Roses are red, hearts are blue…

The Blue Heart Campaign raises awareness to fight human trafficking and it’s impact on society. This inspirational foundation puts positive energy into “encourage involvement and inspire action to help stop this crime”.

I was honored to be invited to the Blue Heart International launch party hosted by my dear friend Teav and her partners Missy and Blake. Teav was born in Cambodia during a genocide and escaped to America with with her parents when she was 7. Now, she’s a proactive woman shining light on a growing issue that needs attention. Pictured below is the glowing girls Teav and Missy.
Fun fact: They’re both pregnant!

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The elegant venue was held in the rolling hills of Lincoln, California. Let’s take a walk!

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Lining the walls were tables of art and accessories that were created by the lovely ladies in order to raise funds. From recycled clothing that we’re made into scarves, to paintings and sparkling jewelry.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve played with a stamp-pad, but what a perfect opportunity! Two fingerprints created the shape of a heart that marked the spot for your name. Adorable!

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My smiling date for the evening? Meet Freya. I starting doing her hair years ago and we immediately connected beyond the salon chair. Now she’s a dear friend who shares the love for travel, food and putting her creativity to positive use. What a perfect partner to compliment this evening!

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As people arrived, you could feel the love exude through kind conversation and genuine smiles.

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These are some of the precious girls that were rescued years ago and have chosen to be a positive part of their community.

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Cheerful tunes from this peaceful artist was a soft touch to enhance the already welcoming vibe.

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Let’s take a moment and appreciate the phenomenal caterer that filled the room with hand rolls, small bites and chilled sake. The owner of Mikunis restaurant, whom also has an incredible story that he shared with all of us, kept the seaweed moving. I met him when I was 10 years old learning to use chopsticks while sitting at his first tiny restaurant. Oh how we’ve both grown. Thank you Taro!

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After serving all of the grateful guests, Taro kicked off the speeches with his own story. One that included a pop quiz regarding his restaurant and the morals behind it. Guess who answered quickly and correctly? I’m now the proud owner of his recipe book!

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Moving on to the purpose of the evening in which we got to hear Teav, Missy and others speak from their hearts. Unsettling facts, personal stories and future goals were just a few of the topics shared from the front of the room.

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I’m confident to say the majority of the crowd was sniffling or gently holding a tissue to their eyes. A bitter sweet emotion seemed to capture everyone’s spirit… sympathetic yet hopeful. How do you feel when finding out that most of the girls are between 8-15 years old and are “sold” an average 25 times a day? Easier heard than truly thought about.

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A personal thanks to Teav for inviting me to this eye-opening event and presenting new opportunities with endless possiblities!

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…to be continued.

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I eat my leftovers first.

Well friends, turns out I love food. If you’ve been following for long, you’ve witnessed what seemed to be the endless exploring of several different markets and the entertaining lessons during cooking classes.

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I’d like to share something that I’ve been doing for years and I’m sure there are many people out there who have had a similar ideas. My grandma’s “refrigerator soup” for example, is all the left overs from the fridge into a pot that magically turns into some sort of tasty stew. My version uses fresh ingredients, that in most households gets pushed aside or discarded to waste.

I now realize that I’ve never given it a name, so here’s my version of “leftovers”. (I’ll have to give it an appropriate title someday).

On this beautiful afternoon I was playing with spinach, cilantro and beet leaves for a salad to pair with garlic roasted butternut squash. Don’t you wish that was the goodness I was sharing? Sorry, recipes will come later. This post is about recycling the part of the herb or veggie that doesn’t get used in the common meal!

Step one: Clean your scrumptious items and cut what you’d like to use for your proper dish. Put that bulk section aside for whatever you got them for in the first place.

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Step two: Place all of the stems, guts, limbs, leaves, ends, crumbs and other miscellaneous unwanted parts into a pot with a little water.

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Step 3: Add any other veggies from your stash that need to be used before they go bad. Even throw in some seasonings if you want. Today I tossed in the outer edge of an onion and a few garlic cloves that I had laying around. Also, to add some density, I added a few cubes of the uncooked squash.

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Turmeric fun facts: (Maybe not fun, but useful… You should look into it)
There are countless internal health benefits of Turmeric – anti inflammatory, diabetes control, liver detox, weight management, reduction in cancer growth, boosts immune system, aids digestion, preventive powers with Alzheimer’s…the list goes on! However, did you know that it’s also a natural antiseptic and antibacterial? If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process.

Step 4: Simmer just long enough to barely soften all of the goodies. (We’ve all been told not to overcook vegetables in order to maintain as much of the nutrients as possible, right?).

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Step 5: Let cool, especially if you’re going to be using plastic. Follow by launching (or gently scooping) your veg-o-chaos into a mixer including the flavorful broth left behind. Blend it up!

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What to do with it now? Purée it for a sauce, let it be the base for a pasta dish or maybe mix it in with brown rice and kidney beans. Usually I would top my soup off with the roasted seeds from above, however on this day, I ate them right out of the oven. Typical.

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To be honest, my usual routine consists of eating a majority of it straight from the mixer then saving the “leftovers” for the main course. Yes mom, I know… You should never eat standing up. I’m working on it”.

Happy leftover cooking to you!

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dreamcatcher with the Hawk!

Recently I’ve slowed down the blog posts as I’m back in the states to replenish the travel funds. As I described in How do you afford all of that traveling, I generally volunteer for room and board and cut hair on the road to accumulate extra cash. Well, I can only save up so many flyer miles until I actually have to purchase the flight and thus, I’m currently working in my home state of California to prepare for the next excurssion.

Side note: I feel it’s necessary to express that although I’m here to “prepare” for the next journey, I do my best to appreciate everyday. To be in the “now” is something I try to be conscious of and embrace as I skip down the beautiful path that we call life.

Mark, Better known as Hawk, is a brightly spirited man thats eager to share the love he’s put into music and is currently collecting donations to release his first album. We met back when recess was the highlight of the day and Whitney Houston battled George Michaels for the top spot of the billboard charts.

One must smile when you see this guy!

This is where you stop reading and take a quick peek at his fundraising page, Dream Catcher Hawk Debut!

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Moving on to a brilliant evening that was made up of a group of positive thinking, open-hearted friends that gathered to support my long time pal. First here’s Anna and Tim, they opened their home to all of us and did so with smiles and an unexpected dinner that was offered without hesitation. Kale and quinoa salad with butternut squash soup… Yes please!

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Standing tall (inside and out) is Hawk. Next to him is Mackenzie, a girl with a golden heart that will brighten your world with few words and a sincere smile. The happy fella next to me? You should recognize Mike from the last stretch in Europe. Group hug for everyone!

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I wanted to add this adorable photo of Ann and Tim’s kids loving the company. Good times!

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Heading to the backyard, we found a beautifully designed layout that seemed to be made just for the gathering of great friends.

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Let the blissful tunes begin! If some of these faces look familiar, it could be from the post in which they captured my new found love for the mat at Leap Yoga Studio.

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Did you notice the white dome in the panoramic photo from above? Welcome to the colorful, sound enhancing room of joy. Well done friends!

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Do you ever wonder if there’s a group of individuals out there that truly desire genuine peace in their life… bundles of positive energy that attract more light to their already vibrant world? My heart beats with ease just knowing this bunch of bright people who are constantly spreading the warmth with their daily choices. One love!

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Folsom Lake, no swimsuit needed.

When I tell people I’m from California, I usually get a response questioning my ability to surf and/or if I can see the ocean from my house. Considering I grew up in the Central Valley, my “surf” was behind a boat on one of the many lakes and rivers. Folsom lake specifically was a huge part of my childhood as it was just a bike ride away. With the slightest glimpse of the Spring’s sun, we would be packed up and headed for the water. 20140209-090718.jpg

To see more of sunshine playtime in California check out the post, “Jumbled July Shenanigans in California”.

Back to Folsom Lake. So, how did this aquatic social park get here? Before the massive body of water, there was a dainty little town that was home to 2,500 Mormon immigrants seeking riches after settlers struck gold in the nearby city of Coloma. Developed in 1848, it lasted only 100 years before the city was flooded for the Folson Dam project that created the lake we know today.

Thank you internet for this photo of the historic town during it’s prime.

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After 2 consecutive dry seasons, Folsom Lake is at a record low of only 17% capacity. Below is a comparison of the dam when the lake was full and one of the present state of drought.20140209-091200.jpg

With levels this low, the lost city from the 1800′s has revealed evidence of it’s once thriving existence. Now that you can walk miles of what usually is underwater, we decided to head out to see the city we had been swimming over for years. (Recognize these boys? Mike and Hayden were my amusing partners in crime during the last adventure in Europe).
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Here, you can see old roads and remaining stones from what could of been a local home, saloon or school.20140209-093627.jpg

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If you’ve ever enjoyed a summer on this lake, you’ve seen at least one of your friends (if not you, yourself) dive in after a phone, a pair of sunglasses, keys, watch… pretty much anything that doesn’t float. I can only imagine how many of these were found during the early days of the drought. On this excurssion, we were lucky to see older items that had been discovered and placed on display for the public to view.

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Luckily I’m writing this post with rain hitting the windows and predicted snow fall in the mountains. We’re all hoping for the return of a lake in the near future, so I’ll leave this post with one of my favorite night photos I took on Folsom Lake years ago after a day of play in the sun. !

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Handstand of 2013! The winner is…

I absolutely loved watching the votes roll in, thank you! Plain and simple, here are the winners starting with the runners up and working to #1!

The honorable mentions start with an open green area in Cusco, Peru. This area made up just a small part of the exciting journey we spent exploring the streets and unique markets. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite cities in the world!

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The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most internationally recognizable structures in San Fransisco, California . Definitely handstand worthy!

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After Machu Picchu hit the top of the polls for best photo of 2012, I thought it would be refreshing to introduce another wonder of the world. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England was a classic set up for a proper handstand photo.

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The sunset over looking The Thimble Islands was a surprise treat while visiting my longtime friends on the east coast of the United States. The colors were not touched up in this photo… All natural beauty!

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The Cologne Cathedral is the largest gothic church in Germany which made it a bit of challenge to get me and the very tip of the building in the same shot. Well done Hayden!

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Santa Catalina is a beach town on the west coast of Panama where I was volunteering as a staff member of Cabañas Time Out resort. What an office view!

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Then there’s my precious family in good ol’ Oklahoma. These are my five siblings that are always eager to help out with the handstand shot. This year we chose to do it in front of our snow woman before she melted away.

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In third place, we have the Mahogany Cathedral that welcomes you to the north coast of my favorite island. Barbados holds a special place in my heart and I highly suggest a visit if you’re ever in need of a well rounded beach holiday.

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With a close second place, it’s not a surprise that the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia caught your attention. From the peaceful monks walking around to the thousands of stairs and doorways, this scene was easy to get lost in… both physically and emotionally.

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With a solid win in first place, I share with you the colorful handstand photo from Chiang Mai, Thailand. These lights almost define this magical place and the vibrancy that naturally exists throughout the city. Well done Asia.

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Categories: Polls, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2013 Handstand of the year! The nominees are…

Thank you so much for the suggestions on this round of handstand of the year! After reading all of your input and reminiscing on the priceless moments that went into capturing these actions shots, I’m honored to present you with the official nominees for 2013. So please take a hard look (or just a quick glance) and vote for your favorite(s) by clicking on the poll at the bottom of the page. Winners will be announced on February 1st! 


 Santa Catalina, Panama

 

Cusco, Peru 


Thimble Islands in Connecticut, USA


Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England


Temple in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

 

 


 San Francisco California, USA


Cathedral in Cologne, Germany


Chaing Mai, Thailand

 

 Mahogany Cathedral at Cherry Tree Hill, Barbados

 

 Family support in Agra Oklahoma, USA

VOTE HERE!

 

 

 

Categories: Fitness, Polls, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Please help nominate for handstand of 2013!

Last year I was thrilled to see the votes roll in for handstand of 2012. Between the stories that come with each shot to the actual snapping of the photo, every handstand has a significant place in my memory and its always neat to see which ones stand out to you! Here were the honorable mentions from last year:

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The runner up was a classic shot from the lost city of Machu Picchu, Peru. I still get joyfully emotional when I look at this photo as it was such a special moment in time (the whole journey, not necessarily the handstand itself).

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To think a photo topped the one above still boggles my my mind, however the winner of 2012 came from Georgia, USA! This is extending over the edge of Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta. I will admit it is a pretty sweet picture.

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So the time has come again in which I’d love your help to narrow it down for the current nominees! If you go to the top of this page or click here, you’ll find the column of handstands to choose from. You can simply comment in the space below, or email me directly at herhappytrails@yahoo.com

Thank you for all of your votes! Cheers to a new year, the open road and much love all around!

Categories: Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Part three of 2013

Part One and Part 2 did so well, I thought I’d bring an additional light-hearted post to wrap up what was yet another amazing year on the road. Lets just jump right into it!

Anything with a wheel honorable mentions:

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The runner up is a quirky little mobile that you should not be surprised that I found in Amsterdam. I’ve always loved the Dutch!

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And the winner is… a row of taxi’s that made for an excellent photo in Hoi An, Vietnam. I really enjoy the overall feeling of this picture, from the narrow angle to the smirk on the drivers face. It simply makes me smile.

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Creative carriages (or anything with wheels carrying cargo) honorable mentions:

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The runner up ranked high on my list due to the productive idea and the fresh goods that comes with it. My favorite food delivered from the farm right to my hands? Sign me up Santa Catalina, Panama!

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And the winner is… these guys! I like this photo because of the busy energy and the variety of actions that are happening. From cell phone use (he must get great service up there) to a few jumping on and off, this moving vehicle was a quality shot!

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Culture me this honorable mentions:

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After debating on the list and staring at these photos for way too long, it dawned on me that this is my list and I can do whatever I want (what a relief!). With that said, here are several “runners up” because this world is magical and I didn’t want to pick a winner. So there.

A gorgeous walk along the the river to a local market, all in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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The sky scraping cathedral in Cologne, Germany… What a climb!

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The unexplainable rocks of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

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The amazing lost city known as Machu Picchu in Peru will forever rank high in my most memorable journeys. It’s not an easy tour or quick museum visit, the entire trip start to finish makes it what it is.

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Best of 2013 – Part 2

Continuing on from the last post, “Top photos of 2013″, I now introduce to you the best of 2103 in the following categories…

We love animals honorable mentions:

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The runner up is a family of monkeys that have made my buddy’s home in Barbados a permanent stop for their daily banana. Can you imagine how much fruit this growing family goes through! Thanks for sharing your love Mikie!

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…and the winner is my new friend (that we never named) who so gently followed me in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Maybe he saw me put the left over greens in my bag, either way, it brought a smile!

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Lovable little ones honorable mentions:

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The runner up comes from Japan, obviously not for the quality of the photo but the overall image. These little tykes stumbled by our house twice a week and left me giggling every time!

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…and the winner is this mother and daughter from the Lake Titicaca. Yes, these villagers actually live on the floating islands that sit outside of Puno, Peru.

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Tasty treats (excluding fruit, as that’s a different food group in my world) honorable mentions:

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The runner up comes from El Salvador and had no impact on my taste buds. Why is so high up on the list? My enthusiastic mom tasted this and spent the rest of our trip searching for another one. It turned out that it was a specialty from a specific cafe near our hostel. On the last day of our journey, she bought half dozen and carried them on the flight with her as if it was a box of fragile jewels.

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…and the winner is a red bean ice-cream that I found in Japan that surprised me with its sweet taste and unique consistency. Yes, those are real beans you see!

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You really ate that? Honorable mentions:

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The runner up is a dish from El Salvador that typically includes cabbage, salsa, and sardines. I loved the textures and salsa spices, however the fish were a bit to salty for me. Either way, I thought this photo captured it all!

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…and the winner is the ever so popular bites from our bus ride to Siem Reap.

FAQ- Did I really eat them? First bumpy worm, yes (never to be done again). Tarantula? I bit off the leg, chewed for way too long and then spit it out. The grasshopper/locust was a similar nibble and spit due to the rancid flavor. None of the creatures below “tasted like chicken”… Not even close.

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Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top photos of 2013 – Part One

Time to reflect on the past year of traveling and give you my top picks for photos that I’ve placed in randomly themed categories.
After spending entirely too much time (that I thoroughly enjoyed) narrowing down from 18,000 pictures, here are the first 4 categories from 2013.

For Best facial expression, the honorable mentions are:

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The runner up is an entertaining shot from the base city of Aguascalientes, Peru. I don’t think we could ever capture this quality picture with all of its magnificent imperfections again. Well done Friends!

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…and the winner is my dear mother in response to the spider and mosquito filled room that we were staying in while volunteering in El Salvador. My personal favorite part of her reaction is the five finger spread. Thanks for being a trooper mom!

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Happy face honorable mentions:

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… and the winner is sweet Carina! She’s my German friend that I met years ago at Oktoberfest and recently got to reunite with in Costa Rica. This picture was taken directly after seeing her first monkey in real life (he’s the dark ball of animal in the background). We had been intently looking for days, so to capture this very moment was priceless. Her sincere excitement still remains a fond memory in my journey!

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Tastiest treat in a bowl honorable mentions:

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The runner up is a duo that I accidentally fell upon in Cambodia. Curious of the flavors, I ended up trying both and returning frequently to enjoy!

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…and the winner is the one and only sweet egg soup that Bree and I devoured every night until our departure.

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The Action photo honorable mentions are:

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The runner up is my energetic partner in island crime, Ryan from Barbados! Just give him anything to jump off of and he’s airborne within minutes. With his colorful style to match the vibrant water, this makes for a great action image!

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…and the winner is the unforgettable power shot taken at the top of Machu Picchu!

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I’ll close this post with my favorite photo of 2014 so far. Happy New Year!

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Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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