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Because a clean home is a happy home…

With spring right around the corner, cleaning is on everyone’s mind. Between washing your siding and deep cleaning your oven, you could spend every day of the next few months up to your elbows in soap suds. Instead, knock a few items off your list quickly and easily, with these brilliant cleaning tricks that really work! Thanks to these Hometalk ideas, you’ll be taking a relaxing stroll in the sun in no time.

Soak the grime off stove burners with ammonia

Soak the grime off stove burners with ammonia

Image: The V Spot

Before you begin battling with burnt on grease and grime, give your stove burners an overnight soak with ammonia. Just pour some into a gallon sized Ziploc bag, add a stove burner, and seal the whole thing up for the night. (Tutorial here)

Get windows crystal clear with dishwashing soap

Get windows crystal clear with dishwashing soap

Image:Chaotically Creative

Get rid of window smudges and make them sparkle instead, using regular dish soap. This gentle wash is a time and money saver, and it helps knock-out marks in a flash. Bring along a squeegee and a microfiber cloth to leave a clear pane when you’re done. (Here’s how)

Steam clean your microwave

Steam clean your microwave

Image:Pink When

Mix up a few easy ingredients, add them to a microwave-safe container, and heat them up. The grease and built-up gunk will be steam cleaned clear, so that all you need is a simple washcloth to wipe away the leftover unstuck gunk. (This is how)

Disappear silver tarnish with aluminum foil

Disappear silver tarnish with aluminum foil

Image: Decorated Chaos

This is another one of those ‘start it and walk away’ cleaning ideas. Line a deep sink with aluminum foil and then fill it with your tarnished silver cups, candle sticks, and platters. Then, just let the baking soda and boiling water do its magic! (Instructions here)

Put the shine back in stainless steel with salt

Put the shine back in stainless steel with salt

Image: Engineer Mommy

Make your stainless steel pieces shine by scrubbing them with salt and half a lime. It’s really that simple and budget-friendly. When you’re done, toss the lime half down the garbage disposal, add ice cubes, and grind it away — two-in-one cleaning hack! (Get the how-to here)

Scrub rust away with crumpled up foil

Scrub rust away with crumpled up foil

Image:Hearts & Sharts

It sounds crazy, but you can lift the rust from metal pieces by scrubbing them with water and crumpled up aluminum foil. Tear off a piece and start cleaning – you’ll love the shining result and the low budget. (Here’s how)

Shine metal appliances and hardware with used cling sheets

Shine metal appliances and hardware with used cling sheets

Image:Thoughts by Her

Make dull door knobs and faucets bright and shimmery, with this surprising item from your laundry room. After you’ve run a load through the dryer, dig out the bent, used cling sheet, and give your metal pieces a good buffing. (This is the simple tutorial)

Break down hard water build-up with vinegar soaked paper towels

Break down hard water build-up with vinegar soaked paper towels

Image:The Organized Life

There’s no way you don’t have vinegar in your pantry – just pull it out, soak some paper towels, and try this clever trick. There’s no scrubbing or brushing involved, but your sinks will sparkle like you’ve been working on them for hours. (Tutorial here)

Keep your toilet cleaner for longer with fizzing tablets

Keep your toilet cleaner for longer with fizzing tablets

Image:The Kreativ Life

There’s no need to constantly scrub and scour your toilet bowl. Just mix up a batch of these brilliant cleaning tablets that fizz and dissolve in your toilet, and you’ll have an instant, brush free way to clean it every day. Plus, this will help you keep your toilet cleaner longer! (Get the recipe here)

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7 Best and Worst Home Renovations in 2016

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As it turns out, renovations aren’t always the answer.

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

A renovation project should not only add immediate value to your home, but also ensure that your return on investment (ROI) is attainable (should you decide to eventually sell). If you’re looking for a high-impact project to tackle this year, be sure to check the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report before breaking ground. To ensure that your shoo-in project won’t leave your budget hurting, here are some of the best (and worst) home investments on this year’s list:

Some of the Best:

#1 Adding Attic Insulation – 116.9%

The addition of attic insulation is the #1 improvement recommended by the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report. With an estimated cost of around $33 a bag, installing fiberglass insulation will increase your home’s value by $1,450. Additional insulation also aids in the utility efficiency of your home — cutting down on energy costs.

#2 Using Stone Veneers – 92.9%

Your home’s aesthetics are very important when considering the overall value of your property. Installing manufactured stone veneers (which cost an estimated $7,500) can potentially increase your home’s value by $7,000. If you have any stone left over, consider using the extras to accent your fireplace or bathtub walls.

#3 Replacing a Door – 91.5% (garage), 91.1% (entry door)

Replacing your current garage door with a steel alternative will offer peace of mind and an additional bump in the overall value of your home. If you decide to upgrade your garage door, make sure to add new steel tracks and a motorized opener to avoid jams. Replacing your home’s entry doors with a steel alternative will cost between $500 and $1,230 per door. But, expect a high ROI should you decide to sell.

#4 Minor Kitchen Remodel – 83.1%

While a complete kitchen overhaul will only retain 64.9% of your investment, there are a few minor updates that will increase your kitchen’s resale value (without a hefty price tag). Replacing cabinet hardware, installing energy-efficient appliances and upgrading your sink are simple, DIY-able ways to get more out of what you put into your kitchen.

Some of the Worst:

#1 Adding a Bathroom – 56.2%

Despite being one of the most popular rooms in your home, a bathroom addition isn’t always the best investment. A midrange bathroom add-on will cost around $40,000 (expect that price to double for upscale additions). Regardless of your total investment, bathroom additions only reclaim (on average) 56% of their original budget.

#2 Adding a Backup Generator – 59.4%

While having power might seem invaluable during a blackout, backup generators usually cost around $3,100 to install. On average, only 60% of your total expense will be added to your home’s resale price.

#3 Installing New Decking – 64.4% (composite), 75% (wood)

Although the idea of evenings outdoors might be enticing, deck additions are not a make-or-break feature for most buyers. Expect composite decking to return about 65% of its installation cost, while wood decking recoups an average of 75% of its fitting expense.

Conclusion

As it turns out, renovations aren’t always the answer. Unless a gigantic investment is required to bring your home up to code, it pays to think twice before dumping a chunk of cash into an improvement.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

5 Items Every Mom to Be Needs In Her Nest

 How To Turn Your Nest

Tips to Make Your Nest The Best While Pregnant

As a first time mom to be I am by NO means a pro on all the “must have items” a pregnant mom needs to have for a happy 40 weeks but when it comes to making “my nest” a little more comfortable I have definitely learned a lot.

If you are an expecting momma, first a foremost congratulations, I hope these items will help you as much as they have helped me.

A Nightlight for the Bathroom 

Midnight trips to the bathroom will become much more frequent and there is nothing worse than being woken up from your zombie like shuffling by a harsh bright light. A night light will give you just enough light to avoid walking into doors and walls without the rude awakening. I purchased this one from Amazon and love that it auto senses the other lights in the room so it turns on around dusk and turns off at dawn.

Best Night Light

 

A Pregnancy Pillow

Any pregnant woman will tell you just how precious sleep is and any new parent will tell you how important it is to “bank up” your ZZZs before your little one arrives. Buying a pregnancy pillow was a game changer for me as I entered my second trimester. There are a ton to choose from but I can’t say enough nice things about The Snoogle which you can buy on Amazon here. As you can see from the 4 1/2 star review from nearly 5,000 Amazon buyers I am not alone in claiming this as the “mother of all pillows.” This comfy c shaped pillow will provide amazing support for your hips, back, neck, and growing tummy. As a back sleeper this has been especially helpful to make sure I am staying on my side at night. (Doctor’s recommend trying to sleep on  your left side if possible)

Snoogle pillow

A Humidifier 

In the past several weeks I have found myself constantly congested. After nearly a month of sniffling I finally brought it up to my doctor and found out it is just another one of those lovely things you can chalk up to pregnancy hormones and very common. He suggested I get a humidifier for my room and it has been a tremendous help. If you are suffering from a stuffy nose I highly recommend adding one to your bedroom. A helpful tip from Baby Center,  “Change the water daily since it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. You’ll need to replace the filter often as well.” Here is the one I purchased:

Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

 

A Few Great Books

Sleepless nights happen and when they do there is something about curling up with your bump and a good book that makes those nights a little more tolerable. I have gotten some of my best reading in during nights where sleep just isn’t in the cards.  My boss, who is a father of 4, suggested Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy which was one of his wife’s favorites and now one of mine too.  There is the standard What To Expect When You Are Expecting and my new personal favorite which my mother in law found for me Heading Home with Your Newborn (so informative!).

Something to Document Your Journey

For some it is a weekly chalkboard and for others it is a simple picture every so often. Whatever you choose make sure you have a special place in your home to snap a picture to commemorate this special time in  your life. Keep the pictures for you and your significant other or share them with the world, whatever you choose I can guarantee you will be thankful for taking the time to freeze this moment in time. My husband and I love checking the Ovia App to see how big the baby is and take a picture every Sunday night to celebrate one week closer to meeting our son.

Pregnancy Chalkboard by Week

Ready for inspiration for your baby’s nursery? Check out this post. 

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9 Budget-Friendly Outdoor Decor Ideas for Halloween

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Spooktacular DIY Halloween Ideas from HomeTalk

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It’s tough to say whether Halloween or Christmas wins the ‘best dressed’ award, but between pumpkin carving, creepy crafting, and mummy yard decorations, Halloween is definitely one of the most fun holidays for DIY decorations. With a little imagination and a lot of repurposing, there are tons of ways to get creative on a budget. Need some inspiration? These Hometalk bloggers know just how to give you the creeps on the cheap!

DIY Concrete Jack-o-Lantern

Image: Diana/Diana’s DIY Den

Use some of those plastic pumpkin candy buckets as molds for concrete pumpkins to decorate your outdoor areas. These thrifty guys will last from year to year, and they’re the perfect addition to your front porch or flower bed. (See tutorial here)

Turn TP Rolls into Spooky Candles

Image: Nancy/Our Peaceful Planet

Start collecting empty toilet paper rolls, or cut up some longer paper towel rolls, to create these dark and drippy Halloween candles, perfect for adding a spooky glow to your mantel, tablescape, or porch. (Get directions here)

Create an Impressive Archway from Plastic Pumpkin Buckets

Image: Vanessa/Tried & True

Head to your local Dollar Store and stock up on cheap pumpkin buckets, to make this elegant Halloween archway, that will brighten up your yard, impress your neighbors, and spook trick-or-treaters. This easy and inexpensive idea is sure to make a huge impact! (See tutorial here)

Upcycle K-cups into Cute and Creepy Lights

Image: Kim/The Kim Six Fix

Finally – a way to reuse your empty K-cups! All you have to do is rinse them out and decorate them with vinyl jack-o-lantern faces (or DIY your own with a Sharpie). Then, it’s as simple as adding them to a string of LED lights and hanging them up for all to admire. (Get the how-to here)

Add a Ghoulish Grin to an Old Book

Image:Katrina

Grab a yellow-paged hardcover book from your basement and use a sharp knife to cut out a ghoulish face full of creepy character. It’s a bit of work, but just place this ghastly guy on your patio bench or in the middle of your Halloween table, and it’ll totally be worth it! (See tutorial here)

Cover Your Lawn in Easy Floating Ghosts

Image: Jessi/Practically Functional

Using pieces of gauzy fabric, wooden dowels, and styrofoam balls, create ghostly lawn ornaments that are sure to creep out passers-by and add some chilling charm to your home. Add to the effect by hiding your ghosts behind trees or peeking out from between bushes! (Get directions here)

Wrap Up Some Mason Jar Mummies

Image: Barb/The Everyday Home

Take a five minute decorating break to turn empty glass jars into easy mummy lanterns. Just wrap them in gauze, add wide googly eyes, and fill each one with a tea light or electric candle, to give your home a ghoulish glow this holiday. (See tutorial here)

Make a Candy Corn Wreath from Coffee Filters

Image: Kelly/Typically Simple

Dye a pack of coffee filters in candy corn colors, for this bright fall wreath that will welcome trick-or-treaters to your door. This quick craft is easy to make and fun to look at — just make sure not to taste it! (Get directions here)

Turn Old (Clean) Socks into Plush Pumpkins

Image: Sabine/Mom in Music City

Turn last year’s cozy cable-knit socks into this year’s plush pumpkins, with just a few simple steps. To complete the rustic fall look, gather some sticks from your yard and add realistic stems to each of your comfy creations. (See tutorial here)

Pack your home and garden with even more creepy decor ideas, with inspiration from Hometalk’s Halloween Decorations!

World’s Most Expensive Homes: Cannes, France

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Welcome to Cannes. You know the film festival. You’ve dreamed of the beaches. But today you can experience what it feels like to call Cannes home.

, Coldwell Banker LLC

In the World’s Most Expensive Homes series from Coldwell Banker Real Estate, we’ve taken you inside some of the most amazing properties on planet Earth. From the Versace Mansion, to the Virgin Islands, to the most expensive listing in the USA, we’ve explored the ultimate in real estate luxury.

Well today we’re taking you across the Atlantic to one of the most celebrated cities in Europe: Cannes. You know the film festival. You’ve dreamed of the beaches. But today you can experience what it feels like to call Cannes home. Listed by Patrice Papayani with Coldwell Banker Life Wellness Properties in France, this newly-built home has a view to die for and is conveniently located just steps from the heart of all that Cannes has to offer.

I’m pretty sure I’d have a tough time leaving home, if I had a pool with a backdrop like this home has. Go ahead and take a peek at this French beauty in the latest episode of World’s Most Expensive Homes.

 

 

The Reason First Time Homebuyers Should Shop Around

 

Untitled design (39)Hurried enthusiasm could have consequences.

Homebuyers, particularly inexperienced ones, often become enthusiastic about pursuing the first home they look at. I can personally attest to this as I am in the process of house hunting for the first time.

It is common for first time buyers to contact an agent after seeing a property and say they are sure they want to buy it. This sort of hurried enthusiasm is not necessarily as promising as it sounds, as it is often beneficial to buyers to examine several properties before deciding to make an offer.

The Process of Buying a Home

Buyers should have a general idea of what they are  looking for in a home as well as what general area they would like to live in. The process of looking at different properties can often help them refine their criteria. Because it is common for buyers to adjust their expectations and reconsider their desires throughout the process, buying the first home seen can be problematic.

Doing so means there is no time or opportunity to compare homes or re-evaluate properties. Often, comparing two homes is how buyers decide what factors are more important to them. For example, buyers may initially think that they want to have a larger backyard, but decide when actually looking at homes that one with a smaller yard is more appealing.

Beyond individual homes, the chance to look at different neighborhoods may also be lost. It is important for buyers to remember that neighbors can be as important as where and how large a home is. For example, parents with young children might find that the chance to live near other families is worth more than an extra bedroom.

Pacing the Home Search

Looking for a home can be a complex process. For busy individuals balancing the search with other aspects of life, it may become difficult or stressful. Buying the first home they see may be a way for some buyers to try to cut the process short.

Many buyers who initially wanted to buy the first house they looked at were later glad they did not end up doing so. Again, I have just recently gone through this experience with a home that I fell in love with but realistically was just too small for my family. Looking back I am so glad my husband was able to snap me back to reality!

Unfamiliarity with local markets can also play a part, since buyers may not initially understand what types of choices are available to them in a given city, town or region.

Working with a real estate agent can help to guide you through the home buying process and will give you expert advice and insight on the best way to compare homes and locations.

Five Tips for Making Your Home Energy Efficient

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As temperatures fluctuate, learn how to decrease your electric bill

Programmable Thermostats. According to energy guides turning your thermostat down/up 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day could save you “as much as 10 percent a year on your heating/cooling.” So why aren’t people like me taking the time to program my thermostat to the recommended daytime temperature (78 degrees) and evening temperature (70 degrees) to reap these cost benefits? I’m not putting this task off any longer and neither should you.

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Ceiling Fans. Now that you’ve programed your thermostat to save some money, you might find that maybe it’s a little too warm in a particular room. An Energy Star ceiling fan could be your temperature solution. Be sure to check out the blade angle, according to TheSimpleDollar.com, otherwise you’re just cutting through the air. For a relatively low investment (Energy Star fan prices start as low as $XX), you can stay cool all summer long.

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Window Treatments. Adding shades, blinds or drapes to your home windows will help reduce the amount of sun and heat throughout the home.

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Open Doors. Closing doors throughout the home are blocking your system from cooling the whole house.  So why not keep all the doors open to keep cool air flowing freely throughout your home.

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Vents. Most older homes, like mine, have vents located in strange places like closets or hallways. Even places like a spare bedroom that go unused can be a wasted vent. Make sure to close off vents in locations throughout the home so you are not paying to cool areas that are not being used.

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Menu Ideas for Your House Party

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Recipe ideas for a summer party.

, COLDWELL BANKER LLC

If you are spending the holiday at home or just looking for some new recipes to serve at your home this summer, these are for you.

Drinks

Blackberry Prosecco Popsicles

Recipe Here

Appetizers

Shrimp Skewers

Recipe Here

Delightful Bruschetta

Recipe Here

Grilled Eggplant Bites

Recipe Here

Individual Seven Layer Dip

Recipe Here

Entrees

Super Simple Sliders

Recipe Here

Haute Hot Dogs (10 ways)

Recipe Here

Grilled Flatbread

Recipe Here

Stuffed Peppers

Recipe Here

Desserts

S’mores Bar

Recipe Here

Berry Easy Cobbler

Recipe Here

 

Individual Shortcakes

Recipe Here

 

8 DIY Projects To Beautify Your Backyard

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Create a Backyard Oasis with these Tips from Hometalk

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As the weather warms up, you can’t help but daydream about spring evenings relaxing outdoors and summer nights filled with star gazing and bon fires. Since we couldn’t help it either, we rounded up some of the most exquisite outdoor living features to inspire your warm-weather upgrades. The best part? All of these are completely DIY!

How to build your own firepit (A fan favorite for homeowners who love to entertain!)

Image: Kathleen/Charm Bracelet Diva {at Home}

Believe it or not, this DIY is not as tough as it sounds. As long as you’ve got the flat, dry outdoor space, concrete blocks or pavers, and about 3 hours to spend, you can add an outdoor feature that will ensure warm happy nights and lovely afternoon BBQ’s this season. (Directions here)

How to create a vertical porch planter

Image: Jill/Sew a Fine Seam

Whether you’re looking to add some additional privacy, or just to upgrade your pretty factor, this vertical planter turns fresh greenery into a faux wall for your porch. Upcycle an old fence, or buy some inexpensive sturdy wire, to easily hang tiny buckets of flowers, succulents, herbs, or whatever your green-thumb desires. (Here’s how to do it)

How to screen in your outdoor space

Image: Lani/Simply Fresh Vintage

Lounge in the fresh air or dine al fresco, without the worry of creepy crawly critters. Though this outdoor upgrade could cost a fortune if you hired a professional, doing it yourself with this 3-step tutorial will save you money, and greatly increase your outdoor enjoyment this season. (Find the How-to Here)

How to upcycle a garden walkway

Image: Donna/Funky Junk Interiors

Turn a stack of shipping pallets into a beautiful and simple garden walkway, perfect for taking a stroll through your vibrant flower beds. No matter the path’s length, a garden walkway will add instant charm to your yard. (Get directions here)

How to make a teapot fountain

Image: Julee

Bubbling fountains and streaming water features are an excellent way to give your outdoor areas some rich ambiance and a pleasant soundtrack. You can turn vintage containers and pots into adorable water features with a fountain pump and some tubes, like this sweet pouring tea pot. (Here’s how to make it)

How to update a boring link fence

Image: Barb/Our Fairfield Home and Garden

If you’ve already got a property fence in place, but you’re not such a huge fan of how it looks, try this easy DIY to upgrade your exterior style. With this genius fix, you can go from boring chain link to beautiful and soothing bamboo in just one afternoon! (Directions here)

How to make and hang mason jar solar lights

Image: Dee/ThirftDee

Here’s one to put at the top of your “What to Do with Mason Jars” list — homemade solar lights to turn any outdoor space into a nighttime-friendly retreat. Simply attach the solar lamp mechanism to the jar lids and voila! Easy and energy-efficient garden lighting. (Tutorial here)

How to build your own wood sandbox 

Image: Carrie/Kenarry: Ideas for the Home

Everything else will help to turn your backyard or other outdoor spaces into a grown-up’s paradise, but what about your youngsters? When it comes to childhood play, nothing is quite as fun as digging, piling, and building in the sandbox. Follow this clever how-to to DIY your own perfect children’s play place. (Here’s how it’s done)

10 Awesome Graduation Party Ideas

Graduation is around the corner, if you’re planning a party at home it’s not too late to make it amazing.

Coldwell Banker LLC

Graduation season is upon us! This time is undoubtedly beyond exciting and daunting. Graduation is a time to reflect on how hard you worked and how much fun you had along the way. It is also the beginning of a brand new chapter in life. That being said, it’s only right to wrap up the whole experience with a party. Big blowouts are fun but there’s nothing like kicking back in backyard with all your friends in family where you’re most comfortable.

This time next year I’ll be using the same ideas, that can be found below, to plan my big college graduation party. Most of them are DIY, so working on the party will also be a great time to bond with my family before I leave the nest. Happy crafting and congratulations graduate!

 

1. Table Toppers 

Catch my Party

This book idea is super cute and on trend with the graduation theme. It also is super cost efficient. Who doesn’t have an abundance of old books laying around? Visit your local grocery store for the paper bags. 

2. Cutlery 

B. Lovely Events 

A simple, adorable, and another budget friendly idea that will help transform ordinary cutlery and napkins into something that everyone will love. 

3. A Cute and Sentimental Welcome

 Beau Coup

I believe that first impressions are everything. This cute idea is sure to be a hit with all of your guests and may get them emotional before they even enter the party. Warning: it may embarrass your graduate!

4. Make Your Own Fun 

You + Me

Who doesn’t love Twister? Make your own version in the backyard and bring back nostalgic memories. 

5. Show Your Colors 

 Beau Coup

Try making a few of these candy jars to have around the party. Fill them with your graduates school colors for an wow-factor. 

6. Make it Sweet

Danielle Renee

This play on words is adorable. Recreate the ring ceremony with these candy rings. 

7. Build Memories 

Shop Girl Daily

Ask your guests to leave a message for your graduate using  these ‘building blocks.’ Something like this can be treasured forever. 

8. Customize Your Decor 

Pearl Salad

Another cute way to spotlight your graduate. 

9. Floating Pictures 

 Grosgrain 

I’ve never seen such a cute and original idea as these ‘floating memories.’ Doing this at your party will definitely leave a great lasting impression. 

10. Create Your Own ‘Photo Booth’

Boho Weddings 

We live in a digital age where taking pictures and uploading them to one’s various social media accounts is apart of the daily routine. So, creating some sort of photo backdrop for your party is just about one of the coolest things you can do. Also, if you plan on uploading your ‘selfies’ and group shots to social media, create a ‘hashtag’ and be sure that everyone uses it so that all the photos taken at the party are housed in one place and easily accessible for sharing, liking, commenting etc.