Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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6 Crafty ways to preserve your family’s most precious memories

Family memories come and go so quickly. Even when you wait months for a big occasion – marriage, graduations, 1st birthday parties – the time goes by in a blink. You can make the occasion memorable with some of the party tips I shared on the blog earlier this week, but it’s the reliving of these precious moments in the future that gives me the most happiness. And with a bit of craftiness it is so easy to preserve these memories so that you can enjoy reminiscing time and again. 1. Create holiday jars

Holidays provide the best source of memories. We tend to do things out of the ordinary on holiday – fun activities, enjoying a special meal, or hiking to a beautiful spot – but it’s no good having photos stored on a memory card somewhere. Remembering these moments can help to keep us going when we’re feeling under the weather or sat at our desks while it drizzles outside. “Vacation jars” do just that. They’re so easy to make – all you need is a jar – and the rest of the items you can pick up along the way. Put anything in your jar that reminds you of the last holiday you took, including:

  • Small souvenirs
  • Pine cones or shells (depending on the location you visited!)
  • Pictures (real-life printed photos)
  • Postcards and leaflets
  • Maps and travel tickets

I also made myself a ‘little jar of happy’ which contains anything that has made me happy. If my niece or nephew says something funny I’ll write it down. When I get positive feedback on my work, it goes into the jar. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it always puts a smile on my face remembering the good times. 2. Family yearbooks

Why not create yearly yearbooks that show some of the year’s best pictures? Over the past year I actually got some photos printed and it was lovely to have ‘real life’ photos in my hands. We are all taking more photos than ever thanks to camera phones but we rarely ever print them out. If you do a little audit of your photo albums every 3 months and send a few to print, you create your own yearbook for the family to look back on, and if you’re happy to do some scrapbooking (one of my favourite things to do) you can add in a few extra bits alongside your photos such as:

  • Event tickets
  • Birthday cards
  • Newspaper clippings

If you’ve got photos and souvenirs to hand, you could even use screen printing to transform t-shirts into wearable collages of your images if you want to make a lasting, wearable memory. Imagine wear a Christmas jumper this year that has photos of the fun you had last Christmas printed on it! Photos also work great as ‘bunting’in your office or the kids’ bedroom – here’s how to make Polaroid bunting at home.

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I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine!

Today I’ve got some really exciting news to share – I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine! A whole two-page spread has been dedicated to my tips, ideas and projects and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve taken some photos of the feature so that you can see what it looks like and maybe have a read of the pages. Continue reading “I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine!” »


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Learning a new skill in 2017 – Knitting

While many people make resolutions at the start of a new year, I prefer to focus on the new things I want to achieve over the coming month. And in particular this includes new skills. In fact, there’s two occasions during the year that I tend to take up new activities and it happens to coincide with the academic terms in September and January. Maybe that’s because it’s easier to find evening classes starting up and online courses are being promoted more at those times of year, but mostly I just think it’s down to me having a bit of time off and having the chance to reflect on what new things I want to learn.ombre colour block scarf knitting project-4In September I started to learn Spanish but time constraints meant that I never quite got through all the practice tasks for the beginners’ Spanish lessons so I couldn’t progress at the same speed as the rest of the course. Nonetheless, I have all the documents and workshops sitting in my inbox so I can get started up again whenever I get some time. I guess I’ve just got to make time, right?!ombre colour block scarf knitting project-5The other course I started in September was ballroom dancing. I went along to my first class on a dark Thursday evening and was immediately hooked. Well, who doesn’t want to be waltzed around a dance floor like a princess, eh? The added bonus was that latin dances were taught alongside the traditional foxtrot and quickstep ballroom dances, so I discovered that I quite liked these too. Who would’ve thought that I would enjoy dancing a rumba? I certainly didn’t see that coming! The beginners’ course has just finished and I loved getting my head around the steps. I’ll be back for more as soon as I can.ombre colour block scarf knitting project-10So this January I want to focus on developing my crafting skills and it’s the wool-crafts that I want to focus on. Excuse the pun but knitting has always had me tied up in knots. Continue reading “Learning a new skill in 2017 – Knitting” »


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Homemade upcycled gifts – How to make a memory bear using baby clothes

What do you get for your niece and nephew when you’re the coolest aunt in the world? Why, handmade teddy bears, of course! It’s a project that has been six months in the making and now the bears are finally wrapped up and flying across the sea to reach the little ones in Ireland in time for Christmas. Now, I’m not saying that it took me six months to actually sew the bears – the making part is quite a simple process (thanks to the new teddy bear pattern I used) – it was all the planning that went into the project that took some time and I’ll tell you why.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-16homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-1I wanted to make a keepsake teddy bear for each child, so I wanted them to be personalised in some way. When I first opened up the pattern I could see that it would be easy to make the pattern pieces fit into items of my niece and nephew’s clothing. What better way to make a personalised gift, and to upcycle old clothing at the same time, than to reuse their baby clothes to make them a teddy bear? I asked their parents if they had any of their tiny outfits left, and luckily they did. I asked for non-stretchy items (which are easier to sew) and it wasn’t long before a bag of baby clothes arrived.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-17 homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-3I got the newly launched Charlie teddy bear pattern from Amazing Craft and studied the instructions from front to back before getting started. There’s only a handful of pattern pieces and the construction seemed so much more straightforward than bear patterns I’ve used in the past. I was eager to get started and see just how the pattern worked. I’m pleased to report that this is the most simple-to-use set of instructions, and having fewer pattern pieces meant much less tacking, pinning and fiddling. I whizzed up the arms and legs in no time at all. The body is the only piece that has any darts in it, and even then there’s only two small darts so it’s really uncomplicated to construct. I guess the pattern does what it says on the cover – it truly is ‘bear making for beginners’ and it couldn’t be easier to follow. It’s available as printed instructions (which I got, at £6.99) or as a digital download to print at home for only £4.99.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-12homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-2homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-15 The little trousers were the perfect base to make the arms and legs of the teddies – the linen fabric wasn’t at all stretchy and I could make a feature out of the details on the trousers. I positioned the pattern pieces so that my niece’s bear would have the spotty trim from the trousers around the outside of the paws, and my nephew’s bear has tiny pockets on the legs. I could even reuse the lining of my nephew’s trousers to make a soft inner arm, and I added little monster designs from his tiny t-shirt to make contrasting paws and feet. I used a floral baby-grow to make the insides my of niece’s bear’s arms and even the bears’ ears have a patterned underside.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-14 homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-19homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-4I wanted the bears to be safe for the little ones to carry around, so I got some safety eyes and plastic safety joints from Amazing Craft. This means that the head, arms and legs are poseable and the eyes can’t be bitten off because they pop together and clamp into place. In fact, I couldn’t even get the joints apart again if I tried! My tip for using these is to get the position of the arms and legs right first time, because you won’t be able to take them off again if they’re in the wrong place, so double-check the position before pushing the joints together. Soaking the joints in hot water for a minute will make them a littler easier to pop together. The plastic joints are also safe to go in the washing machine, which is good news because we all know how mucky kid’s teddies get!homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-7

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Round-up of my festive craft projects – there’s still time to make these quick DIYs!

I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to hibernate for the whole of the Christmas period. Many of us are finishing work early this week and taking a few days to relax and finish off some festive tasks before the big day arrives. So if you’ve got some time on your hands this week, why not have a go at making some of my festive crafts? All of these projects can be completed within an hour, and you only need a few cheap supplies (that you may already have at home) in order to get started. These are some of my favourite projects I’ve made for my own home, so have a look and let me know if you have a go at making any of these for yourself.cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-24I’ve recently just made my first two festive YouTube DIY videos – each is a step-by-step project that can be made in no time at all. First up is my pom-pom ‘SNOW’ sign for the mantlepiece, shelf or windowsill. It’s a cute decoration that isn’t OTT festive, but that has a fun tongue-in-cheek design with tiny skiing figures sliding down the letters. This week I also shared a video that shows you how to add candy cane legs to your chairs. If you’re planning to paint your chairs next year anyway, why not give them a festive design for the coming week and then paint over them again in the new year? Or make a dedicated Santa seat so that he’s got somewhere to rest when he comes down the chimney this weekend 😉diy-video-youtube-tutorial-christmas-decor-decoration-festive-candy-cane-chair-step-by-step-project-spray-painting-guide-7I don’t think it’s any secret that I really like pom-pom, so you won’t be surprised to see another snowy decoration project up next. This one is a ‘snow drift’ Christmas wreath for your front door. It has a little penguin skiing down the pom-pom snowballs and looks really cute on my caravan door. Deck the Door DIY snow ball christmas wreath-13I also made another wreath for my caravan using upcycled pieces of clothing, ribbons and fabric. Here’s the step-by-step guide to making this fluffy fabric Christmas wreath so check it out and use up the old scraps of fabric you already have lying around. I’m really chuffed that this project was featured in Oxfam’s Christmas newspaper too!DIY fabric wreath for Christmas - step by step tutorial-9Why not decorate every room in the house with a festive piece of art? I framed up some free printables to make this gallery wall of snowy chalkboard Christmas art. With a printer and some frames, you could have a lovely festive wall to welcome your guests into your home.DIY festive decorating with christmas art prints using hardwall takkerMake a rustic illuminated christmas basket decoration to brighten up your porch, fireplace or garden. Simply gather nature’s decorations – pine cones, holly and spruce – and add in plenty of sparkly touches to make it look really festive. The basket helps to make your home look more inviting from the outside and can add warmth to an unused fireplace too.diy craft tutorial christmas decorations log basket xmas porch with fairy lights finished displayIf you’re looking for another idea for bringing more fairy lights into your home, how about making my snow-covered kilner jar lanterns? It’s such a simple project and it can be made in minutes, but the group of jars makes for a really impressive display on your sideboard, mantlepiece or even on a bedside table.DIY fairy lights kilner jar display for christmas-5A couple of years ago I made this snowy garland using pom-poms (again!), faux flowers and hanging decorations. It looks great on a mantlepiece, or you could make it as long as you need in order to drape it down the handrail of your staircase. Use whatever decorations you have to hand and feel free to change the colour combo to red and green or gold and silver.DIY christmas decoration mantlepiece garland ideas-11I hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for making a few craft items of your own in time for the big day. And I hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas – this is the best time of the whole holiday for me!


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DIY Christmas decor – Snowy pom-pom letters mantlepiece display

With Christmas fast approaching, my latest DIY project is a rather festive one indeed. Yes, I’ve got my trusty glue gun out again and I’ve been busy attaching pom-poms to anything that stays still! Since decorating the Christmas tree, I decided that my mantlepiece was looking rather empty and after a bit of pondering, I came up with these ‘snow’ letters to dress the top of the fireplace. And yes, I filmed the whole process so that I could make a step-by-step video to show you how it’s done. cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-21 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-27 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-6And I’ve been thinking of all of you who don’t necessarily have space for a tree, because these snowy letters only take up the space of a mantlepiece or shelf yet it still makes for a rather impressive and imposing display. This decoration project can be made any size (depending on what kind of craft letters you find) and any colour – just change the spray paint and pom-pom colours to make a bright red SANTA sign or even a sparkly pink ‘LOVE’ display for Valentine’s Day early next year. Multicoloured pom-pom letters could be used to make a birthday celebration display or why not make a glitzy metallic “2017” sign for your New Year’s Eve party?!cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-19 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-1 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-8Click on the video below to view the step-by-step guide.

To make this project you will need:

  • Large craft letters – I got mine from Hobbycraft for £4 each, but I’ve seen cardboard letters for just £1 in The Range.
  • A glue gun and glue sticks – I use the Bostik DIY glue gun because it’s made for DIY projects and is therefore sturdier than a craft glue gun. The Bostik all-purpose glue sticks were a budget refill pack at just £2.84. The cheapest price I could find on glue guns and refills was at the UK Tool Centre – take a look & put one on your Christmas list!
  • White spray primer (or coloured spray paint if you prefer) – I used Plastikote 2500 primer in white (also ordered from UK Tool Centre, so if you’re buying tools for Christmas, use discount code UKTO6OFF80 for £6 off an £80 order.)
  • Cotton wool – I picked up a large bag of cotton wool balls from Superdrug for 75p
  • Various sizes and types of pom-poms – The teeny tiny pom-poms came from Etsy and I got the iridescent pom-poms from The Range £1.50 for a pack of 80, and a pack of 40 is available in Poundland too.
  • Optional extras – Miniature trees and figures – I tracked mine down (excuse the pun) in a model railway shop.
  • Snow spray and glittery faux snow (from Poundland or similar).

cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-2 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-9 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-13cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-12It’s a really quick and easy project to do too – the thing that takes the longest time is waiting for the paint to dry. Which, in fact, doesn’t even take that long. I’ve shared the step-by-step guide on my YouTube channel today so you can see just how easy the process is. I’ve even included a time lapse of all the pom-pom gluing so that you can see how the letters can be built up with lots of different layers and sizes of pom-poms.cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-5 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-10 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-16 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-15 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-17It was actually great fun to make this decoration, and having the glue gun make it super-easy. I wouldn’t like to tackle the project without one – I think that I’d get in a right muddle with superglue! I really enjoy sitting down to make something with my own hands and I’m thrilled that, with a little bit of effort, I’ve got a Christmas decoration in my home that no-one else has. That is, until you all follow this tutorial and make it for yourselves! cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-18 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-23 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-24 cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-28Hope you’ve enjoyed looking through all the photos I took at each stage, and don’t forget to check out the video on YouTube for the full step-by-step instructions (and please give me a subscribe if you like it!). Let me know how you get on with this project and please tag me in your photos @Cassiefairy if you have a go at making this Christmas mantlepiece display for yourself! Here are some more pics – enjoy!


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4 ways to make home DIY more enjoyable

Taking on a home DIY project tends to sound like a lot of fun. There’s certainly a level of satisfaction that you can gain by rolling up your sleeves and getting to work around the house. And if you’re the sort of person who enjoys being productive, you’ll get a lot of fun out of it. It’s also true that a lot of DIY projects that start out this way end up being a bit more tedious and difficult than expected. So I thought it might be nice to discuss a few ways to make DIY a little more reliably enjoyable. In a way, this all depends on the specific task at hand, as well as on your general mood and outlook. But the following tips just might help you to maintain enthusiasm for most of your improvement efforts around the home.diy-project-marquee-sign1. Educate yourself on the basics

It doesn’t sound like the most enjoyable thing to do, but getting educated on some basic home repair and DIY concepts will help you to have more fun fixing things up. It’s frustrating to get into these kinds of jobs without knowing what you’re doing, so it pays to teach yourself in advance. As a starting point, this list of simple maintenance tips and ideas covers a lot of common jobs that arise around the house. They’re not the most artistic, craft-geared DIY projects, but they’re things that need doing, and if you know how to handle them you’ll be better equipped for a pleasant experience.home-diy-project-indeas2. Entertain yourself

Just tackling a DIY job with nothing else going on can sometimes get dull. The clear solution is music, but even then things can get complicated. If a job involves water pipes, woodworking, dust, debris, or paint you won’t want your music devices or headphones anywhere near it. Fortunately, there’s a solution specifically for this problem. This page on heavy-duty radios built for construction sites and similar environments reveals that there is some modern audio equipment made for tough conditions. There are plenty of options, but if you can find a strong, durable radio with Bluetooth that can let you play your music, radio stations, or podcasts you’ll be able to stay entertained no matter what kind of job you’re taking on.reclaimed-wood-headboard

3. Learn To Repurpose Materials

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Festive gifts that help others – A better-than Fairtrade marketplace

I know you’re all thinking about Christmas shopping by now. Well, I’m ready to get started on my annual gift hunt – I’ve even bought the wrapping paper! In my search for special gifts and thrifty treats I stumbled upon Discovered. This online marketplace recommended to me and I’m glad I took the time to check it out.gold-pillow-embroidered-cushion-cover-gift

I wouldn’t mind owning this beautiful embroidered cushion myself!

Like Etsy but connecting you with craftspeople all over the world, this online marketplace lists finely crafted gifts and homewares. You can discover handmade products by artisans from emerging countries such as India, Morocco and South Africa. But the main difference is that Discovered takes the idea of Fairtrade one step further; you can buy handicrafts direct from the maker.embroidery-colourful-bag-handbag-discovered-hand-crafted

And this embroidered handbag too – can you believe it costs less than £20?

The artisans on Discovered design, create and sell beautiful accessories, bags, jewellery and home decoration items. Every product that is sold on Discovered has its own, unique story and you won’t just find it in any other store. In addition, for every item they sell the artisans will receive a fair price because the supply chain is shortened; from the maker, via Discovered and to you.tea-glasses-decorated-painted-glass-gift

I love chai and these hand-painted tea glasses cost less than £15  Continue reading “Festive gifts that help others – A better-than Fairtrade marketplace” »


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Pumpkin carving for Halloween – our spooky designs

For the past couple of years I’ve been using pumpkins to decorate my home during the autumn BUT I haven’t actually carved a pumpkin for ages. I made glitter pumpkins last year (with pumpkins I actually grew in the garden – smug!) and a lovely autumnal display on my sideboard the year before. But this year, my love of pumpkin carving was reignited when my brother challenged me to a pumpkin carving competition.halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-project-5 halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-projectThe whole family joined in with the competition, with each of us carving a different design on our pumpkins. It’s amazing just how many different ideas everyone came up with, using large pumpkins, mini squashes, stacks of pumpkins and even carrots! I have photographed all the designs and shared them below to provide a little extra inspiration if you’re carving a pumpkin for Halloween today.

My design was (perhaps unsurprisingly) the cat silhouette. I’m sure you could have guessed that without me telling you! My husband’s design was the angry pumpkin eating a mini pumpkin, with spiky nose and carrot arms. We’ve made a similar pumpkin design in previous years, so check out my step-by-step pumpkin carving blog post if you want to recreate this scary squash for yourself. And if you were wondering which pumpkin actually won our carving competition, it was the Barbie-eating pumpkin monster! I’m delighted to say that my cat pumpkin came second, woo!halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-project-4 halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-project-3And if you’re looking for quick and easy decorations for Halloween, here’s my flying paper bats DIY video. Hope you all enjoy your Halloween and I’d love to see photos of your own pumpkin carvings so please tag me in your Instagram photos @Cassiefairy or tweet me a pic @Cassiefairy.


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Money-saving tips for your autumn wardrobe

Finding the perfect style to suit your everyday life can be difficult, especially when you need to save money. Whether you work in an office, as a shop assistant or are a student most people like to put a little effort into their daily outfits, with an increasing amount of cash being handed over to get the latest trends. However, it is likely that a new £50 sweater is made in the same factory that produces a £10 version. This does make you wonder if it is truly worth it to splash the cash on an item with a label. So, just what are the thrifty tricks to create the ultimate look without breaking the bank?

Accentuating accessories

Let us start with the basics. You only need a few items in your wardrobe to be able to create a variety of gorgeous looks. A white shirt, for example, can be styled from something plain to a head-turning top. The clue is to be creative with your accessories as they are a lot cheaper than clothes, so are ideal for being a thrifty fashionista. A leather belt and a chunky necklace go a long way with a white shirt to create a great multi-purpose look. It’s great as a working daytime look suit or could be made more casual with jeans and boots for a girls’ night out.styling-a-white-shirt-with-accessories

Styling a white shirt  with accessories (image by Idhren)

Selective shopping

Another factor to be considered on the journey to crafting a thrifty look is choosing where to shop. Charity shops and supermarket clothing isles can be a treasure trove of fashion goodness. You never know when you will find a bargain buy so keep on the lookout for when you’re getting your food shopping! I found a fantastic vintage section in my local charity shop and all of the items were priced at less-than high street prices. Plus the money goes to a good cause so that’s a great place to start when you’re looking for a few unique items to funk up your basics. Plenty of thrifty resale sites (such as Depop, Gumtree and Shpock) keep popping up on the web so browse these sites to find bargain fashion buys. cassiefairy article charity shop vintage and retro rail

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