Culture · Events · mental health · music · relationships · Travel · Wellness

Life Lately, Bonnaroo 2017, and a Summer Vibes Playlist

 

 

What a sight for sore eyes this screen is. I have missed my blog. I have missed you, dear friends. All of it.

Yet every time I have sat down to post, I have been overwhelmed with anxiety, which is not a feeling I typically associate with this blog. I planned to take a week off for Bonnaroo, only to hop directly back on the blog train to tell you all about my wild adventures and hear about some of yours from while I was away from my little blog community.

Then last week happened.

Last week was just a continuous stream of weird, unfavorable events for my family. Some of these events are laughable, and some are quite serious. There are some major health problems plaguing a couple of family members, which means I’ve been “ON” more constantly, and really trying to help out with my nieces and nephews, since it is summer break for them.

In light of some of the bad things going on, I have enjoyed being around my family so much over the past week and a half. Last night, I spent an awesome few hours with my youngest niece, who is almost three years old. We ate strawberries, tried on sparkly jewelry, and played hide and seek until sundown!

The caveat to this refreshing time spent with family is that when I finally have a few quiet moments to myself at night…I am exhausted and a little disoriented because my routine has been let go with abandon. I’ve not just been absent from [W]IT GIRL, but from social media in general. I’ll sometimes go nine hours without touching my phone because I’ve been so engaged in everything from handling a damaged AC unit (4 days, no AC, 90 degree weather), to prepping for my nephew’s birthday party, to helping care for my sister’s ill pup. In a way, unplugging has been rejuvenating. But also, it has interfered with a blog routine that has been manageable, successful, and fulfilling.

Cue anxiety—you see, normally I pour myself into each post, and it is planned, edited, and ready to go days prior to when it is to be posted. Bonnaroo obviously got in the way of my usual weekend workflow; however, when I would sit down to catch up, I’d find myself exhausted, concerned about giving you less than my best.

[W]IT GIRL started over two years ago as a way to play with concepts I was picking up from my Technical Writing courses during undergrad. Over time I’d held onto it hoping to one day turn it into something valuable. 2017 has been my year to create quality, authentic content, and the notion that perhaps creating content while exhausted would take away from the progress I’ve made over the past half of a year opened the flood gates for waves of anxiety.

After much internal deliberation, I decided that while I should not let exhaustion rob my blog of quality content, exhaustion does not make my writing any less authentic. If anything, it makes it more authentic.

So here I am. I’m not as caffeinated as I’d prefer, but I am showing up, and sometimes that’s the beginning and end of everything.

 

Let’s talk Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

As I mentioned in my previous post, I first attended Bonnaroo in 2011 and then again in 2012. Those were two of the most magical experiences of my life, and I truly believe seeing Radio Head live and witnessing Thom York’s sweet moves up close impacted who I am today. These glorious memories had me pretty pumped to return to the farm!

Five years later, Bonnaroo is a different crowd. A little younger than I recall. Yes, I am a good bit older than when I first attended; however, I did not see any of the older hippies who hop festivals as a lifestyle. I have vivid memories of such individuals from my first trips to Bonnaroo. This time around, it definitely gave off a more trendy Coachella vibe, but Benny had nothing to compare it to, and I wasn’t about to let the difference throw a wrench my good time, so we just went with it.

We arrived early Thursday afternoon and set up our campsite. Each morning we’d chill at the campsite for a few hours before trekking into Centeroo for the music and activities.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

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There were only a couple of acts Thursday that I recognized, so we really set out to explore and discover awesome artists. We got mighty close for The Orwells. I was so pumped to get Benny in such a good spot for our first set, only to immediately regret this moments into their first song. I failed to realize that The Orwells have a rather rowdy following who “dance” in an aggressive matter with little attention to their surroundings. We immediately backtracked our way to higher ground, safe from the mosh pit.

My sunglasses were the only casualty. We are thankful for their sacrifice. Could have been a limb or a phalange or a face instead. Jesus took the wheel on that one.

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Throughout the course of the weekend, Benny and I had a blast being moved by the incredible talent that swept Bonnaroo stages. A few of my favorite acts were Glass Animals, Tove Lo, Tegan and Sara, Chance the Rapper, and Lorde. And that’s the condensed list.

My freckles came out to play. We gained Chaco tan lines. We walked until our feet were numb. We came back sun-kissed, sleepy, and free-spirited. ‘Twas a good time, most definitely.

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Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

I’m not sure when I’ll next return to the farm, but I urge you, [W]IT GIRLS, go see some live music this summer. Make it a priority. And when you do, don’t film it all on your phone. Be there. Be enchanted. Be present.

You can shop my adorable off-the-shoulder swimsuit here. I received so many compliments on it!

Last, but certainly not least…..I’m gifting you a Summer Vibes playlist that is Bonnaroo 2017 inspired, since it is OFFICALLY SUMMER!!

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalxx-Lona

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Culture · Fashion · Fashion & Beauty · huntsville

Sustainable Staple: White V-Neck Cami

Hello and Happy Monday, friends!

I’ve checked off a box for my 5-Piece [W]IT GIRL Fair Fashin Capsule Wardrobe list! I ordered Aeon Row’s White V-Neck Cami, and I’m quite in love with its plunging necklines and versatility. They are currently out of stock in size small (an also in size x-large), so I went x-small. For reference, I’m 5’5″.

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Aeon Row is an awesome company working towards a noble cause. They make their clothes from recycled yarn, and for each piece of theirs you purchase, they provide shipping supplies for you to send them that number of old garments for them to recycle.

If you take them up on this, they will give you 15% off your next purchase!
For those that read my post about my massive closet cleanup (see here), you can imagine I’ll have no problems finding something to send to them. I’ve included the link to this cami at the end of this post, so happy shopping!

I hope this post finds you in good spirits, sipping strong coffee.

We had a chill weekend with lots of good food. I taught four Pure Barre classes over the weekend, so we did not make late night plans. On Friday we went to Taqueria El Cazador, the taco bus off Governors Drive. Benny went with tacos, I went the burrito route, and we shared Mexican Coca-Colas. It was sooo delicious!

High quality tacos, low quality lighting

After I spent my morning at PB on Saturday, we got lunch at Dolce Pan Bakery, also on Governors. If you’ve never ventured out to this quaint Puerto Rican bakery, you absolutely must! My favorite pastry is their quesito, and my favorite authentic dish is their Mofongo, made of plantains. Their sandwiches are bomb also!

Mofongo

Wishing you all the best vibes as we start a new week! Shop sustainable and eat local, friends!

Shop My Look

Aeon Row White V-Neck Cami here

Mild Tagua Steen Chain Necklace here

Lily and Laura Stacking Bracelets here

Pacific Sun High Rise Jeans here

ALO YOGA Epic Leggings here

 

What’s your favorite sustainable staple tank?

 

[W]IT GIRL

Culture · Food & Drink · huntsville · Living · Travel · Uncategorized

Green Sangria is Basically the Same as a Juice, Right?

Hello & Happy Monday!

Here’s to hoping everyone had a great and safe St. Patrick’s Day weekend! May the theme of green carry on as you detox post-Patty’s Day celebration.

Benny and I chose to branch out on Friday night. I had been hearing about a Korean fusion restaurant in downtown Huntsville for well over a year now, and seeing their Instagram photo of a green sangria finally won me over. Big Oh’s Korean Fusion for this Irish holiday Americans use as a reason to go hard it is! Makes sense.

Big Oh’s is nestled on the north side of the square downtown, and like many of the restaurants on this block, it is two stories. We elected to sit upstairs in a cozy dining room decorated with photographs of Korea. This is an assumption based on my deductive reasoning. The photos might not actually be of Korea. My photography eye is not yet refined enough to detect the authenticity of such subject matter.

Benny ordered a stout (his drink of choice St. Patrick’s day or not), and I ordered my coveted green “Winter Sangria.” The sangria was great–there was a nice kiwi flavor to it!

We were quite hungry upon arrival, so we knew we wanted an appetizer. I was tempted to order their rice paper spring rolls, which looked amazing on the menu, but we decided to leave our comfort zone and try something crazy. Like…a kimchi bacon pancake.

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Perhaps this menu item would more aptly be called a kimchi bacon flatbread, as Benny pointed out that it really didn’t have much in terms of a pancake going for it, aside from its round shape possibly. I digress, this appetizer was really quite delicious! The kimchi gave it a sour, briny flavor, which paired nicely with the salty bacon. Packed with flavor, the kimchi bacon pancake did not disappoint our adventurous hopes.

For an entree, I ordered spicy Korean ramen with pork, also an item I admired from Big Oh’s Instagram. Hear me when I say that I am a changed woman after eating this ramen. It was just that good, and we are both looking forward to the next time we can order it (Benny got the mild ramen with chicken). This dish was so well seasoned, packed with fluffy egg, and topped with crispy pork and melted cheese.

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It is a regret we must live with daily that we were too stuffed after our drinks, the appetizer, and our entrees to even take a gander at the full dessert menu. The obvious silver lining to this sad situation is that we have to return for more ramen and to give Big Oh’s dessert menu the chance it deserves.

Jokes aside, we definitely plan to return to Big Oh’s. They had a great menu selection: everything from burgers and wings to traditional Korean cuisine. I highly recommend the ramen! My mouth is watering as I type!


What is the craziest food you’ve tried?

 

[W]IT GIRL

Culture · lessons learned · reflection · travel · Travel

Thursday Throwback: Three Ways we Saved Money on our Trip to Chicago

Happy Thursday!

Since it is #ThrowbackThursday, I thought what better way to celebrate than to reflect on one of my favorite trips we took last year!

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Cloud Gate

Last June, Benny and I took a long weekend trip to Chicago, on a budget. That’s right. On a budget. And man oh man, was our trip packed!

Here is a list of ways we saved bank and made this trip happen:

  1. We stayed in a Hostel. Sounds crazy, but I promise it’s not. Three nights in the hostel was priced to one night at a decently located Chicago hotel. I elected to go the hostel route because I knew we would hardly spend time at our lodging place. We stayed at HI Chicago and had an amazing experience! We booked a private room. Much like modern dorm rooms, we shared a living area and bathroom with three other private rooms. Everything was clean, and the hostel provided breakfast each morning (another money saver!). The hostel itself was in a great location and had such a fun atmosphere. We’d definitely stay again without hesitation.

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    Clean, safe, functional….we survived! (People are SO weirded out by this tip.)
  2. Groupon! I was able to find some amazing deals for Chicago dining on Groupon. A Venezuelan restaurant was having a deal, so I bought two deals, which covered two different meals. I also found an awesome deal for deep dish pizza that included drinks under the deal. Groupon is a great resource for traveling anywhere, so it is one of my first stops when planning a trip.img_1879img_1878img_1980img_1839img_1838Processed with VSCO with m5 preset
  3. Go Chicago Cards. We wanted to hit up all of the classic Chicago tourist destinations, each of which has its own admittance fee, and those add up quickly! I explored our options as far as getting the most bang for our buck, and I elected to purchase us both Go Chicago Cards. There are three purchase options offered, and we chose to do the all-inclusive for three days of travel. This hands down was the second largest money saver after the hostel. We downloaded the app, and bam–we had our tickets to all of the attractions we wanted to see. There is also a Chicago City Pass that can be purchased on a similar concept; however, I found it to offer less. Check out the Go Chicago Card site here!img_1902img_1919img_1950img_1908img_1944img_1937img_1918img_1940img_1934img_1923img_1854img_1850-1

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It goes without saying, Chicago is an amazing American city. I miss our awesome weekend trip, and I look forward to returning in the future!

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No matter where I go, I am always on the hunt for a good bargain or a way to save money. I hope these tips serve you well on any upcoming travels you have to Chicago, or maybe another big city because these can be quite versatile travel options.

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What tips do you have for traveling on a budget?

 

[W]IT GIRL

Book & Movie Reviews · Culture · Reviews · thoughtful

Book Review: Big Little Lies & Truly Madly Guilty

Hi, friends!

Long time no chat – exciting, exciting things are brewing for the Benitezes, and I’ve been rather preoccupied. More to come on that later!

Last year was pretty crazy – planning a wedding, moving in together, and all the wildness included with those milestones. We’re a quarter into 2017 (let that sink in), and I’ve found some normalcy to my routine. Not too much because that would be boring. But enough to be back to one of my most cherished past times: reading!


Today I thought I’d share two reviews from my most recent reads: Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty. Both are by Liane Moriarty, and I found both to be highly enjoyable! Here are my thoughts:

Big Little Lies

When I saw that this was to be a new HBO show with some great actresses, I became intrigued. Further, this book was trending on my Good Reads app, so without hesitation, I purchased the it.

From the get go, I was hooked! My favorite thing about this book is how skillfully Moriarty crafted the characters – each was so identifiable, and I had several moments where I thought “hey, I know someone like that!” At times the realness of the characters had me rolling over laughing!

The story revolves around statements being made about a death that occurred on the school’s infamous trivia night. These statements are sprinkled throughout chapters describing events leading up to the death. It’s set in Australia and centered on school parent politics gone wrong. It was such a quick read for me because I found it so entertaining; I finished it in 4 or 5 days, and now I am so pumped to watch the show!

Truly Madly Guilty

After finishing Big Little Lies, I was interested in reading more from Moriarty. Truly Madly Guilty was named one of Good Reads’ top books for 2016; however, many reviewers commented on it having poor character development and leaving you unsatisfied with the ending. I decided to take a chance and make my own judgement.

I found this book to be less humorous than Big Little Lies, and more raw, realistic. The characters aren’t as likable because the plot focuses on their flaws.

This story revolves around a mystery accident that occurs at a neighborhood barbecue and is similar to Big Little Lies in that more information about the accident is revealed as the storyline progresses at a different point in time.

I think Moriarty makes remarkable observances about childhood trauma, as well as about marriages in this work. I found the conclusion to be touching, and enjoyed this book as much as Big Little Lies, just in different ways.

I highly recommend either book if you are on the hunt for a new read! Find me on Good Reads here to see what I’m reading now!


What are you currently reading?
[W]IT GIRL

huntsville · Reviews · travel

Huntsville Favorite: Piper and Leaf Cold Brew with “The Works”

Happy Hump Day!

We are halfway through what is hopefully an awesome week!

 Last Saturday Benny and I enjoyed the chilly sunshine and visited the Artist Market at Huntsville staple, Lowe Mill.

Our visit had a couple of different agendas….it had been far too long since we last checked out what some of our local artists have been up to. Also, recently Piper and Leaf shared a photo of their nitro cold brew coffee with “The Works,” and our mouths have been watering ever since.


Go figure, I normally get tea at Piper and Leaf, but friends, their coffee did not disappoint! It was so good, plus it was fun to watch the process.



 I highly recommend trying one next time you’re hankering a creamy coffee drink. My only suggestion is maybe forego the pint jar for this one–Benny and I felt like caffeine was running through our veins for a few hours after this delicious beverage. Perhaps we should have gone smaller. Maybe we just can’t hang. 




Saturday was a beautiful day to spend at the Mill. We are anxious to return upon getting some often gift-giving ideas from some of the studios! Always, try to keep it local, friends!

What’s your favorite gourmet coffee drink?


Here’s to Wednesday vibes!

 

[W]IT GIRL

 

Culture · Fashion · Fashion & Beauty · huntsville

Brunch, Platform, and Shiny Ponies

Hey, friends! 

Long time no post! Here’s to hoping you are having an awesome morning as prelude to an amazing week! 

I’m really jazzed after this weekend because I got to spend a lot of time with my mum. She and I went perusing the sale racks at Kohl’s and then for pizza at Mellow Mushroom. We ordered a pizza from the local menu–it was the bomb!


The next day my mum, my sister, and I took my nephews shoe shopping. We got the boys sorted, and I found the most amazing new work loafers for only $10! I’ll be sure to share them with you later. My sweet mom insisted on getting me my latest pair of shiny ponies though…look at these precious Vans! 


Yesterday the hubs and I brunched at Edith Anne’s. I was so excited to take Benny. My parents swear Edith Anne’s is the cure to a hangover, and while I was not in need of that, I was certainly needing some good down South cookin’. I went with the Eggs Benedict and Benny got a steak omelet. Huntsville folks, definitely visit Edith Anne’s sometime–it’s to die for!




After brunch we picked up dog food and caught up on SNL. I taught two Pure Barre classes and THEN, some of my instructor gal pals and I made our men join us for coed Platform! I really thought Benny was going to hate me for making him do it, but he hung in there, and we had a blast! Boy were we sweaty!


My Look:

-Vans: Shoe Carnival

-‘Mixed Feelings’ graphic tee: Village Boutique, HSV

-Ripped denim: Charlotte Russe
What is your go to sneaker right now?
[W]IT GIRL

Culture · Events · huntsville · Reviews

Stand Up Live Huntsville’s Grand Opening Weekend

Good morning, friends!

I hope that your weekend was good and that your coffee is strong. This Monday is especially difficult because I had a three day weekend… I have alternating Fridays off now, and my new work schedule is really taking awhile for my body to adjust. 

I had a really fun-packed weekend that made me fall in love for trillionth time with my little family. 

On Friday, Benny and I ran some errands: we got haircuts, made an ulta run, visited Lululemon, and got lunch at Farm Burger (SO good!). That night we celebrated my friend’s birthday at a small, cozy gathering. 

Omg you can see my eyes, and his side burns are no longer atrocious.

We were total bums Saturday. I actually slept in late, which is insane! Saturday night we went to see Gold. It had poor critic reviews, but I found it extremely enjoyable! Perhaps I’m biased because I think Matthew McConaughey can pull off any character outstandingly….orrrr because I have a soft spot for Venezolanos (hellooooo, Edgar Ramirez). 

Also, Edgar plays a geologist. My little inner Earth scientist was freaking out over so many of my favorite things going on at once. Benny did not think I was cute when I leaned over and was like “look at the way he sifts that sediment, hubba hubba.” Anyways, I think it is a film worth watching!

Fave Venezolano. Edgar is v close second.

Now. The juicy stuff: we attended a show at Stand Up Live! It was the comedy club’s grand opening weekend, and we were ecstatic to take part in the celebration! 

Benny and I are comedy lovers. Second City was a must on our Chicago trip last June, we attend Epic Comedy Hour at Lowe Mill almost every month, and we watch and rewatch our favorite stand up comics’ sketches on Netflix. You can imagine our thrill upon driving past Stand Up Live for the first time! We have been anticipating its opening with much discussion!

We would have attended regardless of who was performing; however, it was Steve Byrne, and he made it a hoot! I think he was a great energy to have christen the stage. We were also happy to see Scott Eason’s familiar face as an opener, as we have grown fond of his antics at Epic. 

We arrived fifteen minutes prior to doors opening, and we were the first in line to enter. It is first come first serve seating, and we like to sit in the first row at shows. Benny loves getting picked on, and he tends to be a fave target because he is such a character! 

We were in the front and center seats and enjoyed an awesome dinner as the crowds made their way to their seats. Stand Up Live had a selective menu with some great food, and a quick turn around time for service. We split a spinach artichoke dip and the chicken nachos, which were gigantic and delicious! 


The alcohol selection was good: beers averaging at $5, wines per glass at $7, and cocktails at $10. I couldn’t resist trying the Passion Fruit Batida. It rocked my world!




The show was phenomenal, and my jaw was locking up from laughing so hard! We really enjoyed ourselves, and I believe we will be frequenting this venue! The space is laid out well, not to mention, its geographic location is convenient, as the Lowe Mill and Campus 805 are in close proximity. 

A couple of things are worth mentioning to those interested in attending a show. There are service fees when you purchase tickets online, so we bought ours at their box office the night prior to our show. Each ticket comes with a two item purchase minimum, which means you have to buy two drinks or some food items during your visit. This was no problem for us because we did dinner!

I loved our date out to Stand Up Live, and I definitely encourage Huntsville folks to give it a visit! They’ve got their calendar up, so look up their upcoming comedians to see who makes you laugh, and get tickets to see them! Seriously, so fun! 


What is a favorite weekend spot in your town?
[W]IT GIRL

Culture · fitness · lessons learned · love · physical health · Wellness · workout

The Skinny on Pure Barre

It’s that time of the year again where I find myself explaining to coworkers and friends about my favorite workout, Pure Barre! 


You see, once a quarter I get to share 3 passes that are good for one month unlimited of Pure Barre classes, and boy do I love to share the love! Now maybe I am biased because I have been instructing Pure Barre classes for a little over a year now, but I’ll be honest–it took me awhile to “get” Pure Barre. 

Pure Barre was presented to me as a workout I’d just love because I have a background in ballet. I took my first class with certain expectations that were not the most realistic. Pure Barre is not a dance class, and truthfully, I find little correlation between ballet technique and Pure Barre exercises. 

Pure Barre is, however, a low impact workout that uses body weight and various positions at a ballet barre to exercise major muscle groups. The exercises are paired with dynamic playlists with good beats to really drive the workout. 

Everyone’s first Pure Barre class is always brutal. Always. Never have I seen an exception. Pure Barre is all about small, dynamic inch-sized movements, so yes–watching the class, participants tend to look really graceful as they workout. But never has an inch seemed so large as it does when taking a Pure Barre class! Be patient, it takes time for your muscles to learn how to work this way. 

Another reason that Pure Barre is brutal the first time (or several) around is that everyone in class seems to just know what is coming next. 

Each Pure Barre class starts with a warm up (honestly the hardest part of class in my opinion). Following warmup there are three thigh exercises, two seat exercises, and a variety of abdominal work. For me, it took about 7 classes to figure out the flow of class and the mechanics of the exercises. 

For beginners I normally recommend they commit to some sort of package that allows them to take 3 to 4 classes a week for a month. I think this gives a person an opportunity to learn the technique as well as see results. 

For me personally, Pure Barre is not something that drastically changes my body; however, it tones up all of my classic female problem areas. I love that it tones up my chest, so that that little piece of flab that likes to cling to tank tops goes away, and my thighs get a nice chisel. 

I most often hear about women seeing a nice change in their rears–we call the lift of the seat that women see created through Pure Barre a Pure Barre ledge! 

To finish up, here are my favorite aspects of Pure Barre, as well as a few tips for beginners! 


Why I Love Pure Barre:

-it’s low impact, so it is great for people recovering from injuries, or who have weak joints. It really helps with my scoliosis. 

-it tones and strengthens the areas I find softer than my ideal; most of these areas being common trouble spots for ladies. 

-there is a real sense of community at Pure Barre. I love it!

-while I get stronger and better at Pure Barre technique, it never gets easier. I love that it remains challenging!

My Tips for Beginners:

-commit to a package right off the bat. Pure Barre will not change you over night, but over the consistent course of a month–heck yeah!

-ask your instructor questions after class. Things won’t click right away, and class is fast-paced, so there’s no time to talk during the workout. That doesn’t mean that we instructors don’t love to break things down for you after class. 

-take a Breaking Down The Barre course. It’s aimed at explaining a lot of FAQs!

-You have nothing to prove. So grab the 2 lb. weights. Seriously, don’t play hero. 2 lb. weights.  

I hope this post is enlightening to anyone curious about Pure Barre! It’s become a really positive part of my life and workout routine. I highly recommend it! 


What’s your go to workout? 
[W]IT GIRL

Culture · Events · music

‘Tis the Season for Festival Lineups

Today’s the DAY. I’m a little giddy.

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You see, today is the day that Bonnaroo announces its 2017 lineup. And I feel old.

I remember being a sophomore in high school begging Donna Momma to let me go to Bonnaroo. She made me wait until after I graduated! They used to always drop the lineup close to Valentine’s Day, and it honestly would make this girl swoon.

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I visited the Farm in 2011 and 2012. I remember feeling like I had walked into a whole other   world my first ‘roo. I think my favorite performance of 2011 was Arcade Fire. Their set was so dynamic, and I love them as artists because they all play several instruments! Crazy talent all on one stage!

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2012 was such a dream come true–I got to see Radiohead! RADIOHEAD. And not to brag, but I was on the rail….I earned that spot though. Six hours of waiting, a bruised rib, and a split open toenail. I wore those injuries like medals though because RADIOHEAD.

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I have wanted to return to the Farm, and it disappoints me that I haven’t been since 2012. It was a tough year to beat though, so maybe things worked out how they are meant to be. I wanted to walk down ‘roo nostalgia lane today because they announce the lineup, and presuming it is a good one (rumor has it, it will be), Benny and I want to attend this year! I am anxious to return, and I really want Benny to have his first festival experience.

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What artists are you looking forward to seeing?

 

[W]IT GIRL