Decorating By Jenmarlene Updated 7 Oct 2016 , 11:33pm by RobinYummCakes

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Jenmarlene Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 1:59pm
post #1 of 45

I can’t take it anymore, every cake I have to make I get anxiety. Doesn’t matter the size, design, and or how many I have to make. I get anxiety.  the fear that crosses my mind is they won’t like it, it’s going to fall, colors are off, not what they expected. Even though I get positive reviews which always makes me feel better  but it’s the week leading up to the order.  

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p632 Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 2:30pm
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I do the same thing!  You are not alone.  Most recently I freaked out over a football field cake I made for my granddaughter's Pop-Warner Cheerleading/Football Pasta Dinner.  It came out fine but, no feedback from my daughter as to how people liked/disliked it :([postimage id="5178" thumb="900"]

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Apti Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 4:55pm
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I hear ya.    I've hobby baked/decorated since 2010 when I started as a super-newbie at a Wilton course at Michaels craft store.  I do not sell cakes, I make them for 'fun' and give them away.  You can see a representation of my cakes so far on Shutterfly:  

I look happy in the photo, right?   My cakes look lovely, right?  People have said, "Oh, you should sell these for lots and lots of money!", or, "This is the best cake/cupcake I've ever had!".  


Out of all those cakes/cupcakes, about 10% have actually turned out the way I envisioned it in my head before starting the project.   The big projects with multiple cakes or tiered cakes, usually make me curse, sob in despair, say 'I'll NEVER do this to myself again!", and take about 10-14 hours longer than I planned and end up being somewhat, or even vastly different than the plan in my head.

2 weekends ago I had the worst meltdown I've ever had.  I made a groom's cake and 10"/8"/6" square tiered cake.  There are no photos because EVERYTHING went wrong.  My buttercream recipe I've used for 5 years didn't work at all.  It was a horrific experience and only the fact that my best friend was staying with me the night before the wedding saved me.  I was truly in despair and out of ideas.  She hugged me while I sobbed and said, "Just cover it with lots of piping".   So I did. 

The next day at the wedding (for a cousin), the cake looked fine and the groom's cake looked fine.  It tasted great when served.   No one but my friend and my immediate family had any idea of what preceded the night before.

The pain is still so raw that I plan on selling all my square pans and saying:  Round cakes ONLY!  

So, yeah, I get it.

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Jenmarlene Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 5:16pm
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[postimage id="5179" thumb="900"]

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Jenmarlene Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 5:18pm
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these are my cakes which i am proud of but i will see a million mistakes on these cakes. i hate when i see people looking at the cakes up close. 

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p632 Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 5:40pm
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Apti & Jenmarlene ,  I see why you have anxiety!  LOL  Intricate designs are the most stressful for me too!  I do, however, find fondant covered cakes much easier to decorate than buttercream covered ones.  As for the football field cake, my daughter told me she needed at least 150 servings which would have been at least three of these cakes, maybe more!  We had considered doing two cakes and 3 dozen cupcakes (she was going to frost the cupcakes and let it go at that), I was so relieved when she told me the sponsor of the party said just one cake was enough and we didn't need the cupcakes either!  The hardest, most anxious, part of all of these requests is they come just early enough for me to bake and frost.....not too much time for designing and planning the execution.  Somehow I manage to pull it off but, like you two, I am extremely critical of my work and know every little flaw!  One question, though, is there an easy way to cut fondant?  I make my cake covers about 1/4" thick, is that too much?  They always seem to be tough to cut!

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p632 Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 5:40pm
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gfbaby Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 6:11pm
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Wow...I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Firstly- your cakes are terrific. Bet you don't get any complaints. Secondly- your issue is self esteem NOT lack of talent. Spend some time on cake wrecks... not good to laugh at others mistakes and I'll probably burn in hell for the tears I've laughed but it does give me some PERSPECTIVE. You might learn to appreciate your own skill a bit more... Don't be so hard on yourself.

I can't do deadlines... I panic and end up finishing the cakes WAY too early then panic again, in case they go off. But there's always a solution. I use recipes with a longer shelf life (mud cake etc) and ganache and modelling chocolate over buttercream.

I was so anxious about my productivity I couldn't face charging for my cakes and was actually GIVING THEM AWAY which nearly bankrupted me and wasn't good for local decorators... When I sussed I was being taken advantage of- I took back the initiative and no longer do anything for free. I suggest you take an unbiased long hard look at your cakes and pat your own back. While they may not be Liz Marek or Aimee Swanns, they're certainly worthy of praise and a decent salary. You can work on the self esteem while you therapeutically model gumpaste flowers and mermaids!! 

I sincerely wish you positivity in bucketfuls- keep at it and above all else HAVE FUN. 

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p632 Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 7:44pm
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Thanks for the encouragement but, I know I won't be doing this for anything more than "FUN".  Just like I won't work at being a seamstress!  HAVING TO DO IT takes all the fun out of it!

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Apti Posted 27 Sep 2016 , 10:10pm
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@P632  That's why I do it for free, and nearly always on my terms.   The big projects are the ones that freak me out.   Making sufficient cake or cupcake servings for 100 to 250 people is very hard  physically.  As I get closer to my finish deadline, I'm usually exhausted from the physical effort and then I start to get real cranky.  Smaller projects are waaaaay easier because I could always slap on some more decorations or even make cupcakes if a disaster happened.  Since it is a gift (free), nobody ever complains and I don't have any pressure about whether or not the cake is "worth $4-$8 a serving".

@gfbaby   Were you selling your cakes when you nearly bankrupted yourself?  How did you pull yourself out of it and start asking for prices that were in line with local custom decorators?  However you did it, good for you!

@Jenmarlene  I actually had to go back up and read the first post in this thread because I thought there was no way those cake photos could be representative of someone having anxiety before every cake. 

Is selling cakes your primary source of income or just a part-time job for extra money?  Do you NEED/DEPEND on the money from your cakes?   I looked at your facebook page and everything appears like an accomplished decorator and your minimum charge reflects the skill.  Have you always been filled with anxiety before every cake or is this new as you try more complex fondant designs? 

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gfbaby Posted 28 Sep 2016 , 6:42am
post #11 of 45

In answer to your query; I seemed to be working for free but producing quality cakage (exclusively gluten free too). Mostly thru friends of friends so I seemed to manage to be cajoled into handing over cakes..and then no money would appear. Because it was 'friends' and I have anxiety issues- the penny finally dropped that I was actually being taken for a very expensive my own expense. My own issues were creating the insecurities which played beautifully into greedy consumers hands and they unfairly and unthinkingly profited from it. I wasn't even asking for the COST of the ingredients and that's how I ended up so nearly broke!! It's fine doing it for fun and as a hobbyist but when you go up a notch- you need to make it clear that you are no longer 'playing'. I have done this by simply QUITTING for a couple months. I've actually had some rude and indignant reactions (.."but it's his CAN'T let him down" Oh can't I? You let ME down...!) But I've made my point. When I start again, it will be (as apti says)- on MY terms and with cash up front. 

I don't mind giving a 20% reduction (or so) on the work part of the bill to customers I feel warrant it and it will be at MY discretion not theirs. Taking control is the key here and hasn't removed the anxiety whatsoever but HAS improved my self esteem a bit. Looking at what some professional bakeries chuck out and charge money for (Cake Wrecks again..) makes me hugely proud of my cakes. I love decorating. I do it for fun and sometimes actually make some money. Thankfully it's not my sole income. But I won't let unscrupulous party organisers abuse my bank balance and mental health issues to their advantage. I- and YOU- are worth more than that. 

I bet- like me- you have anxiety about most if not everything you do. I'm kinda learning to live with it as my constant companion. Perfectionism is all very well, but cake is cake and I tell myself that it should LOOK like cake. Zoom in on some of those beautiful photos of perfect cakes you see... there are bubbles in the cherub face moulds and the fondant hasn't been Photoshopped quite smooth... Also, remember- there's a world of difference between a cake made for a major competition and one made for a six yr olds birthday. And a world of difference between a cake made for cost of ingredients and one made for £20 an hour rate.  PERSPECTIVE. Word of the day. Keep it in mind when you are being critical about your own work... but always try to HAVE FUN. 

Peace and cake be with you guys! 

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Newfoundlandgirl Posted 28 Sep 2016 , 12:46pm
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I know the feeling well. Constantly stressing over getting things "perfect". The truth is pretty much all of the errors, imperfections etc. That we see in our own cakes the customer doesn't even notice! I've had the honor of having one of my creations on a cover of Cake Central magazine but still only charge what many other local decorators are charging (sometimes less I've discovered). It's a self confidence thing. I always hold my breath and worry until I've heard from a bride after the wedding. Most message the next day to say thank you but heaven forbid it takes them 3 or 4 days...I'm figuring they had a problem with it. The rational me knows I need to stop stressing and charge more but the message never seems to get through lol!

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Danely81 Posted 28 Sep 2016 , 2:49pm
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I  think most of us can relate to that feeling because at one point or another we feel insecure. It happens to the very best. Your cakes are very nice! And you should focus on how far you've come and where you are headed next. Don't fix yourself on what isn't perfect.  A while back I read an article from Erica Obrien ( I think) and she wrote about her insecurities from not  her not so perfect cakes (crazy given her work is very beautiful). And how she'd fix her eye on colleagues "perfect cakes". This moved her to write to Ron Ben Israel and he replied that he goes through it too. He also looks at his work and only focuses on the imperfections.  This made me feel better.  I am not perfect and have a lot to learn but the key is to improve on your craft and yet remain content that you are improving. It is part of personality traits to look for perfectionism, but really there isn't any. Be confident in what you do! 


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Jenmarlene Posted 28 Sep 2016 , 3:09pm
post #14 of 45

One of my friends cakes are flawless and I always compliment her and I tell her about my anxiety, she tells me her cakes are an optical illusion. She tells me her cakes are not flawless she hides the imperfections and she makes things to have your eye draw your attention to, she’ll add more of this and that. Which makes sense.

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mattyeatscakes Posted 28 Sep 2016 , 3:33pm
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Oh my goodness, I cannot count how many times I have woken my husband in the middle of the night hysterical over a cake! I guess it's true though, we have this vision in our head, and our cake is going to the exact opposite of that vision. so many things going wrong, weather is not cooperating, fondant is cracking, the faces on our figures look deranged.. etc etc...

But I did read somewhere that we should NEVER point any of our perceived "mistakes" to our clients because they will never know, most of them will probably be blown away with your cake. They will not catch your "mistakes". But once you point it out, then they'll agree, and that's all they'll focus on to like you. Clients will usually look at the cake as a whole and appreciate it, while as creators, we see our flaws, our if only's.  I really think we are our own worst critics :( But we definitely should give ourselves some credit and be confident. Once you calm down, you'll see that it isn't as bad as you think it is. it never is :) you'll even say that it's actually really pretty. 

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p632 Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 1:34am
post #16 of 45

Finally got feedback on my PopWarner football cake......people thought the decorating was awesome. My granddaughter, Alexandra, ate the A and other kids are some of the other letters.  Daughter says none of the desserts were eaten and I should have stuck with the vanilla, instead of the almond, flavoring in the buttercream frosting.  The fondant was vanilla....shoulda matched it, right?  LOL  Overall, it was well received and I am happy that the anxiety is behind me now ;)  I find that by the time i'm just about done with a cake like this, I usually talk myself into not caring and just get it done!!  It's usually about 3am on the date of delivery!  LOL  Happy caking everybody.  I've actually thought of a wonderful name for my bakery, if I ever decide to do one!  Imperfect Perfection Bakery!  LOL

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Apti Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 6:01am
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Glad to hear your darling cake was fully appreciated (if not eaten). 

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Pastrybaglady Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 8:23am
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Cake anxiety is so real. I thought I was better, but last week proved to me I am not. I had donated two cakes to a fundraising auction, an auction! Where there is no control over how much the cake will go for but the whims of whoever is there. I was satisfied with how the cakes came out but then the worry set in and I couldn't sleep all night! I could have gone but the idea of sitting there and my cake going for less than I would have charged would have hurt my soul. I was imagining they would be sold for $25 each :( .  My husband kept chiding me I should have gone, but I just couldn't.

The next day I found out the cakes went for ridiculous amounts of money, but it was all about the cause, the cakes were just the excuse to bid. I'm still glad I didn't go, I think my heart would have exploded. 

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Apti Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 5:58pm
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Whoa!   Even you, @Pastrybaglady?    Nice that they went for ridiculous amounts of money for a great cause.  Do you have photos of the two cakes? 

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MBalaska Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 7:22pm
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There must be something in the 'cake anxiety' thing.

I never got worried about the knitting, crocheting, rug hooking, bread baking, cookie making or sewing that I've done.  I made lots of things and gifted many hundreds of times and never experienced any concern. When I give gifts of clothing, jewelry, or cash I don't panic thinking "Will They Like this or will they HATE ME.  The wedding cake thing makes me super nutso and it taught me that I don't want a cake business ever! It feels like facing a firing squad.  Why is that??   We need a cake psychiatrist to find the root of this silly problem.  I'm with you @Apti, hobby time cake for me.

@Jenmarlene ‍ Your cakes are bright, cheerful, adorable and obviously custom designed for each customer.  Keep up the good work.

and another note here: having been online for a few years now & watching the tremendous successful growth in the skills and abilities in hundreds of cake decorators it always surprises me that they don't grow in their confidence as well.

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Pastrybaglady Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 8:36pm
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Quote by @Apti on 2 hours ago

Whoa!   Even you, @Pastrybaglady?    Nice that they went for ridiculous amounts of money for a great cause.  Do you have photos of the two cakes? 

Yes, totally me @Apti ‍!  The cause is to end sexual violence against young girls and women in Zambia, Nairobi and Kenya. With this cake I wanted to capture the innocence of youth and the ability to wish and dream something beautiful.


 This was my tribute to Monet's Water Lilies which symbolizes peace and beauty.


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Jenmarlene Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 8:38pm
post #22 of 45

Loooove the blue cake

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KStreet2013 Posted 29 Sep 2016 , 11:34pm
post #23 of 45

I haven't been doing big cakes for very long, and I do love it, but I completely understand your anxiety. I feel it too. Earlier this summer I did my first wedding cake. For my mother in law... talk about pressure. I was so scared that it wouldn't turn out the way she wanted it, that I almost backed out! I did some new things with this cake, and evened learned how to air brush to get the effect that she wanted.  Even though I could see the minor flaws in that cake, every single slice was eaten. The compliments on the look and taste rolled in and I was so happy that I forgot about the flaws.

Then disaster... the beginning of this month, I did another wedding cake, for my cousin. I was feeling good about this cake because the design was elegant but very simple at the same time. And oh my goodness did it fail epically. I made a three tiered cake, 12, 9, and 6. It was supposed to have rosettes on the 1st and third tier, then ribbon and flowers on the middle tier. I left the cakes unstacked due to a very long travel time. (2.5 hours). We cranked the AC in the car, and booked it. When we arrived at the venue the night before, (thank God) we were going to store the cake in their cooler over night for the wedding the next day. We went to remove the layers from the car, and the bottom layer had absolutely, unfixably CRUMBLED... just fell apart. Then when I checked out the top layer, about 1/2 of the rosettes had fallen off the cake. I was devastated, I couldn't even bring myself the take pictures of the devastion (even though now I wish I had as a reminder that even the "easy" ones can be tough). I had no idea what I was going to tell my cousin. So I scrambled. I managed to find an open bakery, but the biggest premade layers they had were only 10inches and they were already frosted with the bakery frosting, which was NOT tasty at all. SOOO... in my hotel room, I was scraping gross frosting off layers and refrosting with my BC. Then trying to fix the top layer. Because of the hot tempurature, the BC was so soft, I was unable to do the rosettes. BUT, my cousin had a wedding cake on that table on Saturday afternoon. I was so disappointed to put a store bought tier on that table. I almost called it quits at that point. Thankfully, even though she found out about the damage, my cousin was happy with the fix. And I even received a compliment from the venue on pulling it off with so little time.

So I haven't done any cakes since then, just none on the schedule, but coming up in the next few weeks, I have 5 cakes to do and I'm so anxious about them, I'm trying not to think about it! 

I guess my point is, that if you love what you are doing, and enjoy doing it, you have to over look the flaws that ONLY you can see and enjoy the fact that you put a smile on someones face just because you were doing what you love. I found that a design that I was scared about turned out beautifully and a design I thought was easy peasy turned in to the worst disaster I have ever seen.

@JenMarlene - Your cakes are beautiful! If you love what you are doing, overlook the flaws, because I don't see them and I was looking for them! Keep doing this, because you have an awesome talent!

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gscout73 Posted 30 Sep 2016 , 1:34am
post #24 of 45

Cake anxiety is probably the worst anxiety. If Dante were to describe the hellish levels of anxiety, cake would be near or at the bottom. My cake below was flawless when I left my house. I made it for a coffee company for National Coffee Day. On the 45 minute drive to work, most of the side panels fell, breaking the copper "bands," the leaves wilted because I did not use fondant/gum paste 50/50 or add Gumtex (so they look like rags), the bag at the top began to sag (which was a wondermold cake covered in bc and textured fondant w/chocolate espresso beans on top), the handles fell off the cupcake coffee cups, and the edible image on the side of one of the cups was not adhered as well as the other and began to lift. I did not take a pic before I left, and this was after climbing a flight of stairs (no elevator) in a warehouse to get to an air conditioned conference room.

I wanted to cry. But they LOVED it. While they took lots of pics and put on the company FB page, I was at my desk having a nervous breakdown and very embarrassed.

Coffee Cake  on Cake Central

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Pastrybaglady Posted 30 Sep 2016 , 9:05am
post #25 of 45

@gscout73 ‍ That sounds like a living nightmare! Your cake in the picture was incredible. I'm so sorry that happened but it sounds like your cake was still much loved and appreciated. Non-caking people have no idea about the flaws we beat ourselves up over. My Monet cake was damaged before they put it on the block. It had a big gash on the side and the lily pad on the board was smashed. Apparently no one cared.

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p632 Posted 30 Sep 2016 , 4:44pm
post #26 of 45

Everybody's cakes are just awesome!  They make my pitiful attemps look slapped together!  But, here's one that was definietly slapped together because my daughter wanted the frosting "freshly made" for my oldest granddaughter's birthday.  I spent about 2 hours, maybe 3, putting this together at her house after I made the frosting and colored all of it at my house that morning.

[postimage id="5188" thumb="900"]

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p632 Posted 30 Sep 2016 , 7:11pm
post #27 of 45

Here's another view of the pixie hollow cake I made for my granddaughter's 5th birthday.  This one's a much better angle!  She saw it at Walmart and asked her mother for it.  Mommy said no and then she piped up "But, Grandma makes good cakes!"  bless her little heart! 

[postimage id="5189" thumb="900"]

Now she has a sister in on the act....her third birthday party was an Under the Sea extravaganza.....see below for the final cake on that one!  LOL

[postimage id="5190" thumb="900"]

The sides were gradiant blue waves.

[postimage id="5191" thumb="900"]

and then there were two dozen mini cupcakes with sea turtles (her then current obsession) on them.

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Apti Posted 30 Sep 2016 , 7:15pm
post #28 of 45

If I can get a photo of my "horror" wedding cake, I'll post it on this thread.  (A friend took photos.)   That may be a year or two from now since I can't think about it without cringing.   You know how we all say "it was awful!", but usually it looks ok?  Well, this was just barely on the "ok" side if you didn't get too close. 

@gsscout73 and p632 -- Thanks for having the courage to both take and then post your cakes.  Yes, we cakers can see the mistakes, but from the perspective of the clients, what was achieved was still light years away from what any of them could create.   Kudos to all yall!

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p632 Posted 30 Sep 2016 , 7:28pm
post #29 of 45
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gscout73 Posted 30 Sep 2016 , 11:31pm
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Thank you, Apti, that means a lot.  smile.png   Every time I think about or see that cake I cringe. I really had high hopes for that cake, and one day I may get the courage to re-make it. I'm juuuuuust not there yet.

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