Get afternoon energy with this quick and easy superfood snack…

Are you ready to pack a punch in your afternoon snack?!? I stumbled upon this super easy recipe (from the blog Pocketful of Sugar) for Two Ingredient Cookies which I pinned to my ‘Healthy Eats’ board on Pinterest.  After testing out this simple banana oatmeal recipe and devouring the little guys, my husband and I decided to revamp the recipe a bit to pack in more nutrients and provide even more satiation.  The result was an extra delicious, healthy and nutritious, satisfying, energizing, bite-sized cookie. Intrigued?!? Here’s what you need:

superfood snack ingredients

2 bananas (better when they are super ripe!)
1 cup quick cooking steel cut oats
Chia seeds
Hemp seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Organic, unsweetened, shredded coconut
Almond butter
Cinnamon
Walnuts
Coconut oil (to coat the pan)

The first step is to mix all of the ingredients above in a big ole’ bowl like so…(By the way, I’m not big on measuring so add more of the ingredients you like best and just make sure you have enough ratio of banana and almond butter to get the little guys to stick together)

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Using a spoon, mash the bananas and ingredients together until they all stick and appear to be a gooey-like dough…

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Then, place your desired size on a greased cookie sheet (I use coconut oil for taste and as a healthy alternative)…

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And last, but not least, bake them for approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees, and voila! Your snack is served…

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We like to bake these on Sunday, so when Monday morning rolls around (and we are inevitably running late for work), we can throw a few of these nutrient-dense cookies in our work bags to keep us energized and alert throughout the long work day.  What do you snack on during the day?  Any simple, easy grab and go ideas?!?  Please share!


Vintage Indigo Textiles

Lately I have had a huge crush on vintage indigo textiles.  Now you may be wondering why I would be crushing so hard on a somewhat broad category of fabric and why I would even consider devoting an entire blog post to it. Well, it could be that vintage indigo textiles slightly resemble a good ole’ set of broken-in blueprints (and it’s pretty easy to be attracted to the familiar don’t you think?!?)…

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Or it could be that I am loving the beautiful blue colors in the new shoes my husband bought me and I am craving more of it…(P.S. These shoes are from Reef’s ‘We Heart Collection,’ which provides a platform for artisans from developing countries around the world to build better lives for themselves, their families and their communities–learn more here).

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Or it could be that blue is my favorite color, so I pretty much crush on anything blue (indigo, navy, gunmetal, cornflower, china blue, you name it, the list goes on and on….).

But the most likely scenario is that deep indigo fabrics are so gosh darn beautiful.  The globally inspired patterns run the gamut and continue to keep me intrigued.  And to top it off, the vintage quality provides a beautiful nuance in color and rich variation which both become irresistible.  If you’re not totally convinced or even sure what I’m talking about, check out some of the amazing textiles below…

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And if you are wondering how to put these beauties to use, some possibilities are: headboards, throw blankets, bedding, tablecloths, pillows, and fabric for reupholstering pretty much anything!  And if you are also in the market for some deep blue, stunning fabric, here are a few places you may want to check out: Love, AdornedImogene + WillieKyoto KimonoTribal CollectionDell Shop (and please post below if you know of any other good sources I am missing!).

So what do you think?!? Are you going to invest for your next table runner or is this not your cup of tea?  Speaking of tea, I think I am going to spend the rest of this long holiday weekend reading, relaxing and sipping on tea…

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Kitchen Trends – Open Shelving

I have to start off this post by apologizing for the lack of blog posts in 2013.  I just realized that it has been a full month (and then some) since my last post. But here is the low-down. I have been incredibly busy at work, staying late, working on the weekends, having to schedule webinars that do not begin until 8 p.m., traveling for work, and then in my spare time, I have been working on a kitchen renovation. And I think I squeezed in an out-of-town baby shower in my hometown (where I went antiquing with my mom–some photos will be shared shortly!) and a bachelorette party somewhere in there.  Given my inspiration as of late, it in lies mostly with kitchens. And after perusing many beautiful kitchens for inspiration in magazines, showrooms and online, I continue to get intrigued by the kitchens that incorporate open shelving into the design. Now, granted, you need to have adequate storage in other areas of your kitchen to be able to fully execute beautiful and organized open shelving in the kitchen. But when it is done right, it is down right stunning.  Now I don’t know if open shelving will be in the cards for the kitchen I am designing, but below are some kitchens that implemented this design exquisitely (in my opinion anyhow)…

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Open shelving is so pleasing to the eye because it breaks up the monotony of cabinetry and brings added interest to a space.  Not to mention it is the perfect opportunity to infuse the space with personal touches and make it really feel like home.  I think that is one of the major factors that draws me in with open shelving–well that and also the fact that it helps to make a kitchen feel more lived-in, friendly, and cozy…

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So, what do you think? This design is definitely not for everyone, and if it would cause you stress to keep the shelves organized or the objects clean then this is probably not your best bet, but it sure does look great don’t you think?!?


Mad About: Sleeping Dog Artwork

My husband and I were heading back inside from our walk with Sumo (our Shiba Inu) yesterday and a neighbor got on the elevator with us.  We held back Sumo (as we usually do) so that she did not bother him because she loves to smell strangers.  He noticed this and said, “It’s okay, I’m a dog lover.”  This small sequence of events got me thinking–I know there are many people who do not like dogs (many of whom live in our building), and while these people may have really great reasons (being afraid, allergic, not liking the smell, mess or noise they create), I can’t help but think, how can you not be, at least somewhat, a dog lover.  As I stated above, I know there are many reasons people have for not loving dogs (even my dad and my husband’s step dad are not completely enamored with the furry guys), but I found some really amazing artwork of dog’s sleeping that I think might help their cause.  There is something so peaceful, relaxing and innocent about a dog sleeping.  And I especially LOVE these pieces below because they are simply done with pencil which would be beautiful in a framed series above a bed (scroll to the bottom if you need help picturing this).

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Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009) Untitled (German Shepherd) Pencil on paper via Mutual Art

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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by *baad-Artist (Adam Barth)

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Sunny Spot by Amy Donahue

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Sleeping Wolf by Lucy Swinburne

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Sleeping Dog by Jackie Hoats Shields

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Sleeping Spaniel by Rebecca Vose

If I were to purchase these prints (many of which can be found at Fine Art America or click on the links above for more information), I would frame and hang them in an ordered collage above our bed like in the collage I created below.  And per my recent post about dark blue bedrooms, I think a dark blue paint would make the perfect backdrop…

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*Paint color is Benjamin Moore 2062-10 Polo Blue

What do you think?!? Are you a dog lover too? Or even if you are not, does this artwork appeal to you?!?  While I await the funds and motivation to make this collage for myself, this little one will have to make do…

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And I don’t know about you, but all of these images have me ready for a Sunday afternoon nap


Pale Blue Kitchen

I came across this lovely, pale blue kitchen after perusing the blog, The Klein, written by Lein Klein a Copenhagen-based acclaimed editorial photographer.  The kitchen is designed by Københavns Møbelsnedkeri and photographed by Line Thit Klein.  Between the periwinkle-esque blue monochromatic color scheme, the wall of cabinetry with clear glass doors, and the natural wood parquet flooring, I love it all.  Nothing says serene like light, pale blues and uncluttered surfaces (if you ask me!)…

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What do you think?!? P.S. If you like this kitchen style, you should check out these English-style kitchens too!


Six Things I Like (lately)

I mentioned in my last post that I may (or may not be) turning 30 this year.  And lately, maybe because I am getting older and wiser, or maybe it is just pure luck, I feel like I have stumbled across some really great new things.  And I just don’t think it would be fair of me to keep these all to myself.  So here are some of those new things that I have been into lately that I want to share with you today…

1.  The New Yorker:

I gave my husband a subscription to this magazine for his birthday because they have incredibly interesting articles that he loves to read so I knew he would like it (and partially because he kept buying copies anyway so it felt economical).  I have been liking it as much as he has because he reads the magazine first and then tells which articles he thinks I would like (and then I read them!).  It works out great because the articles are all long-form and require a time commitment, so I like knowing ahead of time which ones will appeal to me.  Along with the subscription, we also purchased online access so we can also take advantage of reading the articles on our iPad mini.

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2. Pocket:

Speaking of time commitments, this is an awesome new application that allows you to save articles to it so that you can read them later.  You can download the browser icon to save the article or email a link to the article to add@getpocket.com from your email address and it will automatically load the article for you.  I LOVE this because I often come across great articles and don’t have the time to read them at that moment and then forget to go back and look for them.  It is the perfect application for traveling as well because you have articles you are excited to read all conveniently organized in one cute little app.  Go get it now and thank me later.

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3. Podcasts.

I may be late to the game on this one, but I have recently discovered how awesome podcasts are and I can not get enough.  There are many FREE and interesting podcasts on iTunes depending on the topic you are interested in.  I walk a 4 mile round trip to and from work everyday, so podcasts are the perfect way to pass the time, and I even listen to them with one earbud in on long walks with my dog.  I have recently been very into natural, non-toxic cosmetics, home cleaning products, clothing, home goods, and the list goes on, and there are quite a few good finds in the podcast world on this topic, including this series from The Nature of Beauty which are interviews from various industry experts.  NPR is also an all-star in the podcast world with a wide range of topics, as are the  WBEZ Podcasts.  On a side note, a really interesting series I just listened to from WBEZ was ‘This American Life’ on Harper High School Part 1 and Part 2.  Their short description of this series is: “Staff from the radio show spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. They went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances.”  I would highly recommend listening to it.

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4. Matt Schwartz – Artist of She Hit Pause Studios

I was recently hanging out at our good friends house and noticed an awesome photograph on their wall.  And after gushing to them about it, I found out that they bought it when they were living in New York, from Brooklyn-based artist Matt Schwartz, and founder of She Hit Pause Studios.  Below are a few of his prints that I really like!  Okay, I’m lying, I LOVE them and would like one of each in some antique frames for my small apartment walls…

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5. Goop: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Weekly Newsletter and Website

Goop was founded by Gwyneth Paltrow and is a weekly publication delivered straight to your inbox offering exclusive limited edition collaborations, recipes, travel notes, shopping ideas and wellness tips for you, your wardrobe and your home.  As it states on their ‘about’ page: “Goop gives readers exclusive access to recipes, travel guides, fashion, wellness tips, cultural notes and more. Incorporating the knowledge of expert contributors and tastemakers, along with our own editorial eye and uncompromising style, issues are delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday. Additionally, the publication in its entirety can be found right here on the site at any time, making goop.com a wealth of knowledge and an indispensable resource for all who love to makegogetdobe and see.”  I really like getting their weekly newsletter that comes towards the end of the week when my workload is winding down and I have the time to enjoy it.

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6. Coursera

This is a situation where I saved the absolute best for last.  It is stated best on Coursera’s ‘about’ page: “We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.  We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions.  Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students. Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available to only a select few.”  You are not reading that wrong, they are offering FREE courses online from the top universities in the world.  They currently offer 323 different courses in a wide range of topics and this number is continuing to grow.  To give you an idea of some of the 62 universities that participate, here are a few from the list: Duke, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Stanford, Rice, Northwestern, University of Michigan and even my alma mater University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The list also includes many top universities from places around the world like Hong Kong, Barcelona and Copenhagen. I personally couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take free courses from top universities so I signed for the following courses:

  1. Know Thyself – a 10 week course beginning March 4th, 2013 offered by the University of Virginia (this one starts soon so I will keep you updated on how it goes!) 
  2. Climate Change - a 9 week course beginning August 2013 offered by the University of Melbourne
  3. The New Nordic Diet from Gastronomy to Health – an 8 week course beginning September 2nd 2013 offered by the University of Copenhagen
  4. Epidemics – The Dynamics of Infectious Diseases – an 8 week course beginning October 15, 2013 offered by Pennsylvania State University
  5. Confronting the Big Questions: Highlights of Modern Astronomy – a 4 week course beginning February 2014 offered by University of Rochester
  6. Basic Behavioral Neurology – a 4 week course date TBA offered by University of Pennsylvania
  7. From the Big Bang to Dark Energy – a 4 week course date TBA offered by the University of Tokyo
  8. Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice – a 5 week course date TBA offered by Universiteit Leiden

So that completes my list for today.  What do you think of these ‘things’?!? Do you have new and interesting things you have recently stumbled upon?!?


Sunday Afternoon Nap and Kantha Quilts

Today I would like to be taking an afternoon nap in this bedroom…

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And speaking of this bedroom, I want to talk about how simple it is to dress up your space and make more original and unique by adding a Kantha quilt. Kantha quilts originate in India and they are known for their unusual patterns, bright colors and unique color combinations.  They are very lightweight, so they are perfect for layering in the winter or using in the summer.  Whether vintage or new, you can find a wide variety of Kantha quilts online and in many different colors, patterns and sizes.  As a quilt for your bed or a throw on your chair or sofa, a Kantha quilt is an easy way to provide instant personality to your space.  I actually own one that I purchased on a whim from West Elm when they were selling Kantha quilts.  I love ours and currently use it as a throw pillow on our sofa.  Another fun fact about these quilts is that they are reversible, so if you get tired of the pattern on one side, you can flip it over for another gorgeous and colorful pattern on the other side.  Below are some of the variety of options available if you are in the market for a new quilt!

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Available via Fossik

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Available via Connected Fair Trade Goods & Gifts (they also sell smaller versions for babies!)

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Available via The Family Love Tree

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Available via Om Home

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Available via Jaisalmerhandloom on Etsy

What do you think?!? Do you love these as much as I?  Here is a little bit more inspiration from actual spaces utilizing this design idea to help you to visualize it further…

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Winter Vacation in San Diego

Here I go again: going not days but weeks without blogging.  I promise to get into a routine again soon.  I am still using the excuse that I have been incredibly busy at work and also traveling again.  And…

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So on that note, I recently spent a long weekend in San Diego with my high school best friends.  We decided to spoil ourselves with a trip to California because we (a) hardly ever to get to see each other and (b) needed an excuse to get away during the cold, mighty winter, and (c) we are all turning (or have already turned!) 30 this year so we wanted one last fun trip together to commemorate our twenties. And, after a quick four and a half hour flight from Chicago to San Diego, my friend Elizabeth and I arrived to meet the rest of the girls.plane

We rented a VRBO house on Mission Beach which turned out to be the perfect location…

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For a few morning walks on the beach…
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For practicing yoga on the beach…
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And for having lunch on the beach…
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We also took the short drive to La Jolla for a day and did some tourist activities in the quaint and stylish neighborhood.  We overlooked lounging seals from the sea cliffs above…
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And then we partook in a little bit of shopping in the many stores and boutiques in the area…
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And no day trip would be complete without a few awkward self photos…
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We also indulged by celebrating our 30th ‘birthdays’ with some drinks and dessert at a restaurant in downtown San Diego…
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And we even took it upon ourselves to put together an awkward photo montage (also to commemorate past memories from our 20’s)…
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Last and definitely least, we ended our vacation with a hilariously awful whale watching trip. What our happy faces did not realize at the beginning of this boat ride is that three of us would get terribly seasick and it would turn out to be three and a half hours of a freezing cold, windy, and raucous boat ride followed by only a few dolphin sightings in the last 15 minutes.
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But this was all remedied by getting to end our last night at the beach house watching another one of these gorgeous sunsets…
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And after traveling back to reality (and this cold, fast-paced city), I am getting thrown back into my daily routines which will include more blogging.  Promise!

Skiing and Sundance Film Festival

So I blame my lack of posting lately on the combination of a week-long vacation to Utah and an incredibly busy period at work that were both sandwiched by two nasty colds.  And because much of my time recently has been spent at work (which is not great material for a blog post), today I will give a short recap of our trip to Utah.

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My husband and I have four close friends that we like to go on active and sometimes adventurous vacations with.  From rafting the Penobscot in Maine to surfing on Mission Beach in San Diego, outdoor activities help to keep our trips more exciting.  The six of us have also taken ski trips to Park City during Sundance Film Festival for the past few years.  The first year we went was 2011, which I briefly posted about here, was basically my first time ever skiing.  So this year, after a little more skiing under my belt, I finally felt like a more confident skier and I was able to do intermediate runs the entire trip with a smile on my face…

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We made it to a variety of ski resorts this year including Park City, Alta, Solitude, and Brighton.  In past years, we’ve also been to Deer Valley, Snowbird (where I had my first terrifying ski experience) and the Canyons, but in Utah there always seems to be a new one to try.  This year we also managed to get six tickets to two of the Sundance Film Festival movies (which were both great!):

The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now

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and Fruitvale.

Viewing movies at Sundance is a cool experience, at the end of the film, usually some of the cast and the director come out on stage for a Q & A. Everyone in the audience also has the opportunity to vote for the movie, which is fun to partake in…

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Fruitvale was a four-star movie in my book, I was glued to my seat the entire film and taken on a emotional roller-coaster which led to intense tears at the end.  I highly recommend going to see it when it is out in the theatre (I heard it was one of the movies that will be!).  If you are interested, the leading actor in the film, Michael B. Jordan, was recently interviewed on Vanity Fair which you can watch here.

And since I never posted from our trip in 2012, here are a few snapshots from 2012 (since I seemed to take many more pictures last year)…


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The girls…IMG_1650

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The views…IMG_1961

Waffles and hot chocolate at Alta…

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Fresh powder…IMG_2068

And Main Street in Park City…IMG_4265

So, in a nutshell, that is how I spent one of the weeks of my time off from this blog, and the rest was spent putting in OT at work.  I promise to back again shortly, but thank you for standing by!

A good night’s sleep is made of these…

And who am I to disagree. So today I’d like to be…

1.  Getting ready for bed in this warm and rustic bedroom…

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2. While wearing these comfortable pajamas…

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3.  And taking a little bit of Melatonin (just in case!). We give a small dose (that was recommended by our vet to our dog when she’s anxious) so I recently tried it myself and it does do the trick when needed.

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4.  And cozying up in this soft and elegant bedding (sheets, linen, blanket, coverlet)…

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5.  Then dropping a single drop of Essence of Vali – Sleep A Bedtime Ritual on my pillow. One vial is good for 100 nights of sleep!

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6. On this pillow to be exact. 50/50 White Goose Feather and White Goose Down.  I first slept on one of these types of pillows at the Westin, and it was love at first shut eye. I am planning on purchasing 4 of these

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7.  While winding down with a good book. Right now I am reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It puts things into perspective although can also be a little alarming before bed, which is why I also keep my phone handy in case a few light hearted blog reads are in order.

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8.  And eventually plugging away with these earplugs. These are very necessary for me, as even the slightest noise will keep me up for hours. And when I start telling my husband that he’s breathing too loud, I know its time to reach for a pair of my Hot Pink Ear Plugs.

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9.  And darkening the room with this Holistic Eye Mask with Lavender

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10. And last but not least, cozying up to a small pup. Shiba Inus are snuggly, warm and easy to cuddle.

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P.S. Speaking of bedrooms, how cool is this one!?!  At least for a night or so…
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