Kicking Off My 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge!

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Remember last week when I told you about the 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge I’m starting to help me clean out my closet a bit and rediscover some lesser-worn pieces in my wardrobe? Today’s the first day in that challenge!

After some deliberation, I’ve decided to document the challenge with photos (which will mostly be selfies, because Kevin leaves for work before I do). This is counterintuitive, because typically I’m pretty anti-selfie, but I think taking photos throughout this 30-day event will help me to (A) hold myself accountable to the challenge and (B) remind myself of outfits I’ve worn so far so I don’t repeat a look. I’ll be posting these photos on my Instagram account, so feel free to come along on the journey!

For day one, I went with this look (a super comfortable and Aztec-y dress from Asos):

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Happy Monday, everyone!

3 Beautiful Commercials Selling Everyday Items

When I saw IKEA’s latest ad the other day, showcasing their bed collection as part of their “The Wonderful Everyday” campaign, I was captivated. This ad is gorgeous and in the span of 90 seconds it managed to completely immerse me in the dream scenario. This got me thinking about other ads I’ve seen recently that do an incredible job of making something relatively commonplace wholly beautiful and new yet also familiar.

Up first, IKEA’s “Beds” ad. I’d recommend watching this spot at least twice. It really is amazing (and I’d love to have been on set to see how they made this come together — check out this behind-the-scenes stunt work!) The voiceover of the excerpt from Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a perfect complement to the dreamy visual element. (Agency: Mother London):

Food porn lovers rejoice: Lurpak’s recent ad, “Adventure Awaits,” showcasing their Cook’s Range line of products (things like non-stick spray and clarified butter) takes the idea of an average weekday dinner to a whole new (and lovely) level. If this doesn’t inspire you to conquer a new recipe, I don’t know what will. (Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London):

Italian brand Sognid’oro was able to add a clever, whimsical, and all-around delightful spin to the marketing of chamomile tea in “Don’t Drink And Drive.” (Agency: DLV BBDO Milan):

About Time: A New Movie To Add To My Favorites List

While Kevin and I were at the beach last weekend with our pal Bethany, we watched lots of movies — all of which were really, really great. Austenland, with Keri Russell (Felicity, for those of you in my age group) and Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords), was delightful. This Is The End, featuring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Emma Watson, and more (all as hilarious versions of themselves) was one we laughed our way through. And then there was About Time — a movie that appeared to be a run-of-the-mill rom com based on the cover art, but one we got on a friend of a friend’s recommendation. (I mean, come on. This SCREAMS cheesy girl movie, am I right?):

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In fact? It. Was. Awesome.

Bethany and I watched this one alone (Kevin called it a night a bit earlier than we did) and sobbed our way through it*. (*I actually did tear up at the end, and I very rarely cry during movies.)

I should have known this movie had potential, though. After all, it’s from the director of one of my faves, Love Actually, and stars Rachel McAdams, who I tend to love (she gets a pass for The Time Traveler’s Wife — it was just a poorly executed film version of an incredible book!). Domhnall Gleeson (who Harry Potter fans will recognize as Bill Weasley) plays Tim, the male lead, and Bill Nighy shines as his father. What I learned (thanks to IMDB’s fun facts) after watching the movie was that originally Zooey Deschanel was slated to play the female lead. Thank GOODNESS Rachel ended up as Mary, because I know I wouldn’t have liked it nearly as much had Zooey’s grating wide-eyed quirkiness been front and center throughout the film.

So that’s how I feel about Zooey Deschanel — yes, even in the New Girl era, although I do love me some Schmidt. (Focus on About Time, Anna.)

It’s a movie about time travel. But wait! Even if you’re typically not into the fantastical I think you’ll like this. Because, ultimately, this is a movie about family. About love. About learning to savor the seemingly everyday-ness of our lives — no matter how many times we get to experience each day.

The story is beautiful, the soundtrack is spot-on, and the cast is captivating. It’s all-around lovely, and the fact that it’s set in England doesn’t hurt, as far as I’m concerned.

When I say I’ve added this film to my favorite movie list, I mean that it’s one I’d like to watch a couple of times a year. It’s one of those movies with such a good message that after you’ve watched it you feel motivated to be aware of the beauty that is life — even when it’s a typical Tuesday. To me, movies like this are like chiropractic adjustments in that sometimes you didn’t know you were misaligned until you realize how much straighter you’re standing and how great you feel afterward.

This movie came at a good time for me, because I’ve found myself frustrated with the mundane lately. I’ve been worried about whether I’ll ever achieve something especially memorable or big, and this film was a perfect reminder that my life — just as it is — is so very good. It may not be noteworthy in many ways, but it’s also packed full of incredible people and experiences and opportunities. As Walt Whitman said, “I have learned that to be with those I love is enough.” About Time reminded me of how very true that is.

Who should watch About Time? It’s a movie for just about anyone, I’d say. If you’re someone who enjoyed Love Actually, give this one a shot, and let me know what you think! (NOTE: Kevin and I watched it last night — his first time seeing it — and it’s now Kevin Keller endorsed as well. His comment: “Yet another example of how the British are killing it at making awesome and meaningful romantic comedies.” My thoughts exactly. Keep it up, Britain.)

My 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge

Guys, I have so many clothes. (Kevin Keller’s reading this and saying, “I’ve been telling her that for years!”) But it’s true. And recently moving my large inventory of clothing into our new house reminded me of just how much is in my closet. In our house, I don’t just have a closet — I have a CLOSET ROOM. That’s right. A whole room dedicated to clothes, shoes, and accessories. It’s pretty awesome, and I’m a fan. However, as I was setting up said closet room, I kind of got embarrassed by how many clothes I have.

And the worst part is, even though I have such a variety of clothing options, I find myself wearing the same outfits again and again. This realization planted the seed for my 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge.

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The concept is a simple one: For a 30-day period, I have to wear a different outfit every single day. (Things like workout clothes and PJs are exempt, for obvious reasons. Although I do have a scary amount of workout clothes…but we’ll save that for another challenge. Also, I can wear a pair of jeans or pants more than once, but not the same top more than a single time.) I am also not allowed to purchase any new articles of clothing during the 30-day challenge. (Things like workout clothes and PJs DO apply to this part.) At the end of the 30-day period, I will have re-discovered clothes I haven’t worn in a while (yay!), but I’m also committing to identifying at least 15 items that I don’t wear any more to donate to Goodwill or sell for consignment.

I’m so excited about this challenge, and think it will be fun finding love for old pieces and being real about some items I’ve hung onto for far too long and need to pass along.

I’ve decided to kick off my 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge on Monday, July 21, and am posting this a few days in advance in case anyone else wants to do it with me. Do any of you lovely readers find yourselves in a similar apparel-related predicament? If so, be a part of the challenge with me. Come on — it will be fun!

A Peek Into My Writing Process

I’ve been asked to take part in a writing process blog tour, and so that’s what you’re in the midst of right now. Welcome to the tour! It’s a pretty simple concept: Each participating blogger just answers four questions about his or her writing process (blog and otherwise, if applicable), and then passes the tour baton off to another blogger to continue the journey.

My wonderful friend Gwynne invited me to take part in this blog tour, and you should definitely check out her yummy blog, The Crafty Cook Nook, for some inspiring recipes and all-around great writing. G and I became forever friends when we were roommates for eight sweaty months while teaching English in rural Malaysia. Gwynne is a remarkably talented writer (she’s not just a blogger — she’s working on a novel!), and I’ve always been such an admirer of her ability to carve out time specifically for writing. I’d like to add some similar discipline to my approach!

So with that, here’s a glimpse into how I approach writing:

1. What are you working on?

I have a blog about, well, lots of things. And that’s kind of the point. I’d thought about starting a blog years before I actually pulled the trigger, but had been wrestling with what theme I’d adopt. Best blog practices state, after all, that in general blogs should have a “thing” — something like gluten-free cooking or DIY crafts or fashion. Unfortunately (fortunately?) my interests are far too broad for me to feel okay about tying myself to a single topic. The result? I write about everything from baking to advertising (the industry I work in) to fashion to traveling. I’m also trained in journalism and, even though I don’t currently work in that field, I try to keep my journalism muscles in shape by freelancing a bit (roughly 4-6 articles per month).

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I try to bring a good mix of whimsy and reality to my writing, as I feel like that’s who I am. I’m Type A but also creative (which can be really annoying sometimes) and the things I’m interested in span a weird spectrum. I guess I try to make my blog sound as much like me as possible. Writing for my blog makes it easier to convey who I am than my journalistic endeavors, and I’ve enjoyed the outlet far more than I thought I would.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I’ve loved making the transition from journalism to advertising, but I realized I was missing writing as regularly as I’d been doing. Starting a blog, for me, felt pretty natural, as I’ve been writing my whole life. And the things I write about, by and large, are the things I think about. The things I’d discuss with a friend. A way to document memorable parts of my life. I try to write about things I’d also be interested to read. I’ve also learned to be okay with the organic evolution of my blog. I’d love for it to be more widely read, but also don’t want to kill myself to stick to a schedule, worry if my photos aren’t professional quality, etc. I already have a lot going on in my life, and I want my blog to continue to be a happy outlet rather than a burden.

4. How does your writing process work?

Though I don’t post on a regular schedule (I should, I know!), I do always have a handful of post ideas or even partially written posts saved as drafts. One big benefit to the themelessness I’ve created is that virtually anything goes. At any given point, I’ll have a list of ideas ranging from cocktail recipes I’ve just tried to my new favorite nail polish colors to an overview of a party we just hosted. It’s been fun to have a blog as a way to document and channel some of my thinking. If I read an interesting article or something, I’ve noticed that I’ve started to think about ways to build on that idea in order to create a blog post. I end up learning more about the things I’m interested in than I likely would otherwise and forcing myself to organize my thoughts as I’m researching and crafting my posts.

Step one complete — now it’s time to introduce my friend Bethany, witty author of My Fake Food Blog, who will be taking it from here to talk about HER writing process. (She’ll be publishing a post in the next few days.) Bethany and I met when we worked together at Mullen Advertising and we both live in Winston-Salem and hang out as much as possible. Photographic proof that we’re the best of friends:

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If you’re not a My Fake Food Blog reader yet, I know you’ll enjoy Bethany’s writing as much as I do. (And I can vouch for her cooking skills. SOLID.)

4th of July Happiness + A Giveaway Winner!

What an awesome 4th of July! Kevin and I spent the holiday weekend at the beach with his parents and our 9-year-old nephew, Isaiah (who lives in California and who we don’t get to see nearly enough). Even with a day-long visit from Hurricane Arthur, the weekend was pretty close to perfection. We kicked things off with our third anniversary on July 3, and then spent the rest of the weekend soaking up lots of beach/pool time and enjoying movies, meals, and laughter. Oh, and Kevin whipped up an amazing watermelon basil margarita one night that I’ll be posting the recipe for soon, so get pumped for that.

I’ll let a few photos illustrate what a great holiday we Kellers had, but first wanted to announce the winner of my Em Dash Paper Co. giveaway: Theresa Hoffmeister! Congrats, Theresa, and please shoot me an email at annaskeller@gmail.com so we can talk details and get you your 5″x7″ print of choice from Emily’s collection.

Okay — picture time. Hope everyone else had a wonderful 4th, too!:

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Em Dash Paper Co. — An Intro + A Giveaway!

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Winston-Salem may be on the small side as far as cities are concerned, but we certainly have lots of talented people making really cool stuff happen here in the Camel City. There are awesome new bars that have popped up in recent months (Hoots and Small Batch among them), a collection of delicious baked goods businesses making everyone happier with their deletable treats (give Be Nice Bagels and Home Slice a taste if you haven’t yet), and some fashionable gents helping local guys be a bit more dapper (think Centennial Trading Co. and, duh, Fulton & Roark).

Pretty solid for little ole W-S, if I do say so myself.

And then there’s Em Dash Paper Co., a hand-lettering company fueled by the amazing Emily Poe-Crawford. I don’t recall exactly when I was introduced to Emily’s amazing work, but I do know I was immediately a fan. Her work is captivating: sometimes whimsical, often thought provoking, and always clever. (And, I must say, I think the grammar nerd in me loves that she’s named her company after one of my favorite types of punctuation.)

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I mean, just look at some of this beautiful work. (As a huge advocate for the Oxford comma, I immediately fell in love with this adorable little notebook):

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This one’s another personal fave. (After all, I did title my blog after a Lewis Carroll line, so no surprise there.):

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More greatness:

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As far as where Emily draws her inspiration, she says it tends to come from her musical and literary backgrounds. “I have a notebook where I record lyrics and quotes that strike me as beautiful, funny, or true. Right now I’m also really working on letting my own brain show up more in what I draw. Historically I’ve held back my out-of-control imagination in favor of making designs I think will sell, and that’s just backward. I’m learning that if I just let myself create what I want to create, the right people (my people!) will find it, love it, and hopefully want to take it home.” Well said, Emily! Keep up the awesome work, as it seems to be successful. (Case in point: Em Dash Paper Co. was a featured Etsy shop earlier this year. Good stuff!).

After seeing her beautiful lettering, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to learn that Em Dash Paper Co. is partnering with me for a giveaway of one of her awesome 5″x7″ pieces! (You can check them all out here.)

All you need to do to enter is follow Curiouser and Curiouser on Bloglovin’ and follow Em Dash Paper Co. on Instagram (then leave me a comment telling me you’ve done those things.) You have until Saturday, July 5, to enter. Best of luck, friends!

 

“Not Sorry” — A Commercial That Really Hit Home

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Kevin’s always getting onto me about how frequently I apologize for things that aren’t my fault. “Why are you saying sorry for that?” he asks often. And I never have a good answer. For me, needless apologies (for things like the cable guy being late when Kevin’s come home to wait on him, or to a server when the restaurant has screwed up my order) just come out — they’re virtually subconscious at this point. Which is kind of upsetting, when I think about it.

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So when I saw Pantene’s latest ad, “Not Sorry,” I cringed. Yep — that’s me. I’m the girl who says “sorry” when someone else bumps into ME. Who, far too often, says, “This might be a dumb question, but…” Not good.

It’s not good for a lot of reasons, as it turns out.

For one, it turns out all those apologies aren’t so great for the ole self esteem.

“By taking responsibility for things that aren’t your fault, you denigrate your self-esteem,” Linda Sapadin, PhD, author of Master Your Fears: How to Triumph over Your Worries and Get on with Your Life.

It’s something that likely is tied to women’s urge to nurture and try to make sure everyone is feeling included and content, but it can get out of control quickly, and is especially harmful in professional settings. We talk about wanting to be treated equally to our male counterparts in the workplace, but if we have trouble conveying opinions or insights without starting with “I’m sorry if this is a dumb thought, but…”, the deck is certainly not stacked in our favor.

Studies have shown that women’s tendency to apologize often doesn’t mean that we are more willing to own up to situations where we’re in the wrong. Men and women, in fact, are equally likely to say sorry when we feel we’re at fault. The problem is, women feel they’re at fault roughly a bazillion times more often. We beg forgiveness when a meeting ran over and we’re late for a coffee date. We say we’re sorry when we hit a red light. It’s reflexive for me, certainly, but I’ve become more aware of it lately and have started to drive myself a little crazy.

Watching Pantene’s “Not Sorry” ad reminded me of Lily Myers, a girl I saw perform at Barnard College’s College National Poetry Slam last year thanks to a link from Upworthy. Though it doesn’t inherently focus on the “I’m sorry” overload many women suffer from, there are parallels there to be certain. Lily talks about being amid the dichotomy that is her parents: watching her mother shrink before her eyes while her father expands. Observing the differences between the way her brother, as a male, was taught to behave and speak and react, versus the instruction — both spoken and inferred — she received.

Her words get under your skin as she points out these differences that have irrevocably shaped her, and so many other women, too.

“My brother never thinks before he speaks. I have been taught to filter,” she says. “I want to say, ‘We come from difference, Jonas. You have been taught to grow out. I have been taught to grow in. You learned from our father how to commit. How to produce. How to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence…I learned to absorb.”

I remember hearing when I was younger that the reason women cross their legs the way they do is to take up less space. To be less disruptive even with their physical presence. And I recall being so saddened while reading adolescent therapist Mary Pipher’s book Reviving Ophelia, shedding light on the shift she saw occur all too often as girls begin to leave childhood and enter adolescence, starting to become quieter and less confident almost before Pipher’s eyes.

It was sad to realize that despite the best intentions of our families, these influences can often trickle in just from society. Many girls escape it, and for that I’m so thankful, but too many still have their wings clipped by these “lessons” of smallness, of demureness, of inferiority disguised as being feminine.

Who’d have thought a shampoo commercial would drudge up such an impassioned post? And yet it has. And I’m thankful for Pantene for starting to bring conversations like this more to the forefront. Recognizing these societal trends and starting to talk about them will be what will eventually will help us move on from them.

 

Beauty Picks: What I’ve Been Loving Lately

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I have some reliable items in my make-up bag (you know, the ones I order in twos or threes from Ulta to qualify for free shipping because I never want to run out), but also love giving new beauty products a try. I’ve discovered some great new finds recently that I wanted to share. (Who knows? Maybe some of these will be added to the ole tried and true list.)

Biore Self-Heating One-Minute Charcoal Mask. I was interested to give charcoal products a try after reading so much about them recently. Since charcoal is a purifier, it makes sense that the same would hold true in charcoal-turned-soap (or, in this case, face mask). It naturally draws impurities and excess oil from the skin, which sounds quite appealing. But it also kind of looks scary (since it looks like, well, charcoal), so I was happy to see that these Biore masks come in a four-pack tester. That way, I could dip my toe into the world of charcoal beauty products, rather than diving right in. The verdict? I’m a believer. I love the way this mask begins warming instantaneously, and it doesn’t harden so it’s easier to wash off than other masks I’ve tried. Plus, after three uses my face really does feel more cleansed. I will definitely be purchasing this again!

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Benefit They’re Real! Push-Up Eyeliner. An Ulta just opened in Winston (my fave place to buy Benefit products), so between that and the Zoe’s Kitchen that just came to town, things are pretty great. (Plus, there’s a Publix slated to open in early 2015, which will kind of be the best thing ever. Basically, Winston is becoming more awesome every day.) But back to Benefit. And this super great new eyeliner. TECHNICALLY it won’t be released until June 27, but I signed up for this Benefit promo and got some in the mail last weekend. Amazing! Who doesn’t love a little exclusivity? This liner is worth waiting for, though. I’ve never been a gel eyeliner user, but this one is awesome. It has a flexible tip, allowing for a super precise application, so you can get the liner to line up perfectly with your lash line.

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Benefit High Brow. I’ve been using this in place of eyeshadow recently and really like the look. I put it on just beneath my brows and smudge it in a little, and it really does brighten up my eyes and make my brows look more defined. Score!

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New Nail Polish Loves. You didn’t think I’d leave you without some great new nail color recommendations, did you? Have you met me? My latest loves include Butter Toff and Molly Coddled as well as Watermelon by Essie (thanks for introducing me to this one, Anna C.!). I hadn’t tried Butter before, but had always heard good things and can confirm that the glowing reviews are well deserved. This stuff is awesome!

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Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner. Until relatively recently, my hair was easy to deal with. I could use different brands of shampoo and conditioner without seeing much change. But about a year ago, my hair started feeling weighed down no matter what shampoo and conditioner I tried using. Feeling rather desperate, I started giving the No Poo Method a try (where you ditch shampoo and conditioner completely and start using baking soda and apple cider vinegar in their place). It sounds weird for sure, but I loved this approach and it really helped my hair start to feel more normal and healthy. After about four months of No Poo, I wanted to enter back into the world of shampoo and conditioner, and found that this Aveeno Pure Renewal line was a perfect way to do that and keep my hair feeling great. (Another habit I adopted during the No Poo stage was going a few days between washes, which I’ve kept up. My hair feels so much healthier and I haven’t experienced any more issues with it feeling too heavy and full of product.)

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Victoria’s Secret Instant Bronzing Tinted Body Spray. I first read about this product on a friend’s blog (thanks for the recommendation, Emily!) and then started reading some other reviews. People LOVE this stuff, and after trying it, I can totally see why. Spray, lightly rub it in, and voila! Instant, light, not-fake-or-crazy-looking color. That’s great news for this pale gal. (Plus, it doesn’t smell weird like so many sunless tanners.)

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Have you tried any of these products, too? If so, what did you think? Any new beauty products you’ve been loving lately?

This Year’s Cleverest Father’s Day Ads

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Father’s Day weekend is almost upon us, and several brands have planned accordingly. I’ve rounded up a few of the best ads I’ve seen so far to help celebrate our fathers (oh, and sell some things, too):

Fruit of the Loom. My personal favorite is also arguably the simplest of the bunch: a “gif registry” from Fruit of the Loom. It’s a take on the good ole’ coupon books that we all used to give our moms and dads for Mother’s and Father’s Day, respectively. You know, the ones that gave our parents “Exchange For 10 Free Hugs and Kisses” or “Good For One Week of Doing the Dishes.” But these are funnier, and manage to pull in Fruit of the Loom products at the same time. Check out the full gif registry collection here.

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Dove Men + Care. Way to go, Dove — it’s about time there was an ad portraying dads in a way that reminiscent of P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” campaign that aired during the 2014 Winter Olympics. As this ad shows, there are lots of dads who love spending time with their kids, as opposed to holed away in man caves. As AdWeek noted, “Dove hopes the campaign will encourage spouses to buy Men+Care — and to help men feel they are recognized as bona fide caregivers.” Get ready for some serious cuteness:

Combat Gent. This online men’s clothing retailer has launched a Facebook campaign to help rid the world of dad jeans, one embarrassing photo at a time. Contest entrants can upload photos of guys wearing poorly fitting, out of style jeans (“dad jeans”) and six lucky men will win free denim to help upgrade their look. If you ask me, this is the best idea since Tina Fey’s epic “Mom Jeans” SNL commercial!

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American Greetings. Remember a couple of months ago when American Greetings launched this clever “World’s Toughest Job” video, reminding us how much our moms do for us? The card company didn’t want to leave dads out, and so they’ve created a sequel video showing that, well, there’s just no script for how to be a good father:

In related news, what are y’all getting your dads this year for Father’s Day? Might I suggest a stylish Fulton & Roark solid cologne? They smell great and are travel/pocket/gym bag friendly. Not that I’m biased or anything… :)

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