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First Peek of Spring!

“Spring, spring, it’s making me sing.” ~My daughter singing her first-grade music song

Ah, it really does seem that Spring is finally here! Rain and wind comes with that, but there have been some super days with sunshine and warmth. I like a smidge of chill in the air and sun on my skin. This week flowers started blooming in yards, trees sprouted buds, flowering trees began to show their beauty, and everyone seems to be getting outside again.

Love this season for its beautiful color and rejuvenation. I hope you enjoy the following glimpses of Spring I captured with the camera, along with my beautiful girls stomping around in the mud and lovin nature. ūüôā

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Loving Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Lagoon view, Cleveland Museum of Art, Clevelan...
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always loved art and art history. Beyond the art itself, I love to learn about the time periods and the life and times of the artists.¬† Museums are perfect for this and our day trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art in the University Circle area of Cleveland was superb.¬† We all left with our favorites from our first trip which I’ll entertain in this blog.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is huge and half-way through an enormous expansion, which will leave it even bigger in five years.¬† It was almost overwhelming to try to see just the second floor in 3 hours or less, especially because we wanted to appreciate each piece and read about all of them. I was trying to read the information cards on each piece to the kids and Emma had a barrage of questions that I was answering. I felt as if I was trying to teach 15 years of school in half an hour, because I was not just teaching art, I was teaching history, mythology, religion, culture, customs, economics, design, wardrobe…..

We chose a few of our favorites from this trip and we hope you enjoy them too:

Nassem loves Early American History and Colonial History. He enjoys the history of New England, the colonies, the formation of America. His favorite piece of art was an oil painting by Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) called “Harbor in Boston with the City in the Distance (1846-47, oil on canvas).”¬† The electronic photo of the painting, below, was taken from the blog of Henry Adams, professor of American Art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He writes that Lane’s paintings are now costly and very rare, but he was able to secure one from the descendant of its original owner who purchased from Lane.

You can also few the piece on the Cleveland Museum of Art website at : http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&csearch=Artist%20/%20Maker:Fitz%20Henry%20Lane

He also liked the painting called “George Washington at the Battle of Princeton (1779) by Charles Wilson Peale. He said that in all his research on the Internet he sees this one pop up frequently. He loves everything Presidential. Addie thought it was neat because Emma has been drawing all sorts of her own versions of George Washington since learning about Presidents on President’s Day.¬†¬† ÔĽŅÔĽŅPeale painted George Washington many times during his career. The Cleveland Museum of Art houses this in their colonial section.

When asking Emma what her favorite part of the museum was she just yelled a resounding “everything!!” She was partial to the Van Gogh paintings though. She knows he is one of my favorite painters and was very excited to learn about him this year in first grade art class where they were tasked with drawing their own “Starry Starry Night” by Van Gogh.¬† She liked the color that Monet and Manet and other Impressionists¬†used in their oil paintings and appreciated the colors and dreamy look of the Van Goghs. She came home and drew her own rendition of some of the Van Gogh paintings they had such as, “Adeline Ravoux (1890, oil on fabric).”¬† Van Gogh painted this portrait of¬†the 16-year-old daughter of an innkeeper where he was staying ¬†just two months prior to when he died, and was quoted as saying that it wasn’t really a photographic resemblance but¬†“wanted it to convey impassioned aspects of contemporary life through the use of the modern taste for color.”¬† She is a little green and blue, which Emma picked up on since her rendition of the lady looked a little like a blue person from the movie “Avatar.”

You can view Van Gogh’s painting on the The Cleveland Museum of Art’s¬†website here:¬† http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?pid=%7B91ADCD8F-992A-45A5-8599-70835467DF5E%7D&coid=3526974&clabel=highlights¬†and below is Emma’s version.

For me, Claude Monet¬†is another of my favorites. I love the Impressionists. They have a lot of nice Monet, as well as other Impressionists at the Cleveland Museum of Art.¬† My favorite of the day though was “The Red Kerchief (1873, oil on fabric)” by Monet (French, 1840-1926). I love anything that is like the old fairy tales¬†and it reminded me and Addie of Little Red Riding Hood.¬† In actuality, it is a painting that Monet did of his wife, peering at us through a locked door as she bustles by looking cold or scared. It was¬†a few years before she died and many people interpret the painting as having been representative of the problems in their relationship (he was in love with another woman). However, it formerly was of a couple looking into the door, until he repainted it as his wife.¬† Other people find it representative of the Impressionist movement and their issues with¬†being accepted by the art world at the time, as they were refused gallery shows and their work rejected frequently.¬† Either way, it was a painting that he kept with him till his death in 1926. I love the use of the brush, the texture of the stroke, the use of color so that the red just pops out at the viewer.

View it on the Museum’s website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2

Addie said her best time of the day was seeing the big horse and knight dressed in armor. She takes after her mommy and daddy!  Their armor room, called the Armor Court, is amazing. It is full of all kinds of Italian, Spanish, British and more armor pieces and the top of the room adorned in beautiful tapestries.  Tim said this room was his favorite as well.  Though the museum has a great medieval collection located on the first floor, this Armor Court is up on the second floor with the European art. 

View an up close and side photo of the knight and horse in armor on the Museum website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2&searchoption=1

We also had the opportunity to view their new exhibition “The Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art” which just opened today and will be on display until August.¬† It consisted of beautifully light and airy ink drawings on screens and cloth, as well as gorgeous bridal gown that Addie liked (but felt it might be too big for her) because of its vibrant colors (still vibrant though many hundreds of year old).¬† Emma was enthralled by how whole words were drawn using one calligraphy symbol.¬† Their poetry was not just words, but art flowing onto paper.¬† The Museum writes, “The show features every art form, including painting, calligraphy, and craft, that transformed Chinese lyrical aesthetics in the Korean Joseon¬†period and in the Japanese Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo periods.”¬† You can view more info here:¬† http://www.clevelandart.org/visit/Exhibitions.aspx

All my children are little budding artists and I hope trips like these inspire them even more. Here’s some bad camera phone photos of the kids with several Van Goghs:

I can’t wait to let you know what our favorites are from our next trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art of another art museum! Who is your favorite artist or the best art museum you’ve been to?


Did your Little Leprechan Leave You a Pot of Gold?

Of course all my life I’ve laughed and celebrated the saying “Erin Go Baugh!” Mostly because Erin is my name, which means Ireland. And yes, of course, that is why my dad named me Erin.¬† The phrase means Ireland Forever!¬† My parents have always been immersed in Irish culture and I grew up hearing stories of our time in England and their travels around Great Britain.

I am happy to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with my kids now. They always look forward to holidays in this house. It is probably because we use it as a learning opportunity and a way to celebrate with each other.

I’ve been going out to dinner with friends for St. Patty’s day for the last few years, and so Tim and I will celebrate with our kids on the weekend. But my kids couldn’t wait. They been eagerly awaiting wearing their hair bows (well the girls!!) and will wear them to school on the holiday.¬†

Game Suggestion

Last friday, when they had a snow day, Emma decided to play her St. Patrick’s day game early that she came up with for the other siblings. She hand-drew a bunch of little leprechauns. Then she put M&Ms in baggies. She hide the leprechauns¬†around the house with the baggies. She drew one little pot of gold, which she hid with $2. It was really cute seeing the kids scavenger for the leprechauns. Her 11-year-old¬†brother probably thought he was a little too old, but they both had fun watching their 3-year-old¬†sister hunt for the little guys and she in fact found the pot ‘o gold too! Our 7-year-old, who organized the game, has been drawing leprechauns¬†for over a month. Each night someone gets a picture of a cute leprechaun.

Cooking for St. Patty’s Day

We’ll have maybe some kind of cabbage or mashed potatoes usually, and this year we are having Irish Chicken and Vegetable Stew, and either Lime Pie or Leprechaun Pie.

Simple Irish Stew

  • 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast meat
  • 2/3 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion, saut√©ed in butter
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 3 cups cooked, diced red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour

Combine chicken, mushrooms, onion, carrots and stock in a large saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in sage, basil, garlic salt, parsley, mixed vegetables, potatoes and celery and cook until heated through. Stir in flour to thicken sauce, then you can serve. I prefer to throw it in the crock pot and let it cook all day.

History of St. Patrick’s Day

Whatever you decide to do to celebrate, don’t forget to teach your kids why we celebrate the holiday and why it is so important to the people of Ireland. Of course, there are about 34 million Americans who have Irish heritage also, which is why it is a common holiday here as well (in fact, Ireland’s population is just 4 million). St. Patrick’s day is celebrated on March 17, because that is the day that it is believed that St. Patrick died in 461 A.D.¬† At a young age, St. Patrick was sold into slavery to a sheep farmer. He finally escaped in his twenties and spent quite a bit of time in the monastery.¬† In his thirties, he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary and is revered for his work by the Irish people. If you’d like to read more info on St. Patrick’s day, check out this link: http://holidays.kaboose.com/patrick-history.html

So, as the weather breaks, get outside and find¬†a four-leaf clover. Each leaf means something, one for hope, one for faith, one for love, and one for luck. May the luck of the Irish be with you as you observe the Wearing ‘O the Green!!


Malabar Farm’s Maple Syrup Festival in Photos

We had a super fun time this weekend at Malabar Farm, part of the Ohio State Park system and located in Lucas, Ohio near Mansfield and Ashland.¬† It was their Maple Syrup¬†Festival and my 11-year-old son wanted to learn all he could about tapping maple trees for tree sap¬†and making it into sugar and syrup. He loves the pioneer and native american historical demonstrations and anything that has to do with ecologically self-sustaining yourself. It was a lot of fun for the kids, and I thought it was a great opportunity for not only photos with my family, but for Breathe Beauty Art and Photography as well. Set back in the forest near Malabar Farm’s historical Pugh Cabin and Louis Bromfield‘s Sugar Shack, it was the perfect environment for relaxing and taking photos with nature. We also crossed Malabar Farm and went to the actual farm itself, something we do several times a year since my son is an avid conservationalist. He loves to learn about Bromfield’s life, check out the wind turbines, the solar compacting trash can, solar panels, the historical mansion. He is enthralled by care for the environment (you can find him on Twitter¬†@environmentlife) and the education that this Ohio State Park offers is incredible. If you’ve never been, check it out at www.malabarfarm.org.

I just love to go to take photos. I guess we all have our favorite things and mine of course is taking photos! Tim, my fiance, actually took some of these photos as well. View the slide show below to see photos of Malabar Farm, the Maple Syrup Festival, and my family enjoying the day. I think the girls’ favorite part was the maple sugar leaf cookies, maple popcorn, maple fudge, chocolate walnut fudge……

If you like my photos of Malabar Farm, please inquire with me at breathebeautyartandphotography@hotmail.com

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Rejuvinating Ocean Photography (Series 2)

Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war. 
~Loren Eiseley

The ocean certainly does give us a feeling of carefree wonder, where we can cast our cares and run with joy ins our hearts. Finding solace in the rhythm of the waves, the sounds of water lapping on the shore, the vastness that lays before our eyes all bring hope to our heart and a song to our soul.

Here are a few more of my ocean related photos to bring you a refreshing break to your day. Many of these in this Ocean Series 2 are taken in Jupiter Island and surrounding area and West Palm Beach in mid to Southern Florida. Some are in Fort Pierce, lower central Florida.

As it is almost mid-March in Ohio, and today it snowed enough my kids didn’t have school, I am missing my time in Florida. The warm, therapeutic sand, the hot sun, the cleansing salt water, the air of a calmer, simplier life. I hope you find as much center in¬†your life¬†from these photos as I do.

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Ocean Photographs (Series 1) to Inspire You!

‚ÄúJust as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me.‚ÄĚ
~Albert Schweitzer  (German medical missionary, 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, 18751965)

¬†The weather looks to be finally breaking from all the winter storms. Almost 60 degrees today in Ohio is certainly giving everyone hope from their cabin fever. It is just making me miss Florida–the warm sands, therapeutic rays, saltwater, and its air of relaxation. Here are some photos from Florida that I took that I¬†love, maybe it will give you some inspiration today too!

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Love is Universal!

“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.” ~Henry Miller

The day for LOVE, more commonly known as Valentine’s day, is upon us. I try to not look at this day as “only for lovers” but make it about sharing love with many of the people in your life that your value and hold dear.¬† Of course, we should do this everyday, but planning it in is always a nice way to make sure we really are showing the ones we love that we care.

Below are some images that exude romance for the one that you truly love in your life….your spouse, significant other, boyfriend/girlfriend. Let them allow you to meditate on that person and be reminded of your inner most love for them.

Possibly, you might just think of your parents, or your dear friends while taking a moment with the photos. And that’s ok too. There are many other people who we love in our lives. Love is universal and can be a language we all speak.

Love is intertwined emotion,
balanced by the sands of time,
ever increasing in meaning,
forever grasping life and soul.

Love is the reality for living,
it guides us like ebb and flow,
it is the only thing to save us
when the whole world seems to
leave us alone.

Love is the ageless friend,
always churning newness and hope,
our best assest for peace and giving,
our only real reason for living.
~by Erin Al-Mehairi, 02/11/11

 

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Small Factory Fire, the Day After Winter Photos

The kids and I walked down to the check out the remnants of a factory fire that happened in our small town, Ashland, Ohio. It was still smoldering, creating a lot of white smoke against the already white background. I just thought the icicles were so beautiful against the burnt-out windows.

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Crafting Valentine Cards, Gifts Made from Socks and Whoopie Pies on Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Cover of "Whoopie Pies (Cookery)"

Cover of Whoopie Pies (Cookery)

Read about talking about MLK day with kids, making curly designed Valentines, and the recipe for Whoopie Pies below!

The kid’s had off school today for Martin Luther King, Jr. day. I love these days where we can spend more time together doing activities or baking. I explained to the kids today how although King was obviously dealing with men being equal due to the white and black issues of the day, he really was a light for all races, genders, and in essence people to see each other as¬†all deserving of respect, love, support and he truly believed in the fact that community building is so important. MLK¬†day serves people around the US as a way to promote community service to others. When you serve others, you truly do show that you are treating them as someone who deserves your respect and that they are your equal. We talked about this while my son baked some whoopie pies he found a recipe for¬†(chocolate pies with pink cream in the middle–yummy)¬†and the girls and I sat at the table doing activity crafts/art as I will detail below.

Emma, my seven-year old, had recently obtained the February issue of the American Girl magazine and it is full of ideas for crafts and projects. It had a feature on Valentine cards and making them with “curly” art. This really took me back to my childhood. I remembered my mom purchasing supplies to make artwork and cards by twirling up little pieces of paper into shapes. I loved the look of this…colorful, abstract, modern, and unique. The magazine suggested curling the paper into circles then forming a heart out of those and also curling up hearts. I took it a step further with the circles from memory, and made cute little flowers with the circles.

Valentine Curling Cards

*Card Stock
*straw
*scissors
*glue
*ruler
*any other decorations you want

We took the card stock and I folded it in half for Emma for her to make grandparent cards, but for the rest I folded it in half, then again, then cut the 4 sections it made. Then I folded each of the 4 sections into little mini cards. These were the perfect size for Addie, my 3-year-old, or for school Valentine boxes and bags.

Then I used the ruler to draw lines on other card stock colors so I could cut it into long strips.

Curling

To curl, take the straw and cut a 1″ slits across from each other on the straw hole.¬† Then feed a strip you cut into the slits in the straw.¬† Next, start winding the strip around itself. Going all the way down the strip will make a circle.¬† To make hearts, curl halfway down the strip, then pinch the strip where you stopped into a “v.”¬† Then take the strip out and feed the other end of the strip into the straw to curl.¬† Then curl that end up to the “v.” You can make the hearts different shapes, with one side rolled more than the other. It is fun to make them unique!

The girls took the hearts and circles and just glued them to the pieces of paper. You can have them do this very neatly, also using a Cricut¬†for the cards, or other heart cut-outs, but my girls like to do things themselves so they just used¬† a heart cookie cutter to trace hearts and color and glued on the curling shapes. Addie was a Valentine’s machine busting out card after card!! Emma took more time making big sized cards for her grandparents and¬†a cute small one for her best friend Baylee.¬† After baking, Nassem came over and did a few cards himself with curly hearts. Since Addie made so many, she decided we are giving many of hers to lonely residents at The Good Shepherd Home in Ashland, Ohio. We hope this cheers up their Valentine’s Day, and at the same time they are relating to the MLK¬†community building community service talk we had at the start of¬† our project. Nassem’s Valentines he will also give to the home. All three decided that since there is time, they will have plenty of days to make more cards for residents.¬† If your younger children tend to do lots of coloring and “artwork” consider taking these periodically to local homes instead filling the landfill!

To make the flowers, I showed them how to glue on the circle curl on the card, then taking one of the green strips and cutting off some of the strip to make a stem and glue it down from the circle. Two really small pieces of the green strip glued on either side of the stem make leaves!  You can even do these in bunches to make a floral arrangement!

This is a very simple project that you can do with your kids or get them set-up to do on their own. Of course, you can embellish them even more in all the crafty ways you know, especially if you are a stamper, card maker, or scrapbooker.

Supply Holders from Socks

After making the cards, Emma and I also decided to take a cue from another section in the magazine that detailed how to make holders for your pencils, pens, scissors, etc. from old jars by putting socks over them!  Emma found some of her socks to use to make these. Regular socks, not ankle socks, work best we found out! 

With regular socks, you just put the jar into the sock with the top of the sock resting at the top of the jar. Draw a line at the bottom of the jar right underneath the bottom so you can cut that off. Take the sock off and cut around the line, which should be the foot part of the sock.¬† Put the top part of the sock back on the jar and arrange it as you’d like it! Adorable!

For Emma, she wanted to use ankle socks. The above doesn’t work so well with ankle socks. So, we pulled the entire sock up onto the jar and the foot rested nicely as the bottom. In this case, I needed to cut off the top of the sock. This made for a cute rocker feel to the sock (Emma loves those rocker type gloves). She made 3 for her room and they are cute.

There was also an idea to make little hats and scarfs for your American Girl and we are going to also do that next, as well as head to the dollar store to find cute socks in bright, fun colors to make supply holders for family and friends.

And if your mouth is still watering over the Whoopie Pies, with frosting tinted pink for Valentine’s Day, here is the recipe for that!

Whoopie Pies

Ingredients

For the cakes:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

For the filling:
1/2 cup softened butter
11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla
Red food coloring

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer set at medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until evenly blended.  Add the egg and beat on high until smooth and creamy.  Pour half the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined.  Add the milk mixture and continue beating until just blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat again.

Use a cookie scoop or spoon to place a heaping tablespoon of batter on to prepared sheet.¬† Line them up maybe 9 on each sheet. Slightly flatten each mound with a spoon. Bake the cakes one sheet at a time for 10 minutes (don’t overcook¬†they should be moist and spongy).¬† Let them cool on the sheet for about 2 minutes then carefully transfer them to a rack to cool. Reline the sheets and do all the above again.

Using an electric mixer, beat all the filling ingredients together except the coloring. If you don’t have marshmallow creme (we didn’t), adapt the recipe to add more powdered sugar and a little milk to get a frosting consistency).¬† Fold in drops of red food coloring last to get the desired color you’d like.

To make each pie, smooth and spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of a cake and top with another.

They were SUPER yummy, you know I taste tested right away!! ūüôā

If you’d like to make to give as a gift, use a plastic, clear crafting bag. Put one in the bag, then tie with a pretty pink or red ribbon, and attach a heart with a cherished message to your loved one or friend.


Walking in a Winter Wonderland….Time with My Son and My Camera

I hadn’t really been out of the house for days, with being ill and not being able to kick it. Plus, the weather has been just downright nasty with either rain or freezing cold that makes my nerves stand on end. I actually prefer when it snows lightly. Now that I am able to better appreciate the beauty of snow, I really want to be out in it. The wonder of each snowflake, the icicles, the formations all leave me in awe. I have missed my Fall walks with my camera. I wanted to see what I was missing out there in nature. The sun was shining and so I resigned myself to bundle up well, don the boots and hit the sidewalk at least for a few minutes. My son wanted to go with¬† me, and I really wanted his company. When he and I have time alone exploring as we do, I know it makes him as happy as it makes me. And we spent a lot more than a few minutes outside.

We wandered around and saw how beautiful the sun glinted off the snow piles.  We looked for icicles and saw absolutely gorgeous formations of them all around us. If we were driving by or walking by fast, we never would have noticed them. We saw all the berries left from Fall, and it was like they were almost preserved from the cold, some even encased in ice.

I was in wonder of the beauty God creates all around us. I appreciated the moments spent with my son as we talked about life and nature and what he planned to do when he grows up (which is a list of about 100 things, but all very nice assets to humanity). He had some things he wanted to show me by our local Ashland County Courthouse. I knew the architecture would be great of course there and I wasn’t disappointed. The trimming of the building are delicious.¬† He loves the old bell there, and the cannon, and he wiped the snow away from the plaque that told about the time capsule from 1976. He even plans to attend the opening of it, coming back to Ashland. I know it is driving him nuts what is inside it. He is such a treasure hunter. I watched as he wiped the cannon in various areas–brushing off the snow to find the manufacturer’s imprints, the years (1884), the little intricacies imbedded in it. He looked like a little museum curator. I stood and watched him, filled with love. His treasures are history, and though I too love history, I could relate even more as my treasures are finding the various photographic angles that are around us each day.

I know what it is like to be busy in life. I know what it is like to rush and work so hard that you never see your kids or go outside. Being on this side of that now, I certainly appreciate these moments even more. And I believe that my son, and my children, will certainly have better memories of their mom in their mind as well as in photos! I urge everyone that if you aren’t seeing these small things in life, appreciating the world around us, remembering history and appreciating it, that you stop what you are doing and figure out how to get it in your life without excuses. Nothing is more important than quality time with your children and the outdoors.

Here is a short slide show of some of the photos we took today, all which are available as prints for sale if you’d like a little piece of our adventure (please don’t steal my photos, they are copyrighted). Please leave comments and let me know what you think!

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