Potato is my favorite word in the English language.

Apparently there’s a tropical storm coming today??

My brother texted me yesterday, saying, “Make you sure you have a flashlight, dry foods, and bottled water ready.” So this blog post hopefully is up before any power outage occurs.

I stated in my last post that I want to focus my blog on the founding principles/actions/pillars(?) of this blog — “pray, eat, move, groove.” I am hoping to share more edifying, positive content that is still aware of and honest about current events.

Let’s try it out.

pray.

My friend from Boston University, Denis Father Denis, just got ordained a PRIEST this weekend!!

My uncle is a priest, but Denis is my first close friend who has been ordained a priest, and there are many more to be ordained in the coming years. A lot of my prayers this weekend were for Denis and his family, and also just in gratitude for the gift of good and holy priests.

Despite the horrendous acts of many priests in the Catholic Church (which I responded to a while ago), the role of priests in allowing people to access God in such a real, tangible, and healing way makes me want to internally combust because it’s so amazing. To have young, diverse, intelligent, fun, kind, loving men of great integrity willfully becoming priests today — when they could be doing literally anything else with their lives — is really a miracle, and a much-needed one.

To have people witness with their lives that God is enough is so stunning to me, in the best way. I had happy tears all weekend!

Also praying for my new baby cousin, Luke Sebastian, new baby brother to these cutie patooties, and their rockstar parents!

eat.

Late last week, I made impromptu tuna burgers with what I had on hand. I wish I could tell you the ratios / measurements, but you don’t want to know them anyway, because they were a little too loose… BUT THEY WERE TASTY.

  • canned chunk light tuna (I hate that it’s called chunk light)
  • shredded zucchini (squeezed and drained within paper towels)
  • minced / grated onion
  • an egg
  • mayo (regular or light)
  • sweet relish
  • bread crumbs / cornmeal
  • salt and pepper
  • Philip’s seafood seasoning (can use Old Bay or just omit)

Mix those together, shape them into burger type shapes, slap ’em on a hot pan with olive oil, and cook until golden brown on each side.

I served mine on a toasted potato bun with light mayo, sweet relish, spinach, and melted pepperjack cheese.

It tasted like a poor girl’s crab cake, so I call that a win.

I randomly received a free large bag of russet potatoes (and other fresh vegetables) from the community health center where I got a free COVID test in Boston. I’m not sure why (maybe a farm share??), but I’m not complaining because I have baked loads of steak fries with them!

  • Slice russet potatoes into 1/5-1/4 inch wedges. Lie them flat on a paper towel to absorb some of the natural moisture.
  • Toss wedges in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese (or just salt and pepper if that’s all you have).
  • Lay out seasoned potato wedges in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes at 450° F (flipping halfway through).
  • Serve immediately and dip in your fave sauce (I did a mayo-ketchup-garlic salt combo).
  • Leftovers can be reheated via oven at 350° F for 5-10 minutes or a toaster oven if you have one.

I love potatoes. Also, fun fact: potato is my favorite word in the English language (hence the title of this post).

Fun fact #2: This instagram page exists.

move.

I’ve been posting most of my workouts on my Instagram stories (and highlights) the past couple of months if you want to see the video demos! Yesterday was a really fun and quick workout that I did at the park:

3 Rounds:

  • 100-80-60 double unders (100 on the first round, 80 on the second round, 60 on the third round)
  • 10 side shuffle burpees
  • 15 bulgarian split squat hops each leg
  • 10 decline cross knee pushups
  • 12 squat hops to a low step

I ate a lot of cake on Sunday, so this was a little challenging the day after, but I had fun!

groove.

This category will just be my miscellaneous category — dancing, life, work, whatever the groove of life is.

Now that I’m home, I drink cold water from a Brita in the fridge, which I have not had in so long. Usually it’s cool-ish tap water (which is totally fine by me). Nor AC. My body is not used to having external regulators of my temperature (I would just sweat profusely every second of the day in Boston to stay cool). Cold water + cold air means that I sometimes get too cold in a 75° house and need to go outside to warm up LOL.

I hope you all have an excellent Tuesday. Let me know if you enjoy this format of blog post!

So tell me:

Are you in the path of Hurricane / Tropical Storm Isaias? Stay safe if you are!

Have you cried happy tears recently?

What do you dip your french fries in?

What else is new in your life?

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

I got up before 6 am two days in a row, and got up before 8 on a SUNDAY.

Unlike most people in the healthy living blog world, I am usually a total night owl (for no good reason except that I’m a procrastinator who likes to start things an hour before I plan on going to bed). But for the past few days, I’ve been early(ish) to bed, early to rise.

The earlier sunrises definitely help. The weather has been pretty lovely lately too! So lovely that I took a one 1.5-hour break on Thursday to take a long walk with my friend Zoe.

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The next day was not quite as nice, but I still got up to run with my friends Sarah and Moises at 7 am. ‘Twas thanks to them that I started my early bird trend.

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I actually got up before 6am because I needed to pee really badly (typical), so I did a short 12 minute circuit outside before we met up for our run.

3 rounds, 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest:

  • air squats
  • pushups
  • bench step up hops right
  • bench step up hops left
  • elevated knee to elbow planks
  • bridges

We ran three warm and humid miles. You might know that I don’t love running, but if it’s at a manageable pace with friends, I can deal.

Continuing with the trend of non-trends in weather, the rest of Friday was sunny and gorgeous!

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I worked for most of the day, came home to break for a snack…

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…sit on my butt for a couple hours, and then walk to dinner with my dear friends (who went on that awesome cruise with me last summer!) Christie and Monica.

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We met at Umai for sushi, because it’s basically canon law that we eat sushi whenever we see each other.

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And we finished it off with ice cream from J.P. Licks. I feel like people always eat ice cream after sushi, but that seems like a horrible combo when I think about it.

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mint cookies ‘n’ cream

We weren’t complaining at all though. It was so fun catching up with these ladies! ♥︎

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Instead of going out for more social activities after saying goodbye to Christie and Monica, I went home, did a whole bunch of nothing, and went to sleep a little after 11. My roommate Megan was so impressed. I almost never go to sleep before her.

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I did have a little bit of motivation to go to sleep early because I agreed to work out with my Spartan Race buddy, Ben, at 7am on Saturday morning. I was in charge of the workout, so I came up with this:

6 rounds:

  • Partner 1: Run to end of dock and back (a little less than 400m probably)
  • Partner 2: AMRAP 5 burpee bench jumpovers + 20 tricep dips + 10 plank jacks

We both agreed that the running was the worst part of it. Then we struggled through finished with 8 minutes of core before calling it a day.

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Next on the agenda was attending our friends Piers’ and Dani’s Confirmation Mass. A bunch of us from the Catholic Center headed to Newton to witness the beautiful sacrament and show support for Piers and Dani. It was a GREAT DAY.

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one of the most beautiful things in the world is seeing my friends so earnestly speaking with God

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Congratulations, Piers (pink tie front and center) and Dani (white dress)!!

The rest of the day involved studying, breakfast for dinner…

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plus a ton of roasted broccoli straight out of the oven

…and leftover carrot cake from Easter.

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I went to bed a little after 11 again, WOW.

Sunday was another wonderful day. I slept in until 7 (what a weird statement) and made Kylie’s simple paleo pancake for breakfast.

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added blueberries, topped with sunflower seed butter and maple syrup + 1.5 glasses o’ milk

The next eight hours of my life were spent helping out for our Catholic Center chaplain’s 20-year priesthood anniversary celebration (with a two hour break for Mass in there). I would not have wanted to spend those eight hours any other way than with good people in honor of a good man.

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A few people (shoutout to Fran, Joe, and Bobby!) worked exceptionally hard to make the whole surprise come together, and so many people came out to celebrate!

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We love you, Fr. Barnes!

And now it’s time to descend into the depths of finals. We have three days of classes left, but I feel like it’s all just a straight shot to the finish line of finals.

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🎶 here comes the sun doo doo dooooo 🎶

I’ll try to keep up this early bird streak; I like the early mornings, especially when the sun is up! I hope you all have a marvelous Monday!

So tell me:

Are you a night owl or an early bird?

Something wonderful about your weekend!

Is sushi followed by ice cream a thing, or am I crazy? 

 

Not Your Average Tour of Rome

I didn’t mean to leave you hangin’ for so long!

There were a lot of things to catch up on coming back from our mid-semester break last week, so blogging fell to the bottom of my to-do list every day. But I can’t leave Rome out of the story! (see here for Zurich, Padua, and Assisi)

We arrived on Thursday night, and this was my unnecessarily expensive (though admittedly tasty and satisfying) train station dinner

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On Friday morning, we were awaken in our Airbnb by our alarm clocks…and Top 40 playing on the radio. Our flatmates for the weekend were up at 5:45 am with us and already blasting music. Is that normal in Italy? Please inform me.

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quite an extravagant light fixture in our Airbnb

After munching on some breakfast biscuits and getting dressed, Megan, Ceara and I walked approximately 20 minutes to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City before the sun even peeped over the horizon.

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We were meeting my uncle, who also happens to be a priest in Rome, for Mass in the papal crypts of St. Peter’s Basilica. !!!!!! He kindly invited my friends and I since I told him that I’d be in Rome, and guys…It was an incredible experience. First of all, it was like Catholic Hogwarts with all the priests in their vestments saying Mass at all the different altars, with the little altar boys following with the chalices.

Secondly, the basilica is the most spectacular building I’ve ever seen.

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The original “Pietà” by Michelangelo!

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We descended into the papal crypts for Mass at the Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel at 7:15am.

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At the beginning of Mass, my uncle said, “St. Peter’s tomb is right next to us on the other side of this wall.”

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I’M SORRY, WHO!? PETER, THE ROCK OF THE CHURCH?

Unreal.

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I’m so awkward, help.

After Mass, Fruncle Alex took us to the hip cafe where all the priests and seminarians hang out for coffee and wifi, so naturally we saw seven men with Roman collars inside upon entering. Fruncle Alex and his friend, Brother Luis, treated us to scrumptious cornetti (a variety of croissants) for breakfast.

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I learned quickly to love the cornetti-for-breakfast lifestyle of Italy ♥︎

We are so blessed and seriously lucky to have had such a cool opportunity before 8am. Thank you so dearly, Fruncle (Fr. + Uncle) Alex!

After saying goodbye to him and Brother Luis, Megan, Ceara and I took the Metro into the heart of Rome. First stop was the iconic Trevi Fountain!

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All I can think of is Lizzie McGuire, to be honest. ALSO, Madre made this cute collage of me at the Trevi in 2003 vs. now. I guess this means the legend of the fountain works! I’ll have to go back to Rome again then…bummer 😉

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I had a better sense of fashion back then.

After we did our touristy thing there, we met up with my friend Denis from Boston University, who is a seminarian studying in Rome! If you think that 25% of my friends are males who are priests/studying to be priests, you’re not entirely wrong.

Denis was also extremely kind in taking us three helpless American lassies on a full day’s tour of Rome, which undoubtedly saved us a lot of headache, hours of getting lost, and tourist traps. More so, it was such a treat to catch up with Denis and hang out with him!

We met him at his college a little past 11 and then walked toward the Spanish Steps, stopping by a cafe for some paninis for lunch.

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I got this uber cheesy sundried tomato and arugula panini. Our plan was to eat on the Spanish Steps, but two bites into my panini, a lady kicked us off the steps saying, “No food on the steps. OUT.”

*Walk of shame*

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That didn’t put a damper on our lunch al fresco in the beautiful city of Rome on such a fine day though.

Then we meandered our way through the city, popping into some basilicas occasionally. Denis was such a wealth of information about all things Rome, which made the day 10x more interesting than we could have ever expected.

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only in Rome will you find a priest goods store

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Denis took us to his favorite gelato place, Frigidarium, and I realized the hype. Not only is it high quality gelato, but it is DIRT CHEAP. €2 for a decently-sized small cup with two flavors. We went there on Friday AND Saturday.

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For round one, I got a black cherry flavor + pistachio. The pistachio was some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

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We kept walking and passed through some of the big landmarks like the Pantheon…

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…St. Peter’s again (but with more time for all of Denis’ fun facts about it!)…

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Swiss guards (who legit have to be Swiss) guarding the area where the Pope resides

…St. Angelo’s Castle…

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…the Roman Forum…

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…and this thing.

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Classic Colosseum pics.

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Plus, like, five more churches, which were all awesome.

While all the historical, quintessentially Roman landmarks were super cool, one of the highlights was actually Denis’ seminary, which he showed us at the end. The building itself was beautiful, and not gonna lie, their movie room was pretty sick. Their courtyard even has orange trees!

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The BEST part was going all the way to the top of the seminary for the most stunning view of all of Rome.

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Check. this. out.

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We were blessed all weekend with warm weather and blue skies. I cry.

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I mean, can we get sisters a convent as amazing as this??

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And so the sun set on the most perfect day in Rome.

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But that just means it’s time for food. Denis chose his favorite restaurant called Ristorante Abruzzi, which did not disappoint. He told us he wanted us to experience a “real Italian dinner”, so we went all out with a bottle of red, antipasti, primi piatti, dessert, and digestivi (after dinner drinks). I even [kind of] liked the red wine, despite saying I hate it a couple weeks ago.

For my antipasto, I got the salad with a bunch of yummy stuff on it (read: artichokes).

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For my main, I ordered the tonnarelli di cacio e pepe, which is basically thicker spaghetti in a cheese and pepper sauce. I had wanted to try a cacio e pepe pasta dish somewhere for as long as I could remember, so that night was the night.

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Mmmm. Honestly, I liked everyone else’s pasta dishes more than mine, but the cacio e pepe was still great.

I went with a new and interesting dessert to me called “Montebianco”, which our waiter explained was a vanilla cake with hazelnut paste. I would now describe it as a cream pie/cake with icing and hazelnut paste on it. It was weird but tasty!

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Speaking of our waiter, his name was Carlo, and he was hilarious. He kept teasing Megan and Ceara in a grandfatherly way. He also made our after dinner drinks on the house! I had never had digestivi, as they’re called, but I tried the green sambuca and limoncello that night.

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no, we didn’t drink all of this

The limoncello was kinda nice, but I took too big a swig of the sambuca, which made my face feel like it was burning. It also tasted pretty gross. Never again.

Ahhhhh. This dinner was the perfect end to an exceptional day. Not your average tour of Rome, I’d say. I want to thank Denis from the bottom of my heart for taking a day out of his busy life to tour us around the city and share his knowledge with us. We had such a blast!

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hence all the pasta and dessert

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

Part two of Rome still to come! (I know, I know, there’s so much, but…THERE’S SO MUCH.)

Spill It Sunday #2: The Most Embarrassing Travel Pictures Ever

Thank God for weekends. I slept well on Friday night, which did wonders for taking the anxiety off my back. I think it had something to do with a) not having to get up early the next morning; b) having ample time to just wind down. Although the tea didn’t do much for me (I swear it made me more energetic), I’m still grateful that I can get some Zzz’s without resorting to drugs. I did drink some more last night though, and my sleep was pretty solid. I also really like how that Sleepytime tea tastes, so it was still worth it. 🙂

Another reason to love the weekend? Spill it Sundays on Arman’s blog! Last week I talked about my Asian awesomeness and Mulan, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This week is all about travel fun facts— the good, the bad, the ugly, and the awesome. Basically, this is a collection of unflattering pictures of me in my nugget stage. With some cool landmarks in the background. Enjoy!

The Big Man's World
I’ve been quite fortunate to have traveled to a ton of awesome places around the world, but these are definitely some of the top destinations:

Hawaii 2003

I used to live in California (I was born in Los Angeles), so we went to Hawaii more often than the average person I think. I lived in Kansas during this particular vacation though, and this was also our very first cruise! We went with my grandparents and our close family friends.

Highlights: Diamond Head, the beaches, the weather, the pineapples, the luaus, fun on the cruise.

Lowlights: sea. sick. ness. Ugh.

Fun facts: 

  • I was a stubborn child who didn’t have an open mind, so I was skeptical of the whole cruise situation, but when it was time to leave, I think I cried.
  • Also, my brother, my friends, and I decided to film the most ridiculous show in our cruise cabin about a Fart Museum while our parents were out for dinner or something. Yes, we still have the video. Yes, it’s as weird, embarrassing, and hilarious as you would think.

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Celebrity smiles right there.

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I’m such a tourist.

Europe (Rome, Paris, London) 2003

This was a huge trip. The main reason we went was for my uncle’s ordination to become a priest in Rome, but we just decided to make a big European adventure out of it!

Highlights: The Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, seeing Pope John Paul II, Trevi Fountain, The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, The Louvre (and seeing the Mona Lisa!), Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, eating Nutella on baguette with warm milk for breakfast in Rome

Lowlights: I got a terrible eye infection towards the end of our trip, and since I didn’t know how to swallow whole pills back then, it was quite a struggle. My dad would have to crush the pills into little crumbs, and the inside of those things were NASTY.

Fun facts:

  • We climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower! I think my little cheeks almost froze off, but it was still amazing.
  • Also, don’t ever take a picture with a man dressed up as a gladiator if you’re not willing to pay for it. We learned the hard way.
  • As I previously mentioned, my uncle was ordained in Rome, and he said his first Mass in St. Peter’s! We also went to the midnight Christmas Mass there, where we saw Pope John Paul II! My mom got her paparazzo on and stood on a chair to get the awesome picture below. I think I was actually sleeping when he came out…..of course.
  • Oh, and we stayed at a convent in Rome where we happened to meet a family who lived in same town in KANSAS as us. They even attended the same church! What are the odds?! Small world, people.

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Top of the Eiffel Tower

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Garden of Versailles

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Sorry. This is just too good.

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Ben at Big Ben.

Puerto Rico 2010

When we moved to New York, we were craving some tropical weather. Since Hawaii was no longer our neighbor, we took a getaway trip to Puerto Rico for winter break!

Highlights: El Yunque Rainforest, MOFONGO (our eyes were permanently opened to a new world of flavor), the weather

Lowlights: None, really!

Fun facts:

  • Our tour guide was a super fun and kind guy named Jorge, I believe.
  • Lizards were everywhere.
  • Mofongo rocks.

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Montreal 2010

We took a road trip to the very French part of Canada that we never visit, and I totally loved it! The quaint vibe, the food, and the jazz festival were right up my alley. I actually want to go there again next summer!

Highlights: Poutine, Jazz Festival, Underground Mall, street performers

Lowlights: It was HOT (see fun facts).

Fun facts: 

  • It was the hottest summer ever in Montreal (like, 102 F!), and since that was like a whole new world for the Quebec citizens, they were all walking outside while my mom and I took weird pictures in the Underground.
  • We had lots of poutine.
  • We passed by a guy named Marc Lavigne playing piano beautifully on the side of the cobblestone streets, and we told him that Ben is also a piano player. He let Ben show his talents, and he actually got a decent audience!

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Well that’s probably enough photo overload for you all. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed embarrassing myself sharing my experiences!

So tell me: What were your favorite travel destinations? Highlights/Lowlights/Fun facts? Where do you want to travel in the future?