Frutta V

Frutta V
Maria's Best Selling Giclee Print to Date

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Glass Half Full - Ordre du Jour - January 28, 2011

A Glass Half Full - Ordre du Jour:

Artists want to be successful.  To be successful you have to market and connect.  In this world of social media and marketing there is work to be done by the artist who is a do-it-yourself kind of person.

Checking my several email accounts, 3 websites, this blog, my ebay store and other accounts needs to be a daily ritual.  It would be embarrassing to know someone checked out your websites and they were not up to date.  It does astound me that it may be necessary to spend so much time at my computer.  I think - I should be painting, I want to be painting or creating.  It is my internal spirit and soul.  If you love something so much you should attach yourself to it.  But you also want to be successful.  But then we should not discuss success.

So for several reasons aside from writing this blog, I am concentrating on my websites and their content.  I am inviting you to visit them, and  which should be visitor perfect. .  And then there is Facebook and Twitter.  I am trying to get a hold on Twitter, as my friend N Taylor Collins thinks it is the greatest.  So I am learning to follow, get followed and tweet.  How sweet tweeting is!

I have also been graciously included in a Facebook group:" The Poetry Den".  An advocate of all the arts I must say  I know no rules or formats regarding poetry.  I only can speak from the heart and apply pen to paper.  I do love to read the poetry or creative writings I compose. 

I have come to realize in the last few days that the "Art Glass" is always at least half full.  The glass is our creative spirit. And filling the glass is the challenge.

This poem below, Morning Light,  I created for My French Husband.  We now talk about "the glass half full" almost every day.

Morning Light

     It is morning.

     Sun not shining,

     snow not snowing,

     rain not raining. 

     Just clouds, dampness and grey,

     spreading over the earth

     and into the glass.

     The glass is half full.
     We both study the glass.

     I look at its emptiness.

     He looks at its fullness.

     We both need a larger glass.

            Maria Liberto Bessette

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Night night!  Sleep tight!

Bon Soir!

Maria L B

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coastal Cottage "Soap Cakes" Pastry Challenge - January 26, 2011

 My "Soap Cakes" Creation Story
6 inch "Soap Cakes" Bakery Cake

Slice it into party favors for the girls.

Assorted "Soap Cakes" Cupcakes

The Coastal Cottage Soap Journey continues with another successful challenge in my soap making galley/studio some time ago.  I am always searching and thinking about new ways to put more creativity into my natural soap making business.  I have made tons of real honest to goodness natural soap bars for ladies, men, children, and dogs with essential fragrance oils, botanical, coconut oil, shea butter and olive oil.  I have created laundry soap, simulated sea glass, boats, blue crabs, Delaware, stained glass, shells, peaches, flowers, famous artists paintings and more using my handcrafted soap.

Obviously I believe you can develop soap into just about any kind of food or item.  Almost like the new "cake baker/artists" who get challenged on the  TV food channels. So why not!  I  could make bakery  soap cakes, fancy cupcakes, brownies, cookies, cheese cake bites and more.  The bakery cakes could even be cut into slices for party favors at the party. A few other soap makers were doing it.  I knew I could make soap cakes too. 

So away I went to my soap making galley/studio with recipes and photos of whipped soap. 

Whipped Soap for "Soap Cakes"

It is a entirely different process than the regular natural soap recipes, but using the same ingredients in slightly different proportions. (You do know I make my soap entirely from scratch.)   By my side was one of two grandsons, who seemed to be interested in this different method of creating soap.  To date he is the only family member who has been hands-on involved with the soap making process.  (Although My French Husband is the chemical engineer of the business.)  We did have to have everything planned out in advance including all colored soap decorations which would adorn the soap pastries.  
Toppings to Decorate "Soap Cakes"
Cupcake pan & liners ready to be filled
So we had all pans lined with paper ready to be filled.  We were producing a 6 inch bakery cake, 12 cupcakes and 24 cheese cake bites.  We also had prepared a mold for sandlewood soap bars if we had soap to spare.  We had great fun as well as a very, very successful case of soap cakes and pastries. 

The challenge was so successful that I am now selling these pastry treasures at various locations as well as my website.  Is there no end to creativity? 

Below are photos of more soap cupcakes, brownies and cheese cake bites.  You can find Soap Cakes on my website  Enjoy but don't eat!

Assorted "Soap Cakes" Pastries
Real Cured Natural Soap!

A Great Valentines Day Gift!

"Soap Cakes" Cupcakes
No Calories!

"Soap Cakes" Cheesecake Bites

Great Party Favors!

"Soap Cakes" Brownies

Do Not Eat! 

Thank goodness these Soap Cakes have no calories!  They are all entirely real soap and can be used as soap. 

"Soap Cakes" Cupcake Close Up

They are so special!

Love to all and please create something.

Maria L B

Friday, January 21, 2011

Morning Light & Beauty at the Beach - January 19, 2011

Images of Life:

We take for granted the most common everyday occurrence.  Like the morning sunrise. But then again, we might still be in a slumber state at that time of the day.  Occasionally I awaken before sunrise.  This is a rare occasion.  Usually by sunrise I am finally in a sound sleep after hours of awakeness organizing my current or next project. 

My French Husband and I awoke this particular day to a third day of clouds, dampness and cold.  I am a warm weather person, growing up on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.  He grew up in New England, therefore Delaware seems like the tropics to him. With filled coffee cups in hand we both stood looking out to our backyard, birds and the morning at hand.   I wrote the following poem after our conversation concerning the bleakness of the day.

Morning Light

It is morning.

Sun not shining,

snow not snowing,

rain not raining.

Just clouds, dampness and grey,

spreading over the earth

and into the glass.

The glass is half full.

We both study the glass.

I look at its emptiness.

He looks at its fullness.

We both need a larger glass.

                    Maria Liberto Bessette

Our Sea Glass Collected From the Beach
And Then Beauty of the Beach:

What might have started out as a gloomy day took a turn for the better.  A cloudy morning turned into sunshine and a little warmth.  The weather for the rest of the week was to be frigid. I thought how great it would be to check out our favorite bay beach.  It would be the warmest day for a while. We checked the tides and decided to bundle up and head east with Winston, our Wheaton Terrier. 

We arrived and realized there was not another soul nearby.  Winston could run free.  There he was running across the sand and then stopping to investigate every so often.  Of course it was cooler and windier on the beach than inland, but still inviting, with a special beauty.  I searched for sea glass while looking across the bay to another place.  Just the three of us there on the beach.  Brave souls enjoying the freedom of space, sand and sea.  Pieces of salt water ice  washing ashore.  A strange sight to behold. 

What could the day possibly have yet offer? 

An Artists Palette
Artist Brushes, Sea Glass & Shells

We arrived home,  I contemplated the day and realized I had not planned dinner.  Thoughts of a seafood chowder came to mind.  The rest of the afternoon entailed food shoppiing and preparing an interesting, delicious and hearty Chowder Bake from Real Simple Magazine.  It involved bacon, leeks, yukon gold potatoes, corn, wine and heavy cream partially cooked and then placed in a casserole.  Then fresh cod was nestled down into the thick chowder.  Crackers were spread overtop and then the casserole was placed in the over to finish cooking.  Wa   La!

Chowder Bake

Chowder Bake
from Real Simple

The glass at the end of the day was very full indeed.

May all our lights shine to aspire creativity!

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May all our lights shine to aspire creativity!

Maria L B

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Images, Little Bird & Haiku - January 17, 2010

Winter Images Outside My Window 

Jumping out of bed to get a glimpse of the snowfall during the night caused excitement in my soul.  What a wondrous image. 
 I had to capture it. 
But where is the camera? 
A few minutes time will change the artists view of God's white blanket awakening to the sunrise. 
Finally, I quickly take a few shots.
 I must share my images caught through the windows of my comfortable nest of my home.

Winter snow blanket / solitude, nesting, cleansing / regrowth, promise, spring!          ()

And a few minutes later it was almost lost to the coming day.


My little glass bird base peeking and watching out the window.  This Little Bird will stay warm inside,  feeling honored to sit on Maria's windowsill.

Thanks for tuning in.  Little Bird and I say Goodnight!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon, Maria & Julia & Julie - Mastering the "Art" of French Cooking, January 16, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon or Boeuf A La Bourguignonne or
Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions and Mushrooms

This great Sunday Feast did not happen so  casually. If you can't guess then let me tell you.  It started in September of last year when I received the "Julie and Julia" movie for my birthday. 
  • First of all the movie also inspired the idea of this very blog whereby I write about the everyday life of my creative side.  If Julie could write a blog while creating a year full of recipes from MtAoFC, I could also write a blog.  (Think about the many creative thoughts, connections, everyday occurrences and artistic projects we encounter in one day and also take for granted.)
  • As an Amazon junkie who buys and sells books I requested a few Christmas gifts from my French Husband.  Used dog eared books, one being Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 was requested.  I wanted an older printing of the original book first published in 1961.
  • Julia Child
    "The French Chef"
  • Well my love came through with a beloved copy of my request, along with another book, "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell.  (from which the movie was made)
  • So there I am leafing through the pages of French terms, like le beurre doux (unsalted butter), lard de poitrinefume (bacon), couper en des (dice), farine (flour), few of which I can pronounce. All so intriguing, so inviting and yet uninviting to me  - I am up for the challenge.  I will learn from Julia, follow her French recipes step by step, with no short cuts or tweaking.
  • By the way our kitchen posseses almost every cooking utensil, vessel, and  appliance useful to most full fledged cooks.  I believe I can whip up any recipe whereby I have almost all the ingredients.  I love the challenge of testing new recipes.  I tweak the recipes that I can to my produce a dish with less sodium and fat.
    Potage Parmentier
    (Leek and Potato Soup)
  • Back to leafing through the book -  My French Husband is into a tv show and I keep grabbing his attention to ask how to pronounce several french terms and words.  He is doing  his best to be supportive.  Stretching his memory to the nuns who taught him Parisian French as the 1st language in school, he tries to accommodate me.  How can  I prepare a french recipe without knowing how to pronounce the name of it? That is my frustration.  
  • The first recipe I created is also the first recipe in MtAoFC:  Potage Parmentier (Leek or Onion and Potato Soup)  as Julia states in her book; "the soup smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make."  Stir in cream and chill it for a vichyssoise.
Boeuf Bourguignon
(Beef Stew in Red Wine, Onions, Bacon & Mushrooms)
  • It is all good - so let's proceed to the beef:  Boeuf Bourguignon.  First to gather all the ingredients including full bodied red wine.  After cutting bacon into lardons, simmering in water, draining, drying and sauteing, then sauteing vegetables, beef cubes coated in flour (a few at a time until brown) and eventually placing in oven covered by wine, beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon it was ready to simmer for 3 to 4 hours.  Later you add small white onions and mushrooms, skim off fat and summer until the sauce can coat a spoon lightly.  I served Boeuf Bourguignon over boiled potatoes, parsnips and carrots along with my crusty 5 Minute Artisan Bread.  It was a great, great entree that Julia would be proud of.
Clafouti aux Pommes
(Apple Flan)
  • Oh I almost forgot to mention dessert:  Clafouti aux Pommes (apple flan).   This is a French traditional simple desert for family meals.  A pancake batter of sorts, poured over fruit in a fireproof dish then baked in the oven.  It looks like a tart and even Julia suggests using an electric blender.
  • Another art form:  Culinary arts, 5 star gourmet restaurants, award winning chefs, culinary schools, and cooking shows have created a food industry which I my mind is an entertainment industry as well.  My french chef hat is off to these special artists.
  • I believe the reason I love cooking so much is two fold:  the creativity part (assemblage, experimenting, visualization, anticipation, presentation) and also the reward of smelling, tasting, consumption of this creation that also nourishes ones body. 
  • I wonder where the Julie Julia path will lead me next.  After posting this blog I think I will try another great french classic:  Soupe A L'Oignon Gratinee (onion soup gratineed with cheese).
  • WOW!  My French Husband just hand me something I really need, 6 pages of French Culinary Words, to improve your French, straight from  Now isn't he a big help!
  • Incidentally I am also reading the other book, Julie & Julia.  Julie Powell provides much detail and many more situations regarding her life, her friends and the Julie Julia Project than the movie by the same name.  My best to Julie who survived one year of insanity.

Bon Appetit!

Maria Liberto Bessette

Friday, January 14, 2011

Poetry Night Live, Another Artful Challenge - Jan 14, 2010

My Creative Writing Challenge:  The story is really a simple one.  A challenge to participate in a Poetry Night Live event.  This program co-sponsored by the organization of which I am the President, Holly Branch, American Pen Women.  It was looking a little dismal because of our latest snowfall and icy conditions.  I had sent news releases, emailed and facebooked.  It was becoming doubtful that there would be a great turn out. 

Recently, I had run across some lines I had written regarding a certain subject.  This was an unfinished something or other.  Reading over the words did not turn on the light bulb, but did offer an intriguing challenge.  Maybe I could pull off a free form bit of so called poetry.  So I knew if I did proceed with reading this pile of words I would confess to the crowd that of course I was not a poet, and they would also come to that conclusion at the end of my verbiage. 

The evening turned out to be delightful.  Several prominent Delaware as well as regional poets participated such as Linda Blaskey and Lize Rose Dolan.  We were honored.

Before my reading, our great guest poet, Gerry LaFemina, talked about poetry having rules and form, like most things in life.  I almost laughed out loud thinking of my "free form, unruly" poem.

I have to say although I would probably begin again discarding most of what I wrote, I did enjoy and indulge in some kind of self approval.   If the only compliment were "your read so well", well I would be pleased.  Not to say I will use another of my scribblings to create another free form poem - someday.  Or maybe I will actually  take a poetry workshop at least have more understanding and appreciation of poetry writers.

Dishing Up Delaware

Delaware in a dish, a dish of Delaware.
What do you think?
What do we speak of here?
Foods rooted in Delaware’s culture and traditions.
Surely not 5 star restaurants,
Not national chains,
Not cuisine by Julia, Erma, Graham, Emerald, Ina, Rachel, or Mario
But foods that are Delaware - down-home and culturally distinctive.
Foods that alone create -- an event.

In one‘s mind and on one’s tongue -- I can picutre the scenes of  piles of steaming Delaware Blue Crab, turned pink,
On trays set on tables of brown paper or newsprint before these “crabsters”, who hammer, hammer, crack, crack, pick and pick and finally consume.
Smell the old bay, the sea, the salt and sea weed.
Look across the landscape of cracked shells, claws and yellow looking paste.
Washed down with pitchers of golden sudsy liquid.
Your feast of crabs has ended for now.

Not to mention other feasts of local fire house fare.
You know the fire house. 
You know the ladies who are mixing and rolling out flat pieces of dough by the thousands.
Thrown into broth with some kind of vegetable or meat.
Chicken and dumplings, dumplins and peas, beef and dumplins, and other combinations.
In other fire houses across the state, during months that contain an “R”,
bushels of oysters are coated with batter and fried up to serve and sell,
while men line up on another special night to indulge in the slurpee raw ones.

We can’t forget the delmarvalish chicken in all I speak.
Mrs. Steele must be in awe of the sprawling chicken houses producing millions of chickens that may come to our table as the perfect buttermilk dipped fried chicken.
The chicken is not just a food but a Delaware industry we can tip our hats to.

And the peaches.
The peaches which once were gathered and taken by train from many station in Delaware to ravel up and down the coast by train.
 Prized peaches.
Now the peach is a good excuse to organize a hometown festivals in August where peach ice cream, cobbler and pies are sold.

Oh there is also the Delaware made scrapple brought to you by Ralph and Paul Adams. Have you heard of the Apple Scrabble Festival where blocks of this product are tossed through the air competing in a race for farthest thrown?
It must be a sight to behold.
But still in many kitchens the scrabble tradition lives on.
Crispy slices of scrabble are served up next to home fries, eggs and pancakes.

Wild and maybe wooly, and oh -- so,  well with so much aroma is a unique and almost forgotten Delaware delicacy --------- the muskrat.
Served in many ways that I am really not sure of.
Trapped, skinned and fixed up.
I myself only know where you may find this wonder to eat - The Wagon Wheel in Smyrna.

At last we have come to a festival, an event, a happening -- whereby the pumpkin is the star.
But the only purpose here is to catapult this wonderful fruit through the air by equipment and their operators.
This food stuff has put Delaware on the map.
It is to me a sad way to promote our farmers crop of pumpkins.
Maybe we should be eating, not playing with food.

So what morsels of food delight the Delaware palettes?
What Delaware dishes can delight our souls?
Remember Delaware’s roots, traditions and culture.
Not too different from the rest of Delmarva, but still unique


Creative Art Pathways:  We all travel down little trails and wide paths not even thinking about where we are going.  So many little twists and turns.  We commonly take the path we have followed many times before.  The comfortable and familiar fork in the road.  But the most interesting path and sometimes more challenging path is the road less used.

The Artful Life can be described in the words above.  Creative souls usually gravitate toward each other and travel down the interstate together.  The visual artists exit off to their road traveling to somewhere.  The same with the creative writers, musicians, dancers and all segments of the arts.  These paths, roads, trails and interstates cross over each other, intertwine, spin off and merge on.  All going somewhere, or maybe nowhere it seems.

We pass by many, come in contact with others, get to know many, are impressed by some, learn from many, connect with several, work with some,  become a mentor for others, look up to a few, teach several and support all positive and optimistic beings.

What amazes me are the connections and interactions of artists.  Most artists I have come in contact with state that creativity feeds their soul, gives them a purpose and a reason to connect.  I am so grateful for all the artists, creative ones and also for those who also support the arts in all it's forms who create a better world her on this earth.

Artists all need to spread our wings, try different paths, challenging paths, the path not marked, and also the path of hope and thankfulness.  Thankful for our gifts, out talents, our success and our failures.  Thankful for our mentors, our friends, our students, our contacts, our family and all those who support us.

Thanks for reading, and please leave me comments.

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Love to all,

Maria L B

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Saints & Angels: Saint Andre Bessette (Great Uncle), Celebrate His Feast Day - January 6

I, the artful girl, am glad to celebrate the life of "the miracle man of Montreal."  Yes, this unassuming man was my husbands great uncle.  I have married into the Bessette family and have made the trip to Montreal to visit St. Joseph's Oratory.  The bronze statue of Blesssed Brother Andre is almost a perfect image of my dear husband, the same size and profile - unbelievable.


Alfred Bessette was born in Mont-Saint-Grégoire, Quebec (then Canada East), a small town situated 40 kilometers south-east of Montreal.  Loosing both parents by the age of 13 he tried many different trades, wondering Canada while constantly in poor health. When he was 20 years old, Alfred joined many Canadians who were emigrating to the United States to work in a textile mill of New England (in Moosup CT to be exact - my husbands birthplace.)

When the Canadian federation was formed in 1867, he returned to his native country. André was given the task of porter (doorman) at Notre Dame College in Côte-des-Neiges, Quebec. He fulfilled this function for some forty years while at the same time doing innumerable odd jobs for the community.  People claimed that they had been cured through the prayers of the good Brother and Saint Joseph, and they were grateful their prayers had been heard. Brother André steadfastly refused to take any credit for these cures.. Because he wanted St. Joseph to be honored, in 1904 Bessette began the campaign to erect a chapel to honor the saint.

Brother André's reputation grew, and soon he was known as the miracle worker of Mount-Royal.] He had the strong support, however, of the diocesan Church, and thousands of cures without apparent medical explanation made him the object of popular acclaim. In 1924 construction of  Saint Joseph's Oratory began on the side of the mountain, near Bessette's chapel.  His humble life and his dedication to the church through prayer and service to those with poor health reflected the mission of the Holy Cross.



Bessette died in 1937, at the age of 91. A million people filed past his coffin. 

Brother André was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982.  The miracle cited in support of his beatification was the healing in 1958 of Giuseppe Carlo Audino, who suffered from cancer. He is commemorated by an optional memorial on January 6.  On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree recognizing a second miracle at Blessed André's intercession.

And on October 17, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for Blessed Andre.

My husband is blessed to have his family history dating back to the 1600's due to the Catholic Church's research on Brother Andre.  A thick book of 1100 pages, published in 1964,  printed in French which we are honored to have in our household.

Although the story I have told is not one of the usual I tell in this blog, it is about a wonderful time in Montreal, learning first hand about a humble man who prayed for good health of all people.  It was a wonder experience visiting the lovely city of Montreal.  As my husband's first language as a child was French, he still does recall enough French to enjoy the French speaking people of a very cosmopolitan city.

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Sweet dreams and my prayers to all to never give up and to take one step at a time to accomplish our dreams.

Love and my prayers to all,

Maria Liberto Bessette

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Joyfull Artful 2010 Summary & Wishing for a New Year Full of Creativity -- January 2, 2011

  Wow What a Creative 2010 Year! And a glimpse of a few images of projects and events to prove it:

Maria adding coconut oil into a recipe of natural soap,
by Coastal Cottage Soaps.
Maria stirring a recipe of natural soap.

"Starry Night" Handcrafted "Artsy" Soap
by Maria

Holly Branch, APW April 2010 Meeting
Dover DE

Carrot Cake with Lemon Glaze
Weight Watchers Recipe

Coastal Cottage Soap Display at Duncan Center Fashion  Show, Dover DE

Delaware Bay Sea Glass We Have Collected in 2010

Delaware Sea Glass Soap (with colored soap pieces) by Coastal Cottage Soaps

Maria by Her Paintings at Small Wonders Juried & Judged Exhibit
May 2010
Delaware Agricultural Museum, Dover DE
"Genoa" Handcrafted Canvas Art Rug (Floorcloth) by Maria
Liberto's Art

Coastal Cottage Body Butter
Ingredients:  bees wax, shea butter, oil of almond
Coastal Cottage Soaps
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
with ingredients from Maria's Garden

Hand Painted Linen Hand Sewn Delaware Coaster

Maria's Summer Potted Foliage & Flowers

Maria's "Four Peaches" oil painting in progress

Handcrafted Wool Felted Soaps

An Array of Fresh Vegetables to Create a Wonder Summer Dinner

Maria's "Vegetables on the Windowsill" Painting in Progress.

Maria with her framed "Vegetables on the Windowsill" oil painting ready to hang

Ingredients for Natural Laundry Soap by Coastal Cottage Soaps

Coastal Cottage Natural Laundry Soap

Food, Farm & Foliage Juried and Judged Exhibit
Sponsored by Holly Branch, APW
October 2010, Dover DE
Maria's "Tuscany" Painting Entry
Diamond State Pen Women Biennial Exhibit
October 2010, Wilmington DE

My Coastal Cottage Pumpkin Pie Soap

Maria Demonstrating Floorcloth Art
First State Heritage Parks, Merchant Fair
November 2010, Dover DE
Handcrafted "Naples" Floorcloth for
Liberto's Art

No Bake Cannoli Cheesecake
Recipe by Weight Watchers

Maria's Floorcloth Demonstration
Dover Art League
November 2010
Dover, DE
"Palermo" Floorcloth
Handcrafted by Maria for Liberto's Art

Delaware's Poet Laureate, Jo Ann Balingit
(bottom right)
Poetry Night Live
November 2010, Kent County Library
Co-sponsored by Holly Branch, APW
Also bottom left -Linda Blaskey
Top L to R - Maria Bessette, N Taylor Collins & K M Hammond

Handmade Embellished Christmas Tags
Maria's Newest Creation:
Delaware Floorcloth
December 2010
Featured Artist:  Delaware Made
Downtown Dover, DE

Holly Branch December Planning Meeting
Left to right:  K M Hammond, Donna Hansen, Ann Rosati, N T Collins, Dianne Bauer, Delores Sapienza, Linda Blaskey, and President Maria Bessette

My greatest wish for all that view this blog is for you to be positive,  have self confidence and always look for the next path that may lead you to the creative life. 
 Don't be afraid to take little steps and remember we are all in training for what may lie ahead. 
Can you imagine life without out.  Art is life and life is art.

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Best to all:

Maria L B