Local’s Guide to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach: What to Do

What to do in Gulf Shores/ Orange Beach

 

 

 

 

Okay, like I promised- here is the 2nd half to my 2 part series on Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. Last week I outlined my favorite places to eat if you find yourself on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

First and foremost- I will say this- the beaches here are so pretty. The sand is like white powder. I cannot imagine choosing to vacation at the beach and not actually going to the beach as much as possible- but, sometimes you need a break. Or you need something to do once the sun goes down. Some of the the following suggestions are perfect day or night entertainment solutions and some are strictly one or the other.

So, I will start with the beaches- when we go a public beach- I really like to have a bathroom. , And, there are certain public beaches with bathrooms- and a few that don’t have them. After having Baby Bub and all the crap that we lug to the beach with him- the second feature I look for is a shorter trek from the parking lot to where we will be setting up camp. I like the second public beach on West Beach past Bahama Bob’s in Gulf Shores and I like Cotton Bayou in Orange Beach. And I like the first one when you cross the Alabama Pass bridge headed toward Florida- the one across from Caribe. It has port-a-lets which will do in a pinch. There are at least a dozen other public beaches but these 3 are the ones I like best.

Now- the following list of attractions are in no particular order- just a list of things to check out if you are looking to entertain yourself and or your littles. The Track sits right on 59 just as you are getting into Gulf Shores. This place boasts go-karts, bumper cars on the water, a kiddie train ride, mini-golf, bungee jumping and this sky swing thing- during the season- this is a very popular spot- fun for kids of all ages!

072And then- right across 59 from The Track is Pirate’s Island- a pirate themed put-put golf course. It has been there forever! I used to play there when I was a little girl on vacation. It is pretty well kept- even though it has been there forever- it is not run down. It’s fun because the course winds through a pirate ship and then a cave and such- it’s cool.

I am going to be honest- I kind of feel like once you have been to a zoo- you have been to a zoo. I am not really an animal person- but, I think Baby Bub might be an animal person. This past Christmas his Aunt Monica gave him a year pass to the zoo- we went the first of the year and he loved it. He just ran from one exhibit to the next so excited to see the animals. As an aside, the Gulf Shores zoo was the subject of a reality TV show- yep- and you can find links to that on their website. The Little Zoo That Could aka the Gulf Shores Zoo is not big and can very easily be conquered in a couple hours.

Basically right next door to the zoo is Waterville USA- Gulf Shores’ water park. Sometimes, you just got to take a break from the sand- but, you still want to get out in the sun. Waterville is a great way to do that. Waterville is a great way to spend the day- there is plenty there to keep the whole family entertained all day long- slides, rides, lazy rivers, wave pools and such- good times.

Orange Beach has a couple of fun attractions too- Adventure Island is the first. It is kind of like The Track in that is a one stop shop for all your entertainment needs- go-karts, put put and such. In my perfect beach vacationing world, my family would do the beach during the day and then do Adventure Island or something like it at night.

Almost right next door to Adventure Island is this big ass arcade- Fat Daddy’s. I am absolutely sure that I could spend hours upon hours in there just taken away by all the games. I could not find a web page for the place- but, if you drive down the beach road in Orange Beach- you absolutely cannot miss it.

And also, while I am here- there is a new Surf Style in Orange Beach that has this cool splash pad out front- Baby Bub loves a splash pad!

A relatively new attraction down here- Zip the Gulf at the State Park- I believe this is the second summer it has been up and running. It’s cool to drive by and see the people zip- lining from one tower to the next over the Park.

You and yours may be thinking about doing some fishing while you are down here- and there are tons of fishing boat captains that would love to take you out and put you on some fish. And I do not have any recommendations of one or another. My best advice is to Google it and see where that leads you- read reviews and call to see what the cost is and what it covers. An as an extra piece of advice- flounder fishing is pretty damn fun because you actually spear those suckers- so, you might want to look into going floundering.

Wild Hearts Orange Beach I am going to group the next 3 together because they are all kind of in the same vein. Another way to spend a couple fun hours would be taking a dolphin cruise- it’s pretty fun to watch the dolphins. And there are several different companies to choose from- I am not sure what would make one better than the other- I guess it would depend on what you want in a dolphin cruise… A glass bottom boat would be a draw to me. However, there is this Pirate Boat that cruises around and shoots its cannon- this attraction has my name written all over it- I am thinking Baby Bub and I will be checking this out this summer- dolphins or no dolphins going for a ride on a Pirate ship would be cool. And finally, the 3rd in this threesome- is Wild Hearts- it’s a catamaran sail boat- I mean, cool and fun. You get to go for a sail and someone else has to do all the heavy lifting.

I am grouping the next three together too. The first is parasailing- there are several companies that offer parasailing- I don’t know why one would be better than the next. I do know that generally you can call ahead and make reservations. And in this trio are paddle board rentals- the owners of this company, Perdido Paddle Board Company, are regulars of mine and they are super cool- they will bring the paddle boards to you and set you up for success. And one last thing to rent for the beach- chairs and umbrellas. I have to say there is something nice about not having to lug chairs and umbrellas back and forth everyday— plus the loungers are nice. I am not 100% sure exactly what their deal is as far as where and such- but, this company has been around for some time. (And they rent other things like cribs and high chairs- something good to keep in mind.)

And I have to say that The Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach is really cool- there is a Hot Shop where you can blow glass- yep, blow your very own Christmas ornament or paper weight. How’s that for a vacation memento?!

The Wharf Orange Beach I saved The Wharf for last- because it is kind of a destination. Not only does it have the amphitheater, Ferris Wheel and laser tag- yes, laser tag- but, it also has several restaurants and bars, a Fusion Spa Salon (Aveda) and some really cute shops and boutiques. The Wharf is located in Orange Beach on Canal Road.

Speaking of shopping- there is also lots of cute shops at San Roc Cay as well as some tasty restaurants- it is located in Orange Beach on the beach road. The boutiques here are super cute and fun. And also- located about 10 minutes North of Gulf Shores in Foley is the Tanger Outlet Mall. And, let me tell- there are some deals to be had at the Tanger!

I am sure there are things I have forgotten but, this list should help keep you entertained for at least a week!

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Way Back Wednesday: Leigh’s Book Reviews

wbwWith as avid a reader as I am (and I know Coralie is too), I am surprised that book reviews don’t get a lot of play on the website. Which is why, going back and polishing/editing my book review posts seemed an easy entrée into our new Way Back Wednesday series.

Moby Dick or The Great Whale by Lisel JaneMy first foray into serious back catalog polishing was with my post about reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick titled, Readin’ the Classics: Moby Dick– Total Bait and Switch. I’m actually surprised by how harsh I was towards this book. I think the further away I go from remembering the graphic details about whale murder, the more I can understand this books importance in the literary canon. It is a extremely intense look at a very specific historical time period that doesn’t get as much play in current day. But, no… I’ll probably not read it again. But, if you think you might be interested in reading it, check out my revised version! Plus, it gives me an excuse to repost the epic picture to the right. Click through for artist details.

The Riddle Box by G. Derek AdamsMy second book-related post revision was Spell/Sword: A New Voice in a New Genre about my friend Derek’s first novel. I say, “first” because he now has a second, as I have eluded here and here. There wasn’t much to re-edit on this post (some newly decided style-guidelines) and much like his book, I still stand by this post as a fun read. If you haven’t read them yet and are in the mood for something fast-moving and clever, then may I suggest Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box, both by the charming Derek Adams. You can find them both on Amazon and in OUR store.

 

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And, lastly, I went back and reviewed a word-nerdy post I did called Hoisted by My Own Pitard. Again, I had some stylistic changes, and an update about my magazine subscriptions, but if you missed this post the first go-round, I stand by it as a fun, humorous essay. Check it out, if you haven’t already! Hoisted by My Own Pitard

All in all, this exercise in editing has inspired me to pay some attention to our Book It! category of the blog. Plus, I was able to repost some great pictures! Not a bad deal at all, Way Back Wednesdays!

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A Fun Things the Blog Recommendation: Kloud City Foam-Tipped Scrubber

For me, not having the right tool for the job can be one of the most frustrating things. I am all about working smarter, not harder. If I must do chores, then I want them done as quickly and efficiently as possible. I have no time with which to trifle with products that only kind of do the job and take more effort. If you are of a like mind, then may I suggest adding the Kloud City 10″ straight Foam-Tipped Scrubber to your cleaning arsenal. It has become an integral part of mine in the year since I’ve purchased it.

foam tipped scrub brush kloud citySo, what is it? As the title implies, this funny looking instrument is a 10″, foam-tipped scrubber. The neck of the scrubber is made of  reinforced foam bristles (which are extremely gentle but seriously effective- SCIENCE!). The foam covers a flexible/wired neck that curls into a pommel/nodule at the end. Unlike rigid bottle brushes, you can flex this guy and get inside/or under most small, mouthed container lips with a strong staying/cleaning pressure. Don’t be fooled by the middling Amazon reviews. It has gotten some negative feedback since it is described as a “bottle brush” but isn’t small enough to get inside of standard wine and beer bottles. True, this scrubber could never fit in a standard wine bottle. But, this scrubber is the only thing I will use to clean the inside of hummingbird feeders, re-usable water/sports bottles, vases, pitchers, narrow neck stemware, decanters, and carafes. Yeah. Carafes! To those of you scoffing, you’ve obviously never had to clean out sangria-filled sports bottles that were overlooked for a week from a picnic basket or cleaned up a slimy hummingbird feeder. I simply put a dot of dish soap/baking soda/ or both onto the pommel and go to town on every nook and cranny of notoriously difficult to clean items.  Gone are the days of squeezing a sponge into a Nalgene bottle and then stirring it around with a chopstick!

Kloud City Foam Tipped Scrubbers AssortedWhen I purchased mine from Amazon, the scrubber came in a pack of four assorted-sizes.  In the year since I bought the pack, I haven’t used any of the other scrubbers except for the 10″ straight one, which is why I was glad that it could be purchased both individually and in the set. Though, if you’re curious, the other brushes do the following:

Kloud City Scrubbers assorted group

What a crazy pitcher picture! And none of my stemware is prohibitively small warranting the goblet scrubber.

Lando Calrissian2Though one side note about the brand: Kloud City? No, Star Wars fans… there is no Lando Calrissian here. Though who doesn’t love Billy Dee Williams, malt liquor, and capes? But, after searching Google, I could find no web presence for this company. Amazon seems to be the primary retailer, though the other items carried from that brand are too varied to be unsuspicious. So, although I cannot vouch for the brand (unlike one of my favorite brands Casabella), I can definitely vouch for the effectiveness of this product.

As always, this product can be found in our Amazon store– and with a price point of only $2.30! In fact, it costs more to ship the scrubber individually ($2.50), so may I suggest throwing one into your cart the next time you are getting multiple things shipped from Amazon.

Finding Disney Sword in the Stone Mickey BubbleWhat do you think? Do you have any tricks for cleaning tough-out of the way places? Do you have a funky shaped pitcher? Is boy child Arthur Pendragon from Disney’s Sword in the Stone what you think of when you hear about goblet scrubbers? As always, let us know in the comments!

 

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Local’s Guide to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach: Where to Eat

Local's Guide to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach , Alabama Y’all. I do believe I have just experienced a 5 month time warp! This has been the fastest winter of my life! I am sure that those that live further North than me would not agree- particularly those who have gotten record amounts of snow. Regardless of the temp and precipitation- Spring Break has commenced and Summer will be here before we know it!

One of the best things about living at the beach is that one way or another lots and lots of friends filter through here. Seriously- it’s awesome. At times it feels like the whole United States filters through here! And I generally love talking to the visitors that sit at the bar (and I love the locals too). I give out lists of where else to eat and what to do year-round.

To get us in the right frame of mind, I have a song for you-

This is going to be a two part series- where to eat and followed next week by what to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. This is really for my convenience more than anything because people are always asking me where they should eat and what they should do and these posts will provide an awesome spring board to answer those questions.

There are a couple things I want to tell you before I get started with my list of restaurants. The first is that this is a tourist town and as such- going out to eat is generally not going to be cheap. And if you go during prime dinner time (6-9 PM) you can expect at least an hour (or more) wait time at most places and if there is not a wait- that should be a clear indication of whether or not the place is worth a damn.

The Second thing I want to tell you is that the average dinner plate is going to cost you $20-30- and that is whether you eat somewhere that knocks your socks off or if you eat at a place that serves food that arrived on a massive wholesaler truck from outside a 100 mile radius of here. This is just me- but, if I am going to pay that much for a plate of food- I want it to be good and preferably fresh.

Now. Let’s down to business.

cobalt web 5First on my list, the restaurant where I work: Cobalt. Cobalt sits nestled underneath the Alabama Pass Bridge and during the season serves breakfast (buffet), lunch and dinner and a brunch on Sunday. The view is spectacular- the sunsets are just amazing. Weather permitting there is indoor and outdoor seating and live music 7 nights a week during the season. The food is real good. The portions are generous. The Happy Hour is banging! My most perfect meal would be the BBQ Shrimp, 1/2 doz Grilled Oysters, Tournadoes with a Wedge Salad and a Bushwhacker for dessert. And by the way, you would have to roll me out to the car because that is a lot of food- enough for 2, maybe 3 people! However, if you find yourself vacationing in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach- make sure you plan to eat at Cobalt at least once.

rotate_img_1Number 2 on my list- Cobalt’s sister restaurant and where I used to work, Cosmo’s. Cosmo’s is this quirky, intimate, little restaurant off the beaten path. It’s beachy but not. Just like at Cobalt, the food is real good and the portions are generous. Weather and season permitting, there is indoor and outdoor seating and live music 7 nights a week. And also, Cosmo’s has a great Happy Hour too. My perfect meal there would be the Savory Cheesecake, the Pecan Encrusted Redfish and a slice of the Key Lime Pie. Cosmo’s is like Orange Beach’s best kept secret that is no longer a secret! Do yourself a favor and check out Cosmo’s.

midnightconfessions-newThird on my list- Nolan’s. Yes, I love Nolan’s and I will be honest- I have never eaten in the dining room there- I have only and will probably ever only eat in the bar area. The bar area is dark and they have live music every night they are open- it’s just kind of real awesome. And not to mention- the food is great. I have ordered off their full menu in the bar area and I have ordered off their bar menu- I mean, bar food at a white table cloth restaurant- come on! Plus, they serve their bar menu until midnight- which is an anomaly in this neck of the woods. Their steaks are fantastic. And Bub gives his seal of approval on their wings- and I love their grouper fingers and their hamburger- oh, and their fried veggies are delish too! Nolan’s is in Gulf Shores, right on 59.

rotator__0000#4. Fisher’s. Fisher’s is a two-fer because it is two levels. Down stairs, or Dockside, is very family friendly and like the nickname suggests sits right on the dock next to the water. Bub and I have arrived here via boat- you kind of have to weave through the marina- but, it is possible. The food Dockside is good. And then maybe with older children or no children, you want to eat upstairs. The food is also good. The last time I was there, it is my understanding the menu rotates seasonally according to what is in season. Anyway, if there happens to be pork cheeks on the menu when you are there- just go ahead and do yourself a favor and order them. Fisher’s- up or down stairs is a great place to eat in Orange Beach and by the way the decor is to die for.

So, for #5 on my list I have a story. I love Cobalt and Cosmo’s and the food will knock your socks off- but, because Bub and I both work there- sometimes we prefer to eat somewhere else. Mainly so that we can be treated like everybody else. When we eat where we work or worked, lots of our friends and coworkers come by the table to chat it up- which is nice but- sometimes, we just want to be incognito. With that being said, Shipp’s Harbor and Grill was one of the first restaurants we went to incognito after we moved down here. I have never been disappointed there and no trip there is complete without their drunk brownie!

#6. Fisherman’s Corner. Bub and I ate there last summer with some very dear and special friends because that is where they wanted to go— the restaurant itself is very unassuming- seriously. But, the food will make you roll in the floor it is so good! I had their Creole Shrimp and Grits and Bub had a Rib-eye and I have to say both dishes made such a lasting impression that we still unabashedly recommend Fisherman’s Corner to anybody that will listen.

Foley_lunch1#7. Wolf Bay Lodge- there are two locations- one on the beach road in Orange Beach and one in Foley. Wolf Bay Lodge has been around since back before ‘Nam. And it’s good. My daddy and his number one girlfriend took Bub and I there for the first time when I was pregnant. We have eaten there lots of times since and I have even taken my mom and she loves Wolf Bay Lodge too. So- it’s Momma and Daddy approved. And I cannot go any further without talking about the salad bar in this joint. It’s a 5 star salad bar. My mom usually gets grilled Grouper and the rest of us usually gets something fried and we all get the salad bar!

I am going to bundle #8,9,10 together- because they are breakfast places. Kitty’s Kafe, in Gulf Shores next to Target, serves breakfast and lunch- and it’s 100% soul food and so good! I cannot even begin to tell you what to get there because whatever you order is going to be delicious. I have eaten at Kitty’s tons and tons of times and I have never been disappointed. Brick and Spoon is a kick-ass breakfast joint- it is this creole inspired breakfast/brunch restaurant. And the magnitude of Bloody Mary that you can get there is unreal! I always get some sort of delicious omelette. If you are going to eat out just once for breakfast- pick Brick and Spoon. My third breakfast place is Another Broken Egg- oh my gosh, their cinnamon bun has Bub and my name all over it! You can’t go wrong here.

Pig_Sign_276x175_GIFAnd I am going to group the next two, #11 and #12, together too because— it’s BBQ. I have a little confession- I could probably eat BBQ every day for the rest of my life- and I think my Momma probably could too. It is not uncommon for one of us to stop at either one of these BBQ restaurants and bring home a couple plates. The first is Down South BBQ. The location we frequent is closest to Gulf Shores and it is truly a shack- no indoor seating. My favorite thing there is the BBQ salad- literally pulled pork on top of a big ass salad. And our other favorite BBQ is Moe’s. Moe’s is on the Beach Road in Orange Beach- I mean, I understand that you probably did not come to the beach to eat BBQ—- but. Sometimes you need something quick and good and either of these two would be a good choice. Moe’s meats are great as are their side items.

Lucky #13. Villaggio at The Wharf in Orange Beach. Bub and I eat here a couple times a year- the food’s good. I usually get a couple appetizers (always included are the Devils on Horseback)  and Bub usually always get the Filet. As a matter of fact, Baby Bub had his first morsels of filet here.

Flying Harpoon Now, #14 is the Flying Harpoon- it has two locations as well. The first is right in the middle of Gulf Shores and then they just opened their second location on the beach road. This is what sets this bar apart: 2 big reasons that go hand in hand- the food is good and they serve the full menu until 1AM- not many places serve food here that late especially good food. Bub always, always gets their wings. And let me tell you- I am in love with the debris sliders but, it is always a toss up between them and the Conecuh Sausage Poboy. Now look- you may of never heard of Conecuh sausage and one day I promise to do a full post on it alone- but, until then- please take my word- it is the best sausage ever and the poboy at the Flying Harpoon is so good.

And finally, #15 is kind of an honorable mention— Lulu’s. I want to tell you this- this is not a restaurant that Bub and I would ever pick to go on a date- ever. But, it is a great place to take your kids. Lulu’s is the epitome of kid-friendly. I mean- there is a ton of kid entertainment- and there are a ton of kids running around so if your child happens to be having a wild banshee kind of day- they will not stick out here like a sore thumb. What am I trying to say here? Pretty much all of Bub’s friends have children and when we get together there is a gaggle of kids ages 2-12. This is a restaurant where we would go with all the kids.

So, there you have it- my list of where to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. These are the places I go, these are the places I send my friends and these are the places I always recommend to the guests at my bar. This area of the world is a great place to visit and an even better place to live and work.

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Where We Party

 

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You Can’t Take It with You- an Update

Let me describe the way I am picking old posts to update- I am going back to the very first ones and just clicking on one. And that becomes my update candidate. I had forgotten about this post and my thoughts about not hoarding stuff. Well, I would like to report that I have made progress in this area- however, we still have the champagne… ha! What about you- do you have stuff that needs to be used before it spoils? Don’t let it just go to waste- use it! #WayBackWednesdays

Have you ever gotten something like perfume or candies or champagne or even stationary that you loved so much that you wanted to save it for a special occasion? Within reason this is fine. But, have you ever used something you loved so sparingly that it spoiled before you could use it all? I do-  more often that I would like to admit. I have a bottle of perfume I bought almost 10 years ago- like they won’t be making that for a long time to come. There is a bottle of champagne on our bar that we are saving for a special occasion- Good Lord, we had a child, does it get any more special than that? And I have stationary with my maiden name on it that I loved, but now, will never get used.

Most recently, I found myself saving a candle. A Tyler Candle in my favorite scent: Entourage! I don’t know what it is about that scent, but I love it. And Tyler candles are awesome candles- they smell wonderful and they last forever. They are somewhat pricey, but worth every penny. So, you might could understand why I would want to save it and not burn it just any old day— but, really, it’s a candle. An awesome candle but just a candle nonetheless.
Collecting Dust
So, when I thought about that I thought, what is the point of having things you love if you never use them. If you have nice jewelry but you never wear it or you have china that you never use- you don’t get to enjoy it, what’s the point of having it. Before my Grandmother died she gave some of her jewelry to family and friends because she wanted to see them wear it and enjoy it.
I think it is a lesson that I need to revisit. Instead of letting $20 candles sit around collecting dust, I need to burn them and enjoy them. Also, we might as well get the champagne chilled. I don’t want to get caught saving stuff for so long that it ruins. I want to enjoy the stuff I love and love the stuff I have.
Burning Candle
All the Best, Coralie
 Where we Party! 

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Wardrobe Maintenance: Hanger Strap Lifehack

wardrobe maintenance hanger strap lifehack

I love clothing pieces that come with sewn-in hanger straps. It’s a small pleasure, but it makes life easier. Ain’t nobody got time for finding bunched-up clean clothes that have fallen on the closet floor off their hanger.  Although we already know the secret to making all your hangers non-slide-y, if your shirt already has hanger straps than it is a moot point. My only problem with hanger straps, though, are their tendency to find their way into my look. No matter how many times I would wrap them around my bra strap or push them back under my collar, they always seem to find their way back into view. Even if they are “invisible” (see below) they are still quite noticeable.

hanger straps plain

This past summer, I had purchased several cute tunics from the same store and they all had these “invisible” hanger straps. And, sure enough, every time I would wear one, the hanger straps would make themselves known. I complained of this to my sewing/life mentor Rachel and, of course, she had the answer and quick fix.

Cut roughly 24″ of thread off a spool and thread a standard sewing needle. Once needle is threaded, pull thread until half of it is through the needle, grab both ends, hold them as one, and tie a knot. You can see mine in the below right picture.

hanger strap stitch collageTurn garment inside out and grab seam where the strap is stitched on. You’ll notice that the strap is sewn in so that, of course, it would show when you are wearing the garment. Insert needle into interior edge of hem (being careful not to pierce through to the top/visible layer of the fabric). Bring needle up through fabric and base layer of hanger strap. Make sure to pierce the hanger strap in the middle to give it as much stability as possible. Fold strap back and over and tack down stitch back through interior fabric layer. Repeat process until you feel it is secure. Tie the two segments of thread together and clip excess neatly. I fear I have made it sound more complicated than it actually is. You are simply folding the strap back so that it faces towards your sleeves instead of towards your neck and tacking it down. Repeat process on other shoulder hanger strap and you’re done! When mending things, I normally collect all items that need mending and do it all at the same time. Par exemple, I sewed back the straps on all the tunics I had bought on that trip. But, that’s me. You do you.

no more hanger straps

Hey! Where’d those straps go? I’m not promising that your hanger straps won’t ever pop out of your neckline, but with this hack, it certainly happens less.

So, don’t rip those straps out in frustration!

hanger strap disappearing act

A few stitches is all it takes! What do you think? Have you ever ripped out those straps after fighting with them? Does picking up fallen clean clothes miff you as much as it does me? Do you know the secret to non-slip hangers? As always, let us know in the comments!

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