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I shared the photos of Layla's Cuddle Clone on Instagram on Monday and thought I would do a review/post on how the order process went! This is NOT a sponsored post in any way.  I discovered Cuddle Clones quite a few years ago but never felt like I should spend $250 on a stuffed version of Layla. But, once I was no longer living with Layla, I kept thinking about getting one so I could always have her with me.

 

Fun Fact: I was terrified of dogs until Layla. I used to not go to people's houses if they had a dog and one time when I was younger I stayed in the car instead of going into my cousins' houses because they had a dog, ha ha. I'm still nervous around new dogs but get over it pretty quickly. 


Layla came into my life in June 2013 after one of my cousins adopted her (I lived with two cousins from Spring 2013 - Fall 2017.) The one who bought the house sold it and I moved back in with my parents before buying my house in 2018. It’s hard not seeing her every day so I used to steal her for a couple of days at a time or watched her when my cousin went away. COVID made that difficult because I didn’t want to risk either of us transporting the virus (even though he barely went anywhere either.)  Prior to our most recent visit - when I took these photos - I hadn't seen her since August! And before that it was February.

 

During Cuddle Clones' Black Friday sale I decided to splurge! I used photos from when we first got her, before all the gray. She was about four/five in the photos I sent and she's turning TWELVE in just under two weeks. Now, even though I can’t see her all the time, I can look over and see her likeness sitting on a bench in the living room.

 


What is a Cuddle Clone?

A Cuddle Clone is a handmade, custom version of your furry friend! They are handmade and airbrushed to completely match your pet. You can customize their sitting position, ears, and more so it best represents your best bud. 


It's a great way to remember a favorite family pet who is no longer with you. As long as you have one photo they can create a clone! The more photos you provide the better detail it will have. 


Is it only for dogs?

You can get a Cuddle Clone of ANY animal! If you check their gallery you'll see everything from cats and dogs to horses and bunnies! I even saw a chicken!


Do they only make stuffed animals?

Nope! You can get figurines, slippers, stockings, golf club covers, blankets, mugs and more! If I had two pets I would probably want to get the slippers and do one of each!


How do I order a Cuddle Clone?

 

Pet Details

The process starts with creating a profile. First you will name your pet, select the type of animal, breed, etc. Next you will upload photos and select your customization options. For dogs, options include eye color as well as ear, mouth, body and tail positions.

Photos

Photos are the key to getting your clone to look exactly like your pet! You only need one photo but you can upload as many as 10 plus 3 detail shots of "distinguishing characteristics" your pet has.  They ask you to give the following photos: Face, Fur Color, Right Side, Backside, Left Side, Chest, Tail, Back of Neck, and Feet.

 

For Layla's three extra photos I used the white spot under her neck and a little white patch on her chest. Along with these detail photos you can describe what you want to focus on.

If your pet has passed away you can add a zippered pouch for $20 where you can store your pet's ashes or a photo/memory of them. I have not seen one with this option but it looks like the zipper is on the chest so it may be fairly noticeable.

 

Discounts?

There are a few ways to get discounts on your Cuddle Clone plush. First, they usually have a 10% off code for your first purchase. Second, wait for Black Friday like I did! I was able to combine both discounts. You can also google codes to try if you aren't prompted on the Cuddle Clones site.

 

If you have multiple people who want a clone of the same pet they will discount you $30 for each additional. This cannot be used on separate pets, it has to be the same pet made twice.

 

Post-Order Editing

After I ordered I realized I used two of the same photo for my "details" shots so I started a chat and was able to add extra photos for the artists to refer to.  Good to know if you need to add additional to photos than the spots provided or make a mistake.


What happens after I order my Cuddle Clone?

The regular delivery time for Cuddle Clones is 8 weeks, you can pay an up-charge to get it as soon as 2 weeks, but it will cost you quite a bit more.

 

Once you purchase, you will get an email confirmation (obviously) of your order. I ordered during busy holiday season so it was about two weeks before I got an email telling me that one of their "talented designers has started working on the pattern for Layla." I was also informed of the process to complete my Cuddle Clone:

 

Once the custom pattern has been completed, it will move on to sewing and stuffing before being assigned to one of our amazing airbrush artists for its final customizations!

Next up was the email telling me "Your Plush Clone of Layla has passed our quality control inspection and has been sent to our headquarters for final packaging!"  


The plush was made in China and then shipped to the Cuddle Clones headquarters in Kansas before finally being shipped out to me.

 

I ordered my Cuddle Clone on November 25th so I didn't think I was going to get Layla until January 19th going by their 8-week average. She arrived on January 3rd! It was actually supposed to be delivered on December 31st but the post office had some delays. So it took about 5 weeks to arrive if we remove the post office delay.

 


Is a Cuddle Clone worth it?

 

YES! I think it was totally worth it for me to have a version of Layla to cherish forever. I will say I would wait for a sale, if possible. $250 is still a lot of money, especially when you add in the $20 shipping. I paid $189 for my Clone plus got 10% off with a coupon code. But the $20 shipping brought the total back up to $190, ha ha. Luckily I had advertising money from the blog so I didn't feel as bad. PLUS I feel like since I wanted it for so long it was a justified buy.

So yes, if you love your pet and want to always have them with you, this is a great way to do it. It will look almost exactly like your pet so I think the price premium makes that more worth it than buying a generic stuffed version or statue of the breed. This is especially handy if you have a mixed breed dog like Layla!

 

I'm very happy with how she turned out. The only complaint I have is her snout could be a little longer, but that is a small issue in comparison to how she turned out!

Plus, every purchase provides 3 meals and a toy to a shelter pet. How cute is that? They also donate to a different animal-wellness organization/shelter each month.


 If you have any questions I didn't cover feel free to comment and I'll add to the post!

Time for part 4 of my baking escapades! This only covers through Thanksgiving so I'll share my "holiday" bakes later. Sadly I didn't make much over the holidays, must have been burnout. Have you been trying any new recipes (baked or non) lately? Or maybe you've tried takeout at some local restaurants you hadn't tried before to help the local economy?


Chocolate Coconut Blondies

This might be the favorite recipe discovered during quarantine. I tried it to make use of some coconut I wanted to finish up and after I made it I bought 2 more bags so I could make them again and again! Christian is obsessed as well. I'm not usually a blondie fan but I think the fact that it's chocolate, coconut and a perfect mix of crispy and gooey converted me. We use all different sized chocolate chips so it adds even more texture. Make these, you won't regret it.

 

2-Hour No Knead Bread

This is becoming a weekly staple in the house. Christian is working from home for a few months (hopefully longer) he doesn't need regular sandwich bread so I switched over to this crusty no-knead bread to have with fried eggs. It's super simple and easy! You'll need a dutch oven to cook it but it's very simple.

 

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had never made cookies with browned butter before. I didn't know what I was missing! These are SO GOOD. I only made half the recipe when I made them because it used a lot of butter and I didn't want to waste it if I didn't like them. Next time I'll be baking a full batch - and buying some chocolate wafers to get even more melty chocolate (we used chocolate chips and chunks since we had them on hand.)

 

Easy Baked Glazed Chocolate Donuts

I was always afraid of making donuts. Just like with bagels they seemed too hard. I started my donut journey by trying out a simple baked chocolate donut. They came out really good except for our icing job, we need to figure out the right consistency. Maybe next time I'll be brave and try FRIED donuts. I'm also going to try these Cinnamon Braided Donuts very soon (maybe even before this post goes live.)

 

Easy Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Christian grew lavender in our garden this year and I decided I should try cooking and/or baking with it. I searched for an easy recipe to do and came upon these shortbread cookies. The texture is amazing! Some bites were a little too perfumey for me but overall these were a nice change from my usual chocolate desserts! And they're pretty. 

 

Mini Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookies

Pretty basic oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies. I didn't have the right size mini cast iron skillet for these and they were annoying to clean so I probably won't remake these as the baker says they won't cook the same if they aren't in a skillet. But they were tasty!

 

And of course we have remade some of our favorite recipes as well.

 

Pizza Express Dough Balls and Homemade Pizza with King Arthur Flour pizza crust recipe

 Two easy things we've remade a bunch of times. The dough balls are super easy (I just need to get better at cutting them) and I'm getting better at the pizza crust recipe. Sometimes I stretch it too much and it gets too thin, whoops! 

 

We pair the dough balls with garlic butter or - even better - with our favorite pesto from the local farmer's market! If you're in Connecticut see if they sell near you! It's $8 but well worth it! 

 

Pizza is similar, we LOVE making a chicken pesto pizza (but I'll also settle for pepperoni!) This time we topped with chicken, pesto,  caramelized onions, sweet piquante peppers and pepperoncini peppers (Christian's half.) Delish!



It's the last wardrobe update of 2020! And last post too. What a wild year it has been. 

 

I  almost made it through the month without a purchase and then J.Crew Factory did a 75% off clearance sale so I picked up a few things on the 27th, still waiting for them to arrive. I got 2 leopard tops (because I'm addicted) and a purple men's sweater (that I also got Christian for Christmas) because I can never find a good dark purple in women's clothes! I used ad money so I don't feel too bad.

 

A couple items for a sponsored post in February also arrived. Now I have a whole month to take the photos, woohoo!


THE (modified) RULES

  1. Be mindful of purchases 
  2. Quality over quantity
  3. Basics are best
MY PROGRESS

Clothes:
  1. FARM Rio Amazonian Ombre Mini Wrap Dress c/o Shopbop ($127.50, retail $170)
  2. Burberry beaded owl sweater via eBay ($75, retail $2950 in 2012)
  3. Stella McCartney Wild Cat Skinny Ankle Jeans via eBay ($15 after ad money, retail $735)
  4. Ba&sh "Perla" dress in Green Light c/o Shopbop ($236.25, retail $630)
  5. Nili Lotan Cashmere Abbey Sweater c/o Shopbop ($133.88, retail $525) 
  6. Mickey Mouse Football Jersey in purple ($28; used gift card)
  7. Disney State Fair Connecticut Tee ($17.47; used gift card)
  8. *NEW!* J.Crew Leopard Terry Sweatshirt ($12.50, used ad money, retail $49.99)
  9. *NEW!* J. Crew leopard cotton tee ($6.25, used ad money, retail $24.99)

Basics:
  1. J Brand 811 Mid Rise Skinny Leg Jean in Moral ($0 after $25 credit & ad money, retail $228)
  2. Madewell Camp Shorts in Faded Rosebud c/o Shopbop ($35, retail $50)
  3. *NEW!* J.Crew Washable merino wool-blend crewneck sweater in aubergine ($15,used ad money, retail $59.99)
Shoes:

  1. Ancient Greek Sandals 'Clara' Sandal c/o Shopbop ($221.25, retail $295)
  2. Sperry Rio Aqua Slip-On Sneaker ($14.83 via DSW, retail $64.99) 
  3. Ancient Greek Sandals 'Faye' embellished leather sandals via Net-a-Porter Sale ($112, retail $289; used side hustle money)
  4. Ancient Greek Sandals 'Clio' leopard-print leather slingback sandals via Net-a-Porter Sale ($74, retail $185; used side hustle money)
  5. Marc by Marc Jacobs buckle boot in burgundy via Cocos On the Green ($48, retail $495; used ad money)


Handbags:

  1. Madewell Medium Slim Saddle Bag c/o Shopbop ($118.50, retail $158) 
  2. 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Medium shoulder bag in Nile Shark Embossed Leather via Bag, Borrow or Steal ($220, retail $895)

 Accessories:

  1. Ray Ban 'Erika' Sunglasses in Havana c/o Shopbop (retail $163)
  2. Shashi Princess Leia Necklace c/o Shopbop ($55)

Activewear:
  1. SPANX Look At Me Now Seamless Leggings in Indigo Leopard c/o Shopbop ($68)

Gifted from Brands:
  1. AUrate Pearl Studs in Rose Gold (retail $150)
  2. AUrate Medium Chain Bracelet in Rose Gold (retail $50)
  3. AUrate Gold Twist Huggie Earrings (retail $80)
  4. AUrate Stackable Twist Ring (retail $80)
  5. AUrate Mini Infinity Ring (retail $70)
  6. *NEW!* AUrate x Kerry Lioness Pendant (retail $150)
  7. *NEW!* AUrate Infinity Heart Ring (retail $80)


Total spent in December: $0

Total spent in 2020: $324.83

Total in 2020 with ad money and gift cards included: 1895.99 (1,158.38 was Shopbop gift cards)

Christian decided to do some experimenting with these photos and I love the way they turned out! This Autumn Cashmere landscape sweater remains one of my favorite pieces in my closet. It's super soft and the print makes it fun! Perfect for an afternoon walk in the park. Right after we finished these photos the clouds rolled in so we caught the lighting at the perfect time! 

 

I brought my new Phillip Lim Pashli bag even though I didn't need it because it hasn't been worn yet (I bought it in September!) and I thought it deserved a proper blog debut! 

 

Sadly I can't find this sweater anywhere for resale BUT I was able to find a ton of similar styles on etsy and ebay!

 

Sweater: Autumn Cashmere Landscape Sweater, Pants: abercrombie + fitch corduroy pants, Mules: Franco Sarto 'Dolly' (DSW), Sunglasses: Gucci Aviators (bought in Italy), Bag: 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Medium shoulder bag in Nile Shark Embossed Leather (Bag, Borrow or Steal




 

It's been a while since I've done a baking roundup on the blog! The last one was in June, whoops! (and check out part one.)  I was going to share in order of what I made but then I decided since I made so many pecan recipes I would group them together for this post (plus some misc. recipes)


Maple Oatmeal Sticky Buns - my Aunt's recipe

I'm a big cinnamon bun fan and this recipe is one of my favorites (although I haven't tried to make many on my own.) I prefer maple sticky buns to ones with frosting - unless we're talking about tube cinnamon buns or Cinnabon at the mall, YUM! 

 

My aunt's recipe uses a bit of oats for added texture. This was the first time I made them without my Mom and I followed the recipe and only rolled the buns out to 10x4. Next time I'm going to roll it out more so there will be more swirls. 


 

Butter Pecan Sheet Cake 

This is one of two recipes I found a week or so before Thanksgiving that I decided to make.  I ordered  a couple bags of pecans to prepare and set out on my mission! I tried this recipe first because I figured I would like the second one better (it included chocolate!) I only made half the recipe because it used a LOT of butter. It was really tasty and a nice light dessert, we could have had it for breakfast too.

 

Brown Sugar Maple Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Here's the second recipe I made Thanksgiving week. Christian and I made it together for our solo Thanksgiving celebration.  I really love this recipe because I love pecan pie filling but not pie crust (I'm weird) so having the cookie-like crust on the bottom made this the perfect combo. Plus - who doesn't love chocolate chips!?

 

Braided Pesto Bread - my own concoction

Christian and I attempted to make pesto with basil from our garden but unfortunately it didn't come out too great (we didn't have enough basil) and the cheese was too chunky - I don't like cheese to begin with. SO I decided to make pesto bread out of it! I used a super simple bread dough (1 cup warm water, 2 tsp yeast, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt,) rolled it out, spooned on the pesto, rolled it up, cut it in half and braided it before making it into a circle.

 

Sugar Cookies

I wanted to use up some shortening we had from when I made beignets earlier in the year and decided to see how it would work in a sugar cookie.  A super simple, easy treat!

 

Chocohotopots

Something I make all the time and one of my favorite easy desserts! All you need is butter, chocolate, eggs, flour and sugar. I made these on my birthday with new Mickey Mouse ramekins Chrisitan got me, so cute!

Dutch Baby Pancake - various recipes (I think I used this one

We love having breakfast for dinner and some nights I feel like making it extra special. I've made a few dutch baby pancakes and they get better each time! I don't think I've mastered the art yet but at least they taste good!


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