50 Things That Will Make You Say "Wow!"

Welcome to our rousing roundup of awe-inspiring people, places and things that bowled us over, choked us up and lifted our spirits high.

8. The Life Story of Michaela DePrince

In 1999 4-year-old Michaela DePrince was living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone, having lost both her parents to a civil war. But when she found a picture of a ballerina in an old magazine, "it gave me hope," she recalls. She squirreled away the photo until she was adopted by a couple from New Jersey, who enrolled her in dance class. In 2012 DePrince became the youngest member of the acclaimed Dance Theater of Harlem; next she'll be touring with the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company. Onstage, "I feel like I'm not even in my body," she says. "I still can't believe I get to do everything I always dreamed of."
—Kate Sztabnik

9. Salad Days

Daniel Humm is the chef at New York's Eleven Madison Park, which has been called the best restaurant in America. Now, thanks to his charming new cookbook, you can make this perfect late-summer salad at home (don't worry, it's impossible to get wrong).

Get the recipe

10. A House for the Price of a Handbag

Detroit's shrinking population has made the city a real estate bargain bin where homes sell for as little as $500 at auction—yet many properties still sit vacant. The Web site Why Don't We Own This? features an interactive map with ownership information and color-coded foreclosure status. With just a few clicks, developers and young couples alike can seek out diamonds in the rough, neighborhood groups can identify lots for community gardens, and homeowners can find resources to help prevent foreclosure. Says founder Jerry Paffendorf, "I want us to see America's problems and opportunities in a way that we can act on."
—Courtney Balestier

11. The Beacon

The Fogo Island Inn sits high on a rocky promontory jutting off the far eastern coast of North America, in Newfoundland, Canada, 1.5 hours ahead of Eastern Time and a world away from civilization as we know it. Yet it boasts high-end comforts like an art gallery, a talented young chef, and a rooftop sauna from which it's possible to glimpse icebergs bobbing in the vast, coal-black Atlantic. The hotel was built by Zita Cobb, a retired Canadian tech executive who grew up in a small village on the island and returned to help grow the local economy, which was decimated by a ban on cod fishing (the result of years of commercial overfishing). Cobb notes that the inn, which opened in the spring, was constructed with local wood, employs 65 people, and hopes to attract international tourists. "If Fogo Island is going to survive, we have to remain relevant. We have to be woven into the fabric of the world, but on our own terms."
—Zoe Donaldson

Click to enlarge the image

12. Get Sauced

Created by a former manager for rock star Jon Bon Jovi, Mázi Piri Piri hot sauce has a tomato base spiked with lemon juice, garlic, and whiskey. But it's the fiery piri piri peppers—grown in New Jersey, of course—that add wow to anything from eggs to chicken to pizza. ($12; sicklesmarket.com)
—Lindsay Funston

13. A Body Scanner You'll Happily Step Into

Shopping for jeans may be less self-esteem-pummeling than shopping for bathing suits—but just barely. A new scanner uses technology similar to the TSA's to bounce low-power radio waves off your body and relay 200,000 measurements to a computer, which then matches you with brands, sizes, and styles that actually fit. So you'll no longer have to stuff yourself into 20 pairs of expensive sausage casing before settling for new sweatpants. (In nearly 30 malls nationwide; me-ality.com)
—Abbe Wright

Fourteen HIV-positive adults in France are in remission—and living medication-free—after being aggressively treated following their diagnoses. Scientists aren't calling them "cured"—but we've come a long, long way from the 1980s.
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