• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 148 other subscribers
  • “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers” — Isaac Asimov

  • Recent Posts

  • Pages

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 177,351 hits

Things That Have Kept Me From Blogging

It would seem as though, despite having much more time to blog, I have chosen, instead, to do other things.

A pictorial explanation follows…

Did someone say World Cup?

Shout-out to my main soccer squeeze for helping the U.S. advance to the round of 16!

My OWL (three-month project)…halfway finished…

A return to the gym…

Zombiesrun.com – GREAT way to keep my Zombies Run C25K app synched (that’s the playlist I used one day this week)

Best workout app ever (former iFitness)!!!! Sure beats carrying around a notebook, which I used to do to keep track of my reps!

Sixteen cans of tomatoes…for about thirty cents each after BOGO and a $1.00 off of four coupon (shout-out to Coupon Queen for sending me extra coupons!!)

Infinity Cowl

Two of my loves…

Southwestern Socks – A quick, five-day project!

Southwestern Socks

Online Shopping…courtesy of shophopes.com

Another shophopes.com dress! Please excuse the hair (freshly washed and, obviously, unfixed) and the background (must invest in a full-length, over-the-door mirror)

Teacher Training

Tweeting with one of my favorite authors…and feeling star-struck when she followed me…

Chatting it up with one of my favorite shows (please note that THEY tagged ME in this conversation!)

What’s kept you busy of late?

Shopping Lessons for Chicky

Chicky will be returning to college later this week.





However, with this being her second year, I think it won’t be as much of a shock to my system.

As any mother of a college student knows, the week before a child returns to school is busy!  There are clothes to buy, dorm room stuff to pack, and a myriad of other things to do.

Today, Chicky and I headed out to do a bit of shopping.

First, we visited CVS, where I taught her how to save money using her Extra Care Bucks Card…

Of course, we also had coupons in our hands.

First, though, I explained that every time she walks into a CVS store, she needs to scan her card at the kiosk, usually located near the front…

This is very important!  The scanner spits coupons out the side.

However, as I explained to Chicky, you can scan your card TWICE each day (during the same visit).  You get different coupons each time!  The coupons that spit out are different each week and sometimes you even get unexpected surprises, such as Extra Care Bucks…

Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) are MONEY in CVS language, so don’t ever throw them out!!

The coupons that printed out for us today included $3 off of a $10 cosmetics purchase.

Since Chicky has her own card (she’s such a big girl), she got her own set of coupons.  One of her coupons was $.50 off of Crest Whitestrips, which she had planned on purchasing!

She had things she wanted to buy, with her own money, (once again being such a big girl), so I let her shop.

Now, let me remind you to never, ever buy anything at CVS without using your card.  You get special prices this way.

For instance, Chicky bought her Whitestrips (using a $5 manufacturer coupon plus the $.50 store coupon that printed from the kiosk and which you can stack since one was a store coupon and one was a mfr coupon) and got a $10 ECB at the bottom of her receipt.  She turned around and used this to purchase other items that she didn’t have coupons for.

Oh, and that $3 cosmetics coupon?  She bought a $9.xx item, along with a travel size package of q-tips to bump her to $10, and saved $3!!

She was on a roll today!

I didn’t do too badly on my purchase either.

Next, we headed to the mall at the beach to our favorite store, Ann Taylor Loft.

I’ll admit that I’ve done so much shopping lately that nothing really jumped out at me, but because I had been given a heads-up about a 30% coupon for Facebook Fans, Chicky tried on quite a few things.  She wound up getting three tops, saving quite a pile of money because they were on the clearance rack, with an additional 30% off BEFORE she used the coupon!!

I have a funny story to share.

Chicky had run into the store before me because I had to go potty in the bookstore down the street.  By the time I got to the Loft, she was already trying on clothes, and she came out of the room with a pair of pants that I (looking guilty now) had purchased for myself last week…off of the clearance rack…for an additional 50% off of the clearance price.

She needed a smaller size, but there weren’t any available.

I had purchased the only smaller size last week.



She came home, though, and ordered it online, using the code provided on the coupon, and got the deal anyway.

Next, we ventured into Victoria’s Secret.  Chicky had a coupon for free undies/$10 off of a bra.

My girl wound up saving $18 and walked away with two very nice items, only spending $20 in the end!

I am so proud of her!  She’s catching on, though she admits that it’s a bit of work.

On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a treat.

I saved money there too, using a discount card and, thus, saving 10% off of our treats.

I remembered that I needed to run by Publix before certain sales were over.  I purchased 64oz Gatorade (B1G1), Excedrin (2/$2.50 – $1 manufacture coupons on each), and Mueller’s Pasta (B1G1 – $1 coupons on each).  I walked out of there spending $7…saving at least 66%.

When we got home, we took a look at our purchases…

We had done quite well.

I am hoping that Chicky takes these lessons to heart and looks for good deals while she’s at school.

Though she won’t have much time to shop, she’ll certainly stretch her money when she does.

Plus, it’s never too early to learn!

More Great Deals

I was a busy girl today and found myself at the mall on the beach.

Of course, I had to visit my new favorite store… Ann Taylor Loft…where I found this pair of capri-style, grey pinstriped dress pants…

These pants were originally $54.50.  They had been marked down to $14.88; however, the store currently has selected items marked down for an additional 50%, so I wound up walking out of there after spending only $8!!!  These are very well-made pants and fit me like a glove.  They are going to look great with a white shirt and either heels or flats, depending on my mood.  The bonus is that they are uber-professional!

While I was paying for the pants, one of the store’s clerks told me about the teacher discount that is available.

Say what?

Visit the Loft’s web site and look for “Teacher” at the bottom of the home page…

Register yourself and then print the 15% page.  It’s something you’ll want to keep in your wallet so you’ll have it every time you stop in.  However, you can only use the discount on regularly-priced items.  That’s the only down side because the clothes are not cheap.  Still, if you get in a pinch and need a go-to outfit and can’t wait for a sale, it’s nice to be able to save some money.

Next, I headed to Borders which, as you know, is liquidating its assets.  Supposedly, there are great sales.

I beg to differ.

Most of the books are only marked down 10%.

Folks, I can do the same using my discount card at Books a Million.

However, I did notice that the magazines are marked down 40%.

It probably won’t surprise you to see what I got…

There are selected items that are marked down 20%; however, I wasn’t interested.  I’m going to bide my time and wait for the store to get desperate enough to mark things down even more.

I can’t tell you how important it is to get out there and shop regularly.  That’s when you discover treasures for cheap!

Lofty Sales

Chicky went shopping yesterday and came home, excitedly telling me about cardigans she’d found on sale for $4.88 at Ann Taylor Loft.

She didn’t pick up any before she left, but she really wanted them, figuring they would be great to do her student teaching in when she returns to school.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a sweater or two for myself as well, so I headed to the store today.  Since she had to work, she left me her debit card with strict instructions, written down to ensure understanding, on the colors, sizes, and styles she preferred.

When I walked in, I spied a woman looking through the small rack.  I made a beeline for it, snatching up three colors…right out from under that woman’s nose.


I don’t think she appreciated my tactics.

What can I say…I’m ruthless when I want something.

Anyhoo…the sweaters were very picked over, let me tell you, so I got what I could…

When I got to the register, the sweaters did not ring up for $4.88, as marked on the tags…

Nope…I didn’t get the price advertised.

Each sweater rang up for $3.45…30% off of the clearance price!!

I could not believe it!  What a deal!

I started to leave the store, but I took one more look at that clearance rack, which was very slim in offerings by this time.

That’s when I spied a couple of pairs of black slacks…marked at $4.88..

One of them was in my size, but I was leery of the length.

I tried the pair on.

To my astonishment, the pants fit…perfectly…which very rarely happens to me.

Naturally, I decided to buy them.  I would have been stupid not to.

Again, I did not get the price advertised because these were ALSO 30% off, making them $3.45!!!!!

Look at what they were originally priced at!  Oh my gosh!  It’s almost like I won the lottery of clothing sales!

I’ve got to hand it to my Chicky.  She’s one smart cookie.  She’s shopped on clearance racks for the last few years…just like her mama.

I am so proud.

I learned something today.

As much as I loathe to shop for clothes, I think it would behoove me to get out there a little more often.  Finding sales is as much about being in the right place at the right time as it is being on the lookout for coupons.  It’s also about finding classic pieces that will withstand the ebb and flow of clothing trends.

I think that Ann Taylor Loft is one of my new favorite stores.  I can’t wait to go back!

Back in the Saddle

With my EPI courses nearly finished, I have found myself somewhat ready to resume my grocery shopping duties.

You might remember that I have, in the past, saved a dollar or two through my creative use of coupons.

During the last six months, the Mr. has tried to pick up the slack.  His mom, Coupon Queen, has sent him care packages full of coupons.  The Mr. even cleaned out my coupon binder.  Nearly all of my coupons had expired during my hiatus.

Everyone was eager for me to start trolling the couponing blogs again.

So, today, I did.

I checked out the sales for my local stores:  Walgreens, CVS, Publix, and Target.  I pulled a few coupons out of my pathetic stash and made my lists.

Chicky went with me.

My trip to CVS was somewhat fruitful, although not quite as much as in days past.  I have to return in a few days to see if the razors I can get for $.50 (after coupons and ECBs) have been restocked.

Then, we headed to Publix.

We shopped and shopped, and we completely filled up our grocery cart…

Now, a few things have changed since I last seriously couponed way back in July (before I started teaching).  My local Publix no longer accepts competitor coupons from Target, CVS, and Walgreens.  Thus, a lot of opportunities for saving money have been done away with.

Regardless, I still managed to stock up on a few things…

I bought twelve boxes of cereal for about $.80 each…down from over $4.

Another great deal involved cake mixes…

I had a B2G1 coupon, and these babies were already on sale for B1G1.

Now, here’s where my natural couponing abilities came into play.  The average shopper would have probably picked up three boxes per deal, right?

Well, the wheels in my brain started turning.  Basically, for every box of mix you buy, you get one free.  So, that third box…the one you’re getting free with a coupon…well, it rings up at regular price on the register.  Naturally, you should pick up a second box to accompany the first one since they are B1G1.  So, if you’re following me, you’re getting two extra boxes for each deal, and both are free.  So, in essence you’ve only paid for two of the eight boxes.

Whew.  That’s a lot of brain work, and let me tell you…my brain was tired after that deal.

My last “big” deal was on tomatoes…

These cans were B1G1, and I had $1/2 coupons.  I made out like a bandit!  I’ll use all of them…fairly quickly…because of the vegan diet that I’m on.  A lot of my recipes call for tomatoes, so this was a great sale for me to partake of.

The rest of my groceries really aren’t picture-worthy.  By the end, I only saved 49%; however, I’m not mad about it.  I saved $96 — no small feat.  I consider this a very good start for someone who’s been out of the game for almost a year.

I think that my year off was good for several reasons:

  • I learned that I don’t have to drive myself crazy to get the absolute lowest deal.  Life really does go on.
  • The Mr. learned that couponing is very hard work.  He always went to the store with good intentions, and almost without fail, he came home having made at least one mistake.  He did learn how to combine deals and got a good pair of binoculars at Sports Authority for only a few dollars.
  • Couponing makes a HUGE difference in our lives.  Not only does my pantry stay stocked, but there’s more money in the checking account to pay for such bills as college expenses and band dues.  Thus, I have to make more time in the future to keep up with the sales.

It feels good being back in the saddle again.  I have always taken pride in my house management skills.  I’ve always worked hard at my various household tasks.  Today, I felt like I was slipping back into my old skin.

Yee Haw!

Homemade Laundry Detergent Review

You might remember that a few days ago, I made my own, homemade laundry detergent using the Duggar’s recipe found here.  I also made my own, homemade fabric softener with the recipe I found here.

I promised to report back after I had tried them out, so that’s what this post is about!

Let me first tell you that I am dumb sometimes.  If you’re a family member, there’s no need to comment with “Amen” to this statement.

The whole time I was reading the instructions for the detergent, I kept thinking, “Why are they saying that this makes ten gallons when you’re only supposed to put everything in a five-gallon container?”


I figured it out…after the fact.

First, let me back up a bit.

When last I left you, I had mixed the detergent and left it to cool off overnight.

What happens when you do this is that the mixture turns into a gel.

When I washed my clothes, I used 1/2 cup of the gel…BEFORE reading that you’re supposed to put the gel mixture in some sort of container…halfway…and then fill up the rest of the container with water.

Hence, you double the amount of the detergent, making ten gallons out of five.

Ding, ding, ding!

Hence my stupidity.

Regardless, the full-strength detergent did not harm my laundry at all.  The Hawaiian-smelling essential oil made my laundry room smell like a tropical island.


I had also used some of the oil in my fabric softener, so it was smelling really good when the laundry finished washing.

After my clothes dried, I pulled them off the lines and folded them.  I did notice that the washcloths and tshirts weren’t as crispy, as promised by someone who had reviewed the fabric softener.  They also did not smell like vinegar…a primary ingredient of the softener.

I am going to keep using these recipes…that’s how happy I am with them.

This morning after church, I took an old, empty container of store-bought detergent, washed it out, and filled it halfway with the gel I’d made.  I topped off the bottle with water and wrote the following instructions on it:

I am pleased beyond compare.  This is a very frugal, eco-friendly way to do laundry.

It’s Time for a Little Experiment

This morning as I put a load of sheets in the washing machine, I discovered that I was just about out of laundry detergent.

Because of the extreme couponing I’d done over the last two years, this was the first time I had been out of the stuff in a very long time.

Of course, I have had absolutely no time to print, collect, or file coupons, so I am very out of the loop and, hence, out of detergent.

For a while now, I’ve pondered the idea of making my own detergent.  I’ve read about it on blogs, but I could never quite bring myself to do it.  Plus, I had twenty bottles of detergent waiting to be used, so I felt justified in putting off the decision.

Coincidentally, when I called today Christina for our daily chat, she mentioned (quite on her own) that someone had told her about the Duggar recipe for homemade detergent.  I quickly googled and found the link.

Well, then I decided to search for a recipe for fabric softener and found this one (check out the reviews that follow the recipe).

Being the woman of action that I am, I decided to put things off no longer and went straight to Walmart after work…

The first thing I did was grate the soap…

Then, I mixed it with the water and stirred it until it melted…

Next, I poured hot tap water into my “bucket” and added the washing soda and borax…

By the way, both of these items were on the bottom shelf on Walmart’s laundry aisle.  They were a little difficult to find, so if you go out shopping, don’t give up!  The soap that I grated above was on the shelf above these boxes.

I stirred until everything was mixed completely and finished things off by adding more hot tap water.

I put the lid on the container and set it aside to thicken.  Tomorrow, I will add the essential oil I purchased, “Hawaiian something,” and give the stuff a test drive.

After finishing up with the detergent, it was time to work on the fabric softener.

I could not believe how few ingredients it required…

First, I added the baking soda to the distilled white vinegar.  In case you didn’t know, when you mix these together, you get bubbles…lots of them…so you have to pour slowly!!

Then, I added quite a few drops of the essential oil.

That was it!

For the first time in a while, I am looking forward to doing laundry.  I cannot wait to test out these new mixtures.  I’m hoping that I like them as much as the reviewers who wrote so glowingly about them.

These recipes are touted as much for their earth “friendliness” as for their economy.  I spent less than $20 on everything (not counting the plastic containers).  I have enough ingredients to make these recipes several times, and when you consider that you only use 5/8 of a cup of the detergent (the entire recipe made five gallons) and one cup of the fabric softener (the recipe made over a gallon), then this is a very good way to save some moolah.

I will report back on the results of this experiment.

Finding Balance

In the last three weeks, I have discovered something.

Finding balance can be very difficult.

From the moment I heard the words, “Consider yourself hired,” I hopped aboard a roller coaster ride with lots of hairpin turns and very few straight-aways.

Having a class of your own is way different from walking into someone else’s room and sitting for a day or two.

As such, other parts of my life are suffering – namely, couponing, cooking, and performing small parenting tasks.

Oh, I’ve been collecting coupons, buying papers every week and printing the online coupons that look most attractive.  However, I really fell behind in getting them filed.

So, on Saturday, after Rooster and I ran errands, I sat down and made myself focus on getting this job done.

First of all, I had a huge mess to clean up after I removed the coupons from the top of a bookshelf I had been using for the last few months.  I needed to take the bookcase to my classroom.

Here’s the mess I created on Friday morning…

I really know how to start my day, eh?  Nothing like a mini-stroke to get yourself pumped up for a Friday.  It kind of made me dread coming home.

To clean a mess like that, I knew I would need to be in the right frame of mind, so I waited, giving myself Friday off.

By Saturday, I was ready.  Of course, it could have been the adrenaline rush I was experiencing from finding GREAT deals at the mall, which resulted in the purchase of two new pairs of pants and a new shirt (I only spent $51, saving over $100!!).

But I digress.

The mess.  The coupons.

I took everything to my big table and got busy…

As I filed, I also trashed the expired coupons.  I filled my small wastebasket (no picture though).

Finally, a couple of hours later, I was done.

My coupons were organized in a manner that befitted my anal tendencies…

So, Saturday was fairly productive.  Rooster has a good lead on a weekend job.  He also has a drum torque (whatever that is), a new Xbox headset, and a pair of eyeglasses on order (to be blogged about soon).  He was also fed.

In the process, he and I spent three hours of quality time together (bestill my beating heart).

And, I got my coupons organized.


Not quite, as dinner was a “find what you can” sort of meal.

But, I’m getting there – inch by inch.

A Bracelet, A TV, and Freebies

It’s Saturday, and I feel like being random, so that’s what this post is going to be about today.

First off, let’s talk about the bracelet…

Rooster came home yesterday from a two-week mission trip to a Navajo reservation in New Mexico.  He went with my church’s youth group.

He bought souvenirs for the family, and the bracelet was my gift.  It is hand-made.

The crew took the scenic route, giving them time to visit Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.

Rooster sent me these pictures from the Grand Canyon…

He took two cameras’ worth of film, which I will be getting developed on a CD (once I can find a good coupon code, of course), so I’ll share more pictures later.

While he was gone, Chicky was enjoying being an only child.

Actually, I hardly ever saw her because she is working six days a week…juggling two jobs.

Her goal?

Make enough money for this…

Sorry for the clutter of the animal print towel (her’s, by the way), but this is my nice dining room table, and I am trying my best to keep it from getting scratched.

A funny store about the TV purchase.

She had planned on buying it at Sam’s, and I had to go because I am the one with the Sam’s card.

Of course, the Mr. went.  He’s actually been doing most of the shopping with Chicky as she buys things for college.  I cannot stand to shop (yeah, I know it’s hard to believe given my love for couponing).  So, he was there too.

The Mr. had planned to pay for the TV so he could get rewards points.  Chicky was going to transfer the money from her bank account to his so he could send in the payment right away.

But, Sam’s doesn’t take Visa credit cards…only Visa Debits, MasterCard and AmEx.  So, Chicky and the Mr. were trying to figure out what to do.

She, being the very responsible girl that I’ve raised her to be (sorry…I need to pat myself on the back every now and then), offered to pay for it with her debit card.

Well, the cashier looked at her incredulously and told her there was no way she had a card since she was 12 years old.

Poor Chicky.  She gets this a lot because she is so petite and does look young.

She informed the girl that yes she does have her own account, thank you very much, and that she is, in fact, 18 years old.

Meanwhile, the Mr. wanted his reward points.

Then the cashier said something about her parents paying for the TV.

Chicky stood up straight and informed the gal that she had worked very hard this summer and had been saving for this item.

I think Chicky taught that girl a lesson about not making assumptions.

As for me, I was very proud of her.

She’s not only been working like a fiend, but three mornings a week, while Your’s Truly is comfortably tucked in bed, she’s been rising at the crack of dawn to work out with an athletic trainer who is helping her prepare for her college soccer season.

Ok…enough about how wonderful my Chicky is.

But before I change topics again, take a look at one corner of Chicky’s room…

Mary, go ahead and laugh at the coffee creamer.  heehee

All summer long, we’ve been adding things to that corner.  She’s got enough laundry detergent to get her through most of the first year.  She’s got shampoo and conditioner galore, along with medicine, bandaids, and other stuff from all of my couponing.

Ok, so on to the freebies portion of this post.

One of things I love most about couponing is the free stuff I get.  I spend a lot of time reading couponing blogs and signing up for freebies.  It’s become an adventure when checking the mail.  Here are some of the things I received this week…

The Kellogg’s coupon came within a few days of a phone call I made when I discovered one of my boxes of cereal was involved with the recall recently announced on the news.  The coupon has a long expiration date, so I’m going to save it for a B1G1 sale and score two free items!!

So, that’s the randomness for the day.  It feels good to be a little less organized than usual!

Shopping Shenanigans

I know it’s been awhile since I talked about shopping.  Honestly, I really have not gone on many trips lately.

In my effort to save money, In my laziness, I’ve tried to stay out of the stores.   Thankfully, we’ve had my stockpile to eat from.

Well, one look at my fridge this weekend, and I realized it was time to get my coupon folders out…

The freezer did not look a whole lot better…

Even though the current Publix sales flyer is not that great, I still picked up a few things…

I spent $18.58 for the above items, saving $47.87, for a grand savings of 72%.

I thought it would be an eye-opener to list each of my favorite deals, the final prices I paid, along with the regular prices in parentheses beside them.  This will give you a good idea of how much money you can save by combining sales with coupons…

Mustard – $.45 each (regular $1.89)
– $.15 each (regular $1.29)
Boxed Potatoes
– $.40 each (regular $1.79)
Salad Dressing
– $.64 each (regular $3.27)
– $.50 each (regular $2.50)
Snuggle Fabric Softener – $2 each (regular $6.99)
Breyers Ice Cream
– $1.15 each (regular $4.29)

Even though I didn’t have coupons on the red potatoes, salad, and cheese, those items were on sale as well.

I divided my groceries into two batches because I had two Family Dollar coupons ($5 off of $25 and $5 off of $20).  My Publix will only allow customers to use one of these per transaction (no more stacking like the good old days).

So yes, I was the weird shopper who calculated everything as I shopped and used the toilet paper in my next transaction as the divider in my cart.

I’m so weird.

Here was round #2:

I spent $15.10, saved $35.82, for a grand savings of 70%.

Here are the deals, sales prices, and regular prices…just to compare…

Reynolds Wrap – $.90 each (regular $4.29)
Carvel Ice Cream Cake
– $1.99 each (regular $9.99)

I did not have a coupon for the olive oil, but it was B1G1, and we go through worlds of this in my house, so I consider it a good deal.  The toilet paper is my weekly purchase.  Even though it rings up at $6.15, I had a $.25 coupon.  Every little bit helps!

Today, I headed back out for more shopping after reading up on additional deals that were too good to pass up.

My free items of the week were these…

Publix has them B1G1, and there was a $1 coupon in the 6/27 SmartSource.  Publix has a store coupon in its current yellow Advantage Buy paper for $1. 

After matching one set per bottle, I actually MADE $2.01!!!!

So, I couldn’t let the overage go to waste.  I picked up the cheapest ($2.45) bowl of watermelon I could find…

Grand total?


Yep.  Floridians do not pay taxes on essential grocery items, and all of these are considered non-junky.

I saved $5.99 on that one transaction, making for a 93% savings on those three items.

Next, I headed over to CVS.

The first thing I did was scan my ECB card at the price checker scanner located by the cashier.

The machine was overly generous today, spitting out a long length of paper with several coupons printed on it.  At the very bottom was an ECB for $1.50!!

Remember that Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) are as good as money.  You take the amount of your ECB off the total of your bill.  Simple as that!

So, I was starting ahead of the game.

My first transaction was the following…

The deal was that you got a $1 ECB after buying the deodorant, which is on sale for $7.99 (after being marked down $2).  Inside the box was a package of coupons, among which I found a $1/1 deodorant coupon.


I paid $7.47 and got my ECB.

My second transaction included the following items…

I used another $1 coupon on the deodorant.  I had $.25 coupons on the detergent, which is on sale for $.99 ($1 cheaper than the regular price).

The Pantene was on a clearance shelf for half off ($2.50).  I had a $2 coupon, so I got it for $.50.

For this transaction, I used the $1.50 ECB I’d gotten when I walked in along with the $1 ECB that printed after my first purchase.  After paying, I got another $1 ECB from buying the deodorant.  I will probably use this during my next Publix trip.

Total paid was $7.12.  I saved a little over $12.  It wasn’t the greatest percentage of savings (almost 50%), but every little bit helps, and seeing as I am trying to get Chicky stocked up for college, I did what I could.

So, have you been shopping lately? Taken advantage of any good deals?

%d bloggers like this: