request for layout help - tough space!

msfidgetNovember 26, 2012

Hi everyone,

We moved into this house about 3.5 years ago. The kitchen was brand new then. The kitchen people came up with a plan and we just went with it. I was being lazy and didn't think about it enough, now I'm suffering for it! When we bought the house we had one child, now we have three. The kitchen is my least favorite part of my home and very painful to be in. I would love to do something with it to make it more functional, and I'm hoping the braintrust here can help! I should mention that I am *terrible* at this type of thing, and I know it, so feel free to bash any ridiculous idea that I might mention.

We live in a historic home. A 'protected' historic home. Meaning, we can't change any windows, doors, or walls since they are original. Because it's an old home, it has an old layout (ie, the kitchen is nowhere near the family room, it is sort of just attached on it's own to the house with 3 exterior walls. Exterior walls means, you guessed it, doors and windows. The windowsills are about 2' off the floor. And I can't remove or replace any of them due to the historic district restrictions.

Here is the current layout:

When we first approved the layout, the intention was for the kid(s) to sit at the breakfast bar. But in practice, that didn't really work. With a special needs child and infants in the house, our little people needed quite a bit of help eating and the one-sided bar didn't allow for that. So the square table was purchased afterwards so we could feed our kids.

Here are my three largest issues with our current kitchen.
#1) sink area. The trash pullout is in the blind cabinet next to the sink. Three small kids means lots of messes, lots of cleanup, and lots of trash. We have three adults in the house so it seems that someone is always in someone's way trying to get to the trashcan. Occasionally I put a second trashcan at the end of the sink run next to the dishwasher but that blocks my only prep area, always gets knocked over, or one of the kids puts something important in it, so I don't like doing that.

#2) walkway from fridge to kitchen. Since we added that small bistro table, that area is really cramped. All three kids are in bulky booster seats attached to the barstools. And between 3 meals and multiple snacktimes through the day, it seems they are always in those chairs. So getting to and from the refrigerator is tight.

#3) no prep space. We rarely use the space to either side of the cooktop, other than to get at the appliances on the counter. Probably because its so far from the trash and sink. The only area we use for prep is the countertop over the dishwasher. And if you stand there prepping are always in the way. And even this small area of countertop is far from the cooktop.

Looking at the layout it looks like the barstools are obstructive in the walkway to the foyer, but they're not really. It's probably not an issue though because nobody ever sits there!

Here are the elevations from the original layout, I made some notes on them. I'm sorry for the size. I've cropped them in photobucket, and they are showing up cropped there. But oddly, they are not cropped here and I can't figure out why.

Here are my answers to the questions in the 'layout request' instructions.

What are your goals?
* seating for 4-5 (island/peninsula with two sides with overhangs?)
* more prep space
* more storage - we now have two utility cabinets, one is a food pantry, and the other (currently behind the exterior door) houses brooms, cleaning supplies and rarely used items like vases, roasting pans, etc.
* fridge somewhere with landing space
* less traffic jams
* less junk out in the open (I'm not the neatest person, nor is grandma. I don't know what I was thinking with the open shelves!)

What is your family composition?
* 3 adults (mom, dad, grandma)
* 3 kids under 5yo

How many kitchen workers are there?
* 3 adult workers. Mom and grandma mostly prep and cooking. All three adults cleanup (lots of cleanup in our house!). Three little helpers.

Do you or anyone in your home cook?
* Yes, lots.

How do you see your kitchen used? Just for cooking/cleaning up? Children doing homework while you cook? Party place
* Mainly for cooking/cleanup. The kitchen is tucked away in the opposite end of the house from the family room so I didn't expect alot of 'hanging out', however, it seems any time we have a party...people end up crammed in the kitchen.

Do you entertain a lot? If so, formal? Informal?
* Yes, informal.

Do you want your kitchen to be a "hang out" place? Parties only? Everyday?
* Everyday hangout place right now. Between 3 meals and 3-4 snacktimes a day...we seem to always be in the kitchen.

Do you have a separate DR?
* Yes, we use infrequently because we don't eat together as a family right now. Our DR table is a large circle, so it makes it hard to help the kids. Eventually, I would like us all to sit in the dining room and eat together.

Would you like to open up the kitchen to adjacent areas? Close it up? Do you plan to merge two rooms/areas?
* Not allowed

Where are you flexible?
Can windows or doorways change size? Can they be moved or eliminated? Can windows be raised/lowered? Can any walls come down?
* No (lots of restrictions because in historic district of town. We weren't even allowed to remove that little 2' wall that separates the butler's pantry from the kitchen)

Does the sink have to be centered under a window? Does it have to be under a window at all?
* Nope

Here are the appliances we installed 3.5 years ago.

30" cooktop
30" double oven (the lower one is used for storage right now because we don't have enough storage!)
30" hood
24" apron front sink
24" dishwasher
36" refrigerator (contemplating replacing this for a french door one)
21" undercounter freezer (I'm hoping just buying another fridge/freezer that stores more will eliminate the need for this)
30" micro-hood that is installed under a cabinet, not being used as a hood

The sink plumbing can move. The gas line can move. The only caveat is the cooktop has to be on an outside wall.

My ideas:
* move the pantry cabinets to the butlers pantry
* run cabinets in front of the one window near the corner. (may look weird, i know, but i'm going for function over looks)
* wall of reduced-depth cabinets to accomodate an island. Full height utility for storage?

After hours and hours and hours of playing, this is the best I could come up with:

In case you're wondering, the pink boxes are cabinets I already have, the white are ones I'd have to buy. I don't have to reuse everything that I have, but if I could use some that would be great. I like my cabinet style/color. Tomorrow is my birthday and I'd love to reconfigure this kitchen as a gift to myself!

What I don't like about what I came up with:
* that door to the outside is VERY used, it is the main door that family members use. I'm not crazy about it opening onto our refrigerator.
* worried about not having enough landing space to the right of the cooktop
* still no landing space at fridge
* all my small appliances (rice cooker, breadmaker, blender, coffemaker, toaster oven) are going to have to go somewhere, and I can see them eating up that corner countertop, thus taking away prep space.

I'm attaching an empty floorplan for anyone who wants a blank canvas

I've gone to two different kitchen designers and they've both said. "What you have now and what you have come up with are good uses for the tough space." Not very helpful.

Any ideas or advice would be sincerely appreciated!

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How deep is your refrigerator - with its doors and handles?
How wide do you need to open its door to use its drawers and cleaning?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Sorry, I should have been more detailed about the fridge measurements. I know from reading countless threads that it is an important point.

Width: 35 5/8"
Depth incl. Door & Handles: 30 1/8"
Depth excl. Handles: 27 1/2"
Depth excl. Door: 24"

According to the dimension guide attached, the fridge requires 17" on the right and 13 5/8" on the that's another reason my layout won't work!

Here is a link that might be useful: Fridge Dimension Guide

This post was edited by msfidget on Mon, Nov 26, 12 at 17:53

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 5:46PM
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Would you consider replacing the double ovens and cooktop with a range? I know you already have the appliances - I'm just looking at all options.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Yes, I would consider replacing with a range. Due to the complete inflexibility of the walls, windows, and doors, I figure I will need to be super flexible with everything else!

Thanks so much :)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 6:04PM
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My first thought would be to declutter the whole kitchen- clean off the counter tops to give yourself some more work room and counter space. Other than the coffeemaker and toaster oven I'd get everything else off the counters. Couldn't the breadmaker, blender, and rice cooker go in your undercounter cabinets or on pantry shelves? Knives could go in a drawer? Junk area should not be there at all. If there is no room in your existing cabinets for these appliances maybe it's time for a garage sale or just box up some stuff you don't really need and put it in the attic or the back of a closet in the bedroom. You probably have a lot more workable space in your kitchen than you realize.

Could you post some pictures of your kitchen now? That would help. Good luck.

Could you post some pictures of your kitchen now? That would help. Good luck.

This post was edited by patty0315 on Mon, Nov 26, 12 at 21:37

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 6:47PM
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The clutter is certainly part of it. But other than the bread maker, we use the other appliances on a daily basis. The blender we use several times a day with grandmas shakes and the baby's food.

I would love to put things in base cabinets but there just isn't any room at present. One base cabinet has Tupperware, one has food overflow from pantry, one has mixing bowls and such, and the other has the appliances like the stand mixer, cuisinart, etc. I purged pretty well recently so Im not sure how much else I can get rid of. I can't help but feel that it's just a poor layout that was more focused on symmetry than functionality.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:07PM
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The OP is right, she has very little workspace where it's needed most...very little overall if you look closely. In addition, her cooktop is across an aisle and past the DW from the sink...and the cooktop us unprotected from traffic.

She posted elevations of her current kitchen so you can see the available counterspace & current appliance locations.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:11PM
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Could you post a layout of the entire first floor?I know you cannot move any doors/windows/walls, but it will give us a feel for the flow of the entire floor and may provide us with some ideas.

(Hmmm...back to getting messages rejected if you don't change the subject of back-to-back posts...)

[Edit test - Tuesday, 11/27 @ 10:54pm ET]

This post was edited by buehl on Tue, Nov 27, 12 at 22:53

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Here you go!
As you can see, the kitchen is kind of on it's own back there. You'll notice it says 'temp kitchen'. That's why I didn't care so much about the layout. Back then, we though we'd be able to add on the house for a larger kitchen and a master suite above. But, due to the restrictions and other factors, that can't happen.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:29PM
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Generally I like your new layout. It is very similar to my kitchen.

I agree with the previous poster about getting rid of the double ovens and cooktop and getting a range instead. You said it yourself that you value the storage over the second oven.

You said you have a child with some special needs....are they physical such that a walker or wheelchair may be needed some time? Because the 36 inch aisle in your recent layout is too tight in that case (for that matter...what about grandma?)

If you get rid of the double ovens, then you could begin that run with a pantry and then have the fridge, somewhat getting the fridge into the protection of the island area instead of being on the end run. That may or may not be better than having a longer span of continuous countertop.

I also think that you might consider not having the corner cabinet be an angled cabinet, but a 90 degree corner with a fixed shelf. I have that and store all of my pots and pans and my kitchen aid mixer in it. It holds a lot. By not using a lazy susan, but a fixed shelf you get the full use of the space. Mine has 2 doors that are hinged together at the corner, and then the whole thing hinges at the left to the face frame.

This would allow you to select a bigger sink as well.

I have my small appliances in the island underneath the area you have shown as white. Again, I have a fixed shelves. I found that using fixed shelves vs pullouts did give me maximum usable space. I may regret it when I'm 60, but we have had our kitchen done for about 10 years and I am very happy with the layout..

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Well, you said you would be open to possibilities-
If you lived in Miamithat door to the exterior in the kitchen would not be allowed due to hurricane safety concerns. I would expand the porch to accomidate an outswinging door.
I would choose an induction slide-in range such as an Electrolux or GE. It is as responsive as gas but much saver and it creates less waste heat. More info is on the Appliance forum.
And now for something that reflects the lengths involved when you can't expand out. I would move the powder room to the area off the foyer under the landing. And this may require a partial circular stair segment to give you the headroom in that area.
With that space you will have open floor plan options for the entire half of the first floor. And you could find room for those ovens.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:05PM
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You make a good point about wheelchairs and the tight aisles. Thankfully, we are not worried about that right now.

I changed the layout per your suggestions. Should the range be right next to the corner cabinet since you recommend pots and pans there? With the fridge behind the island, I have to scootch the island over a bit to the left. This is the kind of application that can benefit from a true built-in/integrated fridge, unfortunately that's not financially doable. It still works with just a regular counter-depth fridge, right?

I'm also not sure about the sink at the low window in my layout. I just feel like it's going to get splashed all over! But I'm not sure how else to make that weird covering-up-the-bottom-of-the-window thing work.
Here's a picture of someone who covered up the window with just countertop and window treatment. Will just having counter in front of the window and moving the sink to the island work perhaps?

Contemporary Kitchen design by Toronto Interior Designer Shirley Meisels

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:06PM
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I would love to make those little changes to the floorplan. Unfortunately as I mentioned, I wasn't even allowed to get rid of that tiny 2' wall separating the butler's pantry and kitchen. The restrictions are brutal :)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:17PM
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Ooo, I love puzzles! Wish I had time tonight to bust out the graph paper! Maybe in a day or two. For now, what about moving the ovens to between the windows, moving the sink and DW to the island, and relegating the set and forget type of appliances like the rice cooker, breadmaker, coffee pot, slow cooker, etc. to the butler's pantry? Also trash pull out in the island, and maybe next to the ovens?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:56PM
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That level of restriction is outside a fee simple holding, my misunderstanding. I would now adjust your current plan by placing the range where the dishwasher is with about 9 inches of "ledge to the left. This allows for two sided access to the cooking surface for two users at one time. And one user is in the concave area to the left, out of the traffic flow and not blocking anyone while working.
A 21x18 zero radius sink could replace the range with a faucet at each rear corner for easier dual use. The dishwasher can go to the right.
Even with these changes and much better overall functionality this is tight living with a lot of use restrictions. So I'll throw out another option within the restrictions. Create a kitchen with large island with seating and keeping room in the family room space. The office becomes a pantry and the current kitchen the office. This would give you the open living/cooking/eating space closer to a modern design.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:33AM
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First, a question.

When you say the house is "protected" and can't be altered, what kind of "protection" is it?

Some common ones: Historic districts often control exteriorly-visible elements: walls, windows, additions, roof slopes, dormers, colors, and exterior trim.

National Register for Historic Preservation listed buildings(aka National "Register") come with standards but don't usually come with mandatory compliance to those standards, although many people think the opposite. Unlikely as it seems, an owner can demolish a National Register building if they choose. Or paint it in tiger stripes and install round doorways.

Some houses have perservation standards written into the deed but these are generally confined to use (commercial/residential), alteration of exterior elements, square footage, not being demolished, etc. I have never seen one that forbids changes of interior room allocation, including removing non-load bearing interior partitions, etc.

I'm not trying to be disputative, and you certainly know more about your particular situation, but often people believe things about historic house restrictionss that turn out not to be true. It would be a shame to foreclose possibilities that aren't actually forbidden.

I think the theory for the looser interior restrictions is that all builidngs are in a constant state of metamorphosis, and while preserving an exterior appearance is important to a community and the shared habitat, what happens inside is less important and will be more likely to ensure the continued existance and maintenance of a historic structure than strict rules which eventually become untenable.

BTW several people here have very low 19th c windowsills (including me, mine are 27" from the floor). There have been a variety of solutions to combining this with a typical kitchen. In my case I have a window well on the far edge of a counter. It's the perfect place to set pots of herbs. Others have run counters without cabs underneath across the windows. Some people have used pull out or fold-up-or-down work surfaces that only block the window during prep. Others have just had an island or counters with cabs underneath set 12-18" away from the wall. I know that sounds odd, but one kitchen I saw here with this was very elegant and delightful. Their cats adored the somewhat sheltered "cat-tuary" area on the far side. In short, low windowsills, which are generally a boon in other rooms, needn't be too big an obstruction in the modern kitchen of an older house, if you think out of the box.

If you can get some pictures of your present kitchen (windows and all) up on a site like Photobucket it will help get better suggestions from the posters here, pics are especially usefulin situations like ancient houses where there are some restrictions to exterior elements.



    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 3:22AM
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I'm thinking something like this:

Please forgive the amateur MSPaint. :)

This is a modified galley layout - one wall + island. I put your fridge, range and sink/DW (the order is important, whether you go top down or bottom up on the wall) all on the current range wall. By getting rid of the L, your island can grow. You could make part of the island table height if that's more convenient for you. It's OK if the perimeter wall is a little squished because you will have a huge empty island across from it. Scottielee has a great kitchen like this.

I kept but shrunk the shallow depth pantry on the butler pantry wall in order to give you a proper seating overhang at the island (15" deep) as well as less cramped walkways.

Perhaps some of the pantry wall can even be upper/lower/counter cabinets instead of tall cabinets, or it can have tall cabinets with flip up doors at counter height. That will provide a home for your counter top appliances.

Here is a link that might be useful: scottielee's finished kitchen at the FKB

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:00AM
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Followup - I meant to add that if you don't put in the prep sink it would be best to swap the skinny cab and the DW on either side of the sink so the sink will be closer to the range and not in the doorswing. You need to be able to access at least one sink without being smacked by a door! To avoid property damage to the door and DW, I would probably lock that door while the DW was open. That said, I would highly recommend the prep sink. Alternatively, you could move the sink and DW to the island, but that dramatically reduces your prep space.

This post was edited by tracie.erin on Tue, Nov 27, 12 at 9:36

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:07AM
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By the way - I'm not sure of your budget, but if it's tight I would be tempted to do the below:

1) size the new fridge hole for a standard 36" model fridge, but just stick your 33" current model in there and leave the freezer in the butler's pantry until the current fridge dies;
2) move the ovens to the butler's pantry where the fridge was and keep your cooktop where it is; and
3) cut down the pantry cabinets that are currently on the range wall in order to use them on the new shallow pantry wall.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:25AM
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Thanks so much for the visual! I have zero imagination it seems, so this is so very helpful.

Question, what are your thoughts about leaving the refrigerator where it is now, in the 'butler's pantry'? Until we bought the little bistro table, I actually really liked having the fridge tucked away there. We hang out mostly in the entrance area (there are a couple loveseats there) and in the playroom (noted by living room on the floorplan) so it's nice to have the fridge on the outskirts and easily accessible. I kept thinking that it was a weird place so I wanted to move it, but I've become pretty accustomed to it there. Do you think the fridge would be better more 'in' the kitchen? I really like it where you have it as well because it's still accessible without going through the workspace of the kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Is it possible to make the that exterior door swing from the left?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:05AM
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I guess it depends on resale and whether you do mise en place or not. If resale is at all a factor, or if you run to the fridge a lot while making a meal, I would definitely move it. If you grab everything at once and plop it on the counter - or you don't cook at all - and you will never move, it should be OK to leave it.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:10AM
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I like your layout from Nov 27, 12 at 22:06, but I'd take out that back storage wall, to give you more room for seating at the island. 3'3" is not enough space for adults sitting at the stools and people to walk behind them.

Also, a prep sink (opposite the fridge) would make prep a lot easier and leave the other sink for a clean up area. And, have a garbage by both sinks! :)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Any possibility you could change the exterior door to be outswinging? Not sure what space you have outside there or if it is even possible?

In the plan with an island stools and storage behind it you'll have people walking through the kitchen area to get to the rest of the house if anybody is sitting at the island. There just isn't enough space to sit there and not have to squeeze through. People always take the path of least resistance.

Have you considered changing the butlers pantry to be a clean up area? Ie sink and dishwasher and dish storage. Not sure exactly how much room you'd need for that though. Others probably know better. This would be close to where you are dining and also that area is out of the kitchen itself. Would require some walking though for prep stuff to go in dw. Then in the kitchen itself you could have a prep sink. This gives you two separate areas to hopefully create more space for multiple people in the kitchen and a prep sink doesn't need to be as large so you could place it to allow multiple cooks to have access to it as well.

Then in tracie.erins plan you could have a pantry where the sink is. Maybe consider moving the broom closet as a pull out and put next to the fridge on the other side.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:34PM
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Can't believe I forgot this one - can you go in between the studs of the wall in order to recess the pantry? Doing that would gain you about 4" of floor space, and you can even reduce the wall pantry to be 8" deep total which means the pantry would only take up about 4" of floorspace.

An 8" deep pantry can hold a lot! See cindyandmocha's pantry, which is exactly what I'm talking about.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cindyandmocha's finished kitchen w/ recessed shallow pantry

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:48PM
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Here are some photos of my pots and pan storage, and a look at my drawer space.

I have the mixer, 4 cast iron pans and 1 griddle, wok, 5 frying pans, 4 saucepans, 2 8 quart stock pots, a colander, and mixing bowls in the pan storage area.

To the right of the stove is bread drawer and cereal storage. To the left of the stove is hot pads, and 2 lowers have utensils, and baking measuring cups.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:09PM
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Julieckmo- wow, you have alot stored in that corner cabinet! Way better than a lazy susan or the black hole blind cabinet that I have now.
Tracie.erin - since you showed me that recessed pantry, I've been obsessed with it. It seemed like the perfect solution. Unfortunately, DH is totally against for now. Something about having to relocate something important that's in that wall. Frankly, I have so much on my plate right now with my son, that I don't have the energy to fight with DH over it. But I'm still obsessed!
Lysia - I am struggling with what to put in the butlers pantry area. One on hand, it should be something that is helpful to have near the dining area. Also, it can be something that is ok to be somewhat separate from the rest of the kitchen, which is why cleanup makes alot of sense. But most importantly, it shouldn't be something that would obstruct so ideally, the DW nor the fridge should be there. I think you have me convinced on two sinks though.
Lavender Lass - you and Lysia make good points about not having enough room behind the island. But without those cabinets along that wall, I know I won't have enough storage. So the island probably won't work.

I'm starting to think I should just give up! I'm going to fiddle with cabinet depths and aisle widths and see if I can come up with anything else. But I'm doubtful. Buehl or Williamsen or anyone else, if you have any other ideas please let me know. Thank you all so much for your help. I may have pulled the trigger on another poor layout if it wasn't for your insight.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:05AM
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