Thursday, May 31, 2012

sweet sisters + surprises {a mystery birthday dinner!}

We had the chance to go on a fun little date this afternoon- my sister-in-law Cayse asked us if she could come watch the kids for us! How many people do that?

Oh my goodness gracious. :)

Can I just say, this girl is too sweet.
Here we are at Abbie's lovely dinner party last weekend!
{it was so beautiful! Abbie did a fantastic job and we had such a wonderful time!}
For my 28th birthday {this was 1.5 years ago, back in 2010}, she planned an entire surprise murder mystery dinner for me.

She and my brother Josh even decorated my house for the party while my husband whisked me away for my birthday weekend.

I had no idea it was coming. Not a clue. :)

My husband told me he was taking me to a special dinner and insisted I wear a blindfold {and something dressy!} for the hour long ride. 

Just when I *thought* I heard the familiar sound of our front door opening {but still wasn't sure where we were},  Rob told me to take the blindfold off and suddenly I saw all of my best friends standing there screaming, "SURPRISE!!!" at me!

It blew me away. :)

It was one of those moments when you're so happy and stunned you almost cry. :)

The 17 of us all played different characters over a lovely dinner, and it was so much fun!

We never stopped talking because we were all trying to find the killer. :)

the mystery dinner crew {minus three that had to leave early}
It was hands down one of the best nights of my entire life. :)

And this man knew it was coming {and coordinated the getaway!}:

And Abbie was in on it all and helped with the whole thing too:

Here we were after the party:

This sweet woman is seriously the aroma of Christ. She's been such a blessing and a help and encouragement to me. I love her so much! {And I love my brother even more for marrying her! ha! :D}

Thank you, Cayse, for being the sweet sister and friend that you are!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

what i wore wednesday {the week o' the dress}

wondering what this series is about? read here to find out more… :)

It was the week of the dress... for the party:
dress: thrifted, $6 / shoes: Payless, $16 /
leather clutch: thrifted, $3, bracelet: j.crew , gift

two just for the fun of it:
dress: thrifted, new $6 / shoes: thrifted, $5 / belt: $8ish

and three to hang around on an easy Sunday afternoon:

What could be easier than putting on a dress and cute shoes, anyway? :D {don't answer that- pjs don't count! heehee}

In fact, I was so into the dress thing, I fell in love with this $26 dress at Target:

It's seriously cute. And soft. And the beading is sooo pretty.

I brought it home to try on and the hubs kind of didn't love it. He's not too in love about the straight hang of the dress- he said it looked a little like a potato sack. :(

So, I'm debating now whether I should keep it or not... I'm thinking it would grow on him, and it would be a perfect vacation/ traveling/ beach dress...hmmmm.

It's a big risk to keep it, since I rarely pay $26 for a dress. Especially a Target one. But it is cute. And he does love the other maxi dress I have... which I wore this week too... ;)

What do you do when your husband is on the fence about an outfit you love?

{okay, maybe more like the other side of the fence! ha!}

linking up at the pleated poppy for her what i wore wednesday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

original food meal plan #3 + goals for this week

It's always so hard to come back to real life after a three day weekend! We had parties and get-togethers every day and it was a blast! We had so much fun spending time with friends and family. But regular life is pulling us back in for the rest of the week!

We have so much going on over the next five days. Our game plan this week is to take a break from school and just work on the house projects. 

Our laundry room and pantry is getting a major DIY overhaul right now, which means that we have baskets of clothes and sheets and food everywhere. It's craziness. :)

our family closet/pantry is getting a new look! wohoo!
I'm going to try and see how much painting I can do between teaching classes and cooking and cleaning. My plan is to let the housework go so that we can focus on getting projects done.

I'm a little nervous about that- I have to admit, I feel a little tense/stressed out when my kitchen counter and table are covered in clutter. But it's all for a good cause, right?  :P

I'm making menu plans and going grocery shopping this week, even though I have no idea which nights we will follow them. We've been so busy that we've eaten out more than we planned to recently. I love my husband so much- he always encourages me not to cook when we're stressed or busy. He's so sweet.

snack food: we're trying out these zucchini chips

this week's menu plans: 

black-eyed peas and basmati rice {already made in the crockpot and rice cooker for tonight!}
zucchini and squash "pasta" with fresh corn on the cob
steamed veggies, salad and roasted garlic potatoes
raw tacos, rice and salsa
dinner out

pinto beans and rice
easy veggie chili {uses up leftover beans!}
homemade sushi {veggie: avocado, cucumber, zucchini}
zucchini and squash
lunch out w/the hubs

homemade granola

oranges and apples

We were given sacks full of zucchini and squash this weekend. Rob's grandpa sent us over fresh veggies from his garden! They were delivered by his parents, who came to watch the kids while we went to a beautiful dinner party. {Hooray for sweet in-laws! Thank you, mom and dad! :)}

And this week I'm also working on my May goals {which will undoubtedly run into June}:

the purple room I'm hoping to paint this week...
{see more of our old house here}
paint and finish the girls’ room - start prep work, clear out toys, paint ceiling
teach fitness classes
take family portraits on Friday
meet w/friends for Bible study
pick up more paint and samples at the paint store
grocery shopping- Sam's and Walmart

EntreLeadership: by Dave Ramsey - read as much as possible {I like this book- you know I love Dave Ramsey- but so far it doesn't seem applicable for me right now since I'm not an it's been harder for me to pick up and read}

Memorize 1 Peter 3:1-11 - write out and practice this out loud

a helper- easing the burden of someone else:
help my hubs get a patent on a product this week
help with painting upstairs and down
sub extra fitness classes {one yesterday, one Friday}

What are your plans for the rest of the week? If all goes as planned here, I'm thinking by tomorrow Friday it will look like a tornado hit our house! :P 

{Okay, deep breath in! Here we go... :)}

Friday, May 25, 2012

eating out... original food diet style

We love to eat out at restaurants. Food prepared by someone else... no dishes to do....ahh! I love it.

This diet made it really, really hard to enjoy a meal outside the house....for a while, anyway.
It took us a bit, but we found ways to eat real food at a restaurant, and even do it frugally. :D

Here's what I've learned about eating "original food" style when we go out:

1. Salad is good.

Salad is filling, fresh, and when served without meat or dairy, it's often very cheap compared to most entrees.

If you do go the salad route, be sure to avoid any cheese or dairy-based dressings. Sometimes we eat dressing on our salad, sometimes we don't. If we do, it's a clear {not creamy or chunky} vinaigrette, and if they don't have one, I get really crazy and make my own:

All it takes is a little honey and red wine vinegar and/or oil:

I try not to obsess too much about dressing at restaurants- I try to pick the healthiest option, and then I get it on the side of my salad and dip as I go.

2. Nix the extras.

Any time you're eating out, you'll want to try to avoid the meat, dairy, eggs, bread, croutons, cheese, pasta, and creamy dressings. Here's where there's a big distinction between just being a lacto/ovo/pesco vegetarian vs. vegan vs. an original foodie.

On this diet, we specifically avoid pastas, breads, and calorically dense flours. Most vegetarians and vegans will eat those foods, but we try not to eat bread or flour-based products because they are so easily digested and stored as excess. 

So when we go out, we don't eat the free chips, or the loaves of bread that are so tempting, however, we may or may have not been seen eating from our tiny salsa bowls with a fork....Ahem. :)

3.  Go for the sides servings of vegetables.

I'm amazed at how filling vegetable sides are! When you ask for veggies, try to request olive oil in place of the butter they usually smother them in. Plain potatoes are our favorite choice at deli's and Wendy's. I even went all out and ate two plain sweet potatoes at a steakhouse on Mother's Day! 

{note: some restaurants roll their potatoes in grease. I specifically did not ask if they did that to my potatoes that day. I'd been looking forward to their sweet potatoes for weeks, and didn't want to give them up! haha!}

We went to an Italian restaurant on a date a few weeks ago, and were disappointed to hear their minestrone was made with beef broth. Of all things! ;) So, our waitress got creative with our restrictions and had the chef prepare a side of veggies with olive oil: 

It was amazing! And, the veggies and salad together were less than 1/2 of the price of an entree there. Our dinner total came to $12! {note: this is when you should tip very, very, well. Enjoying a cheap meal means you should give a bigger tip, not smaller... :) }

Which leads me to:

4. Ask your server for help.

One time we were in a small town, hours away from home, and starving for lunch. We were thrilled to eat at the local Chili's, until we read the menu. They didn't have a single vegetarian entree or appetizer on it, and the sides were $2.50 each.

This was week two or so of the diet, so I was feeling pretty bummed about my choices {none}, until we asked the server to help us. She went to the manager, and found out that we could get any salad of theirs without the chicken and cheese for around $6. And, she could also offer us a bean and rice setup for $1.

If I hadn't been in the middle of the booth, I probably would have jumped out and hugged that woman's neck. Food somehow becomes ridiculously important when you're hungry! :P

Like the server at Carino's had done, she gave us options that weren't on the menu simply because we'd asked.

Lesson: don't be afraid to be a special needs diner. Ask as politely as possible, and they will probably be glad to help you. :D

And that's what leads me to the tip that's taken me the longest to learn:

5. Don't worry too much about it.

It's just food.

It's not the end of the world if they forget to take off the cheese, right? ;) This has been so hard for me- I've always hated cheese with a passion, and don't laugh, but I hate sending things back, so getting the wrong food {especially with cheese or mayo!} used to really bother me.

{I waited tables for years me, I know that most of the time, it's not a good thing to send back food! Servers, can I get an amen?! :P}

I've tried to loosen up about it a little more these days- if I think my dressing might have sugar in it, I just deal with it, eat some of it, and go on. Or if my very favorite food at a restaurant {sushi!} has a tiny bit of crab in a roll, it's okay to eat it.

I've learned that sometimes it's better to just enjoy the food you love {and are paying for} rather than to make yourself eat something you hate in place of it. :)

We go out to eat for pleasure first, so we always try to pick the good foods, and if it's just not feasible, we  try to eat the best choice and then go back home to our regular diet.

And it works for us. :D

So, I'm interested to hear your thoughts: how do you eat real food at restaurants? Do you have any tips for managing a whole foods diet while dining out? I'm still new at this, so I'm all ears!! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

thrifty pinterest love

I thought it would be fun to share my favorite thrifty Pinterest finds today!

here's a DIY anthropologie belt that I just LOVE:

And here's a tutorial for keeping the original hem on your jeans. So easy!
I need to do this on a few pairs of mine!

An adorable use for mason jars that would be perfect for my kitchen:

and here's the lamp that I want to do in my laundry room:

I have a recipe for nut tacos {mawahahah, I'm re-creating everything meatless!} that could use this seasoning:

and for all of you Target clearance shoppers, here's the markdown schedule for Target! Score! 
You can find me here on Pinterest if you like that sort of thing! :D

What thrifty projects have you found on Pinterest lately? I'd love to see or hear! 

Leave me a link to your page- I would like to follow you over there! :D

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

what i wore this week {florals edition}

wondering what this series is about? read here to find out more… :)

It's almost summer, here, but I'm still trying to squeeze every day I can out of my jeans. I love pants. I'm cold everywhere we go that has a/c, so the jeans are a lifesaver when we go to church, to eat at a restaurant, to the store.... {it's a good thing I live in the hot South, eh?}

Like the night we went on a date last week- we went to a yummy sushi restaurant. I wore my skinny jeans with a sweater. I think I wore this very outfit sometime in February, back when it was "cold" {65}.

dress: less than $20 at AE {gift card!} / jeans: Gap, $6 / sweater: Gap, $20 / sandals: $4, thrifted / bag: Fossil, $20 thrifted
Dates are awesome by the way. And dates with sushi are even better. Yum.

Sunday at church, I was freezing again! Jeans are my best friend there too.

If you ever see me at church huddled as closely as I can get under Rob's arm, you might think it was because we are just that lovey, but the truth is, I like how warm he is. :)

And I do love him too. He smells good. :P

lace top: $9 clearance / miss me jeans: $27, eBay / sandals: payless: $16

belt: $3.24, Target / bracelet: gift, J. Crew
And this day, I knew I'd be outside for a while, so I pulled out the shorts! We had lunch outside at McAlister's, and I will soak up every moment I can of this beautiful 88 degree weather! :D

This was a live from Goodwill outfit:

top: $3 / shorts: $9, a&f / sandals: $5
and the thrifted sandals are some of my new favorites:

I love cheap shoes- I'm especially hard on sandals, so I have to re-buy them every year. I've found that my leather ones stretch out so much that I can't wear them the next year! Does that happen to you too?

 Either way, it's definitely sandal time! {which also means I have to keep up with painting my toenails...}

 Summer is almost here! We've already started the swimming, then there's picnics, grilling garden-fresh veggies, and watermelon....

YAY!! :D

Are you excited about summer too? 

linking up at the pleated poppy

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

walking through the gospel: an introduction

I can't say how excited I am to tell you guys about this little project! :)

After I wrote this post, so much happened. I received so many emails from sweet people who really want to know Jesus, who want to walk with Him and truly live for Him. People who want to fall in love with Jesus, and not just go through the motions of Christianity.

I'm completely in awe of the work He is doing in all of your lives! The one, true, and living God- the God of Israel is the God of today- and He is accomplishing His work in the world today- He is bringing hearts to Himself, and displaying His glory among His people. Ahhhhh!!!! :D

I know that many of you long for that relationship with God, and that some of you are searching and don't have any idea where to start. The best and only place is in His Word, the Bible. We can't believe in Jesus based on what people say, or our friends tell us, without searching out the living Word of God.

His Word is truth and it's alive today- and we get to read it! Isn't that amazing??

Falling in love with Jesus is entirely possible when we get to know Him! But it's so important that we take the time to study and understand Him- and that happens when we read the Bible.

This is a human example, but imagine if you were dating someone and you told them you loved them and you wanted to marry them- but you were too busy to talk to them almost every day. You "love" them, but you don't have time to learn about them- what they did in the past, what they wish for in you, what they plan to do next.

How would that relationship really ever work? It wouldn't, right?

It's so much the same with God- falling in love with Him requires that we know Him on a deeper level than just by name. We have to spend time with Him every day- to listen to Him tell us all about Himself.

And that's where this project comes in! I'm so excited- we're going to walk through the Gospel together over the next 13 weeks! We're going to talk about who God is, who man is and where he stands with God, and how we can truly know the living God- through His Son, Jesus Christ. And it's all right there in the Bible!!

I'm praying this project will be kind of like laying the foundation for a relationship with Jesus. He gives us faith and love for Him- it's nothing we can do on our own, but getting to know who He is through His Word opens our eyes and splits our heart into a million pieces, and brings us to repentance so that we can have a relationship with Him.

It's so awesome. His Word is powerful, and so alive!

And we get to study it together for 12 weeks, here online! :D Eeeek!!! How much fun will that be? :)

I'll be giving you more details on the weekly topics and readings soon. Please pray for me, that God will lead me to write and speak according to His Word.

I'm thrilled beyond measure that He is our God, and that we can know Him, and even fall in love with Him. Praise Him for His Word and for His Son and the Holy Spirit.

Isn't He amazing?!!

linking up at:

Monday, May 21, 2012

original food menu plan #2 with a budget breakdown

Our original food diet meal plan for this week:

day 1: black beans and quinoa
day 2: black bean "burritos" {blended beans, salsa, and rice in lettuce wraps}
day 3: raw zucchini pasta topped with avocado, lime, and tomatoes {recipe coming soon!}, rice, and salsa
day 4: east texas caviar in lettuce wraps {use leftover black beans)
day 5: raw lasagna {recipe very similar to this one} and baby carrots
day 6: dinner out
day 7: leftovers or asian veggies with tamari {wheat-free soy sauce}, orange, and ginger.

our standard Sam's Club cart!
spaghetti squash {if I can get it at Walmart again!}
pinto beans and rice
cabbage salad with sunflower and flax seeds and hummus
roasted red potato wedges

almond milk

natural peanut butter

real food doesn't have to be expensive...

After doing this diet for the past few weeks, I think the most common misconception about eating real food is that you have to spend more money to eat well.

I've actually spent less money on groceries than usual because I'm not buying two or three loaves of bread, chips for $3-4 per lb., or lunch meat for $3.50 lb. Instead, the bulk of our diet comes from some of the cheapest, most filling foods: beans, rice, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, and oats- most of which are less than $1.50 per lb.

Many of this week's dinners are planned around black beans. Black beans are generally around $1 per lb. dried, and we eat 1-1.5 lbs. per meal. I make 3 lbs. at a time in our large crockpot- which should be enough for all of this week's meals.

Rice, potatoes and iceberg lettuce (like black beans) are also inexpensive to purchase. The bulk of our meals will come from these items.

Squashes make frequent appearances throughout the week. I've found squash to be the most satisfying food for me, so I eat it for most lunches. It generally costs $1.25-$1.50 per lb. A large spaghetti squash will provide most of my lunches for the week, while the hubs and kids tend to prefer beans for their lunches.

The most expensive meals on the menu are the ones with avocados. I plan to use one on day 3, and one on day 5. That will cost me $2 alone this week {pricey, compared to a family-sized portion of beans for $1!}. Quinoa is $5 per lb. for the organic version we use, so that will cost around $2 each time we eat it.

Nuts are the only real luxury item we eat, ringing in at $5-$6 per lb. We eat about 1/2 lb. per week of these as snacks and salad toppers.

The kids still eat their regular pizza or sandwiches and chips when we go out to eat, but at home, we've started eating only fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and veggies for snacks, which can actually get pricier when you give out 4 oranges or apples at a time. We spend way more on this than we used to. At our house, fruit used to be a luxury and crackers the norm, but we're trying to reverse that! :)

the budget breakdown 

Here's my shopping list for this week:

organic carrots {$4}
spaghetti squash {$4 for one large}
5 lbs. of Granny Smith apples {$5.95}
cilantro {.50}
green onions {$1.50}
red potatoes 5 lbs. {$5}
coleslaw mix {$3}
cherub tomatoes- {$5 worth lasts 1.5 -2 weeks}
watermelon, $5
bananas 6 lbs., {$3}
organic spinach, 1 lb. {$4}
avocados, {$2-$3}
2 quarts of almond milk {$7}
canned tomatoes {$3.84 for 7 lbs.}
zucchini and squash - 4 lbs. {$5ish}
natural peanut butter {$5}
limes {$1}
lettuce {$2/2}

I spent $130 last week buying groceries with a very similar menu and list, but stocking up on walnuts, almonds, quinoa, Starbucks coffee, spring water, basil, and lots of seeds that will last us for 2-3 weeks, so I expect that this week's bill will be much closer to $80- $85.

Phew. :D I've got the menu all I just need someone to come and do the shopping for me! ha!

So, I'm really curious- what do you spend the most money on when buying groceries? Meats? Breads? Organics? And do you try to balance out the pricey with the inexpensive when you eat? Please share with us! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

the original food diet: the final stats

The results are in! 40 days of the original food diet will certainly change your body.

At least it did ours.

My husband lost 16 lbs. in 40 days- eating as much as he wanted to eat. He lost 3 inches in his waist!

I can't say how surprised I am at the results of this diet! I always liked the idea of eating real food. I was excited to see how my body would change. But I didn't expect change to come so easily after the initial two weeks.

Here's a summary of how I felt and changed:

Body: I lost about 4 lbs. in 40 days. I feel like I might have lost some muscle tone by this point- but I feel as strong as I used to be. I challenge myself to do heavier weights just out of curiosity, and I can do them. I've lost a inch or so off my waist and hips, and I can see more muscle definition. So even if I lost muscle, I guess I didn't need it!

I have a very steady amount of energy. I'm surprised at how good I feel when I exercise. I was sick and could barely walk on Monday, and by Tuesday, I was exercising normally again. I didn't feel the residual exhaustion of sickness that I usually do.

Skin: I was probably the most excited to see how this diet would change my skin. It's hard to see changes in your own body that happen so slowly, but I feel like my skin is softer, and some of my facial redness is fading into a more even skin tone. My acne has not completely gone away {depending on the time of the month}, but it is far better than it used to be.

Hair and nails: My hair growth has slowed down, as has my nail growth. Before this diet, I consumed some type of animal protein with every meal, and my hair and nails grew crazy fast. They've both slowed down but not stopped.

Mind: I feel happy about this diet, more than ever. I love that I don't have to worry about how much I eat, and how easy it is to eat vegetables at home. Eating out is very different and more difficult, so we can really only eat at one or two places. {eating out on this diet is a post all it's own!}. 

We generally call ourselves vegan now, because that covers what we don't eat. But I'm finding out that we fall closer to raw food vegans, even though we cook our food, because we don't eat processed food. :)

The decision: We've decided to stay with this diet indefinitely. We really, really enjoy eating good foods. Everything tastes better than ever- and we've lost our addiction to artificial sweeteners and fake carbs. Our bodies have changed {my husband's, dramatically so!}, and for now we couldn't be more excited about a diet.

I'll keep you posted on how we feel over the next few weeks as well. I have a feeling that the changes will continue! :D

Thursday, May 17, 2012

DIY design sneak peek: birds, florals, and funky patterns

I've been dying to tell you guys all about the DIY stuff we've been doing lately! We're working steadily but not quite ready for the big reveal{s}. :)

For now, here's just a little house tour teaser! It's a glimpse of what I've been working on for the last couple of months. :D I've got a few new thrifty room makeovers almost ready for you! :D

Here are some of my favorite little design elements of the new rooms {in no particular order :) }:

Little birds in fun colors...

vintage red and yellow...

and fun shades of orange in chevron style...

and stained glass transom windows and fans aplenty. 
This house gets hot in the summer!

Bright florals....

new cabinetry {yayayyy!}....

and funky patterns make everything more fun...

Eeek! I'm sooo excited. I can't wait!

But I guess with four new rooms to show you over the summer, I'd better get to work! :D

 You know what I'll be doing in my free time from now on! :P

Have a lovely day, friends! :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

what i wore this week {straight from Goodwill edition}

wondering what this series is about? read here to find out more… :)

So I did get at least one picture outside {of the dressing room, ahem} this week.

This is one of my favorite easy-going outfits- a $4 clearance dress from Target, paired with a $2 thrifted AE undershirt, and my old clearance metallic sandals. 

{Oh, and I guess this is also my "after" shot- from 40 days of the original food {plant-based} diet.  I didn't take before and after pics because I wasn't thinking I would lose weight eating nuts, and avocados, and potatoes, but surprisingly, I did! This one really stood out to me- for the first time, I really noticed a difference in muscle tone/definition in my upper body. Yay for unexpected results!1}

I was seriously thinking of rewarding myself for making it to the "end" with some cute workout clothes from Academy, but I didn't find any good sale or clearance items. :(

I did get a wiww pic though! 

thrifted Seven for all Mankind jeans {$7}, the Gap belt {$8} and wedges {$20}, and a clearance AE tee
Rob had to work on Saturday, so we went with him and I used my "extra" car time to work on answering emails. Then it was Goodwill time!

I had such an exciting trip! I ended up doing a little impromptu live thrift shopping excursion there! I posted the outfits on Facebook as I tried them on, and got real-time "yeas and nays" from you guys! It was so much fun! Like having a lot of sisters and besties to give me their opinions!

Here's what I tried on at Goodwill {tell me what you think!}:

The dress that started it all:
I posted: adorable vintage dress... a little too big, but for $6 should I go for it?

{I got a resounding yes!}

And I loved the teal ruffles on the top {$3} paired with a like new pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans for $6....

and this funky/fun boho Pacsun top for $4....

and I really fell in love with these gold metallic sandals that were practically new {$4}, designer denim skirt {$4}and the coral-orange plaid top for $3.

I even found a like-new Nike top for $3! 

Unlike Abbie's 30 minute Goodwill challenge, I definitely took my sweet time. I think I might have spent 30 minutes in the dressing room! I was having way too much fun. :) I'm a slow tryer-on-er anyway! I have to bend over, spin around four times and sit down in everything at least once. ;)

 Some of what I tried on came home with me and went straight to the washer so I could wear it on Sunday! {The $6 Citizens, and the $4 strappy sandals!}

I paired my new finds with an old Goodwill favorite- this coral pink shirt that I found at GW for $4 from way, way back on a weekend thrifting getaway with the girls.

Oh, and my one other outside wiww pic: here I was at the beginning of our Sunday night/Mother's Day camping trip {little did I know what was to come!}

I look optimistic, no? :) Coral is actually a good camping color. It is.

So I'm dying to know! What did you think? Which one was your favorite GW outfit? 

And which outfit will you see next week on wiww? hahaha! :D 

linking up at the pleated poppy!
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