My BBM Journey: An Off and On Week

This week has been a little blah. I work completely around my hubby’s schedule and he’s been working late night shifts at work, which means he has needed to sleep in a bit in the mornings, and since 90% of my productivity momentum happens before nap time, my work outs and work in general has been affected. However, despite what has felt like a set back, I am thrilled to announce I have lost over 5lbs. since beginning my clean eating the last week of the last 90 Day Bikini Body Mommy Challenge. (Is this the first of my posts you’ve stumbled upon? http://www.bikinibodymommy.com  – you’re welcome!) That’s about 4 weeks ago, so even though I hadn’t lost as much as I’d hoped (that’s what I get for stepping on the scale a week earlier than I had originally planned) 5 lbs. is nothing to sneeze at for me.

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I have been busy in the garden this week. I’ve just about got things all put together in that department. So, here are a few update pictures for you all. In the front I have some red leaf lettuce, colored bell peppers, and sunflowers, but the sunflowers aren’t up yet, I just planted the seeds today.

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Then, what was supposed to be my topsy turvy planter turned into just separate pots as I decided I’d rather have my herbs closer to the house rather than at the end of the drive. But, they look awesome at the head of my front walk way. I have yet to buy parsley for the last pot, but I have dill, rosemary, sweet basil, and cilantro with some nasturtiums in the big pot with the rosemary.

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In the side yard I planted my butternut squash, cucumbers, and zuccini.

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And then of course I have an ever growing number of potted goodies on the back porch, with tomatoes still to plant in the biggest pots and set out into my sunny spot in the side yard.

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I can’t wait for summer!

My BBM Journey: Stuffing Potatoes Is The New Obsession

I am in love with filling baked potatoes and sweet potatoes with something yummy other than butter and sour cream or butter and brown sugar. No, really, there are other delicious things to stuff a baked root veggie with.

Case in point, I made some slow cooker bbq chicken yesterday, stuffed it into a baked sweet potato and served it with my clean eating creamed spinach. It was the BOMB! And it was much more calorie efficient than a typical meat and 2 sides type plate.

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This was incredibly easy. I put a pack of 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the crock pot with salt, pepper, a chopped onion, a spoonful of minced garlic, and about 3/4 of a cup of bbq sauce. (Yes, Sweet Baby Ray’s may not be on the list of clean eating friendly items, but baby steps people, baby steps.) I let it cook on low for a few hours until I could pull the meat apart with a fork. I then baked some small sweet potatoes. While they were in the oven (at 400 for about 30 minutes) I put together some creamed spinach. 3 cups of frozen chopped spinach, simmer on low until it is completely un-thawed, then add a spoonful of minced garlic. (I love garlic and onions, I do not apologize.) I seasoned it with salt, pepper and onion powder, a little Italian seasoning, then turned off the heat and added about 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt and half a cup of ricotta cheese. I grated in a couple tablespoons of fresh parmesean at the end and plated it up as seen above. The above plate was about 400 calories and absolutely delicious and flavorful.

Of course I’m always cooking for more than myself, so the recipe above has several servings. About 6-8 servings on the chicken and 4-6 servings on the spinach.  (The potatoes were small, and single serve size, so I cokked one for everyone.) My kids loved it, and my teen age sister who admits to loving junk food also loved this dish, so win for Mom with the picky pleaser.

This could have gone into a russet potato as well and been just as tasty, but I like to use sweet potatoes when I have them on hand rather than white potatoes. Less starch, more nutrients.

I also did Southwestern Potato skins the other night, but that is a different post for a different day. And then there was the spinach and chicken stuffed baked potato, I still plan to circle back to that one and write out the recipe. At any rate, stuffed potatoes – a new take on quick and easy that is very budget friendly. I’m super into budget friendly.

Let me know if you try this and what you think. Or, do you have a stuffed potato filling? I’d love to hear your creative clean eating ideas for dressing up the humble tuber.

Did you like this post? Feel free to share it with a friend. 🙂

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A new challenge starts on May 5th, I’ll be on that train and blogging through it daily, so sign up to get the new posts in your inbox at the top of this page. Also, feel free to find me on Facebook if you need an accountability partner or support friend. Just mention that you found me from my blog post.

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My BBM Journey: Italian Zuccini Boats Recipe

So, the other day when I made the commitment to blog through my 90 day Bikini Body Mommy challenge ( http://www.bikinibodymommy.com ) starting on May 5th, I didn’t realize I would have the gumption to post so many “pre-posts”. Right now we are on a mini series, 4 weeks long, before the new challenge starts. It is awesome, great way to fill the time gap. Having finished my work out this morning and turned my attention to my hungry munchkins, I put together a really yummy lunch from an idea I got off of – yup, you guessed it, Pinterest. I’m telling you, if you have not gotten on there yet, you really should. It’s a great tool.

In fact, this dish was so yummy and so easy I just had to share. So here you go, enjoy! (Note: I do not claim to be creator of this dish, I simply got the idea from a picture on Pinterest and executed it the way I thought best.)

 

3 medium zuccinis

1/2 lb. ground beef

1 cup Classico fire roasted tomato and garlic pasta sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 Tablespoons fresh grated parmasean cheese

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin browning the beef on low with a little salt and pepper. While it browns you can prepare the zuccinis. Cut off the ends and split each vegetable down the middle. Using a spoon, scoop out the seedy portion creating a hollow in each half. Slice a thin piece off the bottom so that each half will sit in an ungreased baking pan without tipping.

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Generously salt and pepper each half and bake for 10 minutes at 400.

While the zuccinis are in the oven, drain the excess grease off your browned beef and add the sauce. Let it simmer until the zuccinis are done pre roasting. Divide the sauce between all 6 boats and top with cheese evenly. Continue to bake until the cheese bubbles and browns slightly, about 10 – 15 minutes.

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Garnish with some fresh herbs if you like, chopped basil or parsley. (I used scallions because I didn’t have herbs.)

Prep time approx. 10 minutes

Cook time approx. 20 minutes

Calories per serving approx. 200

6 servings

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Notes:

I used 80/20 ground beef, but you can absolutely use lean ground beef or ground turkey.

When salting the boats, make sure you use plenty. I like kosher salt, it is courser and easier to sprinkle, or course sea salt would be even better. Fresh vegetables can trick you, it takes more salt than you think to bring out the flavor, and I’m not someone who goes crazy on the salt.

These boats would also be delicious filled with a spinach and ricotta mixture, or use chopped portobello mushrooms instead of the beef for a vegetarian option.

 

My kids and hubby loved this too. Granted, my kids are freaks of nature and love vegetables, like LOVE them, especially my daughter, but I would say this is sure to be a family friendly dish and one to try on your picky eater.

Let me know how you liked it! And in case you want to see the great ideas I’ve been getting, you can follow me on Pinterest here.

Did you find this post inspiring? Share it with your friends, and feel free to sign up at the top of this page to get new posts in your inbox. My goal for the 90 day challenge is a post a day and I will be doing a lot of clean eating dishes and recipes like this.

My BBM Journey: Why I Love Getting The Kids Involved

I wish we could all be as energetic and innocent and just down right as awesome as a little child. Yeah, they are a lot of work and can sap the life right out of you some days, but every day as a mom I experience moments of pure joy at the little things. Like when my toddler tries to do squats and push ups with me while I’m exercising, or the crazy comical creativity of my preschooler as she dresses up as different imaginary characters and uses common house hold items in creative new ways. Most of all, I love that they are so eager to help and learn. Those ten million questions can drive me batty, but when it’s all said and done I love watching my kids catch onto new concepts and participate in new activities. They can even surprise me with how sharp their little minds are, catching onto things I didn’t even realize they were paying attention to.

Like today, we came home from grocery shopping on this amazing warm Spring day and as I let my kiddos go onto the back porch to keep busy while I put groceries away, my daughter happily sprang over to our growing containers of vegetables and did her daily check on them. She noticed that one of the flats of lettuce we have not yet planted in a pot was wilted in the hot sun, the soil dry. (They need a bigger home to grow.)

“Oh, mom, this little salad is thirsty!” and she walked right over to the watering jug and began watering it, a little wrinkle of concern on her brow. I didn’t tell her to do that, hadn’t even explained much about keeping the plants watered, but she had watched me a few times and knew enough to water them! Then she proceeded to water all the containers, even getting her foot stool so she could reach the taller pots.

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In that moment, like many before it and many more to come, it all becomes so much more worth it. Teaching your kids new things and watching them drink in every experience with exuberance, that’s what it’s really all about. You can buy things, but little experiences and memories are priceless.

Compliment Your Health Makeover With A Basic Container Garden

One of the biggest complaints for moms trying to make healthy lifestyle changes on a limited budget is that fresh produce is so expensive. And that is a legitimate complaint. Let’s face it, it is getting harder and harder to stretch that dollar without at least compromising nutritional content of the food we eat. Forget buying organic, a lot of us have trouble just buying fresh vegetables.

What would you say if I told you you could have fresh, organic produce every single day, in abundance, all summer and even most of the spring and fall for about what one trip to the grocery store’s produce section costs you? Ok, stop laughing! I’m not joking. It’s true. I too am a mom working on a limited budget, trying to get healthy for the long haul and help my family do the same. We are a one income family, which is an amazing blessing but also can be challenging. Let’s just say you learn to be creative.

As I’ve mentioned, we are doing an expanded container garden this year to help cut costs while providing ourselves with delicious organic produce. And if you have never so much as nurtured a houseplant, don’t sweat, it is incredibly easy and very affordable. I’m going to try to break it down to the very basics for you here.

Benefits:

Home grown produce is out of this world on flavor. You will never want to eat a store bought “tomato”again.

Growing your own produce ensures a superior nutritional content. Under ripe, synthetically matured produce lacks a lot of the nutrition of fully mature, properly ripened fruits and vegetables and also contains harmful chemicals and insecticides.

Growing your own produce is convenient. No trips to the grocery store, just pop outside your back door, or your front door, wherever.

Growing your own produce can greatly reduce your impact on the environment. The fuel and chemicals it takes to grow your store bought produce, to package it and ship it, all the plastic involved from seedling containers to shipping containers to marketable packaging. Seriously, just think about it.

And I’m sure there is more, but these things were more than enough for me.

So, let’s get started. I’m going to assume for now that you have never grown a thing in your life. Let’s say you are someone who is greener than grass when it comes to your green thumb. Let’s start really simple. Let’s grow salad items and maybe some herbs. Here’s what you’ll need:

A little bit of space with access to sunshine, so a porch, balcony, front or back yard, just a little bit of room, not much, that gets at least half a day of direct sunlight.

Some planters. these can be anything from terra cotta pots to repurposed items like coffee cans and old tires. (Search “repurposed planters” on Pinterest to find some very creative ideas.)

Some soil. It doesn’t have to be potting mix. In fact, you will do better with a top soil or garden soil mix. I got mine $2 a bag at the local value market. You will probably need no more than 3-4 bags.

Some seeds or plants. Seeds can be a lot of fun to watch the entire process from start to finish, but I would recommend plants for a beginner for the head start they give you. Just keep in mind that if you get plants, you want to gradually increase their exposure to full sun since they have more than likely been raised in a green house and need to be eased into the full impact of the elements. So some of my favorites for a beginner would be 2-4 varieties of leaf lettuce or salad greens, a tomato plant, a bell pepper plant, a cucumber plant (you will want a sturdy trellis for it to climb, especially if you are limited on space) snow peas, and for herbs, basil, parsley, cilantro, thyme and oregano are all pretty simple and they are some of my favorite and most versatile flavors to use in the kitchen.

"Peas please!" Our little snow pea sprouts are up.

“Peas please!” Our little snow pea sprouts are up.

Of course, if you have more space and are feeling ambitious there are more things that could easily be grown in containers, but for our purposes I’m just touching on the simplest container garden strategy. See how you do with this and next season you can make adjustments. Like for instance, one tomato plant would NEVER be enough for our family, we’re going to need at least 3 because my hubby and daughter will need a plant to themselves – each. But, generally speaking, the items above should give you quite a few bowls of salad over the season. If you live in a very warm climate or the South in general (USA) your lettuce and peas won’t need direct sunlight and would even enjoy being shaded by the bigger plants as they grow, they like it cooler. Everything else will thrive in a mostly sunny spot, especially your tomatoes and peppers. They like it hot and jungly humid.

I used a sour cream container with holes poked in the bottom to start some cucumber seeds since my garden spot is still a couple weeks from being ready for planting.

I used a sour cream container with holes poked in the bottom to start some cucumber seeds since my garden spot is still a couple weeks from being ready for planting.

Lettuce has a shallow root system, so the pot doesn’t have to be huge. I have mine in long narrow planters on my porch railing. Tomatoes will need the biggest pot, like a 5 gallon bucket size, something big enough to be able to support a cage as they get bigger and start to produce fruit. Same for the cucumber, which is a vine, and it can be trained up a sturdy piece of trellis to save space. Chicken wire stretched over a 2′ X 5′ frame and leaned against a railing or the side of the house would work fine. Again, Pinterest has some fascinating ideas. The pepper plant and your herbs will be fine in medium sized pots, or you can let your herbs grow together in one big pot or a tiered planter. Even hanging planters can be used. You’ll want to keep everything watered, probably daily during the hottest summer days. I like to collect rain water as much as possible and save it in buckets or gallon jugs for use later. Plants just love rain water, it doesn’t have the chlorine that tap water has plus it has all kinds of molecular nutrients that just pump plants up and give them an extra “umph”. But, you can also save water you used to boil pasta or potatoes or steam vegetables (as long as you didn’t salt the water, salt will quickly kill your little salad friends, so don’t reuse salted water.) And of course you can just turn on the hose or tap, that’s fine too.

A red leaf lettuce will add variety to our salads this season.

A red leaf lettuce will add variety to our salads this season.

There’s not much else you need to know. Your plants generally come with harvesting instructions, and if for some reason they don’t or you lose the info, the internet has you covered. You can find anything you need to know, from how long before your first tomato is expected to how much lettuce you can harvest without damaging the plant. You should also find trouble-shooting tips for any issues that arise like bugs or fungus and there are tons of organic pest control options to be found.

Have fun! Get the kids involved, they will love to help with this project and it is a good way to get your stubborn picky eaters to try more vegetables. It is much more fun to eat something you grew yourself, I promise! Let me know how it goes, leave me comments with any questions you have  or any tips you’ve come across. I’m always looking for new innovative ideas in the garden department. Has this post inspired you? I’d love to hear how!

My son loves to help, especially when the task includes dirt and digging.

My son loves to help, especially when the task includes dirt and digging.

Container Gardens, Clean Eating, and Other Scary Easy Things

I originally planned on doing my first post the first day of the new 90 day Bikini Body Mommy challenge ( http://www.bikinibodymommy.com) on May 5th,  but I got to thinking maybe I could fill in the time gap with a few practice posts and besides, maybe some readers would like to get a few ideas to plan their own success stories. I mean, once you see how easy a container garden full of fresh salad is to grow, or  how quick and easy some of the clean eating items I’ve been feasting on are to prepare, maybe , just maybe you will get the courage to begin too.

Believe me, it takes courage to start anything, especially lifestyle changes, and ESPECIALLY in the face of the setbacks Life likes to throw at you. (Insert me holding up my right hand.) I swear, I am queen of Life’s setback snowballs. So how could a busy mom of 2 young children do something like add a garden and clean eating to the list of daily tasks?

I started with Pinterest. Yup, it really IS for more than just dessert recipes and outfit combos. I searched garden and found a variety of small space and container garden options. Now, I’m no stranger to gardening, we have raised a few garden veggies in our lifetime. But I had it in my mind you have to have a tiller and a piece of ground and a bunch of space, and – NOPE! You really don’t. You can take your little city apartment balcony and raise all you need for salad and some fresh herbs. Don’t believe me? Just search Pinterest for “vertical garden”, “container garden”, and even “balcony vegetable garden”. I happen to have quite a bit more space than that, but since my house is in a nicer neighborhood with rules to abide by and we rent, a big tilled up kitchen garden is kind of out of the question. Oh, also, we don’t have a tiller. I didn’t even have a shovel until last week. So we are doing some container gardening while also integrating our edible veggies with the aesthetic appeal of flowers to keep a “landscaped” flavor going in front of our house. How do you do that? Well, yup, you guessed it, search Pinterest. You’ll find all the inspiration you need.

After only a week, we are well on our way to a summer full of salads, beginning with lettuce.

After only a week, we are well on our way to a summer full of salads, beginning with lettuce.

Pinterest also came to my rescue for meal ideas. I am one of those people who is quite skilled at cooking, maybe even at a higher level than your average housewife (all credit goes to my hubby, who is a fabulous chef and has taught me a lot of techniques and tricks in the kitchen) but when it comes time to shop or cook I just stare off blankly trying to come up with an idea for something fresh or new. After about 15 minutes I decide the kids are screaming in hunger and cook some of the same old same old. Most of my same olds are not exceptionally “clean eating” friendly and they certainly aren’t calorie deficient.

I got on Pinterest, searched “clean eating”, and was bombarded with pictures, most of which are linked to recipes, but as I said, how to cook isn’t my problem, it’s what to cook, so pictures are usually enough for me to go on. I immediately found a bunch of fresh, tasty items I wanted to try and as I began trying them I realized that clean eating is actually very simple and extremely tasty. Prep time is no more in most cases than the meals I was already fixing. (We eat almost nothing processed to begin with.)

Take a look at these. Only 8 ingredients.

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Instead of mayo I used plain Greek yogurt. In fact, plain Greek yogurt is my new best friend in the kitchen. I may never buy sour cream or mayo or salad dressing again. The Granny Smith apples beat bread or crackers any day, and believe me, I’m a girl who loves her carbs.

Here’s one that even my steak and potatoes hubby was loving, and again, under 10 ingredients. That includes the seasonings.

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This would have been delightful in a baked sweet potato, but I didn’t have those on hand. Bonus, this whole yummy monster was only about 350 calories.

Recipes? Oh yes, I realize a lot of you are going to need a recipe. Don’t worry, I have you covered. Future posts during the challenge that feature a delightful meal item will have a recipe. The object of this post today is simply to provide a teaser, if you will, of what is coming up. I hope you are inspired. I hope I have helped you see that the first step is scary, but they get easier after that, and even fun.

Stay tuned for more great ideas and inspirations for the busy mom who wants to get healthy(er). Feel free to share this blog with your friends if you enjoyed what you read today. Don’t forget to subscribe and get all the posts in your inbox so you don’t miss any. Oh, and would you like to follow me on Pinterest? That link is here:

My Newest Project: An Overview

So, I’ve been wanting to accomplish a few things lately and have decided to mash them all up into one project to save time. No, really.

My blog has been dormant and I’ve been wanting to get back to writing, I’ve been wanting to do a photo challenge, I’m on this getting in shape journey and I’m trying to stay motivated and accountable while kicking it up a notch. So this morning when I was thinking about all these things I came up with this plan to do daily blog posts (or almost daily, sometimes I’m away from the house all day) to chronicle the next 90 Day challenge I’ll be doing.

Wait, back it up.

I have been participating in the 90 Day Bikini Body Mommy challenge, led by Brianna Christine. (She is awesome. Check out http://www.bikinibodymommy.com to learn more.) This amazing lady has been way more than a fitness guru to me, her style is very real and relatable and mostly doable. She posts a free workout every day, 6 days a week, and has done them in real time with us via youtube for the past 90 day challenge. She is mom of 4, in her 30s, and she proves that with hard work and lifestyle dedication you don’t have to settle for “this is just my body after kids forevermore”. She particularly fits my lifestyle with short and sweet but intense workouts and emphasis on clean eating, not crash dieting.

I came to terms a long time ago  with the fact that I love food. Me and anorexia just can’t be friends. BUT! That doesn’t mean I have to settle. Clean, healthy eating, healthy portions, and daily activity have gotten me results in the past, great results I might add. So why don’t I look like I did at 19? Oh, well… kids. And not just the changes pregnancies and births have made to my body, I’m talking about no time to sleep, no time to prep fresh food like salad and vegetables from scratch, having to choose between getting out the door for all day errands and grabbing fast food enroute or not getting out the door. The biggest thing young childless people don’t realize is how much a baby and/or small child will keep you from doing normal things. Hopping in the car to run to the store, or jumping in the shower, or writing a blog post because the computer doubles as your preschooler’s PBS shows. Life becomes so much less simple, more stress equals more eating or eating the wrong things, etc. and BAM! Before you know it you look in the mirror 10 years and 3 kids later and wonder what in the world happened to that tan, skinny girl in mini skirts with the perfect soft feet and painted toes in a stylish stiletto. You can barely recognize her underneath the tired, pale skin, the flabby flab hidden by an over sized tee shirt stained by food and baby puke, and the 40ish extra pounds.

But she’s there, people! I dare to believe she’s there!

And you know, this is more than just working on me and forcing myself to take time for me. (Another epiphany story for another time.) As I was thinking about this today, on the 90th day of the challenge I had been powering through, which, by the way, was monumental for me with my crazy life moving across the country all the time and all the set backs from working around my hubby’s weird schedule, I was making lunch for the kids. I had just finished my workout, which they both did with me here and there, and I was making them food from my clean eating meal ideas, (just kicked that into gear this last week, I needed to get the exercise into a habit before working on the food factors) I looked at their happy faces and realized I am not just working for me here. I’m working for them.

When you become a mom, your kids become your whole world. People tell you this will happen but you cannot begin to fathom what they mean until you look into your baby’s eyes for the first time and from that moment, your life changes. They are your entire world. And the mom 10 years and 3 kids later in the mirror bothers you, but you wouldn’t trade those tiny whirlwinds in for anything, not a hot flawless body or time to paint your toes or adequate sleep. You would give it all up ten times over for them.

But you don’t have to. I mean, yeah, life changes and you prioritize differently, but looking and feeling good happens to be an amazing side effect of healthy lifestyle. Will I ever again weigh what I did at 19 and look stunning in a mini skirt? Maybe – maybe not. But that doesn’t matter any more. It is no longer about weight, looking hot to find a guy I’d like to date, wearing the perfect outfit for that night out, it’s about my kids. I want to show them how important healthy lifestyle choices are, how hard work and dedication eventually get you results, how to take time to work on themselves even when they are crazy busy, how to cook and eat clean, real food, how to be great, hands-on parents and set an example so that when I tell them to do something they know I’ve been willing to do it first.

So yes, it’s about me. But it’s also very much about these little buggers.

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So join me! A brand new 90 Day Bikini Body Mommy challenge starts May 5th, 2014. I’ll be on that train!! To stay motivated I’m also challenging myself to a blog post a day, short and sweet of course, and a picture to go with. Some of the subject matter I expect to post would be some progress pics, yes, but also workouts with my kids, outside activities, our container garden, clean eating meals and recipes that turned out great, maybe one or 2 that didn’t and why, and the list goes on, but definitely some fun stuff. Subscribe to my blog so you get each post in your inbox (if you haven’t already) and be sure to join the conversation in the comments with your own ideas and motivation. And by all means, check out the Bikini Body Mommy movement, I follow her Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/BikiniBodyMommy )  and will be checking in with thousands of other women each day. Looking for an accountability partner? I’d love to have you send me a friend request, we’ll keep each other motivated! Here is my personal Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/natasia.champion.94?ref=tn_tnmn

I’m looking forward to taking this to the next level and having an awesome summer!