Minecraft Birthday Party

My son, Will, wanted a Minecraft birthday a few years ago. It was when Minecraft first came out and there weren’t very many things you could buy in the store, besides some items that went with Halloween costumes. So I pretty much had to piece this party together using those items and custom Etsy items. The party was a HUGE hit. I started with an invite I found on Etsy. If you’ve read my other party posts, I love using Red Barn Studios on Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/RedBarnDesignStudio), because she can pretty much make anything you want. willbirthday

For the main decor, I pieced together a few different items to complete the look I wanted. I purchased some “grass” (www.amazon.com/Green-Grass-Tissue-Party-Accessory/dp/B004L6L79W/ref=pd_sim_ac_3) to use as a base for this table and my dining room table. Then 2 halloween “masks” – a creeper and Steve from Minecraft (www.amazon.com/Minecraft-Steve-Creeper-Exclusive-Costume/dp/B00A9YJU7G/ref=sr_1_3?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1473186923&sr=1-3&keywords=creeper+head). And the Minecraft pick axe (you can find them now at Walmart, Target, Amazon). I thought it would be great decor, but the kids could play with it too. Then I just tried to find candy that resembled things in the video game. So: “pillows” (pillow mints), “dynamite” (red licorice), “rocks” (chocolate rocks), & “diamonds” (blue rock candy). I put them in different containers with labels on them, and then just printed little TNT labels for the licorice. The kids had gift bags and were able to fill them with the candy shown.twins-9th-birthday-parties-april-2013-021twins-9th-birthday-parties-april-2013-022march-may-2013-183

Then the dinner table. Grass, Steve head and a brown plastic table cloth (for dirt). march-may-2013-184

Gift bags. Custom labels with a necklace and cookie and room for the candy from above. march-may-2013-190


We found this awesome, free printable board game. You can find it here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bxx5h8X8MfR0VnlDVFA2aTQ2NVk . I downloaded it and had it sent to Walgreens and printed on their poster board. Then just printed the directions and pieces myself. The kids had a blast. They played this game, as well as played the Minecraft video game. march-may-2013-189

Unfortunately this pictures is a little blurry. But here’s my son Will, with his minecraft shirt and the cake. Making the cake was pretty easy. We just baked a cake and then used white and red fondant to create the look below. Everyone loved it. Minecraft success. march-may-2013-213


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Candy Buffet Birthday Party

Candy, candy, candy. Who doesn’t love candy? Although in hindsight … probably not the best idea to have so much sugar at a birthday party that is also a sleepover. Lol. Oh man. I learned my lesson for sure.

I’m not even sure where the idea of a candy buffet party came from to be honest. But, somehow that’s what ended up happening. It really was fun for the girls and pretty simple to do. We found an invite on Etsy that we loved and it turned out so perfect. emmasbirthday

I found random jars of all different sizes and shapes first. I got mine from Michaels and Ikea and a couple I already had. Then I purchased chalk labels/stickers from Michaels (with their wedding crafts) and put one on each container to label with chalk once I had the candy for each. I purchased candy from different places, once I finished trying to find the cheapest places or items. I ended up using a mix of Michaels, Oriental Trading, Dollar Tree and Nuts.com.The girls got to fill a bag with the candy they wanted and take it home as a party favor. march-may 2013 150 Decor was easy. Besides the candy buffet, we just had the dining room table set up. The girls had pizza for dinner and then I made Bubblegum Floats (http://www.ladybehindthecurtain.com/bubble-gum-floats). Yes… more sugar. Lol. But so fun for the girls to have. march-may 2013 163

You can find the table decor here: http://www.birthdaydirect.com/candy-express-party-package-for-p-37781.html , with just another candy filled jar for a centerpiece. march-may 2013 154

And lets not leave out dessert… of course more candy. Cotton candy cupcakes. My sister in law made these yummy cupcakes (http://www.cookingclassy.com/2015/07/cotton-candy-cupcakes). Let me tell you, those girls didn’t want any more sugar after that party, and for quite some time. twins' 9th birthday parties april 2013 005

That’s the year she got an American Doll for her birthday. She’d been wanting one for so long and she seemed old enough that we thought she could take care of it. She was so happy! The whole party was a success (but there will be no more sugar birthdays in our future – this mama was sugared out). march-may 2013 228


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Chocolate Spa Party

If I haven’t mentioned it before, my daughter and I normally come up with her party themes together. She normally says things she’d like and then we go from there – brainstorming and planning and now of course that includes creating a Pinterest board of ideas. We are the only girls in our house, so it’s definitely something we enjoy and bond over. Originally she wanted to take her friends and go to a place to get pedicures. That was so expensive and they would just get pedicures and leave, nothing to take with them and then we’d still have to figure out dessert. So we decided we’d bring the spa to us, with a little twist – Chocolate! We started researching how to make our own face masks and scrubs. And so this party was born.

We used Google a lot! First I googled “water images” and then found one I liked and copied it to Word, so that I could add words and make labels or stickers, etc with it. I already had some empty picture frames too, but you could buy cheap ones at Ikea or Dollar Tree. I started with the entry . . . wanted it to be just like going to the spa. Flowers, candles and spa services.

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Then we set up stations based on the spa services we listed. For some odd reason I didn’t take a picture of the chocolate facials when I took this pic, but I have a pic of the girls wearing it. 🙂  We had a facial station where we did chocolate facials (http://tidymom.net/2013/chocolate-facial-recipe), with cucumbers for their eyes. I just used the same image that I had copied to word and printed them out on large label paper, and attached them to candles I already had. April 2012 birthday 022

And a pedicure station. The girls got to pick out their color toenail polish, then we used that for the pedicure but it was also part of their gift bag. My sister in law and I called the girls over in sets of 3 and soaked their feet in plastic tubs with water (that I got at Dollar Tree) and then we used the homemade scrub on their feet and some chocolate lotion we found for cheap at Walmart and painted their toes. April 2012 birthday 023

Here’s the spa set up. This is where the nail polish was that they could choose from. After they were done with their stations, they got to put together their gift bag – one from everything shows. We had:

  • Homemade bath salts. We used this recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/265388/body-scrub . My daughter and I made some batches of this a day or two before her party and then packaged it in little party favor bottles that we found at Michaels and just bought sticker/labels that we put on the front of each and wrote on. 
  • Nail files. I think we found these at Target, but you can find anywhere.
  • Lip gloss.
  • Nail polish. Found these on sale at Walgreens.
  • Sleep masks. These were in the Dollar Spot at Target. Great find!
  • Toe spacers. Found at Dollar tree.
  • Pink gift bags with homemade labels. Found at Dollar Tree (pk of 12 for $1).April 2012 birthday 024

Here’s a few images of the girls with their face masks and pedicures.April 2012 birthday 048April 2012 birthday 045

Then it was on to yummy snacks and desserts. Chocolate dipped/flavored everything! April 2012 birthday 019

She was one happy girl. And the party was a huge hit!April 2012 birthday 051

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Star Wars 5th Birthday Party

I can’t believe my youngest is 5. CRAZY. He’s entering Kindergarten in just a few short days. Although I’ve been looking forward to this, it’s still hard to believe it’s already here. His 5th birthday party was a blast. JT is all into Star Wars. He’s seen all the movies and LOVES them all. So planning this party was fun.

Invitations: Red Barn Studios is amazing. She is so creative. She made this invite as well as some custom decals for this party. You can contact her here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RedBarnDesignStudio?ref=profile_shopicon . My son loves Darth Vader so we figured this was the perfect invitation. Summer1

We found this awesome R2D2 balloon at Oriental Trading (http://www.orientaltrading.com/r-d-airwalkers-mylar-balloon-a2-13745793.fltr?Ntt=r2d2) who was perfect for a front door decoration. I found the Star Wars balloons on Ebay. I bought my son a Star Wars shirt from Target and then had T&T Apparel customize the back of the shirt with these decals. They do great customized decals for any event. Contact them here: Www.tandtapparel.etsy.com . IMG_1394

I found this free printable garland on Pinterest. I just bought colored paper at the craft store and printed each character out on the matching color. It was a great little touch.IMG_1254

Next fun touches: I bought the green bags at Michaels Craft Store and then added some custom decals from Red Barn Studios. The bubbles … I purchased at Walmart and just painted the handles with black spray paint and then put some silver duct tape on the ends to make them look like light sabers. Now that Pinata!! I had it custom made by someone here where I live. She did an amazing job!!! She doesn’t have a shop I can link, but if you want to contact her, I have her email, so just shoot me a message. IMG_1389

I found the hanging decorations at Party City. They were a great touch to fill some space. Then I used a black plastic tablecloth from Dollar Tree and some fabric from JoAnn Fabrics to put in the middle of each table. I’m going to add a few pictures here of the decorations inside for a closer look…. IMG_1376

The cups were used for the kids to drink from but also as party favors that they could take home. Red Barn Studios did the custom decals. I wanted orange cups, but sadly all that was left at Dollar Tree was the red. But it still worked out great. We had them fill the cups with Vader-ade (lemonade). They were a big hit. IMG_1370

The cake! I normally make my kids cake/cupcakes or have my sister in a law do it. But this year I wanted to try having one made. I found a great local baker “Cakes By Jessica” (https://www.facebook.com/cakerybyjessica/?fref=ts). Let me tell you – EVERYONE raved about this cake. It was delicious. The cupcakes were vanilla and the cake was marble. YUM! She created the exact look I was wanting. The #5 candle was the perfect touch. It lights up and flashes colors – much like a light saber (found at Walmart). IMG_1403IMG_1404IMG_1405

Food table: So much going on here. I found the Death Star inflatable beach ball on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/SwimWays-Star-Death-Light-up-Beach/dp/B00PNCIU7A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472671691&sr=8-1&keywords=SwimWays+Star+Wars+Death+Star+Light-up+Beach+Ball) and hung it from my dining room light. I also bought another one and let the kids play with it. The Darth Vader we already had, so it was a nice addition to the decor. I found free food printables on Pinterest (http://overthebigmoon.com/may-the-4th-be-with-you-ideas-and-free-food-printables/) and just kind of selected my food around the labels. The napkins looked like light sabers too, using a free printable (http://overthebigmoon.com/may-the-4th-be-with-you-ideas-and-free-food-printables/) and different colored napkins and plastic ware from Dollar Tree. IMG_1410

We knew we wanted to mainly keep the party outdoors … not knowing when we planned that it was going to be close to 100 degrees that day. Ugh. But we still decorated and tried to spend some time out there. Streamers, table top decor like inside and some photo props to help dress up the tables. IMG_1397

We had a couple posters that we hung outside. Then used more of the same balloons we had used inside. I already had the buckets and just used the printables from above, along with some mini Star Wars figures that my son had laying around. One bucket we used for juice boxes for the kids and the other for light sabers! Yay! This was a super awesome find. Walmart had them in their clearance department for less than $2 each. They came in 3 different colors and lit up and had sound too. What a steal!! So the kids got to “fight” with them during the party and then take them home as a party favor. Win Win! IMG_1399

By far this was the best part ……..My step son, his girlfriend and my daughter dressed up and played with the kids. So perfect (although we did forget to put the cape on – bummer). We have an awesome lady here in my town that has a room full of costumes and lends them out to anyone all year long. How awesome is that?? So we got to borrow all of those costumes for the party. The kids LOVED playing around with their light sabers and the characters. IMG_1414

Sorry for the blacked out pictures, but it was easier then asking everyone to post a pic of their kids. 🙂  But loved this epic battle pic. IMG_1453

It was a great party! JT had an amazing time and so did we. I’ll leave you with a few more pics from opening his presents, pinata and doing cake.


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A Surprise 40th Birthday Party

Now this was fun! Our neighborhood is amazing. There’s about 4 of us families that have become super close over the years. We take vacations (with and without kids) and spend time BBQ’ing and hanging out. My husband and I love this group of people so much.

So when my neighbor friend asked if I could help throw her husband a surprise 40th birthday party … of course the answer was yes! I’ve only thrown my own kids parties and not someone else, so it was a little stressful to try to figure out what all he might like. In the end, they both seemed happy (or what he remembers of it anyway .. lol).

Here is the party:

In the beginning I decided a theme of wood, paper, metal and chalkboard seemed like it would be fitting. I found this awesome customized printable (http://www.thebirthdaytimes.com). I printed it out and got it laminated at Office Max.


Outdoor table. I used brown craft paper that I found at Dollar Tree and black chalkboard paper from Michaels (www.michaels.com/recollections-chalkboard-paper-roll/10366137.html). For the centerpiece, I actually used beer growlers that I already had. I purchased some green fake leaves from Michaels craft store and then some real flowers the day of the party and stuck them in the growlers (one for each table). I wrapped some burlap around each growler so that you couldn’t see the logos on them. And then I lucked out by finding a few metal N’s (and “40”‘s for the other growlers) at Michaels in the clearance section for .25 cents each!! IMG_8208

Here’s a closer pic of the centerpieces. The candles are mini mason jars from Dollar Tree.


Oh and that cake!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE the cake! First .. I ordered a carrot cake from Whole Foods since the wife had told me that was his favorite cake. I searched google for a design of carrot cake that I liked and took that image in with me when I went to order it. They nailed it! Then I knew I wanted the cake topper to be a statement piece. I contacted Charlie Chalk Designs (they own an etsy shop and you can get custom wood items here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/293456077/yum-birthday-cake-toppers-childrens-1st?ref=shop_home_active_5) since they are local and I could just pick up what I wanted. I told them what I was looking for and they had this wooden “forty” ready for me in 2 days for $10! Lastly . . . the wood that the cake is sitting on. My husband actually had someone he knows cut that for him (you can also buy them at Michaels craft store) and then he sanded it and stained it with food grade stain/oil. It all together made for one beautiful cake!


We set up a couple folding tables and topped them with the brown paper. Then I put a centerpiece on there and these buckets http://www.walmart.com/ip/Better-Homes-and-Gardens-Ice-Bucket-Gray/43278027. I already had some chalkboard labels (you can get them at Michaels – of course..lol). So we labeled each bucket with different types of beer we had and filled them with the beer and ice. I did have some custom labels made as well and put one in each of the buckets –  just over the top of one of the beer labels. It made it a little more custom and special and I thought gave it a nice personal touch. I use Red Barn Studio for most of my custom invites, labels, etc. You can find her shop here and she does all things custom: http://www.etsy.com/shop/RedBarnDesignStudioIMG_8221

More personalized labels here. We put one on the large hard alcohol bottles for this table with an ice bucket so that people could make their own drinks. Under this table was a cooler with some mixers. IMG_8216

This was a fun little corner. We had the cake above for the adults and the cupcakes below for the kids. Chocolate and vanilla. I found the light up “N” on at Michaels and used one of their 40% off coupons http://www.michaels.com/make-market-led-letter-7in/M10462571.html?dwvar_M10462571_color=A#start=38 . I made the picture board myself. Just took a piece of wood we had laying around from an addition we did and painted it with black chalkboard paint. Then I attached bakers twine to each side and used clothesline clips from Dollar Tree to attach the pictures and wrote “40 years…” with a white chalk pen. So great, because the board can be used again and again.


Kids drink station. These great drink dispensers were from Big Lots. $15 each. We just attached little paper tags with the bakers twine. Then added in some stripped straws from Party City. IMG_8231

This part was one of my favs. We found this idea on Pinterest and loved it. A little snack station. We already had these jars, but you can buy them from Target (www.target.com/p/heritage-hill-glass-jar-2-gal/-/A-10620266#prodSlot=medium_1_19&term=large+glass+jar+with+lid) and you can get all different sizes. For this, we put burlap down instead of the brown paper, so that the jars wouldn’t accidentally slide around. Then we just tied some twine around them with the paper tags on them. This was a huge hit.


Main food table. Used the same table coverings & centerpiece as the other tables. Used a couple more wooden pieces for food serving and a metal serving tub we found at Walmart. The little flags were part of the custom order with the labels from Red Barn Studio (listed up above). The food was a mix of things we did ourselves and then some catering/take out for the meats.



This was a fun party to plan. It turned out just like I wanted … manly and modern.

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Paintball Party

My son, Will, who is Emma’s twin brother had a paintball party for his 12th birthday this year. I haven’t posted about this yet, but I share custody of 3 of my children with my ex-husband, their father. Typically when it’s the twins’ birthdays, him and I split them. I have our daughters at my house and he has our sons at either his house or wherever Will is wanting. So this year ,Will had a sleepover with 3 friends (plus his older brothers) at his dad’s and then they all went Paint balling the next morning.

This made my part pretty easy. I had the invitations made here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/278142514/1000-orders-sale-paintball-birthday?ga_search_query=paintball&ref=shop_items_search_1


Then I put together the party favors for his friends. I decided to make just something simple, since they are 12 & 13 year old boys, who honestly could probably care less about party favors … depending on what they are. Lol. So I bought these mini paint cans and filled them with different colored gum balls. I lucked out and got the paint cans on clearance at Michaels Craft Store for like .50 cents a piece. I can’t seem to find them online for you, but here is a similar item: http://www.orientaltrading.com/web/browse/processProductsCatalog?Nrpp=10000&sku=3%2F1568&BP=PS490&ms=search&source=google&cm_mmc=Google-_-242030648-_-20452920848-_-Bucket+Containers&cm_mmca1=OTC%2BPLAs&cm_mmca2=GooglePLAs&cm_mmca3=PS490&cm_mmca4=FS39&cm_mmca5=Shopping&cm_mmca6=PLAs&cm_mmc10=Shopping&cm_mmca11=3%2F1568&cm_mmca12=Bucket+Containers&gclid=Cj0KEQjw3-W5BRCymr_7r7SFt8cBEiQAsLtM8pGT-zQVP_z5KVnefr1Svem1vYCfGOjsSNoDttkV7DQaAjBt8P8HAQ&categoryId=377320&Nrpp=10000

I bought a yard of gumballs at Worldmarket:  http://www.worldmarket.com/product/yard+of+bubblegum.do?&from=Search . That filled the paint cans and gave the boys enough left over to have at the sleepover.


One thing my son wanted was some lanyards. This was a great/cute idea. So I asked the lady who makes all my invitations (see above) if she could make some and of course she could! They turned out exactly how my son and I wanted. Each boy had their own and we made sure that they weren’t specific to this party so that the boys could reuse them if they wanted in the future.


Since the actual sleepover was at my son’s dad’s house, I just had these items above, plus some table decor for him to set out. I found the tableware at Walmart. It was actually “tie dye”, but it worked perfectly for us since it looked like paint splatter. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Bright-Tie-Dye-9-Round-Dinner-Plate-10pk/37748841


After the sleepover they went Paint balling. We found an awesome Groupon that was like $25 for 6 to go all day at a local outdoor paint ball place. They provided all the gear and we just needed to purchase paintballs. Here’s the group… some are more than ready to go obviously. They had so much fun.


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Instagram Birthday Party

Didn’t my daughter just turn 11?? And now she just turned 12. Time seems to be flying by. As always, I let her choose her theme for her party and she chose Instagram. You are probably thinking the same thing as I was . . . “what in the heck do you do for an Instagram party??”

I spent a little time on Pinterest of course (well… a LOT of time actually) and then looked around on a few of my favorite party idea websites and at a couple stores and wa-lah, I came up with a few great ideas. This party was definitely fun and creative. Or at least I think. Haha.

So here is Emma’s birthday invitation. It was made to look like an Instagram post. You can have one custom made here: www.etsy.com/shop/RedBarnDesignStudio .



The party. We found just a couple inexpensive items that were only going to be decorations. I wanted as many things as possible for the party to be things that were either going to be used at the party or given to her friends. One thing that was a must though, was this Instagram photo booth prop. This was so fun. I had this made by someone off Etsy, and then realized that the awesome lady that did Emma’s birthday invites – link above –  could make one that would have been a better quality. Oh well. Lesson learned. Always ask!! For this one though, I ordered the digital download off Etsy and then sent it to Office Max to be printed on cardboard. The kids LOVED it! I bought some props from Walmart (as you’ll see below) for super cheap. We used Emma’s actual Instagram profile name and a real hashtag so that her friends could tag photos.


For the party decor . . .

The banner was cheap. I used Google images and printed a couple Instagram logos. Then I purchased a chalkboard banner from Walmart for like $2. I just glued the image on the end spaces and used a chalk pen to write “InstaParty.” Very simple.


I found a free printable (https://app.box.com/s/1tnj428a2wv19vpt5qg2) and wrote her hashtag in the box and put it in a cheap Ikea frame. I found the glitter # at Target in the Dollar Spot. The photo booth props are from Walmart and the set was like $4 (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Way-to-Celebrate-Adult-Photo-Booth-Props/26524488). they also have Emoji props, which are super cute for this too. The white Polaroid camera was multi purpose. It was my daughters present from us (which she knew she was getting) and also to use for the scavenger hunt. Yay. We found the best price on Amazon, if you are looking for one.

The rest of the items on the buffet are for the kids’ gift bags. I had the lady that made my invitations make me a few stickers for the bags (I just used dollar tree bags – so $1 for 10 bags). The girls could take one of each for the gift bags:

  • Emoji suckers: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01940ZXSA/
  • Candy apps: http://www.orientaltrading.com/web/browse/processProductsCatalog?mode=Searching&sku=13663416
  • iphone erasers: http://www.amazon.com/Smart-Erasers-Approx-Individually-Packaged/dp/B00EWQY5J0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1463375379&sr=8-3&keywords=iphone+erasers
  • Social media charm bracelet: http://www.orientaltrading.com/inspiring-silvertone-hashtag-charms-with-inspirational-tag-a2-13703595.fltr

The goodies …


Gift bag: bracelet, emoji sucker, app candy & iphone eraser


Social media charm bracelet


I split the girls into two teams, by doing a random drawing of names. Each team had one of these lists with directions. So fun to watch them run around and try to get everyone in the picture. Note: we needed 2 instant cameras for this. Obviously my daughter got one as her present that we used, but then we borrowed one from Emma’s best friend who luckily had one.


Scavenger hunt: made this myself in Word


The results of the scavenger hunt

The party room. I hung pictures of things Emma loves – her friends and her sports – from balloons from Dollar Tree, throughout the living room.



The food . . .

We tried to keep it simple since it was the middle of the day. Just something to drink and then some snacks. I had all the glass to serve everything in already, thankfully. Emma insisted on these cups though and each girl got to keep theirs. They were in the Target Dollar Spot (thankfully) and so they were seasonal. The table cover is just a pink cover from Dollar Tree and the center is black chalk paper from Michaels (http://www.michaels.com/recollections-chalkboard-paper-roll/10366137.html#q=chalk+paper&start=2) which I LOVE. I used it for another party that I’ll be posting about too. So versatile and fun.




The cake …

Emma wanted a Menchies cake (http://www.menchies.com/cakes). We have never gotten one from there before so it was all new to us. It’s pretty cool though. You get to pick the cake (chocolate or vanilla) and then two types of ice cream and whatever toppings and syrups you want to go in the middle. Then I just sent them, via email, a picture of what I wanted on the cake (Instagram logo). It was super easy and her friends loved it.


Menchies Instagram cake


The inside


I have about a million pictures from the photo booth, but this is Emma and her two best friends. They are her oldest friendships. Love it. All we did was buy a black plastic table cloth from Dollar Tree and tape it to the wall to use as a backdrop. Then the girls took turns in groups or alone, using different props. They used the Polaroid to take/print pictures that they could take home with them and also their phones.


Fun in the photo booth prop

This was definitely fun. Next year she will be 13 … and is already talking about her party. But I have a feeling that in the years to come, they won’t be this fun. Or .. that she won’t need/want me to plan as much. Makes me sad since this has been kind of our “tradition”. But I love to see her growing up and becoming a little adult. She makes me so proud and I can’t wait to see what all is in store for her in these coming years.


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