Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spraying my French Day Bed Fiasco, Getting Old and more

Before we get to my fiasco this week, I did have a triumph to share.
 Here is a little consignment project I took on this month. 
I don't do much painting of furniture anymore since my shop closed, but
a friend from my tennis days asked me if I I agreed.  What I love about this is
that you can see how a perfectly fine piece of furniture (not antique) can look a bit dated in a room.
After painting it with Annie Sloan's Paris Grey and giving it a hand rubbed clear wax finish, 
the icing on the cake was giving the server (and the china cabinet, not shown) new hardware.
 A trick for any of you who want to change to a knob instead of pulls, is to use a backplate.
That can cover the old holes of the pulls, and then you simply drill one hole in the center and 
push the knob stem through the hole of the backplate.  We picked this hardware out from and we were careful to not select acrylic knobs (they don't look that great).  Glass is ok, but crystal is BEST!  We loved the difference it made in the room.  
And while I was there putting on the hardware, I noticed that my friend had left a photo on the server.  I didn't even look at it for the first fifteen minutes...then I realized it was a photo of us and all the other tennis pals from twelve years ago!! 
Wow, I really feel old now.  I am on the right in the lilac top.  Smokin' hot, right? Haahah!!  It was the year I met my husband to be, and so it was the year that my life changed forever.  No wonder he wanted to date me. And why do we, as women, get so critical about ourselves only to figure out as time passes that we had no reason to be.  Anyway, I stopped playing tennis a few years later, and I miss all the fun we had together.  The gal right next to me is the one that gave me the piano that I painted white.  She moved away to Florida.  Life has a way of carrying on, doesn't it?  Anyway I have to say my forties were so much fun, and now that I am almost through the next decade, I am having an adjustment with the things age is doing to me.  Ugh, right?  Enjoy where we are, because I suppose when I blog in ten more years, I will be saying how fabulous my fifties were and what was I thinking??  
Mr. Maison Decor and I went to dinner at a french restaurant that we love to celebrate nine years of marriage.  Twelve all together, as we started dating in April, and we married three years later in April too.  Happy years and a happy union, its been the best thing that has ever happened to both of us, and how I know this, is that he wrote me a letter and told me so.  How sweet is that?  
 Soon I will be writing a blog post on how I am suffering from ADD, because I have so many projects going on at once.  And this project is the French Day Bed project.  The bed is a rusty mess, and anything I put on it gets rust marks.  I am making a Sunbrella cover for the mattress I bought for it (another project with Matthew Mead) and so I wanted to preserve the rusty look by coating I went to Lowes and talked to some guy in the paint department, looking for an Exterior grade clear coverage thing.  
 I went home with this...when I applied it, it was so noxious, that all the doors and windows had to be flung open...the house still stunk. I finally dragged it outside myself after barracading the dog in the kitchen behind a bench.  He is afraid to go around stuff, so I take advantage of that, haha. 
 He is so funny. He was whining his heart out to let me can see his toys and stuff all over the floor, and my basil plant waiting to go outside as well sitting on my Matthew Mead french settee, which doubles as a dining room barrier.
So the bed went outside...after awhile I checked to see if all the rust was now encapsulated.
NOPE. Turns out this inhibitor spray is an oil!! And now I had rusty oil all over the bed.  GRRR. So I washed it all down with a bucket and scruffy sponge and some Mrs. Meyers.  I was over the fumes and now mad that it was going to take another step to get my bed ready for the cushion I was sewing.
My supplies in the cellar yielded a can of this I gave it a try.  After that dried, I wiped it with a paper towel and rust was still coming off.  A facebook friend said she had to do two coats, so I just applied another coat today. If that doesn't work, I am going to have hubs take it to the autobody guy and ask him to spray it for me.  I won't have a rust finish if I do that, but at this point I am OVER trying to figure out how to preserve this rusted look.  Hahha.  Ok, that is the latest from here....I will be stitching up the sunbrella cushions and pillows and hoping the weather turns warmer so I can get some outdoor living started! 
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Part III of NYC diary: Martha Stewart's Fabulous Turkey Hill

When I last left the blog, I told you there would be part III of my account of
the trip to NYC with Matthew Mead to attend a party for Mary Emmerling.
I did mention that Part III would include a trip to Martha's!
So let me give you a bit of background on what I am talking about.
Martha Stewart used to live in an antique colonial in Westport, Connecticut
on Turkey Hill Road for over thirty years.  The house became famous along
with Martha and was featured in her many books and magazines. 
The wonderful party in the city was over, and like a pair of Cinderellas, 
Matthew and I returned to our below average accommodations
 at the run down motel on the outskirts of the city.  
We agreed we would get up bright and early and 
partake in the free continental breakfast, but no matter how early we
woke, the deal was no texting or calling each other before 6 am. 
However I really couldn't get to sleep that night
and as a result I didn't wake up at my usual early hour.  
A light knock on the door jolted
me from my slumber.  ( I was enjoying one of my recurrent dreams of hanging 
out with Tom Brady and Giselle, as we are friends, albeit just in my dreams, lol. 
I do not know why I dream this scenario, but I think its very funny when I do).
"knock knock knock"
It was Matthew at the door...  
"Sorry about that, I just couldn't fall asleep
last night.  Would you mind going to the breakfast alone and bring me 
back a coffee with cream and one sugar and maybe a banana or a muffin or something?" 
 He looked at me, paused and then said, "This is like we really are married."
 Hahah, okay, I guess he was right.  Off he went and I 
promised to get ready quickly so we could get going.  
The last thing he said at the end of the party
while we drove back to the motel was that he would take me by 
Martha Stewart's house, Turkey Hill.
OH BOY!! I was super psyched! I loved that house!! I was so excited for today!
 So I got ready quick as a wink, and thought I could still catch him at breakfast...
so I texted:
Hahahh, why would we expect any different?
Matthew returned with a story about how bizarre breakfast was~
the strange Indian breakfast attendant who didn't speak any English, which was
 slightly problematic as Matthew doesn't drink coffee, and there was an odd
machine that he had to operate to make my coffee and it only came out in small spurts.
Anyway I did get my coffee, a sad greenish colored muffin and a nice little banana.  
The coffee was actually pretty good, which was a big triumph. 
 We scooped up our bags and headed out to his truck to begin the next leg of our journey. 
We would stop for breakfast at a diner in Westport on our way to see Turkey Hill.
Sounded like the perfect plan.  Happily on the road again, enjoying the start of a lovely day.
We found the diner on Post Road in the lovely town of Westport that Matthew was looking for and had a pleasant breakfast.  Then it was time for the main event!!
This photo is an old one of the front of Turkey Hill. 
Many things remain the same,  including the brick walk that is overgrown by grass...
pay attention to that fact as you will see why later.
I loved how Martha put flags out at every window for the Fourth of July.
It's the perfect American home, don't you think?
Now Turkey Hill has been changed from a traditional white to a putty color for both the trim
and the body of the home. Its understated and elegant, but if it were my home, it would be white.
Alright, now I have jumped ahead a bit of myself. Lets talk about Turkey Hill.
It was a dream home, if you love the country life mixed with a bit of formality, as I do.
There are rooms to entertain in and a kitchen to envy, as well as the grounds
to create gardens and outbuildings.  Turkey Hill was one heck of a home,
built by a Sea Captain in the early 1800s.  Of course Martha made many improvements to it,
during her tenure as owner, including later purchasing two additional acres
 for extra gardening space.
Here is how Martha described finding her new home:
"In 1970, while I was living in New York City with my husband, Andy, and our young daughter, Alexis, we were told about a beautiful farmhouse for sale at 48 Turkey Hill Road South, in Westport, Connecticut. The house, on a tract of land that stretched south toward Long Island Sound and had once been an onion farm, came with two acres of deep, loamy soil, a few large trees, and not much else. There was no garage or barn, just a rickety picket fence and an unkempt yard. The house had been rented out to myriad families (including the famous novelist John Hersey) and had suffered obvious neglect. There was not much of a kitchen and no usable bathroom. The basement was damp, and there was no porch, terrace, garden, or driveway. But it had good bones, lovely windows, wide-plank floors, and seven fireplaces. To us, it was perfect: a do-it-yourself project resplendent with opportunity for a reasonable price, $46,750. We closed on the property on April 22, 1971, and the first thing we did was plant an orchard of old-fashioned fruit trees."

Martha was just like me, not afraid of a run down property, as long as it had potential.
And of course, Turkey Hill had loads of potential as Martha would find out and show the world.
Years after she sold it, I am sure there are still many admirers that just have to drive by 
and take a gander at the legendary property.  Back in the day there were many vacant lots,
but now it is quite the address to have, as you will see on our own DRIVE BY with YOU!
So click on the video above and join me and Matthew in the pickup truck checking
out Martha's old place. Pay attention to the moment we stop at the front door walkway~
you will see a gardener and his wheelbarrow.  I guess the brick walk will always need 
weeding, just like it did years ago when Martha owned the home.
After I did the drive by, I checked out the inside on a video tour of TURKEY HILL
by Martha Stewart herself (which is no longer available )
 I was thrilled to see her serving desert on a table
set with all different purple transferware dishes! 
 We collect the same thing! How fun for me! 
They are hard to see, but I took a screen shot
from the video and there they are. She also has a thing for chandeliers...naturally.

Matthew visited Martha in her East Hampton home, called Lily Pond.
We talked about how that came about on our designers convo video below.
So there is all kinds of stuff about Martha Stewart on my blog post
today, as I am clearly a fan! I would have loved to meet Martha
like Matthew did...and someday I hope I will.
Until then, this is about as thrilling as it gets.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

A New York Diary: The Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dr. Ruth, Mary Emmerling and more!

Oh what a night! 
 This is part II of my story about going to NYC with Matthew Mead
 to attend a private party for Mary Emmerling  (Read Part I here).  
Matthew picked me up and we headed out the Massachusetts Turnpike to New York, 
about a four hour drive. We talked non-stop the entire ride, and soon enough
 we had checked into our rooms at a modest hotel on the outskirts of the city that
 we selected from the internet.  I asked for our rooms to be on the same floor so things 
would be more convenient.  When we arrived we realized that this hotel 
was a family run business, shades of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 
the fun and enchanting and crazy Indian hotel in the 
award winning movie starring Judi Dench.  (If you haven't watched it yet, you must!)
Of course our hotel wasn't "Exotic", it was more "Pedestrian" if truth be told. 
But still it was unusual and our New York adventure had definitely begun.  
It was a very warm spring day, and all the doors and windows of the hotel
 were propped open to allow the warm air to circulate 
(presumably a savings on the air-conditioning bills).  
The scent of curry from the family kitchen  in the hotel wafted through the air.  
We wondered what would be on the menu for the free continental breakfast 
as we walked up the stair case (the elevator was very old fashioned 
with a pull style scissor gate.  When we called for it, 
we found it  filled with family members, so we opted for the stairs. 
As we walked down the hall, we walked by rooms that had chunks of plaster
 from the falling ceiling littering the floors, and bathrooms being ripped apart.  
The place was clearly in a state of remodel, much like the movie version 
of the Best Marigold Hotel.  We couldn't help but feel we were in our own 
Metro Goldwyn Mayer production.  When I got to my room, I shut the windows and turned on the 
AC to cool off and to shut out the noise of the workers. 
The whole notion of the Marigold Hotel comparison has me thinking:
Who would play us in our version of the movie?? 
Ok so I keep getting told that I look like Diane Keaton, and I guess the older I get the more I can see it too, especially when I wear my eyeglasses. So she would play me in our movie version of The Best Pedestrian Bizarre Marigold Hotel in New York, and Colin Firth would play Matthew.  But I digress...after we checked in and changed into our casual but smart outfits we headed into the city to put Matthew's big blue pickup truck in a garage.  Now that was another story...but if I tell every story I will never finish this post.  Lets just say that our pretend movie screenplay continued, 
 as the parking attendant nazi could have been a character in our film as well.  
We had to beg him to allow our behemoth sized (for NY) vehicle to be parked, 
and we had to bribe him and promise to be back in less than two hours to get it out of there!! 
(Which DID NOT happen~it was more like four hours later...)
 But we said what we had to and got out of the truck and hit the streets of the city, happy as two designers could be!  Well, for Matthew he was going to be reunited with beloved coworkers from his former years in the magazine biz, and for me, I was happy to get out of the suburbs and have an adventure!  I knew we were to attend a party for major league  Country Design legend, Mary Emmerling, and it would be in a swanky private apartment in the city's nicest area.  Yippee!  No pressure for me, because I was just a nobody who could blend right in, and if you know me, I have no qualms about talking to anyone, regardless of their status, looks or attitude!
 I was up for whatever the night was going to offer.
I also wanted to try to take as many pics as I could without being obnoxious, mostly
so Matthew could remember this special night.  It had been twenty years since he had
seen most of these people, and especially Mary, who was the reason we were even taking this 
detour from our every day lives. He rang the bell, and the doorman let us in...well he actually closed the door in my face because I had lagged behind trying to snap this pic of Matthew, lol. 
Then an assistant checked our names of the approved list and we headed to the elevator with 
the elevator guy, (all of the apartment attendants were in uniforms and hats).  The fancy elevator
with its wood paneling and carved molding was impressive, and when the door opened, it was 
right into the apartment of the hostess!  We stepped inside the empty foyer and looked at each other...
where was everybody?  Well, they were in the next room, the dining room, which was the reception area and quickly enough the hostess, Patti, came over and inquired as to how we knew Mary,
and then she beckoned for Mary Emmerling to come over and greet us.  A warm hug and hellos
were exchanged by Matthew and Mary, and I got a nice smile and quick handshake. 
I hadn't forgotten I was an add-on, and I planned to enjoy myself with some people watching!  
(Perhaps one of my most favorite things to do, meeting new and interesting people).
 The dining room was set up with appetizers and there was a wine and sparkling water bar, managed by an attendant which we promptly visited.  After driving four hours to New York, I was certainly ready to have a libation!  A very small older woman was seated at the end of the table and I didn't realize it until an hour later, but it was another legend, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.  She is known for her frank discussions about sex, and had her own show and was a guest on many shows, like Oprah.  
Right away Matthew got embroiled in deep catch up convos with some
 of the writers, stylists and photographers from the early magazine days.
 I had to find something fun to I started wandering around the room
 and sparking up conversations with various people.  Many of the guests were
 in the same boat as I was, as far as they knew very few if any of the other guests, besides Mary.
I met Mary's ex-husband and sister in law, and I met a fascinating older women whose home had been in one of Mary's books.  We spent quite a while was about that time that I noticed the tiny older woman was Dr. Ruth, so I went over to her and introduced myself and told her how nice it was to meet her.  She was lively and engaging and sharp as a tack.
 Here she is in the living room chatting up a few of the other guests.  
She looks amazing, doesn't she?  
I was also busy trying to look at the amazing art collection displayed 
throughout Patti's beautiful apartment.  These were not prints, oh no. 
They were original oil paintings, the likes of what you only find in museums.  
The most gorgeous collection I have ever seen. And look at that mantel! 
  Gilt and silver candlesticks with lit candles were all over the apartment, and it was so lovely!
 Old fashioned and classic and fabulous all rolled into one enchanting ball.  Fine antiques and carpets were the backdrop for the interesting and lovely people that were the cast for this most fun of parties! 
The Creative Director for Ralph Lauren Home, Mary Randolph Carter was there
 (above with her back to me, wearing her signature fly fishing vest that she wears antiquing).
So many other notables in the world of decor were at this party for Mary Emmerling!
 Candid photos from the night~the foyer filled with people as they gathered to hear Mary's presentation about her latest book, along with juicy tidbits she would share that
 didn't make it into the book.  
Mary was introduced by Patti after we all took our places in the living room.
Patti was a client of Mary's from awhile back, when Patti found Mary through her
New York shop and they have been great friends ever since! Patti and I had a chance to
chat at the end of the night, and I found her warm and engaging and I hope to talk more
 with and about her in the future as she is quite a fascinating person. 
 Mary had us all enthralled with her career highlights, as told mostly in her
 latest book, Eclectic Country.  After the presentation she went to do book signings in the library.
 The library had dark green laquered walls and leather upholstery and it made for a cozy spot to get your book signed.  Stacks of her books sat in piles on the coffee table waiting for her personalized notes, adorned with a hand drawn heart next to her signature.
 Monica Buck, photographer, Matthew Mead, stylist/photographer, Jill Kirchner Simpson, writer.
These guys were joined at the hip for most of the party and were having a ball reconnecting.
Meanwhile dinner was being served, which was a surprise as we thought it was only a two hour affair.  And it was quickly apparent we would not be returning to the garage any time soon!
While they were busy chatting I went in search of dinner and was handed a plate of salad and lasgna in the dining room.  The long table was set up for dinner and there were a few diners already eating. Three spots were open at the end of the table, and Dr. Ruth had just been seated at the head.  I took my plate and offered to go find a spot on a couch somewhere, but they insisted I sit at the table next to Dr. Ruth.  In no time at all we were chatting away!  I was calling her Ruth by the end of our meal.  She told me that her home was decorated by Nate Berkus, ("for free!") as it was in his book. She absolutely LOVED what Nate did and she said everything has a place and that is the best part!  Dr. Ruth expressed an interest in me as well, asking what I did.  Then another male guest joined us at the table with his glass of wine and said in a loud and animated voice, "Dr. Ruth, what can I do to get my wife to have more sex??"  She responded just as loudly, "We are NOT talking about SEX tonight!! We are talking about INTERIOR DESIGN!!" It was pretty hilarious.  This was a most fascinating evening...and in my opinion, Matthew was missing quite a bit of it!  We finished up dinner, and Ruth got up and caressed my cheek as she departed. It was touching and sweet.  She was off to her Nate Berkus decorated apartment via a car service Patti had arranged.  I got up and found Matthew in the book signing room (the library).  He was watching Mary signing book after book, and he had yet to get his own books signed.  If you must know one thing about Matthew, it is that he is NOT pushy at all. Mary announced that she needed to eat something, as she was getting very tired.  I sat down next to her on the leather sofa and asked her if she could just sign my book (that I brought with me, as I had already bought a copy).  She was very fatigued and obliged, and then asked me, "sorry but your name again?"  Hahah! I was a nobody alright, and having a great time despite my lack of notable achievements.  She signed my book and then she got up and Matthew, Jill and Mary went in search of dinner.  Everyone had left or was leaving or lingering around the dinner table, so Patti instructed her staff to set up a private dining table for the four of us in the living room (even though I already ate).   The night just kept getting more interesting...
 We dined with Mary and they shared stories from the old days as well as discussed what was happening with the likes of Ralph and Martha.  Soooo fun to sit in on that dinner discussion.
The wine was wonderful too!  And then it was clear the evening was winding down...
but Matthew still didn't have his signed copies yet!  
 I asked Jill to take a quick photo of me and Matthew
 (so you can know that I truly was in attendance). 
The plump down sofas covered in a  pretty Bennison fabric was part of
 the decor chosen by Mary years before.  The windows looked out onto the rest 
of the city and it was truly a glorious night. 
A quick trip to the powder room revealed a black and white transferware platter
(just like mine)  holding monogrammed towels and the walls were covered in
 botanical prints.  Ahhh, it was all so nice. But it was getting late,
 and I was hoping Matthew was asking Mary to sign his books while I was in the loo.
And he had.  
Although Mary was very tired,  
I  had to ask..."could I snap a pic of you two together?"
 I wanted him to have this photo as a keepsake of the evening along with his books. 
 In another minute we would all say our goodbyes, 
and Matthew and I would be  returning to our Marigold Hotel, although Patti told
us we could stay over in one of the guest rooms (!) too bad we didn't! 
And so of course, wouldn't you know...there is going to be Part III. 
Because the NYC story didn't end here.
 Nope, we went to Martha Stewart's the next day.  Yes. We did.
So that will be next up  on the blog, to finish up our very fun NY adventure.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Toasting Mary Emmerling in NYC

Wow! Today is going to be a special day...
I am headed to NYC with Matthew Mead, to join him tonight at a party
for guest of honor, Mary Emmerling, the iconic Country Style designer.
She has had a storybook career in decorating and design, that has spanned five decades, starting
in the magazine business at Mademoiselle.  Mary was asked to join House Beautiful next.  She brought along a freelance gal she worked with named Martha Stewart.  They had always talked 
about doing a book together where Martha did the food and Mary the table settings. While working
for House Beautiful, Mary was also writing her first book, American Country. She was traveling the
country shooting homes for both HB and her book, which came out in 1980.  The next big thing 
for Mary was that she opened a successful shop in the 80s in NYC selling painted furniture and country style accessories, like rag rugs and ironstone pottery, primitive paintings and quilts.  Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein shopped at her American Country Store on Lexington Avenue, as did many celebs looking for that country look that Mary was famous for.  After a few months she quit House Beautiful to run the shop full time. She continued to freelance at various decorating mags, and then her own Mary Emmerling's Country Magazine came out in 1993! Her career was on fire, and her name was one with Country style. HGTV came next with her own TV show for seven years, Country at Home. In the late 90s she returned to magazines as editor of Country Home Magazine.
That is where she put a new spin on Country style by mixing in bits of modern elements, which
really made her stand out, and eventually everyone started copying. 
Phew!! So that is where I will leave off...and I will continue with Part II of the Mary Emmerling 
story after I return from New York.  Matthew credits Mary with giving him his start in
the magazine business, and he is looking forward to their reunion. 
 I am excited to get into that as well as share pics from the  party we will be at tonight! 
 And sneak in perhaps a video too??
Now what to wear....cowboy style? I've got plenty of boots and hats that is for sure, but
again, its in the city and everyone wears maybe that is the safe bet.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Blue Fairy Tale Table

Once upon a time, I had a little French shop called Maison Decor. It was in a town outside of Boston and inside of it were treasures to be found.  One of the most special treasures was a hand painted set of furniture that was more than a hundred years old. I was told it was from the late 17th century and was either French or Italian, by the auction house expert. The set comprised a daybed, a chest of drawers, a chair and a tea table. It was painted in the prettiest of all blues, by an accomplished artist who rendered scenes in cameos and decorated every inch with special care.
There were sea faring scenes of fancy wigged men and lovely ladies in formal gowns.  Roses and flourishes adorned the bed, and the furniture seemed to tell a story.  But what it was remains to be interpreted by anyone's imagination.  I was so enchanted by the set, I quickly decided to keep the tea table for myself.  The dresser, was kept by my designer friend, Betsy Speert, who purchased this set at auction, with the intention of keeping just the dresser, and I would sell the rest of the lot in my little shop.  In the end, the entire ensemble was parceled out~ the dresser to Betsy, the table to me, the day bed for a woman who wanted it for her home office, and the chair to a man from Boston who was searching for just that kind of antique chair.  Kind of sad in a way, isn't it?  I adored that set.  And it was really one of the first blue pieces I ever owned, and perhaps was the turning point when I began my love affair with blue.
So the pretty tea table came home with me, and became the 
focal point of our living room.
Its fun to think of where it might have stood all those other years before.
It's gotten hundreds of compliments and I never tired of it.  In retrospect, I wish
I kept the rest of the set....but I didn't. In the meantime, after adding a set of
French doors in the dining room, I had to find a spot for the huge chippy chest we
had, along the window that was now a door.
And there was really only one place for it...
The trunk/chest would go smack dab in the middle of the living room.
And as you can see, I have added more blue to my home with the 
newly painted walls in a Woodlawn Blue by Ben Moore. 
But where did that leave my Fairy Tale tea table?
Many have asked in hopes that I still own the table. 
Do not fear, as I will never let her go.
It is no longer in a spot where it catches the eye of my camera very often.
She sits in the corner of the living room now. 
Not the best spot for her, but for now it works. 
 Each morning when I have my coffee in the morning on the sofa I look across and admire her.
And Mr. Maison Decor sits in the green chair and has his coffee next to her. It is our routine,
and routines and things have a way of making moments or spaces especially "ours", 
as I am sure you all do as well. 
And sometimes I think of what special girl or woman this set was made for.  
Did she live by the oceanside in France or Italy?  
Was she a fancy girl or one not so fancy, but her parents wanted her to feel 
as special as Marie Antoinette may have...
Whoever she was, I am sure she loved it as much as I do.
I'm linking up today with a few talented designer friends dedicated to the color blue! 
Please visit each of them linked below for a dose of inspiration!

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