Why? All About the Bag!

Last night, I attended a glittery, fashionable, philanthropic evening that was a wonderful time for a wonderful cause. All About the Bag to benefit the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland brought together a fabulous auction, a fashion show, food, drink, and local celebrities, all to raise money to help the hungry in our community.

The centerpiece of the evening was a fashion show featuring looks from Brigade and other stores at Beachwood Place Mall, inlcuding Tommy Bahama, Ann Taylor, francesca’s, Athleta, and more.

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Local celebrities from news channels, radio, restaurants, and businesses took to the runway to strut their stuff to the awesome music provided by MIMO.

There was also the chance for attendees to see and vote on original fashions designed by students at Virginia Marti College of Art and Design. These creative clothes were all designed using food containers, from McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes to Great Lakes Brewing labels to drinking straws (the winner and our favorite too).

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This event isn’t called All About the Bag for nothing! There was a fabulous auction and raffle that included gorgeous bags from designers such as Chanel, Gucci, Fount, Louis Vuitton, kate spade, and more.

The raffle also featured other non-bag prizes, from wine baskets to yoga to shopping excursions.

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Yours truly won a private shopping party at kate spade and I literally jumped up and down so high I could be seen above the crowd when I discovered my win!

Held at Landerhaven, the event showcased the beautiful event spaces there, as well as the tasty catering options, with yummy flatbreads, delicious dips, and tasty Chinese food.

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Our desserts were courtesy of Orlando Baking, with a variety of Italian cookies, with perfectly-paired milk shooters.

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This was the fourth annual All About the Bag and my first time attending. I loved the energy, the fashion, and the fun that was packed into this evening. People were not only excited about the clothes and bags, but also the chance to make a real impact in the community. A $5 donation to the Hunger Network can fill a bag that will feed an entire family (see, it really is All About the Bag)!

Plus, I went to this event with my dear friend Sara and it was the perfect belated Galentine’s Day celebration: a chance to look at (and wear) pretty clothes, sip wine, and catch up!

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I’m All About the Bag and I’m so glad the Hunger Network is too!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland to help promote All About the Bag. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest!

Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest, a foodie fundraiser to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside, is one of those events that just keeps getting bigger and better every year! This year, there were even more restaurants, who all definitely brought their “A” game to the Terrace Club at Progressive Field.

Before I reveal the winners, let’s talk about some of the favorites from the evening:

The beef wonton from Driftwood Catering. The texture of this wonton was superb!

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The mini veal parmesan sausage from Progressive Field/DNC. This is elevated ballpark food for sure!

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The lobster sweet pea risotto from Aurora Inn, served in a light and flaky wonton cup, was a great blend of rich and sweet flavors.

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The shrimp and grits, with a bit of a gumbo flavor, from Zack Bruell Restaurants (okra, FTW).

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The pork belly pinxos from Momocho, with just enough spice and acidity to cut through the rich pork belly.

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The spicy Caribbean shrimp from Carrie Cerino’s Ristorante proved they can deliver on more than simply Italian favorites (and earned them third place).

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Matthew and I agreed on our top two favorites (as did the rest of the attendees): taking second place was the rich 72-hour beef rotello with lobster pasta from Tree House/The Clifton and taking first place was the citrus-seasoned scallop from Corleone’s Ristorante and Bar.

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We ended the evening on a sweet note with mini cupcakes from Cupcake Cravings (the chocolate mint was our favorite) and some amazing views that held the promise of spring.

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It was such a fun and delicious evening, raising funds to support Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of helping those with developmental disabilities. Specifically, the funds from Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest will go to the construction of a new group home in Summit County.

Next up is Our Lady of the Wayside’s summer FUN-draiser, Grapes and Ale, on May 19. Stay tuned for more information!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Red & White on Thursday Night!

Last night, Matthew and I headed down to the 330 to enjoy some great wine and food to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. I have to say, the Akron area food scene offers some delicious options!

We decided to do a lap of the room for the savory options first. Our favorites included the shrimp and grits from Bistro on Main, the guacamole and pork tacos from BOMBA Tacos and Rum,

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the sushi, chicken skewers, and fried rice from Cilantro Thai & Sushi,

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the gnocchi from Taverne of Richfield, the beef brisket from Thorpe’s Market Avenue Grill & Pub,

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and the clams from Robert J Events & Catering.

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There were also lots of sweets to enjoy, including delicious candy from Chocolates by Erin, cookie sandwiches from Melt Bar and Grilled (I seriously crave these),

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and the mini donuts from Hudson’s Restaurant.

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There was also a huge selection of both national and local wines, including favorites of mine from Filia Cellars and Gervasi Vineyard (paired with a delicious bacon-wrapped date from The Twisted Olive).

The VIP room offered my favorite bites of the evening: a shrimp with sweet potato from dba: dante boccuzzi akron and three types of creme brulee (vanilla, coffee, or chocolate) from The West Side Bakery.

Add in some great silent and live auction items and you have a wonderful night for a great cause! The Arthritis Foundation knows how to put on a wine and food event. Stay tuned for their Cleveland event, the Silver Spoon Awards Party, coming up in May!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote Red & White on Thursday Night. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 complimentary general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

What is up with this weather, guys?! Since it was so spring-like, we came out of hibernation for a busy weekend. On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends Elizabeth and Mia for a play date at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

From the dinosaurs to the beautiful new Perkins Wildlife Center to what Jeffrey calls the “wobble, wobble” (AKA the earthquake simulator), there’s always so much for the kids to enjoy.

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We also got to see how the Museum utilizes Christmas tree donations to enhance the habitats of the animals at the Perkins Wildlife Center. Keep them in mind next year when you’re done with your Christmas tree!

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On Saturday, I spent my afternoon at a Mind/Body/Soul retreat planned by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. The retreat incorporated yoga, reflection and discussion, and a Mass into a really meaningful experience!

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There was something special about having this retreat in a place that feels so much like home and holds so many memories. But it was also nice to be able to incorporate not only more traditional spiritual experiences with yoga. Overall, it was a really refreshing and inspirational retreat!

From there, it was off to Playground World for a birthday party for Jeffrey’s friend Nina. The kids got to enjoy plenty of play time on the swingsets and trampolines…

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…as well as pizza, cake, and wishing Nina a very happy 4th birthday!

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Then, my Saturday continued at my friend Melissa’s birthday party. Melissa requested a gal pal sleepover, complete with all the middle school activities and foods we loved, from making friendship bracelets to eating lots of junk food to playing board games like Mall Madness and Saved by the Bell.

The only difference was this time we had wine! It was such a fun night and reminded us of our carefree early 90’s days! And while all the party guests knew Melissa but not each other before the party, I think we’re all bonded now through our bad crafting and lots of laughing.

The next morning, we headed to Yours Truly to end the party with brunch before heading home.

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I had the eggs bruschetta, with spinach, chopped tomato, shaved Parmesan, and sunny side up eggs, on top ciabatta. The flavors were light and fresh and this made quite the delicious breakfast!

So, that was my weekend! Lots of busy, busy, busy, with lots of fun! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? CLE Urban Winery!

Did you know you don’t need to head out to Geneva to experience some great local wine? Last night, my friend Melissa and I checked out CLE Urban Winery, located in Cleveland Heights and packed with character and delicious wine.

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I was there for a Balance & Brews event (aptly named Balance & Barrels for this) that included an hour yoga class, with three wine tastings incorporated into the class (at the beginning, after the main part of the flow, and after savasana). After class, we were able to enjoy a full pour of the wine of our choice.

The samples included the Edgewater Blackberry Merlot, the Hometown Heroes Peach Chardonnay, and the Cleveland Magazine Best of Cleveland winner wine slushie.

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While I’m not a huge fan of fruit wines, the peach chardonnay would be a perfect choice on a warm summer day. And the slushie was just fun and delicious!

For our after-class full pour, I chose the North Coast Syrah, which I enjoyed so much I took a bottle home with me! All the CLE Urban Winery bottles are reasonably priced between $15-25.

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CLE Urban Winery offers a small selection of nibbles such as cheese, prosciutto, hummus and veggies, and the like. But the space is primarily focused on being a hip and funky wine bar, with amazing graffiti-style artwork on the walls.

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You can pick your preference of bar seating, tables, or the cozy couches to enjoy your wine.

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CLE Urban Winery is open every day but Sunday to offer you good wine in a very cool environment. And if Balance & Barrels sounds like your jam, you can check it our there every third Wednesday of the month.

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Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest Giveaway!

Hors d’Oeuvre. Appetizer. Finger food. Nibble. Whatever you call ’em, I love ’em. I could make a meal out of hors d’oeuvres. I love the talent and creativity of packing an entree’s worth of flavor into a bite.

Which is why Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside has become one of the events that I eagerly anticipate. This event creates a friendly chef competition between some of Cleveland’s best restaurants for who will be crowned as having the Finest Hors d’Oeuvre, as voted by attendees.

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This year’s contest takes place at Terrace Club at Progressive Field on Thursday, February 16. Participating restaurants include Tartine Bistro, Zack Bruell Restaurant Group, The Driftwood Group, Merchant Street, Carrie Cerino’s, Momocho, Aurora Inn, and more.

Plus, there will be desserts from Cupcake Cravings, wine and beer samples, live music, hosts Tim Richards, Jen Toohey, and Desiray Cross from Star 102, and lots more fun!

Tickets are $80 and all proceeds benefit Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities through a wide range of services from transportation to housing to employment. This year marks Our Lady of the Wayside’s 50th anniversary and there has never been a better time to support this amazing organization!

Tickets are available online or you can head over to my Instagram page at @whycle for details on how to enter to win two tickets to the event!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to the event for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Red & White on Thursday Night Giveaway!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get out more? Or maybe to try a new restaurant or two? Then I’ve got the event for you: the 20th Anniversary Red & White on Thursday Night to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio.

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Happening Thursday, January 26 at Quaker Station at the University of Akron, this event brings together some of the Akron area’s finest restaurants with wine samples, silent auctions, and an exclusive VIP lounge for a evening filled with fun and philanthropy.

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You will get to enjoy both savory and sweet small bites from Bistro on Main, BOMBA Tacos and Rum, Saffron Patch in the Valley, The Twisted Olive, Nuevo Modern Mexican and Tequila Bar, Chocolates by Erin, and more.

VIP guests will enjoy music from local artist Angie Haze while sampling exclusive tastings from Chef Dante Boccuzzi, sweet treats from The West Side Bakery, high-end wines offered by Wine Trends and other surprises, as well as access to all the general admission food and drink.

Plus, all the proceeds from the event benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio, which is working to help the over 2.6 million people in Ohio living with arthritis.

Tickets are $85 for general admission and $125 for VIP admission. If still available, ticket prices will increase by $10 at the door. Tickets are available online.

Or you can enter to win 2 general admission tickets to Red & White on Thursday Night right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1.Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment here telling me from which you’re most excited to sample food.

2. Visit Arthritis Foundation Ohio and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @arthritisfoundation and @whycle on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Follow @ArthritisFDN and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want to attend #akronredwhite thanks to @ArthritisFDN and @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/01/06/why-red-white-on-thursday-night-giveaway-2 #giveaway

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment here each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, January 15 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio to help promote Red & White on Thursday Night. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and two general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Jump Back Ball Happy Hour!

Playhouse Square’s huge party, Jump Back Ball, is just under two months away! And while there’s lots to do to prepare for the big night (I checked “get a dress” off my list at the Nordstrom Semi-Annual Sale), there’s also time to party before the party.

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Playhouse Square Partners is hosting a wine tasting Jump Back Ball Happy Hour at The Wine Spot on Wednesday, January 11 starting at 6pm. Attendees will sample six different wines, paired with appetizers from Pope’s Kitchen, all for just $15.

While at the Happy Hour, you can also purchase wine to donate to the Jump Back Ball wine pull, one of the most popular parts of Jump Back Ball and a huge part of the event’s fundraising success. Simply purchase a bottle of wine valued at $20 or more to donate to the wine pull. The Wine Spot will store the wine and deliver it to Playhouse Square for Jump Back Ball.

If you’d like to attend this fun evening with good food and good wine, please RSVP to Sarah at sarah.stengel @ playhousesquare.org or 216-640-8408. Payment will be processed at the event.

If you still haven’t gotten your tickets for Jump Back Ball on Saturday, February 25, what are you waiting for?! Tickets are $155 for Partners members general admission, $180 for public general admission, and $250 for VIP admission and can be purchased online. And if you’re interested in helping create the décor for the evening, please consider joining us for a Shop Night or two. The schedule is here.

***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. I was also asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. In exchange, I will receive one complimentary ticket to the event when I purchase one ticket of equal value. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

We capped off a busy, wonderful holiday season this weekend and rang in 2017! And I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of ready to get back on a normal routine, as fun as the holidays were.

But before normalcy returns, we have one more holiday weekend to talk about. Friday afternoon, I met up with my friend Adrienne who was in town from Colorado. I was able to snag a bit of time with her during her busy visit. And I couldn’t think of a better spot to take her than The Greenhouse Tavern.

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We ordered the always-amazing chicken wing confit (even more amazing when on happy hour for only $9) and I got my favorite rose prosecco that they serve, while Adrienne went for the Greenhouse Ale on happy hour special. The Greenhouse Tavern is such a great representation of Cleveland’s fabulous food scene, plus any chance to show off East 4th Street is also fantastic. It was the perfect spot to catch up!

From there, I made a quick stop by Nadine‘s house for some long overdue in-person catching up, then it was off to a family holiday party. I was the only person attending from my branch of the family tree and I finally felt like a grown-up, sitting around the table drinking, laughing, and getting filled in on everyone’s everything.

Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I headed to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for their Noon Year’s Eve Party. I was even more excited to be there when I found out that it was kicking off the Cleveland Metroparks centennial year. I can’t wait to see all the things the Emerald Necklace has in store to celebrate!

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The weather was chilly but manageable and it was nice to be able to take a spin around the outdoor parts of the zoo. The tigers were particularly active and I caught this amazing picture of Jeffrey with one of the beautiful cats.

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I’ve said it before, but the Rosebrough Tiger Passage is truly extraordinary! And during the New Year’s countdown, the zoo’s director, Dr. Chris Kuhar, teased that there will be another new cat exhibit coming in 2017!

Back to the Noon Year’s Eve festivities, the kids could make party hats and share their re”zoo”lutions (ways to help animals and the planet in the next year), have a dance party, and participate in a noon countdown with tons of confetti and fun.

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It was a really great way to involve Jeffrey in celebrating the new year, since keeping him up until midnight would be nothing short of craziness!

As for Matthew and I, after a quick stop with Jeffrey at a friend’s house for a New Year’s party, we spent the evening at home with a fancy dessert (prepared by Matthew), some prosecco, and “The Secret Life of Pets” (a must-watch, for real).

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It was a low-key New Year’s Eve (we made it to midnight, though!) and frankly a wonderful way to bring in 2017!

On Sunday, we went over to my parents’ house for dinner. Typically, my mom makes the traditional Eastern European pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut. But this year, she spun the tradition and made a standing pork roast with apple pecan stuffing and mashed potatoes.

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It was incredibly delicious and I think everyone, even my grandpa, liked this new take on the traditional New Year’s meal.

So, that was our weekend! I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about the way we sent out 2016 and welcomed 2017. How was yours?

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Why? John Carroll Alumni Events!

Last night, Matthew and I braved the cold to attend one of our favorite holiday events: the John Carroll Alumni Cleveland Christmas Reception.

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Held in the Dolan Science Center, which is impeccably decorated with gold, silver, and greenery for the season, there is always a packed house for the food, wine, and catching up that happens at this event. From cocktail shrimp in a massive ice sculpture to stuffed mushrooms to Christmas cookies, there were plenty of great eats! And while I went with wine as my beverage of choice, the Great Lakes Brewing Co. Christmas Ale was also flowing freely.

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This year, we were also treated to a visit from Coach Tom Arth and the NCAA Semifinals Trophy that the John Carroll Blue Streaks football won in a banner season of play.

I always enjoy this chance to catch up with friends both that I knew at Carroll and that I’ve met through alumni events (we met the folks pictured above at last year’s party and found each other again this year). Alumni events can lead to new friendships too! And the Christmas Reception in particular just has such a warm feeling of fellowship.

That said, there are lots of other alumni events planned for the new year, so if you’re a John Carroll alumni, please think about joining us!

  • January 7, 2017 – Family Bowling Outing at Solon Freeway Lanes
  • January 21, 2017 – Mind/Body/Soul Retreat featuring yoga, retreat, and Mass at John Carroll University
  • January 23, 2017 – Alumni Continuing Education Series featuring a poetry discussion at John Carroll University
  • January 29, 2017 – Cleveland Cavaliers v. Oklahoma City Thunder with a pre-game social at Quicken Loans Arena (click here to purchase tickets)

The Cleveland Alumni Chapter will also be offering a monthly service opportunity throughout 2017 at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.

For more details on any of these events, please stay tuned to the John Carroll Alumni page. I look forward to catching up with more fellow Carroll grads soon!

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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