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Weekend Recap: Miami

Miami is only about 4 hours or so away from Tampa, yet it's a city both Brittany and I rarely visit. So when I discovered I had to appear in person at the Italian consulate to secure my Visa to live in Italy this spring, we decided to make it a mini vacation. We found a relatively inexpensive little boutique hotel in south beach called the Townhouse (relatively, because everything is expensive down there), packed our swimsuits, and headed out early Saturday morning. 

Miami is a strange place. It is nothing like the rest of Florida and you feel as if you have entered a foreign country when you arrive. It is arguably the most European city in the U.S., and for that I love it! The crazy fashion, however, I do not love... so, so many rhinestones and cut-away dresses! But the vibe of the city is intoxicating - the people watching is second to none, and the outdoor Cuban, Italian, and a myriad of other global cuisines more than makes up for the crazy traffic, hoards of tourists, and high prices. I mean it is the only place in the U.S. I have found fresh Burata, which is a special Italian cheese that is basically mozzarella mixed with cream!

Our hotel had a roof-top bar and it was fabulous. Nothing like a tall glass of rosé overlooking South Beach.

After settling into our hotel Saturday, Britt and I hit the beach. We took a long stroll up and down South Beach, which is known for its length and crowds. This makes for excellent beach exercise and of course our favorite pastime in Miami - people watching!

After the beach, we headed to the rooftop bar for a pre-dinner drink and then walked to Lincoln Road Mall (a huge outdoor shopping and dinning area) for dinner and more people watching. It is so nice to be back in a city where you can walk to dinner and sit outside. In true European style, the eateries are small with ample cafe tables spilling outside into the large pedestrian area. There is a huge Italian community in Miami, so in addition to amazing Cuban and Spanish food, you can also enjoy authentic Italian food.

My new favorite dress. It is perfect for travel.

We returned to the beach Sunday morning for another walk on the beach and quick dip in the ocean (it is the perfect temperature this time of year). Once I started frying in the sun, which takes about 20 minutes, we packed it up and headed back into town for some more exploring.

For lunch we walked to a hole-in-the-wall Cuban cafe, La Playa Cafe. We pigged out on meals we could barely pronounce and downed cafés con leches. To work off our lunch we walked south to the Wolfsonian. A museum dedicated to all things modern. 

The museum explores what it means to be modern. It has a great collection of objects, pictures, pamphlets, advertisements, and technology that documents how society has changed since the Industrial Revolution (#historynerds). My favorite was the gallery wall of old Aids awareness and safe sex posters (you know me, I love a great gallery wall!).

For dinner that night, we kept it casual and tried a local French sandwich place that everyone raves about. And they were right, La Sanwicherie was delicious! While there is plenty of fine dining in Miami, we prefer to discover more unique local places. We may or may not have spent the rest of that evening relaxing in our hotel room and streaming the second season of the Jersey Shore (you know, because it was set in Miami and I had to get up super early the next morning).

Monday morning I woke up bright and early to get to the consulate and secure my Visa (I promise to share the full details of that process later). Afterwards we hit the beach one last time (and downed some more Cuban coffee) before hitting the road back to Tampa to beat the traffic. All in all it was a great little getaway and it made both of us wonder why we don't visit Miami more often!

Anyone else been to Miami? What is your favorite thing about Miami?

Ashley B
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Happy Birthday HinHH: One Year of Blogging

September 17th marked the one year anniversary of History in High Heels. And I forgot about it!

I realized this last weekend as I was playing around with the blog's design and layout (do you like the new look?).  Once I realized it had been an entire year, I started reflecting on blogging and what I have learned over the past year. Ultimately I asked myself, "Does blogging offer a healthy, constructive outlet for my narcissism, or does it just make it worse?" Haha I'm kidding... well mostly.

I started History in High Heels for a couple reasons - I was sad that my closest girlfriend was leaving me for 10 months, I was feeling artistically (and fashionably) stifled by the world of academia, and I was looking for a fun and creative outlet. What I didn't realize was that starting a blog was the easy part, maintaining a blog takes a lot of work!

Turns out blogging was just the hobby I needed. It allowed me to express myself, forced me to write almost every day, and served as a platform to promote my Etsy store. I also hope that this blog has inspired other young women to challenge society's notions of what it means to be intelligent and feminine/fashionable... and to travel more (even if you have to do so alone).

So what I have I learned over the past year? A ton! Too much to talk about in one post, and some deeper personal things that I don't think I can articulate just yet (I will try later, I promise). But I must receive emails and Tumblr asks every week inquiring about tips for starting a blog. So here are my tips and general rules I try to follow as I blog:

Blog for yourself
Unless you are hired to write a blog (for a company or news outlet), you shouldn't start a blog unless you are doing it for your own personal growth and/or satisfaction - not to get free clothes or gain followers (although these things are nice). The perks of blogging take a long time to come, and if you aren't blogging because you love it, you will be very frustrated after six months of hard work when no one is commenting, sending you free clothes, and you haven't gained much of a following. Plus readers can tell if you are simply seeking sponsorship.

Blogging is a world unto its own - a.k.a the Blogosphere
Like any hobby or interest, blogging has its own cliches, niches, and communities. At some point entering, networking, and interacting with this world will be unavoidable. And while like with other communities it comes with its own critics and negativities, it also allows you to connect and interact with other great bloggers and readers. If you become really serious about it, there are all sorts of blogging conferences and workshops, as well as blog associations and online forums. My advice, enter carefully and try not to get too caught up in it.

Blogs are easy to start, but very hard to maintain.
A blog is a great idea. Turning that great idea into a reality, however, is extremely time consuming. So if you want to blog, make sure you can commit the time. Successful blogs post well-written and meaningful content regularly.

Have something of value to say
I try to always post something of value. What do I mean by "something of value?" I mean that I only want to create and post original content that gives something meaningful to my readers. I don't know about you, but I get so frustrated with blogs that throw up some pictures from Pinterest and discuss them, or fashion blogs that feature a simple t-shirt and jeans. I always think that I could easily search Pinterest and I can certainly pair a T-shirt with jeans (of course if you aren't a fashion blogger, there is nothing wring with a t-shirt and jeans!).

Try to offer insights, ideas, or outfit ensembles that are unique and reflect you. What personal experiences or knowledge do you have that can benefit others by sharing? While I will admit not every post of mine is a winner, I really make an effort to create meaningful and original content that provides some sort of value to those who read it. Case in point, my most popular posts are my packing, DIY decorating, and travel/study abroad posts.

The details matter
The layout of your blog, the header, your images, and the usability of your blog... these all matter. Invest some time into learning how to use your blogging platform, how to properly size and name images, or add useful widgets to your blog. All of these are easy Google searches! A couple of quick tips - avoid cluttered layouts, pop-up ads, auto-play music, and dark backgrounds.

Promote yourself on social media
How will people find your blog once you start? Social media! You must connect with lots of social media platforms if you want to get your blog out there. The biggest traffic driving source for HinHH is Pinterest. So I make a point to have several good pictures in every post so that I and others can pin it. Instagram is my favorite social media platform, but drives less traffic.

Don't ask for followers
Ok, confession time. It drives me nuts when I see comments on blog posts, Instragram pics, and Tumblr posts asking for followers. I'm sorry, but it seems so desperate. And I really hate when people delete my caption on my Tumblr posts and add a link to their Tumblr or blog. I think if you are producing quality content, you won't have to solicit followers, they will want to follow you! And at the end of the day aren't those the kind of followers you want? Finally don't just follow a blog, Insta, or Tumblr with the expectation of getting the follow back. If you build it, they will come (cheesy, but true)!

Have you ever thought about starting a blog? 

If you have a blog, what tips would you give about blogging?

Ashley B
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Weekend Reading

This morning Brittany and I are headed to Miami for a quick girls weekend/get Ashley's Visa. You can follow our sun-soaked adventures on Instagram. In the meantime here is some weekend reading:

A great article on how one woman's closet clean out helped her embrace her body image (see I told you it's important to clean out your closet!).

In case you missed it, there are new arrivals in the printshop!

These might be the most adorable oxford booties for fall (and they are super comfy).

How to remove every kind of stain.

I have fallen in love with this red cape.

Zara's fall scarf collection is on point, as always (I bought this one), and here is a great video on how to style them.

Hands down the best eye brow pencil ever created.

I recently signed up for The Skimm (thanks to Mackenzie Horan's interview) and I love it! I receive daily, down to earth emails about the most important stuff happening around the world.

One of my favorite guilty pleasure reads - Jezebel's weekly tabloid recap.

Moschino's Spring show was Barbie themed. It's totally nuts, and I love it!

Great post from the Man Repeller about why she doesn't wear makeup. The best question she asks, "why do you wear makeup?" Hint - it should be for yourself and not because society tells you to!

Finally, my guide to mixing prints!

Buon Weekend!

Ashley B
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Bedroom Gallery Wall

I think it is safe to say I have a gallery wall problem. I have one in my living room, one behind my desk, and now, one in my bedroom. Basically if there is a large enough space, I am compelled to fill it with a gallery wall (if only I had a bigger wall in the kitchen).

Before my latest gallery wall, the space above my bed was empty, with just a simple (and slightly warped) mirror. While mirrors are a great way to open up small spaces, I wanted something a little more creative. I was also really excited about my latest prints and wanted to display them! I love the result, I think it really livens up the room!

I have given some tips on how to compose and arrange a gallery wall in the past, but I thought I would share my secret for actually hanging the frames. It is so simple, yet so brilliant. You know those annoying pieces of paper that come inside the frames (sometimes they are pictures of random people or inserts describing the frame's dimensions)? Well stop throwing them away! They are perfect for planning and hanging your wall.

I take these inserts (with some painter's tape) and play around with my arrangement (always asymmetrical of course... it's just more interesting). It allows you to perfect your arrangement without drilling holes or spending extra time cutting the dimension of your frame out of craft paper, which is a great idea, I am just lazy. Once you have your arrangement just right (keeping in mind these inserts are slightly smaller than the frame), I simply line my picture hanger at the top of the insert, hammer, and voila, a great gallery wall!

Happy Friday!

PS - Here is the full tour of my bedroom and my closet.

Ashley B
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Preppy Printshop: New Arrivals

I am really excited about the latest arrivals to the Preppy Printshop! I have branched out a bit and created three kitchen themed prints (of course they would also work in other rooms). I love that they are a little tongue in cheek and I personally relate to each one!

In addition to the kitchen prints, I have also added a new fashion capital print (this time celebrating the lady-like style I associate with Paris), a fabulous pair of bow-back Louboutins (I can't afford them, but I can hang them on my wall!), a fun pattern play themed print (I told you gingham and leopard was my new favorite combo), and finally I immortalized my fabulous new Kate Spade bow coat in a watercolor print!

Which is your favorite?

PS - Check back tomorrow for a look at my new gallery wall above my bed and some quick tips for hanging your own gallery wall.

Ashley B
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The Shopping Bag

Sometimes I find myself in a fashion rut - shopping at the same store and looking like I walked out of their catalogue (ahem... J.Crew). I like being creative with my clothing and trying new things, but when life gets hectic, I tend to turn what I know will work for me. Recently I've been feeling like I need to branch out and find new places to shop. So when The Shopping Bag reached out to me, I was excited to see what they had. 

The Shopping Bag is an online boutique that carries a variety of adorable clothing, accessories, and housewares (check out these amazing picture frames). I wasn't sure what I was looking for until I spotted this cute ruffle-hem pink romper (also love this one). Talk about getting out of my rut! I decided to go for it, what can I say I am a sucker for pink ruffles (it also might be the most comfortable piece of clothing I own)!

Too many people assume that rompers are hard to wear. But I find that as long as you treat them as a dress, styling a romper is easy. And although rompers are more of a summer style, you can easily add a blazer to transition them into fall (navy of course, because pink and navy is always a good idea).

romper // blazer (old, similar) // clutch // earrings // necklace // pink bracelet // leopard bracelet (old, similar)

In addition to the romper, The Shopping Bag also sent me these great pink studs and double-strand necklace. I love delicate necklaces that fall just at your collar bone, almost as much as I love jewelry that looks way more expensive than it is!

So if you are looking for a new online boutique definitely check out The Shopping Bag, and bonus, if you use the code "HISTORYINHIGHHEELS" you will receive 25% off your order!

Happy Shopping!
Ashley B
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#PatternPlay: How to Mix Prints and Patterns

You all know how much I love to mix prints and patterns. But my ability to mix prints wasn't born overnight. While I have never been a muted dresser, I got a lot bolder in my pattern plays when I started doing the 30 X 30 wardrobe challenges and dressing out of one suitcase during my summers abroad. Thanks to a more limited wardrobe, I began trying to combine my clothes in new and exciting ways (some of my favorite combos here, here, and here). When the pattern mixing trend really took off, I completely embraced it!

So I thought I would share some of my rules for mixing prints and patterns. It's nothing ground-breaking, but I hope it inspires you to be a little more daring when you walk into your closet each morning. No lie, after I sat down and attempted to write up my "rules" for how I go about mixing prints, I immediately ran to my closet to test my theories.

I wanted to pull older, well-worn pieces that I wasn't that excited about anymore and transform them with the guidelines I had written. I kid you not, I was so excited about the outfits I created that evening (and pictured here), I had trouble falling asleep later that night (yes, I am that ridiculous!). But I wanted to prove to you all (and myself) that thanks to some creative pattern play you can transform older, less exciting items in your closet!

Color Mixing:
Colors can be combined in many different ways. Stop thinking about matching colors and instead select colors that "go." Colors "go" or coordinate in four main ways (all based on the color wheel):

  • Monochromatic Matching (or wearing colors of the same hue). Pairing varying shades of the same hue - purple, lavender, lilac, violet - looks great together without being overly matchy-matchy.
  • Complimentary Colors (colors on the opposite end of the color wheel). Complimentary colors like blue and orange add great contrast and interest to outfits. They complement each other by being opposites.
  • Color Triads (three colors evenly spaced on the color wheel). You can also select three colors that are equal distance from one another on the color wheel. Shades of green, orange, and purple look great together, especially as pops of colors.
  • Analogous Colors (three colors located next to each other on the color wheel). You can also select one main color and accent it with two adjacent colors on the color wheel.

My Print Mixing "Rules:"
Of course, rules are made to be broken!
  • Rule #1 - Treat monochromatic patterns as solid colors.
  • Rule #2 - When combining two multi-color patterns, make sure you have one unifying color. You should coordinate colors, not prints.
  • Rule #3 - Leopard is a neutral (so is white, navy, grey, black, and beige).
  • Rule #4 - Try to vary the sizes and scales of your prints.
  • Rule #5 - More is more, why stop at two patterns when you can combine three?
  • Rule #6 - Break the rules and try on lots of combinations, sometimes things just work together!
Finally, I created a pin-able chart as a pattern play reference guide:

I hope that this inspires you to go bold and mix the pieces of your wardrobe in new and exciting ways. And if you need more inspiration, my favorite Pinterest board is my pattern play board!

Happy Monday!

Ashley B
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Weekend Freebie: For the Love of Bows

I am still reeling from the purchase of Kate Spade my bow coat last week. I really don't think I will ever grow tired of a well placed bow. To celebrate my current bow obsession, I created this fun watercolor print. Not only would this print be a sweet addition to any gallery wall, but I think it would also make an adorable digital wallpaper! Just save, print, and frame (or save as your wallpaper)!

Happy Sunday!

PS - Your freebie suggestions were heard and I am working on a NYC themed one (stay tuned)!

Ashley B
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Outfit: A Well Placed Bow

I know I have said it before, but I am still in awe and ever so grateful at how well received my prints have been! Never in my wildest dreams did I think so many people would love my creations as much as I do, and I really didn't think it would provide a little extra cash flow. I mean, when I started I was worried I wouldn't sell anything. Flash forward eight months and I'm trying to decide what to do with my profits! It's not like it's enough to quit my day job or anything, but it's definitely enough to splurge on something special - something I would have never been able to purchase before.

I thought about bags and boots, but I really wanted to find something really unique. A couple weeks ago when I walked into Kate Spade I saw her and knew she had to be mine - the Deco Dot Dorothy Coat! At that point I didn't have quite enough, but with just a couple more weeks of saving, I knew she would be mine.

I had lusted over the coral version of the Dorothy coat last year, but I love this latest version even more, because instead of a thick coat fabric it is more of a rain slick. The color is also unique. It is not quite black and not quite navy, but more of a cool-toned charcoal, which makes it super easy to style and wear. Of course the best feature is the well-placed bow!

It is definitely the nicest thing I have ever owned and I feel like a million bucks wearing it. Can't you just see it strolling the streets of Paris in the spring? I thought I would feel major remorse buying this coat, but I really didn't (I did use my 20 percent off coupon and my student discount, so that's something right?). Now that I have gotten this indulgence out of my system, I will return to my normal shopping addiction and reinvest my profits, but for now I just want to bask in my glorious purchase!

What is your favorite item that you've splurged on?

Ashley B
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9 Pieces, 9 Ways

I have to admit that when I first viewed J.Crew's October new arrivals, I wasn't very excited. My first thought was "why so much gray?" As a whole the collection felt dreary, but when I started isolating the pieces I liked, I began realizing the beauty was in the collection's details. And don't even get me started on the Dutch Floral pattern, just gorgeous!

One of the perils of online shopping is that you often miss the details - intricate herringbone and houndstooth become a sea of muted grays. Fortunately if you click on the color swatch for any item on J.Crew's website, a detailed image of just the item, sans-model, appears. I often find that I like a particular piece a lot more when I view it this way. Of course there is always the option of visiting the retail store in person, but if your J.Crew is anything like mine, I am often frustrated because they never received the items I loved online in store!

So today I am highlighting my favorite pieces from the collection with a 9 X 9 post -- nine pieces styled in nine different ways!

When paired with the vibrant Dutch Floral print, the gray plaid, tweed, and herringbone patterns make perfect sense and really allow the pattern to pop. I love it because it reminds me of the beautiful still-life paintings of the seventeenth-century Dutch Golden Age, which I am sure inspired the print. Fun history fact, three Dutch women made a name for themselves in this genre on painting, which was no small feat in the 17th century (and their work is my favorite!). These pants will be a must the next time I am strolling the Dutch painting section of the Uffizi lol.

Which new arrivals are you loving?

Ashley B
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I feel like the past couple weeks have been a complete whirlwind. I have been running around like a crazy person studying for comps, filling Etsy orders, starting exciting new projects, and completing grant applications, all while trying to eat better and workout more... phew! So I thought I should take a moment and update you on the "goings on."

top (similar) // sweater (similar) // skirt // monogrammed necklace 

My biggest priorities right now are my comps prep (a.k.a comprehensive exams... a.k.a. a torturous right of passage) and my research grant applications. This comprehensive exam is my last major step before I transition to focusing solely on writing "the dissertation." After I (hopefully) pass this 3-day written exam, I will return to Italy to continue researching. That's where the grant proposals come in. I am applying to extend my stay in Italy so I can have the time I need to research extensively and write, write, write! No pressure, just the future of my career dangling on whether or not an anonymous committee selects my application from a huge pile of other incredible applicants (you can read more about how to craft a successful personal statement here)! But all I can do is present my work and hope for the best (fingers crossed)!

denim jacket // tee  // pants (on sale!) // sandals

In addition to school work, I have been desperately trying to keep up with my Etsy orders (not complaining, I am SO grateful!) while also trying to come up with some new prints! Fortunately my latest kitchen project and recent clothing purchases have inspired me. Expect lots of gingham, leopard, and pink, as well as some fun fashion illustrations in the next release! And don't forget, I love to see what you do with your Preppy Printshop prints. Make sure you hashtag #preppyprintshop and tag me @historyinhighheels on Instagram.

Surprisingly, despite my heavy school load, my workouts have not suffered. But that is really thanks to Britt. Working out and cooking with my bestie has made all of the difference when it comes to sticking to my new healthy routine (I am telling you, don't go it alone!).

tee // shorts (old) // sandals // bag

I don't know about you, but I am very excited for the return of TV this week. I have definitely OD-ed on Netflix binge-watching, but it has been a fun month of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (#nojudgement). The shows I am looking forward to the most are The Mindy Project, The Blacklist, Scandal, Big Bang Theory, and New Girl. What shows are you excited to watch?

In just a couple of weeks I have to go to the Italian consulate in Miami to apply for my Visa for the spring. Since I have to go, I figured why not make it a mini vacation? Britt and I have booked an adorable boutique hotel and we are looking forward to a fun long weekend soaking up all the sun, surf, nightlife, and great food Miami has to offer. But mostly I am excited for the Cuban coffee!

In other big news (well kind of), I was so excited to discover on Sunday that Buzzfeed featured my Ikea barcark hack! It was pretty exciting to see my post as I scrolled through Buzzfeed! You can check out the article, which is full of great Ikea hacks, here.

Thanks for checking in!

Ashley B
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One Vest, Six Ways!

After last week's outfit post featuring J.Crew Factory's new adorable gingham vest, a couple of people on Instagram commented that while they loved the vest, they wondered just how versatile it would be. Not one to back down from a challenge, I couldn't resist styling this vest in as many ways I could think of (and I probably could have created a couple more!). It looks great with pops of color, chambray, stripes, and even a little gingham-on-gingham action. Personally, I think the vest is very versatile, but I have never been a subdued dresser! 

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

The pop of pink is my personal favorite, although the gingham-on-gingham is really fun! If these combinations are a bit too bold for you, this vest would look great with white, navy, and chambray. You could dress it down with jeans or pair it with a fun flirty skirt. I might be biased but I think it's a great (and, as you can see, versatile) addition to any wardrobe!

How would you wear this vest?

Ashley B
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Weekend Reading

It's the weekend (finally) and here's a little light reading and online shopping to help you enjoy it!

Love, love, loved this Hello Giggles article on "girly feminism." Note the part where they defended fashion as a legitimate interest/hobby for successful women, because "nobody blinks an eye at smart men losing their minds over football." TRUTH!

In case you missed it, my favorite item for fall, this gingham vest, is finally available for purchase online!

Loving this bow clutch with a purpose (Maria from Rwanda made mine!).

Swooning over this Marc Jacobs ensemble, just not the price tag. I am hoping I can recreate it for less.

Speaking of clothing and fashion, did you catch my closet tour and tips for purging and organizing your closet?

I've been laughing my way through Corals and Cognacs hilarious recaps of New York fashion week (day 1, day 2).

I've also been working on decorating my kitchen and have been brainstorming cute kitchen prints. I have created this one so far (also above), and would love to hear your suggestions!

Cauliflower rice is a thing... and surprisingly delicious!

The best part about the Kate Spade NFW presentation? Definitely the themed bags, cannot wait to get my hands on this one next spring!

In case you're wondering, I finally decided on these Warby Parker frames.

And finally, this might be the greatest movie on Netflix and the user reviews are priceless.

Have a great weekend!

Ashley B
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Outfit: Gingham, Stripes, and Leopard... Oh My!

Remember that amazing gingham puffer vest I bought at J.Crew Factory over Labor Day weekend? Well it is finally available online! Once again, I couldn't wait to style it, so I braved the Florida heat and humidity to snap some pics. Following this shoot, however, I immediately came home, stripped, and proclaimed that I was never wearing clothes again lol. But I still contend this vest was completely worth it and I can't wait to wear it!

I can't even begin to describe all of the amazing plans I have for this vest... I mean what won't it go with? Fair warning, prepare to see this vest, this jacket, and this hat all season long!

What are you excited to wear this fall?

PS - Gingham and leopard are officially my new favorite #patternplay
Ashley B
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