Category Archives: Favorites

Summer So Far…

Hello!

We’re in our second week of summer her at FFF…we’ve been on the go since school got out on the 12th! Forcing ¬†myself to have a day at home today to get caught up on household chores and get a break from the sun & heat!

Last week we hit Hurricane Harbor twice and the pool once. Needless to say we will be going through lots of sunscreen in the next 7 weeks. I also picked up a couple more SPF rash guards for the kids, too.

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I drew up out Summer Bucket List and we’ve already checked a few things off…

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Unfortunately cherry picking is no longer an option as the season was shortened this year.

On June 13th we participated in The Color Run at Dodger Stadium and again, had a great time!

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We had a coupon for Rita’s and used it for an after dinner treat last week…

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{Island Fusion Gelati with vanilla custard}

Holden has started summer basketball and is loving it. I signed him up last summer, but was too late and never got called off the wait list. He is on The Scorpions and has a wonderful coach and a nice group of boys as teammates. They played their first game last weekend and came away with a W {10-4}…..looking forward to this new sport in the Aspiras household! I kind of felt like a fish out of water since basketball is new to us. I have a few things to learn about the rules as I was totally clueless! LOL Double dribble what?!? ūüėČ

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So blessed to live in a city with an awesome youth sports mentality. We’ll find this little guys passion eventually….this is his third sport since January!! He loved flag football in Winter, had a great baseball season this Spring and is now looking confident out on the court. Oh, and he’s all signed up for soccer in the Fall!

Last, but certainly not least, I have found a new summer coffee beverage…

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{iced coffee with 2 pumps sugar free syrup of choice and a splash of half & half or “breve” if you’re feeling fancy}

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I hope your summer is off to an amazing start.

Here’s to popsicle drips, flip flop tan lines, bronzed shoulders and laundering lots and lots of towels!

XO

Twenty Fourteen ~ A Year In Review

Happy New Year! I am eagerly awaiting to see what 2015 will bring….it’s a big blank space just waiting to be filled with precious memories.

I hope you all had a joyous and safe NYE. We got together with several of our wonderful neighbors and overindulged on everything from Ethiopian enchiladas to key lime pie and washed it all down with everything from caramel apple sangria to Shock Tops! Needless to say I need to get back on track with my Weight Watchers program!! I have been attending the weekly meetings, but watching the pounds go up little by little here and there since the beginning of December. I did so well from early September to the end of November….the secret is to have all the right foods in the house and that has been the problem. So, tomorrow I shall gather all the right groceries to regain focus and watch the pounds head back in the right direction.

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About this time each year I choose one photo per month from our iPhoto library and post it as a way to look back on the past 52 weeks. It’s difficult to narrow it down to a single moment, but that’s part of the fun.

Here are twelve memories frozen in time from Twenty14…

2014_jan

{Splashing in Santa Barbara on a January day}

2014_feb

{Game truck madness for Holden’s February birthday}

2014_mar

{Cosmic mother/son bowling in March}

2014_apr

{April brought the beginning of Spring Sports Saturdays}

2014_may

{Celebrating 5 years at Star Dance Center with Miss Erin in May}

2014_june

{June’s maiden voyage to Grand Central Market}

2014_july

{July welcomed Auntie Anuja into the family}

2014_aug

{An August day at the tar pits and MOMA}

2014_sept

{Fall Sports Saturdays commenced in September}

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{October hosted our first, and definitely not last, Color Run}

2014_nov

{A blurry capture of a perfect Thanksgiving}

2014_dec

{December brought a full house for Christmas}

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This year I was surprisingly ahead of the Christmas card game…both photos that I wanted to include on it were done and captured by mid-October and our cards were in-hand by Halloween! I loved not having that hang over my head for the month of November.

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The happiest of January Firsts to you!

xoxo

Muggy Weather

Instead of complaining about the ACTUAL hot & humid weather we’ve been having as of late, I’m going to focus this post on mugginess of a different kind.

Cuppa Kim’s 4th Annual Mug Swap!

It’s much more pleasant.

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The theme this year was “Blessing Others”. Together with almost 1200 swappers, we raised $2400 towards The Hoppers adoption fund. How great is that? Susan is the sweetest. They just bought the cutest house and are just waiting for a new member to join them under their roof. So exciting!!

I want to become a professional mug swapper. The job description is the best ~ shop around for the {perfect} mug for your recipient, package it all up with a few extra goodies and send it off. Everyone loves happy mail, right. The thing about happy mail is that it always seems to come on the most needed of days just in time to snap you out of your funk.

Mine came last Monday. Enough said.

Kim pairs you up with someone, but that is not the person that will be sending you your mug. I like to keep my person a surprise so I started stalking her IG feed and blog and gathered goodies to send her way.

I was given Heather in Oklahoma. She has a great sense of humor and about to give birth to her second son any day now!

I set out on my mug hunt when the kids were back in school….well because, you know. Browsing TJ Maxx & Marshall’s is much more fun solo. There’s no secret there.

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I quickly spotted a mug with a fun, retro vibe and the saying, “Latte” is Italian for “you paid too much for that coffee.” Isn’t that the truth.

Just to make sure I was 100% happy with my mug, I went to a couple more stores, but didn’t find anything I liked better. I then started gathering little extras to tuck into the box ~ Creamy Cocoa Badger Lip Balm, Altoids Smalls, my fave Key Lime Pie LARA Bar, Fall inspired nail polish in Classy Cocoa, some muggy notecards, floral washi tape, a mini blank journal, a Starbucks gift card and lastly some little coordinating graphic tees and Beanie Ballz for big brother and soon-to-be baby brother.

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It was so much fun to pack up and ship out. Again, I wish I could do this on a weekly basis!

I was kind of off and on following the IG hashtag {#mugswap14} and drooling over all the packages being sent out and wondering “Hmmm, could that be mine?” “Oh, that description sounds like me.” One day I spotted this image from hello_apricot¬†and of course it caught my eye. Everything {Fall} which is my fave. I thought to myself “what lucky lady will receive those goodies?”……

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Can you imagine my surprise when I opened the mailbox and saw a return address from “Hello Apricot”?

Happy Mail, indeed.

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Thank you SO very much, Elizabeth! I love, love, love all my World Market treasures. I was in desperate need of a travel mug as I am the person that walks the kids to school with a regular mug and have found a bug floating in my coffee from time to time. I’d also seen several of these fun cookie cutters involved in the mug swap and thought “how. cute.” Can’t wait to make my own shortbread to perch atop my mug.

Oh, and the Toblerone……amazing. The kids gave these to their catechists for Valentine’s Day. I was a good girl and didn’t buy myself one but wondered how they were ~ hello….Swiss Milk Chocolate with Salted Caramelized Almonds and Honey & Almond Nougat!!! Go get yourself one of these treats.

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The handmade crocheted bow necklace? My absolute fave. Check out Elizabeth’s Etsy shop here.

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And many thanks to the hostess with the mostess, Cuppa Kim! I can’t imagine what goes into coordinating all this, but I know it’s not easy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

She’s got somethin’ up her sleeve for early 2015, so follow along on her IG feed {cuppakim} and see what’s next.

Happy Sipping!

Doorstep Deliveries

I’ve always been a “hands-on” shopper. I’m not one to sit at my computer and click through the internet and shop. I like to come home with bags filled with my purchases.

A lot of my friends prefer to shop on-line and swear by it. I can understand if browsing is not something you enjoy, but I am a big time browser. I love to stroll through the racks and go hanger by hanger until I find the right article of clothing. I also like to try things on at the store to prevent any of the {get home-try it on-hate it-have to return it} syndrome. Even when I DO try things on, I always save my receipt and keep the tags on just in case a girl changes her mind ~ it’s been known to happen once or twice!

BUT, lately while shopping for wardrobe pieces for our big trip next month, I have had to order some things on-line since the sizes I need were not available in the store. I must say that prices seem to be lower in stores rather than on-line, but I’ve been checking the loads of e-mails I get regularly and have noticed that there are a lot of on-line specials, too!

I wanted to get the kids some July 4th swimsuits and ended up having to order this one from Crazy 8…

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I don’t shop here too often, but they do have adorable clothing for the kids. This suit was $9.99, but they didn’t have it in Elliott’s size. The saleswoman checked on-line at the store, charged me, got my address and is having it sent for free to my house!

The same thing happened at Janie & Jack when on the hunt for a pair of linen shorts for Holden. I’ve learned that linen shorts are hard to come by for boys, but think they will make a nice, dressier option for all the wedding festivities. Again, they didn’t have his size in the store, but the salesgirl checked another store and had them sent to me. I did have to pay $8.50, but the shorts were already on clearance and I got them for less than the original price even with the shipping charges.

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Yesterday I got an email from The Children’s Place for FREE shipping so I decided to see what they had on-line…I had just been in the store in the last week, but thought there might be some different items. I found this adorable jumper for Elliott for about $15 including tax…

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I activated my account and got a code for $5 off my purchase. Along with the free shipping, I thought this was a great deal for a whole outfit!

I also had to order their wedding attire on-line and it worked out perfectly. Holden’s black dress pants came from Macy’s and Elliott’s flower girl dress was ordered on-line through David’s Bridal.

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Oh and Jay & the kids gave me a Bath & Body Works gift card for Mother’s Day so I decided to check that out online and placed my order ~ easy peasy! And look at the cute blue & white gingham box all my goodies came in…

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The Salt Water Taffy candle……..get one now!

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This concept may seem like nothing new to you, but it’s a whole new world for me and I’m hooked. It’s been so fun receiving things here and there in the mailbox or waiting at the front door for us when we arrive home.

I can’t say that this won’t keep me out of my favorite stores, but it sure has opened my eyes to the ease and convenience of on-line shopping!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of taking the kids school clothes shopping. I usually pick up things myself and hope they like them. Holden is easy, but Elliott has her own style and doesn’t care for some things I choose. I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of school shopping from home this summer and I’m pretty excited about it…

Ding dong! Gotta go, I’ve got a doorstep delivery.

One A Month ~ 2012 In Review

Happy New Year!

Twenty-twelve was unique and held many new and wonderful moments, however, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in Twenty-thirteen.

As in the past couple few years, I challenged myself to come up with 12 photos, one per month, that represent just a dozen moments in the past year and again, it wasn’t easy ~ there were so many.

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{January morning in Redondo}

2012_feb

{Big Top Birthday for this 5-year old}

2012_mar

{Reading award for this 1st grader in the month of March}

2012_apr

{Little prayers at Easter Mass}

2012_may

{Birthday sleepover to celebrate our mermaid who turned 7}

2012_jun

{Celebrating Popsi’s 80th at the Happiest Place on Earth in June}

2012_jul

{Meeting new friends in HOT July}

2012_aug

{Two full time scholars in August}

2012_sept

{Legoland with Nor Cal cousins over Labor Day Weekend}

2012_oct

{Annual Yosemite trip over Fall Break}

2012_nov

{This long haired boy and the start of the season in November}

2012_dec

{A small, comfy, cozy & perfect Christmas!}

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It always saddens me when we box up the ornaments and vacuum up the pine needles, but when I look back on this year and recall all these moments in time, I realize that life is going by all too quick. In what seems like a matter of a few months, we’ll be digging the Christmas boxes out of the garage again. As much as I love the holiday season, I need to remember that there are eleven other months out there that we can make just as beautiful.

Again, thank you for following along here this past year….my hope is that in 2013 this little blog will share lots of new ideas, thoughts, recipes and ideas.

As you visit this space in this new year, please know that I appreciate you!

Let’s do this…..

XO

P.S.¬†I’ve included links to¬†2010¬†&¬†2011¬†month-by-month posts, too!

Peppermint Dreams

Hello!

Is all your holiday baking done, packaged up all pretty and ready to be delivered?

We still owe some of the special people in our lives some sweet goodies so we’ll be cranking out more confections and delivering them until the eleventh hour, that’s for sure.

Earlier this week I made some Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bars for the teachers, office staff and yard duties {if there is a newer more politically correct term, please share…I feel like [yard duty] is the equivalent of [stewardess] which we now call flight attendants}.

I packaged them up as the {nice} counterpart to the {naughty} Oreo lumps of coal.

It’s no secret that over this year I have made several batches of¬†sugar cookie bars. I did make the pumpkin spice version this Fall and was underwhelmed. BUT, this festive candy cane version with peppermint buttercream is to-die-for.

 

Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bars

 

{via The Busty Baker}

sugarcookie

Cookies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¬Ĺ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup crushed or chopped after-dinner butter mints {used Ralphs brand and only included the white, pink and green ones in the batter ~ sorry yellow!}

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¬Ĺ teaspoon peppermint extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
Food coloring, if desired {I used just 2 drops of red}
¬Ĺ cup crushed peppermints or candy canes {processed in my Cuisinart}

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a large 11X17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line with parchment paper and grease paper as well; set aside. {I just used a flat cookie sheet lined with parchment paper}
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. Add in flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in butter mints.
4. Spread batter evenly onto prepared baking sheet, smoothing top. Bake until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. {I baked mine for 18 minutes, turned off the oven and left them in for 2 ¬†more minutes. You don’t want to overcook these…they get too dry, in my opinion} Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
5. While cookie is cooling, make frosting; in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add peppermint extract and salt. Add confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, beating until well combined. Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, until frosting is smooth and fluffy. Add a few drops of food coloring if desired.
6. Spread frosting over cooled cookie, sprinkle with crushed peppermints, then cut into bars. {I like to cut them into triangles}

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If you like all things peppermint, you NEED to make these. I love the pastel colored mints running through the bars…not to mention the light pink buttercream peppered with crushed candy canes!

You will dream about these….

Promise.

Chevron & Metal ~ A Giveaway {Closed}

Announcing the little blogiversary giveaway I mentioned last week…

One: Bright & cheery set of note cards ~ keep snail mail alive!

Two: Set of four metal wine/martini glass markers for your upcoming holiday parties.

Three: Two Essie polishes in fun holiday brights ~ Silken Cord & Super Bossa Nova.

Four: Sweet sandwich plate with vintage inspired silverware imprint ~ liven up your lunches!

Please visit Flip Flop Follies Facebook page and “Like” to stay in the loop on new recipes and other posts.

To enter, please leave {one} comment here on this post sharing your favorite Thanksgiving side dish.

Giveaway open until midnight Pacific Time, Thursday, November 15th, 2012.

One winner will be chosen at random and announced on Friday, November 16th, 2012.

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My favorite Turkey Day side is probably the stuffing ~ sausage cornbread, in particular.

Please DO enter and Good Luck!

And as always, thanks for reading. XO

The Key To My Heart

Tomorrow is a very special day.

Our 8 year wedding anniversary….

October 23, 2004

The perfect San Diego Fall afternoon for nuptials in Balboa Park followed by an Old Town celebration late into the evening ~ more to come on that tomorrow, but today I wanted to share with you something fitting that I purchased this morning as a little anniversary gift to us. {but only I will wear it! ha!}

{via}

I’ve been admiring Leslie’s upcycled, vintage treasures since she opened her shop {Salvage 517} and when she Insta’d that she had some new beauties listed this morning, I took a peek and knew I had to have this little key around my neck to remind me of how lucky I am to have found Jay and start our life together officially almost eight years ago.

I adore it. And I adore Leslie. I had the pleasure of meeting her briefly a year ago at Blog Sugar and from the minute I met her I knew she had a heart of gold ~ a beautiful, vintage gold heart hugged by several gorgeous beads and strung on a bright and vibrant ribbon, of course.

You can find her sweet, inspiring blog here.

Annnnnd to top it off, she owns an adorable senior citizen dachshund that looks just like Rascal.

So, go and check out her Etsy shop and pop in and say “Hello!” on her blog.

I also couldn’t resist this fabric wrapped frame housing a vintage Thanksgiving greeting for our November mantle…

Love. Love. Love.

And I love you, too, Jay! Can’t wait to celebrate with you tomorrow!

Thank you for holding the key to my heart…

XO

Pumpkin Spice And Everything Nice

The official start of Fall is just a couple days away. Yay!

I’ve had this pumpkin pie smoothie pinned for about a year now and look forward to blending one up tomorrow morning…

1/2 banana (peeled, frozen, diced)

1/3 cup pumpkin puree (Libby’s)

1/3 cup FF plain Greek yogurt

1/2-3/4 cup vanilla almond milk

few shakes of pumpkin spice (Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice)

 pinch of cloves

1tsp vanilla

2 cups crushed ice

{via}

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Have you had your first Pumpkin Spice Latte yet?

I made this PSL knock-off and it’s obviously not the same as the one at the place with the big green circle, but it wasn’t bad. I used coconut almond milk and some brown sugar to sweeten it up a bit. I must admit, a whipped cream cloud and some festive fall sprinkles would take it up a notch, but it was fun to try and a good way to use up your pumpkin puree if you have any leftover from another recipe.

{via}

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I love to spruce up our mantel with the seasons and Fall makes it easy to bring nature inside as decor.

I found a branch with weird pods/seeds of some sort on a hike last week and stuck it in with some manzanita branches that I already had on-hand for some height above our fireplace…

Pinecones in a simple glass vase would make a nice focal point, as well.

Grab several autumn hued paint chips from your local home improvement store, a leaf stencil and some twine to create a garland/bunting ~ use a hole punch and put two holes in each leaf to hang.

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I love candles year round, but there’s something about a candle flickering on a cool, dark-by-5 o’clock early fall evening.

Check out these super cheap, super fragrant candles from Wal-mart ~ the Vanilla Cream, Cinnamon Roll and Apple Spice are perfect for harvest season.

{1-wick candle, under 2 bucks & 3-wick candle, only 5 bucks}

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That’s just the tip of the iceberg as to what I have planned for my most favorite season…come back for the next few months for more recipes and sweet treat ideas.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

XO

Party Like Julie Andrews ~ My Favorite Things Party

Pinterest is home to all sorts of fun party themes, recipes, craft ideas, DIY, etc. If you’re not on it yet, you need to be. {Pretty please} You can check out my profile here.

My Favorite Things parties are popping up on pin boards lately and two of my friends have hosted them ~ here and here.

The idea of the party is to share your favorite things with other guests and vice versa. You bring 3-5 {based on how many guests} of your favorite goodies and go home with the same amount of fun new treats. My friend, Vicki, hosted a small mama’s night on Saturday night and we sat around getting caught up, noshing on some yummy eats, sipping some mama drinks and passing around our favorite things.

I brought BBQ chicken pizza…

…and the makings for mango micheladas!

We also had homemade chicken enchiladas, Texas Trash dip and a fruit and veggie platter.

For dessert I brought my new fave, Sugar Cookie Bars

Vicki pinned this cute idea to use cut citrus fruit in a clear vase with her favorite flowers as the centerpiece…

Here’s how it all goes down:

Choose one or two of your favorite things {we kept it at $5 or less} and buy how ever many the hostess requests. Some ladies brought 3 different items which is fine, too! {I brought three of the same thing}

Wrap them up.

At the beginning of the party, write your name on a little scrap of paper 3 times {or the same number of times as the goodies you brought} fold them up and place them into a bowl or basket.

When you’re ready to exchange, pick out the same number of names that you put in, making sure not to pick your own name or any duplicates.

Sit down and go around presenting your treats to the names you’ve picked.

Have everyone open them and talk about why it’s your fave, where you can buy it, etc.

By the end of the night you should go home with a few goods and ideas of other stuff you want to buy yourself!

Here are a few of my favorite things…

 {a big sugar cookie bar slab, sweet notecards from Michaels, Seventh Generation Lavender Floral & Mint dish soap and a bonus sampling of some Emergen-C and a little iced tea packet}

Each mama got one of the cute notecard packs, just wanted to show you the different ones ~ aren’t they adorable? Again, Michaels for $1.50!

I made some little goodie bags for my loot with some plain gift bags that I doctored up with little felt flowers, a tag and some washi tape…

{here is a tutorial for making the felt roses}

It was so fun to sit around and see what everyone brought. I came home with some B&BW Country Chic body spray, See’s Candies Scotch Kisses, Dove Dark Chocolate and Ghirardelli Mint Squares!

{The See’s Scotch Kisses? To-die-for. How have I never had those ’til now?}

Love it all, but will have to do an extra 100 miles on the elliptical to make up for all that chocolate. And at least I have my body spray for after my workouts….another scent I haven’t tried ~ Country Chic {key fragrance notes: sparkling lemon, bright wildflowers, and spring wood}!

A couple other fave things that went around on Saturday night…Red Velvet candle from Target and the ever favorite Starbucks gift card.

{you need this!}

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So, you need to host a MFT party! A Fall or Christmas inspired theme would be so fun…yes or yes?

Do it.

Thanks again for hosting, Vicki.

Happy Monday!