Friendsgiving and Firefighters

This the first year we’ve done an actual “Friendsgiving.” The event for other people seems to be a large gathering and a huge dinner. That was mostly true for us, too, except we decided just to have a small thing with our friends from upstairs with the idea of just being low key and hanging out.

E and I decided we’d spend the day cooking for the husbands, so we went shopping this morning and managed to get everything. A few things were found scavenger hunt style (puff pastry and pumpkin spice were hiding). We were surprised that our haul was kind of small and inexpensive compared to what we thought we were going to spend, but we rolled with it.

Things started out well. We made a pumpkin pie cheesecake thing that didn’t look too pretty and almost suffered from a missing ingredient, but that was alright. We figured it would still taste good (spoiler: it did).

Pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin pie!

We also made green bean casserole in the crockpot, a bacon and corn casserole, and garlic mashed potatoes as sides, and sausage and cheese crescents for an appetizer. Everything was going pretty good, right? Then…things got interesting.

First of all, I’m going to disclaimer this by saying neither E nor myself are really adventurous cooks, but we wanted to try something new. Also, recipes are to be followed, right? Right! So we decided to make Beef Wellington, because she found a seemingly easy recipe and it seemed like something cool and different.

Apparently, sometimes even following the directions leads to crazy things happening. Like when you try to sear meat, and you get smoke. A lot of it. Smoke that starts out as just a little cloud and then suddenly fills the apartment. And sometimes the windows in the apartment won’t open to ventilate the place, so you have to open the door to the hallway, and then the smoke goes into the hallway.

And every freakin’ alarm in the apartment building goes off.


Yep. That happened. The fact that we smoked out the first floor was bad enough. The fact that people were standing in the lobby wondering what the heck was going on, also not great.

And then we heard the sirens. Yes, our friendsgiving dinner brought all the firemen to the yard, and they were like “Hey. Where’s the fire?” Luckily, there was no actual fire, but they had to air the building out and turn off the fire alarms. I may have cried and laughed at the same time because the situation was kind of hilariously awful. My favorite part was when the fireman asked for the name of the person on the lease. My next favorite part (really) was when they said I wouldn’t be fined and that “these things happen.”

Shout out to the Manhattan Fire Department for being quick to respond and super nice about the whole thing.

I’m going to assume our awesome landlords aren’t going to fine us for this, as it really was an accident and there was no damage to anything (that I’m aware of). E and I did learn that neither of us are likely to do anything experimental in the kitchen anytime soon. Even after all that, though, the Beef Wellington was delicious, and dinner overall was pretty darn good…even the weird looking pumpkin pie.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful around our place. We ate, visited, and watched a few hours of Epic Rap Battles of History. Overall, it was a good day, and at least we know our first Friendsgiving will be memorable. Who knows? Maybe next time we’ll invite more people and make it a real bonfire!

Just kidding. I’m going to avoid that if at all possible.


Rotisserie Chicken and Parmesan Bake

Rotisserie chicken is one of the tastiest things ever, and I’d heard that it’s great for recipes. I decided to see if it lived up to the hype this past week. During our regular shopping trip, we stopped at Dillon’s and picked up a chicken for about five dollars, and I was the lucky one who pulled as much as I could off the bone. I’m okay with it…it beats touching raw chicken.

The rotisserie chicken didn’t yield as much meat as I thought it would, but it was still enough for about two meals. We were going to stretch it into three, but I think two meals in a row is going to be about right for us.

One of the recipes is something I named a Chicken Parmesan Bake, though I’m not sure if that’s accurate. I tweaked the Sour Cream Noodle Bake to add more pasta sauce, and I used the chicken instead of ground beef (in the future, I’m going to try this with italian sausage and ground pork).

For your recipe pleasure, here are the deets on this dish (sorry for the blurry bowl shot, as I failed at taking a finished product pic).

Hot, delicious, mess!
Hot, delicious, mess!

Chicken Parmesan Bake with Rotisserie Chicken

* Shredded Rotisserie chicken (2 cups? I just eyeballed it)
* Pasta sauce (1 jar)
* ½ teaspoon salt
* fresh ground black pepper
* 16 ounce package penne pasta
* ½ cup sour cream
* 1¼ cup small curd cottage cheese
* Parmesan cheese
* ¼ teaspoon onion powder
* garlic powder (eyeball it)
* 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Simmer chicken and pasta sauce in skillet, ½ teaspoon salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper (if using onion powder and garlic powder add it now) and parmesan cheese. Add to noodles and stir.
5. To assemble, add a third of the noodles to a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Top with a third of the sauce mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated mozzarella. Repeat with noodle, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.


This was so good! The only change (besides trying different meat) I’ll make in the future is to add some minced garlic. Fresh garlic would be good too. I love lasagna, and this was an easy way to satisfy that craving.


Trying out the Graze Box

This seems like a fitting topic for today because I’ve been hit with a case of hardy core munchies. Not sure if it’s the increased activity the past couple days, the weather, or a mix of other factors that’s making me want to chow down, but I’m in serious “eat all the things” mode.

I’m usually able to keep my snacking in check, though it’s easier when I have portion-controlled things. Enter the Graze Box. My friend sent me a code for this a few weeks ago, and I decided to give it a try.

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The box comes with four different snack packs pre-selected by Graze for you to try. You then give the snack a rating on the website. If you like it, they’ll send it to you occasionally. If you love it, they’ll send it more often. If you hate it, you can select trash and they’ll take it off the list of things to send.

You can browse the snack catalog and mark things you want to try. You can also choose to receive lower calorie options if you’d like, though the regular options are in the recommended calorie range for a small snack.

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Graze allows you to pick how often you want a box sent to you (I chose to receive a box every two weeks), and each box is $6, though with the shared code I’m going to give you, you can get your first box and your fifth box for free.

Things I liked: Trying new snacks is awesome. I forget there are other kinds of healthy things out there besides what I’m used to. The portion control is good, and the snacks from my first box were tasty and satisfying.

Things I’m not sure about: Though I like the portion sizes, four snacks isn’t going to last long, so I have to exert some self control if I want to make the box last more than a day. Since it’s a subscription service, they automatically draw from your bank account.  I don’t mind this in itself, but unless I get a reminder email, I’m likely to forget to record the debit. Also, part of me thinks six dollars is okay for something fun delivered right to me, but I’m not entirely sure. I’m going to give it until my fifth box to decide. Luckily, you can cancel at any time.

If you want to try it out, just go to the Graze website and sign up. You can use the code RTTK3NY1B to get your first and fifth boxes free. I get mine sent to my work, but you can have it sent to your house as well. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Question: Do you subscribe to any delivery services like this one?
Bonus question: What’s your favorite go-to snack?

*Like most of the things I talk about here, Graze didn’t put me up to this. I just wanted to share this with my readers.


Recipe: Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Any time I actually make dinner, it’s a pretty big event. Being in the kitchen makes me uncomfortable. I don’t multi-task around hot items well, and I don’t have the flair for seasoning and eyeballing amounts like Jon does. Therefore, he does pretty much all the cooking (even though I’m in charge of finding new recipes).

I pinned this recipe to my meal board awhile back (the original one from the Pioneer Woman can be found here). It looked easy enough, so I gave it a shot with a couple minor changes. The information below includes my changes, so refer to the links for the full, original recipe.

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Ingredients (I was able to pick up everything at Aldi, which is the cheapest grocery store in our area)

  • roll of ground turkey
  • 2 8 oz cans Tomato Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg Noodles (I cooked a whole 16 oz bag. It made alot. Half the bag would have been fine)
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1-1/4 cup Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Brown ground turkey in a large skillet. Drain fat (my turkey was lean, so I skipped this step), then add tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add pepper. Add to noodles and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on some cheese. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

My food pics never look as pretty as the originals, but the food tasted good anyway!
My food pics never look as pretty as the originals, but the food tasted good anyway!

The original recipe says to pair with some bread, but I figured the noodles would be starchy enough. Though they are egg noodles. Still a starch, right? I don’t know. The meal was really filling without the bread.

Next time I’ll even out the noodle to sauce ratio by using only half a bag of noodles as instructed. Even with that little oversight, this turned out really well. I’m proud! Also, I managed to keep all kitchen anxiety at bay. I took my time, managed to do a few things at once, and even (sort of) cleaned up as I went.

My next mission? Tuna noodle casserole.


Hanging at Tulip Fest 2014

This year was my first year going to the Wamego Tulip Festival. I haven’t gone in the past probably due to a combination of not being around and not being able to walk all over the place, neither of which was an issue this year. I met up with a couple of friends and we joined the festivities.


There were bouncy houses for days, and kids could get an all day pass to all the bounce they wanted for eight dollars. I’m ready for adult bouncy houses to be a thing. There were also booths of hand crafted items and homemade food.  I picked up a handmade necklace and earring set made from ammunition shells.


The food court offered a few different things: asian noodles, BBQ, and italian sausage sandwiches. The turkey legs looked tempting, but…



…I went with the italian sausage sammy. It was super spicy.  FB pointed out the face in my bun by asking me to tag it as a friend. Bun face and I could have been friends, I guess. But I ate him.


Baby animals are the cutest. Besides these lambies, we saw baby chickens and ducks, a calf, and a goat. I’m not sure if the goat was a baby, but he was still adorable.


We found this one lonely little tulip. A few minutes later, we found a few more, but the tulips didn’t seem to be plentiful this year. Then again, we may have just missed seeing them.

2014-04-12 13.33.15On the way to the beer garden and winery, I gave in to the call of the cherry limeade. It was delicious. If I’m lucky, they’ll have these at the Kansas Sampler Festival in a couple weeks.

Other than the expected sore feet, walking was easy peasy. Unfortunately, my body malfunctioned in other ways, and I ended up having to come home after just a few hours. I got a bit of a sunburn, despite using sunscreen, but it was worth it. It was a fun day with good friends, and I’m glad I went.

It’s going on tomorrow, too, so if you’re in the area, I definitely recommend checking it out.





Adventures in Topeka

The weather was beautiful today, and I’m happy that we got to go out and take advantage of it. Jon hurt his back yesterday and it still wasn’t feeling great this morning, so we were going to hold off on any adventures until tomorrow. Unfortunately, the forecasted temperature for tomorrow is about forty degrees colder than today. Just getting to the car to get to MHK is going to be a challenge.

After taking some ibuprofen, Jon decided he was up to trying to get out and about, even with a sore back. After stopping for a quick breakfast, we rolled along to Topeka.

Our first couple destinations were shopping stops for clothes, first for Jon and then for me. I was in need of a new pair of pants, and I managed to find a pair at Lane Bryant that were the right size and the right length. I probably could have ordered another pair, but I figure one is good for now. I also picked up some frilly, girly items because apparently, I have a girly side sometimes.

We thought about seeing a movie at the second run theater, but there was nothing we wanted to wait around for, so we headed to the zoo. Our original plan was to walk both the zoo and Gage Park, but we ended up just getting through the zoo before Jon’s back needed a rest and some more ibuprofen. The animals were pretty lazy today, but the walk was nice. The highlight was probably the baby orangutan. He was so cute, though his mama didn’t seem too thrilled to be on display.

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Our original plan for lunch was to go to Jersey Mike’s for a sub, but when we got to the one downtown, we found that it was closed. After walking down the street, we found a restaurant and pub that was open…and we were the first patrons of the day.

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Jon’s lunch: “Bangers and Mashed”
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Brisket sandwich and potato soup

Jon’s food was delicious and my soup was really good. I took a chance with the brisket, since I know not everyone makes brisket perfectly. I was a little disappointed. The flavor was good, but the meat was tough. I really need to remember to stick to burgers when I go to a pub. Still, for a serendipitous find, it was a pretty okay meal.

For dessert, we walked over to Hazel Hill chocolates and picked up a few small treats. Not sure if we can do that more than once very so often. It was pricey. Then we made a quick stop at Walgreens and headed back home.

Our adventures didn’t end there, though. We came home and chilled for a bit. I still have some mystery caches that need solving, so I watched a couple Christmas movies while Jon took a nap. We were going to walk to Subway for dinner, but by the time we got around to it, it was dark and I was worried about hidden ice, so we drove instead. Even though we’d walked the zoo, I hadn’t met my step goal for the day, so I talked Jon into walking a lap with me at the rec center. It wasn’t overly cold, but by the end of the walk, parts of the parking lot had started getting slippery again, so we had to proceed with caution.

The walk and the drive home gave us the chance to finally get some pictures of the pretty Christmas lights that Wamego put up for the holidays. Though I didn’t celebrate Christmas in a huge way this year, I love the park decorations the city rolls out for the season.

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The extra walk helped me hit my step goal, and I got to enjoy a few more hours of the outdoors before tomorrow’s cold hits again.

All in all, it was a good day. I still didn’t get my whole to-do list done, but I’m okay with that. Tomorrow will be organizing and getting ready for the coming week and the new year. Grocery shopping, laundry, and gym are all on the horizon for tomorrow.

Happy Saturday!


Two Days of Christmas

I hope everyone had a great Christmas Day. Mine was really mellow, as planned. To be honest, my Day After Christmas was more eventful. Either way, it was nice having two days off to just relax and do what we wanted to do without thinking about work (yeah, I know that’s what weekends are for, but an extra weekend never hurts).

After staying up until about 2am on Christmas Eve, I had a hard time waking up on Christmas morning. I finally got up and showered, and after packing up our things, we rolled on out. Our first mission was to find some breakfast. IHOP was open, but they were packed, so we went to Denny’s instead. Our breakfast experience started a little shaky. Our greeter followed her less-than- sincere “Merry Christmas” by telling us that she wasn’t happy because she had to work. but not to tell her boss. While I’m assuming she was trying to be funny…and I understand not wanting to work on Christmas Day…that’s not great customer service.

Our waitress was better and the food was pretty good. As a Christmas gift, we tipped the waitress fifty percent. Our service on the way out was much better, as the guy who rang us up was very friendly and a lot more sincere in his well wishes.

We had a little bit of time to kill, so we tried to find a geocache on campus, but the snow made it impossible. We finally ended up going to the movies, where I made some family calls before we went inside. The weather was nice, so I didn’t mind sitting in the car. Eventually we made it into the theater and saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I liked it, especially the parts with Smaug. That dragon is pretty awesome. I mean, sure, he’s the bad guy…but he’s classy about it. And he’s a dragon, so it’s to be expected, right?

After the movie, we made it to the gym. There were only a couple other people there, so I walked laps and did a zombie mission with the chases, which meant getting over my fear of running around other people. That part didn’t end up being so bad. Doing laps around a circular track was tedious though, even with the zombie mission. I’ve come to the conclusion…and this will surprise anyone who knew me when I was younger…that I much prefer to be outdoors.

The evening was spent finishing out my Christmas calls, watching some Cowboy Bebop (I’ve never seen it before but have heard good things), playing on the internet, and reading.

This morning I slept in, then started the day with some reading, a shower, and then some revision on my book. I also earned some Influenster badges and played Candy Crush. Once Jon got up and got dressed, we headed to town. We had to make a bank deposit, and then we went to Olive Garden for lunch. Our original plan had been to do the unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks, but the Tastes of Italy menu lured us in.

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These were like Italian tapas. We got an order of chicken meatballs and a dish that I can’t remember the name of, but was cheese filled bow ties with a parmesan sauce and bacon. They were both delicious, as was everything else. Also, our waiter was awesome! Very friendly and very attentive without being too invasive. To continue our Christmas trend, we tipped him well. We can’t afford to do that every time we go out, but it felt good to do it when it was deserved.

To help with that post-lunch full feeling, we walked over to Best Buy where we picked up a Chromecast as our Christmas present for this year.  We walked back to the car, then went first to the farm supply store to browse jeans, then to Goodwill to see if I could find any newish walking shoes. We were going to go to the movies, but opted instead to go to the library and then home. I’m currently on a Meg Cabot kick, specifically her Boy trilogy, and I needed to get the second  book.

Though we were going to go walk the track, we didn’t make it. When we got home, I was feeling sore and sick, so we just came in and chilled for the evening. Jon played with the Chromecast, and I read (and actually finished) the book I checked out. Since we were kind of tired of chicken nuggets and hadn’t gone to the grocery store, we ordered Gambino’s. The one in Wamego has never messed up my order…until tonight. They sent my pasta with white sauce instead of red sauce, and I hate white sauce in general, but I especially hate the Gambino’s white sauce. To me, it has no flavor and the richness of it nauseates me.

I can be a brat, especially when it comes to disappointing food experiences. Instead of having them bring me a correctly made dish, I just got bratty and sulked for two hours. They added a credit to our account for next time, but that did me no good tonight. Jon now has lunch for tomorrow though. I did finally break down and had Jon make me some chicken nuggets because I was getting sick from not having food, but I’m still a little bit sulky about it. I probably shouldn’t have blogged about it…now I’m just mad again.

Also, Netflix doesn’t seem to be working. Which I guess is okay. It’s nearing my bed time, and I can’t be up late tonight since I have to go back to work tomorrow. It’s Friday, which means I’m looking at another weekend, but it’s annoying to have to go in at all. Of course, if I wake up feeling worse than I do right now, I might not make it in anyway. I’m achy and a little stuffy. However, I just randomly get those symptoms once a week or so, and then I wake up feeling fine, and I’m sure this time will be no different.

On that note, I’m going to drag my tired and ornery butt to bed. Looking forward to this weekend and hoping the sun sticks around long enough to melt some snow so we can get out and enjoy some quality fresh air.


New Chapters and Great Friends

The day started about an hour earlier than it normally does because Jon had an early morning exam, which meant I was at work at 6:30 am. I didn’t think the extra time would make a difference, but I was tired today. I also felt like I was fending off some sickies.

Unlike yesterday, which seemed bent on breaking me down, today seemed to remind me that things are good because I have awesome people in my life. First of all, today marked Jon’s final day of being a college student. He took his final exam, passed with the grade he needed, and is officially a college graduate. I’m so proud of him! Though we’re both happy, now comes the part where we wait anxiously to see what the job market has in store for him. I’m apprehensive and scared, but I’m also really excited. I feel like there are more good things around the corner, new things and new adventures. I know…I’m sounding really cheesy. But I can definitely sense that metaphorical turning page.

I don’t feel like I show enough gratitude to my work team, but once again, they proved that they’re not only great co-workers, but that they’re great friends as well. Not only did they work the last half hour for me, but they also got Jon a graduation gift card to Longhorn’s. I’m going to miss them when I transition. But I plan on haunting their cubicles and IMs all the time (insert evil work laugh here).

We made it to Longhorn’s for a celebration dinner. The team also gave us a coupon for a free appetizer, so we tried their Oktoberfest pretzel sticks. Jon had the steak for dinner, and I had the chicken tenders and fries. The portion was huge, so we had to box some of it up to take home.

Gratuitous food porn pic
Gratuitous food porn pic

While we were there, we saw the Forshes, who’d decided to come out to dinner as well, and the owner of our local game store and his wife. Longhorn’s was a happenin’ place.

Once we got home, I decided to finish the book I was reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve really gotten into a book, and it felt good to not want a novel to end. I think I’ll be starting the second one in the series tonight. I also participated in one of my first mass Twitter parties, and I thought it was a lot of fun. I didn’t get any revision done, sadly, but I did upload some more books to read to my Kobo. Before the night ends, I have to gather up my white elephant gift for tomorrow’s gift exchange. I’m not sure how well received it’ll be, but I suppose that’s the fun of a white elephant gift exchange.

On that note, it’s getting late and I’m getting sleepy, so I think it’s time to call it a night. They’re calling for possible nasty weather in this area tonight. Not sure if it’ll hit us. The other stuff they’ve called for hasn’t. Still, better to be prepared either way. Glad tomorrow is Friday. Bad weather or not, I’m going to enjoy this coming weekend.



Holiday Party 2013 and Saturday Recovery

Last night was our work holiday party, and I’ve spent today recovering. It was a lot of fun. I let loose and decompressed after a stressful week, so I needed today to rest and recuperate.

When the work day ended, I took Jon to the game store. I’ve dragged him with me to parties in the past, but I let him out of it this year. I knew I’d want to dance and socialize, and I didn’t want him to be bored and awkward, so I flew solo for the evening. My first stop was to get ready at my friend and co-worker’s house. My outfit wasn’t overly dressy, but it was different from what I’d worn during the day, and I actually put on some light makeup.

We had a couple glasses of wine before heading to the Hilton Garden Inn for pre-party cocktails. We mingled and visited with people while we waited for them to open the doors to the party room. Everyone was given two free drink tickets, so I had another glass of wine. When they finally opened the doors, we grabbed a table with all the report coordinators a friend from the business office. They started the lines for dinner shortly after that, and our table was in the second group called.


Speeches and a company update from our president followed dinner, and those were followed by more drinking and some dancing. I don’t drink often, but I definitely enjoyed some wine and beer last night. It was made easy by the bottles of wine they put on our tables. I’m also not a smoker, but I used to be, and when I drink I still have a tendency to join my fellow smokers for a cigarette. Luckily, I don’t seem to develop an addiction, and it will likely be several months before I smoke again, but when taken in the context for a party, I love me a cigarette. I didn’t think it was that cold outside, and the view from the hotel was very festive.

Going to walk through these lights next weekend.
Going to walk through these lights next weekend.

True to my plan, I spent much of the night dancing, taking rest and water breaks as needed, but definitely holding my own on the “shake a tailfeather” front. It was so much fun! I love dancing, I just never get a chance to do it. This year, the music was good, and though there wasn’t a huge group of people on the dance floor, the group that was there was a good one.

Jon got a ride to the party as it was closing up. The festivities ended close to midnight, and after making sure my friends got home okay, we made the drive to Wamego. The weather had forecasted some nasty weather, but it never hit us, so our drive home was easy going. I fell asleep shortly after we got home and slept in this morning.

When I finally did get up, I showered and had some Gatorade and a Luna  bar for breakfast. As I’d expected, I was sore, so I spent most of the day chilling in my chair and working on knitting projects and solving mystery cache puzzles. However, the sunny skies outside eventually got the best of me, and Jon and I went out for an early evening walk before the sun went down. Because I was still hurting, I considered this a little bit of active recovery to get my muscles and joints moving. We walked several blocks, including a trek downtown where we stopped and had an early dinner at Barleycorns.

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Grilled turkey panini and baja chicken soup

On the way back home, we stopped to get drinks and snacks for the evening, then came home to rest some more. It was a pretty leisurely stroll, and I think the only reason I was hurting when I got home was because I’d been hurting anyway. That dancing, man…my hips and lower back are probably going to need another day to right themselves again.

I talked to my mom tonight and got some information for a little writing project I’m going to do for her. I’ve been playing some cheesy Christmas movies, but I’ve been hanging out on the internet for the most part. I’m going to lay down early tonight and get some reading time in before calling it a day. I hope the weather is good tomorrow. I want to find some caches and hit the gym before gaming, and the plan is to go grocery shopping tomorrow night as well.

Now, it’s time to pop some more ibuprofen. Cheers!