Swiss Miss

The living room with a narrow stairwell up to a small studio and DOLL ROOM!

Welcome to the home of Jorge & Katie Lengyel. You met them last Fall in my post about DIY Hypertufa Potting Containers (which would be a great project to do this weekend for your new plantings.) Jorge is an Argentinean gentleman and artist, Katie is Dutch with a passion for crafting, collecting, and anything Anglophile. Together they have built a petit chalet that is multi-cultural, very-colorful and eccentric beyond belief.

The home is situated on a shaded property that slopes towards sparkling Lake Mohawk in the beautiful and über-Swiss village of Sparta, NJ. Between Katie’s collections, Jorge’s ingenuity, and both of their vivid imaginations, they’ve built themselves a really unique and fantastical abode worthy only of fairytales and fables. I think you’ll agree that this feast for the eyes is like nothing you’ve ever seen in real life!

Wall of eclectic finds and projects including poster of Katie’s coveted Jim Morrison

Katie made this fabulous little ottoman. She used nozzles for legs as well. Such a fun piece.

Pie chest filled with china and adorned with kitsch galore

This is my favorite vignette in the house. Big porcelain basin in the kitchen with 2 faucets looks out onto their front porch and natural landscaping. The sill is covered in colorful toys, some as-is, some Katie’s hybrid sculptures.

 

To the left and right of the sink are these great and simple industrial racks that hold their drying dishes and everyday needs… and some kitsch of course

To the left and right of the sink are these great and simple industrial racks that hold their drying dishes and everyday needs… and some kitsch of course.

This kitchen cabinetry serves as both storage and a buffet for the dining room. Katie and Jorge cut thick felt trim for each shelf and attached it with decorative nail heads. This is one of the spots Katie displays her British wares

The silver is always polished and in use on the Anglo’d-out buffet in the dining room

A view from the den into the dining room and kitchen beyond. Two leather chairs in foreground face a cast iron potbelly stove and a TV. Very cozy spot on a cool night.

One of Katie & Jorge’s siamese cats, Hunter

Love this cage aux folles. Not something you see every day.

 

A quick peak into the bedroom. As you can see, this is where the blue & white china lives.

I even love her abundant perfume station (I too am a huge user of French perfumer Annick Goutal)… with a few nods to the motherland of course.

There is too much going on in Katie’s office (behind the living room stairs) to really show you in one photo, but here’s a little detail of the mix of things either waiting to be worked into one of her sculptures or just hanging around to keep her company while she works.

The powder room is incredible! The glossy, rich brown tiled walls reflect the gentle light that comes off the shell piece—that the couple made—for a really dramatic look.

The deluxe wet bar in their family room. Loads of lights spills in from the wall of doors that exit to the back porch.

A delicious little detail from above the wet bar

A detail of the ornately mosaic’d fireplace that Jorge made for Katie in their family room.

The breakfast table in their family room. As you can see, this room is all about the white and light collections

And antique china cupboard is flanked by two fabulous peeling columns.

A birdhouse collection hovers above the entertainment cupboard in the family room.

A detail of another collection in their almost-all-white family room.

 

This is Jorge about to do some gardening in the back yard. He built the home they live in. Detail of back porch in the background.

What I don’t even get to show you is the full master suite (i just give you a few details) with walk-in closet, 4-poster bead and steam shower; Jorge’s office upstairs; the creepy and magical doll room Katie has for her doll collection (too narrow to shoot); the full guest suite downstairs; the ornate herb storage wall-unit they have built leading to the basement off the kitchen; and the magnificent wrap-around back porch with abundant vintage planters (perhaps photographer friend Laura Moss will provide exterior for an upcoming post: she focused on the exterior of the home while I drooled over the interior.)

Re-soul a Slipper

Give new life to  garage sale find this weekend. Whether it be a new purchase from your Memorial Day weekend hunting or one of the pieces you’ve been hanging onto, just rip the bandaid off and do it. Here’s a quick slipper chair remodel I did in a few hours yesterday. All it entailed was a fresh coat of glossy spray paint, a piece of fabric and 2 samples of latex wall paint from my local hardware store. Directions below. Good luck and happy hunting this weekend!

Cut a piece of fabric large enough to wrap around and be stapled. Always give yourself a little extra.

I taped off o wide stripe down the center of the fabric. Measure from each side to make sure your pretty centered.

I brushed on white latex paint for a white edge

Then pink. If you want the lines to be perfect, let the white dry, then tape a new line for the pink. I wanted mine to be a little organic so i freehanded it

remove the tape and let it dry thoroughly

if you need to replace the foam, do so by tracing the seat onto the foam and then cut it out with scissors.

Once lined up precisely, glue your foam in place so that it doesn’t shift while you’re upholstering or in the future

I staple-gunned the fabric taught to the wooden seat, pulling the foam to a rounded edge along the sides of the cushion. Again, measure to make sure your stripe is centered and straight before you staple.

Et Voila! A new soul for your Slipper chair!


 

 

Mod Squad

I attended ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) on Monday with the fabulous team from New York Spaces magazine. We scoured miles of isles in the vast Javitz Center (in NYC) looking for interesting, inspiring product and big-picture trends in the marketplace.
Here are a few notable designs that caught my attention at the show:

really wild extruded tiles that fit together like puzzle pieces. Roughly 7 inches deep if i remember correctly… Use them for walls, floors, exterior patios, outdoor shower floors that need good drainage… the possibilities are endless and these things are probably indestructible: strength in numbers. They are by eclectic and bohemian brand, Bespoke

Fun chair by Bend in collaboration with another artist. Great piece to get all you DIYers wheels turning…

Really beautiful hand-woven chandeliers by Naomi Paul. They are collapsable, so shipping and moving are not issues.

Was never a fan of Lladro, but they are doing some interesting things as of late. I really dig their “The Guest” collection, and in particular this one by artist, Rolito. Very funky.

 

Edgy (literally) large-scale chandeliers by Gabriel Scott. The metallic interiors glistened from within the matte-finished geometric shells. So fabulous and versatile. I can imagine in a number of scenarios, classic, modern and bohemian…

Perfect little ottomans by Gabriel Scott that screamed haberdashery and fine tailoring

Opulent shagreen-patterned wallpaper in a fish scale pattern by ShagreenArt Inc. So outrageous.

Flipped when I saw this snake china by the 2nd oldest (2nd to Meisen) china manufacturer in Europe, Augartem Wein. This pattern is by Gabrielle Rotherman and was inspired by her series of snake-themed fine art.

Fabulously simple white & silver giraffe wallpaper by Sissy + Marley. Would be great in a kid’s room (obviously) or a powder room or small space.

One of several large and outrageous lights by Fort Standard

There were so many incredible prints from Eskayel, I didn’t know what to shoot! They are just REALLY LIVABLE —yet funky—patterns. Very bohemian chic.

Incredible fixtures by Apparatus! Every single one was a stunner. The sconce on the lower right side—knocked my socks off and—is made with horse hair! They even have versions with black horse hair and enameled metal. I die…

Deluxe tropical wallpaper by Timorous Beasties. Dorothy Draper’s face would melt…

The Best Sink I have ever seen. From the Metrio System by Stone Forest. I want it all. I love how the hardware fits into the stone perfectly, the thick slab, the finish of the metal…it’s perfection… speechless. I want one.

Also flipped out when I saw these porcelain skull perfume atomizers by the 2nd oldest (2nd to Meisen) china manufacturer in Europe, Augartem Wein. This is the kind of perfume atomizer I’d have in my boudoir…

Delectable little bite-size thumb drives—by Beyond Object—that look like jewelry

 

 

 

 

Mansion in May Showhouse

Over the weekend I visited the Mansion In May designer showhouse. Attracting over 25,000 visitors annually (I swear there were that many there on Sunday alone) and charging $50/pp, this very well-organized event raises tens of thousands of dollars for the Morristown Medical Center and—according to the Co-Chair—is the highest grossing showhouse in the country.

This year’s mansion—the Blairsden Estate—is located in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey. Blairsden is an historic 62,000 square foot, 38-room (with 25 fireplaces and 19 bathrooms) Beaux-arts estate that was completed in 1903 as a country home for Clinton Ledyard Blair—an American investment banker, sportsman and commodore of the New York Yacht Club in his early 30’s—by prominent architectural firm Carrère and Hastings.

After the death of CLB in 1949 (at the age of 82,) Blairsden—with 50 acres of the original 550 acres—was sold for an estimated $65,000 to the Sisters of St. John the Baptist and renamed St. Joseph’s Villa.

According to Art & Architecture of New Jersey, the history of the Sisters’ stay had been considered mysterious with speculation about a series of murders [of orphans] at the mansion and questions about how the nuns ran the estate. [Much to my dismay,] these rumors have been put to rest through correspondence with a former member of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist. [She confirms that] St. Joseph’s Villa was run as a retreat house open to anyone who cared to visit. It was never operated as a hotel or orphanage. Supposedly the only shooting with even a distant connection to the Sisters of St. John the Baptist occurred at the James Pierpont Morgan mansion in Glen Cove, Long Island. J.P. Morgan himself was shot in the leg at this estate, but the wound was not fatal. Sisters who made their novitiate there remember speaking of the “JP Morgan murder” which was a myth, since the famous millionaire was not murdered.

In 2002, the Sisters sold the property to the Foundation for Classical Architecture which has since been carefully restoring the house and grounds. They, in turn, sold the estate in 2012 for $4.5 million to a private owner identified by local officials as T. Eric Galloway (a NY developer and President of the Lantern Organization.) 50+ interior designers and landscape designers have spent the past few months bringing their assigned spaces in Blairsden to their original glory and beyond. Here’s a taste of my favorite highlights of the showhouse. You can still see the home until May 31, 2014.

Skylight in James Yarosh’s sun-filled central, upstairs gallery

Sitting area in BHE Studio’s salon/tea room.

Great wallpaper in BHE Studio’s Tea Bar

sitting area in Houndstooth Interior Design’s kid’s room. It was fun and colorful, yet refined and elegant.

CW&I’s “deco in bloom” guest bedroom. I wanted to dive into this deluxe bed

My favorite piece by a popular Russian artist who’s name has escaped me. The subject in the painting is the Daughter of Peter the great. This was in Elizabeth Guest’s lovely room

 

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Beneath the Surface

Talented photographer and dear friend, Laura Moss, has made her work available to the tasteful masses at last! Via FotoFoam, you can now purchase her large-scale prints and they will arrive mounted, framed to your liking, and ready to hang.

Her recent underwater photography is gorgeous and ultra-saturated (double-entendre): some polished and bright, others eery and beautiful. I spent a water-logged day with Laura last summer swimming around in floor-length gowns (a few shown below), which was certainly a unique and hilarious way to spend a hot afternoon.

Here’s a sampling of Laura’s underwater work: definitely a nice design solution for adding color to a room in one fell swoop. And I think you’ll find that FotoFoam’s framing options are incredibly chic and—according to their site—time-tested and made with the best materials.

RECIPE TO REFRESH

REPOSTED FROM the style blog of the chic, NYC-BASED, SURF-FRIENDLY FASHION BRAND, LOOMSTATE, WHERE I WAS A GUEST BLOGGER LAST WEEK.

You’re probably feeling a little guilty from overindulging throughout the holiday season…nibbling the cheese cubes at the holiday party, exploring the innerds of every chocolate in the box (invest some time and you might actually find the caramel one) and bathing your liver in a stream of hot toddies. Luckily, it’s 2014 and a chance to refresh your mind and body!  Meredith McBride Kipp, Creative Director at New York Spaces magazine and editor of her own design & style blog aMereLife.com offers us a simple recipe for a refreshing green juice AND bread made from the leftover pulp…

Meredith: I’m no heady health fanatic, but I’ve really gotten into making fresh juice once or twice a week. I usually drink it as a meal supplement through breakfast and lunch a few days per week. It makes me feel great and keeps me firing on all cylinders. I don’t need my usual caffeine fixes when I’m “juicing” either, so it saves me from having to buy expensive breakfasts, lunches and coffees in manhattan during the busy work week. I stock the green juice in dishwasher-safe rubber-seal glass bottles that I found on the cheap so that they are always ready-to-go and shake-friendly. Standard pitchers will require that you stir before you pour (the juice settles: don’t be turned off), so sealed/lidded containers are best. Here’s my loose recipe for a large batch of Green Juice. Enjoy!
GREEN JUICE | makes a few gallons (good for 2 people for 3-5 days)
       3 heads romaine
       2 bunches parsley
       3 large cucumbers
       4-5 green apples
       3 bunches of kale
       1.5 bunches celery
       ginger (the size of a golf ball): juice this last because it will clog up
       your juicer
       juice from 5 large lemons
If you are in need of a full 3-day cleanse (similar to the well-known and extremely expensive Blueprint Cleanse), make a batch of my green juice, along with the Spicy Lemonade and Cashew Milk recipes from this site.
GREEN BREAD | makes 1 loaf
       1 1/2 cups juice pulp (aim for the apple, cucumber and kale)
       1/2 cup oil or 1/2 cup butter, melted
       1/2 cup brown sugar
       2 eggs, beaten
       1 teaspoon vanilla
       1 1/2 cups flour (could do whole wheat)
       1/2 teaspoon baking soda
       1/2 teaspoon baking powder
       1/2 teaspoon salt
       1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
       1/2 teaspoon allspice
       1/2 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
       1/2 cup raisins, dates or figs (optional)
Directions:
       1. Beat together oil and honey, then add eggs, vanilla and pulp.
       2. Sift dry ingredients and add to pulp mixture.
       3. Add nuts and fruit last.
       4. Bake in a greased 9″ loaf pan at 350F for 45 to 60 minutes.

 

Thanksgiving with Style

Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! For all you hosts out there, don’t wait for the panic to set in. Take care of your tabletop(s) now so that you can put your heart into the food preparation later… and actually enjoy it.

Whether you have a game plan or not, I’d recommend popping into The Little Flower Shoppe in Ridgewood, NJ for their Stress-free Holiday Decorating Party tomorrow night (Thursday, Nov 14, 2013, 6-8pm). RSVP: 201 652 7600 or info@raimondihg.com. Fabulous flower extraordinaire, Anne Miller (who has worked with the likes of Preston Bailey and David Tutera) will be giving floral advice and dishing inspirational tabletop ideas. Ridgewood Fare will be serving up delicious bites and giving pointers on cuisine. And in the proper spirit of Thanksgiving, a portion of the evenings sales proceeds will be going to Children’s Aid and Family Services.

Here is the Thanksgiving table I styled with florals and frills from said Anne Miller. I asked for “dark, rich and deadly” and she delivered:

Photography by Laura Moss.
Anne sourced all the flowers (and miniature orchids) and fruit (miniature eggplants, figs, gourds, grapes, various berries, and these incredible little green spiky seedpods) directly from the flower district in New York. Bring her any vessel that’s right for your table, mantle, doorway, etc and she will fill it with the the most beautiful work you’ve ever seen.

The salad plates and dinner plates are from a totally fabulous buying trip to 200+ year-old porcelain factory, Royal Limoges—the oldest existing porcelain factory in all of Limoges, France—but you can pull this look off with whatever whites you have at home. Throw a pop color in there for fun: I found these celadon green dinner plates at Crate & Barrel that at first I thought were a knock off, but I they appear to actually be made by Jars, a very well respected stoneware factory in France (I also have a set of this exact dinnerware in a dark green: it’s totally awesome and totally rustic and totally perfect for a hearty Thanksgiving meal). The flatware is a vintage brass set I picked up at an estate sale years ago, but I found a ton of Ricci Argentieri’s “Bamboo d’Oro” on (my favorite website) replacements.com. Frankly I’d recommend the electroplated gold over the brass any day because mine is nearly impossible to keep polished. There are tons of sets on online auction houses too… happy hunting and happy thanksgiving! xx Mere

Entertaining on Halloween


Photography by Laura Moss. Styling by me, Meredith McBride Kipp

It’s that time of year again to get out the pumpkin-carving tools, invite some friends over, and get a fire going in the fire pit. Don’t forget your costumes!
Here’s a no-pressure solution to pulling the ones you love together without making too much of a fuss.


Designate a table for pumpkins (outside ideally) an cover it to make your cleanup easy. You don’t have to be an artisan to carve a pumpkin, just have fun! For a change, stay away from scary faces: try stripes, polka dots and even words. Instead of going through the top of the pumpkin, try cutting an access hole into the bottom. I used a round linoleum-cutting tool from a local craft store to puncture holes in my pumpkin. After I’d covered it in perforations, I stuffed the pumpkin with a strand of white Christmas lights and stuck lights through each of the holes; the cord running out the bottom.

Invite your guests inside for a little fire-side dinner and drinks. I made a simple butternut squash soup the night before and garnished it with shredded roast turkey, creme fresh, cracked pepper, a drizzle of truffle oil and chives. We whipped up some “Blood Transfusion” cocktails (a take on Martha Stewart’s spiked grape punch) topped off with a pair of eyeballs (peeled grapes).

Then onto s’mores around the fire-pit…

Have a great Halloween and don’t be too spooked to throw it together last minute! xx Mere

Hypertufa Potting Party

Photography by Laura Moss, styling by Meredith McBride Kipp

Now that the hectic summer is behind us, it’s a great time to catch up with friends over an outdoor art project. Eccentric artist/collectors Jorge & Katie Lengyel invited a few pals (along with photographer Laura Moss and me) to their custom-built swiss chalet on Lake Mohawk for an afternoon of crafting.

On the agenda: Hypertufa garden containers. Hypertufa is a material that looks a lot like cement (tufa is a volcanic rock found in nature) but quite a bit lighter in weight. It’s easy to do and you can use just about anything for a mold.

What you’ll need (you can find at Home Depot, a grocery store, or at home):
•    Rubber gloves
•    Dust mask (very important when working w/cement)
•    Perlite
•    Peat moss
•    Portland cement
•    Plastic tub (or wheelbarrow)
•    Water (nearby hose ideally)
•    Spray cooking oil
•    Mold  (box, nursery pot, large bowl, etc)
•    Plastic garbage bags
•    Large leaves or branches for surface texture (optional)
•    Wire brush

Martha Stewart’s (with my edits and additions) How-to Instructions:
1. Set up your mold(s) so they are ready to go and (if porous) line them with a plastic garbage bag. If they are smooth, non-porous surfaces, merely spray inside of mold with cooking oil. I was going for a Kelly Wearstler/mid-century shape, so I built my molds out of aluminum pie tins (with the centers cut out) and duct tape.

2. Wearing rubber gloves and a dust mask, mix 3 parts perlite, 3 parts peat moss, and 2 parts Portland cement in a plastic tub or wheelbarrow. Add water to tub, a bit at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of moist cottage cheese.

3. Push a handful of wet hypertufa mixture firmly against the bottom of the mold (if you are lining the mold with leaves or branches for texture make sure that goes in before the hypertufa). Repeat until you have made a bottom base that is approximately 1 inch thick. Push handfuls of wet hypertufa mixture firmly against the sides of container approximately 3/4 inches in thickness. Continue until rim of mold is reached. Press bottom and sides firmly to remove air pockets. I used a large soda bottle to help support and shape the inside of the vessel because of its height.

4. Create drainage hole by pushing finger or small dowell through the bottom of mold so that it penetrates the hypertufa mixture.
5. Cover with plastic bag, let dry for about 48 hours.
6. Take off plastic bag and remove pot from mold (pot with be slightly wet). Using a wire brush, rough up the surface of the hypertufa for a more rustic appearance. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks to cure completely. Now you’ll be all set for your early spring plantings!

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Hampton Designer Showhouse


Mark your calendars decor deal-finders and haute-hunters! Only one more week to go until Traditional Home’s annual Hampton Designer Showhouse has their online auction! A handful of special items from each designer will be auctioned off… and (a portion of) the proceeds will benefit Southampton Hospital.

A few weekends ago, my husband Ryerson and I attended the Gala Preview Party for the debut of the 2013 Hampton Designer Showhouse. The party was lively, the cocktails were flowing, the crowd was very glamorous and the interior design was exceptional.

Though we did not get to meet him, we saw Thom Felicia (if you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see him checking in). Upon arrival, we decided to see the house before checking out the outdoor party—which turned out to be a good game plan—and we moved through each room and meet all the designers with ease and sans traffic.

After passing through Celerie Kemble‘s grand but restful master bedroom, I spotted idol and decor celeb (and Honorary Showhouse Chairman), Mario Buatta. I immediately turned red and noted the lack of AC in the house. I’ve met Mr. Buatta probably 3 or 4 times now, but have never managed to have a satisfying conversation over the sound of my chattering teeth. This time was no better… He had an absurdly robust plume of chest hair protruding from the top of his neckline—normally buttoned and bow-tied—that I fought hard not to make eye-contact with while I reintroduced myself. I explained that I had just written a magazine column on him and his new retrospective (Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration, published by Rizzoli) that is about to come out. He seemed amused watching as I struggled with his practical joke (see photos below, it was indeed faux chest hair that came out later in the party). We parted ways—me reeling from missed opportunities of composure and humor—and bee-lined it for the bar.

The back yard was abustle with a lively, quintessential Hamptons summer party crowd. After procuring a cocktail, we had the pleasure of bumping into another of my interior design idols, Vicente Wolf, and his friend (also a well-known interior designer) Matthew Yee. We were engaging in a nice little chat (everything my Buatta conversation was not) until—out of nowhere—Vicente & Matthew sprang away! Before I could worry about what I’d said, the lawn sprinkler soaked my lower half, and I too leapt backwards (before it got my white silk shirt) and watched in shock as women (and men) screamed and ran. Gowns got soaked, seersucker wilted, and white linen pants became see-through. It was hilarious. And a blessing in disguise? I think so: it was over 100°F and wildly humid out.

After that, it was time to go. Plenty of excitement for one decor party night.


ABOVE: Lillian August‘s cheerful and punchy dining room. I love the painting on the back wall by Julie Headland.
BELOW: Bakes and Company‘s kitchen with outrageous countertops and custom refrigerators and freezer drawers (shown bottom left). Hot!

Below (3 photos) of Patricia Fisher Design‘s sitting area and breakfast nook. The saffron and light grey with pops of bright green were a refreshing and inviting combo.


Below (2) photos taken from upstairs of the guests cruising through the entry foyer by Michael Herold Design, and the living room by Brian del Toro Inc.

Brady Design‘s beautiful and serene guest room/tv room. The hand-crafted mattress upholstered in baby alpaca was the inspiration for the room, as it could be used as a lounge during the winter OR covered with sheets during the guest-ing season.

Alan Court & Associates‘s (Alan shown below) created a stunning guest bath with stone and leather walls! I had to touch.

Barbara Page Home‘s playful guest room overlooking the backyard had dramatic photography from Robin Rice Gallery

Celerie Kemble‘s master bedroom with charcoal seagrass walls and pops of turquoise and blue hues.
The charming Mr. Mario Buatta, before and after my chest shrug run-in. I guess he got too hot! Here’s a link to the piece I wrote about his book that comes out in September

Below is my favorite room in the house, by Bradley Stephens, Stephens Design Group (photo courtesy of KDHamptons.com). These masculine quarters share a 2-sided fireplace with the master bedroom and the ceiling (though you can’t tell from the photo) covered in a fabulous, distressed-wood wallpaper. Bradley said it was a painstaking job, but added so much to the room that it was worth the effort. The room was eclectic and handsome and had a wonderful mix of art and artifacts, including an dissected lobster, similar to one I saw a few years back in the world-famous taxidermist, Deyrolle (one of my favorite places in Paris).

Michael Mariotti’s glamorous master bath with patterned seagrass walls, ornate tiling, and a beautiful leather bench with flocatti throw.

Sherrill Canet Interior’s Morroccan-inspired family room for Pearson (where all the furniture and textiles are from). Sherrill laid all the mirrors out on the ground in the middle of a market in Morrocco in order to visualize them in this comfortable and graphic room!

Ken Gemes’s casual outdoor dining area facing the backyard party

The lively outdoor party

One of the aforementioned fashion-foiling sprinklers (below left); and the guests running from the scene (below right). My sad, wet, bejeweled shoes (not shown)
Click here for Editor at Large’s video coverage of the event with Traditional Home’s stylish Tory Mellot (who I worked w/at Elle Decor) doing interviews.
To read about other fabulous Hamptons events (and laugh hysterically), check out my cousin Ted Kruckel’s most recent BizBash column, “This Year’s Hamptons Events: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous”

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