Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Come over to the dark side!!!

Tonight I had some impromptu YUMMY sushi (the best kind in my opinion) with Nae after work. We were talking about the weekend, which got me all inspired to try to test out some of the things that I tried to take in from watching Shyla.

Well, we got back to my place right as the sun was flaring, so we ran down to this little random field area in my condo-hood. We missed the sun, but I realized that this might be the exact spot that I've been looking for.

A few fun images of Nae from tonight! Notice anything new about her??? Yup, she's come over to the dark side once again! Glad to have her back in the brunette ranks! :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Look at what Shyla did to me!!!

So....here they are. I can't even believe that this is me in these pictures. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Shyla, you are wonderful, and I love you and what you do. You make people feel good just being around you.....and I am totally humbled at what you can do armed with your 5D! Thank you for a fantastic weekend. Come visit me in Texas soon.

Would love to hear what you all think. But also be sure to leave comments on Shyla's blog too!!! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Life IS Good!!!

The rain started up again this morning around 6am....and it was still coming down pretty hard at 8am, when I had my alarm set to get up for the day. We had planned a little photoshoot for the morning before we left....but didn't expect it to be raining. So, I set the alarm for another hour, and when I got up at 9, it actually looked like it was clearing up a bit.

Well, the subject of the planned photoshoot.....was me. When I first met Shyla, I mentioned that I didn't know what it was like to be in FRONT of the camera....and she said "OH! I'll shoot you!". So, we were lucky to have this little chance, so we took it. We got my hair all done up, she did my makeup all pretty, and in a borrowed dress from Renae, Shyla's boots, we were on our way.

Shyla loves open fields, and we found a perfect one along the side of the road back towards town to stop. I was SOOOOOO AWKWARD....oh my goodness! Just made me appreciate SO much more how great everyone that I've shot has been....because, seriously, I was an idiot. After a few shots in the field, we got in the car and decided to get towards the ferry dock for the stand by line to get home.

We arrived at 1145am, and were the very last car allowed in the stand by line. When we asked them how long it would be until we left, he said that we had a least a few hours. We made a quick stop across the street to one of the shops, and came back at noon to be sure we wouldn't be holding up any lines if we had to move. Well....the noon boat left, but then another smaller one pulled up, and it was being loaded up too. The 1st stand by line was empty....the 2nd one was emptying....and then the cars in front of us started to move too. Would you believe it that we were the VERY last car, to back in, on the 1215 ferry!!! WOOHOO!!! So much for waiting a few hours....whew, we got so lucky.

Well, we hadn't really planned on leaving so early, we still had some shooting left to do....so, Shyla and I hopped out and finished up the shoot on the ferry. Surprisingly enough, I wasn't as weird and awkward on the boat, with all of the cars watching....well, it might have been Shyla's constant encouragement that the pics were actually looking good too. I didn't so much believe her until she showed me one or two, and then I was like "Hey, those aren't half bad....let's do this!" and we had a lot of fun going around the deck of the boat! Don't worry....I'll be showing them soon....but they'll deserve a post of their own because SHYLA is AMAZING and wonderful at what she does....so hang tight, you'll see them soon! :)

This was the view of when we were pulling out of the dock....seriously, so beautiful!

When we got back to the mainland, earlier than we expected, we headed over to Newbury Street in downtown Boston. What a perfectly New England area, I loved it. Especially the Life is Good store. Of course I had to get a little something from here too....such a fun place!!

Suzanne dropped us off, as she and a friend were headed to the NKOTB concert tonight. Shyla and I got some pizza, and settled in to review the day's shots. She had an advance copy of Ironman, so we hooked up the speakers to the computer, propped it up on the bookshelf, and relaxed as tying out the weekend.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Won't you stay on the Vineyard for the summer?

So, the reason I am in Boston, and now, Edgartown, in Martha's Vineyard, is to second shoot a wedding with Shyla. When she mentioned this to me back when we saw each other in NYC, I knew that I had to jump on this opportunity!

Since we were fortunate enough to be able to have the car with us, we headed into Edgartown to find Espresso Love for some caffeine and a snack before going to meet up with the bride. Wow, did we hit the jackpot with this place....the coffee was superb, and my cinnamon raisin bagel with butter totally hit the spot.

It was a beautiful wedding. Eileen and Chris were totally adorable, so in love, and 100% laid back - the day was really about them, their family, and the celebration of the two of them being together. It was so amazing to see Shyla in action - she is really so amazing at what she does - and I even picked up a few tricks along the way that I'm so excited about! I can't wait to get back home and test them out in Austin!!!

There were 9 little flower girls, 2 ring bearers, and a few other kiddos, all part of the wedding. They really made the day that much more enjoyable....the images that Shyla got of these little darlings are awesome.

So, you're wondering about the rain??? Well, it held off almost ALL day. The ceremony and reception were rain free, which made a fantastic afternoon. The kids were able to run and play in the big open area behind the reception venue (some awesome images to come from that) all afternoon. Right when things were winding down, the 4 of us (me, Shyla, along with the bride and groom) went down to the water's edge for a quick portrait session. I drove the getaway car, and dropped them off....circling the hotel until they were ready. After a few circles, it started to DOWNPOUR - I mean, REALLY, come down!! When I came back around, I saw the 3 of them running, umbrellas in hand, to get back to the car. They were all soaked, but WOW, did Shyla really take advantage of the weather, and managed to get some images that they should cherish for a lifetime. :)

I managed to stay dry as I was driving....but here's a quick shot of what we looked like after getting back to the reception area.

After we left the wedding, it was still light outside, so we made our way into town, and had to make a pit stop at one of the many "The Black Dog" shops on the island. Evidently the "black dog" is an island mascot of sorts, so it was only fitting to get ourselves some souvenirs while we could.

I got a message on Facebook from a friend, Regina, who saw my updates saying that I was in MV, and she recommended that we check out Nancy's in Oak Bluffs for some grub. We managed to locate it without too much hassle, and stuffed ourselves silly for dinner. The seafood here was fantastic!!

We ventured a little bit more around the town, managed to find a candy shop where we picked up a few goodies, and then headed back to the hostel for the night.

While sorting through some of the days images, I remembered a certain Jackopierce song that mentioned "the vineyard", and luckily had it on my phone for us to listen. It was so cool to hear it in a whole new light: mentions of the ferry, Oak Bluffs, and other things that we now knew about personally. I can now see why they would want to "stay on the Vineyard for the summer" - what a beautiful place!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rain, Rain and some more Rain in Boston

I flew into Boston late last night for a weekend of learning and fun! Even though I landed an hour later than I was expected, and it was past midnight when I found them, Shyla and Suzanne were all smiles waiting for me when I found them.

After getting to Shyla's place, we quickly crashed as there was still a full day of work on Friday before we could get started on the weekend. Today, I was on my concalls bright and early, and worked from Shyla's living room.....she was kind enough to let me use her Mac Book Pro since I couldn't get my laptop connected. Man, oh man, do I want one of those.....but, one thing at a time, Annemarie!!!

It was raining from the minute I woke up until after work when Suzanne came to get us, and we were on our way to the ferry dock. Normally it wouldn't have taken as long, but it was about a little over 2 hours for us to get to where we needed to be in order to get over to Martha's Vineyard, due to the rain and traffic!

We made it to the parking area of the transit authority, and learned that there was still room for us to take the car with us on the ferry - SCORE!!! So, we got ourselves over to the loading area, and then took off to grab a bite to eat before taking off. It was STILL raining, and it didn't look like it'd be letting up any time soon! Oh well, we made the most of it, and were still smiling!

The ferry ride was an interesting one. We were in the bottom of the boat, and the cars were all rocking pretty bad. All the rain for the day made for some choppy waters. BUT....we made it to land, and then our adventure began to find the hostel.

Suzanne had stayed at the hostel last time she was in Martha's Vineyard, and so we opted to do this again. What a super neat little place! It was so quaint, cozy, and luckily, very clean! :) It wasn't a busy weekend, probably due to the crappy weather, so we ended up having a room all to ourselves. :) Woohoo!!

We turned in a little bit after midnight....excited for what Saturday had in store!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


If there is one thing that I have in common with Joey from Friends, it's that my favorite food is sandwiches!!! I like all kinds of sandwiches....but mostly the ones that have lots of stuff on them. I am definitely not a bread and meat only kind of girl....throw it all on there - mayo, mustard, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives, pickles, salt & pepper, oil & vinegar....got anything else you can put on there? Sure, add that too!! I love me some sandwiches!!

One of my favorite places for a good yummy sandwich is Tex-Andwiches. I remember noticing the teeny, rundown, building when I was at an eye doctor appointment about 7 years ago. After I saw the name, thought that maybe they had sandwiches there, and went to try it out.....and as they say.....the rest is history!

I've taken many people there, and they too have loved it! For a short time, we were without the yummy deliciousness because they were forced to shut down . The land they were on for something like 30+ years was bought by the city, and they had to close. But not to fret.....a few months later....they were back up and running in their new location!

I have the phone number memorized, 255-0294, but it's also saved in my phone. They get kind of busy sometimes, and it's nice to call ahead and put in my order. I've been eating there for so long that the owner knows me by name, and when I call, he says "Oh, I know you. See you in 5 minutes.".

Well, after dropping off a few things at the bank today, I needed a bite to eat, and I called upon my favorite sandwich place. When I went in to pick it up, there was a full fledge, like real, camera crew there...filming in the kitchen. I was all giddy and happy for them, and asked the owner what was going on. After giving me my lunch, he walked outside with me and told me that it was the Food Network. They were in town filming some stuff about Round Rock, they'd been to the new Salt Lick, Lone Star Bakery, and were advised to come over there for lunch. They got there, and decided to film it too!

I can't tell you how excited I am that this little gem has the chance to be featured on national TV! How COOL is that??!?! Well....now to think about it.....uh oh....what if they get too big and too busy and forget all about their favorite customer??

Nah, I would love it if everyone knew about this awesome little place. They've been running it for something like 30 years or so. So, next time you need a good sandwich fix - check em out! I always get the TexAndwich on French.....it's so good! :)

Don't forget to get your Tex-Andwiches Club card stamped. After 5 sandwiches, you get a free small one! I can't count the number of times that I've filled up those cards! :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Family Story - Ryan, Maggie and Kalynne!

I met up with Ryan, Maggie and Kalynne at San Gabriel Park in Georgetown for a Family Story photo shoot! What a beautiful place - so much for us to see and explore. Would be the perfect spot to take a blanket and a good book, and spend the afternoon relaxing.....but that wasn't our plan for this day.

I had a blast covering as much of the park as Kalynne would show us! I did my best to keep up with her, as we had an adventure of our own!

Here are a few of my favorites, but be sure to catch the slideshow at the end to see all of the story!

I loved Kalynne's dancing....she was getting so into it! :)

The only almost mishap of the day was when this one goose took a special liking to Kalynne. Ryan had to pick her up to get him to not snap at her. Instead, he nipped at Ryan's jeans! Crazy goose!!

I LOVE this one....I think she looks like the little angel that she is!

Don't forget to watch the slideshow too!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Arredondo Family Shoot

So...here's the post that it's taken me almost a week to finish. This week was pretty crazy at work, and so I didn't get to spend much time doing things that I love - like getting to work on the photos from the Arredondo Family Story photo shoot from last Sunday.

Laura sits right next to me at work, and had mentioned that she wasn't sleeping well because she wasn't sure how the pictures turned out. So she could catch some zzzzz's, I sent her some previews last week.....but here are the rest!

I had such a great time with Laura, Andrew, and especially Ava!! They were fantastic! I also included some of the fun shots that Brett got of me doing what I love! Be sure to watch the slideshow at the end too! :)

I'll be out of town for most of October, but am booking sessions for November and December. Please be sure to let me know if you want to have me capture your story! Click here to find out more about Photos by AP.

Be sure to watch the slideshow for all the photos!

Me....doing what I love! I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get the photo! :)

My assistant for the day.....ok, everyone at once.... "Awwww......". Yes, I agree. Brett looks totally adorable and oh, so, studly hanging out with Ava. She absolutely adored him too!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Night Fun with AP, ToniLoo and Gracie!!!

Kara, Terry and Ava took off for a little weekend getaway.....there wasn't enough room in the car for Gracie, so Toni and I came over to hang out with her because she's just not tall enough to set the alarm at night. Just teasing on the car part....but Grace was going to stay home for this one, so we were babysitting the little angel.

Kara has this crazy idea in her head that Gracie is a little devilish child.......I have no idea what she's talking about.....especially after today.

She was ready to get up from her nap right after K, T and A left....and I walked into a smiling baby, ready to play.

We played out in the backyard for a bit, and then I decided to get us to the park instead. We played on the slide, and walked around for a while, and started to head back. I thought it would be good to take the other route back to the house - I was pretty sure I knew where I was going.

Well....oops!! I must have gotten turned around, because I didn't end up back on their street....but instead somewhere else in the neighborhood. Both of us were getting a little tired, so I whipped out my iPhone and it was (once again) Maps to the rescue!! I found where we were.....located K&T's house....and phew, we made our way back before we were both too pooped! It's been pretty nice here during the day, but it was definitely back up in the 90s this afternoon. Both of our cheeks were pretty pink after our unplanned walk!

When we got back home, I did as the instructions were posted - and opened the cabinet for Gracie to play. She had a grand ole time pulling out all the tupperware, as well as getting IN the cabinet herself. I had to grab my camera while she was playing - she was just too stinking cute!

She even helped me put them all away before we went back outside to dig a little more before dinner.

Toni came and joined us, and we made the yummy din din of Mac n Cheese with Hotdog! If Kara hadn't just cooked up some yummy Chicken Tetrazinni, we were probably going make triple of what she was eating - hers looked just as good!!

Kara made us a little goodie basket too - she's so thoughtful! :)

After dinner, it was time for some playing....and the Noggin network. We learned how to do the 'Yeti Stomp' from the Backyardigans! I don't think that I'll be able to get that song out of my head, but I must say, that out of all the different kiddo shows out there - I actually enjoyed this one. Those little guys are adorable, and their tunes aren't half bad! "Stomp, stomp, stomp.....doing the Yeti Stomp - YETI YETI YETI!!!!".

After putting Gracie to bed, we got a call from Kara, and assured her that her little girl was doing great!! She was half in shock, but happy to know that, and was going to get some good sleep tonight knowing so! Toni and I did our best to keep our eyes open to watch The Bucket List, but we didn't even make it half way through before we both turned in for the evening.

It'll be an early morning, waking up with the kiddo.....but I bet it makes it that much easier for Kara and Terry to do it on a daily basis, to be reminded how lucky they are to have two perfect little girls with smiling faces when they do!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Little Tuesday Evening Treat.....and sushi!

Today was crazy busy from start to finish.....lots of stuff to get done, which included a lot of phone calls at work, I'm surprised that I still have a voice!!

But....tonight was a special treat. When I was a freshman in the dorms at A&M, I lived at the end of a very long hall on the 4th floor of Mosher. At the other end of this hall lived a group of fantastic girls that I spent many, many, hours with that year. Some at appropriate hours, and some at the wee hours of the morning in the study carrels....not doing so much studying, but having great girl chat conversations.....when we definitely should have been sleeping. We nicknamed ourselves the "Budro Buddies". We made a lot of awesome memories that year.....including a memorable trip to Del Rio for New Year's Eve - sleepwalk much Annemarie??? Good times! I lost touch with the buddies after moving out of the dorm that year, but the rest of them all stuck together, and are still friends today.

We were put back in touch with each other about 7 years ago, when I sat next to Tricia at work. We were looking through her wedding album, and I saw Karen (who turned out to be her sister) in the pictures! Such a small world! Karen and I figured out that it's been almost 5 years since we'd seen each other last, when a few of us got together for a dinner over the holiday break in Houston.

She and her hubby are displaced from Houston, staying with Tricia, due to having no power at their house, and so we decided it would be perfect to grab a bite and catch up.

We ate the most fabulous sushi (I really do heart Kenobi) and gabbed the whole time. Turns out that Karen is a photog lover too, even though she has a Nikon!!! We chatted about that for a while, reminisced about some college stories, and caught up on current times in our lives.

When I got home, I didn't have to look hard to find the scrapbook that I made from my freshman year in college....wow, hard to believe that it was 14 years ago. Looking at these pictures, it seems like it was just yesterday. Crazy!

A snapshot from memory lane.

And tonight! :)

It's always great to catch up with old friends and see how we've all grown up, and where we are now. It was fantastic to spend some time with you, Karen! Let's not have it be another 5 years before we do it again! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seriously? What is a Cold Front???

I'm no meteorologist...so I can't explain what happened in the crazy world of weather that resulted in making today as beautiful as it was, but WHOA, was it a nice surprise this morning to walk outside and have it be chilly!

Yes, chilly.....in Austin. Texas. Crazy, I know!!!

I've been reading and hearing about friends, that live in places where it's less stinking hot than Texas, mention having to get out coats (yes, Melissa, I'm referring to you), but thought that we were still a long ways away from getting any relief from the heat.

Well, bring out the long sleeves.....at least for me....it's COLD up in Austin! :) Woohoo!!!

It was a great day, but with a bittersweet ending. I took Brett to the airport this evening to head back home to Santa Barbara. He's been away for a LONG time, so I'm sure that the fine residents of SB are missing him dearly. Hope Kyle has some balloons and streamers ready for your "Welcome Home" party!

When I got home, it was still feeling great outside, so I plopped down on the chair closest to the windows, opened up the balcony door, enjoyed my dinner of coffee and cheese filled crumb cake, and curled up with a good book. :) Going to read more now.....night night everyone!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I promise that we did more than just eat today! :)

I am still in shock at the amount of damage that Hurricane Ike did in Houston. Luckily, my parents and sisters all have their power restored, and didn't suffer too much mishap, but it's unbelievable to me how wind and rain can be that destructive. I hope that everyone that was affected is OK, and will let me know what I can do to help.

I read this morning on Mac's blog that they were accepting donations for people affected by the storm, so I pulled out a few of my games and had them all ready to take with me. After Renae and Jeff picked us up, and we were already on the way to the new downtown location of LHC, I realized that I'd left the bag in my house! DOH! I could have kicked myself! It was week 2 of having the remote service at the Austin Music Hall, and it was really awesome. I love the band, the music and Mac is a great person to listen to and watch. I love how he starts out with a story that we can all relate to, and then brings it into what message he's chosen for the day.

Afterwards, we were all starved, which was a great opportunity to introduce Brett to another Austin favorite - Maudie's! One word - YUMMMMM!! Yes, it deserves that many "M"s. :)

The afternoon fun was fulfilled with a family story photo shoot with the Arredondo family (some teaser images to come soon!). I also owe a HUGE thank you to Brett for being my right arm as well as a fantastic babysitter to Ava while I got some pics of Mom and Dad. He also managed to get a few fun shots of me "in action" that I'll share once I've processed the pics. Good times!

On the drive back to their house from the park, we passed by the newly opened Round Rock location of the Salt Lick, and HAD to make a U-turn to stop for some BBQ. It's a totally different BBQ experience in comparison to Rudy's, so I didn't feel bad for having another BBQ stop on this Austin trip for Brett. :)

Our 1.5 hour expected wait, turned out to only be 35 minutes...but that was plenty of time to get a few cute photos...and this adorable video, of Miss Ava. Guess kiddos love that little blue birdie as much as adults! :)

We stuffed our faces....once again....and finished off the day with very full bellies, and smiles on our faces.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Humdingers, Gnilleps, Cameos and Lexicons!!!

We were supposed to be in Houston this weekend, but due to the storm threats, we decided to stay put in Austin instead. We'll make it to H-town next time. :)

So, we had a pretty lazy afternoon, but then we decided to get out and run around a bit. I was happy to hear that the girls were going to be home, so Brett and I made a quick trip to say hello to Stacy, Lisa and Caleb. Poor Caleb wasn't feeling well, so he was taking a little nap, but we scored and were able to hang out for a bit with a bunch of the girls as they were having a Guitar Hero gathering in place of watching the UT game. I hadn't seen a lot of them in quite a while, so it was awesome to be able to say HI!

Brett and I had talked about it the night before, so I made a few calls to arrange an impromptu "Game Night" gathering at my place for the evening. After a stop at the grocery store to get some goodies....we whipped up some veggies with dip, cheese/sausage/crackers, and a pickle/olive selection together. We hadn't eaten dinner yet, so I might have gone a little overboard on the snacks for only 6 people. :) But seriously people - I love snacks like that. I could eat cucumbers and red bell peppers with ranch dip every night! Yummm!!!

Kara, Terry, Toni and Scott came over to play. After recomposing ourselves due to Terry's side-splitting humor while snacking, we decided on Cranium for our game of choice. I was surprised that no one else had played it before (so I secretly though....heh heh....got this one in the bag). We teamed up as couples, and we were off for some friendly competition!

My first clue to get Brett to guess was to "Cameo" (act like, mimicking speech and actions, but not saying names or places) Kenneth Starr. Ummmm.....yeah.......right! I tried to get him to guess Bill Clinton to even get close to where I would be going and that didn't really work out that well.

Kara and Terry, and Toni and Scott, both did really great! Back to me and Brett - yeah, well, we didn't really fare so well. :) We got a few tough breaks, some bad rolls, mixed in with some right answers, but before we knew it, the other teams were in the final circle and we weren't even 1/4 of the way through the board. DOH!! Oh well....despite us both being self proclaimed pretty competitive spirits, we had a great time losing together. :)

Molly even came out to say hello after a while.....and even more shocking, she let Toni hold her long enough for us to take a few pics until we got one that we were all happy with!

Friday, September 12, 2008

There's a Rudy's Rookie in Austin!!

My favorite Californian, Brett, is back in Austin for a few days, visiting his favorite Texan (yes, I took liberties at that statement....) before heading home to Santa Barbara....so I've been trying to be sure that he experiences a few more "local" things while he's here.

Today, for lunch, we picked up Toni, and went over to have some yummy BBQ at Rudy's. Since it was Brett's first time there, we tattled, and were sure to let the folks at the counter know this. "Have you all been to Rudy's before?". Toni and I had....plenty of times...but Brett? Hee hee - "He hasn't!!".


After it was announced to the entire restaurant, Brett was treated to a few samples. He liked them all - so we decided to get a little bit of each...and proceeded to stuff ourselves silly. I'd say it was a successful trip!! :)

We decided to get out for a bit, and go see a movie. We caught Righteous Kill. It was a great flick, and even better with our illegally snuck in Candy Corn. :) Shhh....don't tell. I think that our punishment was eating the whole bag......ugh, rot gut!!!

On the drive home from the theater, we were witness to the most glorious sunset!! As soon as we pulled into the driveway, and the car was off, we ran upstairs to get the camera, and then back outside to watch up close, and of course, grab a few pics to document the evening.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Work Meetings Full of Presentations, Golf Putting and Silly Flower Girls

Today was the second full day of our manager's meeting in North Carolina. Over the last two nights, Laura and I haven't been getting much sleep in anticipation for giving our presentations to the full room of attendees today. We stayed up way too late on Sunday night putting them together, some time on Monday night perfecting them, and then applying a few finishing touches just this morning - nothing like waiting until the last minute!!!

When we walked into the room that was setup for our meetings today....I was a little worried. Well, not worried, but....well, not sure what I was. I wasn't too nervous about presenting, but the room was a little bit intimidating to say the least.

The morning went by as fast as it could....and then came the fateful hour when it was time for us to start. I was set to go first, but luckily, one of the other practice managers had to get to a lunch meeting, so my spot was swapped with his - phew!!!

Laura went in the first half of the group, and she did awesome. With as nervous as she was, I wasn't sure what to expect - but she killed it!! I went last....and it went a lot better than I expected. We only had 15 minutes to get it all complete, and while I talk fast, there was a lot that I wanted to get in front of this group while I had the opportunity.

The evening activity before dinner was a putting competition. There were about 13 teams of 2 - Laura and I teamed up and did our best to not do too poor of a job representing Texas. Well, on the 15 hole putting course, we ended up at +12. So, we have no future in golf - but we sure did have a good time!! We even won the last place prize at the start of dinner. :)

Dinner was yummy, I cleaned every plate that they brought in front of me, and it was great to get to spend some time getting to know the management team on a smaller scale group. Henson even showed us a trick that he'd learned during his 14 years as a bartender, and pulled a cork out of an empty bottle of wine. Laura tried to emulate the trick...it might take more than a few tries to master this one!