Tag Archives: goat cheese

Letter O #AtoZChallenge

Letter O has only one entry. Oh, well…it’s got sub-headings, so it’ll do.

Obsessions

Anyone who knows me knows I’m the kinda person who gets obsessed with things. As in fixated, can’t get enough, have to have it all, all the time. It’s a good thing I’m not a smoker and I never tried drugs; I’m afraid of what this personality trait would do if I got obsessed with the wrong thing. The deal with my obsessions is that they usually come on quick and stay a while, until they fade into oblivion, only to be replaced by the next one. Some are just a blip on the radar of life, while some make a lasting impression.

Daisies

When I was in high school, my parents finally let me redo my room, and I got to pick any paint color and decorations I wanted. I was stoked! I chose a bright, almost electric blue that made them raise an eyebrow or two, as they questioned me incessantly about whether this was really what I wanted. Of course it was! When the paint was spread across all four walls, and not just on a 2″ x 2″ paint square, I have to admit, I didn’t love it at first. It was way too loud, and I began to seriously doubt my choice. But being the teenager that I was, there was no way I was going to tell my parents I didn’t like it. When they asked, I gushed over the blue, painted a huge fake smile on my face, and told them I loved it. And I did, eventually. Like all things, it grew on me.

After the paint color was decided, I quickly settled on daisies for the decorations because, at the time, I was utterly obsessed with daisies, particularly the white and yellow variety. Nowadays, I would tastefully decorate with a pop of daisies, but my teenage self went full-blown daisy crazy and everything was daisies. I had a daisy comforter and pillows. I had all kinds of framed daisy artwork hanging on the walls. I hand-stenciled daisies around both of my windows. I had large fake daisies (that I bought and brought back from a trip to Germany) in a metal vase sitting on the floor in the corner, in addition to the smaller vases of fake daisies on my nightstand and dresser (Just for the record, I now cringe at the thought of fake flowers). I painted daisies on an IKEA mirror that hung on the wall, as well as on the lampshade of the lamp on my bedside table. It was over the top for sure, but I loved it.

I’m not sure when the daisy obsession faded, but it did, and while I still enjoy having fresh daisies in my house from time to time, they no longer hold the same appeal as they once did.

Books

Ever since I was little, books have held a type of magic for me. They take me to faraway places and allow me to befriend interesting people. My nose was always stuck in a book, and the best extrinsic motivation for me was the promise of a trip to the bookstore to pick out a new book. Books were all around me, and continue to be.

I started to amass a huge collection when I began teaching, knowing that in order for kids to become readers, they needed to be surrounded by all types of books, and not just in the school or public libraries, but in our classroom library as well. When I picked up and moved to China after six years of teaching, my classroom library contained over 1,000 books. I wanted to take them all with me, because knowing them inside and out meant that I could always match a reader to a book, but shipping costs are prohibitive, and I had to part with some. Whittling my collection down to about 500, I gave some away and stored the rest.

I began in China with roughly 500 books, and just added more during my five years there. When it came time to move again, I again sorted and sifted, once again parting with a huge chunk of my collection. It’s always so sad to part with beloved books, isn’t it? I left Albania abruptly, therefore, my book collection is still there. I hope to have friends ship some over to me, but again, I can’t take them all. The life of an international educator means, for me, leaving a trail of books around the world. I guess there are worse things to leave behind, right?

Glasses

As an exclusive glasses wearer for about 15 years, glasses have become part of my look. I don’t really like myself without them, as I feel naked and like something is missing when I don’t have them on. When I lived stateside, my glasses were pretty boring…just your everyday pair. Once I moved to China, however, I discovered the wonder that is the glasses market, where I could get a pair of prescription glasses for about 20 bucks. Let the obsession commence! I went a bit overboard, as I tend to do, and ended up with over 20 pairs of glasses and sunglasses. My favorite thing is matching my glasses to my outfits. I only brought 3 pair to Thailand, and it’s killing me…I need variety! Here are a few of my favorite pairs…

Notebooks

I cannot resist a good notebook. It’s like a compulsion. If I come across a perfect notebook…one where the spine allows it to lie flat when opened…I have to buy it. I also prefer ones with an elastic band on the side to keep it closed. Oh, and it has to be lined, none of that blank page nonsense. Pages with a tinge of color, ones that look a bit aged, are definitely preferred over stark white. I have loads of notebooks, some completed, others partially filled, and some awaiting words. And I always have to have a notebook around just in case words need to be written. If you come across a perfect notebook, my birthday’s next month. 😉

Neon

I went through a phase a couple of years where I was completely obsessed with neon and brightly colored clothing. My wardrobe was a rainbow of color, and opening it made me smile. Wearing bright colors makes me happy, and I think it just makes life a little more fun, you know? I’ve moved on from my neon-filled closet, but I have kept a few of my favorite pieces. I still enjoy a pop of color, but my current style is a little more understated.

Food & Drink Obsessions

One of the things I really get hooked on is food. I get a taste of something I love, and I have to have it all the time. The typical arch is a gradual obsession that quickly builds to a climax, followed by a decline, sometimes tapering off and sometimes stopping completely. A few of my past and current food and drink obsessions include goat cheese (one of the longest-running obsessions), chai tea lattes (preferably iced ones from Starbucks), mango sticky rice, the ricotta and house-made jam appetizer from Mercato in Shanghai, Pizza Express (in general, but the dough balls with garlic butter are pretty dope), pavlova (my fave dessert from Oz), Starbucks (again, generally speaking, but mainly an iced tea and an apple turnover does the trick), iced sweet tea (I’m from the South, you know!), and good queso and chips (I know all the best places to go in my hometown, and which ones are subpar and best avoided).

Lush

Have you ever tried Lush handmade cosmetic products? They’re totally my jam…I love that they are all natural and vegan/vegetarian, and that they are an eco-friendly company. I have been obsessed for a number of years, and many products are my go-to’s now. Faves include the Let the Good Times Roll face wash. It has a mild exfoliant that’s safe for everyday use, plus it smells amazing and even has popped popcorn in it! 🙂 My newest find is the Daddy-O shampoo designed for blondies. It was a little scary to try at first, considering it’s a deep purple color, but it really works to take the brassiness out of my blonde tresses. A bonus is that a 500 mL bottle lasts me about 6 months with almost daily use. When I travel, I always take one of their solid shampoos. It’s great for both hair and body, so it’s a good all-in-one. I’ve tried lots of their products, and I highly recommend them!

Owls

Okay, so I know owls were/are trendy, but my obsession didn’t come about as a result of its trendiness. I became obsessed with owls when my school in China adopted the owls as their official mascot. As a new principal, I had to decorate my office, and what better to decorate it with than owls? It was our new mascot, they’re adorable, and the trend meant they were readily available. It started with just a few accents, but once it started, I just accumulated more and more of them. Many I received as gifts, but I also couldn’t resist an adorable owl pillow or figurine I’d see at the market. At one point, a pre-k student decided to count how many owl things I had in my office. He counted 64. So, yeah…I was officially obsessed.

Traveling

My biggest obsession has to be traveling. Traveling has profoundly changed me and opened my eyes to new perspectives, and I’m a better person for having traveled. I firmly believe that life isn’t meant to be lived in one place.

Traveling’s like a drug…I can’t get enough of it! If I’m not on a trip, I’m planning my next one (or three). We live on such an amazing planet, and I want to see all of it. With only 35 countries and 5 continents under my belt, I’ve just begun. I could write all day about this obsession, but I’ll just leave you with a few quotes that sum up how I feel about traveling:

“Travel has made me more aware of me. I learn more about myself while on the road than anywhere else. It’s given me the ‘I can make it happen’ attitude.” ~Jessica Johnson

“The ‘traveler’s rush’ that hits you upon arrival to a new place is like a drug. And like a drug, the more you expose yourself to it, the more you want it.” ~Clayton B. Cornell

“Traveling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing.” ~Gayle Foreman

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ~G.K. Chesterton

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you- it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you…Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” ~Anthony Bourdain

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Hello There…

Hello There…

I am learning to love me again, to embrace the very me-ness I possess inside, and express myself freely.

I keep secrets, a writer’s notebook, and memories of my travels.

I wish I could travel anywhere and everywhere for a year, with no regard for money (Who wants to sponsor me? haha).

I love mango sticky rice, iced chai tea lattes, pomelo, new books, blogging, sleeping in, goat cheese, dragonfruit, sharing stories, laughing, and filling my passport with stamps.

I dance ridiculously when I’m excited about something, usually making my friends laugh in the process.

I sing along with most songs, regardless of where I am and regardless of my mostly off-key voice. I have this innate gift of being able to pick up a song after hearing it a couple of times. I can’t promise you the lyrics are exactly right, but they’re close enough!

I think often about going back to school for another Master’s, possibly in school counseling or early childhood education. I’m in the research phase at the moment.

I really would like to be able to walk right now without the aide of crutches- hoping my ankle heals quickly!

I need less stuff than I thought I needed a year ago.

I should exercise more than I do, which is something I intend on starting once my ankle is healed.

I can teach preschool, despite thinking that it was something I could never do. And I’m actually pretty good at it, too.

I make a difference in the lives of my students, and they do in mine.

I always put others first; I’m working on that.

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9 Things on Day 9

As I was reading through some slices for some inspiration, I came across All Things Purple’s blog, where her slice was full of lists of her favorite things, 9 per list, in honor of the ninth day of slicing. I love lists, as anyone who follows my blog or knows me in real life knows, so this was right up my alley! 🙂

9 Everyday things I wouldn’t want to live without:

  1. Books! (actual books or ebooks)
  2. A device (laptop, iPad, or iPhone)
  3. Wifi connection
  4. Tea kettle
  5. Toothbrush/toothpaste
  6. Live plants
  7. Backpack
  8. Reusable water bottle (loving my Camelbak Eddy at the moment)
  9.  My writer’s notebook

9 Adventures I want to have before I die:

  1. Step on all 7 continents (before age 40!)…just 2 more (Antartica and South America)
  2. Take a year off and slow travel around the world
  3. Write a book…and publish it!
  4. Meet someone I want to share my life with
  5. See the Northern Lights and sleep in a glass igloo
  6. Spend at least one month living in Inle Lake, Myanmar, volunteering at a school or an orphanage, riding my bike every day
  7. Go on an African safari
  8. Take my parents to all my favorite places around the world
  9. Show up at the airport, buy a ticket, and fly some place I’ve never been, with absolutely no plans whatsoever

9 Pastimes I never tire of:

  1. Listening to music
  2. Writing
  3. Reading
  4. Talking about reading and writing
  5. Cooking
  6. Throwing parties
  7. Visiting new restaurants
  8. Planning for a new trip
  9. Talking to my friends and family

9 Treats I could eat everyday (if they weren’t unhealthy):

  1. Chai tea lattes, preferably iced and from Starbucks
  2. Goat cheese
  3. Mangos
  4. Homemade ravioli
  5. Brownies
  6. Chips & Queso
  7. Hot Shipley’s glazed donuts
  8. Mercato’s homemade ricotta and jam with buttery, toasted bread
  9. Pavlova

9 People I’d be lost without (Only 9?!?):

  1. My mom & dad (I know, this is more than one…)
  2. My brother, sister-in-law, niece, & nephew (this one, too…)
  3. Shaggers
  4. Michelle
  5. Linner
  6. Kathy
  7. Sarah
  8. Sally
  9. Callie

9 Places I want to visit:

  1. New Zealand
  2. South Africa
  3. India
  4. Russia
  5. The Maldives
  6. Iceland
  7. Spain
  8. Bhutan
  9. Chile

9 Words I believe hold magic:

  1. Savor
  2. Love
  3. Vulnerable
  4. Change
  5. Play
  6. Serendipity
  7. Authenticity
  8. Gratitude
  9. Delicious

9 Gestures that make me smile:

  1. Receiving a gift from someone who knows me well
  2. Hand-written notes
  3. People who go out of their way when you’re sick/injured
  4. Quality time
  5. Playing a board game with me
  6. Hilarious texts, particularly ones accompanied by poignant GIFs 🙂
  7. A good book recommendation
  8. An engaging conversation where no one looks at their phone
  9. Little kid hugs

9 Favorite songs (as of this blog post) (How can I pick just 9?!?):

Click here to listen to my favorite songs

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What are your favorite things?

Year 7, Day 1.

I can’t believe that today is the first day of my seventh Slice of Life Story Challenge! I have so been looking forward to March 1st, for a number of reasons. For one, I know the challenge will kick start my writing again. I’ve been stagnant for a while now, and the SOLSC always gets me revved up for writing! Secondly, I am excited to get back into the SOL community again, as well as meet new writing friends around the world. And lastly, 2016 was a rough year (like a really rough year) for me. One of my goals for 2017 was to get back to being “me” and a big part of that is tapping into the writer in me. For these reasons and more, I’m ready to begin this challenge. Bring it on!

For those of you who don’t know me yet, here’s some insight into who I am.

My name’s Jennifer, and while I’m originally from Texas, I’m currently living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. I’ve been an expat for the past seven years, and so far I’ve lived in Sydney, Shanghai, Albania, and now Bangkok.

I’m majorly obsessed with goat cheese. It’s pretty much one of the best foods ever invented. I like it plain, on crackers or bread, on pasta, in a quiche, with some figs or jam or nuts, on a pizza, on a sandwich…well, pretty much on anything!

I’m really into neon and bright colors, and the fact that I can’t wear anything but dark, neutral colors at the moment (the king died in Bangkok and everyone’s in mourning for a year) is slowly killing me.

I am soooo in love with the TV show This is Us. It tugs at my heart strings and makes me cry nearly every episode, but the characters are so real and lovable that I can’t get enough. I totally love Randall and Jack. OMG…if you are not watching this show, you are missing out!

I’m currently teaching preschool, and while it’s totally new to me, I’m actually loving it (most of the time anyway). I have the cutest class of students on the planet who keep me smiling all day. Even when I’m frustrated with them, they still make me laugh. Oh, and I get hugs all day long, so I’m pretty sure I have the coolest job ever.

My family is really important to me, and while I only see them twice a year, I enjoy the time we have together. I try to make time for each of them while I’m home. It helps me feel closer to them since I miss out on so much the rest of the year.

I model, seek out, and connect to authenticity, honesty, vulnerability, and openness.

I’m a travel addict. I’ve been to 5 continents and 35 countries so far, and yet there’s still so much more out there I haven’t seen! I revel in the anticipation of a trip, and once I’m there, I love finding the little treasures that exist and make this place special. My style of travel is more unplanned and spontaneous. I go with a very loose plan of what I want to do, but am open to possibilities that present themselves. I much prefer seeing more of one place than seeing more places, so I’m likely to stay in one city longer rather than bounce around from city to city or country to country.

I’m a fellow soul searcher, seeking happiness in the small moments in life. While I acknowledge hardships (at some points in my life, more often than I’d like), I tend to focus on the positive aspects that life presents.

I love to laugh and make others laugh. When I’m super excited about something, I usually do some sort of ridiculous dance, which is pretty hilarious given my total lack of rhythm.

I’m really excited to begin this month-long journey with you, and I look forward to getting to know you more through your words. Write on!

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If you’d like to join me in the Slice of Life Challenge this year, head over to Two Writing Teachers for more info!

 

Amsterdam in a Weekend

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Can I just tell you how much I love Amsterdam? Like I’ve been back a few days, but I’m still on a high from the loveliness that I experienced love. Like I wanna pack up and move there right now love. Like I can’t stop talking about how amazing it was love. Seriously…when can I move there?

Last Thursday, I headed to Amsterdam for a work conference, and decided to stay the weekend. It was a last minute trip, so I didn’t really have time to look into what I would see or do, nor have I ever really given much thought to traveling to Amsterdam. It was one of those “if I go, I go. If I don’t, I don’t.” situations for me. The only thing I had really heard about it was that you could do drugs there. Well, that’s not appealing to me at all, so I didn’t think much about it. Boy was I wrong! There’s so much more to Amsterdam that the drugs and the Red Light District!

My favorite things about Amsterdam can be summed up in these categories: Bikes, Food, Cheese (yes, I realize it’s food, but let’s be honest, it really needs its own category), Canals, Flowers, and Architecture.

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Bikes. First of all, they’re everywhere! All around town, you can find them chained to bridges and fences, crammed into parking lots (just for bikes), crowding sidewalks, and of course, being ridden. I love their sturdy design and the front apparatus for attaching all sorts of baskets. There are separate bike lanes on all roads, and they always have the right-of-way. I would be in heaven here!

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Food. OMG! If you are a foodie, Amsterdam is for you! I have to go back just for the sheer fact that I didn’t get to try all the foods I wanted to with the limited time I had. Not only can you get amazing cuisine from around the world (I had some pretty bad ass Thai food!), you can get some local delicacies only found in Holland! Two of my favorites were the poffertjes, pillowy little pancakes that are tasty with just a touch of butter and powdered sugar, and the most delicious cookie I’ve ever had, a double-chocolate confection that, when broken in half, reveals a melted white chocolate center. Both are pictured above. Apologies if your mouth is watering now.

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Cheese. Seriously, this was one of the highlights of my trip! I love good cheese, and I did not come across a cheese I didn’t like while I was there. In addition to my cheese plate for dinner, I visited the cheese shop three times to sample and purchase the variety of cheeses and sauces you see above. I brought home a spicy chili gouda, pesto gouda, 6 month and 12 month goat cheese, 4 month and 24 month gouda, apple cinnamon gouda, cranberry gouda, Maxima, and Old Amsterdam cheese. Additionally, I picked up some whole grain mustard, balsamic mustard, and pomegranate jam to go along with them. I cannot wait to break into them! Yumm!

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Canals. Who doesn’t love the novelty of beautiful canals running through the city? Amsterdam’s canals reminded me of Venice. I didn’t have time to take a cruise around in a boat, but next time, I’m definitely going to do it!

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Flowers. I missed tulip season by a few weeks, but that didn’t matter, flowers were everywhere! Beautiful blooms dotted the city in planters, vases, flower shop stalls, gardens, and balconies. The vibrant colors and gorgeous varieties caught my eye everywhere I went!

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Architecture. The old European feel of the city came through in the architecture. I loved the ornate designs on the old churches, the rows of townhouses and shops that lined the canals, and even the occasional leaning building. Amsterdam is definitely charming!

Overall, I highly recommend putting Amsterdam on your list! This beautiful, surprising city has catapulted to my top 5 cities around the world!

35 Things that Make Me Happy!

As I approach my 35th birthday later this week, I am struck by the fact that I don’t have any real feelings toward it. I’m not worried or sad about getting older, nor am I overly excited about it. I’m excited about my kick ass birthday party this weekend, but I love planning parties, so that’s no surprise! I think I find it odd because 25 really bothered me. Something about no longer being able to say I was in my early 20’s rubbed me the wrong way. No other birthday before or after 25 has bothered me.

For today’s slice, I thought I’d take a page from fellow blogger Michelle’s book and write a list of 35 things that make me happy. Here goes! (in no particular order)

  1. Goat cheese! (I had some with dinner tonight…yum!)
  2. Traveling! OMG I live for my next trip! (Coincidentally my next trip is Amsterdam in 9 days!)
  3. Slow mornings
  4. Organizing and planning
  5. My family (I get to see them in less than 2 months! EEEK!)
  6. Making lists…hehe
  7. Decorating my home
  8. Cooking
  9. A new journal
  10. Lip syncing! I equally love doing it and watching it.
  11. Soft pajamas
  12. English Breakfast Tea, Twinings to be exact
  13. Chai Tea Lattes…especially from Starbucks
  14. Teaching
  15. Sharing a story…in a book or from my life, it doesn’t matter to me
  16. Smiles
  17. Videos…inspirational, funny, informative
  18. My friends
  19. Blogging…so far I haven’t missed a Tuesday since the SOL Challenge ended!
  20. Biking around the city
  21. Making new friends
  22. Coming home to a clean apartment
  23. Spending time on the beach
  24. Glasses!
  25. Living abroad…it has shaped who I am today
  26. Theme parties
  27. Queso!!!
  28. Artwork that speaks to me
  29. Finding a new book
  30. Listening to music
  31. Sharing my joy with others…whatever it is that day!
  32. A good pen…I’m totally like my dad about this one.
  33. Massages
  34. Brunch
  35. Firsts…love trying something new! Here’s to more firsts this year! 🙂
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Michelle, Linner, and me on my birthday last year…man I miss these gals!

Dreaming of Paris #sol16 5 of 31

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Ah, Paris…how I wish I was back there. Two weeks ago I traveled to Paris for the first time. Paris was one of those places that was always on my list, but was never really near the top. There’s too much hype. People build it up too much. I always thought it could never live up to its reputation. Plus I like going to places that are off the beaten track. Paris was just too mainstream for me. Seriously, everyone goes to Paris. Why would I want to go?

Now that I live in Europe, Paris is close enough that I can take a trip for a long weekend. I know, even as I write that I realize how bratty I sound. Anyway…my friend Sally and I decided we’d go to Paris for our four-day holiday, which happened to fall on her birthday. Neither of us had been, so we figured, why not? I didn’t really research the trip much, and other than a visit to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and eating some croissants and macaroons, I hadn’t really planned much else.

When I got to Paris, I realized why it’s hyped up as much as it is. It’s amazing, and deserves every bit of the attention it gets. Even the fact that it was really cold and rainy much of the time, I still fell in love with that city. How could I not? First of all, the architecture is stunning. No matter where you look, the detail cannot be missed. And the Louvre? Holy crap, that place is awe-inspiring! Not only because of the sheer size of the structure and volume of the collection, but the feeling one gets when walking through it is enough to take your breath away.

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Of course, a trip to Paris isn’t complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. It’s one of the most recognizable structures on Earth, and I’d be remiss not to see it up close and personal. On our first night, we were wandering around in search of a Starbucks (found one!), and decided to stroll by the Seine River on the way back to our hotel. Once we reached the river, I saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance, lit up in a golden glow, beckoning me. I convinced Sally to take a walk and see it at night. Let me tell you something that you may not know. The Eiffel Tower is an optical illusion! It seems close, what with it being so big and all, but don’t let it fool you. Don’t think that you can walk to it quickly. Because you can’t. We walked for an hour, but it still looked the same. We walked for another hour. It still seemed out of reach. By this time my feet were killing me, but stubbornness in me refused to take a taxi. It was right there!! Anyhow, when we reached the base of the tower, all the pain was worth it. The Eiffel Tower, especially lit up at night, was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! I probably took a million pictures of it. I couldn’t get enough!

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And then there’s the food! Oh my gosh, this is a foodie’s paradise. Especially if you like decadent, indulgent, laden-with-so-much-butter-you’ll-clog-an-artery-but-every-bite-is-worth-it food. The food alone is enough reason for me to go back. In my opinion, you need to go for a week just so you have enough time to eat. That was my problem. I wanted to eat all the time, but because the food was so rich, I wasn’t always hungry. Some of my favorites were croissants and hot chocolate from Angelina’s, macaroons from Laduree, bread and butter from anywhere, cheese souffle from Le Souffle…the list goes on. Oh, and Paris has goat cheese! My life was complete.

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I intend to write more about Paris in the future, but suffice it to say, I loved it and will definitely be back! Here’s a short video of my time there…enjoy!