Great Eggspectations (Giveaway!)

As you guys already know from last week’s egg-cellent post (ha!), I’ve got a small obsession with, well, eggs right now. But I’ve started to realize that it really extends to more than just eggs. It’s a current obsession with breakfast food in general. And just like the period I went through when I watched Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightly version) four times in a single weekend once in college (including one time when the credits finished rolling, the start menu came back up, and I just picked up the remote and pressed “Play” again), I’ve been bitten by the obsession bug baaaad. Like, breakfast for dinner every other night for the past couple of weeks-bad.

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It really is a bit of a weird food streak right now, actually, because aside from always wanting bacon (who doesn’t?) and the occasional pancake craving, I’ve never really been THAT into breakfast food. Sure, the novelty of brinner was fun every once in a while, but it’s never been like this. Maybe it’s just all of the years spent not eating breakfast finally catching up with me?

Either way, when an opportunity came along from AllWhites® egg whites egging me on (double ha!) to dive even deeper into my crazy cat lady obsession exploration of these foods, I couldn’t exactly say no!

Here’s a run-down of facts about AllWhites from the good people who make it:

AllWhites is a great source of lean protein, with five grams of lean protein and just 25 calories per serving. AllWhites is a fat-free, cholesterol-free and low-calorie alternative to shell eggs.

And for those of you who participate in the program, AllWhites is endorsed by Weight Watchers® and has 0 PointsPlus value per serving.

For recipe purposes, here are the recommended conversion amounts when substituting AllWhites for shell eggs:

– 3 tbsp of AllWhites = Approx. 1 large egg
– 1/3 cup of AllWhites = Approx. 2 large eggs
– 3/4 cup of AllWhites = Approx. 4 large eggs

Now, as someone who most definitely appreciates a good runny yolk but recognizes that — especially when it comes to cooking — using multiple whole eggs can add up quickly on the caloric scale, I fully appreciate the convenience and calorie-cutting power of egg whites. Plus, as the self-proclaimed master of weirdo breakfast combinations (What? Pasta, guacamole, and leftover steak are a totally legit breakfast combo, right?) it helps to know that at least one of the ingredients that I might be using is actually breakfast appropriate. Plus, hello? I get that egg yolks have their own nutritional value, but at 70 calories per egg vs. 25 calories per serving of egg whites, who says you can’t have your low-fat cake and eat it too?

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Introducing the latest in what has now become a rather lengthy lineup of Gretchen’s Breakfast Food Creations: the smoked salmon crepe-uritto!

This delicious culinary confection combines so very many of my favorite things: crepes, smoked salmon, cream cheese, eating with my hands… it’s like a bagel and lox that you don’t have to feel guilty about! Or a breakfast burrito, only fancy. Delicious, filling, nutritious, and only 150 calories per crepe — WHAT! You could eat both servings and have a totally satisfying, full breakfast… or dinner… for only 300 calories. You are oh so very welcome.

Smoked Salmon Crepe-uritto
Makes 2 crepes

Ingredients:
For the crepe:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp AllWhites® egg whites or 1 whole egg
2 tbsp almond milk, milk, soy milk, whatevs.
Very small pat butter or nonstick spray

For the filling:
3 oz smoked salmon
2 tbsp whipped cream cheese
1 tsp green onion, finely chopped

Instructions:

1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar (if using) in a bowl. Add egg whites and milk, and mix with a small whisk or fork.

2. Heat pan (preferably nonstick) to medium heat. Spray liberally with nonstick spray or melt butter in pan, then add half of the crepe batter. Swirl the batter quickly and evenly around the pan, then allow to cook for ~30 seconds (you have to work pretty fast!). Flip to the other side, cook for another 20 – 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Repeat for the second crepe.

3. Spread one tablespoon of cream cheese on each open crepe and add half of the smoked salmon and green onion. Roll up and enjoy!

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Nutritional info per crepe: 151 calories, 4.7 grams fat (healthy fat!), 13 grams carbs, 12.5 grams protein.

It’s the perfect grab-n-go breakfast if you still have to worry about that sort of thing (mwahaha), and it’s much better for you than an egg mcmuffin (and fancier, too!). I know crepes are kind of scary to think about making, but I promise, they are the easiest and quickest thing in the world! You could even add in some spinach or other greens into the wrap if you wanted to up the nutritional ante even further! Make it now, thank me later!

So not only do you now have this delicious new recipe in your arsenal, but you’re about to get your chance to win some monaaaay! AllWhites and BlogHer are generously offering you guys the opportunity to win a $100 Visa gift card (!!) as part of this campaign!

To enter, just comment on this blog answering the following question: How do you fuel the way to a healthier you?

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the [email protected] email address. You will have 72 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 3/3/2014-3/31/2014.
Be sure to visit the AllWhites® egg whites brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

This post was sponsored by AllWhites® egg whites and I received compensation for my content. But all words, photos, and opinions are my own!)

Not Too Shabby

Hi friendos! Sorry about that whole thing where I said the Shabby Apple Giveaway winner was going be to announced tomorrow… two days ago. So, I’m a day late. Life has been happening! But I’m back now, and I’m ready to announce without further adieu that the randomly picked winner of a $50 gift card to Shabby Apple is…

MRS. COURTNEY P!

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Whoo-hoo! Congrats, lovely! Shoot me an email with your addy and deets and I’ll stalk you get it over to the good folks at Shabby Apple. Thanks to everyone who entered, and fear not! There will be another giveaway ’round these parts soon, so you’ll get another chance to win some fun stuff… while I get to pretend I’m really popular because of all the comments my giveaway posts get. Hahahaha.

I don’t have too much else really to report today, so I’ll just keep it simple and leave off here. But with the following picture, so those of you who didn’t win don’t feel you came here for nothing:

Happy Vampire Diaries Day Thursday, everyone!

My Body, Dressed My Way (Giveaway!)

Hi my internet loves. I know I’ve been MIA for the past couple of days (not that this should really come as a huge surprise to you all at this point, of course), so I think a proper “hello” is due! So, I received a lot of questions about the lace dress I wore to my extravagant birthday dinner that Sean treated me to last Thursday. And I held off on answering those questions because I actually had a very specific post in mind in which I would talk about it. I actually had planned on posting about it Tuesday, but in light of the tragic events in Boston, it just didn’t feel right doing so. I still don’t really feel “right” about posting, but I missed blogging, and I missed you guys, and shocking though it may be to hear, my Hunger Games birthday party wasn’t the only thing to happen over the past week.

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That’s right. MELTED CHEESE AND FLAMING CHOCOLATE HAPPENED, TOO.

What was I talking about? Oh, right, the dress.

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To preface this, let me say that despite my 60-pound weight loss… and then 15-pound weight gain… and wherever exactly it is that I’ve landed now (I’m admittedly a little scared to weigh myself after my birthday dinner AND Melting Pot date with Aileen and Ai Rei AND birthday party–hahahaha, weight loss blog, schmeight loss blog) I have always had a fairly defined body type. Whether at 250 pounds or 186, size 20 or size 12, plus-sized or straight-sized or somewhere in the great unknown between, my general body shape has stayed pretty much the same: hourglass, with large ladies on top, wide hips, and a soft belly.

That’s me. And it’s taken a long (long, long, long, long) time to come to accept that. To accept the fact that no matter how much weight I lose or how thin I get, my body is probably never going to look like Rachel Bilson’s or Mischa Barton’s or, well, I’m not sure why I’m using actresses from The OC as the golden standard of ideal bodies, but you know what I mean. I’m not lean and lanky, I’m not slender and willowy, I’m curvy and tall and thick and–short of being seriously malnourished–will likely always be this way to one degree or another.

Now, let me be clear that I am not complaining about this fact. Not anymore, at least. Sure, I may not have a flat stomach (I cannot even tell you a single period in my life where my stomach has EVER been “flat”) or “thighs that don’t touch”, but even at my current weight, I can still appreciate my body for the things it does have. The things that some other women probably complain about not having. Boobs. A butt. Height. Long legs. A defined waistline, even if it’s got some extra padding around the front.

All that said, being comfortable(ish) with my body does not mean I wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face, thinking, “Oh! Glorious day! I feel beautiful beyond compare!” Accepting that my body is the way it is does not equate to having full, unbridled self-confidence. It does not automatically mean I feel beautiful and put together 100% of the time. It generally takes at least a modicum of effort on my part to feel confident and sexy in my own skin, and to achieve this, I need to ensure I am wearing clothes that A) fit, B) flatter, and C) I actually like. With an always-changing body that most definitely does not conform to Hollywood standards of beauty, this is not always an easily accomplishable feat.

To satisfy the A) criteria, I first have to accept that the size label on the inside of my clothes means NOTHING. Far more important than the actual number, is how the clothing fits. But, of course, that’s not always an easy pill to swallow, especially for those of us who have long equated clothing size (in addition to the scale) with our self-worth. But a size 12 is not a size 12 is NOT A SIZE 12. And because they’re all jerks, J. Crew and Old Navy and H&M and Loft and NY&Co and Forever21 all have very different ideas of what each size means.

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Sized up to 14 for this dress. Also, BAM. See what I mean? There’s no denying them curves. Oy.

Sometimes this works in my favor, like when I’m in the dressing room and I realize I need a smaller size, and suddenly all I want to do is announce to ALL THE NAKED LADIES in the dressing room with me that I can wear a size M sweater. Buuuut more often than not, it means that I have suck up the fact that I might need to size up, but that doing so does not make me less of ANYTHING.

To satisfy the B) criteria, I need to embrace clothing that flatters the body type I talk about above. This means getting over the fact that there are certain fashion trends I cannot pull off (farewell, sack dresses), and getting INTO the ones I can (like anything that belts at the waist).

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So while I absolutely love the blue Calvin Klein empire waist dress that I own (and wore to dinner with my two Ais on Friday in the pic above), I have to admit that it doesn’t really do much for me. It makes me look wider and thicker than I am, which, in turn, doesn’t make me feel great about myself when looking back over these pictures. Although, given the amount of melted cheese we consumed, I maintain that wearing something loose at the waist was probably a good call, purely from a practical standpoint.

Which brings us to point C): finding clothing that I actually LIKE, in addition to fitting and being flattering. I know, right? How much more can I possibly demand of the clothing industry?! Back when I was larger, I would settle for clothing that wasn’t particularly appealing all the time, simply because it fit. Did it matter that I didn’t particularly care for those colors? Did it matter that it pinched my underarm a little, or wasn’t the right length? Of course not! It fit over my head, it zipped up, it buttoned. That was the only thing that really mattered, because surely I didn’t deserve to actually feel fashionable or cute or sexy or beautiful. It didn’t matter that the clothes might not have been my style, or even that I HAD a style (which, if you were wondering, falls somewhere in the vintage/romantic/feminine/preppy aesthetic… I think). No, I just needed to find clothes that fit, that were more socially acceptable than the XXL hoodie and stretchy pants that I really wished I could have been wearing.

NOT ANYMORE. Enter, my newest closet acquisition:

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Shabby Apple I’m Late! I’m Late! Navy Lace Dress

Shabby Apple approached me asking if I would be interested in hosting another giveaway for you guys. (I held one waaaay back when that ended up being quite popular, for good reason!) I told them that I absolutely was interested, as long as they were comfortable with me using the giveaway as a means to open up a discussion on what it means to try and dress for your body type. Thankfully, they were MORE than on board, and let me pick a dress from their site to illustrate my point. I ended up choosing the I’m Late! I’m Late! dress from their Mad Hatter Collection (best collection ever, amiright?) and am could not be more pleased with my choice.

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Given that I’m not 100% happy with the weight I’m at right at the moment, this dress made me feel elegant and beautiful, while also making sure I didn’t feel self-conscious about the way my arms looked thanks to the lace sleeves. Cap sleeves tend to be a larger-armed girl’s worst nightmare, and it’s really difficult to find a vintage-style dress without them, so at least these had the extra covering too. The cut of the dress nips in at the waist while skimming over my hips, which is my ideal silhouette. I received SO many compliments on this dress! (It comes in purple, too, just saying.) In my opinion, this is very much a dress that exemplifies all three criteria: it fits, it flatters, and I don’t just like it, I LOVE IT. (It is just a smidge longer than is ideal for flattering my legs, but I think it’d probably be easy enough to hem up the lace on at the bottom.)

So now is your chance to find something that makes you feel equally as good! I’ve got a $50 Shabby Apple giftcard to give away to you guys, and all you have to do is…

1. Like Shabby Apple on Facebook.

2. Leave a comment back here telling me something you’ve learned (or are learning) to LOVE about your body!

That’s it! I know this is pretty much old hat by now, but I like giving you guys as many opportunities to win as possible, so–as always–extra entries are given for liking HISTG on Facebook, following me on Twitter, and tweeting/posting about this giveaway. Just makes sure you leave separate comments for each one, and in order to win you MUST like Shabby Apple’s Facebook Page. Unfortunately, this giveaway is open to US residents only.

ETA: I’ll be picking a random winner on Wednesday, April 24th! Sorry for forgetting to mention that little nugget of crucial info, ha!

I’m Back, Baby! (Giveaway!)

EDIT: This giveaway is now closed. To see if you were one of the winners, click here!

Ohhhhh hey guys. Long time no see/talk/read. Well… I’m back! Yep, back from Houston full of adorable baby memories and a huuuuge backlog of work to sift through, heh. Technically I got back on Saturday, but I’ve pretty much been playing catch-up since then. (Also, there has been some major snuggling with Harry since he didn’t get to make the trip with Daxter and me.)

Getting to spend the week in Texas with my sister, her husband, my parents, and my brand new baby niece was amazing, but it may surprise no one to hear that it wasn’t really a vacation in the traditional sense. Nope, up by 7 every morning, helping to change poopy diapers, and watching a LOT of TLC (okay, well, that part was pretty vacation-y, heh), I almost feel like I need a vacation from my vacation! Alas, that won’t be happening (at least not until Sean’s and my epic Ireland trip in July!) but at least now I’ll be back on a (hopefully) regular blogging schedule.

Part of my going down to Houston was to do a newborn photo shoot with baby Amelia! I’ve only just started editing some of the photos, but in case you haven’t already seen these plastered all over social media (and apologies if you have, hehe), take a look!

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She is the most alert and curious baby when awake, and soooo freaking adorable when asleep. Of course, not every shot was a winner…

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I honestly think this one might be my favorite of them all, hahaha. Anyway, like I said, this is only a preview of the gazillion photos I still have yet to edit (seriously, I took almost 300 shots! Hahaha) but I thought you might like to see proof of the one productive thing I managed to do in Houston. 😛

Speaking of Houston… so. My sister, who some of you may already know works for UnderArmour, sent me home with a smorgasbord of UA goodies. One of the things I was sent back with is an exclusive collection of awesome UA headbands!

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They look really great AND are super functional for working out. They feel nice but are grippy (without tearing out hair or anything horrible like that). Even though my hair is super straight and sleek, they really don’t slip very much! This particular pack comes in really fun blues and greens. I get compliments on my UA headbands ALL the time when I wear them, and I want you guys to experience the same!

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Giveaway time!

I’ve got FIVE (yes, five!) packs of headbands to give away to you guys! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite thing about Spring is!

As always, extra entries for those who follow me on Twitter, Like HISTG on Facebook, and tweet/post about this giveaway. Just make you sure you leave separate comments back here for each thing you do! I’ll pick the winners on Friday, April 5th.

Note: This giveaway is not sponsored in any way by UnderAmour. I just have the good fortune to get freebies through my sister, and know I’m not gonna need 20 more headbands to add to my own collection, hahahaha.

Happy April!

Protein-eriffic (Giveaway!)

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. To see the winner announcement, please click here!


The following post is sponsored by Pure Protein. I am receiving a stipend for my participation in this campaign, but all content is–as always–100% my own. Check out great ways to Eat Good and Look Great at their website.

So, protein. Admittedly, as a self-professed carb lover (addict?) for, ummmmm, my entire life, protein has never been at the top of my diet priority spectrum. I mean, sure, I always knew it was important in a “duh” kind of way. And, sure, I like to eat steak and chicken and tofu and all that good stuff. But before starting this blog (and my weight loss/health journey in general), I never really gave a lot of consideration to how much protein I was really consuming. Nor did I consider how much I SHOULD be consuming. And even now, two and a half years into my journey, I still struggle. Despite my best efforts to make my plate balanced, I find myself constantly falling back into the pattern of a VERY carb-centric diet. And that certainly isn’t conducive to my weight loss: protein is proven time and time again to be critical for weight loss–helping elongate your periods of satiety, keeping your blood sugar stable, and generally just being a good USE of your calories.

So when the opportunity presented itself to try out some of Pure Protein’s products, I had a kind of curiosity epiphany. After all, I am constantly trying to better my understanding of the nutrients my body needs, as well as what my body responds to, so I figured this would be a good way to test those waters. Now, granted, protein supplements are not, at least in my opinion, a crucially necessary thing to add to your diet. I don’t think anyone is going to make the argument that supplements, shakes, and bars are better than obtaining your macronutrients directly from your food. But there are also plenty of reasons why that’s not always going to happen. For many, it may be as simple as being too busy to think about protein when making dinner, since it’s just faster to make spaghetti. I figured, why not give these things a go and see if they would be a fitting addition to my lifestyle, especially now that I’m getting back into going to CrossFit and upping the fitness ante in general.

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Enter the protein supplement. Pure Protein sent me a package including a big ol’ tub of protein powder, a few bars, and some protein shakes as well. So I spent the holiday weekend taste-testing the products and seeing if I felt they helped me stay fuller throughout the day, kept my energy up for working out, and the like. Verdict?

Mixed, definitely mixed. Pretty evenly split, actually, in terms of the good, the bad, and the meh. For the sake of ease, I’ll break this up into reviewing the three different products I was sent.

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First up: the protein bars! I was sent both the peanut butter and a chocolate flavors. I actually only ended up trying the peanut butter one, because I felt like the chocolate-chocolate one might end up being a little too close to an actual chocolate bar, and I gave up sweets for Lent. The bars have 20g of protein (!) and 200 calories, and I actually thought it tasted pretty good. Chewier than your average bear bar, but pretty good. I was actually pretty surprised that it only has 2 grams of sugar (although I’m sure it has other non-sugar sweeteners in it). In terms of satiety, the bar definitely filled me up and made it so I didn’t feel like snacking on anything else between meals. I think for someone with a serious grab-and-go lifestyle, this kind of thing could almost work as a breakfast replacement (after all, you’re getting about 20 grams of protein more than you’d find in a pop tart). They’re also gluten-free, if that sort of thing matters to you (obviously it doesn’t for me, haha).

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Moving on, let’s talk about the shakes next. Pure Protein’s shakes come in different flavors and different protein amounts. I was sent the 15g of protein shakes in Vanilla Creme, which is actually the lowest protein amount (they also come in 23g and 35g). Soooo, I won’t lie, I really did not like this one. Maybe it was the flavor or the consistency, but I’m pretty sure I actually made a face when I first tasted it. It reminded me of watered down Slim Fast, which has negative connotations for me given how many of those things I drank back when I was in middle school and thought I was too fat (oh, if I’d only known then…!). Maybe this shake would be better in a different flavor, but as I was only given one flavor to sample, that’s all I’ve got. The shake is 170 calories for the whole bottle, and includes the aforementioned 15g of protein, but there’s also a LOT more sugar than in either of the other products (25g!). It was definitely the most disappointing of the three products for me.

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However, I have better news when it comes to the protein powder. Now, confession, this is literally the first time I have ever used protein powder before. I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers that use it, and I’ve seen lots of smoothie recipes that include it, but I’ve just never gotten around to trying it for myself. Well, I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with my first experience! Pure Protein sent me a big ol’ honkin’ thing of Whey Protein Powder, also in Vanilla Creme. Thankfully, I enjoyed the flavor MUCH better this time (possibly because there were other flavors involved). I made myself a smoothie that included a banana, almondmilk, ice, and half a scoop of the powder, and it was really good! If I’d had some spinach laying around, I would have totally turned the thing into a green smoothie.

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The protein powder is 150 calories for a full scoop, with only 2g of sugar, and adds 25g of protein to whatever you put it in. So, with my half-scoop, I ended up with a 75 calorie, 1g of sugar addition to my smoothie, which was about 120 calories with the banana and almondmilk on their own. I can definitely see myself utilizing it to add extra protein to smoothies, which I tend not to make a lot in the past because I don’t find them filling enough to warrant the A) calories or B) time spent cleaning my blender. But this concoction absolutely worked for me as a breakfast smoothie.

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So, my feelings overall on the products? The powder itself is probably the only one of the three I can see myself adopting into my lifestyle, since I really enjoyed both the flavor it added to my smoothie, and the flexible utility of it. I also really like the suggestions on the back of the tub for how to use the powder other than in smoothies. They suggest adding it to oatmeal or pancake mix, and since you know I’m all about finding ways to boost the nutritional impact of foods that are otherwise not super-nutritious, I think those are both great ideas.

As for the other products, you already know how I felt about the pre-made shakes (read: not good), but depending on how much convenience food you eat anyway, or if you have a specific reason to really amp up your protein intake (are working out heavily, weight lifting, etc), I can see how the bars could be a viable option for some. And Pure Protein does produce “natural” versions of all their products, if all the fakey ingredients are a problem for you. But why take my word for all of this, when you can form your own opinion? I have a Pure Protein prize pack to giveaway to one of you, which includes several full-sized versions of all the products mentioned in this post!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post answering the question: What role does protein play in your life? Is it something you already take care of, something you know you should have more of? Do you find it difficult to get the required amount of protein in your diet? I’d really love to know where everyone else stands!

As always, extra entries are granted for those who follow me on Twitter, Like me on Facebook, or blog/Facebook/tweet about this giveaway! Just make sure you leave separate comments for each thing you do to ensure your extra entries are all counted. The random winner will be selected on Monday, February 25th!