Review: AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water

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A recent article in The Atlantic pointed to the effects carbonated water has on tooth decay. As people started substituting sparkling water for soda, studies were being conducted on dental effects and it all boils down to pH.

Acidity is measured on a pH scale. The lower the number, the more acidic the substance, and the more detrimental to dental health. Pure water has a pH level of 7. Bottled water, both still and carbonated, can have a pH level of 5-7, while sodas can have a pH level as low as 2.

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AQUA Carpatica recently sent me some products to sample. Both sparkling water and still water. I have to say, I love sparkling water, and this water didn’t disappoint. It has a very smooth consistency. Not overly carbonated, but still just as refreshing! And it appears to be healthier for your teeth than most other carbonated waters!

For those who love sparkling water but are concerned about the recent news, consult your pH scale! AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water has a nearly neutral pH of 6.5 – the closest pH level to pure water compared to other brands on the market (for comparison, Poland Spring Sparkling has pH of 4.6, Perrier 5.8, and San Pellegrino 5.6 according to recent lab tests with NSF International).

AQUA Carpatica’s Naturally Sparkling Water also contains a very high mineral content, which according to dentists, can actually offset some of the potential damage caused by consuming beverages with a low pH. AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water contains 280.00mg/L of Calcium, 24% of an adult’s daily needs. So while there is still some natural CO2 in AQUA Carpatica, the nearly neutral pH level and the mineral content can offset the acidity, making AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water the ideal choice for a sparkling refreshment.

This brand has recently been launched in select stores and will be available in national stores in the coming months.  I highly recommend grabbing a few bottles and trying them for yourself…refreshing!

 

Turning Back Time

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So back in August I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Young Living Convention in Dallas.  What an amazing experience!  I learned so much more about this company, which I already loved, but now love even more!  Gary and Mary Young are two of the most sincere and passionate people I have ever had the privilege of hearing speak.  Seriously, Gary’s love of these oils is HUGE!  They described building their farms, coming up with blends, searching the world over for the perfect places to grow the plants needed for these gems.  Gary cried talking about the struggles and triumphs while building the Northern Lights Farm so they could distill the most amazing oil I have ever experienced, the Northern Lights Black Spruce.  What a powerful oil.  I will definitely be blogging about the properties of that one soon.

 

Face Blend

Today’s post is about a blend based on Mary’s miracle serum for our faces.  Gary described how she uses these oils every single day and seeing her in person, I can tell you that she doesn’t look even close to her actual age.  This woman has the most gorgeous skin I have ever seen.  The face serum I made, thanks to the recipe from my friend Bethany, utilizes some of these oils.  I am hoping to turn back time, or at least make it stand still for awhile!   The testimonies from fellow oil enthusiasts regarding this “blend” are well worth trying, and fortunately I had all the oils to do this.   Plus I could put to use an empty Lavender 15ml bottle!  Reduce, reuse, recycle!

 

Royal Hawaiian Sandlewood

The first oil in this blend is Royal Hawaiian Sandlewood.   It is from the botanical family, Santalaceae – or Sandlewood,  and is steam distilled from heartwood from Hawaii.  The S. paniculatum tree is native to and found only on the island of Hawaii, where Young Living has a partner farm that practices sustainable reforestation farming management principles.  Hawaiian Sandlewood has been historically used to aide in skin issues, support reproductive health, may support the cardiovascular system, among many other things.  The body systems associated with this oil are emotional balance, muscles and bones, nervous system and skin. Aromatically it can be helpful in calming, harmonizing and balancing of emotions.  It may also enhance meditation and was used as an incense for this purpose in religious rituals.  This specific sandlewood has many similar properties to most other sandlewoods.  The ORAC value of sandlewood is 160 µTE/100g.  ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It tells you the antioxidant capacity of a food item. This was developed by the USDA researchers. For instance: Blueberries = 2,400; Clove = 1,078,700. Wow! The number for clove is NOT a typo!  Good stuff!

 

Myrrh

The next oil is Myrrh.  It is from the botanical family Burseraceae (resinous trees and shrubs), the genus species being Commiphora myrrh.    It is steam distilled from gum, or resin, from Somalia.  Before the biblical stories of Myrrh, well over 2,000 years before these accounts actually, it was one of the most desired and most expensive items in the world.  This resin goes all the way back to Greek mythology from the goddess Myrrha who was forced into a relationship with her father, Cinyras.  He avenged this by turning her into a tree and when it sprouted  its blooms, Adonis was born.  The resinous drops that come from cuts in the tree bark were said to be Myrrha’s tears.    Myrrh is very spiritual oil and has been used in religious ceremonies and rituals for over 5000 years!   Myrrh releases fears, difficult experiences as it relates to us or the world.   It asks us to be more accepting, trusting and non-judgmental of ourselves.  The benefits of myrrh include skin care.  Since the Egyptians it has been used to maintain healthy skin and sooth chapped or cracked skin.  Contains a high content of sesquiterpenes, a class of compounds that have a direct effect on the pituitary, hypothalamus, and amygdala, the seat of our emotions. It is purifying, restorative, revitalizing, and uplifting.  A powerful antioxidant with an ORAC value of 379,800 µTE/100g!

 

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Next we have Lavender.  That beautiful oil.  Lavender is one of the most versatile oils in nature. The fragrance is very relaxing and calming to the body and mind.  It is from the botanical family Labiatae, which is actually a mint believe it or not.  The genus species used by Young Living is Lavandula angustifolia.  It is steam distilled from the flowers.   While Lavender has been used for centuries, especially during the medieval times, it was the French scientist René Gattefossé was among the first to re-discover lavender in the early 1900’s.  Since that time is has been widely used for it’s calming properties, and is believed to support healthy skin.  The ORAC value is 360 µTE/100g.

 

Frankincense

Finally we have Frankincense.  Oh what an oil!   The botanical family is Burseraceae, resinous trees and shrubs.  The genus species is Boswellia carterii.  It is steam distilled from the gum/resin of the Frankincense tree in Somalia, Oman and Yemen.  It is considered a holy oil in the Middle East and used as an ingredient in incense for religious ceremonies.  In ancient history it was said to improve communication with the gods.  The uses and benefits of Frankincense date way back to the Egyptians and Sumerians.  This ancient essential oil has been used for spiritual connection and to support a healthy immune system.  It is also a valuable ingredient in skin care products for healthy looking skin.  Frankincense contains 8% sesquiterpenes and is 78% monoterpenes.  Monoterpenes are known to be calming.  The ORAC value is 630 µTE/100g.  Seriously Google Frankincense…..you will be amazed!

 

Face Serum

The recipe I used is as follows:

*An empty 15ml Lavender bottle (about a half an ounce – 1 ounce equals 29.57353 ML)

*10 drops of each oil

*Fill the rest of the bottle with 4 drops Vitamin E and the rest with Grapeseed Oil, you can alo use jojoba oil.

I have been using this serum for a few weeks now and have noticed a huge difference.  People tell me I have a glow!  At 50, to be told I didn’t look close to my age is a huge compliment.  Plus I know I am putting good things on my skin without a bunch of nasty chemicals! I count this a success!  Here’s to turning back time, or at least helping it stand still!

Spring Is In The Air

And that means the Spring veggie beds need tending to!  Yesterday I was able to get them fertilized with organic fertilizer and coffee grounds, and even got some things in the ground that will be able to withstand one more frost, should the weather choose to grow cold again.  This past week we’ve been in the mid 70’s and the garden is starting to show some signs of life once again. 

I would love to get another couple raised beds in place this weekend, so will be raiding the lumber yard and bribing Jason with Uncle Billy’s beer to get a truck load of dirt.  Hopefully he won’t balk at that idea! 

I picked up 4 fruit trees to plant as well.  2 varieties of apple (Mollie’s Delicious and Granny Smith), and 2 varieties of pears (Shinko and La Conte).  It will take several years to see fruit, but that’s okay!  I missed out on betting bare root plums and peaches however.  Next year.  I also want to do blackberries along the back fence.  Slowly but surely we will see our dreams come true here.  The girls are already dreaming of the day when they can go out in the back and pick their own apples for a snack or pie!

Also on the agenda for this weekend, brewing!  We have started to do home brew and it’s in full swing here.  Tomorrow the first batch will be bottled, a black IPA.  We will do 2 batches next – a pale ale and a toasted coconut porter…yum!!  The IPA will not be ready for another 4 weeks, but the pale will be ready in 2 weeks as we are going to keg that one.   We’ll bottle the coconut porter as well, and another pale will be brewed in a couple weeks.  The idea is to have a couple kegs of home brew ready at all times, and the craftier brews will be in bottles.  I am actually getting ready to order rhyzomes for hops, so eventually we’ll have our own hops going into the recipes.  We got all the equipment at Austin Home Brew Supply, so are keeping it as local as possible until we can actually produce some of our own ingredients from the homestead.  Exciting?  Why yes!!

With the brewing in full swing, Jason is motivated to start work on the “Beer Garden”.  Another huge project, but we have alot of help and support for sure!  Basically we will be adding a covered porch/outdoor kitchen onto the back of our studio with counters and cabinets, a sitting bar and table.  That will be where the brewing magic will eventually happen.  A cob oven will be built in that area as well.  Long term project for sure!  But if you don’t dream big, you might as well just not dream at all. 

So Spring is bring alot of motivation and we are really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year with it all. 

Let the fun begin!  Peace!

When Did She Grow So Big?

 My first daughter is quickly turning into a young lady.  She just celebrated birthday 7…7 years already!!  I will post pictures from that day and her joint party with her cousin, Chai (who is visting all the way from Australia…we are so happy they are here!) soon.  But I just received this photo from this year’s soccer pics…who is that girl?!  When did my little baby turn into a real kid and how do I slow this down? 

Life is speeding by way too fast.  I wish I could find someway to slow down time.  I blink and they are bigger…I’m trying to savor every moment.  These girls are all light and love to us…I have to say I do laugh with them everyday and feel so amazingly grateful to have this time, no matter how fast it goes.

Hope your day is slow and easy.  Peace!

Just Breath

Heather over at Shivaya Naturals had a great post today that included this picture:

  (Photo courtesy of Sarah of Bella Luna Toys)
 

We have been doing alot of mixing things up around here.  Our natural rhythms were being pushed aside to make room for the business of life.  We were not forgetting what is important, but just going too fast to really stop and breath in the moments with our kids.  So we are taking some steps backwards and starting anew. 

We have very basic needs for our life as a family, and to be happy is at the top of the list.  Just like most families these days, we feel the crunch of the economy.  We spent last year with J out of a job and literally making just enough to keep the house and lights on (most of the time it was literally down to the last day and last penny).  It was extremely hard, extremely scary, and extremely humbling.  During these darker days, some light did creep in though.  We found out just what we are all made of and we found we are strong.  We became more creative in our endeavors to bring joy into our home.  I found my green thumb in the garden and my knitting hands became calloused with the hours spent learning new techniques.  The girls found that more didn’t necessarily make them happy and that the things they received made from mama and daddy’s hands were better than any store bought gift.  We learned to simplify and to really be happy with what we have.  This isn’t to say we were hoping J stayed out of work forever, not at all…but rather these were lessons we learned inside each of us, even when we didn’t realize we were learning them.  There were many dark days…depressing days to be honest…but now that J is working again we are realizing how easy it is to get away from the good parts of our time in the dark. We are by no means sleeping on 100 dollar bills, but at least we know we can pay our bills on time, and treat ourselves to dinner out once in awhile.  Still, having been so poor that we honestly didn’t know where the extra money we’d need was coming from each month (thank the gods for my childcare work here at home though….that job kept our lights on), it was easy to start feeling “rich” once a steady paycheck was flowing in.  We got cable again, splurged a little more on things and just got busier for some reason…

Well, we are taking a few steps back now and just breathing.  We are happy…I am so incredibly grateful to have the man I do and to have found a way to contribute to our income and still be home with our girls.  He has never pressured me to do anything other than be happy.  We support each other emotionally and completely.  We need to just slow down a little and start just being again.  Our children are really our world.  They are amazing kids, all of them.  They have taught us so much about what is truly important in life.  When we stop and just let them be, our world is so much richer. 

So with all that hot air now blown, this post is really boiling down to a very simple conclusion.  It’s time to just stop and breath, laugh, hug, play and love.  Thank you Heather for reminding us that we really are happier when we make that time to truly be with our children.  To listen to their cues and to admire their tenacity.  Heather has asked for other ideas on how to create a joyful existence with our kids, so I encourage you all to go read her post and comment.  I challenge you all to let go of the stresses of everyday life, the to do lists, schedules, worries and take a moment to breath deep and just smile.  Enjoy every moment that you can because life flies by and pretty soon, those babes are grown up and on their own.  You don’t get this time back…enjoy it while you have it. 

Thanks for listening to this long winded post.  Hope you all find your zen space, I’m rediscovering mine for sure!  Peace!

Catching Up…Or, The Many Sites of AmLo Farms

Yes, it’s been eons and I do apologize…but I have a good excuse – life!  Yes folks, the holidays are upon us and life is taking on a whole new meaning around the farm.  So many preparations and events.  The girls are giddy with holiday surprises and plans.  We got to go to our first company Holiday party with J’s work.  That was great fun!  He even won a Wii for the family which was just what our oldest farmgirl had been wanting….haha!  I’m not a huge fan of video games, but this one is actually alot of fun and promotes cooperation and togetherness – usually unheard of in video games.  We only have the Wii Sports and will most likely keep it to that for quite some time.  As a family we are bowling, playing tennis and golfing (this one elicites squeels of laughter whenever mommy’s turn comes up – no folks, I am not a golfer).  We had a great dinner and yummy desserts as well.  The company gives all the kids presents, face painting and horse-drawn carriage rides to see the lights of the town of New Braunfels.  We all had such a great time!

 

The day after the company party, we went into Gruene, Texas.  What a great little town!  We got there just as they were opening up their seasonal market days so the Heritage Riders were there re-enacting the jobs of the Pony Express.  They brought a proclamation from the Governor officially opening the markets days in Gruene.  There are quite a few artists in the area, so the open air market had so much to see.  It was a cold day, so hot cocoa was in order from the local coffee house.  We explored the market and then ate sandwiches at the Gristmill.  It is an old cotton mill turned into restaurant and it was good!  There are probably at least 10 dining rooms, not to mention all the outside patios.  We sat near a roaring fire in one of the several fireplaces in the building and treated ourselves.  Not really having money to spend on things like this, it is extra special when we can.

 
 
 
 
 
  

After Gruene we came back to our town and saw Santa at the library.  Xi was quite shy, but Lola explained how we saw a Santa in Gruene who had a cowboy hat on and how he must be an imposter.  Our library Santa gently explained that he has many helpers and no one is trying to fool the kids on purpose..haha!  That made both of them much happier.

We returned home to garden sadness though.  The night before had been our first hard freeze and we covered all that we felt needed it.  The rest were on their own and were just going to have to go through the seasonal changes.  My father in law explained to me to just leave all the plants looking like they do and not cut anything except the annuals.  From what I’ve learned, the frozen bits on the plants act like insulation for the rest of the plant and keeps the inside protected until Spring.  Right after the last frost of the year is when we will prune everything and hopefully Spring will see an explosion of most of it returning.  We need to mulch, mulch, mulch, which we are in the middle of doing.  Today is warm, above 70!  Wierd weather.  Some things made it through just fine of course, so there still is quite a bit of green going on.

 
Ranunculus are coming up and hopefully growing strong.
 
 
 
 
Larkspur sprouts
 
Brocolli going strong as well!

The days are spent preparing for my favorite time of year.  I love the Winter festivals so much.  The girls put their slippers out for St. Nick on the 5th and woke up to fresh oranges, new Nutcrackers and bendy doll winter sprites.  They were thrilled.

We make all our gifts not only because of financial necessity, but mainly because I do believe these are the best gifts to give.  I love creating things for family and friends, putting love into each stitch or stroke of the paintbrush.  This year the girls are getting their annual sweaters as well as some homemade toys and dolls.  One neighbor gave me a scroll saw and another gave me some really nice wood scraps, so I am going to try my hand at toy making today..yay!   I love the wooden figures from Germany, but cannot afford them.  This way I can make the girls and William some heirloom toys that they can pass down.   We are all decorated, ready to bake, continuing our projects and preparations for Christmas. We are all having fun doing it all too!

 
 
Instead of a nature table, we have a nature wall.
 
This little painting hung in J’s grandparents house and was painted by one of his great aunts or uncles.
Shh..it’s a surprise.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 What are you doing to prepare?  Peace to everyone!!!  XOXO

Busy Times

It’s been a whirlwind 2 weeks to say the least. With the party last week and then commitments this week, I don’t know if I’ve even had time to breath! Hah! The girls are doing great though and have been enjoying alot of fun with cousins (my sister was in town), friends and summertime fun. They got to go horseback riding on Weds. and I swear Xiola is obsessed now. She was such a natural on the horse too, no fear at all! My friend said she can come out anytime and ride. T will take care of her and teach her all the proper ways to do it. Lola really loved it too but was more interested in exploring the property with her friend..hah. Xi just didn’t want to leave the horse.

After the morning of riding, I took the girls and their other friend to the Hoppin’ House, which is an indoor jumpy house playground. They jumped for over 2 hours and were exhausted by the time it was all said and done. Both crashed right after dinner and didn’t move until the next morning. It was hard to capture pictures of them there as they were running all over. Lola immediately found friends of course and was buried so deep in the jumpy houses that all I got were a few of her back..haha!

My nephew has been hanging out with us this weekend. He’s 15 and so very sweet. He just moved here to live with my brother full time. His mom is in New Orleans. We are so excited to have him close again. He’s been helping J do maintenance on the skate ramp and will help him resurface it as well. He’s also great with the girls and helps me around here. I might just keep him..shhh! And J decided to cut his hair! It was past his shoulder blades when wet, now it’s up to his neck. He looks good!

The chickens decided it was time to thin the pumpkins…you can insert a growl from me here. I had to clean up the bed and then work on the stronger ones that are still hanging on. I am battling borers and am hoping they don’t win. I was able to get alot of the stems covered with good dirt and then fertilized with Rocket Fuel. The cantaloupe vine is doing well as are the pepper plants, nothing is setting though as the temps are just too high. I’m trying to keep everything alive until the Fall in hopes that they start pumping out fruit..so we’ll see. My tomatoes are doing just okay. The plants themselves are healthy and I’ve been pruning for Fall. My bush tomato is pumping out fruit but it’s so hot that it’s taking forever to ripen. We did manage to get 3 good size tomatoes that we just finished eating today however..yum! Jalapenos are growing beautifully, but no flowers. The plants are very pretty however.

I planted more Zinnia, Cosmos and Mexican Sunflowers from seed in the veggie bed yesterday. That bed will turn over into a new flower bed and then the veggies will be grown in the raised beds and the Back 40. I did manage to get the second raised bed built by myself. Let’s just say I’m not a carpenter and have never built anything from scratch alone, so it’s not the prettiest bed but will work just fine. I hesitate to put pictures up just yet though. Hah!

The front yard is looking great and so far the drip is working like a charm. We are going to tweak a couple things but nothing major. Everything is looking happy so far, better than when I was hand watering and I know we are using alot less water.

So that’s a bit of the news. This afternoon we are going to my brother’s and swimming with the kids. Making it an early night. I have one more week off from my child care work and so am going to find things for the kids to do this week. Then starting on the 10th it’s back with my extra kids and then the 24th its full time again. The summer is actually going by fast and I’m really looking forward to cooler Fall weather.

Hope you all are well! I want to send a huge hug to my sister Carol at Happy High Heels. Just letting her know I’m thinking of her today!

Peace!

Xi going down a HUGE slide at the Hoppin’ House. This one was her favorite. Notice her scared face, she loves to be scared. Hah!:


After Xi’s ride was over she didn’t want to get off the horse, so she stayed on her while the horse refreshed himself with food and water:


Xi and her new-found love. She eventually wanted the reins and actually rode with T just walking alongside and Xi controlling the horse:




Climbing up for the big ride alone:


At first she wanted T riding with her:


Lola and T’s daughter, R riding together:


Xi up on the horse for the first time:


Lola having fun:



Waiting her turn:



What do you do with all the leftover cups from a party? Make a tower of course! The girls spent one afternoon for hours just playing with these cups…makes you think about all the money that can be saved from buying toys..hah!:


My girls being happy:


And finally, J with his new shorter hair…he isn’t one for pictures so I don’t have any good ones of his face and him smiling..gotta love the man though!:

The Summer Garden and a Day Out With the Girls

So I thought I’d share what the front garden is looking like right now. I’ve been keeping things watered, but was concerned about wasting so much water from run-off, even without sprinkler use. My father-in-law has been guiding me on drip irrigation and how to set it up, and yesterday brought me 3 big bags full of supplies. The only thing I need is the starter kit with the main 1/2″ poly tubing and we’ll be set. Yay! That will be a project for the weekend and I know the garden will love it. Until then, it’s watering by hand but that’s okay if it keeps looking alright. I’ve lost a couple plants in this heat, 2 lavenders which I am kind of bummed about actually. I have no idea why they up and died…too much water, too much sun, I don’t know. But I’ll try again. The white rocket isn’t looking too happy either and I may be pulling that soon. The zinnia seeds are all sprouting away though and I think I’ll end up with a decent zinnia bed finally. It’s small, but I’ll expand it after the tomatoes are for sure done and I can pull the one plant that is in the middle of all those zinnias. The shade garden is looking good too and I’m hoping will fill in nicely with the coleus, periwinkles and yarrow in there. And I saw my first Swallowtail in the yard yesterday! There are caterpillars on the proper host plants out there too, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more.




Friday we took a day off and went into town. We decided to eat lunch at Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que. So much fun! They have great food, great beer and super laid back atmosphere. The girls took their scooter and bike so were able to play on the patio until their food came. The trike that Xi is riding has a story behind it, which I’ll share in a different post, however this was the first time it had been put to the test and we think it passed with flying colors.






After lunch we made a snap decision to go over to the Alamo Drafthouse and see Transformers 2. Yes, my girls love action flicks and the Transformers is one of their utmost favorites. And to get to see it at the Alamo with ice cream and treats, too much fun! The Alamo is such a cool theater, they have tables in front of the each row of seats and a full menu. You can literally have a gourmet meal, drinks and dessert all while watching the movie. It really is alot of fun!

After a long day of sun, fun and good food we headed home and milked Kubra for the first time. Much easier than June (our old goat), but I still need help so tonight I am going to get J to help me as her utters are full and I don’t want the poor dear to dry up or feel bad. I am sure that once she gets used to it she’ll be fine, I just need him to hold her steady and feed her flax seed chips while I milk. The excitement just continues around here.

Hope you all are fine, staying cool and not as bummed as I am about the storm completely missing us. Rain is much needed as we all know!

Peace!

So Long Since Posting

We had illness run through our household. The girls recovered very quickly, I however did not. I was sick for more than 2 weeks and just exhausted. It was more effort than I had energy for to even post anything. The garden started showing my neglect…the house..the laundry…you get the picture. It was enough for me to get up and just be, anything else pretty much brought back the chills, aches and pains, excruciating exhaustion, and tummy aches. My darling friend and doctor helped me lick it though and today I am functioning at about 85%…which is huge for me considering how I was feeling!

So my apologies for no posts or pictures. They are on their way however! We did major work in the gardens this weekend, and I am slowly making a dent in the laundry as well. We are excited in the evenings to talk about plan we have for the house and studio. The girls are doing fabulous, and life seems to be continuing. Baby goats are growing fast and will soon be looking for new homes. Mama goat is going to be milked starting this weekend, and the chickens are laying in abundance. And even though I neglected the poor things, my few veggies I did manage to get going are starting to show signs of producing…yay! This year, due to weather, my illness and time constraints, we are focusing on tomatoes (9 plants in the ground and 8 more to go in as well), peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. Our herbs are doing wonderfully with the oregano’s and thyme’s turning into huge bushes now. My front beds are lovely, flowering still and we are finally seeing some shape to our landscaping, with more ideas for gates, walls and lighting flying through our brains. So much fun to plan.

I hope everyone else is doing good! Stay healthy, stay cool in the summer heat if it’s hitting you now like it’s hitting us (thank the gods for the new a/c unit!), and as always, Peace!