The Homecoming of a Vintage Sewing Machine

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Quite some time ago, I broke the little portable sewing machine my Gran gave me. The tension has gone, and when I took it in to be fixed they told me, gently but firmly, that it would be significantly cheaper to buy a new one.

So I have existed without one till now – not critical as I plan a lot of sewing and rarely get round to actually doing it, and have been able to beg, steal or borrow machines to use when I’ve needed to make things like the parrot costume.

However, lovely Kim at work gave me one quite a while ago, and only its weight and bulk stopped me from bringing it home till now. One very long day, a sturdy suitcase and a few pulled muscles later, and here she is, installed in my studio… isn’t she gorgeous?

Joining my Singer and my Jones (meep, that means I now officially have a collection of vintage sewing machines), but superior in that she has an ELECTRIC PEDAL… she’s very heavy, but threaded up and whizzed through the test piece very smoothly. I have bobbins that fit her, so will get some new needles tomorrow and we’re off!

Here’s to a long and happy relationship!

xx

PS Pretty sure Kimmy doesn’t read my blog – but if you do, a million thank yous, I’m in love!

Hello 2012 – we’re going to get on famously

This will have to be quick, because I should have been in bed half an hour ago… oh, how I have really not missed the 5.30am starts at all over the break!!

I’m starting 2012 in an incredibly happy, uplifted and motivated frame of mind. I am surrounded by people I love who love me, I have my little haven of a flat and my much adored Poppy-car, changes at work in the last couple of months of 2011 mean I’m much happier there than I thought possible to begin with, and I’m ridiculously lucky that my main stresses are usually that I have too many people and fun things to fit into my social life. Terrible, isn’t it?!

But genuinely, I’m very lucky and well aware of this fact. I’m also intending and hoping for 2012 to be my best year yet… full of all the things I love to do, all the people I love to see and empty (or emptier, at least) of things that make me sad and stressed out. I’m not completely in la la land, I know that various things will be impossible and hard and tearful through the year, but right now things are rosy and I intend to make the absolute most of that.

Things I am muchly looking forward to this year:

Julia’s wedding ~ this is the big one, my best friend and twin soul is getting married on 7th July and I CANNOT WAIT! I’m honoured to have been chosen as one of her bridesmaids and I’ll do everything I can to make sure her big day is perfect.

USA road trip ~ a road trip round the southern states with my parents that we have been talking about doing for close to ten years, we’re flying out to Texas on 9th February and I’m so excited I can barely breathe!

CAE 2012 ~ Camping Auto Extravaganza with the ROC boys and girls is always a highlight of the calendar – this will be my third one, and each one makes me marvel that a bunch of people who only met each other because of their cars can be such very good friends and have such an awesome time.

Neverwhere ~ one of my favourite books by the awesome Neil Gaiman, and my best friend Lou of Contrariety Rose has been working on the costumes for the play for months and months. I’m off to see it on 20th January and am very excited!

Goodwood Revival ~ another one of those things I’ve been threatening to do for ages, Lou & Paul said they’d like to go and much to my surprise so did Rob when I mentioned it the other day… and dressed vintage too! So I’m hoping we’ll get to do that in September… fingers crossed!

My 26th birthday ~ not a traditional landmark I know, but I feel like I’m hitting my prime, and will be taken more seriously once I’m in my late twenties, and I’m hoping to celebrate with lots of friends and lots of family.

Unofficial Ireland rally with Rat Patrol, Team Allegro and Bucket of Doom ~ Assuming we actually manage to get this organised, I would completely adore to see the others again. I am perfectly prepared to abandon the idea of a banger and just go in Poppy if that’s the only way I can afford to go (as the £250 banger car spending limit would probably pay for most of my petrol and camping costs, lol). I’ve missed those guys!

And last but not least, launching Teasets to Typewriters, rejuvenating Ducking Fabulous jewellery as part of that and hopefully becoming involved with a new website, What Simon Said, with a friend I met on the rally and have kept in touch with via Twitter. I have many, many goals this year… some of them are listed on the 2012 Things page of this site, which can be found on the tabs at the top.

So, enough photo-free waffling from me – it’s been wonderful blogging and tweeting and ‘meeting’ people (I’m mostly looking at you, @craftyguider,@fairlyairyfairy@meanyjar, @CraftyThINKer, @MissJimJams, @ShhimUK, @LucyMoose ) in 2011, and I hope the friendship and support continues into 2012 and beyond! Happy 2012… enjoy it!

xx

Snippets from around my home

A little peek into my flat and the pretty things in it that make me happy.

Parts of my bookshelves – A collection of glass bottles, a couple of unicorn ornaments (the one on the right is from Poland, when we went to Krakow for a friend’s hen weekend), photos of Ellie and I and Julia and I, some ducks, a Meakin jug and my favourite thing on this shelf, an original painting by the very talented Chloe at Slightly Triangle. Plus a china duck and a western boot on the shelf above.

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The bookshelf to the left (I have three across the back wall of my living room). Gil Elvgren’s pin ups take pride of place among the books, and on the top are some of my vintage treasures. Some of these were bought for Teasets to Typewriters and will form part of the stock when I eventually launch. The Whistlejacket print is not going anywhere, though!

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‘Home’ applique and vintage glass candle holders adorning the top of my heater. I stitched this entirely freehand and it was the first bit of hand sewing I’d done in over a decade 🙂

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My ‘mantelpiece’ – clearly, being a flat, I don’t have an actual one but this stands in quite well. Full of coffee table books and my vintage china. Then photos (Holly and I, Hannah, Lou and I, a framed Jane Austen quote, Ellie and I on horseback on the beach) and some vintage tins. On the top – a daylight lamp I use when I’m cross stitching, a painting I picked up in an antique shop, a photo of me and my childhood dog Tui, more glass bottles, Singer sewing machine, Rusty’s number plate, more vintage tins, a photo of the rally teams in Sibiu, candle holders and a china horse. 🙂

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Juxtaposition of old and new – my old (but working!) landline phone and my Bluetooth headset for my mobile, which both live on my hall table.

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And into my bedroom – the ballet print and pairs of pointe shoes that hang above my bed, the vertical patchwork I made last year to hang on the big blank wall above my clothes rails, and my jewellery board (next to my door, so I can grab stuff on the way out!)

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Sunday evening thoughts

Sunday evenings are my time – after a busy week and usually an even busier weekend, I always try to spend a couple of hours reading, pottering and planning for the week ahead. I cross all the things I’ve achieved off my to-do list, add some more, write cards for any birthdays/anniversaries coming up in the next week (ok, I don’t do that yet, it’s one of those things I perpetually intend to do, lol) and generally prepare myself for the week ahead.

This week I’m struggling more than normal to get back into work mode, because I’ve had four days in a row off and I’m just not functioning in office mode. However, I have finished my Curious Christmas box to send, and am off to see Louise this weekend for a vintage tea party and much girlie fun. I also have another parcel swap to plan and create, which is muchly exciting, so I shall keep smiling over the next couple of weeks! I’ve also managed to make stuff this weekend, so my state of mind is more balanced – it’s amazing how much crafting helps me stay calm!

Here’s a quick this weekend i am mostly… roundup!

Reading: Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan, The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon and Chances by Freya North

Writing: this blog post, lists of things I’d like to stock in my shop one day, cards for people

Drinking: pepsi max, squash, rose wine

Listening: smash hits radio from the TV, sandi thom on youtube, adele and dj fresh in the car

Buying: things for the curiosity project, vintage pyrex, books, beautiful notebooks

Enjoying: four straight days off work, seeing annie, making stuff, scanning my books into library thing, planning for next weekend’s vintage tea party and the Christmas party the week after

Loving: driving with the roof down even though it’s nearly December, late night texts, my bauble wreath, crisp clean sheets, that Christmassy feeling

Have a fabulous week! 🙂 xx

Decisions, freedom and infinite possibility…

I am typing this on the train, sitting next to a woman with an ipad and an iphone. I feel a strange mixture of clunky (my laptop is ENORMOUS in comparison and I don’t have mobile broadband) and smug (I can type so much faster and more accurately than she can, mweeheehee).

The last few weeks have changed my life, overwhelmingly for the better. For various reasons I can’t talk about any of those reasons in detail, but one of the net results is that I have signed up for a season ticket loan for a train ticket, which means I’ll be at work for at least another year. This will give me time to get my finances straight and live my life a little without worrying so much about the future and what’s round the next corner (in the job and finances side of life, anyway).

Secondly, I have decided to put my shop plans on hold for the foreseeable future and concentrate on making things for fun and learning, rather than pressurising myself. The same with vintage homewares and clothing – I’ll buy them for me or for presents, and I’ll continue to research them and blog about my finds because I find them fascinating, but I need to remove the pressure for a while so I can focus on other things.

2012 contains, among other plans, my best friend’s wedding, my parents’ long awaited move into their new home and another rally, closely followed by a Canada trip to watch ice skating in early 2013, so now is not a good time to be starting up. Quite apart from the fact that although I know I’m capable of running a business, my finances are most definitely not, and I’m not sure I’m yet ready to sacrifice my social life in favour of it.

Thirdly, but possibly most importantly, after the weekend that’s just passed I am left with a feeling of happiness, peace, freedom and infinite possibility. My sense of self is fully restored and my inner pin up is well on her way to being part of my everyday life! Although I am never taking a train that far again – driving is SO much more fun and less hassle!

So I’m going to make the most of feeling like that, use the sense of purpose to get my flat and my life in order, and then focus on doing fun stuff… and blogging about it all, of course!

Sorry, this is somewhat of a stream-of-consciousness post, but it does feel good to write it down rather than just have it floating around in my head! A little part of me still can’t quite believe I’ve come this far and made this life for myself. When I look back to how I was four short years ago, and realise just how much I love my ‘new’ life… I wonder how the Carla I am now and the Carla I was then can possibly be the same person. I wouldn’t go back now if you paid me, I love who I’ve become and everything that I do. It’s amazing, empowering and really rather lovely. Ok, enough of the soppy crap now.

Right. Before you all throw up, I’m going to get off the train and go and make sausages and chips for dinner 🙂

A weekend in the life of me

So, I had every intention of participating in the One Day On Earth project, until I realised that a) 11/11/11 was going to be super-busy, full of train travel and that the project wanted video and I very much work in photos not videos. So here, instead, is a selection of snapshots from my weekend…

This was actually on Tuesday, eating ice cream on the back of a Vespa at Joe Deluccios in Westfield Stratford City.

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On the train. My handbag (the red and beige one) snapped on the way to the station, so I had to hastily repack, then ditch it without looking like a terrorist. Not easy when you go through London train and tube stations looking shifty!

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I spend quite a lot of time doing this – sitting on the floor of a train, reading books. People think I’m mad for sitting on the floor, but I like being able to stretch my legs.DSCF5018 

Twitter Mafia love on a Friday morning – love these ladies!

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The reminder email that came round from lovely Kim just before the two minutes’ silence for Poppy Day.

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Biscuits! Work has a delivery of biscuits and other groceries (tea, coffee etc) every month, and this is what the cupboard looks like just after delivery!

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Impromptu trip to Moorgate to buy a new handbag. London is grey but has some striking buildings if you look up while walking.

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Mid-afternoon Wispa. Is any day complete without chocolate?!

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The emergency/accidental new handbag, to replace the one that snapped in the morning. I like it!

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St Pancras station – took this on my way home after a fabulous weekend. It was utter carnage on the way in, and I was trying to sprint which is never a good idea!

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And finally home again, with the awesome vintage suitcase we took to Romania. That case started off full of 80s porn magazines, went all the way to Romania on Rusty’s roof, and came home with Team Allegro on their roof. It has a lot more character now than it did when we bought it, but I’m in love and it improved the journey home enormously – I felt like a 40s starlet! (for the first couple of hours, anyway – six hours later I just wanted to be back home, lol). The wheelie case under it was bought for Poland and also came on the rally with us – my luggage is well travelled 🙂

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Vintage treasures

**This is an old draft from a month or so ago. Since then I have decided to put the shop launch on hold indefinitely, and sort out myself, my life and my finances first. Which seems surprisingly sensible for someone as impulsive as me! Stay tuned…**

  Mum and I went stock hunting for my new Etsy shop (launching soon! Squee!) a couple of weekends ago. To nobody’s surprise, I couldn’t resist adding a couple of pieces to my own collections as well as buying things to sell on. I am an incurable hoarder!

First up was this gorgeous musical box, shaped like a bookshelf. I couldn’t not bring it home!

 

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Then I was relatively good for the rest of the day, until ten minutes before we left when I spotted this little beauty, and decided that even if he was expensive he had to come home with me. He wasn’t, and he did, and now lives on my mantelpiece!

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In true Carla style, I could quite happily keep all the stuff I’ve bought for the shop – but I will do my best to keep it as stock. Unless it refuses to sell…

Time flies even when you’re filing

How can it possibly be past 7 on Sunday night?! I’ve had a stupidly busy weekend, although I did have a sneaky lie in this morning… not that long a one, but was so nice not to have to leap out of bed at half five, I couldn’t resist! (Ok, by the time I post this it’s half eleven… oops).

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Have a photo – of one of my newest acquisitions, I haven’t bought model horses for aaaaages (the two I bought while rally shopping don’t count, hehe) and now I’ve had two in two weeks – it’s rather lovely, although my shelves are now protesting!

Spent yesterday with my parents, they brought my filing cabinet over then we went for breakfast and furniture shopping for their new flat – so much fun, but a bit dangerous, I kept finding the perfect chairs for my long-wished-for reading spot… and they were all hugely expensive 🙁

Then went over to Wendy’s for dinner with her and Sharon and Izzy and Jolee – was so lovely to see them all and catch up, and play some Wii Dance (no, no videos will make it to the internet!) and talk about crafty things and relax 🙂 Bored them with rally photos too, and in a minute I’ll upload those to Flickr – the carefully-selected 200 or so, instead of the full 2101!

Today has been filled with filing and admin and a bit of photography – not in the slightest bit exciting, but all necessary, sadly. Was supposed to be seeing a friend but had (and still have, annoyingly) so much to do I had to cancel… which I’m sad about, I don’t see her very often!

Have spent an hour or so sorting out the Project Pin Up blog header though, and here it is – projectpinup.co.uk 🙂 I’ll do a proper introduction to it when we’ve put the first few posts up, but I’m so excited for it and for my pin up journey to begin!

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Here’s me with my Curiosity Project box – an anonymous swap of a box of curiosities. We’re hoping to match up senders and recipients once they’ve all been posted and received! Contents post once it’s gone up on the Curiosity Project’s blog! Posting mine tomorrow, can’t wait to see my recipient’s reaction! 

Erm… no, that’s pretty much it, I do feel rested but I’m dreading work tomorrow as I have more filing to do, and it’s not so straightforward as my own filing is, mostly because it’s not mine, but it’s just as boring!

(update: at twenty five to midnight, the photos are only 39% complete, so I’m leaving them to upload overnight. Link to come!)

Things that make me happy Thursday – 22/9/11

Skating with Jess – and the first picture I have of me on wheels since I was about twelve 🙂

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Fizzing with excitement over a new project with Mimi from Little Sips of Tea… watch this space for details

Finally settling on my pin up name… to be revealed along with the new project launch 🙂

Having my gorgeous uni girlies over for the weekend, it was so lovely to see them… and then seeing Val & Matt on Monday on their way to the airport for an impromptu dinner and drinks – was exactly what I needed!

Reliving the rally through showing family & friends photos and videos… bittersweet as I still want to be there, but lovely to remember all the little details

Cake!! Bought by lovely Sophia to make work better this week

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Speaking to lovely friends and knowing I’ll see some of them soon

Catching sight of my blackbird just as I was feeling a bit down – he always pops up when I need him 🙂

Completing my first bit of freelance design work in ages – gave me a real sense of achievement!

Booking a vintage hair & makeup workshops with LouMimi and Anna at Make Do and Mend in Chelmsford- it’s going to be SO EXCITING!

Bunting in London, most unexpectedly

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 The glow after the rally and the feeling of knowing I can do absolutely anything – it’s liberating and a little bit scary!

Wearing beautiful shoes to work

Finding this picture of Rusty online – taken by a complete random when we were on our way to Dover. Muchly exciting!

Talking business ideas with friends and being taken seriously, which is always a good thing

Seeing this lovely little Figaro parked in the smallest space ever – I’m fairly sure it wasn’t a space, but it made me smile. And there’s a Banksy/Robbo rat behind it, which made me think of the rally, which made me smile wistfully.

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Two new ponies arriving… one that I’d ordered and one that I’d bought on impulse… whoops! Rather nice to have some new faces on my shelves, even if my shelves are ridiculously overstuffed now.

Janine being on my train entirely unexpectedly 🙂

Making a new friend at work via emails about the staff day – we’re going for lunch and drinks when she’s back from holiday, yay!

 

So many happy things this week… and it’s of course lovely to be back in the blogosphere! Still not used to not being on the rally, my adventuring spirit has well and truly taken hold, but I have plenty to keep me occupied and plenty to plan 🙂 (edit – have updated with some bits I’d forgotten – apologies if you get this twice!)

Things that make me happy Thursdays – 18 August

Despite the rain and the dreariness of being back at work after nine days off, I have found some happy things this week…

  • The rally car has a name and is beginning to take on a personality 🙂 Rusty McLusty has very nearly no paint on her bonnet, a roof full of random stuff and a shed load of stickers to be applied.
  • Finding Breyers at a car boot sale for the first time EVER – I haven’t bought any model horses for a couple of years, and these were just waiting for me to take them home. I’m not sure Rob was that impressed… but the little girls I bought them from seemed pleased!
  • Bristle-and-nylon hairbrushes like this one – I now own two and they’ve changed my life and my hair drastically for the better.
  • Lie-ins – I went out for dinner with work people last night, and stayed at my ex-housemate’s new flat in Marylebone. Which is close enough to work that I was able to get up at HALF PAST SEVEN this morning and still be at work just about on time. (As opposed to my usual 5.30am alarm followed by staggering out of bed at 6am and running around like a headless chicken).
  • Getting locked out of Julia’s flat and sitting on her stairs having the most random conversations while we waited to be rescued by her housemate
  • Living on my own. I miss Jules, but it really is lovely having all this space to myself, and when I came home on Sunday night and let myself in, it really felt like home 🙂
  • Jess’s skates have arrived! Which means we can go skating in Hyde Park next Tuesday… assuming the weather picks up and becomes more like actual summer.

I promise I’ll kick myself into gear and do more posts with photos soon – I have loads drafted of stuff I want to share but haven’t been able to get the photos sorted (either haven’t been able to take them in daylight, or have them but have had no time to edit them!)

Hope your weeks have been as full of happy things 🙂

Book: Contemporary Lingerie Design by Katie Dominy

So I mentioned this briefly in a previous post and promised a more in-depth look at it. It was a complete impulse buy, Lou and I wandered into this bookshop (shamefully I don’t remember what it was called, although I could walk you to it) just before we left Brighton (me to depart for Heather’s wedding, Lou to head home on the train). I wasn’t even looking for a book (inasmuch as I wasn’t looking for a specific book – I’m such an addict that I’m ALWAYS on the hunt for new books to read and to add to my collection).

 

We gravitated towards the fashion/design/craft section, as we always do, and spotted this.

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I ummed and aahhed for about two seconds, then realised I had to have it, it was one of those kind of books. Gorgeously put together, interesting and informative, and actually relevant, I’ve been thinking about expanding both Ducking Fabulous and Checks and Roses to handmade floozy knickers for ages now. I say expand… I need to actually fill the shop up before I can talk about expanding.  Anyway.

 

So inside the book are interviews with lots of contemporary lingerie designers from all over the world. The interviews are interspersed with fabulous photographs, sketchs, inspiration, mood boards and so on which gives what feels like a real insight into the design process. Obviously more detail would be even more fabulous, but a book containing the level of detail I’m after would be about 1000 pages thick!

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For obvious reasons (the skates… the SKATES!!), this is my favourite page of the entire book. But here are some more (gorgeous) spreads to give you an idea of what it’s like inside – for more you’ll have to buy the book!

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I’ve found it incredibly inspirational from a business point of view as well as a designing-pretty-things-and-knickers point of view. Would love to know if any of you have also read it and what you thought, or if there are any other similar books out there – either around the same subject, or a similar layout and approach but a different subject!

Vintage/thrifted finds this week

A mixture of locations this week, I snuck into town while the boys were out playing golf just once during my time at the Open, but in the couple of hours I was there found an utterly gorgeous green tea dress with laced detail back. It is so unassuming on the hanger that I’ve failed to get a decent picture of it, but will put it on and shoot it soon 🙂

I also nearly bought a 50s tablecloth with pub signs on it from Vintage By The Sea, but couldn’t justify £25 on a tablecloth and the proprietor’s attitude changed a bit when she realised I was uncertain about buying it, which put me off. The shop, on the other hand, was so pretty I had to take photos (not very good ones, I admit):

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Then while I was out with Mum on Saturday, I found:

Polka dot work dress:

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Donkey cross stitch kit

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Vintage glass jelly mould – which is going to look awesome in my kitchen!

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Sewing book – this is both wonderfully nostalgic and completely hilarious, it has sections in it for things like ‘The Tummy-bulge Type!’ and ‘The Half-size, or Diminutive Type’ which cracked me up!

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Inside detail:

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I’m going to try and make something from this and see how good their advice is – it was published in 1958-1960 so will be interesting to see what’s changed (if anything!)

 

Also picked up a couple of particularly pretty scarves:

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and of course there are my bottles and tin from Brighton. A good week for thrifting, I’m sure you’ll agree!