How to Paint a Mailbox

Posted by John on May 27th, 2013

Hope everyone had a happy and safe Memorial Day!  Thanks always to those who gave their lives in defense of the freedoms we hold dear.

This past weekend we had a small family get together for our daughter’s Christening.  Good times.  We also managed to squeeze in some gardening and DIYing, of course.  As much as I am a fan of outdoor projects, they beat me up.  Outdoor work is HARD!  If it’s not the heat, it’s the 400 lb wheelbarrow or the shoveling or the lifting.  Killer.  We decided to tackler a project that’s we’ve been dying to get to for some time now.  Here’s the inspiration pin we’ve been staring at…


(via Greengardenista)

We’re going to break this project up into a couple posts, although you’ll get a sneak peak of both in this one.  We’ll start with the painting the mailbox.  Although the pin doesn’t have a painted mailbox, we wanted to gloss ours up a bit.

Here’s how to paint a mailbox..

We’ll start with what our mailbox looked like before we started.

mailbox before 2

mailbox before

Nothing special here.  The mailbox and post are PVC and were installed by the builder.  We haven’t touched it since we moved in.  Recently it’s been covered in bird crap and has started to develop some cracking in it.  Now, we checked some new ones out at Lowes and there is a black version of this exact same mailbox for around $11.  Great deal, right?  Well, the low priced black mailbox isn’t as glossy as we were looking for, it was more of a matte finish and the glossy ones were metal and started at around $30 (a couple were $60).  We already had a can of gloss black spray paint, so we only had to spend around $3 for a can of primer.  Good deal.

After thoroughly cleaning the mailbox with some dish soap and water while it was still attached to the post, we removed it to paint it.   It was attached to the mounting bracket with four screws.

plastic mailbox

We also snapped off the front cover and the red flag.  It was much easier to paint them without them attached.

We primed the pieces in the garage over some cheap plastic tarp.  Here’s a tip: to avoid the mailbox (or whatever else you’re spraying) from sticking to the tarp, move the part in between sprays that way the paint won’t build up in one spot on the tarp.

painting mailbox

After two coats of grey primer and two coats of gloss black, we re-installed it onto the post.  The grey primer was perfect since we were going from a white to a dark color like black.

Here’s how it looks now.. you can see the flower bed as well, although we’re still working on that.

painted mailbox flower bed

black mailbox

If I knew it was going to be that easy, I would’ve done this much sooner.  It also helped that we worked on it during a holiday, so there was no mail delivery to deal with.  We still have to add a couple more plants, put in some weed screen and then mulch it.

What did you do this weekend?

Posted in DIY Projects,Outdoors and Landscaping,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, ,

Toddler Bedroom Decor Ideas

Posted by John on January 14th, 2013

Hey guys!  Slacked off the last couple days.  Busier than average weekend with little project progress to show for it.  Saturday we pretty much just hung out and did some necessary, yet un-blog-worthy cleaning.  Anyone want to see a post on cleaning out a fridge?  No?  I didn’t think so.  Sunday we headed up to NEPA to have a memorial mass and lunch in honor of my father’s passing.  He’s been gone for five years now, which is completely crazy.  Eventually I’d like to throw in some more personal posts, especially one about him.  Funniest guy I ever met and missed very much.  It’s tough making time for that kind of a tribute though.  I’d want to do it properly and not just throw something together.  Maybe later this year.

So now for something less depressing or still somewhat depressing depending upon how you look at it.  Our daughter is nearly two.  She’s growing up quick.  Over the past several weeks it’s becoming more clear that maybe she could do with a bedroom change.  We’ve transitioned her crib to a toddler bed and it’s nice, but it’s not ideal.  When we painted and decorated the room, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, so we kept the nursery neutral.  We’d really like to get her into a room more suited to a little girl.  Plus, if we get her a twin bed, we can keep her company until she falls asleep if she wakes us up crying or is reluctant to goto bed.  It’s tough to do that with a toddler bed.  Thus, some of the urgency.

We’re still working on the sitting room… in that we’re waiting for the electrical permit to be approved and we’ve been batting ideas back and forth.  As far as the new bedroom for our daughter goes, there are a few things we’ve already decided.  We’re going with a white Hemnes twin bed from Ikea… and that’s about it.  We already have a small dresser from our guest room that we bought when we got married and we also just picked up a small round Hemnes nightstand.  I don’t have any room pictures for you yet, it’s actually her playroom at the moment, but I do have some pics from our Pinterest account we can show you that illustrate some ideas we’re considering.

greige and hemnes bed

(via Pinterest)

The paint:  The whole room decor is Lisa’s call.  As far as room color is concerned, she still wants to keep it neutral, but introduce a lot more girly features that really wouldn’t work in the nursery without a whole reboot.  We’ve talked about a soft pink paint, but we both really like a greyish beige (greige?) like the photo above.

(via Houzz.com)
board and batten
(via Design, Dining + Diapers)

The walls:  Who wants wainscoting in this room?  This guy.  Right now, this is the big decision for this room.  Do we or don’t we.  I’m not interested in spending 3 months on this room like we did the dining room, but I think I can pull something off in here relatively quick and much simpler.  Lisa is not in favor of a bead board, but maybe a board and batten look.  Board and batten tends to be very tall, 48″ or higher generally.  I’m thinking something shorter since the room is for a little girl.  Another option is the board and batten with the bead board as the panel.  None of them should take very long, fingers crossed.


(via ArtisticDesignforLiving)

pink toddler bedroom

(via bhg)

Built-ins:  Ideally, we’d love to give this room some custom built-in shelves for all her books and displayable toys.  The room has a nice double window that would look great with a cushioned seat under it.  We’re a bit hesitant to add that feature until she’s old enough to truly understand gravity.  Still, shelves on either side of the window would look awesome!

What do you think?  What would you do?  Do you go with the pink paint tones?  Do you like a simple wainscoting idea?  What are you up to?

Posted in Home Decor. Tagged in ,, , ,

Our Hall Bathroom Painted

Posted by John on November 25th, 2012

Hey everybody! Hope all of our American friends safely and joyfully slept off their turkey induced comas. Lisa and I had a great holiday with our family. Thursday we drove up to Northeast PA and had dinner at my mom’s house. Driving for two hours back home after eating turkey can be dangerous, but luckily we made it back safe and sound. Friday was shopping and turkey round two with Lisa’s family.

A couple weeks ago, we finally got around to painting our upstairs hall bathroom. It’s been plain builder grade white since we moved in over two years ago. Since its our hall bath upstairs, it’s reserved for our daughter and the occasional overnight guests.

Here’s a shot of the bathroom before we moved in.

hall bath

Actually, a while ago, we showed the bathroom as a sneak peak in our 5 Tips for New Home Builders. When we built, we opted to skip the large builder grade mirror and instead asked the builder not to install anything at all. They were totally fine with that idea. After all, it was less work for them. We installed a couple Ikea Kolja mirrors instead for a more personalized look.

hall bathroom before

You can see that greenish shower curtain we added after we moved in. In keeping with that scheme, we picked Sherwin Williams Tidewater for the wall color. Lisa originally wanted a neutral bathroom, but once she found that shower curtain a few years ago she changed her mind.

hall bathroom being painted 2

hall bathroom being painted

The light bulbs in these shots distort the look of the room a little bit. We had CFLs in the vanity light, but switched to a clear filament bulbs for most of the after pictures. It’s a much whiter light.

hall bathroom after

painted bathroom tidewater sherwin williams

painted bathroom tidewater

We’re very happy with the color! Even though the room is still builder grade, the paint plays well with the white vanity and tile. If we never do another upgrade in this room, I’ll be fine with it. I’ve been asking Lisa to think of some crafts or artwork to dress the room up (100% her department). We do need to add a little more character me thinks.

How was your Thanksgiving break? Get any projects done?

Posted in Home Decor,House Tour,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , ,

Garage Shoe Organizer Finished

Posted by John on November 12th, 2012

***UPDATE:  The woodworking plans for this Shoe Organizer have just been uploaded to our Plans page.  To get access, just subscribe to our free newsletter using the sign-up form in the sidebar or following this post.  Immediately after you subscribe, you’ll get an email with a link to the Plans page.***

Hope you all enjoyed your Veteran’s Day, especially if you were home from work like I was!  Big thanks to all those who served and those that continue to serve today.  With the extra free time this weekend, I was finally able to get the garage shoe organizer finished!  Jackpot.

After finishing up the build portion of the project, I brought the piece up to the garage for painting.  The plan was to spray on a couple coats of white primer and then follow that up with a couple coats of black gloss.  Those plans changed once I started spraying the primer.

garage shoe organizer

shoe organizer primed

I had a hard time getting good coverage in between those shelf areas.  It took some contorting.  It also took a lot of primer.  I went through 3 cans!  I couldn’t believe it needed that much.  So instead of repeating this process with the black gloss, I just opted for a small roller and a brush.  I’m kinda picky when it comes to painting.  Spray paint is almost always my first choice.  You get a nice even coat that looks professional.  Using a roller and a brush is nice, but it can leave brush marks and it never goes on as smooth.

But, you know what?  This piece is plywood and it’s going to be holding our shoes in the garage.  It’s not going to be in the Guggenheim.  I can roll the darn thing.

DIY shoe rack

You know what?  It didn’t come out too bad.  The roller and brush method worked just fine.  To install the shelves to the wall, I used toggle bolts for the top two holes and regular screws for the bottom set.  The bottom brace on the shelf coincided with some lumber in the wall.

The toggle bolts are great for holding heavier objects to drywall.  I trust them over molly bolts any day.  To use them, I just drilled two holes in the top plate with a drill bit just a touch bigger than the diameter of the bolts.

To recess the bolt a touch, I then used a bigger drill bit and only drilled the hole halfway through the wood.  Unfortunately, the plywood tore out some.  You can eliminate this tear out by either using tape over the hole or starting the drill before you engage the bit with the wood.  No big deal though.  I can touch up the paint or just cover the holes.  If I were using regular hardwood and not plywood, I wouldn’t expect this type of damage from drilling.  But, with plywood, those laminate layers can tear occasionally.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.

The toggle bolts are a two piece system.  You actually need to setup the bolt onto the piece you’re fastening before you insert anything into the wall.

The other catch with toggle bolts is they need a large hole drilled into the drywall.  These required a 5/8″ size hole.  That’s pretty sizable.  The biggest bit I have in that range is 1/2″.  To get to 5/8″, I just worked the hole a bit.  It’s easy to expand drywall.

Once the bolts are inserted into the wall though, they grab pretty good.  As long as no one really puts any major weight on this shelf, they should hold nicely.

close up of shoe rack

I like it.  More importantly, Lisa likes it.  It works pretty well too.  We put enough shelves in there just in case they start piling up out there.

shoe organizer done

So now more piles of shoes all over these steps.  Makes going in and out a little less of a hassle.

If you can’t tell from some of those photos, the garage overall still needs a good amount of cleaning up.  Trying to make some time to get to that, but it’s not easy.  It tends to be somewhat weather dependent too.


Planning on any projects in your garage?  How do you keep your shoes organized?

Posted in Carpentry,Garage and Tools,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , , , ,

Our Simple Fall Decor

Posted by Lisa on September 25th, 2012

Hey everybody!  Hope you’re enjoying the cool Fall weather we’ve been having recently.  It really puts me in the mood to decorate for Fall and buy more pumpkins!… and apple cider donuts!!  This year we’re keeping our home’s fall themed decor simple by reusing some of the decorations we had up last year and adding a couple small yet festive new ones.

Our front door is finally finished.  John just painted the sidelights to match the front door.  If you recall, they were still somewhat blue-er than the gray door.  The door was originally this gray color, but we attempted to paint the sidelights and the door a year ago and didn’t get the color right.  Here’s the before, with the door painted the right gray color but the wrong sidelight color…

Here’s the door now, complete with a very cool blue pumpkin…  If you don’t notice the color difference in the sidelights from the before and after, it’s okay, it’s pretty subtle.

We also picked up some burnt orangey mums.

On the inside of the house, we added a burlap wreath.  We made the wreath ourselves from some basic craft supplies.

Our mantel looks nearly identical from last year, with the pumpkin banner and all my little pumpkins I’ve been picking up.




I also like to add some fall theme ribbon to my normal home decor to dress it up a little.  See those orange ribbons around the candles?  There are more than a few of those around here.

Like on my fleur de lis candles…

and our dining room lights…ribbons-on-lights



We also have a couple simple items for our kitchen table.mirror-wreath


That’s what’s in our home at the moment.  I’ll admit it, I had these decorations ready to go the day after Labor Day!    I’m sure I’ll be adding a few more pumpkins here and there!  Fall is the best!  We’re looking forward to visiting a pumpkin patch with the baby soon!

Enjoy your decorating!!  Looking forward to seeing everyone’s decor.

Posted in Fall,Home Decor,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , , , , , , ,

How to Repair Drywall Tears

Posted by John on February 6th, 2012

Well that was a fun weekend! Lisa and I had a family party for our daughter on Saturday afternoon… and it went off without a hitch. I can’t believe she’s one already! Where does the time go? We basically spent the last six weeks preparing for this with all the projects and cleaning and it was well worth it! We were both so beat by the end of the weekend, that Lisa asked for one more day before she writes her post on the party, the food and her decorations. So, please stop by tomorrow and the rest of the week for all the party details!!

Despite how smooth the party went, we did run into one minor snafu two nights before the party. When I was removing one of our baby gates, the pads that make contact with the walls, tore the drywall paper on one side and removed the paint on the other!! Yikes! Check out the photos here…

Upon seeing these, Lisa asked “How long’s that gonna take to fix? Until Saturday?” Nah, two hours. Here’s how I fixed it.

How to Repair Drywall Tears:

1. Rip the rest of the paper to make sure there’s no more loose paper or paint hanging on.

2. Locate some quick drying spackle. I’m using a light compound that the builder left us for quick repairs. You can always use the “blue” or “green” joint compound, but they’ll take much longer to dry. You’ll also need a 6″ drywall knife. Don’t use the 2″ wide knife. They’re not really useful for much of anything except spooning the spackle out of the container. I’m using a wooden shim for that instead.

3. Scoop some of the spackle onto the knife and apply generously. You want to make sure you can’t see the torn area coming through the spackle. The biggest mistake people make with these type of repairs is they try to get it right in one coat. It’s going to take AT LEAST THREE coats of spackle and two coats of paint to get it to where you can’t see the damage or a lump from the spackle. Make sure your first coat is about as wide as the width of the knife you’re using.

For minor tears in just the paint, you may only need one coat of spackle. This repair below is ready for paint after only one coat.

4. Once the first coat has set up, it’s time to scrape off the high spots. To reduce the mess, I tape a plastic bag underneath the area I’ll be working. I then use the same spackle knife to scrape the area lightly towards the bag. You won’t need to sand if you do this effectively. The bag will catch all the waste. And don’t press too hard or you’ll gouge the spackle and have to start over.

5. The second coat of spackle will go on about the same thickness as the first, but much wider. Rule of thumb is the spackle area should be twice the width of the spackle knife. You want to start blending the spackle further out into the wall and feathering it out so there are no abrubt thickness changes.

6. Now scrape and repeat. Your third and if you feel necessary, forth coat, will be extremely thin and wider than the last coat.

7. Now sand lightly and you’re ready for paint. Two coats, because the spackle absorbs some. The photo below was taken while the first coat of paint was still wet.

So crisis averted. We repaired the damage in under two hours and no one was the wiser!!

How was your weekend? Any disasters averted on your end?

Posted in DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

Grand Plans Update and Our Icemaker-Paradigm Shift

Posted by John on January 30th, 2012

How about that for a post title!

Well folks, it’s been seven weeks since we started on our Grand Plans!  I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.  We still have a few small projects left on our list, but here’s what we’ve accomplished to date…

1.  Add chair rail molding to vestibule (how-to post here and odd angles post here)
2.  Enhancing our crown molding
3.  Caulking and filling nail holes
4.  Painting, painting, painting (Vestibule, Family Room, Morning Room and Kitchen)
5.  Adding hardwood floors to our living room (post 1 and post 2) and family room

we’ve since added to the list…

6. Paint the Dining Room 


We realize that we should probably add some sort of home tour and maybe a layout so you can see where these rooms are with respect to the house.  We promise to post one soon.  As far as the dining room goes, we’ve decided to do some exciting work in here…  that’s all I’m saying for now.  You’ll see next month!  We’re not starting any new projects until after our daughter’s birthday party.  We added this room to the paint list because it looked too bare compared to the adjacent rooms.

We also finally got around to running a hose from our water supply to our fridge’s icemaker.  Can’t believe we waited this long.  Already. love. it.


This little water outlet thing was behind our fridge.  We never actually ordered this, but our builder put it in anyway.  We think they goofed.  If they hadn’t put it in, we would’ve probably never added one ourselves.  It’s not difficult to do, it’s just that… Lisa and I aren’t icemaker people.  This is our second side by side fridge with the water and ice dispenser and up until now, we’ve never even thought about adding it.  Frankly, we’re bottled water people.  Not just plain bottled water, but bottled, purified water.  We don’t go with that hippie, crunchy, spring water stuff.  We prefer the taste.  Consequently, we have about ten empty plastic bottles throughout the house at any given time.  The water line changes everything.  Now, that it’s there, we use it constantly.  Major paradigm shift.

We actually hooked up the hose because we thought it would be convenient when we have company.  We didn’t realize we’d use it for the tea kettle, the dog bowl, washing my hands, filling up water balloons…  Ok, so I don’t wash my hands with it… but I could.

Making the connection was as simple as pulling out the fridge and attaching the line to the fridge and the wall valve.  It’s also a great opportunity to clean the floor under the fridge.  It’s pretty much a lost city of gold/dog treats for Finnie.



Once the hose was in, Finnie checked for leaks.


The only annoying thing about hooking up this line is the cleansing. We had to flush the system, by running about 4-5 gallons of water and then dumping it out. I also threw out the first two trays of ice. Still beats Brita.

Have you added something minor to your routine that changes everything?

Posted in Finnie,Flooring,Home Decor,Plumbing,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, ,

Painting in Progress

Posted by John on January 13th, 2012

Last week, we posted on some of the lessons we learned when we hired a professional painter.  This week we’ve had the opportunity to put some of those lessons to the test to see how well they’ve worked.  The photo below shows the current state of our family room (well, we’ve actually moved our furniture back in place too).  I ran out of painting time and still need to finish this up.


First thoughts… we still love the color. It’s amazing how much darker the room looks now. Maybe it’s not amazing.  Maybe it’s because I took this photo at night and the floors are dark and the paint is darker.  Yeah, that’s probably why.

Anyway, this is the first room I’ve cut-in without using tape.  I’ve got to admit, it’s a lot easier and faster than I thought it would be.  You end up painting slower than if there’s tape, but it’s much cleaner.  I’m using a 2.5″ wide, angle cut Purdy brush.

The other recommendation we got from our painter was the paint roller.  He uses a Collosus roller also by Purdy.  I remember seeing this thing in action and it looked like a giant mop head.  So, I picked one up at our local Sherwin Williams.  Apparently, it comes in a couple different nap lengths.  Naturally, I went for the longest nap, the 3/4″.  Check this thing out…


Ridiculous right?  It puts a LOT of paint on the wall.  A LOT.  If you’re going to use it, be prepared for major drippage.

Another tip we noticed from the painter was how he prepped the receptacles and the light switches.  I’ve used ziploc bags to keep the switch plates in with the screws.  Although, sometimes I’ll just leave the screws on the counter.

Here’s what the painter did…


He put the switch plate screws back in the switches.  Not monumental, obviously, but smart and convenient none the less.

Do you have any paint tips?  Next week, we’ll be showing you what we learned from our hardwood floor install.

Posted in Lessons Learned,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,,

Lessons Learned #1: Pro Painter Skills

Posted by John on January 6th, 2012

I want to try something a little different here so bare with me.  I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of hiring a contractor to do something that I can do on my own.  It’s just not in my nature.  I’ll make exceptions to that rule, like when I’m too afraid of heights to paint our 2 story vestibule or like when the scope of the work is above my time and capacity (like building a home myself).  Other than that, if I can do it, I want to do it.  That’s why they call us DIYers right?  So when I DO hire someone, in addition to getting the work done, I’d like to learn something from the experience.  That’s why I’m starting this post category, to share what I’ve learned from an experience after the fact, whether it be from a contractor or from a job that I’ve completed myself.

The first time I had the idea to learn something from a contractor I was in a bind.  Way back in 2004, I had just bought my first home and some guys were hanging drywall (I didn’t really know how to do much DIY back then).  My father was over and we were doing some other small project.  All of a sudden, we had water pouring into our living room.  We had no idea where is was coming from.   It was raining at the time, but not heavy enough to account for the amount of water building up in the house.  I immediately turned off the water supply and we discovered that one of the drywall hangers had punctured a copper pipe with a drywall screw.  To make matters worse, it’s 6pm and the next day I was going to Japan for two weeks and I had a roommate that needed that water while I was gone for obvious reasons.  No problem.  My father and I would repair it.  We went to the local hardware store and got some couplings, some flux, sandpaper.  We got this.  After four hours of trying, we failed.  This little pipe kept leaking.  At 10pm we made the decision to call an emergency plumber.  At around 1am this guy stopped by and knocked this repair out in 5 minutes flat.  For $250!  Knowing this would not be a cheap fix (relative to the size of the work), I asked the plumber to show me exactly how to do this and he explained to me what I was doing wrong.  I felt much better about the expense of the repair knowing that I basically got a plumbing lesson out of it.

When I hired the painter for my vestibule, I genuinely didn’t think I would get much of a lesson out of it.  But I did learn a couple things.

1.  Taping.  This guy didn’t tape a thing.  He free-handed everything.  I did a comparison to his work in the vestibule to mine in the living room.  Despite the fact that I tape my trim, his cutting-in was cleaner.  Let me show you what I’m talking about.


I taped and painted the molding around this banister. You can clearly see that I had bleed thru from the paint. That occurs where the tape doesn’t create a solid seal. I have this problem in several areas throughout the room. It’s not a big deal, but it does require some touching-up.

Now take a look at his trim painting.  It’s perfect.

What was his secret?  He used a quality brush and he has a LOT of practice. According to him, he uses a Wooster brush.  For the rest of our painting, I picked up a Purdy brush, so we’ll see if I can improve on my earlier work.  I’ll try working without a net tape.

2.  The roller.  He used a serious roller.  They looked like mops.  I’ve always used disposable rollers and haven’t had any issues.  I like the idea that you can take them off and throw them out when you’re done with them.  But my rolling occasionally makes areas with varying shine to them, almost like I missed a spot.  And that’s with two coats.  His work was even with a consistent appearance.  He told me he uses Colossus rollers by Purdy.






So that’s my lesson’s learned from hiring a pro painter. I hope you get something out of this, I sure did.

Have you ever learned some tips from hiring a pro?  Did it make it easier to justify paying for it?

Posted in Lessons Learned,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,,

Vestibule: Painted

Posted by John on January 2nd, 2012

New Year: New Colors. Since we moved into our new home in July of 2010, we haven’t done much interior painting. We DID paint the outside of our front door and we painted our nursery before the baby was born. But other than that, the white walls have been here as long as we have. Well, the week before Christmas, we changed all that. First, we started with the morning room. We had gotten a quote from a painter for the vestibule, but before he came over and our money was spent, we wanted to be sure we really loved the color. Nevermind that we already bought an un-returnable 11 gallons of non-VOC Accessible Beige from Sherwin Williams.

After we painted the morning room in our first video, we knew we made the right color choice. So we painted the living room too. We REALLY love it. Thus, we gave the go-ahead to the painter to paint the 2-story vestibule; he ended up painting the upstairs hallway as well. Overall, he did a great job. We weren’t at all worried though since he was recommended to us by our neighbors. If anyone is looking for a painter in South Jersey, let us know and we’ll give you his number. He started on a Wednesday morning and he was done after lunch the following day. I’ll be posting more on his painting skills later as they’re worth writing about. I definitely picked up a couple things.

Here are the after photos…





Oh and remember that molding we added just below our crown molding? It really pops now that it’s been painted.

We’re really happy with how that came out. It adds some depth and complexity to an otherwise normal crown. Despite all that work, we still have to paint the family room, kitchen, and figure out what we’re doing in the dining room all before the end of January and that doesn’t even include our bedrooms. Why January? You’ll see…

How was your Christmas break? Did you get any projects done? How about any painting?

Posted in Home Decor,Staining and Painting,Trim. Tagged in ,,

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