Saturday, November 29, 2014

Small Business Saturday 2014

Happy Small Business Saturday!!  From the time I was a child, I have appreciated small businesses and the customers that keep them alive.  My grandparents built a business from scratch, and opened beach front cottages in the 50s.  Their business boomed and my childhood summers were spent managing the grounds with them, chambermaiding and making loads of new friends.  On the same property, my father opened a lobster pound, run by our family, and I can remember summer after summer the faces of customers from year's past, who always made us a stop on their Maine summer vacation.  At the time it seemed like a chore, working from a very young age to do my part for the family, smelling like lobster and steamers and sweat and summer.  I wanted to go to the beach! I wanted to eat French Fries and soft serve and fried dough! (these were my pre-gluten free days) but my dad always insisted that we did not spend our coveted Tip Jar money (that was our only pay check for most of our working days) on such things as that, because soon we would need cars and college.  

My dad has always been self employed and that is a struggle and triumph I have always admired.  He is a big part of why I wanted to start my own small business and launch Crooked By Design.  Once I became a mother, and knew I wanted to be home with my babies (not an easy job!) it was the perfect time to take my craft, my hobby, to the next level.  Opening my little shop was a very scary thing! What if no one visited it? What if I sold nothing? Would it be worth it? And then the biopolar of these, what if I had too many orders! Can I keep up?  But, thinking back on our nights running the lobster pound, when we were so busy I thought we'd never make it, and those days where we sold just one or two lobsters and we equally thought we'd never make it, I knew my answers: I'd made it, and it is always worth it.

So here I am, two years after opening up shop, nearly 600 sales later, and an order queue that doesn't seem to be letting up and I am 1,000% thankful for YOU and everyone who has stopped by the shop, Liked on Facebook, followed along on Instagram to see our family and my projects, and who read this blog.  You are what makes this worth it, and I am so grateful for you.  

So today, on Small Business Saturday, I hope you visit some of your local shops, and go onto Etsy, craft fairs, Facebook, or any other small business and shop, share and support. We need you!

Here's some of my favorites that I have personally shopped:

 For incredible pillow cases check out Oh Susannah's

Awesome shirts over at Hello Apparel

For everything you need to get organized, head to Thirty-One 

Amazing little headbands and Mom & Me sets over at Baby Jules Boutique

Some more amazing headbands & leggings at Baby Beans & Me

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gluten Free Halloween Candy 2014

 (Photo source)

I'm always looking at labels and trying to determine what is safe, so this list is amazingly helpful!

Happy Halloween,everyone!

(content is directly from here)

Nestle USA considers "gluten-free" to mean "no gluten ingredients are in the product, whether directly added, or potentially present due to cross-contact. If a product label has an allergen advisory statement such as 'made on equipment' or 'facility that also processes wheat etc.,' we do not consider that product to be gluten-free. It is important to always read product labels/packaging for the most accurate information." Nestle will label potential gluten cross contamination, a customer service representative says. In addition, Nestle will disclose all gluten ingredients (not just those containing wheat) on its products' labels.
According to Nestle, the following candies are gluten-free:
  • Baby Ruth
  • Bit-O-Honey
  • Butterfinger Bar (original flavor only, NOT Crisp, Giant Bar, Snakerz, Medallions, Jingles, Hearts or Pumpkins)
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Goobers
  • Nips (including both regular and sugar-free)
  • Oh Henry!
  • Raisinets (including Cranberry and Dark Chocolate flavors)
  • Sno-Caps
  • Wonka Pixy Stix
  • Laffy Taffy (including Laffy Taffy Rope)
  • Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip
The following Nestle candy products are NOT gluten-free:
  • Butterfinger Crisp Bar
  • Butterfinger Giant Bar
  • Butterfinger Snackerz
  • Butterfinger Medallions
  • Butterfinger Jingles
  • Butterfinger Hearts
  • Butterfinger Pumpkins
  • Wonka Nerds
  • Sweetarts
  • Wonka Bar (all flavors)
  • Chewy Spree
  • Wonka Gummies
  • Wonka Kazoozles
  • Everlasting Gobstopper
  • 100 Grand Bar
In some of these products, the ingredients themselves are gluten-free, but the candies are processed in a facility that also processes gluten.
Contact Nestle USA at 800-225-2270.
Mars Chocolate
Mars Chocolate makes M&M's, Dove, Snickers and other products. The company no longer maintains a gluten-free list of products; instead, it urges gluten-free consumers to check labels and promises to call out any wheat, barley and rye ingredients by name, as well as any cross-contamination risks, on the label. Even if a product normally is gluten-free, in busy times of year (such as Halloween) Mars uses alternative facilities to make its candy, and some of those facilities may introduce cross-contamination risks (I've seen this frequently on flavored M&M varieties). "The ingredient statement on each wrapper is the best source for this information," the company said in a statement.
In the past, these Mars Chocolate products have been gluten-free. However, I can't emphasize enough that you should always check the label before purchasing any of these products:
  • M&M's (all EXCEPT for pretzel-flavored M&M's and some special flavors with a risk of gluten cross-contamination)
  • 3 Musketeers Bars (all flavors)
  • Milky Way Midnight Bar
  • Milky Way Caramel Bar
  • Dove Chocolate products (all flavors EXCEPT for milk chocolate cinnamon graham/cookies and cream)
  • Snickers Bars (all flavors)
  • Munch Nut Bar (the customer service representative urges consumers to check the labels on this one)
The following Mars Chocolate products have NOT been gluten-free:
  • M&M Pretzel flavor
  • Some packages of M&M White Chocolate, Mint and M&M Coconut flavors
  • Milky Way Bar (original)
  • Mars Bar
  • Mars Combos (a snack mix)
Again, always double-check the label. Note that plain M&Ms (in any color) actually meet the more stringent standards for gluten-free certification, which require the products to contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten.
Contact Mars Chocolate at 800-627-7852.
Tootsie Roll Industries
Tootsie Roll Industries, which also makes Charms products, says that, as of September 2014, all of the companies confections are considered gluten-free with the exception of Andes cookies. "Tootsie does not use wheat, barley, rye, oats, triticale, spelt, or any of their components, either as ingredients or as part of the manufacturing process. Corn and soy products are used during the manufacturing process," the company says.
According to Tootsie Rolls Industries, the following candies are gluten-free:
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Fruit Rolls
  • Junior Mints
  • Frooties
  • Dots
  • Tropical Dots
  • Crows
  • Cella's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries
  • Cella's Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries
  • Junior Mints
  • Charleston Chew
  • Junior Caramels
  • Tootsie Pops
  • Tootsie Peppermint Pops
  • Caramel Apple Pops
  • Fruit Smoothie Pops
  • Tropical Stormz Pops
  • Child's Play
  • Charms Blow Pops
  • Charms Super Blow Pops
  • Charms Pops
  • Zip-A-Dee-Mini Pops
  • Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy
  • Sugar Daddy Pops
  • Sugar Mama Caramels
  • Charms Squares
  • Charms Sour Balls
  • Charms Candy Carnival
  • Pops Galore
  • Andes
  • Sugar Babies
These Tootsie Roll products also are peanut-free and nut-product free, according to the company.
Contact Tootsie Roll Industries at 773-838-3400.
Most of Smarties' line of products (with some exceptions, see below) is considered gluten-free and vegan in the U.S. (see note below for information on Canada), and is made in a gluten-free facility, according to the company. However, Smarties sells its products to different "re-baggers" as well as various retail outlets. Since a re-bagger buys products from many different companies and then places them in different packaging, only re-baggers can verify whether their manufacturing plants are free of gluten or other allergens. "If the UPC number on the packaging begins with '0 11206,' you can be assured that the product was packaged in one of our manufacturing facilities," which means it should be gluten-free," the company says. Smarties Gummies contain no gluten ingredients, but are manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat-containing products (along with peanuts, milk and soy).
Note that Smarties sold in Canada contain wheat flour — always check the label to make sure you're buying the gluten-free type.
Contact Smarties through the company's website.
After several years of listing only a few products as gluten-free, Hershey's in 2012 began publishing a gluten-free list that included several more products. Since then, the company has regularly added to its list. The following list of Hershey's candies are considered gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million:
  • Almond Joy (all)
  • Mounds (all)
  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses
  • Hershey's Filled Chocolate Kisses (only caramel and cherry cordial creme, NOT Hugs, Special Dark, Milk Chocolate with Almonds, or Cookies & Cream)
  • Hershey's Nuggets (milk chocolate, milk chocolate with almonds, special dark chocolate with almonds, and extra creamy milk chocolate with toffee and almonds)
  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, only in the 1.55 oz. size
  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds Bar, only in the 1.45 oz. size
  • Hershey's Air Delight
  • Hershey's Milk Duds
  • Heath Bars
  • Payday
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (all except for seasonal shaped items, such as Valentine's hearts)
  • Reese's Pieces (all except for Reese's Pieces Eggs)
  • Rolo Caramels in Milk Chocolate (all except for Minis)
  • Skor
  • Skor Toffee Bar
  • York Peppermint Pattie (all except for York Pieces, York Minis and York Shapes)
The following Hershey's products are NOT gluten-free:
  • Hershey's Special Dark Bar
  • Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme Bar
  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Drops
  • Hershey's Miniatures
  • Mr. Goodbar
  • Symphony Bar
  • Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate
Be careful as you choose between Hershey's products, as the gluten-free list can be confusing: for example, the Hershey's Nuggets Special Dark flavor is considered gluten-free, but the Special Dark chocolate bars are not.
Generally with Hershey's, you need to avoid seasonal items such as Cadbury Creme Eggs (both Easter and Halloween versions) and Reese's pumpkin-shaped candies — even if their ingredients are free of gluten, they likely are manufactured on shared lines or in a shared facility.
Hershey's says it will list any ingredients containing wheat, barley, rye, oats and malt on the label, and also will disclose shared equipment or shared facilities on the label. Hershey's gluten-free list includes baking chips and bars, cocoa products and syrup; you can access the list here. Always check the list prior to buying, as items seem to change frequently.
Contact Hershey's at 800-468-1714.
Although Wrigley's online gluten-free statement is pretty cagey (saying most products are gluten-free but some might not be, and failing to specify which is which), a statement provided to me by a customer service representative says that as of October 2013, all Wrigley products in the U.S. are considered gluten-free except for Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints (which always have contained gluten in the form of wheat maltodextrin).
Note that Wrigley makes Creme Savers, Lifesavers, Skittles and Starburst, which in the U.S. are free of any gluten sources, according to the company.
Contact Wrigley at (800) 974-4539.
Jelly Belly
Jelly Belly makes jelly beans in an ever-expanding array of colors and flavors. According to the company, "all Jelly Belly beans are gluten-free, dairy-free, gelatin-free, vegetarian and OU Kosher." This includes licorice-flavored gluten-free Jelly Belly jelly beans (in most cases, licorice candy contains wheat). Jelly Belly also makes gluten-free candy corn for Halloween.
However, other Jelly Belly candies, including Chocolate Malt Balls, Chocolate Bridge Mix, Licorice Bridge Mix, Black Licorice Buttons and Licorice Pastels, are NOT gluten-free. In addition, seasonal mixes sold around the holidays contain the malt balls, and so are not gluten-free.
Contact Jelly Belly at 800-522-3267.
Necco probably is best known for its small sugar Valentine heart candies – the pastel-colored ones that say "Be Mine" and "True Love" – but my daughter's candy stash often turns up a few Necco products every Halloween, as well.
According to Necco, the following products do not contain gluten from wheat, rye, oats or barley:
  • Necco Wafers
  • Necco Chocolate Wafers
  • Candy House Candy Buttons
  • Canada Mint, Wintergreen and Spearmint Lozenges
  • Mary Jane
  • Mary Jane Peanutbutter Kisses (available for Halloween only)
  • Banana Splits Chews
  • Mint Julep Chews
  • Haviland Thin Mints, Wintergreen Patty, Nonpareils and Chocolate Stars
  • Skybar
  • Sweethearts (for Valentine's Day only)
  • Conversation Hearts (available for Valentine's Day only)
  • Mary Jane peanut butter kisses (for Halloween only)
Contact Necco at 781-485-4800.
Just Born
Peeps marshmallow treats, made by Just Born, used to appear only at Easter, but in recent years we've seen Halloween Peeps shaped like pumpkins and ghosts, Christmas Peeps in the shape of trees, and heart-shaped Peeps for Valentine's Day.
According to Just Born, as of September 2014 all the company's marshmallow candies that are safe from cross-contamination will state "gluten-free" on the package by the ingredients listing (Note: recently, I've run across numerous packages of Peeps that carry this warning: "May contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy and wheat." Definitely double-check the packaging, even if the product is something that has stated "gluten-free" in the past.). The modified food starch used in the products is corn starch, according to the company. Just Born also makes Mike and Ike Candies.
  • According to Just Born, the following candies are gluten-free:
  • Mike and Ike Berry Blast
  • Mike and Ike Italian Ice
  • Mike and Ike Jolly Joes
  • Mike and Ike Lemonade Blends
  • Mike and Ike Original Fruits
  • Mike and Ike Redrageous
  • Mike and Ike Tangy Twister
  • Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon
  • Mike and Ike Zours
  • Mike and Ike Jelly Beans
  • Mike and Ike Hot Tamales
  • Goldenberg's Vintage Peanut Chews
Contact Just Born at 888-645-3453
Tic Tac Mints Tic Tac mints are produced by the Italian confection manufacturer Ferrero, and have been sold for more than 40 years.
According to the company, Tic Tac mints do not contain any ingredients derived from the gluten grains wheat, barley, rye, oats or triticale (a form of wheat).
Contact Ferrero at 732-764-9300.
Sweet's Candy Co.
Sweet's Candy makes salt water taffy, chocolate jelly sticks, jelly beans, gummy bears and other candies. All are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, which requires products to contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten. A customer service representative tells me that Sweet's makes only gluten-free products, but does package other products (some of which may contain gluten) in the same facility.
Contact Sweet's at 855-772-7720.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sleep, Are You There?

Hello friends! You may have noticed I've been a little absent these days.  You have this face to blame:

You see, friends, this baby DOES NOT SLEEP.  She just doesn't. I was one of those moms who were like, "oh, a six month old, yea they sleep, no problem."  I was wrong. Very wrong.  I jinxed myself when she was a newborn.  She would constantly sleep. I had to actually wake up her for feedings, she slept so much.  I thought we had it made.  But then, around three months, she just stopped sleeping, and I became a crazy person, desperate for sleep, bags under the eyes, hair never brushed, caffeine inhaling mother.

In an attempt to break her terrible habit of waking up every two hours, I asked some mom friends what to do.  This is my second baby, so I thought I knew what to do, after all, I've done this before.  My son slept from seven weeks on.  It was amazing.  This girl though is very different.  She's just too excited.  Here are some things I tried over the past two weeks and guess what...THEY WORKED!


1. White noise or music: My children are like me, they need some sort of noise to sleep. Sounds backwards but it works.  I sleep with a fan, my son does too.  Ada here enjoys the calm sounds of beach waves and/or some music to get her to sleep.  Her favorite song, for some reason is this.

2. Put them down while they are awake: this is something that took some time to work but now is great.  If I put her in bed while she's sleeping, she can't figure out how to get herself to sleep.  Putting her down almost asleep, awake, but not crying, works 90% of the time. 

3. Establish a routine: my son was not a routine based kid, and still isn't at age four.  Ada, however, is very routine. Each day, I am working on making her a schedule that looks something like this:

8:45-wake up

9:00-eat/play time


2:00-wake up, eat, play


5:00-wake up, eat, play

7:00-eat, bath, pjs

7:45-8:15-play time

8:30-eat, rock, snuggle, bed

Since I started doing a schedule like this, she has been waking up once instead of every two hours.  It's been glorious. 

Naps have been better too.  She used to only nap for spurts of 20-45 minutes, and now I can usually get two hours out of her, twice a day.  It is not an exact schedule, but an outline.  Take some time in the beginning to help her out getting used to it by being home for nap time and trying to keep it as routine as you can.  The more you stay on schedule, the more it will help them to do the same.

As I said before, this whole schedule thing is new to me.  I am fortunate to be a SAHM, so I can make her schedule around us, but if your baby is at daycare, try and get them on your schedule, or adjust your days home to what they are used to when they are there. 

This has made for a happier mom, but more importantly, a happier baby!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pinterest Pumpkin Craft

My son kept asking to do some Fall and Halloween crafts, so naturally we headed on over to Pinterest to see what we could find.  We found this pin and had so much fun making our pumpkins.

We did both the bottle cap ones, and the paper towel tube ones. I found the paper towel tubes pumpkins came out a little better, and were easier for him to color in.  I jumped on board and did some too! These can easily be framed, and the printable can be found here.

They can also be made apples by doing them in red and green, if you want to add some to your fall picture. It was fun, easy and he had a ball doing it.

To keep on our projects, be sure to follow on Instagram!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gluten Free Tex Mex Mac n' Cheese

This recipe has been passed around from all my mama friends, and I've made a version of it that is gluten free and absolutely delicious.  It's easy, and can made into two meals depending on your family size.  I don't know the original origin of this recipe, but this is how I do it!

What you'll need:
-1 package of gluten free pasta (I use elbows)
-1 package of ground turkey (mine usually comes in 1.3 lbs packages) or a pound of hamburger
-8oz cream cheese
-1 c. ranch (I use Ken's)
-3 c. shredded cheddar (I use Heluva Good Mexican)
-packet of taco seasoning
-16 oz salsa
-1 c. corn (I use a whole frozen bag)


What to do:

1. Cook pasta.
2. Cook the ground turkey with taco seasoning, like you're making tacos.
3. Mix cooked pasta with cream cheese, cheese and ranch.
4. Once turkey is cooked, add the corn and salsa, and mix.
5. Mix the pasta mixture with the turkey mixture and blend well. I also top it with cheese.
6. Put in baking dish and bake on 350 for 25 minutes.

I split mine into two meal, baking half in the above dish and freezing half.

For more dinner inspirations, follow on Instagram! @KnaptimeKnitter

Friday, September 12, 2014

Insta Shopping

I recently stumbled upon a great Instagram account, @shopmamascloset and purchased a couple of great items from her.  It got me thinking about my own overflowing closet, and my kid's too.  So, I've started my own Shop My Closet account so you can go shopping!

@ShopThroughTheHeart over on Instagram.

You may, like I did, be wondering how this kind of shopping works.  It's very easy.  All you do is comment on the post of the item you want, and leave your PayPal email.  From there, the shop owner emails you an invoice through PayPal (check your junk mail if you don't see it) and you just pay through PayPal and then it ships to you.  So easy and super fun looking through "closets"! It takes thrifting to all whole new level of awesome.

Keep checking back, or follow, to see new stuff. I'm still going through everything, so much much more to come.

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DIY Kid's Vest

We love a good DIY project here at our house, and I'm thrilled when my 4 year old son gets involved. I recently found a denim jacket at a thrift store in my son's size and was really excited to make him a cool dude vest.  The jacket would have worked for a few months, but he's been growing like a weed, so we cut off the arms to make it a vest.

But did we stop there? No we did not.  Using some fabric paint we found at AC Moore and a some stencils we had on hand, we personalized his vest.

Total cost was around $5 since we got the jacket at a thrift store and used a coupon on the paint.  We worked together to stencil it, and practiced spelling his name while stenciling.  We let it dry outside and he was able to wear it about 20 minutes later.