Meal Prep 11/9-11/13 – “Dirty” Brown Rice with Garlic Roasted Broccoli & Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken

Hello all, it’s week 2 of my meal prep and this week the my recipes are heavier on the carbs than usual. For the most part, I try to eat a low to moderate carb diet (25-100g a day) depending on my goals. Over the last few days though, my cravings for carb rich foods have intensified *heeeeyyyy Aunt Flow *shakes fist* and rather than try to ignore them (which can lead to binging), I indulge them then go right back to a low to moderate carb diet once satisfied.

For lunch this week I decided to make a dirty brown rice with garlic roasted broccoli and dinner will be a large Greek salad with warm, whole pita bread.

Dirty rice is typically made using white rice and chopped chicken giblets and/or ground beef or pork. 
Of course I wanted mine to be on the healthier side so I opted for brown rice (in terms of calories, white and brown rice don’t differ much, but nutritionally, brown rice wins as it is “whole” and hasn’t been refined and stripped of it’s fiber and vitamins) spicy, lean chicken sausage, a little chopped smoked turkey sausage, red, green, and yellow bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic. 
I started on my brown rice first and the key here is to cook your rice in low sodium chicken broth, a little thyme, some cayenne, and a little Cajun seasoning for a flavorful base. Brown rice takes a bit longer than white rice to cook at about 45 minutes give or take a few depending on how hard or soft you like your rice. But while that’s going you can be doing other things like chopping up your fresh broccoli into bite sized pieces, adding a clove or two of chopped garlic, tossing with olive oil, and roasting in a 450 degree oven. While all of that was working I pan cooked my ground chicken, smoked turkey, and veggies in a little olive oil. When my rice was done, I threw it in with my meat and veggies, stirring until well combined.
When your broccoli’s done, you will end up with a filling, comforting, but healthy dish like this!

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“Dirty” brown rice with garlic roasted broccoli

For this recipe I only cooked a cup of brown rice and easily made out with over 6 half cup servings. I won’t go through all of that in a week, so I froze the extra portions for the future when I need something in a pinch!

Now onto dinner…
As I mentioned in my week 1 meal prep post, I love salads and try to have at least one salad a day, usually for dinner. I don’t do well with heavy meals late in the evening so meats and veggies or fun salads are usually what I have as my last meal. This week I decided to do a Greek salad with grilled chicken, cucumber, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and an optional slice or two of warm, whole wheat pita bread. All I had to do was season and grill my chicken, chop up my veggies, throw a few slices of pita bread into a warm over, and lay it all out. When I sit down to eat I may throw some cranberries or pomegranate seeds on it for a hint of sweetness, but a drizzle of Greek dressing or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top, and I am good to go!

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Greek salad with grilled chicken and warm pita bread

It’s super important to me that I am not slaving over the stove all day, it only took me about an hour and 45 minutes to whip all of this up so I was very pleased, go me! It is most important though that my meals are healthy and delicious, which I certainly accomplished this week and you can too! Your meals don’t have to be fancy, they just need to be clean, filling, and ready to go when you are!
If you have any questions about any of my meals, feel free to comment below or contact me on Instagram or Twitter @petitcitygems 🙂

Pole La Teaz and Why You Should Check Them Out ASAP!

Imagine for a moment –
You’re relaxed and sitting in the middle of a room on a plush yoga mat on polished, hardwood floors. The walls in front of you are dressed in floor to ceiling mirrors allowing you to see the full length of your body and the select few around you. Also surrounding you are a few strategically placed poles bolted into the floor and ceiling. The lights are dim and a candle is lit, its light scent wafting about. A gentle red haze falls over the room, and sultry R&B hums through the speakers… 

Don’t you feel relaxed already? 
Calgon, ain’t got nothing me! 
*ahem*
While cool downs will vary, that is what you can expect after taking a class at Pole La Teaz.

Pole La Teaz is an exotic dance studio that offers various classes and workshops throughout the day for women who desire a fun way to exercise, tone, and strengthen their bodies, or for those simply looking to add a few moves to their repertoire. I decided to try classes at Pole La Teaz as a way to incorporate some fun and variance into my exercise routine, however, immediately after my first class, it was crystal clear that Pole La Teaz was a gem and in a class all its own.

I always feel exhilarated after a workout thanks to those wonderful endorphins that are released after any physical activity, but after my first class at Pole La Teaz, I not only felt exhilarated but also like a goddess – a sexy, lean, mean goddess.  What makes Pole La Teaz special and unlike any fitness center I have ever been to in you come in simply expecting a workout, but you leave with so much more.

Women of all shapes, sizes, and levels of physical fitness come in to let their hair down and get their sweat on in intimate class sizes, allowing for one on one assistance if need be from the phenomenal instructors.  
The instructors at Pole La Teaz are artists and I mean that in every sense of the word, you kind of have to be to make something as mundane as working out, so darn fun and sexy! At Pole La Teaz it is not enough for you to lift your hands on the air, no ma’am! They will instruct you to trace your hands up the length of your body as you watch yourself in the mirror as you raise them in the air! It truly makes a world of difference and puts you in a different head-space, you feel like a BAMF! Powerful and empowered! 
The instructors also place a lot of emphasis on challenging yourself while keeping it fun, but also listening to your body. And at the end of each class, they will prompt you to give yourself a hug, blow yourself a kiss, and/or smack and grab your derriere for a job well done.

In the near future I plan on taking advantage of their pole series that will focus on solely teaching me the basics of pole dancing and become harder as I advance, but currently I’m only taking as many drop in exotic fitness classes as I can. 
While the classes have fun and naughty names like: Luscious Legs, Abs, and Assets, Naughty Flexology, and Jiggle It, they are not to be taken lightly! After each one, I felt worked in areas I was not even aware I could target! I leave sore and feeling sexy! Srexy? 

Nah.

Regardless of a woman’s motivation for taking classes at Pole La Teaz, it is safe to assume that we walk away with a little something unexpected after each and every class, a little more confidence in our bodies and an unspoken camaraderie with the woman around you. 
Open your mind and rid it of any preconceived notions you may have about exotic and pole dancing classes because there is nothing dirty or tasteless about it. Pole La Teaz helps affirm and reaffirm self love, and also with embracing your femininity and sexuality, in a controlled and safe environment, all while working on your fitness.

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Meal Prep 11/2-11/6 – Chicken “Miracle” Noodle Soup & Caramelized Steak and Onion Salad with Sweet Potatoes

On a day to day my plate is full to spilling over! Between working full-time, going to school full-time, working out, hanging out with my family and friends, as well as making time for city adventures, the last thing I want to do is waste an entire day in the kitchen prepping my meals for the week. As I wrote in my last post about my End of Year Resolutions, my goal is to lose 10-20lbs before 2016. So as I embark on this journey, it is essential that I plan meals that are QUICK but also filling and inexpensive. Let’s jump right in!

Last week I was really craving a hot bowl of soup to keep me warm in my freezing office and because I try to have a salad a day, I already knew what I’d be making this week!

Chicken “Miracle” Noodle Soup

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Chicken “Miracle” Noodle Soup is simply a chicken soup made with shirtaki noodles. Shirtaki noodles are Japanese noodles made from konjac yam and are very low in calories at only 15 per serving and carbs 4g per serving (may vary based on the brand you buy)! Shirtaki noodles are very bland on their own and will take the flavor of whatever sauce or broth you cook them in.
Along with the of shirtaki noodles, my Chicken “Miracle” Noodle Soup is chock full of garlic, chopped onion, chopped carrot, chopped spinach, and of course diced chicken breast. I made a huge pot which I will separate into 5-6 Tupperware bowls once it has cooled.

Caramelized Steak and Onion Salad with Sweet Potatoes

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My Caramelized Steak and Onion Salad With Sweet Potatoes is a very simply salad inspired by dinner I had while visiting a friend a few weeks ago. I pan cooked steak and onions until golden brown, chopped and roasted sweet potatoes that I tossed in coconut oil, cinnamon, and ginger, chopped up sun-dried tomatoes, and laid them over a bed of mixed spring greens and spinach! I’ll eat my salad with a squeeze of fresh lime over the top or a low calorie dressing, whichever I’m feeling like that day.

Two meals I put together in less than an hour and a half!
I’m sure you have noticed that I did not include breakfast in my meal planning. My meals will only consist of meals for lunch and dinner as I have a bit of flexibility in the morning as far as breakfast is concerned. I tend to be a creature of habit so my breakfast does not seem to change much, I either have boiled or scrambled eggs with turkey bacon or sausage or a yogurt parfait made with plain Greek yogurt, sliced strawberries, and silvered almond and/or coconut. On rare occasions I may switch it by and making a fruit and veggie plate or some type of smoothie, but I typically like a hot, protein packed breakfast that will keep me satisfied for a couple of hours. I also don’t do too much snacking and hate lugging around a bunch of food, but when I need something to hold me over in a pinch, I will grab an apple and some type of nut butter or pistachios.

The key to meal planning is well, planning! Decide what you want to eat for the following week and make your shopping list in advance and cook your meals up on a day when you’ve got a little time to spare. Your meals don’t have to be fancy and creative, they just need to be tasty, filling, and ready to go when you are!

If you need any tips or have any questions, drop me a line below or contact me on Instagram or Twitter @petitcitygems 🙂

End of Year Resolutions? Betterment of my body, health, and mind.

Living and creating a healthy lifestyle for myself is something that has become exceedingly important to me as I age. Growing up I developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Going on gluttonous binges then crash dieting caused my weight to fluctuate quite a bit and these unhealthy habits followed me into adulthood.
Over the last year and a half though, I examined and did an overhaul of my entire life because I knew I was not living up to my full potential. I was not pleased with my body and the way I felt so I changed my entire diet and began working out 6, sometimes 7 days a week and ended up shedding over 40lbs!
I learned to enjoy eating clean and exercise for not only changing my body, but also making me feel better physically and mentally. And at that time, not only was I dissatisfied with my physical self, I knew my spirit and soul could use some fine tuning as well. This is where I set out to grow more self aware and develop a better understanding and connection with my faith, spirituality, and religious beliefs. While I am still a work in progress in both areas, I am no longer the woman I was 18 months ago. I’m sexier, happier, and my spirit is in a much better place, BUT I think I could use some improvements…
At the top of the year I didn’t make any new years resolutions because I believe change can and should happen the moment you become aware you are in need of it, but here we are with a little over 2 months left in 2015, and I have two end of year resolutions I’d like to meet or improve tremendously as we bring in 2016:
  • Lose 10-20lbs.
    I’m happy with my body now but I know it could be better and I feel a loss of 10-20lbs will put me right where I desire to be. To ensure this I will be cleaning my diet back up, significantly reducing the amount of carbs and sugar I’ve been eating as of late, planning my meals for the week, and working out 5-6 days a week.
  • Improve my flexibility.
    I was really good about stretching and doing yoga at first but found myself doing it less and less at some point. Flexibility is an important aspect of health that we tend to overlook but it reduces risk of injury during workouts and I mean, I can think of a few other places that being flexible will be beneficial, lol. 😉 To ensure this goal is met I plan on taking up yoga again as well as classes to increase flexibility at Pole La Teaz, an exotic dance studio here in Atlanta.
  • Improve my patience.
    I am extremely impatient, I cannot remember a time when I was not. Maybe it was fine when I was younger, but as an adult, it is not something I am proud to admit. Improving my patience is a goal that is going to be more lifelong rather than accomplished in 2 months, but it is something I would like to make a conscious effort to improve, starting today! I’m not exactly sure how I will go about doing this outside of relaxing when my patience is being tested, so any tips or exercises you’ve got to aid me with this will be greatly appreciated!
  • Develop a following for my blog.
    I know this will come with time and consistency. I’m extremely excited to share my posts, get some feedback, and meet other bloggers (especially in the Atlanta area!)

With working and going to school full-time, spending time with my family, trying to maintain a social life, and exploring the city, my plate is full to spilling over. But I am a woman capable of so much and I do not like to lose! And what’s better than competing with yourself and becoming an even greater you? So here it goes! I’ll track my progress here once a week and on my Instagram page throughout the week to keep you all updated!

Me as of last Saturday

Me as of last Saturday

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Me, Feb. 2013

The Chocolate & Art Show: Atlanta at Paragon 7 Art Studio and Gallery

Where can you find art, naked body painting, face painting, music, and free chocolate, all under the same roof? At The Chocolate and Art Show, of course.
Friday night a girlfriend and I went to the 2 day event at Paragon 7 Art Studio and Gallery in Atlanta, hosted by The Chocolate & Art Show.

According to their website, The Chocolate and Art show was created 3 years ago by a gentleman named Danilo Santos as a way to get underground artists of several mediums and lovers of art under one roof with to share their talents, network, and of course indulge in chocolate and other treats.

Paragon 7 Art Studio and Gallery was the perfect venue to host this event because the space is very accommodating and made the transition of flowing from space to space very easy. There were about about 5 different rooms that boasted some of the most beautiful pieces you will ever see as well as vendors selling beautiful handmade jewelry, bags, clothes, and more.
The main room, its walls adorned in art (as were all of the other rooms except for one)  housed two buffet tables that sat in the middle of the room for guests to enjoy the milk and white chocolate fountains with strawberries, cookies, bananas, and other sweet treats provided for dipping! In that same room guests mingled, marveled over the amazing pieces, and admired the two women allowing their bodies to be canvases for the night.
In the backroom there was a DJ whose music could be heard throughout the studio as well as a bar and couches for seating if you needed a breather.
What made this event to me was the atmosphere. Everyone was friendly, the vibe was laid-back, and everything just flowed and melded together beautifully. I’ve also got to shout out the staff, everyone was pleasant and extremely friendly… A rarity in Atlanta, I find.

If you live in Atlanta and you missed The Chocolate and Art Show this year or you live in another city and want to know when they will be in a city near you, follow their Facebook and Instagram page.
If you live in Atlanta and want to keep up with cool events going on at Paragon 7 Art Studio and Gallery, follow their Facebook and Instagram page.

Check out some of my favorite pieces from the evening below.

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By: badbadkitti follow on instagram @badbadkitti

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“Compuss” By: Badbadkitti follow on Instagram @badbadkitti

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By: Chane’ Fontaine follow on Instagram @chane_le_allure

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“Ride with Me” By: Mr. Malcolm follow on Instagram @atrumovement

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By: Decori follow on Instagram @Decori

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Artist unknown

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Artist unknown

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Artist unknown

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Artist unknown

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Artist unknown

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“Got Chocolate” by Dontez Akins follow on Instagram @dtaphotography

Landmark Midtown Art Cinema/ Room the Movie

Yesterday I was invited to an advanced screening of the movie Room at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, I invited my friend Gretchen as my plus 1 and it was quite the experience.

Landmark Midtown Art Cinema is a theater most recognized for showing and supporting indie films but they show major films as well.
The theater is located in the rear of the Midtown Promenade shopping center that also houses Trader Joes, Starbucks, The Highlander, Apres Diem and a gang of other conveniently placed bars, restaurants, and shops.

Upon our arrival to the plaza we realized parking was going to be a task. This area is typically pretty congested but they’re currently in the process of repaving the parking lot so there weren’t many spaces available; we ended up parking behind the building next to the dumpsters, wonderful.

When we finally got up to the building, we handed the attendant our passes and rushed to room our movie was showing in. The theaters here are extremely dark, it was very difficult to see which chairs were taken and which weren’t. To avoid tripping and falling over people, I lit my phone up so we could find seating. Five seconds later someone shouts, “TURN THE PHONE OFF!” Man, impatient crowd! We eventually found two available spots and enjoyed the rest of the movie, save for the guy behind us who kicked and kneed the backs of our seats each time he adjusted himself. I guess it wasn’t entirely his fault.
Besides the cramped, uncomfortable seats and their funky snack bar menu, I think this theater is really cute and retro, I’ll be back.
I was there for a free screening so I didn’t pay for my movie ticket but from what I could tell, ticket and concession prices will run you about the same as any other movie theater in the area. And if you’re planning on visiting Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in the near future, plan to arrive a bit early to find parking and seating to keep from being yelled at! 🙂

Now this isn’t a movie review blog, but I do want to discuss the movie briefly.
IT WAS ABSOLUTELY GUT WRENCHING! I HATED IT! I LOVED IT!
The film ended on a positive note but I still walked away with my stomach in knots. Without giving anything away, Room is a book to movie film about a young woman who was kidnapped and is raising her child in the confines of a tiny shed, the outside world an enigma to him.
You certainly won’t be disappointed if you go check it out, but there will be sadness and maybe even a tear… or 20.
The film is set for nationwide release November 6th, 2015.

Hodgepodge Coffee House & Gallery

When I can’t seem to focus at home when I need to get work done, I will typically head over to the library or one of the various coffeehouse chains in the area. Sunday though, I needed a change of scenery and decided to head over to the eclectic East Atlanta Village where I knew I was sure to find a nice spot to get a few things done and maybe find some inspiration. With no particular location in mind I drove around and stumbled upon Hodgepodge Coffee House, and loved it almost immediately.

Hodgepodge Coffee House & Gallery isn’t your typical coffeehouse. Of course they’ve got a variety of coffee, hot and cold tea, and hot chocolate, but they’ve also got Thai Boba Tea, ginger beer, and so much more. They’ve also got a hearty food menu and an array of tasty looking baked goods.

What I enjoyed most about Hodgepodge though is its layout and friendly but relaxed vibe. The entire location is broken up in about 3 sections; the first areas is located closest to food counter. There there are small tables best suited for pairs to sit and talk. The second area has couches to lounge on and free books suitable for both adults and children to get lost in. And the 3rd area has larger tables to accommodate bigger groups looking to collaborate or just chat. And with large windows letting in tons of natural lighting, the place just feels so warm and inviting.

Hodgepodge is also very community-centric as they sell art, jewelry, tshirts, and other trinkets made by locals.

With a number of outlets and free WiFi, Hodgepodge Coffee House & Gallery is a spot you should definitely check out if you’re in need of a warm beverage and/or simply want a quiet but cool spot to read, get some work done, and just chill. Let me know if/when you’ll be stopping by, maybe I’ll join you!

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Southern Belle Farm

Hot beverages (that may or may not be spiked, no judgment here). Candy apples. And over-sized sweaters, all signs that FALL IS HERE!
Fall is easily my favorite season for the reasons mentioned above, but I especially love the number of outdoor activities there are to enjoy without dying under Atlanta’s sweltering, summer sun.
So when a girlfriend suggested we do a corn maze or a maize maze (see what I did there?) this week, I was definitely down. I’d only ever seen them in movies and I thought it’d be a fun variant from our usual night of simply grabbing dinner, which we did as well, but I digress.

Friday evening we went to Southern Belle Farm in McDonough, Georgia. I had never heard of Southern Belle Farm. I’d actually never been on a farm period, so I went in with an open and no expectations. However, I did not expect the price of admissions to be $14, I mean, what is there to do on a farm that would warrant a $14 admissions fee?

Entrance of the farm, sign reads: Do Not Climb On Hay. I mean, how'd they know?

Entrance of the farm, sign reads: Do Not Climb On Hay. I mean, how’d they know?

When we walked in, we noticed they had a wide variety of pumpkins of all sizes for sale. We continued on and noticed they also had quite a bit of activities, most suitable for smaller children… But we decided to release our inner child with one in particular, the seesaw! Now it didn’t exactly go as planned as we were both quickly reminded that were weren’t tiny 8 year olds anymore but we tried.
In addition to the seesaw there was the cow train, pedal carts, jumping pillows, pig races, and so much more.

We were there for the corn maze though and not really interested in much else so we moved it along. On our way over, we stopped and grabbed a small bag of their delicious kettle corn for $3 to keep our mouths occupied as we strolled.
When we got to the beginning of the maze we were told that there were 3 different mazes and you were allowed to choose whichever maze you wanted to try based on their difficulty. Being the badasses that we are, we chose the most difficult one. In the maze there are corn and agricultural trivia questions to answer as you make your way through which I thought was pretty cute, but what I loved most about the maze was the bridge we stumbled upon. The bridge is a tall platform that allows your to overlook the entire farm and the view from the top was absolutely beautiful.
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We found our way out in a little under the 25 minutes, overjoyed by the accomplishment as we were told that  that’s about how long it takes to complete. We then took a few pictures in front of their gorgeous flower bushes, and left. 20151016_184910
All in all I had a good time, it was worth the experience, but I doubt I’d go again. For $14, there isn’t much for a childless adult to partake in but I think it’d be a fun and educational outing if you have younger children.
Check out their website here for additional information regarding hours of operations and other farm activities for the fall!

Aerial view of corn maize taken from Southern Belle Farm’s website.

Vulnerability

I am still learning how and what it means to be vulnerable. Its importance in building meaningful, intimate relationships makes complete sense in my mind, however I seem to fumble with it in practice.
To most I’m an ice queen, but those that know me well know better; my feelings are easily hurt and I will cry at the drop of a hat. You just won’t ever see it as I will certainly excuse myself.
But therein lies my main issue: expressing my hurt. I feel it reads as a sign of weakness, however, this rationale only applies to me. When other people are hurting I want to comfort them, I tell them it’s natural to feel whatever it is that they’re feeling. When it comes to myself, I don’t allow myself the same sensitivity. I’ve noticed that my inability to be vulnerable also manifests itself in other ways, mostly irritability and impatience…

I’m well aware of my issues, I’m just not sure how to correct them.

ONE Musicfest

This past Saturday I attended ONE Musicfest for the 2nd time in a row. ONE Musicfest is one of only a few urban music festivals and they do it quite well. This years lineup included: Lauryn Hill, The Roots, ASAP Rocky, Wale, Janelle Monae & Wondaland, Bun B, Big Krit, and so many more.

What makes ONE Musicfest so special is the diverse crowd and amazing atmosphere. Everyone’s out to listen to good music, indulge in a drink or two, and have a good time.

Along with the music, this music festival boasts tons of vendors, most of which are black-owned. There’s everything from street apparel, art, jewelry, and hair and skin care products.

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But one of my favorite things about this year’s festival was the interactive art experience put together by a few gentlemen. They created a blank outline, then invited festival goers to grab a brush and let their imaginations run wild. While not a skilled painter, I contributed a bit, but the end result was simply amazing!
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There’s reserved seating where you are able to pick seats not too far from the stage, pit tickets where you stage directly in front of the stage, and lawn seating where you’re furthest away from the stage, however, you’re able to bring a blanket, lay out, and make new friends while enjoying all of your favorite artists. The festival runs from about noon to well into the night, so you certainly want to be comfortable.
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While I can’t remember ticket prices right off the top of my head, they’re extremely reasonable for the caliber of artists you’ll get to see so if you missed it this year, be sure to make it out in 2016!