Second Annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked

Give your Sunday brunch a twist at the Second Annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked Food and Wine Festival!

The festival is taking place at Alan Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach, a popular spot for viewing space launches and surfing icons. A celebration of Central Florida’s most renowned chefs, restaurants, and breweries, Cocoa Beach Uncorked is a culinary showcase served with stellar Atlantic Ocean views. The event is the east coast sister of Clearwater Beach Uncorked, now in its seventh year and well-known as one of the best food, wine and craft beer festivals on Florida’s west coast.

Halston and I made our way to the festival on Saturday, stomachs and tastebuds ready, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Upon arrival, we quickly received our VIP badges, and a swag bag with a nifty little tray to hold our beer and food, along with a wine glass holder lanyard, which I may never take off.

Some of our favorite vendors included Two Henrys Brewing Company (I had two of their vanilla blueberry wheat!), Playalinda Brewing Company, San Sebastian Winery, Tequila Azul (I couldn’t enjoy their guac because I’m allergic to avocado, but their ceviche was so good!), Lord Hobo Brewing, Ohana J’s Steak & Seafood (their tuna poke was to die for!), Rising Tide Tap & Table (give me ALL the scallops), Florida Beer Company, and more!

Oh, and Halston was a huge fan of the inflatable furniture in the VIP Lounge.

If you’re interested in checking out the festival tomorrow, tickets are $55 per person, per day for general admission and $75 per person, per day for VIP access. All guests will receive a limited-edition wine glass, custom tote bag and enjoy the Grand Tasting Village with unlimited tastings from 1 to 4 p.m. Guests who purchase a VIP ticket will enjoy one-hour early admission to the Grand Tasting Village, where they will experience the Moet Chandon bubbly bar and find extra seating for relaxation and mingling. In addition to the Grand Tasting Village, the two-day event will feature a variety of VIP and interactive experiences, tastings, cooking demonstrations, and competitions between some of the area’s most notable and award-winning chefs and restaurants.

Make sure to share your experience on social media by tagging Cocoa Beach Uncorked on Twitter: @CocoaBchUncork, and Instagram: @CocoaBeachUncorked, and don’t forget to hashtag #COBU18.

Will I see you there tomorrow? Go! Make a beach day out of it! 

xx

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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

 

Second Anniversary Weekend

Happy Monday, friends! Hope you had a restful weekend! Our was busy, but relaxing – the perfect combination for a memorable anniversary weekend (click here for a recap of our first anniversary)!

Friday:

Our Friday night was an early one, as we were trying to catch up on sleep following Halloween Horror Nights on Wednesday and a 9:30 p.m. showing of The Florida Project on Thursday night.

Saturday:

We were up and at ’em on Saturday morning, with Halston doing breakfast with his family and myself driving to Rifle Paper Co.‘s sidewalk sale before the crowds descended upon the shop. My haul consisted of eight miscellaneous cards, an art print for my office, a 2018 planner and candles from their new collection. Each candle is usually priced around $28, but they were $12 each at the sale! I got all but the Jardins De Paris candle – I wasn’t a huge fan of the scent.


Retail therapy was followed by a visit to the dog park with Scout, as we had to tire her out before leaving her at home because we were doing a…

SPA DAY! 

The Renaissance Hotel on Sea Harbor Drive has a $95 TravelZoo deal for the Neu Lotus Spa which included a 50-minute massage or facial, a pedicure and resort pool access.

Because our anniversary landed on a week day, Halston and I decided to wait until Saturday to use the TravelZoo deal and pamper our very tired bodies.

It is recommended guests arrive 30 minutes before their appointment, to fill out paperwork and chill out in the relaxation room. However, Halston and I rolled in about 15 minutes before our first appointment (thanks to Scout who decided to sit in every muddy puddle at the dog park and required to be rinsed off), so we hurried into the separate male and female changing areas. We were each given keys to a locker, where we found our robes, a toothbrush, razor, shower cap and comb.

Front desk.


My Padawan robe.

We then met our respective masseuses and were led to separate rooms. Once I was under the blankets, laying face down on the massage table, my massage therapist walked inside the room and began working her magic on my sore body – first my back, arms, legs, feet, abdominal area (a towel covered my chest at this point) and lastly, my neck. I began the 21 Day Fix this week and have been sore all week, so when she began massaging my calves I almost burst into tears of gratitude. Once the 50-minutes were up, she left the room, waited for me to get dressed and led me back to the relaxation room. Halston got a deep-tissue massage (additional $20) because of his tense back (must be all that studying). Once he was done, we were led to the salon area where we got our pedicures.

Big Feet McGee.


The salon carries Opi and Shellac nail polish – Shellac was an additional $20, so I opted for Opi. This was Halston’s first and last pedicure. He said he enjoyed it, but doesn’t see the point of spending money on them as he doesn’t get his toenails done like I do every month. Fair enough. I didn’t like that the salon had the pedicure chairs sitting about six feet from each other, so it felt weird to yell across the room to talk to Halston. Instead I busied myself with magazines and Halston probably scrolled through Reddit. He also took the below creeper shot of me.


Following the massage and pedicure, we headed down to the pool, where we relaxed in the water and ate a delicious lunch at Palms, the poolside restaurant and bar.

While we do not see ourselves frequenting hotel spas in the near future, it was nice to get away from it all, if only for an afternoon. Also, the experience was a lot more relaxing at a resort rather than going for a massage at a strip mall (not that we get massages often. I haven’t been since the week of our wedding and our honeymoon).

Apologies for the poor quality, hazy image. My screen shattered and I can’t take selfies.


Sunday: 

Sunday morning brought us back to Winter Park for the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, but before that, we needed to fuel up for the day at New General, a contemporary general store, coffee shop and restaurant.

I had recently seen a picture of a white bean toast on their Instagram account and was jonesing for one, however, the restaurant switches up their menu often and it was no longer available. Luckily they had delicious options like the sweet potato toast with sautéed spinach that Halston enjoyed and the grape and walnut one I devoured. We will definitely be back!


We then headed to the art festival and wandered around for a bit, looking at things we couldn’t afford. I did find a local artist who’s work I am determined to have in our future daughter’s room (no, this is not a pregnancy announcement. I’m just positive my first child, a thousand years from now, will be a girl).

Sunday wound down with Mexican food and Halston working on his latest project – a shiplap wall in my office. I’ll make sure to keep you updated on that!


Have a great week! Make good choices! Keep on working out! 

That last sentence was mostly for me.

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

Breath of Fresh Air

Good morning!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Can you believe it is practically September? Where has the time gone this year?

I am sure you’ve noticed, but I’ve been blogging less and less these days. I begrudgingly renewed my WordPress URL last night in the efforts to keep this thing alive and provide myself with an outlet other than angry tweeting at Donald Trump. Oh, and my former boss reads my blog for fun (ah, the life of a retiree), so I figured I’d let him know I’m alive (hi, Larry!). But we’ll get to my depressive state in a minute.

Over the weekend Halston and I visited Downtown Windermere, a small town in Central Florida that I lived in for seven years before buying my house. Other than it being relatively close to Walt Disney World, there’s not much to the town. Since moving, I only visit Downtown Windermere to take a picture in front of the Christmas mural each year.

The reason for our visit was to check out Paloma Coffee Company, a cute, family-owned, Puerto Rican (¡mi gente!) business right in the heart of downtown.


Marcelino and Arianna, the father-daughter team, welcomed us with warm smiles and shared a little bit about Paloma after I excitedly began pointing out Puerto Rican landmarks and locations on pictures they had around the shop.

These pictures were all taken in Old San Juan.
Marcelino (Nino for short), shared that the shop got its name by paying homage to a picture of his mother in which she is surrounded by white doves (palomas). Nino and his brothers initially thought that the picture was taken at Parque De Las Palomas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, until a customer from Spain noticed the building in the background being from Parque De Las Palomas in Sevilla, Spain.


Paloma sources it’s coffee from Panther Coffee in Tampa and it’s bread from Olde Hearth Bread at East End Market.

Halston and I inhaled delicious pastries and quesitos. He enjoyed a cortado and I, a killer chai latte.


We really hope Paloma breathes new life into Windermere and wish them success!

And speaking of breathing new life into things… The old Verónica can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cause she’s dead (kidding. Sorry, I am still not done laughing at how childish that new Taylor Swift single is).

Anyway, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve not felt like writing much in the past few weeks. Whether it be current events or answering the phone to bad news, I’ve just not been up for it. Coincidentally, as I was writing this blog post, I received a call from a family member in regards to someone’s declining health. On top of all of that, for the past few months I’ve been grappling with trying to understand why family members care so much more about how they portray themselves to strangers than to their actual family and beating my head trying to figure why others, with their proven track record of terrible decision-making expect me to offer them my support when they’ve made yet another decision without thinking of the outcome. While amusing at first, I’ve grown tired of people and am strongly considering going off the grid and buying a cabin in the woods where I can retire at the ripe age of 26.

During all of this, I’ve also not felt like attending church alone (Halston has been studying evenings and weekends for this final CPA exam). But yesterday morning I put on my big girl pants (or skirt) and went.

Service began and Pastor Justin asked us if we’ve ever had a season in life in which we felt stuck and alone. I wanted to stand up and yell, “preach!”

We read Psalm 142:1-7, David’s prayer when he found himself isolated, in a dark cave.

(1) I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. (2) I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. (3) When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me. (4) Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. (5) I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (6) Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. (7) Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

Justin continued in saying that loneliness is God’s cry for intimacy. On the above passage, David brought his complaints and burdens to God rather than keeping them bottled up. He also mentioned that God puts us in a dark, hard and lonely place, similar to David’s cave, so that our hearts soften.

All I’m saying is that my heart better be freakin’ Jell-O after this season.

This was the breath fresh air that I needed. I needed to, once again, hear to pour my complaints and burden out and put my wholly trust in him

I know this blog post is completely unlike me, so I’ll make sure to turn up the sarcasm and angst in the following few posts so that we’re not all awkwardly staring at our beers without saying a word to each other next time I see you. Until then, I leave you with this massive slice of Lazy Moon Pizza from yesterday’s lunch to remind you that I am pizza-consuming, meme-loving, podcast-listening millennial, incapable of deep thoughts longer than 140 characters.

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