Let them eat cake

After all the baking, brandy feeding, marzipanning (if there is such a word) and icing, the wedding cake was assembled. To be honest even though I was a little worried about it tasting ok and the icing not being smooth, it didn’t look that bad in the end. Ok so it didn’t have piping, flowers or chocolate but it was a cake. Mister B went out and bought some chocolate coloured ribbon, I made a little hessian bunting topper and it was placed on the tree trunk slab that Mister B had cut a few months ago. We did a few vines on the way and as you can see, I did get a little despondent. Think at that point, I was just very tired.

We carefully packaged the cake in a huge cake box and cake carriers and assembled it the night before the wedding. We put wooden dowel into it to ensure the cakes could support the tiers. Funny moment was when I tried to stick dowel through the second tier to bottom tier. I pushed and pushed and then stupidly remembered I had put all the cakes on cake boards so there was no way that sucker would go through! Daft idiot! Dad found it extremely funny.

Verdict: The cake was a big hit. Lots of people loved it and one person who doesn’t like marzipan even said it was good. So all in all I was chuffed that the cake was a success.

Quite a few people have asked for the recipe again so here it is. I multipled the amounts below by six to get three tiers. As I am not a fan of peel I left it out and used more cranberries, currants etc to make the weights up. You will need arms of steel and a huge stock pot/pan to create this beast. Good luck!

Ingredients

200g butter
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g dark or milk chocolate broken into chunks
75ml brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g raisins
250g currants
100g dried cranberries
100g dried sour cherries
100g mixed peel
200g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp mixed spice
3 eggs, beaten with a fork

Put the butter, sugar, chocolate, brandy, vanilla and dried fruits into a large saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until everything has melted together. Remove from the heat.

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep cake tin, 20cm round or 18cm square, with a double layer of baking parchment. Wrap a few layers of newspaper around the outside and secure with string. (This is essential to stop cake from burning round edges)

Mix the flour, almonds, cocoa and spice together. Stir the eggs into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture in the saucepan, followed by the flour mixture. Scrape into your prepared tin and bake for 1½ hrs- 1 hr 45 mins or until a skewer poked in comes out clean. Cool in the tin

(Our cakes took a lot longer due the depth and size of the cakes but just keep your eyes on it and skewer test and you will be fine!)

Here is the finished cake and topper. Thank you to Lisa Stoppard for the photo of the cake).

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Flowery fripperies

If you have ever thought flower arranging is just for those who are just Women Institute material or who are artsy think again. If you are a bride to be who is worried about escalating costs and florist costs are making you feel you may have to sit in a corner and rock for a while, then don’t worry, do you wedding flowers yourself! Don’t be put off, seriously it is not as difficult as people make out. Get some willing friends and family together and have a go. I scoured florists for quotes and I must admit that I just couldn’t justify it. After a lot of research I decided to plump for Triangle nurseries and ordered the flowers wholesale online. If I had lived close to an amazing wholesale flower market then I would have loved to have gone in person but time and location prevented this.

The first thing to do is decide on how many arrangements, buttonholes and bouquets etc you will need. Don’t forget you can stretch your budget if you take the flower arrangements you have made for the church to the reception (guests are happy to help with this), or if you are getting married in the same place as your reception.

The second thing to do is try to narrow down your flower choices. Think about the longevity of your flowers, what look you would like and whether you want scent. Longevity is so important. Remember you will need to prepare them a few days before and to ensure they look gorgeous on the day you need to pick flowers that will stand up to the job. Some flowers such as chrysanthemums will last for weeks, others will wilt quickly.

A good tip is to try and find which flowers are in ‘vogue’ or not in season and avoid them if you can. The costs will be higher. I could not believe how expensive hydrangeas were. They are extremely popular but they were more expensive than roses! I had some flowers in mind and had trawled the internet for ideas on colour combinations, textures and supplies. As our colour palette was white, brown and green, then I was concerned about the arrangements looking a little flat. I really wanted lots of texture and above all else scent. Anyone who knows me, will know I have a rather heightened sense of smell. I am a little like a sniffer dog…I pick up on weird smells all the time that no one else can pick up.

The third thing to do is to do your research and look at types of arrangements and how to do it. You will be amazed just how many ‘diy flower’ videos there are on youtube which give you tips and teach you the skills you need. I also loved looking round Pinterest for DIY ideas and flower arrangements.

I found some amazing displays by Francoise Weeks and I particularly loved the way she used woodland materials. I would have loved to make table arrangements in her style but as I was getting married away from where I lived and materials had to be transported I thought this would be too stressful so I had to dismiss this sadly.
As the venues we had chosen were impressive and we liked the rustic look then I decided to not be fussy with the decorations. Sometimes keeping things simple can be just as striking. To keep costs down we collected lots and lots of glass food jars of all shapes, sizes and colours to decorate the church pews and the reception tables. I must admit we ate a lot of curry, cook in sauces, jam etc in the lead up to the wedding. As I had lots of hessian left after making the table runners, I thought I would cut strips of it and wrap round the jars with some raffia to keep with the theme. You could paint, stencil or wrap with ribbon to liven up the jars too.
To keep the bouquets simple I decided on hand tied posies wrapped with ribbon.

I created a Pinterest board which proved to be extremely useful. Armed with an idea of numbers of arrangements and a rough budget I contacted Triangle nurseries. I was upfront and explained this was the first time I had ordered flowers wholesale and the helpful lady took all my details, the colours and flowers I wanted and sent me an email with rough ideas of what flowers I could afford for my budget and roughly how much I would need to order. After a few emails I had it all sorted. As you have to prep the flowers before arranging them, I ordered them for the Thursday before the wedding (Saturday).All I had to do was get some floristry supplies, buckets and helpers.

Supplies

I got a lot of my supplies from Hobby craft and also the Range. The key items we used were blocks of oasis for the church window displays/pedestals, plastic containers for the oasis, green florist tape for securing the oasis to the containers, green florist tape for winding round the button holes, black builders buckets and good florist scissors. I did buy a lot of wire but actually used none in the end.

Helpers

My matron of honor, Ffion kindly offered her kitchen and her services for arranging the flowers. Ffion’s lovely hubbie Rich also pitched in and so did my mum. Team flower was created!

What we did

We had to make:

10 buttonholes
Four bridesmaid posies
One bridal bouquet
Nine church window displays
12 pew end jar arrangements
One church pedestal arrangement
21 table jar arrangements
One top table arrangement
One milk churn arrangement

Flowers/Foliage we used:

Rose avalanche
Alchemella mollis
Veronica white
Stocks cream
White peony
Freesia white
Bouvardia white
Monte cassini white
White reagen sp chrysanth
White stallion sp chrysanth
White delianne sp chrysanth
White hydrangea
Alstromeria white
Lysianthus white
Gypsophilia
Soft ruscus
Hard ruscus
Cinerea eucalyptus
Papaver seed heads
Hypericum green

Timetable

Thursday

Flowers arrived at 8am and we set about unwrapping the flowers, cutting the stems (at an angle or slicing woody stems) and placing them in buckets of cold water. They were then placed in cool dark place to prevent them wilting and opening too much.

Unpacking the flowers

Unpacking the flowers

Friday

8am until 12.30pm

Ffion, mum and I worked our way through the lists of items and set about making the displays. Music on and smiles on our faces we submerged the oasis in cold water.

Big tip: Don’t push the oasis under the water, let it sink of it’s own accord before using. We attached the oasis with tape to the plastic containers for the church window displays. We laid out the allocated stems of flowers and foliage on the table and set about cutting and arranging the foliage first before fleshing out with the flowers. Lots of umming, erring, singing and glee we quickly had some beautiful displays.

Are you turning into a koala Ffion?

Are you turning into a koala Ffion?

Team flower

Team flower

hard at work

hard at work

Coming together

Coming together

beautiful flowery things

beautiful flowery things

Buttonholes: We picked the most gorgeous roses and foliage and wrapped green florist tape around. You should technically wire these but we didn’t and they still looked amazing.

Buttonholes

Buttonholes

Bouquet and posies. There was something quite satisfying about making my own bouquet. Holding a stem I then alternated the flowers and rotated the bouquet as I went. My bouquet contained freesia, avalanche roses, bouvardia, papaver seed heads, gypsophila, veronica, alchemella and peonies. Smelt divine and looked beautiful. My only regret is that I didn’t make it a little larger. The bridesmaids had exactly the same flowers apart from the peonies.

Posie ladies

Posie ladies

Jam jar arrangements/milk churn: Simply randomly pick foliage and flowers and pop in jars! Easy peasy. Don’t be too hung up on arranging these, they will look fab!

jam jarry goodness

jam jarry goodness

Church pedestal: This makes me snigger. Mum and I took some flowers down to the church literally half an hour before the wedding rehearsal. We were rushing, and did it in 10 minutes. I cut the stems and mum worked like a trojan to put them into the oasis. The combinations of flowers and foliage were brilliant. Sadly in my haste to get the decoration done, I didn’t tape the oasis down enough. During the wedding service, we think someone nudged the arrangement as they walked past and it lurched forward and fell onto the floor.Luckily for us our best man rescued the arrangement and plonked it back on! I must admit I found it hilarious.
Big big tip: Make sure you use plenty of tape to secure your arrangements, as they are very heavy.

A few more tips:

Remember to mist your flowers regularly and keep cool before the wedding. Ffion was brilliant with her mister!

If you have flowers that have soft stems, to prevent them from flopping, keep them wrapped before arranging. Wire the stems when arranging.

If you have flowers which are in bud and you want them open before the wedding, bring them out of the dark the day before to encourage them.

Have fun!

All in all our flowers looked amazing and I was thrilled with them. Team flower were bloomin’ amazing.

Thank you to Team flower (Ffion, Rich and mum), Mister B for collecting and moving the flowers and Sal. We couldn’t have done it without you! xx

We did it!

Well it has taken a while for the dust to settle and get the energy up to write another blog post following our big day. I am happy to say that we had a wonderful day of what we can remember of it. As everyone says, it goes so quickly. We have both sat and discussed the day and do actually wonder if it happened. Very strange feeling.

It is so weird, it is as if we both have some strange amnesia. We both feel like we need to redo it just to experience it again. Despite this we did have a great time surrounded by our family and friends, had amazing weather and everything went fine (well sort of). I won’t lie, it was extremely hard work for those involved and we were shattered afterwards. Mister B and I didn’t stop from the Tuesday before the wedding until Monday afternoon. We felt like we drifted through everything with a big grin on our faces.Bit surreal but in a fun way. We were very very fortunate to have the support of our family and friends which helped no end. I think if we hadn’t had them helping out over the week before the wedding it wouldn’t have been such a slick affair

We really would like to thank everyone who helped out, came to the wedding, sent us cards, presents and their best wishes. We have received lots of beautiful presents and cards (some hand made which were amazing) but we are waiting for some further presents via John Lewis. We will be sending out thank you cards soon. :)

We have had loads of people feeding back about how much they enjoyed the day, which I have to say means a lot especially after all the work Mister B and I have put into it. We tried to make it as relaxed as possible, so people there didn’t feel uncomfortable. I have been to a few wedding where etiquette dictates everything and it can really put a damper on things.

Even though we have had to make arrangements from afar, everything we had made, collected and bought actually worked and I have to say I was a little bit teary when I saw it all come together especially after all the planning.

It was so hectic that I was unable to make some posts about the prep work including the restoration of the Hillman, the flower arranging and the night before. I would like to think that this blog was/is not just for our family and friends but also for brides/grooms to be. It is helpful to get ideas and recommendations from others especially when in a bit of a tiz about your nuptials.

So I will post more about the prep, the suppliers we used and what happens after the big day soon. In the interim here is a lovely photo that my cousin Ed took when we were stood at the aisle…

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Parking people

Lots of people have asked about parking.

People coming to church-parking

As parking is limited outside the church at Rushbury we would ask people to park at Rushbury village hall instead if at all possible. We do have some parking at Rushbury primary school but this will be first come first served. You can walk but it may take you a while so Kev has kindly organised a minibus which seats 16 and will be able to pick people up from the village carpark down to the church.

The first minibus will take people who are staying at Wilderhope to the church, followed by a pick up from Rushbury Village Hall.

Wilderhope to Rushbury church: Leaving at 11.20 am
Rushbury Village Hall to Church: 11.30am

Signs will be placed along the road, and will say Birts wedding so keep your eyes peeled.Our ushers Craig and Alexander will also be around to guide you. Be nice they don’t bite.
Also please leave space for the wedding cars to pull up, otherwise the bridal party will be hiking to the church, need kendal mint cake and may be a bit late.

Parking at Wilderhope

Limited parking outside the venue but the farmer next door has kindly agreed to let us have some parking space on his land. As it is a working farm please respect the animals and do not park in front of the farmers exits please. Parking signs again will guide you. Please also leave adequate space outside of Wilderhope for the wedding cars, otherwise the bride will be a grump.

So there you go, everything you need to know about parking your brum.

Wedding mission commences

Well countdown has well and truly started. Already Mister B and I are walking round looking a bit zombified. I have to say getting married where we live would have been easier for us as we have spent most of our time remotely trying to get everything sorted out. Weirdly enough, the first time I will see all the bridesmaids together will be on Friday. I also haven’t seen them all in their dresses apart from the photos.

I finished work last Friday and haven’t stopped since. We have had a few cancellations sadly, which we know cannot be helped (we understand!) and we have added a few people (welcome to the party people!) Mister B and I have been up to the wee hours making place settings, a seat plan, doing the favours, parking and room signs.

I mazipanned the wedding cakes and then iced them. I thought I could cheat by buying ready rolled icing for the bottom tier but it was a pile of poo. As I unrolled it, it cracked straight down the centre. So I ended up doing it the old fashioned way. Transferring it to the moistened marzipan was interesting as it was huge. I improvised by placing the wedding cakes on an upturned glass bowl, instead of a turning table. They are not perfectly smooth but not too bad for a rather knackered bride! They have now been stored at my father’s for safe delivery on Friday night, where we will stack them and decorate it. I made a little cake topper myself which I hope does not look too bad.

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John Lewis have been in touch about delivery of our gift list which is jolly exciting too.

We packed everything into two vehicles this morning and headed north. First stop was to see the wedding car. Mister B’s father started to restore the Hillman in 1980 but sadly was unable to finish it. Today for the first time in 33 years it is back in one piece and working again. Neville and his team have done an amazing job on restoring it. I am really excited about being in it on Saturday. Everyone who has seen it falls in love with it. My father added the gold trim to it today too which really sets the paintwork off. Won’t post a photo just yet as we want it to a be a nice surprise for everyone on Saturday.

Mister B had his hair chopped tonight and we dropped a load of things off at my mums.

Loads of questions keep coming in which we will try to answer shortly. If you don’t get an instant response bear with us we will get back to you but might be dashing about.

not long to go folks…

xxx

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Feeling clucky?

One week to go eeeeeek! The last month has gone so quickly and is a bit of a blur. We have started getting wedding cards arriving at home and notifications of gifts being bought for us from our wedding list which is extremely exciting. Mister B went on his stag weekend which I am sure he will love to tell you about soon. Let’s just say his weekend involved a lot of water, fun, a fire alarm, some gorges, an inflatable sheep and tiredness.

As it was incredibly difficult to get a a suitable activity and time for everyone together for a hen weekend, I decided against it. It would have been lovely but was proving to be a headache to organise and I must admit the last few months I have been fairly exhausted. So at the last minute I invited a few ladies from work for a for some pizza and drinks. I had a lovely time and it was great to do something nice for me instead of worrying about the wedding. I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who came and treated me to rather intoxicating beverages. Hic! A special thanks to Cath who I share an office with at work, who had arranged lots of willie themed goodies and contacted Mister B about a ‘Mr and Mrs’ question and answer session for me. I had no idea it was going to take place and was cringing as I thought I wouldn’t get any of the questions right. I was rather relieved that in the end I actually knew a lot of rather random and obscure stuff about Mister B. Phew that is a relief! I am waiting for the right moment however to do my forfeit involving a hairy chested man. Ewwww.

Really enjoyed myself even if I felt a little tired the next day. THANKS EVERYONE! xx

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The hens

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Loving the hen bindi

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Hmm interesting cookies these will make

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I look like a fraggle

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Pizzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

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My what interesting dough balls Pizza Express have

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Caption please?!

Wedding cake update..yes again!

I am sorry to say that I have decided to change the wedding cake….we are not having carrot and chocolate cake as the two top layers. I am capable of making them but as time draws on, I don’t think I will have enough time to bake them and ice them before heading up to Shropshire. So the decision was made to make three layers of fruit cake instead. So if you dislike fruit cake and cheese well you are a bit stuffed I guess!

We ventured into Swansea to get everything, for this rather big task. We had to time everything by six to fill the three tins, which as it turns out is a lot of ingredients. One mistake I will never make again is going into Swansea on a Saturday afternoon. It was hell. I am not exaggerating when I say this. I could feel my blood pressure increase as I entered the supermarket. I was stood picking up some butter when a lady decided to grab a load of lard from the shelf above. Next thing I know the whole lot came crashing down and narrowly missing my head.

“oh sorry luv, did it hit eww?’ she said

“No, it didn’t thankfully” I said as I stepped back to help pick the stuff up from the floor. Just as I stepped back her friend decided to ram her shopping trolley into my back.

Looking at her friend laughing the woman said ” There’s me nearly braining her with stuff and uwww are now trying to take her out with a shopping trolley”

Let’s just say I walked away with a rather fixed smile on my face and the urge to kill someone. Never ever again.

Back at the safety of home, and after a cup of tea, I set upon making the first tier. I hunted round for the biggest pot to put all the ingredients in and thankfully I had a stock pot just the right size. After mixing together the butter, sugar, brandy, vanilla extract, chocolate and fruit, we added nine eggs, flour, ground almonds and cocoa. I thought my wooden spoon would break, as there was such a lot to mix together. I must admit it took a bit of huffing and puffing to get it all mixed. Great workout for your arms though. After lining the cake tin on the in and outside, the cake was popped in the oven for 3 and a bit hours to cook.

Today I finished the other two tiers after spending the morning with a horrible migraine. Thankfully they came out ok and are now going to be fed each day with a good glug of brandy. Just need to add the marzipan, icing and decoration closer to the wedding.

If you would like the recipe it can be found here.

Let’s drive some miles

Eeek! We now have less than 3 weeks to go and things are starting to pick up pace. Last weekend we drove miles to get a few more items ticked off the list. Firstly Mister B and I went to Oswestry and the Ring Workshop to pick up the wedding rings that we’d had made.  Thank you to Mark and the team there who were really very helpful. Rings are sorted-CHECK!

We then headed over to Shrewsbury to meet up with my mum and Kev, to get the men measured up for their suits at Moss Bros.  Both Mister B and Kev paraded around in various getups until the right ones were found.  Suits are sorted-CHECK!

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This is what trying on suits does to you...

This is what trying on suits does to you…

Mum and I

Mum and I

We had a quick walk round Shrewsbury to look for some earrings for me to wear for the wedding and had a wander round one of the Antique shops in Belmont. As always we got up to mischief and Mister B had to try on a rather big fireman’s helmet. Ooooh missus. Makes you feel old when you realise that some of the antique toys were ones you remember playing with when you were a child!

Shrewsbury silliness

Shrewsbury silliness

We then popped round to see my gran, Ann before bedding down for the night to get up bright and early for the last of our banns being read at Rushbury Church the next morning. There were more people there than I expected and all very friendly. I think we caused a bit of panic though with the name of where we live, as there was a frantic chat about how to pronounce it. The service was lovely and I don’t know if it was intentional or not but the last hymn that was chosen, is actually the first hymn of our wedding. Another weird thing happened too. For once the bank holiday weather was actually quite nice and during the service a ray of sunshine came through one of the church windows straight onto my hymn book. It shone no where else in the church. I looked up and on the stained glass it said St Paul. Strangely enough that is my dad’s name! Well obviously not the Saint bit! Strange coincidence but brought a smile to my face nevertheless.

Running a tad late (sorry Ffion!) we then drove back to Shrewsbury for Sunday lunch at the Armoury with my matron of honor and her family which was a good end to a hectic weekend. A few glasses of wine and a tasty salad left me feeling rather sloshed! I noticed as well that my salad was smiling back at me too…or was I imagining it? Thank you Ffion, Rich, Thomas and Ben for lunch and laughter! xx

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Since then we have been printing off the Order of Service and Menu’s. You would think that this would be a simple task but it has caused a few headaches. Note to anyone who is doing this themselves, check that the thickness of card will go through your printer before you purchase it. I didn’t and as a result Mister B and I spent a few hours sweating buckets and using rather fruity language at printers. We got there in the end and they are looking good.

Feeling flowery

After scouring the internet and dabbling with flowers in the past, I have decided that we are going to do our own flowers for the wedding. Some brides or florists may read this and shake their heads. But seriously, I just cannot justify the inflated prices that are out there. I spoke and emailed a lot of florists for quotes and was amazed. Now I know that you are paying for a florists time and expertise but seriously one florist wanted to charge me £20.00 for filling a jam jar with flowers and I was providing the jam jar. What the ???? I am not being tight but I could buy a big bunch of flowers for that.

I looked for recommendations on Money Saving Expert and lots of people recommended Triangle nurseries who are wholesalers. I went through their helpful flower guide, compiled a list of flowers/foliage that I liked and went on Pinterest and created a board of flower arrangements in the colours that we had chosen. I spoke with a lovely lady called Mary at Triangle who helped to create a detailed list of all the flowers we needed for our arrangements, button holes, bouquets etc within our budget. After a few changes, that was it-SORTED!  It was that simple. The flowers for the wedding will be arriving on the Thursday before the wedding and then the Flower Committee will be getting together on the Friday morning to get it all done. For some reason I think we need headscarves for this. Don’t ask, I have no idea why.   I am hoping that with music, bubbles and patience we will prevail. I am not guaranteeing anything like Ikebana but it will look fab.

We have had all our Banns read at St Cynog’s now and we are going to go to the last one at St Peter’s in Rushbury next weekend. Amazing how quickly they go.

I have been making some more bits and bobs for the day. My father gave me an old cutlery box of my grandmothers and I thought that I would try and upcycle it to include it in the day. Sounds daft and a bit sentimental but I feel by having it there, I am including my gran in the day. I have decided to use it for wedding cards and have decorated it. I have also been drying flowers and herbs for the confetti. Last Summer I cut all the lavender from the garden and dried it and have been adding rose petals, carnations,  rosemary, forget-me-nots and camillia. They are not perfect as they have browned a little but will do the job I am sure.  I have also made some confetti cones and popped them in an old basket I bought a while ago. The cones were very easy to make, by cutting squares, rolling and using good old Pritt stick. Here is a sneak peak…

Sneak peak

Sneak peak

More makes

More makes

I have been umming and arring about making bunting. I tried making some fabric ones a while ago and I found it a faff. I am sure for people who are good at textiles it is very very easy but I found cutting , pinning etc just left me frustrated and bored. I was just about to cheat and buy some when I came across this wonderful article  on The Sweetest Digs blog which shows how to make easy hessian/burlap bunting. As it is only going to be used for one day, it does not have to be industrial strength. No sewing and easy-genius!!!

Using some left over hessian, I set about making triangles, and then using some left over paint I painted on the letters. After drying for a while, I made some holes in each corner and threaded on some string. They may be a little bit rough around the ages and a bit wonky but that is the joy of homemade stuff, it isn’t perfect!