Oh the Long Run: Prayers for the Miles

Happy Tuesday! It’s dreary here but nothing a little caffeine, summery music, and bright flowers can’t fix!

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Last week I met up with a few sweet friends, Haley and Krista, for dinner at a local Mediterranean restaurant called Taziki’s. This was my third time eating at this spot, and if you want fresh vegetables, this is absolutely your place. I’ve had the Mediterranean Salad once and the Grilled Veggie Plate twice, and I cannot rave enough about either one. The menu is inexpensive, the portions are plenty, and both dishes that I’ve tried have been so flavorful. It’s a great place for a girls’ dinner, and I can’t wait to branch out and try a few different menu options.

While we were eating and catching up about life, the conversation turned to running and exercise. Krista and I have been running together for the past few months to get ready for the Chick fil A half marathon that’s coming oh so quickly (THIS SATURDAY–prayers please)!!! One thing I’ve realized leading up to the race is that running with a partner changes everything. During our runs, Krista and I talk the whole time, and I haven’t listened to music once during a run. This is so different from previous running on my own, and it makes the miles pass by so much more quickly.

As we were telling Haley about the race, Krista mentioned an article she’d seen in Fitness magazine about how to make a long run pass by faster, so of course we were all ears. The article suggested dedicating each mile to a different person. I was so intrigued by the idea, and as we talked about how cool and effective it seemed, we realized that we could choose 13 different people, places, or events and turn each mile into a prayer for that thing. Not only will this give us encouraging thoughts for each mile, Krista and I can share what makes each one special to us. On that note, here are my 13 prayers for the Chick fil A half marathon!

1 // For the blessing of a body that is physically and mentally capable of running!

2 // For the cross. For salvation. For grace upon grace.

3 // For UGA and the city of Athens. For salvation, restoration, and light in the darkness.

4 // For Mema and Papa. For health and love and the legacy they’ve built for our family.

5 // For Krista. For the many miles and conversations we’ve had over the past few months. For the way the Lord  used a cooking lab and running to create a friendship that means so much to me.

6 // For my boys aka Chelsea and Sam. For your support, for each of us being completely different, and of course, for endless laughs.

7 // For graduation, graduating friends, and new seasons of life. For assurance in who holds our futures and where our hope is secure.

8 // For persecuted believers. For perseverance, encouragement, and eternal glory.

9 // For missionaries around the world. For safety, open hearts, and a full harvest.

10 // For the ones who aren’t able to run. For a passion that makes you feel empowered and an outlet that reduces your stress.

11 // For Cole. For getting me to the gym to do weights instead of just running. For showing me how to loosen up, not stress out, and enjoy life.

12 // For my dad. For his support, laughs all the time, and for always inspiring me to chase dreams.

13 // For my mom. For all the miles together, for starting my running journey, for her daily encouragement, her love, and her listening ears.

Each of these people and groups have a special place in my heart, and I am honored to run a little part for them! Seeya Saturday, 13.1!

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Sweet Brunch Spot

Hey hey! It’s been a little while since I’ve stopped by, but I hope you all had a happy Easter! It was such a beautiful weekend here in Athens, absolutely perfect for spending lots of time outside in the sun.

Because the trip home is over four hours and I made that trek several times in March, I decided to spend Easter weekend with close friends in Athens rather than going home. This meant being away from my family and not eating the typical southern Easter lunch, but it did give me the opportunity to spend the morning at my church here, eat brunch with some of my closest friends, lay outside by the pool and go for a relaxing run. I sure did miss my fam, but I’m so very thankful for the weekend here.

Now for some fun brunch news! Guys, I found it…..for now at least. My FAVORITE Athens breakfast and brunch spot (they even serve dinner too)! It’s a little local spot called Kumquat Mae that you must check out. In a matter of just a few weeks, I’ve already been twice, and I have not been disappointed either time.

After church Sunday morning, two friends and I headed over to Kumquat’s to celebrate the day together. Last time we ate here, I ordered a pimiento cheese sandwich on homemade sourdough plus sweet potato fries (of course) from the lunch menu. The sweet potato fries were phenomenal. If you’re a sweet potato fry connoisseur, you know that sometimes there’s more fried outer layer than their is actual sweet potato. These were quite the opposite; you could tell that the only processing was cutting up the potato, and the taste was phenomenal. Woah, if I could eat them everyday I totally would. Also, ya can’t go wrong with pimiento cheese, but I’d say branch out and try something new. I don’t think you’d regret it.

Sunday, however, I was 100% in the mood for breakfast. The lunch menu had no appeal to me, so after browsing for a little while and sipping coffee from those classic cafe white mugs, I landed on the Croque Madame which featured ham with goulda and swiss cheese on homemade sourdough, topped with dijon mustard, bechamel sauce, and two eggs overeasy. Needless to say, it was as tasty as it sounds. The perfect breakfast or brunch for when you’re super hungry!

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Since it was Easter, we had to top it off with something sweet. Every baked good at Kumquat’s looks amazing, but my granola addiction led me to choose a vanilla yogurt parfait topped with homemade granola and garnished with a strawberry and orange slice. My favorite part was that the granola was nutty and not to sweet. It balanced the vanilla yogurt perfectly.

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Needless to say, I highly recommend Kumquat Mae’s to anyone and everyone who is ever on the hunt for an inexpensive breakfast or lunch in the Athens area. Order a cup of coffee, enjoy live music, and love the people you’re with! Cheers to brunch all the time! 

#WeddingWeekend: Social Media on the Big Day

Happy Monday to ya! After a super fun weekend, I’m not too excited to be back to the reality of school, but I’m saying no to Monday blues and looking forward to what this week will hold! Let’s hop right into a quick weekend recap and talk a little about how social media has made a huge impact on events and weddings.

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The main event of the weekend was a wedding of two high school friends! I had been looking forward to the wedding for weeks, and since the bride and groom were high school and middle school sweethearts, we were all so excited to finally see them tie the knot. The wedding took place at a beautiful plantation, Pebble Hill, in Thomasville, Georgia, and the weather could not have been more perfect for an outdoor event. Warm and sunny. I think that means Spring is finally here, thank goodness.

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So if you have been to a wedding recently, you’ve probably seen a note from the couple about a hashtag to use when posting on instagram or other social media platforms. This trend has become more and more popular as instagram has grown, and one of the first tasks of a newly engaged couple is to decide on a cute, creative, funny, unique hashtag to use for wedding related photos.

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The purpose of having a hashtag is to be able to search and see all of the pictures guests have taken and posted throughout the day. After attending a wedding, I always browse through wedding pictures, and if I wasn’t at a wedding, I love to get a little glimpse of the day through instagram. One of the primary reasons the hashtag has taken off is because it combines visually appealing content with the social aspect of sharing and being part of a group. I don’t foresee this trend fading away anytime soon!

Congratulations Lindsay and Russell! Loved celebrating the day with you, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Jacksonville Gate River Run: Race Recap

Hi there and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It is also one of my very best (womb) friend’s birthday today, and even though we’re not in the same city, I’m celebrating her today! Happy Birthday, Holly! Love ya so much!

Now for a race recap. I rounded out a pretty relaxing Spring Break with a big running party in Jacksonville. Following a little trip to Thomasville, my mom and I, along with two other friends, headed to Florida for the biggest 15k in the United States. The Gate River Run is quite the exciting event. With more than 10 bands along the way and lots of crowd support, it is definitely a race worth checking out. The course weaves through downtown Jacksonville, beside the most beautiful houses along the river, and finally, over the Hart Bridge. Because of the crowds, I would say that this is not a race to try for a PR on. Just run for fun, and enjoy the view.

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To start off the weekend, we picked up a quick dinner from The Loop Pizza Grill. Race weekends always involve pizza in some way or another (we may or may not have eaten it 3 times this weekend), so my mom and I shared a Mediterranean pizza loaded with feta, spinach, artichoke, and tomatoes and a  Feta Mediterranean salad with feta, spinach, artichoke, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. Clearly we don’t hate feta and spinach. Even though the pizza before a race tradition could totally have some sort of placebo effect, we think it makes the perfect pre race meal to fuel us up for 9.3 miles Saturday morning.

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After settling into our hotel room on the top floor of the Hyatt in downtown Jacksonville, everyone crashed. Except me. Something about a race just keeps me wide awake. I think it’s a combination of excitement and fear of missing my alarm. Thankfully after only about 3 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling well-rested and ready to go. With running clothes on, I quickly ate a bagel before hopping on the shuttle to head to the start line.

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Once I arrived at my Wave 2 start, I put in my headphones and started to think about my strategy for going into the race. I was not adequately trained to run it fast, but I knew I had enough endurance to run the whole way and push over the bridge in the final 2 miles. No matter what, I wanted to make it over the “green monster” with no stops, so starting with this mindset gave me a goal to focus on.

Miles 1-4 were the hardest for me. My legs were feeling pretty sluggish, but thankfully, the heavy crowd kept me at a steady pace so I didn’t rush out from the start.  The first couple were through downtown, and then we got to the San Marco neighborhoods along the river. I wish I could’ve gotten pictures of some of the houses to show y’all. Absolutely beautiful. Once I hit 4 miles, I got in a groove, mostly because my music shuffle started playing all of my favorites in a row. We continued on through the neighborhoods, and by mile 7, we were headed toward the overpass leading to Hart Bridge. I gave myself a pep talk, queued Uptown Funk and Sugar, and hit the ground running up the bridge. I knew that once I hit the peak, the rest was downhill, so with endorphins and a huge smile, I picked up the pace to finish out the last mile to the finish.

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Whenever anyone asks about running, I always encourage them to run at least one race. The feeling of crossing a finish line is like no other, and I am always beaming at the end.

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After the race, I was able to meet up with a friend who had tracked me running through the 1st Place Sports app. This app allowed her to see when I crossed certain mile markers and sent details to her phone when I crossed the finish line. From a social media standpoint, this technology allows for connectivity no matter if your cheering squad is at the race or not.

When I finished, I headed straight to the food trucks where I ate my first Acai Bowl! It was quite possible the greatest and most satisfying post-race food on the planet. I’m hoping to find an acai smoothie pack somewhere around Athens so I can recreate the heaven that was in that bowl and tell you all about it. Post race relaxing is the very best, and we took full advantage of the pool and got pedicures before seeing ELTON JOHN!!! Such a fun weekend, and I’d highly recommend checking out this race if you’re looking for a fun 15k.

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Again, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂

Big Bloggish News

Hi there! I’ve got quite the exciting news for you today, so let’s get going!

If you’ve ever read a post here at The Daily Graze, you’ve probably figured out very quickly that I follow lots of blogs and absolutely love to read about a variety of topics like faith, food, fitness, and sometimes fashion. It has taken quite some time to discover and compile my favorites, and it is a process that is constantly happening as I stumble across new bloggers through instagram, pinterest, and other blogs.

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Even though I absolutely love the excitement of perusing the internet for new content, I know not everyone has the time or desire to do that, and that’s where an amazing new site called Bloggish comes in! Bloggish was created by two recent college grads, Alyssa and Virginia, and compiles a grouping of favorite blogs related to faith, lifestyle, and health & beauty. Alyssa and Virginia were inspired by faith to put this little space together as a way to connect readers and bloggers to a community of love and encouragement. I cannot express my joy to be a small part of their project, and I especially cannot wait to see how the Lord uses these bloggers to show me more of who He is!

Whether you’re an avid blog reader or have never opened one in your life, you must check out this site! I hope you’ll feel the love as much as I do and that through Bloggish, we can all discover, inspire, and encourage each other in this crazy, fun little life journey we’re on!

I hope you’ve all had a very happy Monday! If I make it through Wednesday, a picture recap of the past two weeks plus a healthy blueberry scone recipe are coming for you. Now go checkout Bloggish, watch the Maroon 5 Sugar video, and since yesterday was World Compliment Day, tell someone how much they mean to you! Seeya soon! 

Banana Soft Serve: Satisfy the Sweet Tooth

The Valentine’s day sugar high may have already worn off, but don’t worry! I’ve got the simplest recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth, and it’s loaded with fruit and even a little kick of probiotics for an easy boost to your digestive system.

First, here are a few other eats from the weekend! My friend and running buddy, Krista, and I spent Valentine’s day running and eating. Two of my favorite things. We pounded out a little over 6 miles on Saturday morning, and goodness, I’m so glad we did. The extra chilly weather almost caused us to postpone our run and stay in pjs, but  we spent the hour chatting away about life and marveling the beautiful sunshine. Totally worth the freezing hands!

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After the run, we made plans to spend the evening relaxing and putting together a tasty dinner. I gathered recipe ideas from pinterest and instagram, but needless to say, we ended up with a “kitchen sink salad.” There were just too many options to choose from, so we basically picked our favorite toppings from each and ended up with our own delicious creation.

21515[chopped romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, apples, avocado, red onion, granola, feta, caesar dressing]

Side note: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the weekend of love rekindled my love for avocados. Bought a whole bag at the grocery store yesterday. Yippee!

Now here’s what you’ve been waiting for: Creamy Banana Soft Serve!

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  • Bananas (unpeeled, sliced, frozen; I used 2)
  • Kefir, Milk, or Almond Milk (I used strawberry kefir for a probiotic punch)
  • Dash of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Fresh cut strawberries (for topping)

Add frozen banana slices and about 1/4 cup of your liquid of choice to your high powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth stopping regularly to scrape down the sides. When the mixture has reached a smooth consistency, add cocoa powder and continue blending until creamy. Spoon the soft serve into a bowl and top with fresh fruit!

Sweet tooth solved with no processed sugar! Hope you enjoy!

All the Produce: Grocery Tips

Hello! I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend–full of relaxation or excitement, whatever you were needing! I spent some much anticipated time with family, laid out a post-graduation schedule/plan, made a yummy pancake brunch, and even fit in a long-ish run. It was the perfect mix of downtime and productivity, and dealing with all the post-grad stuff took a huge weight off of my shoulders. Now for some foodie business: this post goes out to all the produce lovers or should be produce lovers (so everyone)! I have a resource  and a tip that I must share with you to make your grocery shopping trips a little easier.

As I was perusing the produce section at Trader Joe’s, I started to brainstorm how to make the most of my produce. All too often I purchase a container of spinach and before I’m able to finish it, it’s turned into a gross mushy mess that I have to throw away, and I just hate wasting fruits and veggies.

In the past few weeks I’ve discovered two easy breezy ways to get the freshest produce for the best prices. You’ve gotta take advantage of these!

First, buy seasonally! Fruits and vegetables that are in season tend to be priced better, and they always taste amazing. In order to do this efficiently, I started using this chart from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This site displays what produce is currently in season, and along with helping me pick out my usual favorites, it provides some inspiration for new veggies. Citrus fruits are a must purchase item right now, so be sure to pick up a few next time you’re out and about. And even though apples are a favorite at all times, I’m itching for a fall trip to the North Georgia orchards; there’s just something about fall leaves and juicy apples. Of course, it’s not entirely possible to purchase all things in season, but it’s great to make the most of your favorites when they’re available!

Second, use the salad bar! Holy cow, this changed my life! When making my grocery list, I knew I wanted spinach for sandwiches and small side salads, but there is usually no way I can finish an entire box before it goes bad. I was just about to purchase a few hearts of romaine when the idea to buy from the salad bar popped into my mind. I filled up a to-go salad container with exactly the amount of spinach I wanted, and it only cost $1.50 (FYI, spinach doesn’t weigh a lot). If you’re ever in need of a small amount of produce, especially if it is lightweight, don’t forget about the salad bar option!

Let me know: Is there anything you do in the grocery store that we should all be doing?

So you’re stuck in a rut?

Sometimes it happens. When I headed back to Athens, I fully intended to start the school year off with a good workout/gym routine, and I even geared myself up to get back into a steady running schedule. As the title suggests, though, that hasn’t happened. It’s not because I don’t have time because I do, and it’s not because I’m trying to recover from sort of injury because I’m healthy. I really don’t have an excuse besides the fact that at this point, there is legitimately not one single bone in my body that wants to go for a run or go to the gym. We all have the typical “I really don’t want to workout” thought, but we go knowing that once we do, we’ll feel a million times better. However, that’s just not my case right now. I don’t really feel better because it’s become more of a stressor to get it done than it is stress relief to do it.

From the reading I’ve done, there are two main philosophies when it comes to being in a fitness rut. The first is that you push through. You mentally gear yourself up. You dig down and pull discipline from the deepest part of you, and you make it happen. The other side is that you listen to your body with the confidence that the desire is going to come back. Of course, this doesn’t mean to just give up on living a healthy and active lifestyle, but it does mean to focus on doing the active things that you love to do. In my (not professional) opinion, you really have to gauge your own situation to pick which one of these to go for. For me, I know that I enjoy running, and over the summer, I seriously grew to love the weight area of the gym. However, strenuous workouts just aren’t what my body and mind are craving right now. Does that mean it’s over forever? Definitely not. The passion will all come back in time, so I am perfectly okay with taking a hiatus from them.

The main thing hasn’t changed though. I still want to move, enjoy being active, and be outside all the time. Maybe you’re in the same place, so here are a few easy things that I’ve turned my fitness focus to that keep me active and healthy without worrying about making it to the gym.

1 // I go on walks. Long walks, slow walks, walks to chat, walks that end in froyo. Whatever kind of walk that you enjoy is a good walk. Every evening I’ve set out on a walk, usually about an hour long, around the pretty neighborhoods in Athens. Walks are fun, and they count as exercise. Sometimes you may not have time to set out an hour just for walking, so in those cases, add some walking to your daily routine. In my case, that means arriving to campus a little early and walking to all my classes rather than riding the bus. It may mean parking at the back of a parking lot rather than the front space or getting up from your desk more often. Whatever it takes. Check out Robyn’s blog (which I love) to hear her awesome perspective on walking.

2 // I’ve been able to focus on eating whole and clean. I typically enjoy doing this anyway, but I can now focus more attention on trying new things. I don’t have to worry about making sure I have enough fuel for a workout or eating more carbs for a long run. Maybe a break from the gym means you can spend more time discovering more recipes, planning more meals, or spending more time in the grocery store (praise). I’m dying to try these sweet potato brownies!

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First food truck experience in Seaside!

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3 // Find something new or rediscover an old favorite. It’s a perfect time for discovering a new workout that you’ve never gotten the chance to do. It may be taking some group fitness classes or getting outdoors more. For me it will hopefully be PureBarre and yoga, and when I get the opportunity, my favorites–hiking and kayaking.  

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4 // Quit worrying about it! Seriously. No more stress about not making it to the gym; no more stress about not getting in your Saturday long run; no more stress about not getting a weight PR. If you’ve enjoyed training for races, lifting weights, or whatever else you’re burnt out on, it’s going to come back, or you’ll find something you like even better.

What’s your favorite group fitness class? Hope you all have an awesome Wednesday! (P.S. sorry for all the list posts!)

Cheers to the Weekend

If you were wondering, here’s what went down in Athens this weekend! The weekend (or Thursday night) began with a 3 mile run that ended on the train trestle. Just look at this sunset!

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What should have been a productive afternoon of cleaning for our weekend guest turned into adventures all around Athens to take cool pictures and enjoy the weather. Nothing like a cup of afternoon coffee to make you want to do everything but clean. Amen! Oh yeah, I’m like a hippie now too.

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After carb-loading for the big race at Olive Garden, I met friends at Menchie’s for frozen yogurt. Needless to say, our laughs and race nerves kept me up all night….I actually don’t think I got any sleep.

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So much joy to see the finish line for the Chick fil A Half Marathon in Athens! A race recap will be coming soon, but this was probably the hardest race I’ve run because of the mountains that are everywhere in Athens. Also, after this race, I’ve set a new goal for my next half to be sub 2:00—unless it’s one where I need to slow down to enjoy the sights like a Disney or Rock n’ Roll race. (Leslie (in the purple leggings) and I ran together, but we didn’t know the guy in the cow outfit. We must’ve all been feeling about the same way though.)

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Despite the hills, this was one of my favorite races because of the people in the background of this shot. Seriously, it was so awesome to be in Athens and have friends at the finish line. They’re the greatest, and I am thankful!

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BEST. PICTURE. EVER. Our favorite Dillon Panther, Tim Riggins, met us at the finish line! Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose was our race day mantra, so to have Tim there was the best surprise! 😉

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After a restful afternoon, we ended the day with Judah and the Lion and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors at the historic Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens. It was a great night with friends, and I’m so glad Whitney (on the left) could spend the weekend in Athens with us!

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Overall, it was a crazy, exhausting, fun, and productive weekend! Now to get back into the school, internship, study swing. Do you have any fun concerts or events coming up? What is your favorite concert you’ve ever been to?

March Favorites

If your March has been anything like mine, it’s flown by, but I’ve had enough time to stumble upon a few fun things. Enjoy!

Beautiful spring days and bike rides with my mom. Come on warm weather! I’m ready for you!

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This buzzfeed quiz! Mostly because I got Emma Watson, and I’m completely satisfied with that. Buzzfeed, you win on this one.

Light wash jeans. I remember just a few months/years ago when I would only think about wearing dark wash jeans. Everybody knew light wash jeans were for old men, right? They’re all the rage this spring and summer season though, and with a boyfriend fit, layered jewelry, and a graphic tee, you can look relaxed but still put together.

These two articles from Darling Magazine. Encouraged. Inspired. Grateful.

Shopping Your Joy Away

Four Keys to Being Content

Fun Pinterest finds. I’m smitten by all of these shoes ranging from grungy birks (they’re coming back in style, just wait) to classic sandals.

Birkenstock Tobacco Leather Arizona They just feel summery to me. Boho, slouchy, livable.

Geneva Sandal So classy! I’m so glad these are making an appearance again.

Free People Solitaire Heel I love these! Funky enough to be interesting but still classic enough to be wearable.

This piece of wisdom. Let’s step out of our comfort zones and say yes. Yes to challenges, yes to those who say no, yes to joy, yes to new adventures in April!

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Did you make any cool discoveries in March? Any goals or adventures scheduled for April?