became more demanding, I even made a plan of my dream house, which is suitable for a family, guests and many friends to entertain and have over.

So, without further ado, this post is going to have THREE living rooms! One is the “real life” one that I have right now, the other is going into two sections, the homey living room one for family and close friends and the luxuries living room one for guest and meetings.

REALITY

In my current apartment, we only have one space for one living room and a dining table, the kitchen is too small to have a tiny dining table. We went crazy and bought the dining set without measurement because we loved it SO much, and it was too large! (don’t do that!)

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When we visited our friends, I discovered a lot of different trends they make in their homes, some I didn’t care for but wondered about; in Kuwait most of the renters (even my neighbors!) put the dining table right beside the entrance door, which I found peculiar and uncomfortable. They complained of the tiny space, I suggested that they play around with the furniture, or change the dining table into a smaller one.

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In any case, here is how our home is set; when you enter into our home, you are welcomed by a lot of natural light, because we rarely close the curtain. In the middle you will find an uneven U-shaped sofa set facing the TV, the sofas are comfortable, colored brown and deep cream with colorful pillows with different patterns, in the middle there is a round glass and gold center coffee table, with a golden tray, adorned with vases, and candy. Right behind the love-sofa, you will find our dining table, which is made of rusty gold and mirrors which are surrounded by purple velvet covered French chairs, they look regal but are very comfortable.

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On the same wall as the TV our white bookshelves from floor to ceiling is covering the wall facing the dining table, giving our living room a soul (we are still shipping my books from back home little-by-little, the rest are in the spare room which I turned into a tiny studio and a bookworm reprieve). The walls are still not completely covered with photographs and art. We are still collecting (we need some greenery as well!), I paint a bit, but my mother is the true artist in the family and she promised me at least two paintings for our living room. We have a large mirror beside the TV on the other side (though I wanted a large golden rimmed one), to take selfies right before leaving the house (not kidding).

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Both my husband and I work a lot in freelance jobs and love TV white-noise. My husband is a graphic designer as well, so our moods are similar, even if our tastes differs. I have a work station, my orange and natural wood desk and modern orange chair that reminds me of the 60s, a silver lamp stand and many pens, notebooks and knick-knacks. I write and do some social media gigs, though I’m still working on my FOUR novels, two in Arabic and two in English. One is almost done and ready for publishing. We are looking for used pianos of good quality at the moment to put beside my desk. We love music. So our living room is a bit cramped but we absolutely love it. I always feel happy to come home.

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We are thinking constantly of painting the walls, but I’m so moody, for a few weeks I’m convinced that I want Venetian yellow, the next I want apple green! So we’re sticking with the white walls for a while. Also, I MISS having a balcony, especially in Kuwait’s spring time.

Some of my favorite decor shops are Ikea, H&M Home, Pottery Barn, West Elm and The One. Now, I can add one more shop to my list.

FANTASY

I have always fantasized about my dream house, I’m still not sure in which country I would live, but I know exactly what I want. So in this section you are going to view one of my dreams. I know that I want high ceilings in my dream house, I want it to have both an oriental and european feeling to it.

Upon entering you would come across a large othmanian door, not showing a glimpse of what’s inside, once your enter, you will stand in a large spot of natural sun from above, playfully making rainbows from a large crystal chandelier, that is in the center of the foyer. in a small hall of arches you will enter into a large living room, with a fireplace, a grand piano, floor-to-ceiling windows and exotic velvet and leather couches with curtains made of silk and beads, persian carpets and fresh peonies. Right upstairs, there will be an inside balcony, that I can see the guests before coming down. This room will be separated from the rest of the house, and close by, it will have a guest bathroom. Privacy is important.

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In an inside section, only for close friends and family you will enter into a large space, it will have the family living room, casual large dining table and an open kitchen all facing the outside garden and swimming pool, the whole wall will be made of glass, the floors will be light caramel or of a spanish pattern, and not so soft or slippery, we don’t want any injuries! In the far end, there would be a huge fireplace, rugs, wide L shaped sofa and large leather armchairs, that you can sit, sleep and watch movies on,  while waiting for home cooked meals. I want a porch with another dining table made of wood, and an outside Arabian oven for pizzas and pastries, swings and lots of space for games and relaxation.

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No matter how many details I add, it would never do the space justice, I only know that it’s my dream space. I never think in term of items, but the whole feeling and color of the house. I hope you enjoyed reading and sharing my enthusiasm, and I hope you like my three mood boards!

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Seeds in Mud

When I was young, I used to believe that if I ate the seeds of fruits, they will grow in me like a garden because we are made of mud.

That didn’t stop me from eating seeds, of course. It still doesn’t. I find it weird when people are annoyed by seeds, like lemons, melons, watermelons, oranges, apples and tangerine. I’m not talking about huger seeds, I’m talking about the small innocents, that taste bitter or not there at all.

When I started understanding science, and how complicated our bodies truly were, and how simple the soils were, I understood that a seed grows in an empty object, never occupied by a soul. That’s why when we die we become like fertilizers. It’s our souls that makes all the difference.

Just a morning thought while chewing my tender, juicy tangerine slices… it feels like rays of sun in my mouth while little droplets of white interfere gently…

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Page Turner Kuwait

Happy new year dear readers! The last day of the 2016 was so hectic for me, my husband and I enrolled in gym, for me to lose weight and for him to gain muscles. We spent the day on the beach, had lunch in Pizza Express (our favorite) and did some shopping.

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But what was so interesting that day is that I got my first Kuwaiti blogging/social media gift from a juvenile startup business run by young girls who love books. They sell used or previously owned books and buy your old books, kind of a recycling website. This website is called Page Turner Kuwait, which finds new homes for old books.

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The girls run their own website, do their own delivery and orders personally. I didn’t know that when the assignment came my way, but when I received my package yesterday I learned much about this new promising business.

Mais Dawleh sent me an instagram message back in early December saying:

Hello Dana!

We’ve noticed that we share a passion for books and reading and we would like to introduce ourselves. Page Turner is a new online platform for people across Kuwait to sell and buy books and is run by a group of students and alumni. Page Turner’s objective is to encourage people of all ages to become as passionate as we are and develop a love for reading books in addition to increasing the level of readership in Kuwait.

We’re fans of both your blog Dana’s Sanctuary and Instagram and would be delighted to offer you the chance to order a book via Page Turner (free of charge) to allow us the opportunity to present to you all that Page Turner has to offer.

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To encourage them to success, I order three extra books, but I think for used books the prices should be lower, even if they are like new.

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I got The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis, The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich, If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins,and Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl by Tracy Quan. But there was a complication in delivery time punctuality, though the cute packaging made up for that.

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It’s great to encourage startup businesses to success, I hope everyone would visit their website and check what they have to offer!

Happy New Year and keep on reading! x

Lena Kaligaris’s Art Supply Box

Since 2005 and I have been a fan of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; 2005 was the first year I attended art school and I was in love with all the girls but especially Lena, because she lived the “summer romance” all romantic girls dreamed of, and because she was into art, and later on in the books she became an artist.

In 2008, the second movie came and it was epic! I loved every moment of it! A few years later, I bought the four books and fell deeper in love, especially with Lena and her art time description and development, but my books are back home, I wanted to add the quotes I loved about her art but sadly none of these quotes I enjoyed are added on the net or even Goodreads. Maybe, when I get my books, I’ll add them myself to the site.

In any case, I googled Lena’s box and didn’t find any posts or entries about it, but as usual, I’m usually attracted to things in movies most people don’t notice, so I decided to write a post about it and share my admiration to it.

As any art lover, when you start moving around a lot, you would need a way to move your equipments and supplies easily and cleanly, I had the same box as a gift from husband (my boyfriend back then) when I kept talking about Lena’s box, as a gift in my birthday with an easel (best gift ever!) My box is still the best gift I  ever had, though I had many great gifts, but it’s value exceeds anything else.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my love of Lena’s wooden box and how much I admired it for all these years, if they do make a third movie about the final fifth book (still haven’t started reading it), I hope the box is still there. Maybe my second post should be about the traveling pants, I loved how they looked in the second movie.

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The Air & I

It’s a cold winter night in mid December, the last day of the full moon, as the year is folding into a new one, the world seems to freeze and sit still, not moving a finger or wiggle a toe.

Cold toes, warm mugs, heaters on, heavy sweaters, comfy blankets, christmas lights, cinnamon and ginger cookies, and fanciful dreams that only visit in December.

I sit here, wearing layers, thinking of all the people I love, close and far, writing my wishes for them for the next year, dreaming dreams of what would be. The window is hazing over, my breath is beating on the glass with a silent breath, making heat shapes while the street lights twinkle like little stars.

Adele is singing Million Years Ago over and over again, and the words blend with music creating feelings, words no longer are comprehended, nor understood, lost all meanings until I concentrate and listen:

I wish I could live a little more
Look up to the sky not just the floor
I feel like my life is flashing by
And all I can do is watch and cry
I miss the air, I miss my friends
I miss my mother, I miss it when
Life was a party to be thrown
But that was a million years ago

How ironic I think, I miss my mother too. Opening the window I take a sniff of the cold air greeting me like an old friend whispering “Hello, Dana.” I whisper back “Hello, Air.” I take another inbreathe and I smell rain, heavy, waiting, not falling yet, the clouds clinging to the drops not letting go. I whisper “Let go, fall.” A cold breeze whispers back near my ear “it’s not your call to make.”

It’s not, and yet, the rain and I are very old friends. I remember an old poem:

“because some things
sometimes
aren’t ours to hold,
but just beautiful
to listen to.”

Rain is like that, trink trunk tronk, when it falls, splish splosh splash, it says. Drum drom drem, it demands. Rain is gentle, overpowering and consuming, tip top tap, it dances.

I take another drag from my fresh dose of opium, the air shushes me, I stand still, letting the freezing breath leave my mouth, my chest full of cold air. I back away, enter the warm room, closing the window after me, and tickle my book spines, asking “which one of you will I read next?”, the air and I never say goodbye.

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My 7 Favorite YouTube Series

One: Female Show | في ميل

Female is a Jordanian series produced by Kharabeesh starring Tima Shomali and Rajae Qawas, that was so successful it ran for 3 seasons so far (I’m hoping for more!) and was aired on TV. The title means something different in Arabic, it means “askew” which comes from an Islamic belief about women. The series is among my favorites! It’s like Modern Family but ten times better because it reminds me of my home, Amman. My husband knows that whenever I’m homesick I would replay the series. It’s a MUST watch! It’s fun to me as well, because most of the cast are friends of mine.

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Two: The Rania Show | رانيا شو

The Rania Show another Jordanian gem, starring Rania Kurdi, an actress and a singer, about 5 very different women: Arwa, Olla, Em Rami, Madam Ghalia and Sasha Abi Nijmeh, selected from the Jordanian street in short but very hilarious sketches that shows her many talents. Some sketches made me laugh SO hard I almost peed myself!

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Three: The Autobiography Of Jane Eyre 

The Autobiography Of Jane Eyre is an online modern adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, produced by Kalamatea and AoJE Production. I watched it maybe 5 times over, I LOVE it. It’s so real, and addictive, I wish there was more series like it. It’s truly a must watch for classic lovers.

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Four: Emma Approved

Emma Approved is an online modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, produced by Pemberley Digital, starring Joanna Sotomura as Emma Woodhouse and Brent Bailey as Alex Knightley, who were sizzling hot together! My favorite couple of all the YouTube series! I hope they stay together forever (so teenagery of me!)

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Five: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is an online modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and it’s the very first series that introduced me to the whole YouTube series world. It’s produced by Pemberley Digital. It was a bit stiff at first but funny, with Elizabeth (Ashley Clements) just talking to the camera and telling us what happened, it got more interactive by the end though. It was very good. My favorite was the girl playing Jane, Laura Spencer. A dream come true to all Mr. Darcy’s fans out there!

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Six: AnneWithAnE

AnneWithAnE is an online modern adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It’s cute, seems to be fan-made, not very professional but I would have loved if my friends, when I was a teen, would play-act a favorite book with me. So darn cute!

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Seven: The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy

The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy is an online modern adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, produced by EpicRobotTV. It was amazing in season 1, but for some reason I felt detached in season 2. Need to continue. So funny and cute.

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So, this is my list so far, do you have a favorite series? I’m open for recommendations. Any language would do, if it was done properly (and with subtitles) I’m no Karou!

Year in Books

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My year in books!! I have always LOVED this yearly ritual on Goodreads! It feels like an infographic (it actually is!). I have always wanted to screenshot the whole thing and add it to my blog! I finally did! Here it is! Thank God for Google!

My 135 books/reads in one beautiful photo! Thank you God for 2016! Keep on reading people! x

P.S. I accept friend requests from any book lover, so feel free to add me!

Buying Books in Kuwait

I can’t believe it, but next month, after the new year would mark two years of marriage and two years since I moved to Kuwait! You can almost say I’m a local now! After the success of my previous post Where to Shop for Books in Kuwait, I got a LOT of questions, so I decided to write down some of the tips I would have found useful when I arrived here.

I’ve went out of my way to find books in Kuwait and I discovered many interesting things; you see Amman is open, there isn’t many secret locations and underground ways to buy anything (as far as I know) but Kuwait is different, there are layers, surprises and many ways to locate what you are looking for.

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The way bookshops even arrange their books is chaotic to me. Upon entering a bookshop no matter where you enter, make sure to browse the WHOLE shop! You might find what you are looking for because the system isn’t accurate, a shop clerk might tell you: “We don’t have the book you are asking for.” While you are either holding it in your hands, or just stumbled upon it. This happened to me a couple of times in Jarir Bookstore and That AlSalasil, still, they’re my favorite bookstores in Kuwait, the staff are friendly, they’re clean and there are more options in both stores than any other place in Kuwait, also there is always new books to see every few weeks.

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The other thing is, if you like books in English, you must be patient, they are NEVER set together, they would be scattered. You might find a great fiction book set in the Young Adult section, or YA in Kids section and so forth.

If you are looking for the Arabic Classics be ready to be disappointed, your chances to locate a translated edition is higher than the actual book, many are prohibited which I find absurd like Kahlil Gibran and Alaa Al Aswany’s books! So if you have a list certain of books, I recommend Beirut or Cairo for the oldies, or sudden book fairs and small stationary shops, yup, you heard me, they have a LOT of great editions, because the merchandise are chosen by the owners. Still, many of my books are still from home, Amman.

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Another good way is to browse Instagram for individual sellers like Chapter One Bookstore and LAVENDER STOP, they both deliver to your house door and take a delivery fee. I bought a book from Chapter One, I felt it was over the price (I later found the same book, half the price) but the packaging was so cute.

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Another good place to find books is used bookstores such as Q8books, people from all over, giveaway and donate books, your chances are high in finding books as good as new! I used to buy books from Bayt Lothan but it closed, I found such great editions, it’s a shame.

In any case, if you have any other questions or inquiries, please comment below, thank you for reading!

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The Habit of the Great

My mama used to say: “Journaling is the habit of the great.” and she is right, any person can write, because writing is thinking on paper, but only a few people can make words come alive, those we call: writers.

I kept a diary before I learned to write well, my mom always has kept a diary and still does and I wanted to be just like her; but unlike my mom, I wasn’t consistent. I kept on changing methods, learning new words and languages, and got hugely influenced by books and characters who kept a journal like Jo March, Anne Shirley, Judy Abbott or Bella Swan.

I discovered that a journal comes in many forms, and writing can be put down on paper in many ways. So, no, there isn’t a wrong way to write. Here’s my list:

  • You can keep a journal to write about your mundane day-to-day life.
  • You can write a journal for special occasions or moments of great impact.
  • You can make your journal your confidant and write your feelings, inner thoughts and great ideas.
  • If you have an artistic gene, you can make a journal scrapbook or fill it with photos, newspaper clippings or even sketches.
  • If food means the world to you, your journal can be an entry with a recipe, or food memories.
  • A journal can be kept for an interesting time of your life, like traveling, grieving, moving to a new country, starting your new business, getting pregnant, telling your life story (it might even become a memoir!).
  • It can be like writing a book, you tell a story to yourself, every day a chapter.
  • It can be a spiritual and meditative journal about discovering the world and God.
  • You can keep lists, make charts, pros and cons, make the best decision about some kind of choice.
  • It can be about keeping secrets of others, when you need to unburden. (Don’t tell anyone you are doing that!)
  • If you are a witch it will be called a “Book of Shadows” where your spells and potions are written down.
  • It can be about experiments, science and new discoveries like Leonardo da Vinci.
  • It can be a gift to your daughter or friend about a time that belonged to them but affected you like pregnancy or a wedding.
  • Your journals can be a printed copy with a paper for each day, or a small paragraph like a Twitter post, as for me, the longer and blanker the better, I like mine without any limits.

You see where I’m going with this? Journaling is about your life. You can write about anything that interests you. I’ve been almost through all of them, I scraped, wrote, adding clippings of newspapers and magazines, writing poetry, I felt, I cried, I kept flowers, cinema tickets, hospital name bands, receipt, recipes, magazines, polaroid photographs, lyrics, ideas, feelings, plans, wishes, hopes, dreams, nightmares, and so on.

Each time, the journal evolved, I evolved, my need to it differs everytime. I don’t want them published, or read by anyone else, truly. I even considered buring most of them at some point, it’s not about them being scandalous or anything, they are just personal, full or rambling and secrets reprieve from life. My words belong to me, no matter how silly or flawed, ask Bridget Jones.

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I Know; I Understand.

How many of us say these words “I know”, “I understand”, “the same thing happened to me once” when someone who trusts us is trying to explain what they are going through?

In truth, even when our dear ones are telling us something, they are editing their story, confession or feelings as they go along talking and all you want to say, “yeah, it happened to me too.”

It could have happened to you too, you might understand, but somethings are not that simple. You could have been injured or had a surgery, but the other person is terminally sick. So no, you don’t understand.

It could be that you suffered through your early years, stumbled a lot and hit a few walls until you fully embraced yourself and became a know-it-all, but the other person is still stumbling for different reasons, they might be weaker than you, had a harder life or simply are afraid of something you can’t comprehend.

It could be that you just broke up with your boyfriend of 8 months but that person ended a 20 years of marriage and is suffering from a horrible divorce.

It could be that you bought that Valentino dress for 800 $ but that person barely has 5 $ in their pocket to go to that wedding of a mutual friend.

It could be that your mother cooked a dish you hated and went out for dinner when that person doesn’t have someone to cook for them, and doesn’t have enough money to buy a meal in the food court.

It could be that you have many opinions about religions and politics and can solve things on paper but that person has been treated in a racist way and suffered through war, not on TV but real war.

It could be just a movie about abuse to you but to that person its flashback memories of their own abuse.

It could be that your grandma who you haven’t visited in months that passed away but that person has just been orphaned.

I could go on and on but the truth is people are different, they have different experiences and stories, no one can measure the amount of pain, loss, grief, sadness, depression or love the other person is going through even if you had went through something in the same category. People throw around words like “heartbroken”, “depressed”, “miserable”, “madly in love” a lot but only few people actually experience such feelings. Usually when someone goes through something like that, they have a hard time talking about it. When they do, they are sharing a part of their souls, they might only want someone to listen, to understand, to be kind, or they might just want to cry a bit.

Is it so hard just to listen? To feel what the other person is trying to say? Feelings, especially deep ones aren’t as simple as a Facebook or Twitter status, you can’t be witty when you are raw and honest, anger is the easiest feeling to talk about, but sadness and pain are private, you need compassion to comprehend.

If someone shares such things with you, you are dearer to them than you think. They value your time and your opinion and they need help. Don’t be half in if you can’t handle it, don’t say you understand if you haven’t been through it. Just listen.

And remember, people are always deeper than you think, the most carefree people have usually suffered the most, the people who give good advises have been through a lot, and the people who feel what you are feeling are irreplaceable.

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