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Dave's Garden Articles: By Amber Royer

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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Traditional Herbal Candies
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Herbal candies harken back to the days before synthetic flavorings. They also add an element of sophistication to any party table, and (with the addition of creative packaging) make beautiful, inexpensive gifts that take a lot less effort than it looks. You can use these recipes to highlight your favorite herbs, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight traditional flavors.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

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How Does Your Chocolate Grow?
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

What is your favorite kind of chocolate? Be it white, milk, or dark, all chocolate comes from theobroma cacao, evergreen tropical trees. One of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken included a visit to a cacao plantation in Samana, Dominican Republic. We were able to taste the sweet-tart pineapply pulp straight out of the pod as we hiked on a path where the trees were growing wild all the way to a beautiful waterfall.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

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The Flexible Flavor of Ginger
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Ginger root (which is technically a rhizome) has a distinctive, spicy flavor that lends itself to adaptation. It easily takes on the character of the dishes in which it is included, be it a sweet preparation such as gingerbread, or a savory one, like Ginger beef. But some of the most interesting takes on ginger come from foods where the ginger is the main ingredient.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

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A Garden of Cupcakes
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Want to take your garden work parties to the next level? Offer your group’s workers some delectable treats. Cupcakes are ideal because they don’t require a fork, and the papers protect the cake from dirty fingers. Plus – if you stay away from the foil kind – they are biodegradable. While you can use your group’s favorite flavors, I wanted to show how you can let the garden inspire you to turn cupcakes into edible works of art.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

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Garden Railroading
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Gardeners are all about the time and nurture it takes to bring beauty and a sense of order to a natural landscape. Model railroad enthusiasts pay attention to detail and are often inspired to recreate historical elements with accuracy. And sometimes, these are the same people. What happens when these two hobbies collide? It’s called garden railroading, a pastime so popular that it has its own range of models (that run on G gauge track) and niche gardening clubs and magazines.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

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Glace (Candied) Fruit
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Candied fruit can also be referred to a crystalized fruit or glace fruit. The original purpose was to preserve the fruit, which was important before fresh fruit was readily available year round. It is still of benefit to the gardener who may have large amounts of fruit coming ripe at once. And then, of course, there is the simple beauty of the glistening jewel-like candies that result.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

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In The Natural Dye Pot
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Before 1856 (the year synthetics were successfully created), all dyes came from natural sources - mostly botanicals. I wanted to examine the history of dyeing more closely, so I researched the herbs and other plants most closely associated with dyeing.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

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Preserving Pears
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Humans aren’t the only ones who think pears are delicious, so when the fruits start to come ripe, you may have to pick them all at once to stay ahead of the birds and the squirrels. But the wonderful thing about pears is the way they can take on so many different flavor profiles, making them equally likely candidates for a sweet preserve or a spicy chutney. Here are my three favorite ways to preserve them.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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Antiquing With Tea
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Sometimes you just want the look of a vintage houseware or clothing item, but you either can’t find the real thing – or you can’t afford it. If you are starting with a white fabric/lace piece, tea is an inexpensive way to add instant age to fibers. Antiquing with tea couldn’t be easier. Practically all you need is a container filled with good, strong black tea.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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Making Your Own Screen Printed Tea Towel
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Do you want to bring your garden into your home in an elegant, permanent way? Consider making a screen printed botanical tea towel based on a photograph of one of your favorite plants. Tea towels can make decorative hangings (or be draped through the handle of your oven door), or simply be used for drying cleaned dishes or covering a tea pot or tea tray.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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Paper Crafting with Garden Catalogs and Magazines
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

What gardener doesn’t get excited when the first gardening catalog shows up in the mailbox in the spring? But most of us don’t have the space to plant all the beautiful varieties pictured, and after we have made our choices, these colorful catalogs are discarded (or at best, recycled). The same goes for gardening magazines, once we’ve read the articles and applied the advice we need. Why not turn these publications into eco-friendly paper art?

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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What is an Herbarium?
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Have you ever wondered what an herbarium is? (Hint: it’s not a style of herb garden.) Or maybe you have seen one of these collections of pressed plant materials and wondered what it is used for beyond personal memories. Herbaria are not only beautiful; they are useful tools in botany. And they have a fascinating history.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

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The Summery Flavor of Lavender
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

When the weather gets hot outside, I start to think about light, refreshing flavors and cool meals. Coincidentally, at the tail end of May or the very first part of June, lavender flowers begin blooming in Texas. Lavender can add a lovely floral note to foods and pairs especially well with the sweet flavors of summer.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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Eating Cactus
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Cactus has long been an important vegetable in Mexican and southwestern cooking. It has a flavor that is reminiscent of a bell pepper with the undertones of a green bean. The prickly pear (the variety most often eaten) grows despite even the harshest conditions, making it a popular choice for wild harvesting. Cactus is becoming more popular as a vegetable in other parts of the world. Would you like to give it a try?

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Friday, July 5, 2013

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Baking Herb Breads
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

There is nothing like the fragrance of hot, homemade bread wafting out of the oven. And that fragrance is even richer and more interesting when there are herbs in the bread. Artisan style breads are easy to make (the long prep time you see in bread recipes is mostly the time it spends rising all on its own, while you can be doing other things).

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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What to Do With All That . . . Fennel
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Fennel is a beautiful addition to the herb garden, but it does tend to spread if you let it self-seed. In fact, in some places, fennel can be so prolific it is considered a weed. So what do you do to keep fennel from becoming a weed in your garden? You eat it, of course.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

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In Search of the Mayhaw
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

One of my strongest memories of visiting my extended family in Louisiana is of breakfast for the whole crowd, with tray after tray of biscuits hitting a table graced by my great-aunt’s homemade mayhaw jelly. But what I don’t remember is ever seeing a mayhaw tree or even a fresh mayhaw. So, when I recently visited Southeast Texas / Southwest Louisiana, I went in search of the mayhaw.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

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Edible Flower Cuisine: China
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

There are several cultures known for eating flowers in ancient times – among them India, Rome, the Middle East and China. This article will focus on China, where edible flowers were included in the diet not only for their attractive colors and fragrances, but to promote health and physical beauty . A number of flowers are used in Chinese cookery, but we will focus on just a few: Chrysanthemum, Daylily, Lotus, Hibiscus and Rose.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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Poets and Plants: Wordsworth's "Daffodils"
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Many poets include botanical imagery in their works. One of my favorite poets, William Wordsworth, a romantic poet who lived from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s), allowed botany and nature to play a large part in his work. One of his poem stars one of my favorite flowers – the humble daffodil.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

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Eating from the Lipstick Tree
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Have you ever eaten from the “Lipstick Tree?” Chances are, you have. If you see E160b on a food label, that means you are eating a red dye made from seed coat of annatto (the seeds of the achiote, or lipstick tree). It is used in prepared foods, and to make cheese orange. It is also commonly used to dye margarine and butter yellow.* But why is achiote known as the lipstick tree? And how can you use the seeds in your own cooking?

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

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What to Do With All That . . . Dill
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Dill is a favorite food of the black swallowtail butterfly. So, when you plant dill, it is a good idea to add a few extra plants for the caterpillars to snack on. But the plants can bounce back after the caterpillars make their chrysalises, or the caterpillars may not show up in your yard at all. This can leave you with a lot of dill when the plants get ready to bolt and go to seed, or with a large number of volunteer sprouts the next spring. It also leaves you with the question: What to do with all that . . . dill?

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

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A Taste for Tea
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

All tea (herbal tisanes aside) comes from the same plant (camellia sinensis), but the liquid made from the leaves tastes widely different depending on where it was grown, when it was harvested, and how it was processed – and how you brew it. So if you think you don’t like tea, ask yourself, “how many teas have I tried?” (If you do already like tea, you may be asking, “How many more teas haven’t I tried yet?”)

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

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20 Ways to Soup Up Your Soup
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

It's finally gotten cold outside (winter seems to come to Texas later every year), so my thoughts have turned to soup. These warm, easy to eat concoctions are the very definition of comfort food. But what can you do to turn a basic recipe into a showstopper? Or maybe you just want to make canned soup more palatable. Here are twenty ways to soup up your soup.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

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Herbal Cake Pops
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Lately, I have become fascinated with cake pops. The first time I made them (using packaged frosting and candy melts, as so many tutorials directed) they were way too sweet and lacked depth of flavor. So ditched the candy melts in favor of real chocolate and turned to the herb garden for inspiration, designing a rose, cardamom and pistachio cake pop; a basil and strawberry cake pop; and a lemon thyme and lavender cake pop.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

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What to Do WIth All Those . . . Chives
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Many people consider chives the easiest herb to grow. This may be because they start so easily from seed, and grow into dense grass-like clumps. A little bit of the herb goes a long way, so even a small chives bed can feel like more chives than you will ever be able to use. What can you do to make the most of all those chives?

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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Make Your Own Scented Sugar
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

You can often find scented sugar (sometimes called flavored sugar) at a gourmet shop. But it is such a simple process to scent sucrose, why not add a personal touch—while saving some cash – and make your own? Scented sugar is a simple way to dress up any occasion, and jars with the flavoring agents still in them make quite attractive gifts.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

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Figs, Glorious Figs
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

One of my earliest memories of childhood is hiding under my grandmother’s fig tree, while playing hide and seek. It was an enormous tree, with branches that spread to cover much of the side yard. And every year, my grandmother would go out with a bucket and pick the figs to put up preserves. My brother and I used to get smaller bowls, and we would help pick. When the whole extended family got together, those preserves would show up on the breakfast table along with tray after tray of biscuits.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

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What to Do With All That . . . Lemongrass
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

I’ll admit, lemongrass is one of those herbs that doesn’t exactly grow like wildfire. But where I am, in Texas, the best shot I’ve got for getting this tender perennial to make it through the winter is to cut it back to just a few inches tall and mulch over it. So what to do with the flavorful, fragrant stalks? Use some of them during the summer and fall, when herbs (such as basil) that compliment lemongrass are in season.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

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Hidden in Pictures
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

My husband and I have been out to a number of parks and botanic gardens in the past month, and we just sat down this week and started looking through the pictures. I went through the whole set from Tyrrell Park, which has a delightful botanic garden in Beaumont, Texas. I had taken a picture of a very empty-looking hole using a VERY long lens (because, who knows what can live in holes).

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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What to Do With All That . . . Parsley
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Parsley is a biannual, which means that in the second year it will bolt and go to seed. However, it is self-seeding, which means if it likes the area where you’ve planted it, not only will the plant replace itself, but you might get a lot more seedlings than you bargained for. But don’t worry -- you can always find something to do with all that extra parsley.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

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Make Pressed Flower Bookmarks
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

What could generate happy memories better than flowers that you have received as a gift or that you have grown in your garden? But flowers are quick to fade. What can you do to preserve these beauties? You could simply dry them, but that can be bulky, and you have to have space to display the resulting fragile arrangement. Consider pressing your flowers, and using them to create projects that showcase the loveliness of your flowers, such as these bookmarks.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

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What to Do With All That . . . Cilantro
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Cilantro may be an annual, but it is one of those herbs that self-sows, which means that if you plant it in one spot in the fall, it could pop wherever the wind has blown the seeds the next spring. You can pull those seedlings up – or you can let them grow for a little while, then harvest the fragrant bunches. Just make sure you harvest the plants before they go to seed, as they fade pretty fast after that. (You may want to leave a few plants to make seeds to self-sow, and to harvest for cooking. The seed of the cilantro plant is the spice coriander, but that’s a whole other article). This can leave you with a whole lot of cilantro. What to do?

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Monday, November 7, 2011

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Descendants of the Golden Delicious
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

There are dessert apples, and there are cooking apples. It takes a special apple indeed to excel at both. Two of my favorite multi-taskers are the Honeycrisp and the Crispin. Interestingly, they both share a genetic ancestor, the Golden Delicious. Looking at the pedigrees of these apples gives us insight into how chance meetings and scientific planning both play a part in creating some of the best eatables around.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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What to do with all that . . . basil
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

When you plant basil, you know you are planting an annual and we tend to forget that in the excitement when we pluck off those first fragrant leaves to toss into a salad. If everything goes well, basil plants become large and bushy. But at the first sign of frost, those plants are toast. You can try to overwinter them inside, but basil loves sun, so unless you have a full greenhouse, you’re in store for plants that drop leaves like crazy. So what do you do with all that . . . basil?

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Friday, October 14, 2011

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Make Your Own Garden Task Apron
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Have you ever brought out a stack of seed packets, only to have the wind start plucking them, one by one, out of the container you’re sorting them in? Have you ever set down your trowel in favor of another tool, and when you need the trowel again, it seems to have blended in with the scenery? Or you brought out a bucket of tools, but left them on the other side of the yard. Solve these annoyances with a comfortable gardener’s apron.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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What to do with all that . . . oregano
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Oregano is one of those herbs that tends to grow prolifically. This can be a good thing. After all, it is a member of the mint family. It makes a sort of tall carpet, and it covered with tiny blossoms in the spring. But it can easily grow out of its intended bed. If yours gets out of hand, the only thing left to do is start cooking with it.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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What to do with all that thyme
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

It’s hard to have too much time in a day. But it’s easy to have more thyme than you can use in your garden. The plants spread horizontally, forming an attractive carpet. But sometimes you still wind up having to trim it back, and it would be a shame to waste the clippings. Thyme is such an intensely flavored herb, and it is an essential ingredient in so many traditional spice mixtures.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

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What do I do With All That . . . Rosemary
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

In a continuing effort to keep innocent (and tasty) herbs out of the compost bin, I thought I would tackle another prolific grower – rosemary. The upright kind gets leggy and looks scraggly if you don’t trim it back occasionally. Give it a sunny spot, and your prostrate rosemary will creep out of its bed and half way across your yard if you let it. And you can’t easily give away the clippings – your gardening friends will tell you they’ve already got more rosemary than they can use. But if you cook it up into tasty dishes and gifts, they’ll all be singing a different tune praising this adaptable herb.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

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What do I do With All That . . . Mint
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

I just had a gardener give me some very healthy mint plants today. She said she used her mint for making tea, but didn’t know quite what else to do with it. “There’s just so much of it,” she lamented. Sound familiar? Mint is one of those aggressive herbs that tend to take over, if not checked. One way to keep it in its place is to cook it in as many ways as are possible.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

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Why Build a Bat House
By Amber Royer (dandylyon85)

Many gardens use birdhouses to attract spectacular creatures that add color and movement to the landscape. But have you ever considered adding a bat house? Bats can actually be quite beneficial to your neighborhood. They help solve one of my gardening pet peeves (though this may not be as much of a problem for you as it is for me here in Texas). When the day finally cools off, which should be prime gardening time, that’s when the mosquitos show up. In droves. But one bat can eat 10,000 mosquitos a night.*

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