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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wrap your words with Love


Over the past weekend, I have began attempting various Christmas craft projects to pair with some of the gifts year to hopefully add a more personal feel.  Which really translates into: I got way to excited and have about 20 projects lined up, at least 5 started, 4 weeks til Christmas, 2 projects nearly finished, and 1 very "in-over-her-head" me.  The whole experience has been a lot of fun, but I have spent way more time researching ideas, watching how-to videos, and finding supplies than I have actually making gifts. 

Earlier today I stopped in a craft supply store to pick up some Christmas fabric.  As I was waiting at the fabric counter for the clerk to finish attending to the person in front of me, I overheard the customer in front of me being speaking to the clerk in a very degrading way about something that wasn't her fault.  I tried to get the customer's attention off of the poor clerk, but this person continued.  The other customer finally walked away, but the clerk was frustrated and near tears.  After a few minutes of light-hearted conversation the clerk seemed to be feeling better.  I was very thankful for the gift of being there, but I don't always seize the opportunities I'm given.  Sometimes, I am the grumpy one.  We all have grumpy days and I am sure that in any other situation that customer is a very nice person.  Through all of this, I was reminded once again that our words... my words, are so very important and that they really do make an impact especially at Christmas.

Christmas is such an incredible time.  There are so many extra opportunities this season to give.  The entire community has been pooling their resources and creativity together to help their neighbors.  We fill our days with trying to find the perfect gifts, make the perfect dinners, and rushing from one gathering to another all while balancing our daily responsibilities.  It is very easy to let all of those good intentions stress us to the point that we lose our cool and unintentionally hurt those around us.

As a on-going kindness mission for us both, let's remember to wrap our words in love.  Use Christmas as an opportunity to be intentional with your words.  Find at least 5 people each day to speak kindly to, and make at least 3 of those a stranger.  Merry Christmas :)

"Kindness in words creates confidence; kindness in thinking creates
profoundness; kindness in giving creates love." - Lao Tzu

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unusual Uses for Salt

This morning's Fact or Fiction was all about Salt.  With winter creeping in and snow fall likely we all know that salt helps whisk away unwanted snow driffs, and that salt is an excellant seasoning.  Here are some of Salt's lesser known uses that may be useful around your home.


NOTE: I have not personally tested these.  They are from the article referenced below except for the first three.
  • Remove stains from your coffee pot: Fill the coffee pot with 1/4 cu of table salt & a dozen ice cubes.  Swish the mixture around then let it sit for 30 mins; then fill the pot with cold water rinse.  Your coffee pot will look brand new.
  • Remove unwanted grass and weeds growing in the cracks of your driveway by sprinkling salt on the grass then pour very hot water over it.  Not only is this highly effective way to kill weeds, it's also eco-friendly & cheap.
  • Remove onion smell from your hands: After cutting an onion rub your hands with a salt scrub from your favorite beauty item store or soak your hands in warm salt water. 
  • Drip-proof candles: Prevent your candles from becoming a drippy mess by soaking new candles in a strong salt solution for 2-3 hours.
  • Clean smelly food spills: A little cinnamon in a pinch of salt will make dripped-on messes in the oven easier to clean, and prevent them from stinking up the house. Sprinkle the mixture onto the drip soon after it occurs, while the oven is still hot. Once it has cooled, brush away the salt and the mess will come with it.
  • Test egg freshness: Add two teaspoons of salt to a cup of water, and drop in the egg. If it’s fresh, it will float; if it’s past its prime it will sink right to the bottom.
  • Sanitize sponges: Used sponges harbor bacteria. To restore them and kill some of those germs, suds them up, rinse them thoroughly and then soak them in cold, heavily salted water for an hour or two.
  • Kill poison ivy plants:  Three pounds of salt mixed with a gallon of soapy water, applied to the leaves and stems of poison ivy with a sprayer, will kill this tenacious pest of a plant.
  • Extend broom life: Natural fiber brooms can last a lot longer if you use this easy trick: soak them in hot, salty water before their first use.
  • Soothe a bee sting: Remove the stinger, wet the sting and immediately shake on a paste of salt and water. Let it dry, and it will reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Remove soot from chimney: A handful of salt thrown onto the flames in your fireplace will not only produce pretty, vivid yellow flames, it will help loosen soot in the chimney, preventing chimney fires and improving air flow.
  • Relief for canker sores: A saltwater gargle will take the bite out of a toothache and ease the pain of canker sores and sore throats. Dissolve two teaspoons of salt in 1/4 cup of warm water and swish it around in your mouth for at least 20 seconds, gargling if you have a sore throat. It will likely burn at first, but it works.
  • Keep clothes from freezing on the line: Add a little salt to the rinse water when washing a load of laundry to keep the clothes from freezing stiff on the clothesline. Soaking the clothesline in salt water will also prevent clothes from sticking to it in cold weather.
  • Restore artificial flowers: Just toss the flowers in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag along with about a cup of salt. Shake the bag well, and the salt will whisk away the dust and debris.
  • Keep milk fresh: Sour milk is the worst, especially if you don’t realize it’s gone bad until you’ve already poured it into your cake batter or coffee mug. Keep it fresh longer by adding a pinch of salt to the carton, pinching the spout closed and gently shaking to mix.
  • Make coffee less bitter: Over-brewed coffee that has taken on a bitter taste can be much improved with a tiny pinch of salt, which will also enhance the flavor.
  • Remove stains: Blot up spills and then pour salt on top to absorb what’s left, pulling as much of it out of the fabric as possible. To remove perspiration stains from clothing, dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of hot water and sponge it on.
  • Prevent sliced fruit from turning brown: Dip sliced apples, pears and other fruits susceptible to browning in lightly salted water to preserve their fresh look. If your apple slices have withered, salt water will also perk them up.
  • Keep windows frost-free: To keep frost from accumulating on the windows in your home and your vehicle, dip a sponge in salty water and run it over the inside and outside of the glass, then rub dry with a soft cloth.
  • Deodorize shoes: Zap the stink-worsening moisture out of canvas shoes by sprinkling a little salt inside them and then wiping it out. NOTE: Don’t use this trick on leather or synthetic shoes, as it could dry them out too much and cause them to deteriorate.
  • Reduce eye puffiness: Mix a pinch of salt in a little hot water and applying it to puffy, swollen areas around your eyes with a cotton pad. The salt will help draw out the moisture and tighten the skin.
  • Give your skin a glow: Massage a mixture of salt and olive oil into your skin in circular motions, leave it on for a few minutes and then wash it off. The massage increases circulation to your skin, the olive oil moisturizes and the salt buffs away dead skin cells.
  • Brighten yellowed linens: Dingy whites can be brought back to their crisp, white best without the use of bleach. Boil cotton or linen items in a big pot of water with a few tablespoons of salt plus a few tablespoons of baking soda.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Money Saving One-Day Shopping Tips

If you didn't finish all of your shopping on Black Friday, there are still plenty of shopping days til Christmas including Small Business Saturday (today) and Cyber Monday.  This morning I found some tips on how you can maximize your shopping trips and maybe save a little money while you are at it.

Before you leave the house:
  • Eat a good breakfast that includes energy boosting protein, fiber, and healthy fat.  It will help you think clearly, shop sensibly and negotiate the best bargains.
  • Nix the comfort clothes if you end up feeling blah in them.  Studies show that if you dress in something stylish your confidence will get a boost and you will be less likely to give into pushy sales tactics.  Darren Dahl, a professor of applied marketing research says that when people feel insecure they buy more.
  • Listen to your power music.   The music in your favorite store may sound nostalgic and festive, but it is designed to make you feel warm, fuzzy, and linger in their store.
  • Download free apps offerend by your fav stores for web announcements, coupons, and the latest info on sales.
  • Look for online discounts and coupon codes
  • Cash in your rewards.  If you are eligible for reward programs consider using your points to buy gift cards or make online purchases through the rewards site for potential discounts or more reward points.
  • Buy toys online a lot of retailers offer the same discounts and free shipping saving you time and the frustration of visiting multiple stores for this year's hot toy.
  • Go solo.  I know it's not as much fun, but if savings are your intent leave your pal behind.  Subconsciously we mimic others shopping habits according to Martin Lindstrom, the author of Brandwashed.  This means that if your friend stocks up on a particular item you are more likely to as well.
On your way
  • Stop at the bank.  You will curb your impulse buys by leaving your credit cards at home.  According to Martin Lindstrom, shopping with cash cuts your overall spending by 23%.  Also, if you withdraw cash at the teller and request larger bills (ie. 50s or 100s), you will be less likely to break them on unnecessary purchases.
At the mall
  • Avoid the main entrance and any lavish displays designed to entice you.  Side entrances or the food court entrance will help you bypass unneccessary temptation.
  • Buy your less expensive items first.  Scott Huettel, Associate professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, says that once you spend money on something costly your brain loses perspective on what is a good price.
  • Eat Lunch.  Don't forget to recharge with a protein-rich lunch if you are planning an all-day shopping trip.  It will keep your energetic all day.
  • Perk yourself up after a few hours by taking a music break or grabbing a cup of coffee.  Paul Herr, professor of Marketing at Virginia Tech says you are more likely to make good buying choices if you stay in a pleasant mood, because you will more carefully consider pros and cons before making your decision.
  • Skip lines.  Whenever possible, pay for purchases in less crowded areas of the store.  The less you linger in the line, the less likely it will be that you will pick up extra items on a whim while you are waiting.
  • Don't linger at sales counters.  The longer you listen to a sales pitch, the more likely you are to buy something.
Article Referenced

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Remembering Goodness

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May your Thanksgiving be filled with Love ... 

"Remember God's bounty in the year.  String the pearls of His favor.  Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light!  Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!"  - Henry Ward Beecher 

I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.  Throughout the day, so far, I have focused more on my blessings and less on all my unanswered prayers.  I know that sounds like a odd way to start out a post about thanksgiving, but it is a truthful way.  You see, I have so very much to be thankful for.  I have a fabulous assortment of family and friends who so graciously put up with all of my idiosyncrasies.  I have a job that I enjoy going to each day, and co-workers who I list among my friends.  I have a full closet and food to eat.  I can see the beauty all around me, and hear the music of nature.  I can dance, jump, and twirl at will.  My world is filled with laughter.  I am loved.  I am rich in all the ways that matter.  Yet, there are times when I, like a lot of people, worry about silly things and become frustrated that some prayers have not been answered just yet.  I know in my heart that God's timing is perfect, and I realize that by worrying I prove that in some ways I still do not fully trust my God.  I feel a bit of shame in admitting that.  I don't know where my worry originally came from.  If I reflect on my life, I see that God has always been faithful, and I am becoming more and more aware that I have to constantly choose between trust and worry.  Yes, this world is uncertain, and time is a glass pendulum with no guaranteed number of swings.  However, the same things that make life so very fragile, make it so very precious.  The brevity makes the time we have and the choices we've been given all the more important.  I need to choose to focus less on me and more on the blessings I have and how I can impact my world with those blessings. 

In Matthew 14 Jesus feed 5,000+ people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, but in the very next chapter the disciples find themselves in the middle of nowhere again with a crowd of 4,000+ people who had been following Jesus for three days.  Jesus had compassion on the crowd, and told the disciples to feed them so they wouldn't collapse.  Forgetting about what Jesus had done for the 5,000 the disciples focused only on the need at hand and said, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” (Matt 15:33) This time they had 7 loaves and a few small fish.  So Jesus "took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children." (Matt 15:36-38) 
   
Like the disciples, there are a lot of times in my life that I have forgotten about God's blessings in my life and the ways He has multiplied my resources or worked situations out that seemed impossible.  When I remember the goodness of God, my heart is filled to the brim with gratitude and I have a much easier time finding the faith I need.  

"Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies." - Charles E. Jefferson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Random Highlights from this Morning's Show

"When the world sees worthless, God sees priceless" - Matthew West

Matthew West Interview: This morning Matthew West spoke about "The Story of your Life" and some of the stories behind his book and album, his new Christmas album "The Heart of Christmas," and his upcoming Christmas tour with Mandisa which will include a stop by Louisville this December.  Here are a couple of links that you may enjoy: Heart of Christmas Music Video and Heart of Christmas Movie Website


Volunteer Opportunity at Wayside Christian Mission: 
Michael Blunk, Chaplain at Wayside stopped by the studio today to request volunteers for help with their Thanksgiving Meal and throughout the Christmas Season.  For information on how you can help, call (502) 299-2693 or visit the website.



National Eat a Cranberry Day
Today's Fact or Fiction Questions were all about Cranberries because today is National eat a cranberry day.  Dried cranberries are great as a substitute for raisins in your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Pecan Spice Cookies

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."  - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Pumpkin Coffee, Christmas Music, and cookies baking.  It's feeling so cheery in this kitchen.  I started my Thanksgiving baking a little bit early.  I have never tried this recipe before today, but these cookies are so stinkin' good I thought I'd pass the recipe along in case you want to whip up a quick batch along with the rest of your goodies. Pumpkin Pie lovers beware: these are highly addictive.  I did not add glaze to the top of my cookies, but you certainly could if you like.  

Pumpkin Pecan Spice Cookies
Ingredients:
1 1/2
cups packed light brown sugar
1/2
cup butter or margarine, softened (I used Crisco Butter Flavored baking Sticks)
2
eggs
1/2
cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3
teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4
cups Self Rising flour
1
teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2
teaspoon salt
1/2
teaspoon ground ginger
1/4
teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8
teaspoon ground allspice
1/8
teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/3
cups finely chopped pecans
  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray, or line with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  • 1In large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour and spices. Stir in pecans and baking chips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
  • 2Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • 3Enjoy, share, repeat.  :)

Mandisa Interview: Highlights from this Morning's Show



Today on the Morning Show you heard an interview with former American Idol Contestant, Mandisa who will be joining us in concert this December 10th.  Enjoy this YouTube clip of "Stronger."  If you would like to see Mandisa perform "Stronger" on the Biggest Loser, be sure to Like the Mandisa on Biggest Loser Facebook page.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not Your Average Bird: Highlights from the Morning Show

Donut Stuffing & Tips for the Real Stuff:

Today on the morning show, we were talking about Stuffing in honor of National Stuffing Day. During Fact of Fiction, Jim found a recipe for Donut Stuffing.  The turkey (image to the left) was brined in Dunkin' Donuts Coolattas and stuffed with 50 pieces of assorted Muchins Donuts then served with coffee gravy, mashed hashbrowns... and of course, sprinkles. 

Since this may not be your idea of the perfect stuffing, I found some tips for preparing traditional stuffing below.

Fact or Fiction: There's a difference between stuffing & Southern dressing.  Stuffing is made from chunks of seasoned bread crumbs and stuffed inside the turkey, and Southern Dressing is made from baked cornbread and baked in a casserole dish.  Southern Dressing is extremely moist compared to stuffing.(FACT)

Here's some tips for traditional stuffing from the Food Network.
  • To stuff, or not to stuff: Preparing your stuffing inside the turkey may be delicious, but it does slow down cooking time & could be a health hazard if not cooked correctly.  If you want to play it extra-safe with poultry, don't stuff your bird make "dressing", which is simply stuffing that's cooked in a buttered casserole or souffl√© dish. You won't be sacrificing flavor if you drizzle the dressing with pan drippings from the cooked turkey.  If you do plan on baking the stuffing and turkey together, stuff your turkey just before putting it in the oven and cook it to 180 degrees F. 
  • Never prepare stuffing the night before if you plan to cook it inside the turkey, because that could cause dangerous bacteria to grow.  Place stuffing inside the turkey right before roasting.  
  • Should you use raw ingredients in your stuffing? Nope.  All stuffing ingredients should be cooked before placing stuffing in the turkey.
  • Turkey/Stuffing Ratio: If stuffing your turkey, estimate one cup of stuffing for each pound of turkey, (i.e. a 10 lb turkey will get 10 cu of stuffing.) Stuff both the neck and body with 1/2 to 3/4 cups of stuffing per pound of turkey.  Cook any extra stuffing on the side in a separate dish. Be careful not to overstuff your turkey as this could cause it to be dried out.  
  • To prevent your stuffing from getting too mushy, keep dry and wet ingredients separate until right before stuffing the bird or casserole dish. If you like the stuffing a little drier and cake-like, add an egg or two.
  • How can you tell if stuffing is done? If you plan to stuff the turkey, give stuffing a head start by heating it up before placing it inside your turkey.  Stuffing, like turkey, needs to reach the 165 degree mark to be considered done.  If your turkey is done before the stuffing, move the stuffing to a casserole dish and continue baking.

Donuts for Turkeys

The Bardstown Road Krispy Kreme will be collecting donations in the first ever "Donuts for Turkeys" drive.  Anyone who brings a frozen turkey by will receive one dozen glazed donuts in exchange.  The drive runs from 5:00-9:00 am this morning.  All the donations help feed those in need this time of year. The turkeys will be distributed in our area with the help of Kentucky Harvest.  Kentucky Harvest will distribute the donations to local food banks and organizations. 
For more information on how you can help, go to kyharvest.com

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude


Gratitude, as with all fine art forms, must be practiced to excess and exhibited as often as one can. 

As I sit at my laptop this afternoon, I am feeling content.  It's been rainy this morning, and I am thankful for the rain's rhythm.  It's so relaxing.  I've been very reflective lately.  Autumn has that effect on me.  As Thanksgiving approaches and the year begins to draw to an end, I have realized that I have forgotten a measure of gratitude.  I am very thankful for the blessings that I've received, but as my days grow more hurried and the holidays approach I've noticed myself getting lost in the rush of it all.  I find myself worrying about silly things instead of trusting that God really does have my life in His hands and genuinely has good things planned for me.  I've noticed that the more I worry and give way to stress, my joy, faith, and gratitude are all deeply affected.  So this week, my goal is to practice my gratitude a bit more - gratitude for the good things, gratitude for the things that make me stronger, and gratitude for all the little things that fall in between. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Food Drive: Highlights from this Morning's Show

Pastor Sam Watene, director of the Lord's Kitchen joined Jim and I in the studio this morning to talk about the Lord's Kitchen Annual Thanksgiving Food Box Giveaway at Churchill Downs on November 22.  The struggling economy has increased the number of individuals and families who rely on ministries like the Lord's Kitchen for assistance. This Thanksgiving the Lord's Kitchen needs help meeting the demand for the Food Box Give-away.  As the deadline approaches, there is an urgent need for assistance.  To find out how you can help, visit their website: http://thelordskitchen.com/

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kindness Missions


"That best portion of a good man's life, his little, nameless, 
unremembered acts of kindness & of love."  - Wm Wordsworth


I know that the idea of random kindness is not a new idea.  In fact, it seems like it was trending for a while a few years ago.  Yet, lately my thoughts have been more and more consumed with questions like, "How can I make a difference?" or "How can I truly love people like God loves people?"  To be honest, loving people is not always easy and it's rarely convenient.  Loving people takes moment by moment conscious decisions, and some days... that's just hard.  The attributes of Love according to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 are not the watered down self-serving love that's often painted by our modern culture.  Yet, this is the kind of love that Jesus has said we should emulate.  

About a month ago, I stumbled across an article in a magazine that told about a lady who was making random acts of kindness a lifestyle.  She initially began doing "kindness missions" as a way to cheer herself up after moving to a new town, and she made sure that she involved her young children in the process and over the years this has instilled a lifestyle of kindness in them.  I was absolutely fascinated by the entire idea, so I found her blog and read for hours about all of the creative ways that her family was showing love to their world.  I decided that it was something I had to try so I picked a relatively easy project, and the next day I secretly went about my day performing my little kindness mission.  The funny thing was, even though it was the dreariest day of the week and I had picked the easiest project on the list, I felt excited again about the possibility of making a difference in someone's life.  


I'm finding that if I were to wait around for one larger-than-life moment to impact my world, that moment isn't going to come.  However, there are millions of opportunities each day to show the people around us that they are valuable and loved.  So, in an effort to continue to challenge myself to be conscious of those around me, I will be periodically posting ideas and opportunities to show kindness.  I would love it if you would join me in these missions. 

Baklava Day: Highlights from this Morning's Show

Today is National Baklava Day, in honor of Baklava Day I thought I would share the recipe that I've used.  Baklava is so delicate and rich, my family usually only enjoys this around Christmas.  I know that there are a lot variations, but the recipe below is pretty easy to follow.  A friend of mine uses rose water in her recipe. If you have a favorite Baklava recipe, feel free to share it with me.  If you haven't made Baklava before, it's a lot of fun and I hope you give it a try.  If you've never used Phyllo Dough, the link below has tips you may find helpful.

BAKLAVA Recipe from Athens Foods
Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Zest of 1 lemon
40 sheets Phyllo Dough (9" x 14"), thawed
Cooking Spray or Melted Butter
In a medium bowl, combine walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and lemon zest.

SYRUP 
Ingredients
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup honey
1 lemon peel
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool slightly.


Lightly spray a 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking spray. Place 20 sheets of fillo on the bottom of the pan, lightly spraying each sheet with cooking spray as you place in the pan. Cover with 1/2 of the walnut mixture. Layer 5 more fillo sheets on top, lightly spraying each sheet. Spread the remaining half of the walnut mixture over the fillo and cover with another 15 lightly sprayed fillo sheets. With a sharp knife, score fillo into 1 1/2" diamonds or squares. Lightly spray the top with cooking spray so it bakes golden brown.

Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden brown.
Cool slightly and pour warm syrup (recipe below) evenly over baklava. Cool completely, cut and serve.
Yield: 30 to 40 small pieces


Additional Tips:
•Keep your Phyllo Dough covered while you are layering your Baklava
•Cover Phyllo completely with plastic wrap, then a damp towel as it dries out quickly.
•Use butter flavored cooking spray, if desired.
•Instead of cooking spray, brush fillo with 1 cup melted butter, if desired.
•Serve √† la mode with a scoop of ice cream, or drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Milk Duds: Highlights from this Morning's Show

It's no secret that Milk does the body good; but who would have thought that you could actually add it to your wardrobe?  Here's the weblink to the article that Jim and I were talking about this morning.  A clothing designer in Germany has come up with a way to make clothing that is actually made from Milk.

Beginnings

I knew  that I wanted to start a new blog, and it seemed like this was the perfect time to do so, but I couldn't decide how I wanted to begin.  The hardest part of putting together a new blog always seems to be the beginning.  Perhaps, the hardest part of anything is the beginning, once you're in motion it always seems easier.  The first steps are the ones that I always seem to think way too much about.  Sometimes in writing ... and in life it's best to just keep it simple. 
My hope through this blog is to share my world with you and perhaps even encourage you along the way.  I can't wait to get to know you.