Take advantage of the energy that comes with a seasonal shift. While summers are meant for vacations and time spent away from home, fall is all about feathering your nest and entertaining family and friends. In the spirit of change, we spoke with our creative director, Rebecca Proctor, about some of her favorite products that you can swap in with existing accessories to add a cozy touch to your home decor.

Houndstooth Throw
“There might be nothing softer than this blanket! I live in the northeast in an old stone house, so I always have a blanket wrapped around me when I’m reading a book or watching a movie,” says Rebecca. “Drape these throws over a couch or loveseat, or place one at the end of a bed. They add a nice pop of color and texture. It’s a fantastic gift too.”

Wild Rose Rugs
Swap in one of these beauties in an entryway or hallway. “I love that the patterns on these rugs feel really graphic and bold. It’s a very modern, refreshed floral. The colors tie in perfectly with our Studio Underpinnings collection, but they’re highly versatile and will work with a variety of decor styles. Rugs are the perfect item to swap in and out—I just got new fall rugs myself,” says Rebecca.

Inverness Pillow + Houndstooth Beaded Pillow
Pillows might be the quickest and easiest way to change the look and feel of a room. “There’s no such thing as the pillow police! I drive my husband and son crazy with my obsession. I’m a freak about pillows and have a whole closetful that I like to pull from, rotating new ones in and out,” says Rebecca. “Play with color and texture and vary the sizes and shapes. If you’re looking for a foolproof size combination, try mixing a 22-inch, an 18-inch, and a lumbar pillow. Play with the arrangement and don’t forget to give them a little fluffing or a karate chop here and there.”

Autumn Vine Wreath
A new wreath on your door practically announces that a new season is here. “If you think about it, a wreath is one of the first things guests see, and it’s an easy way to show off seasonal decor. When you change a wreath, it’s like you’re changing seasons too. I love that this wreath is totally secular—not tied to a specific holiday—so it can be left up all autumn long. It looks beautiful hung on a door and fits right in with fall accents like pumpkins, ornamental cabbage, kale, or mums,” says Rebecca.

Courtly Check Moose + Courtly Stripe Pumpkin Candlesticks
Candles help create a cozy ambiance at any gathering, helping guests to feel warm, welcome, and included. “These candlesticks are great if you’re going for a harvest theme but still want a refined look. The black and white checks make them so versatile,” says Rebecca. They’d look really pretty running down a long farm-style table. You can switch in different tapers too, which gives them a whole new look. A pair of candlesticks will never go to waste; they’re always handy to have around if you love to entertain!”

MacKenzie-Childs’ favorite feathered friend has quite the life story! We spoke to our estate manager (and Simon’s mom), Corinne Bowman, about how this lovable and social mascot waddled her way into the company’s heart.

Here is the whole story from Corinne’s perspective:

Simon hatched late from the flock of geese we had on the property. Her mother was low in the pecking order, but she built a nest, then sat and sat until she hatched three babies. Somehow, Simon got separated from the rest of the flock. We found her because she was making a tiny peeping noise on the other side of the fence, and we rescued her. She was just a tiny ball of yellow fluff; I could hold her in one hand!

Since we couldn’t tell whether she was a boy or girl, we ended up choosing the name Simon, and it stuck—even after we found out she was a girl. From the start, she was a very different goose. She was happy being held, while any other goose would fuss like crazy, and she spent her early life living in the barn on the property. At night, she’d get tucked into her little dog crate full of straw. I would come back in the evenings to let her go swimming and open the barn doors so she could get some fresh air.

Normally, geese imprint on another bird, but she ended up imprinting on me instead! She grew up with barn cats, and even when she was a tiny little thing, she’d run around after them with her little wings raised, putting them in their place. To this day, her favorite snack is dry cat food.

Eventually she outgrew her dog crate, and since we couldn’t keep her outside, we kept her with the sheep, and she lived with them for a few years until we had some particularly rambunctious lambs. Simon ended up with a broken wing, and we took her to Cornell’s animal hospital, where she was able to get amazing vet care and her wing healed perfectly. After that, Simon got her very own secure home that we built.

Since Simon was a lone goose, when it came time for her to lay eggs, nothing happened because the eggs remained unfertilized. And try as she might, no matter what Simon did, she wasn’t going to be able to hatch babies, even though she sat for a month. We had to go in and take her off the nest and remove the eggs, and we’d take the straw too so she wouldn’t build a new nest. It was really sad.

But then the flock hatched four babies, and somehow they got under the fence and over to Simon’s side. The babies ran right under the fence and snuggled up under Simon’s wing, and she claimed them as her own. Simon was so happy! We ended up letting the babies decide where to go, and they all stayed: three boys and a girl. All the babies are bigger than she is now, but they all live in harmony. There is no pecking order, and they follow her everywhere. While Simon was human-imprinted, her babies are only human-friendly.

This noble little goose has had quite the life and has inspired plenty of MacKenzie-Childs products. She’s had her own Christmas ornament, kids’ dinnerware set, and a line of ceramics, and she even made it onto a couple of Barn Sale T-shirts. Plus, we have visitors from all over the country who come here to see her. If you ever make it to our Aurora campus, be sure to stop by and say hello to Simon and her babies!

Do you know what we love most about our customers? Their creativity! Well that, and their appreciation for our quirky and playful home items. While all of our products are thoughtfully designed and covered in pretty patterns, they’re also versatile and ready to be used in many unexpected ways.

So don’t be afraid to think big when it comes to entertaining this season—make your serveware and favorite pieces work harder and smarter for you. Your guests will be raving about your ingenuity and your tasty food! Here are some of our favorite ways to make our products do double duty—but don’t be afraid to find your own too.

The Courtly Check® Pedestal Platter
Not just for serving up sweets—although it always gives any cake that certain something—this item is incredibly versatile. Use it as you see here, topped with pillar candles and greens (eucalyptus is shown). Or place your kitchen soaps and sponges on top to keep the area next to your sink neat and organized. But wait—there’s more! Use our cake platter in your office to corral smaller supplies or in your bedroom to display a few favorite pieces of jewelry or pretty perfume bottles.

Flower Market Wood Paper Towel Holder
It would be ridiculous to use this paper towel holder only to hold your paper goods. You might not realize it, but it was meant for so much more. Pile it high with spools of ribbon, use to it keep chunky statement bracelets organized, or stack it high with bagels when you’re serving brunch. One of our favorite holiday uses—to keep cookie cutters organized while you have them out throughout the season.

Flower Market Small Colander
This small kitchen staple can do some seriously pretty work when it’s used for entertaining. While it’s great for its intended purpose of rinsing fresh veggies, it also can hold fresh flowers in a pretty arrangement. Feeling festive? Kit it out with candy-sprinkled cake pops to bring the fun in a deliciously sweet way. Have a whole pie on hand you want to display? Top the upside-down colander with a round plate, and you’ve got an instant display worthy of the yummiest blue-ribbon pie.

Busy Bee Lantern
Lanterns can light up your life in more than just the expected way—and this detailed beauty is especially fit for multiple uses. Let your green thumb go wild and create a terrarium in its base, or simply let it serve as a showpiece for dried flowers and grain stalks. At holiday time, nestle in a friendly snowman figurine and mini evergreens to create a frosty forest scene, or simply fill the lantern’s body with shiny mini glass ornaments.

Cookie Jar & Everything Bowl
There’s never such a thing as too many hands in our cookie jar—especially when you get creative with its uses! From clothespins that need a home to dryer sheets and beyond, every little household helper looks prettier in this elegant glass jar. As for the Everything Bowl, it truly can turn anything into a piece of art. From your eclectic yarn collection to fresh citrus from the farmers’ market, this bowl can turn the seemingly mundane to marvelous in a flash.

The sister pattern to our insanely popular Courtly Check®, Parchment Check was designed to be a softer version of our signature black and white pattern. Initially, Courtly Check was a small decorative element used to separate other patterns and give your eye a rest. But it took off, and now it’s a customer favorite. We spoke with our creative director, Rebecca Proctor, about its origins.

Parchment Check was inspired by love letters. “I love handwritten notes, and one day I was cleaning out my closet and pulled out a suitcase belonging to my grandmother. Inside was a little bundle of letters that she and my grandfather had written back and forth during their courtship,” says Rebecca. “There was one letter that was especially dear. Unfortunately, my grandmother wasn’t around to give me the full story, but this incredibly special letter had been opened and folded back up so many times, it had a checkerboard pattern.” And that was the inspiration for Parchment Check—the soft colors of the aged paper, and contrast of light versus dark where the paper was folded to form the checks. We added the hints of green and sky blue as our own artistic take on it.

Something interesting to note is the way the pattern varies between our ceramic and enamelware pieces. For our ceramics, we do an on-glaze technique using China paint. We then drag colors through the checks and add a 22K gold lustre. When applied, the lustre looks bright red because the gold is suspended in oils so that it can be brushed onto the piece. When fired, the oils burn off, and it morphs into a rich, luxe gold. It’s always a surprise! Our enamelware glaze is made with ground glass mixed with minerals to get the colors, then that’s mixed with water and painted onto the steel surface. If you look at Parchment Check enamelware, it’s more of a butter yellow, while our Parchment Check ceramics have more beige undertones.

“I love how neutral and soft the color palette is and how it appeals to many different tastes,” says Rebecca. “It’s easy on your eyes, and it allows the food to be the star of the show. Because it’s so neutral and soft, any color pops on top of the surface.”

Looking for some ideas on patterns to combine with this classic? Rebecca suggests Parchment Check as a complement for Courtly Check. Or try it with Kings Corners or Morning Glory, two of our newest patterns. It’s so soft and feminine, but still bold. Use Parchment Check as a layering tool, too; it gives your eye a break and helps to create wonderful barriers.

“There are no rules! Have fun and try different things together…find your own interesting combinations—even if that means using only one pattern or mixing a bunch of them. That’s how we do it, and we know you’ll come up with stunning tablescapes of your very own,” says Rebecca.

Happy table setting!

While we’re sure you’re a pro at writing thank you notes—after your wedding, it’s the sheer volume that can be a little daunting. But don’t worry! With a little organization and some of these helpful pointers, you can sit down and write out each card with love and gusto. You’ll make all of your guests feel as special as you did on the big day.

So grab a bottle of something refreshing, your new life partner, blank cards, and some nice pens, and make a night of it. It will make it feel fun and allow you to reminisce on the whirlwind that was your wedding day.

1. Say thanks! Yes, a bit obvious, but be sure to say it. Your card has to start somewhere, and this opening line will give you the momentum to move through the rest of the note. Also, while you’ll go on to thank them for the wedding gift, don’t forget to thank them for their presence at your wedding too. Let’s face it—it’s a huge part of what made your day so special.

2. Mention the gift specifically. Instead of just saying “thanks for the gift,” mention by name exactly what you were given. It shows an attention to detail and makes the card feel more personalized.

3. Tell how it helped or what you’ll use it for. Here’s the best part of your card; the part that makes people feel really wonderful. Write down how you’ll use their gift or where you’ll place it. Tell them that you’ll think of them each and every time you see it, because you will.

4. Wrap it up. Finish your note off with a personalized sentiment. Wish them luck on anything exciting they have going on, tell them you’d like to see them soon, mention grabbing dinner, or plan a visit. Or mention something memorable they did to help out on your wedding day.

5. Finish with the sign-off. And just like that, you’re done! Close the card with a simple X’s and O’s, “love,” “yours truly” or a silly inside joke that your friends or family will smile at. Don’t be afraid to add a little quirk and personality to your sign-off.

Looking for a gift for someone else? We have some fabulous ideas for unique gifts that are sorted by occasion, recipient, and price. There’s truly a little something for everyone.

Or if you have another special occasion coming up—whether it’s a wedding, a baby, or a milestone—sign up with our gift registry to add beautiful ideas for your table and home to the list.

After a summer of dinners outside, stargazing, drippy ice cream cones, and hopefully lots of use, your outdoor furniture is probably in need of a little love. So before summer is over and you pack it up for the season, here are some general guidelines for caring for our outdoor furniture from our furniture product manager, Suzanne Patterson.

“Even though it might sound obvious, to get the most longevity out of your outdoor furniture it never hurts to care for it, cover it up, and move it to a safe space before harsher weather heads your way.  Putting in a little maintenance here and there will keep pieces looking good,” says Suzanne.

Here are some basic care guidelines:

To clean the frame: Before you cover and store for the winter, you’ll want to thoroughly wipe down the frame to get rid of any accumulated dirt or grime. Wipe it down with a soft microfiber cloth and a solution of water and mild dish detergent. Dry completely and then store.

For cushion stains:

Cleaning mold and mildew: While our Sunbrella fabric cushions don’t promote mold growth, mold can grow on substances on the cushion if they’re not removed. To zap mold and mildew, spray the entire area of the cushion (spraying the whole thing prevents water rings) with a solution of one cup bleach, one-fourth cup mild dish soap, and one gallon of water. Let the solution soak in for fifteen minutes and then clean the surface with a clean towel or soft bristle brush.  Rinse thoroughly and air dry.

For more specific stains:

Berry stains: Combine one-fourth cup dishwashing liquid and one-half cup or one cup white vinegar per one gallon of water. Clean with a towel or soft bristle brush and let dry.

Ketchup, mustard, bird droppings, coffee, juice, and tea: Combine one-fourth cup dishwashing liquid per one gallon of water. Clean with a towel or soft bristle brush and let dry.

Butter, salad dressing, suntan lotion, tomato juice, and tree sap:  Apply cornstarch to absorb as much of the stain as possible, remove excess with a straight edge, and clean up the residual with dishwashing liquid and water and let dry.

Candle wax: Apply a heated iron over a towel and then treat with isopropyl alcohol. Then clean with one-fourth cup dishwashing liquid per one gallon of water. Let dry completely.

Wine: Combine one-fourth cup dishwashing liquid, one-third cup white vinegar, and one-half to one cup isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide per one gallon of water.

With a little care now, you’ll be enjoying our outdoor furniture pieces for years to come!

August is national happiness month—but around our Aurora campus we like to think of every month that way. Which is why we always strive to create products that are not only useful and beautiful but fun too. We do this through color, pattern, or unexpected details. So when you decorate a table or furnish your home with our wares they make a lasting impression.

So whether you drink your morning cup of coffee in your favorite Taylor ceramic mug, set your table with our Courtly Check chargers, or have our fabulous serving pieces tucked into a dining room display cabinet we love that our products find their way into your everyday life and special occasions.

Here are some of the best (according to you) smile-inducing MacKenzie-Childs products we offer!

“I use the beautiful tea kettle my daughter bought me every day!” -Kim M.
Shop our tea kettles here!

“Maryglenn is redoing her kitchen in Mackenzie-Childs checked wallpaper and chandeliers. Such a happy look!”-Janice M.
Shop our wallpaper and chandeliers.

 “I use my Courtly Check cookware with joy in my heart! These Courtly Check kitchen tools are a great addition.” –Sarah A.
Shop our Courtly Check Cookware and kitchen tools.

  “I have the green carriers and several of the small colanders. Love them!” –Chris T.
Shop our cake carriers and colanders.

‪  “I just got my very first pieces and they are Courtly Check. It’s my favorite—simple and classy.” –Tracy S.
Shop our Courtly Check enamelware.

“My Pagoda birdhouse hanging by the door of my new home. Makes me happy. Everyone’s welcome!” -mollyepops
Shop birdhouses.

“A cup of tea and your catalog make me happy.” -kkmoore211
Get our catalog here!

“I love these Flower Market pots!” -figandtwigs
Shop our Flower Market cookware.

“Set my table outside last night with my Courtly Check and Flower Market. I needed one of the wire mesh covers to keep a pesky flies at bay.” –Sarah A.
Shop our mesh domes.

Have you been following the #CampCourtlyCheck hashtag on Instagram this week? We’re playing host to a few of our favorite bloggers. While we’re busy having a big lovefest and giving them an inside look at the history of our products, we wanted to share their blogs and links to shop their MC product picks below:

Janice Morrow of Fig & Twigs
“Many, many years ago, my sweet mom gave me my first piece from MacKenzie-Childs: a Courtly Check Tea Kettle. It was after I had visited the New York City shop and I was smitten! I went into great detail describing this magical place to my mom. Every tiny detail was pure joy. Their colorful designs and classic black and white Courtly Check pattern had me mesmerized! Needless to say, receiving my first piece of MacKenzie-Childs from my mom truly meant so much to me. It sits on our stove to this day, reminding me of my mom and how she always shared an appreciation of a home and garden filled with color and whimsy!”
Favorite Taylor Pattern: Hitchcock Field
Courtly Check Stoutly Vase
Courtly Check Enamel Pedestal Vase – Green Bow
Architect’s Topiary Urn
Courtly Check Enamel Petal Charger/Plate
8″ Courtly Check Flower Pot

Ashley Hale of House of Five
“When I was just a tween, my family took a trip to Phoenix where my mom’s cousin lived, and they had the most amazing collection of MacKenzie-Childs. I was in awe! We visited the MacKenzie-Childs store and from that moment on, my mom, sister, and I were all in love with the brand. My mother started a collection right then and there and as my sister and I grew up, we started collecting our own pieces. Each piece means something special to me and I will continue to collect MacKenzie-Childs for the rest of my life.”
Favorite Taylor Pattern: Hitchcock Field
Bow Chair – White
Courtly Check Enamel Tea Kettle – 3 Quart
Courtly Check Small Deer
 Blooming Wine Glass
Courtly Check Mesh Dome – Large

Lauren Steele of LC Steele
“I recently started my collection of MacKenzie-Childs and I’m completely obsessed with the pottery. Their ceramic pieces are hand-painted at their headquarters in New York and I know I’ll be using it for years to come. One of my most stylish friends gets pieces from her mom and aunts for Christmas, and I think it’s timeless and beautiful. I’m so excited that I’ve started my own collection.”
Favorite Taylor Pattern: Forest Home
Parchment Check Fluted Cake Stand
 Wild Rose Oven Mitts – Wheat
Wild Rose Dish Towels – Blue
Flower Market 3 Qt. Casserole
Parchment Check Three Tier Sweet Stand

Krystal Faircloth of A Pinch of Lovely
“I was excited to learn about some of the new collections MacKenzie-Childs has recently introduced, like Morning Glory and the chic Lattice and Flower Market pieces. I’m so excited to style them in my bathroom and vanity. I’m a sucker for all things gold, black, and white!”
Favorite Taylor Pattern: Hitchcock Field
Flower Market Hand Soap & Lotion Set
Lattice Waste Bin
Courtly Check Sisal Rug – 2′ x 3′
Morning Glory Canister – Large
Lattice Tray – Small

Jenn Palpallatoc of Haute Off the Rack
“My two favorite collections are Courtly Check and Parchment Check. I love the bold and muted statements that each provide. I’m growing my collection of entertaining essentials right now as we prepare to move into our new home in August. And I’m working on my registry and upcoming wedding! I’m so excited to introduce these pieces into my home.”
Favorite Taylor Pattern: Aalsmeer
Courtly Check Enamel Ice Cream Dish
Courtly Check Enamel Utensil Holder
Courtly Check Canape Knives – Set of 2
Parchment Check Fluted Cake Stand
Parchment Check Three Tier Sweet Stand

Susan Dagget of Kindred Vintage & Co.
“I like to go with unique, unexpected elements and styles in my home—everything from rustic and antique to modern and new. It’s so fun to be able to give my followers ideas on how to utilize pieces that they might have never considered throughout their homes. MacKenzie-Childs has so many fun pieces to style, so it’s been a blast selecting items that I can use in so many new ways!”
Favorite Taylor Pattern: Forest Home
Flower Garden Buckets – Set of 3
Trellis Lumbar Pillow
Houndstooth Scatter Rug – 2′ x 3′
Birds Mirror
Courtly Check Small Moose

Amy Welch of Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins
“I’ve been a lover of MC since college! Everything from the furniture to the serving dishes. I can’t get enough. The Courtly Check pattern tends to be my favorite, but I’m excited to see the new collections like Morning Glory. I’m going to have a lot of fun working them into my home!”
Favorite Taylor Pattern: Hitchcock Field
Courtly Check Enamel Petal Charger/Plate
Courtly Check Small Deer
Parchment Check Fluted Cake Stand
Dotty Canape Knives – Set of 4
Courtly Check Enamel Herb Pots – Set of 3

It’s 5:30 am on July 20, and our MacKenzie-Childs campus in Aurora, New York, was bustling with more activity than usual. Instead of just the resident geese taking their morning dip and stretching their wings wide to greet the day, our employees were bustling back and forth while a line, steadily growing, snaked around the building.

While the sunlight highlighted the early-morning mist over the fields and gardens, the trill of bagpipes filled the morning air. And suddenly we were officially in full swing for our 2017 Barn Sale. The event boasts deep discounts and brings together MacKenzie-Childs fans from across the country. On the surface, the deals are the appeal of the Barn Sale, but deep down it’s about so much more than that.

Instead of a frenetic, deals-obsessed crowd like you’d see on big retail days like Black Friday, for fans of MacKenzie-Childs it’s about meeting and sharing a love of design, pattern, and a rich sense of tradition and history. In fact, many people are repeat visitors—planning vacations, day trips, and girls’ weekends away around the sale.

Nancy and Pam of Buffalo, New York, rented a coach bus and have been coming for the past five years. “It’s our annual tradition! This year we came in a group of twenty. We sip Baileys and coffee in the morning, study the MacKenzie-Childs catalogs on the drive in, shop the sale, and then we all pile back on the bus for cocktails, lunch, and games on the ride home,” they said.

The atmosphere, even when waiting in line, is jovial and downright upbeat, which says something given the heat and humidity of upstate New York in mid-July. With strangers introducing themselves to one another, holding spots in line when bathroom breaks are needed, and chatting about their history with the brand, people become friends as they inch toward the sale. But it’s especially fun to see groups of women who have been best friends for years come to the sale.

Pushing an impressively sized cart—with an even more impressive spread of food—Mary, Lucille, and Carlene have been friends for the past twenty-five years. They met when they were all working at a hospital together. “We’ve been coming for the past three years and we always bring a spread. We have fruit, some Camembert cheese, French bread, salami, and of course, mimosas,” they explained. “We enjoy all coming here together, but once we get into the sale, it’s every man for themselves!”

The creativity of the sale-goers is on full display, with families and friends dressing up in matching outfits or donning custom-made, MacKenzie-Childs-inspired accessories like hats. Often, people who travel make an entire weekend of it—not only coming to the sale, but staying nearby and spending time in the towns that surround Aurora.

“This is our seventh sale. We’re best friends. We like to say we’re twins, actually,” said Lauren and Kristen of Reading, Pennsylvania. Every year, they coordinate their outfits and add handmade MacKenzie-Childs accessories. This year it’s pretty taupe dresses with hats wrapped in a Courtly Check ribbon and faux flowers. The accessories serve as more than a fashion statement: “It helps us find each other in the crowd,” the two women explained. “Every year we get crazier and crazier with our sale purchases. We leave our husbands and kids at home and just take the weekend to visit the wineries and explore Ithaca.”

Stopping and looking around thoughtfully at the crowded line of people and the MacKenzie-Childs employees walking around with as much purpose as worker bees in a hive, the two women paused and then said, “Someday we’ll be little old grandmas still making our way up here together every summer. We can’t imagine our lives without this sale.”

We can’t either, ladies!

We believe that eating a meal outside on a cool summer evening makes the food taste even better. So fire up the grill, gather friends and family, and get ready to enjoy a meal under the stars. While entertaining outside can come with its challenges—don’t get bogged down in them! We’ve got products that are sure to lend a helping hand.

Flower Market Large Rattan & Enamel Tray – White
Carry condiments, spices or supplies in fewer trips thanks to this gorgeous tray. It will keep you right where you need to be—with your guests—instead of running in and out of the house. Clean up the same way. The sturdy rattan sides allow you to have a firm grip on it all, too.

Courtly Check Enamel Everything Bowl
Keep drinks cold by using this massive bowl as an ice bucket, to corral mini bags of chips, or to store all of the hot dog and hamburger buns. We’re not kidding when we say that this bowl can be used for everything and anything.

Flower Market Cake Carrier – White
Unveil dessert in a grand fashion. Not only can you safely transport cakes and cupcakes outside, but leaving the top closed will keep bugs and tiny fingers out of the frosting. The clever design features an easy-to-use handle for carrying too.

Flower Market Mesh Dome – Large
Freshly prepared food doesn’t need unwelcome visitors! Keep any and all bugs from landing on your feast. The metallic mesh lets guests see the dishes while still keeping them protected.

 Cutting Garden Paper Napkins – Guest
There are times when you need to ditch the cloth napkins. Any outdoor occasion, barbecue or picnic is the perfect opportunity. It saves you time to recycle them instead of trying to wash out stubborn stains. Plus they’re still just as pretty as their more formal counterparts.

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