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I’m so excited about our guest bathroom renovation reveal today!  It’s been a hot minute since I talked about anything related to our renovation.  That’s for a couple of reasons.  One, my husband and I agreed that we would take our time on furnishing and decorating the house so I could find things I really loved.  Two, all the renovation drama took an emotional toll on me and it’s still not a good subject.

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

But, today!  Today, I’m back and I’m rowdy.  When we started thinking about our guest bathroom remodel, we had one objective.  Add value but save money.  I found a lot of ways to save money while remodeling, and I think the changes we made helped update the bathroom.  SO.  Mission accomplished.

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

Disclaimer: This post contains shopstyle/amazon links that may earn me a few pennies towards a future purchase if you click on them. 

Jack and Jill Guest Bath Renovation Reveal: What We Changed

I thought I had pictures of everything before we started remodeling, but I can’t find any pictures of the guest bath right now.  #BloggerFail

The biggest change we made was that we tore down a privacy wall and flipped the bathroom entirely.  The reason I decided to flip the wall that the vanity was on is simply because everything would need to be extremely custom to stay symmetrical.  Custom mirrors, custom sinks, custom vanity… the list goes on and on.  While we are going to have to frost the window to prevent a peep show, I thought that was the lesser of two evils.

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

Another thing we did to keep costs down was keep things consistent throughout our renovation.  We used the same quartz countertops throughout our entire house and used one cabinet and trim color throughout.  We could have used the same wall color because there’s not a discernible difference between Glass Slipper and Whispering Spring.

Jack and Jill Guest Bath Renovation Reveal: The After Photos

Between the phantom 62″ bathtub saga and the stand your ground over a toilet nonsense, this bathroom showed us a lot about our contractor’s true colors (before things completely unraveled).  That being said, I’m really happy at how it came out.  (Now, if I could just figure out how to reinstall the pocket door lock that was installed upside down…  #muchprofessional)

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

Jack and Jill Guest Bath Renovation Reveal: Details & Source List

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

journey of doing - guest bathroom renovation revealP I N I T


1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5


Paint Colors

Walls – Benjamin Moore Whispering Spring

Trim // Cabinet // Ceiling // Doors – Restoration Hardware Seafoam (Benjamin Moore Color Match)

Cabinet Hardware

Knobs // Drawer Pulls

Quartz Countertops

Samsung – Gentle Gray


Floors – Arizona Tile PE Paesteum

Walls – Artistic Tile Savoy Leaf

Accent Tile – Oceanside Tile Tessera Atmosphere Blend

Hardware (polished chrome)

Bath & Showerhead // Sinks & Handles // Towel Bar


Kate Spade Harbour Drive towels, platinum 

 Kate Spade Harbour Drive shower curtain, platinum

Kassastex Tribecka bath accessories, seafoam

Mirrors purchased at Home Goods

  For more renovation reveal posts:

kitchen renovation reveal, formal dining room renovation reveal

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When I first started looking for the best place to stay in Cinque Terre, I was looking for creature comforts.  (Disclaimer: I’m a hotel snob.  My mom worked in the hotel industry, so I’ve been able to stay in some pretty fabulous places.)  On our second trip, during our wine tasting tour, we spent a morning with a Manarola local.  He explained that the increased tourism (and demand for apartments) has priced many young people out of the market, and there are less than 300 local residents of Manarola now.  If this trend continues, Cinque Terre will soon just be a pretty place to take pictures (more so than it already is, but more on that later).  His stories made me appreciate La Torretta even more.  I can confidently say that it is the best place to stay in Cinque Terre – from both a comfort and sustainable tourism perspective.

journey of doing - best place to stay in cinque terre; La Torretta LodgeP I N I T

The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: The La Torretta Arrival Experience

It was difficult for me to fathom what Cinque Terre would be like.  Similar to Venice, there are no(t many) cars allowed.  I read of the winding stairs, cautionary messages of not bringing too much luggage, and the importance of being in shape.  For that reason, I booked the luggage transfer from the Manarola train station to the hotel during our first visit.  When we emerged from the tunnel, La Torretta was waiting with a golf cart to whisk us (and our luggage) up the hillside.

This year, our flight from London would arrive in Pisa at 5:00pm, so it was unlikely we would arrive in Manarola before the 7:00pm cutoff.  We were so excited to be back in Cinque Terre though, it didn’t matter.  The air was cool and crisp.  The streets were mostly empty.  We dragged our bags up the hillside, stopping a few times to catch our breath, and soon arrived at the plaza in front of the hotel.  The hardest part of our journey being over, I scampered to check-in, leaving my husband to handle the bags – at his request, of course!

The front desk immediately ran to help my husband with the bags.  They took our passports, escorted us to the terrace, handed us our glasses of prosecco, and headed off to prepare our room.  Vacation officially starts here.  It was the first moment I took a moment to just exhale.  La Torretta does check-in especially well; it’s a great reminder that one of beauties of Cinque Terre is the ability to just slow down.

journey of doing - best place to stay in cinque terre; La Torretta LodgeP I N I T

The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: A Tale of Two Rooms

We’ve stayed at La Torretta for the past two years.  The first year I booked a classic room, and this year, I took whatever I could get, which ended up being the junior garden suite.

Classic Room

  • Classic Room with Mountain View
  • Private terrace with a sea view
  • Queen bed
  • Small traditional closet
  • In-room safe
  • Nespresso machine
  • Free minibar
  • Free breakfast
  • Rainhead shower
  • Bottle of prosecco

Junior Suite

  • Junior Garden View Suite with small sitting area
  • HUGE terrace with lounge chairs, perfect for afternoon naps
  • Queen bed
  • Armoire for closet
  • In-room safe
  • Nespresso machine
  • Free minibar
  • Free breakfast
  • Rainhead shower
  • Bottle of process

journey of doing - best place to stay in cinque terre; la torretta junior garden view suiteP I N I T

The biggest difference is the size and the sitting area, but honestly, the classic room was so cozy and romantic, I didn’t notice it.  We preferred the terrace to the sitting area.  The bathroom in both rooms is pretty small, but the water pressure is good and you can control the temperature well.  Both got the job done.  The one thing I would advise is to book a room with a terrace.  We enjoyed spending our afternoons on it, enjoying fresh air (and prosecco).  The breakfast terrace is always available, too.

journey of doing - best place to stay in Cinque Terre; La Torretta Junior Garden View SuiteP I N I T

The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: Includes Free Breakfast

Typically, we aren’t into breakfast.  Our health habits include skipping breakfast, but when we’re in Cinque Terre, we burn so much glycogen that it’s important to supplement our protein.  La Torretta’s breakfast is perfect for that.  In addition to hot dishes, including eggs and quiche, there are cold cuts and cheeses, fresh fruit, pastries and more.  Sweet or savory, they have everyone covered.  My husband loved going to breakfast on the terrace while I preferred to stay in the room.  He would bring things upstairs for me, but every morning before we would head out, the staff would offer to make me  anything I wanted.  While I wouldn’t take them up on it, the service really is exceptional in that way. The best part is – breakfast is included with your room rate.  It’s not an add on or a loyalty perk, it’s just part of the experience.

journey of doing - best place to stay in Cinque TerreP I N I T

The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: Why Manarola?

After our trip to Cinque Terre, we thought we might want to stay in another village.  However, after this year, my husband declared we will only stay in Manarola.

Simply put, life in Manarola is easy.

Well, that hike up the hill isn’t necessarily easy… but it’s not the end of the world either.  Manarola harbor is gorgeous in the morning.  It’s absolutely stunning at blue hour.  And, it’s pretty magical at night, too.  It’s a quiet village – there aren’t a lot of things that stay open really late. (That goes for Cinque Terre collectively, at least in April when we’re there).  Once you leave the harbor, the crowds thin out – even in the midday.  The wine terraces are the best maintained in the region. You can even walk around the village through them!  We think it has the best views of the entire village.  You can see all parts of it.  Most of the villages have one distinct view or vantage point, but no matter where you are in Manarola, you can appreciate everything it has to offer.

So – it’s Manarola (and La Torretta) for us!

journey of doing - best place to stay in Cinque TerreP I N I T

For more Cinque Terre photos:

manarola cinque terre photos – 2016, riomaggiore cinque terre postcard photos – 2016

cinque terre hike photos – 2016, monterroso al mare cinque terre postcard photos – 2016

vernazza cinque terre photos – 2016

For more Cinque Terre planning, tips and tricks:

cinque terre trip planning, best place to stay in cinque terre

making pesto in cinque terre, wine tasting tour in cinque terre

best gelato in cinque terrewhy you need to stay in cinque terre

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren

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I’m going to apologize in advance.  This post may make you uncomfortable.  I try to keep things relevant and useful in this little space.  And, that’s exactly why I’m telling you why you need a home back up and storage solution today.   Learn from my mistakes, grasshoppers.

Disclaimer: This post contains shopstyle/amazon links that may earn me a few pennies towards a future purchase if you click on them.  I only link to products that I personally recommend.  You’ll notice that Seagate isn’t included. 

journey of doing - Why You Need a Home Back Up and Storage SolutionP I N I T

Before our trip to celebrate my mom finishing radiation, my husband picked up a portable Seagate hard drive for me to take.  I typically use the larger WD external hard drives (that require external power) so I was excited to have a more compact option.

The Seagate drive worked beautifully while we were gone.  I had no problems downloading my pictures onto it, accessing them, and I even used it a few times after we got back.  A few months ago, I sat down to start editing them. My computer wouldn’t recognize the drive.  It would click but nothing would happen.

I reached out to my computer genius friends to troubleshoot it.  No luck.  I took it to Best Buy and MicroCenter, both of which needed $2,000 to try to recover the files.  I decided to pay $50 to send it to Seagate Data Recovery Services for a diagnostic test and hopefully ($750) recovery.  No dice.  They sent me a replacement drive (thanks but no thanks) and a note that said sorry (not sorry).  We can’t help recover your priceless pictures.

I was really upset; I was the only person who took pictures on this trip. My mom was counting on me to share our  amazing pictures with her.  I dropped off the drive with Ace Data Recovery on a Saturday. They called by midday Tuesday to let me know they could recover NOTHING from the drive.

You know what the worst part is?  Seagate is in class-action litigation over this exact external hard drive because they fail at a higher than usual rate.  I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT BEFORE I USED IT.  Seriously, HOW and WHY are they still selling these drives?

Why You Need a Home Back Up and Storage Solution

Anyway.  Now that I’ve given you that PSA about Seagate, let’s talk about why you need a Plan B.  Simply put, technology fails.  And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve stored all your memories on a piece of equipment that absolutely will fail.  Eventually.

If you work in an office, you may or may not know that your files are (likely) backed up by a redundancy of systems.  When I set up my husband’s office, I put in a system with multiple mirrored hard drives and the entire server is backed up to the cloud.


Because I’m stupid?  Possibly.

Because I thought it was too expensive and unnecessary?  Definitely.

Either way, I needed to change that and back up all of my files before all my external hard drives failed.  (I live in a worst case scenario mindset.  It comes from being married to an attorney.)  Instead of opting for the Windows Server license set up, I decided to grab a QNap personal server.  I installed two hard drives (for mirroring purposes) and backed it up to the cloud.  No more catastrophic failures for me!

Why You Need a Home Back Up and Storage Solution: Setting it Up

  • The QNap system was SO easy to set up.  The hard drives were plug and play; screw them into the trays, pop them into the box, and plug it into the wall and the internet.  Done in less than 15 minutes (which included locating a screwdriver).
  • Once everything is connected, you login to the admin page, install the software, and let the system restart. This took me about 30 minutes from start to finish.
  • I chose to mount the server in my favorites on my computer.  The QNap software has several apps to help you copy your music files, organize your photos, etc., but I just went for organizing everything into folders.  I started with the Seagate drive (which took over an hour) for obvious reasons.  I haven’t backed up my music yet, but I’ll get to that eventually.

journey of doing - why you need a home back up and storage solutionP I N I T

I’m really hoping this system will keep me organized and prevent any further technology glitches.  It REALLY sucks that we have no pictures from our Christmas trip to Europe.  And, it sucks even more because Seagate KNOWS they are selling a defective drive.  Buyer beware.

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  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - I’m seriously so sorry that you had to go through this and that you lost all of your pictures from your trip with your mom! I always correlate my pictures with memories which is why I’m such an avid picture taker. Thankfully my husband has already done the redundancy backing up stuff with our pictures at home, but I swear I still find myself worrying that I’ll lose some of these priceless memories. Maybe that means that I need to get better about actually making our photobooks from our trips and our family yearbooks…ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Aaaand I will be backing up my pictures today. On my WD external hard drive – SO THANKFUL that I didn’t go with a Seagate now!!! I’m so sorry that this happened!ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - Oooooh no! I’m so sorry that happened! We recently backed up all the pictures on the home computer in fear of losing everything if the computer crashed or someone broke in, etc… Now I need to check to see what we saved them to 😛
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Oh no! That is indeed a cautionary tale. I’m so sorry that happened to you 🙁 pictures are very important to me too so I’d have been absolutely devastated to lose such important ones. Having a decent data setup is something I always put off but this is making me realise I need to do it! Thank you for the reminder and sorry again about your photosReplyCancel

  • Mandy - In April, I bought another drive to backup my files. Finally. You’d think I’d have already done this since in 2013, both my computer and backup hard drive failed on me at the same time and I lost all of my files from years before… I, too, did everything possible taking my computer to Apple and my backup drive to a small computer store … yet nothing. Same conclusion as you received. For $2000 I could get my files back. We replaced my computer hard drive (it was under warranty) and gave up on those files and never felt it was worth the $2000 to get my backup files back. *sigh* Even though I don’t have the mirrored setup you have, I have two small compact hard drives that have the same files on them, some of those files have been uploaded to the Amazon cloud, and my actual computer has its own backup drive it automatically backs up to in my home. Phew! Even though I’m not as “backed up” as I could be, I think, for most situations, I’ll be in the clear if one drive (or even two) dies. Hopefully, once I get more of my files uploaded to the cloud (which I’m currently working on), I’ll be even more protected! 🙂

    Did Ace Data charge you the $2000 for the files they couldn’t recover? Is the hard drive just dead or do you have any other options for obtaining the files? Your new backup system looks great! I love that it helps you to organize all of your files. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Weekends – lately » journey of doing - […] Why You Need a Home Back Up and Storage Solution […]ReplyCancel

Somehow my dad’s semi-homemade chicken alfredo recipe has stuck with me throughout my entire life.  I made it after he passed away.  I made it when I lived with my grandmother.  I made it for dinner parties in college.  And, I still make it now.  I like the combination of flavors. I taught one of my friends to make it, and her husband liked it so much that she swears that she made it up… she says it’s because he thinks she gets all her recipes from everyone else… and it’s one she can claim.  (Maybe?)  When I first started dating my husband, it was one of the recipes he was willing to try and eat.  All things considered, this should be considered a HUGE success.

Whatever the case may be, it always gets rave reviews.  You know what would be good with this?  My easy garlic bread… why didn’t I think of this earlier?  (What’s with the carb overload today?  Must be the residual effects of being in Italy for two weeks.)

Furthermore, it’s easy to make.  It’s also good as leftovers (cold or warm) – don’t judge me.

Dad’s Semi-Homemade Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Semi-Homemade Chicken Alfredo-1P I N I T

4.0 from 1 reviews
Dad's Semi-Homemade Chicken Alfredo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
  • 2 medium chicken breasts
  • Seasoned Salt
  • lemon pepper
  • garlic salt (I used Paula Dean's House Seasoning this time -- tasty!)
  • 2 tablespoons Kikkoman teriyaki sauce/glaze
  • 1 (12 ounce) package dry pasta, any shape
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar Bertolli alfredo sauce
  • Olive oil - I like to use roasted garlic and herb for a little more flavor!
  1. Put on water on to boil for pasta. I like to use penne rigate because the ridges hold the sauce really well. Anything you like works well. Bowties are fun for dinner parties.
  2. Cut chicken breasts into small, bite-size pieces, and season chicken with Lawry's season salt, lemon pepper, and garlic salt.
  3. Coat medium frying pan with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) over medium-high heat. Add chicken breast pieces and let them cook until white on both sides.
  4. Turn down to medium low, add teriayki sauce (I like to use the Kikkoman marinade because it's a little thicker), stir until chicken is coated, and let chicken finish cooking until the teriayki is absorbed.
  5. Turn chicken down to medium-low, add the alfredo sauce and stir well to mix everything.
  6. Once chicken mixture is absorbed into alfredo sauce, turn temperature down to low. Allow it to simmer until the pasta is ready.
  7. Drain the water from the pasta and add chicken and sauce mixture. Toss and mix well.
  8. Enjoy.


journey of doing - dadP I N I T

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  • Nancy - Yum!!!!!

    I’ll have to try it!!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - I make a version of this but add peas, mushrooms and shallots…and I make my own alfredo sauce with cream and parmesan….delicious!!!ReplyCancel

  • Baked Chicken Alfredo Ravioli recipe! » my journey of doing - […] too much sauce… I was too lazy to measure it out.  But… this was tasty.  I made the chicken and alfredo sauce using my dad’s recipe… and went from […]ReplyCancel

  • Sam | Away She Went - Teriyaki sauce is such an interesting ingredient! I love chicken alfredo, but my boyfriend doesn’t so I’ll have to save this recipe for a night when he’s out.ReplyCancel

  • cara - Looks so yummy! I love semi-homemade stuff because it’s easier lol.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - Bertolli is one of my favorite pre-made Alfredo sauces. This looks very good!ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - YUM! Love the addition of lemon pepper <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Jessica Bradshaw - This looks delicious!! Semi-homemade is the best!ReplyCancel

  • Nadine - This looks so good! Never thought to add teriyaki type sauce to mine before!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Trying this next week!!! Along with the garlic bread because #carbsforlifeReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Oh yum! That looks delicious! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Martinis & Bikinis - Looks delicious! I use the same Alfredo sauce but I really need to challenge myself to make it from scratch yo possibly skinny down the ingredients.


After 25 days on the road, I’m finally home.  I’m already appreciating all the best things about being home.  I feel guilty saying that because half of my trip was a fantastic vacation with my husband (I realize I never talked about my intention for April – but it was exactly that – reconnecting with my husband). The second half was dedicated to professional accomplishments that most people aspire to.  I recognize my privilege, but there truly is no place like home when you’ve crossed SO many timezones.

Disclosure: This post contains shopstyle links that may earn me a few pennies towards a future purchase if you click on them.

Best Things About Being Home


Yes, I said laundry.  Living out of a suitcase with dry-clean everything is my least favorite thing.  I love being able to grab fresh smelling laundry until my heart’s content because no matter what, my clothes always seem to smell like airplane.  Whether you think I’m weird or crazy, I don’t care.  I can smell airplane.  Being able to do laundry is a luxury that I haven’t taken for granted since I spent Fall 2004 smelling like the Turkish restaurant below my apartment.

journey of doing - best things about being homeP I N I T


My own bed

I don’t mean my mattress (though I love that, too).  I mean my linens.  My favorite duvet cover is on super sale right now.  I own it in seaglass, white, and dove. The seaglass is my favorite!  I ordered the white one for less than $70 while I was gone. The first thing I did was change our sheets (I have these in white, brown, and light blue) and pop it on my lightweight down comforter.  To be completely honest, I haven’t changed out this down comforter since I bought it. It works for all seasons in Texas!


I think this applies more to when I’m traveling extensively for work, but when I’m on the road, I don’t do a lot of extraneous things.  I don’t read blogs, I don’t write blogs, and I don’t really unwind.  This means that I end up binging on these things when I get home.  It’s a little out of control, lol.  If you got a ton of comments from me yesterday… sorry.  It’s because I haven’t taken the time to do Sara-time things.

journey of doing - best things about being homeP I N I T

Casual clothes

Confession: I’m absolutely obsessed with this Lela Rose dress.  (Dang – I got a great deal on it.  I paid way less than that so keep watching, friends.)  It showed up in Italy, at CalTech, at Amanda’s rehearsal dinner, AND at TACAC (multiple times).  It’s comfortable, it’s lightweight, it travels relatively well. Sometimes, however, I just want to lounge around in an oversized t-shirt and socks.  Or wear jeans and glitter shoes.  These things take up space so I don’t usually pack them.  It’s hard to get me in dress clothes after extensive traveling.

Cold water

Yet another luxury that I take for granted.  Because of my husband, I have cold water on demand at home and at the office.  There’s never a time when I don’t have a cold water bottle.  When I travel, it becomes much harder to keep myself fully hydrated.  I always try to pick up a couple bottles so I can stay hydrated, but it seemed like it was more difficult on this trip.  Thankfully, there was a CalTech water bottle in our welcome bag!  When I swapped suitcases for TACAC, however, I forgot to put it in my bag so TACAC was a struggle.

What are the best things about being home for you?

linking up with amanda for friday favorites
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  • Biana - I so agree with all of these – after being away from home – doing the little chores was a welcome treat, even laundry and of course my own bed and shower!! xo, Biana –BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - As much as I love traveling, these are all so true. There’s truly no place like home and of course “me time”. Enjoy gurlie <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - I totally know what you mean about missing your bed and missing being able to grab clothes out of a closet instead of out of your suitcase. Getting to lounge around my own house in comfy clothes and then fall asleep in my own bed are what I always love about coming home!ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin - Gosh I can’t imagine being away from home that long! It must have been amazing to get into your own bed after that time with some cold water… I seriously know what you mean about all this stuff though because even after traveling for two weeks to visit family, being back in my own house is the best! Stopping over from the link up – hope you can hop by my blog too! Have a great weekend.

  • Katie Elizabeth - Okay I’m considering getting that duvet cover. I have no need for a new one, but you may have talked me into it, lol! And that dress – LOVE!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - This is so true! I traveled the last two weeks for work and I am so glad to be home in my own bed, with access to laundry!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Yes to my own bed!! I cannot sleep other places, I just need my own bed and my own linens. Totally agree about comfy clothes too 🙂 It’s nice to lounge sometimes.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie@ Maggie Lois - Welcome home! I literally laughed out loud when you were like “I smell airplane”, lol. I’m very much a homebody, so I def feel you on all of these, especially the “me” time, you gotta have that. Even though you’re happy to be back it sounds like you had a great time with your hubby, enjoy your week!ReplyCancel

  • lauren - being home is so under-rated! I love it.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Pretty dress. I can see why you love it so!

    Also, love that bedspread. Teal is my favorite color. 🙂

    I can’t say I love laundry, though, aside from the nice smell. There is nothing like having clean clothing after being gone for a while.ReplyCancel