Fri(yay) Lovin’ #19

*Puts on glasses, brushes off dust from laptop, cracks fingers, and begins to type*

Hi friends! How have you been?

As 90 percent of my blog posts, I’ll begin this one acknowledging my prolonged absence. In the time since you last heard from me, I became an aunt once again, was promoted at work, have been figuring out ways to become more involved in the Central Florida community, have spent evenings devouring books, courtesy of the Orange Country Library System, and have eaten way too many blueberries (more than I care to admit, anyway).

 

The past few months have been a whirlwind, but life is good. Can’t complain. But enough catching up, and let’s dive in to this week’s Fri(yay) Lovin’ where I share some of the things that are making my heart glow this week. As always, I’d love to hear from you, and the things you’re loving this week!

Royally Obsessed Podcast: For the British monarch aficionado, I introduce you to Royally Obsessed, a royal-family-focused podcast that explores “the highs and lows in Buckingham palace, and everything you need to know for high tea.” Hosts Kaitlin Menza and Lisa Ryan take listeners on a wild ride, featuring segments such as the royal cocktail of the week, royal history, and the latest in royal news and gossip (tons of hot goss on Meghan and Harry, my two best friends in the world). I will say, that this podcast is different from the ones I usually listen to, and it is not as well-researched and executed as others, but it truly feels like I’m listening to friends speculating on the lives of a powerful family, with the limited information that is made available to all.

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Lilac Girls and The Alice Network: I’ve loosely been following Reese’s Book Club on Instagram, and checking out the books she features once they’re available at the library, and these two books have been my favorite so far. Both books were inspired by real events and real people. The first book, intertwines the lives of three women during the Second World War: Caroline Ferriday, a New York socialite working at the French consulate, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp, and Herta Oberhauser, an ambitious German doctor. Caroline and Herta were real people (their stories have been editorialized a bit), and Kasia was inspired by a Ravensbrück survivor. The Alice Network, is a historical fiction novel, about a young woman recruited into the real-life Alice Network in France during the First World War. The main character, Eve Gardiner, works alongside Alice Dubois, a pseudonym for Louise de Bettignies (Louise was an actual secret agent who spied on the Germans during WWI!), the leader of the Alice Network. I loved both of these books because of the strong female heroine leads, and was moved by the choices they made in order to carry their missions along.

 

Earthwise Reusable Mesh Produce Bags: Somewhere between the number of global warming videos on my newsfeed leading up to Earth Day, and the article of the sperm whale that swallowed 64 pounds of garbage, I became incredibly aware that I was not doing enough to lead a sustainable lifestyle. In the past few weeks, we’ve begun recycling (we recycled once in a while, but it wasn’t a priority), we use reusable bags at the grocery store, and have made small changes, including purchasing reusable produce bags. We visit the Winter Garden Farmers Market almost every Saturday, and I’ve noticed the number of plastic bags that we bring home, carrying tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, fruits, onions, asparagus, and more. I decided to purchase the Earthwise brand on Amazon and haven’t regretted the choice. The bags are light enough that they do not add extra weight on the scale, and it comes with nine bags of varying sizes. We still have a ways to go in changing our ways at home, but this is a good start!

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Hope you all have a great weekend! I’m excited to hit up Cocoa Beach Uncorked on Saturday and possibly Barre In The Park on Sunday (I’m still on the fence about that, as I’ve attended barre classes in the past and wasn’t a huge fan). 

Long live HRH Prince Louis of Cambridge!

xx

 

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Fri(yay) Lovin’ #18

Hola, amigos! Am I the only one thrilled about it being February? Last month felt like forever! I am very excited for this month, because I was able to snag tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream Miami and because Halston and I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day at Leu Gardens with an outdoor concert featuring Ricky & the Buzzcatz, which played at a New Year’s event we attended a few years back.

I hope all of you had a productive week and that your weekend proves to be super relaxing (unless, you’re planning to watch the Super Bowl, which I just found out is this weekend… go, sports!). Ours is looking pretty uneventful, with a haircut on Saturday morning by the fabulous Erin, who I hope will be able to breathe some life into my rat’s nest, and church on Sunday. Living my best life over here!

Before the day gets away from us, let’s dive in to Fri(yay) Lovin’, a list of things making me happy dance this week!

Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar Dry: Because I lack the patience to wander around  cosmetic stores and shop around, my skin care regimen has been the same for years — go to Walgreens, grab a bottle of Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer, and go home. I wasn’t particularly fond of the moisturizer because it’s consistency felt like I was rubbing shampoo on my face, but it was affordable, easy and it protected me from the sun. Fast-forward to earlier this month, when my dry face began to peel after being exposed to this never-ending cold front, and Aveeno was just not working. I put on my big girl pants and ventured to Ulta during my lunch break, to test out lotions and quickly fell in love with Philosophy’s Renewed Hope in a Jar Dry. The lightweight, whipped moisturizer felt like a tall glass of water to my skin the second I tested it out and the scent wasn’t overpowering. I’ve been using it twice a day now for a month and totally swear by it! My face has never felt smoother — go ahead, I DARE you to touch it!

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Conair Extreme Steam GS54: I have been madly in love with my stepmom’s Conair steamer for a while, but I never bought one because I felt like it wasn’t a necessity of ours. That is, until I tried ironing a long dress and almost lost my mind. In my struggle, I looked like an infomercial fail.

She kindly let me borrow her steamer while we were in Puerto Rico this past December, and a week after returning to Orlando, I was in line at Bed Bath & Beyond, purchasing our very own. The steamer is easy to use, with two heat settings, an auto shut-off feature and it is self-standing. It only weighs eight pounds, so it is perfect to pack in my luggage during trips so that I never, ever have to use a hotel room iron ever again (I’ve stained, burned my clothes in the past because of faulty irons while traveling!).

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MeUndies: It seems as if every podcast I listen to is sponsored by MeUndies, a line of “feel good” underwear, lounge-wear and apparel. Curious about the brand’s “softer than soft” underwear, I ordered Halston and I a matching pair of boxer shorts and boy-shorts in December and again in January (if you’re curious, we have the Space Cadet and the Taco Love prints) . I’ll try to spare the details of my euphoric happiness upon my butt touching the fabric, but the fabric felt luxuriously soft on my skin and I can’t go back to my previous life. The Micro-Modal fabric that the underwear is made from is three times softer than cotton, shrink resistant, moisture wicking, and holds color better than cotton. All this to say that I’ll be wearing these until I’m old and decrepit because that’s how long they’ll last.

Check out my unique URL and receive 20 percent off your first purchase: http://getcomfy.in/g-K7X, trust me, your butt will thank you.

Have a lovely weekend! 

xx

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #17

Happy weekend! Can you believe it is already November and we are 52 days from CHRISTMAS? Time is flying by!

And yes, I’ve already begun listening to “A Very She & Him Christmas.” 

And speaking of time flying by…

This weekend is a special one, as we are heading to Georgia to celebrate my niece’s first birthday! I can’t wait to see my sister and her little family. We last saw them in May, during my birthday dinner, when they had moved back from Hawaii. It is so nice to have them stateside and now that they’re settled in to their new home, we can see each other more often!

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AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!
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Noisy gift inside!

Okay, before I continue rambling on about my family, let’s get through another installment of Fri(yay) Lovin’, a weekly (but really, whenever I feel like it) list of the things that I’m loving this week!

Sleep With Me – The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep: After binge watching the second season of Stranger Things last Friday night through early Saturday morning, I found myself with my heart racing, a million questions (what happened to the demodog in Joyce’s freezer?!) and unable to fall asleep. As I laid in bed staring up at the fan and occasionally at the door (keeping an eye out for Demogorgons), I remembered a sleeping podcast my husband had mentioned once, so I typed “sleep” unto the podcast app and “Sleep With Me” popped up. The thrice-weekly podcast is hosted by soft-spoken, rambling host Drew Ackerman, who spends about twenty minutes introducing the podcast’s sponsors before diving in to the story.  The last thing I remember was Ackerman mentioning ZipRecruiter before dozing off and waking up hours later. It worked perfectly, however, it did not stop me from having terrifying dreams of walking through the halls of Hawkins Lab, flickering lights and all.

Malala’s Magic Pencil: As you may or may not be aware, I enjoy buying children’s books for any future son or daughter that I may have. I do not have a desire to have a child any time soon, but it is never too early to begin building a library! I enjoy reading and hope to one day pass along my love for books. A few months back, Malala Yousafzai, the 20-year-old Pakistani activist who made headlines in 2012 when a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her,  tweeted out a link to pre-order her new children’s book. I devoured her book “I Am Malala,” back when it came out in 2013, so of course I pre-ordered “Malala’s Magic Pencil.” In the story, Malala wishes for a magic pencil which she could use to make her life more pleasant, but then she begins to think about the needs of the people around her and how she could improve their lives through magic. For parents interested in purchasing the book for their kids, she does touch on her attempted murder in a gentle way by simply saying, “My voice became so powerful that the dangerous men tried to silence me. But they failed.” The illustrations are beautiful and the story full of compassion. I highly recommend the book to parents looking to introduce their children to inspirational figures.

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Beyond Stranger Things: Ha-ha! You really thought you were going to make it through this post without me casually mentioning Stranger Things at least one more time? Modeled after AMC’s Talking Dead, Beyond Stranger Things is a Stranger Things after-show that dissects the popular Netflix series over seven episodes and is filled with behind-the-scenes information. The show is hosted by Jim Rash (yes! Dean Craig Pelton from Community) and features Stranger Things cast members. If you haven’t gotten enough of the sci-fi series (…and I know you haven’t), make sure to add this to your Netflix queue because it is a loooooooooooooooooooong wait for season three!

Any books and/or shows that I should check out to fill the void Stranger Things left in my heart? 

xx

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #16

Another whirlwind week has come and gone!

Isn’t it funny how every week is simply the “longest week ever,” but then you blink and it is Friday morning and you’re forcing yourself to write a blog? Or is that just me?

Halston and I celebrated our second anniversary with an outing to Hunger Street Tacos. We aren’t huge fans of extravagant mid-week celebrations, so Taco Tuesday with our friends was right up our alley (plus, we’ll be celebrating over the weekend!).

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The following night we made our way to Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Resort Orlando’s annual Halloween celebration. We hadn’t been since 2013 and walking through the gates brought back so many high school memories – mostly of my stepsister and I screaming and screeching around the park, trying to avoid the Scare Zones.

Because we went on a Wednesday night, the crowd was a lot smaller and the longest line we stood in was an hour long. It is also more affordable to go on week nights. In the six and a half hours we were there, we managed to make it through five Scare Zones, seven houses, munched on fries at Richter’s Burger Company, wandered around Ollivander’s in Diagon Alley (the place was deserted for the first time in years!) and rode on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. To answer your question, yes, our feet were throbbing toward the end of the night, but it was so worth it! I was the most afraid in Horrors of Blumhouse which included scenes from Insidious, The Purge and Sinister. Once I heard Tiny Tim’s “Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips With Me,” I knew I was a goner. I used Halston as a human shield the entire night (thank you) – he wasn’t afraid of anything except the massive scarecrow that popped out of the wall in Scarecrow: The Reaping.


And now, as we gear up for the weekend, I’ll unleash upon you another installment of Fri(yay) Lovin’ where I recap the things I’m loving this week!

The Florida Project: Set over one summer, the film follows Moonee, an adventurous 6-year-old girl and her young mother Halley, living in an extended-stay motel located along Kissimmee’s 192 tourism corridor. The movie stars Willem Dafoe as the owner of the Magic Castle Hotel, an actual property I’ve driven past thousands of times while working in Kissimmee and have never paid much attention to. Other landmarks include Orange World, the Magic Kingdom (which was filmed guerrilla-style inside the park), Magic Castle Gift Shop and Twistee Treat. The movie offers a colorful view of the underrepresented people in Kissimmee, those who haven’t come to the destination to visit a theme park, but instead live in extended-stay motels, struggling to make the rent (this is an actual, current issue we see in the area). In the movie, we see Halley, who in her own way, will do anything in her power to provide for her daughter and Moonee, who’s childlike innocence and curiosity paints a different picture to what the current circumstances actually are. The movie was raw and the ending abrupt but incredibly bittersweet – one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. The Florida Project is playing at the Enzian Theater through October 26.

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The Glass Castle: The Glass Castle is the 2005 memoir of Jeannette Walls, an American journalist. In it, she shares stories of her poverty-stricken upbringing at the hands of her alcoholic father and schizophrenic mother. From tales of sleeping in cardboard boxes, rummaging through the school’s garbage for food and her father spending their little money on fruitless pursuits, it was extremely difficult for me to root for her parents at any point in the story. It broke my heart to read her anecdotes, as no child should have to go through an upbringing like that. The book was adapted into a movie which is currently playing in select theaters – so select, it is actually playing in The Villages… yes, the active adult retirement community with an alarmingly high STD rate. Unsure if I’ll make it out there any time soon, so I’ll just have to hope the movie ends up on Netflix.

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father: I’ve been obsessed with Jack Whitehall since I watched him on Fresh Meat, so imagine how excited I was when I found out he had a travel documentary coming to Netflix. On the first episode, Jack explains that because he began his career at an early age, he was never able to go on a gap year, so he decides to backpack across South East Asia… with his stuffy 76-year-old father in tow as an attempt to strengthen their bond. The Odd Couple dynamic, with Jack’s thirst for adventure and Michael’s pessimism, made it a hilariously easy six episode binge-watch addition to my Netflix queue. I really hope that they continue the series and take their adventures all over the world!

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Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend? The Winter Park Autumn Art Festival is going on, as well as a Rifle Paper Company Sidewalk Sale, so I think I have my weekend planned out already!

xx

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #15

It’s about time this long week ended!


I am excited to see my sister Monica this weekend, along with my brother-in-law, niece and nephews. My niece has been counting down the days to see me because I’ll be “rescuing” her from the boredom of her brother’s basketball tournament. My heart is full because I spent a few days at Disney with my youngest nephews earlier in the month and now I get to finish off the month spending time with Monica’s kids.


And now, let’s dive in to this week’s Fri(yay) Lovin’ post in which I share the things I’m loving this week!

DG Doughnuts: A couple of weeks ago, after perusing Instagram and complaining about the lack of donut shops in Winter Garden (would it kill a shop owner to consider another area of Orlando that isn’t in or near downtown?!), I was told that Damn Good Doughnuts existed. Located in Oakland, a short and dangerous 15 minute drive from my house, the shop is not what you expect — it is inside a Chevron gas station! But Damn Good Doughnuts lives up to its name with excellent customer service and delicious choices including classic vanilla glaze, crème de mint, Nutella Oreo, maple cinnamon, powdered cinnamon, sweet & sour sprinkle (or as I call it, the Pride Donut). Unable to make a decision, I bought the six aforementioned donuts at $15 and bid adieu to my summer body (what summer body?). DG Doughnuts is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm and I suggest getting there early, as they are a small batch bakery and tend to sell out before closing time!

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Downton Abbey: Okay, I know I am about a thousand years too late, but I am obsessed with Downton Abbey and as I was finishing the final season this week it was announced that a Downton Abbey movie is in the works! An NBC Universal executive has confirmed to the AP that the film will begin production in 2018, with about 20 characters from the popular PBS series. I hope that means we’ll see more of the power struggle as Lady Mary begins to accept Edith’s position as Marchioness of Hexham, Daisy and Andrew’s budding romance, Spratt’s column gaining a following, Carson dealing with the changing times and the zombie of Matthew Crawley coming to fight Henry Talbot. Okay, that last one is wishful thinking, but I can’t be the only person still bitter about Matthew’s death and Mary getting remarried to Henry who has as much personality as a used tea bag.

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Bite30: It is rare that I glance at email newsletters. However, an Orlando Weekly newsletter sent out earlier in the month caught my attention as it had information on Bite30, Orlando’s 30-day Restaurant Week, featuring the best local chefs and restaurants Orlando has to offer. From June 1-30, participating restaurants offered a multi-course dinner at the set price of $30 at the Publix Aprons Cooking School in Winter Park and Dr. Phillips. Halston and I went to the latter this week and had the seared sea scallops with shaved fennel and smoked bacon slaw, the stampede braised short ribs with caramelized root vegetables and truffled roasted fingerling potatoes and a pear tarte tatin for dessert.

Before each course, we saw a live demonstration by a chef (there are also hands-on cooking lessons available) and we followed along the recipes that were printed for us. There were representatives for Chloe Wine Collection and Cerveza Modelo attending so the courses were paired with samplings of the two brands. All of the dishes were delicious — the plump, fresh scallops were otherworldly, the spare ribs were juicy and tender… Sorry, I was drooling on my keyboard.

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If you feel like you’ve missed out, there’s still Bite Night 2017, an all-inclusive tasting experience featuring Orlando’s top local chefs & restaurants, complimentary beer, wine and cocktails, plus live entertainment, a silent auction and a chef live auction, all benefiting the Edible Education Experience.  Bite Night will take place on Monday, June 26 and it costs $50-$75 to attend. To attend regular Aprons classes, whether they be a live demonstration or hands-on, click here.

Enjoy the weekend! 

xx

 

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #14

Who has two thumbs (covered in bite marks because of her psychotic puppy) and is excited that it’s Friday? This gal!

I was extremely excited that this was going to be a short week because we had Memorial Day off and then I remembered that today is my SUMMER FRIDAY!

My current job allows us to take one Friday off during the months of June, July and August. So the weather doesn’t lend itself for an ideal Summer Friday… but I still get to kick off the weekend by relaxing at home, tidying up the house and hanging out with my dad, stepmom and nephews, one of them who graduated kindergarten last night, reminding me that I’m turning into an old hag!

So let’s kick this Friday off with the things I’m loving!

Top Paw Life Jacket: My mother-in-law recently bought Scout a Top Paw Life Jacket from PetSmart because her fur gets quite heavy while swimming. I will preface this by saying that if you’ve seen the (hilarious) videos I posted on social media, Scout absolutely hated the life jacket (there go my dreams of putting her in costumes…). BUT it is a necessity, as we have a pool and we want her to get used to swimming! The life jacket was affordable, light, it has a handle for pulling her out of the water and it is perfect for her to splash around the pool. She did great the first time she swam with it, but the second time, not so much. We think she was stressed out because her puppy cousins, two Vizsla pups, were swimming circles around her!

Had Scout written this blog, she would have not included the life jacket.
Puppy and human cousins.
Ocean Sun Brewing: On our poorly-planned Ale Trail Memorial Day adventure (we didn’t have a game plan and most of the breweries were closed) with our friends, we discovered Ocean Sun Brewing, which opened last spring. Located on a strip mall in Curry Ford, there really isn’t much to the outside of it, but inside the 5,200 square foot space features 120 seats and a five-barrel brewing system with 50 barrels of fermentation space. It also has space in the back for corn hole, darts and let me not forget the most important detail, it is DOG FRIENDLY, so I was basically in dog heaven (as you could probably tell from my Snapchat story). Halston and I ordered flights and my favorite was the Bumby Belgian Blonde Ale (I have a thing for blondes). The only thing that would make this place even cooler than it already is, is if it were actually by the beach. But it’s okay, I’ll live. We’ll be back, with Scout in tow.

Dat depth, tho.

Cubicle to Cuba: Desk Job to Dream Job: If you’re looking for an easy read, this is it. In this book Heidi Siefkas highlights her journey of quitting her cozy cubicle job and pursuing her passion of traveling to places like Kauai, Italy, Peru, New Zealand, Australia and Cuba as a tour guide. She shares her perspective gained from years of travel on the once-forbidden island, which is great, as I one day hope to visit the island that my father is from, but I will say that the book lacked introspection and depth. Either way, it was a fun read, I did laugh quite a bit with the stories she shared about her tour groups and it made me excited to start planning my future trip to Cuba!

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend! 

xx

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #13

Hey, it’s Veronica. Veronica Figueroa. That’s right. Don’t adjust your contact lenses, glasses or whatever vision correction device you’re reading this with. It’s me, live and on WordPress.

Unlike Hannah Baker on 13 Reasons Why, I’ve come for my return engagement and

If you’ve been searching through my Instagram account, trying to figure out what became of me during the past month and a half, I have no excuse for you other than I’ve been busy eating all the Mexican food in Central Florida (Please go visit Hunger Street Tacos, Black Rooster Taqueria, The Ocoee Taco Company and Fruta Mix Ocoee – I’m so serious. Just stop reading this awful blog post and go!), settling in to my new job and acting as a human chew toy for my new puppy.

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Meet Scout, a 10-week old Golden Doodle. My fur child.
Basically, I’ve had my hands quite full and I’ve settled into a very comfortable but predictable pattern in life where I do not find myself interesting enough to entertain you on a weekly basis. I mean, the fact that my birthday is coming up on Monday and I have no plans other than getting a pedicure with my stepsister (who is officially moving back from Hawaii this weekend and I finally get to meet my niece!) is very indicative of where I am right now. I just want to take it easy, blog once a quarter and count the days until I am officially retired (only forty more years to go, you guys!)

Anyway, crack open a cold one because it’s Friday and in true Friday fashion, I’ll be sharing a Fri(yay) Lovin’ list with all of the things I’ve been loving this week (it’s not just tacos and puppies!).

Las Chicas Del Cable: After riding an emotional rollercoaster with 13 Reasons Why and laughing my ass off with Chewing Gum (and concerned that the show is borderline blasphemous and I may go straight to hell), I decided to give Las Chicas Del Cable (Cable Girls) a chance. The period drama, filmed and set in Spain, follows the lives of four women with very different backgrounds working as switchboard operators at a telephone company in Madrid – Alba, the young woman trying to erase her past and keep her secrets from being found out, Marga, the shy, small-town girl who is finally making it on her own, Carlota, whose upper-class, controlling father won’t allow her to work and Angeles, a working mother with huge aspirations and a selfish husband who’d rather keep her at home. The show dives into women’s rights, feminism, sexuality, coming of age and so much more. If you were a fan of the badass female cast of Call the Midwife and are (im)patiently waiting for Netflix to release its latest season, check out Cable Girls. It’s in Spanish but it has subtitles (for the Spanish-impaired).

PhotoScan by Google Photos: My husband is constantly raving about everything Google does (honestly, he’s their biggest fan) so it didn’t come as a surprise to me that he wouldn’t shut up about PhotoScan, the app they released back in November. At the time, I worked inside an office and conveniently sat next to a scanner. Since then, I’ve left that job and lost access to the fancy scanner. I skeptically downloaded the app this week when I had to scan in some documents to my health insurance provider and was pleasantly surprised. The app, available for both iOS and Android, is extremely easy to use. I just took a picture of my document and the app recognized the four corners of the page. It then asked me to scan my phone over the four corners and it stitched together the five overlapped images. So as I search through old boxes and photo albums, prepare yourself for epic #ThrowbackThursday gems like this one:


And this one: 


Millennial Podcast: When I’m not binge-watching Netflix, I’m binge-listening (is that a thing?) podcasts. I recently stumbled upon the Millennial podcast and at first, I expected the worst. A podcast about “coming of age” and named after an age group that is constantly being ridiculed by older generations. I basically expected a podcast hosted by an entitled millennial with no depth to her words. Instead, I found myself traveling adulthood with Megan, its 20-something-year-old producer. She tackles current events, politics, even her parents’ separation and opens the doors to her personal life in a refreshing and lighthearted way. It almost feels like you’re talking to a friend (Megan, if you’re reading this, let’s be real friends).

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

xx