Latest Posts

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The Slow Comeback

Sixteen months ago I embarked on an adventure overseas with two friends and haven’t looked back. Call it the Eat Pray Love moment of my life but it was a necessary step I needed to take in order to refresh myself. It was time to start a new chapter. I wanted adventure. I wanted freedom. I wanted to live more.

As I traveled through New Zealand and then settled in Australia, my cyber life was put on hold. Blogging took a backseat. My social media posts became few and far between. I was living in the moments, I was creating unforgettable experiences and I was connecting with people. What am I saying? I still am.

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[Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island of New Zealand]

Now as I live as an American Expat it hasn’t stopped my green beauty lifestyle. It wasn’t as challenging as I had expected. I have figured out that with a bit of internet research and city exploration you can find clean products just about anywhere you’re travelling. The local chemist, organic grocer and weekend markets have been great for new skincare discoveries!

Australia in particular has really impressed me with their natural lifestyle approach. There are heaps of skincare companies out here! Way more than I had already heard of and I continue to find natural brands with every place I visit around this country.

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[Blue Mountains range outside of Sydney]

As I find a bit of routine and normalcy since moving to Melbourne, I think it’s time I start bringing life back into this blog. For months I have been yearning to connect once again with the beautiful souls of this niche community. I hope I haven’t lost all of you!

While I doubt I’ll be posting on a regular schedule, you can always see what I’m up to on my Instagram account or just follow the blog. So, watch this space!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s In My Bag? | Lake Tahoe, California 2015

Happy Thursday! Today I get on my first flight of 2015. It feels like forever since I’ve been on a plane. My first flight of the year takes me just up north to San Francisco. While I’ll see some family, I’m really spending my weekend in Lake Tahoe (CA side) with some close friends – our annual snowboard trip! So here’s a look into the items I’ll be bringing with me to help my skin fend for itself.

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Face
Yuli Halcyon Cleanser
Tata Harper Replenishing Nutrient Complex
Odacité Night Time Antioxidant Repair Serum
CV Skinlabs Calming Moisture
May Lindstrom Skin The Blue Cocoon

Hair
Rahua Classic Shampoo
Rahua Classic Conditioner
Kae Argatherapie Hair Repairing Serum

Body
Weleda Regenerating Body Oil Pomegranate

Due to the short trip, I usually don’t bring a soap or body wash and just use one provided by the hotel. Did I ever mention how terrible I am at putting on lotion too? At least I’m packing a body oil that will help my legs and arms stay somewhat moisturized in the snow. I think for this weekend getaway I have the basics covered pretty well.

What do you think of my travel essentials?

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Dr. Alkaitis | Organic Enzyme Exfoliating Mask

A gentle and effective anti-aging treatment that brightens and resurfaces skin cells, while supplying essential phyto-nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals to the skin. Made with an Enzyme Exfoliating Complex including Bromelain (pineapple), Papain (papaya), and Cellulase among other enzymes.

When I started scraping the bottom of my  Yuli Pure Treatment Mask I began to search for a new one that was comparable. I wanted it to contain wholesome ingredients, treat, exfoliate, and come in powder form. With so many brands and masks to choose from I narrowed it down to Dr. Alkaitis and, in the end, chose the Enzyme Exfoliating Mask.

$60 for 1.25 oz

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When I received my order from Spirit’s Beauty Lounge, I was initially amazed with 1) the size and 2) the light weight. For 1.25 ounces of powder you receive a generous amount. I suppose the reason is largely due to the texture and density. The powder is finely milled, soft, and airy like flour or talc powder. So it might not feel like you’re getting a lot of product but you are. There is enough in the jar to last you at least 25 masks. And if you use it bi-monthly as instructed then it should last you just over a year.

When in dry form it has a light, off-white coloring. However, when water is added it  turns into a light purple color. The delightfully blueberry yogurt scent smells fresh, not artificial. Perhaps this is largely caused by the first 6 ingredients being actual foods – oats, strawberry, blueberry, grape, raspberry, and blackberry!

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I was quite impressed with seeing whole foods as the first set of ingredients. All the fruits listed are packed with antioxidant properties, assist in cell turnover, and reduce inflammation. The special complex uses enzymes that we would find in every day foods such as grains, oil seeds, fungi and other fruit. Many of these enzymes are great skin conditioners, contain natural antibacterial properties, and help with anti-aging benefits.

Ingredients: Oat Buds*, Blueberry*, Bilberry*, Strawberry*, Raspberry*, Grapes*, Blackberry*, Barley Grass extract*, Turmeric extract*, Cat’s Claw extract, Enzyme Exfoliating Complex (Cellulase, Lipase, Lactase, Protease Complex, Xylinase, Amylase, Bromelain, Papain, Maltase, Beta-Glucanase, Invertase, Pectinase, Mannanase, Phytase, Alpha-Galactosidase, Arabinosidase and Glucoamylase)

*certified organic

Directions:

1 | Mix about 1 tablespoon of powder with a medium (i.e. water*, honey, or yogurt) until mask is smooth and there are no lumps.

*If you use water it’s best to add slowly with a spray bottle. It helps tremendously to control how much water you add. 

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2 | Apply mask evenly all over face and leave it on for 5-10 minutes.

*If you mixed it with water the mask must always stay damp. Use the spray bottle to spritz your face whenever it starts to dry up. 

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3 | Wipe off with a clean, damp cloth or wash off with water.

I’ve only mixed two mediums with this powder – water and honey. I’ve mixed this mask with honey and loved the results but didn’t see much difference when mixed with this enzyme mask. I’ve only really noticed glow and smoothness when mixed with water. It’s just a bit of an inconvenience (to my laziness, ha!) that I must keep a spray bottle by my side to keep the mask moist. However, there is another way to keep the mask moist if using water. Other reviewers say they shower with the mask on! The steam from the hot water helps keep the mask moist and voilà no spray bottle needed.

Over the course of several months I’ve seen gradual improvement in the texture of my skin. It probably took about 3 applications until I started seeing any differences; so do be patient and give it some time. I always enjoy how it makes my face calm, smooth, and gives it a subtle under-the-skin glow. It’s brilliantly gentle, doesn’t cause irritation, and great for all skin types. The price might seem a bit steep, and I can’t argue there, but for about $2.40 per mask application I think believe it’s worth every penny. This mask has definitely delivered and I’m eager to try out the other masks from Dr. Alkaitis!

Have you tried this mask or others from the brand?

 

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Tata Harper | Replenishing Nutrient Complex

Lightweight facial oil serum to improve skin’s glow, texture, and hydration.

Tata Harper has built quite the reputation in the Green Beauty market as one of the leading luxury skincare brands. Rightfully so, as they have completely won me over with some of their products that I’ve had the pleasure of trying here and here. As I was nearing the end of my last serum, I found a (relatively) low priced TH serum that seemed perfect for the day time.

$45 for 10ml

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The pocket-sized roll-on is what caught my attention the most. I really love the small size for the simple fact that it’s extremely portable. You’ll have no issues passing through TSA with this wee bitty thing! The roller ball is also a great feature because it helps to control how much oil you use when applying directly on your face. I’m not really a germaphobe but I prefer to apply a few rows on my hand to press it onto my face.

It has an undeniable rose scent because of the first ingredient, rosehip oil. Thankfully it’s not overbearing and dissipates after a few minutes.  The serum is light, almost like a dry oil, and hasn’t caused my face to produce excess oil or congestion. The pleasant blend of ingredients are aimed to nourish, improve, and protect your skin.

From Tata:
· Arnica promotes balance by diminishing inflammation and redness
· Alfalfa oxygenates the skin and helps nourish with Vitamins A, B, C, D, E
· Jojoba deeply moisturizes and helps softens the skin’s texture
· Rose Geranium improves appearance of skin tone

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Ingredients: Rosehip mosquetta oil*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil*, Olea europea (Olive) oil*, Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil*, Borago officinalis (Borage) flower*, Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) flower*, Sambucus nigra (elderberry) fruit extract, Calendula officinalis (Calendula) flower*, Arnica montana (Arnica) flower*, Tilia europaea (Linden) leaf & flower*, Daucus carota (Carrot) seed oil, Natural essential oil blend**

*certified organic ingredient
**fragrances from 100% natural clinical grade essential oils

Their other ingredients like Elderberry and Linden flower extracts are great skin conditioners and have anti-inflammatory properties. If you suffer from unsightly skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis then Borage extract can help as it is often used to soften the skin. And thanks to the carrot extract, it’s perfect for daytime use as it contains a high amount of antioxidants that work wonderfully against free radicals.

For the past 7 months I had been using this serum on and off. During the summer I wore sunscreen religiously and it seemed to work really well with it underneath. It helped to make the sunscreen spread easier all over my face. I did notice that my face felt a bit oily throughout the day but that’s normal as my skin changes (dry/combo with oily T-zone).  Then as the season changed and became cooler, there were days where I only wore the serum as my very top layer (no sunscreen) and it was sufficient in hydrating my face. My face felt balanced but I never noticed any glowing effect.

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Like all growing companies, their products may change from time to time. A recent visit to their official website shows that they have improved this serum by making it larger and, as a result, increased the price. For $120 you can get a full ounce (30 ml). However, this smaller size is available in the Cloud 9, Liquid Gold, and Maximum Results (senstive, oily/combo, and dry/mature) sets.

While this serum has been an enjoyable addition to my daily skincare routine, I’m ready to try something new. I like the lightweight formulation, the pretty rose scent, and the skin softening benefits. However, out of all the other TH products I’ve tried, this one definitely falls behind the rest. I didn’t experience any remarkable results that I had with the other TH products; no particular improvements. Even though it’s not completely repurchase worthy, I wouldn’t mind buying it just for my travels.

What do you think of this pint sized serum?

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A Day with the Indigenous: Healesville Sanctuary

Planning activities to do in Melbourne can grow into quite an ambitious list. While there is plenty to do within the city limits there is a substantial amount to do outside of the city. If you’re a huge animal lover like myself then seeing native fauna is definitely on the To Do List. Melbourne Zoo is your typical city zoo with a mix of animals from all over the world but if you really want to see some rare creatures then the Healesville Sanctuary is where you want to be.

The sanctuary first opened in 1934 under Sir Colin MacKenzie Sanctuary for Australian Flora and Fauna. In the 1940’s it’s popularity grew and by the end of the 1970’s the sanctuary was under the management of the Zoological Parks and Garden Board of Victoria. Today it proudly boasts as one of the best zoos/sanctuaries in Australia. We arrived just in time to catch an early showing of Spirits of the Sky, a presentation of their larger predatory birds. Visitors sit in an outdoor amphitheater while the handlers and birds walk through the crowds to give you a spectacular demonstration.

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After the presentation, you can follow the path to the walk-in aviary and interact with Australia’s brightly colored parrots and other birds. There is staff around to help answer any questions you might have or give you random tidbits of information on the birds. One of the most exciting features of the aviary is that the sprightly colorful Lorikeets will land right on you! And they will especially do so if you carry a small cup of nectar to feed them. Watching the natural interaction of the different types of birds is quite entertaining. I fell quickly in love with one of Australia’s most beloved birds, the Galah.

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As you walk through the park you’ll notice that the grounds are very well kept and the landscaping is beautifully lush. The paths are wide, clean, and along the way you’ll find some fun sculptures to make any adult feel like a kid in a playground. It’s extremely kid friendly with lots to do all over the park. And don’t miss out on taking them to Lunar’s Secret Forest, a fully interactive experience specifically designed for the kids.

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Naturally, when visiting an Australian zoo, you’ll want to also see the country’s most remarkable mammals. Most of the them are in their own display and can be seen from a close distance. However, in the wallaby are visitors are actually permitted to approach the agile creatures. Just don’t chase after them! There is a large array of mammals ranging in sizes from rodents to kangaroos but all native to the country and/or that region of the world.

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And of course, they have their deadly to docile reptiles. They showcase some of the country’s most unnerving, cold-blooded snakes. There are plenty of lizards to see if you’re into that. They also showcase the less-frightening baby crocodiles – no full sized ones, thank goodness.

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You can easily spend a full day here. If you do so, I’m sure you’ll get hungry sometime throughout the day. There are three eateries (1 restaurant and 2 cafés) and a lawn area with a pre-ordered picnic hamper. The Sanctuary Harvest menu carries typical Aussie cuisine (burgers, pies, and BBQ) but with a seasonal and regional twist. For drinks you can choose from local Yarra Valley wines, Aussie beers, or sodas. The restaurant floor is rather spacious with large glass windows where you can watch a Tree Kangaroo eat too.

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One of the main reasons the sanctuary boasts as one of the best is due mainly to their conservation efforts. Their most notable achievement is their program in platypus care and research. They were the first zoo to successfully breed platypus in captivity! In the 1940’s, Corrie was the first captivity-bred platypus. Today, they have bred several more with the last 3 births being the 2nd generation.

They are nocturnal animals. So do expect to walk into a dark exhibit. Spotting them right away can be a little tough but once you see them you won’t want to keep your eyes off of it. Taking pictures can get a little hard with their fast movement and your slow camera flash. Luckily, the sanctuary does offer visitors an intimate interaction with the elusive animals. For $195 AUD, you can participate in their Wade with the Platypus program where you’ll have  hands-on experience with them.

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But if spending that much money to interact with a native animal is a bit out of your price range there are other options. They also have other animal interactions called Magical Moments. For $12 AUD and 10 minutes, you can reserve a spot to personally interact with dingos, koalas, kangaroos, or snakes. I really wanted to interact with the koalas, however, it was completely sold out that day. So instead we interacted with Red kangaroos!

We interacted with a mob of kangaroos consisting mostly of females and a few males. The staff gave us brief instruction on how to approach, touch, and feed the animals. They do provide you with the food to feed them and they will happily hop over to you. There was one male kangaroo in particular that we were to be extra cautious about. He was the alpha of the group and a little territorial but he could be touched if he approached you. The 10 minutes went by so quickly. I didn’t want to stop petting and feeding them! This was the perfect way to end such a wonderful day.

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While the Melbourne and Weribee Zoos are also great places to visit, Healesville Sanctuary is the only zoo that displays indigenous animals in Victoria. Their mission to care, educate, and be leaders in conservation is something to be admired for. They have world leading research and care programs, amazing animal presentations, and give you plenty of opportunities to interact with animals which will make your trip extra special.

Their official website will give you a better overview on what to expect and gives great tips on how to plan your trip. Admission is reasonably priced but do vary, and on specific days it’s actually FREE for children (4-15 years old). The sanctuary can easily take a full day to explore. But if you don’t have the time then a few hours should allow you to see the main exhibits. So what are you waiting for? Start planning today!


Lastly, I’d like to send the biggest and most heart-felt thanks to the couple that befriended and took care of three strange Filipino-America girls. Haha. We cannot wait to see you guys again! Thank you for that day. Thank you for everything!

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Sumbody | Save Me, Honey Shower Mask

Skin clearning. Purifying. Calming.

Last year when I went on a weekend getaway to the San Francisco Bay Area, I stumbled upon a natural skincare store and purchased these toner pads. I was also on the lookout for a new mask since I was almost finished with my Tata Harper Exfoliating Mask. I noticed a jar labeled honey shower mask. I was intrigued. So I asked the store clerk exactly how it worked. She explained that it could be used as a mask or face scrub while you’re in the shower. Seems simple enough, right?

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Upon opening the jar, you’re immediately hit with a peculiar scent thanks to the third ingredient, apple cider vinegar. The first ingredient, honey, gives the mask it’s runny consistency. Spread throughout the mask are sea salt granules to give you some exfoliation. However, they are rather sharp edged granules that may sting a little. Due to the obsidian clay and other grainy ingredients there is settling. But that can easily be fixed by mixing the ingredients again until the consistency feels the same throughout.

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This is part of the Clear Up Line meaning its aimed specifically for those with any acne problems. All of the ingredients listed are perfect for those with a history of breakouts. Activated charcoal to deep clean and purify the pores. Honey and tamanu oil hold anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Jojoba oil to moisturize your skin. Widely known in Ayurvedic practices, cinnamon and tumeric are popular kitchen spices for the treatment of breakouts.

Before each use I always stir inside the jar to make sure that all the ingredients mix together and there is no settling. I wash my face with my normal cleanser and then apply the mask. If I use it in the shower then I usually apply it before I hop in and then rinse off a few minutes later. Other times I will use it right after the shower when my pores are open, massage in upward strokes for a couple minutes, and then rinse off. It leaves my face with a moisturized but slightly greasy after feeling.

Ingredients: Honey (Honey fructose), Pacific Sea Salt (Sodium chloride), Apple Cider Vinegar (Pupillam cisere aceto), Obsidian Clay (Obsidianus lapis), Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Tamanu Oil (Calophyl luminophyllum), Bee Pollen (Apis pollin), Tumeric (Curcuma longa), Activated Charcoal (Carbo actoivatus), and Cinnamon (Cinnamomum).

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I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I purchased this. But today, I can say it has surpassed the low expectations I had. It’s not a miracle worker but it does work. When I use this, the next morning my face always looks calm and any pimples I’ve had are reduced. The smell is something I can’t get used to but I can tolerate for the five minutes. If you have problematic skin like myself then I highly encourage you to try this out. It’s not going to make your skin clear but it will help you fight those breakouts.

Would you try this mask?

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Lina Hanson | Global Body Serum

I believe using pure and natural ingredients derived from the earth will help your skin get the nutrients it needs to look its best. Thus, I made it my goal to source the most pure, anti‐aging essential oils in the world.

Years ago I was one those half-witted people who thought that the answer to clear skin was to stay away from oils. I couldn’t have been more wrong. For over a year now I’ve been using oils on my face and have been completely loving it. Oils like this one have actually helped clear my face of existing acne scars. So now it was time to give the same attention to the rest of my body.

$64 for 100 ml

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The violet MIRON glass bottle is truly great for those traveling abroad because it’s a very sturdy container. Lina also chose the perfect size as it meets the TSA liquid restrictions of 3.4 fluid ounces. The oil has a light yellow tint, feels non-greasy, and sinks easily into the skin. The vanilla scent is complimented with top notes of yuzu and grapefruit oils, adding uplifting sweet citrus to the senses.

As the name suggests, this oil is globally sourced. Rice bran and camellia seed oils from Japan, argan oil from Morocco, avocado and Brazil nut oils from South America, and vanilla from Madagascar just to name a few. All of these oils provide benefits of hydrating and improving the skin. They also provide wonderful antioxidant and essential fatty acids to leave you with skin that fights off aging and free radicals.

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 What it’s does:
› Relieves dryness and improves skin elasticity
› Non-greasy and quick absorbing
› Contains ingredients known to improve skin circulation
› Leaves your skin silky smooth

Ingredients: Oryza sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Persea gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil*, Argania spinosa (Argan) Nut Oil*, Bertholletia excelsia (Brazil) Nut Oil, Cucurbita maxima (Pumpkin) Seed Oil*, Camellia oleifera (Camellia) Seed Oil*, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Citrus paradisi (Grapefruit) Oil, Vanilla planifolia (Vanilla) oil, Citrus junos (Yuzu) Oil.
*Certified Organic

Due to it’s fast absorbing properties, I find that the best time to apply this oil is just after a shower when your skin is damp and pores are open. This is the easiest way to make sure the oil spreads evenly throughout the body. One pump is about three drops from a normal sized oil dropper. I use one pump per section of each appendage (one pump for lower leg, one pump for thigh). Then on days that I plan to expose my legs I’ll apply moisturizer right after.

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Also due to it’s non-greasy formula, I would consider this a dry oil. Sounds oxymoron huh? Basically it won’t leave you feeling like an oil slick after application, which is really great, however it leaves my body thirsting for a little bit more moisture. More so from my poorly maintained legs that get no love from me in the winter (thank God for pants!).

While I’ve read nothing but raving reviews about this product I’m not sure the same can be said from me. I didn’t notice any remarkable improvements from this that I’ve seen in another body oil that I was using previously (however, the previous body oil does serve a slightly different purpose from this one). So if you take really great care of your body then yes I would recommend this as a light moisturizer. But if you don’t, like myself, then you’ll be left with extra steps to keep your skin feeling comfortably moisturized.

Does this body serum sound right for you?

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What’s In My Bag? | Yosemite National Park, California 2014

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. 

– Ansel Adams, photographer

While I’ve been a little neglectful of this blog its naught for good reason. The Mister just returned from Afghanistan and we took a trip to a little (ha!) place in the mountains of California. As outgoing as I am, this was actually my first real camping trip… and now I want to go camping every month!

We truly roughed it with a campsite just a mile away from the South Yosemite entrance. It came equipped with, well, nothing save for a small camp grill at the site and community vault toilets. So what was I to bring to a vacation where I couldn’t shower every night? The bare minimum.

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Face
Konjac Sponge Co. Bamboo Charcoal Sponge
Yoshimomo Botanique Marine Mineral Facial Toner
Consonant The Perfect Sunscreen SPF 30

Body
Honestly pHresh Deodorant in Sugar Mint
Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
NatraCare Intimate Wipes

These products and a dip in the camp creek kept me feeling amazingly fresh.  This trip was nothing short of amazing and now I can’t wait to pitch up my tent again!

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What would you go camping with?