Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cats Get to Be Foodies,Too With Hills Crafted! #InspiredByCrafted

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Ideal Balance™ Crafted™, but Straight On Till morning only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Sam would love to convince me that all of the critters he sees out the window are "free range and organic!" and would make a great meal. Sorry, Sam! But I promise you'll like this stuff even better!


As a culture, we're pretty food obsessed these days. We check out restaurant reviews online, we Instagram our meals, incorporating ancient grains into our recipes is quite popular, we love to know where our food is sourced from, and seeking out fresh ingredients draws many us out of bed bright and early on weekends to hit up farmers markets. What if we put that level of attention into what we feed our pets, too? The new line of Hill’s® Ideal Balance™ Crafted™ cat food and dog food brings that level of care to food for your pets by making their food in small batches that are less processed.

In short, the new slow cooked cat food is made the way you would if you made cat food cooked at home, with lots of love, great ingredients, and perfectly balanced nutrition, but without all of the work of doing it yourself! Instead, you can kick back and relax, and maybe even pop open a craft beer for yourself when you open a Crafted can of food for your pet, so you can bond over the attention to detail that went into making both things awesome!


You can find the new Hill's Ideal Balance Crafted in bot dry food and wet food formulas, for cats and dogs. We tried out a bag of the dry cat food, which my cats absolutely loved, and I actually just discovered a couple of days ago that Hill's also included some coupons in the box of goodies we received so that I can try the wet food for free, so I'll be picking those up as soon as I can get to a store that carries them! 

I'm actually quite excited to see what my cats think of the Hill's Ideal Balance Crafted wet food because they have interesting flavors like Crafted Salmon Chowder with Quinoa and Crafted Chicken Pot Pie with Buckwheat that sound more like dishes you'd find on an upscale restaurant menu than in a can in the pet food aisle! Every kind of Hill's food we've tried has been a hit, though, so I'll fill you guys in soon on what my cats think of these, too, once we try them!

Have you seen this new line of products from Hill's in stores yet? I'd love to hear about what your pets think if you pick it up! What kind of hand crafted food and drinks are you into for yourself?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Show Us Your Books! (April 2015)

It's been ages since I've posted about what I've been reading, so I'm linking up for Show Us Your Books! Clicking on each book cover will take you to the book's page on Amazon, if you want to learn more!


Wuhu Diary - Emily Prager

I picked this up on a whim at a thrift shop a while back, and ended up enjoying it a lot more than I expected. It's part travel diary, part exploration into the dynamics of adoption, especially when it involves adopting a child of a noticeably different background. As you can probably guess from the book cover, it's the story of the author taking her four year old daughter back to the Chinese city from which she was adopted.

One of the most interesting parts of this book to me was watching how LuLu processed the concept of her adoption through play. I like psychology, so it was fascinating to hear about how, for example, she wanted her mother to act out giving birth to her, or to reenact the day the orphanage handed her over. It was also an interesting change to read about a part of China that I'm not at all familiar with - very few travel books visit the average, non-touristy city to show what everyday life is like there.



How to Be a Heroine - Samantha Ellis

On a visit to the house that inspired Wuthering Heights, the author decides it's time to revisit all of the literary heroines she grew up with to see if her impressions of them are still the same now that she is an adult with a different outlook on life, love and what it means to be a woman. You don't need to have read all of the books covered to enjoy this, but it may be a bit spoilery if you haven't, since major events decisions the heroines make are discussed. Luckily, the spoilers of books that I hadn't read yet kind of blended together and faded from my memory pretty quickly, so no harm done. I enjoyed this one a lot - a good mix of examining classics from a fresh angle with a bit of memoir thrown in.


A Field Guide to Happiness - Linda Leaming

I have a bit of a fascination with the countries that surround the Himalayas, so I had a feeling I'd enjoy this book about the author's time in Bhutan. The book itself is sort of half self help-ish guide to happiness (think along the lines of Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project) and half tales of living abroad and adjusting to a very different life there.

I'm not sure that I learned anything new in terms of how to live a happier life, but a lot of the tips/lessons were nice reminders of things that haven't been in the forefront of my mind in a while. For example, in the introduction I was reminded that "Happiness doesn't just happen; It's a result of conscious action (and sometimes that "action" is to do nothing.)" This is technically two ideas that I needed to be reminded of. The concept that happiness is not our default state is something that was pointed out to me a couple of years ago, and it was sort of a major revelation for me at the time. I mean, think about it - When you picture happy people, you generally picture them *doing* something. In contrast, how do you picture depressed people? Probably curled up on the couch. Improving your mood takes effort. You have to actively get up and do things that you know bring you happiness. And, as the second half of the idea that I quoted mentions, sometimes those things might feel like nothing. Lying on the floor in a restorative yoga pose for 20 minutes can make your day a heck of a lot better, but it can also be super hard to prioritize above the dozens of other things that you feel like you should be doing instead.

But back to the book itself... I wish that I could say that more of it stuck with me (It's been more than a month since I finished it - I need to get better at writing up reviews while they're fresh in my mind!), but I did enjoy it in general, and was pleased to see that the author actually has an earlier book that came out in 2011, and it's only like $2 on Kindle, so I might read that one in the near future. You can find the author on Twitter at @LindaLeaming - she shares some fantastic photos of life in Bhutan, as well as her husband's artwork, and all kinds of other interesting stuff.


The Curious One - Chelsea Berler

I requested an advance review copy of The Curious One: From Food Stamps to CEO from NetGalley because it sounded intriguing - the story of how a woman took herself from a childhood of struggle and heartache to running her own business and living on her own terms. Since my copy wasn't a final proof, I'm hoping that it went through quite a bit more editing before publication, because the writing was pretty rough - lots of telling instead of showing, lots of stories that you expect to lead somewhere or have a point, but turn out to just be extraneous detail. I definitely found myself pulling for Chelsea after reading about all of the hardships she went through as a kid, and she seems like a genuinely nice, driven person. I just didn't find much actual inspiration in the book - there wasn't much about how she got from point A to point B other than working really hard. I feel like maybe I missed something, because all of the reviews on Amazon are positively glowing.



Vibrational Healing by Jaya Jaya Myra

This is a really tough book to sum up in a few sentences. The most simplified version I can come up with is that it helps you identify yourself as certain body or personality types, and then offers ideas and practices to help balance your health and well-being based upon those types. It's definitely on the "new age-y" side, but I happen to like that kind of thing, so I found it to be an interesting read. A lot of the suggestions offered (time in nature, grounding/earthing, etc) were pretty standard, but there were some new to me ideas, too. I wish I had time to flip through it again before writing about it here, but the review copies that I get from Net Galley expire after like 55 days, so I can't reopen it to jog my memory. It's definitely the sort of book that works better when you can refer back to it, rather than just read it through once and expect to absorb everything.



What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

It feels funny to describe What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding as a great beach read since I read it in the middle of January, but that's a pretty solid way of describing it. Fun, witty, and a quick read, this appealed to me as a single woman in my early 30's with no interest in going the marriage and babies route anytime soon. (Or at all, on the "babies" part of that.) Kristin is a TV comedy writer for shows like "How I Met Your Mother" by trade, so she excels at telling a witty story. There was a point where the book almost started feeling repetitive (yet another trip to an exotic locale where she encounters yet another super sexy local), but it switched gears shortly afterwards, and quickly pulled out of that rut. There was a lot that I related to in this book, but it doesn't rank up there as a favorite.

I think the author does a fantastic job of summing up the feel of the book in her comment on its Goodreads page:


Life According to Steph

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Weekend That Was

I thought I'd do something a little different this week and link up for "Weekending" and "Mingle Monday", inspired by the "Weekend That Was" posts at Life According to Steph! (If I do this more than once, I totally need to come up with my own title!) This is really going to be more of "The Sunday That Was", though, because I legit did nooooothing on Saturday, except sleep until 2 pm and clean out part of my closet. 

Sunday was one of those rare Spring days where it was a perfect 73 degrees and not stormy, so I went over to Branson to check out the Lakeside Forest Trail hiking trails just off of Fall Creek Road. I've been wanting to get to these for ages, but this is the first time that both my schedule and the weather have cooperated! There are several miles worth of trails, but since this was my first time out I took the most straightforward one towards the historic cabin at the center of the property, and then followed the trail that runs parallel to the old stone wall that circled the homestead.






I need to find a better bag to take out on trails with me - this time I used the little zippered bag that I picked up in Mexico like 10 years ago, since i was just the right size for my phone, lens cap, and little bottle of water.


And holy cow am I out of shape! The part of the trails that I did was less than a mile, but the rocky, hilly terrain makes it feel like a lot more!


I really want to follow the route that I outlined here in green next time, since it includes a snazzy waterfall and cave, but it also includes 315 rugged stone steps leading down over 100 feet. I'm cool with going *down* those stairs, but not so sure how I feel about coming back up!

After the trail, I went over to the hospital to visit mom. It looks like she'll be getting out on Friday, but we're not sure yet if she'll be going straight home or back to a nursing home for a couple of weeks, first. Looking forward to spending way less time at the hospital!


Have I even mentioned yet that we finally got Moe's in Branson?? Moe's is one of my favorite places to grab food in Orlando, and I'm freaking psyched to have it within a decent driving distance now! When I went a week or so ago, they gave me a coupon for a $3 burrito (they're usually about $7), so I rounded out my afternoon with another Moe's run today to grab a giant back of food with which to stuff my face!


I always get a big ol' bowl of queso I generally don't even order a burrito or taco or anything, just give me queso and chips and salsa and I'm in heaven. However, since I'm so in love with Moe's salsa, I always end up filling up a zillion little cups with it at the salsa bar. I finally found a way around that - picked these up at Target and I am now totally the lady who brings my own containers to fill with salsa. 





There's a little cup of the hot salsa on top, for size comparison. They're all SO GOOD.

I made it home in time to catch most of the Portland Timbers vs Orlando City game, which we totally won 2-0! (#GoCity!)


All hail Kaka!

I started watching AE's "Married at First Sight" last night, and I'm pretty hooked. It's interesting to see how people who are perfect together on paper work out as a real couple. It points out how much of relationships come from that extra un-defineable thing. This is season 2, so I might have to go back and indulge in season 1 eventually.

The temp plates on my new car expire tomorrow (um, oops?) so I get to spend at least part of my day at the DMV taking care of the whole title/tags thing, and then I'll probably head back over to the hospital to see mom yet again. As usual, I feel like I'm behind on pretty much everything - it would be so nice to feel all caught up in at least one area of life! Eventually? Maybe?

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Jackpot Candles Review and Giveaway (Hippity Hoppity Giveaway Hop)

Hippity Hoppity

Welcome to the Hippity Hoppity Giveaway Hop, brought to you by The Hopping Bloggers and Up All Night Blogging! Hosted by Mama Smith’s Review Blog & Women And Their Pretties Co-Hosted by: Melanie Meditates, EasterBabe's Theory, Muscles & Mascara Blog, Cia Says, So Simply Stephanie, Marilyn's Treats, Our Refuge and Strength, and  Life of a Southern Mom 


I was recently lucky enough to be sent two awesome jewelry candles from Jackpot Candles, and now I get to give one of my fantastic readers a candle, too! Woohoo!

Jewelry candles have been a thing for several years now, but I never really got on that bandwagon. I mean, what's the fun if you end up with a ring that doesn't even fit? However, when I learned that Jackpot Candles not only lets you choose the ring size you want. but also offers the option of necklaces or earrings, I was totally in! I love that you still get the fun surprise treasure, but you get a little bit of say over what you get, so there's a much higher chance that you'll really like the jewelry you get. The jewelry in each candle can range in value from $15 all the way up to $5,000, and while most pieces are obviously at the lower end of that scale, it's still a lot of fun to see what you wind up with! Plus, you aren't left wondering - each piece of jewelry comes with a little tag attached that is printed with a code you can input on the Jackpot Candles appraisal page to find out how much your jewelry is worth.
There are a ton of scents to choose from; I tried out the Vanilla Cupcake and Birthday Cake scents, and they both smell fantastic, and a lot like their namesakes! 

The hardest part, of course, is waiting for your candle to burn down far enough to reach your jewelry! Both of mine required around six hours of burn time before I made it down to the little foil wrapped jewelry packet. 


Now here's the thing - as soon as you spot that little bit of foil peeking through, you are TOTALLY going to want to dig it out already, but resist! Digging it out before the wax around it is fully melted will not only make a giant mess, but you're likely to tear the protective bag around the jewelry and get wax on it. Patience is a virtue here! Give it a little extra time. it's worth it. (Um, not that I speak from the experience of trying to dig the jewelry out of my first candle way too early and making a huge mess of things. Not at allllll. I'd never be that impatient. Not me!)



I selected one ring candle (size 7) and one earring candle, and although both of my "prizes" were on the low end of the scale in terms of value, I think both are really cute and the surprise was fun!

Giveaway Time! The lovely folks at Jackpot Candles is going to let one winner select a candle in their choice of scent, and you get to decide if you want a ring, earrings, or necklace, too!


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

March Stitch Fix Review

It's Stitch Fix time again! If you have no idea what Stitch Fix is, you can check out my November, December, and February reviews, which each contain a lovely explanation. I'm way too tired today to write it all out again.

A note about the pics from this post - I took these in my mom's bathroom mirror because I spent the whole weekend that I had my Fix taking care of her. (She hurt her back again, and had some kind of mysterious illness). I was tired and headacey, and thus these are totally not the greatest pics ever in all kinds of ways, but that's life, ya know? We don't look awesome in every picture, and that's ok. And as usual, I included pics of each item on its own, in case you want to pin any to your own Stitch Fix inspiration boards! And as always, the post includes my affiliate link, which gives me a snazzy $25 account credit if you happen to sign up and order a Fix of your own. And also as always, they aren't paying me anything for this post, which is sad, because my coffee addiction is really expensive.

Papermoon Lexis Henley Knit Top - $48

Papermoon Lexis Henley Knit Top

If there's one thing that I've learned from watching way too many seasons of Project Runway, it's that print is a totally personal thing. You either love a print or just plain don't, and this one is a don't for me. I keep wondering if I'd like it more if it had different colors? (Orange is one of the few colors I've requested to avoid in my Stitch Fix profile) but I think that I'd be equally bleh about it even with colors I was more into. But like I said, taste in prints is totally personal, and I've recently seen two other people get this shirt who absolutely loved the print. The fabric is soft and comfy, but I don't think the shape is especially flattering on me, either. I do have to give my stylist a thumbs up for paying attention to my "Tops around $50 or less, pleeeeeeease" begging on this one, though. 

Stitch Fix Lexis Henley Knit Top


Pattern close-up

Pixley Ohara Faux Wrap Tie Waist Dress - $68

Pixley Ohara Faux Wrap Tie Waist Dress

This dress is one of he very first things I pinned when I first set up my Stitch Fix board on Pinterest, so I was excited to see it in my box! It's made of soft jersey fabric, and the color is fantastic for spring.

Stitch Fix Ohara Faux Wrap Tie Waist Dress

Sadly, he fit was just kinda off. The waistline hits me at a kind of weird place, the sleeves are not quite 3/4 length on my long arms, which is a little awkward, and the length could use just one or two more inches to look right on my 5'10 1/2"-ish self, Lots of little things, but they added up to this just not being a keeper.

Zad Val Chandelier Earrings - $28


I like these gold earrings quite a bit!

There's a reason why I always request no accessories, though - I have SO. MUCH. Jewelry. I seriously spent close to two hours last week sorting through my jewelry boxes trying to pick things to get rid of, since there's just way too much and I never wear half of it. So while these earrings are cute, they're also pretty much the last thing I need more of.


The two fairly similar pairs I already own. 

Dear John Marson Wide Leg Jeans - $78




I have a photo of these jeans on, but it's so horribly unflattering that even though I lack any kind of self consciousness in general, will NOT be posting it online. It was bad. These somehow managed to make my lower belly area look ginormous, in a very "mom jeans" kind of way. Plus, I just splurged on some almost $60 jeans from Stitch Fix a few months ago, so it's way too soon for more. And, of course, my profile says no wide leg jeans, so... yeah. Not sure how this is a thing that happened. (This is something that totally confuses me. If I select not to receive a certain style, it's because I know my body really well at this point in my life, and I know 100% without a doubt that style is NOT going to work on me. If I think there's some chance they might find something that will work, I leave the option to receive it open. No means no, Stitch Fix!)

Leota Nico Faux Wrap Dress - $134


Ah, this dress. The fit was pretty much spot-on, but I wasn't that into the large polka dottyness, and I was definitely not into the $134 price tag. I emphasize my price point in pretty much every single stylist note, but I guess I still haven't managed to make it clear that there is a 0% chance of me spending that kind of money on a dress. I mean, if I was shopping for a holiday party dress or some kind of special occasion? Sure! But for just an everyday, throw it on and go to Target dress? Nooooooo way. 

By the way, this dress totally comes with a matching belt that I was too lazy to put on for these pics. 


Is this the greatest fashion blogging photo ever taken? Probably. Let's try that again. 

Not much better. Oh well.

So, yeah. Great dress shape, okay fabric, meh pattern, definite price fail. If you're keeping score, that's 0 out of 5 items kept this month!


I always forget to post my style cards, but here's what this month's look like! They always offer suggestions for how to dress each piece up or down.

I updated my Stitch Fix profile with a bit more info, so fingers crossed I'll have more luck this month! (My next shipment is scheduled for the 23rd.)