Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Coming Soon...

OK, here it comes, today is the last day of June and that means tomorrow is......

I know, I'm driving you all crazy but I have found some of the cutest ideas, promise me you'll at least look at the photos? Please?

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #19

Today's feature from my England Bookmarks is Anchor. Anchor is England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing, care and support to people over 55 years old. Thank you, Wikipedia, for that concise definition. If you are elderly (Yikes, are people over 55 years old elderly? That will be me in, gulp, a few years!) and want to rent or buy a retirement home, or live in a care home with 24 hour nursing support, or have care at home, Anchor is for you.

I have the best personal recommendation for Anchor, my Mum and Dad. Mum and Dad lived in several Anchor properties (ex-military, they just couldn't stop moving around!). Each one provided everything my sister and I would want for them - a secure, cozy home with on-site staff, all the services they needed, and lots of activities. The week after Mum died in 2003, we went along on a bus trip with the residents of the Anchor property where they had once lived. We had such a lovely day out. There is so much going on - I could quite happily see myself living out my days going to coffee mornings, bingo, dinners out for holidays and special days, soup and sandwich lunches, and bus trips to hither and yon.

I have to say that when Dad returned to the United States, and we tried to find a similar set-up, the cost was exorbitant. It's too bad that there isn't an Anchor here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-25


1. Seeing an old friend - I mentioned briefly in 5 on Friday that my friend Cecilia and her family were touring all 50 states over a number of years and this year it was Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. It was so wonderful to see her - we were last together ten years ago but it was like we had never been apart.  I LOVE friendships like that.

2. A relatively painless mammogram and a letter in the mail saying that all is well. They must have made some improvements to the machine in the last year, or I had a better Radiology Tech than in the past.

3. I'm back on the Whole 30 and doing very well. It could have something to do with the blisteringly hot temperatures we've been having - all I want to do is drink water. Looking forward to continuing on with Vic and the new barbecue we plan to get. Lots of grilled meats, fish, and veggies, keeping the heat of cooking outside.

4. A fabulous day out with the Ladies of Leisure. We traveled to the local Joint Forces base (an Army base and an Air Force combined into one) and shopped two thrift stores, the Post Exchange (was hoping to see some different brands from our Navy Exchange but no luck), Hobby Lobby, and a quick stop at Costco to pick up Sophia's vacuum. I even managed a Whole 30 lunch...Cobb salad, please, no bacon, no blue cheese, no dressing.

5. Hobby Lobby yielded another best...Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming...ok, Christmas in July is coming. It's time to try out a few new crafts, whip up a few new recipes, and have lots of Christmas-y natters with fellow Christmas lovers. I know...we're crazy!

The aisles at Hobby Lobby

1. Did I say blisteringly hot temperatures? Ugh, the Pacific Northwest is not the place to be when temperatures soar above 75 degrees - houses are not air conditioned. Let the cold showers begin.

2. Saying goodbye to a friend who is moving to the East Coast. I hate that part of military life.

3. No #3 this week - #1 and #2 were enough.

Friday, June 26, 2015

5 on Friday

1. Summer drinks anyone? We're back on the Whole 30 and so drink a lot of water but I like to jazz things up a little, especially on summer weekends. Nothing like having a lovely wine glass or champagne flute on the dinner table but they look a little blah with just water in them. I've been making lime and soda (club soda and a really good squeeze of fresh lime juice - works best if you have one of those wooden reamers that gets the juice and the bits at the same time - this drink is best served in a highball glass and resembles a mock G&T). I recently found this gem - R. W. Knudsen's Spritzer - lots of fruity flavors.

2. It's going to be a scorching weekend here in the Pacific Northwest so it's definitely an indoor day. Curtains are drawn to keep out the heat, lots of water chilling in the fridge, and a project to keep me occupied. This cool weather girl is not venturing outside.

3. You'll read about my dinner with friends from the Midwest in Life Last Week on Monday but I stumbled on a really neat event that happens in North Dakota. My friends are in the process (Year 8) of showing their two sons all fifty states and after this most recent trip, they only have two left - North Dakota and Hawaii. I got the regular e-mail newsletter from one of my favorite authors, Lauraine Snelling, and found out that she will be at Norsk HostFest in Minot, North Dakota this fall. I clicked over to the site and it looks like a fun five days if you are in that part of the country.

4. Really loving the Boots No. 7 skincare range that I can buy at Target. I use the Protect & Perfect line (even though I really should be in Lift & Luminate!) and the Serum makes my skin feel fabulous.
5. Romaine Lettuce Heads - fabulous! I discovered them at Costco - they are smaller and more compact and perfect for scooping chicken salad, tuna salad, salsa...very Whole 30 friendly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 225

1. June 23rd is National Pink Day. What's your favorite something pink?

Anything small and soft for a baby girl. Sophia had some lovely little pink outfits when she was a baby. My favorite designer is Hanna Andersson; her baby clothes are lovely.

2. What did you enjoy most about gym class when you were in school? How about the least?

Most - Having gym class indoors when it was raining - it was always ballroom dancing and such a riot. Least - I went to school in England and did not enjoy wearing the microscopic PE skirt whilst playing hockey in the winter - brrrrr!

3. What memory is brought to mind by the smell of roses?

Homecomings - most Navy ships arrange for a shipment of roses to be delivered as the ship is approaching the pier after a deployment so the sailors can give them to their loved ones. Vic has always greeted me with a long-stemmed red rose.

4. Do you prefer to read or write?

That's a tough one - I love to write (or type as it often is these days) - I enjoy letting my fingers fly over the keyboard, spilling out thoughts and goals and dreams into a blog post, or in a letter to a friend. I also enjoy curling up with a good book so it's hard to chose one over the other.

5. Sam Keen is quoted as saying, 'Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.' Would you agree? Is laziness ever respectable? How will you be lazy this summer?

Don't they call them the Lazy Days of Summer? I'm not sure how lazy I'll be able to be with a new job to occupy my time although the thought of a leisurely brunch on the waterfront followed by time spent with Vic sounds lovely. We are both so busy, we deserve a little lazy time.

6. The Florida Keys, Disney World, or a resort somewhere on the Gulf Coast...which Florida destination would you choose (and why) if the trip were today?

The theme parks - my family loves Disney and a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is high on the list of places we'd like to go. Next summer, perhaps?

7. What question do you hate to answer?

Why does God let bad things happen?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Christmas in July is coming and I am busy getting my posts ready to go (in anticipation of hopefully starting work sometime in July). My pins on Pinterest are leading me all over the Web as one after another amazing site offers all the glory of things that are red, green, blue, gold, and silver. I have enough ideas to decorate a hundred trees...and mantels...and front doors...and banisters...and tables...and so much more!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #18

Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England, and has been the home of the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309. Alnwick Castle has been used as a setting in many films and television series including three of the Harry Potter films.

Of special note for Downton Abbey fans, step behind the scenes of the filming, with costumes, photography, and props from the 2014 Christmas special, which was filmed at Alnwick Castle

The castle lies just off the A1 in the historic market town of Alnwick. There is no shortage of things to see and do at Alnwick. Tour the castle and grounds, visit the garden, have tea in the Courtyard Cafe. There is a host of workshops and other activities for children. If you want to stay a little longer, check out the Alnwick Castle Cottages for your next holiday.

In 2015, Alnwick Castle is open to the public from March 27 to November 1 (closed July 25 for a private event).

Monday, June 22, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-24


1. The PBS (Public Broadcasting Service, our go-to for British programming) line-up and previews last night. The new Poldark was first and as I'm a die-hard fan of the original, I'm having a bit of a hard time seeing the chemistry between the actors that I'm used to seeing. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, however, and keep watching. After Poldark came The Crimson Field and it was excellent. Really looking forward to this series. I also have to put in a plug for Indian Summers; we were treated to a preview and it looks super as well.

2. Pinterest. What would we do without you? I'm busy pinning like mad so I can prepare my Christmas in July posts now that the weekly themes have been announced.

3. Sophia (aka Sprinkles, her camp name) is having a blast at camp. She is in training right now and loving every minute of being around the horses (and as you can see from the bottom right, there is some downtime as well).

4. Lovely dinner and dessert with my British friend and surprise, surprise, we thought that we had Manchester in common but it turns out that we are even more closely connected than we originally thought. She hails from Bury, which is where my parents lived and where we visited in 2003.

5. Toying with the idea of moving from this rental house onto the base to remove the commute for both of us and happy to find out that not only can we get right back on the list (there is still a waiting list), we also get a courtesy move since there wasn't anything available when we moved here last year.


1. Realized this weekend that I'd made an error on Part II of my future job processing which I sent off on Friday. Shot off a quick e-mail to ask how to correct it - hope it's an easy fix.

2. The upcoming weather forecast - hot, hot, hot - you know me, that's the worst news I could hear.

3. Plans to meet up with friends from the Midwest who are traveling in this area may not work out after all. Waiting to hear from them but it doesn't look good.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers and father figures out there!

I miss you dreadfully, Dad, but I am so thankful for all the wonderful memories...

...and my amazing husband, the glue that is holding all of our crazy together! Happy Father's Day out there on the high seas, can't wait until you're home!

Friday, June 19, 2015

5 on Friday

1. The royal lusciousness continues - the double dose last weekend was quickly followed by the Order of the Garter Ceremony and Royal Ascot week. Oh my, all those fabulous hats.

2. Part II of the future job processing came in yesterday so I prompted filled it all out and sent it back...I'm getting closer!

3. Sophia reported to camp and is having a wonderful time. She's been on a horse already and that's a great start to her summer!

We took a drive out to the camp to make sure she knew where she needed to go on the first day
4. Looking forward to dinner with a new British friend this evening and chatting about all things British.

5. Cooler temperatures predicted for next week and that's always a good thing. We've had a couple of hot, hot days recently and I'm much happier when it's cooler.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Christmas in July 2015

Here it comes...Christmas in July 2015, that time of year to try new crafts, test out new recipes, pin decorating and entertaining ideas to your Pinterest boards, and talk about all things Christmas with fellow Christmas lovers. It all begins two weeks from today!

Here's the schedule of weekly themes from the Magical Holiday Home Forums:

July 1-4th: Color Themes (A sharing of color schemes for Christmas , traditional, and otherwise)

July 5th-11th Vintage/Shabby Chic: (Everything from a dinner party to the tree to the mantle display....let's talk vintage or shabby chic) 

July 12th-18th: Magical Christmas Countdowns...this is the week to talk advent calendars, Twelve days of Christmas or the 24 Days of Christmas or even the Elves Countdown....how do you remember the days of December? 

July 19th-25th Woodland Inspiration/Rustic/Cabin themes (Everything from a party theme to a tree to a mantle display.....let's talk rustic... 

July 26-31st: Christmas in the Kitchen....everything from menu plans to tablescapes, recipes and how to ....will all be shared this week!

A couple of those are going to be a bit challenging as I'm not a vintage/shabby chic or a Woodland Inspiration decorator. I am, however, a huge fan of Pinterest and there seems to be no end to the amazing ideas that are shared there.

The Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are just beginning to release the schedule, via their web-sites, for their "Christmas Keepsake" and "Gold Crown Christmas" event in July! Check them all out here at It's a Wonderful Movie! and Hallmark's Press Release here.

Grab yourself some tinsel and join us!

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 224

1. June is National Great Outdoors Month. Have you spent any time appreciating the great outdoors this month? If so where, and if not do you have any plans to enjoy the great outdoors before the calendar turns?

Here in Washington, we have the most stunning outdoors you could ask for - mountains, bays, lakes, rivers, ocean coastline, islands...so much to see and enjoy. Unfortunately, my exploring partner in crime is gone for most of the month so appreciating the great outdoors before the calendar turns is not going to happen.  That being said, Sophia and I took a drive out to the Girl Scout camp where she will be working for the summer and walked a mile round-trip to her bunkhouse and the horses' corral. That will have to count for "appreciating the great outdoors" this month!

2. What's a current hot button issue for you?

The lack of respect for the senior leadership of military commands. I'm appalled by the way some people feel completely at ease being disrespectful and rude on social media. Are there no standards left anymore?

3. What's a food or treat that 'disappears like hotcakes' in your house?

Chips and the most delicious fresh-made salsa from our local market...they're gone almost as soon as I get them unpacked from the grocery bag.

4. How hot is too hot?

About 70 degrees. I am most comfortable when the temperatures are in the 60 degree range.

5. Do you have an artistic outlook on life? What does that mean to you?

To have an artistic outlook on life means to have an appreciation for color and design, to be able to coordinate furnishings and decor, and also clothing, to be put together in such a way that you and others appreciate the outcome.

6. What's one question you'd like to ask your father, or one you wish you could ask your father?

I would have liked to ask my father more about his military career.  At my request, he started to document his experiences but sadly, did not get very far before he died. I wish I had asked earlier and been able to help him complete the project. My father was a Korean and Vietnam War veteran and I really don't know very much about his experiences. I often wonder if that was the way he wanted it to be, perhaps it was too difficult for him to talk about them?

7. Something you learned from your father?

Unconditional love...no matter how many times I messed things up in my life (poor choices when I had so many other opportunities), he was always there for me.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I can't imagine what Britain would be like with the pageantry of the Royal Family. I know there are people who feel like they are a burden on the taxpayers, but I can't imagine what it would be like if they packed up their palaces and stately homes, cleared their calendars of all the public appearances they have scheduled, and put away the tiaras, carriages, and symbols of the monarchy. They are such a part of the history of Britain.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

If this is Tuesday, it must be England #17

I haven't done an "If this is Tuesday....." post since before April's A to Z Blogging Challenge and since there has been a weekend and now a week to come of royal fashion and pageantry lusciousness, I thought I'd share my favorite blogs for All Things Royal.

Royal Hats - enough said

The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor - in depth coverage of all those clothes

From Her Majesty's Jewel Vault - same as above but for sparkly things for Her Majesty and the Duchess of Cornwall

The Court Jeweller - sparkly things for all other royals

What Kate Wore - The Duchess of Cambridge's fashion

New My Royals - Everyone, doing everything, all over the place

Naturally there is some duplication between the sites but if you a royalty fan, you'll love them all!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-23


1. It's got to be the Swedish Royal Wedding of Prince Carl Philip and (now) Princess Sofia. What a unique event, tailored just to the two of them. From her tattoo peeking above the neckline of her dress at the back, to the catchy recessional, and the beaming smiles all around, it really was their day.

Coverage of the ceremony and all the guests, gowns and tiaras over at The Royal Order of Sartorial Spelendor
2. Somewhat overshadowed was Britain's Trooping the Colour, the official celebration of the Queen's birthday (her birthday is in April, but the festivities are in June when there is usually better weather). It was the first appearance of the Duchess of Cambridge since the birth of Princess Charlotte and she was wearing Catherine Walker, one of Diana, Princess of Wales' favorite designers.

3. Sophia arrived home safely from college and has been steadily bringing all of her belongings into the house and organizing them for the return trip in September. We've had a great weekend of eating our favorite foods, going to the movies, and catching up on Outlander and Game of Thrones.

4. A wonderful Navy Wives Clubs of America meeting with a great turnout, cake and punch to celebrate our 79th birthday, Secret Pal presents all around, and a new member joining us.

(Clockwise from top left: Jumbo Crayons to donate to one of our community service projects, new Wreaths Across America display boards, Happy 79th Birthday NWCA, and patriotic goodies to take home since we don't meet again until after July 4th
PSA: For any of you who shop at Macy's, we have a fundraiser for our community service projects - Shop for a Cause - buy a savings pass for $5 and save 25% all day on Saturday, August 29 on regular, sale and clearance items (some exceptions apply, of course). Send me an e-mail if you are interested in a pass or two or three. Valid at any Macy's store.


1. Not having Poldark to look forward to last night as I got the date wrong - sorry, it premieres June 21st.

2. Finding the new Michael Kors wristlet I just purchased $27 cheaper at another location and I've already taken the tags off and used it so I can't return it - grrrrrr!

3, A note from our property manager advising us of a new law which will most likely go into effect - we will need to replace our current septic system before we can sell our house, or reduce the asking price significantly so that the purchaser can arrange for the replacement. Ka-ching, ka-ching!

Friday, June 12, 2015

5 on Friday

1. Sophia is home! She'll only be with me/us for a few days before she heads off to camp so we're making the most of the time. After Wednesday, she's Sprinkles (her camp name), Wrangler Extraordinaire!
Excited to see each other, until MudLynn was distracted by our neighbor
2. Another lovely color, In Stitches from Essie. The ridge on my thumbnail is the result of a very poorly-applied acrylic nail over 20 years ago; the damage is permanent.

3. Got to spend part of the evening with Vic courtesy of FaceTime.  Even though we are many miles apart, at least we're in the same time zone.

4. Booked a weekend away for when Vic returns.  We'll be lounging by the lake and loving every minute of it very soon.

5. Tomorrow's Swedish Royal Wedding will be streaming live here and I'll have a front row seat. Looking forward to seeing some gorgeous gowns from the guests although I don't think anything can top the look from Crown Princess Victoria at her sister Madeleine's wedding in 2013 - stunning gown, amazing hair.

Photos courtesy of The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Monthly To Do List

Something new to keep me accountable - the Monthly To Do List.  Yes, I know it's the 11th so I'm behind already but if I don't get these few things down on paper my blog, I won't be able to report total success at the end of the month. How that for being optimistic?

1. Lose ten pounds.
2. Get back on the Whole 30 and stay on it to aid in losing aforementioned ten pounds.
3. Finish the 2008 Family Album.
4. Empty the "To Be Filed" tray.
5. Buy a new shredder and shred.
6. Rearrange living and family room furniture.
7. Research the best housekeeping plan to be used when I go back to work (ie. Fly Lady) and test it out. Daily/Weekly/Monthly Checklist-type recommendations would be welcome.

Bucket List

Stumbled upon this via a friend's Facebook post - I need to go back and update my Bucket List and this is most definitely going to be added.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Poldark is coming to PBS this weekend - I have mixed emotions, can anyone ever match Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees?  UK friends, did you watch it? What did you think?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-22


1. Manicure on Monday in preparation for #2 below - love newly-polished nails and loving my new polish, Forever Yummy by Essie.

2. Two fun gatherings last week - the end of the year party for my local spouses' group (catered by one of our members and the food was delicious - wish I had taken some photos) and then the Ladies of Leisure visited the Victorian Tea Room which is always fun.

3. Lovely drive up to Bellingham to pick up the bulk of Sophia's things - beautiful day for a drive. It's finals week next week and then she will be home for the summer.

4. A fun day out in Port Gamble for the Medieval June Faire on Saturday.

This lady was my favorite - her costume was gorgeous and her needlework was exquisite - she was working on a set of embroidered cuffs

1. Saying goodbye to Vic again - he had duty yesterday and then he's off again for a short time.  He forgot his glasses, however, which meant that I had to run them over to him and say goodbye all over again.

2. A little too much sun on my shoulders on Saturday has left me uncomfortably red. Everyone is raving about the high temperatures but I would be happier if they were toned down just a bit.

3. The amount of stuff Sophia's dorm room was able to hold - oh, my aching back!

Friday, June 5, 2015

5 on Friday

1. Woo Hoo! Gainful employment is, hopefully, just around the corner.  I finally received all my paperwork yesterday, filled it all out, and sent it right back.

2. We're off to pick up Load II of Sophia's stuff today.  It's going to be a beautiful day so it will be a nice drive.  MudLynn's pretty excited that she gets to go for a ride in the car too!

3. I'm a bit obsessed with the WI (Women's Institute) at the moment.  It started with Calendar Girls, then grew with Jambusters, and now my Facebook feed is full of news of the Centenary. Any WI members out there?

4. Picked up two new Essie nail polishes yesterday that I'm looking forward to trying - Ballet Slippers and In Stitches.  After being an OPI devotee for years, I tried an Essie polish and really liked it.

5. Aloha Bunco is coming next week with the Navy Wives.  Time to break out your Hawaiian shirts, leis, coconut bras, tiki torches, and pū-pūs!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 223

1. What's something you're looking forward to in the month of June?

Sophia will have finished another year at university and will be home (off & on) during the summer. She's working as a Wrangler at a Girl Scout camp nearby so I anticipate that she will be home in between sessions (unless staying with the horses is more enticing - of course it is!).

2. In what way have you come full circle?

Maybe because I'm going back to work full-time after not having done that for ten years?

3. Lonely Planet lists 10 spots in America you should see in 2015 and the reasons why. How many on the list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

Queens NY, Western South Dakota, New Orleans, Colorado River Region, North Conway NH, Indianapolis IN, Greenville SC, Oakland CA, Duluth MN, and the Mount Shasta Region CA

I've been to Western South Dakota (August 2014 - Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial) and loved the area.  We toyed with adding that area to our list of possible retirement spots but it gets pretty cold there.  I've been to Oakland CA briefly - when I lived in San Francisco, we went to dinner in Oakland, and I've been around the Mount Shasta Region as I have family in northern California so you can see Mount Shasta from many areas there. I'd like to go to North Conway NH.  One site I Googled called it a Four Season Vacation Wonderland.  We never made it to New Hampshire when we lived in Rhode Island and I'd love to visit.

4. A song that describes your mood right now?

"Happy" by Pharrell Williams - I'm happy with just about everything in life right now.

5. Strawberry ice cream, strawberry short cake, strawberry pie, or strawberries right off the vine...your favorite?

Nothing beats strawberries right off the vine à la Wimbledon style - a sprinkling of sugar and a dash of cream.

6. Aesop's birthday is celebrated on June 4th, although there is some disagreement as to whether or not that's accurate, or if he was even a real person. Regardless, the name Aesop is associated to this day with many well known fables. Which of the following best applies to something in your life right now? The Tortoise and the Hare (Slow and Steady wins the race), The Ant and the Grasshopper (Be prepared), The Fox and the Goat (Look before you leap) or The Crow and the Pitcher (Necessity is the mother of invention)?

The Ant and the Grasshopper - I'm well-prepared for all the paperwork that will come with my new job.

7. The answer is yes...what's the question?

"Have you failed miserably on the healthy eating and exercise front?" Unfortunately, a resounding YES.  However, that must be followed by one of my favorite quotes, "Tomorrow is another day".

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I may be well-prepared for what my new job will entail but I just wish they would get on with the process of getting me onboard. Working for the Federal Government is not for the impatient! Here's hoping that by the time this is up on my blog, I will have heard something...anything!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Life Last Week 2015-21

Following Caroline's example over at Mrs. M's Meanderings with a new-for-summer, shortened version of Life Last Week and decided it was time for a new photo as well.


1. Lovely drive back up to Bellingham on Tuesday to take Sophia back to school - it was a beautiful day, smooth sailing on the ferry, and lovely chats about everything and nothing on the trip.

2. A great morning with my Navy Wives Clubs of America sisters putting together toiletry kits for the local women's shelter with lots of yummy food for brunch.

3. My new shoes arrived in the mail from Nordstrom - I scored two pairs of these great loafers in the Half Yearly Sale but since they didn't have my size in one color, they had them sent from another store (free shipping, still at the sale price, LOVE Nordstrom!). Buttery-soft leather, I bought them in Black and this oddly-named color, Luggage.

4. An action-packed disaster movie with lots of great special effects (we're big disaster fans in this household) - you may not want to venture into an underground garage or a high-rise building after you've seen it!

San Andreas

1. Taking Sophia back to school after such a lovely weekend - always tough to say goodbye.

2. Vic had duty on Saturday - I hate weekend duty days, such a waste of a day that could have been spent on a fun outing.

3. Still no news on the job front - ugh, it's taking forever!