Thursday, November 24, 2016

small business saturday

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all had a great day! I stayed here at school and had dinner with my friend and her sister. I have eaten a ridiculous amount of food, but I regret nothing. Right now I'm just drinking tea and chilling. Honestly, it feels good to just relax after having so much stuff going on all the time.

As some of you might know, this Saturday is Small Business Saturday, a day all about supporting your local small businesses. I recently moved here to Evanston, so while I am still not a connoisseur of all of the small businesses here, I am still pretty excited about it. Small businesses are very valuable to local economies and this is why we should all make a conscious effort to participate on Small Business Saturday!

I was recently having brunch in one of my favorite small businesses here in Evanston, Bagel Art Cafe, and I saw this poster hanging from their wall:

So, Evanston readers, this sounds like a pretty cool opportunity to support some local businesses! I will definitively be going there with some friends.

I definitively recommend brunching at Bagel Art Cafe, because I honestly can't go a day without having a bagel. Another of my other favorite Evanston-based businesses is Alley Gallery because they have really cool posters and an even cooler parrot. I also love Bookends and Beginnings and you will too if, like me, you enjoy spending hours just wondering around cute/cozy bookstores and getting overwhelmed by all of the amazing books you feel like you must read. Finally, of course, shout out to Kafein because all college students need coffee at midnight at some point.

I'll be supporting the local business this Saturday and using the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat and you should too! If you guys would like to read more about Small Business Saturday and its economic impact, I recommend reading this article from Fundera, an online resource for small business owners. Fundera helps out small businesses in different ways; for instance, they have small business loans that can help business owners fund seasonal workers and increase inventory during the holidays. Check out their site for more information on the ways they can help out!

Oh and, if you are a reader from back home in Cali, remember to shop in Deganado for all of your pet-related necessities. Check out their Facebook page! Shameless plug for the family biz y'all.

Thanks for reading and remember to shop local!


Friday, September 30, 2016

christmas prep

It has been a while. I'm sorry! Moving into college has been extremely fun, exciting and hectic; it really feels like I have experienced so much in the last few weeks. I'm finally back though. 

I have been loving the weather here in Evanston for the last couple of days because it's been getting pretty chilly. Back in Colombia it would be hot literally everyday of the year, so it has been very cool to experience how the weather begins to change. I have talked about the weather so much for the last few weeks it's crazy, but it's just such a cool novelty to me.

I know it's very early but I can't help but think about how cool christmas will be this year. The thing is I have never gotten the chance to experience a christmas like they show in the movies; a "white christmas", if you will. Honestly though, Christmas is less than 100 days away, can you believe it? I'm super pumped about decorating my dorm with christmasy stuff, and just being outside and exploring Evanston and Chicago during the holiday time. I bet the city is going to look gorgeous in December, even though everyone keeps telling me I'm going to freeze during the winter because I'm not used to it. For now, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the snow and drinking coffee and tea and wearing coats. Basically, I have a very idealized image of winter/the holiday season. In Cali, I couldn't really look forward to any of this. However, my family did have some awesome holiday traditions that I will certainly miss. First of all, the typical Colombian christmas food is crazy good. My favorite are buñuelos and hojaldras. I unfortunately don't know the recipe for them, but if you ever happen to be at a Colombian christmas party, make sure you try them. Also, I remember when I was little I would come up with choreographies  to christmas songs with my aunt and my brother. We would practice for hours and then present them to our whole family on christmas eve. Later on, we decided we wanted to do a play, and my mom literally made a script portraying the birth of Jesus and all of the family had different roles in the play. I used to play the angel and was always super professional about it because I wanted everything to be perfect. After a few years, my family began traveling to Orlando for the holiday season, which I also enjoyed a lot. We all really like the amusement parks and the nostalgia they hold really does make spending christmas there extra special and sentimental.

This was what my house looked like last year for christmas.

This is what the pre-dinner table looked like last christmas.

These are the buñuelos. They are probably extremely unhealthy but so good.

This year is going to be fairly different because I'm in college; however, I will be spending christmas with my family, just not in Colombia. The cool thing about spending part of the holiday season here in college is that the independence makes me feel like an adult and now I'll be in charge of deciding how to spend time/decorate my dorm. This is silly because my parents always did whatever my brother and I wanted, but the feeling of independence is weirdly satisfying. I have some plans for the holiday season, and hopefully I'll be able to do them all. I really want to go around Evanston and Chicago to see the decorations and take pictures of them. I am also very excited about going to Starbucks and listening to jazzy christmas music while drinking coffee. It's such a silly thing, but I really do love christmas music. I listen to it all the time and I just want it to be socially acceptable to listen to it out loud already! Finally, I think it would be very cool to send christmas cards to my friends here and in Colombia. Movies have taught me that sending cards is a tradition here in the US. I have never sent a holiday card in my life, because that's just not a thing we did in Colombia, but I really want to this year. If you guys are planning on sending christmas cards you should check out these really cute ones from Paperless Post's new collection which I would personally love to use.

Do you guys have any cool holiday traditions? I would love to know! I hope you guys enjoyed reading this quick post and that you're feeling just as excited about christmas as I am. Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

last post in cali: thoughts about leaving

If you ever wondered if I have artistic talent, now you know the answer is yes, very much so.


This will hopefully be my last blog post from Cali, Colombia, at least until summer of next year. In about 12 hours (at 3:00 am tomorrow), I will be traveling to Chicago, where I will be going to college. For those of you who don't know, I will be going to Northwestern University to major in Radio/TV/Film. I thought I would make a quick post today just to say goodbye to my old blogging set up here in Cali. I'm in my bed right now and my cat is sleeping next to me, and it just feels unreal that I will leave for college in a few hours. Leaving Tigger (my cat) makes me very sad, of course, but for some reason I feel like he knows what's going on; he's been following me around all day, even more than what he usually does. I really hope he can be happy without me here with him. I will miss him so much I am literally tearing up as I write this. We have been together for over 13 years now, and I'm afraid he'll feel abandoned. Anyway, here are some pictures of us.

If you guys like cat accounts on Instagram you should totally follow Tigger's! It's @tiggerrayas, and I post really cute pictures of him there.

It's been hard saying goodbye to some people, more than I thought it would be at least. I was very sad when I said goodbye to my boyfriend, who is living in Bogota, but right now I'm so overwhelmed by excitement and curiosity that all I'm thinking about is how awesome it will be to arrive to Chicago tomorrow. I think there are two moments when I get sad when saying goodbye to someone: first, when I am actually saying goodbye to them, and second, a while after when I remember a specific memory that makes me nostalgic. Nostalgia is hard, but I love feeling it.

I am a bit anxious about my room and some people I never got to say goodbye to. My room is very spacial to me, as you might have guessed if you read the last post I made, and leaving it behind is making me quite a bit anxious. I'm not sure how to explain the way I feel. Let me try: I get like these compulsions and I have to repeat stuff over and over again and thinking about leaving my room are making them worse. Also, my room is where Tigger usually is and where Becca lives as well. I don't know but I just feel like I'm leaving two living creatures behind and that makes me anxious. I know my family is here to take care of them, but I still can't help feeling stuff. Now, about the people I couldn't say goodbye to, it's probably not what you expect. There are like three baristas that have known me well from different coffee shops, and they don't know I'm leaving for university. Yes, they probably won't notice/care about me being absent, but I can't help but wonder what they'll think happened to me. People make up stories in their minds, at least I know I do, and I would like to know what story they make up for me.

Something interesting has happened, just before I move to the USA. My page views from the USA have grown SIGNIFICANTLY lately. I think significantly is an understatement: Colombia was usually my main source of traffic, but now I'm getting over 12 times more views from the USA than Colombia. That's great, I mean, of course I want more visits, but it just makes me curious. Nonetheless, I hope if you're here, you're enjoying it: I really enjoy writing/posting outfits here, so I hope people like what I'm doing as well. I would really appreciate it if you let me know by leaving a comment or following me! I don't know, I just thought I'd share that because it has been on my mind lately.

Next time I post something I will most likely be in my hotel, since I can only move into my dorm on September 8th. I will keep you posted on everything!

Sorry if this was all over the place, but that's how my mind is working right now. I also don't really have time to edit because I have to wake up at like 1:30 am tomorrow! Like always, thanks a lot for reading, for those of you who did.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

little treasures in my room

Hey everyone!

Sorry I wasn't able to post yesterday but I had just gotten back from Bogotá and saying goodbye to some people that are very important to me, so I wasn't really feeling my best. That being said, I have (I think) a pretty cool post to share today, so I hope you enjoy it.

 I believe rooms say a lot about a person: the way they are decorated, how messy or organized they are, and the little things hidden in the drawers only the owner knows about, all have something to say about us and our personalities. I love spending time in my room because I've created my own personal space I feel comfortable in, and I can just leave the rest of the world outside for a while when I am here. I have really worked on making my room my space since I was very young and it really does hold objects with a lot of sentimental value. Some of them are meaningful due to the story behind them, and some of them are just pretty rare or weird. When I invite people over, especially if it is their first time in my room, I have noticed they all love to explore and ask about different objects that catch their attention. I want to share with you guys a few of the"treasures" in my room that I think are cool and interesting, and that people that come here are usually curious and want to know more about. 

Before we start, I actually have been wanting to make this post since June 2015 but I believe right now, a few days before leaving for college, is a more appropriate time as I have been feeling sort of nostalgic about leaving my room and everything it represents behind. Most of these pictures were taken last year, except for the recent one of my cactus, Becca.

1. Becca the cactus

Becca was a gift my boyfriend gave me on our one year anniversary back in November 2014. I called her Becca because that is Nicole Kidman's character's name in Rabbit Hole, a film I watched when we had just started dating and that reminds me a lot about that time in my life and how I felt at the end of 2013. The first picture of Becca was taken in June 2015 and the second one I took yesterday, so August 2016. Look how much she has grown! For a while we thought she was going to die because part of her was brown and looked pretty dead to us, even though we are not plant experts. I really tried taking good care of her and she is looking very alive and well!

2. Why Wait? wall decoration

I got this in spring of 2015, an amazing time period for me; it was full of change and some disappointments but it was still a fun time. I really enjoyed this time of my life and I have some amazing memories from when I bought this decoration. I had recently been to a party in which I fell down pretty badly because it was so dark: I still have the scar in my left leg to this day and I kind of love it. It may sound weird but it is a nice looking scar and I like the story behind it. I had also recently watched Cinderella and worn one of my favorite American Apparel dresses and my Phoenix jacket to the theater because it was raining that day. Good times, you guys.

3. Stingray tooth

Yup. I own a real stingray tooth. How cool is that? A Sea World employee gave it to me because I was "very brave" and feed the stingrays for like two hours. I'm actually a little obsessed with stingrays, I think they are super adorable and I just want to pet them all day long. This is probably one of my most prized possessions. I remember I asked my mom to keep it in her wallet so I would not lose it and could still ride on all of the attractions. That being said, I do not condone animal abuse in any way, and I am now aware of the truth behind Sea World: the fact that I have amazing memories from the last time I went there, two years ago, does not mean I will return or that I would recommend anyone to go either.

4. Dinosaur figures

I actually found them in the trash at my school, but they were part of my boyfriend's science fair project (he had to build like a rollercoaster and the dinosaurs were decorations). When I saw the rollercoaster next to a trashcan at school I immediately took some of the dinosaurs because ever since he first showed me his project I really wanted to have them. I just think this is a very funny story! Also, anyone who knows me, knows I love dinosaurs ever since I was a kid and watched Jurassic Park. By the way, these figures are another nice memory from spring of 2015.

5. Matryoshka doll (I guess?)

I think I got this when I was in 9th grade, but I don't quite remember the story too well. I just saw it in my favorite store at the time, which is unfortunately closed now (at least in Cali). I think it is very cool and I love the surprised expression on the last doll as if she had just noticed someone was watching her as she undressed.

6. Frida Kahlo pillow

This is another gift from my boyfriend I received on spring of 2015. Told you guys, it was a pretty great time. We were just hanging out and decided to go inside a cute store for kids I really like because of the decor things they have, and he got this pillow for me there. I love it, and I love Frida Kahlo ever since I was in second grade.

Behind her are some Chick Corea concert tickets. I may or may not have fallen asleep during that concert.

She has yellow underwear, in case you were wondering. I know I did.

7. Panic button!

I got this at the Barnes & Nobel in Union Square in Manhattan, I think, in summer 2014. It's pretty awesome and people love touching it.

8. Stingray stuffed animal

I got this at Sea World too, with the tooth I wrote about above. It came with a giant lollipop which I gave to my brother because I'm not into them. I just wanted a stingray stuffed animal that was cute and small, and this one is perfect. I just really like stingrays and dinosaurs you guys.

Look at the cute little details! :3

So what did you guys think? What are some treasures you keep in your room? Please let me know in the comments! Thanks so much for reading!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

road trip essentials: my playlist

Hey everyone!

What did you guys do this summer? Did any of you go on a road trip? I used to detest long car rides when I was younger because I would get terrible motion sickness; now, I have gotten over this and I believe part of it has to do with music. Yup, music really does make a long car ride fun, relaxing and enjoyable. Today I will share some of my favorite songs for road trips, so you can enjoy the journey while singing your heart out. These are all songs I love, and I really do enjoy singing to them at the top of my lungs, even though I am definitively not musically talented.

This playlist can also be helpful for the people leaving for college sometime this month or next month. If you are planing on driving all the way to your college (which may be located all the way across the country) this playlist is very fun and happy and I believe it really does help ease the stress of traveling.

Here is the playlist I created on 8tracks! Just click the play button and listen to it without having to leave this page!

1. Michael P. - Russian Red
2. If I Ever Feel Better - Phoenix
3. Stay Stay Stay - Taylor Swift
4. Drive My Car - The Beatles
5. Love is Endless - Mozella
6. I Hate You But I Love You - Russian Red
7. Enchanted - Taylor Swift
8. Liztomania - Phoenix
9. Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
10. Crazy - Aerosmith
11. Suck it and See - Artic Monkeys

If you guys are looking for a car rental service, I recommend you check out Turo, a peer-to-peer car rental company. It is different from any car rental company I have ever heard of before, and their concept is very cool! You can rent cars from local renters at your destination, and you can also list your car for others to rent. This makes your experience renting a car much more personal, in my opinion. Sometimes the owners of the cars you rent leave their personal playlists on their car for you to listen to while on the road. The small things like this can really make your experience special, magical, and something you will remember dearly. Check out this video to learn more! I really like sharing resources like Turo with you guys in the hopes of helping out or making your life easier in some way.

If you guys went on a road trip this summer let me know what songs were your favorites!

Thanks a lot for reading!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

things i loved in july

Hey everyone!

I'm aware it is a bit late to talk about my July favorites, but I thought it would be something fun to read anyways. Let's begin.

1. Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig

For some reason, I recently "rediscovered" Grace Helbig, literally watched almost every video in her channel and I'm catching up on her podcast on iTunes. She is so funny, I'm just obsessed. The episode about Krampus on her podcast was specially hilarious: that is exactly how I felt after watching it. Made me wish I had known about her in December!

2. Stranger Things

I watched the entire first season in two days and L O V E D it. It has an awesome like 80's science fiction atmosphere to it and everything about it is so well executed. I'm a huge fan tbh. I don't want to tell you too much about it because i don't want to spoil anything, but basically it all begins when a boy disappears on his way home at night. It is full of mystery and really does draw you into the story.

3. Oatmeal Cookies

They are these really amazing oatmeal and raisin cookies from Juan Valdez. Literally the best dessert there! I think last month was the first time I tried them after all of these years and I am obsessed with them. Try them if you are in Colombia!

4. Cacao Flavored Rice Milk

To me, rice milk always sounded pretty gross but now I realize I actually love this stuff. It tastes great, which is probably because it is full of sugar but whatever. I'm drinking it every night because I have convinced myself the calcium in it will help me grow at least a little taller. In case you are wondering, the brand I get is called "Isola Bio": it is gluten free and vegan. In case you were not convinced I was pretentious, now I'm taking about gluten free stuff, there you go.

I am not a vegan, I am a vegetarian, but I love watching vegan recipes. I wish I could make them all! What that actually means is I wish someone could make them for me so I can have minimal participation in the process!

6. Pinterest

I literally JUST started using Pinterest. I created my account like 2 years ago, but I never really understood how to use it. Now I kind of do. Follow me here, so I can follow you back!

7. Christmas movies, such as: 12 dates of Christmas, Love the Coopers

I love Christmas, all year round, but I usually don't watch many christmas movies unless it's November or December. However, for some reason, I have been really wanting to watch any Christmas movie I can find lately.

8. Christmas songs, such as: Sleight Ride, Last Christmas, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Since like April of 2015 I have been listening to Christmas music non-stop. To me it's just music now. I love it and listen to it all the time.

9. Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal

This was my cat (after most of his hair was cut off) preventing me from taking a proper picture of the journal on January 2015.

I have had this journal since January 2015, and I wrote on it for a few weeks and then totally forgot about it. Now I rediscovered it and I'm answering questions everyday. If you don't know how it works it is basically a journal that asks you a different question everyday of the year for 5 years. It's fun because you can look back at your answers to the same question on previous years and see how much you have grown/changed.

10. Writing things down in my little NYC notebook

In here I write about possible blog post ideas, schedules for those posts, workout schedules I never end up following, and even ideas for future scripts.

I hope you enjoyed this in some way! I'm sorry if you were expecting beauty stuff, I am just not that into that. I will post an all-time fashion favorites eventually though! Thanks a lot for reading!


Monday, August 8, 2016

late birthday coffee

Look at those pretty lights.

A couple of days ago I went out with some of my family members to celebrate my birthday. It was a late-birthday coffee date sort of event. The restaurant we went to is really pretty, and very heavily decorated with latin american stuff. It focuses more of latin american intellectuals and authors, which I love. It is very bright and colorful, which I also love, especially for taking pictures. Here's what I wore!

When I was in 10th grade I bought this really nice long dress from Zara for my best friend's 15th birthday party. It has been sitting in my closet since then and I decided it was about time I wore it again. I had to had it cut because it was really long and I was not planning on wearing it with heels. Just doing this helps turn a fancy dress into something more casual you can wear any day. To dress it down even more, I used my mom's denim shirt as a jacket, wore my New Balance sneakers, and even used my alien emoji necklace. I think my messy bun also helps make the dress appear more casual. Recicle your clothes kids. It's not only practical but it's very fun to figure out ways to dress fancy things down.

This is actually the only picture I have of the whole outfit, shoes included. Yup. A mirror selfie. I guess that's how we do things here at Vanille. I'm just being resourceful because my main photographer -my boyfriend- is living in another city. Jeez. Don't judge.

Dress from Zara
Shirt from my mom's closet
Shoes from New Balance

I literally JUST noticed the lizard on the wall! Comment if you see it.

I had an almond milk latte, a red velvet cake and some pandebonos. Everything was really good.

If I look kind of nervous in this picture it's because one of the waiters keeps staring when the pictures were being taken and it was very uncomfortable.

One of my great-aunts gave me some flowers from a flower shop inside the restaurant and I just love how they match my dress.

The owner of the flower store that was inside of the restaurant asked if she could take a picture of me. That is my "surprised but still nice" face. I am actually attempting to find the flower shop on social media to see if she posted that picture she took.

This last picture was taken without the jean shirt because my grandma insisted I take it off because I looked nicer without it. Guess she did not really get the whole "dressing down a nice dress" sort of style I was going for.

Thanks a lot for reading!


Pictures by Alejandro Valencia

Thursday, August 4, 2016

turning 19: 5 days in bogotá

Hey everyone!

Last week I went to Bogotá for 5 days, part of the trip was to celebrate my 19th birthday there. Why? Well, I kinda like it there more than I do Cali, because it's really hot here, there is not much to do, and there are no Starbucks. All very valid reasons. I also thought maybe I could meet up with people from my school and say goodbye before I go to Chicago, but, of course, that did not end up happening, but you can't really force people to like you so I kind of expected this. That was partially kidding. I did meet up with two of my favorite people, and I don't say that just because they are willing to put up with me: they are actually cool and nice. I could also share some time with my family and my aunt, who lives there. I had a pretty cool time. On my birthday I went out for breakfast (my favorite thing to do), I went to the movies (I watched The Secret Lives of Pets on my 19th birthday, but I swear I have no problem dealing with growing up) and finally, I went out to a really nice restaurant for dinner. While I was there I thought: why just talk about the things I did on my blog when I can show them? I did not want to bring my camera with me because it's kind of dangerous, but I did shoot some videos with my iPhone and edited them together. This is kind of like a video diary and I'm thinking about making more of them in the near future. Everything was shot on an iPhone and it's not particularly aesthetic or anything fancy. However, I hope you enjoy! The next one I do will be shot with my camera!

I recommend you click on the link to watch it on Vimeo.

Bogota Video Diary from Maria on Vimeo.

I got some stuff for my birthday and I thought I would share them with you guys.

I got these slippers from a store called Oysho, which sells things like lingerie, pjs, sports clothing, etc. They are really cute and I love cats, so that's all the reasons I needed to buy them. I'm planning on using them when I'm in college in my dorm.

When I found this t-shirt at Forever 21 my boyfriend said I could put a piece of tape and write down my username for people to follow me on Instagram. I might just do that. Btw, it's @immariav, please follow meee.

This crop top which I love but I am not sure how I will wear it in the fall in Chicago. I definitely will, I just don't know how yet.

Another sort of crop top that I also love.

This t-shirt says "Halloween couture" and has a little bat on it, which is I think is really cute. I also just want graphic t-shirts because I don't have many. I used to have a lot of band t-shirts, but they either look disgusting now because I wore them too much, or I gave them away because I am no longer into those bands.

I was given this really cute tea box with my name on it. It is full of tea bags that also have my name on them. As the self-absorbed person I am, I love this too much. I don't know what kind of tea it even is, but it smells kind of herbal.

My boyfriend got me this really cute Tiny Cat book, full of pictures of tiny kittens in different scenarios. He also got me a Starbucks gift card I am planning on using when I get to Chicago.

My mom gave me two things from a jewelry store called Mercedes Salazar: the cat bracelet (it is actually made out of a coin which is pretty cool) and the alien emoji necklace. My boyfriend got me the other golden necklace, which is so pretty and I am actually impressed at how good he is at getting me great gifts.

Finally, the last thing I got (another gift from my boyfriend) were these rings. They fit perfectly which is rare because most rings are usually too big for my fingers.

I guess I'll have to start wearing more gold details now that I got all of this!

Thanks a lot for reading! And watching!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

dream closet + must haves

Hey everyone!

I'm guessing if you guys read my blog you have some sort of interest in personal style, and, thus, clothes. Have you guys ever pictured your dream closet? I know I have. For the next four years I will be in university and have minimal closet space, which kind of sucks. However, today I will be describing my dream closet, even if it won't be a reality for the next few years.

I think one of the most important aspects of a closet is how accesible your clothes are. What I mean by this is you should be able to see and reach all of your clothes! When I can't see all of the stuff I have I forget they even exist. That's why I would love a walk-in closet with shelves for all of my shoes (the same way shoes are displayed in stores) and different clothes racks to hang different sorts of clothing articles. I would also like to have a specific rack for the items I am wearing the most for the particular time/season. Finally, I would like my closet to be white (so the clothes are the center of attention) and have a huge window so I can take advantage of the natural lighting when looking at myself in the mirror.

Now that I mentioned that I would like to have a specific clothes rack for the items I'm wearing the most, here are some of my "must have" items for the summer:

Skirt from Pull & Bear
Shorts from Zara
Jeans from Gap
Shoes from Olivia
Heels from Urban Outfitters

Right now some of my "must have" items for the summer are: my jean skirt, my distressed boyfriend jeans, my cute yellow shorts (from Zara Kids which is kind of weird), my new red sneakers, and my hologram heels. All of them are perfect items to throw on on a casual summer day. I usually combine these items with a plain t-shirt and a pair of sunglasses.

Even though we would all love to have a huge closet with all of these features, not having a lot of closet space is no problem. I have recently discovered a really cool storage service that helps you organize all your stuff. It is called MakeSpace, and I encourage you guys to check them out and download their app! I will surely be using the service when I move to Chicago in September, especially considering the limited space available in the dorms I'll be staying at. This is basically how it works: they pick up your stuff, take it to their storage facilities and store them, and then you can ask for them back whenever you want and they will be delivered to your place. It's super easy and convenient! Here's a link to their self-storage locations so you guys can use it as a resource if it is available in your area.

Let me know if you guys like my ideas for my closet and describe your own dream closet! Thanks a lot for reading!