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slowly becoming plastic free: a review

slowly becoming plastic free: a review

in an effort to create less waste, even though it may seem like a half a drop in the pacific ocean in the effect it’s having, i moved a few of my household items away from plastic. let’s take a look!

dishwasher soap: while i had always tried to get the powdered cascade that came in the box so i could recycle it, i decided to give dropps a try. the packaging is cardboard, and the shipping is carbon neutral. the soap itself is plant based with no dyes, chlorine, phosphates, etc.  plus, the soap comes in those little (eco-friendly) pods. so i just grab one, stick it in the soap holder, and push start. and, i have it on auto-order, so i never run it.

dropps referral code! ($15 off a $30 order)

laundry soap: i’ve been making my own laundry soap for a few years now. i get a giant box of borax, a giant box of baking soda, and a few bars of castille soap (which comes in paper packaging). all the packaging is cardboard, and i just mix it all up in a giant bowl, stick it in a container, and it lasts me many many months. plus, you don’t have to use much. the worst part of it is grating the bar soap, but if you have a food processor, that makes easy work of that.

toilet paper: i tried a couple different brands of eco-friendly TP. it comes packaged in paper and is sourced from bamboo, which is much easier on the environment. the first brand i tried was “who gives a crap,” and while their marketing campaign is on point, their TP is not. or it’s too pointy. it’s rough and disintegrates easily. i tried out “reel” instead, and it is much better than who gives a crap. not exactly the same level as charmin ultra soft cushy bum TP, but if you’re looking for an eco-alternative, try out reel. the next time i order from them, i might get a couple rolls of their paper towels. (while i try to use cloth napkins, sometimes you just need a paper towel, like for cat barf.)

shampoo and conditioner: for the past year, i’ve used bar soap for washing my hair. i’ve tried ethique, which is super expensive, and i’ve tried minnesota-based hibar, also expensive. but for shampoo, i found that JRLiggets works just as fine for a fraction of the cost. it comes wrapped in paper and it lasts a few months. as far as conditioner, that is more difficult to come by, so i did stick with ethique for my conditioner. ethique also comes wrapped in paper. the downside to ordering the bar soap is that it may come in plastic packaging. ethique is based in australia, so they partner with amazon to sell in the US, and despite me directly contacting the bezos henchmen about my preference for cardboard, they still send me plastic. one thing i’ve noticed about moving to bar soap: my hair is a LOT lighter and a lot more flyaway-ish. i’m sure other shampoos were weighing down my hair, and this is a lot healthier. but now i’ve got to take more time to calm down the insane hair waves. OOOH it looks like they also launched a line of concentrates. i’ll have to check that out.

body soap: i haven’t used a bottle of body wash in years, at this point. i buy all my soap in bar form and make sure they’re packaged in paper. and i do buy soap made for washing your body, so it’s not harsh.

mascara: yep, i’ve even jumped on the mascara bandwagon! i got some besame cake mascara, which lives in a little tin. i use the mascara brush from my last tube of mascara, and every morning i wet the cake and put it on. i think it also helps keep away bacteria that like to fester in mascara tubes. i know you’re supposed to replace your mascara every few month because of that, and so far, i’ve been using besame for a lot longer than that. so i’ll spend the extra money. plus mascara is the only makeup i use regularly. it’ll probably even out in the long run.

face soap: i had been a neutrogena user for DECADES. but i decided to make the leap and am now using shae moisturize african black soap, made for sensitive skin. not only has it worked well, it smells great and has lasted me a long time. the most annoying part of it is that i keep it in the shower, and i sort of make a mess in the mornings when i pull it out to use at the sink instead of in the shower. but that’s ok.

deodorant: so HERE’s the interesting one! moving to a non-plasticized deodorant ALSO involved moving to a more natural deodorant. which meant a minor mindshift as far as how much i was allowed to sweat and smell like myself. about a year ago, i bought the ethique brand of natural deodorant. it was just a bar – no applicator – so it was kind of a pain to put on, especially as i got to the end of the bar. but, let me tell you a tmi story about my shift to non-aluminum deodorant. for many many years, i’ve had a bump on my right armpit that would just not go away. i don’t know if it was a permanently ingrown hair, backed up pore, or what. but it was annoying and it wasn’t pleasant smelling if i messed with it too much. after about 6 months of using my natural deodorant, the smelly bump disappeared!! i read up, and now i try to do a clay mask on my pit area once every couple weeks. it helps pull out smells that the aluminum deodorant had really been able to suppress and keep under wraps. if i skip a day, i can definitely tell. OK done with tmi, and back to review. the second brand i tried was native with the cardboard applicator, which wasn’t that much less expensive, but i can get it at target, and it works well. i tried out the brand raw sugar, and the smell was really overwhelming (unfortunately it was sealed and i couldn’t smell it in the store). then, i saw that secret had come out with a cardboard, natural version too. so that’s up next to try. NOTE on these deodorants: the smells are natural, so they are limited and unlike other deodorants. i’ve become ok with coconut, vanilla, and citrus to an extent. there are other scents like lavender and rose, lilac and white tea, herbal musk, cucumber, mint, etc. i don’t react well to florals, and some of the scents are strong, but they may work for you!

what’s next??

  • like i said, i want to try out reel’s paper towels.
  • i also need to take a look at what to do about my actual dishsoap and handsoap. maybe that ethique concentrate will be a good plan for those two.
  • then, there’s the matter of anti-wrinkle lotion for my face. i’ve got to do some research, but i might just continue on with paula’s choice. they have a deal with terracycle to take care of empties in an environmentally happy way.
  • then there’s a whole other issue with food and plastic packaging. that’s where the real waste is. what a mess!

in OTHER more inspiring news, there is a new type of plastic that is infinitely recyclable. good news! but this would require people to make sure to actually recycle it. keep it out of the dumpster, peeps!

expensive shorts: a review

expensive shorts: a review

i grew up in a family needing to be frugal, with a propensity for instant gratification (last name starts with W – go check out the research on this). so my entire life consists of internal conflicts about things that i WANT vs. spending the money for these items. i have a winter parka that’s in its 9th winter and going strong. i also buy $150 running shoes twice a year. my jewelry is nothing extravagant or expensive. my camera gear is top notch. i have trouble justifying spending more than $20 on a pair of jeans, or any piece of clothing really, but i will gladly part with $75 for a nice meal with nate.

the mental gymnastics are really something else.

so, when i am in search of specific running gear, price is generally a mental hurdle i have to overcome.

especially when i find shorts with a long inseam in colors other than black (a rare find).

enter oiselle, a woman-owned company that makes clothing designed by women for women. i was intrigued if their shorts would be a utilitarian addition to my relatively cheap run wardrobe.

oh, and they have 6″ inseam running shorts that come in one of my favorite colors (evidenced by the matching phone case). (also, sorry for the bathroom pic – it’s the only place in my house with a full-length mirror.)

the bad news about these shorts? $62. yep, you heard that right. luckily, i had a coupon, but STILL. $62 for a pair of shorts??

besides the length and the color, these shorts have a couple other significant advantages:


not only is a SIDE pocket on a pair of women’s shorts with a ZIPPER, but check out the REAL ESTATE.

this pocket has more space than most of my pants pockets. my entire phone can fit in it and zip up!

2- the material is really nice. it’s soft and sort of flowy. while i was running, i kept waiting for the inside to ride up, as i expect with any sort of shorts, but they didn’t. i even spent some time deliberately trying to get them to ride up, and it just didn’t happen.

3- they are not high rise. holy cats, i hate trying to find shorts these days because everything is high rise. these are mid-rise; they sit below my belly button and stay there

4- have i mention that they’re orange?? usually the only fun colored short have a 2″ inseam, so this is amazing.

5- there were some arm warmers on clearance that i got at the same time (arm warmers are nice when it’s transition weather and you want to wear a tshirt or tank top but will have chilly arms for a bit). these were a more reasonable price and i didn’t feel bad spending the money on these.

check out the little birds on the warmers! they’re reflective! and they match the shorts! and those thumbholes! i do love me some thumbholes on running stuff.

oiselle sells more than just shorts – they’ve got sweatshirts, winter wear, wool shirts, tights, underwear, tanks, tshirts, sleepwear, etc. plus clearance stuff and a lot items that cheaper than $62 run shorts.

so, here’s a $20 coupon if you want to try them out! you get $20 off and i get $20 to spend in the future.

books of 2020

books of 2020

every year i do the goodreads challenge, where you set a reading goal for yourself. you’d think that with a pandemic and all, it’d be easy to knock out a boatload of books this year, but i didn’t even make my challenge number, which was weeny since i set it before the pandemic (if pandemic had set in when i made my challenge, i might’ve failed hugely).

i set a goal of 55 books for the year and managed to get through 51 (a couple were rereads). but before i get all bent out of shape, i like to note that i’m a believer in the page count rather than book count. i read a lot of long books. sure, there are usually a couple shorties, but geez, a stephen king book is almost always more than 600 pages. so let’s take a look at that data first!

i really knocked it out of the park in 2016. i chalk it up to listening to audiobooks on my drives from southern mn to central mn during the four months of turbulence. oh, i also read a lot of stephen king that year.

so, what were my top books of 2020?

i have two favorites i read this year.

  1. where the crawdads sing by delia owens was my number one book this year. i inhaled this book. it was a mystery, an ode to the natural world, and just lovely. there are some dark sections (i’m ok with that). and one section that was so patronizing to couples who don’t have children (not really ok with that).  i hesitated reading this because for some reason i’m a book snob  (smut for one) and this book seemed to be super hyped up and put on every book club list. but there was a reason!
  2. the wanderers by chuck wendig was my number two book this year. totally different from crawdads, this is about preserving the human race from its annihilation in the event of a pandemic (wow, how apropos. i read this in early february!). don’t worry – this is different from “the stand”, which i also read again this year. why not read about pandemics that are SO MUCH worse when you’re amidst one? anyway, if you like some action/post-apocalyptic novel action, this book is wort the 782 (!) pages. (much shorter than the stand.)

those are my favorites this year. here’s the runners-up list.

  1. big summer by jennifer weiner. a nice beach thriller mystery read! i love her books and have read them all.
  2. book of two ways by jodi piccoult. see above about jennifer weiner – i have read all her books! this was a good book with lots of information about egyptian mythology with a weird twisty middle that made me laugh at her genius.
  3. the dead zone by stephen king. this book has entered my top five SK books! i thought it was great. it’s about a guy who gets a TBI and can see a person’s future just by touching them.
  4. leave it as it is by david gessner. gessner intertwines some biographical info about teddy roosevelt’s mission to create and bolster the national park system and his conservationist (almost) ways with his trip across the west in TR’s footsteps to several national parks. he also focuses on bears ears national park and really focuses on american indian perspective.
  5. the midnight library by matt haig. while this started off a little depressing, it turned into a lovely book of redemption with a really interesting premise of experiencing other lives you could have had.
  6. the four agreements by miguel ruiz. i picked this up because lesley fightmaster quoted 🙁 a lot from it. it’s short and small and gives guidance on how to live an authentic life. i underlined a lot in it, and i’m sure i’ll pick it up again and again.

books i expected a lot from that didn’t live up to the hype? (hmm… see i’ve just got to read hype-y books, i think.)

  1. the starless sea
  2. the ballad of songbirds and snakes (trying to give a more human background to cornelius snow just makes me hate him more)
  3. the bookish life of nina hill

i think if i want to read more books in 2021, i just need to start reading more fiction. i like to learn things, but nothing really prompts me to pick up a book like the storyline of a good piece of fiction. we’ll see how that pans out.

books i want to read in 2021?

  1. american dirt (this got a lot of good press then a lot of bad press, and now i think we’re back to good press. i’m going to borrow it from the library so i don’t give money to the author if it is back in bad press territory.)
  2. a promised land by barack obama. memoirs are as insatiable to me as fiction.
  3. we ride upon sticks – this is on my list because of a rave review of a blogger i’ve followed for 15 years.
  4. this books is anti-racist. i know this is not fiction and will probably make me learn, but it goes hand in hand with my “resolution” to do more antri-racist things
  5. in the same vein of nonfiction, i want to read something by wallace stegner.

is this the year i reread harry potter?

and when is the year i read all of stephen king in a row? (that is a huge commitment.)

yoga mat review take III

yoga mat review take III

ah, we come upon the close of the yoga mat reviews! to recap:

i compared the natural rubber version of three mats: bmat, manduka, and hugger mugger. each of these mats cost $70-95, so i’d expect something magical from them.

the hugger mugger came in the mail on friday, and i immediately unfurled it and threw it on the floor to compare to the bmat, the clear winner in bmat vs. manduka.

first impressions? i like the color/design of the HM better – but that’s purely aesthetic.

the bmat is once again the winner on the width on this one, too. that extra 2″ – you just can’t beat that!

the HM is almost as sticky as the bmat, and much stickier than the manduka. it’s also a little bit cushier than the manduka, but not quite as cushy as the bmat. this is probably due to the fact that the bmat is 6mm and the other mats i got in its price range were 4 and 5mm.

but the HM is thicker than the manduka, that’s for sure. but bmat wins thickness, and since i do yoga on a wooden floor, i’ll take the cushier mat. i know there are some yogis who would rather have a more solid experience, but i’ll take the extra help for the knees.

so one thing i noticed on this one is how the mats are constructed. i wish i had taken note of this when i had the manduka, as well, but alas. take a look at how thick the construction of the mat is.

i can see why the bmat is certainly a better experience on the feet!

so, there is my final yoga mat review. rankings of the high-end natural rubber yoga mats:

3. manduka eko
2. hugger mugger para
1. bmat strong

if you’re ready to drop some dollars on a decent, long-lasting yoga mat, i recommend the bmat strong.

yoga mat review take II

yoga mat review take II

because i know my father is waiting on pins and needles for this update, i thought i’d share as soon as i could.

i ordered manduka and hugger mugger yoga mats to compare to my bmat to make sure i made the right choice! today the manduka showed up on my doorstep.

i chose the eko version because that was the rubber equivalent in the manduka brand. i opened up both mats next to each other.

  1. i have to say, i like how the manduka looks compared to the bmat – the texture on the top just looks more appealing to me.
  2. but, when i stood on it, it did not feel cushy like the bmat does. it, quite frankly, didn’t feel much different than my $20 el cheapo mat that i’d been using for many years. now, the manduka was 1mm thinner than the bmat, but i don’t feel like the difference should have been as apparent as it was on my feet.
  3. the bmat is 2″ wider! that is nice. the two mats are the same length, so no real benefit either way on the length.
  4. then, i tried out a downward dog, and ho boy, that’s where the difference was. i was literally sliding out on the manduka – something i never had that bad with my el cheapo mat even. why was i paying $80 for this mat if i couldn’t even stay in a DD? no good. so then i hopped over to the bmat to make sure i wasn’t doing something weird, and i sure stuck the landing over there*.

so the manduka is going back for sure. i am glad that i tried it out though – that was the most recommended yoga mat online, and i would’ve always wondered if i hadn’t tried it. maybe it’s really good for hot yoga, or maybe there are people who like the extra challenge of staying in a down dog while sliding out. on a non-cushy surface.

but that person is not me.

now, my dad did say he was curious on the color, and while i’m ok with my choice of the green on the bmat, i think if i had to do it over, i’d get the earth rose.

but the green is fine! however, if i were to exchange this out for a longer version of the bmat, i would probably change out the color while i’m at it.

the hugger mugger mat comes on friday. review III to come this weekend.

*speaking of a sticky mat, last night i was doing my nightly yoga, and that mat is SO STICKY, that i caught the top of one of my toes on the mat and it was like stubbing it on the corner of the coffee table! ouch. i’ll have to weigh my best interests.

yoga mat review

yoga mat review

i’ve been doing yoga pretty regularly for about 7 years. for the past couple years, i do yoga almost every day, with the average time i’m on the mat about 20 minutes (that’s the sweet spot for me). sometimes i do yoga for 10 mins, sometimes an hour. but most of the time it’s 20 minutes.

and you know what? that’s a lot of time with a piece of pvc separating me from the floor. like most people, i purchase yoga mats at a price point of less than $20. unfortunately, that’s the price point of a crappy pvc yoga mat.

over the years, i’ve had probably 5 mats. up until a week ago, i had four mats resting in the corner. one is sort of a memory foam; another is a longer mat than average (average is 68″, one inch shorter than i am tall); one is a stiff, hard mat with an odd texture that i bought based solely on color; and the last is a plain, average length, not very thick mat.

because of my hardwood floors, i have been doing yoga on two mats, with the long mat on top.

but the problem with pvc mats is that they start to fall apart.

which, on top of looking bad and creating less of a mat as time goes on, is no good for the environment!

so i started doing research on the best mat for everyday yoga use and for the environment. i wasn’t surprised that i would need to spend more than $20 on this mat.

i looked at manduka mats, which are regarded as one of the best high-end mats. their pro mat runs at $120 and 6mm thick, but is still pvc. they have a rubber mat in their eko line, but they’re not quite as thick and color selection was not that great.

i was also looking at hugger mugger but i couldn’t find anything that was what i was looking for.

then i ran across b-mat. it’s 6mm thick, 70″ long, and 26″ wide (standard is 24″). natural rubber, and a ton of color selections. i’d been pining after a green yoga mat for quite some time, so i chose the green (i was also eye an orangey-red one, but decided to go for calm over invigorating). it was $96 but i had a 15% off coupon, so do the math.

the green is more of a forest green than i was hoping for, but i do like color rather than a grey or black mat. (although my go-to mat up to now was purple.)

i’m still trying to figure out if i want to keep this one or try a manduka.

first impressions?

  1. it’s SUPER sticky. every pvc mat i’ve had is relatively ok when my hand and feet are apart. i’m always about 90% confident that i’m going to slip when i’m in wide-legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana). on this mat, i am SOLID. i am not moving. and i realized tonight that that means i’ll have less stress on my wrists because i feel more confidents in moving weight to other parts of my hands because i’m not going to slip.
  2. is it TOO sticky? tonight i was doing a little bit faster flow, and moving my foot from up front to back to plank, it got a bit stuck. but if the edge of my foot getting held up a bit means less stress on my wrists and less worry about slipping, maybe that’s ok.
  3. it gets dirty. fast. and it’s hard to get clean. cat fur gets stuck to it and i can’t wipe it off. i think i need to get one of those small bristle brooms to clean off my mat. the instructions for the mat say that it should get less dirty as time goes by. fair.
  4. i can’t feel the floor. on my pvc mats, i stand and my feet can feel the floor through the mat. i feel nothing but rubber on this one.
  5. but i’m not sure how i feel about knee support yet. i sometimes put a block under my knees and i’ve used extra mats under the knees too. but i need another go at some low lunges to see how that goes.

i can see why people spend money on mats. it’s like spending money on shoes and mattresses – things that separate you from the floor. i’m going to use this one for another week or so and see if it is what i’m looking for! i actually could go for a mat that’s extra long at this point. i like the width on this one, but even the extra 3″ is good, but may not be quite enough.

if i get another mat, i’ll be leaving another review! so far, i do know that my next mat definitely will not be pvc.

the klymaloft sleep pad: a review for all you lady sidesleepers

the klymaloft sleep pad: a review for all you lady sidesleepers

i forgot to review my sleeping pad!

like i said before i went to the bwca, i wasn’t going to skimp on sleeping. i spent $25 on a coop pillow, which i loved, and $110 on a klymit klymaloft sleeping pad, which, once i figured out the right air amount, was actually one of the best low-profile sleeping pads i’ve slept on.

first, let’s just get this out of the way: it’s hard being a lady camper, especially on-the-ground camping. stomach sleeping is no good, and side sleeping can be painful if you’re not properly supported.

on top of that, most of the reviews and people extolling the virtues of sleep pads are men, who don’t have any sort of hip bones that dig into the ground. so, while i was searching for reviews on the klymaloft, and if i should that or the thermarest, i kept staring at these dudes talking about how great these sleep pads are…. and i’m wondering, are they, really, for a lady?

the lack of lady low-profile sleep pad reviews is minimal to nil.


first, i prefer a tent with a cot in it, so for purposes of this review, i’m going to talk about both ground and cot sleeping.

why the klymaloft? 

i had a klymit static v, which was a reasonable addition to my cot sleeping setup, and the pros i liked about it were:

  1. easy to blow up
  2. it held the air
  3. the air chambers made sense

so when i saw that klymit had JUST released a high-end sleep mat, i was like, that may be the one for me. i tried to get klymit to give me one in exchange for realistic lady reviews, both written and video, but no such luck. looks like i’d have to spend the $150 on a comfortable sleeping endeavor. however, klymit was out of stock! so after a little internet sleuthing, i found one for cheaper at left lane sports and snatched it up.


blowing up the klymaloft is definitely not as easy as the static v. if there is one huge con to the pad, it’s how you have to blow it up. i realize that it’s made to use with a pump, but i was not hauling around an extra piece of equipment in my canoe pack, and it only took about 20 breaths to fully blow up.

unfortunately, there is no spigot or spout for blowing it up – it’s placing your moth over a hole in the pad, which has a flippy deal for inflate or deflate. so that’s kind of annoying, but once you get going, it’s fine. just don’t share blowing up duties with anyone, cuz there’s a lot of slobber. oh, and definitely remember to click the outer casing in place; it helps keep the air in.

inflation levels

the first night on the ground i had inflated too much, but i was too antsy to realize it. i didn’t sleep well in the first place so my uncomfortable sleep was just as much the faulty of my anxious brain as it was my overinflated sleep pad. when i woke up in the morning, my hips hurt, which is pretty normal for any ground or tent sleeping for me.

but the second night, i ended up with a little give in the pad, and i slept like a rock. and not just on my sides – i slept on my back, too, with minimal pain in my lower back from too much support. it was slightly less inflated than it could’ve been, because when i was on my sides, there was very slight touching of my hips on the ground.

then the third night i thought, what if it was a little more inflated, but i stuck my inflatable cushion thing under the buns/hips area? that did not work well. it was too firm, and my cushion did not stay inflated.

the fourth night i figured it out. i tested it and made sure it wasn’t too firm, but my hips were still off the ground. it took a bit of adjusting, but i got it, and slept like a rock again.

and the pad held all its air all nights!

cot sleeping

like i said earlier, i was using a klymit static v for my cot, but i was also bringing along a memory foam 2″ sleeping pad with it to put on my cot while i car camped. from now on, i just need the klymaloft, which saves a lot of hassle with the pad. the footprint of the klymaloft is bigger than the static v, but the comfort is worth it.


is it worth spending $100-150 on a sleeping pad? i’ve used the pad for 3 2-day car camping excursions and one 4-day canoe trip to the bwca, and it’s holding up nicely. so far, i do say it’s worth it, but i’ll see how it lasts through next summer before i say that it’ll hold up well. i expect something that i spend that kind of money on to last a while, and i just don’t have the longevity yet. if it holds up? then definitely worth it.

just make sure to adjust it to your level of firmness!

review: Coop Homegoods camp pillow

review: Coop Homegoods camp pillow

If there’s one thing I purchased for camping that I 100% would recommend to everyone it’s the little camp pillow by Coop Homegoods.

An actual real pillow, but small and portable. Just like our full-sized pillows, the Travel and Camping Pillow features adjustable support in the form of medium firm density fill. Stay supported and aligned, whether you’re sleeping on the ground, in a car, or a hotel bed. No need to wake up with a stiff neck.

It’s filled with shredded memory foam so you can remove some if you like a flatter sleep, but I left it as is and it was perfect. I’m a side and occasional back sleeper, and when I sleep on my side, I like to squish up the pillow edges to create a little loft. The pillow was firm enough yet squishy enough to give my head (and really, neck is more important here) a good night’s sleep. Especially tough when you’re asleep on the ground in a tent!

I also used this in my hammock, which was really nice because it was smaller than a normal pillow and easier to maneuver in a hammock where you sink in. The pillow is 19″x14″, which was actually more than enough for what I needed for camping. It comes in a compressible bag, which was #1 on my list of necessities for finding a camp pillow, and it compresses down pretty well to 10″x6″. It bounced back easily when I pulled it out of the bag.

The pillow costs $29.99, but I’d say it’s worth it if you want to have a comfortable camping experience. When I ordered, I also decided to kick in an extra $15 for the pillowcase, which I should have read up a little more on before doing so – it’s 100% nylon. I was lured in by its bright red facade – ha! Anyway, I tried one night on the red pillowcase, and it was slippery, noisy, and sticky. I took it off after one night and just used the pillowcase that came with the pillow from then on out. (Don’t be fooled by the pillowcase that comes with the pillow itself – it’s perfectly fine and actually is the outer case – if you unzip, there is a second one there.)

Customer service from Coop was good though. I told them about the pillowcase and they sent a return label and I dropped it off at UPS. Coop has a 100-day trial period, and I was well within that timeline.

Bravo, Coop, on making a camping pillow that was well worth my $30.

Here’s a link to the pillow!


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