Kimchi Bowl with Red Curry Almond Sauce

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Happy Tuesday all! I’m right in the middle of a crazy week of research but made this recipe last night and it was SO good, it’s a must-share. I love the idea of “throw it all together” bowls – an easy, stress-free, busy weeknight meal (as you know, lots of recipes around here follow a pretty simple formula: grain + veggies + protein + delicious sauce = booyah). My sister was the one who gave me the idea to make rice bowls for dinner when I’m super busy during the week. As a working mom of a two-year-old, she knows what’s up. She recommended that I get myself a rice cooker, as it’s a no-brainer: it eliminates one step in the prep process. You throw the rice in there, don’t even have to pay attention to what it’s doing, and it will always come out perfect. If you’ve been following along the past few years, you’ll know that I love me some quinoa, and quinoa works perfectly in a rice cooker too. SLAM DUNK.

I originally saw this recipe posted on Shape.com and found it comes from a cookbook called Vegan Bowl Attack. Right up my alley, right? I changed a few things in the recipe: I used way more lime in the sauce because I’m obsessed with lime and there is no such thing as too much citrus IMO, and I substituted black quinoa for brown rice (just cuz I felt like it). When I made it the first time, I added sautéed mushrooms and used Romanesco instead of regular broccoli. Either way – it’s damn good.

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Kimchi Bowl with Red Curry Almond Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 can (15 ounces) adzuki beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 2 – 3  limes, juiced
  • 1 cup store-bought vegan kimchi
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Directions:

    1. Place the quinoa and water in a rice cooker and cook for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is soft.
    2. Bring water to boil on the stovetop to steam broccoli. Place the broccoli florets in the steamer basket and cook for 5 minutes, or until bright green and slightly crunchy.
    3. In a small pan over medium heat, mix the adzuki beans with the liquid aminos and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
    4. To make the red curry almond sauce, whisk all water, almond butter, red curry paste, and lime juice together until smooth.
    5. Divide the quinoa and broccoli among 4 bowls. Divide the adzuki beans among the bowls. Place one-quarter of the kimchi in each bowl and drizzle the red curry almond sauce over the top. Garnish with the black sesame seeds and serve.

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This recipe was STELLAR. The sauce is amazing, and it’s super simple: everything is ready in less than half an hour (which also reduces the likelihood that I will eat an entire container of hummus before my dinner is ready). And when you’re super busy (as we all seem to be) and trying to eat healthy, nothing is better than being able to whip up something super delicious with minimal prep.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂

With warmth,

L

Doing Your Best

…is what life is all about. Obviously, I slightly fell off the face of Earth this summer juggling my workouts/getting back into the healthy eating groove/grad school/research/life’s responsibilities/as much fun as I can pack into every summer weekend. I’m happy to report that, despite not blogging every step of the way, I did indeed stick to “Fat Camp” aka Operation Booyah. Not every day was perfect, as you can imagine. But I didn’t give up, and even though there were many days where I did not feel like doing my workout, I managed to find a way to be active and feel like I did something toward my goal. Instead of my typical “PUSH THROUGH IT” modus operandi, I embraced a gentler, more go-with-the-flow attitude. If I had Leg Day scheduled, picked up the barbell and just didn’t feel like it, I didn’t force it. When you’ve been a fitness fanatic for the past 3 years, it’s not that hard to come up with something else to do on the fly. I learned some things throughout this process of getting back into my groove. And now I’m happy to share them with you. 🙂

  1. Fitness should be fun. Don’t force it if you’re not feeling it (maybe your body is telling you something, like take a rest day). Being active should be joyful, refreshing, challenging, and empowering but not something you dread. If you’re dreading your workout, you’re doing it wrong. Approach being active from a positive place instead of feeling obligated to stick to some kind of insane punishing workout, and your whole mood will change. Life is hard enough as it is, you don’t need to torture yourself to be active.
  2. Perfection is overrated. I did my best to stick to a consistent healthy eating plan, but I also ate birthday cake and sipped on some fancy cocktails. Hello, I’m not a monk. During the week it was a breeze, but I spent a lot of my weekends traveling to visit friends/family. Logging my meals into MyFitnessPal helped me stay on track for the most part, but I didn’t beat myself up if I missed a day or two. Life is about being flexible. And eating two loaded veggie burgers at your sister’s BBQ if you want them, damn it. 😉
  3. Stick to your mental game. When I realized I needed to change my eating and exercise habits back in May, it was easy to slip into a negative headspace. Let’s be honest, when you can’t zip up your favorite pair of pants, it’s hard to come from a Pollyanna place of self-love and see the positive side of things. Monitoring your progress in some way, and looking back to seeing how far you’ve come helps keep your head in the game.
  4. Do not let anyone else’s opinion besides your own stick in your head. I heard a lot of comments about my recommitment to healthy eating and fitness. Things like “You’re exercising too much”/ “Do you always eat that healthy?” / “It looks like you’ve lost a lot of weight” / “I could never do that. It must be so boring to eat so healthy all of the time” / blahblahblah. You’ve gotta put on your Zero F***s Given Glasses and just let all of that stuff rolllllll offfff your shoulders. Guess what? Those people don’t live in your body, only you do. You do you, and to hell with anyone who stands in your way.
  5. Celebrate each milestone on the way to your goal. Acknowledge your hard work and accomplishments, and  allow yourself to fully appreciate how much time, effort and energy you put into working toward a goal. That is not a small thing.

Since I started back in May, I have lost 8.5 pounds and one dress size, can now squat and deadlift 110% of my bodyweight, and box jump and burpee to my heart’s content. All from sticking to guns, following through with a healthy eating plan and committing to consistently working out. Changing my approach to self-love instead of self-ass kicking totally revamped the amount of stress and pressure I felt to get back into shape. Now that I’m back, I’m looking forward to creating more fun, joyful workouts and experimenting more in the kitchen.

I hope all of you have had a peaceful and fulfilling summer.

With warmth,

L

OH PS: I’ve got some sick Rosé hair now 😉

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Day 1 of Operation Booyah

Hi, hello and happy Monday! L here, reporting live from the ground at Operation Booyah, aka Day 1 of Fat Camp (from now on, I will be referring to my journey to get back into tough as nails shape as Operation Booyah). Blogging about this journey seems to be the best way to hold myself accountable, and I will take you through my highs and lows as I continue to share recipes, tips and motivational boosts.

In order to help this process along as efficiently as possible, I’ve started tracking my meals and striving for a goal of being active for 1 hour a day, six days a week. Active doesn’t mean doing an insane HIIT session for 60 minutes every day, but includes things like hiking and even just going for a walk after work, and taking rest days when I need them. I’m optimistic but not insane, I know that going from 0 to 60 is going to be hellish (aka, I’ll be moving around like a robot) until I get over The Hump and exercise comes easy once again.

Some notes so far: 

  1. It really, really sucks to not be able to blob on the couch after work, watch Netflix in my comfy pants, drink as much wine as I feel like and eat waffle fries covered in Frank’s Hot Sauce for dinner. Even though I’m a student again, my 19 year-old metabolism is a thing of the distant past so that’s no longer an appropriate stress reliever (or something that I can do most nights without repercussion – see not being able to button my pants in my previous post, oy vey).
  2. I forgot what it felt like to be ACTUALLY hungry. If I felt distant pangs of hunger, I would eat a snack, procured from the infamous snack drawer in my office that was mostly filled with candy (Food Science people always have candy around, dammit) . Now, I am being more thoughtful with those feelings, and giving them a closer look. Why do I want to eat? Am I bored? Sad? Stressed? Thirsty? Or, am I just really hungry? Instead of shoving food in my face to satisfy those pangs, I’ve been going with the “water first” policy to reassess. Fun? Nope. Necessary? Yeahhh…
  3. Working out DOES make you feel good. See: endorphins. When you get in a rut, it’s hard to remember how rewarding it is to absolutely smash (or at least put your best foot forward toward) a workout.
  4. I’m still L. No matter how I feel, I am still the strong woman who kicked ass and ran a half marathon under two hours, crushed a Tough Mudder, had the strength to up-end my life in Boston to start grad school, all in order to work toward my goals and live a rewarding life. I will get there. It may take time, be a total effing pain in the ass, and at times not that fun, but I will get there. I am determined. Let’s keep movin’ forward.

I’ll be back tomorrow to give you my meal plan for the week. Happy Monday, all!

With warmth,

L

 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Do you ever have a day where you feel like biting into a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven would dissolve your stress and make you feel waaaaay better about life? Today I had that day. This week was a long one – full of exams and general school/life stress. It’s the final push to the end of my first semester in grad school, and I needed to whip up something good to help me to keep powering through. After not being a student for six years, you quickly forget what it’s like. 😉

Being in the kitchen is my number two favorite way to relax (clocking in right behind going for a long trail run), and I find baking to be especially soothing. These chocolate chip cookies are sooo delicious – they would fool your Grandma into thinking you made them from the Tollhouse recipe. Not only are they completely dairy and egg free, but they don’t have anything weird in them – so they are easy to whip up with ingredients on hand. I hope you enjoy this vegan treat as much as I did. 🙂

L’s Delicious AF Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips (or the whole 12 oz bag, whatev)
1 cup chopped pecans, if you feel like it

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat (if you don’t have either of those, no worries – they work fine on regular ass baking sheets).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a kitchen mixer or hand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, water, and vanilla until fluffy. Slowly beat in the flour mixture in portions. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add chocolate chips and pecans.
  4. Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of dough at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each scoop. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let cool on the pan and serve.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

With warmth,

L

Getting Back to the Grind

Hey guys and dolls! I’ve recently had a reader request for my best tips for getting back into working out/eating healthy mode while still working 40+ hours a week. You’re in luck, as I’ve turned that into an art form over here at B&B. 😉 We all have had our moments of falling off the Booyah wagon, but what you may not realize is that it’s really not difficult to hop right back on (I swear). Here’s how to get right back into it:

  1. Realize that you don’t have to be perfect. Make your workout/eating healthy goals achievable, and gradually work up to bigger and tougher. Start out by setting a weekly goal that you can totally crush, such as “work out three days a week” instead of “wake up at 5 am and work out before work every day this week.” Being realistic with your goals when you’re trying to get back into it helps motivate you and gives you something to strive for. Writing them down helps, too! You can track your progress and reflect on what you’ve accomplished each week. Once you feel comfortable and start crushing those weekly milestones, reassess your goals in order to keep pushing the limits. It’s okay to start off slow – if you set the bar too high straight out of the gate, it’s tempting to get down on yourself when you can’t achieve goals that are simply unrealistic. Be nice to yourself, and acknowledge it will take time to get there – and that is totally ok. 🙂
  2. Meal prep the shiz out of your weekend and week nights. IMG_2693.JPGIt’s easy to disregard this as unimportant, but eating well goes hand in hand with exercise. I’ve definitely found a correlation between eating healthy and being motivated to work out regularly. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I prepare my lunch and breakfast for the next day every single night during the week. It takes less than 15 minutes and is one of the single most important ways to follow through with your healthy eating goals. Not only will it save you money and time from having to buy your lunch, but you will have something healthy and delicious to eat that will power you through your day. It is definitely worth the one hour per week to thoughtfully plan out all of your meals, make a grocery list, and get your rear to the grocery store to get everything you need to make your awesome meal plan come to fruition. I usually cook up an extensive and epically delicious feast on Sunday nights, so the leftovers can sustain me for several nights that week. With a little planning ahead, I can choose something quick, easy and uncomplicated to whip up if and when I run out of leftovers. When it comes to eating well, preparation and planning is the name of the game. And it’s seriously the easiest thing you can do to get your head in the game at the start of each week.
  3. Choose something you like to do for a workout and grab a workout buddy. photo 1.JPGIf you hate running, don’t choose to run as your workout. Pick something that you look forward to, or an activity that excites you. This should be a no brainer – life is too short to suffer through something you absolutely hate, when there are plenty of fun options to choose from. If you’re dying to shake your booty while listening to some Pitbull, hit up a Zumba class. If you had a less than stellar day and you want to kick the sh*t out of something, find a solid kickboxing class. Better yet, recruit a gym buddy to go with you to workout – you are so much more likely to stick with it. It may be tempting to skip your workout if it’s just you, but you’re not going to bail on your friend! Using the buddy system for your workouts is a huge motivating factor – you can cheer each other on and help each other stick to it.
  4. Plan your workouts. Like, literally put them in your calendar. Only you know the best times for you to get workout in, so pick what is reasonable and works for your schedule. Physically writing them down in your calendar and allotting a block of time for you to exercise is a concrete and productive way to commit to your workout. Now that I am a grad student, my days can be pretty long. I may not always have control over what time I get home at night, but I do have control over what time I wake up in the morning, so scheduling a first-thing-in-the-morning workout helps me sidestep the “shoot, it’s 10 pm and I didn’t get a workout in yet!” moment. Some days I even break up my exercise into two 20-25 minute sweat sessions. The possibilities are endless: you do what works for you.
  5. All the healthy snacks plus a water bottle. tritan-all_2.jpgOne of the best things I’ve ever done to help me stay on track with my healthy eating goals was to bring a reusable water bottle to work and keep it at my desk. If you’ve just eaten a solid meal and you think you’re still hungry mid-morning or mid-afternoon, try taking a good long drink of water first. Your body (that devil!) can trick you into thinking that you are hungry if you are simply dehydrated. Once I started setting goals for the amount of water to consume per day, I found that I was snacking out of boredom less, and generally felt more alert and awake (bonus: it makes you get up and walk around more, because you will literally have to pee 20 times a day when you’re well hydrated). Then there are those days when you might just be really, really hungry.  It happens! I avoid becoming Hangry L and eating all the food within reach by pre-portioning healthy snacks – trail mix, popcorn, fruits and veggies, you know the drill – and stocking them in a drawer at my desk for when the hungry horrors hit. It’s much easier to just say no to the candy jar when there are healthy and delicious snacks on hand.
  6. Make it easy. FullSizeRender_1.jpgIf it’s easy (no matter what “it” is), you are so much more likely to do it. I’ve already touted the benefits of meal planning, drinking lots of water and stocking healthy snacks, which are super easy ways for you to make solid healthy eating choices. I’ve suggested grabbing your gym buddy and finding a way to sweat that doesn’t make you want to dramatically avoid exercise at all costs – the easiest way to stay accountable and motivated for your workouts. Now, be honest with yourself, take a good look at your exercise/eating habits and attempt to eliminate any other hurdles that may deter you from accomplishing your goals. Everyone is different, so I may not be able to pinpoint yours, but I can share some that have helped me:
    • Pack your gym bag the night before
    • Lay out your gym outfit for the next day
    • Bring a snack to get you through the 3 pm hangry zone if you’re planning to exercise after work
    • Stock extra headphones, hair elastics, water bottles, socks, whatever in your car or work bag so there are no excuses to bail on a workout
    • Plan out what you’re going to do before you get to the gym, so you’re not wandering aimlessly
    • Make a new playlist
    • Come up with a motivating mantra to help you kick your workout in the teeth

Basically, make it difficult to come up with an excuse to skip your workout. Additionally, remove temptation that prevents you from sticking with your healthy eating goals (like getting rid of junk food that you have difficulty eating in reasonable portions – I know that I can and will eat an entire Family Size bag of tortilla chips in one sitting, so I chose to not keep those snacks on hand). If you make the choice to work out and eat well simple and attainable, it becomes a no-brainer to stick to the plan.

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7. Get enough sleep. So important, but also very difficult with how crazy our schedules can be. If you don’t get enough sleep to get you through your day, it’s going to be tough to work out on top of that. Prioritize your sleep.

8. Be your own best friend. No beating yourself up, and treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Changes take time, and if you approach them with a positive attitude, you’re more likely to get through the rough patches and stick with it. You can do this!

I hope that these tips have helped you get pumped up and motivated about getting right back on the Booyah Wagon. Sometimes it may seem insurmountable to get back into the workout/healthy eating routine, but I promise these are tried and true methods that I incorporate into my daily life to help me stick to my active lifestyle. Break it down day by day, and you will get there. I’m human; there are days that I can’t seem to get it together – we all have them – but planning ahead and focusing on your goal will help you get right back into it. And remember: it’s never too late to start. Best of luck, I know you’ll crush it. 😀

With warmth,

L

Rest Day = Best Day

Happy Friday all! I am totally ready to enter hermit mode this evening, with yoga pants, a glass of vino and House of Cards on my TV. So pumped. It has been a long week, and I am glad to have made it to Friday intact. The stars have aligned, and this Friday is perfectly in sync with my “I need to be horizontal!” rest day. Yoga stretching video(es) on YouTube, here I come! 🙂 Now for why you really stopped by B&B today, here are some great things that I’ve been loving this week:

  1. Tituss has his own Pino Noir. YUSSSS.

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I am cry-laughing at this, because I thought his “Peeno Noir” video episode on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was perfection. He is so talented, so funny and I love him. I need to find this! The end.

2. As mentioned above, House of Cards Season 4 is out!

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If you need a re-cap like me, there is a great one in the New York Times today. I can’t wait to see what happens!  As you can see, I hate Netflix. 😉

3. I need this hydration backpack.

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This is the updated, for femmes only hydration pack designed by Ultimate Direction. I. Need. This. Sadly for me, it doesn’t really mesh with my grad student budget, so….yeah. I’ll be getting this is a few years/seasons when it goes on sale. It has collapsable water bottles in the front pockets (no sloshing!), better/roomier pockets, enough space to fit a 50 or 70 oz hydration pack in the back and is made to fit women properly. Amaze!

4. Chloe’s Kitchen

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This cookbook has lived up to its hype. I made a version of her Tempeh Piccata this week, and it was phenomenal – great flavor, texture, filling and satisfying! So yummy. I can’t wait to make some of her desserts this week – she rose to fame after winning Cupcake Wars with a vegan cupcake recipe (and it’s included in this cookbook!). All of the cookbooks I have gotten recently are wonderful and so inspiring. I’ll be posting my version of her recipe this week or weekend, so you can see what it looks like when B&B makes it. 😉 Vive Vegan Cooking!

Well that’s all I’ve got for today – my mind is on comfy pants, Netflix and total relaxation. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! This next week is “Spring Break” (yes, in quotes – grad students don’t really get a spring break, as we are expected to be here doing our work) and it will be a nice week off from classes.  The weather is supposed to be a little warmer and more spring-like where I live, and the break from sharing gym equipment with the undergrads is also a bonus! 😉

What do you guys have planned for this weekend? Anything fun? I’ll be doing all the normal stuff with some bonus rest and relaxation. 🙂

Hope you all have a weekend full of Booyah!

With warmth,

L

Things that I discovered this week…

Well hello, everyone! Happy Sunday! Normally I would tell you all about the things I was loving this week in my Friday Faves, but I was pretty over life by the end of the week and was due for a serious hermit day and as well as a night of solo Netflix & chill (and wine). So, instead of hearing about all the things I’ve been feeling at the end of the week on Friday, you get to start your week off with them instead! Here we go:

Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon

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You all know that I’ve officially retired my Boston Snob status and have been loving my boxed wine since I’ve started at grad school (great for the wallet and when you’ve had a bad day, there is always an open “bottle” of wine at the end of it). If you missed my last Friday Faves when I was touting the amazing/mystical flavors of Naked Grape boxed wine, you can check that out here. I can’t take credit for this choice, as my sister and brother-in-law were the ones that directed me to this selection but it’s too good to keep to myself. Now, let’s review. One box = four bottles of wine. It costs $24.99. It lasts for four weeks. Hi, why would you not partake in this situation? It is on the lighter side of things as far as Cabs go, incorporating Syrah and Zinfandel to keep things interesting, and has hints of blackberries and chocolate. This guy is my favorite side kick for my solo Netflix and Chill.

The Squat Rack

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I finally built up some courage this week to wade through the bros at my university and hit up the rack to get my squats, deads, rows and all of the fun barbell exercises in. I’ve missed this! There is nothing like the feeling of good, solid, “I walk up the stairs funny because I just did deadlifts” kind of soreness. If you’re looking for inspiration/wanna get REALLY bro-y with me, you can check out this Bodybuilding.com article on how to get a full body workout using only a barbell here. Also, I am just starting out and I can already squat and deadlift my own body weight! HOLLA!

Sweet Earth Foods Benevolent Bacon

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I just tried Benevolent Bacon for the first time this morning and it was SO GOOD. I love a good faux breakfast meat for brunch on the weekends, as it’s a great way to get a whole bunch of protein right out of the gate. One of my favorite standbys is Lightlife Tempeh Bacon, but this week I decided to mix it up and try something new. This “bacon” is seitan-based, crisps up nicely when you fry it and holds its shape (no floppy faux bacon here!). The hickory and sage flavor is delicious and only two slices have 10 grams of protein and 90 calories, so you can totally crush it and eat a bunch! YAS!

The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples by Miyoko Schninner 

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Um, Miyoko is officially my vegan heroine. I’ve been looking for a good vegan baking cookbook to get some ideas for a birthday cake (two of my friend’s birthdays are coming up on the same day in March and I’d love to bake them a delicious cake from scratch, but haven’t had much luck in the past) and I stumbled across this gem of a cookbook. It got outstanding reviews (and you all know how discerning the Amazon crowd is – a pack of haters, really) and so I ordered it on a whim. When it finally arrived (the longest two days of my life), I sat down on the couch to flip through it and basically read the entire thing from cover to cover. Miyoko tells you how to make just about everything – tofu, soy milk, the best vegan burgers ever, condiments, baking mixes, literally ANYTHING you can think of – from scratch. She. Is. Amazing. She has her own vegan cooking show on PBS, and used to own a vegan restaurant in California for several years, so you know she is legit. I cannot wait to go full hippie mode and start making everything from scratch – so stoked. Not only do I think everyone needs this cookbook, vegan or not, but they should hand this out to you once you decided to go fully vegan – it’s that good.

I hope you all had an amazing week this week! I’m going to fully enjoy this beautiful day today by going on my first hike in my new home base! So stoked. I hope you all enjoy your Sunday.

With warmth,

L