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So my DH has become very good at sharpening our knives and he has quite an opinion when I use one of these fancy, schmancy, sharpened knives on a ceramic plate or the countertop…hee hee hee.  Sorry babe.  You are awesome, you know that.  Just so everyone knows, I typically use a wooden cutting board. (A really nice board that my DH made with his own 2 marvelously talented hands; that, let me note, are constantly getting cut by his surgically sharp knives! LOL)

Anyway, I figured that a man who puts so much time and effort into keeping sharp knives for me, really for him, but let me amuse myself and say me, deserves to have a really awesome block to use those knives on.  Well, I don’t have $600 sitting around to spend on a new one, so what is a girl to do?  What was that?  Did you say, “Craigslist of course!”  I thought you did, and how right you are.  Let’s check the good, old, trusty Craigslist.  Hee hee hee.

I found a handsome block, made by the world famous John Boos.  This is the type of butcher blocks that are sought world over by top celebrity chefs.  Check out some of his blocks here : www.johnboos.com  

Our block is called the “AB Block 10 in. Deep”

So like I was saying, I found this block after a lot of searching.  I really liked how thick the cutting block was…a whole 10 inches thick, of end grain, hard rock maple.  If you don’t know, that is a good thing.  So I called the guy and went to pick the beast up.  He felt sorry for me when I got there and gave me a discount.  I did sing my sad song of a housewife, in a new land, with all her monkeys, looking for a steal of a deal and a prized gift for her dearly beloved hubby lubby! LOL.  Okay, so maybe I didn’t really sing, (I don’t sing ya’ know!) but I did tell him how I wanted this very special block for my hubby who would really appreciate it, almost as much as his super sharp knives would.

Okay, enough moosh and goosh.  I got the block, brought it home and realized that this bad boy was really dry.  It needed some serious oiling, but first I sanded it down.  Trust me, it needed it.  It had this hideous honey gold finish on it…why would you stain a block like this?  I don’t know, but I sanded it down.  It is so smooth and soft now.  Next, I dowsed that thing in John Boos Mystery Oil.  It ended up soaking up about half the bottle.  The kids enjoyed helping me rub the oil into the wooded surface.  I let it dry for a couple days and then gave it a good coating of John Boos Block Board Cream with Beeswax.  I really coated it well with the wax and let it sit as per the instructions for 24 hours.  Okay, maybe a bit longer due to my ADD! LOL.  When I got back to the block it had absorbed most of the Board Cream and the Beeswax had provided a nice coating.  I gently wiped off the excess, (there wasn’t much) and put the legs on.

Remember how I said I sanded the block…due to the ugly, chippy stain…well, the legs were the same color and I just couldn’t have that!  So They got 2 coats of black chalk paint.  Then a gently rubbing on the edges and here it is!

IMG_5103 had to flip ‘er to get the legs on

IMG_5104 IMG_5105 My Benny Boy is such a willing model for me.

  It is after all his:  37th Birthday / 15th (elopement )Wedding Anniversary /  13th Father’s Day gift!  Whew, that was a mouth full.

What dooo ya’ think?

Another find on Craigslist for $15.  This thing is monstrous.  Bigger than my 6 year old!  It used to be a mirror, but lacked the, well, mirror. I liked the huge frame and knew immediately what I wanted to do with it.

A mighty, mighty chalkboard she will be.  I absolutely love the chalkboard craze right now.  If you don’t know what I mean, check it out on Pinterest or Google.

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a shabby chic chalk board is in the future for this bad boy!

a shabby chic chalk board is in the future for this bad boy!

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We started with a couple coats of handy, dandy, homemade chalk paint.  Then moved on to the backing.  It already had a heavy, duty backboard to support the previously installed mirror.  That backboard would be my new chalkboard.  Seriously, I am making this as easy as possible for myself!

I painted the backboard with black chalk paint…3 coats. I used a small roller to make sure I got a nice smooth surface.  Sorry about the lack of photos…I could have sworn I took more…hmmmm…

After it was dry I wanted to add a cute little phrase that would support a kitchen theme, (this going to be my weekly menu board).  So I threw in a bit ‘ah Johnny Cash with “Hey, good lookin’, watcha got cookin’?

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IMG_5135 I printed out the text in  the font and size I wanted and then traced over all the lettering.  I then flipped that paper over and coated the backside with chalk…a heaping amount of chalk.  I didn’t want to have to do this twice!  This was the most tedious point in the project.  After the backsides of the papers were heavily chalked I flipped them over again, text facing up and carefully placed them where I wanted them to be.  I used my ever so handy pencil again to retrace over the letters. Once done, I gently lifted the papers off the board and the outline for the letters sat before my eyes in chalk.

Next I used my chakboard pen, from a previous project, (found on ebay) and traced the letters.  This time filling in and thickening where needed.  And she was done.  Thank goodness too, my hand was hurting.

Note: If you take on this craft, after applying the chalkboard paint and it dries on your surface.  Remember to “Season” your board.  Take a piece of chalk and coat the entire surface with chalk dust.  You do this so when you first write on it, the original writing does not “Stain” the board.  This “Seasoning” allows you to erase and rewrite on a clear surface.  Happy chalkboarding!  I would love to see a project of yours!

Faux Pas

Just so you know, faux pas is pronounced, Foe Paw, not Fox Pass.  And that is my lesson for the day.

The next project, which I am not entirely satisfied with but my “freedom” is coming to an end, is a cedar chest.  My DH should be heading my way soon, so projects need to be completed.

It has taken me days of saturating this thing in paint stripper, which caused occasional splatters onto my skin that sent me sprinting for the faucet to wash up! Dang it, that stuff burns! And to see me run…LOL that is pretty hilarious too! LOL.

When I picked this chest up for $20, another Craigslist find, it was covered in so many layers of paint that it had this horrible, rubbery feeling.  I am sure you all know what I am talking about.  The type of paint job that makes you wonder, “WHY did they do this?” Now, not only was the outside painted, but the Faux Pas, the inside.  Yes that is right I am talking about the beautiful cedar lining on the inside of this chest.  The “Cedar” in cedar chest.  Painted. Covered.  Sealed up in a rubbery shell of hideousness.  I couldn’t leave it.  Not like that.  I had to take it home with me.  I would save it.  I would bring the “Cedar” back to this poor humiliated cedar chest.  So we began…

This was not expected to be such a project....it is going to be an amazing transformation though!  Just wait and see.

This was not expected to be such a project….it is going to be a big transformation though! Just wait and see.

So sad…no cedar lining in sight.

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Paint stripper is doing it’s magic!

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All I can say is, “WHY?????” Almost got it all off…

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Much better!  Still a small bit of paint splotches here and there, but I was tired of sanding and didn’t want to put another drop of paint stripper on this poor thing.

Next I painted the cabinet in my handy dandy black chalk paint.  Then in 2 coats of the cream chalk paint.  Slight distressing on the edges to bring the black coloring out and waxed it up.

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Now, looking back, I think I might like the black color better….

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I ended up painting the cabinet because the outside wood veneer was hideous!  The top was a whole ‘nother beast.  I sanded it down really well, and since the wood looked decent I decided to try out a dark stain.   I thought it would bring out the black distressed accents and highlight the cream chalk paint.

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I wanted a nice, rich color and after one coat of stain and some wax, it just wasn’t dark enough.  So I just slathered that puppy in stain again.  I left it on there for 3 days.  That is how long it took to dry all the way.  Oops, I was planning on wiping it off, but the kiddos got my attention and my ADD slipped in! LOL.  My brain was all over the place that day, so I was forced into letting it dry completely after forgetting about it…hee hee.  Mistakes do work out sometimes.  I actually like the outcome.  It is really pretty and super smooth!  I waxed the top again and called ‘er done.  Now to put this thing back together.  I had a few helpers.

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IMG_5115 I would ultimately like to knock off the very bottom framing and add some distinct legs to it.  Something to add a little shape…not keep it so boxy looking.  Also, maybe some shaped, decorative wood overlay pieces on the sides and drawer to add a bit more dimension.  Hobby Lobby might be seeing me sooner than later.  But to finish her off I added some handles that we had left over from our home in Oregon and kicked up my feet!

IMG_5128 Love that you push this keyed button to open the top.  Bummed that I don’t have the key!

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Side note: I would also like to change out the hinges soon…they are a bright, shiny silver (clearly not original) and try to match the hinges to the knobs, (possible spray painting job in my near future)  The chest will function for now, to hold our electronics for our TV, that is mounted above our fireplace…but I don’t really think it is my style, soooooo she might be finding herself back on Craigslist…this time with a pretty face and a higher price tag :)

Wadda ya think?

Another of my Michigan projects has come to completion.  It is so satisfying to see something change before your eyes from blah and glum to something that makes you think…oh my goodness, it looks exactly how I wanted it!  I had my eyes set on a desk from Pinterest.  I liked the style and the color combo of dark black toned wood with brown rubbed accents for a distressed look.  This is the site it was originally posted on :http://primitiveandproper.blogspot.com/2012/03/poww-80-furniture-link-party.html.

So here he is.   Yes, I found him on Craigslist :)

i have a vision of a flat black distressed with gold accents...we will see

i have a vision of a flat black look, distressed with gold-ish brown accents…we will see

He came with a really nice 1/4 inch thick custom cut glass top…that alone was well worth my $40 investment!

Now it is time to give him a light sanding and paint him with some black chalk paint.

Remember, no primer is necessary when using the chalk paint.  I have read it is due to the Plaster of Paris that is added to the paint that creates a “porous” surface.  Instead of the paint merely floating on the top of the wood surface, the plaster bonds the paint to the wood surface.  Any hoo…

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So, I will admit, I am bad about taking pictures of all the steps I took.  Quite honestly, I am a bit ADD.  I have been hopping around from one project to another, working on all of them at the same time.  Heck, I am Woman! Hear me Roar! LOL.  Okay, not really roar, but I do attempt to multitask when I can.  It is so much easier when I get to be creative!

So I had to do a bit of everything on this old boy.  The veneer on the top was lifting a bit; also on some of the drawer fronts, hence the blue tape in the picture above.  I had to apply wood glue under there and “clamp” it together with my painters tape.  There was also some chipping on the top where the veneer once was, but had flaked off around the edges.  I used some handy, dandy wood filler….in hindsight I think this was probably a little too large of an area to try to fix with wood filler alone, but whatever.  I did what I could, with what I had, within the scope of my very limited abilities.

Just so you know, I have been surrounded by very able bodied people throughout my life, that could have done a much better job on this old boy than I ever could, but they aren’t here.  So there!  And one more thing, just for the record, I have, on more than one occasion, asked my DH to show me how to use his power tools…he looked at me with this, “You have got to be ****ing kidding me!”  He told me there is no way he is going to do that.  I guess he wants me to keep all my “digits”! LOL.

Well, that is fine, for the average Joe…or JoAnne, but I don’t like being told, “NO”!  I have flashbacks of High School, when I wanted to take Auto Shop as one of my electives and my counselor told me, “No”.  She said I would be the only girl in there and she wouldn’t let me do it.  Guess what I was allowed to take instead?  You guessed it, Home Economics.  Hey, I like my very Domesticated side, but I like to do things for myself as well.

So, I use my hubby’s chop saw…when my he isn’t around… and the drill, again, when my DH is no where in the near vicinity.  I have also used the table saw a couple of times, but I have to admit, it is  a bit intimidating for me.  And that is enough for me to stay away unless I am absolutely desperate!

Now that I have ranted, back to my Beaut!  I painted him with a couple coats of black chalk paint, made by yours truly.  But standing back, he just didn’t seem dark enough….what did I have sitting around the garage that I could use…hmmmm.

I chose to use some finishing wax with some dark stain added to it, thinking this might just add that depth that I was looking for.   I rubbed that on, but it still didn’t do much….  So I said, “The hell with it”.  I ended up just grabbing the can of dark stain and slathered it all over my Beaut.  I really should have done this over the tarp I bought, because by the time I got to this point, I was a bit discouraged and fed up with it not looking the way I wanted it to look.  I soaked this puppy in the dark chestnut stain and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  I then took a rag and ever so gently wiped it down.  It was still “wet” from the stain, but I just let it dry on there.  After it dried, I applied 2 coats of wax and called him done!

Next I needed to add the handles.  I was really envisioning something fabulous from Hobby Lobby (love, love, love that store)! But in an effort to keep this project to a minimum dollar expenditure, I used the handles from our kitchen cabinets in North Bend, Or.   Installing these handles was a pain in my butt!  I now know why I usually leave this type stuff to my DH.  This is not my forte.  Note to self, drill those damn holes a bit bigger to start out with and things will be a heck of a lot easier.  I really don’t think sweating should be an effect of attaching handles to a drawer!

And here he is.  What do you think?

IMG_5120It is already a hiding place for the little ‘uns!

IMG_5125 the glass top

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IMG_5124 He is so handsome!

IMG_5117 darn it, I need a mouse pad now…my cordless mouse doesn’t agree with my glasstop! lol.

Have you ever had a feeling there’s a Zamp in the Lamp?  Or a Woset in the Closet? Or something absolutely fabulous that can come from something dated and discarded?  Well, if you ever have, then you are getting in the boat with me baby!  I have been rather addicted to scanning http://detroit.craigslist.org/.  The offerings here in the Detroit Metro area are so plentiful, that I am able to peruse multiple pages of wonderfulness before finishing the listings for a single day.  This may be common fair for a lot of you, but for little old me who just moved here, from a small little town in Coastal Oregon to MICHIGAN, I am rather pleased!

There is something truly fabulous about taking something old and discarded and giving it new life! This is my journey with "My Precious"

There is something truly fabulous about taking something old and unwanted and giving it new life! This is my journey with “My Precious”, (think Smeagol in Lord of The Rings)

Any hoo, after looking for a hutch of some sort that I could showcase a beautiful tureen that my sister had given me YEARS ago, (never out of the box), I found this beaut.  She (my hutch), was dated and a little worn with some rough spots, but all in all, I saw a wonderful-cabinet-to-be with a distressed white paint that would look fantastic with this particular tureen in it.  Thanks, Sis!

Imagination people, that is what you need…and Pinterest, of course!  That is my other addiction.  There are so many cool DIY ideas on there, especially for those of us that are on a budget!  Back to “My Precious”!

classic turned FANTASTIC!

classic soon to be turned FANTASTIC!

So I found this cabinet on my trusty site and loved the little details.  I had to have it.  I had to do this.  It was compelling, something pulling me in saying, “I belong to you, come and get me!”  Okay, so the voices might be a bit creepy, but I seriously felt like I needed to do something with this cabinet.  So I bought her for $40 and set to work taking her apart.

all the pieces and parts....they go back together somehow. LOL

all the pieces and parts….they go back together somehow. LOL

Whatever you do, always use some type of a container to hold all the little pieces, because I have seen the downfall of my DH many a time as he frantically searches for that screw that, “Was just right there!!!!” Damn those screws with their little legs and adventurous spirits!  Well, not to me…if I could help it….I put those bad boys in a small tote, and there they stayed until the brass cleaner had a chance to do it’s magic.

If you got 'em, use 'em! They love it when Mommy is crafting.

If you got ‘em, use ‘em! They love it when Mommy is crafting.

Okay.  So the cabinet was taken apart,  and sanding needed to be done to rough up the surface a bit.  I have read that when you are using Chalk Paint, you don’t need to do this step, or even to prime, but I didn’t want my hours of work to be for nothing, so I put a little extra work into it…via little monkeys…hee hee hee, and sanded the cabinet with fine grit sanding blocks.  Those puppies are nice by the way; so convenient, (the sanding blocks…and the kiddos I suppose).

primer gives a peep hole view as to what is to come

Primer gives a “key hole” view as to what is to come

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Seriously, people, what were you thinking with this drawer liner?

Hee hee hee, here she comes!  You can't see it yet, but I know....

Hee hee hee, here she comes! You can’t see it yet, but I know….

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I decided to use spray primer on this project…it took 3 cans, but covered nicely.  I wasn’t too concerned with having complete, even coverage, because I was going to be distressing “My Precious” anyway.

My beauty is getting her make up on.  Homemade chalk paint is applied.

My beauty is getting her make up on. Homemade chalk paint is applied.

Now, back to those handy, dandy sanding blocks to put the Shabby in my Chic project.  Seriously, there is no wrong way here.  Use some sandpaper and rub all the surfaces that you want or that you feel would have received wear and tear naturally over time.  I did a mix of both.

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Can you see my little detailed areas…love the carving :)

Love This!!! Do you see the woven wire grating behind the doors...it is original. Love, love, love it!

Love This!!! Do you see the woven wire grating behind the doors…it is original. Love, love, love it!

She puts the chic in shabby so well!

The Chic is officially in the Shabby now.

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I love HER!  She is so ME.  She is so Vintage.  She is so Shabby Chic! Love, love, love.

I love this look, because it isn’t about perfection, at least not in the sense of producing something that is flawless.  The flaws are what make this type of transformation so unique and in my opinion…AWESOME!

Tell me what you think.  I am going a bit Mommy Wild without my DH’s supervision. LOL!

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Have you ever felt so completely discombobulated?  It seems to be daily fair for me lately.  So much is running through my mind with little direction or patience to lead me in any one direction for enough time to fully complete a single task.  I am not super mom, although I have to honestly say that I strive to be.  I want to be the Mommy that can handle anything.  All of life’s twists and turns, the ups and downs of juggling a fabulous husband and his 7 little offspring.  How I envy their energy, joy and resilience.  They seem to bounce back from whatever life throws their way.  Me…I bounce, just in all the wrong spots. LOL!  This last pregnancy has left me heavier than I have ever been in my life, and the journey to get back in shape is going to be a challenge.  I would like to start with my eating habits, but it is hard due to my breastfeeding baby’s sensitive tummy.  What can I eat?  Who knows.  I ask myself that everyday!  No dairy, no eggs, no rice, no green veggies, no red veggies, etc.  It is definitely taking it’s toll on my energy and state of mind.  The kids are no worse for wear, but I feel the weight of my lack of sleep combined with my poor food options and added body mass.  So what is my plan you ask?  Well, I just started physical therapy for my chronic back issues, muscle spasms to be exact, no doubt from being pregnant or nursing over the last 13 years!  Along with PT, I am trying to start yoga ;)  and nightly walks…I say trying because I have yet to attend a single yoga class!  Life keeps getting in the way.  Aghhhh.  I am sure you all have experienced that happening a time or two.  And as for the walks….well, let’s say that I am full of good intentions :)  Aren’t we all.  Someone once told me that good intentions pave the way to hell.  Man, I really hope that isn’t the case.

Among all the chaos of life and daily challenges, I did manage to buy a whole lot of meat and divvy it up into family portions, added some different sauces and froze those bad boys.  It is convenient to have them all ready to go; to pull out in the morning so that dinner is ready when Rich gets home.  Now if I could only remember to pull them out in the AM so they will be thawed in time :)  Heeheehee.  Seriously, there are days when I tell the kids to fend for themselves.  It is interesting to see what they come up with.  They are quite resourceful little monkeys.  My kitchen always ends up looking like a bunch of wild monkeys ransacked it anyway, so have at it kiddos!

Is anyone else absolutely OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) over the mess in their house?  I never want to be the mommy that stays home and has a huge family with fingerprints all over the walls, dirt in every corner and a mountain of laundry that kills my washing machine every few months because it seems to never stop long enough to cool down.  The constant hum of the washer and dryer is probably a sound that would rock all my little ones to sleep.  Yet despite all my efforts, that is my home.  I think most of my trouble comes from me beating my head against the idea of who I really am.  I am a mom, with a messy home, dirty face and footed children and Mount Everest in my laundry room.

I often find myself thinking about the song “Dirty Dishes” by Scotty McCreery.  Simply put, I have so much to be thankful for.  Endless dishes in the sink, noisy children and mountains of laundry.  But with each of those things, I have children that have plenty to eat, laughter coming from my children’s mouths and clearly enough clothes to keep them warm and covered.  If you haven’t listened to the song, please do.  That is my life to a T!  I honestly think he wrote it for me.

Okay, I feel better.  So even though I manage to bitch (sorry) and moan, I am truly grateful for all that I have.  None of my life was burdened upon me.  It was all a conscious decision and I would never change a moment of it.  But if, if, if, if I could have a super power, it would be to never be upset by the little things in life.  To take everything as what it is.  A gift.  Remember, we don’t all get the same gifts, and that is for a reason.  But none the less, to see everything for what it is.  An opportunity to better myself and those around me through love.

So I challenge all of you to try to do the same.   Find something today that would normally drive you crazy and ready to throw someone through the window for and thank God for it.  I am going to thank God for that damn TV in the living room that my children keep sneaking on while I am occupied writing this.  I am thankful for this time of peace and the opportunity to share this blog with all of you.  Even if in the meantime my little monkeys are being disobedient to my rules.  Hey, now I get to have them pull some weeds in the front yard for disobeying me! Man, this is GREAT!  I should do this more often.  There will always be a snowball rolling somewhere, you might just need to give it a little push ;)  Have a great day.  Miss you all!

Yesterday, I found myself standing in the middle of a blueberry field.  For any of you that have not picked your own blueberries before, you are missing out!  It is tranquil, relaxing, and well, yummy!  You eat as you go and hopefully end up bucketing more than you consume.  With 6 kids in tow and a full 8 1/2 month pregnant belly, berries are sure to be consumed in multitudes before buckets are filled, but that is part of the experience.  We picked our own strawberries last month, crawling around on our knees through dusty rows with low crawling, sprawling vines.  But blueberries, oh the marvel.  For those that don’t know, blueberries grow on bushes, and these bushes were taller than ME!  Stretching skyward, loaded with plump, large berries, ready for the picking…did I mention eating?  We hit the field and my kids scattered like wildflowers, searching out the prime area for picking, dictated by their height, and in search of new friends.  It is so easy for children to strike up conversation with anyone standing by…why do we lose that as adults?  Back to the berries :)  The reality of picking such delicious berries is that even though you have 6 little field hands helping you out, their work effort is minimal at most….they are busy yapping with fellow berry pickers or chewing with their mouths open, stuffing the sweet morsels in as fast as they can. (The chewing with their mouths open thing is a work in progress, though I am sure it couldn’t be avoided given the quantity of fruit they were stuffing in at any one time)

Three hours post arrival, I was thoroughly exhausted, having picked three full buckets myself, along with supplying the little ones with berries to fill their mini pails.  The 3 oldest children ate more then they contributed to the family supply, but so is the way of berry picking in such prime conditions.  We ended up leaving with 6 buckets filled to the brim, 37 lbs. of blueberries!  My sweet Benjamin ended up filling a bucket pretty much on his own, I was so impressed!  For a 5 year old, I think that was a task well tackled.  This is given the fact that my 8 and 12 year old daughters barely got 1 bucket filled between the two of them the whole 3 hours.  Rich figured out their contribution and said they are each allotted a 1/2 lb of berries. LOL.  I feel like the Little Red Hen, not sharing her bread! LOL!

In the words of, Under The Tuscan Sun, the berries even tasted BLUE!

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