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Showing posts with label Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reviews. Show all posts

I was recently introduced to Day Owl, a sustainable company that makes bags out of recycled plastic bottles and other landfill-bound materials. In each product description you can see what sustainable materials were used to create it. Christian has been really into backpacks lately, researching pros and cons for hours, so he was excited to be able to test this out as well!

They sent me "The Backpack" which is made from waxed canvas made from 25 recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, plus 100% recycled polyester lining and trim, algae based foam, water repellent neoprene, and conflict-free metal YKK zippers. It has 18L of space, can fit up to a 16in laptop and a 750mL water bottle in a side pocket. There's even a pocket on top where you can store your phone or keys for easy access. (They also have a Slim Backpack if you want a smaller option.) Day Owl also sent over their Pouch for storing cords, electronic accessories and other small items. You can buy The Backpack + The Pouch together for only $156.40!

Packed with some room to spare for a couple souvenirs

Let's use the Day Owl backpack and see what we can pack for a weekend at Walt Disney World! The bag is technically a little big to use as an Avelo personal item measurement-wise, but I may risk it! I read they don't always check the size as long as it looks like it will fit under the seat. It will definitely work for Southwest, which we fly with pretty frequently. 

It fit everything I need to bring with me for our 4 days (5 if you count our departure day.) My plane outfit is jeans, a tee, sandals and a sweater that I probably won't even need. I always like to have a sweater in case the evenings get cold. I packed pretty light - 3 tees (I may buy one there,) 2 pairs of shorts, another pair of sandals and my small Mickey bag to carry around the parks. I also fit in my toiletries, makeup, other necessities and packed up The Pouch with my various charging accessories, small portable charger and airpods.

Packing for a long weekend at Disney in a backpack [Mickey tie-dye shirt, Sword in the Stone Tee, EPCOT Food & Wine 2022 Tee]

Bottle Pocket - using for an extra pair of sandals

Flat Front Pocket. Putting my toiletries in for easy access at security.

The Pouch
The Pouch full of phone and watch accessories. Still room to spare!

Two more things to add, easy fit!

There is a space for a laptop in the back but, since this is such a short trip, I won't be bringing mine.  As seen above, I used the water bottle pocket on the side for my extra pair of shoes since I won't need a water bottle. Pretty handy! I also won't be using the luggage strap this trip, but that is another super handy feature!

Spill-Resistant Bottle Pocket lined with water-repellent neoprene (this is an 18oz Yeti Rambler)

“it’s big enough for a wine bottle and strong enough for a wet umbrella.”

Padded Laptop Pocket (fits up to 16" laptop)

Luggage Strap

A few more detail shots showing off other features of the backpack. Lots of handy nooks and crannies to use!

Organized Interior

Cord Straps

Various sleeves for organization

Grab handles with button closure for easy pickup

Floating Top Pocket for glasses, chapstick, etc! (my slim sunglasses storage case)

 *I was gifted the backpack & pouch but was not required to post about it. Purchases made through links in this post will earn me a small commission. My opinions are my own. *

A couple weeks ago I was sent over Southside Market & Barbeque's Fresh Original Beef Rope Sausage to try. Southside Market was founded in 1882 by William Moon in Elgin, TX. What started off as door to door meat sales has evolved into four brick & mortar restaurants/stores as well as nationwide shipping! You can order smoked sausage, chicken, brisket, hot sauce, rubs and more straight to your doorstep! After trying the rope sausage, I'm looking forward to trying more of their products in the future!


Known by old-timers as “Elgin Hot Sausage” or simply “Hot Guts”, this is the sausage that put Southside on the map. Now available to order in rope form exactly as we sell it fresh in our meat markets. Unlike the shorter links, each fresh (raw) rope measures approximately 44-48 inches long and weighs 2 lbs. Seasoned with cracked black pepper, it is all beef, coarsely ground in a natural pork casing. This is our signature item, made fresh in-house daily for a level of quality, taste, and enjoyment you can’t find anywhere else. Since 1882. 


You can buy one sausage for $25 or save $10 by purchasing 2 for $40. Make sure to use code TXBBQ10 to save 10%! The rope sausage came frozen and packed with some dry ice and packing foam to keep it safe and fresh. I defrosted it within a day and we cooked it the weekend it arrived.  Never cook your Southside Market meat from frozen, always thaw first and make sure sausage gets to 165°F!


Time to dig in! I cooked the whole beef sausage very simply with no added spices and without cutting it. It's still a little too chilly for a grill session so I baked the rope sausage in the oven instead. I baked for 20 minutes in a cast iron skillet (to see if that would help with browning) at 400 degrees and flipped once to get some browning on both sides. I definitely need to buy some this Summer to grill too! 

Since there's only two of us we obviously didn't eat it all in one sitting so I did something a bit more fun with the leftovers. For this first try I wanted to eat it as is, with some simple veggies as a side so we could really get a feel for the texture and flavor.  The sausage was juicy with great beef flavor and a nice kick at the end from the black pepper.  I imagine the flavor would be even better with some char from the grill.

My only gripe with Southside Market is the cost of shipping. It cost $58 to ship just this one sausage rope. If I added on sausage links it would go up to $66 . Adding a rub to that it jumps up to $85. I understand they want to ship quickly and with enough ice to keep items frozen, but other brands can do the same for cheaper. Even HelloFresh, who send up to 7 (or more) meals worth of groceries is shipped for $10. They aren't doing the volume of HF, but I'm sure there are other economical ways to ship.

*This post was made in partnership with Apogee Agency. All opinions on the product are my own and have not been influenced by this sponsorship. Thank you for supporting brands I feature* #sponsored #SouthsideSausageReview #ad


If you follow me on Instagram you'll know Christian and I went to Vermont last weekend and one of our activities was taking a baking class at the King Arthur Baking School in Norwich, VT. We signed up for the Pizza Perfected class, a 3 hour session to teach us how to make better pizza! Longtime followers will remember that I've been getting into making pizza from scratch these past few years so I was excited to learn from the professionals - and FINALLY do a hand-stretched pizza (instead of just stretching it in the pan.) The description of the class is:


One of the things I was most excited for on our recent trip to Disney World was FINALLY doing Wild Africa Trek. The moment I learned what it was it has been on my Disney Bucket List. I almost did it for my 30th birthday in 2018 but my friend and I decided to do character meals instead. Christian and I had booked it for our May 2020 trip that got cancelled. When we rescheduled the trip for the  May 2022 we decided to skip it that trip and plan a special Disney World vacation for our wedding anniversary. Thus, our Animal Kingdom-centric trip was born!


We decided to do it up big and stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge with a Savannah View room, booked through David's Vacation Club Rentals to utilize Disney Vacation Club points to stay for lower than Disney rack rates. We paid $900 for 3 nights compared to $2381 if booked directly through Disney.  We planned our meals just at the hotel and wanted to spend a bulk of our time there. Since we're Annual Passholders (well, were until September 30th) we were able to use our Passhoolder discount on Wild Africa Trek tickets and paid $360.28 vs $423.88.

This sign look familiar? See photos of our shirts below if not ;)

I'll do my best to walk you through what happens during this amazing three hour tour. If you don't want details so you can be pleasantly surprised on your own Trek feel free to just look at the images. The short description of the tour from Disney is "Encounter exotic wildlife on a guided expedition with African-inspired snacks and photo keepsakes."


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 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.



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!

I wore this a couple weekends ago to a blogger Happy Hour at Fork & Fire in Farmington, CT. They have recently changed their name from 4Eat&Drink but is still owned and run by the same team. Manager Jesse explain the appetizer options while Danny made us delicious cocktails. I tried the Spring Blossom which features gin and strawberry.  I particularly enjoyed the BLT Flatbread, wings and pita chips. What can I say, I’m a simple gal who loves her bread.

The event was super fun and we were the only ones in the restaurant so we were free to do crazy blogger things like rearrange tables to get the best shot of the food. So much easier than when you have other restaurant goers disturbed by photo taking; or just staring because they're confused.

I wore my fun firework print Marc Jacobs dress for the occasion and Lydia and I stopped by a local historical society afterward for photos.

P.S. You may also notice some weird circles on my back. I was going to photoshop them out but was too lazy. I went to my Aunt's for a massage before the event and had her do some cupping because my back was hurting more than usual that day. Cupping makes it feel so much better! IF you're in the Wethersfield area be sure to check her out for massage, cupping and energy work! (We're currently revamping her site because this one was made way back when I was in college in 2009.)

Dress: Marc by Marc Jacobs 'Dancing Lights' tiered ruffle dress, Espadrilles: Sam Edelman 'Lars' (Net-a-Porter), Bag: Emm Kuo 'Calle Bahia' (Roundabout), Sunglasses: Gucci

See photos below. Food shown:
  • Marinated Olives with garlic, citrus and rosemary
  • House-made Hummus with everything bagel spice, local farm veggies and flatbread crisps
  • Korean BBQ Wings with honey sriracha glaze and tuxedo sesame seeds
  • “BLT” Flatbread with smoked bacon, fontina cheese, tomato jam, picked red onion and baby arugula
  • Slow-Roasted Adobo-Spiced Pork Sliders with green cabbage slaw, house pickles and chipotle aioli
  • Kale Caesar Salad with house dressing, toasted garlic breadcrumbs, parmigiana reggiano and a crispy egg
  • Hanger Steak Frites with shishito pepper chimichurri

In need of a Happy Hour fix tonight? Check out @forkandfirect in Farmington (name just changed from 4 Eat & Drink) for some tasty treats and drinks! I went over the weekend and we had Manager Jesse explain the appetizer options while Danny made delicious cocktails. I tried the Spring Blossom which features gin and strawberry. Also shown: - Marinated Olives with garlic, citrus and rosemary - House-made Hummus with everything bagel spice, local farm veggies and flatbread crisps - Korean BBQ Wings with honey sriracha glaze and tuxedo sesame seeds - “BLT” Flatbread with smoked bacon, fontina cheese, tomato jam, picked red onion and baby arugula - Slow-Roasted Adobo-Spiced Pork Sliders with green cabbage slaw, house pickles and chipotle aioli - Kale Caesar Salad with house dressing, toasted garlic breadcrumbs, parmigiana reggiano and a crispy egg - Hanger Steak Frites with shishito pepper chimichurri I particularly enjoyed the BLT Flatbread, wings and pita chips (what can I say, I’m a simple gal who loves her bread) Happy Hour is Tuesday - Friday from 4-6pm! Thanks Jesse, Danny and @chefjasonwelch! . . . . . . . #cthappyhour #cteatsout #cteats #foodie #ctfoodie #ctfood #foodfeed #ctbites #feastagram #happyhour #connecticut #ctblogger #cocktail #ctrestaurants #ctfoodlovers #forkandfirect
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 I wore this a few weeks ago to attend a blogger dinner at Eli's Tavern in Milford. I didn't want to wear jeans so I decided to wear my fun Proenza Schouler printed pants! I love these but I always style them the same way, black on top and some sort of heel. I think next time I'll pair them with my knitted tank sweater and some flats for a more dressed down look! And, although this outfit has lots of designer pieces, they were bought resale or on discount. The only full price item here are my sunglasses which were a vacation splurge.

Lydia and I tried multiple locations for these photos before the dinner so you get a mix of backgrounds to enjoy, ha ha.

Top c/o Simple Retro, Printed Pants: Proenza Schouler Black & White Graphic Print Pants (Yoox), Sandals: Lanvin studded leather 'City' sandal (The RealReal), Sunglasses: Gucci

Here are some photos from Eli's. If you go the Gypsy Chicken is reaaaally good!!

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