Up from the ashes

Joe and I dropped the ball this Easter. Usually this is a strong suit for us. I make special things, and knit little holiday themed presents, and cook foods that are special to that time of year, and Joe hunts clever gifts down – and we’re usually pretty good at it. We’re very attached to our immediate and extended family, and we enjoy time with them, and building beautiful holidays is important. This Easter? Boom. Nothing. We did nothing.  I’d like to pretend it was because we are so busy and everything in our lives are so complex, and we travel and blah, blah, blah, but the truth is that there’s a huge amount of notice on when Easter is, and therefore no excuse for the fact that on Friday, when Toronto was closed – Joe and I suddenly realized that we hadn’t done anything about the thing, and called around to the girls and discovered that between jobs and commitments, the only time we could have an Easter egg hunt and a family brunch was Saturday morning, and that’s when it got wild.  We checked around and discovered the one open grocery store (all the way across town) and set off to try and pull together this thing.  “Where the hell are we going to get baskets?” Joe queried, and I shrugged, and we got in the car.

When we got there, it was pretty obvious that we weren’t the only people with a procrastination problem.  The store had nothing. No baskets, almost no Easter chocolate, and the few bunnies left were all the ones that were amputees, had their eyes on crooked or had suffered an unfortunate decapitation.  The only thing the store had that was related to the season at all was a thousand million other crazed parents all willing to cut you to get that deranged  looking amputee bunny, and Joe and I (who will fare very poorly in the upcoming zombie apocalypse, let me tell you) opted out of the scrum and backed into a corner near the birthday cards to regroup.  “We’re going to have to get creative.” I said, and Joe high fived me.

We started in the bakeware aisle.  No baskets? That’s cool – how about something basket-like, but useful? All the girls cook… Ah-ha! Bread pans!  The rest was easy.  Instead of that silly paper Easter grass? Tea towels lined our “baskets”.  We went through the store grabbing treats that our young women would never buy, but would love. Pink Himalayan salt in a grinder. Paring knives, all little kitchen bits and pieces, and when we were done we tossed in a few brightly coloured pairs of socks, some maple popcorn, and bam.  The only thing missing was the traditional chocolate bunnies, and we found those in an open drug store we stumbled into on the way home.

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We were feeling good about it. Now all we needed were little gifts for Lou and Myrie, dyed eggs and we were home free.  Sam took care of dying the eggs that night – she’s serious about her craft.  This year she had a plan. 11 beautiful eggs, all the colours of the rainbow, and then one rainbow egg.

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eggdiligence 2014-04-21

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While Sam worked on that, I surfed quickly surfed Ravelry, and found exactly what I was looking for.  A quick stash dive, and knitting commenced.

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By the morning, the house was full of all of us, and I hadn’t really made a dent in the knitting. We had an egg hunt, we played a few games, we had a beautiful brunch, and then I knit. I knit and I knit and I knit.  I got up every so often to start the bread dough for the next morning, and I did my first little training ride for the Bike Rally.  (20 Kilometres only. I’m going to have to seriously pick up the pace.) Somewhere in there Joe got on a plane and left for England (it was a surprise to me too) and I kept knitting. It’s been a long time since I stayed up late on a knitting deadline, but come the next morning I was almost done.

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I got up early, baked bread, threw together a fruit salad,  and made devilled quails eggs – wait, those are too pretty not to share:

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Then off I went to Kate’s house for an Easter brunch, knitting the whole way. Right before the egg hunt, I finished.

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Oh yeah. Right there.  Matching Baby Bunny Booties for Lou and Myrie.  They were the cutest thing ever – and the best part was that Lou slammed his on his feet and ran around the house making sure everyone saw them.

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I upsized the pattern a bit, simply by working them in worsted weight rather than the DK the pattern called for. That made the newborn size into a six month size that fit Myrie perfectly, and the third size became a larger toddler size that fit Lou just right.  (Not that he toddles, the kid runs everywhere he goes. He’s a blur.)

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He loved them, the grownups loved them, and it was totally worth it.

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Pattern: Easter Baby Bunny Booties. Yarn: Leftover Cascade 220 that was kicking around.

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We pulled a great Easter out of the ashes, and the best moment for me?

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Doesn’t that kid look like he’s totally going to be a knitter?

(PS. It is exactly this kind of success after procrastination that means that Joe and I will never change. Failure is corrective. Cute bunny shoes, quails eggs and the best Easter baskets ever? That really didn’t teach us a lesson.)

113 thoughts on “Up from the ashes

  1. Easter is regularly a bit of an afterthought here. I was standing in the book aisle at Target googling the appropriate ages for reading certain young adult books. (My 12 year old reads well, but is not quite emotionally ready for some of the heavier young adult fare). The good news was that I found a book appropriate for each of my children-bought some candy and was off.
    Much better than this Christmas when we discovered at 11pm on Christmas eve that the Disney Infinity we purchased was for a different version of video game player than we actually own…..!
    AND – the weather here, after a very cold, very long winter, was absolutely glorious!
    WINS! all around.

  2. I am utterly charmed that Joe knows that baskets are something one needs at Easter. My husband would never think of that!

  3. Happy Easter! Up until last year one of my 13 year old twins still believed in the Easter Bunny until I let it slip on Easter. He then told me that I ruined his childhood! This year, he said there was no point in hiding eggs. I need grand kids.

    • i think that the more special we make things, the more traumatic it can be when the truth comes out. i speak as a mother who got caught with her hand under the pillow, leaving the gift from the tooth fairy. sigh.

  4. Easter is a religious holiday for my family, so the baskets are secondary – except possibly for the chocolate. If I really had to choose between chocolate and the Resurrection I’d opt for the latter, but I’m glad I don’t have to choose.

    So your baskets were awesome – but hey, no chocolate? Still, a very successful Easter, especially given that picture of you and Lou, which is bound to be a family treasure forever.

  5. How creative! Everything looks wonderful, except the quail eggs, which look a little – erm, creepy. I know they’re not fertilized eggs, but it still makes me think someone stole the quail’s babies. Sorry, I’ll go back to knitting.

  6. What on earth did last-minute knitters do B.R. (Before Ravelry)?

    Those bread pans and their contents seem like much better Easter Baskets than the traditional kind, and a tea towel is much less of a hazard in a cat-run house than the fake “grass” anyways

    But I am jealous of your ability to always pull it out in the end!

    (appears I am not human, SIGH!)

  7. If only I had your energy and enthusiasm for holidays! I roasted a leg of lamb, made an apple pie, put candles on the table, and called it good enough. As for knitting, I spent the afternoon making swatches from Barbara Walker #1 with my new Denise 2Go needles.

  8. Not huge fan of Easter because as a single mom I was always expected to pull something out of the hat for whatever the school was doing to celebrate and then turn around and put together something at home, which usually ended up stretching the budget to breaking point. Nowadays the kids are grown and we shop for chocolate after the holidays when the prices drop and appearances mean nothing.
    However, I do LOVE those Easter “baskets” and think that is such a brilliant idea I may have to borrow it for future celebrations when I’m not working 12-hour days on a special time-sensitive contract. The bunny slippers are beyond cute and look even cuter on Lou and Myrie. Well played.

  9. Have you ever noticed that the shelves are always bare/picked over the day before – and yet the day after all sorts of candy is present for the 50% off post-Easter clearance?

  10. I think the Easter procrastination was a virus that went around the world. My husband and I, plus several of our friends all found ourselves in the same place. Now, when we lived in Seattle that wasn’t a problem because no one ever closed, no shop, store, market, nothing – always open. Here in the countryside south of Chicago it’s a whole different picture. everything closed, but one market and about three restaurants. Oh, and the DQ opened at 2pm so ice cream became our Easter treat. There was no candy, baskets or bunnies to be had. Better luck for us next year.

    Now, the picture of you and Lou should be enlarged, printed, framed and hung on your wall. It is the sweetest photo that I have seen in ages. I mean Lou is obviously adorable from the photos you’ve shown in the past, but the looks on your face and his face is just precious. That’s a memory you want to remember and one that you want him to know about when he’s older.
    Happy Belated Easter.

  11. And darned if you didn’t manage to a) make the cutest bunny slippers ever; and b) simultaneously raise the bar on Easter baskets for grown/almost grown kids. Kudos to you and Joe and family, and Happy Easter.

  12. I love your 100% useful packaging! The fake grass has got to be bad for the environment. Bread pans and tea towels are my ideal packaging!

  13. Love the bunny slippers and the great “basket” ideas.

    Quail eggs? Is that something readily available in your markets?

  14. Very cool. Both of my daughters got purses instead of Easter baskets. One had been complaining that her’s was falling apart but she loves it because it has a super long strap, tons of pockets and the middle is the pit where she dumps everything. The other’s purse was a hideous thing that everytime I saw it, I cringed. They were both very excited. And, they got chocolate bunnies (and a baggy of chocolate eggs and mini-Reese’s cups . . . had to put them in the baggy so the new purses wouldn’t be messed up).

    My son did get a traditional basket and an Itunes gift card. Seemed only fair since he wouldn’t have wanted a purse!

  15. Cutest slippers ever! Lou has proven to be knit worthy what with throwing those slippers on and showing them off. A knitter he shall be! We have more than enough chocolate (I bought early and worried I wouldn’t have enough). Blew it on the Easter dinner though. After a week away, I didn’t have the energy to buy groceries, so pizza it was. Sounds like you worked it out…this year.

  16. Absolutely love what you gave your kids! I know that the candy is traditional but the Easter bread pans are great! I , too, waited until Friday to menu plan and buy the candy, but the stores here have plenty and they are open late. I had no idea that a major city shuts down at nite-that’s a new one to me.

  17. Reading about your family’s holiday adventures always make me miss my mum. I’m the same age as your Meg (same name too, apparently you and my mum were on the same wave length) and I like to live vicariously through these blog posts. Your family is very lucky to have so many wonderful memories.

  18. I hate that plastic grass crud…just hate cleaning it up. My kids get different Easter “baskets” each year, one year it was beach towels, one year it was insulated water glasses with straws, one year it was water bottles, tall coffee mugs, you get the idea. They love it, no destroyed baskets to clean up, and something they can keep and use for years, and they get the candy…win win as far as I am concerned. Since the kids are older now, (same age neighborhood as your girls) home items is a great idea.

  19. Wow, that is fabulous– I don’t think you could drop the ball if you tried. I haven’t used Easter grass in baskets for years– green tissue paper instead that I hang on to with their old baskets re-used every year. But this year I really did drop the ball. My excuse was that I was at Port Ludlow the previous weekend (but that’s no good, you were too and you still came through) and then was really sick all week (but as you say, it’s not like I didn’t know Easter was coming well before that). The best I ended up doing was taking the boys out to breakfast Easter morning– still coughing too much for church.

    I wish I had your energy (and willpower, and determination…) I don’t think I had that much even as a teenager!

  20. I did note that in the picture of you and Lou, your right hand is blurry. That’s incredibly disheartening to those of us who both forgot a major holiday AND knit slowly!

  21. Love it, made me smile. Cheers to improvisation, to impromtu, to creative and to procrastination the mother of invention! Glad your Easter was personal, charming and original xxx

  22. my grown kids, DS’s fiancee, grand girl and both grandboys got “baskets” this year, as usual, but “baskets” is a bit of a stretch for some: grandgirl (12) got a straw purse i’d used once and didn’t like, plus a gift card. DD got a set of kitchen clips in an “experienced” easter basket, DS and fiancee shared a similar basket (theirs had coffee), grandboy 1 used a bunny basket that grandgirl got several years ago (he got an “i’m the big brother” shirt) and some socks, and grandboy 2 got socks and onesies with “arrrrgh! kiss me booty” and “arrrrgh! wipe me booty!” on them (courtesy of iron-on transfers). everyone but the grandboys got a chocolate lamb and a candy egg or two, but that was it. as for easter dinner . . . dd ate at 5 because she had to go to work, i ate about 7, when i tired of waiting for the rest of them. not sure when grandgirl or the others ate or if they did. plates still on table, unused, this a.m.
    can you tell i’m not really into the holiday?

  23. Wonderful! Now I am racked with guilt over the years of substandard Easters I have foisted on my daughter. The final blow was when we made the decision to open our Cafe on Sundays – and Easter became a rather horribly busy day for us… But we had already suffered a slow march away from the bunny, the baskets, the special brunch, as she grew past the age of hunting for eggs, preferred to select her own clothes, thankyouverymuch, and now she lives with her fiancé and they brought friends into the Cafe for breakfast…
    Maybe one day I can fill baskets, dye eggs, and knit sweet Easter things for her future little ones. Promise I’ll do better then!
    You and Joe are nothing short of AMAZING, I am in awe of your procrastinating magic…

  24. Something in my practical mind made me choose useful things for baskets for years. For small children, it was sand pails. These days, it’s cardboard boxes mailed to far off places, or delivered closed and taped to nearby offices (you can’t have your mother walk into your office with an Easter basket, after all…). They still love jelly beans and chocolate.

  25. I loved your Easter story. When I first moved into my neighborhood, I was the only single person on the block. Since I couldn’t spend Easter with my family that year, I decided to play Easter Bunny and hid colored eggs in my neighbors’ front yards (in really obvious places so they wouldn’t be missed). They were mystified and I got a kick out of watching them try to figure out who had Bunnie’d the neighborhood. The kids knew – the Easter Bunny, of course!

    • One year I was walking around the park on Easter morning. Some parents came by and left a bunch of plastic eggs. Then they went to get their little egg hunters. The best part was the puzzled squirrels who were checking out those plastic eggs while the parents were gone!

  26. You were put in this world to ruin my life. I go to see the granddaughter/immanent new baby in a month. Blanket is done, Fair Isle cardigan is above armpits, optional Little Lou cardigan (which could be for fall) chugging along… and you show me bunny slippers, dammit. The sound you hear is the stash being tossed…

    • Rest easy, dear one. Not everyone can be the slacker that our Harlot is…did you notice how she tried to distract us? No Birch, no Sweet Dreams,…….no Gansey.

  27. I live at the beach and am spending the summer in Orlando, so my Easter basket was a beach bag. It had the usual candy in it, but then also sunscreen, aloe spray, band-aids, Neosporin, a beach towel, some professional shirts for my orientation, and Q-tips in a travel case.

  28. All in all, an amazing Easter accomplishment, but that Lou is so cute in those slippers I can’t marvel at anything else.

  29. Stephanie – I was reading your latest book last night on a plane and read the chapter about having your picture taken so that the future generations could remember you. I’m so glad someone took that last picture of you and Lou! You and he will love it forever – and will see two people who clearly ADORE one another!

    I also read the chapter about email, so please delete this immediately!

  30. What a spectacular Easter!! Not only will YOU not learn from this, you’re sending a dangerous message to all your procrastinator readers. The best young adult baskets plus adorable bunny baby slippers whipped out of thin air, and classy dye jobs and quail eggs. Yikes!

  31. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said “How many things would never have been done if there wasn’t a last minute…”?
    I decided that sewing dresses with (and for) my daughters, knitting, a little spinning and helping friends makes a perfect easter. And nest-hunting in church. And some (but only some) last minute cleaning. Going to work tomorrow sucks!

  32. We rarely do standard holiday stuff for any holiday that involves gifts. Maybe one or two things, but the rest are useful things that are much better. We reuse our baskets every year and they get a facelift every two or three years, with extra do-dads on the handle. I’ve been using mine since I was 4 which means for about f(mumblemumble) some years. Since all my kids drive, things like car air fresheners are a must.

  33. Dear Stephanie,
    There are times, usually after reading a blog post like this, when I truly do think you are a miracle of a human being (who possesses miraculous abilities). Bless you and those adorable little bunny slippers.

  34. LOL, love it! Necessity is the mother of invention. Sounds like the ‘baskets’ turned out just right. I love the picture of Sam, she is so intent on those eggs! I can totally see the little kid in her in those pics. The idea of deviled quail eggs turns my tummy a little, but it’s also very intriguing what they might taste like. Thanks for sharing your Easter with us! 🙂

  35. Nice one! I have been on holiday every Easter since forever, so I was really confused yesterday, Easter Sunday, when (getting back from a couple of days away) I found that the main supermarkets are closed! We were super lucky that the milk in the fridge hadn’t gone off and that there was a dinner in the freezer.

    But the most confusing thing was not being able to find Cadbury’s chocolate mini eggs in the supermarket this morning. I walked the whole length of the shop THREE TIMES looking for them. It was like Easter sweets had been suddenly banned, there was not a scrap of Easter chocolate to be had in the whole bloomin’ place – on Easter Monday! So my chocolate Easter cake had chocolate ‘nest’ on it and I said that the Easter chicks had all hatched and run away…

    The shop closure yesterday also explains why I am up late, as the special Japanese-style dinner that I had planned for yesterday (to go with some special sake I had as a birthday present) took sooooooo long to make and then hand to be appreciated properly.

    Happy Easter!

  36. What a lovely picture of you and Lou. It’s you and Hank all over again! The pictures of Sam are also pretty amazing. I echo the person who was reminded of the essay “Snap” in your new book, the one about making sure there are pictures of you for your family. It misted me up.

  37. Good heavens, the baskets couldn’t have been better if you’d planned them. And tell Sam the eggs were fabulous. Does she dye yarn?

    The slippers are adorable. But who in their right mind has the patience to devil quail eggs? Oh, right.

  38. I, too, want to know where a person buys quails eggs. Good work, Harlot – you always raise the bar, and I think your energy level must be a testament to living right!

  39. I went on a futile cross-town trip on Sunday trying to find fingerling potatoes – or then any potatoes. Settled for ones I had in my kitchen and took them over for the Easter meal. I had scrambled my days – not my eggs.

    Devilled quail eggs! Oh my! Someone did one with Ukranian decoration at my market.

    Love the slippers.

    Best treat is the picture of you and Lou!

  40. Love the idea for Easter baskets!

    Appreciate your blessings. I spent the whole weekend sitting in the hospital as my Mom recuperated from an infection. She was released today…and I have a start of a “Miss Winkle” which turns out to be in multi-spring colors.

  41. I’m sorry, there must be some mistake. That can’t be Lou. Wasn’t he just born? Isn’t he still a wee baby? What happened?

    Creativity trumps tradition almost every time!

  42. Great save on the Easter baskets!

    And I think it’s safe to say we all love the picture of Lou wrapping his Aunt Harlot around his little finger…;-)

  43. Yes, Lou does look like he will be a knitter. How not, with such good examples? Love that photo of you two. That’s worthy of framing and hanging on the wall, for sure! Also, those booties are too adorable for words!

  44. Yes, the loaf pans were genius. Yes, the bunny slippers are too cute for words. But the whole part about the zombie apocalypse? Still laughing!

  45. Steph, You Are Awesome. Did you know you’re awesome? Those are the cutest slippers ever. (and yes, I think Lou might grow up to be a knitter.)

  46. Love the bread pan idea! And the slippers are adorable as heck! I’m glad mom’s in bed instead of reading over my shoulder or she’d have me going twitchy fiddling out an adult size for her.

  47. Sam’s eyes are mesmerizing, great focus on her eyes with the color in the jars…the new camera? I agree with above, the pix of Lou with suspenders and bunny slippers is frameable. The light just sticks to his beautiful face…new camera? Thank you for sharing the wonderful family time!

  48. What a beautiful, beautiful Easter. And what a thrill, to have the kids so happy with your wonderful handiwork! I get the feeling those slippers will be worn until they are worn to shreds!

  49. 1. Best easter baskets ever
    2. Cutest bunny slippers ever
    3. You deserve some sort of an award for not only peeling quail eggs, but scooping out the tiny centres and devilling them
    4. He’s totally going to be knitter

  50. this is a story for the ages, the bunny slippers are wonderful and Lou with his yarn and smile.. Priceless. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  51. Awwww I love that last picture. TOTALLY looks like the kid is going to be a knitter!

    You may not have learned anything from procrastinating, but that’s because you’re both highly creative people. We thrive under pressure.

  52. We use/ used wool roving or wool stuffed animal type stuffing to fill our baskets for our kids. 🙂

    My daughter is three and when asked what her favorite thing about easter was by her daycare teacher she said “growing and eating tomatoes” which i thought was pretty creative… made me realize that… OOPS I FORGOT not only to tell my kid that Easter was coming, but to remind her of WHAT IT WAS. Her answer to the question was seasonally appropriate though as we put our tomatoes in the ground about a month ago and had been admiring the flowers the plants just started to grow. An answer very about spring and life and the true spirit behind the “secular” Easter celebrations.

    By the end of the day on Friday though she was home with all kinds of talking about bunnies and eggs and egg hunts, peer discussion and excitement taking the place of any actual work on my part… and I just played right along. 🙂

  53. What a wonderful post, as always! Your niece & nephew are too adorable; & I love how Lou looks so proud to have his bunny slippers for Easter. Sam did beyond awesome with those eggs! I’m so jealous she got the rainbow one (my favorite) so precise & beautiful.
    Your baskets simply take the cake! And where in the heck do you find quail eggs?!?!? How cool is that!

  54. The booties are sweet! I just love Ravelry for patterns…That running to the store to find a pattern is gone! Happy Easter Week! I had a last minute Easter dinner that turned out very nice and we planned it in just 24 hours notice!

  55. I’m reading this on earth day and your post reminded me of all the used easter baskets I see in the thrift stores … how “green” is your idea for bread pans! Wonderful. and that nasty “grass” is terrible – useful tea towels are much better. Kudos for pulling this out of the fire in an incredible earth-friendly way – and, oh yes, the slippers are to die for cuteness!!

  56. Easter is also a religious holy day in our family and getting ready was actually possible for me this year as almost me entire family practiced Lenten fasting this year. Going without for the sake of spiritual improvement and gaining a closer walk with Christ made Easter extra special and exciting!! No sweets made making that cake for Easter wonderful. No meat made Easter beef scrumptious and no knitting made getting out those knitting needles precious!! I still have my chocolate bunny to eat but remembering why I did all this is best of all.
    May God bless you all the rest of 2014.

  57. One of my favorite Holiday posts ever… I am totally stealing that basket idea for next year. So much better than a basket!

  58. Last-minute stuff with huge limitations = most success in my view! Love any story of making do the way you guys did!
    Very surprised that nobody mentioned actually using moss to line an Easter basket? That’s what we did when the girls were small…
    Now we do as little as possible for Easter (ok, yes, I did knit for grandchildren ;o) and this year we were sick all the long weekend, the whole 4 days. sigh.

  59. Those bunny slippers are seriously adorable and I must knit some for my girls…after much math, since they are 3 and 4, but they must be had!

    Also, I just love that you and Joe will never change. The fact that you pulled out such a lovely Easter without planning and without the “traditional” fare…SO MUCH LOVE! No lesson need be learned there!

  60. Who says you have to learn anything? It looks like you had a WONDERFUL weekend and Easter. Pulling success from the ashes is a skill in itself.

    So great to see things worked out!

  61. I have to say telling the tween boys that come in with their sisters or mum’s who are knitting, that it was originally a man’s profession, is some of the most fun i have at work. The looks on their faces is priceless.

  62. I am almost 40 and my mom still makes me and my sister Easter baskets. She uses the same baskets every year with the same evil Easter grass in them (evil because I find the freaking plastic stuff six months later–it gets EVERYWHERE!) but now we get candy only, which is fine with me. Is your house too small to store the baskets?

  63. I love your posts and especially that adorable photo of little Lou, just standing there outside, holding his Easter Basket, in his little Bunnies that you knit, and looking all unaffected. Very cute!
    Thanks for your blog, which always Makes my day, your books, and all you do and share.

  64. About the knitting needle under your arm. I do that and I get teased by my Thurs night group. I was taught by a lady from Scotland who migrated to Canada and then to the US. I can’t wait to show those girls your pic. They also have never seen anyone cast on the way I do.

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