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’ #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.

Matthew and Mary 4evah
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

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #10

Good morning and happy Friday to you!

Don’t mind me and my joyful heart. I’m just happy I don’t have to clock in until the afternoon and that I can actually run a few errands instead of using my lunch hour to be a functioning adult.

And now, in what should’ve been a weekly tradition but I am terrible at keeping up with this blog, the latest installment of Fri(yay) Lovin’, the blog posts in which I detail a few of the things that have made me smile as of late.

Primark: Sound the alarms! There is a Primark in Boston. I repeat, there is a Primark in Boston! Actually, as of December there are two, with a third on the way AND there are also locations in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey. Who knew?

Mecca.

For those of you who do not understand my excitement, imagine H&M and Target had a baby that was way more affordable than both those stores and it had four stories to get lost in–except the store only exists in Europe so you can’t get lost in it…

I was able to visit one of the Irish retailer’s Boston locations in Downtown Crossing last week and it changed my life.   For it being such a large store, everything was extremely tidy and easy to find. I initially only went inside searching for thick, opaque tights (got ’em! $4.50) but I came out with two pairs of pants ($14 each), a long-sleeved shirt and a blouse. Score!


The clothes run true to size, which worked out to my advantage as I didn’t try anything out at the store. I was wearing too many layers because it was freezing outside and, well… it basically came down to my laziness and unwillingness to get undressed.

The fourth floor was children’s clothing which was adorable and just as affordable! Since children grow out of their clothes so quickly, I can totally see myself shopping for $5 articles of clothing for a child who will probably not fit into those clothes in a few months.

Unfortunately, if you’re stateside and do not live in one of the states I mentioned above, you cannot shop online on their website. The retailer “is making its American debut without an e-commerce component. Moreover, the company has no plans to launch one, a spokesman said. Primark doesn’t have an online sales operation in its home market and works with a small marketing budget.”

Who wants to plan a trip to Boston with me?

Rifle Paper Co. x Keds collab: If you’ve ever been around me, you know I’m all about Rifle Paper Company–from stationary, to greeting cards, to notebooks, to my annual planner; my love for Rifle glows more than any basic white girl’s love for Lilly Pulitzer. And I would’ve posted about this last week when it was announced but I’m lazy and I don’t deserve to call myself a blogger and yadda, yadda, yadda…

Well, my dear friends, in case you haven’t heard, Rifle has collaborated with Keds to bring us a new line of floral sneakers just in time for spring! They’ve created three limited edition styles combining Anna Bond’s whimsical illustrations and Keds’s comfy, canvas sneaks.


The shoes range from $55 to $60 and they’re unfortunately already sold out (which I’m really bummed about because I forgot to pre-order mine even after I was reminded to). However, they’ll be making a comeback on March 9 at select retailers and you better believe I’ve already marked my Rifle planner to get my hand on these. I need a spring in my step!

Nujeen: One Girl’s Incredible Journey from War-torn Syria in a Wheelchair: I actually finished reading this book around the time that Trump introduced his Muslim travel ban (let’s just call it what it is/was). I saw so much hatred online, people being targeted for their religion, clothes, appearance, being told they would be deported… needless to say, my original post on this book was extremely emotional and had a few choice words so I can’t use it.


The story follows Nujeen, a teenager born with cerebral palsy who spent most of her young life confined to her wheelchair inside her family’s apartment in Aleppo. She spent her days reading and obsessing over the American soap Days of Our Lives and consequently learned how to speak English by listening to it.

When things began to get more and more violent she made the trek to safety in Germany where her brother lived, accompanied/pushed along by her sister Nasrine.

Together they covered over 3,500 miles by rubber dinghy, walking and being smuggled to safety. She made international headlines because no one had seen someone so young journey to asylum on a wheelchair before.


The story is moving and it hit international headlines. John Oliver a.k.a. The Voice Of Reason actually had the stars from Days pay tribute to Nujeen and they even had a small plot line about the refugee crisis.

It is a short, easy read, but it is deeply moving. If you were a fan of I Am Malala, check it out. I encourage those who think “illegals” want to come into our country to bomb it or take over our jobs (massive eye roll from me) to check it out. Nujeen’ harrowing journey to safety does not convey any of that–she just wanted the chance to grow up and have a normal life.

Enjoy your weekend! Is anyone checking out the Downtown Food & Wine Fest at Lake Eola?

xx

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #3

Happy Fri(yay)! I come to you live from Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee. My coworkers and I were somehow roped into a six mile kayaking adventure on the alligator-ridden lake, so keep us in your prayers. Rochelle already decided we aren’t making it out alive. I do not have high hopes for us.

In the case that this happens to be my last blog post, here are a few things I fell in love with during the week and clearly did not get to enjoy them as much as I would’ve wanted to.

Rockbox: I love jewelry but I tend to lose it or break it soon after purchasing it. Just ask Swarovski how many times I’ve bought heart-shaped studs from them… (three times and I’m  currently missing one stud).

My jewelry has a shelf life of a month and the only pieces that have stuck with me have been a Tag Heuer watch I got when I was 15 and both my engagement and wedding rings.

A few months ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a post from blogger Claudia Camargo from Miles and Smiles in which she was giving her followers a code for a free month of Rocksbox. So I tried it out and got hooked.

Basically, Rocksbox is a jewelry rental subscription service. Members pay a flat rate of $19 per month to get access to a personalized rotating closet of designer jewelry, sent in sets of three at a time. The sets are curated for you based on your Style Profile and your Wish List. You can keep and wear your pieces for as long as you like or you can return your box at any time—all while paying the same membership, regardless of how often you exchange your box.

Shipping is paid for and all of the pieces are sanitized when they return to HQ. And if you love a piece you have the option to purchase it! Currently the jewelry comes from designers including Gorjana, House of Harlow 1960, Kendra Scott and Wanderlust + Co.


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: If you couldn’t handle me when PokemonGo came out, you probably cannot handle me at the height of my Harry Potter fandom. The eighth story in the series, published as a play, sold more than two million hardcover copies in the first 48 hours of it being out. I bought a Kindle copy because I’m too lazy to go to an actual bookstore and the fear of going to a bookstore, only to find out that it was sold out paralyzed me.

I was reading an article on how a lot of Harry Potter fans were dissappointed with the script, saying it read like fan fiction and that it didn’t compare to the books. Obviously, a script will not compare to a detailed book, but come on! J.K. Rowling has spoiled us by giving in to our demands of another story in the series! Be grateful!

Without giving away too much detail, especially if you haven’t finished the script yet, the plot follows Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, two outcasts trying to live normal lives despite living in the shadow of their fathers, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. We revisit familiar scenes like the Triwizard Tournament during Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts and an alternate universe in which Voldemort is very much alive and in power.

The script really took me down memory lane while simultaneously reintroducing Harry and the gang in a new light: as adults, balancing government jobs and parenting. I am so curious as to how magic was portrayed on stage over in London. The play is pretty much sold out until next year so I’ll have to wait until next summer to question my lucky friends who will be going.

These are a few of my favorite things.

EOS Shave Cream: …will change your life. Already a fan of their lip balm and hand lotion, I had to test out the Tropical Fruit shave cream the second I saw it at Walgreens. First of all, the cute, recyclable plastic bottle will not leave a rust ring in your shower. Second of all, this smooth shaving cream is packed with natural conditioning oils, shea butter and antioxidant vitamins E and C, providing 24 hours of ultra-soothing moisture. It is enriched with skin protectants to help prevent nicks and razor bumps, perfect for when you shave wet or dry! The shaving cream cones in different scents of Pomegranate, Lavender Jasmine, Vanilla Bliss and Tropical Fruit.

Any fun plans for the weekend? I just found out that The Litttle Prince is finally on Netflix so I’ll be spending  my weekend on the couch, crying.

xx 

 

 

Fri(yay) Lovin’ #1

Another week has come and gone! Hope it was as fruitful for you as it has been for me.

So I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers doing a weekly round-up of things they love — like books, health and travel tips — and calling it “Loving Lately Friday” or “Things I’m loving…” so I’m going to jump on the bandwagon because I love too many things and I don’t have enough time to dedicate a post to each!

I found sweet swim caps for my nieces at Warby Parker on Wynwood.


Revista Moi
: I’m only able to get my hands on this magazine when I’m in Mexico so this week I took the plunge and subscribed digitally. I love it because instead of the typical “how to lose weight in five days,” “27 sex tips that will turn your life upside down,” and “get this entire wardrobe because you look like a frumpy old grandmother in that sweater” articles, Moi focuses on health, humor, love and sex in a more personal and human way. Let’s just say that I don’t feel like I need to hit up the gym every time I pick up the magazine. Plus, it’s in Spanish (sorry, non-Hispanic friends…)! Like I said, the print edition is only available in Mexico but you can download the app on your iPad or iPhone and enjoy the issue for just $1.99.


Podcasts: These bad boys got me through my return flight from Brazil and on my drive to Miami this week. The first podcast I’m hooked on is Modern Love (which has nothing to do with that awkward-as-hell column, Savage Love as I initially thought). Through essays, Modern Love explores the ups and downs of the different ways in which people deal with love and loss. Each episode has a celebrity narrator which in the past have included Jason Alexander, America Ferrera and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The second podcast I’m currently lovin’ is Nerdette, which allows the listener to geek out with the hosts over books, music and current events. It is also a kind of feminist/female empowerment podcast and before you roll your eyes and go, “another feminist… Just what we need…” check out this quote from Maisie Williams:

 

daaaaang, son!

 


Lizzie Velasquez
: I had the honor and the privilege to hear her speak at the Hispanicize conference in Miami.


Born with a rare congenital disease that impedes her from gaining weight, Lizzie Velasquez turned her situation into an opportunity to help others. You would think that after stumbling upon a video of herself online and reading the negative comments on it, she would have quickly turned into an agoraphobic looney (which is what would have happened to me). Instead, it empowered her to make a change and speak out against bullying and overcoming. She’s authored three books, appeared on a documentary and shows no signs of stopping any time soon! Check out her TEDxAustinWomen talk here.

 

I was able to meet and chat with her for a bit after the conference! #imwithlizzie

 


Well brochachos this was fun but I’m outie! Any podcast recommendations for my drive back? 


xx