A Soccer Mom Survival Kit

The girls and their daddy (Coach Brandon)

The girls and their daddy (Coach Brandon) right after their last game. So proud of their medals!

While my littlest soccer players have already wrapped up their season, my son’s club team is still in full swing. He’ll be playing at least another month of games before summer clinics and camps kick in. So my soccer-mom days continue, but I’m not complaining. I enjoy watching soccer, and I especially love cheering for my kids and their friends.

After sitting through about 12 seasons of soccer so far, I’ve come to learn a few things about game-time necessities. Now, I’m not always with it – like a few weeks ago when I forgot my umbrella for a game that rained cats and dogs – but I’ve developed a pretty solid grab-and-go list. I thought it might be helpful to share with other moms out there.

Here’s what it includes:

umbrella

Umbrellas (for rain and shine. I actually use a little purple one to create my own shade on a scorching day.)

Water bottles, like this one with a sprayer (for the kids and you. No one needs you passing out on the sidelines from dehydration.)

Water bottles, like this one with a sprayer (for the kids and you. No one needs you passing out on the sidelines from dehydration.)

sunscreen

Sports sunscreen (that doesn’t sweat off)

bug spray wipes

Bug wipes (because mosquitoes and gnats are real)

wet ones

Baby wipes (for nasty bleachers, lawn chairs, sticky hands, etc. If you can name it, you can wipe it.)

germex

Hand sanitizer (because soccer fields are made with dirt and grass)

kleenex

Packs of Kleenex (not just for runny noses. I’ve been stranded in a ballpark bathroom without toilet paper one too many times. Drip-drying is not ideal.)

dermoplast

Dermoplast (or other similar spray for the inevitable skinned knee)

band aids

Fun Band-Aids (for said skinned knee or blisters)

benadryl

Children’s Benadryl (to ease any allergic reaction going down. Rapid melts are best so you don’t need water.)

motrin

Children’s Pain Reliever (because accidents do happen. The sooner you administer this, the happier your car ride home will be.)

zip lock

Ziplock bags (for a makeshift ice pack or to contain all of the trash you’ve created from all of the above))

trash bags

A roll of trash bags (to keep in your car. I’ve made rain ponchos, bleacher seat covers, and car seat protectors after a muddy game with these things. Not to mention they hold trash!)

Another thing to grab before you go is a little cash to have on hand for concessions and parking passes at the gate. You have no idea how many times I’ve forgotten to hit the ATM before pulling into the field. Such a forehead slapper.

Here’s a handy, printable checklist for you. I hope all of this was helpful. And let me know if you have other handy items in your stash that I need to know about! We can never be too prepared.

Go Moms!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap

Well, the weather peeps got it wrong this week. I’m not complaining, though. They called for rain every single day, and it only rained once. I made plans for lots of indoor activities, but kept getting drawn outside by the lovely weather. I did manage to pull off a few projects. So overall, it turned out to be a fairly well-balanced week. Here are five of my favorite things:

{ONE} Birdseed Cakes

The kids and I made these little birdseed cakes in honor of Earth Day, which was Wednesday. We thought it would be nice to feed the beautiful goldfinches that have been visiting our back porch lately.

Birdseed ornaments

These were super easy to make. Get the recipe.

{TWO} Wedding Scrapbook

In an earlier post I mentioned I’m working on a scrapbook for my niece and her fiancé. I’m not super scrappy with all of the scissors, punches and Cricut machinery, but I do love a good paper project when I can get my hands on one. This scrapbook has been just what my creativity has needed.

Wedding scrapbook

I put the couple’s name and year they met at the top and added this sweet quote by Audrey Hepburn. Their wedding colors are yellow and gray, which is such a pretty combo.

{THREE} Easy Peasy Dinner

I had one of those “what the hell are we going to eat tonight” moments this week and ran to the store to find this saucy little secret. It made the most delicious dinner. All I did was heat up some Tyson Grilled and Ready chicken and poured this pouch over the top. I steamed some rice and even picked up a box of egg rolls for a complete, at-home Chinese meal in minutes. I will be doing this again.

Campbell's Skillet Sauces

So yummy!! I have two hungry boys in my family, so I used two pouches.

{FOUR} Soccer Medals!

It’s hard to believe the soccer season is already over for these girlies. They had a great time with their daddy as the coach. B is such a patient and encouraging man. He’s so good for the team. They had some wins, losses, rainouts and forfeits, and through it all, they always remembered to have fun. Sports are more than a score, and I love that B teaches his girls that lesson.

Soccer girls

Look at these soccer twinsies! They’re so proud of their medals, and I’m so proud of them.

{FIVE} Momma’s Day Out

Here’s a little confession. I’ve been holding on to a gift certificate to a local spa since my birthday – which was in early March. You’d think a busy momma like me would have bee-lined for that massage table like it was a Lilly Pulitzer sundress at Target. It might sound weird, but I’ve actually been savoring the mere idea that I have this treat coming. So the gift card has been sitting in my planner – making me smile. I finally decided to cash in the prize, and man was it worth it. After my ahh-mazing treatment, I took advantage of all of the perks in that place. I sat in the steam room, used one of their disposable razors, sampled the Moroccan oil shampoo, indulged in the complimentary body oils, ate the trail mix, and drank the cucumber water before steeping some delicious White Lion tea with honey pearls. I’m sure the spa people were like, “Is she ever going to leave?” Eventually, I did. And with a whole new lease on life.

Honey Pearls

This is one of my after-spa treats. These honey pearls are my new favorite thing. I ate an entire packet like it was Pixy Stix.

I’m feeling rested and ready for a super weekend. I hope you are, too!

Fiveonfriday

-Kate

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A Sunny Monday

weather report

That’s a lot of rain!

Hello, friends. I just saw the forecast for the week, and it looks like I’ll be spending some time indoors starting tomorrow. Geez. Luckily I spent the weekend cleaning and catching up on laundry, so I’m done with that for at least another month. #wishing Now I can have some crafty Kate-time this week.

My big project at the moment is my niece’s wedding scrapbook. She’s getting married this summer, so I’m archiving as many special moments leading up to the big date as I can (with the help of my sister, who is sending me all of the elements to include.) I’ll have to take some pictures of a few pages this week so you can see my progress.

wedding-color-schemes-yellow-and-grey

Her color scheme is yellow and grey, which is gorgeous! Don’t you think? {via}

book

I went with a gray cloth post bound book. {via}

As you can imagine, Pinterest is chock-full of inspiration for page layouts and designs. My problem is narrowing down the ideas, but I’m up for the challenge. I love projects like this, and doing it for my sweet niece is definitely icing on the cake.

If you’re looking for me today, though, I’ll be the one outside soaking in the sunny, dry skies while I can!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Things I Learned

This was a rather enlightening week. I’m not exactly sure why, but I felt like a magnet for new tricks and discoveries. They kept showing up, and I kept thinking, “Well, that’s pretty cool.” Here are five of my favorites:

{ONE} Pennies can perk up your tulips.

Having worked at a flower shop all through college, I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to caring for fresh cut flowers. But…I didn’t know this trick until this week!! Thanks to a friend at work, I learned that if you put a few pennies in the bottom of a vase of tulips, it keeps them from flopping over. The copper has something to do with it. Cool, yes?

{TWO} Succulents are super easy.

Succulents are all the rage right now. I couldn’t be happier about it, because they are the easiest, most drama-free plants to grow. I didn’t realize (until this week) how simple it was to make MORE of them.

Snip off a few leaves from an existing plant. Let them dry for a few days so the ends close up, and then lay them on some dirt and watch them grow. They will sprout right there on top of the soil. And they barely require water. What more could a gardener want?

P.S. Anthropologie has adorable planters that would be perfect for potting your sweet little succulents.

{THREE} L’Oreal sunscreen doesn’t make be break out.

The sun made an appearance a few times this week. I even bought some sunscreen. I finally found one I really like for my face. So far it hasn’t made me break out, which is glorious. I’ve tried others that have wreaked havoc on my skin – and they were even labeled “non-comedogenic.” It was non-cool. This formula from L’Oreal is not only a 50+ on the SPF scale, but also full of good stuff to keep your skin youthful. I like that it absorbs quickly and leaves a soft, almost powdery feeling on my skin. Check it out if you need a good sunscreen!

{FOUR} Walmart has cute shorts.

I had a Whoa Wait Walmart moment this week. I was cruising through Wally World, doing my weekly grocery run, and I spotted a selection of Aztec-print shorts on a rack in the Junior’s section. I carted over to check ’em out and discovered they’re even better up close, which doesn’t always happen. They have all kinds of trendy patterns, feel ultra soft and have pockets. I snatched up a pair like I just don’t care. If fact, I’m wearing them right now. Hearts all around for these cuties!!

{FIVE} Coffee dates rock.

coffee date Date nights are awesome. B and I don’t have nearly enough of them, though. It can be tricky finding time for each other when our schedules are full of soccer tournaments, birthday parties, piano lessons, swimming, and the occasional work-related event. This week, we tried something different.

Thursday was my day off, and B had one of his morning meetings get cancelled. He looked at me and said, “Want to go grab a cup of coffee?” I was so excited and felt kinda like a school girl who was being asked to prom. “Um, yes! I’d love to go with you! Let me take out my retainer first.” We didn’t have tons of time, but it was enough to catch up, look at each other, and feel grounded again. It didn’t require a babysitter or a special dress. It was just us, being us. I loved it – and him.

Here’s to a magnificent weekend full of love, hugs and cheers, my dears!

Fiveonfriday

-Kate

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10 New Uses for Loom Bands

Loom Bands

If your kids jumped on the Rainbow Loom craze at any point in their young lives, there are bound to be millions (not even exaggerating) of baby rubber bands hiding around your house. Even if you put the loom away months ago, you will still find bands lurking in the carpet, on your tables, between couch cushions, and even at the bottom of your purse. They must self-multiply. How else is this even possible?

While I do love my collection of loom band bracelets, I’ve discovered that these baby rubber bands can do so much more than decorate my arms – and clog up my vacuum. They can actually be quite useful.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 creative ways to use loom bands.

{1} Hair Ties

Sometimes you just want to pull back a small section of hair or wear a single braid. Loom bands are perfect because they’re not as bulky as regular pony holders.

Loom bands as hair ties

I used a white loom band so it was easier to see. You could choose a color closer to your hair color if you’d rather have it blend in.

{2} Bouquet Holder

When you’re arranging flowers, it helps to have them secured toward the bottom of the stems so they stand upright (and exactly how you like them) in the vase. I wrapped a loom band around these stems twice for the perfect fit.

Loom bands as bouquet holder

Green loom bands would blend into the stems really well.

{3} Bottle Opener

Don’t you hate it when a bottle of nail polish has been painted shut? It can be nearly impossible to open because the handle is small and slippery. Wrap a loom band or two around the top and you can actually get a grip.

Loom bands as bottle opener

The easiest way to open nail polish, IMO. Love this color, too. It’s Ballet Slippers by Essie!

{4} Waistband Extender

If you’re feeling bloated after over indulging on salty popcorn – or if you’re expecting and aren’t ready to jump into maternity pants, this tip is for you. Thread a loom band through the button hole of your jeans or pants, then loop the end over the button. This gives you the perfect smidge of extra room around the waist without anyone ever knowing. Your secret is safe with me.

Loom bands as pants extender

The top shows you how to loop through the buttonhole. The bottom shows how it secures to the button.

{5} Spoon Saver

This isn’t a daily occurrence for me, because I don’t always cook, but sometimes my spoon slips down into my mixing bowl and the handle gets all messy. Such a bummer. Wrap a loom band around the upper part of the spoon’s handle, right above the point where the spoon touches the rim of the bowl. No more slipping and sliding. Yay!

Loom band as spoon saver

See how I wrapped the band around the end of the spoon?

{6} Drink Markers

Of course you could buy fancy wine glass markers, but why? Especially when you have those millions of loom bands looming around the house. Have each person pick their favorite color and slip the band over the stem of a wine glass.

This works for bottled water, too. Marking bottles helps keep track of whose is whose, and you don’t waste as much water!

Loom bands as drink markers

I call purple! Now, where’s that wine?

{7} Ribbon Holder

Ribbon can get out of hand if left to its own unfurling devices. And when you’re obsessed with ribbon, as I am, you have to have a plan of action for storage. I use loom bands to secure spools of ribbon and even little ribbon scraps. Then I store all of it in clear containers so I can easily see what’s inside. Another post, another day for that part.

Loom bands as ribbon holders

Totally tidy!

{8} Pencil Gripper

If you want a legitimate loom pencil gripper, this video shows you how to weave it together. If you want the 2-second version, just slip a few bands around your pencil and you have a no-slip grip in no time!

Loom band as pencil grip

Hmm, what shall I write with this comfortable pencil?

{9} Little Reminders

As long as the band isn’t too tight, you can slip one on your finger to remind you of something important.

Loom bands as reminders

Now I’ll remember to drink more water today!

Bonus idea: Use loom bands like a rubber thimble. Put a few on your finger tips, and it’s easier to shuffle through papers. I’m thinking teachers might like this trick?

{10} Cord Corral

I like to carry a phone charger in my purse so I can recharge at a moment’s notice. The trouble with those things is that they never stay wrapped. They go sprawling all over my purse – kinda like how that one zucchini plant took over my garden last summer. Out. of. control. Okay, so I wrapped a loom band around my charger to keep it pulled together.

Loom bands as cord corral

It’s nice and neat and ready to stash in my purse! Regular rubber bands have to be wrapped several times. I just slipped one loom band over the cord and called it good in the ‘hood.

What was your favorite idea? Be sure to pin it to your Pinterest board so you can remember it later!

-Kate

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When You Want Fresh Ideas, Think Laterally

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a creative tip, so today’s post is all about lateral thinking.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper?” There are several variations of this line that all mean essentially the same thing: to get new ideas, you have to look in new (and sometimes illogical) directions.

It might feel comfortable to use the same solutions to a problem (which is considered vertical thinking, btw) but that doesn’t always lead you to good answers or ideas.

When we talk to new people, read interesting magazines, listen to different music, and take new routes, we allow for inspiring ideas and new perspectives to soak in.

All of that is good material for solving problems – especially if you want to try your hand at lateral thinking.

What is lateral thinking?

The father of lateral thinking is Dr. Edward de Bono. Some people claim he is one of the very few people in history to have had a major impact on the way we think. He defines lateral thinking as “disrupting an apparent sequence and arriving at the solution from another angle.”

Yah, yah. What are some examples?

Have you seen the New Uses for Old Things section in each issue of Real Simple? This is lateral thinking!

life saver candle holder

A candy Life Saver can also be the perfect candle holder! {via}

books as shelves

Books can make great shelves. {via}

rubber band

If you have a stripped screw, a rubber band can get you out of a jam. {via}

Another example can be found in a lateral thinking puzzle, like this one…

puzzle1

A: Pour juice from second glass into the fifth. {via}

How to put lateral thinking to use?

For one, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to New Uses for Old Things. There are countless ways to think laterally about organizing and decorating your home, wrapping unexpected gifts, cooking, etc. So lateral thinking has some practical uses.

You can also apply this to your job. I read a great article that gave some solid examples.

  • Lawyers and detectives use lateral thinking when attempting to solve crimes, because the sequence of events is often not as straightforward it first appears. (Um, and having some detective skillz can come in handy as a parent, too.)
  • If you’re in the creative arts, lateral thinking is an especially useful technique for developing ideas.
    • As a writer, this approach could help you come up with unexpected twists and turns in a plot.
    • For comedians, it can help you set up the perfect joke.
    • If you work in communications, like I do, it could help you develop an unexpected headline or approach to selling a product.

Keep up the good work!

You’ve probably been using lateral thinking all along, but didn’t realize what it was called. Now that you do know, be sure to keep up your skills. It’s like anything in life. The more you practice, the easier it will become. Here are a few links to some fun lateral thinking puzzles and resources:

Have fun thinking laterally. How do you think you’ll use this in your daily life? I’d love to know!

-Kate

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Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

When it comes to spring cleaning, you don’t have to buy a bunch of specialty products to get your house shipshape. With a few simple ingredients (that you probably already have around the house) you can pretty much clean anything. Here are five of my favorite cleaning hacks:

{ONE} Lemons

Lemons are the epitome of clean. Why else would so many cleaning products smell like them? I say, why not use the real deal?

Did you know you can clean the yucky insides of your microwave with just a lemon and bowl of water cooked for 3 min?

Lemons are also great for cleaning stainless steel faucets in your bathrooms and kitchen. Cut a lemon in half and rub the stains away. Like magic, I tell you.

{TWO} Vinegar

Vinegar is a miracle worker when it comes to cleaning. There are even books (yes, plural) written about it.

Baking soda ranks up there, as well. Many times they go hand-in-hand. Like when it comes to unclogging a drain. Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup baking soda, then 1 cup of vinegar.

Another dynamic way to use this duo is on carpet stains. Soak the carpet with vinegar and then sprinkle with baking soda. Wait a few minutes. Wipe with a wet cloth and vacuum any remaining residue.

Here are some of my go-to uses for stand alone vinegar:

  • Run it through your coffee pot or Keurig to remove mineral buildup. It makes a big difference in the flavor of your coffee. Be sure to run a batch of fresh water through after the vinegar.
  • Deodorize and clean the garbage disposal with vinegar ice cubes. Make them by freezing full-strength white distilled vinegar in an ice cube tray. Run several cubes down the disposal while flushing with cold water.
  • To remove grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse with water.
  • Remove that nasty film in narrow-necked glass jars, flower vases and bottles by filling them with vinegar and letting them sit for a few hours. You can add a little rice and shake to loosen the stubborn stains.

{THREE} Condiment Bottle

This is a random tip, but helpful none-the-less. Remove the lid from a condiment bottle and attach it to the end of your vacuum with a piece of tape. Now you can clean out the tiniest of spaces that taunt you with their dirtiness, such as computer keyboards and those evil crevices in your car that no hand could ever reach through.

{FOUR} Oil

This might sound counterproductive, but you can remove oily, greasy buildup on your stove hood and stovetop with more oil. Put a couple of drops of vegetable oil (or any other kind of cooking oil) onto a paper towel and rub it across the greasy mess until it’s clean. It leaves a nice shiny surface, and I promise it’s clean!

{FIVE} Dryer Sheets

These are great for cleaning your blinds and baseboards. Once you wipe them down, the anti-static properties of the dryer sheet will keep airborne dirt from sticking to wherever you just wiped. This means you don’t have to clean them as often.

What other common household items do you use for cleaning? Share your favorite hack!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap

Another week, another wrap! I have some exciting projects and fun finds to share. So let’s get to it. Shall we?

{ONE} Free NatureBox

NatureBox

Thanks to NatureBox, I have three complimentary (and ridiculously yummy) snack boxes available to giveaway. The first three people to comment with “I want some snacks!” will receive a FREE box of delicious, healthy treats. You get to choose 5 of your favorite snacks from the entire Snack Catalog. (Offer expires 4/23. Shipping fees apply.) Here’s to happy snacking!!

{TWO} Personalized Umbrellas

Umbrellas

This was a project I worked on last weekend. The girls were all set with rain boots, but I discovered they needed new umbrellas. So…I looked no further than Walmart and found these clear umbrellas lined with darling flowers. I personalized them with Sharpie paint pens. Didn’t they turn out pretty cute? You should totally try one.

{THREE} Handwritten Letters

handwritten letter

This is a little thank you card I made for my MIL. I folded a piece of double-sided scrapbook paper, added a fancy sticker to personalize the card, then used an edging punch on the top flap.

April is National Letter Writing Month (among other things, I’m sure). I’ve latched onto this one because I love letters. Heartfelt notes of thanks, celebration, humor, or empathy can be some of the most treasured gifts. Letter writing is becoming a bit of a lost art – especially as more people are turning to emails, texts and posts. So why not take a moment to write a good old-fashioned letter to one of your long-distance friends? It will make him or her feel super special, and this is the perfect month to do it.

{FOUR} theSkimm

theskimmlogoI just started receiving theSkimm this week, which is considered to be “the daily newsletter that gives you everything you need to start your day.” I’m here to say that it’s pretty legit. It gets you up to speed on the news and what people are talking about in a single email. Sign up and see what I mean!

{FIVE} The 610 Stompers

I’m ending on a humorous note, because you know how much I love to laugh. Have you seen the 610 Stompers?! Holy hilariousness. Garden & Gun magazine recently featured them in a story about why they love the South. As described in the article, “This is an all-male amateur marching dance troupe of more than a hundred ordinary men clad in matching white headbands, red satin jackets, knee-high tube socks, and spray-painted gold sneakers.” You have to checkout some of their sweet moves. It will make your day. Maybe week.

That’s an official wrap. I promised to share some spring cleaning tips this week, and I won’t disappoint.

Check back tomorrow for five of my favorite cleaning hacks.

Until then, be sure to visit the beautiful and amazing blogs through Five on Friday with April, DarciChristina, and Natasha.

Fiveonfriday

Cheers, my dears!

-Kate

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Happy Easter!

Hello, dear friends. Today is a day to sing, celebrate, and rejoice in the fact that it’s Easter day!

I’ve always struggled with explaining the Easter bunny and baskets to my kids on such a holy day, and I recently found a great article on the topic. It helps us get creative and turn typical holiday symbols into tools that bring a greater understanding of the message of Easter. As one example, look at this darling illustration of the “real” Easter bunny…

To personalize this story, try drawing or printing your own bunny. Turn it into a coloring sheet for your kids. You can then explain the meaning as you color the sheet together.

Another fun activity to try today is a resurrection scavenger hunt. Kids of all ages should enjoy this one.

Here’s hoping you have a blessed day filled with love and hope!

-Kate and family

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DIY Moss Planters

Okay, so earlier in the week I shared a few easy Easter flower arrangements. One of the pictures showed a darling moss-covered planter.

moss pot

I researched how to do this and found a variety of methods. Most of the DIYs involved a concoction of buttermilk and live moss mixed in a blender and then painted on the side of a terra cotta pot. While I appreciate this natural approach, it sounded kind of gross thinking about a dairy-based anything growing on the middle of my table. I mean, would it begin to smell? I have a super sensitive sniffer. It’s borderline bionic. I can’t do weird smells or anything close to rancid or my gag reflex kicks in. Needless to say, I opted for the easy and safe/non-smelly route.

All it required was a few items:

Moss planter supplies

L to R: Raffia, terra cotta pot, moss ribbon, glue gun

The key was this moss ribbon I found at Hob Lob. It was super easy to work with, and it wrapped around the pot very nicely in strips.

Moss ribbon

Moss ribbon is thin and the back is lined with mesh that makes it easy to hot glue to any surface.

My pot was taller than the moss, so I hot-glued two strips of moss ribbon around the pot and trimmed the excess along the bottom with scissors.

Moss pot

This was my first strip of ribbon.

Tip: Wear garden gloves when you work with the glue gun so you don’t burn your fingers when you pat down the moss. Hot glue hurts like the dickens.

Once you’ve trimmed the edges of the moss, you can wrap a few pieces of raffia around the pot to cover where the two pieces of ribbon came together.

Finished moss pot

My moss pot is finished, filled with soil and ready for some flowers already!

I chose pansies for this pot. I plan to make another one and give these as Easter gifts to my mom and SIL tomorrow. Shh! They’ll be a surprise.

Finished moss planter

Ta-da! It is ready to give as a surprise little gift.

I hope you found this easy to follow – and much easier than the buttermilk madness. Let me know what you think. Have a super Saturday and check back tomorrow for a special Easter message.

-Kate

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