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LIFE:CAPTURED began in August 2013 when we held our first full-day workshop at RAW Space in Sydney, Australia. Our mission is to help people document their stories and create tangible keepsakes to be treasured for generations to come. We offer intensive design, photography, and memory keeping workshops, as well as interactive online classes. We are advocates of honest photography, minimalist design, and memory keeping that's simple, beautiful, and tangible. We are the pioneers of the story book, and we offer flexible templates that enable everybody to tell their story. We believe that life is worth remembering and that it is never too early or too late to start documenting yours. LIFE:CAPTURED was founded by Rhonda Mason (of the Pink Ronnie blog) and Trish Chong (of Tealily Photography).

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The official blog of LIFE:CAPTURED Inc, the modern school of memory keeping. We believe that life is worth remembering and that it is never too early or too late to start documenting yours. We blog about design, photography, and how you can preserve your story with timeless, tangible keepsakes.

A day in the life


A day in the life - A blog post by Rhonda Mason for LIFE:CAPTURED Inc (The modern school of memory keeping)

| Written by Ronnie |

Every three months or so, I try to record an entire day in as much detail as I can manage. This particular account is of my trip down to Melbourne with Trish—the purpose of which was to document the making of our first prototypes for SOULT Journals...

Thursday, the 27th of October

3:00 am
I keep tossing and turning because I'm anxious about waking up on time. Finally, at 3:45 am, my alarm goes off. I get up immediately, desperate not to miss my shuttle bus. Rick gets up with me. He is the sweetest. I'm already wearing my thermal singlet and my silk top, so I just change my pants. I brush my teeth and wash and powder my face. I check myself in the mirror, and I'm amazed that I don't look too exhausted.

4:00 am
We head downstairs together. I quickly eat a banana, grab my new Converse sneakers, and start doing up my laces in the family room. Suddenly, I see lights out the window and I wonder whether my bus is already here even though it's not yet quarter past four. Sure enough, my phone starts to ring and the driver tells me he is here. I tell him I'm on my way out. Thank goodness I woke up on time! I gulp down the glass of water that Rick gives me, and then we both head out the front door. It is dark, save for the street light outside our house. We walk towards the bus together. At the end of the driveway, we hug and kiss briefly before I hop onto the bus. The driver sees that I only have one bag. "Traveling light?" "Yup!" The bus is empty, so I get to choose where I want to seat. I end up in a single seat towards the back of the bus. I wave to Rick as we pull away. Despite my utter exhaustion, I find that I cannot sleep. Instead, I am entranced by the sight of the streets rolling past outside my window. We head up Warringah Road, and head towards Manly. Near St Paul's College, we pick up about five female students. They talk amongst themselves in a foreign language, and I find it somewhat soothing to listen to their chatter. We pick up another student at Fairlight, then one more passenger around Cremorne. Finally, we start heading towards the airport. My mind continues to buzz with excitement. I cannot believe that I'm about to fly down to Melbourne to see our first journals being made. It's surreal. Yet it feels so right.

5:00 am
We arrive at the airport shortly after five o'clock. I settle down at the first cafe I see and send Trish a message. I take out my MacBook Air and start catching up on some journaling. Despite my tiredness, I'm happy to have thirty minutes of "me" time. Writing calms me a little. Trish arrives soon after half past. She is dressed in jeans, a white top, ballet flats, and a lovely black jacket. She has a backpack on, and it's clear that all her camera gear is inside. We hug, then make our way through security, since Trish has already checked us in online. We immediately find a nice-looking cafe (Soul Origins) and buy coffee and breakfast. Trish has an egg benedict sandwich, and I settle on a bacon and egg roll. As we eat, we chat about the day ahead and the journey that we are about to embark on.

6:00 am
Close to six o'clock, we make our way to Gate 47 for boarding. We can see all the Virgin Air planes through the glass windows. It is finally light outside; the sun has risen. We start boarding promptly at half past six. We walk outside towards the plane. The wind whips our hair around as both Trish and I try to get some photos along the way. I capture the most joyous expression of Trish's just as she's climbing up the stairs. Our seats are 18D and 18F. Trish sits at the window, and I sit next to the aisle. The seat between us is empty.

7:00 am
I can feel my nervousness settling in just before take-off, but I distract myself with my journaling. I pray like mad that we have a safe flight, as I can't bear the thought of not seeing Rick and the boys again. The cabin's air pressure is not great, and I find my ears hurting pretty quickly. In between rubbing my ears, praying, chatting with Trish, and doing bits of journaling, I finally doze off.

8:00 am
We land at half past eight. Outside the airport, Trish leads the way and we quickly find our way onto a Skybus that takes us straight to the heart of the city: Southern Cross Station.

9:00 am
We arrive at Southern Cross Station at about quarter past nine. Trish takes charge once more. (She is seriously awesome.) We manage to track down the ticket office, and we find out we can buy an all-day pass for just eight dollars and go anywhere we want by tram, train or bus. Win! We buy a couple of passes, cross the road (boy is it cold!), and hop onto a tram. It is about half past nine. I call Whites Law to tell them we're on our way. After a few stops, we get off, find a connecting tram, and then settle in for a fifty-minute tram ride to South Caulfield.

10:00 am
I fall asleep almost instantly on the tram while Trish keeps watch. We arrive at our stop at about quarter past ten. We immediately suss out the cafes in the area before crossing the road to find ourselves right in front of Whites Law. We made it! We step inside. There are a couple of customers in front of us, so we have a poke around, taking in the walls behind us, which are lined with beautifully bound books. We meet Tony at the counter. He introduces to Edward, the owner. Edward takes us upstairs, shows us around the workshop, and introduces us to various people. Before he leaves us with a girl called Kelly, he tells us that the stamps that we've made are too small and won't stamp very well. He also questions our choice of buckram and suggests that there perhaps other nicer fabric options. Needless to say, this throws quite a spanner in the works.

11:00 am
We start watching Kelly, who demonstrates how the section sewing machine works. Trish pulls out her camera and starts weaving magic through her lens. I get out my iPhone and shoot some mini video clips. The section sewing machine both looks and sounds impressive. Afterwards, Kelly glues on the end pages by hand and leaves the pages to dry. Trish continues to shoot. Edward appears here and there, and I chat to him about fabric and stamping options. I am rather thrown, as my heart was already settled on the English library buckram coupled with gold foiling using the stamps that I had created. Edward pulls out various fabric swatches and tells us what he has in stock. I am not particularly grabbed by the other fabrics.

12:00 pm
It is noon and Trish and I are both running low on energy since we haven't eaten since six in the morning. We decide to grab some lunch and make some decisions at the same time. We ask Edward for a couple of the fabric swatches, and we take these with us. We stumble into one of the cafes next door but then decide we feel like something more Asian. We find a Vietnamese restaurant across the road. Trish orders fresh rice paper rolls, and I treat myself to pho and a cold Vietnamese coffee. The food is absolutely delicious and refuels us. We consider the rayon fabric and pick our five favourite colours. While Trish ducks across the road to grab a "real" coffee, I Google rayon on my phone and discover that it is deemed quite a controversial fabric in the textiles industry. Trish returns and I share my research with her. Back to square one. Eventually, we decide to proceed with our original plan and see how it goes. Armed with our decision, we head back across the road to the workshop.

1:00 pm
We ask Edward to crack open our stamps and to try stamping it on the English library buckram. He's happy to give it a go. Together, Trish and I pick a matt gold foil. Edward sets up the "stamper," and as soon as he does the first one on the white library buckram, Trish and I both fall in love. It looks just perfect. We're both over the moon and only wish we went with our instinct sooner. We pick our four other colours and Edward stamps them all: black, navy, grey, and forest green. Everything looks beautiful. My heart is so happy I can't stop grinning. We test out the "Part One" stamp as well, and I think it looks fine but Edward suggests that we increase the size of it slightly.

2:00 pm
Edward hands us over to Ian, the man in charge of all the bookbinding. We learn that Ian's dad was a bookbinder and so was his grandfather. We spend the next few hours following Ian around as he finishes making our first two prototypes (in white and navy buckram). Trish takes photos while I take videos. It is both surreal and beautiful to watch our journals come alive before our very eyes. It is clear to me that Ian is a master of his craft, and I am incredibly thankful that I get to see him at work. Finally, our two prototypes are completed: a white journal and a navy journal. They look so beautiful. So timeless. So exactly the way I had pictured them in my mind. We thank Ian profusely. Before we leave, I track Kelly down and thank her as well. We return downstairs to speak to Tony. He is busy with our customers, but when it's our turn, he gives us his full attention. I thank him for everybody's hospitality, and I also thank him for taking on our job while my account manager was away. We confirm the colours of the three remaining prototypes and also discuss the slight pixellation that we noticed in the printing. He promises to look into it, and I agree to send an email about it when I return home. Before walking out with our two journals, we sit down briefly to catch our breath and to make sure we have everything we need. Edward comes over to chat. He shows us the official guestbook of an ex Governor General—something that he has been tasked to replicate. For some peculiar reason, Edward is keen for us to take a look at the guestbook, so we do. We manage to track down the pages signed by Queen Elizabeth, and Trish even snaps a couple of shots of it on her camera. We have a bit of a laugh with Edward and then we thank him for all his help and for looking after us so well.

3:00 pm
We leave Whites Law and jump onto the next tram. Trish and I are both so tired that we both doze on and off. It is peak hour school traffic, and the tram is filled with students in uniform. My mind flashes briefly back to my own school days when I used to always nap on the bus on my way home. Some fifty minutes later, the tram arrives at Flinders Station, and we decide to disembark.

4:00 pm
We make our way through the crowds to Flinders Lane where we immediately treat ourselves to two donuts from Doughnut Time. They are crazy delicious. For about five minutes, standing outside the shop, the two of us are completely silent as we each devour our respective donuts. Amazing. We keep walking to the end of Flinders Lane. Once we've finished our donuts, we both take out our cameras to create some imagery. We catch the tram back to Southern Cross station to make our way to Higher Ground cafe for dinner. But along the way, Trish realises that it doesn't open till half past five. So we find ourselves a tiny "hole-in-the-wall" Thai cafe and treat ourselves to pad thai and nasi goreng. While we wait for the food to arrive, we take out the journals and we gaze upon them with bewildered wonder once more... 

5:00 pm
Once we are fed, we start walking towards Higher Ground for a late afternoon coffee and some more photos before getting back onto the Skybus. My feet are pretty sore by now, and I'm quite certain I'm clocking up my steps for my Fitbit. Higher Ground turns out to be right opposite Southern Cross station, but the venue has been booked out for a GHD product launch event. We are disappointed but not distraught. We return to the station and wait in (the long) line for the Skybus. A man in Skybus uniform walks along, checks our tickets, and reassures us that there are three Skybuses just around the corner. Sure enough, they all arrive within a few minutes and they all fill up rather quickly. We climb up onto the second deck and get ourselves comfortable.

6:00 pm
We spend the next thirty to forty minutes chatting about family, church, and ministry, and I am reminded of what a blessing it is to be business partners with another Christian woman—someone who shares exactly the same values and beliefs as I do. Back at the airport, we go past security once more and then head to a cafe for our caffeine top-up. We stay there for ten to fifteen minutes, then we make our way to the gate for boarding at seven-thirty.

7:00 pm
At the boarding gate, many people are already waiting in line. We join the queue. Trish offers me the window seat this time, and she sits next to me. A well-dressed young man appears and sits down in the aisle seat. He looks very stylish. Trish leans over to me. "I really want to give him one of our journals and photograph him with it." I have to stop myself from chuckling out loud. "Yeah, but the lighting's terrible." Before take-off, we hear a baby giggle and laugh a few rows behind us, and it is pure music to our ears. We chuckle quietly ourselves, and we both voice how much we're missing our little ones.

8:00 pm
Trish naps for most of the way home. I open up my MacBook Air, draft an email to Tony, and continue to journal from where I left off in the morning. Again, the cabin's air pressure is terrible, and my ears begin to throb with pain.

9:00 pm
Our plane lands close to half past nine. I turn on my phone to find that Rick has been trying to contact me. I message back that we've only just landed. We disembark and walk towards the exit as quickly as we can. I call Rick, and he gives me instructions over the phone. Finally, we see him across the road, and my face bursts into a wide grin. It's so good to see him again. Together, the three of us walk to the Land Rover and all pile in.

10:00 pm
We drive Trish back to her place. Then we finally make our way home. Pa and Nan are there, waiting for us. The boys are all asleep. We chat briefly before Pa and Nan leave. I give them big hugs and thank them endlessly for all their love, help, and support.

11:00 pm
I unpack as quickly as I can while Rick finishes cleaning up downstairs. I also finish writing up the follow-up email to Tony. Once I'm done, Rick and I go upstairs together and shower, and then I feed Lewis. It is so good to hold my baby in my arms again...

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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Our new range of archival quality journals, with prompts


| Written by Ronnie & Trish |

After months and months of work, we are truly excited to introduce SOULT Journals—our new range of archival quality journals, with prompts. Made in Australia using Italian paper and English buckram, these timeless keepsakes will help you preserve your story—forever. Inspired by our #lifecapturedproject, our first journal is our flagship journal: filled with everyday journaling prompts to help you write your heart out in 2017.

To celebrate our launch, we are actually giving away two journals—one for you to keep and one for you to gift a friend. To enter, simply follow our @soultjournals account and leave a comment here, telling us which journal colour you like the most: white, grey, black, navy, or green. (Entries close Wednesday 16 November at 11pm EST.) 

Because of the limited number of journals we have in each colour, we plan to open preorders for the first journal exclusively to subscribers early next week prior to the official website launch. So make sure you sign up over on the new site to avoid missing out of the colour of your choice! This would make a beautiful Christmas present—for someone you hold dear or as a gift to yourself.

There are no words to describe how excited we are about this next chapter—there will be lots more to share in the coming weeks, and we hope you will follow along. A thousand thank you's for all your support over the years. We are both honoured and humbled to embark on this journey with you.

From my memory box: Leah Deighton


From my memory box: Leah Deighton - An interview by Rhonda Mason for LIFE:CAPTURED Inc (The modern school of memory keeping)

| Interview by Ronnie |

'From my memory box' is a heartfelt series, where we interview creatives whom we admire and find out about a personal keepsake of theirs that has special meaning for them and their families. Today we invite Leah Deighton, a mother of two seeking to live simply in northern New South Wales, Australia, to share something precious from  her memory box.

Tell us a little about you and your family.
I live in a small town in Northern NSW with my partner, our 2 children (Tal is 16 and Suri is 9), and our 30 chickens (all of which are named). My son is a kind hearted teenager who will stand up for what he thinks is right. He likes to sleep in on weekends and hates doing chores. He is passionate about music, sensitive, caring, and excitable. He also falls in love deeply like me, which makes my heart sing and ache at the same time. My daughter is a tutu-wearing, tree-climbing, adventure-seeking, and animal-loving child. She loves to create, loves the circus, and loves spending time playing with our chickens. She is shy and kind and caring. 

Together, we live in an off-grid bush home – our home is run on solar power, and our water comes from our spring. Living off-grid is sometimes challenging; simple chores can become involved, time-consuming, and exhausting, but I love it and would choose it all over again. Living simply and slowly helps me to notice the beauty in the everyday, in the difficult, and in the mess. It is a gentle reminder for me to be grateful for the little things.

From my memory box: Leah Deighton - An interview by Rhonda Mason for LIFE:CAPTURED Inc (The modern school of memory keeping)

What role does memory keeping play in your life?
I am an obsessed photo-taker. I love capturing a raw, unedited heart moment and being able to hold on to it for just a bit longer. I love how looking at an image can conjure up a sensation, emotion, or the smell of a moment. I love that I can be transported back there in an instant. At the end of last year, I purchased the Unravel Your Photos workshop-in-a-box in an attempt to try and structure my visual memory keeping. This feels both overwhelming and exciting, but my fingers are crossed.

I am sensitive and sentimental by nature, and I am an emotional hoarder – much to my partner’s frustration. I believe sentimentality can transform ordinary objects into priceless treasures. I have all my kids' teeth in a beautiful blue glass jar, hair from their first haircut, and several precious items of baby clothing. I like to think that I can become a minimalist, but you may need to check back in in a few years' time.

From my memory box: Leah Deighton - An interview by Rhonda Mason for LIFE:CAPTURED Inc (The modern school of memory keeping)

Tell us about your keepsake. Where do you keep it, and why is it precious to you?
These scuffed red shoes that my daughter wore when she was four hold a special place in my heart. They live on an old tray on my desk, and they remind me of when my kids were younger and of the time before my mama was sick. Red shoes were my mama's favourite; and these little Mary Janes make me think of her  I remember how deeply she loved her grandchildren, and how they loved her with their whole beings. This one little pair of red shoes reminds me of how strong I am. That my heart can be broken and then pieced back together with little moments of joy – never the same again, but still able to love wholly.

Thank you for your time, Leah, and for sharing your beautiful keepsake and memory with us. If you wish to find out more about Leah, you can visit her blog and follow her on Instagram

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You can read the other interviews in this series here.

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Family adventures: Sydney Tower Eye


| Written by Ronnie |

With four young boys (plus a baby boy) in our family, we love to get out and about whenever we can. Even when it is simply exploring a new bush track or visiting a local tourist spot, I like to think of these as our family adventures. Indeed, these outings make up an important part of who we are as a family, and they are, without a doubt, part of our story.

With this in mind, I am starting a new series called 'Family adventures.' The idea is to share images from these outings, along with a bit of information about the places we explore, what we and the boys thought about our experience, and a couple of tips for other families who are considering a visit. I also plan to share my thoughts about my images—the light on the day, the camera settings, and how easy or difficult it was to capture and document the experience...

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The Sydney Tower Eye (or Sydney Centrepoint Tower as I've always known it) is one of the most famous landmarks here in Sydney, Australia. Yet it wasn't until May this year that we actually paid this popular tourist attraction a visit. I think it was Angus who gave me the idea when he told me that his friend had been with his family. So on a random rainy Saturday, I googled Sydney Tower Eye on my iPad, proposed my idea to Rick, and within an hour, we were out the door and on our way.

The essentials you need to know

LOCATION // 188 Pitt Street, Sydney, New South Wales

ADMISSION // Like most other tourist destinations, tickets are always cheaper if you pre-purchase the online. For some reason, we didn't do this and ended up paying $86.40 for the seven of us (children under four enjoy free admission). However, if you do pre-pay online, it's only $58.00 for a family of four for a single visit to the Observation Deck. If you wish to also experience the SKYWALK, there are many bundled packages available for you to choose from. 

PARKING // We parked in a Wilson underground car park along King Street and walked from there. The city was rather busy on a Saturday, but we managed to cross all the roads safely. (Rick carried Bear, I pushed Lewis in the pram, and James was under strict instruction to hold onto the pram and walk next to me. The oldest two walked between Rick and me.) The parking ended up costing $20.60 for about three hours, which (in my opinion) isn't too bad. There are many other car parks that you can choose from, and of course, public transport is always an option.

FOOD // There is a large, modern food court at the bottom of the Sydney Tower Eye. There is a great selection of food options but be prepared for the place to be packed out. When we arrived, it was well after lunchtime and we were all rather hungry so we had no choice but to take on the food court. (Normally, we pack our own food but our eagerness to leave the house left us slightly empty-handed.) Somehow, we managed to navigate our way through the crowds to find a free table that fit all of us plus a not-so-compact pram. After everyone was seated, I took Pete with me and we ordered several trays of dumplings from Din Tai Fung. It was delicious, for sure, but I'm pretty sure that next time, we'll be packing our own food to avoid the long queues and the crowds.

Up on the Observation Deck itself, your food options are limited to coffee, chips, and lollies. So I would definitely suggest eating before riding that lift up to the top!

What the boys thought

ANGUS //  "I think it was really fun, and I thought it felt like it was swaying. I could see lots of other towers. My favourite thing was having the lollies."

PETER // "I think it's really tall. When you are at the top, it's really cool when you look down through the windows. I think the Centrepoint Tower is cool."

JAMES // "It was good. I liked that you could spy from it."

EDWARD // At the time of writing, Bear was asleep. But this very morning, when I asked him if he'd had any nice dreams, he told me that he dreamt of the Centrepoint Tower. Going on that alone, one might safely surmise that he has fond memories of our visit there.

What we thought

We arrived around half past three in the afternoon and we stayed for just over an hour. Apart from our food situation, Rick and I both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I loved seeing the boys' excitement, and Rick loved being able to talk to the boys about all the different places you could see in all the different directions. I also think that a tiny crash course on orienteering was thrown in there somewhere. It was not all that busy for most of our time there, so the boys had more than enough turns on the big binoculars, which they equated to spy equipment. However, as sunset approached, quite a number of tour groups arrived so we left pretty soon after that. (And yes, we did end up buying lollies from the lolly counter because it was the cheapest energy boost that we could find up on the deck.)

Would we go again?

Absolutely! Rick and I both feel this would be an excellent rainy day outing. However, we would pre-purchase our tickets next time, and we would definitely try to arrive earlier and stay for longer. We also think it would be cool to write down a list of places for the boys to locate to make the experience slightly more 'interactive' for them. And like I said—we will be packing our own food next time! 

Photography notes

 For most of our time on the Observation Deck, I set the ISO on my Fujifilm X100S to 400 and left my aperture on 2.0. It was only when the sun started to set close to five o'clock that I increased my ISO to 1250. The light inside the Observation Deck was rather soft, which made taking photos a bit of a treat. While I did snap a number of token shots of the scenic views, I actually found myself focusing more on the boys because I wanted to capture their curiosity, their fascination, and their eagerness to see the places that their dad was pointing out to them. As sunset approached, the light went from cool to golden in a matter of minutes, and I love how this is reflected in my images.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post—I'm honestly quite excited about this new series and can't wait to share more. (I have quite a stockpile of posts lined up...) 

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Ten things you may not know about our Signature Card Set


| Written by Ronnie |

For those of you who are new to our space, I thought it might be fun (and helpful) for us to take a look at some of the best-selling goodies in our shop. 

To start off with, here are ten things you may not have known about our Signature Card Set:

ONE // This packaged product offers the core templates that you need to set up a life album. What's a life album, I hear you ask. Well, we like to think of life albums as photo albums with benefits. Life albums allow you to document photos together with words in an album format, in a way that is simple, easy, and beautiful. The most wonderful thing about life albums is that it's extremely flexible: you can add extra pages at any time, and it's easy to change your photos or to include more journaling. To see some sample life album layouts, have a quick browse through these blog posts

TWO // Our Signature Card Set includes a title card, a weekly summary card, a quotation card, journaling cards, and various photo templates—in fact, you can click on the image above to take a closer look at each of the card designs. This means that once you've purchased and downloaded this package of templates, you can pretty much get started with documenting your life on a weekly basis. There's nothing really else that you need!

THREE // There are three different editions to choose from: The Rockwell edition, The Serif Edition, and The Sans Serif Edition. All three editions feature white space, clean typography, and a minimalist design, and all the templates have been created to let your photos and your words shine. 

FOUR // You use InDesign, not Photoshop, to edit these templates. You can read about why I personally love using InDesign here, and you can download a free trial of InDesign here.

FIVE // We have mini video tutorials right here on our website that you can watch for free. These tutorials will help you get started with using the templates in your Signature Card Set.

SIX // Each week, you simply insert the journaling and the images that you want to include into the templates, export your final designs as JPEG files, then print the JPEG files as if they were normal photos. If you would like to read more about this process, I've written a detailed overview of my weekly process from beginning to end in three separate blog posts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

SEVEN // The two other things you'll need is a binder (I like this one and this one) and some page protectors (like these ones), and you're good to go!

EIGHT // If you keep up with documenting your life every week by using the templates from the Signature Card Set, you will end up with a beautiful album full of precious memories.

NINE // If you're not up for weekly documentation, you can also use the Signature Card Set for monthly documentation. All you have to do is swap out the title card for these ones!

TEN // The sky is the limit—use our Signature Card Set to make a travel album, a baby album, an engagement album, a 'year in review' album, or perhaps a life album for each of your children! 

If you have any questions, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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