Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIY Napkin Rings

If you know anything about me, you know that some of my very simple joys in life include pretty paper, snail mail, froyo ...and fun napkin rings! 

There is nothing better than a napkin ring to match a themed dinner - for the 4th of July, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, etc... whenever, really!  The only problem is that these little suckers can get pretty expensive when you want to buy a whole set. 

So I set off to Pinterest, and found a great popsicle stick DIY that I just had to try.




What you need: 
- Popsicle sticks (the thicker width ones)
- Washi tape (Target has an amazing selection - look at all these prints!)




How to:

1.  Begin by putting your popsicle sticks in boiling water for 30-45 minutes. Boil twice as many sticks as you think you may need in case some splinter when you're bending them.

2.  After the sticks have boiled, remove them from the water and bend in a circle (you will want to use an oven mitt since they will be pretty hot).  Take it slow when you're bending them, but you will need to use a little bit of force. 


3.  Place the curved sticks in a drinking glass, or something round to keep their form, and let them sit over night (I used candle votive holders to keep my sticks rounded).


4.  In the morning, the wood should be completely dry and the sticks should hold their shape.  Cover the sticks with washi tape and cut the exposed edge of tape to match the roundness of the stick.


The great thing about these little guys is that you can make them fit any look (pending washi tape is available!). 

And really, you can buy a pack of 150 popsicle sticks for $2.99, so you won't be breaking the bank!



And to use up the remaining washi tape and dress you table up further, you can wrap the washi tape around candles to have at the table!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Homemade French Macarons

First things first! Who watched The Bachelorette? 
I think it ended perfectly... Josh and Andi make a great pair!  Personally, I'm not a fan of Nick.  And Chris as the next bachelor? It looks like it to me! #yougofarmer

Now, on to the tastiest treat in the world!  These little guys get a bad rap for being very difficult, but to be honest, I didn't have any issues.  I followed the recipe exactlyyyyy, and they turned out great!

Just be forewarned, if you make these, you will eat them all.  At once.  
Don't say I didn't warn you...


What you need:
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- An extract of your choice
- A food coloring of your choice

- 2 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon of extract

How to:
The original instructions I used can be found here - For the macarons
1.  Mix the confectioners' sugar and almond flour until combined. Sift mixture 2 times... And really though, 2 times.  There will be little pieces of the almond flour that you want to remove so that the tops of the shells are smooth.
2.  Whisk the egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes.
3.  Fold the flour mixture into the egg whites until the mixture is smooth and shiny.  Add a few drops of food coloring and a 1/2-1 tsp of flavored extract. 
4.  Transfer batter to a pastry bag, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets (I used a Silpat). Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  The tops of the macarons should be sticky (not wet) before putting in the oven.
5.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Once the oven reaches this temperature, put the macarons in the oven (I double linked my baking sheets) and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotating half-way through.  Before baking the next batch, return the oven to 375 degrees, replace the baking sheet and then lower the temperature to 325 degrees.
6.  Let the macarons cool on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. I found that it was easiest to peel the macarons off the sheet... not just pick them up.

1.  Heat egg whites and sugar in a sauce pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches about 160 degrees.
2.  Transfer the egg whites and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat mixture on high speed until it forms stiff peaks.  Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
3.  Mix in butter (several tablespoons at a time), beating well after each addition.  Once mixed, beat in extract and any desired food coloring.
4.  Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1-2 teaspoons filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months... but if you're anything like me, you'll just eat thee babies all at once!


The first batch of macarons that I made were almond, but I decided I wanted to make a mint chocolate... and let me tell you, it was a winner!

To make them mint, add mint extract to the shell batter.  For the filling I made a chocolate ganache.

Bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over 3 1/2 ounces of dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, then whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, stirring often. Use immediately. 


For my last batch (yes, I made three batches... they were so good that I couldn't resist!) I made lemon.  I used vanilla extract in the batter, and added lemon extract to the butter cream frosting.

These little guys are so tasty and would be great to give as favors or as mini treat after a big dinner.



***

Don't forget to enter basically the best giveaway ever... Tieks!

And it's the last day to enter the Printable Wisdom and Target giveaway!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Oh hey, Friday!

Happy Friday! John has worked pretty long hours this week, so I am looking forward to getting to spend some time together this weekend.  We are thinking about floating down the Salt River... supposedly it's a pretty good time!  

Linking up for Oh hey, Friday!



ONE  |  Tiger's Game

On Tuesday, I met John downtown for the Tigers vs. Diamondbacks baseball game.  It was great fun to have a weeknight date night.  Normally, the idea of watching a baseball game in Phoenix in the summer sounds suffocatingly hot and uncomfortable, but the Diamondbacks' field is inside and air conditioned - it was my kind of baseball game!



TWO  |  Meal Planning

This past weekend I sat down and meal planned.  And surprisingly, John and I have been able to stick to it so far!  Our favorite dinner has been a white pizza with arugula (and the bonus is that I got to use my new KitchenAid Mixer to make the dough!).



THREE  |  Making the Team

So, I'm not sure why, but for some reason, I've been watching this show... Anyone else guilty out there?!  If you're looking for some mindless television, then this may just be for you.


FOUR  |  Trader Joe's Mustard Aioli

Have you tried this stuff? It is basically gold... you can eat it on a sandwich, on pretzels, and pretty much anything else that you want.  You need this stuff in your life - if you can't tell, I'm pretty jazzed about it.




FIVE  |  Giveaway

How gorgeous is this print?? And who doesn't love Target?!





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Five Arizona Tid-Bits

It has been almost 4 weeks since John and I moved to Arizona.  Being an Arizona newbie, I am learning a lot about the state (and the Southwest) that I never knew before.  So, I thought I would share some of these interesting tid-bits!

***

Haboob
When I first heard about haboobs I thought it was a joke.  Have you heard of these things?!  
They are crazy wind/sand/dust storms.


***

Tinted windows
Since it is so sunny here, people tint their car windows super dark to help keep their cars cool.  Most cars look okay, but every now and then you see one that looks straight out of a rap music video.  I'm still considering whether or not I can pull off the tinted windows...

Along with the tinted windows, I can't even tell you how many cars left running I see in the parking lot.  It's a pretty brilliant idea... so long as no one steals your car!

Also, many businesses (some Targets and grocery stores) have carports for their parking lot and misters spraying cool water while you walk into the store - not a bad gig!

***

Ice in grocery bags
When John and I first moved here, the cashiers at grocery stores would ask us if we wanted ice when we were checking out.  I thought they were asking us if we wanted to buy big bags of ice.  

I later realized that they were wondering if we wanted small bags of ice to put in our grocery bags to keep our food cold for the drive home.

***

Daylight savings
Arizona thinks daylight savings is silly (and I do too!) so they decided not to join in on the party.  Half of the year Arizona is Mountain Time, and the other half of the year they are Pacific Time.

***

Mountains
Although Arizona is the desert, that doesn't necessarily mean flat! There are quite a few mountains and mountain parks around Phoenix and the state.

This is a bit confusing to me since I always picture Arizona as flat desert but Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet elevation and Sedona is at 4,500 feet... and the highest peak is at over 12,000 feet!



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mini Berry Pies

When John and I lived in Michigan, one of our favorite places for a quick lunch was Grand Traverse Pie Company.  It is basically a Panera, but better because they have the best pies ever! 

One of the pies that we loved was a mountain berry pie with blueberries and raspberries.  I was really craving some mountain berry last week so I thought I would try to recreate it.


What you need:
- Pie crust (I used a premade crust)
- 1/2 Pint of raspberries
- 1/2 Pint of blueberries
- 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1/2 Cup of sugar

I wanted to make my pies individually sized, and I saw a great cookie cutter pie crust idea that I thought I would try.  All you need is a large flower cookie cutter (I didn't have a flower, but I did have a snow-flake that looked flower-ish... so I figured it was close enough!).

How to:
1.  Roll out the pie crust and use a flower cookie cutter to cut out the shapes.
2.  Press the center of the flower into the bottom of a mini muffin pan.
3.  Bake according to the pie crust recipe.
4.  To make the pie filling, combine a 1/2 pint of blueberries and a 1/2 pint of raspberries in a sauce pan with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a 1/2 cup of sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the berries are soft.
5.  Put a scoop or two of the berry mixture in each pie crust.
6.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.  Be careful - my crusts got toasty fast!

Serve with vanilla ice cream.



Linking up with Tuesday's Table and Delicious Dish Tuesday.

Don't forget to enter the monogrammed giveaway!





Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekending!

This weekend was fabulous - we got a ton done, but at the end of it all, 
I feel refreshed and ready to start the week!  

So as usual, I'm linking up with Biana and Meghan for a weekend recap!



ONE  |  The weekend started as it usually does... John comes home from work, and as soon as the sun starts to set, we take Scout for a walk.  My husband decided to bring his fly rod along on the walk (which I thought was strange), until halfway through he informed me that he was going to fish on a golf course pond.  

Our condo backs up to a golf course and John claims that he often sees fish rising.  Needless to say I was not interested in a trespassing ticket, so I did not join him on his fishing excursion.

***

TWO  |  John and I have been watching the TV show 24, and I'm surprised by how much we are enjoying it!  We had a mini date night with yummy cheeses and crackers to finish off season 1.

***

THREE  |  Ladies and Gentlemen - I did it... this weekend I actually meal planned! I sat down with my girl Ina, and made a list of 4 meals that I will be making at home this week.  Not only that, but I made my grocery list and went and bought everything but the meats.

Now let's just see if I can actually stick to the plan...

***

FOUR  |  Saturday night we took Scout to the dog park to swim.  John and I are such proud puppy parents when we see Scout doggie paddling around.  And let me tell you, Scout has a blast.  She gets super crazy when she is done swimming and runs around like a mad dog.

And get this, when we were leaving the park I ran into an old coworker who I worked with in Ann Arbor - pretty small world considering we are almost 2,000 miles away from Michigan!

***

FIVE  |  The weather this week is going to be hot, hot, hot!  Like, REALLY hot - the high for Thursday is 115!  

To escape the heat, John and I decided to take a day trip to Flagstaff on Sunday.  The weather was beautiful - a high of 84 and no humidity... and only a 2 hour drive.  Not too bad if you ask me!

***

SIX  |  We brought our mountain bikes to Flagstaff and it was so nice to be able to exercise in some decent weather.  We decided to ride a trail on Mt. Elden and it was awesome!  It was about 3 hours long, and although the assent felt pretty long, the decent was a blast.

***

SEVEN  |  Arizona is a pretty cool place - there is a ton of varied scenery.  Before moving here I thought it was going to be super flat, and it really isn't.  Flagstaff is at about 7,000 feet, and the highest mountain in Arizona is over 12,00 feet.

John and I are pretty excited to continue exploring and hopefully get in some hiking soon!

***

EIGHT  |  After our mountain bike ride we went to Lumberyard Brewing Company for lunch and some well deserved drinks.  We sat outside and enjoyed the lovely breeze.  Our legs were pretty much jello so it was great to sit down and relax

***

NINE  |   The weekend finished with a little Kitchen Aid Mixer fun... I made French macaroons!  And surprisingly, they were pretty easy - I followed the recipe exactly, and they turned out great!  I was so excited that I made two batches: almond and mint-chocolate.  Recipe post coming soon!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DIY Slate Chalkboard

To make this DIY slate chalkboard, the total price was a whopping $1.48!  I bought a piece of 12x12 slate from Home Depot (for $1.48) and already owned everything else... so basically, this DIY was a total steal!

I've wanted a grocery list chalkboard for a while, and this slate tile was the perfect twist.  I saw this tutorial on Pinterest, and it was so easy, so I just had to try!



What you need:
- A 12x12 piece of slate (or any other size that you'd like!)
- Ribbon
- Masking tape
- A drill

How to:
1.  Place masking tape on the front and back of the slate where you intend to drill holes to hang the slate.  This will help the slate from cracking when drilling.
2.  Mark on the masking tape where you want the holes, and begin drilling.  For me, one hole was super easy and the other one required a bit of muscle when drilling... also, splash water when drilling so it doesn't heat up too much.
3.  After drilling the holes in the slate, rinse the slate with water and string through the ribbon.
4.  Finish by tying the ribbon in a bow in front of the slate. 



This chalkboard is a great way to jot down the things I need to buy as soon as I run out of something.  I don't know about you, but whenever I sit down to make my grocery list I always forget 2 or 3 things since I write everything at once.

Currently my grocery list says two things (both written by my hubby): "OJ" and "a dog for my dog". ..hmm. :)



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Summer Salad!

Ok, I have to say it... July is half-over - does anyone else find this absolutely crazy?!

Since John and I moved to Arizona, we've been in full-on grilling mode.  And let me tell you, it's fabulous... basically zero clean up, everything tastes great, and it's so dang easy!  

We've been working on incorporating sides with our meals (we are still beginners at this...), and I stumbled across a yummy summer salad that I had to try.


What you need:
- 2 Ears of corn
- 1 Avocado
- Grape tomatoes
- Cilantro
 - 1 Clove of garlic, minced
- 1 Lime, juiced
- 1 Tbs of honey
-  2 Tbs of olive oil
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste

How to:
1.  Begin by grilling the corn, and then cutting it off of the cob.
2.  Chop about a 1/2 cup of cilantro, about 3/4 cup of tomatoes, and 1 avocado.
3.  To make the dressing, mix together the fresh lime juice, honey, oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
4. Toss the corn, cilantro, tomatoes, and avocado with the dressing and chill before serving.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekending!



ONE  |  John and I started our weekend by having dinner at the yummiest German restaurant called Brat Haus.  They are known for their pretzels and, you guessed it, brats.  I was too full from the pretzel to even try the brats, but let me tell you, the carb overload was so worth it, and I will def. be going back for another soft pretzel sometime soon! Mmm!!

TWO  |  Saturday morning John and I woke up very early in attempt to beat the heat and get in a good mountain bike ride. We went a little over 15 miles and the first 5 were great, but everything else was pretty unbearable.

There is zero shade coverage on this particular trail, so even if it is a little bit cooler in the morning, the sun is still beating down.  We are thinking we may take a trip to Flagstaff next weekend where it will be a bit cooler and more enjoyable.

THREE  |  We have been grilling quite a bit, and for lunch on Saturday we made kabobs! They were so tasty, and we will certainly me making them again very soon.  

Anyone have any good kabob recipes?! 
I was pretty uncreative about what I could put on them!

FOUR  |  John wanted to go shopping this weekend, and whenever he says that, I know it means one of two things... Cabela's or Bass Pro Shop.  And on Sunday, it meant Cabela's.

John always insists on giving me the "tour" every time we go there... Aka: hunting section, fishing section, fish tank, and then the taxidermy animals.  The stores are so big that it's pretty incredible that we can walk out of there without buying anything.

FIVE  |  Since we are still getting things put back together after moving, trips to Home Goods, Target, and Ikea are about a twice daily activity.  We finally purchased a rug, new bed frame, and a tonnn of storage bins which we are pretty excited about... It's the little things!

SIX  |  John and I took Scout to a dog park this weekend with a mini lake for the dogs to swim in.  It so was so funny watching Scout swim around - if she wasn't a dog, she would be a fish!  The dog park also has obstacles that she loved... It was definitely the most fun that we have seen Scout have at a park!


Linking up for Weekending with Biana and Meghan!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

DIY Botanical Art

As many know, John and I recently moved to Arizona and have been busy unpacking (read: John = unpack, Lisa = decorate).  We have quite a few blank walls to fill, and to save money since we just moved, I figured a good ole fashioned DIY would be in order!


I've been wanting to do something with botanical prints for awhile, and was able to score The Botanical Palette for $14 on Amazon (holler!).


Puppy sold separately.

I saw this tutorial on Pinterest about making wood clipboards, and I thought the rustic wood with the classic botanicals would be a perfect combination!


What you need:
Wood
Stain (I used this color)
Hinge clips (I used these)
Nails
Wire
Prints or photos of your choosing


How to:
1.  Begin by purchasing your wood at Home Depot or Lowe's (or anywhere else that will cut the wood for you).  I used 12 inch x 8 feet utility shelving wood since it was less expensive.
2.  Cut (or have someone cut for you) the piece of wood into 14 inch pieces.
3.  Lightly sand each piece of wood, removing any rough edges.
4.  Stain the wood whatever color you would like (I used 2-3 coats).
5.  After the stain is dried, place two small nails in the back of the board and string a wire between them (this is how you will hang the clipboards).
6.  Next, decide what photos or prints you would like to display on your clip boards.  I cut mine out of a book and needed to trim the edges.
7.  After your prints are trimmed to the size that you would like, place them on the wood to mock how you want them to lay.  Take note of where you will need to put the clips.
8.  Mount the clips on the board using a small nail.
9.  Finally, clip your photo and hang on the wall!




You can check out our DIY Farmhouse table here!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Homemade Fruit Leather

Happy Tuesday!! I'm getting back on the bloggity-blog train after an extended holiday weekend relaxing and swimming (because the only time that it's okay to be outside during an Arizona summer is when you're completely immersed in water...).

But first things first! 
Did everyone watch The Bachelorette? 
I'm very happy with the final 3, and am definitely rooting for Chris - #yougofarmer! However, I wouldn't be entirely disappointed if he was the next bachelor, so if Josh wins then I think that's great too.  (By the way, was anyone else's hubby surprised to find out that Josh's brother is Aaron Murray?!  We didn't make the connection until tonight.)

And now on to pretty much the best snack ever... fruit leather!
It took me a couple tries to get this recipe right, but it was definitely worth it.  The secret, my friends, is in the Silpat (more details below). 



This recipe takes some time, but the amount of fruit leather that you get can't be beaten... and, you'll know exactly what's in them - 100% fruit!

What you need:
- Fruit of your choice (I used peaches and raspberries)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

How to:
1.  Begin by blending all of your fruit in a blender (I peeled the peaches and removed the pit first).
2.  Next, stir your mixture in a sauce pan for about 10 minutes, over medium heat, until it starts to thicken (do not let it boil).  Add your lemon juice.
3.  Place your Silpat on a baking sheet and pour your mixture over (about 1/8-1/4 inch thick). 
4.  Bake at 175 degrees for 6-8 hours.  My oven could not go this low, so I used the "warm" setting (it took me probably 9 hours to get the center done).
5.  The fruit leather will be done cooking when it is no longer sticky.  If you feel like it's almost done, keep a close eye on it - if you over bake for too long you'll end up with fruit chips!
6.  When the fruit leather is done, peel from the Silpat, cool, and then cut into strips.  I wrapped mine in wax paper to "package" the pieces until they were ready to be eaten.


Helpful hints:

- Do not make your mixture too thin... it will be brittle and crack.  I was surprised at how thick mine was to start and how much of it dehydrated.  The first batch I made was so thin that I couldn't peel it off of the paper.

- If you use a fruit with seeds, your seeds will be noticeable when it is done baking.  This did not bother me, but if you use all berries, you may want to strain the liquid before baking.

- The ends will likely dehydrate before the center, so make sure that when you're spreading the mixture on the baking sheet that you don't go skimpy on the edges.

- Since the fruit leather takes so long to bake, I put mine in the oven before I went to bed, and it was almost ready when I woke up.

- If you don't own (and do not want to buy) a Siplat (or something similar) you can try using parchment paper.  I read a few recipes saying that this will work too.







Thursday, July 3, 2014

DIY Magnet Board

This DIY is so easy and probably couldn't get any cuter!  I'm keeping my magnet board in the kitchen for any recipe cards that I may be using or to rotate pictures in and out without having to use a dedicated frame.


What you need: 
- A picture frame
- Decorative paper
- Magnet sheets

(I found all of my supplies at Hobby Lobby.)

How to:
1.  Begin by removing the glass from the picture frame.
2.  Next, use an adhesive magnet and stick the magnet to the decorative paper.  If your frame is an 8x10, you may need to use more than one magnet sheet.
3.  Cut around the magnet to remove the excess paper.
4.  Place the decorative paper into the picture frame.  

When choosing your magnet sheets, pay attention to the level of magnet (I used a level 2 and it worked great, but level 1 may have been a bit to weak to hold up a recipe card).



Happy 4th of July tomorrow!!

Anyone have any fun plans?! John and I plan to hang around town and maybe do a bit of exploring... nothing too extreme, but just how this kind of holiday should be spent!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Easy 4th of July Treats

Entertaining should be easy and fun - even for the hostess! Here are 3 festive desserts that are no-fuss, make ahead, but still very tasty.  This way, entertaining can be what it really should be about - fellowship with one another and making memories (...not stressful preparations)!

If you can't tell from the all of the treats below, I took a (well deserved) break from unpacking yesterday... I think my hubby was confused as to why there were so many baked goods when he got home from work!  The only unfortunate thing about all of these treats is that now that I'm working from home, I don't have any coworkers to bring them to.

This may be mighty dangerous for my waistline...


Fourth of July Strawberries


If there is one dessert that I love, it is chocolate covered strawberries... And I know there are a lot of haters out there, but I am most definitely a white chocolate kind of girl!!

What you need:
- Strawberries
- White chocolate
- Blue sprinkles

How to:
1.  Begin by washing and drying your strawberries and melting your white chocolate.
2.  Once the chocolate is melted, dip 2/3s of the strawberry into the chocolate and let the excess run off.
3.  After the strawberry is done dripping chocolate, dip the lower 1/3 of the strawberry in blue sprinkles.
4.  Let the chocolate harden and serve.




Sugarcookie Cups


This is a fun twist on fruit pizzas.  Always a winner in my book!

What you need:
- Sugarcookie dough (I bought mine premade)
- Cream cheese frosting (also premade)
- Blueberries
- Raspberries

How to:
1.  Spray a muffin tin with a non-stick spray and line with your sugarcookie dough.
2.  Bake according to the package.  When taking the cookies out of the oven, you may need to divide them if any ran together.
3.  Once cooled, fill the cookie cup with cream cheese frosting.
4.  Top with blueberries and raspberries and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.




USofA Brownies


You can't go wrong with a good ole fashioned brownie.  They are pretty much effortless to make, but always a fan favorite.  And this 'Merica version is way too fun (and simple!).

What you need:
- Box of brownie mix (and whatever else your particular box requires)
- Powdered sugar

How to:
1.  Start by making the brownie batter as intended, and bake in a springform pan.
2.  While the brownie is baking, sketch the outline of the United States.
3.  Once the brownies are done baking and cooled, remove from the springform pan.
4.  Cut out the shape of the USofA.  If you want the shape in powdered sugar, then lay the outline on the brownie.  If you want the outline in powdered sugar, then lay the shape on the brownie.  Top with powdered sugar.  Use a wet paper towel to clean up any edges of the outline.




If you need another festive idea, check out my layered berry angel food cake!



Linking up with the Tuesday's Table and Delicious Dish Tuesday.
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