Let’s get Real!


I never thought I’d share a photo of my daughters pants, but here you go!

It’s Real Nappy Week where parents up and down the land celebrate all things that go over and under. Of course I’m talking about those cute little tushes, which often produce some very uncute giant smells!

We tried to keep our  about the sort of parents we wanted to be before the Lamb was born but one thing we were adamant about was that we wanted to use reusable nappies. We’d done a lot of reading about nappies and had some friends who’d used reusable nappies with their children. The assorted articles we read suggested that reusables were making a firm come-back so we’re really surprised when we were the only couple planned to sue them when we did the ‘nappy class’ during our antenatal classes (we had a very large group of of at least 15 parents-to-be).

So I thought I’d look at reasons why people are still not keen on resuables, some of the myths and reasons why we love ’em.

It seems that there’s two  major turn offs for real nappies: price and smell. I’ll start with price.

Ok, there’s no getting around it. Buying reusable nappies can be pricey. There are assorted makes out there but as we use Bambino Mio, they’ll be the ones I’ll use as a comparison. They have two different versions: the two piece and the all-in-one.  The two piece is similar to what was used in the past with a waterproof outer and a cotton pad liner which you cover with a flushable sheet. The all-in-one has a hidden absorbent core and looks like a disposable nappy. To buy the birth to potty kits costs between £150-200 and includes all you need from birth, to, well potty training. There’s also a nappy bucket to pop used nappies in. So yes, it’s a big initial outlay, especially when you’re being given lists of everything you ‘must have’ for your baby. However, when you consider the average baby used TWO THOUSAND nappies per year until potty trained (source: goreal) and that even if you buy cheap disposables costing anywhere between 10-30pence per nappy (average annual costs £400) that’s quite a lot of money to be throwing away. It’s hypothesised that parents save from £100-1000 PER YEAR using disposables. Plus, there’s the added benefit of being able to reuse them if you have additional children or selling them on.

So let’s talk smell. There’s no getting around it, babies poop. A LOT. Oh, dear gods the poop. However, as strange as it may sound, your nose switches off during changes and given the nappy buckets, as soon as the lids closed you don’t smell anything. Depending on how many you use, you’re likely to be doing a load of nappies every other day (although I remember doing a load a day when the Lamb first came home). I can honestly say that while there’s a bit of a smell while you’re putting them in the washing machine, the buckets contain all odours until then. Don’t fancy washing them yourself? Many councils now offer a laundering service.

Now, when you consider that most areas only collect rubbish every two weeks, that’s a lot of poop and used nappies sat around till collection day (my friends on average put out one bin bag of used nappies MINIMUM per fortnight) and especially in the summer, that was a lot of stink!

And I’ll just say one final thing about chemicals. If you’ve read my post about my Earth Day Pledges, you’ll know my concern for our waterways and my switch to ecoleaf washing powder as well as monitoring what chemicals we put on our skin (see my assorted homemade smellies!). Washing my daughters nappies, I know exactly what chemicals (or in our case, the lack of chemicals) are against her skin. I have one friend who’s baby reactive to every nappy she wore, from the cheap Aldi brand, to the costly Pampers. Turns out that her little one was allergic to aloe, something that is put in most nappies. A switch to reusable nappies and no more painful rashes!

Don’t believe me? I asked Louise from LittleHeartsBigLove about her experience of real nappies. Louise used them from birth to potty with both her daughters, CHD baby Jessica and her little sister Sophie. Louise said: ‘We don’t use them now but I used them with both the girls and found them very easy to use. Long-term they were so much cheaper than disposables and for me the biggest thing was knowing that I wasn’t contributing anywhere near as much waste to landfill as a result. They’re just as easy to put on and take off as a disposable and the liners we used were flushable so poo just went down the loo anyway. We had a wet bag for putting nappies in when out and about and a bucket at home. I just lifted the mesh bag out of the bucket and did a nappy wash every other day or so. Yes it was a little extra washing but once it was part of my everyday routine I can’t say I particularly noticed the extra work. I’ve still got the ones we’ve had ever since my eldest was a baby (holding on to them until we’re sure that our baby producing days are over!)

So go on, get real!

Throwback Thursday: Round the World in 80 Flavours

Way back in 2012 I was invited to contribute to ‘Vie Hebdomadaires‘ and I wrote a piece about the wide variety of foods we’d sampled during or travels. From the paradilla’s of Argentina to the snail (?) I ate in Japan there were certainly some interesting foods to try! (See pics below). It’s funny that since returning to the UK I’ve become a vegetarian and in some ways can’t believe the crazy food I’ve tried!

Click the link above to read the original post, or continue reading below.

Originally published on 25 May 2012 on Vie Hebdomadaires.

When hubby and I decided to leave the UK in 2006 to sample life in Latin America we knew we were in for an interesting gastronomic event. However, as our one year gap year stretched into nearly 5 years of living and traveling in different countries our eyes were opened (and often closed as we politely ate a local dish lovingly prepared by new friends) to new tastes, textures and ingredients so here’s a whistle-stop tour of some of my favourite treats and eats.

Latin America:
Argentina: The paradilla’s or BBQ’s in Argentina are legendary and with good reason. Excellent cuts of succulent meat coupled with sumptuous local wine made for a winning dinner every time.

Exotic fruits. My favourite was the custard apples we ate in Brazil.

Ecuador: patacones are fried plantain served with cheese and mayonnaise. Simple yet delicious. My mouth is literally watering as I remember these!

Breakfast in Brazil. Truly this is something which needs to be seen to be believed but nearly everywhere we stayed in Brazil breakfast was treated with great ceremony and would often take well over an hour to eat. There would be cake, fruit, cereals, eggs and more. It would set you up for the day!
Australia:
I hate to say it but we ate Skippy. Kangaroo meat is being pushed as the latest ‘healthy’ meat by the Australian government. I suppose there are a number of health and environmental benefits: kangaroos need less water than cows and don’t damage the land like cow’s hooves. They also produce less methane while having less cholesterol than beef. It had an earthy taste which took a little getting used too but was tasty.

South East Asia:
Every country we visited offered something new to our palates and in many ways I’m doing it a disservice trying to put it into words but here goes.

Thailand: phad thai is the famous dish and we’d frequently enjoy it made from the vendors who pushed their carts along the streets. We also tempted (and burned) our taste buds with the spicy curries Thailand is famous for.

Malaysia: A fusion of cultures greets the traveller in Malaysia, with influences from China, India and the West and we enjoyed them all. However, my favourite place was tea at the Boh tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands. Delicious!

Laos: So impressed were we with the local cuisine in Laos that we actually took a cookery course there where we learned to stuff lemon grass, make stew and a local dish from raw buffalo meat. It was also our first taste of insects as we ate fried grubs (they tasted like scrambled eggs!).

Japan:
People always assume that sushi is the only thing people eat in Japan, but with a husband who’s allergic to seafood, we got to sample some of the other delicious food here. Japanese curry became a firm favourite for us and I never thought I would eat curry topped with cheese but trust me, it’s amazing. There was also chicken, pork and beef BBQ’s with special sauces. However, it’s true, the strangest thing I ate (hubby bowed out) was a shellfish that looked like a slug, bought for me by a local we met at the Fukouka night market. Too polite to decline, I’m still traumatised at the sight of it!

Spain:
We were so lucky to live in La Rioja, the wine region of Spain. The city in which we lived, Logrono, is famous for having ‘the street of 100 restaurants’. These often tiny stores would sell one type of tapas only, the wine being chosen to compliment the food to perfection. When the tapas ran out, the restaurant would close for the evening so we would have to get to our favourite places early to make sure we could enjoy our treats. There’s too many delicious tapas to choose only one and everyone has their favourite (my students would spend entire lessons arguing over where sold the best tortilla) so here’s a selection.

Wales:
Welsh cakes were an instant hit for us when we moved to Cardiff but I also discovered laver bread, made from seaweed. It’s an unusual taste, but mixed in with scrambled eggs I felt very virtuous with those extra healthy vitamins and minerals.

Make it Monday: Melt & Pour Soap

It’s a few weeks until my soap making course with Sharon from Soap Daze and as we’re running low in Casa CH, I thought I’d try ‘melt & pour’ soap. I’d seen a recipe of Garden Therapy which I had followed and made for gifts but this time I thought I’d try something a little different.

I’ve become a huge fan of ‘Thieves Oil’ and I’ll write a longer post about the benefits of this fantastic blend at a later date, but given it’s anti-fungal, anti-biotic and assorted other benefits, I knew I wanted to use this oil in my soap. Given the assorted ways we get mucky here, from paint to soil to dog drool, I knew we’d need something gently abrasive to remove even the most stubborn food or paint. Luckily hubby has started drinking filtered coffee again so we have plenty of coffee grounds (if you’ve got some lying around, mix them two parts coffee to one part coconut oil, then add an essential oil such as lavender. Use as the most scrummy body scrub!). 

But back to my soap! Melt and pour soap is incredibly easy to use. Measure out the amount you need (approx 200g made six small soaps but it depends on your moulds). I used a measuring jug for ease of pouring. Pop your soap into the microwave and set on a high heat for 30seconds (or as per pack instructions). Keep microwaving at 30seconds intervals until it’s fully melted. 

Mix in your essential oil and any other ingredients. I’ve found that the soap can set quite quickly so it’s best to have everything ready to go, but if you don’t, don’t fret, simply pop it back into the microwave to melt it again. The soap smells lovely, but was extra delicious when I added the coffee grounds and thieves oil. I gave it a thorough mix and started to pour. As expected the coffee grounds settled rather quickly so next time I’ll wait a until just as the soaps starting to set before adding them. I ppped the moulds into the fridge overnight to make sure they set fully.when I popped them out of the moulds, the coffee grounds had settled but I love the colour differences and they smell delicious. And, the best bit is, we’ve got super duper clean hands! 

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! Hope you’re celebrating all the wonderful things our amazing planet has to offer. I’m ‘celebrating’ by making a few pledges – will you join me?

  • Reduce the amount of non-recyclable plastic we use, specifically food sold in bags such as crisps, portions of fruit or other ‘snack’ foods. This may be a little tricky as the toddler (and I!) will grab a bag of fruit, crisps or other snack while we’re out or if I’m packing our lunch box for the day. Yes, it’s convenient BUT I’ve got a growing stack of unrecyclable bags & packaging which is just thrown away;
  • Be more water conscious. This covers different things. 1. Nothing is more fun than water play with the toddler and I do try to use any water not soaking us to water the plants. Continue doing this. 2. I’ve been conscious that we’re a mucky family, muddy dog walks, cloth nappies and my propensity to spill every drink over myself means we create a lot of washing. I was reading up about the damage certain washing powders do to waterways so I’ve switched to ‘ecoleaf‘ which is derived from plant extracts, is biodegradable and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. It’s been working pretty well, I just need to be a bit more organised so I don’t run out & end up running to my local shop to buy some cheap chemical-filled powder.
  • Continue to reduce, reuse and recycle. I’m aiming to throw away less than one bag of rubbish per fortnight by the end of the year.
  • Buy ethical clothes, repair my old stuff and make my own! This is a bit of a biggie for me at the moment. It’s been brought home how much stuff we go through having the toddler – children grow like magic beans! I’ve already started making her some skirts (see my Instagram for pictures) and I’m planning to reuse the fabric when she grows out of them. The pieces I have bought for her are normally second hand or I try to buy quality pieces as I’ve found items from ‘bargain’ stores fall apart their first wear. Hubby and I also have a bad habit of wearing through jeans so I’ve learned how to repair them – I’ll let you know how I get on! I have taken a skirt-making course which was really interesting, and following it I made myself a lovely skirt so have bought some fabric in order to make some more.
  • Going chemical free with all our cleaning products. Obviously we put child locks on the cupboards when we had the toddler, but I got to thinking, if I don’t want her to get into the cupboards due to all the dangerous chemicals in there, do I really want to use them in the first place? I’ve switched to using vinegar more (and have sparkling glass to show for it!) which is great as the toddler is going through a ‘helping’ stage where she wants to help with EVERYTHING! I’m definitely not going to say no to free labour so using no chemicals has been great as I can let her spray vinegar onto the windows and if a bit goes on her finger, I’m not overly worried – the worse thing is she smells a bit like a chip shop till bath time!
  • Making my own toiletries. This is linked to both the taking care of water but also going chemical free.  Your skin absorbs anything placed on it in less than a minute so wouldn’t it be nicer to be placing something natural on it rather than things you can barely pronounce? I’ve been making handcream and recently made myself a moisturiser which is lovely and doing wonders for certain wrinkles! I need to do a bit more reading around this though to learn more about different butters, waxes and oils. It’s exciting as I can choose the scents of my products (I’m currently addicted to frankincense and orange) but with the added benefit that I’m saving a fortune!

So those are my pledges. What are yours?

Make it Monday: the Bag Challenge

Not gonna lie, I’m a bag girl. Always have been. From quirky prints to unusual designs I love them all! Since starting to sew, I’ve made myself a few, mostly simple tote bags, which was a good way to cut my teeth (or cut my needle? I think we need a new phrase for learner sewists, but as always I digress…..) as they’re easy to make, lots of straight lines, gave me a feel for different fabrics and were pretty forgiving of the odd wonky seam while I was learning how sew.


However, there are only so many totes a girl can have (I mean, the toddler already has four! Yup, along with my cheekiness, she’s already got the bag bug! See my post from yesterday with her Easter bags) so I started designing my own! 


The first was the ‘Evie’ and evolved due to my need to be able to carry my essentials while either out walking the dog or out and about with the toddler. The catalyst was when she’d started walking (well, running. The toddler does EVERYTHING at a hundred miles an hour!) and we were having tea with friends in an outdoor cafe. I’d just put my tray with our treats, my purse and phone down on the table, turned around and saw the toddler belting off! Of course I went charging after her and as we got back to the table I realised I’d left my valuables on display (luckily under the watchful gaze of my friend!). However, it was a scene which was repeated frequently and so the ‘Evie’ was born. Influenced by medieval belt pouches it’s big enough to hold my purse, phone and lip balm (and of course spare dog poop bags on our walks with the pup). It’s become a must have on our outings and a few mums friends have asked me to make one too.


My next challenge was the ‘Japanese knot bag’. I’d seen them on Pintrest and thought they looked pretty cool and unique. With assorted birthdays coming up, I pulled out the tracing paper and pencil and got designing again. The ‘Anna’ was created! I made two as presents (though annoyingly forgot to take photos before gifting them!) and had plans to make one for myself, which went on the back burner due to assorted skirts, toys and other things I was sewing for the toddler, me and presents.

Which brings me to my current bag challenge. I’ve long admired this mandala fabric and a friend gave me just under half a metre. I knew immediately I wanted to make as many bags from it as I could! 


My plan was to make an ‘Evie’ and ‘Anna’ bag, with a more complex pattern I found on Pintrest. However, it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t have enough fabric for the more complex pattern. Given that I’ve a friends wedding coming up, I decided to try and make a clutch bag, something I don’t have already in my collection. As you can see the fabric has different colours but the background is a pale beige, a perfect match for my calico which I decided to use as the liner and backing to my bags.


Using my patterns, it was fairly quick to sew all the pieces together. 


As always there was something new to learn, such as putting in a twist clasp, but I was happy with how it turned out.

And these are the finished bags! I was able to make an ‘Evie’ bag, an ‘Anna’ and the clutch that I’ve called the ‘Pippa’. There was a small piece of fabric left which I managed to turn into a small purse and there’s another small panel which I’ll use to make a drawstring bag. 


What do you think? Are you a bag fan too?

 If you’d like a bag made, please send me an email on bluebeaglebaby[at]gmail.com, comment below or on my Facebook page. 

Happy Easter!

Do you have an Easter egg hunt planned with your little ones? I’m certain that cheeky bunny will be dropping off some eggs (and pup friendly treats!) to our girls so I thought I should make some bags for the toddler and her friends.

Luckily the very clever Caroline of ‘SewCanShe‘ had created these beautiful & simple egg collecting bags.  I’d made a slightly larger bag using this pattern (and super easy boxed corners) last year as a house-warming gift for a friend so decided to make a smaller one for the toddler. 

Following the pattern was super easy, even though it was my first real attempt at appliqué. As promised in her blog, the bags sewed up quickly and I was really pleased with the results. I thought the toddler might be a little too focussed on picking up eggs so I added a shoulder strap which worked well. What do you think? I love the bright colours and as you can see, it packs a LOT of treats! It’s also currently one of my daughters favourite bags, hence the creases!

I also wanted to make some treat bags for her friends so used this pattern, again from SewCanShe. I love the bunny fabric and again the pattern was super easy, although I always have a few issues doing buttonholes (I think I need more practice. I measure, and place, double check and they still end up slightly in the wrong place!). Anyway, they came out pretty well, although I decided to use fleece for my bunny ears to add some texture to the bags. They looked cute, but we’re a little too heavy and kept pulling the rest of the bag in odd directions. If I make these bags again, I’ll use a much lighter fabric as suggested in the instructions. We filled the bags with treats and I can say they were a hit with the toddlers friends! 


What do you think? Will you try the sewing patterns? Send me a picture in the comments below of your creations!

Wishing you all a peaceful and chocolate-filled Easter! 

The Big Interview: Darcy Lazar

I always say I’m so lucky to have some incredible women in my life. It’s rare to meet someone and just ‘click’ but that’s what happened when I met a crazy American in Ecuador, looking at the fish on the reef. Over ten years later, Darcy is still my sounding board, chief advisor and generally amazing person.

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In my original interview, I asked about Darcy and her husband Bruce’s travels. They sold up their life in Arizona and went on the trail, first living in Costa Rica, then assorted other countries in Latin America, Australia and Europe. She rediscovered her Jewish heritage in Eastern Europe. Since then, they’re relocated back to the US and are working in their local community, fostering animals and helping care for the wildlife. They were even featured in their local paper for their efforts. You can read the article here.

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GCH: Any quirks or cultural misunderstandings you’ve experienced on your travels?

DL: Lots! In Costa Rica they have a saying, “Pura vida”, which literally translates to “pure life” but means everything from “Have a nice day” to “You got robbed? Oh well, nothing you can do about it!”. While we were feeding cats in the Buenos Aires botanical gardens we accidentally told our friends in Spanish that we were going over to EAT the cats rather than FEED them. And in Spanish speaking countries don’t ask your buddy to pass the “preservativos” assuming that means preservatives or jam, “preservativo” means “condom” in Spanish!

GCH: Was there anything you learned while living abroad which has stayed with you when you go home?

DL: I learned that you need hardly any things at all to be a whole and happy person. A clean toothbrush, some good spongy earplugs, and enough money in the bank to know you’ll be eating for a month is all anyone truly needs, the rest are extras. If you have your health then you’re very, very rich.

GCH: What made you keep travelling?

DL: The world is huge, and there’s so much to see. Once you’re out there and you’ve got some momentum it only makes sense to keep going and going. Also, it was easier to keep traveling because there wasn’t much to return to – no house, no kids, no pets, no jobs, no attachments.

GCH: We’re constantly asked if we have a favourite country and it’s always so difficult to choose because everywhere we’ve visited has been special. Do you have a favourite country or place?

DL: My answer is usually Krakow and Rome for the history, Galapagos and Queensland for the wildlife, Central America for the coffee, Granada for the food, and Victoria (BC) for the people.

GCH: What was the most important thing you learned to help you integrate where ever you were?
DL: How to say “please” and “thank you” in the local language. Just making the attempt opened many doors, and so did having a friendly smile.

GCH: Strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

BL: Blood sausage in Argentina. Talk about non-vegetarian cuisine!

GCH: Your trip helped you learn more about your roots and reignited an interest in Judaism. Can you tell me more about what you witnessed to encourage this?

DL: I remember going to the big Jewish cemetery in Prague and seeing familiar names on the headstones – Kohens, Siegels, Ruths, Esthers – and a Rabbi was singing a sad old prayer over an ancient grave. He noticed me and said, “These are YOUR people” and I began to cry. I didn’t know why at the time, but I realized later that I’d never felt I had people before, and that he was right, Jewish heritage is my heritage. That was the moment I felt Jewish for the first time in my life.

GCH: Where would you like to visit again? 
DL: I’d love to go back to Eastern Europe now that Bruce and I both know a bit more about our family histories. I’d start in Poland where we’ve already been – Krakow, Wroclaw, Lublin, and then go further and trace routes our ancestors may have taken through Romania, Austria, what was Prussia, etc.

GCH: We all watch nature programmes with bizarre and odd creatures. What’s the strangest animal you’ve ever seen (please don’t say me!)?
DL: Not you! Probably the echidna. They have the neatest snouts, and weird spines all over their little bodies. They move around like they’re the center of the universe, not a care in the world.

GCH: How would you like to be remembered?
DL: As a brutally honest, generous person, an animal lover, and a woman with a very strong bullshit-meter.

GCH: What’s your favourite movie?
DL: “Everything is Illuminated” hands down. It’s sweet, honest, sad, funny, very moving.

GCH: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
DL: Quit my job and sold my house, cars, and belongings, and relocated my pets in order to travel for a year – which turned into six.

GCH: Do you have any superstitions/quirks/unique qualities others would call odd?
DL: You know I do! I have an intense phobia of flying, which I never let stop me (but I have to thank Ativan for helping me get onto each flight). I don’t have kids by choice, which is “odd” for a 42 year old woman (especially if you live in a Latin country).

GCH: What would you consider your greatest achievement?
DL: Surviving depression and making a good life for my husband and I.

GCH: What is the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?
DL: “You’re selfish!”. It took a long time for me to learn to ask others for help and to take good care of myself, so to then hear that I’m being selfish really stings!

GCH: What was the best kiss of your life?
DL: A giraffe kissed me with its huge green tongue when I was four. Fantastic.

GCH: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
DL: “That’s awesome!” and “That totally sucks” – they both date me! But I can’t help myself.

GCH: What was you most embarrassing moment?
DL: It’s so embarrassing I can’t even tell you the full story, but I will say it involved food poisoning, someone’s patio, and a fresh pair of shorts.

GCH: Which living person do you admire most and why?
DL: It would have to be Judge Judy. She somehow manages to be ladylike while telling someone what an idiot they are, and she only rips on people who really deserve it. She’s one of the few public figures to tell it like it is even if it’s not politically correct. I just love her.
GCH: Tell us a secret.
DL: It’s been over a year since we’ve settled down and we’re bored out of our gourds! Might be time to dust off those backpacks…

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Treat your pup this National Pet Day!


We all love our pets don’t we? Whether they’ve got four legs, two legs or new legs they all bring something special into our lives and we wouldn’t be without then. The toddlers currebt favourite film is ‘Pets’ (have you seen it? What did you think? I’ve been securely enjoying it too) and I have to say, there’s an annoying bit of dust that always gets in my eye during the end scene when all the humans return home & both they & their pets are so excited to see each other.

Where’s my bestie? I have an idea……..

The pup had a sleep over with her bestie as we were visiting family & she doesn’t like the long drive. It’s always horrible leaving her but seeing how miserable she gets in the car, we know it’s better here where she can cause chaos. However, she does get spoiled when we get back (well every day if I’m honest!). 

You nearly done, mum?

I’ve been working on a new recipe and wanted to try carrot biscuits. They turned out pretty well and I had a very severe taste-tester monitoring my every move!

A really simple recipe, it didn’t take too long to whip up a batch of these mouth-watering treats. I even added a surprise with a little piece of meat in the middle as a bonus for the pup!

Recipe:

  • 1 cup of oats, blitzed 
  • 2 carrots, grated or blitzed
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup of cheese, grated or blitzed
  • 1 egg

I like to keep my baking simple and quick, which these certainly were. I blitzed the oats while melting the coconut oil, then while I mixed the oats and oil together in a bowl, I blitzed the carrots. All the ingredients were put into the food processor for a quick whip round until they were all nicely mixed together. I have to say, the mixture smelled so yummy, I was tempted to lick the spoon!

I put a small amount of the mixture into my silicone cupcake tray, then added a slice of liver treat before covering it all up with more of the biscuit mixture.  They were then put in the oven at 180 degrees C/ gas mark 4/350degrees F for approximately 20minutes. They were still fairly soft when they came out of the oven, but hardened up as they cooled. 

And there you have it! Super simple and, I’m guessing from the excitement of the pup, super tasty too! Hope your four-legged friend enjoys them!

How are you celebrating National Pet Day? Let me know in the comments below ❤🐶🐰🐱🦆