Black Friday Shopping Guidelines

Since 1952, Black Friday has become a holiday of its own for the consumers of America. The term was originally used to describe the crash of the U.S gold market in 1869. The term “Black Friday” was later used as a way to refer to the day after Thanksgiving when retailers went “into the black” or made a profit. Today, Black Friday is a day that has turned into a full-out, strategic shopping adventure. Whether you go to Target or Walmart, some sort of calculated strategy needs to be put in place. Here are a few tactics to tackle your Black Friday Shopping:

  1. Make a game plan- A game plan is vital to Black Friday shopping. A game plan includes a shopping list, list of stores you want to visit, and you may even want to include in itinerary. The more organized you are before during this chaotic day, the easier your shopping experience will be.
  2. Figure out your needs and wants- We all have things we need, but we also have things that are more of a want. Now the tricky part is distinguishing the difference between a need and want . . . My personal advice to you is to put the people you are shopping for first, and then put yourself second. Although there will be many tempting items that you will just need try to find the self-control you have deep down and remember the others you are shopping for. By shopping for others on Black Friday, not only will you save money but you will get your Christmas shopping done early! Now you will save money and stress. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t splurge on something for yourself, but always keep in mind your needs and wants.
  3. Research, research, and research some more- I cannot stress this tip more . . . do your research! Prices fluctuate from every store. One store may have a packaged deal or an exclusive product that you wouldn’t have known about without looking up prices. Also, search for the store policies at the stores you plan on shopping at. Some stores may have limitations for certain items, or some may match the lowest prices of other stores. Doing your research is always advantageous, so research, research, and research some more!
  4. Set a budget- Setting a budget can be a daunting task. Personally, I set a budget with a little bit of “wiggle room” and set it at a the price that I can comfortably spend the most. I do this so I am not tempted to spend too much money, but also so I don’t feel too confined. Make sure you stick to your budget, and make sure it is realistic for your shopping plan. It is definitely okay to underspend, but you may regret overspending.
  5. Decide how dedicated you want to be- There are many levels of Black Friday shoppers. You have the “oh I just want to check out a few stores” shoppers. You have the “I have a list and I know what I want, but it’s okay if I don’t.” Then you have the “I’m camping out all night for this 50 inch, $100 TV” shoppers. Whether you are a spectator or a camper, figure out how dedicated you want to be and then plan accordingly.
  6. Find Apps- Surprisingly enough, there are apps for Black Friday shopping! Disregard my sarcasm, but there are actually three specific apps that I would recommended: ShopSavvy, Black Friday App, and Nifti. These three apps are great tools for your shopping trips. ShopSavvy allows you to scan the barcode of a product to find the best price. Black Friday App shows all the Black Friday deals and also includes store times and information. The app Nifti tracks prices based on historical data to see if it really is a good deal. I would highly recommend downloading at least one of these apps to make your life easier.
  7. Maybe online shopping is a better alternative for you- If none of these tips seem appealing to you, then maybe you should opt for online shopping. There are many Black Friday online deals, but if you simply don’t want to shop the day after Thanksgiving then there’s always Cyber Monday.

I hope these tips will help you with your Black Friday shopping. Best of luck to you and whoever else dares to face the craziness that Black Friday brings.

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Being The Change

The events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last week are nothing short of appalling. Watching the news has made me feel so incredibly sick. I’m upset, angry, and looking to make a change. As a young adult in the world today I am in an important place of power. I have the power to control the future of our nation by speaking up about important issues. I encourage you to do the same because every voice is valuable!

Take an inside look into what happened in Charlottesville by checking out this documentary created by VICE. The footage gives great insight into the minds of some of the individuals involved with the rally and how their actions affected those around them.

I hope this film made you just as upset as it made me. Getting enraged is what will spark the fire to make a change. I wish I could show this film to every single person my age to create a reaction. It is one thing to read a tweet about what happened in Charlottesville, but taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of those who were there when it happened creates a whole differe

This past Saturday there was a free speech rally in the Boston common, and I have never been more proud of my city. Hate was met by an outpouring of love. The counter protest consisted of at least 30,000 individuals marching to fight bigotry and hate. The rally was for the most part peaceful and no extreme acts of violence were reported by the Boston police. There is just as much room for love in this world as there is for hate.

Boston “Free Speech” Counter Protest – Aug. 19, 2017

I was feeling down and upset last week but after Saturday I felt my body fill up with hope. Boston proved that love can overcome hate.

As far as what you can do, reach out to Republican state reps and speak up about the change you wish to see in our government. Every voice is important and speaking up is the best thing you can do at this time. We must bring these issues to the attention of local officials who have the power to invoke greater change. Every individual can impact a bigger change.

Check out this link for more information: https://hastebin.com/tosetacemo.coffeescript

Resist, resist, resist. Combat hate with love. Persevere. There are things going on everyday that inspire me to take action and I hope that more young people will educate themselves and get involved because we are the change.

Chicago in 3 Days

 

Looking to explore a new city? Want to experience a breathtaking skyline that’s also right on the water? It may be time to look into visiting Chicago. This past week I went for 3 days and really fell in love with the city. There are great deals on Expedia that will make it easier to travel on a budget and this guide will help you get the most out of your trip. 

Chicago Cubs

If you’re a Red Sox fan, Wrigley field will feel very familiar to you. It is the second oldest ballpark behind Fenway and has an awesome old timey feel. Wrigley is a beautiful field with great a great view from every section. There is history packed into the stadium and fun facts posted around the park to read up on the history of the Cubs. Awesome food, die hard fans and ice cold beer. Basically Boston, right?

The Bean

The Bean!

An icon in Chicago, the Bean can’t be missed. Located in the heart of the city in Millennium Park, it could not be easier to get to. Grab a Chicago dog from a nearby food truck and sit by the Bean for an hour or so. The perfect place to people watch and snap some fun pictures. There are other sculptures and artwork scattered around the park to check out too. Research restaurants around the Bean because there are many cool food joints hidden around the downtown area!

Art Institute

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat

After you’re done with the Bean, move on to the Art Institute of Chicago to explore an incredible selection of artwork. The institute carries an impressive collection of pieces from Seurat, Monet, van Gogh, Warhol and so many more. It is not hard to spend an entire day here exploring every wing of this beautiful museum. Be sure to check out the modern wing upstairs for very funky, contemporary paintings and sculptures.

Navy Pier

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What is better than an amusement park on a boardwalk?! Navy Pier is a fun place to visit while in Chicago, even if it’s only for half a day. On certain days over the summer they feature outdoor movies on the pier along with other cool activities. There are many fun restaurants, carnival rides, and boat tours to explore. The Navy Pier ferris wheel is the perfect way to view the entire Chicago shoreline from end to end. To make thing even better, the shuttle from downtown to the pier is always free and runs about every half hour! Grab a bite to eat and enjoy the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan.

John Hancock Tower

Sunset from the top of the 360 Observatory.

The top floor of the Hancock tower hosts the most amazing view for a sunset. An elevator takes you 94 floors up in less than a minute. When the doors open, you are greeted by floor to ceiling glass windows showcasing a 360 view of Chicago from a bird’s eye view. It is so peaceful being in that beautiful tower and a perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day exploring the city. You pay for admission to the top of the tower and can stay as long as you want. There is a fun new feature at the top called Tilt! where you lean against the glass at the top of the tower and hang out above the city. Very scary, but worth it for the thrill!

Chi-town is my new favorite city and maybe it will become yours too!

Being Present

 

Credit: Pinterest

Last week I came across the above quote and it really spoke to me. Being physically present and being mentally present have two completely different definitions. Lately I have been feeling the absence of deep, meaningful conversations in my life and I yearn for that void to be filled.

I cannot remember the last time a phone wasn’t pulled out at some point during a conversation. When hanging out with a group of friends all it takes is one person to pick up their phone and everyone feels obligated to check theirs too. We have grown accustomed to the presence of technology and it is getting harder and harder to be fully present in day to day life. The truth about technology is saddening because no one my age knows how to entertain themselves without a screen. Someone whip out Yahtzee or Pictionary, PLEASE.

It may seem ridiculous to live without technology but pulling back from constant screen use is a great way to slow down your brain. Lock your phone and instead pass some time by reading, journaling or drawing…unleash the creativity! Once enough time is focused in a more constructive place than the depths of someone’s Instagram page a feeling of relaxation arises. There will always be time to be engrossed in social media but I hope more than anything that young people can learn to stay present in the more simple joys of life.

When having a conversation, I try to remind myself to continuously look someone in the eye and ask questions about what they are saying. That is the best way to show your true interest in another person. It is just too easy to get lost behind a screen when the world is going by around us. We walk around engrossed in the latest Tasty video or Snapchat story, completely oblivious to the beauty passing by with every step.

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It may seem impossible to go a full day without your phone but the experience will allow you to see the world a little differently. You don’t need that perfectly staged Snapchat video or Instagram story to show that you are having fun with your friends. There is definitely pressure in our world today about posting constantly to ensure that your followers know you are maintaining an interesting life. Your friends that you are hanging out with already know how much fun you are. Pictures and videos are great, but soaking in the memories with your eyes and ears is more organic and fulfilling.

It is always great to snap some pics of a new place or some cool food, but save the editing and posting until after in order to enjoy the rest of the day. People always seemed surprised when I say I left my phone at home for the day or night; it’s like a security blanket that is thought to be a necessity when I can function just as well without it.

Right now you are looking at a screen, as are billions of people around the world. Try taking a breather from all the screens and pay attention to the beautiful details all around you because the world is a lot more interesting than the Instagram popular page.

I snapped this pic before embarking on a beautiful walk down the beach a few weeks ago. Left my phone in the car (:

 

Fun and Cheap Adventures for Summer 2017

If you’re anything like me, you like trying new things and visiting new places. Even if you aren’t as inclined to branch out, summer is a great time to try new things and visit new places. New adventures don’t necessarily require lots of money and preparation, you can have a lot of fun in and around your hometown to spice up your summer and discover some hidden gems. Trust me, growing up in a small town has forced me to get very creative when I’m bored.

Whether you’re bored on a rainy day, or sick of going to the beach on your day off, these ideas can help you find something different to do this summer.

Public Parks

Acadia National Park

The best vacation I have ever been on was to a national park. Last summer my family visited Acadia National Park in Maine, and the sights were breathtaking. I have never seen such natural beauty and it made me want to go on a national park road trip. Wherever you live in the world, there are public parks, hiking trails, and lakes that many people don’t know about. A lot of them are free entry, too! If there is a daily fee, the money goes back into environmental efforts to keep the parks open and thriving.

There are numerous parks in Massachusetts alone, and thousands across the country. Many offer kayak and canoe rentals, camping grounds, and scenic walking trails. Parks are a great way to bring out your inner adventurer and spend time outside.

They are also perfect for your furry friends to enjoy.

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Aren’t into climbing mountains? Have no fear! Pack up a nice lunch and go sit by a beautiful lake or overlook, I promise you will not be disappointed. Lunch with a view is always a good idea.

Parks can be packed during the summer, but there are multiple trails so nothing ever feels too crowded. Getting out into nature is great physically, but also mentally. The warm summer air and the sound of birds chirping in the trees creates a natural zen environment. There is something so peaceful about sitting in a quiet park and taking a step back from a fast paced life. Every time I visit a park I feel happier and more relaxed when I leave.

Secret Beaches

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If you live near the ocean, I’m sure you’re familiar with the local beaches. But do you know all of small, secret beaches that aren’t crowded with a million umbrellas and coolers?

I am living on Cape Cod for the summer and I have started to discover multiple tiny beaches that are nearly empty. Most don’t even have parking lots and consist of a tiny path on the side of the road that leads to a little slice of heaven.

These beaches can be tricky to look up online because people like keeping their secret sanctuaries private, so doing field research may be your best bet. They are usually close to public beaches, unmarked and down a side road. Getting to them is an adventure in itself but once you reach the destination the serenity is well worth the journey. If there isn’t a sign that says “Private Property,” put your towel down and make yourself at home.

One of my favorite “private” beaches on Cape Cod.

When you find a place like this, shhhhh! It’s a secret beach for a reason!

Give your tastebuds something new and different

Coconut latte from Jaho Coffee

One of my favorite things to do over the summer is try to find the hidden gems of the food world. They are everywhere! So many restaurants in the U.S. are inspired by places all across the world, bringing an international food experience right to your hometown. Yelp is a great place to start and gives a reliable outline of what kinds of dishes to expect. It is particularly helpful to read reviews of dishes you aren’t used to before making the trip.

I like branching out to find different food because it is easy to get sick of the same things. I fell in love with Indian cuisine through my summer research and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to go to somewhere so new and different with so many amazing flavors I have never experienced before. My taste buds were happily surprised.

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Picky eaters can enjoy new food too, most places can create dishes that are fairly mild if that is what you’re comfortable with. No matter what kind of cuisine you are trying, try to choose something on the menu that sounds different and exciting. If you discover you really like it, try making it yourself at home! Fill this summer with new food adventures and maybe discover a new love for cooking.

Grabbing some friends and visiting a funky place for dinner is an awesome adventure and summer is the perfect time for it.

Unusual Sports

The category of sports encompasses a lot more than baseball and football. No running is involved, just fun! Whether it’s ziplining, whitewater rafting or bubble soccer, there are many wacky activities out there to try this summer.  

One place I have really been wanting to go the past year or so is a treetop adventure park near my house. Definitely find one of these places near you if you want to feel like a monkey! This park is a course of ziplines, tightropes, rope walls and more. It has been built in the woods so you really feel like you’re a tree animal! I went ziplining once before in New Hampshire and absolutely loved it and I am yearning to check this place out.

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Bubble soccer is another funny one that has become somewhat recreational in the Boston area. Once you put on the “bubble” you look like a hamster ball with legs. It is hilarious to watch but looks like it would be so much fun to try. There are locations and variations of this activity all across the U.S. and it would be perfect to rent some for a party, or just for fun with friends!

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Bubble soccer. Giphy.com

The Zoo

The zoo is so underrated. I absolutely love the zoo. You can find me there, standing next to a seven year old, just as excited as they are to see the giraffes walking around. They are fairly cheap to visit and showcase amazing, exotic creatures.

If you live near Washington D.C., the Smithsonian National Zoo is free!! It also happens to be the best zoo I have ever been to…they have giant pandas, lions, elephants, and so much more.

Giant Panda at the Smithsonian Zoo.

The zoo is a great summer day trip, and I definitely recommend going on a weekday if you can because it is a lot less crowded and easier to get up close to all of the animals. Some zoos also allow you to bring in your own food and drinks, so you can save money by packing snacks from home.

In addition to the zoo, go to the aquarium! So many beautifully colored fish, penguins, seals, and other water creatures that are amazing to see up close. The aquarium is a perfect adventure for a rainy day.

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I hope this list helps you kickstart an amazing, adventurous, memorable summer. (:

 

Registration is here!

It is November 7th and registration starts today as Election Day lingers in the distance. And luckily, Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games has something to tell you:

Credit: quickmeme.com
Credit: quickmeme.com

Yes, it has reached that time in the semester where we all have to attend academic advising or department advising meetings, figure out our pin numbers (for those of us who have them anyways), and to wake up bright and early at 7AM on our designated day! And in my case, I have a week to go until I will be able to register for my classes and as someone who surprisingly gets lucky with class registration, I want to provide you with some of my main tips.

Continue reading “Registration is here!”

Planning Your Life with the Bullet Journal

Every time I mention my “bullet journal” — about twice per day — I usually garner a strange look from a friend or a passerby. I understand the confusion. It’s a weird name for what is essentially a DIY agenda, but I’m still a huge fan of the concept — name and all.

What’s a bullet journal, you ask? A bullet journal (often abbreviated to “bujo”) is a written organization system that has the potential to be an ongoing art project if that’s what you want it to be. If you want to stay organized, the bullet journal system is ideal for keeping track of everything you have to do. You can list your homework, workout schedule or anything else.

Continue reading “Planning Your Life with the Bullet Journal”

Working ‘Till College Do Us Part

When May is coming, all college students can think of is the potential for adventure, fun and sleep during their summer months. No more homework or projects or whatnots.

Well, at least until your internship starts, you get hired at your summer job, and finding the time to split between your friends at home, from school, and all that family you missed out on during the school year. Suddenly, you’re sick of your own summer. When’s the right time to quit?

For each person this question differs. Obviously the money aspect plays a big role and everyone’s fiscal responsibilities vary according to need, want and current stature. So this question is very personal for many. If you need to keep working or work hours on end during the week, quitting your job early may not be the write solution for you. However, as long as friends and family, a good book or show to binge online surrounds you, you’ll get a little break until the academic calendar offers a little solace.

However, if you do not fall under that category, there are many variables you need to take into account.

Are you happy at your job?

This is a question that has many parts. Are your coworkers nice; are your bosses understanding; are you paid well enough for your task? If your answers to these questions are astounding yeses, then you may be happy to keep working. Considering how rare that is, enjoy it while it lasts. But if you’re counting down every hour from the moment you get in, your bosses haven’t listened or respected your requests, the pay isn’t worth the treatment and work you’ve completed, then maybe you shouldn’t stay there all summer. How many times have you been able to see the friends and family from home since starting work? Have you actually taken time to relax before the academic grind begins? Did you go on an adventure of sorts? Don’t loose your summer to a job.

Leave time to relax, to craft, to see friends, to explore, to do anything your young collegiate heart desires. You’ll be working when you’re back in school. If you can afford it and need it, take some time for yourself.

How much time you need is up to you. If you hate your job, need some more money, but don’t want to loose your time at home to this paid task, why not quit a little before. A week, depending on how many things you want to do. Two weeks if you’re traveling or visiting friends and family. If you need that much time for the amount of events you want to complete this summer, do it. Take a month if at all possible.

Just remember to try and follow protocol. It’s never a bad thing to have another work reference or experience on your resume for the future. So try to at least give two weeks notice, more so if possible. Bring it up when you have their full attention. Tell them how grateful you were for this opportunity, even if you hated every second of it and are imagining the fanfare when you walk out. Explain that you need to start focusing on getting back to school, means it had nothing to do with them or your feelings towards them. And give an exact date of when your last day will be. Then, there will be no confusion of when to start the trumpeters.

Instagram Worthy Summer Adventures

Summer is almost halfway through and thus you may be thinking “what have I even done so far?” Between working or summer classes, it is easy to feel as if you are not making the most of  your “summer fun.” This is especially the case when social media tends to make your friends’ lives seem so exciting. If you feel as if you are wasting away your chance at some summer adventures, here are some ideas to help you make the best of your summer.

Day Trips

Juggling a summer job or internship while trying to still have a social life is not an easy task. One of the best ways to make the most of your limited time of is by going on day trips. Anything less than a two hour drive is a good option. Public transportation is also a great option. Going somewhere you’ve never been before even if it’s not a major tourist spot can still make you feel like you’re doing something. It’s always fun to explore a new town or city, try new restaurants, and experience the culture. You never know what you may discover.

Even if you’ve been somewhere before, there is almost always something new to do or see. You never know what you may discover.  You can always try searching Pinterest or even googling for ideas. Viewing your area from the eyes of someone else can remind you of places you’ve always wanted to go or never even knew existed.

Explore the Arts

Most cities, towns or neighboring areas have some sort of local arts scene. Don’t be afraid to check out a local gallery, nearby concert or theater production. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of the artists or bands. In fact, that’s probably better as it will make the experience more of an adventure. Opening yourself up to new art is always a valuable experience. Local arts scenes also tend to be close knit, so it’s likely you’ll learn about other events while you are there.

Also consider checking out some local museums. Most museums are free or low cost and many even offer student discounts. Museums are a great way to learn something new and get inspired. Even your local town history museum is worth checking out. Typically, the people who work in museums are genuinely interested in starting conversations and sharing their knowledge, so be sure to ask questions and gain as much as possible from the experience.

Explore the Outdoors

Camping is a great way to travel on a budget. Most areas have nearby state parks with tent sites or low cost campgrounds. There is so much to see outdoors, and there are so many adventures to be had. Depending on where you live, there are likely different kinds of hiking trails to explore. If you’re a beginner start out with easy trails and see how you like it. There are also so many other options for exploring nature. Everything from riding your bike to spending a day at the beach can be a great summer adventure. If you don’t have a full day to spend outside, consider going on a picnic. Simply getting out in the fresh air can remind you of the joy of summer.

Record these adventures in photos and journals. You can post about it on social media if you wish, but don’t feel obligated to blog every minute. Remember, this adventure is something for you, not something to use just to show off. Make memories that are powerful and fulfilling without worrying about what your Instagram caption will be.

Surviving Festival Season: Concerts, Tours and All

You’ve waited for months, ever since you saw the lineup and qued up your computer in class to be the first to buy tickets. Congratulations, you’ve finally made it! The summer concert season is in full swing.

A huge gathering of artists sharing their craft for appreciative audiences, what is more beautiful than that? Reaching for your wallet to purchase that CD or band tee to find it missing from bag, is that beautiful too?

Here are some tips and tricks to surviving the concerts and tours with more than you showed up with.

  1. The Perfect Bag

I wish I could tell you all to wear a fanny pack with little locks on them, but even I refuse to do that. I know all of my belongings would be safer, but my pride would be ruined. There’s a certain appearance for each concert and festival one tries to create and attain and we’re not going to just ruin that for fanny packs.

People argue constantly on which is better, a purse or a backpack? When in all reality, if you choose wisely and use smartly, both are very effective and safe.

The first rule in choosing a bag: nothing open. I know you can get things easily, but so can others. Secondly, nothing loose. If your backpack is longer than your back, you’re not going to feel anything going on back there. The same goes for purses, tight straps across your body or smothered into your side. It’s like being your own doorman to your gear, you’ll know exactly who is going in and out of the realm of your possessions. And third and lastly to conquering your safety bag when swaying with hundreds of others to the beat, never keep your wallet easily accessible. At the bottom of your bag is best. If it’s not easy for you, it won’t be easy for anyone else. It’s not like you can’t get it, but you’re being smart about it.

  1. What to Bring?

Let’s think about this for a moment, truly consider the situations and scenarios you most definitely will be faced with and the one’s that could potentially happen. You’re going to get thirsty, fact. You’re going to want money, fact. It will be loud and bright, fact. So a bottle of water is needed, your wallet without a doubt, some ibuprofen would be smart, and sunglasses as well.

You could fall or spend the concert being kicked by overly-enthusiastic audience members so a small first aid kit with cleansing wipes and band-aids is smart. Did you check the forecast the day before? Is rain in your future or wind or shine? Plan accordingly.

The two final things to remember, make sure you have room for basic items you’ll also have to carry around as well. This includes house keys, car keys, back-up phone chargers and some memory cards. And under it all, you should find your wallet.

  1. What to Wear

I understand there is a fashion of tours and concerts, but weather is still a factor. Especially if it’s all day long, if you’re standing, and outside in the sun all day and night. Light and comfortable is best, even better if worn right from the start. If not, have options available. Wearing heels on grass for 8 hours isn’t practical, I don’t care what Sex & The City says. You start out in heels; you better bring flats with you.

Layers are great for winter, during testing seasons and for summer as well. Light layers, like a bandeau, a tank top and sweater are recommended. When it’s scorching and you’re boiling, you’re set until the wind comes flying your way and even then you’re set.

Make-up however, I know you don’t want to go out without it, it’s such a perfect photo opportunity, but if you’re smart, you shouldn’t have a problem. Wearing light coverage concealer, loose powder and sure long lasting products on your eyes will be best. Make sure not to touch your face often, especially if you’re sweating. Otherwise instead of being miraculous with the band, you could be smeared or breaking out from the sweaty make-up being re-absorbed into your pores. And even if all of that didn’t persuade you, how about the fact that the less you wear on your face, the easier it will be to breathe and, as a result, keep yourself cool.

Now go out and enjoy the music!