Monthly Reading: April

I hopped right back on the reading train this month, and even finished both before the end of the month. I did kind of take it easy, though. I read two books that were pretty light and didn’t involve a whole lot of mental work.

The first book I read was Lara Casey’s Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life. Lara Casey is amazing, if you haven’t heard of her. She is the genius behind Power Sheets and Southern Wedding magazine. She is such a positive and has the most beautiful personality, and I really enjoy following her on Instagram–seriously, she has the cutest kids.

 

Anyway, I first heard of her through one of my sisters who uses Lara Casey’s Power Sheets every year. Power Sheets are a tool for you to plan out your goals for the year. I tried them for the first time this year, and I went a little more in-depth about them in my resolutions post.

Her book was very uplifting and made me think, “hey, maybe all my dreams can come true.” So if you want to take a deep-dive into discovering what it is you really want out of life, you should check out her books and maybe even order some Power Sheets because they are seriously life-changing.

The next book I read was one that I had started almost a year ago, but never finished. I feel kind of stupid talking about it, because I feel like this person’s audience base is, like 12, but I’ve been a fan of his since I was that age, so I guess it’s alright.

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I read Shane Dawson’s book, It Gets Worse. I seriously love him so much, and have been watching his videos since I was in middle school. I’ve always enjoyed his twisted sense of humor, and I relate a lot to his body issues. This book really allowed me to see a whole other part of him that I never get to see in his videos. It’s definitely not what I would call a “light” read, but it isn’t a difficult read; it just takes you to some dark places. But at the heart of it all, it is Shane in his truest form, and I loved every page.

That’s it for this month’s reading! I hope you enjoyed. I’m ready to dive back into some long fiction books next month, especially because I WILL BE A COLLEGE GRADUATE!

Keep reading, guys!

 

Photos from: (http://laracasey.com) and (amazon.com)
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Monthly Reading: February

I’m really proud of the reading habit I’ve created. I’ve really missed it over the years, and flying through book after book gives me an odd sense of accomplishment.

This month, I read two books which is right on target for my yearly goal. I was even able to start my first March book a little early.

The first book I read was Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. It was a cute coming-of-age book about the bond of two step-siblings and their struggles with mental illness and sexuality. The relationship between Little and Lion is very sweet and was the beating heart of the story. It is what kept me invested, wanting to know how things resolved for both of them.

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The next book I read was a given to me by Cassandra. It is called You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. It’s kind of a motivational “self-help” book, but I found it really inspiring and helpful. So, for anyone wanting to light a fire under their ass, you should check it out and recognize the badass in us all.

https://www.journeystrength.com/blogs/news/168713863-book-recommendation-you-are-a-badass-how-to-stop-doubting-your-greatness-and-start-living-an-awesome-life

Check back with me next month to see my thoughts on my March reading!

March Bullet Journal Set-Up

It’s March! This year is flying by. This both excites me and scares me, because while I have some amazing milestones coming up, I’m not quite ready for them to be on the horizon.

Like graduation, for example. I have no idea what my life will look like after May and it’s freaking me out.

Before I nose-dive into another existential crisis, I’ll go ahead and share how I’ve set up my bullet journal for the month of March.

My March title page is heavily inspired by Amanda Rachel Lee on Youtube. I await her videos every month like the second coming. I like to see what she does and then give it my own twist. The quote on the left is inspired by a quote on Pinterest, because I wanted to tie in a little St. Patrick’s luck.

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The next pages are my month-at-a-glance pages. It’s a pretty simple layout that I am considering changing up for next month, but so far it does what it is supposed to do, so why fix something that ain’t broke, as the saying goes.

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My tracker pages are the most tedious and annoying pages in this entire journal, but they are probably the most helpful for me. So I keep doing them. But having to do so many lines and so many numbers drives me insane. I almost left it half empty last night, but I pushed through knowing I’d have to fill some out tonight. February was the first month that I utilized this new habit tracker layout and honestly, I love it. It makes me more motivated to do each of the tasks instead of when I was just filling out one, big chart.

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Next is my mood tracker. I really love this page and how I’ve chosen to lay it out this year, because it is fun to switch from month to month and see how my emotions evolve throughout the month. The quote on the right is from that one Michael Buble song that might be a cover of an older song, but I’m not sure so I’m just going to stick with my Michael Buble theory.

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I’m not really sure why I included this page because it’s only fun at the end of the month. Having the HP Sprocket has really brought this spread to life. Before, I would just post little things I got from events like tickets or wristbands, but the pictures are something I know I’ll look back on fondly.

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I hope everyone has a magical March! Thanks for reading!

Monthly Reading: January

As I mentioned in my resolutions post, I want to read two books a month in 2018. I’m currently subscribed to Book of the Month, which I love, but I’ve gotten a little behind with my reading so it is on hold for now until I catch up. Both of the books I read in January were BOTM books and so far they haven’t disappointed.

The first book I read was Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.

https://www.npr.org/2017/07/12/535799520/goodbye-vitamin-is-sweet-but-not-sugarcoated
Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

It was kind of a coming-of-age story but about a young woman named Ruth in her twenties instead of pubescent teenagers. Ruth is at a junction in her life where she is dealing with a recent breakup as well as family issues that lead her to move back in with her parents. It is one of those books where you don’t realize the big picture until it’s over. I had a firm grasp on what was going on throughout the book, but it wasn’t until I finished it that I was like, oh shit, I get it now. It was a beautiful story and nothing at all what I thought it would be when I first received it.

The second book was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

http://www.afomaumesi.com/2017/09/08/eleanor-oliphant-completely-fine-review/

This one was definitely my favorite of the month. Recently, Jessica Knoll has become one of my favorite authors (I wrote about her debut novel, The Luckiest Girl Alive, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next novel) and this was a book that she had recommended, so when I saw it as an option, I went ahead and ordered it from BOTM even though I already had an impressive stack of novels yet to be read.

Eleanor is such an interesting character, and I loved every second I got to spend in her head. She is complex and endearing even though I’m certain I would dislike her very much if I ever crossed paths with her in real life. Eleanor is a creature of habit, but throughout this book, she takes measures to examine her past and try new things and meet new people. She reminded me that it really is never too late to change the course of your life. No matter what has happened to you or impeded the plans you had for your life, you can overcome it with enough perseverance and gumption.

I highly recommend both of these books, and I hope this kind of post is something I continue throughout this year (as long as I keep my resolution to read more).

I Met with a Nutritionist

I don’t usually get too personal on here, but I want to document my progress with my goals. One of those goals is to cultivate a healthier lifestyle. So, to me that means being more open about my feelings and the steps I am taking to accomplish that goal.

Last week, I met with a nutritionist about how to change my eating habits. The meeting ended up being a lot more emotionally draining than I thought it would, because not only did we discuss healthy foods, but we went over my current eating habits and dipped a little bit into why I have those habits.

Meeting with someone is already a huge step for me because a year ago, I never talked to anyone about my weight except for my mom. And even with her, any time I had to talk about my health I ended up breaking down and crying. Because, I’ve learned, it is something I hold a lot of shame about internally. I am not proud of where I am, health-wise. It’s not something I enjoy discussing—in fact, I avoid the conversation whenever possible.

So, I’ve come a long way. I am taking intentional steps towards bettering myself this year. One of which happened to be meeting with a professional nutritionist.

One of the things I talked about with the nutritionist was to come up with a list of healthy alternatives to snacking when I feel stressed. This was hard because I found that I most wanted to eat when I was bored, not stressed—although that happens to. So instead, I decided to come up with things to do instead of snacking when I get bored.

Real talk: when I am alone, I eat everything. It’s a problem that a professional should probably examine, but for now all I have is this list.

  • Read.

    • Not only is this an excellent alternative, it will also help me meet one of my other goals which is to read 24 books this year.
  • Sing.

    • It’s kind of hard to shove things into your mouth when you’re belting musical theater songs.
  • Journal.

    • This was a suggestion from my nutritionist, that I should become more in tune with my body and what it really wants, which she said, is not to eat more.
  • Drink water.

    • We’ve all heard that thing about how when you think you are hungry, you’re probably just thirsty. Plus it can’t hurt to drink more water.
  • Watch Trisha Paytas Mukbangs.

    • For those who are perhaps unaware, Trish is a YouTuber who spends a lot of time crying on her kitchen floor and filming herself eat copious amounts of food. Now, this may seem counter intuitive, but I have found that when I am really craving something, watching her shove her face full of chicken tenders somehow makes my own craving dissipate. It’s weird, I know, but I’m not about to question it if it works.

The most disappointing thing about the meeting was that she didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. I know how to take care of my body. Eat nutrient-filled foods, avoid over consumption of sugary, starchy and fatty foods, and exercise. We all know it; it’s just a matter of doing it.

So I’m just going to do it. And I’ll provide updates as things move along.

If you want to see what I am typically eating in a day, you can follow along on Instagram @catastropheandkale

Holiday Break Rewind

Happy New Year!

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I’m so happy to be back, and I’m ready to kick 2018’s butt! I am well aware that I’m saying the exact same thing a million other people say once January comes around, and just like them, I’m full of good intentions.

Better follow-through is one of my resolutions.

While I start to get back into the swing of things, I figured I would start back with what I was up to during the last couple of weeks months.

Since my last post was in November, I’ll start with Thanksgiving. I spent it with my family in North Carolina. Yes, all those people are related to me. It’s a Catholic thing.

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It’s not often that we are all together, so we had a fun little photo shoot before digging into some turkey and pie!

Here is my family. You know what they say, families that color-coordinate together, stay together.

 

At the beginning of December, Georgia had some unexpected snowfall, which was inconvenient, yet beautiful.

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I turned 23 in the month of December, but I don’t have any pictures to share. It was a pretty relaxed birthday this year spent with my friend, Cassandra, and the love of my life Adam Driver. He was too busy with press for The Last Jedi, but I was able to at least see his beautiful face on the big screen.

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Right before Christmas, MAC was reunited. Amberlyn flew in from Denver, and was able to spend a few hours with me and Cassandra before we all went home for the holidays.

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We met in Decatur at the Highland Bakery. It was such a nice restaurant with good food. Plus, the company was pretty decent too. Pictured below is my shrimp and grits. I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life but this was my first time trying the dish.

 

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Excuse the shadow of my phone. I need to get better at being a foodie.

 

As my siblings get married and essentially LEAVE, traditions tend to change. So instead of having Christmas morning with them, we all get together Christmas Eve to exchange Secret Santa gifts and have a big family dinner. Then, all of us single kids spend Christmas morning with my parents.

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with family and loved ones. Here’s to 2018. May it be less crappy for all!

 

 

Fall Activities: Keeneland

Welcome back to the next installment of Fall Activities!

Going to the Keeneland horse races is something I look forward to every October. My family has been going for years, so I have many fond memories of tailgating in the parking lot, ice-cold beer, and spending all of my money on $2 bets and over-priced cocktails. Plus, Lexington is beautiful, so you almost don’t even realize that you’re quickly losing all of your spending money.

This time was no exception.


Keeneland’s fall races go from October 2-28, every Thursday through Sunday. We typically go the second weekend of October and meet up with my extended family from North Carolina. We left Thursday and got their around 1:30 a.m. My sister and I both brought friends, so the four of us had our own room. I, of course, brought my friend, Cassandra and we had such a great time.

 

Cassandra and me at the tailgate!

We woke up at 8 in the morning so that we could make it to the hotel’s breakfast that ended at 9 and ended up bringing plates full of food up to our suite so that we could eat while we got ready.

 

Then we went to a local grocery store, Meijer’s, to get some drinks for tailgating. Meijer’s is basically like a Wal-Mart but less sketchy. My dad was pretty obsessed with it, actually, and made us return the next day for lunch. After picking up some much needed beverages, we grabbed lunch from Subway to take to the tracks.



Next is tailgating–the fun part! I always enjoy sitting around and chatting with my family, especially since I don’t get to spend that much time with my extended family outside of the holidays.

Once inside, my family tends to stick to a specific routine. First, you go out to the paddock where they bring the horses before each race. Since I’m not a seasoned horse race expert, I tend to rely on this part to place my bets because I get a chance to really look at the horses and the jockeys up close. Then we go inside to place our bets before proceeding to the front of of the track to actually watch the race.


This pretty much repeats over and over for each race, with the exception of a few bathroom breaks and beer breaks.


When all 10 races are done, we go back out to the parking lot to tailgate once more while the parking lot clears out and then we go grab something to eat and tailgate some more in the hotel lobby.

And then you do it all over again the next day.

If you are ever in Lexington (or not! Road trips are fun!) during the month of October or April (they do spring races, too), you need to spend a day at the Keeneland horse races. It is so beautiful and such a great place to be.

Fall Activities: Burt’s Pumpkin Farm

The fall is one of my favorite times of year. The weather gets cooler, you can wear scarves and boots, and most importantly, there is just so much fun stuff to do.

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Personally, I’m not a huge fan of summer.  Unless it involves a body of water and an ice-cold mixed drink, I’m out. So when the leaves start to change and the weathe drops a few degrees, I’m here for it.

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I’ve got a whole list of fun October/fall things to do coming your way and the first thing I’m going to share is Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville.

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You can also partake in a hay ride through the pumpkin patch. I’ve yet to actually do this because I’m into doing things that are free haha but I’ve heard great things about it.

And before you leave, you’ll definitely want to check out the gift shop to get some delicious baked goods and other souvenirs. I recommend the apple bread and their pumpkin rolls.

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Despite the weather clearly not knowing that it is fall, it was a beautiful afternoon. There were so many people there and so many pumpkins that were lined up perfectly for as far as the eye could see which made it the perfect spot for a little photo shoot.

I hope you enjoyed this post and keep an eye out for another post later this week about the Keeneland horse races!

Logan Lucky: A Review

It’s been described as a redneck Ocean’s Eleven or “Ocean’s 7/11”, but as catchy as those names are, they don’t measure up to the subtle genius that is Logan Lucky.

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Logan Lucky is Steven Soderbergh’s latest film starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers who, with the help of a motley group of characters, decide to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I have been following this film from almost the beginning. And by beginning, I mean ever since I found out Adam Driver was going to be in it (because I am low-key high-key obsessed with him and keep up with all of his projects). Also, it was filmed in Atlanta, so I had some personal ties to it.

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Anyway, for those who are not obsessed with Adam Driver and therefore know little to nothing about this movie, it was made very differently from other popular heist films. First of all, it was not made under the heavy influence of a major Hollywood studio. Soderbergh financed the film himself so that he had full creative freedom over the entirety of the project. He is a director who wears many hats, according to Tatum, who has worked with the director many times in the past. I’m sure you’ve heard of Magic Mike. Soderbergh does everything from directing to making sure he gets the exact shot he needs, and he is even the one at the end to tie it all together in the editing room. To ensure there wasn’t unnecessary spending, he cut most of the marketing and press expenses, which meant there was not a huge press junket for the film and there was minimal marketing aside from social media.

The economics surrounding the film were enough to lure me in, aside from seeing Adam Driver on the big screen again. And if that wasn’t enough, Soderbergh threw in the hat from directing in 2013, so I knew it had to be pretty good if it pulled him from retirement.

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Now on to the film itself, I absolutely loved it. However, I went into the theater knowing that it was going to have an “indie” feel to it since it wasn’t going to have that overpowering Hollywood studio touch. For me, that made it better. There was an actual story that was being told. It wasn’t just a spectacle for the sake of being a spectacle where laughs are forced down your throat. It was subtle in its humor, deadpan sarcasm from my favorite actor.

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The actors were incredible. The West Virginian accents threw me for a loop but became endearing as the film progressed. Adam as the one-handed Clyde Logan was amazing, as always, but I doubt I would ever find a performance of his less than phenomenal. I am not as well versed with Channing Tatum’s repertoire as I am with Adam’s, but I was pleasantly surprised to see such a real character portrayal from him. He was a delight on screen and deserving of the heart strings that he pulled. Daniel Craig was a fire-cracker. Even as someone who is not familiar with his role as James Bond, I was still amazed at the reckless energy he exuded as Joe Bang. He stole every scene he was in, which is a lot for me to say considering that meant I wasn’t looking at Adam Driver. Riley Keough played the Logan brothers’ sister, and she was just as fierce with her spit-fire knowledge of muscle cars and highways.

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The only performance that irked me was Seth McFarlane’s. It just felt like Seth McFarlane pretending to be an annoying man with a fake British accent and a bad wig. I feel like there are two types of actors: the ones who pretend to be someone else and those who become someone else. And surrounded by actors who so flawlessly became their characters, McFarlane stuck out like a sore thumb.

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Despite it feeling like an Indie film, it still was just a damn good heist movie. Even though as an audience member, I knew the premise of the film, I was still surprised with how it unraveled. As a viewer, you think you know exactly what is happening until you realize that you don’t. It was unsettling at the end, like clashing notes on a piano, but then once I got my bearings on what was actually happening, it left me with an excitement that carried me through the rest of the evening. I walked out that theater wanting nothing more than to turn around and see it again, to find the things I might have missed, to stare at Adam Driver’s beautiful hair once more (Ok, I’ll lay off the Adam Driver love).

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For those who may be expecting a plot-driven Hollywood blockbuster, it might have a slow buildup. The storytelling of the film is truly beautiful. As I’ve said a million times by now, it is subtle, but utterly engaging. When films try and force a reaction out of me, it yanks me right out of the narrative. It truly was beautifully written. In fact this is the writer, Rebecca Blunt’s, first script to be made into a movie. There were some theories that she is perhaps a ghost writer or doesn’t exist at all, but I like to believe that female screenwriters can write a kick-ass script right out of the gate without being accused a fraud.

So with this review/history of Logan Lucky, I urge anyone who reads this to go see it. If you get nothing at all from the film, well, at least you get to stare at Channing Tatum for 2+ hours.

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Hotlanta Summertime Favorites

There’s nothing like summer in the city!

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As someone who loathes the sun and all things scorching, it is important for me to find some fun distractions to get me through until fall. Since my summer classes ended (finished with all A’s!!!), I have tried to jam-pack these next three weeks before fall classes start up with fun summery things. So, I thought I would share a few things I’ve done here in Atlanta, and what is coming up next for me this summer.

The Georgia Aquarium

This past week, some of my siblings and I took my cousin to aquarium. I was probably definitely more excited than him, because I had not been in about 4 years. My personal favorite exhibit is the Beluga whale tank. I could literally stand and watch them for hours. They are just to graceful and beautiful, and I love them! We also got to see the sea lion show and the dolphin show, both of which were incredible.

One of the best things about being an adult and doing fun “kid” things is that there isn’t someone telling you that you can’t have or do something. I don’t know about you, but me and my siblings were never allowed to get anything from the gift shops of the places we went, which is understandable because if you bought one kid something, you’d have to buy the other four something as well. So, it was just an understood no. However, as a grown ass 22 year-old woman, I found myself standing in the gift shop of the Georgia Aquarium staring up at a display of plush beluga whales, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with the notion that there was no one there to tell me no. And I couldn’t possibly deny the little girl in me, so I bought one and we couldn’t be happier.

I absolutely LOVE the aquarium here in Atlanta, and it is something that is perfect for people of all ages. As a bonus, it also provides a nice escape from the persistent heat that we have been subjected to this summer.

Chick-fil-A Corporate

One of my siblings works at the Chick-fil-A corporate office here in Atlanta, so we made a trip to the Chick-fil-A campus to visit him for lunch. If you’ve never been to the corporate office, it is pretty amazing. They have a small museum about the history of the company, as well as an impressive collection of vintage cars, including the Batmobile.

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Right now, there aren’t any tours open to the public, but coming in 2018, Chick-fil-A will be opening the Backstage Home Office Tour. I think this would be a great addition to the list of awesome things to do in Atlanta, especially if you have kids or an understandable obsession with Chick-fil-A. In the meantime, you can have an equally amazing experience at a Chick-fil-A near you. I mean, their Frosted Lemonade is pretty killer. I’m not being paid to say this; I just really love their stuff.

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Special Events

Another great thing to do in the summer is to see what kind of special events your city is offering throughout the summer. This past weekend, my friend, Cassandra, and I went to TCF Style Exposition. Basically, it is a fashion expo for plus size women. It was mostly catered towards women, but there were a few men’s plus size clothing vendors there. It was amazing to see such amazing women of all sizes come together to share beauty and love and fashion. It felt so empowering to watch a fashion show complied of all plus size women. It was truly beautiful.



So, go out and see what interests you. Especially in larger cities like Atlanta, it feels like they have special events happening every weekend, so it’s just a matter of keeping yourself informed of what is happening around you.

Gigi’s Cupcakes

Treat yo self! I’ve never been to Gigi’s Cupcakes before, so after the fashion expo, Cassandra and I went there to celebrate female empowerment and body positivity. I tried the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcake, and it was pretty remarkable. Sometimes the best thing to do on a hot afternoon in Georgia is to reward yourself with a sweet treat. So go out and try that bakery or ice cream parlor that you’ve passed a million times and always promised yourself that you’d go to one day, and just do it! You can sweat off the added calories in the scorching heat.

Atlanta Braves Game

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So, this is a future event, but it is also an Atlanta staple for summertime. The new Sun Trust park is open, and this Friday, I will be there. I’m not really a huge baseball fan, but every summer for the past seven years, my older brother has sung the national anthem for the Braves, so we all get together to watch him sing and then stick around for the game. I’m really excited to see the new field, so look out for a blog post next week about our fun night. And if you’re in Atlanta, come to the Braves game on August 4th to see my brother sing the national anthem!

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Summer is almost over, so make these next couple of weeks count!