Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

It’s summer time! I have really been looking forward to summer, warm weather, green foliage, beautiful flowers, tan skin, gorgeous sunsets, and most of all summer food!

What I wasn’t prepared for was not having any new summer recipe ideas. Fortunately summer is full of fun inspiration and after a great cup of coffee on a lovely Saturday morning I was able to create a whole list of new ideas, yay!

One of my other passions outside of food is painting. Painting is probably the most therapeutic activity for me. I have been spending a lot of time working on a painting recently. It’s theme is the ocean. To help keep my creativity flowing I have been listening to a lot of Bob Marley and playing beach scene videos on YouTube. It has been such a peaceful escape and now the vibe is flowing into my passion for food.

This weeks recipe was not only inspired by the beginning of summer but also by that perfect day at the beach.

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Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients:

  • One pineapple
  • 2 cups pineapple (Frozen is best)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 tbs chia seed

Suggested toppings:

  • mango
  • blueberries
  • kiwi
  • dragon fruit

Directions:

  1. Slice the pineapple horizontally in front of the stem. Start carving the pineapple into a bowl leaving a 1/2″ thick rim.
  2. For an extra fresh smoothie, freeze the pineapple innards before blending them.
  3. Add all the ingredients to a high power blender and blend.
  4. Pour the ingredients into the pineapple bowl.
  5. Add toppings and enjoy!

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Thank you to those of you who have been following my blog. I really appreciate the support and kind words that inspire me to keep going. If you haven’t had a chance to check out my “About me” page, click the picture below and allow me to introduce myself.

On the shore of Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

 

Mexican Cauliflower

This is the year that winter decided it didn’t want to leave. No matter how much we kick and scream for it to go away, it continues to show us who the boss really is. I know I am not alone in the struggle, I am prone to seasonal depression. Some years I am not even safe in the summer time, and it has been a real struggle to keep my head “above water” these past few weeks. That is why it is so important to keep my thoughts distracted from the negativity. I am working on a couple of art projects, I try to keep my home clean (clutter and dirty dishes make me anxious), my hubby and I are planning a cross-country move in a few months, and of course I have food. Oh ,how I enjoy good homemade food. No more stews and chilies, I am ready for summer recipes! So I am going to pretend that it’s not really icky outside and focus on my favorite summer time recipes and hopefully come up with some new ones!

Mexican cauliflower is another favorite from my childhood. Anything Mexican has been and always will be a big hit with me. Mexican food doesn’t have it’s seasons, it is appropriate all year round, but I can’t help feeling “summery” about food that comes from such a warm and tropical place.

My mom made this recipe all the time when I was a kid. With a few tweaks and an added spice here and there, I am really excited to enjoy this amazing meal again as an adult. It’s also important to note that this meal is very hubby approved.

*Scroll past the recipe to read more. I share my insights and realizations on something I am most passionate about.

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Mexican Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • One large head of cauliflower (with the greens removed and the stem trimmed down so the cauliflower lays flat)
  • 2 cups salsa (My own recipe is below)
  • 8oz of vegan cheddar or pepper-jack cheese
  • 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbs of finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For serving:

  • Avocado
  • tortilla chips

Salsa Ingredients & Directions:

  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can of Mexi style lime and cilantro diced tomatoes
  • one handful of cilantro
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 2 tbs of sliced jalapeño
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  1. Place cilantro, minced garlic, and jalapeño in a food processor and pulse until the cilantro is very fine
  2. Add the canned tomatoes and spices. Pulse until all the ingredients are blended. Adjust the flavor if you need to and done.

Mexican Cauliflower Directions:

  1. Steam the cauliflower until it is tender, but not so much that it is falling apart. My favorite way to steam vegetables is to use my steamer basket in a large pot.
  2. While the cauliflower is steaming, make the salsa (if you are making it from scratch) directions above. Also, in a large mixing bowl combine the cheese, panko crumbs, cilantro and spices. Shake up the bowl or stir with a spoon to blend and coat everything together.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a baking dish (I used and 8×8 dish)
  4. When the cauliflower is done steaming (I poke mine with a knife or a fork to check the tenderness) let it cool for about 5 minutes before you transfer it to a baking dish. I used my 8×8 baking dish. Taking care not to burn yourself transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish.
  5. Pour about 2 cups of salsa over the cauliflower. Use a rubber spatula to spread the salsa around the cauliflower so it is completely covered. Then take handfuls of the cheese mixture and coat the cauliflower with it. I find it is easier to just use my hands for this part. It’s ok if salsa and cheese mix fall to the bottom of the pan, it’ll be good for dipping later.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. The cheese mixture is supposed to turn a light golden color and be a little crispy. When done let it cool for 5 – 10 minutes.
  7. There are many options for serving. We enjoy eating it with tortilla chips, avocado and a little extra salsa, but you can serve this in tacos, burritos, over mexican rice, ect.

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Shared thoughts:

“Insight is an experience of the truth that cannot be simply given to another person in the way that one may communicate ideas or beliefs. Insight is spontaneous and has the nature of a gift. It is surprising when it comes and yet obvious. It is joyful and yet calm.” – Lawrence Freeman “The Good Heart”

I am currently reading “The Good Heart, A Buddhist perspective on the teachings of Jesus”, and when I read the passage above it was like it was jumping right off of the page. This passage articulately communicated what I have only recently begun to learn about the emotional connection to becoming a vegan.

Making the choice to be a vegan has to be an emotional one. I know a lot of people who will not like that statement, but it is true. Anyone I’ve ever known who has decided to be a vegetarian or a vegan for any other reason other than the welfare of animals has ALWAYS “fallen of the wagon” so to speak. I have to note: I am not speaking for everyone in the world who has given up meat and bi-products, but I can absolutely say that for the people I know, this is true and there are many of them. Veganism is not just about diet, it’s about life.

So let me rephrase, making the choice to be a TRUE vegan has to be an emotional one. It has to hurt. That means tapping into a part of yourself that is so deep, that you can finally make the connection between the faceless meat on the plate and the animal that was killed to be there. You can never look at meat as food again. That means completely rewiring your way of life and for many people, that is too uncomfortable to even fathom.

I would go as far as equating it to a spiritual experience. Once you’ve turned that part of your brain on, that gets switched off through conditioning while you’re growing up, it’s a little like waking up with new vision. You see the world and the other beings we share it with, in a whole new way. As soon as the switch turns back on, there’s no question anymore of “how am I going to give up meat?” Or “how am I going to give up cheese?” The question I hear the most is “why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Before I make my next statement, I want to be clear, I 100% support animal rights activists. I think they are some of the boldest and bravest people on the planet and I admire them greatly.

You can’t force people to care. You can help them try to make the connection, but it has to be something they discover on their own. I feel at this point it is important to refer back to my opening quote, “Insight is an experience of the truth that cannot be simply given to another person in the way that one may communicate ideas or beliefs. Insight is spontaneous and has the nature of a gift. It is surprising when it comes and yet obvious. It is joyful and yet calm.

Those closest to me don’t want to know, they don’t want to acknowledge the suffering that happens. I have shared with them all that is wrong with meat and bi-products. I have proven to them how easy and delicious it is to make vegan meals. But they refuse. Even though I have this blog and I spend hours, sometimes even days creating an all vegan recipe, my parents will still add meat to them. I have never been the kind of person to shove my lifestyle in someone else’s face. When a person feels shoved their response will almost always be to shove back. I have always recognized it as a personal choice. I wish I could get more people to care, but people do not appreciate having their way of life and their comfortable routine disrupted.

Q: What is the difference between a dog and a pig? A: Your perception.

Every culture is conditioned to believe that animals are here to meet our needs. We are not born with this mindset in place. Just look up kids who don’t want to eat meat on the internet. There are so many videos and stories of children crying because they’ve realized that what is on their plate was once a living thing. There are also videos of children crying over their live chickens that mom and dad are about to kill. Children know better. They haven’t been calloused and brainwashed by cultural norms. They are still able to make the connection from one living being to another.

One of the saddest things I ever witnessed personally was when a little boy, I used to babysit, wanted to bring his cat inside from the rain and his parents scolded him and told him how disgusting it was. They made him throw his cat back outside in the rain storm. Here was this sweet, thoughtful, innocent child just trying to do a kindness for another living being, probably someone he loved, and here were his parents, calloused and unthoughtful of not only their “family pet”, but of their child as well. Think of the damage their words/actions have caused. Will he think twice that next time he wants to help someone? Will it be so bad that one day he’ll see an injured animal and not think enough of it to stop and help?

Then there are people who say they are animal lovers. Let’s be clear, if there is meat on your plate, you are not an animal lover. You may love cats, dogs, or cute forest critters, but if you can’t distinct living beings as equals you don’t love animals. Humans pride themselves on having higher consciousness and yet, they are tremendously unaware of the parts of thier mind that are shut off. All animals, like humans, know fear and feel pain. They also know happiness and comfort. Through childhood people are conditioned to forget this about animals whether they wanted to or not. Why? Because that’s the way we’ve always done it (My least favorite phrase on the planet.).

Eating meat is a form of intolerance, a bold phrase, I know. But allow me to define intolerance and then I’ll explain. Intolerance is the unwillingness to accept views, beliefs or behaviors that differ from one’s own. Animals have their own languages and behaviors and because of lack of understanding and tolerance, humans are under the impression that that gives them the right to use and abuse animals. If you don’t belive that, just look at the way we treat fellow humans we don’t understand. At the core of all intolerance is apathy.

I would like to point out, that I never once said that all people who eat meat are bad. Some of the nicest people I know and love eat meat. I am trying to convey that to become a true vegan (a real animal lover), you have to tap into the part of your brain, even your heart, that finally grasps the understanding that a cow wants to be happy and left to take care of her child as much a dog with puppies, that a chicken does not want to die just as you do not wish to die. Your perception will change and you will finally see that animals are not here to feed us, cloth us, or entertain us. They are sharing this world with us. Just as you would want the suffering of a fellow man to end, you can now recognize the mass suffering of animals and want it to end. Once you’ve made that connection food will never look the same.

“Insight is an experience of the truth that cannot be simply given to another person in the way that one may communicate ideas or beliefs.” I have just shared my own insights, my realized truths about what it takes to become a true vegan. I hope it spoke to you in a positive way, but like I said from the begining, it is very much like a spiritual experience. It’s personal and it’s exceptional, but you have to find it deep within.

Chai Green Tea Smoothie

Welcome to my 20th blog post!

I had a friend request that I come up with a healthy chai latte recipe. Admittedly, I do not drink chai lattes too often. There are already so many good recipes for a vegan chai latte, so I decided to take the request and adapt it to my own morning routine. *I may decide to come up with my own latte recipe in the future, but I’ll have to think of something creative since it has been done so many times before.

My morning routine consists of vitamins, probiotics, and some kind of smoothie. My smoothie is usually made up of almond milk, maca, and either superfood powder, protein powder, or both. It’s nice to mix things up once in a while, which is why I am so excited to share this recipe.

If you like chai, this is the smoothie recipe for you. I combine chai spices with a matcha tea powder for a refreshing and energizing boost to any morning.

*Continue reading after the recipe to see my coffee hutch repurpose and to learn some new repurposing tips*

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Chai Green Tea Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 2 tsp Matcha powder
  • 1 tsp Chai spice (Chai spice recipe below)
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • 1 tbsp Chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp Almond butter or Peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp Agave Nectar

(Additional options: – Vanilla protein Powder – Super green powder – Kale – Ect.)

Chai Spice Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Allspice
  • 1/2 tbsp Ground cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp Nutmeg

*Mix all the spices together and store in a container.

Directions:

Add all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend on high until homogenous.

Enjoy!

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 A Trash to Treasure Hutch Repurpose

Back in November, my hubby brought home an old hutch for me to repurpose. It was so incredibly thoughtful for so many reasons. I tend to suffer from seasonal depression and keeping my hands busy on this hutch all winter was so helpful for fighting the winter blues. I can’t thank my hubby enough.

Here are the before and after images and the steps I took to give this beautiful piece of furniture life again. I decided to turn it into a beverage hutch… mostly for coffee and tea.

Step one was to detach the hardware and clean up the surfaces. There was also some really gross contact paper from the 1970’s in the drawers.

The next step was to strip off the varnish and the wood stain underneath. I Googled and used Pinterest for the best ways to do this. Most professionals unanimously agree that Citristrip is the best product for stripping varnish (Citristrip did not pay me to advertise their product. This is just my best recommendation.).

Unfortunatly, I discovered a layer of green paint underneath the varnish and stain. Really? Who uses woodstain over paint?! So I had to use the Citristrip a second time. The stripping agent worked very well. I was able to remove all of the layers.

  • Place a tarp on the ground before starting. This process is very messy!
  • Wear protective gloves. You do not want to get this stuff on your hand.
  • Brush a generous layer of Citristrip onto the surface, let it sit for about two hours.
  • Use a putty knife or a scraper to remove the varnish.
  • I also used a small wire brush to remove anything in grooves and cracks.
  • Keep a garbage bag and paper towels handy for clean up

There was a very sticky film left on my hutch after stripping and I couldn’t seem to clean it off with water or sand it down (it would just get caked onto the sand paper). So I went back to Google and found that Denatured Alcohol works very well for cleaning off stripped wood.                                                                         20171219_164759896058920.jpg

– Use gloves, a glass bowl and steel wool

– Wearing the gloves, pour the Denatured Alcohol into the glass bowl.

– Dip the steel wool into the Alcohol, let it soak and then scrub the wood. The alcohol evaporates very quickly but you can always use paper towels to wipe away excess moisture and grime.

*Denatured Alcohol is highly poisonous. Keep away from animals and children. Keep your hands protected.

After the wood is cleaned off, sand down for an extra smooth and clean surface. I used the alcohol again to clean the sawdust off the surface.

Hutch after it's been stripped

After a lot of elbow grease, my hutch was finally ready for it’s makeover. I hit Google again to try to find the best paint for wood furniture repurpose. I really did find THE BEST paint, General Finishes Milk Paint. (General Finishes did not pay for this advertisment. This is just my best recommendation. Although, this paint is so amazing that I would gladly advertise for them if they ever asked.) This paint is smooth and clean. It has the chalky finish of chalk paint, but it goes on more like a stain. I didn’t want to lose that beautiful chalky finish but I wanted to add a protective coat knowing that this hutch would see a lot of activity.  I ordered General Finishes Flat out Flat, another great product! It gives my hutch the protection it needs without taking away from the chalky finish that makes it so beautiful.

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I also added a wood stain and stencil to the countertop of the hutch. Click on the picture to read about how to revamp your old tired furniture by adding a fun stencil.

Now for the fun part, embelishments. Copper is very trendy right now and I am all about it, so I went with copper details. Copper ceiling tiles for the backboard as well as copper hindges and knobs!

Lastly I added a decorative molding piece (Found at the craft store) to the center. Then it was finally time to add it to my kitchen.

Completed repurposed hutch

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This has been my biggest repurposing project yet. It came out exactly how I imagined it should look. What a great feeling to put a lot of energy and time into doing something right and have it be a success. I have a lot of ideas for future repurposing projects and now I know how great it can be for dealing with the winter blues!

 

Irish soda bread

Last year I made Irish soda bread for the first time and I really enjoyed it. It’s not sweet like corn bread, but it does have a subtle sweetness to it; which allows it to be used in a variety of ways. It get’s its name from the baking soda in it that is used as leavening agent instead of traditional yeast. It also bakes faster than yeast bread.

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My favorite way to eat Irish soda bread is with either a hearty vegetable stew or chili. It makes for some great comfort food; especially while being cooped up inside during a long freezing winter.

Another yummy way to enjoy it is toasted with a generous spread of marmalade or peanut butter. My hubby will even just eat it plain for a snack. What is your favorite way to eat Irish Soda Bread?

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 3 TBS of raw sugar
  • 4 TBS of vegan butter (Melted)
  • 1 flax egg ( 1 TBS ground flax seed + 2.5 TBS of water. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 Cups of vegan buttermilk ( 1 1/2 Cups of almond milk mixed with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes)

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 425º and grease a 9” round baking dish.
    2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar. Once the dry ingredients are all mixed in, make a well in the center. Add the wet ingredients to the well and then begin to fold it into a dough with either a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
    3. Once the ingredients are mixed in, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead with your hands until the dough has completely come together. Then form the dough into a ball.
    4. Place the dough onto the prepared baking pan and score an X (about a half inch thick) through the top center with a knife. Sprinkle a dusting of flour on top.
    5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350º and bake for another 40 minutes. You want the final color to be a golden brown.
    6. Let cool and enjoy!

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Thanksgiving ciabatta stuffing

Winter is here. Winter comes early in this part of the U.S. and it stays for a long time. Some days it can be difficult to shake the winter blues. But it helps to try to see the beauty in things around us. Sometimes winter makes it easy to see the beauty, like the other morning when a thick fog rolled into town and frosted everything from the blades of grass to the tip tops of the trees. I wish I could have gone for a long walk that day to capture some truly magical moments, but alas my day job did not allow it. I did sneak this picture real quick on my way out to my car.

Frosty morning

How about the beauty in those cold, cozy mornings at home? I love a quiet morning with a beautiful wintery sight out my window, nowhere to go and a warm drink in my hand.

You know another beautiful thing about winter? Comfort food. One of the ultimate comfort foods is definitely stuffing. I don’t want to brag but I make awesome stuffing! I’ve had so many people ask me for this recipe after they’ve had a taste and when I have Thanksgiving with family, it’s always a must that I make the stuffing. So skip the boxed stuff and try something new that’ll be a real hit at your Thanksgiving table this year.

If you’re concerned about having yet another dish to prepare, I kept the instructions pretty simple. And I don’t recommend you go with another bread, stick with the ciabatta, it’s the perfect stuffing bread.

Thanksgiving stuffing

Ciabatta and Herb stuffing

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large loaf of ciabatta bread cut into small cubes
  • 2TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 Celery stalk diced
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 2 Cups of Vegetable stock
  • 2 TBS of fresh chopped sage
  • 2 TBS of fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 TBS of fresh chopped parsley
  • salt
  • black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 375º
  2. Over medium heat, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook until the onion is transparent and carrots are soft. Once cooked through, transfer to a glass bowl.
  3. Add stock, sage, rosemary, parsley, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Whisk together.
  4. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with non stick spray or coat in coconut oil.
  5. Add ciabatta cubes to the baking dish.
  6. Pour the stock mixture over the ciabatta bread. stir to coat the bread pieces.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until it turns golden on top. *I like mine crispy on top so I leave it in a little longer.
  8. Remove and enjoy!

Thanksgiving stuffing

 

A bowl full of sunshine

lemon ginger smoothie bowl

I used to hate photographing the color yellow… Because, truthfully I didn’t know how. It’s a tricky color and if you’re not familiar with how to play light off of yellow it can create unflattering pictures.

I would even avoid creating recipes if I new the outcome was going to be yellow. But like everything else, it’s all about practice practice practice! I am by no mean saying I’ve mastered yellow, why just the other day, I attempted to photograph a lime that was way more yellow in the center than it should have been and it totally threw me off! I ended up deleting all the pictures.

A helpful hint when you’re attempting to photograph something yellow, especially food. Add contrasting colors like blue or purple; it helps bring life to the yellow and makes it pop.

There’s been a few occasions when I have collaborated a recipe and a photograph and I truly felt like I had mastered the color yellow that day. One of those instances is my “bowl of sunshine”, a Turmeric banana smoothie bowl; which is my recipe today.

Even though Turmeric is a really old spice and has been used for centuries in homeopathic recipes, it’s almost like it’s been rediscovered as of late. It has so many health benefits plus when you add it to your food or drink it bring out this gorgeous golden yellow color.

Turmeric Banana Smoothie Bowl

tuneric banana smoothie bowl

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2c of frozen mango
  • 1c of almond milk
  • 1tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 scoop of Vega protein powder (Not sponsored, Just my preferred protein powder)

*I also added a scoop of super food powder

  • Your choice of toppings. I used Blueberries & almonds.

Directions:

-blend everything together in a blender, pour in a bowl and add desired toppings

Enjoy!

surprise

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My hubby surprised me in the sweetest way the other day.

For about two weeks he let me know he had a surprise coming in the mail for me. His hint was “paperless” and for two weeks he’d look at me and say “paperless”. Then the other day he came home from work with a big goofy grin on his face and a sparkle in his eye. He handed me a package and said “surprise”. It was a brand new American flag. I’ll be honest, I was pretty baffled. He said he got it so I could use it for a background in my pictures. How thoughtful, but I was still pretty thrown for a loop.

I asked how his hint paperless related to the flag. He said “because it’s not made of paper, it’s fabric.”

“Huh?” was my reaction

I kept asking if he was serious. I wanted to be grateful if this was my real surprise, but it was so…. odd. He excitedly grabbed the flag and ran to bedroom to open it; he wanted to see how big it was. I went into the bedroom and my hubby was sitting on the bed smiling with the flag laid out. “What do you think?” he asked.

Still perplexed I answered “Oh it’s nice.” Then our kitty Butters, who loves to hide under blankets, crawled under the flag. I lifted the flag to take a peek at him and sitting besides Butters was a brand new camera. I was shocked and delighted!

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I have really been enjoying food photography and have been talking for months about getting a real camera (other than my phone). My hubby can be very thoughtful, but more often than not, hints are wasted on him. This was certainly one of the most thoughtful things he’s ever done for me and I just love how Butters helped to surprise me as well.

This last weekend we went on a date, a movie and Thai food. I brought my camera along to play with and hopefully capture some fun moments.

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Isn’t funny how you think you can know everything about a person and they can still manage to surprise you?