Posts Tagged ‘travel’

High atop Dragonback

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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When Panda and I went to Hong Kong, we spent a day hiking the mountains, which was so much fun. Here are some videos from that day!

dragonback hike time lapse from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

chillin' atop dragonback from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

dragonback view from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

paragliding over ocean from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

bird gliding over people on mountain from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

paraglider by mountain from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

A walk around Macau

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Last year, when Panda and I went to Hong Kong, we also got a chance to swing by Macau! His mom had spent some time there as a child, so it was pretty special. I don’t remember much from the time I went myself, so it was good to visit again. Check out some of the random things we saw, starting with some guys feeding the sea creatures at the MGM Macau. I want to do that!!!

fish tank feeding frenzy from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

fish and ray swarming diver from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

second diver entering tank from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Over at the Wynn, we watched a random show about the Tree of Life. The ceiling opened up, a tree came out of the ground, and there was some epic music. After some storytelling, the tree went back down and the ceiling closed up again… I vaguely remember seeing this the first time I was there.

Macau casino ceiling closing from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

And I got to witness a lady making treats! It’s like a crepe cookie wrapped with dried pork and seaweed. What a strange combo.

making handmade Macau treat from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Escape Monthly May: Rocky Mountain Box review

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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For the first time, there was no brochure/info card insert – instead it was sent digitally! I’ve embedded it below and also included a link to where you can view the PDF in detail if you’d like. I’m a fan of less paper waste and if this box is an indicator of the quality of future boxes sans paper insert, I’m totally happy.

Escape Monthly is just under $40 per box (with code for 20% off your subscription – see end of post) and comes with a variety of food, home, skincare items themed around a city/region. Each box comes with a guide for that area. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral commission program.

escape monthly may rocky mountain box products showing escape monthly may rocky mountain box product info cards front escape monthly may rocky mountain box product info cards back and inside (click to enlarge and read full messaging)

escape-monthly-rocky-mountain-box-info-card-pdf

(view the file to read in detail)

When I first opened the box, I was totally impressed! Not only did it smell fantastic, but it had so many items that it truly felt like a treat. I’m all about more medium-sized (and value) items rather than a larger one that may have monetary value, but isn’t something I like as much. Or maybe I just really like what this theme meant in terms of curation! I could have done with digital versions of the info cards in addition to the already-digital brochure they always have.

Here’s what came in the box:

Moon Handbooks guide to Montana & Wyoming – Well, this doesn’t quite match up to the listed handbook, but it looks like it covers more than that one would have so I don’t mind. I’ve been to Yellowstone before, but haven’t really explored the rest of the national parks or either state. I think it’d be fun to do a road trip in that area to admire all the nature. I love scenery and animals!

Rocky Mountain National Park commemorative keychain – This is a nice, quality keychain that is very well-crafted. It’s so nice that I’m going to have to store it rather than actually use it on my keychain. I don’t want to wear it down!

NAAWK EcoPack sunscreen – I love this packaging, which is so perfect for traveling through national parks and wilderness. Just clip it to your belt buckle or backpack and you can reapply sunscreen throughout the day. What a cool pack!

the Spirit Goat Goat’s Milk lotion in Bear Lake Raspberries – This is a rather unusual scent for me (in a good way). I’m not sure I’ve had a raspberry lotion before and I love it! There’s a mild sweetness that is really nice and not in your face. It’s such a fresh sort of feeling. My skin feels wonderfully soft after applying.

Rocky Mountain Root Beer – I heard something moving in the box as I was carrying it and it turned out to be this bottle. I opened it pretty much as soon as I took the picture and it was a nice treat to enjoy. I love the glass bottle and that it wasn’t super sweet. Sometimes sodas are just too much, so this is a nice alternative.

Kate’s Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Stash Bar – While I don’t really like bars or peanut butter, this one looks quite good. I will definitely make good use of it next time I need a boost, whether from travel or exercise.

Salus Bath Bomb in Mountain Mint – How perfect that I got shower bombs from Yuzen and now I have a bath bomb to try too! This strong mint scent is sure to be a nice cooling experience. I hope it helps soothe aches too.

Dirty Diana Preserves – I’m hesitant to try this due to the cherries. I typically only like fresh cherry flavor. I’m also not quite sure how to use this… as a spread? To cook with? We’ll see.

Sierra Nevada Soap Company Rosemary Lavender soap – Ah yes, this was emanating relaxation as soon as I opened the box. I love the scent and will add this to my soap queue near the front. It’s fun that there are chunks in there – I like a soap with some added texture.

Wild West Howdy chocolate bar – This bar has dark chocolate and almonds. It’s a very hard chocolate that is a perfectly balanced so it’s not bitter, but not crazy sweet either. The almond bits are smaller and don’t steal the show.

I’m thinking I need to move near the Rockies at some point in my life. I love eco-friendly stuff and the clean, fresh feeling these products give me. Which products from the Rocky Mountain Escape Monthly box would you want too? If you want to sign up, try one of these codes (not sure which ones are still active): YOURESCAPE or ROCKY for 20% off the lifetime of your subscription or GIFTESCAPE for 25% off.

Coming up is Vancouver for some Canadian goodness. I’m excited for that and I wonder if any packaging will change since I just noticed their new logo.

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

My pet Hawaiian shrimp

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
1

Back when we were in Hawaii, I finally got myself a little Hawaiian red shrimp ecosphere. While I’d seen the crazy expensive closed systems before, I liked that the one I found includes a lid that opens. Just in case I need to feed them or change the water, right? So I happily bought the travel set, which included the jar with sand and a fake little plant plus a separate plastic bottle with the shrimp and some blue pellets (food, I presume). All I had to do was put it in my checked bag for transport back home!

I also decided to get a set of snails to add to my new little ecosystem, just to help clean the water. While in Hawaii, I kept them in the bottle together and spent hours watching them. The snails liked to hide up on the lid, out of the water. Whenever they did go down, the shrimp would immediately gravitate towards them and pick at their shells. They must have some tasty algae growing on those shells! When it came time to travel, I carefully wrapped the bottle in paper towels and put it in a box, just in case anything leaked. I then wrapped the box in some of my clothes to try to offer the best buffer between potential jolts and coldness.

Upon arrival many hours later (and a good 30-degree drop in temperature too), I gingerly opened everything and found minimal leakage of water. The shrimp and snails were just fine. I then set about setting up their habitat and enjoyed a beautiful jar to put on the counter or table. Check out the pictures below to show you what has happened since…

hawaiian red shrimp habitat in store

The original habitat I saw at the store! I couldn’t leave without my own.

hawaiian red shrimp eating off black snail shell

The shrimp, snails, and blue pellets in the travel bottle. Those shrimp loved following the snails around!

cat sniffing glass jar with sand and fake plant

Smokey sniffed at this mysterious new jar while I was putting it together.

hawaiian red shrimp and snails ecosphere self-sustaining ecosystem

I loved sitting and watching them. I mostly kept them on the coffee table or the island in the kitchen.

nerite snail eating in glass jar

After awhile, some shrimp and my snails died. The water began to get murky, so I got a nerite snail from the local pet store.


hawaiian shrimp and nerite snail timelapse from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

I did a timelapse video of the super active new snail and its four little shrimp friends! Little did I know what was about to happen…

spilled water and sand on hardwood floor

The very next day, disaster struck. Smokey clumsily jumped on the counter, but slid and took the entire box and the jar with her.

tools used for shrimp habitat spill cleanup

We painstakingly got the shrimp back in (one was already dead) and sucked the water back in the jar.

It was too much trauma and the water sucked back in was gross with dust and cat hair. Another one died promptly and I was so upset, until I realized that both my two remaining shrimp and snail are used to not just brackish water, but fresh water and salt water. They’re pretty good at adjusting to different levels of salinity, so I decided to clean out the jar and give them fresh water for awhile. Except I had no idea what sort of fresh water to use, so I used a water bottle. By the next morning, that seemed to kill the other two shrimp (or maybe they were already beyond help 🙁 ). And so it was just my poor little snail. Even it gave me a scare a few days later when I thought it had died. Thankfully, by that night it was climbing up the glass again.

After this happened, I immediately decided I needed to order some shrimp to replace the ones I lost and found Shrimp Mart after some searching. I felt they had really reasonable prices, especially when it came to shipping, so I opted for their 20 Opae Ula selection. I wanted to get their live Angel Hair Moss too, but they were out of stock at the time. Too bad! Maybe another time, or hopefully I can get some locally.

naughty cat laying in cage

Smokey was in a time out during our recovery and cleanup period.

packaging for mailed hawaiian red shrimps

The new shrimp arrived in the mail about a week later.

plastic bag with twenty-plus hawaiian red shrimp

Very well packaged! All shrimp were alive and they gave well over 20 (I think I counted 27, but with so many it’s hard to say).

I’m not sure what the pink thing is, but it seems to be a food source. I think it just allows algae growth on it and is just a sort of sponge that the shrimp wouldn’t eat. I carefully transferred the shrimp into the jar and the amount of water they came in was just perfect! I then noticed a strange thing squirming around, which I figured it couldn’t be parasitic or dangerous since it’d been in the bag with all the shrimp on the trip and they were fine.

hawaiian red shrimp larva in spoon

The strange worm-like thing jerking around turned out to be a larva!

over two dozen hawaiian red shrimp in jar with nerite snail

And now they’re happily settled in their new home. I’m thinking about splitting them into two for more space.

I need to make sure I get the right kind of brackish water for them before I use another container for some of them. I hope they don’t feel too crowded in this jar. I’ve since put the pink thing in with them, so they have a place to hide and eat from. And yes, I am much more paranoid about where I place the jar now. No place feels safe, even the ground!

hawaiian shrimp eating

Check out the video of them settled in their home!

Escape Monthly April: Japan Box review

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Who could say no to Japan? I totally had to see what kawaii things might come in this box. I totally thought there’d be those funky little erasers shaped like sushi or other food. Alas, maybe next time. While waiting for this, I got an email that Escape Monthly had changed their billing and I needed to re-subscribe. To entice me, they offered 30% off for life… I decided to go with it, though I seriously debated letting that be a rather natural cutoff with this box. But I like it enough to keep it at the lower price point.

Escape Monthly is just under $40 per box (with code for 20% off your subscription – see end of post) and comes with a variety of food, home, skincare items themed around a city/region. Each box comes with a guide for that area. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral commission program.

escape monthly april japan box products showing escape monthly april japan box info card escape monthly april japan box info card opened with fact sheet showingescape monthly april japan box info card opened with details of products included (click to enlarge and read full messaging)

It’s great to see a mix of items so I have things for the home, personal care, kitchen, and of course my tummy. Some things reminded me of home and others were new to me.

Here’s what came in the box:

Moon Handbooks guide to Living Abroad in Japan – While I’ve been through the airport two or three times, I’ve never truly visited Japan. I even stayed at an airport hotel when I was a young teen, being escorted by airport personnel since I was traveling solo. I just never went further than that and other than a van driving on the other side of the road, some smoking Japanese airport workers watching strange game shows, and a hotel I no longer recall, I haven’t gotten to experience Japan. I do look forward to it though, and I’m sure Panda and I will make our way there in our coming trips so I’ll see what this booklet has to offer then.

The Tao of Tea Japanese Sencha tea – I love the packaging of this tea. This brand is new to me, though I think I’ve seen it before. The tea is well-preserved in a tin that doesn’t let in light and has an inner lid for extra sealing power. The scent is a nice, rich green tea. Just the type of thing I can bring to work and sip on all day long.

The Japanese Konjac Sponge bamboo charcoal – I still don’t quite understand konjac sponges, but this is already my third. The first I got in the UK at a Boots, the second I got from Julep (and am currently using), and funny enough, I received my fourth in my latest Petit Vour box today! So I am now quite well-stocked on these and really hope that they help my acne-prone skin. It definitely feels like a good oil absorber and it’s so gentle on skin. I love that it’s eco-friendly too.

Glico Pocky Matcha biscuit sticks – I love Pocky and matcha green tea! So of course it makes sense that I love matcha Pocky too. I wish they would have gone for something a little harder to find, since Japanese candies and treats are quite plentiful. While this flavor isn’t super easy to find, many Asian markets do carry it. I guess it’s a mostly safe bet for those completely new to them though, whereas some things might be unusual enough that people wouldn’t want to try it.

Syokuzen chopsticks – I could always use a pair of chopsticks. I’m thinking of taking this pair to work, since I feel bad with all the disposable ones that I end up using when I carry out for lunch. These are nice simple chopsticks with a minimal design and thin points that help with picking up small pieces of food.

sandalwood fan – I’ve had many of these in my childhood and I never knew the scent was sandalwood. It totally makes me think of China and my grandma. Such a soothing smell to enjoy. The intricate carvings on the side allow some air to flow through and it offers a really cool design. I’ve had ones like this and some with painted images too. Maybe I’ll lay around and fan myself this summer!

Japanese wind chime – This is a hefty little bell that I believe is made of cast iron. It makes a nice tinkling sound that I think I will try to train the cats to respond to for feeding time. Or maybe I’ll hang it on our porch somewhere and let it do its thing.

Culturally, there’s enough overlap that it feels much like a Chinese box to me and I’m comfortable with that. Plenty of good memories! Which items in the Japan Escape Monthly box would you want? If you want to sign up, try one of these codes (not sure which ones are still active): YOURESCAPE or JAPAN for 20% off the lifetime of your subscription or GIFTESCAPE for 25% off.

Next month is themed Rocky Mountain and I’m excited for nature-y stuff. I haven’t been, so that should be fun!

escape monthly april japan box info card back with chance to win a trip details

Looks like they started customizing the back image to match the destination instead of using a generic beach image.

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

Escape Monthly March: Australia Box review

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Ok, it’s like they’re reading my mind (or maybe I’m just interested in too many places that it’s hard to come across a theme I wouldn’t be intrigued by). I mean, Australia?! Yes please! So while I’ve been meaning to cancel my subscription just to cut on costs, I haven’t been able to pull the plug. I love it down under and I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store.

Escape Monthly is just under $40 per box (with code for 20% off your subscription – see end of post) and comes with a variety of food, home, skincare items themed around a city/region. Each box comes with a guide for that area. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral commission program.

escape monthly march australia box products showing escape monthly march australia box info card escape monthly march australia box info card opened with fact sheet showing escape monthly march australia box info card opened with details of products included(click to enlarge and read full messaging)

I’m glad that what was included really felt like it was authentic from Australia. I haven’t come across these brands, so I like being introduced to them.

Here’s what came in the box:

Moon Handbooks guide to Living Abroad in Australia – I’m definitely going back to Australia again and hopefully can even live there for awhile, so I’ll keep this handy for when that time comes. I’ve only explored Sydney and the Gold Coast previously; there’s so much more to see!

Australian Gold Face Guard Sunscreen Stick – This is just so fitting! What a nice easy way to apply sunscreen to the face without looking like some pale monster. With so much sunshine in Australia, I’m sure this would be a staple need. Now that spring is coming, we’ll be having lunch outside again and this will come in handy.

Simple Scents Australian soap in Eucalyptus – This is what I smelled as I opened the box and it kind of reminds me of Irish Spring soap. It’s a very refreshing, clean sort of smell that would be great for anybody to use.

clip-on koalas – Oh yes, I’ve definitely gotten these myself before. Can you go to Australia without leaving with one of these clingy little guys? They’re a fun little trinket to have and remind you of the real koalas that you can find there. I think they might also make a good cat toy…

Lucky Country Aussie Style Soft Licorice in Strawberry – Yum! I may not like black licorice, but I can appreciate strawberry and these were so soft and fresh that I wasn’t even sure they are licorice! I really like these.

La Mav Bio-A7 Firming Eye Lotion – I don’t exactly have wrinkles to test this on, but I can say it’s very gentle on the sensitive eye area, and very velvety in texture. It feels nice and luxurious and I love that it’s organic. This is the most high-value item, being an eye product and all.

B’Lure Hibiscus Flower Extract – I wish I’d gotten their original made from butterfly pea, because apparently it changes color from blue to purple to pink with more acidity! How cool is that? It’s like a science experiment in your drink. My hibiscus one does appear more versatile though, with recommended uses including glazes or cream cheese. All the extracts are good for drinks and desserts as a natural sort of food dye. Pretty cool! I’m definitely trying making ice cubes with this, among other things.

I’m pretty pleased with this box, which definitely opened my eyes to some of what Australia has to offer. What products in this Australia Escape Monthly box do you want to have? If you want to sign up, try one of these codes (not sure which ones are still active): YOURESCAPE or MYESCAPE for 20% off the lifetime of your subscription or GIFTESCAPE for 25% off.

Next month is Japan, so of course I’m staying on board – who could resist that? I’ll keep my Escape Monthly subscription as long as they continue to choose awesome destinations.

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

Escape Monthly February: Nashville Box review

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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So I kept Escape Monthly because I was super intrigued by Nashville. Coincidentally, Panda and I were planning a trip there this weekend. I was hoping the box would arrive in time so I could bring the guide book and look out for more of any treats I particularly liked from the box. It did end up getting delivered just in time! Buuut due to the weather conditions, we decided to postpone our trip for another time. There just aren’t many places to go for a short vacation when it’s snowing so much. Luckily, that means I get more time to prepare when we do decide to go.

Escape Monthly is just under $40 per box (with code for 20% off your subscription – see end of post) and comes with a variety of food, home, skincare items themed around a city/region. Each box comes with a guide for that area. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral commission program.

escape monthly february nashville box products showing escape monthly february nashville box info card

escape monthly february nashville box info card opened with fact sheet showing

They’ve always included facts, but I never photographed them. Figured I’d include them this time since the back is boring and no longer offers a preview of next month’s destination.

escape monthly february nashville box info card opened with details of products included (click to enlarge and read full messaging)

So the first thing I thought was, only five items outside of the guide book?! That was disappointing. So I scoured them for something that perhaps was a super high value item. Didn’t find that. For the price, I felt like they could have included at least one more thing. Just looking at what was included without thinking about value, I certainly did enjoy what they sent.

Here’s what came in the box:

Moon Handbooks guide to Nashville – As I mentioned, the timing of this would have been perfect had we gone ahead with the trip this weekend. We can use this to help plan the trip when it actually happens.

Willa’s Wildflower Honey Shortbread – Oh my word these are delicious. If I didn’t stop myself, they’d be long gone. Instead I have maybe a third left and I probably won’t resist much longer. These are lightly sweet without being too much and a wonderful buttery, slightly crumbly texture. The bite sizes are just perfect too!

Little Seed Farm Farmstead Milk Soap Rosemary Mint Scrub Bar – This is a super soft bar of soap that I accidentally nicked with my nail. It smells so relaxing and is such a great blend of scents. It makes me think of Chivas, a company that also uses goat milk. I visited their farm in SoCal way back when and it was my first time seeing Square being used. I’ll add this to my arsenal of awesome soaps to use.

Brittle Brothers Peanut Brittle – I’ve had both their peanut brittle and their cashew brittle come in Treatsie boxes before! I definitely prefer the peanut one, which is strange since I am generally not into peanuts. But gosh, there’s something about their brittle that lets the peanuts stand out in a way that I am totally happy with. I’ve already eaten half of this!

Sweet Meat Beef Jerky – Oh gosh, I probably would have gobbled up another flavor, but I don’t like mango and I prefer my jerky sweet or salty, not spicy. Still, I did try a piece and it was an interesting burn with a hint of sweetness to mellow it out. I can definitely see people liking these flavors enjoying this jerky.

Soberdough Brew Bread Mix in Roasted Garlic – So I first saw this whole beer thing and I was like, is that the scent emanating from the box? But it’s just the dough and you can use beer or just carbonated water to make it (whew!). I’ve never made bread before, so this should be fun. Turns out the flavor I got is roasted garlic, so the smell must have been garlic. I’m pretty excited to try it!

I feel like I got a great intro to some of the snacks to be found in Nashville. I would have loved to have gotten some sort of trinket or tool as well. I’m pleased with the products but wish that either there were more or that their value was a bit higher. Which items in this Nashville Escape Monthly box do you want to try? If you want to sign up, try one of these codes (not sure which ones are still active): AUSTRALIA or MYESCAPE for 20% off the lifetime of your subscription or GIFTESCAPE for 25% off.

It seems like the new thing is to promote the chance to win a $1000 towards a trip, which they offer every month. It’s a FB photo contest and I have yet to enter, so maybe I should. I checked their Facebook page and found that next month it’s going to be Australia – who could resist that? So I’ll keep my subscription alive. Well played, Escape Monthly.

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

The coolest cards

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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Back in the fall, when Panda and I went to Hong Kong, I came back with these awesome cards. Let me share them in more detail, because they’re just so cool.

collage of five 3d cards that pop open to ferris wheels, eiffel tower, ship with sails, and dragon designs

The cards are a heavy stock, with a nice ridged texture. Each cover has a nice image but into it, giving you a preview of what’s inside. As you start to open them, that’s when the magic happens. You might not have expected 3D cards, but then something pops out! These are designed at an angle so they will fold nicely and flatten out, but then stand up into a fantastic 3D design.

colorful 3d ferris wheel card open

I first noticed this one, which was too good to pass up.

colorful 3d ferris wheel card top

If only it turned too!

purple 3d ferris wheel card open

I couldn’t resist getting this one for myself. #ilovepurple

purple 3d ferris wheel card top

Check out the dangly little carts. Love this detail.

3d dragon card open

I also chose this one for myself to keep. It’s sitting on my desk at work.

3d dragon card top

This one needed extra support so they designed those waves.

3d eiffel tower card open

I picked this out for my coworker who is a Francophile like me!

3d eiffel tower card top

I like how it has the map of France too.

3d ship card open

And for the guy, I thought this was super cool. Reminds me of a pirate ship.

3d ship card top

Look at all the parallel lines it uses! I’m fascinated by how they designed these things.

Escape Monthly January: Portland Box review

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1

It’s Portland time! I got the Oregon box over a year ago and I like that they didn’t have much overlap with that one. It’s great to see some brands that are new to me and different variations for the brands I am familiar with.

Escape Monthly is just under $40 per box (with code for 20% off your subscription – see end of post) and comes with a variety of food, home, skincare items themed around a city/region. Each box comes with a guide for that area. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral commission program.

escape monthly january portland box products showing escape monthly january portland box info card escape monthly january portland box info card opened with details of products included(click to enlarge and read full messaging)

I’m liking the curation of this box! It’s a good mix of food, body care, and home stuff. I’m pretty excited about most of these items.

Here’s what came in the box:

Masala Pop Saffron Rose Popcorn with Sea Salt – Ooo, this looks luxurious. After learning about how prized saffron is, anything with it sounds cool. This is my second time seeing this brand – I enjoyed the Chai Masala flavor from the India box, but it stuck together after I opened it and didn’t eat it quickly enough so I’m saving this for when I can finish it in one sitting.

Moon Handbooks guide to Portland – You know, Panda and I were planning on going to the Pacific Northwest last year and didn’t make it, so now I have have some guide books to peruse when we finally do get around to that trip. Portland will certainly be on that list! I also have friends who moved there in the past few years, so maybe we can explore together.

Keep Portland Weird! soy candle – Soy candles are awesome. This one has a nice charity component and the candle is a lovely lemongrass type scent. I wonder if it’s the only mix they offer? Well, I’m happy to have a clean-burning candle to use in the future.

Portland Bee Balm in Oregon Mint – Previously I got this bonus item in the original unscented variety; since then they’ve changed up their packaging! The tube is encased in a cool wood sheet that looks awesome. I like that we get to try a different scent/flavor for this one and it’s fantastic that they are supporting beekeepers. Bees are a crucial part of our ecosystem, after all.

Molly Muriel Butter Up shea butter bar soap – The info sheet talks about a different scented soap from what I got. I’m a fan of this one, so I’m happy! I can’t wait to use this – it looks like it’s going to feel great on my skin. This will be perfect for the winter. We got the Volcanic Bliss bar in a previous box, which I just love.

Rose City Pepperheads Berry Trio – Whoa, spicy and sweet jelly things? I have no clue what to do with these. I see they can be for dipping or cooking, so I’ll have to do some research and try them out a few ways. Luckily, their site includes some recipes and suggestions for how to enjoy them.

Valentina’s Home-Brewed Magickal Mineral Bath Salts in Habit Breaker – Oh, bath salts, how I adore thee… I was most excited about this product! It’s whimsical and slightly wacky, yet a totally wonderful thing. They gave a very generous size and the scent seeping through is sweet and beautiful. I look forward to relaxing in a bath with some of this. 🙂

Well, last month I was hoping for a candle, skincare product, or something else non-food. Guess what we got this time? All of the above! So yes, I am pretty happy. What’s your favorite from this Portland Escape Monthly box? If you want to sign up, try one of these codes (not sure which ones are still active): NASHVILLE or MYESCAPE for 20% off the lifetime of your subscription or GIFTESCAPE for 25% off.

Just when I thought I was going to stop getting Escape Monthly, they announce for next month a city that is completely new to me and surprisingly compelling for keeping my subscription just one more month. I guess I’ll choose between a facial or massage each month until I decide to cancel this (at which point I’ll treat myself to both monthly!). This time they didn’t show the next month’s city on the back, but their Facebook page has indicated it will be Nashville. I know very little about that part of the country, so I’m excited!

escape monthly january portland box info card back with chance to win a trip details

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

Traveling by plane with a pet

laelene Posted in how to guides, lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , ,
1

Ever wonder what it’s like to fly with a cat? Here’s my story… (or skip to the tips if you’re pressed for time)

cat sitting on person meowing and looking out window of back seat of car

Off we go! Missy was a bit worried. What are all those cars?!

My mom finally relented after over a year and a half of debating whether I could and should bring Missy to the east coast with me, so yesterday I boarded a plane, cat carrier in tow. I purchased the in-cabin pet ticket about a week ago – originally there was a place to add the pet from my reservation online, but when I went back when I was ready to commit, it was nowhere to be found. I ended up calling up the airline to purchase it for $125. Luckily, we already had a carrier that my mom used back when she moved one of my previous cats, Jerriey, to Beijing.

The morning of, we packed my bags and then brought Molly down to witness Missy leaving. Molly kept running away and didn’t seem at all interested, but she did notice Missy in the carrier. At first Missy was a little confused, but calm as she wondered what was going on. Once we started to drive, she got scared and meowed all sorts of meows – timid frightened ones, deep guttural ones, and loud complaining ones. Occasionally she panted as if she were hyperventilating.

cat sitting in back window of car driving on freeway

For awhile, she “hid” in the back.

At one point, my mom complained of the smell of feces. My cousin and I were oblivious until much later, when I suddenly smelled it too. I saw one piece, which I was able to pick out with a paper towel. My mom didn’t believe there was only one, so we let the cat out and found a bunch more! We picked them all up in the paper towels and I tried to ignore the smell. Eventually, I found a plastic bag to tie it all up in and Missy seemed better when she was able to move around, sit on my cousin, and look out the window. We continued on and all seemed well until my cousin noticed a strange smell. She looked around and found that somehow Missy had pooped again – this time it was more wet and probably due to the nerves. At this point we were stopping so I could get some See’s Candy to bring back. We used the last of the tissues and paper towels we could find to pick up the new batch and I took the plastic bag with everything to throw it out.

By the time we reached the airport, I felt like the carrier smelled of urine. There was nothing I could do just yet, so I met up with Panda and we checked in our luggage. The cat carrier counted as an item, so I couldn’t bring my suitcase AND the tote bag I usually have, so I checked the suitcase. Since I had to check a bag anyway, I decided to pack an extra suitcase and bring back some of the things I had been meaning to transport, like my Lumnique candle (the whole box it came in) and my set of Crate & Barrel glasses, carafe, and tray that I won.

person carrying cat through security at airportWhen we went through security, I was surprised to discover they had me carry Missy through the screening. I thought I’d bring the whole carrier, but that went through the x-ray like everything else. They also made sure to wipe my hands to check for explosive residue (or whatever else they want to make sure you didn’t touch). Good thing Missy’s an easy-going cat or I don’t know what sort of insanity might have ensued. If it were Molly, she’d be so upset I’m sure I would have gotten injured and she likely would have escaped. If it were Smokey, she’d probably be scared out of her wits and run off to hide. I zipped Missy back into the carrier, gathered our things, and headed to the gate. Once we got there I wanted to do something about the smell coming from her carrier.

cat in carrier by sink with mat being washedI left Panda with our stuff and took Missy to a restroom, where I washed the sherpa mat that sits at the bottom of the carrier. I could see a large stain at the bottom, so the whole thing needed to be rinsed. After washing it with soap and wringing it dry as best I could, I went to all the restrooms I could find to see if there was a hand dryer. Unfortunately, they all relied on paper towels and I didn’t want to waste any more of those (I’d used many sheets trying to pat the lining dry). Back at the gate, I asked Panda to see if the men’s restrooms might have a dryer and he eventually came back with just a slightly dripping wet mat that he’d put through a Dyson Airblade. He got two stacks of paper towels, one to put underneath the sherpa and one to put on top. The nice thing about that material is that even though the bottom was still quite wet, the fluffy top part was practically dry so it was actually pretty comfortable for Missy to use again.

cat face through mesh web of carrier cat sitting in carrier for plane ride united in-cabin pet ticket receipt

cat face peeking out of carrier on plane

Peekaboo!

I’m pretty sure that Missy managed to pee once more at some point after that, but oh well. The smell wasn’t too strong and I really could only tell when I had my nose right up to the carrier. Soon, we boarded the plane and held her carrier on my lap until we were pushing back from the gate. When I went to put her under the seat in front of me, I discovered that there are these annoying plastic boxes that take up a good 2-3 inches, so there was no way the carrier could fit length-wise. I had to put it parallel to my legs, with only the back half under the seat. The seat was also so low it was pushing down the walls of the carrier. I think because we were in Economy Plus, they gave less foot room there because there’s more leg room (most people wouldn’t notice that part so long as their knees aren’t squished).

cat sleeping snugly on lap of person on planeThroughout the ride, I kept leaning over to check in on Missy. I let her head pop out a few times and I pet and scratched her to make sure she got attention. After the beverage service, I left a little water at the bottom of my cup and tried to give it to her, but she wasn’t interested. Later in the trip, she kept trying to break out, so I let her crawl on my lap for a little bit. She was shivering like crazy, whether cold or stressed or both. I then delivered her back to her carrier for the remainder of the trip and checked in on her when we landed. A couple of times she meowed super loud, but the people around me didn’t seem to notice or care. Overall she was great though, and patiently sat in the carrier without a peep.

 

cat exiting carrier after plane ride

Yay, home!

So based on what I’ve learned, here are some tips:

Make sure you buy your pet ticket ahead of time and ask the attendant at the check-in counter to print the receipt for you (keep it handy, they’ll want to see it when you board).

Get a travel-approved pet carrier (soft sides, appropriate size, sturdy – and that sherpa lining on the bottom can be quite useful!).

Book a window seat so you can place the carrier on the ground without bothering other passengers and blocking their way out of their seat.

Either make sure your pet goes to the bathroom the morning of the trip (if possible) or try to use a plastic hard carrier for the first leg of the trip so accidents are easier to clean. Of course if you can’t leave the carrier with whoever’s driving you or you don’t have free checked luggage, you might just have to deal with a dirty carrier.

Try to bring a blanket to help cover the sides of the carrier if it’s going to be cold or you don’t want your pet stressed by everything outside.

Prepare some plastic bags if you need to clean up poop and bring old towels you can swap out in the carrier.

Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and smelly. Use a jacket that is a tougher material if your pet has claws and might try to kick you with them (that way it doesn’t hurt and it’s easier to wrangle her back to the carrier after security).

 

Have you traveled with a pet before? What would you recommend for air travel, especially for cats?

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