Anniversary Weekend in Portland, Maine {Travel}

Today is my second wedding anniversary and we spent the weekend celebrating in Portland, Maine. The weather was beautiful and the food was pretty incredible, so both of those together made for a great weekend getaway. September is the perfect time to visit most New England towns and Portland is no exception. If you’ve been following along on Insta you may have seen some real-time updates from our trip, and you can read on for even more recommendations via pics I took!

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

There are lots of great hotel options right in downtown Portland that are conveniently located to the majority of the restaurants and shops. I recommend staying anywhere that’s within walking distance of the waterfront (Commercial Street) and Fore Street. We went for the Holiday Inn Portland By the Bay because it was slightly less expensive than the others, and it was about a 10 minute walk to almost everything we wanted to see or do. If you get a room with a bay view on one of the higher up floors, you’ll get to look out on the view shown above!

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

If you love oysters – or really any seafood – having lunch at Eventide Oyster Co. is an absolute must. We got so many recommendations for this place and it was delicious. My husband is into raw oysters and while I’m not, the lobster roll, fried bbq oysters and stuffed mahogany clams were incredible. Note that their menu changes daily but you can get an idea of what they have on their website. We saw them getting a delivery of oysters while we were enjoying lunch so I can vouch for how fresh everything is!

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Head over to the Shipyard Brewery tasting room to try out their most popular and seasonal beers. At this time of year, they had one of my favorites, their Pumpkinhead Ale, and they also had a Smashed Pumpkinhead Ale (loved it!) and Bourbon Barrel Aged Smashed Pumpkin, both of which you can only get at the brewery. They told us they have exclusive summer beers earlier in the year too and I might have to go back and try them! You can also take full brewery tours from June-August on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The best part about the tasting room is it’s free – you can sample up to eight beers.

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Central Provisions came recommended by many friends for a dinner spot, and honestly I wish the lighting was better so I could have taken better food pics to show how good it was! They specialize in small plates, and we went with a selection of three cheeses, benton’s ham, lobster fritters and Korean “bbq” flank steak, all of which were very tasty. They make everything in an open kitchen and we sat right at the bar so we had a front row seat. Even the cheese platters were carefully made-to-order! They don’t take reservations and the restaurant is pretty small, but we put our name in and only had to wait a little over an hour. It wasn’t a big deal at all for us because they texted when our table was ready, so we went and had a drink at a waterfront bar while we waited.

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Speaking of getting a drink while we waited to go to dinner, the Porthole was where we went for pre-dinner drinks both nights. There’s a big patio and live music that made for the perfect place to enjoy a few drinks while the sun set. Other restaurants with outdoor seating can also be found in this area, so there are lots of options to choose from.

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

If it’s a beautiful day and/or you need a break from eating and drinking, take a 17 minute ferry from Commercial Street over to Peak’s Island. They leave every hour or so and it drops you off right in a cute little town with shops and a few restaurants. You can rent either bikes or golf carts (we went for bikes) to tour the island, which is about four miles around. If you plan ahead (which we did not), you can bring lunch with you and stop to enjoy it at one of the many ocean lookout spots. We saw a few weddings getting set up along our bike ride and it seems like a great place to get married or rent a house with a group of friends or family.

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

I may have found the best fries ever at Duckfat, which was another lunch spot that came recommended by nearly everyone we knew who had been to Portland. Dip them in a variety of sauces (we tried all five) or have them served as poutine, topped with duck gravy and even a sunny side up egg and duck. Their paninis are also amazing and my personal favorite was the simple-yet-delicious B.G.T., aka bacon, goat cheese and fresh tomato. I also love Cuban paninis and one was on special when we were there and that was equally as good. Duckfat also serves lots of great local beers and craft sodas to pair with your lunch.

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

{image via Fore Street}

The top recommendation we received was definitely to get dinner at Fore Street – and note that this list of recommendations is in order of what we did, not by preference, because this was the best! This is another restaurant where the menu is always changing, but one thing that’s always available (and you must get) are their Wood Oven Roasted Maine Mussels. Seriously the best. For meals, I got a halibut and my husband went with pork loin, both of which were pretty incredible. And I loved the blueberry vodka drink that was on the menu when we were there. If you’ve heard about Fore Street, then you probably also know that you have to make a reservation waaaay in advance. But they also reserve a portion of the restaurant for walk-ins – just get there right at 5:30 p.m., put your name in, and come back a little before your estimated reservation time. We found that the wait at the bar was a little shorter than the regular dining room (we put our name in at 6:15 and sat at 8:30 p.m.). It’s well worth the wait.

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

{image via tripadvisor}

Last but not least, we closed out both nights with Gorgeous Gelato. The Gorgeous flavor was my favorite so it went for it two times in a row. They use all-natural ingredients and no artificial sweeteners or flavors and most importantly, those flavors are unique and delicious (think Bacio-Pistachio-Vanilla, Wild Berries-Mango, Dark Chocolate-Coconut, Tiramisu and Stracciatella).

And just a few other pics for fun…

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Love locks bridge on Commercial Street

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

One of the cute houses on Peak’s Island

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Flowers found outside a restaurant on one of the piers

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Boat parked outside of the Porthole deck

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Micucci Grocery = go-to for all things Italian, including this takeout pizza

Portland, Maine {Travel Recap & Recommendations}

Quick breakfast at Local Sprouts Cooperative

 

Have you visited Portland before? If you have other recommendations, let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Carry-On Travel Bags

I’ve been taking lots of day trips and long weekend trips this year, both for work and play, and through that I’ve quickly learned the importance of having a good carry-on bag. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite carry-on travel bags right now, all of which are perfect in their own way. Now I’m on the hunt for new rolling suitcases (both carry-on and larger with spinning wheels), so if you have any suggestions, let me know!

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

 

1. cinda b Traveling Bowler

This bag (bottom left) quickly became one of my absolute, all-time favorite travel bags as soon as I started using it. I’ve mainly been using it as a carry-on bag when I travel on short trips because it has a zip opening to easily slip over my rolling suitcase handle, so it makes carrying all of my bags much easier. Plus the interior of it is even bigger than it looks and it fits everything I need, from my laptop and magazines to my purse, cosmetics and more, especially since there are lots of pockets. I’ve also used it as an overnight bag – it has an adjustable cross-body strap and also regular handles. And one of the best thing about cinda b bags is the fabric – it’s so durable and comes in tons of fun patterns. I went with Noir (all black) this time, but I love patterns like Neptune (shown on this beach bag). {cindab.com, $129}

2. Hayden-Harnett Ibiza Flight Tote

I discovered Hayden-Harnett last year and now I wish I could have one of everything they make. They have a line of travel bags and accessories that are great for work, weekends and travel. The bag shown in the photos isn’t available anymore, but they have an even better bag, the Ibiza Flight Tote, which comes in black, silvered grey, orchid (pink) and olive. I actually had my eyes on this bag but it wasn’t available when I got my other one! The Ibiza can be worn in up to six different ways thanks to its unique strap/handle and snap system, so you can change it up based on your preferences. {haydenharnett.com, $198}

3. LeSportsac  Voyager Backpack

Backpacks are back in style and I’ll be the first to admit that I love them. In fact, I’ve been using a backpack as my carry-on bag for years and I needed them to come back in style so I could get one that didn’t look like I was back in high school going to class. I love the LeSportsac Voyager Backpack because it’s nice and roomy and easy to get things in and out of. LeSportsac has so many fun prints and patterns that they introduce throughout the year – this one is a floral print called Euphoria. The Voyager has a drawstring closure and lots of of pockets to store your on-the-go essentials. I think this might even make a good beach bag this summer! {lesportsac.com, $118}

4. Baggalini Village Tote

Another great options that slides right over your suitcase handle is the Village Tote from Baggalini, one of their best-selling bags. This bag also has lots of pockets for organization and also has a removable coin purse and a padded front zipper pocket that’s perfect for my Nook or iPad. The Village Tote has a nice shoulder strap so it’s easy to carry and the style is more like a traditional shoulder bag, not quite as big as the cinda b bag above. The fabric is lightweight and water-resistant and while the blue shown here is no longer available, it comes in black, which is perfect for anytime use. {baggalini.com, $94.95}

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

 Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

**While I was provided samples for review, all opinions are my own.**

San Francisco Weekend {Travel}

I have the best group of girlfriends from college and we’ve been trying to plan a girls trip with all eight of us for what seems like forever. We don’t all live in the same state, and the older we get, the busier we all seem to get with that whole us being adults thing (ugh). But we finally pulled it together for a trip to Cali – San Francisco, Sausalito, Sonoma and Healdsburg – after one of the girls moved to Sausalito and her husband happened to be out of town for the weekend.

This trip was more about girls time over (many) bottles of vino, but we managed to do a little sight seeing too (mixed with more food and wine). Read on for some highlights from the mini vaca via pics I took along the way.

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Ferry ride between San Fran and Sausalito is quick and only $10 – so worth it!

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How cute is Sausalito?!

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More Sausalito… wouldn’t mind living here…

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… especially with this view of the city out my window.

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Benefit of staying on East Coast time… catching sunrises like this one.

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Lots of cute restaurants right on the water in Sausalito (shown here: Scoma’s).

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Running around town, loving the nice weather (shop this kimono for under $15!).

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Touring wine country – here at Armida Winery in Healdsburg.

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Taking in the views (not pictured: other winery stops at Geyser Peak and Balletto)

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Touring around San Fran – had to drive down Lombard Street

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… and get a sundae at Ghirardelli.

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More food after walking around Fisherman’s Wharf (shown here: Pier Market).

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Catching the seals after lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf before heading to the airport.

Not shown: quality time and lots of laughs with my gfs and plenty more delicious food and drink. Until next time, San Fran!

Friday Faves {March 20, 2015}

3.20.15-Friday Faves

1. Spring shoes. I made the mistake of walking through the shoe section at Nordstrom the other day and wanted to buy everything. Especially these gold shoes, which are a sneaker/boat shoe combo that are perfect for spring work days. Plus they’re on sale right now! {nordstrom.com}

2. Latest vacation spot. I just visited Sausalito, a cute little town right over San Fran’s Golden Gate Bridge. My best friend just lived there and we had the best girls weekend with eight of our friends. The view of the city from this street is amazing.

3. Productivity inspiration. This article, “8 Habits of Highly Productive People,” is a good read. It validates some of my own tips – tackling the hardest task first thing in the morning and taking regular breaks throughout the day – and offers several others as well. {realsimple.com}

4. My soon-to-be new favorite jeans. “Slimmy” jeans are hitting stores soon from brands like J Brand, Topshop and Gap. As a skinny jeans lover who also appreciates a good pair of boyfriend jeans, I’m going to need a pair of these asap. They’re said to be “the perfect hybrid between your cigarette denim and boyfriend jeans… this straight-leg cut is roomy without being the least bit baggy.” {refinery29.com}

Escape Winter with a Vacation to Sunny Puerto Rico

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Puerto Rico, The All-Star Island. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you live in New England, you love the snowy part of the winter months, but this year mother nature has taken it a bit too far. Here in Boston we’ve already had more than 95 inches of snow this season, nearly 60 inches of which has hit in February alone. With 10 days left to go in the month, we officially rank second as the snowiest season ever. Not to bore you with stats… but that’s a lot of snow… as you can see in the pic below I took the other day or in this BuzzFeed article with “pictures that perfectly capture how insane the snow in New England is.”

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Anyway, I’ve had enough of the snow, so I’m continuing my mission to plan a tropical vacation. I started thinking about this back in November when the cold first hit (more on that here), but now I really need some sunshine to look forward to.

One of the destinations I’ve been thinking about is Puerto Rico. I’ve been there a couple times, but haven’t been recently and one of the best things about it is how easy it is to get to from Boston (and other major cities). You can jump on a four-hour direct flight (no passport or foreign currency needed) and you’re there in no time, sitting on the beach with a drink in your hand.

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{W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island – pic via Starwood Hotels}

While I’m most concerned with relaxing on the beach and maybe at the spa right now, there are also so many other world-class attractions for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re into golf, the latest food trends, outdoor adventures or just lounging on the beach. If we end up traveling to Puerto Rico this year, here’s what I’d love to do:

1. Spend a few nights at the W Retreat & Spa on Vieques Island. You just take a ferry ride over there and you’re immediately surrounded by 21 miles amazing beaches. And Vieques is where Mosquito Bay is, a popular attraction for kayaking or pontoon boating because it’s the brightest bio bay according to the Guinness Book of World Records (the water glows neon green in the dark!).

2. Relax on as many of the beautiful beaches as I can, including Flamenco Beach in Culebra. Puerto Rico has 270 miles of coastline and the island was featured in the Top 10 beaches from Travel Channel!

3. Hike through the U.S. national park service’s only rainforest, El Yunque, and take in the views of the island from above and waterfalls and other scenery along the trails (this is the perfect activity if you want to be active on vacation).

4. Try the local rums and Puerto Rican gastronomy. Tours of the Bacardi factory are fun (I did this many years ago) and there are so many delicious foods to try.

5. Walk around and enjoy the old world charm of San Juan. The colorful houses and buildings are beautiful and make for great photos. Plus, there’s lots of history behind Old San Juan.

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{Flamenco Beach – pic via Tanya Ramakers}

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{San Juan – pic via Jenni Konrad}

Check out the video below to learn how you can live your own 5-star vacation story in Puerto Rico. And for more on vacationing in Puerto Rico, visit SeePuertoRico.com, like SeePuertoRico.com on Facebook or follow @PRTourismCo on Twitter.

If you’re dying to take a vacation like I am, let us know in the comments below why you’d love to travel to Puerto Rico. And now I’ll go back to being snowed in forever… or until a vaca is finally booked!

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Cheers to a Memorable 2014

After getting married and going on an amazing honeymoon to the Greek Islands in 2013, it was hard to believe that this year could even compare. But 2014 brought so many great things, the best being the new addition to our family, a mini bulldog named Hank. I was so excited to get a puppy, but I had no idea how much joy he would bring to our lives every single day! We also took trips to Cali, Spain and Aruba in 2014, and I closed out the year graduating with my master’s degree just a couple weeks ago.

2014 in Review - http://bit.ly/dailykaty

I’ve been a little MIA on the blog this past week (sorry!), which wasn’t the plan, but I found myself needing to take some time to myself and catching up with friends and family in town for the holidays. So to close out the year, instead of resolutions, I’m sharing some of my favorite memories from 2014. Thanks so much for reading and cheers to 2015!

1. California – Los Angeles & San Diego

For my birthday, my husband surprised me with a trip to visit my best friend in LA and more of our friends in San Diego.

LA Sunset - http://bit.ly/dailykaty

2. Spain – Ibiza and Barcelona

We spent a few days in Ibiza and then met some of my family in Barcelona for a week in April.

Spain - http://bit.ly/dailykaty

3. Hank

The day after we got home from Spain, this little nugget came home with us. Puppy training was not easy, but it was so worth it!

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4. Weddings!

Wedding fun continued this year with four of our close friends getting married in beautiful locations from New England to Washington D.C.

Weddings - http://bit.ly/dailykaty

5. Celebrating a Special Birthday

My husband turned 30 this year and we celebrated with a big bbq with family and friends and then we went to Provincetown, Cape Cod for a nice weekend away. Ptown is very dog friendly, so Hank even got to come along!

Provincetown, Cape Cod - http://bit.ly/dailykaty

6. 1st Anniversary in Aruba

We celebrated our first anniversary sitting on the beach and relaxing in Aruba. We’ll definitely be going back there soon! The beaches are beautiful.

Aruba - http://bit.ly/dailykaty

What were your favorite memories from 2014? Let us know in the comments below!

Escape to Sunshine in Gulf County, Florida this Winter

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gulf County, Florida. All opinions are 100% mine.

The snow is on its way to New England, and while I do love a good snow storm, I’m finding myself wishing for sunshine. Last week I posted about some amazing beach destinations around the world, and today I’m sharing another great beach spot right here in the US. Gulf County, Florida is a perfect place to visit – especially during the colder New England months of January through March – where there’s plenty of sand, sun and things to do.

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Northwest Florida’s Gulf County has 43 miles of natural shoreline. That’s a lot of beautiful, white-sand beaches! Add Instagram-worthy sunsets and plenty of beaches you can bring your pup to and I’m officially in my happy place. There are lots of winter fun events to enjoy, from sunset cruises and cocktail hours, to beach bonfires and hikes through the white sand dunes. In Gulf Country, you can really unplug and relax (warning: the WiFi signal isn’t strong, so you may be forced to put down that iPhone too!).

Come visit GCFL when you’re sick of the cold winter months and relax on the beach or adventure around in the beautiful weather, biking along the ocean, paddleboarding or snorkeling. To learn more about this “no worry, no hurry” destination, head over to visitgulf.com or follow Visit Gulf County on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Beach Destinations Around the World {Pinspiration}

It’s officially cold here in New England, and now that most of my travel is done for the year, I’m dying to plan our next trip. So of course I spent the afternoon on Pinterest – and now I’m sharing some of the destinations I’m daydreaming about right now. And to kick it off… a few pics from our honeymoon in Santorini, because I’d do anything to teleport back there asap.

1. Santorini, Greece

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{via me, from our honeymoon}

2. Pink Sand Beach, Bermuda

Pink Sand Beach, Bermuda

{via Corner of the World}

3. Calabria, Italy

Calabria, Italy

{via Holiday Spots 4 U}

4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora

{via St. Regis Hotels and Resorts}

5. Kauai, Hawaii

St. Regis Hawaii

{via Jetsetter}

What are your favorite tropical vacation spots? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Win a Trip to NYC or San Diego from Atlantic Luggage & Delta Vacations!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Atlantic Luggage. All opinions are 100% mine.

This fall has been crazy with the amount of traveling I’ve been doing, both for work and fun. I feel like I’ve been on a plane at least once a week! Last week I got back from a three-day trip to LA then turned right back around the following morning to head to DC for a wedding. Can’t complain too much though – it’s great to visit different cities and friends.

If you’re looking to get away, Atlantic Luggage and Delta Vacations are offering you the chance to win a trip for four to either NYC or San Diego, CA. I just entered because I would love a free trip to San Diego! Some of our good friends live out there and even aside from that, it’s just such a nice, laid back place where people are always happy and the sun shines nearly every day of the year. Don’t get me wrong, NYC has its perks too, but I’ll take the beach over city anyday (pic below of our last San Diego trip earlier this year!).

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Enter to win a family trip now through November 15 and you could win the Grand Prize package, valued at $3,700, which includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare for four (4) courtesy of Delta Vacations
  • Choice of Delta Vacations hotel accommodations
  • Choice of one (1) Delta Vacations activity or tour for four (4)
  • Four (4) Atlantic carry-on size suitcases

Since I’ve been traveling so much, I’ve been on the market for durable, lightweight and affordable suitcases – and that’s exactly what Atlantic Luggage is. They’ve been pioneering great luggage since 1919, making travel super easy for families with lots of options for luggage, that range by style, features and color.

Atlantic Luggage’s suitcases fit so much (even more if you take my favorite packing trick and roll tank tops, blouses and other lightweight tops). I love the 360-degree 4-Wheel Spinners that make it so incredibly easy to wheel through a busy airport. Having 4-Wheel Spinners is key when you’re trekking around the airport and streets with lots of bags – I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get these! And with the Link2Go feature, you can even connect multiple pieces of luggage to roll them together with one hand.

Go ahead and head on over to AtlanticLuggage.com and enter to win that trip to NYC or San Deigo. I’ll be crossing my fingers that one of us win! The winner will be chosen within 7-10 days, the trip has to be booked by September 30, 2015 and travel must be completed by October 31, 2015. That leaves lots of time to plan out a perfect long weekend – three days and two nights!

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Columbus Day Sales with Ebates {Shop the Looks}

While not everyone is lucky enough to have Columbus Day off from work, anyone can take advantage of the great sales today. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorites from online stores that are offering double cash back through a program called Ebates. Over the past year or two, Ebates has become an automatic step in my online shopping – and earned me tons of cash back. I even used it to book our honeymoon!

What is Ebates?

It’s a free program that allows you to get cash back on your online purchases from lots and lots of retailers. All you have to do is sign up here, go to Ebates.com before you shop online, click on the retailer you want to shop at, and it directs you to the online store you selected. From there, when you make a purchase, you earn a cash back percentage of your purchase (usually anywhere from 2% to 10%). The cash back is put in your Ebates account and then you get a “Big Fat Check” in the mail or transferred to your PayPal account four times a year or more, depending on your preferences.

Ebates

Where are the best cash back sales today?

Ebates is offering a bunch of different double cash back deals today from retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Sephora, Macy’s, Piperlime and more. View the full list with the cash back percentages at the bottom of this post. Check out some of my favorite items with double cash back below too!

Ebates Columbus Day Double Cash Back Retailers:

  • Dell Small Business – was 2%, now get 4% Cash Back
  • Marriott – was 2.5%, now get 5.0% Cash Back
  • LivingSocial – was 3.0%, now get 6.0% Cash Back
  • HSN – was 3.0%, now get 6.0% Cash Back
  • Clinique – was 4.0%, now get up to 8.0% Cash Back
  • The Body Shop – was 4%, now get 8.0% Cash Back
  • Shoebuy – was 6%, now get 12% Cash Back
  • Overstock.com – was 2.5%, now get 5% Cash Back
  • Kohl’s – was 3%, now get 6% Cash Back
  • Macy’s – was 3%, now get 6% Cash Back
  • Neiman Marcus Last Call – was 2.5%, now get 5.0% Cash Back
  • Nordstrom – was 3%, now get 6% Cash Back
  • Carter’s – was 2.5%, now get 5% Cash Back
  • Sephora – was 4%, now get 8% Cash Back
  • Piperlime – was 2%, now get 4% Cash Back
  • L.L. Bean – was 2%, now get 4% Cash Back
  • eBags – was 6%, now get 12% Cash Back
  • eBay – was 0%, now get up to 5% Cash Back
  • Amazon Apparel and Jewelry – was 0%, now get up to 3% Cash Back