Friday, October 31, 2008

Just In Time For Halloween, Scary Eyebrows

I'm so so sorry if this is one of you in the following pictures, but I just had to share what I found on a message board I belong to. Please, please ladies, become good friends with your tweezers and learn how to do it yourself. Or go see a professional. I tweeze my own, never had them waxed or threaded, but I'm just comfortable to do it the way I have for years.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've Been Googled

I have to say, I am very proud of myself this week! I've checked my sitemeter feed (at the verrrrrry bottom of my blog) and have found quite a few referrals to here from google. And it's all because people are wanting to figure out how to make Skeleton Cupcakes for Halloween tomorrow!

Yaay for me!

Once this time of year starts coming, I get into baking mode. I'll probably start doing a lot more baking posts once Thanksgiving is over. The kids and I do a ton of baking in December because we like to have lots of goodies for Christmas. One of our yearly traditions is making a Gingerbread house. Ok, I cheat and buy one pre-made, or pre-assembled, and all we do is decorate. But we have a lot of fun.

Some of my favorite recipes to make are No Bakes, Rollo Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, Shortbread, and Rocky Road or Cathedral Fudge, and last but not least, Gingerbread Men.

I can't wait to get baking!

Web Hosting

I've wondered sometimes if I shouldn't just leave Google's Blogger web hosting and just get my own, but to be honest, the thought of it scares me. I'm no good with change, and I wouldn't have the slightest idea on how to go about even finding a new web hosting site.

Thankfully, there is a Web Hosting Reviews website that will do all this for me. does the leg work for you, and reviews tons of different web hosting sites to get you the best bang for your buck. And then they'll give you the best 10 web hosting sites in each category. But best of all, they offer their reviews and services for free!

Most of the sites start at around $4.95 per month, ranging from $3.95 to $6.95 a month, so it is quite affordable. On their site, you can sort the Web Hosting sites into two different categories:

1. Cheap Web Hosting (for people like me who don't want to pay a fortune)
2. Best Web Hosting

AlreadyHosting has some great advice on their website, and "recommend finding a host that offers dependable server resources." They also say that "it is also important to consider pricing when choosing a web hosting service. Our list of top web hosting company reviews above will serve as a great starting point for your research." won the Best Reseller Web Hosting Award in 2008, which was awarded by

What A Relief!!!

Lately, our Ford Windstar has been making a clicking noise when I press the brakes. Not always, just occasionally. Yesterday it was pretty bad, so I took it into MIDAS after I was done at the gym. Well, they tightened something or other (I'm so NOT a car/van person, lol) and all was good, but wanted me to get the transmission checked out because they thought that that was what was causing the noise. (I had to read that sentence to myself a few times to get it right, too many that's and whats and was'). So after lunch I traipse over to AAMCO and they keep me waiting for TWO hours. I was there for an hour before they finally got the van in the bay, and I had to leave an hour after that. They couldn't find anything wrong either, but pushed me to get a computer diagnostics test done because they thought it might be Electrical. Oh, and I was low a quart of Transmission fluid because something was making it leak. Oh, and my brakes were bare and urgently needed to be replaced.

Something just didn't seem right to me, and I was also tired of their pushiness, so I called one more shop in our area that came recommended by Midas, and went there this morning. Here's what they found:


Nothing is wrong with my van that they can see. The brakes don't make noise, so it looks like Midas fixed it. And it definitely didn't need tranny fluid, because it was full!!! And there were no leaks anywhere on the van. They want me to keep an eye on it just in case the noise comes back, but it looks like we're safe for now.
And the brakes have plenty of life left on them, despite what AAMCO might say. Midas checked them for me and they'll last at least till the spring.

WTF! I am so appal ed with AAMCO, trying to take advantage of me. They wanted me to pay $138 for a Computer Diagnostics test and *hopefully* save my transmission. ugh. I only spent $26.00 and had my van checked out by a reputable shop.

I won't ever go back to AAMCO, EVER. What a disgusting company. And dirty too! Their floor was so dirty I had to wash my daughter's stuffed pig when we got home because it got black marks all over it. And that was in the waiting room, not the shop.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday

I have a membership at the YMCA, and have been doing the same old cardio routine for months. I haven't lost much weight, and it has gotten a bit boring to be honest. Elliptical, recumbent bike, treadmill, weights etc. Over and Over again. So my husband encouraged me to try something new to challenge myself (insert ominous music here)...


Are you cringing with me?

Well, I've actually gone a few times and I actually like it! Before I got sick a couple weeks ago, I had only gone a few times, but during those few times, the weight started melting off. Now I'm back in the game and working on it again. I went yesterday, and I am going again tomorrow. It really works for me and helps me loose weight much faster. And I feel so AWESOME after I am done! But man am I sore. Spinning bikes aren't made for girls like me, meaning, overweight girls with a ghetto booty. So my butt hurts from sitting on the seat, which is not wide, and not comfortable even with a gel padding added. Apparently that happens to everyone though, and it only takes a couple weeks to get over it.

*disclaimer* One thing to remember with spinning class, is that you shouldn't go more than a couple times a week-maybe 3. Right now I am doing two times, monday and wednesday, because it is such an intense and tiring workout.*

*Every time I write something for Works For Me Wednesday, I have trouble coming up with a topic. And then I always have a light bulb moment after I have submitted my post, and wonder why I don't write them down. I'm going to try do that this week!*

Check out more WFMW posts at Rocks In My Dryer

Black Friday Shopping

For those of you who don't know what Black Friday is, it is the day after Thanksgiving, here in the good old USA. Basically, it is to us Americans, what Boxing Day is to Canadians. But we have better deals! lol Usually on Thanksgiving day, after all the turkey and potatoes have been eaten, and everyone is bloated from too much food, the thanksgiving circulars come out of the newspaper, and everyone crowds around to plan their shopping for the next day.

I am a Black Friday junkie! I always buy a ton of gifts for the kids for Christmas, if I am not done with my shopping already by then. This year I'm a little behind, so I plan on doing the bulk of my shopping on Black Friday. I've always been able to find good deals. One year my husband went out really early, and came home with our current TV and sound system, and paid maybe $500 for all of it. Last year I found some great WalMart deals for kids' gifts. I was able to get Hot Wheels cars 10 pack for $5, Moon Sand kits (BIG ones) for $10, as well as Easy Bake Ovens for $10 or $20. I was quite pleased with myself, and got gifts that everyone loved. I'll also check out,
Target and Toys R Us for all their fantastic toy deals. And since I am also going to be looking for a nice digital camera for my husband, I'll be checking out all the stores that sell electronics too.

This year it looks like I won't have anyone around to watch the kids since my husband will be gone, so I have actually planned to do the bulk of my shopping online. I found a great site for 2008 black friday deals that is going to make my shopping even easier! iBlackFriday will email you every time a new store ad has been posted, so you can plan your shopping weeks ahead of time and be prepared. On their website, they also have a neat feature that lets you add all the items you want from the ads, onto a shopping list. Then once black friday morning comes around, you can just log onto their site and use your shopping list to get to all the merchant stores. Or you could also print it out and take it with you when you go shopping instead of doing it online.

What a great and easy way to organize all your Black Friday shopping!

Make It From Scratch

A Big thank you to Lighter Side, for including my post Skeleton Skull Cupcakes in this weeks edition of the Make It From Scratch Carnival.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Promises Treatment Center

Promises Treatment Center in Malibu, and West Los Angeles, has drug rehab centers for yourself or a loved one that is suffering with drug addiction.

At Promises, you will find a high staff-to-client ratio, which ensures the best care available. The staff at Promises does not take their job lightly; You will receive the best care possible to help you overcome your addictions. Clients are housed in a home like setting, which makes them feel more comfortable, which in turn helps them overcome their addictions.

Promises treats all sorts of addictions, from Cocaine, Codeine, Heroin, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Oxycodone, as well as alcohol addiction and depression. Their "mission is to provide a gateway to sobriety for you or a loved one and to aid in the achievement of lifetime dreams. It’s a mission we do not take lightly."

If you feel you or a family member might benefit from treatment at Promises, don't hesitate to call them at 1-866-871-3149. You can speak to a Specialist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Skeleton Skull Cupcakes

This is the post I was promising you all. I made these last year for the kiddos and they loved them, so this year I decided to include the kids. We had a fun Sunday afternoon making these.

First, make yourself a batch of white cupcakes. Make sure you don't over fill the cupcake papers/cups, only do about 1/2 - 2/3ds full. The ideal cupcake would be just slightly rounded on top.

Once the cupcakes are cool, assemble your tools. You will need:

1 bag of large marshmallows
1 box of Junior Mints candies
1 small bag of Slivered Almonds
1 large can of white frosting-not whipped. you need a stiff frosting. I used whipped, and though it turned out fine, a regular kind would have been much better.

First take the marshmallows and cut them in half width-wise, make sure you have enough halves-one for each cupcake. Then gently pull away a small portion of the baking cup, enough so so you can fit the marshmallow against the cupcake. Remember- JUST A LITTLE BIT. Then place the marshmallow, sticky side, against the cupcake. This forms your "chin". It's important to only pull a small bit of the paper away, because you need the form to hold the marshmallow in.

Now that you've mastered the art of chin-making, lol, ice the cupcake. Make sure you spread icing over the top of the marshmallow too. Then give your skeleton two junior mints eyes, and do two rows of slivered almond teeth.

Here is what your finished product should look like, Enjoy!!!

And here is what it should NOT look like! LOL I did say the kids had fun, right?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bored On A Saturday Night?

Then take the Moon Survival quiz!!!


Yes, I really did get only 24%. If you click on the pic, it will bring you to the quiz.

Look for a fun halloween post tomorrow mid afternoon to evening. I've got something fun planned with the kids, and I'll take pictures to show!!

Follow Me Around

So I have developed a "few" loyal readers, Thanks so much!!!!!, and figured it was about time to add the "follow this blog" gadget to my sidebar so you would all remember to come back if you don't already. If you like what you see, then just click on it and you can follow my blog. Blogger will update your blogger dashboard if I make any new posts. It's really neat! So go do it if you haven't already!!!

I'm off to bed now, I desperately need some sleep. But before I go, I need to clean up a lovely hairball that Zeusy left for me as a present on the carpet next to my desk.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Long Day

Today seemed to drag on forever! We were out the door at 8:45 to drop off my hubby's stuff that he needed, and for him to give me his laundry (joy of joys! lol), and then off to get the kids' pictures taken. That took forever, we weren't out of JCP till noon. Then came lunch, then a half hour drive to the Pediatrician for flu shots, then off to WalMart for a few things, then another half hour drive home. Now I'm doing the man's laundry.

I don't really mind doing his laundry, and I have to admit, I actually held one of the t-shirts up to my face and inhaled. I miss his smell, so it was nice to "smell" him again, it was very comforting. That sounds awful doesn't it? I have trouble conveying what I am trying to say sometimes. We'll see him again tonight or tomorrow morning for me to drop off his laundry, and then it looks like we're back to waiting for Christmas for him to come home...


Ok, so I dropped off his laundry tonight. The kids were excited to see Daddy again, even if only for a few minutes. Normally we don't like to do this, and he tries to stay out of state as much as possible and not come by the house. But he was like 15 minutes away, so we arranged for me to do his laundry and bring him some stuff he had ordered, plus his ballot.
We contemplated an over nighter and his coming home for dinner, but he had to get up too early, so it wouldn't have been worth it. I miss him, but at least I got some kisses in! I love kissing him, he's the best ever. Though, I haven't kissed another man in over 9 years, so my memory is a little hard pressed to remember, lol. No, he really is the best kisser.

sorry for the mushy crap, but I'm a little sentimental tonight.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Legend Of The Seeker

Last week one night, while I was watching TV after the kids went to bed, I came across a trailer for a new show called Legend Of The Seeker. I have to say, it looks awesome! It is a blend of Hercules, Xena and Lord Of The Rings all in one. If you are a fan of any of those, then you will like this show. Fantasy plus action plus a medieval type of history equals my favorite type of show. Well, I like others too, but in this genre especially.

The series is actually based on Terry Goodkind's book "Wizard's First Rule" and epic fantasy series "The Sword of Truth." The "Seeker" is Richard Cypher, a simple woodsman, who finds out he is the first Seeker in over 1,000 years. Richard, along with a "friend" Kahlan Amnell, has to stop a revenge seeking wizard from unleashing an ancient and terrifying power.

I am really looking forward to watching it. It premieres November 1st, so it is the perfect pick-me-up after Halloween is over, and you're staring at all that candy with a queasy stomach.

After I saw the trailer on TV, I googled it and found a trailer online at and on YouTube. Have a look:

Doesn't it look exciting? The show already has a huge following, as many people are anticipating its release. Here is the official press release:

—The highly-anticipated, epic fantasy series “Legend of the Seeker,” based on the bestselling works of author Terry Goodkind, will premiere as a two-hour special event the weekend of November 1st (check for times and channel). The weekly program from filmmakers Sam Raimi and his partner Rob Tapert, combines elements of fantasy, adventure, magic, mystery and romance with exotic New Zealand as its backdrop. In addition to Raimi and Tapert, the talented creators of the long-running, successful series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Legend of The Seeker” is from ABC Studios, the studio behind such network hits as “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Enjoy! And don't expect to see me posting on the evening of November 1st, because I'll be glued to my TV!

Buy Your Spouse A Gift

I know a lot of us moms (sorry, not sure if I have any male readers besides my hubby) don't earn money outside of the home, but it can be pretty easy to bring in a few bucks while you are at home. I blog for money, and I've made quite a bit of it so far. I spent a lot of it on myself, or the kids, or whatever we needed over the summer, but recently I decided to save up to buy my husband a gift for Christmas.

My husband works hard, and he deserves a nice gift. I'm buying him a camera for Christmas. Yes, he already knows this and he knows what kind he is getting ;o) This is the first time in our marriage that I am buying him a Christmas gift with money that I have earned, and it feels really nice! I can't wait to give him his gift at Christmas. I know he will love it, and I will love giving it to him.

I do my paid posts with PayPerPost aka PPP.

In the last few weeks I have made around $200 just by doing the blogging! You can click on the PPP box above to join if you are interested. My first blog post I made $20, and I've made as much as $45 before! It comes and goes though, and most posts average around $5-10. I get referrals too, so if you sign up, I make $15! (if you stick with it though ;o)).

Pass On A Little Wisdom

As a mom of four, three of which are in school, I am very busy and the kids and I don't get a lot of time to sit down and talk. It usually happens at the dinner table, but by then the kids have had their fill of school and don't really want to talk about their day. "How was your day?" and all they answer is "fine". It's so hard to get anything out of them, kids just don't want to share.

Here is where Wisdom comes in; Give your kids some life lessons with a little help from Life Learning They have developed a "button" that you can place anywhere, but they recommend the kitchen table at dinner time, that speaks words of wisdom. You will get one statement per day, 365 days a year. Sounds a little confusing? This is what it looks like:

It provides an avenue for discussion that is something other than "how was your day", "who did you play with" et cetera. That is pretty much what the kids and I talk about at the dinner table. But how cool would it be to have this? A couple examples of the quotes it provides are as follows:

Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off! But if you don't have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you. - Amelia Earhart

The work you do shows people the true you … so if you have to do something…whether it be cutting the grass, sweeping the streets or running a company do it to the best of your ability. For there will always be someone that will look at your work and say “Who did this?" You need to always feel that you can raise your hand with pride and say “I did!".

The website does caution that is not a toy, it was developed to improve communication between you and your children. They say "This is an educational device to aid in building and enhancing ethics, morals, motivations and dreams.". It is a little pricey, starting at $29.95, but well worth it, in my opinion. Help your children develop a strong self worth, teach them to love themselves and others. You can show them how to deal with rejection, adapt to change and be responsible for their actions, along with many, many other life lessons.

I think every parent could use a little help in this matter, I don't deny it myself.
Personally, I think this is a great tool, and would be an asset to any household with or without children. Adults could use a little help with this too, don't you think?

Carve A Pumpkin

I found this online last night, the kids and I had so much fun playing with it.

Carve Your Own Pumpkin


Braden Power

Braden Power has been in Real Estate for almost 20 years now. Back in the early 90s, he and his brother, Craig Power, created Power Properties. With their company, they have revolutionized run down areas of Dallas, Texas. What used to be an eyesore in east Dallas, has now turned into a thriving, hip, place to live. Braden Power, along with Power Properties, has developed a desirable place for young working adults to live, with affordable rent.

"Mediterranean-style apartments, done in earth tones and stucco, with exotic pool areas designed to bring people together."

If you live in the Dallas area, it might not hurt to check out some Power Properties if you are looking for a place to rent!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Christmas Is Coming!

We may have just entered fall, with it's crisp air and colorful trees, but Christmas is just around the corner. You know how I know? Because of these:

I was finishing up my shopping at Safeway today, as WalMart doesn't carry everything that I need, and as I turned into the produce section I gasped. Mandarins are my absolute favorite fruit. We go through boxes of these each year. I wish these kind were sold year round, because I would buy them all the time. I got our first box for $4.99!! The kids will be excited because they love them as much as I do. My poor husband didn't grow up eating a lot of fruit, so he doesn't like them at all. But that's ok, the kids and I will eat our fair shares worth.

I'm going to sneak one before the kids come home...

*disclaimer* I do not assume responsibility for that horrid photo. I googled it and it was the best I could find.

Works For Me Wednesday

Thanks so Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer for this weeks Works For Me Wednesday!

Quarters. Yep, that's what works for me. Just quarters.

Well, actually, I use quarters to bribe my kids! lol The three older kids are so motivated by quarters, that when I need them to do something, I use money. They love to use their quarters when we go to the mall to buy a gumball or two. Or they save it up for something to buy when we go to the corner store, or Safeway or something.

I look at it as an allowance of sorts. We don't give an allowance, but do this once in awhile. They don't get it all the time, usually when I lose something and need them to find it because I can't find it. Or if I ask them to do a special chore, or help me out a bit. They usually comply willingly.

And that's what Works For Me!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Make It From Scratch

A big thanks to Jen over at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven for including my post, Pirate Stew in this weeks edition of the Make It From Scratch Carnival

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Wrote A Lot Today

I wrote quite a few posts today, thanks to some PPP Opps. Make sure you scroll down to see what I wrote!

Rain Rain Go Away

Why Is Everything So Expensive

Check them out! And while you're at it, check out my husband's blog, Barry The Blade. I think he writes exceptionally well, though he is a tad on the "harsh" side and is not afraid to offend anyone. He tells it how he see it, that's for sure. But I love him all the same.

Cydcor Gives To The Community

Cydcor is a company that works for you! Major clients like Qwest and AT&T have outsourced to Cydcor for their face-to-face sales. But I am sure most of you did not know that Cydcor is also very involved in philanthropy; When one of their former receptionists decided to move to Ethiopia to teach English and Art, Cydcor donated $1000 to the school she was working at. Her former colleagues also collected around $600, and some school supplies as well, to give to the school. What a wonderful gift for an impoverished school, and how nice to see a big company giving back to the community!

Here is a copy of their press release about their donation to the school in Ethiopia:

"Cydcor Supports Former Team Member Through Donation

Leading global provider of outsourced, face-to-face sales teams
and its team members provide funds and school supplies

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (October 3, 2008) – Cydcor, the leading provider of outsourced, face-to-face sales teams, and its team members recently made a donation to the Andinet International School in Ethiopia, in addition to packing and sending supplies for the school’s children and teachers.

In support a former Cydcor receptionist who moved to Ethiopia in August to teach English and art to impoverished children at Andinet, Cydcor donated $1,000 to the school and Cydcor team members individually contributed nearly $600 in additional funds.

“We look for opportunities to support our team members’ prosperity internally as well as externally while they pursue other goals and passions,” said Gary Polson, chief executive officer of Cydcor. “At Cydcor, we try to create a philanthropic environment where our team members can support each other, and we all wanted to help her make a difference.”

Cydcor and its team members were also able to fill four boxes of binders, paper, padfolios, pens and pencils to be personally delivered to the school in Ethiopia. The money will be used to purchase student school and arts supplies, which are often limited or non-existent.

“The Andinet International School expresses heartfelt gratitude for the generous contribution and personal delivery from Cydcor,” said Nefertiti Makeda, director of Andinet International School. “Our school is growing and we are always in need of educational materials.”

About Andinet International School
Andinet International School is a world, co-educational institution open to students of all nationalities and religions. Classes are instructed in English, but Amharic, French and Arabic are offered as well. Working closely with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, the school insures that each student meets or surpasses Ethiopian and international education standards. Andinet recruits highly qualified teachers from Ethiopia and throughout the world to teach and inspire students to strive for academic excellence and integrity. For more information on Andinet International School, please visit

About CYDCOR, Inc.
CYDCOR, Inc., is the leading provider of outsourced, face-to-face sales teams to a diverse client base of companies in a range of industries, including telecommunications, office products, retail energy and financial services. CYDCOR works with a network of independently owned corporate licensee (ICL) sales offices providing clients with access to more than 2,700 sales professionals and 200+ offices in North America. The privately held company is based in Westlake Village, California."

Rain Rain, Go Away

Today it has been pouring buckets. It was so hard at one point, that the rain was coming down sideways and you could barely see outside.

After the rain though, I happened to snap this cool photo. This is taken from my deck.

Zenni Optical

I am in dire need of glasses. I have had my glasses for 3.5 years now! Though my prescription hasn't changed much at all, my lenses are way too scratched and it's starting to irritate me. But glasses are so expensive, aren't they? When my husband got his in August, we spent about $300 just on the glasses and lenses. I know that we're going to have to work mine into our budget soon, but if I could buy quality eyeglasses for myself, and somewhere cheap and affordable, then maybe it wouldn't have to be such a big expense for us.

Thankfully there is such a place! is selling glasses at such a low price, and their glasses start at only $8 per pair. Crazy right? They claim to be able to bring such low costs to the consumer because they have almost no advertising budget; The glasses come to you factory direct, as there is no middleman. They also cut costs by only selling their own frames, and no other products. So you aren't going to find any Hanna Montana glasses there, as you would at Wal Mart.

You can find all types of frames, they have a large selection with goggles, children's, and tons of men's and women's styles. They have snap on sunglasses as well. There is a wide variety of choices for your lenses, including bi-focal, single-vision and photochromic.

If you have any doubt still, read the following article from the Chicago Tribune; The author gives ZenniOptical a great review, and a customer of ZenniOptical is also quoted in the article, saying that his glasses are perfect and that he hasn't had any issues at all.

I think that I am going to show this to my husband so I can go ahead and order my glasses. WalMart has my prescription, so perhaps I will head over there tomorrow and pick it up. I can certainly afford frames from ZenniOptical!

"Price ranges for glasses prove real eye-opener

BY GREGORY KARP, a personal finance writer for The Morning Call, a Tribune Co. newspaper in Allentown, Pa
July 22, 2007

Prescription eyeglasses are part medical product and part fashion accessory for the two-thirds of American adults who wear them at least occasionally. But no matter why you're buying a pair of specs, you're probably overpaying.

Americans spend $28.7 billion annually on vision products and services, according to the Vision Council of America. Eyeglass frames and lenses make up the largest portion, about $16 billion.

Many of the 147 million adult eyeglass wearers probably don't know they could be getting a better price because few shop around. Prices vary widely. People can pay more than $1,000 for a pair of glasses, while at least one Internet provider promises a pair for $8. An identical pair of eyeglasses costs from $178 to $390, depending on the optician or optometrist, according to research in seven U.S. cities by Consumers' Checkbook, a consumer information guide.

"There is big price variation from outlet to outlet for exactly the same lenses and frames," said Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers' Checkbook, found online at Moreover, service at some low-cost suppliers was rated quite good, he said.

The single most important consumer tip for buying eyeglasses is to relax. Inexpensive glasses pose no health risk to your eyes. Even a bad pair of glasses -- lenses, specifically -- won't give you an eye infection or permanently damage your eyes, although they could cause headaches until they are fixed.

So you should consider comparison shopping, as opposed to simply buying whatever your eye doctor has to sell. In fact, a 1978 Federal Trade Commission ruling called the Ophthalmic Practices Rules says you have a right to take your prescription anywhere to buy glasses. So you're not locked in to buying from your doctor, where prices are likely to be highest.

Still, it's true that people receive the best service from their neighborhood optician or medical-center eye doctor, according to a survey of 92,000 readers of Consumer Reports magazine.

The decision about buying glasses generally comes down to where you buy them. You should decide based on four criteria: price, service, selection and speed of delivery. The simpler your prescription, with normal measurements and no bifocals and trifocals, the better luck you're likely to have buying from a cheaper source, said Gregory Good, professor of clinical optometry at Ohio State University. As with most products, you'll want to know about warranties and return policies.

Here are categories of eyewear outlets, with tips for buying glasses. Next week, we'll talk about saving money on contact lenses.

DOCTORS AND INDEPENDENTS. If you're willing to pay more for glasses in return for good service, buy from your eye doctor or an independent optical shop. They are also likely to carry brand-name frames, which is largely a personal fashion choice.

But the secret about name-brand frames is companies such as Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren don't make the frames, Consumer Reports said. They just license their names to a regular frame manufacturer.

"You can eliminate the ultrahigh-cost frame by looking for a stylish frame that doesn't have a brand name attached to it," said money-saving expert Clark Howard, an Atlanta author and radio-show host.

Buying eyewear could include a trust factor that might be higher with your doctor or a neighborhood optician.

CHAIN STORES. If you're willing to pay to have glasses quickly, try a chain store, such a LensCrafters, which promises glasses in about an hour. "The advantage is you walk in and an hour later you walk out with your glasses," Howard said. "A lot of people will pay for convenience."

Be sure to receive the discounts you're eligible for. For example, a discount with AAA membership might be more valuable than using your employer vision insurance. If you're in no hurry, wait for discount specials that run during the Christmas holiday season when few people are looking to buy new eyeglasses, Howard said in his book "Clark's Big Book of Bargains: Clark Howard Teaches You How to Get the Best Deals."

WAREHOUSE CLUBS. If price is important, try a warehouse club. Costco Wholesale Corp. scored very high with Consumer Reports readers and Consumers' Checkbook findings. BJ's Optical, found in Eastern states, also scored well. For some warehouse clubs, you don't need a membership to buy glasses.

ONLINE. If price is paramount, try an Internet merchant. Howard recently bought glasses from Zenni Optical, where you can buy glasses online for $8. Howard had a few add-ons that raised the total price to $41, which is still a bargain. He wears the glasses daily. "I don't know how these people do it, but it's a steal," Howard said. "The glasses are perfect. And the feedback I've gotten from [radio] listeners is they have good customer service."

One advantage of ultracheap glasses is that even if everything goes badly with your transaction, you're not out a lot of money. Of course, you won't have an optician to adjust the frames so they're comfortable and to ensure bifocals are aligned properly with your eyes. Reviews of some online retailers are available at and

You could also try a hybrid plan, where you buy frames online and take them to an optician to have lenses inserted. You'll have to judge whether the hassle is worth the savings.

No matter where you buy eyeglasses, view lens add-ons skeptically. You'll be offered a variety of lens materials and coatings.

For add-ons that you can test out, ask to see samples of glasses with and without the feature to determine whether it's worthwhile."

Why Is Everything So Expensive?

This is getting riduculous! School pictures came back this week and the package we need so we have enough pictures is $30 per child! So that right there costs me $90. Then let's not forget we also need to get pictures of the baby, so there is another $10 for a pkg at JC Penney (I don't like Wal Mart, Target is too expensive and I don't like sears either). $100 for freakin' pictures!

Then we have the kid's school pumpkin run, which we have to send in money for pledges. We're giving them each $10, so there goes another $30. And then our oldest wants to be in Choir, and we HAVE to order a shirt from them for $16.

The grand total is.... $146

Pisses me off!

So here is what I did: I said no to school pictures. Yes, I really did. There is NO reason why I should have to pay that much for photos. So I scheduled an appointment for all the kids to go to JC Penney on Friday morning (no school) and we're going to get a group shot. I don't want to pay sitting fees for everyone...and who freakin' charges $10 per person for a sitting fee? UGH! Anyway, I will purchase a portrait club card for $20 which gives me free sitting fees for 2 years and a bunch of other crap I will never use, and 2 free 8x10 photos, which I can use for the Grandparents. So that brings me to about $30 for photos including tax. Not too bad, but not as cheap as I was hoping.

I will still have to pay for the Choir shirt, and pledges and pictures, but it will be about half as much as I would have paid had I bought school pictures.

Now I'm off to go spend more money and go grocery fun!

Acobox Photos

Today I was lucky to get another PayPerPost Opp, but I have to admit, I was a bit confused by it because I didn't quite understand what I had to do at first. But, if you see my post below this one, I figured it out. And it is so easy to do so! I was able to get free hosted images for my blog!

The website is and they have free images for bloggers! You know how difficult it is sometimes to find the right images for your blog post, or the right picture to convey what you are trying to explain or show? Well, now you don't have to worry about that anymore!

Acobox has tons of free blog images from every topic from Flora and Fauna, to Space, People and Landscapes. Anything you can imagine, really. All you have to do is create an account, and make sure you list your blog with them; then go searching their site for images.

This is one image I found that I liked

Free blog image |

Once your blog is listed on their site, and you find an image on their site that you like, click on one of the buttons below the picture. Then start a new post on your blog, and just hit "Ctrl V" in the text box and it will immediately show up on your post. It is easy peasy! I plan to use their service for a long time, I am actually very happy with it already.

What's really great is that Acobox hosts the images for you, and everything is copyrighted already. You don't have to worry about re-sizing the photo either, because they have different size buttons under the photos. The photo I posted above is the largest size.

What a fantastic site! You can add personality to your blog with just a click and Ctrl V!

Here are another few to show the different sizes they offer:

The Louvre In France
Free blog image |

Earth From Space
Free blog image |


You should all know by now that I like to share interesting sites and pictures that I have found while browsing the internet.

Here's another cool photo I found!

Free blog image |

This is a photo of Antartica from the Blue Marble

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lap Band Surgery

If you live in the Houston, Texas area, and are serious about finally losing weight and changing your life for the better, lap-band houston is the place to go for your Lap Band surgery.

Richard E. Collier, MD has 30 years of surgical experience, and an excellent staff to assist him. You will receive personal attention at every visit, as well as before and after care, and also receive sessions with a licensed and registered dietitian to help you with any nutritional guidance you might need.

You can attend a free seminar in the area; there are usually a couple a week. This upcoming week there is one on the 21st in Conroe, TX, and one in The Woodlands on the 25Th. Check them out if you have any questions about the whole lap-band surgery process.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Christmas Gifts

Slowly but surely, I have been getting my shopping done. I have one or two gifts for each child so far, but all little things. Last night I made my first big purchase!!

I was on a message board I frequent, and someone mentioned that Kohls had this on sale:

This toy retails for around $100 US, and Kohls had it on sale for $43.99!! I wasn't able to get free shipping, but with tax and all, it came to $54.91 shipped! It does say it is no longer available online anymore, I know that those things go FAST, so hopefully I will still get my order. I know last year some people's orders were cancelled because the Smart Cycle was out of stock.

I bought it for our 2.5 year old. She's a bit little for it yet, but at least she can practice her pedaling and then I am sure by her birthday in march, when she turns 3, she will be more interested. I think that means I am just about done for her! I've bought her a few wooden puzzles, a Disney princess talking mirror, and a Pucci Pup (it is the one pictured, but it comes in a plush carrier bag that is pink with pink hearts on it). I still plan to get her some plastic food, some play dishes (she saw a cute stainless steel set at TRU that she likes) and a doctor kit, and then I'll be done. It get's a bit tiring buying these things for her, because we've done it so many times with the older girls, but we didn't keep any of those toys for her, so we have to re-purchase them all. She will get more gifts than the older kids this year because they are getting more expensive items. Our son is going to be getting a PS2 as his big gift, and I am thinking we're going to buy the girls a nice pair of earrings and a necklace or start a charm bracelet. They are so hard to buy for! They don't play with toys, they mostly like arts and crafts. Then each kid will get new Christmas PJs, some books, and we'll probably get a new Christmas DVD or something.

I love getting ready for Christmas!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arrrr Mateys, I Be Making Pirate Stew

Tonight I be makin' Gentleman o' fortune Stew fer dinner, cooked in th' crock pot. `Tis a cold tide, an' a perfect meal t' warm yer bones.

Pirate Stew

3/4 cup sliced onion
1lb ground beef
3 cups diced peeled potatoes
1/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 cup diced celery
1 cups canned kidney beans, drained
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water

1. Brown onions an' poop deck beef, drain
2. Layer ingredients in crock pot in th' order gi'en
3. Cover. cook on low fer 6 hours, or until potatoes an' rice be cooked


Add a laywer o' 2 cups sliced carrots between potatoes an' celery

*if you be needin' to translate this here pirate speak, head on over to Pirate Speak

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Superman's Fortress

Have you seen these pictures? They were found in a cave in Mexico and are just incredible. Awe inspiring! It is like there is a geode inside earth, which has obviously just been proved by the photos, but it is still so hard to believe. Just gorgeous!

I found this site via Stumble Upon. It has become my new addiction. It really helps me break up the boredom some nights, and I've found a few new favorite websites. It provides a wealth of information, jokes, pictures, history, news...anything your heart desires. I guess I have to tie it into Works For Me Wednesday? well, it works for me by breaking up my boredom! I can find anything on there. Just go to the website and sign up. If you have Mozilla Firefox like me, then you can even add a StumbleUpon toolbar. And Firefox...that's a whole other WFMW post!

Check out other WFMW posts at Rocks in My Dryer, hosted by Shannon!!!

Man's Best Friend

We have a dog, a wonderful pain in the butt, Black Lab. I was really angry with him today because he decided to get out of the yard and went into the neighbouring field and rolled in cow poop. I thought he was covered in mud, but then my hand was covered in this nasty substance and smelled awful! Needless to say, he got a very cold bath outside with the hose and coconut doggy shampoo. But at the same time, I could say that Happiness is Pets, because as I bet over to wash his chest, he looked up at me and nudged my face with his nose trying to lick my cheek.

Happiness is Pets is a pet store that will match your family with the perfect puppy for you. They are located in Naperville, IL, near Chicago. At the store, they provide specially designed playrooms for families to interact with, and get to know, the puppies. Once your puppy comes home, they will provide free obedience lessons! You can also purchase any sort of puppy supplies there, such as food, toys, leashes etc.

Rest assured, Happiness is Pets only acquires dogs from the highest quality breeders. No puppy mills here! The staff is very experienced and welcomes any and all questions you may have. Now go find your next family member!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pieces Of You

Today my husband went back on the road. He was home for a week and will be back around Christmas sometime. We're hoping for Christmas eve, which is what normally happens. We might see if he can't come home for a day or two in November, but no promises.

I miss him more than anything when he leaves, but I can't dwell on it too much otherwise I am miserable. I have to get back into a routine, back to normal. When he is home, we're on a vacation almost. We don't have to worry about him going to work, or schedules except for school for the kids. The kids have early release all week because of parent teacher conferences (we did ours yesterday), so since daddy is gone, I've been trying to think of fun stuff for us to do. Today I picked up a huge box of Play-doh and they're all at the kitchen table enjoying themselves. Yes, my almost 8 year olds still like play-doh. Tomorrow we're going for flu shots...eek! But Thursday or Friday, I think we're going to head back to the pumpkin farm so the kids can get a better look since we didn't get much of a chance on Sunday. And of course, we have Friday family movie night-and we'll be watching the new Indiana Jones movie.

Anyway, my post is titled "pieces of you". I used that title because I like to leave pieces of my husbands "life" around the house when he leaves. Almost to recognized that this is still his home, and though he may be gone, he still belongs here. I like seeing things of his laying around too though. Like right now, his slippers are still on the living room floor where he left them. He has an almost empty can of shaving cream in the bathroom that I like to leave there. Or an empty can of chewing tobacco that is on the dash of my van and rolls around as I drive. And sometimes, for a few nights or so, I sleep with his pillow too.

Does it seem silly and rather childish? Perhaps to some, but it helps remind me of him and I think it is nice for the kids to see bits and pieces of daddy around the house.

Make It From Scratch

Thanks to Stop The Ride for hosting this weeks edition of the Make it From Scratch Carnival, my submission was Smoky Shepherd's Pie. It's delicious!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Kabande Family Hospitality Business

Have you heard of Hector Kabande? He is the son of the late José Encarnación Kabande Dabdub, who founded the luxury Hotel Lucerna. Group Lucerna is a family business, and Mr Kabande serves as member on the board of directors. He loves to cook, and is working on a new cookbook, entitled "Kabande es Caliente". With his wife, and six children, Mr Kabande spends his time between Mexico and San Diego, CA.

If you're interested in trying out some of his favorite recipes before the book comes out, check out his wordpress site: Hector Kabande Recipes. Some of the recipes sound delicious!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Date Night

Last night the man and I were able to go out on a date...our first since we saw HP 5 last summer!!! We went to Outback for dinner and had some delicious food, where we proceeded to get a little tipsy and he a little drunk, lol! It was a great meal, and I enjoyed spending the time with him. We then headed over to the mall for our movie, but we were an hour early, so we went and played some air hockey. That was so fun!! And I beat him once. We want an Air hockey table now ;o)

The movie was a late showing at 10:10, and we saw Religulous. Go see it if you haven't done so already, it is fantastic! Very funny. I'm not very good at describing movies in great detail, so go read my husband's blog and he'll give you the low-down on it. Though as he says, it make you a little "hot under the collar" if you're very religious. I plan to buy it once it comes out on DVD. We like to see movies like this, it is very informative. Did you know that the story of Horus, the Egyptian god, is almost the exact same as the story of Jesus? Yet the story of Horus was written before Jesus was born. Check out this site for a good read on it.

Anyway, I had a great evening with my husband. It was nice to get a kid-free night and just enjoy our time as a couple, and even more special because we don't get that time together very often.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Smoky Shepherd's Pie

Tonight for dinner I made a delicious Shepherd's pie that we have been enjoying for almost 9 years now. When my husband and I were first married, we picked up this little cookbook at the checkout and discovered the deliciousness that is this recipe.
We have modified it through the years, so I will just post my recipe, and not the one from the book. I got rave reviews from the kids, my son said it was the best he'd ever had!

Smoky Shepherd's Pie

1.5-2lbs ground beef
1 chopped small onion, or 1/2 cup chopped
1-2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese blend, or plain old cheddar like we did tonight
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 can of corn, drained
1 10oz can of Old El Paso enchilada sauce-we use mild for the kids
2-3 cups of mashed potatoes-prepared

Pre-heat your oven to 400F
fry up the beef and onion.
While the beef is frying, prepare your mashed potatoes if you are making instant. Otherwise, cook the beef till it's brown. Once the potatoes are done, mix half a cup of cheese in with them so the cheese is nice and melted.

Now that your beef is done, add the enchilada sauce and spices, and bring to a boil. If you have too much sauce, simmer the mix till it boils down a bit.

Pour the beef mixture into an ungreased 13x9" casserole dish and top with the drained corn. Top the corn with the mashed potatoes and spread as evenly as possible over the corn and beef. Now sprinkle the left over cheese on top of the potatoes.

Bake at 400 for about 17 minutes. let stand 5 minutes before serving.

If you like spicy, you can add 1-2 cans of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained seeded and chopped, and also add a can of Chopped green chiles. Both go into the beef/enchilada sauce mix while you are cooking. I omit this step because I know the kids won't eat it. I do add extra cumin and oregano. You can also top the cheese with 1/8 tsp of paprika, which I do occasionally, and it adds a nice flavor.

This was one of the first things that my husband ever cooked for me, so it brings nice memories along when I cook it. I still remember him cooking it for me in the barracks' kitchen when we stayed in his room till we got our apartment.


Amadeus Home Music School

When I was growing up, I took Piano lessons at my teacher, Mrs Hoekstra's house. I've since quit, but I have really regretted it as I would love to know how to play Piano still. We've had the opportunity to get a free Piano in our home, but due to transportation issues, we were not able to move it.

If we had received that Piano, I would have loved for my kids to take lessons from the Amadeus Home Music School. Your child can take lessons in the comfort of your own home, without having to travel to a separate location for lessons. And you can also arrange lessons at a time which is convenient for you.

The teachers at Amadeus are all professionally trained musicians, and many are from top Canadian and US Universities including schools such as Julliard, McGill, and even the San Francisco Conservatory. There are hundreds of teachers on their rosters, so if you are interested in having lessons at home, call 1-877-537-7660 and have one of their staff answer your questions and help you set up an appointment. You are also provided a copy of your teacher's background check if you wish.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Blog To Read

My hubby just started writing on his own blog, so why don't you all check it out! It is still in it's infancy, but he is working hard. He is a very talented writer, so it should prove to be interesting to read. He does much better than I do.

Barry The Blade

Works For Me Wednesday

Late again as usual for me! lol! We've had such a busy week with my husband being home.

Today is our daughter's birthday and as my husband was making her cake, we realized we did not have any vegetable oil! EEEK!!! So I quickly googled up substitutions, and realized that we could use shortening or apple sauce. He wanted to try the shortening.

When you use vegetable shortening in place of vegetable oil, microwave or heat up the same amount of shortening as you would vegetable oil. Some people recommend using 1/4 cup more shortening than you need, but we didn't need to. The cakes turned out great!

You can also use apple sauce too, but we figured for the cake, it might taste better with a fattier substance in it, rather than runny applesauce.

And thanks again to Shannon, over at Rocks in my Dryer, for hosting Works For Me Wednesday every week. She does a great job of putting it all together!

Happy Birthday!!!

It is so hard to believe that six years ago today, I gave birth to a wonderful, stubborn, crazy, beautiful little girl. She came out looking like a little Indian Papoose with her spiky black hair! lol And how proud of her I am, she started kindergarten early and is now in first grade. Not many children can say they started kindergarten at age 4!!

I had a scheduled c-section with her, as my first two were also delivered by c-section. It was a bit of a rough one because my awful anesthesiologist decided to give me some awful drink to keep my nausea at bay, and it didn't work. I must have puked three times while on the operating table. When I got pregnant with her, it couldn't have come at a more inopportune time; My husband was un-employed and we were living in a two bedroom apartment. But somehow we made it all work. Officially I found out I was pregnant with her on Valentine's Day 2002. I had taken an OTC pee test the day before, but it was in the middle of the day, so a very faint line, and the health clinic took me first thing on valentine's day. She was definitely a surprise, not planned at all, but we still love her! lol We've since had one more "surprise", but no more for us as I had my tubes tied during my last c-section.

Well it's time to make some cake and open presents in a half hour when she comes home from school. On saturday she is having her party at the glow-in-the-dark mini golf in our local mall. We're all looking forward to it! She doesn't know, but we've made her birthday theme a surprise...Halloween! She loves this holiday, so all the plates, cups, cake, goody bags etc are halloween themed. I can't wait to see the look on her face, and I'll try post some pictures.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart, Mommy and Daddy love you so much!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Does Your Husband Need A Suit?

You could easily go to any department store like Macy's, or even Men's Warehouse to find an off the rack suit, but why not get a Made to Measure suit? You can get a custom fit, made to fit you perfectly. Off the rack suits pale in comparison to made to measure suits.

MySuit is based in New York city, NY, and makes made to measure suits. You have your choice of style, color, pockets, fabric, et cetera. You name it, they can make it! With their website, you can also go online and make an appointment to be measured and have your suit made, and if you have trouble making up your mind, they will help you design it. Most suits take only two weeks to complete and start at the low price of $495 US. What's great about a made for you suit is that it even fits your body type, including your posture, inseam, or waist measurement.

My husband could use a new suit soon, so I would love to take him up to New York for an appointment to get one. I would choose a double breasted suit jacket, with 4 buttons and with flat front pants. He likes rubber grips to keep his shirt aligned with his pants, and coin pockets for his change as well. Now since I am picking out a suit for him, I would most definitely "force" him to get a dark, pin striped suit jacket and pants. Darker fabric is flattering on almost everyone, and hides any flaws you might have, plus it has a slimming effect. Wool seems is a great fabric for suits, so I would use that type of fabric for his suit. But this is all an example, you can choose many different options for your own suit. You can even choose how many buttons you want on your sleeves!

"MySuit is a global company with over 40 years of manufacturing and retail experience. It is a division of one of the largest suit makers in the world. We sell made-to-measure suits at close to off-the-rack prices."

So if you or your man are looking for a special, one of a kind suit, please check out MySuitNY, and make yourself an appointment for the suit of your dreams.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'm Still Here

Still alive, but barely kicking! Finally recovering from my awful cold, but now I am catching up on the housework and laundry because I did nothing all week. And my hubby comes home on monday! ACK!!!!

My cousin's wedding was yesterday, and I can't help but feel sorry for myself when I see the pictures on facebook of all my family having fun. I know it's rather pathetic, but I'm bummed out. I do know there is nothing that could be done to change the circumstances, so I am trying to feel better about it.

In other news, I think I have found a way to motivate my kids to clean, at least temporarily. My oldest two daughters are complete girly-girls, and love to have their nails painted. So each chore they do, small ones, earns 1 nail painted! It's working for sure, I have one daughter tidying up behind the couch and the other sweeping the kitchen floor, lol. My son is motivated by video game time, and he hearns it by minutes. He's already earned a half hour today by taking out the garbage, and cleaning out the bathroom. Hopefully this will continue to be a driving force for them, though it sounds rather silly to "bribe" them with painted nails and video game time. But then we also don't give an allowance either!

Back to the grind, I need to change my sheets and fold some more laundry.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Promises Treatment Center

Any sort of addiction is a terrible burden for anyone and their family to bear, but help is available. Have you heard of the Promises Treatment Centers? They have two amazing centers, one in Malibu, and the other in West LA, CA. Promises' "mission is to provide a gateway to sobriety for you or a loved one and to aid in the achievement of lifetime dreams. It’s a mission we do not take lightly."

They have a high staff to client ratio, which ensures each client receives the attention and help that the need. They are a residential rehab center; clients are housed in a home like setting, which helps their recovery time by making them feel more comfortable and at home. Promises specializes in high quality drug and alcohol rehab, as well as treatment for depression and anxiety.

Though it may seem daunting to get help, Promises will do all they can do help you or your family member overcome an addiction.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My Man Is Coming Home!

Originally he was supposed to be home today, but since we decided we weren't going to my cousin's wedding, he should be home monday or tuesday. We have a busy hometime planned for next week. Our daughter's birthday is on the 8th, so we have that day and then her birthday party on the 11th. On the 10th we're going to volunteer at the kids' Pumpkin Fund Run at their school, and that's in the afternoon. On the evening of the 11th, he and I are going on a date while my mom watches the kids. On the 12th we're going to a local pumpkin patch with the kids. We're looking forward to that, they have a corn maze, haunted house, a cider mill, all kinds of fun stuff. The 13th we have parent teacher conferences. And during that time, we have to schedule a day for me to get my glasses (I decided against the contacts. Even though I love having a glasses free face, the dryness was just too much to bear. I was going through a bottle of drops every week, and that's expensive. The only drops I can use that don't sting my eyes are $7 a bottle!), and we also have to find time to go to our storage unit and bring stuff there that we don't need at home. Plus, we are going to take out our Xmas stuff, and bring that home. He won't be home again till Xmas, so he gets it out for me so I can decorate beforehand.

Did you get tired reading that? I think we'll be exhausted by the week's end. And I still have to clean this weekend. I haven't done much around the house because I've been sick, so I have a lot to catch up on!

Car Repair Made Easy

If you live in the Yorba Linda, CA area, and need your car or truck worked on, head over to yorba linda auto body shop. If you live elsewhere, you can visit Fix Auto to find an expert auto body shop in your area. You can see reviews from other customers, see maps and get directions to your local auto body shop, and even make an appointment or get an estimate online!

I recently had to take my van in for some repairs, and let me tell you, it was not pleasant having to be at the shop at 8AM on a Saturday morning! I would have much preferred to go online and do it. And now that I have the Fix Auto website, I can do just that! Talk about convenience! I highly recommend using their service, and I will do so next time I need it.