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Moses. World’s most STUBBORN Basset Hound.

Moses.

That was his name.

He was sweet.  He was spunky.  He was often funny… but MORE often, he was stubborn as a mule.

Moses, quite frankly, was a pain in the BEHIND.

But he was just about the cutest puppy you ever did lay eyes upon.  I’ll admit it… he had us from “Hello”.

 

My brother had come home with him as a gift to my parents, one day.  You see, our two childhood dogs has since passed away, and my family, being the animal lovers that we are, couldn’t be without a furry, loyal companion to love, for too long.

(Ok… I’m actually more of a CLOSET animal lover.  I try to keep it on the down low, so my kids don’t catch wind of it and start ramping up their begging sessions for an indoor pet.  My plate, right now, is heaping.  And an *cough* another *cough* animal to take care of may just be the straw that breaks the camel’s ENTIRE BODY, sending it to it’s very early grave… NEVER TO RETURN.  Catching my drift, here?  K… shhhhh.)

I was in college at the time, yet still living at home with my sister and my parents.  My brother, on the other hand was set to attend a college halfway across the country… so when he left for school (the first time any of us had moved out, you see) Moses maybe-kinda-sorta stood as a stand in for my big bro, in my parents eyes.

And while my brother had most certainly not been coddled by my parents while growing up, THIS dog was as spoiled as the day is long.  No wait… LONGER.

It seemed EVERY time I needed to rush out of the door for one of my classes or to make it to work on time, Moses had to “go out”.  You know… PEE.  So, (because I was, clearly, a GIGANTIC sucker) I let him out.

And I waited.

EONS later, once that darned dog had done his “duty”, I called him to come back in so that I could get my butt out the door and maintain some level of dignity with my superiors at work/school.

And what did that dog do??  I tell you no lie, he looked me straight in the eye, cocked his head ever so slightly, and sat his big ol’ butt RIGHT DOWN where he was, and waited.

Waited for what, you ask??  That silly, incredulous dog was waiting for a treat.

Like, SERIOUSLY.

No, he didn’t get a treat every time someone ELSE let him in from outside, but somehow that dog KNEW when I was in a hurry, and KNEW that I would eventually cave in… that I’d go against ALL the I believe in concerning the world of training and rearing up, well, ANYTHING, and give him a treat just to get his lazy BAHIND back into the house!  EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.  Without fail.

I was used and abused.

And then there were the “ice cream episodes”.

A beloved, traditional late night snack of ours in the Doeing (my maiden name) household, used to be a nice big bowl of ice cream… for as far back as I can remember.

Well, somewhere along the line, Moses decided it was to be HIS late night snack as well.  So whenever someone had a bowl of ice cream they were working on, Moses would trot on over… sit his pampered rear down at your feet, and proceed to stare at you, with rivers of saliva streaming down the sides of his mouth onto the floor, for as long as it took you to “enjoy” your bowl of deliciousness.  And if you didn’t save him some, you were riddled with guilt and remorse as my parents then stared YOU down and asked, “How COULD you?”

My mom was a complete clean freak and STILL encouraged this kind of behavior!

After you gave him his proclaimed “share” of the booty, you then had to go get some paper towels and cleaner to wipe up his saliva.

Like something out of a sitcom, I tell you!

And ANOTHER thing, if this dog didn’t want to move… he DIDN’T.  Yeah, good luck with THAT one.

 

Oh, Moses used to drive me insane!

Yet, years later, after I had long since married Thomas and moved out of the house…  when it was clear that Moses was not much longer for this life, somehow, all I could see was that insanely cute little puppy, with those ridiculously long ears that he used to constantly trip over, cocking his adorable little head to the side as if to say “could you come cuddle with me?”

And after he passed?  I quietly, secretly wished I could save him just one more bowl of ice cream.

My Mama wanted me to make “Moses” for her birthday this year.  I happily agreed. Xx

For my fellow cakers, some work in progress pictures…

The body was strawberry sour cream cake iced in vanilla buttercream, and then covered in white modeling chocolate.

His head is solid modeling chocolate.

See my Modeling Chocolate video tutorial, here, for the recipe and directions to make your own modeling chocolate!

I used an armature structure to support his head.  (I’ll have a video tutorial available soon, that will explain how I made it.)

All of his legs/paws and his tail are made from modeling chocolate.

I added a “fur-like” detail using a pointy stick tool. (Umm… not sure of the official name for that one, but a toothpick would do the job just as well.)

I made a white bow out of modeling chocolate, as well, but removed it before I airbrushed Moses’s color on… and then popped it onto his back, afterwards.

 His entire coloring was done with an airbrush.

Save your pennies for an airbrush if you don’t yet have one!  You NEEEEEEEEEEEEED one.

You will fall in love and NE-VAH look back.

Pinky swear.

Here’s a link to my tools page, that lists what airbrush package I own and love, and also lists several of my other favorite tools!!!!

With his final touches… buttercream grass and confectioner’s glaze for his eyes and nose.

Both of which you can also find on my tools page!

 

 

 

 

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A Magazine-And-News-Featured-Gobsmackin’ Good Time!

I was absolutely tickled PINK to be asked by Rosie of Cake Masters Magazine to be part of their “Around the World in 40 Cakes” special feature for the September issue of the magazine! To be among 39 other cah-RAAAZY awesome cake artists, each representing some fun part of this insane planet we live on, in cake form? For the magazine feature? Ummm, how cool would THAT be?

So you can imagine how hard it was going to be to have to tell her that I just couldn’t do it.

I was SWAMPED for that month, and had no foreseeable time to sneak it in… ANYWHERE. NONE. AT ALL. I had already “snuck” in too many projects for that time span and was totally in WAY over my head.

And then I said, “YES!“, anyway.

‘Cause sometimes my mouth doesn’t play nice with my brain. (Well, ok, fine. It hardly ever does.)

I committed. And soon after, I prolly NEEDED to be committed. (You know… padded room, funny farm, barred windows? Right.)

I look back, and I’m quite positive that it’s only by the SEVERE mercy and complete grace of God that I made it through that month… AND made my deadlines.
And I also look back and shiver at how very, VERY close I was to turning Rosie down, and NOT being part of this very cool feature. ‘Cause HO-LEE SMOKES… it’s been picked up by the DailyMail and the Telegraph over in the U.K….

AAAAAND it’s just been featured on ABC News, over here in the States!! (And as a very little ,and yet, entirely HUGE, added bonus for me… my Lady of the North Pole cake photo has been included in each publication!  GOBSMACKED MUCH??   Um yeah… my face is completely stinging from the gobs.)

Alright, so a little about my cake design and execution…

There was a process… I had some say… and at the end of the day, I was assigned the North Pole to represent.  Which seemed vuuury cool… until I actually started the brainstorming process, that is.

Yes there’s Santa and all o’ that jazz, but as far as the landscape goes… well, ACTUALLY, there ISN’T technically a LANDscape, so much.  It’s not land.  It’s just (in a very cold nutshell) a HUGE expanse of snow and ice.

Like, LOTS of it.

And not much else.

And I was just so uninspired that it was nearly depressing.  Thomas even tried to help get my creative juices flowing… and COMPLETELY failed. (Gosh, that sounds kinda diva-ish, doesn’t it?)  My brain could just NOT get excited about ANY of the ideas we came up with.

And THEN it came upon me.

I don’t know how or why, but the idea of a beautiful, regal “Lady of the Snow” crashed into my head.  Heck, it built a little campfire, busted out the marshmallows, and was clearly NOT going anywhere.  Like, ever.

What’s a girl to do?  I went with it.  And The Lady of the North Pole was born.

Now, WHAT lady of the North Pole, you ask?

Come on… you know… the one who wanders that barren landscape, keeping charge over her polar bear cubs… declaring allegiance to nothing but this hauntingly beautiful expanse of snow and ice whilst waiting, silently, for her true love to find her??

No?   Ok, well, they MAY have taken her out of the textbooks…ya know… prolly not wanting her to be hunt down by any CRAZIES or anything.  Yes, that’s it.  I’m sure of it. *cough*

Anywho, I had fun bringing her to life, uh, to CAKE, and thought I’d show you some pics I snapped along the way!

OH! and I got to use a couple of my new, lace,  Marvelous Molds molds (yes, that sounds weird) for her outfit, and I just LUUUUURVE them!  They worked PERFECTLY and were JUST what I needed to fancy her up a bit.

Singing her way through the snow and ice…

WITH eyelids, of course.

I used modeling chocolate for  the decoration on this entire project.  Under her skirt would normally be the cake, but as this was designed specifically for a magazine, I carved a styrofoam dummy in place of carving an actual cake.

A tip to get your carved styro dummy ultra smooth when needed?  Rub sand paper over it and then wipe it down before adding some shortening to adhere your fondant or modeling chocolate.

I wanted her coloring to be very subtle… and chilly… since she’s supposed to represent ice and snow.  I changed her makeup a few times, actually.  I settled upon some subtle black under her eyes and a very light, shimmery blue for her eye shadow.  All achieved with petal dusts and small paintbrushes.

A tip to get color off of your modeling chocolate?  Just use a tiny bit of water and a paper towel to rub it off.  Works like a CHAMP.

 

Then I started on her clothing.  For her corset, I used Earlene’s Enhanced Lace, “Judy” by Marvelous Molds.  I used it twice… once for the front and once for the back.  They fit nearly PERFECTLY and really looked just like a fancy corset! SCORE!!

For the detail near the top of the skirt, I used Earlene’s Enhanced Lace, “Edna” by Marvelous Molds.

And for the trim near the bottom of the skirt, I used Earlene’s Enhanced Lace, “Maxine” by Marvelous Molds.

Alright, I wanted to add some embossed detail to part of the skirt and also  to her cloak, so I took my Wonder Cakes, Tricot Decor Chic mat by Silikomart, and instead of making up a batch of edible lace with it, I rolled it onto my modeling chocolate to get this lovely embossed pattern… which I then dusted with my new PurColour brilliant powder from the Pastry Portal, and voila!  Shimmery loveliness!  Wish I’d gotten a pic of her cloak for you.  It looked pretty cool with this treatment!

(I hadn’t added the shimmer dust to the back of her skirt, as I’d decided I wanted to add a cloak and it would therefore be covered.)

You can see how the mold I used for her corset looked from the back, in this pic.

 Once I had finished adding all of the modeling chocolate details, I used my light blue petal dust, (think it’s called aquamarine, but regardless, it was veeeeery light) and a tiny bit of silver luster dust and colored her up!

I then added a few silver dragees here and there, and then some clear sanding sugar for the board and the li’l bear’s nose, and she was finally done!

The Lady of the North Pole.

(She’s been walking around on that ice for a while now.  Know anyone good we can set ‘er up with?  He’s gotta be able to handle some chilly nights, though.

Just sayin’.)

To see all of the jaw dropping 40 cakes involved in this special ediiton, you can purchase your copy of Cake Master September issue, here!

 

 

 

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One Stormy Night… Two Planets Collided.

 When I met my husband, Thomas, we were both sophomores in college.

My friend told me about this guy… her boyfriend’s best friend since, like, BIRTH, that I NEEDED to meet. He was a bit on the quiet side, but extremely friendly, chivalrous (he opened doors and pulled out chairs for her when NO ONE ELSE ON THE PLANET still did that sort of thing… including her own boyfriend *AHEM*), street smart AND intelligent (imagine THAT), had a KILLER smile, loved his guitar, played football for our local university…

and he was HOT as all get out.

Yeah right. I lived on planet Earth. And on planet EARTH, men like THAT were the subjects of fairy tales.
And they did not live, mind you, in Buffalo, New York.

But I decided to humor her, anyway. (Even if most of it was untrue, I wasn’t above oogling a li’l eye candy for an evening, was I?)

So I walked in. And then HE walked in. And the eye candy festival had OFFICIALLY begun.
SMAAA-OKIN’, the man was.
And by the end of the night, I was nearly convinced that my friend HADN’T, in fact, lost her marbles. That this guy might ACTUALLY be all of the things she said he was.
OH. EM. GEEEEE. Maybe… just MAYBE I was right, smack dab, in the middle of one of those fairy tales.
And I had EVERY intention of finding out.

Turns out (thank goodness), he did too. We were both VERY intrigued.
And much to my unending glee, he was all of those things I was told about and more. Like, for REALZ.

What I DIDN’T realize, until a bit later, is that we actually WERE from two different planets.
That undeniable fact hit me like a ton of bricks… upon meeting his parents.

Let’s just say I think I nearly caused multiple cardiac arrest as I walked past the threshold of that doorway, into the McGreevy household.

I had… MAKEUP on.
There were… EARRINGS in my ears.
My fingernails were painted a very bright shade of pink.
And I clearly used “product” in my hair. (I had a perm. It made my hair… big. No judging.)

All of this was very “normal” or “standard”, if you will, in my world.

But I had just walked into a scene from “Little House on the Prairie” upon entering that room, and the homesteaders looked as if they’d just seen Bigfoot.

We were ALL agog and aghast.
And to top it all off, I was the very FIRST girlfriend Thomas had ever brought home! (Which, incidentally, explained how the boy was the best kept secret in town, but did nothing to help my “outlandishness”, so to speak.)
WHAAAA????
Alright, I’m not going to sit here and bore you (though, as you might suspect, “boring” may not be the most accurate word) with the details of my journey over the next four years with this family, but I WILL say this…

they love me. And I LOVE them.

Maybe it didn’t start out that way… maybe they were secretly certain that I had retracted talons embedded into my hands and feet, and maybe I was convinced that they had just emerged from a large, underground capsule after several years of intense isolation upon first meeting them… but either way, we grew on each other.

I truly have a second family that I trust with my life and the lives of my children. They’ve embraced me and called me their own. And the blessing they have been to me over the past twenty years has been, frankly, priceless.

My cup runneth over.

So I figured it was about time I actually made them a cake for one of their joint birthday parties… ya think? GEESH.

My mother-in-law has a thing for lighthouses, as she grew up on the shores of Long Island… always frolicking by the “wahtah”.  (Sorry Mom, had to sneak that much loved accent in there.)
And my father-in-law loves a good storm. He is forEVER checking the weather forecast, hoping for some inexplicable storm to descend upon us all for an undetermined amount of time. (It’s a McGreevy thing. Don’t ask… I STILL can’t figure it out.)
And since it was a joint birthday celebration… a “stormy” lighthouse it was to be.

Kinda like the night our two worlds collided…

a bit stormy, but with a little light shining through. ;)

I used a large circle cutter (see the set I have, HERE, that is a main staple in my tools closet) to cut out several layers of rice krispie treats, that I stacked and glued on top of each other with ganache, to form the base of the light house.  You can use cake instead of rice krispie treats if you need the extra servings.  See my “recipes page” HERE, for my cake recipes and my ganache recipe.

I covered the rkt in a layer of ganache, and then used modeling chocolate (see my video on how to easily make your own, HERE) to add the brick walls and all other decoration.

I used dry spaghetti sticks dyed with black food coloring to make the spindles of the railing.

I used grey petal dust and black airbrush food coloring (using the toothbrush “flicking” method) to get the “weathered” look.  And my kiddos helped me shape modeling chocolate into lots of different sized rocks for the base of the lighthouse.

Once the lighthouse was finished, I prepared my 10″ round cake (ganached and covered in my FAV fondant, and the only brand I’m happy using, found, HERE), added supports (bubble tea straws, found HERE) inside the cake, and then placed the board with the lighthouse on it, on top of the cake.

Then, I whipped up some royal icing… left some of it white and colored some of it blue, and “stroked” it on with my angled spatula to form the waves.

After I added some white to the blue waves, I then brushed some confectioner’s glaze, found HERE (vuuury cool stuff, btw), onto the water and the rocks to give it a nice, wet look.

Voila!

But, of course, I’ve video taped the whole process for you and will be sharing it on my YouTube channel, soon, just in case, ya know, you want to see. ;)

You can subscribe to my channel, HERE, to catch the video as soon as it comes out!

 

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Wafer.Me.Happy. !!!

 

Wafer paper.

It is ALL the rage.

Some people love it… some people hate it…. some people know nothing about it and think we’ve all gone mad.
(Which may actually BE the case, but let’s not digress.)

Me? Well… I am a lover.
From the moment I laid eyes on a cake having incorporated this heavenly, edible paper (I think one of the first I saw was my friend Kara’s GORGEOUS cake, here, of Kara’s Couture Cakes. Eye bulging, salivia-slippin’-out-of-the-corners-of-my-mouth, GORGEOUS… knaw I’m sayin’?) I fell in love with the possibilities my li’l brain instantly envisioned!

Ok… now “envisioned possibilities” are really great and all.  I mean, I love visions as much as the next guy… but what GOOD are they if you can’t actually bring them to life, right?

In other words… I had NO FLIPPING IDEA HOW TO WORK WITH WAFER PAPER.  Heck, I didn’t even know where to get the stuff…. or even what it’s official name was to start Googling it (I just don’t know how to spell that word so I’m ignoring it and moving on) as a while ago, almost every artist who’d used it seemed to call it something different.

Um, FRUSTRATED much?

But Google and I are buddies.  We spend a LOT of time together, you see.  And as a result, I know JUST how to push ‘er buttons and get ‘er goin’.  (hee hee, get it?  K.  Nevermind.)

Anyway,  after some trial and error (and just the teeniest of head bashing)  I figured it out.  (I’m not suuuper great at asking for help.  I know… add it to my long list of “much needed therapy sessions ’cause I’m riddled with issues”. *sigh* )

AHEM, I found a source (good o’l Amazon came through for me once again)… and I WENT TO TOWN on this stuff.  I dabbled and dipped.  I poked and prodded.  I pushed and SHOVED.  I ripped and TORE.  I curled up into a tight fetal ball…

And then I had a REVELATION. (I know… weeeeird.) Piping gel is nice.  Water is good.  But what about STEAM?  Could it work?  Could steam get me the bend I need to shape this stuff the way I wantta?

Hadn’t heard of anyone using it… so maybe I’s just completely daft and hanging somewhere out in left field, admiring the butterflies… but MAYBE not.  (Stop laughing.  That’s not nice.)

What if I took out my li’l travel steamer and… experimented?  I mean, I had PLANS for this stuff, and thus far, it just wasn’t completely cooperating.

So I tried it.

AND IT WOOOOOOOORKED!!!!!

Holding it for however long I needed to, right in front of that blissful stream of steam, enabled me to manipulate it HOWEVER I wanted!!!

I could make EASY RUFFLES!  I could bend pieces I had cut out to form PETALS.  I could make clothing for my modeled FIGURES, even!  Life could now be SO MUCH EASIER!

ARE YOU HEARING THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH????

Oh wait… you can’t hear me.  Right.

K… ANYWAY… I made the all of the flowers (except the white rose buds) in this recent wedding cake, right here, WITH WAFER  PAPER.   Roses and small dahlias.   NO drying time!   Busted out my “precious” (aka, my airbrush) when I was done, and brought some color to their world…. and viola!

They’re easy… they’re light (no worries about them falling off o’ the cake)… and they’re WAY quicker to make than their gumpaste versions, I’ll tell ya!

Moral of the story?

YOU NEED WAFER PAPER IN YOUR LIFE.

Stop fighting it.  Don’t be sceeered.  Let it overtake you.  It’s ok…

It won’t hurt.  It is only goodness and light.

(And strangely addicting to chew on during projects.  *AHEM* But that just may be me.)

Gosh, I am a head case. ;)

Check out my  free WAFER PAPER RUFFLES TUTORIAL by clicking HERE!

Check out where I get my WAFER PAPER from by clicking on my affiliate link, HERE!

Check out what kind of STEAMER I use by clicking on my affiliate link, HERE!

And of course… I plan on having a wafer paper rose and dahlia (and even peony) tutorial available to you in some form or another!

You can subscribe to my blog, HERE, (on my homepage in the box to the right) if you haven’t already, and you’ll get my updates as soon as they come out. :)

And you can subscribe to my YouTube channel, HERE, if you want to be sent my free tutorials, automatically!

 

NOW, GO GET YO’ WAFER ON, I SAY!!!  Xx

 

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I Hearby Dub Them, “Snickers Bar Ruffles”

 

Yes, I’ve given this technique a new name.

It shall, from here on in, (in my little brain, anyway) be officially labeled “Snickers Bar Ruffles“.

‘Cause, you know… not GOING anywhere? Need a Snicker’s Bar? (Look up the commercial… it’ll make sense, trust me.)

Ok, so the thing is… I may not ever be crowned “Everlasting Queen of Patience.” ORRRRR even, “Princess SLIGHTLY Patient“.

Ok, fine. I wouldn’t even be crowned “Duchess of EVER BEEN THE TEENIEST BIT PATIENT IN HER ENTIRE LIFE.”

It’s a virtue I officially lack. (But maybe, for now, I’ll just blame that on my parents…. ’cause that’s what children are supposed to do, right?… while pretending it’s not my fault at all… and leave that therapy for another time.

…Moving on…)

SO, in my severe “patient deficient” state, I often find myself muttering, “Oh HECK no. Rather poke myself in the eye with a red hot branding iron than sit down and do THAT,” while staring at those clearly abnormal people who were somehow infused with those ridiculously crazy HIGH levels of patience hormones at birth. What is WITH those people, anyway?  *cough* Not jealous at all.  But I digress…

Ok, WHAT am I saying, here?

(Let me think… oh yeah, got it!)

What I am saying is this… I RARELY decide to execute a very long, time-consuming and often tedious technique on one of my cakes.
I’m just not mentally stable enough, I think.
So I try to find a different, QUICKER way.

EXCEPT FOR IN THE CASE OF THESE RUFFLES.

I’ve made these kinds of ruffles on a cake, twice now, and each time it takes a near ETERNITY.

But did you hear me?  I’ve done it TWICE.  And I’ve clearly stated my little patience problem… so why on EARTH would I  attempt them a SECOND time, you ask?

‘Cause I love them.

‘Cause my inner girl rises up in song… waving a pink, ruffly, banner-like thingy (you know, like the dancers in the Olympics use)… while crying tears of sheer delight, each time I sit my but down and start these ruffles.

I just can’t help myself.  ’Cause they’re beautiful.  And delicate.  And frilly.  And fluffy.  And just really ALL things GIRLY.

And as I’ve recently mentioned, my inner girl currently has my inner tomboy tied up with pink, sparkly rope and shoved in “the attic”. Which means she has free, unrestricted control of my brain, at the moment…

and this chick can be VERY convincing.  Like, SERIOUSLY.  You have NO idea.  Just ask Thomas.

So, as with this cake for a lovely bride who wanted a “simple” design, and loved the idea of some light blue and pink, and maybe a flower incorporated… I suggested these ruffles… which she happily agreed to. And four hours later (*AHEM* that time being spent on JUST the ruffles, mind you) while on the verge of a mental breakdown, I heard the happy song and cries of joy of my inner girl…

and decided, AGAIN, that it was worth it.

(Do crazy people KNOW they’re crazy?  I’ve always wondered… ;) )

 

Some notes…

**I captured the making of these ruffles on video… and then DROPPED my external hard drive on which the video was stored… and am now in the process of shelling out TOO much money to retrieve all of the info I had stored on said hard drive.  While banging my head against the wall.  But will hopefully have a video of how to make them, for you, at the end of it all.

 ** You WANT a pasta machine (or pasta roller attachment for your kitchen aid.)  I’ve purchased a relatively cheap pasta machine, Click HERE for the link (or see my TOOLS page of my website), and I use it for this ruffle technique… along with several other techniques, and am EXTREMELY happy that I now have one on hand when I need it.  COMPLETELY worth it.  I highly recommend investing in one!

** You also need a ball tool (click HERE) and a piece of thin foam (click HERE) in order to achieve this look.  Both very inexpensive, and both a much needed addition to your cake closet, if you ask me.  I use them both VERY regularly.

** I used Satin Ice Fondant mixed with a little Tylose for the ruffles.  The tylose is an edible stiffening agent that firms us the fondant just a bit, and helps keep the ruffles from sagging.  I also used straight pins in places that the ruffles needed  little extra support until they dried, completely.

** A little shout out to the awesome Stevie Auble of Hey There Cupcake, whose interview with CakeFu, I watched, and learned how to make those white, wafer, “filler” flowers around the gumpaste peony, on top of the cake.  Link to wafer paper, HERE, and link to my free, gumpaste peony tutorial on my YouTube channel, HERE.

And call me crazy (um, yeah, we’ve already established the validity of THAT, it seems) but I kindo’ like the look of the rosettes not quite finished.  Like in this picture.  Sorta kinda wanted to just leave them that way… but decided to save it for next time.

*SIGH*… I just said NEXT TIME, didn’t I?   K.  Inner girl’s startin’ to get on my nerves.

 

Airbrushed the pink onto the ruffles, after they dried.

You WANT an airbrush.

Just… just TRUST me on this.

(Click HERE to see mine. :) )