Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Easy Party Punch

Guess what’s making a comeback – punch – Easy Party Punch, to be exact! Grandma had a few recipes for punch, because back in the day, punch used to be a big thing at parties and celebrations of every kind. She loved to tie on her apron and get to work putting a great party or gathering, but she also loved to have a few easy to make and pull together recipes that didn’t take a lot of effort. A few years ago I shared a Punch recipe that was more of a lemon-y one. This one is very red and festive – perfect for this time of year! Nice for Christmas or New Year’s or maybe even Valentine’s Day, this Easy Party Punch will get everyone in the mood to party. You can make this recipe as is, and kids can enjoy it, too, or add an adult beverage like vodka and really make it a PARTY!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easy Party Punch

This recipe makes a BIG batch – the card says 1 1/2 gallons – so I once again decided to make half of this recipe for us.

Dissolve:

1 package Cherry Kool-Aid

1 package Strawberry Kool-Aid

2 cups sugar

3 quart water

Add:

1 6-ounce can frozen orange juice

1 6-ounce can frozen lemonade (my store didn’t carry 6 ounce cans, so I used a 12 ounce can of lemonade and no orange juice for this half batch)

Stir in just before serving:

1 or 2 quarts ginger ale (we decided to also try using club soda, or half ginger ale and half club soda, because this punch is “plenty sweet” – that was still delicious)

Makes approximately 1 1/2 gallons. (Because this makes such a big batch, I made a half batch and used the whole 12-ounce can of frozen lemonade instead of both lemonade and orange juice, even though a half batch would normally only call for 6-ounces of frozen juice total.)

I wanted to make an ice ring to put in the punch bowl, and normally I would have used the lemonade to make it so the ring wouldn’t dilute the punch. This time I thought I’d try something a little different and make it with ginger ale. I put maraschino cherries, lemon slices, and mint leaves in it before pouring in the ginger ale.

Using a Bundt pan makes it so pretty! After freezing, the ring was kind of weird – like the bubbles in the ginger ale froze funny – so I’d use the lemonade next time. Just make sure to use the right amount of water total for the punch and the lemonade.

I mixed this up right in the punch bowl. Easy peasy.

Making a half batch didn’t make much right away, until I put in the ice ring. The ice ring would be part of the total liquid – so no dilution.

See how weird the ice ring got? Next time I’ll use the lemonade. I tried to make a pattern with the fruit, too, but when putting the pan into the freezer, the fruit all moved around. Next time – I’d just throw it all in there. It’s still pretty.

So pretty! So delicious! So festive!

Here’s an impressive party tip – fan out the napkins so your guests can take one easily. I started doing this for parties in high school, and everyone still gives me a hard time about it. It only takes a few minutes and obviously everyone is impressed by it (or they wouldn’t give me such a hard time).

Another way to make the punch pretty – I skewered a half of a lemon slice and a cherry on a toothpick. Just put it into the cup of punch for every MORE festivity!!! Can you ever be TOO festive? I think not. Make up a batch of this Easy Party Punch for your next party, and let the partying begin!

 

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Holiday Slush

A cocktail that you can make ahead and is ready to go at a moments notice – this recipe for Holiday Slush is delicious and perfect for any holiday party or gathering. Who are we kidding? It’s perfect for any party or gathering ANY time of year! It’s just that we seem to have more parties and gatherings at THIS time of year. This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and wow, am I glad we have this one! It’s amazingly delicious and refreshing. Big surprise – it’s one of my new favorites! Well, I like a party – and celebrations of all kinds, as you can see by this photo of me when I was about 3 years old. It’s just not a party without the party horn – you know, the kind you blow out and they make noise and then they roll back in. And you can do it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again and drive all the adults crazy. Yeah – that one! I loved those when I was a kid.

This particular party that I was having – by myself, apparently – looks like it was thanksgiving time, as portrayed by the fall arrangement on the little table (this was at my other grandma and gramp’s house). I look like I was already indulging in this slush. Ha! Maybe I should get some of those party horns for this year’s holiday celebrations. Hmmm?

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Holiday Slush

Mix together in a pan:

7 cups water

2 cups sugar

Bring to a boil, then cool.

Boil:

2 cups water

Steep in the water:

4 green tea bags

Cool.

Remove tea bags and combine with the water mixture.

Add:

1-12 ounce can frozen orange juice, thawed

1-12 ounce can frozen lemonade, thawed

2 cups brandy or gin (I used brandy)

Freeze.

To serve: Scoop frozen slush into glasses and add 7-Up or sour mix.

Top with a cherry.

I steeped the tea and let it cool with the tea bags in it. Green tea is an interesting ingredient – might as well get some antioxidants at the same time, right?

I just mixed them all together in the biggest container I had, and into the freezer with it! I do seem to remember back in the day when people were making this, that they used ice cream buckets to freeze this stuff. That would definitely take up less room in the freezer.

Once it’s frozen, it’s ready for the party! It doesn’t freeze solid because of the alcohol – that makes the perfect texture. Scoop the slush into the glass and add the 7-Up. That does make the drink “plenty sweet”, so I tried it with sparkling water and that was also delicious. I made picks with three cherries instead of putting just one cherry on top, for extra festiveness!

This slush can take you from September thru January, but I don’t know why you couldn’t leave this in your freezer all year long! It would be amazingly refreshing in the summer, too! Maybe try it with other types of alcohol, like vodka.

Yes – another of my favorites. I seem to be finding a lot of favorites from these old family recipes – and I love it! This slush is such a great adult drink to keep in the freezer. It’s no fuss, no muss entertaining. Just add the soda and you’re golden. For a non-alcohol version, just mix it all up and leave out the alcohol, but don’t put it in the freezer. Maybe to make it special for kids at holdiay time, add a scoop of orange or lemon sherbet at the end when adding the soda – like a float! Yum! If you have any kind of entertaining coming up this holiday season, you’re going to want to make up a batch of this delicious and very festive Holiday Slush – and let the celebrating begin!

 

 

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Orange Julius

You all know how I feel about old church cookbooks, and that’s where I found this recipe for making your own Orange Julius at home. Back when I was growing up, we’d make big shopping trips to Minneapolis for many reasons: back to school shopping, Christmas shopping, shopping in general. One time – when I was really little and we were shopping at one of the large department stores – I decided it would be a funny idea to hide from my mom. I hid inside one of the racks of clothes she was looking through, and before I knew it, the joke was on me. I couldn’t find her. Not only was she not looking for me, I didn’t see her anywhere! Where was her big brown swing coat with the fur collar and the really big buttons? Well, this wasn’t so funny anymore. Eventually a woman came over to me and asked if I was lost. Somehow – finally – we found each other. I don’t remember exactly what happened, or how much trouble I was in when we got home, but I do remember that feeling. It was NOT pleasant. I never pulled that funny joke again – not that particular one, anyway! The older my sister and me got, the more those shopping trips were geared toward OUR clothes shopping, and were usually spent at one of the large malls. What did you always see at the mall? Orange Julius! We just didn’t have those in our smaller town (our town did eventually get a mall, but we didn’t have one way back then), and I’m sure that’s where this recipe came from. Someone went to one of those malls in the big city and decided that they loved that frothy orange drink from the mall so much, there had to be a way to make it at home. Grandma’s church cookbook has several recipes for how to make your own Orange Julius, but I chose this one to make – because it was the easiest one! As it says on the recipe, this would be great for breakfast or an after school snack.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Orange Julius

Mix in blender until frothy:

3 ounces orange juice concentrate

1/4 cup sugar (I used a bit less than 1/4 cup – it’s plenty sweet!)

1/2 cup milk (I used skim milk)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup water

5-6 ice cubes, crushed if possible

First I put all the ingredients into my old harvest gold 1970’s Oster blender. It still works great!

I blended it until it was frothy.

That’s how quick and easy this recipe is – blend and done.

This WOULD be great for a breakfast or brunch, but I think it would also make a GREAT after school snack. Kids could make it themselves if they know how to use the blender. But come on – the best way to enjoy this perfect and refreshing Orange Julius that you make at home, is after a very long day of shopping at your favorite mall – maybe it’s time for a shopping trip!

 

 

 

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Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon

Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon is a recipe that I got from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks, and I think it’s perfect for a first-day-of-school back-to-school after-school snack. Since today’s the first day of school here in Minnesota, this is a great day to share this after school treat. I LOVED the first day of school when I was growing up. There is just something about shopping for back-to-school supplies – I even enjoyed it when I got to shop for those supplies when MY kids were in school. There were definitely years when money was tight, and with three kids to get supplies for, it took a lot of organization and dedication. Even now, I still shop for school supplies when they start to have certain things on sale weeks before school starts. I have waaaayy too many supplies in my desk and office cupboards at this very moment – glue sticks, notebooks, pens, markers, scissors. It’s just my thing. Like after school snacks. I loved it when my other grandma (who babysat me after school grades K-2 until my parents came home from work) made me after school snacks and I became adept at making my own after school snacks when I was a latch-key kid from grades 3-12. When I had my own kids in school, I always tried to make sure they had after school snacks when they got home hungry from a great day of filling their brains to the brim with non-essential and some essential information. One of their favorites was Graham Crackers with Frosting, but I know if I had seen this recipe back then, they would have loved this snack, too. It does involve cocoa, whipped cream and sprinkles, after all!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon

Mix in a 2-quart saucepan:

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup sugar

dash of salt

3 cups skim milk

Stir over medium heat until cocoa is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil.

Remove from heat.

Add:

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour into a heat-proof pitcher and chill for 4 hours or more.

The recipe says, for extra coolness, put the glasses into the freezer to chill while the cocoa is chilling.

To serve I poured the cocoa over ice and garnished with a squirt of canned whipped cream and sprinkles.

These are totaly simple ingredients that everyone has in their cupboard.

The cocoa doesn’t mix in very well until the milk warms up. It looks a bit gnarly at first.

Once the milk comes to a boil, the cocoa mixes in and it’s time to add the vanilla and cinnamon.

Once the flavorings are added, put it into a heat-proof pitcher to chill. I used my big 4 cup measuring cup.

I didn’t chill the glasses, but I did add some ice.

Next it was time for a squirt of whipped cream and some rather festive sprinkles. Once school starts, it’s time to break out the fall colors.

Oooh! So pretty!

This iced cocoa is “plenty sweet”, but it’s great for a first-day-of-school back-to-school after-school treat. Starting school can be traumatic after a long summer of running amok. Your kids will think you’re pretty awesome when you make them an after-school treat on the first day back-to-school. You should make them this festive and delicious Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon – they’ll love it!

 

 

 

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Peachy Lemonade

Today’s recipe for Peachy Lemonade comes from my mom. She probably got it from one of her friends, and I’m so glad. So glad. It’s a ridiculously easy recipe to make (for my “Nothing But Easy Summer”), and it’s ridiculously delicious. Everybody had a lemonade stand when they were kids, right? I think I tried it once or twice – once when my other grandma was babysitting me and then once at the lake (there wasn’t a lot of traffic out there). This lemonade with fruit would have brought big bucks if we had known about this back in the day. It might have put us through college! You get to add other tasty ingredients to already refreshing lemonade, and I can see totally changing this and using other fruits and juices to make your own amazing recipes. Just keeping lemonade as the base, you could add: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemon slices, lime slices, orange slices, mango slices, apricot slices. You could change the lemonade to any kind of fruit juice and do the same. This seems like it could be a VERY versatile recipe. You could even stick with seasonal fruit and change it up all year long! Add a bottle of white wine and make it a sangria – if you’re into that sort of thing – or even add vodka or rum. Now we’re talkin’ fruity!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peachy Lemonade

Make 2 quarts of Lemonade – either from scratch or from a mix (I used a mix – this is the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, remember?).

Combine:

Lemonade

2 cans (5 1/2 oz. each) peach or apricot nectar (it doesn’t say if you’re supposed to use frozen nectar, but I found some soda can sized cans in the Mexican food section of my grocery store)

Refrigerate and chill.

Just before serving, add 1 cup frozen peach slices.

Makes 2 1/2 quarts.

Since we weren’t having company, I made just a half batch. This is how easy this lemonade is to make – I used a lemonade mix, a can of mango nectar (soda can size – that’s just what I happened to have in my cupboard), and a package of frozen peaches that I froze myself that came right out of my freezer. So I had the flavors of lemon, mango, peach, AND orange here (the peaches were frozen in orange juice).

That’s it! Done!

Fill the glass with ice and pour yourself a refreshing glass of Peachy Lemonade.

I picked a sprig of mint growing in the pot on my deck – to make it mint scented and pretty – and there you go! SO pretty!

Oh. Em. Gee. This is so good and so ridiculously easy to do. It’s perfect for this summer – keep it easy, keep it good, keep it fun. This one’s a keeper! You HAVE TO try this Peachy Lemonade and let me know what other kinds of fruit you try in it!

 

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Camping Margaritas

I recently saw this recipe for Camping Margaritas on a website called AroundMyFamilyTable.com, and I thought they might be perfect for our week at a cabin in Wisconsin this summer. I have declared this summer the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, and these margaritas will hopefully help us with that. Really. Nothing is going to be difficult to find or do – activities or food or drinks – and I mean it. Seriously. We have a limited number of weekends and warm summer days in general here in Minnesota, and this summer I have decided not to waste a minute of it. I want to be able to pull things together fast and get out of the house to enjoy our beautiful summer weather. I have made margaritas before on Plenty Sweet Life (my friend Julie’s Margaritas ), but this recipe is even easier, and I can’t wait to try it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Camping Margaritas

Mix all together using the can from the limeade:

1 (12 ounce) can frozen limeade

3 (12 ounce) cans water

1 (12 ounce) can tequila, plus a couple splashes more

6 ounces (1/2 can) Triple Sec

Place mixture into a gallon size zip-top bag. You can mix it right in the gallon bag, if you want to. Place filled bag into a second one (to keep it safe during transport) – this is easier to do before it freezes. Be careful to check and make sure your gallon bag doesn’t leak – I’ve had that happen a lot lately – just keep an eye on it.

Freeze several days until firm (if camping, put in cooler filled with ice to keep it frozen until ready to serve).

When ready to serve, have ready:

1-2 limes, cut into wedges

margarita salt (or kosher salt)

Break mixture apart until slushy.

Rub a lime wedge around the rim of each cup, and then dip in salt to coat the rim.

Pour margaritas into salt rimmed cups and serve with a wedge of lime.

These are made with just a few ingredients. Love it – easy!

You just use the limeade can to measure it all out – simple!

I used a gallon zip-top bag and it all fit in just fine.

Don’t forget to add the lime and salt around the rim BEFORE you pour the margarita!

Let it sit for awhile – if you can wait a few minutes – so it can melt a bit. I couldn’t wait.

These margaritas are so refreshing and so good! I LOOOOVE margaritas! This was a great idea! Now I can’t wait for the week at the cabin! There’s nothing like the simplicity of this “Nothing But Easy Summer”, and there’s nothing like a simple-to-do cocktail. I can’t wait to make many, many, many more batches of these Camping Margaritas!

 

 

 

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Hot Cider or Wassail

This recipe for Hot Cider or Wassail comes from my mom, and it’s one we’ve been making in our family since the 1970’s (you can tell because it has Tang in it – you know, the drink of the astronauts). It’s a very simple, but very delicious recipe for everybody’s favorite holiday hot beverage. I made another type of Wassail a few years ago, but the recipe is a bit more involved. This one is easy. Very easy. You can go outside and play in the snow and have this ready to heat up once you get back indoors and need some warming up. This smells so good while it’s heating up – you really should make this just for the potpourri factor, but you’re really going to love how tasty this is.

While this photo of me when I was 4 years old isn’t from the 1970’s when we started making this cider recipe, it was taken in the 1960’s. It is a fun Christmas photo – I LOVE the tree. They obviously didn’t prune the Christmas trees then the way they do now to make the perfect shape, and it was hardly taller than me!

My mom really liked the trees with the long needles. I did not, and we had them every year. It made ornament hanging very difficult and the needles always poked you! I would end up with red dots (that almost looked like hives) all over my hands – and they itched! That may be why you don’t see them around any more. It was seriously painful to decorate the tree! At any rate, I look very happy holding that beautifully wrapped package. I wonder what was inside . . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Cider or Wassail

Combine all in a large saucepan:

1 1/2 quarts apple cider

1 1/2 quarts water

1 cup Tang

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat for about 15 minutes.

Seriously, this could not be an easier recipe. This is it.

The ground spices look funny at first, but they assimilate pretty easily into the cider once it gets warm.

You can add some sliced oranges or lemons if you want to. Maybe stud them with a few whole cloves? That just might make it smell even better!

This is such a ridiculously easy and delicious recipe, I can’t even tell you. You may want this for the holidays, or for any day during the winter, say one in which you’re sledding or skating or skiing or walking in the snow or making snow angels or snowmobiling or  . . . you get the picture. It’s worth it to have a jar of Tang on hand for just such an occasion. Any occasion on which you want a nice, easy, delicious warm-up that tastes great and smells even better! Try this Hot Cider or Wassail and your friends and family will love you for it!

 

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Spiced Mocha Mix

Today’s recipe for Spiced Mocha Mix is great to use for gift giving, bring as a hostess gift, or send to your favorite college kid. It involves instant coffee, but I make it with decaf so I can enjoy it in the late afternoon or evening. If you make both, you can enjoy the caffeine buzz in the morning and then mellow out with it later in the day. I have more beverage recipes on the blog that you and/or your college student might enjoy: Hot Chocolate Mix, Instant Cappuccino Coffee, Viennese Coffee, Russian Tea, or even Pumpkin Spice Creamer. All of these beverage mixes are perfect for gift giving, hostess gifts, or shipping in college care packages, and they can all be made with either caffeine or decaffeinated (except the ones which don’t involve coffee right in the mix). I’m always on the lookout for something warm and decaffeinated to snuggle up with on the couch while wrapped in my coziest blanket and binge watching my latest History Channel obsession, and this is another delicious warm drink that’s perfect for that situation. And by something warm, I mean some-THING, like a warm drink, not some-ONE, geez, people. Anyooo – anyone would enjoy this mix as a gift, especially college students – who we all know basically live on coffee during those sleep-deprived years. I got these drink recipes years ago, and they all came on a single page of recipes. That page doesn’t exist anymore, and I don’t remember where it came from, so I’ll just write it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spiced Mocha Mix

Place in a large bowl:

1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer

1 cup hot cocoa mix

2/3 cup dry instant coffee

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix well.

Store in a tightly covered container.

Start with using 1 heaping Tablespoon of mix in 1 cup boiling water.

Adjust to taste.

There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this drink mix, but it sure is tasty.

Just throw them all into a bowl and mix them up!

The recipe says to use 1 heaping Tablespoon for 1 cup boiling water. I used 2 heaping Tablespoons for this large Rae Dunn cup, and it was too much. There was a lot left in the bottom of the cup at the end.

You can tweak the amount to add to your boiling water according to how you like it.

This makes almost a full quart jar of mix, so it is quite a big batch. Like I said above, this would be such a perfect hostess gift or college student gift – everyone who is a coffee drinker will enjoy this tasty cup. Now get out your most snuggly blanket, fire up your favorite tv show, and settle down for a comfy, cozy evening with this warm and delicious Spiced Mocha Mix.

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Peach Smoothie

When peaches are in season, a Peach Smoothie is a great way to enjoy them while they’re here. In Minnesota, we get “crates” of them shipped here from other states where peaches are much more apt to grow, like Colorado or California. Peaches don’t grow so well here in this climate, although my husband swears that they had a white peach tree in their yard when he was growing up. Grandma and my mom always got boxes of peaches every August, and I have very fond memories of me and my sister eating peaches until we were sick. They were so good and they only showed up in August, so we had to enjoy them while we could. The crates are now made of cardboard, but the boxes that the peaches came in used to be made of wood, and Grandma’s family would get one of those crates every year and then preserve them for the winter by making things like Peach Jam, Canned Peaches, Peach Pie, Glazed Peach Pie, Peach Crisp, Peach Cake, the list goes on and on. They were also able to re-use everything about those old wooden peach crates. The crates themselves were used for storage in the garage or as a side table, because they had two separate sections that acted like shelves. We had two peach crates used for tables in our playhouse when we were growing up – they had been painted brown and came in handy for storing all kinds of necessities like doll clothes or books. One other thing – back then, the peaches that came in those crates were wrapped in pink tissue paper, and I think we all know what that was used for back in the days of the Great Depression when people used outhouses and couldn’t afford toilet paper. I have heard that for that reason alone, people would look forward to August and peach season!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Smoothie

Put into blender:

1 peach, cut up

1 small container of vanilla greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk

6 ice cubes

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

2 whole graham crackers, crushed (reserve half for putting around rim of glass)

Blend.

Put reserved graham cracker crumbs onto a small plate.

Wet the rim with a slice of peach and then put edge of glass into graham cracker crumbs.

Pour smoothie into glass, add a squirt of your favorite canned whipped topping and a straw.

Oh, how I love peach season!

I still use my old blender from the late 1970’s.

The graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon help to make this smoothie taste like you’re enjoying one of those above-mentioned recipes like Glazed Peach Pie or Peach Crisp!

This really is a healthy, delicious, and very pretty snack. While there are many, many things you can and SHOULD make with peaches right now, this is just one more way to use peaches. Your family will love this Peach Smoothie – I guarantee it!

 

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Strawberry Lemonade

This recipe for Strawberry Lemonade may be a no-brainer, but it’s too good not to share. You mix up your favorite batch of Lemonade and whiz it in the blender with some fresh strawberries. That’s it. It’s not hard, but sometimes it’s nice to try a new idea, and this is a good one to try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Strawberry Lemonade

Make one batch of lemonade. I have my other grandma’s great recipe for Lemonade on the blog, and that’s a delicious one to try here. There are many ready-made mixes you could try, and that’s what I did today. I have even made this with a sugar-free mix and it’s absolutely delicious.

I used a powdered mix for this particular batch, and it made one quart. There’s nothing like my old almost 40-year-old blender for mixing this – it still works great!

Next clean, hull, and quarter about 1 cup of strawberries and add them to the blender. I have made this using an entire pack of berries, and that was delicious, too. Can you ever really have too many strawberries? I think not.

Blend away and there you go. Done.

As I remember, when I used more berries, it didn’t separate like this, but isn’t it pretty?!! You can strain out the strawberry bits, if you want to, but why not enjoy the health benefits and leave it all in there?

Add some ice, a straw (paper, of course – for environmental reasons), and a strawberry garnish and you have a beautiful, delightful, refreshing drink for summertime.

Just remember this recipe when the weather gets hot and humid and you need something new to try – maybe add a shot of vodka for more of an adult beverage! It’s so refreshing and delicious. Invite the neighbors over and offer them a glass of this Strawberry Lemonade – you’ll be the most popular neighbor in the whole wide neighborhood!

 

 

 

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