the nail files: all the neon

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! And please use the button and/or link back to this blog. Thanks!**


It's hard to believe, but we've come to the end of Neon Month.

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In order to console myself, I decided to do a mani with as many neons as possible (hence the title of this post, haha!). It was a bit of a trial and error kind of mani but in the end, it worked out great!

 As usual, these colours didn't photograph well. The orange and pink are bananas-bright in real life. 

Originally, my plan was to do one of those vertical, rainbow gradients that are all the rage right now, so I started with two coats of White Tips. Then I did one layer of sponged-on colour. For some reason, though, it didn't even almost work out. I think it may have been because I didn't use a wide enough stripe of colour on the sponge, but in any event, it was not a pretty situation. So, instead of fighting with it, I switched gears and added two coats of each colour, applied with the bottle's brush, meeting in the middle.

When that was dry, I added one black line down the middle, with Black Stripe Rite (that I forgot to include in the polish picture...whoops!), followed by two white lines on either side, with White Stripe Rite (also missing from the picture, double-whoops! Haha!).

One coat of quick-dry top coat sealed everything together nicely.

 The colours in this picture are slightly more accurate, although the orange is still muted and the pink looks a little darker than in real life. Whomp, whomp. Haha!

Although I'm a little sad that the vertical, rainbow gradient didn't work out, I LOVE my modification. Sometimes, things don't pan out the way I envisioned, but when I figure out a way to save it without having to start from scratch, I legit feel like this...

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Haha! Oh Carleton.

So that brings us to the end of Neon Month. I'm so happy that you guys were digging it! How about for July, we do "Get Your Summer Sparkles On!"? As I'm a sparkle-addict, and there are lots of bright sparkles and shimmers out there that are just perfect for summer, I thought it'd be a pretty inclusive theme. Let me know if you're not feeling it, though, and we can pick something else!

Hope you have a great weekend, everyone! And don't forget to link up! :D


book review (with tribute mani!): the invasion of the tearling

THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING was one of my favourite books of 2014 and I’m delighted to report that I loved THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING just as much. So much, in fact, that I nearly went blind in order to finish it. Haha!

Guys, I’m in awe of this series. The two books that have been released so far are freaking incredible. The world building is phenomenal and incredibly engaging, plus it's dark and oozes with humanity. And, of course, there's the MC, Kelsea. To borrow a phrase from a pal: Holy cats, is Kelsea ever awesome. Like, awesome awesome. Yes, this is a double-adjective kind of book. Haha!

The synopsis, from Goodreads:

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

The most interesting, unexpected, and flawlessly executed surprise of THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING, is the new character, Lily. Somehow, Kelsea and Lily are linked, and they experience each other's lives in real time, despite being alive in entirely different ages (being pre and post Crossing, which is how The Tearling Kingdom came to be). 

Yeah. I know. It doesn't make any sense.

But if you read the book, you'll find that it makes the most sense ever, and then you will probably want to write Ms. Johansen a fan letter. Because that's how mental-face the whole thing is. 

Hey! There's a blurb for you -- THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING, it's mental-face good!

You're welcome, Ms. Johansen. Haha!

Seriously though, there was already a very intense plot in this series and adding a time travel element amongst the already high stakes was a risky move. The biggest rewards come from the biggest risks though, and THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING is a shining example of that. 

To keep it real, this mani took forever but it turned out so well that I don't even care. I kept it on for almost an entire week and still couldn't get over the level of pretty. If that makes me an egomaniac, so be it. Haha!

I was so engrossed in the story that the hours I spent in the waiting room of a Lasik eye place while The Remix had his consultation felt like minutes and when we got home, I went straight back to reading. By the time I got to page 401, my eyes were aching for me to stop, but then something so intense happened that I had to get off the couch and pace around the living room while repeating, “Oh god, oh no, oh god, oh no.” 

(Side note: Accustomed to my occasional reading-induced fits, The Remix ignored me and continued playing solitaire on his iPad.) 

So even though I could barely see, I was so riddled with tension about what would happen to a certain character, I turned on my brightest lamp, brought my nose about five inches from the book, and squinted my way through the last hundred-ish pages.

Luckily, my eyesight wasn't damaged, but even if it was, it probably would have been worth it. Haha! Also, hand on heart, I swear that I’m not exaggerating with my account of how I finished THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING. And if nearly going blind in order to finish a book isn't a five-star review, I don’t know what is.

Second blurb suggestion: THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING, worth going potentially blind for!

(Additional side note: These are the worst blurbs ever. Haha!) 

So if you’re at all interested in layered, dark, slightly creepy, fully kick-ass-y, can’t-put-this-book-down fiction, you need to start this series (even if you don’t read a lot of fantasy). I'm being completely honest when I say it's some of the best I’ve ever read.


the nail files: ORLY Adrenaline

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It's week three of Neon Month, here on the nail files, and I happily used it as an excuse to get some more nail polish. Because a girl can never have enough neon polishes (or glitter polishes...OMG, maybe that can be next month's theme! Haha!). Anyway, Sally's was having a BTGO sale, so I picked up two bottles from the new ORLY Adrenaline Collection: On the Edge and Thrill Seeker.

Side Note: I don't know what's been going on at ORLY headquarters this year, but I've basically loved every collection they've put out. So keep it up, people!

*tips hat to ORLY colour developers*

As usual, these neons were really hard to photograph. I had to crank down the lighting for the orange but it still came out super muted. In real life, Mayhem Mentality is off-the-charts bright.

To start, I did two coats of White Tips on each nail, so the neons could really pop. When my nails were dry, I added two pieces of striping tape to my middle and ring finger, crossing them in the centre (as you can tell from my ring finger, my lines were a little skewed *headdesk*). Then I did two quick coats of each colour: Thrill Seeker, Mayhem Mentality, and On the Edge.

Natural light was even worse for Mayhem Mentality, as it came out looking peach. PEACH! How?!? It's not even almost a little bit peach-like! *grumbles* However, with that said, this is the most accurate picture of what On the Edge looks like. So at least there's that. Haha!

Before the polish could dry completely, I removed the strips and patted down the edges that stood up. While that was drying, I did two coats of On the Edge on my pinky, pointer, and thumb. To finish it off, because it still wasn't quite right, I added three small silver studs to my feature fingers, and then topped each nail with one coat of Glisten and Glow's HK Girl Top Coat.

Ugh. More peach. Curse you amazing yet un-photogenic neons! *shakes fist*

I'm so sad that these pictures don't do this mani proud. The neon green and orange is crazypants bright, but you only get a taste of it, here. On the Edge is a seriously beautiful, hyper-pigmented blurple, and it's definitely going to get some use because I love me some blurples. Haha!

As to White Tips, this was my first time using a white other than Fingerpaints Paper Mache and I think it's pretty good! The formula was thick enough that I got good coverage in two coats and I think that if I'm really careful with my application, I could even get away with one. Yay for Sally's sales, which gave me this polish for free! In my experience, it's good to get free products to try first, just in case I don't like it. Because I'm cheap like that.  Haha!

There's only one week left for Neon Month, so if you haven't played around with the brightest colours in your collection, there's still time! But even if you're not into the theme, you can absolutely still link up your post. The more nail polish, the better!

Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!


book review (with a tribute mani!): eighth grave after dark

I'm new to the Charley Davidson series, having only started last year, but I'm already a total addict. I read EIGHTH GRAVE AFTER DARK in a single day and loved it so much that I spent the following day figuring out my tribute mani. I won't lie; the mani nearly killed me, but considering the series, my struggle was actually quite appropriate. Haha!

For those who aren’t familiar with the Charley Davidson series, let me break it down for you. Charley is a twenty-seven-year-old (when the story begins) private investigator who just happens to also be the Grim Reaper.

Yes, that Grim Reaper.

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Only she's more glittery than cape-y, which is one the many reasons I love her. Haha!

So while she’s solving kidnappings or assisting the police with other investigations, Charley also helps the dead complete their unfinished business, and then lets them pass through her to the other side. As you can imagine, this keeps her quite busy.

If you haven’t read the series before and it seems interesting to you, you’ve got a decision to make.  Because this is the eighth book in the series, there’s no possible way for me to talk about EIGHTH GRAVE AFTER DARK without spoiling a few things, so if you like to be surprised about every single component of a series and you’re feeling the conc, then you should probably stop here.

As it's an important decision, I’ll just hang out for a second while you mull it over. 

*admires tribute mani*

*contemplates life purpose*

*wonders why there’s a donut in the commercial for Excel gum because donuts don’t give you bad breath*

Okay. I think that’s enough time. On with the review! Haha!

Synopsis, from Goodreads:

With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there, Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley’s been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine.

While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….


Of all the Charley books, this one was the most “emotion-coaster-y,” meaning that I laughed, cried, and gasped out loud on more than one occasion. And, of course, I'd be remiss to not mention the steamy sexytimes. Man oh man, were they ever awesome.

*sighs happily*

Because Charley is who she is, she doesn't always make the most sound decisions, but that keeps things very interesting. I'll admit that I was more than slightly worried about Reyes, but it was kind of cool because I've never really worried about him before. Yay for added tension! Haha! 

And speaking of tension, one of the things I liked most about EIGHTH GRAVE AFTER DARK was that it answered a lot of questions about why specific characters have been included in Charley’s posse--both alive and dead. In particular, one character’s purpose blew my freaking mind, but just when I thought I had it all figured out, everything got cranked up to eleven.

The whole book was great, but the pace of the last third was bananapants, and the plot took a severe right turn, so kudos to Ms. Jones for sending Charley et al off into uncharted and incredibly dangerous territory for the next few instalments.

And seeing that I’m one step away from being a (friendly and totally harmless) stalker, I saw on Ms. Jones’s website that she’s signed on for another three Charley books, so I can’t wait to read about what happens next! 

Given that the cover has skulls on it, I couldn't resist breaking out one of my glittery Halloween skulls.

So if you read this review without having read the first seven (despite my warnings, you naughty little minx), what the heck are you waiting for? Get out there and crack some spines! Uh. Book spines, that is. All things considered, it's probably best to leave the cracking and/or slicing of actual spines to Reyes. You know, because of the whole murdery thing. Safety first, people! Haha!


the nail files: tennis, anyone?

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For our second week in Neon Month Amazingness, I was inspired by one of my all-time favourite handbags. Kate Spade has the funnest designs ever, so when I saw this tennis ball bag a few years back, I just had to have it. Because, neon yellow patent leather. 

I can't believe how well my idea turned out (isn't it just the BEST when that happens?!), so I took about a bazillion pictures and even dug out my old tennis gear for props. But because I love you, I'm only sharing a few because otherwise, you'd be scrolling through pictures all day. 

You're welcome. Haha!

To start, I let two coats of Paper Mache dry completely. Then, I did two coats of Kiwi Cool-ada on my middle finger and let that dry. Now, I didn't have to use a white base for Kiwi Cool-ada, because it's pretty bright by itself, but because this is Neon Month, I wanted it to be as bright as possible. Haha!

When the green was dry (which didn't take long because neons dry pretty quickly), I got out the White Stripe Rite and drew a line in the middle of my nail. I filled it out a bit and then added the black lines. To create a solid top, I then went over the white line.

The tennis balls on my pointer and pinky fingers weren't made with a dotting tool, but with a small nail art brush. I did two coats of Key Lime Twist to get a nice bright yellow. When that dried, I used White Stripe Rite to draw the two curved lines (which are hard to see, but I promise are there.) and filled in the rest of the nail with black "bouncy" lines. 

The racquets were legit the hardest part of this mani, which I'm sure comes as no surprise. Haha! I started with an outline of the entire racquet with a VERY thin line and when I liked the shape, evened it out. Then I added thickness at the bottom for the grip, and finished off with the string lines.

So yeah. I love this mani. Haha! It's fun and bright and represents not only my favourite bags, but also my favourite sport. A double-win mani!!

So what were you rocking this week? Were you inspired by Neon Month? Link up and show off!

Hope you have an awesome weekend!


top 6 tv shows to watch for character development

Authentic characters are the most important component of a novel. You know, along with an engaging plot, organic settings, some element of surprise...okay, so there are a lot of important components of a novel, but I'm pretty sure that authentic characters are close to the top of the list. Haha! As a writer, though, sometimes it's hard to come up with original, grounded characters. 

From what I've gathered, the easiest way to get inspired is to either pillage the lives of your friends and family, or spend time in coffee shops and other public places where people watching is easy and, frankly, encouraged. I, for one, am leery of basing characters on people I know, which puts me in a bit of a pickle because I have a chronic illness that makes me susceptible to every germ on the planet. So for me, hanging out in a public place to rip off...err, I mean get inspired by strangers and their conversations, just isn't possible because I'm pretty much stuck looking at the world from inside. 

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But not to worry, fellow sicky-faces and/or other writers who can't get out, because I'm here for you! Haha! Over the years, I've found a few great places to get exposure to different types of people without ever going outside. And because I'm hard at work at a new WIP, I'm relying heavily on the notebooks where I've jotted down pages upon pages of observations, all of which have come via my television.

So here are my top six television shows to watch for character research:

*bangs gong*

1. This is Life with Lisa Ling/ Our America with Lisa Ling

From taking weird drugs in the jungle to amateur porn stars, women who work the oil rigs in North Dakota or the fifty-year-old woman who's recently become an amateur porn star, men who enter the Catholic priesthood and what it's like for family members of those who've committed violent crimes, Lisa covers the most unusual people you could ever imagine. She has a knack for asking insightful, non-judgemental questions (for the most part) and people really open up to her. Hearing raw, true, honest accounts of people's lives--people who are in pretty cool and unique situations--has given me countless ideas when it comes to character professions and motivations. And because everyone is so interesting, these two series are easy to binge-watch, as each story is as fascinating as the last. 

2. Beyond Scared Straight

What started as a guilty pleasure years ago, has become one of my strongest sources for heartbreaking background stories. Not only do you get to hear about the youths involved in the program (where "at-risk" youth visit prisons, sometimes staying overnight despite the average watcher's worry about psychological scarring) but you get to hear from the inmates as well. For the most part, they're sad stories--tales of abuse, poverty, and a lack of positive life opportunities. 

As any good writer knows, nobody's all good or all bad and a series of poor decisions can alter a life forever. And when it comes to writing sympathetic antagonists, finding ways to place glimmers of humanity where readers least expect them can make quite an impact. So hearing about how kids and inmates got to where they are is a solid tool for character research. That said, there's a chance you'll be haunted by what some of the program members have survived and/or done, so I'd recommend having some vintage Care Bear episodes lined up to watch afterwards. 

3. Teen Mom/16 and Pregnant

When it comes to teenage angst with a side of not-so-great decisions, the cast of every Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant know what's up. It's been a long time since I've been a teen--um, I mean, not that long, haha--and when I need to channel a teenager's frame-of-mind, along with the latest in slang and phrasing, there's no better resource than these MTV series. Yeah, they're edited and produced and maybe aren't entirely accurate, but the emotional turmoil caused by major life decisions can't be debated. My heart breaks for these kids, because they really do think that things will just work themselves out and that naiveté comes across in every episode. Plus the fights. OH THE FIGHTS. With parents! Peers! Partners! The law! These guys and gals have a toe in each drama-filled pond, so make sure you've got a fresh notebook before settling down to watch. Those pages will fill up before you even know what's going on. Haha!

4. The Real Housewives Franchise

For over-the-top, self-involved, ego-centric people, The Real Housewives are an excellent resource. Privileged women tend to act in unbelievable ways, making mountains out of molehills and such, but they're interesting to watch because they're honestly upset about problems that many of us wouldn't necessarily consider problems. And unexpectedly, most of the cast members have killer senses of humour, so you'll definitely get inspired on the witty-one-liner front. These gals aren't afraid to mince their words and that makes for extreme conflict. I'm a pretty reasonable, grounded woman, so it's good for me to watch the privileged few lose their damn minds. They also have great clothes, which isn't necessarily good for writing, but good for my eyeballs. Haha!

5. Surviving Marriage

This is a newer show that I've become completely obsessed with. Couples who are on the brink of divorce go into the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on their back, for several days, to save their marriage. As the act of staying in the wilderness without shelter or food for four days would end my marriage faster than you can say "Where's the closest Holiday Inn?", I'm fascinated with their decision. All of the couples's relationship problems are layered and complex, and the extreme conditions break down their barriers and produce raw, unfiltered emotion. When it comes to strained relationships with high stakes (jobs, kids), it doesn't get better than Surviving Marriage.

6. Dr. Phil

I PVR this show every day. Why? Because there are some hot freaking messes on there, guys. For instance, before one particular episode, I was unaware that people solicited for casual sex on Craigslist. Like, with their actual hotel room numbers. Displayed on a public forum where anyone can see it, including serial killers. And, most surprisingly, it seems to work out in a non-murdery way.

(Side Note: what the heck?)

Aside from strange sexual fetishes, there are also drug addicts a'plenty, failed marriages, people who've been catfished, parenting problems, survivors of abuse, and a whole host of other people with big ole problems.

I would like to clarify that I don't agree with most of Dr. Phil says, nor his sensationalization of certain topics, but he has a wide variety of guests and that can make for a great inspirational resource. Mostly because his show is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you're going to get. Haha!

So there you have it--my top six resources for character research. What are some of yours? I'm always on the lookout to expand my character's horizons and I'd love new places to look! If you've got some goodies, please share in the comments!


the nail files: neon earring inspiration

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Hello and welcome to the first week of Neon Month!


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One of my favourite pieces of jewelry is a pair of earrings I've had forever, and since they're all sorts of pink neon goodness, they served as the perfect piece of inspiration for our first neon week. 

Ugh. Why is it so hard to get a good picture of neon amazingness? I swear that in real life, these babies are super neon.

Here's what I used:

And the mani!

Because I've had these earrings for so long, the metal bits have tarnished, but that's just made them cooler. To reflect the variety of colour, I used gold, silver, and pewter polish and I loooooooove how they look together.

After my base of Paper Mache (two coats) was dry, I used a medium dotting tool to make three lines of dots on each nail with Rollin' in Cashmere, My Silk Tie, and Gossip Over Gimlets, and four dots on my middle finger (because I can't not have a feature finger, even if it's so subtle that nobody but me would probably notice, haha!). Then I added the pink dots. 

The tricky part came next because I had to centre a smaller white dot in the middle of each larger dot. So after some wine I chose the smallest dotter I had and prayed to the Steady Hands Gods. I was so nervous, in fact, that I literally held my breath for each dot. Haha! What an unexpectedly  high-stress mani! 

Anyway, I eventually made my way down each line, and when I was done, I waited for a long time before adding a coat of quick-dry top coat, as this mani took a while and I wasn't about to have any smudging. Ha!

I love how it turned out and although it's basically impossible to get a picture that shows how bright this neon pink polish is (trust me, it's briiiiiiiight) it still looks pretty good. The pewter dots give off a bit of sparkle, and it all really pops against the white base.

What are you rocking this week? Were you inspired by Neon Month? Link up and show off!

Have an awesome weekend, everyone! :D


book review (with a tribute mani!): the heir

I really enjoyed The Selection Series, and like other fans, after the third book, I pretty much thought that was it. So when I saw that there was a fourth in the series, and it revolved around America and Maxon's daughter, Eadlyn, I quickly ordered a copy. And man, am I ever glad I did, because THE HEIR was freaking awesome, guys. So awesome, that I just had to do a tribute mani. Haha!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

Flipping the script on having thirty-five male possible love interests for a single woman was pure genius on Ms. Cass' part, but even though the concept of THE HEIR is the same as the rest of The Selection series, there's a lot more going on than Eadlyn simply finding a husband. And not just because Eadlyn doesn't actually want to find a husband. Haha!

But even though a lot happens to Eadlyn (which I won't spoil; you're welcome, ha), the real story is Eadlyn herself, who is a straight-up hot mess of contradictions. For instance, if you were to look up "uptight" in the dictionary, there could very well be a picture of Eadlyn, but to counteract her prickliness, she's also wise beyond her years. I guess that's what happens when you're first in line for the throne, having been brought up in a sheltered castle. Err...after your parents created a new law that granted you your birthright to become the first ruling queen of your land, that is. No pressure, right? Haha! 

Her little mantra of "no one is as powerful as you" (referring to herself), is a wonderful example of how she tries to put on a brave front while on the inside, she's just as unsure about herself as any other eighteen-year-old would be. Or even more so, actually, considering her title. And that makes her extremely interesting to watch. Because gals who have ultimate power but choose to wield it thoughtfully are the kind of women who make magnificent queens. Eadlyn absolutely has that kind of potential, but first, she'll have to get out of her own way. 

Ugh. Adulthood. It's quite the beyotch. Amiright? Haha! 

I suspect that eventually, Eadlyn's going to kick ass and take names...I mean, blossom into a well-rounded queen (haha!), and by the end of THE HEIR, she's already on her way. The only catch, though, is that in order to keep growing, Eadlyn will have to let her guard down. And considering that she's never had to do that before, she's virtually paralyzed with fear, which is precisely why she's such a great character. Because even though I'm a super mature thirty-something year old (ha!), I completely connected with her fear of letting people see her true self, and that means that I'll root for her until the very end. 

So if you're into The Bachelorette as well as YA fiction, you should totally pick up a copy of THE HEIR!