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Showing posts from 2008

Recommended Reading: Favorite Recipes of 2008

I have enjoyed making a variety of recipes from different online sources this year. Here are a few of my favorites from this year!
I loved the recipes on A Year of Crockpotting. These are two of my favorites.Crockpot Macaroni and CheeseCrockpot ApplesauceMomAdvice has lots of great recipes. This one was delicious!
Simple Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip MuffinsI found this recipe at Soule Mama's blog via one of Amy's notebook posts. I love this bread! It also has given me courage to try white bread and sandwich rolls using my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. They all turned out pretty well!
WHO BreadWe have used this recipe at least once a week since discovering it. It makes a nice, sweet sauce for both pasta and pizza.
Pasta/Pizza SauceMy first choice for pizza dough is a recipe that needs to rise, but this one is good if we don't have time for pizza dough to rise.
Pizza Dough IAs you can tell, I am definitely more of a baker than a cook. What were some of your favorite recipes in 2008? Plea…

Nonfiction: Favorite Deals of 2008

Mercedes over at Common Sense With Money is doing a little year in review. Today she posted some of her Favorite Deals from 2008, and is asking her readers to do the same. This year was one of some great deals for me. I have always been a saver by nature and frugal to an extent, but this year, by visiting all kinds of fabulous frugal blogs, I have learned how to stretch our dollars even further. This came at a great time for our family as we had our first child at the end of 2007. We were able to apply lots of these great deals to get more for our family, but also to give lots to other people! This was the first year I have tried CVSing, Rite Aid Single Check Rebates, and Walgreens. There was a definite learning curve to all of these things, but overall I think most of these frugal endeavors were fairly successful! So, here are some of my favorite deals from 2008!
Free Walgreen's 8x10 photos - perfect for relatives' birthday and Christmas presents!Walgreen's Diaper …

Nonfiction: Christmas Home Edition

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Well, Christmas is only 10 days away! These are a few of my favorite decorations in the house. Come on in!

This year's wreath. I made it with scraps of fabric tied on to the wreath and made a bow to match. Simple, but I like it! I saw it in a magazine last year, but never made it.

I got this card keeper a couple of years ago. I love the message on the front!












Our "mantle" which is really the top of our piano with a few decor items.

Shelves decorated in the kitchen.

Sign in our bedroom.

Now for a favorite Christmas Cookie recipe. I love this one and it is so simple. Eagle Brand Double Delicious Cookie Bars...yum...just the right combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Family Fun: Storytime - Christmas Edition

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One of my favorite parts of my job at the library is getting to put together and present storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers. I have lots of favorite books for this age group and I especially love seasonal and holiday titles. Here are some that I like to use this time of year. I'm excited because I've even gotten to share a few with my daughter this year!

Counting Christmas by Karen Katz
This book's text is quite simple, making it a nice choice for toddlers, especially coupled with the large, vibrant illustrations. It can be used with preschoolers easily by focusing on counting items within the story and practicing counting backwards from 10.

Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear! by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
This charming tale is a great one for preschoolers. Its simple story and lovely illustrations make it a great title.

Little Mouse's First Christmas by Lauren Thompson
Lauren Thompson has a series of these books telling about Little Mouse's other first seasons. The ill…

Nonfiction: Shopping and Saving!

Well, a lot of this week's shopping and savings pertains to Christmas shopping, so I can't post everything I got on the off chance that someone reading this might see a present I've gotten for them!
Here are a few of this week's deals: 20 Christmas Cards from Snapfish for $6.59 including shipping - We already received these and are really pleased!Bought (4) 8 packs of AA batteries from CVS for approximately $5 (rolled some ECBs) and earned $15 ECB for a future purchase.Returned some pants for my husband to Kohl's. Instead of losing the $10 in Kohl's cash I had spent on them, they refunded that also. Bought 3 Christmas presents for about $16 including 2 things we had decided on for my daughter. The toys at Kohl's were all on sale, plus an additional 20% off. I got this Leap Frog Fridge Farm for my daughter for $12.79 + tax. The best deal I've seen so far!Earned $7.97 on YouData which was deposited to my PayPal account.Got my first Big Fat Check from Ebate…

Christmas Open House at CJ's Craft Corner

Looking for Christmas presents? Take a look at CJ's Craft Corner! You'll find a variety of gifts ranging from aprons to tablerunners to placemats to tote bags to baby gifts. From November 22 - December 12, we are holding a "Christmas Open House" at the online shop. We'll have $1 flat rate shipping on each item purchased, plus additional specials over the next few weeks. Don't see anything you like? We have many items in additional fabric choices, especially tablerunners and placemats. E-mail me with what you're looking for, and I'll see what we have that meets your needs.

On a side note, my mom is the one who does all of the sewing and creating. I am her "technical support". My grandmother was the one who started sewing for a craft show in her home town which she participated in yearly. When she passed away last year, three days before Christmas, it was very unexpected. My mom decided early on in 2008 to continue the craft show in grandma'…

Nonfiction: Free 8x10 at Walgreens

I just got an e-mail about this freebie, too. Get your free 8x10 photo at Walgreens by Saturday, November 8! A great idea for a Christmas present!
Freebies 4 Mom: Free 8x10 at Walgreens

Giving Back: What Can You Do In Your Community?

One of my favorite blogs to read is The Motherload, a part of Amy Clark's MomAdvice web site. She recently wrote an eloquent post about her upcoming efforts to serve and help Faith Mission, a shelter in her hometown of Elkhart, IN. Elkhart has been profoundly impacted by our current economic situation and there are many there in great need. The following statement particularly resounded with me: "I have quietly been taking care of myself and my family...", which is what I feel I have been doing as well.So what can we do? We have many opportunities to serve and give, not just in this upcoming holiday season, but throughout the year. Consider participating in The MomAdvice Big Give. You can do this by donating through PayPal, or gathering donations to send to Faith Mission. There is a wishlist here of items that are needed.Think of ways that you can help in your community. For the second year in a row, our church will be collection items for FlatRock Home and Care …

Frugal Friday: Bedroom Makeover for under $30

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OK, so maybe it's not a total makeover, but it's a little facelift, for sure! I've been wanting to repaint and redecorate our (tiny) bedroom, but we just haven't had the time. I really got the bug a couple of weeks ago, and went hunting for some simple ideas to freshen it up a bit. I found some really great fabric at JoAnn's (which I haven't actually used, yet!) for $17.50 - for 7 yards, a $3 fabric shower curtain at Wal-Mart, and a great sale on Wallies ($2 each on clearance) that matched.
I covered our metal headboard by making a headboard slipcover. The size of the fabric shower curtain was perfect, so all I did was stitch up the sides (wrong sides together), turn it, and slip it over the headboard.
Then I used the Wallies to add some decoration to the walls. They are really easy to use, just soak in water for 1-2 minutes and use a sponge to smooth them out. They're removeable by using a bit of water to loosen them and take them down. There are 25 in a p…

Recipe: Simple Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Muffins

I tried this recipe today, and it turned out delicious! Just sweet enough and yummy for a fall day!

Recommended Reading: A Year of CrockPotting: CrockPot Applesauce Recipe

I mentioned this web site before, and here is a new recipe I want to try, especially since my little one is showing a dislike of Mott's applesauce and a preference for homemade!

A Year of CrockPotting: CrockPot Applesauce Recipe

Baby Stellan

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I have been reading the blog My Charming Kids over the last few months, and if you check it out, you'll see that tomorrow is the day for baby Stellan's arrival. Check out this blog and you'll find out what a miracle has already been performed! Please join me in praying for this family and this dear baby set to meet his parents and siblings tomorrow!

Update: Please visit this post at The Mommy Diaries to volunteer for a specific time spot to pray for Stellan.









Bestsellers: Target Deals This Week

Thanks for the head's up on these deals from Money Saving Mom! We stopped out to Target last night and did the following 2 deals:

Buy 4 Kashi products, get a $5 Target gift card. We bought:
Blueberry Waffles for $1.58
Multi-Grain Waffles for $1.58
GoLean Cereal for $2.75 x 2
(Plus some Nesquik Chocolate Milk for $1)
We used 2 $2/1 Kashi coupons (for registering at Kashi's web site) and 2 $1/1 coupons and paid $3.66 oop, plus got the $5 gift card.

Next, we bought 2 boxes of Luvs diapers for $15, used 2 $2/1 coupons from A Full Cup's Target Coupon Generator and a $1/1 coupon. We paid with the $5 gift card from our previous purchase, and paid $21.37 for 184 diapers. (11.6 cents per diaper!) Plus, we have a $5 gift card for purchasing the Luvs diapers, too. Definitely worth the trip!

Nonfiction: Cloth Diaper Giveaway!

Check out Baby Cheapskate's awesome giveaway: 12 bumGenius 3.0 Diapers! I don't currently cloth diaper, but would definitely try these out if I won.

Bestsellers: Meijer Two Day Super Sale

Lots of good deals at this Two Day Sale at Meijer! Totino's Pizza Rolls (15 ct.) for $0.99, 2 Liters of Coca-Cola for $0.88, Colgate Toothpaste for $0.99, and Pampers Jumbo Swaddlers, Cruisers, and Baby Dry for $6.99 (sizes 1-6, Limit 2 per customer). Add some coupons to some of these if you have them for some pretty great deals (maybe a couple of freebies?) Happy shopping!

Recommended Reading: A Year of Crockpotting

I stumbled across the blog A Year of Crockpotting today, and I am very excited about all of the recipes there! I love my crockpot, but tend to make the same 4-5 dishes in it. I am amazed at the variety of recipes at this blog! One recipe that I really want to try is for this macaroni and cheese...it is my favorite food and sounds delicious. I'm sorry I missed today's episode of Rachael Ray...maybe I'll catch it in reruns!

On the Bookshelf: Lock and Key

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I do a lot of work with children and teens in my job at the library, so often I can be found reading a variety of children's and young adults' books. I like to keep up with what's in the collection at least somewhat, and at this point I definitely have some favorite teen authors. One I especially like is Sarah Dessen. I am currently reading her newest release Lock and Key and am enjoying it so far. I think she does a great job of developing her characters and drawing you in to the story. I'll have to report back when I finish this one.

Also this week, I finished re-readingMontmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman by Eleanor Updale and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Both of these are for summer book discussion groups at the library. The first is a teen book set in Victorian London...definitely a suspenseful book full of twists and turns. The second is a classic children's chapter book that won the Newbery Medal in 1968. Both are ex…

Bestsellers: Speaking of coupons

Wow! There are some great coupon giveaways you can enter right now. Check out this post at The "Cent"sible Sawyer for more details. What an awesome idea!

Recommended Reading: Coupons!

It seems like there were some fabulous posts today about using coupons...from organizing to book recommendations to getting the most from coupons, here are a few great articles today!

The "Cent"sible Sawyer: Keepin' My Money Tuesday: Couponing and Scoring Deals to Lower My Grocery and Household Budget
I really like how she organizes the coupons for each store. I've been trying this each week and it seems to help!

Mommy Snacks: Snack Time: Coupon Organization
I've never thought of organizing coupons this way without clipping them...I like the idea though. Often, I clip what I think we'll use...but invariably end up wanting one I didn't cut out! I'm getting better at this, though.

Money Saving Mom: Book Review: Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom
This book sounds great. I will be requesting it from the library today.

Here are some things I've been learning about coupons that I did not know before.
1. There are some great printable Internet coupons.
2. Som…

Bestsellers: Teacher Supplies

Well, we're not even halfway through summer, but the school supply sales are already beginning. As an educator, I have always waited for these sales...and even though I don't have a classroom anymore, I still do a lot of programming for kids at the library. So, I can always think of supplies that would be useful for storytime, book groups, etc. Target is one of my favorite places for getting teacher supplies. They have already started to have a variety of classroom items in their $1 spot at the front of the store. Sunday, I picked up 5 packs of nametags (for book groups), and 2 packs of bookmarks for $7.

Some other good deals are: pocket charts (the skinny kind for doing a schedule...there are many uses for these), name plates for students' desks, teacher plan books/grade books, and incentive stickers/charts. I also picked up 2 board books for the baby. They seem to frequently get good board book titles for very good prices. I didn't even make it to the back of…

Recommended Reading: Survey Sites

I have signed up for quite a few survey sites in the last few months and have only gotten one paying survey (from Pinecone). I like reading about others' experiences with surveys, so these are some of the things I've been reading about surveys lately.

A Final Update: My Paid Survey Experiment from Baby Cheapskate

Snack Time: Surveys to Earn Cash from Mommy Snacks

Personally, I am signed up with the following survey sites:
My Survey
American Consumer Opinion
LiveWire
Pinecone
E-Rewards (through UPromise)
Your2Cents

Overall, I'm a little discouraged with the lack of surveys I've received, and I have completed all that have been sent to me so far. I plan to give it some time, perhaps until the end of this year and see where I end up. I'll update as I get some more paid surveys! (Crossing my fingers that's soon!) In fact, since we're starting a new month on Tuesday, I am going to track my progress over the next month and see how I'm doing as far as surveys go.

Nonfiction: Ebates

After seeing information about Ebates on a number of blogs, I finally decided to give it a try after reading about it at this article: Snack Time: Ebates $10 Bonus Ends 6/30. Esentially, use Ebates to receive cash back when you shop online at a variety of stores. I do quite a bit of online shopping and found most of my regular retailers on the list of Ebates stores, so I am hoping this will work out well for me. Cash back is calculated quarterly, and you must have at least $5.01 in your account to get your "Big Fat Check". I'll update when I get my first check, but thanks to Mommy Snacks for the info on this company and this deal.

Bestsellers: Pampers Jumbo Diapers

Pampers Jumbo Swaddlers, Cruisers, and Baby Dry diapers are $7.99 during Meijer's Two-Day Super Sale on Friday, June 27 & Saturday, June 28. If you have a coupon, that will make this deal even better!

Reference Desk: Blogging

Well, I wanted a 3-column blog, so I read the article "3 ColumnTemplates: Rounders: Right and Left Sidebars". I have some tweaking to do, but overall, I was able to follow the directions and achieve the desired result. Be assured, I know very little about HTML, so this was a fairly simple and straight-forward set of directions. It did take me two tries, so be sure to save your original template!

Recommended Reading: Diapers Per Pack

This chart from Baby Cheapskate is an invaluable resource. I have already used it several times. Check out Diapers Per Pack (.pdf file) and you're on your way to figuring out the best price per diaper!

Reference Desk: Decorating

I just took a look at Christy's Thrifty Decorating this morning and am enjoying all of her fabulous projects and ideas. Check it out for some home inspiration of your own!

Free Music by the Band downhere

I was listening to the radio on Sunday afternoon and heard an advertisement for this free CD download. The Christian band downhere is offering a free download of their 2006 album "Wide-Eyed and Mystified". Just enter your name and e-mail at this website to get your free download through the end of June. One of my favorite songs from the album is called "A Better Way". Check it out and enjoy some great free music!

Selling Items on Amazon

I enjoyed reading this post about selling items on Amazon: Frugonomics 101: Makin' Money Monday... Makin' Money at Amazon. I know we have some books, CDs, etc. that we can clear out of the house and make a little bit of money. I'll be sure to post how this goes. Check out the article!

Sears, CVS, and Flowers

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I had a fun end to the week as far as shopping/saving goes. First, on Friday, my mom and I took a trip to Sears to take advantage of the great Dockers deal for my dad for Father's Day and his birthday. While there, I did a bit of shopping and got this great outfit:
The skirt was $4.50, the shirt $3.00, and I also got a lightweight black sweater for $3.50. Total with tax: $11.68. You might want to check out Sears for some good clothing buys! We stopped in to CVS this afternoon hoping to take advantage of some deals I had worked out and a $5 off $30 coupon that expires tomorrow. I was disappointed that pretty much all of the items I wanted were gone, but wanted to buy something small because I was supposed to get $10 in ECB for a survey I took a couple of weeks ago for CVS (through the CVS Advisor Panel). The ECB were to print beginning June 13, once my card was scanned. We decided to just get 2 candy bars for $1.00. When the ECB printed I got $10 for completing the survey, then an …

Budgeting

Over at The Centsible Sawyer, there is a post today about budgeting. My husband and I have had a written budget for about 3 1/2 of our 4 years of marriage. We use an Excel spreadsheet and have 28 (I know it sounds like a lot!) categories. For us, it has been a fabulous tool for tracking our spending. Each year (sometimes more often) we tweak the budget by adding categories and changing amounts. We've added additional tabs to the budget for us to notate our spending on gifts, our savings for various goals (we have a number of "funds" named on our spreadsheet that we put different savings amounts into.), and even to track our income. This may sound complicated, but it really has been extremely helpful for us.

When we set up our budget, we used a lot of resources available at Crown Financial Ministries. There are a number of forms, worksheets, calculators, and other tools available at this web site. Check them out at Crown's Free Publications Online. We used the suggeste…

Sunday's Coupons, Staples, CVS

I was excited to find baby food coupons in Sunday's paper. $1.00 off 8 jars of Nature's Goodness baby food. Meijer carries this brand.

Staples had a few excellent deals in their ad this week. Sharpie Grip Permanent Markers (3 pk.), Uni-Ball Signo 207 retractable gel pens (micro, 4 pk.), and Sharpie Highlighters (6 pk.) are $1.99. Last week's Uni-Ball pens for $0.99 sold out quickly. Check these out for a start on back to school shopping (already??) or for a graduation gift.

Target has some good Father's Day gifts like Cherokee polo shirts for $7.99 and wallets for $8.99. My favorite Cherokee Ultimate tees are on sale for $6. I think I'll stock up on a couple. Sterilite storage containers are also on sale.

I had a pretty good CVS run tonight. I got 2 boxes of Cheerios, 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, 2 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and a 3-pack of Orbit gum. I used 2 $1 coupons on the Honey Nut Cheerios, 2 $0.55 coupons on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and 1 $1/2 coupon …

Super Savings Saturday - End of week recap

I feel like we did a good job of stocking up this week. I don't have pictures; I need to remember to start taking some! Here are a few highlights:

My CVS trips were good stock up trips. I am still trying to get CVS to work for me and after thinking about it further, I'm not sure how well I did...although I know I did save money and shouldn't need certain items (paper towel, TP) for quite a while. We went to Target today. I got a great deal on Luvs diapers. $6.99 per jumbo, I bought 2 packs. Used $2.50/2 coupon from Target and a $2.00 manufacturer coupon to make the two packs $9.48. After tax, about 10 cents per diaper. Wipes were a good deal, too. $2.80 for 2 packs of Pampers wipes (used $2/2 coupon from P&G, 6/1).Meijer was great this week. 10 for $10, plus 11th free. We spent $87.90 - including formula, saved $45.96. Savings of 34%. Thanks to MommySnacks for the coupon match-ups!Garage sales yielded some good deals...including 2 brand new pairs of shoes for the little…

WOW Music Giveaway

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Rocks in My Dryer is doing an awesome giveaway of Christian music CDs. 18 CDs in all! Check them out here! WOW Hits 1 is providing the CDs for the giveaway. I have several of the WOW CDs and know I will enjoy this one. I will check it out even if I don't win this contest!

CVS This Week

I'm definitely a newbie to CVS and the Drugstore Game. I've always enjoyed getting deals and using coupons, so CVSing makes sense to me. I am definitely not in the realm of spending less than a $1 each trip, but I know I am spending less on items that we need and beginning to create a stockpile of certain items. This is a breakdown of this week's CVS runs.

Transaction 1:
Fusion Razor - $9.99
SmartRinse Mouthwash - $3.49
Minus $4.00 Razor coupon
Total: $9.48
Paid for with $9.00 in ECB, $0.78 OOP
$7.49 in ECB earned ($4.00 on razor, $3.49 on mouthwash)

Transaction 2:
2 Pampers Swaddlers Sz. 2 - $7.99 each - $15.98
1 Pampers Cruisers Sz. 3 - $7.99
2 CVS Bandaids - $1.99 each - $3.98
Minus $2.00 Pampers coupon
Total: $25.95
Paid with previous $7.49 in ECB, $19.79 OOP
$8.98 in ECB earned ($5.00 on diapers, $3.98 on bandaids)

Transaction 3:
1 Candy - $1.77
3 Glade Air Fresheners $0.88 each - $2.64
2 Bounty 8 Roll - $4.96 - $9.92
2 Charmin 9 Roll - $4.96 - $9.92
1 Huggies Baby Wash - $3.49
Minus 2…

Works for Me Wednesday

This is my first time participating in Works for Me Wednesday. This week's edition is "Mom, I'm Bored" and focuses on ways to keep kids entertained during summer vacation. As a teacher and librarian, my ideas tend to be focused on books and reading. I can only reiterate to check out your local library. Most libraries run really great summer reading programs for kids of all ages. The theme that many libraries across the US will be using this summer is "Catch the Reading Bug". The best part (in addition to instilling a lifelong love of reading in your kids)? The vast majority of the programs are FREE!

For some rainy day fun with books at home, try Little Giraffes Story Props. This site has a wide variety of pictures to match children's books, songs, and fingerplays. Kids can use these to retell stories or act them out with friends or siblings. It's a favorite site of mine...I know it "works for me"!

Check out some other great at ideas at Rocks…

Cookies from a Cake Mix

I like to bake and wanted to try a quick recipe yesterday. I've had good luck with recipes using cake mixes, so I hopped over to Betty Crocker, and found this recipe for Fudge Crinkles. I used a Chocolate Fudge cake mix instead of Devil's Food and they turned out great. Yum!

Fudge Crinkles

Prep Time:20 min

Start to Finish:1 hr 20 min

Makes:2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® devil's food cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir dry cake mix, oil, eggs and vanilla, using spoon, until dough forms.

2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 2 inches apart.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Store tightly covered.

Frugal Gifts

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I know May and June are busy months for everyone for gift giving. It's exceptionally true in our family. In addition to Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduations, and weddings, we have a good handful of our small family's birthdays in May and June as well. As a result, I'm always looking for fun, frugal gift ideas. I tend to shop for gifts year round, stashing them in a box in a closet when I find something I like that's a good price. I don't always have someone in mind to give the gift to at the time, but 9 times out of 10, all of the gifts in the box get used.

For the graduations we're going to, my mom and I put together a college survival kit of sorts. It was put together using sale items and coupons that made things an excellent price. My husband gave us the ideas - these were all things he used at college, and with our graduates all being young men this year, we wanted to make sure they would be likely to use the items.
Here's a list of what we inc…

Joining the Blogging World

I've been a visitor to blogs of friends, family, and acquaintances. These blogs are interesting because they help to keep others informed of families' day to day lives. More recently, I have found other blogs, mainly frugal blogs, that have helped me tremendously to learn even more about household finances.

I hope this blog can serve as a help to some as well as myself. I am a Christian trying to do the best I can each day for my family and those around me. As a new mom, I am interested in topics relating to children and families. I am a shopper, so I love a good deal. Coupons, both print and online, are becoming more and more integral to my shopping. As a teacher and librarian, I also always have good books on my shelf, and am constantly finding useful web site links to use in my professional and personal life.

These topics and more can be found here at Faith, Family, and Frugality. Pull up a chair and read on!