Showing posts with label lou16. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lou16. Show all posts

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Reviewing The Healthy Habits Set from Arbonne

 If you've been intrigued by the idea of doing the 30 Days to Healthy Living with Arbonne, but aren't sure if you could follow it, then you may want to do a 'test run' with the Healthy Habits set.


Arbonne's Healthy Habit Set
Photo adapted by Lou16 on Canva

Arbonne's Healthy Habits set seems to be used in three different ways, but before I go into them let's take a look at what is in the Healthy Habits Set.


  • 1 x Bag of Protein Powder (your choice of flavour) 
  • 1 x Box of Fizz Sticks (your choice of flavour)
  • 1 x Box Gut Health
  • 1 x Box of CleanTox Herbal Tea

Note: All of Arbonne's products are vegan, kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO.

How to Use the Healthy Habits Set

I talk about how I love the 30 days to healthy living plan in this post  How to Reboot Your Body.   I have noticed, however, that some people aren't sure that they could follow the plan.   I've been told I'd love to but ... I can't give up my coffee ... I can't give up alcohol ..... I'm not giving up dairy ..... I'm not sure it sounds like something I could stick to. 

A Trial Run for the 30 Day Plan

The Healthy Habits Set is great if you're not sure about the 30 days to healthy living plan as you can try it out for two weeks and see how you feel before you commit to purchasing a full 30 days to healthy living set.

The Breakfast Club

We used to run something called The Breakfast Club for the month of December and you can use the Healthy Habits Set to run this whenever you like.   It's almost like easing into building healthy habits without committing to going the whole nine yards.

I actually followed this principle for 3 weeks before I started my very first 30 days to healthy living plan.   It goes as follows:

When you get up take the gut health supplement which contains probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes.   It basically helps your gut health which is key to so many aspects of good health.   

You then want to make sure to start the day with a good quality protein-rich breakfast.   This is where the protein powder comes in and most people would have a protein smoothie as their breakfast of choice.   If you didn't want a smoothie you could use the powder to make things such as protein pancakes, protein waffles, proats, or overnight oats.   

When I tried it initially I just had a protein shake initially as it was quick and easy to prepare and drink.   Using the protein powder has become a daily part of my life now and I usually alternate between proats, overnight oats, breakfast parfaits and about once a week - pancakes.

Next, you want to look at reducing the amount of coffee/caffeinated tea/energy drinks that you have in a day.   Substitute one of them with the CleanTox tea - this tea has lots of benefits which you can read about here.   Substitute another of them with a Fizz Stick - this gives you more sustainable energy and is non-acidic in your body which helps your gut.

While doing this you try and make healthier choices during the day, but allow yourself treats as well as it's all about balance.   It is ideal at Christmas to counteract all the rich food and (if you indulge in alcohol) the alcoholic drinks that are often part of your holiday celebrations.   If you're like me you will usually have a month or two that it feels like everyone has celebrations (in my family we have way too many birthdays to celebrate in August!)

You should also try moving your body as well, whether it's walking 10,000 steps every day or doing some other activity that you enjoy.

Now, creating healthy habits isn't just about nutrition and exercise, creating and maintaining habits that are good for you is really done in the mind.   Arbonne used to have a program for subscribers only that helped your mental health and was a great way to start the day.   I'm happy to let you know that they have now opened it up to everyone for free.   It's called the Be Well Club and it is a great way to start (or build on your existing) your personal development journey.

Here is the link to the Be Well Club if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me via my Facebook page or Instagram and I'll be more than happy to answer them.

Maintaining Habits

I use a number of nutritional products, such as the ones in this set, on an ongoing basis as they make me feel good.   Often I will grab this set to top up my products instead of buying a full set or getting them individually - I know other people who do this too.

How Would You Use the Healthy Habits Set?

If you decided to try the Healthy Habits Set which of the three ways would you be using it, or have I missed an option that fits you?






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Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Library of Lost and Found Reviewed

 If you're feeling like curling up with a hot drink and a feel-good book then have I got a recommendation for you.

Image created by Lou16 on Canva

It's getting a little cooler in the evening for me here in Australia so I love pulling a throw over me, having a nice cup of tea (Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla is my current favourite for this activity) and reading a good book either in paperback version or on my Kindle.

I read this charming novel by Phaedra Patrick on my Kindle (for free with my Kindle Unlimited membership).   I had never heard of the author before, but looking at the reviews this seems to be her best novel to date.   I had just finished reading a couple of psychological thrillers so wanted something easy to read and with a feel-good vibe - this one sounded like it would suit.

When we are introduced to Martha she is a single, middle-aged woman who people seem to walk all over, somewhere along the way she seems to have lost her voice and confidence.   She loves books which makes her job as a volunteer librarian or in her words, 'a guardian of books' perfect for her (although she can't seem to get employed as a full-time librarian - that's another story, prepare to be frustrated on her behalf!).

I will admit there were times when I wanted to shake Martha and get her to stand up for herself, but mostly I felt very sad for her.   The book went back between the present time and earlier times in her life, I couldn't help but think how different Martha's life might have turned out if her beloved grandmother Zelda had lived.

It appears as though the loss of Zelda in Martha's life saw her become more introverted and subservient, just as her father wanted.   I must admit that after finishing the book I did stop and reflect on my own life because the loss of people in our lives really does have a huge impact on the things we do - but back to the review!

When Martha was younger she would write her own stories and share them with her grandmother who loved to hear them and encouraged Martha with her imagination, enter the mysterious part of the book.

Martha finds a parcel addressed to her outside of the library where she works.   Inside the parcel is a book missing its cover and title page and looking very battered.  On top of the book were a business card and a handwritten note from the owner of a used bookstore indicating that the book had come into his possession and was obviously unsellable, but could be of interest to her because of the message inside.

When Martha turned the pages to find what the bookshop owner meant she came across an inscription "To my darling, Martha Storm...." it was signed by her grandmother, however, the date was three years after she had died.   To make it even more mysterious when Martha looked at the stories in the book she recognised many of them as ones that she had written as a child.

Join Martha on her journey, solve the mystery and see how with a little help from Suki, Owen and Siegfried Martha learns to be less of a doormat and becomes more confident in herself.   I thoroughly recommend this novel for some stress relief reading on a winter's evening.   If you do read it please come back and let me know your thoughts.





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Saturday, February 5, 2022

How to Make a Breakfast Parfait

I am going to review how to make a breakfast parfait.   If you haven't tried a breakfast parfait before then you are in for a treat as it is a delicious way to start your day.


How to make a breakfast parfait
Image photo by Louanne Cox, adapted for this article with Canva

I know that technically it's not a parfait, but I saw someone on Instagram layering yogurt, fruit and a little granola in a tall glass and calling it a breakfast parfait.  I immediately thought of a different option that I could make.

First a little bit about me.   I absolutely love overnight oats and eat these for my breakfast regularly, they taste good, but to be honest they don't look that fantastic.   I also love having berries with my breakfast and when I choose to have proats I will often top them with berries.   I also like to keep my breakfasts both gluten and dairy-free for the majority of the time.

Now let's look at the breakfast parfait.

My Breakfast Parfait Breakdown

I basically have 3 different layers:
  1. Coconut yogurt
  2. Overnight oats
  3. Frozen berries
Let's talk through the overnight oats layer.   I use the following ingredients:

2/3 cups oats (now I use regular oats as I'm not a celiac so the fact that some gluten may be present - oats are naturally gluten-free - isn't something I need to worry about, but obviously you can use any oats)
2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (I use Arbonne's one which is a vegan protein)
1 cup dairy-free milk of choice (I alternate between using coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk)
The rest of the ingredients I don't really measure (confession time I tend to be a throw things together kind of cook as opposed to measuring everything carefully!).
Black chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

I mix this all together and I'm ready to start making the parfait.   You will note (if you've made overnight oats before) that I don't add as much fluid as usual, this is because I'm adding yogurt and frozen berries so the oats can soak up some of the water from the defrosting process and some of the yogurt.

I use what is called a breakfast smoothie cup to make my breakfast parfait in - I had tried a hurricane glass I have at home, but it wasn't big enough!   I brought mine in K-Mart here in Australia, but you can find similar items on Amazon if you're not in Australia or New Zealand.   Mine has a lid with a hole in it and reusable straw as well as a full lid which is the one that I obviously use and is similar to this one that I found on Amazon - Smoothie Breakfast Cup.

Putting the Breakfast Parfait Together

I place a little yogurt in the bottom of the glass/cup, on top of this I add 1/3 of the overnight oats mixture, then some frozen fruit*, yogurt, 1/3 of the overnight oats mix, frozen fruit, yogurt, remaining overnight oats, a small amount of fruit and a tsp or two of the yogurt (I like to be able to see a little of the oat mixture showing through around the edges when I look at the breakfast parfait, but the aesthetic is up to you.

As far as the frozen fruit I actually use different ones on each layer.  First up I use a mixed blend called the Dark Fruits Mix (it contains blackberries, dark cherries, black currants), next I use a mixed blend called Ruby Fruits Mix (this contains strawberries, dark cherries, red currants), on the top I use frozen blueberries.

To be honest, I would probably mix the fruits up even more, but they've been in short supply in our local supermarket at the moment so I've been using the fruits I've got plenty of.   I do love the variety as I eat so I'll continue to mix it up but I can't wait to be able to get frozen raspberries & blackberries again as I fancy trying a layer of each of the following - raspberries, strawberries & blackberries.

Breakfast Parfait
Photo by Lou16

You can see the different layers showing through in this photo, doesn't it look good?   Let me know if you are going to try this or not.

I share recipes on my Healthy Tips to Feel & Look Your Best Facebook group, you're welcome to join us.



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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Reviewing Harlan Coben's Stay Close, Netflix Series

I really enjoyed watching Harlan Coben's The Stranger so when I saw another series based on one of his books I was interested. James Nesbitt & Cush Jumbo as two of the leads were another draw for me and I am so glad I watched it. 

Reviewing Harlan Coben's Stay Close television series
Image from Pixabay, adapted via Canva by Lou16



If you're interested in Harlan Coben's books then you really should check out my fellow contributor, Wednesday Elf's Harlan Coben book reviews as she is a huge fan of his books.

This series is only eight episodes long and episode one is a little slow, it is well worth persevering, however because the next seven episodes more than makeup for it.   The series is full of twists and turns and red herrings that lead to an ending my husband never saw coming.

I did predict the killer earlier in the series (I can't remember which episode as we binge-watched this over two days), my husband did not believe me and I have to say there were a few moments where I started to second guess myself too!

The series is based in the North West of England and it opens with a young man disappearing after a night out at The Vipers (a nightclub).   One of the detectives who is handed this case to investigate is convinced that it is linked to the disappearance of another man, Stewart Green, last seen at The Vipers seventeen years previously.

We are also introduced to a family of five - Dave, Megan and their three children.   We soon discover that Megan used to be called Cassie.   Cassie worked at The Vipers as an exotic dancer and also disappeared on the same night as Stewart Green seventeen years ago.

I won't go into too much detail as I really want you to discover all the twists and turns for yourself, but I will let you know that after the killer is revealed, everything else gets revealed too so that there are no loose ends for you to continually wonder about.

I really do have to start reading Harlan Coben's books as I love all the plot twists in the television series and just be reading reviews of his books they sound like they are made for me.

Have you seen Stay Close or The Stranger yet?






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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Reviewing Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Sometimes I need a break from whodunnits and psychological thrillers so when I came across a novel that had the same title as my favourite Simple Minds song and a ringing endorsement from Marian Keyes I just knew I had to read it.

Don't you forget about me by mhairi mcfarlane review

Mhairi McFarlane certainly didn't disappoint, this was the exact book I needed to read.   It was a romance, but it was so much more.  The characters were awesome (even the ones you loathed!), the only one that really irritated me at times was the main character, Georgina, but even when she was annoying me she was so relatable.

The story starts with a budding romance in the sixth form between our heroine Georgina and the mysterious Lucas and I have to say that having spent my sixth form years in the UK Mhairi McFarlane did an amazing job at invoking memories I'd actually forgotten I had.   

We quickly fast forward to the present day and Georgina is 30 and working in the worst restaurant in town and even the way this restaurant and staff are described allowed my mind to actually see the restaurant.  When she was totally unfairly dismissed from the restaurant she decides to pay an unexpected visit to her boyfriend.   This turned out to be a mistake as said narcissistic boyfriend was in bed with his PA.

Then she receives an offer to do a one-off gig to tend bar at a wake - the bar in question has been newly refurbished and is looking at opening up again.   Georgina absolutely loves working the wake and gets on really well with one of the owners, Devlin.   At the end of the night, he offers her a permanent job which makes her feel like her life is on the up again.

Of course, it would be a boring book if that was all ..... enter Devlin's brother and the other owner of the bar, Lucas.   Whereas Georgina recognises Lucas instantly, he doesn't appear to have any memory of her whatsoever and is not happy that Devlin hired her without consultation. 

I won't tell you anymore of the storyline, I will let you discover it for yourself.  Yes, it's a romance, but it is so much more.   The characters are really well-rounded (I do hope Kitty gets her own novel one day) and it is also a book that deals with gaslighting and not ignoring red flags in relationships.   It's about great friends and complicated families and about overcoming adversity.  Oh, and the one-liners will have you in stitches!

I thoroughly enjoyed Don't You Forget About Me and couldn't put it down until I had finished.

As with most of the books, I read this was downloaded as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership something I highly recommend no matter what genre of book you like to read.   In fact, it's also a great way of exploring new genres too, I've recently read some supernatural and some science fiction books through my membership.




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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Reviewing Joy Ellis' Nikki Galena Series

 Have you heard of the novelist Joy Ellis?   I discovered her and her Matt Bollard series by a happy coincidence and am now devouring her Nikki Galena Series of books.


Joy Ellis Nikki Galena Series of books
Joy Ellis - Nikki Galena Series of Books


Joy Ellis writes police murder mysteries based in England's Fenlands which provides a really atmospheric background to the novels and makes me really want to visit some of the desolate villages of the Fen and photograph them .... although there does seem to be a few too many murders occurring!

Now at the time of writing, there are 13 Nikki Galena books and I have read 8 of them with number 9 waiting for me on my Kindle.   I recommend reading these books in order as you build up relationships with the members of Nikki's team and understand their backstories that way.

In the first book, we meet a pretty angry, hostile DI Nikki Galena and are introduced to her new DS Joseph Easter who she really didn't want to work with.   As the book evolves we see that they actually make a great team and we also get to meet the other members of her team based in Greensborough.

I actually downloaded books 1-5 as a book set on my Kindle and I really recommend doing that as some of the threads, especially that of a certain villain continue throughout these books.  If you have enough of Inspector Nik and her crew by this time you will at least rest easy knowing certain things have reached a conclusion.

Personally, I wanted to continue so I downloaded book 6, Captive on the Fens.  This book introduced us to a new character and a totally unexpected twist that relates to an existing character which really led to a very neat transition of team members in the next book.

I then downloaded another set and this was for books 7-9.

I totally recommend getting book sets because you really don't want to stop at just one book with these characters.  I feel like it's watching one of your favourite tv shows and you want to tune in each week to see how they're going - that's how good Joy Ellis is at creating characters.

I was able to download all of these books for free as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership which I have mentioned before and thoroughly recommend.

If you enjoy shows like Midsommer Murders and Vera and you also enjoy reading then I think you'll love this series of books by Joy Ellis.  Joy Ellis is compared to Peter May, J M Dalgliesh and Ann Cleeves (the author of Vera - totally agree with this comparison) and was nominated for Crime and Thriller Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2021 for The Patient Man.   This book is part of her Jackman & Evans series which is next on my list to read after I finish all of the Nikki Galena books.

Have you read any Joy Ellis books?




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Saturday, October 30, 2021

Reviewing The Fun of Stretched Canvases

Do you remember the fun you had as a child when you got given a new colouring in book?  I'm sure that is part of the appeal of colouring in books for adults.  The other part is that colouring in can be a fun way to alleviate stress.

Stretched canvases for colouring in
Image by Lou16, created on Canva

Our state called a snap 3-day lockdown a couple of months ago and I was in a local discount store on that day looking for something when I noticed the printed stretched canvases waiting to be coloured in.  The next thing you know they were in my shopping basket along with some felt tip pens.

As it happens the lockdown wasn't extended past the three days so I didn't need to have lots of things to keep me busy.   The 3 days were long enough for me to find that I really enjoyed the colouring in.   

As it happened a few things happened in the following week that I found very frustrating and that is when I discovered that colouring in was very calming for me.   I started to spend a few minutes every day doing a little colouring in.   For me, I felt it was like other's feel when practicing meditation (my mind doesn't like to quiet itself during meditation, but it does during colouring!).

I started to do a little colouring in every day and I really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, I can't find the exact canvases that I did online.   I went back to the store where I got my two canvases and the remaining ones are clearly designed for children and I found the same lack of printed canvases for adults when I looked online.

Feeling a little frustrated that perhaps my colouring in activities was going to have to change to a book or be replaced by something else I discovered another option in an unusual place - Facebook!

As I'm sure you're aware there are groups for just about anything on Facebook and I belong to quite a few of them.  One group that I belong to is dedicated to a popular store here in Australia and in this group, I came across a really cool idea.

This store sells amazing black and white printed canvases with images like koalas, kookaburras, zebras, elephants and more.   One day a lady in the group showed off one of the black and white koala canvases - she had coloured in the background and added some details.   It was amazing.

This thread soon exploded with a plethora of images from different people across the country who had taken these prints and added colour - sometimes colouring in the images, sometimes just the background.   Basically, adult colouring in just turned into designer art pieces for the home!

Allowing a little creativity into your life is a great way of balancing out the stresses in the world while having fun and I think colouring in is a great way of doing this.

Of course, if you don't feel up to tackling an entire canvas by yourself you could always look at one of the amazing colouring books for adults that are available.





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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Reviewing A Day Like This by Kelley McNeil

 What mother hasn't momentarily taken her eyes off the road to glance back at their child in the backseat, especially when said child is sick and you are on your way to the doctor?   Imagine if this resulted in an accident and when you woke up in the hospital everyone insisted that you didn't have a child.

Reviewing A Day LIke This by Kelley McNeil
Image created by Lou6 using Canva


This book (A Day Like This) by Kelley McNeil kept me captivated and I really didn't know what to expect, do I recommend it?   Absolutely, but clear your day before starting it as you are not going to want to be disturbed!

The medical opinion is that it appears as though Annie's memories are false memories caused by a brain injury (that doesn't show on scans) from the accident, or maybe she is going a little crazy, we are introduced to the mental instability that besieged her mother while Annie and her sister were growing up.

Of course, there is another idea that could explain what's happening - could she have crossed over to a parallel universe?   In which case, can she get back?   There are so many questions and we are right there inside Annie's mind as she's asking them, investigating them and trying to unravel them.

At one stage I wondered if she was perhaps dead and she actually asked this question herself, but no this book is not trying to be The Sixth Sense!   You'll have to wait until the end to see which happy ending Annie gets, but it is well worth the wait.

You are basically following two storylines in this novel, but they are very easy to keep track of and I was surprised once I finished reading it to discover that this is a debut novel.   I cannot wait to see what else Kelley McNeil will write.

If you enjoy reading then why not follow me on my Facebook page - Tea with Louanne?




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Saturday, October 2, 2021

Reviewing Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

I loved Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney but be warned you need to concentrate when reading it as it has some delicious twists in the storyline.


Sometimes I Lie reviewed - a dark psychological thriller with a number of twists
Image created via Canva by Lou16

When I was looking for a new book to read I came across this one and this is how it was described on Amazon:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me any more

3. Sometimes I lie

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this thriller down. Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window.

This totally intrigued me so I then looked at some of the reviews and a number of the reviewers said that they were left confused or that their minds were messed up and I just knew I was going to enjoy it.

If psychological thrillers are your thing then you will really love this, but it's certainly not one you can read with distractions as there are a number of twists to this story.

The book is absolutely amazing for a debut novel and I cannot wait to read more of Alice Feeney's work.

There are three storylines running through the book: firstly the present where Amber is in a coma; secondly in the days leading up to the accident that put her in a coma and thirdly there are diary entries from fifteen years prior.

I enjoy a dark psychological thriller and this book ticked a lot of boxes for me, I found it really chilling in places (especially the diary entries).  It is definitely not something you can read while doing anything else though as there's a lot of things to keep track of and, remember, do not take anything at face value!

I don't want to put much information about the storyline as I don't want to ruin it for anyone, just trust me this is a book for you if you loved The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie or The Three Women by Valerie Keoch.

Do you enjoy psychological thrillers?





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Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed

If you're after a cozy, feel-good romance with a touch of mystery and intrigue then let me transport you to a little place called Starlight Cove.   Want to know more?

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed
Image created using Canva

I read a lovely cozy book called A Bittersweet Surprise as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership and when I finished it I realized that the author (Cynthia Ellingsen) had created a few books based in Starlight Cove so I decided to read another one!

The Lighthouse Keeper was written before A Bittersweet Surprise so there were a couple of things that I already knew would happen, but that didn't deflect from the feel-good feeling this novel gave me.   This certainly isn't the novel for you if you want to have to think hard about things or get caught up in some psychological thriller.   This book is like a comforting blanket on a cold winter's evening when you just want to be left alone.

The main heroine of the book is the daughter of treasure hunters and when her life gets thrown a couple of curveballs she decides to bid on a lighthouse.   As you can probably tell from the title of the novel her bid wins and she moves to Starlight Cove to restore the town's lighthouse.

Her parents have settled down in Starlight Cove and are running an antique shop there, she also meets some of the town's residents along with some not-so-nice non-resident treasure hunters.   Did I mention that there was a long-lost treasure to be found too?

While she endeavours to try her hand at a little matchmaking between her first friend in Starlight Cove and one of the hunky Henderson brothers she also finds herself falling a little in love herself.  As with any romance, there's a little bump in the road which has her overthinking things (a trait I can totally relate to myself!).

With The Lighthouse Keeper, Cynthia Ellingsen has once again shown how well she can create her characters as I can totally relate to a few in this book, just as I did in the other book.    Now I need to grab the only other book I can see in the Starlight Cove series to see if it's as good.   An extra bonus is that all three of these are free to read with a Kindle Unlimited account!




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Saturday, September 4, 2021

A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed

 Reading a book set in a chocolate shop just sounds like a delicious way to spend a few hours, don't you think?

Reviewing A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen
Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen - Buy Here!

Now as much as I love a good murder mystery or dark psychological thriller I also like to read some light-hearted, feel-good fiction on occasion and this book by Cynthia Ellingsen definitely falls into that category.

I have never read any of Cynthia Ellingsen's books before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but she wrote the characters really well and I found myself invested in Emma's life.   I was really happy when I finished this book to discover that there were two other books written that are based in Starlight Cove (where this novel is based) and you can be sure they are being queued in my Kindle!

The main heroine of this story is called Emma and always wants to see the best in people and help people.  Like many other people with this trait, she's not so great at accepting help!  She is running a chocolate shop in Starlight Cove that her late father opened.

Prominently displayed in the chocolate shop is a painting of Emma as a child that is titled The Girl with the Butterscotch Hair.  We are introduced to this painting right at the beginning of the story and it is part of a mystery that runs through the book.

I love the layers of different stories that run through the book bringing it together in a delicious read that would only be better on a lazy Sunday afternoon if enjoyed with a Chocolate Dream (something served in the Starlight Cove Sweetery that we also get introduced to on the first couple of pages).

Emma's need to help anyone that needs it extends to strangers as well and one of the storylines that weave through this novel centres around a woman and her child who start off as strangers before becoming friends.   

We also get to meet Emma's best friend, her grandmother, stepmother and many other Starlight Cove residents.  Each person we read and the stories they bring to the novel helps to enrich it and create a rich tapestry of Emma's life.   There is also a little love interest that is introduced although it doesn't dominate the story, it's just another thread in the book.

If you're looking for a light-hearted book to whisk yourself away to another world for a couple of hours then I recommend reading this one and transporting yourself to Starlight Cove.

I got to enjoy this book for $0 as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership - I highly recommend this membership if you enjoy reading, I liken it to a virtual library card.





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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Reviewing The Whitby Murders by J R Ellis

Have you ever been to an Escape Room?   After reading this murder mystery novel you may have second thoughts about participating in an Escape Room adventure.

Reviewing The Whitby Murders by J R Ellis
Image created via Canva



Apparently, this novel is the 6th in J R Ellis' Yorkshire Murder Mystery series.  I should probably have started with novel number 1.   Having said that this book stood on its own two feet and is fine to read as a standalone mystery (although I will definitely be looking at reading the rest of these).

Whitby, a Yorkshire coastal town in England's North is closely associated with Bram Stoker's Dracula and since the early 90s has hosted a music festival called the Whitby Goth Weekend twice a year.   The setting of this murder is in Whitby, during the Goth Weekend, and while taking part in an Escape Room.

I have read books that have used music festivals as a setting for murder and also some Gothic-themed novels, but I've never read a book that was actually set in an Escape Room.   I loved the idea and although I realized fairly early on about one thing, I totally missed a few other things so I loved finding out how everything tied together at the end.

If you enjoy murder mysteries then I really recommend this one.  As a book, it is not one that deals in gory as much as the mystery side of a murder mystery and is perfect for people who love putting puzzles together.

I enjoyed reading this book as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership which I always describe as a library membership with Amazon's Kindle store.

Other reviewers who have read some (or all) of the previous novels in J R Ellis's Yorkshire Murder Mystery series have said this is the weakest in the series which means I am even more keen to read the others.  I do have to agree with a few of the comments, however - the actual procedures that took place would not have been allowed to happen in real life, but it's a work of fiction so I didn't mind it!

DCI Oldroyd is the 'star' of these novels and one of the witnesses to the initial murder is his adult daughter who calls him and asks him to investigate.   As far as police procedures go it wasn't on his patch and he obviously had a personal bias.   I was able to put this aside and just enjoy the mystery, but if you like the procedures to be followed (like a number of the reviewers that I've read) then you might want to give it a miss.   I think you'll be missing out, but ...

So I have two questions to ask you - have you ever been to an Escape Room?  Also, have you ever read any of the books in this series by J R Ellis?   I must admit I have been thinking about trying an Escape Room for a while, but now I will be extremely careful as to who I participate in one with!



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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Sleep Headphones for Side Sleepers

 I'm reviewing my Musicozy Wireless Sports Headwear aka headband speakers which I use when I'm sleeping.

Photo by Lou16, image design via Canva

Let's start with why I was looking for some headband speakers.   I have been on a bit of a health journey since the beginning of 2018.   This journey first focused on my nutrition (learn more here), then on the exercise component of good health as well as personal development.

I had always thought that personal development was a great idea for some people, but I didn't need it!  I really believe that some of the personal development practices I used helped keep me on track with my journey while enriching my life in so many ways.   If you're thinking about starting a personal development journey yourself I recommend working through The Magic by Rhonda Byrne.  

As life got in the way I started spending less time on my personal development, my morning journaling, affirmations, reading dwindled from 30 mins to 20 to 10 until I stopped doing any work at all.   Initially, I didn't really notice it, but gradually changes took place and I found myself in a really negative headspace. 

I was talking to my daughter about things and somehow the conversation shifted to sleeping and she told me she listens to affirmations and meditations as she's going to sleep.   The idea intrigued me as I thought that would be great, except I didn't think my husband would be impressed if he had to listen to them!

Not long after our conversation, my husband had to go away for work for a week so I decided to see if I could sleep listening to some of the offerings on YouTube.   Now a couple had voices that really annoyed my so it may take you a while to find the perfect fit for you, but I did find a channel that I liked.   I listened as I was going to sleep and after a couple of days, I was convinced that I needed to find a way to keep this practice up.

My daughter recommended I look for some headband speakers so I turned to Amazon.   I searched for headband speakers and then I saw that some mentioned side sleepers so I narrowed my search to these.   I ended up buying the Musicozy Wireless Sports Headwear (the official title on the box), they were actually listed on Amazon as Musicozy Sleep Headphones Headband.

Musicozy Wireless Sports Headwear - The Review

There were lots of headband speakers to choose from and I wish I could say that I did a lot of research to narrow down my choice but I basically looked for ones that said they were suitable for side sleepers, that connected to Bluetooth and weren't too expensive.   The reason I didn't want to spend too much is that I really wasn't sure I'd be able to sleep with them.

I had narrowed it down to two different ones and was trying to decide if I wanted black or the grey marl when I saw that Musicozy had an animal print design - decision made!

 So the company says (in italics):

  • Wireless headphones with excellent sound quality - the sound quality really is good, but they do say on Amazon that they are noise-canceling which they are not.  For my purposes, that's fine as I want to hear if there are any noises at night, but if you're looking at using them at the gym they may not be for you.
  • Built-in microphone, hands free talking - I haven't used the microphone as I have only used them for listening while I sleep and I can't see any reviewers talking about this feature
  • Effective wireless range up to 10 meters/33 feet - personally I have my phone on my bedside table so I haven't tested the range, but I have read a few reviewers who find they can walk around their house and remain connected.
  • Three buttons control all music/call functions - I love that there are only three buttons (I only use the middle one) as I will often wake up in the early hours and want to take it off so I can just press the middle button, without the need of my glasses or the light, to turn it off and put it on the side before going back to sleep. 
  • Built-in rechargeable li-polymer battery - on Amazon it says that the charging takes 1-2 hours and it will hold the charge for 10 hours.   I am sure mine holds the charge longer than 10 hours.  The first time I charged it I did find it a little fiddly to do, but not sure if that was just me!  It's very easy and I usually put it on charge in the morning as I'm doing things so I don't know how long it actually takes.

Note for side sleepers


I sleep on my side and although the speakers are thin I will admit that I still wasn't convinced that I should lie on my side so the first night I slept on my back which resulted in snoring which resulted in a grumpy husband and sore throat!

The next couple of nights I actually slept on my side but I rested my head on my arm so that I wasn't pressing down on the speakers.  This was quite comfortable, but I woke up during the night and took the headband off.   Finally, on the fourth or fifth night, I just rested my head on the pillow as usual and it was really good.   I did find that I could turn the volume down slightly when I wasn't on my back or rested on my arm so that was good.

I definitely found that I could sleep on my side with these speakers and recommend them to any fellow side sleepers out there.

Note for people sharing a bed


The big test for these speakers was whether or not they disturbed my husband's sleep.   Some nights he can be a light sleeper and when something wakes him up it will take him a long time to go back to sleep.   His response to my sleep headphones - "I couldn't hear a thing".

In summary, I am really happy with my purchase and hope that my review has helped anyone who would like to listen to meditations, affirmations or music while drifting off to sleep.





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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Is the Lemon Pod the Best Lemon Keeper?

Let's review why I love my Lemon Pod and why I think it most definitely IS the best type of lemon keeper or lemon saver around.   You could always try and convince me otherwise of course!

The Lemon Pod Review
The Lemon Pod (photos Lou16, design Canva)


I do love lemons and have over the past year discovered lemon and blueberry proats which have become my absolute favourite breakfast.   When making these proats I only use half a lemon.   What I would do before I had the Lemon Pod was - I placed the remaining half of the lemon in a plastic sandwich bag and stored it in the fridge until the next day.

Obviously, this is not very environmentally sound so I decided to look for a lemon keeper or lemon saver.   During my hunt I discovered the Lemon Pod and I thought it was the best one available so I brought it.   I absolutely love it and use it along with my lemon squeezer several times a week.

What attracted me to the Lemon Pod?  It's not a rigid container that you just pop your lemon half in, it has a top that actually stretches to fit the lemon.   The different sizes of lemons that I get throughout the year can all be catered for with the Lemon Pod.

The Lemon Pod is actually made up of two pieces.    A bottom solid piece of heavy plastic is where you put the half lemon, cut side down.   The top piece has a heavy plastic ring around the outside which twists into the bottom locking it in place.   The middle of this top piece has a stretchy material that stretches over the lemon.   When you take the lemon out the stretchy material goes back to its 'normal' size.

I believe that as this stretches to 'fit' the lemon it helps it to stay fresh longer because less air can be trapped in there.  To be honest, I couldn't tell you exactly how long the lemons will stay fresh because the longest I've kept half a lemon is two days, but I won't part with my Lemon Pod and I won't swap it for another Lemon Keeper.

If you don't fancy trying proats and you don't add lemon juice to your hot drinks you might be interested in trying a couple of sweet lemon recipes a couple of our contributors make.   First Sam makes fresh Lemon Hand Pies which sound absolutely delicious and then Mary Beth makes some amazing Lemon Cookies.





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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Reviewing Vera: A British TV Drama

I must admit I love British murder mysteries and Vera is definitely one I enjoy a lot, let me tell you a little bit about it.

Vera, a British police drama
Press Release photo (itv.om) adapted by Louanne Cox using Canva

DCI Vera Stanhope is a middle-aged, blunt-talking woman with a brusque attitude who gets things done.   Donning a trench coat, tatty hat and driving her (very old) landrover around the wonderful landscape of Northumberland she hasn't been portrayed as a sex symbol and there's no love interest in the cast.   Basically, her team feels like 'real' people which means you can concentrate on the crime at hand and trying to solve it .... along with the panoramic shots of the area (British tourism must appreciate this series).

I love her down-to-earth mannerisms, her use of the words love and pet just really consolidates her character.   She gets frustrated with her team on occasion, but you can tell they have respect for her and the unit is very cohesive.

I haven't watched Vera from the beginning, I stumbled across it one evening as it was about to start so watched it, then I found another episode a few weeks later.   It was a few seasons in before I started to watch every episode, I have since watched older episodes so I think I'm completely up to date now and eagerly awaiting Season 11 to be aired.

I mention this because you could easily watch just an odd episode and enjoy it without needing to start from the beginning.   In fact, some critics have panned the first series (even though it continually ranks well in the countries it's shown) so maybe it was good that I saw a couple of later episodes first.

If you are like me and get invested in characters you will get a shock in one of the episodes in season 6 (I won't ruin it by telling you which one) as something happens which almost made me cry.   For the record, I rarely cry over television shows or movies.

If you have heard of the novelist Ann Cleaves you may have heard of Vera as this drama series has been based on her novels: Hidden Depths, Telling Tales, The Crow Trap and Silent Voices. 

If you want to watch Vera you can see her for free on the ITV in the UK and ABC in Australia, you can also watch her on Prime Video in other parts of the world or purchase her DVDs.   Each series has four episodes in them, but according to the latest information Series 11 which is being filmed as I write this should be having 6 episodes, two being filmed in 2021 and four in 2022.

If you enjoy series such as Broadchurch, The Stranger, Endeavour or Shetland (also written by Ann Cleaves) then you should really check out this series.




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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Reviewing Her Last Breath by Hilary Davidson

Today I'm going to review a book that is set for release on 1st July 2021 which I was able to read prior to release as part of the First Reads for Amazon Prime Readers

Her Last Breath by Hilary Davidson Reviewed


One of the things that made me choose this book to read was in the blurb about it, "On the day of her sister Caroline’s funeral, Deirdre Crawley receives a message her sister wrote before she died: If you’re reading this, I’m already dead." That hook was irresistible for me so I downloaded the book and settled down for what I hoped would be a great read, I have to say I have very mixed feelings about this book. 

I have never heard of the author before so I had no expectations. I actually read the book in one sitting and two of the things I loved about the book were the plot and the way that the pandemic was handled. I mention the pandemic because the book was based in NY and it's the first book I've read where it's even mentioned - it has been done so in a way that is easy to miss, but to me added another dimension and makes me surprised at the biggest failing this book has. 

As I said the plot was great and I would recommend reading it just because I did enjoy the plot, but the characters were another story. They seemed very one-dimensional. Even with a character that wasn't very fleshed out, there were a few things that Diedre said that just didn't seem in line with other things. 

I, personally, think one of the best characters in the book was Theo, the person who Diedre's sister claimed had killed her. If this book was a first draft I would have given it really high marks, but as a completed book it's disappointing. 

I don't usually like to write book reviews that I have mixed feelings about, but this author shows amazing talent. I see so many glimpses in this book that tell me she can write and I truly believe that she could have made these characters more real to me. 

If you like suspenseful thrillers do I still think you'd enjoy the plot lines of this book, but if you are more into sinking your teeth into the characters then you may want to pass. I will definitely be happy to read this author again though as I did see a lot of promise in the pages. 

I should clarify it's not that I disliked the characters, I reviewed a book called Girls Night Out where I really didn't like the characters, but they definitely seemed real to me. In this particular book it's that I couldn't envisage these characters as being real. When I read a book I can almost see things happening in my mind like I'm watching a movie - this time the characters wouldn't appear clearly for me.




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Saturday, May 29, 2021

How Bed Socks Can Equal a Happy Marriage!

 Today I want to review bed socks because they really can help keep a marriage happy!  If your partner has cold feet, keep reading.


Reviewing bedsocks and how they can save your marriage
Original photo, Pixabay.com adapted by Lou16

May is my birthday month and after giving me a cow onesie last birthday, my husband went for something that would be a gift for both of us - bedsocks!

I imagine that there could be nothing worse than encountering a couple of blocks of ice when you're snuggled up in bed, but pushing your partner away probably isn't great for your marriage either, so - bedsocks!

I have always had cold feet, but as newlyweds, my husband acted as my human hot water bottle and would warm them up for me.   As he's gotten older he feels the cold more and if I rest my feet on the back of his calves to warm them up, I don't get a great reaction!

I will be honest, I didn't appreciate losing my little feet warmer which is why I recommend adding bedsocks to the marriage if you're in a similar situation.   No hurt feelings and no freezing feet to move away from, they really are a win/win item.

Socks are great and we've written a number of different reviews on this site about them - sock reviews - however, don't think that you can just wear a pair of socks to bed, that is not the same as bedsocks!   Bedsocks should be soft and, in my opinion, they should be fluffy.   All of the bedsocks I have owned have been very fluffy.

A bonus as you get older are the bedsocks with grips on the bottom - I really should be wearing these as I walk around the house in my bedsocks, but my husband always goes for the ones that feel nice and soft and did I say fluffy!

I think cold feet must be genetic because I can remember as a teenager my dad buying my mum a couple of pairs of bedsocks for Christmas one year.  I remember because he wrote a poem to go with them which I thought was really romantic (but I'd never have admitted that as I was a teenager!).   It was no prize-winning poem but a' roses are red' type of poem.   I think it went something like this:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Your feet are cold

So these are for you

Now I didn't get a poem from my husband, in fact I did tell someone 'hang on romance must be dead as I got flowers from my mum, jewelry from my daughter and socks from my husband!'  They knew I was joking as the socks were really appreciated, I just wish he could've found some that looked like hoofs to go with the cow onesie, but apparently, he couldn't find any like that.   On a side note, I HAVE discovered some (although they're not bedsocks) so if you would like hoof socks check these out!  I'm thinking about getting some - if I do I'll definitely review them for you and even photograph them with my cow onesie just so you can really appreciate them!

Now, who's going to admit to having cold feet?   You know they say cold feet mean a warm heart (or is that cold hands?).




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Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Last Mrs Parrish - A Book Review

The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine is a book about Amber, Daphne & Jackson.   It's a book where entitlement leads to manipulation and manipulation has its consequences.


The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine



I love that I've discovered a new author in Liv Constantine she (or I should say they) captures Amber's character really well and as you're reading it you so want Daphne to find out.   As the twist comes you almost want to read it again to see how one of the characters (with your fresh information) isn't actually the person you thought.

This kept me up reading late into the night even though I knew I had work the next day there was just no way I could put it up!  Amber reminded me a little of Tom Ripley and I found the duplicity of the novel absolutely delicious, I would never have known that this was a debut novel.

After reading the book I discovered that Liv Constantine was actually two sisters writing as a partnership, luckily they have written a few more books which will definitely be added to my long, must-read list.

I'll leave you with this, Amber's father really should have warned her to beware of the green-eyed monster that calls itself envy.

I read this as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership and I thoroughly recommend this if you're a voracious reader, I think of it as a library card for Amazon!




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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Reviewing Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game by Tilly Bagshawe

 

As a teenager I read Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline, I was hooked on his books from that time onwards.   When he passed away in 2007 I thought we would never hear anything else about the Blackwell Clan.   Enter Tilly Bagshawe...

Book Review Sidney Sheldon's MIstress of the Game by Tilly Bagshawe
I had read a couple of Tilly Bagshawe's books and thoroughly enjoyed them (if you like the chick lit genre then give her a read).  So when I was in a local bookshop quite a few years ago (after Sidney Sheldon's death) and saw that Tilly Bagshawe had written a sequel to Master of the Game I just knew I would love it.   For some reason didn't end up buying the book (Mistress of the Game) then and managed to forget all about it until earlier this year.

I was on a weekend away and discovered a lovely little shop that had used books in the back, old records in the middle, and served takeaway coffee at the front!   As I'm looking at the books I came across this book again and this time I was not going to let it get away, I was determined to read it!

I am so glad that I got it and it was easily read on a Sunday afternoon and I have to say I loved it.   Tilly Bagshawe may have written it, but if her name wasn’t on the cover I would’ve thought it was Sidney Sheldon himself.   I felt she captured the characters really, really well.

Whereas The Master of the Game was centred on matriarch Kate Blackwell, the Mistress of the Game is her great-granddaughter Lexi Templeton.  Breathing life into the Blackwell clan Tilly Bagshawe allows us once again to get caught up in the twists and turns of the Blackwell family and the massive family company Kruger-Brent.

Fans of Sidney Sheldon will really enjoy this book and if you enjoy following family sagas then maybe you should read it too.   Although I did read Master of the Game (it was many, many years ago) I believe that you could easily enjoy this book as a stand-alone book.  There were so many twists and turns that it will make you grateful for your own family!

This book includes manipulation, kidnapping, murder, deception, and mental illness.   I haven’t read a family saga in a while, but this book has me feeling like reaching for a few more of this style of books.   I may even have to revisit Sidney Sheldon’s books, I definitely have to read a few more of Tilly Bagshawe’s books (her sister Lousie Bagshawe is also an author in this vein).

How Did Tilly Bagshawe Come to Write Sidney Sheldon Books?

Tilly has written two other books based on Sidney Sheldon's and from reviews I've read it seems as though she has again captured his characters really well.   There is a very good reason for that - she was a massive fan of Sidney Sheldon and actually wrote to him when she had finished her first book and he wrote back (she still has the letter).   

When Sidney Sheldon passed away the Sheldon family thought it would be a great idea to get someone to keep his characters alive.   Tilly Bagshawe and Sidney Sheldon actually shared a publishing agency (his agent was the father of hers).   The family was really happy with Mistress of the Game and the way in which Tilly has definitely written it in his style as opposed to her own.

How to Best Enjoy Mistress of the Game

This book is best enjoyed when you have time to kick your feet up and read without interruptions, accompanied by a lovely big mug of tea and something yummy to snack on.  I enjoyed Chamomile tea and homemade chocolate mint cookies, but here’s some other suggestions:


 

Peppermint TeaPeppermint Tea
A refreshing tea that is perfect for drinking while reading a good book on a lazy afternoon. There's just something about the smell and taste of mint that is pretty special.


Aveda Tea ReviewedAveda Tea Reviewed
Aveda tea is a herbal tea that combines licorice with peppermint, I haven't actually tried this brand before but I have had other teas that combine these two and would imagine that like them this would be a refreshing and sweet tea to enjoy


Arbonne Essentials Herbal TeaArbonne Essentials Herbal Tea
I enjoy a cup (well actually a mug) of this tea every single day, it is really delicious while also having a lot of great health benefits to drinking it so why not enjoy a healthy tea while reading?


Carrot Cake CupcakesCarrot Cake Cupcakes
If you love carrot cake then this cupcakes are a great idea as a snack while reading - being cupcakes you could hold them in one hand so that you don't have to put your book down and being carrot cake .... well you just know they'll be delicious!


Dream Bars Cookie RecipeDream Bars Cookie Recipe
Tea, cookies and reading really go well together and these dream bars sound like a great alternative to whipping up a batch of choc chip cookies or opening a packet of custard creams. With coconut, nuts and brown sugar in the ingredients you just know this will be moorish.


Homemade Cinnamon RollsHomemade Cinnamon Rolls
If getting time to read a book uninterrupted is a rare occasion then why not plan well and bake some cinnamon rolls ahead of time for an indulgent snack as you eat, my mouth is drooling just thinking about them!





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Saturday, April 3, 2021

Mothers Day Cards from the Dog

Let's review some Mother's Day cards for a dogmom.   As a dogmum myself I have to say that I have never received a Mother's Day card from the dog, but apparently it is something that is increasing in popularity. 

Mothers Day Cards from the dog - image of a dog and his dog mum/dog mom

I guess it's quite understandable that the dog would send Mothers Day cards as we lavish a lot of attention on our fur babies.  A number of people I know have a family of furbabies instead of human children whether by choice or not - why shouldn't they be celebrated?

I came across the idea of Mother's Day cards while looking at Zazzle's selection of Mother's Day cards.  If you purchase your Mother's Day cards online through a print on  demand site such as Zazzle you will get a great quality card that usually has an option for you to personalize it.   There is often a larger selection of cards and you can find a number of original designs.   You are also helping a small designer to contribute to their family's income - trust me they do a happy dance every time they make a sale!

There were so many designs to choose from that it was really hard to decide on just a couple of feature so if you don't like the ones below check out the rest here - Selection of Mother's Day Cards from the Dog.

I love this Mother's Day card as it's a  very simple design that can be beautifully personalized by adding a photo of your own dog/dogs and even changing the text:


Another card that can be totally personalized (and a picture of the dog with their mom would be perfect) is this next one. This is one that I personally prefer over the other as I love the I Woof You sentiment!



These are only two of the thousands of cards that are available, so feel free to click on the link above these cards if neither of them grab you. 

The great thing about Zazzle (besides their amazing card quality and printing quality) is the comprehensive range available so you could even search for labrador Mother's Day cards, pug Mother's Day cards etc. 

What do you think of the idea of receiving a Mother's Day card from the dog? I love it and may just have to leave this article open on the computer for my husband to see!



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