Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rainy Days...

Treasure Trunk Designs

Clark hates rainy days... he decided to bond with the sofa for the afternoon.
Well, the thesis bombfire celebration armed with bottle of wine in one hand and match in the other hand is officially cancelled at least for tonight.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring better weather although realistically it's calling for rain straight through until Tuesday... yuck.  By then the parental unit will be home from their annual Tremblant weekend with my mum's side of the family.  End result? Bombfire may have to take place with hot toddy rather than wine and mukluks instead of my old faithful cowboy boots!  Yep, the snow is coming... I can smell it in the air!

To make the most of this rainy weather I decided to plod around the house doing... stuff.  I miss living on my own with the freedom to do what I want, when I want, how I want and where I want... ahhh those were the days!  So making the most out of my weekend of rainy freedom, I took over the kitchen pulling out my jewellery supplies to work on a few pieces.  Eventually, I decided to do some baking.  It's not often I get this freedom and I love to cook! 

So I decided on pulling out a box of apples picked from the trees in the backyard to make a lovely pot of applesauce.  Unfortunately this year the apples were infested with worms so out of a big box full of fruit, this was all I got.  Not much but it tastes great! I love home made applesauce with big chunks of stewed apples, both white and brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves... delicious!  I can't wait to have some for breakfast tomorrow morning.

The next project was the long awaited zucchini bread.  Ahhhh zucchini bread! So grabbed a couple of the huge zucchinis from the garden.  The zucchinis are HUGE and way too tough for cooking but they make wonderful bread.  So after pulling out my old Betty Crocker cookbook and all the ingredients... I realized we were out of walnuts. Eish... no zucchini bread today! Will have to be tomorrow's project. 

Next up? More bath bombs! I ran out of bath bombs a few months back and have been substituting my bath time experience with ocean breeze scented dead sea salts but those ran out yesterday.  So out came the kit but... I couldn't find my recipe so I just went by memory. 

Oups! I forgot the cornstarch and the sea salts... so this batch was 1 part citric acid, 2 parts baking soda, green tea and cuccumber oil of essence, almond oil, grapeseed oil, rubbing alcohol, kaolin clay and I decided to go ahead and try a bit of water.  MISTAKE!  While the bath bombs packed up really nice and hardened well, they started to activate shortly after setting them out to dry. To slow down the activation process, I coated the hearts in baking powder which seemed to do the trick. 

These bath bombs are making me hungry!

In the end, there were some cracks and bubbling up which made my little hearts look like they had broken out in a batch of warts! They aren't the prettiest but they are tough enough and will do the trick!

This is the worst of the bunch. 
Now sitting back with a cup of tea after a relaxing soak in the tub, wrapped up in a big wooly sweather and flannel PJs and with nothing on TV, I've pulled out a video of my favourite 'I feel like doing nothing' movies... 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrimore.

I don't know why I like this movie so much but it makes me smile every time.  I'm sure I've watched it at LEAST 50 times lol...  it's still a good past time :)

Speaking of past times, while I await my thesis reader review, I've decided to make myself a leather bound journal and a pair of mocassins.  Yup, mocassins! With any luck, they will look like this:

Pattern from Tandy leather.

Well, guess it's time to sit back and enjoy my movie before hitting the hay.  Early start tomorrow with a 6 am Sunday wake up call... I'm not looking forward to that!  But with all free weekends comes a price.  Off to my mum's cafe for a day full of serving coffee, random chatter and flipping eggs. 

Rainy day blues logging off...

- Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs

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Getting Ready for the Official ReOpening - Just in time for Fall!

Treasure Trunk Designs
Hello everyone!

It's been a long journey to finish my Master's degree filled with all the roller coaster events of being a poor struggling student, lots of overseas volunteer experiences, new friends, ups and downs, lessons learned and some things best forgotten!  But I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm so excited for the next chapter in my life.

While I await the reader review of my thesis, I've been busy working on some new designs and packaging. 

My camera unfortunately had a bit of a breakdown but hopefully, with a little luck, Nikon will help me get her back to her old self. 

New cards have also been developed to help display the cost, metals and gemstones which will make it SO much easier to organize my display case. 

I'm so excited to be working on my jewellery again after my 'thesis hiatus'. 

Please share your thoughts as the new items are posted onto Facebook and wish me luck!

- Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm BACK! Hoorah!

Treasure Trunk Designs

Hello everyone!  I'm so happy to be back.  For those of you that didn't know, my Master's thesis was due a few weeks ago which meant buckling down and taking a wee little break from TTD. 

Now that the thesis is submitted, it's time to wait and wait and wait for the reader commentary.  In the meantime, TTD is back in action and happy to see you all again!

Expect to see some new designs on the TTD Facebook page and within a few days a reopening of the online Etsy shop.

Look below for a sneak peak of the new Fall TTD collection 'COLOUR!'

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Facebook Down?


Well, this morning I woke up to a big scare that wasted about 1 hour of fiddling...  what was it?  Facebook is DOWN! At least for me, and not only that but I got a few strange 'postings' by friends saying "Ewwwww" and "tell us how you really feel!" I was worried someone had hacked into my account and posted nasty things!  Naturally, because I couldn't log in, I couldn't see what they were commenting on. 

Oh my goodness, and there began the hour's wasted time.  Turns out they were replying to a status update I wrote about the university overhauling their online library services, which I must say are not only disturbing colours of organge and yellow that are... to say the least, visually disturbing but also prevented me from getting online access to the catalogue. 

Now, why would this cause such a reaction?  As you might have noticed my blog posts over the past month have been slow and minimal.  This is because I'm in the final hour of my Master's thesis.  With only 3 weeks to go, I'm at my computer 24/7 working like a mad woman to get it finished.  This thesis is years in the making and the culmination of a life long dream.  Any delay, muck up or extra hassle sends me into a dizzy of stress and potential panic! 

Well, now that it's been determined that the FB problem is widespread and no one has hacked into my account, I'll be back to my research.

As for the new U of O library services, hopefully that will be straightened out soon too!  Regarding the colour choice... well that's just bad form!  Couldn't they have made it green for "GO" instead of yellow and orange (the usual colours for "WARNING!")? 

Ah well, on with the day!

Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs

Monday, August 8, 2011

Williamstown Fair - TTD update!

200th Anniversary
of the
Williamstown Fair
Williamstown, Ontario: 5-7 August 2011

Treasure Trunk Designs was at the Williamstown Fair this past weekend.  What a wonderful time!  Growing up in Willliamstown, Ontario, the Fair was always a very special time for me and my family. 

The oldest annual fair (and continued) fair in Canada, the Williamstown Fair is full of country charm and tradition.  Having Treasure Trunk Designs at the Williamstown Fair held a very special meaning for me, especially as it was my first outdoor event and definitely the largest and most successful showing TTD has had to date. 

The copper Tree of Life pendants in peridot (a signature piece!) were a big hit with the ladies as well as the butterknife and spoon collections.  

Treasure Trunk Designs would like to extend a BIG thank you to Barry Clark for lending me his shelter/tent for the weekend, as well as my neighbours Frank, from Canada Belt Buckles as well as Garnet Carmichael and his wife Maureen from Carmichael's Furniture.   Raylene Goulder was also kind enough to provide a little break on Saturday.  Finally, I'd like to say thank you to my dad, Alex MacDonald and my brother-in-law Darin Menard for lending the truck and helping with the set up each morning and taking down my booth at the end of each day.  I wouldn't have been able to do it with out you!

Thank you and see you next year at the Williamstown Fair!

Watch video here:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Calsilica... Mysterious Wonder Stone or Man-Made Rainbow?

Calsilica... the debate goes on!
Mysterious Wonder Stone or Man-Made rainbow?

Ever since Calsilica was introduced to the international jewellery scene back in 2002, fashion gurus and jewellery artists alike have debated the origins and authenticy of Calsilica.

With solid stripes of vibrant colours this 'stone' looks like a veritable rainbow. Reds, blacks, browns, black, greens, mustard yellows and turquoise mixed with orange, blues and salmon colours - Calsilica is a visual feast and wonderous to look at.  But the question is: "Is it real?" 

When I saw my first piece of rainbow calsilica (purchased from Cabbing Rough) I couldn't help but question it's authenticity. 

Certainly a beautiful cabochon with endless design possibilities...  But, is it real?

Later on, I came across some eye-catching candy on the fancy bead wall of my local wholesaler Rainbow Minerals.  Eyeing up the bright uniform bands of colour, there was no way I could believe they were natural.  So, I decided to put on my detective cap and dig into the story of this mysterious 'stone'....

Initially it was claimed that Calsilica originated from a mine located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. 

Nevertheless, geologists were apparently denied access to the min in Chihuahua with the argument that permission of geologists into the mine would lead to over-exploitation.  Hmmm, sounds fishy! 

Since then, there have been claims of calsilica deposits in China, Brazil, even the Middle East and so the debate continues...

Back in 2002 this Mexican wonder stone caused quite a stir when the Swiss Gemological Institute picked up a few specimens at a mineral show in France.   After testing the slabs, they discovered both polymer and a paraffin-like substance as well as blue and yellow pigments that matched synthetic pigments.   While the supplier claimed the slabs were treated with paraffin and resin in order to make the stone more resilient, the Swiss Gemological Insititute had their doubts!  A report was issued concluding that the samples contained pulverized carbonate rock mixed with pigments and stabilized with a polymer (Winter 2002, Vol. 8, Gems & Gemology).

Some claim that Rainbow Calsilica was formed from silicate lying in the bottom of a cutting well for an old tile factory in Mexico which eventually solidified into the slabs we now consider calsilica.  Others say its a synthetic mixture of calcite, plastic and artificial colouring pigments.  Still others claim that untreated slabs of calsilica were found to be authentic...  And then there are others who - seeing similarity with Fordite speciments - believe calsilica to be made from paint chips collected from old automobile plants. 

In the end, the debate continues.  Personally, having a strand of drop beads, coin beads and a lovely little cabochon at my disposal, I tend to side with the Swiss Geological Institute on this one. 

Nevertheless, it remains a beautiful 'stone' in many respects.  Bright, colourful and vibrant, the controversy only adds to the attraction and mystique of rainbow calsilica while making for a great conversation starter ;)


- Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Penny for Your Thoughts?

A Penny for Your Thoughts?
A growing number of economists and bankers are urging the Canadian
government to give up the penny, as the U.K. gave up the farthing and,
later, the halfpenny. 

Get Them While You Still Can - Farewell To The Canadian Penny?
Old Colony Capital: 

While many might complain of the burden of a pocket full of pennies boring a hole through your pockets, I've always held a particular fondness for pennies. 

As a kid, I would love to come across a 'lucky penny' just waiting to be picked up.  Ahhhh the days when a fist full of pennies would buy their equal weight in Swedish Berries or Ju Ju Bees... A child's delight!

Sadly however, the Canadian penny or "sou noir" (black penny as our Francophone brothers and sisters say) might be going the way of the dinosaur very soon.  As the Senate calls for the abolition of the Canada's endearing 'penny' (officially called the 'One Cent Piece'), I can't say I blame them. 

According to the Bank of Canada, the penny has dropped about 95% of it's purchasing power since production began in 1908.  More over, with production costs costing 1.5 times the cost of a cent, the penny seems a little bit like an oxymoron now doesn't it?

Nevertheless, I will be sad when the time finally comes to officially say goodbye to the Canadian penny.  

"Save your Pennies!"

How many of you saved up your pennies for a rainy day?   Amassing small fortunes in great big containers?  How exciting was it then when you finally counted them up, rolled them up and purchased that rainy day item you've been longing for?   I know I did when I was a child... that is if I didn't break down for Swedish Berries first! 

How many of you have been "short a penny" and gratefully dipped into the penny pot beside every small town corner store cash register?  Or been thankful when the cashier says "don't worry about it, it's just a penny..."  Just a penny... Poor little pennies... Abandonned on sidewalks, lawns and under park benches....

These days there is not much that can be purchased with the dear Canadian pennies and where kids used to be happy for a handfull of pennies, they now want loonies, toonies and the all mighty cash!  

While my nephews may scoff at a penny or two...  I still cherish each and every one filled with Canadian history, childhood memories and the prospect of good luck!

The boys! Evan, Rilley and Blake
 For those of you that are following my blog, you may remember that I recently purchased a Bounty Hunter Tracker IV metal detector.  So far, I figure I've been doing alright.  I really want to find a horse shoe as I figure I could use all the luck I can get!  But in the meantime, each "lucky penny" that alerts my Nerd-O-Meter sounds off the prospect of good news to come!

In honour of the great Canadian penny, I have decided to use my 'lucky pennies' for a new Treasure Trunk Designs jewellery line.  Only found pennies will be used in this 'Lucky Penny' collection.  I will be posting updates of my Metal Detecting finds on the TTD Blog and TTD Facebook page detailing where and when each lucky penny was found.  Each piece will also come with a description stating the year of production of each penny used, the date and location found.

I hope you will enjoy my treasure seeking along with me by following my blog, commenting and hopefully buying your very own 'lucky penny' creation by Treasure Trunk Designs!

- Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs

Here are the finds of my two latest - and most successful - hunts:

Heron Road, Williamstown Ontario: (conditions: hard packed dirt with lots of rocks)
8 pennies (1989, 1950, 1983, 1959, 1986,1987, 1982
the rest I can't read right now - maybe with some
cleaning and a magnifying lense!),  2 nickels (1984,
1999), 2 dimes (1997, 1996), 3 loonies (1994, 1987,
1995)  1 washer, 1 button (I think?), 1 butterfly (the
wings move - maybe a pin?)Paragon Road, Summerstown:(barn area - lots of rotten wood and ... junk)
- 1 "thing" (top left corner)

Williamstown Park - the kids sand pit:(conditions: sand... )
2 pencils,  the top of a pen, 1 "Lakeport" beer bottle cap,
scrap of tin foil,  sports drink bottle seal,  1/2 pepsi can,  
1 nail,  2 screws, 1 bolt, 1 metal button bit, 1lime green
bobby pin, 1 metal tube, pop tabs, 20 pennies (dates to
come...), 1 nickel (date to come)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canada Post - Strike Update

Canada Post - Strike Update

Well, I've held off on blogging about the Canada Post strike but now I have no choice but to comment on the issue as it will literally bring my online shop to a standstill.

Canada Post has officially begun a lock-out and I don't blame them.  I have read the Union's arguments on the CUPW website, followed the online articles, videos and kept up with the lady in my local post office.  After all of this, I have to say, I have no sympathy for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

On the Treasure Trunk Designs facebook page, I've posted a few articles for my fans and expressed a some of my thoughts.  While many of my fans seem to agree with my point of view, I did lose  2 TTD fans who were sympathetic to the CUPW and felt I had no purpose expressing my thoughts on the TTD facebook page.  I disagree...

Last year, for financial reasons, I had no choice but to take a break from my university studies and re-enter the workforce. I am finishing off my university studies and having tried to work while studying, it's been difficult and has severely affected my progress in terms of my thesis.  I'm a very hard worker and tend to devote everything I have to what ever it is I am doing.  This is difficult - how to find balance when someone is paying you good money to do a job while at the same time be able to give 110% to your studies?  My jobs were intense, required creativity, time, constant learning.  I had deadlines to meet that went beyond the simple 9 - 5 pay check that I was earning.  Nevertheless, both contracts that I worked last year were WORTH the extra time and effort that I devoted to them.  It's hard to find a good job nowadays.  I was thankful for my 1st contract with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.  When I was then offered a contract with the United Nations Refugee Association of Canada it was yet another amazing opportunity that couldn't be refused.  I worked my tail off for them.  I got paid good money while I was there, I learned a lot, I gave them all that I had to give and I was THANKFUL.

While I am finishing off my studies, I have no money to play with, I don't go to the local pub, I don't eat out, I don't visit my friends as I can't afford to spend the money on gas.  I'm living in a small village under my parents roof during this time.  With no money to pay for necessities, I use my hobby as my only means of income.  It doesn't bring in a lot of money but it helps pass the time and provide me with a little extra cash to pay for trips to town to meet with my academic advisor and help ease the burden of tuition costs.
Now, I'm taking the time to focus on my studies.  If I want to graduate, I need to do this or I will miss the deadline and everything I've worked so hard for will turn to nothing. 

With almost 3 university degrees and 10 years of experience in communications, neither of these 2 contracts in 2010 paid me the money that CUPS workers currently start out with. 

With the HRSDC contract I didn't have vacation time, stability or sick leave.  In fact, if I was sick and couldn't go in to work, that meant that I didn't get paid.  So - come hell or high water - I hauled ass to that office day in and day out, sick or not.  With UNHCR, I had some vacation time, they let me take sick days when I was too ill to come to work but still it was just a contract and there was no 'stability' to speak of.  In fact, "stability" in the Canadian job market seems to be going the way of the dinosaur.  Nevertheless, I was SO happy and thankful for the opportunity to work, be paid, learn and gain experience.  

Getting a stable job with vacation time, health insurance and sick leave is NOT easy.  Finding a job that provides all of this and pays a decent salary is even harder.  As I mentioned, “stable jobs” are going the way of the dinosaur.  Why would a company hire on permanent staff - knowing they have to provide all of the benefits and risk keeping on staff when they are not efficient or when business slows down – when they can easily hire workers through a temp agency?  If they use a temp agency, the company can hire or fire easily.  They don’t have to worry about benefits, keeping up full-time salaries or worrying about lawsuits or severance packages when they decide to let go staff.  It’s a business decision.  It sucks for the worker but it is what it is.  From the big business perspective… everyone is replaceable. 

Now let’s move back to Canada Post workers.  What qualifications did you need to get this job?  Did you need a diploma?  Did you need a university degree?  Did you need to have 5 to 10 years of experience to apply for the job you have?  In many cases, the answer is “No”. 

So tell me CUPW representatives, how many jobs out there do you think exist that pay $23 / hour requiring little previous experience and no college or university education?  How many jobs out there provide up to SEVEN weeks vacation and carry-over sick leave?  How many jobs out there provide stability, health insurance and a pension plan?  And finally, how many jobs out there will YOU be eligible for? 

I’m not saying that things are perfect over at Canada Post. I’m not saying that there are not problems in management, potential bullying or issues with harrassment.  I’m not saying that a “monkey could do your job”.  No, I’m not saying any of that.  I know there are CP workers who bust ass and appreciate their job and the value they bring to Canada Post.  But it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.   

If you want the Canadian public to sympathize with your needs, be REALISTIC.  Don’t fight to maintain 7 weeks vacation, carry over sick days and an average starting salary of $23 / hour.  From what I read on the CUWP and the Canada Post site, as well as online articles, videos, interviews and such, these are some of the main sticking points.  The rest is vague fluff that is not described in detail. 

Realize that Canada Post – like the rest of the Canadian economy – is facing tough economic times.  Realize that more and more Canadians are relying on the internet to pay bills, place orders, send personal mail, read magazines, donate to charities et cetera…  Canada Post revenue is dropping fast.  With the strike, it has plummeted. 

If Canada Post is to survive - like any other business - it must change, it must grow, it must adjust. 

How can CUPW representatives honestly believe that Canada Post can keep up that level of salary, benefits and vacation time with new hires?  Moreover, why should they?  Go out and start looking for a job – let me know when you find one that gives you the salary, benefits, vacation time and stability that you have in your current contracts. Truly, let me know!  I might just want to apply myself! 

In the meantime CUPW representatives, think twice when asking the Canadian public to empathize with your demands.  Small businesses – like mine – are already struggling.  Now, as a predominantly online business, my orders are at a standstill.  I have, and will continue, to lose money because of the strike.  In fact, without Canada Post, I have NO business. 

Before the strike, as a small online business, I struggled to compete with American businesses able to ship to Canada for a fraction of the cost that my CANADIAN business could ship within my own country.  Sure you say that the United States is bigger and has more business so they can afford to charge lesser rates.  But how does that apply once American products cross the border into Canada?  Is it not Canada Post that takes these orders, processes them and ships them throughout our fair nation?  Do they not travel the same distance once they reach the border as my items do?  So why is it that Americans pay less to ship within Canada than Canadians do?  There is no rhyme or reason to this logic.  In the meantime, small online Canadian artisans and businesses struggle to compete with a pricing system that holds no logic and that we can not win. 

Now – with the strike – consumer confidence is lowered.  Sellers are forced to seek private courier services to get their products from A to B.  That means even greater costs to our clients.  Do you think they will continue to buy Canadian when they can pay significantly less by buying through the United States?  Do you think the average Canadian consumer has that much spare income to spend that they don’t care about the final cost?  Do you think the average Canadian consumer can afford this?  Wake up CUPW representatives… WAKE UP!

With each day that you have been on strike, Canada Post has lost revenue AND consumer confidence.  How will Canada Post regain the trust and confidence of the Canadian public after this?  Do you think it will be easy?  Keep dreaming… 

The more this strike continues, the deeper the strain will be on Canada Post to maintain their business.  The harder it is to keep Canada Post relevant and needed by Canadians, the harder it will be for Canada Post to survive as it exists today.  Do I need to state the obvious here?  If Canada Post can not compete, then CUPW will lose more than a week’s vacation, carry-over sick days and a few dollars off the hourly wage for new hires.  Let’s make this simple – CUPW will not have a job to come back to.  It’s only a matter of time… 

Will you ask for sympathy then CUPW?  As small Canadian businesses are reeling from the impact of the strike on THEIR businesses, as pension and social security cheques are stuck in the warehouses undelivered, as the infirm no longer have access to perscriptions that arrive by mail, as charities are forced to give up mail-out appeals (their largest and most productive means of obtaining donations)… with all of these repercussions and more… will you ask the Canadian public to fight for you? 

I, for one, will not fight for you.  Look around… in the past few years SO many people have had to reduce their work week, accept lower salaries and do the job of two or three people in order to maintain their jobs in a struggling economy.  If you chose to fight, then fight for things that are justified.  Fight for things that make sense in the current economic climate.  Don’t fight for 7 weeks vacation when the average Canadian is hardly getting 2 weeks (and none if they are contract workers!)  Don’t fight for carry over sick days from one year to the next.  Don’t fight for new hires to get the same wage that you got in the past because that’s what that was – the past. 

Be happy that you have a job, be happy that you have benefits and a salary that many Canadians can only dream of.  Be happy that you might have gotten that job without having to pay for a college or university education.  Realize that you were – and still are – ahead of the game EVEN with the cutbacks suggested by Canada Post. 

This strike has hurt the Canadian public, it has hurt Canada Post and more than anything – it will hurt the people who work there - that's right CUPW representatives, I believe this strike will end up hurting the very people you claim to represent and protect.  In the grand scheme of things, the reputation of Canada Post workers have plummeted in the eyes of the Canadian people; trust in Canada Post has done the same.  The less Canadians trust and rely on Canada Post, the less chance Canada Postal Workers will have a job in the times to come. 

On the flipside, I suppose at that point, you will have all the vacation time you want… good luck paying for it though!

- Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs
Diva on a Dime?


Monday, June 13, 2011

NeRd-O-MeTeR!!!!! Beep, Beep, BEEEEEEEEPPPP!! Metal Detecting Update

Metal Detecting Update
June 13th 2011
Well, turns out Metal Detecting is much harder than it looks!  Tonight I had my first real 'find'.  I was hoping to find millions of pennies to use in my jewellery but... that might be years in the making!  Let me know what you think of tonight's bounty!
Heron Road, Williamstown Ontario:
- 8 pennies (1989, 1950, 1983, 1959, 1986, the rest I can't read right now - maybe with some cleaning and a magnifying lense!),
- 2 nickels (1984, 1999),
- 2 dimes (1997, 1996),
- 3 loonies (1994, 1987, 1995)
- 1 washer
- 1 button (I think?)
- 1 butterfly (the wings move - maybe a pin?)

Paragon Road, Summerstown:

- 1 "thing" (top left corner)

- Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs

Diva on a Dime?

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