Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tips For Keeping Your House Clean Over the Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and with them usually brings company, parties, dinners, and a busy schedule in general.  Who has time to clean?  So, I've put together a few tips to help your house stay clean (or look like it is!) so that you have time to do the things you want to be doing.

1. To reduce clutter, I like to put decorative bowls all over my house.  I switch them out to keep it interesting.  My husband has a habit of leaving his wallet, watch and keys in one spot, so rather than just look at it, I put a bowl there so at least it's organized chaos.  Go around your house, and as you're picking up, take note of where you or family leaves things and put a bowl.  This also helps when you're putting things away, as you can just take the bowl to room to room and empty it.  I put a bin at the door for shoes too, so I can do the same. 

2. I love trying new cleaning products, and I find that when I get one that I love, I tend to use it more.  I like them most when they work of course, but also for the smells.  If it has a wonderful smell, it makes me feel like I've done a little extra to make my house clean.  I recently tried the Gain Mr. Clean All Purpose Cleaner, mostly in my kitchen and bathrooms and it smells wonderful, and works great.  My all time favorite, a little more expensive, but so worth it, is Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products.  Check out there website for a full list of products, and you can usually find some at Wal-Mart, Target and Hannaford.  They are all natural, so you can feel good about not putting chemicals all over your house (especially if you have pets or children) and they smell like natural things like basil, lemon, and lavender.  If you're not sure about a scent, email them and they'll send you a sample. (I have!)
  


3. Give everyone in your family a chore, to reduce the load of one person.  My son is 2 and he does things to help around the house, and he thinks it's fun.  One of his favorites is putting shoes in the shoe bin and books on the shelves.  His all time favorite is dusting (I had to switch to giving him a bottle of water to spray, since he was going a little overboard...), as you can see here:



 
  
                4. De-clutter and donate anything you don't want or need anymore, to clean out for the holidays.  In my house, we try to this every year.  Even it means putting it in the garage or attic until yard sale time, get it out of your house so you have less to pick up.  Put your children's toys in storage if it's things they want to keep, but don't play with a lot ( or if you're like us and saving things for future babies) and donate what they don't use.  If it's broken, get rid of it (are you really going to fix it, if you haven't already?).  Clean out closets and pantries too and donate, donate, donate!  You'll feel good about, and you're house will be more organized. 
 
5. In your kitchen, if you don't use it everyday, don't have it on your counters.  It will save you time not having to clean under a bunch of stuff, and make it look less cluttered.  You'll probably be baking more, but when you're finished with the mixer, put it away.  You'll be happy you did when someone stops by unexpected!
 
6. Once every couple of days, take a minute and wipe down every surface you walk by.  I do this almost daily in spots that get really dusty (like the television area).  It really doesn't take more than a couple minutes, and gives your house the instant "clean" feeling you're looking for.  Doing these small, quick things will greatly reduce the overall time you spend cleaning this holiday season.
 
7.  Go through your mail immediately when you get it from the box.  If it's trash, throw it away.  A card?  Display it with the others.  But whatever you do: DO NOT LET IT PILE UP!  Save yourself the time of going through a pile and potentially being late on a bill.
 
8. Reward yourself by having a small ritual for when you're house is in order and you move onto other things.  Have a cup of coffee, take a few minutes to read that magazine you've been looking forward to.  When I'm finished picking up, I like to light a yummy scented candle, making my house smell great and feel cozy and relaxing.  The Glade holiday ones are wonderful and cheap.
 
                           

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday!

In honor of Cyber Monday (my first one as a shop owner!) today only you can get free shipping in my Etsy Shop with code CYBERMONDAY.  Also, this is the last day to get the limited edition red and black faux bow ear warmer, and it's just $10.  Perfect for stocking stuffers. 

And, if you're in the Saratoga area Saturday December 1, be sure to stop by my Crooked By Design table at the Festival of Trees in Schuylerville, NY!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Exciting Goings-Ons in my Etsy Shop!

Right now, there's lots of fun and exciting things going on in my Etsy Shop, Crooked By Design.  For starters, I'll be donating $1.00 from each sale made until Monday November 19, 2012, to the Red Cross to help those affected by Sandy.

I'm very excited to say in just within just a few months of opening my shop, I reached my first milestone of 50 sales in my shop, and the lucky 50th order received a free tote bag.  The next milestone to reach is 75.  There will be another surprise free gift with that 75th order, and we're getting close to it!  I'm so grateful to everyone who has helped me reach this goal.  I can't even put to words how exciting it is to have my handmade items go all around the country!

There's also a new Crooked By Design Facebook Page so be sure to "like" it to see new items, promotions, sales, etc.

I'll be posting about the Cyber Monday Black Friday sale item soon, so stay tuned! 

Oh yea, you can also stay connected by following me on Twitter and Instagram @KnaptimeKnitter.

One last thing, I'm already a busy bee with custom orders coming in, so be sure and get any and all of them in early so they're ready in time for the holidays! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is this candy gluten-free?

I know I'm late on the gluten-free candy list, what with it being November, and not Halloween anymore, but since my husband and I have been raiding our son's candy supply, I thought I'd share this information I just found.  I was surprised at some of these popular candies that are not gluten-free! (I found this list on about.com).  I know I've accidently ingested gluten because of some of these.  Now we know!

Nestle USA
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.
    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 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800-225-2270 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Mars Chocolate
Mars Chocolate makes M&M's, Dove, Snickers and other products. The company urges gluten-free consumers to check labels, 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 may introduce cross-contamination risks. The company says it will label any gluten ingredients or cross-contamination.
Warning: At least some packages of two relatively new varieties of M&Ms — coconut and mint flavors — include the warning "May contain wheat" on their labels as of October 2012. Other varieties — including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut and almond — don't contain that warning. In addition, I saw Mars several seasonal products, including M&Ms candy corn, that featured the "May contain wheat" warning. Always read the label before purchasing.
    According to Mars Chocolate, the following candies are gluten-free:
  • M&M's (all EXCEPT for pretzel-flavored M&M's)
  • 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 are NOT gluten-free:
  • M&M Pretzel flavor
  • Some packages of M&M Mint and M&M Coconut flavors
  • Milky Way Bar (original)
  • Mars Bar
  • Mars Combos (a snack mix)
Contact Mars Chocolate at 800-627-7852 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800-627-7852 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Tootsie Roll Industries
Tootsie Roll Industries, which also makes Charms products, says that, as of October 2012, all of the companies confections are considered gluten-free with the exception of Andes cookies. "We do not use wheat, barley, rye, oats, triticale, spelt or any of their components and that includes our dusting on our conveyor belts. We do use corn and soy products in the manufacturing of our products."
    According to Tootsie Rolls Industries, the following candies are gluten-free:
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Fruit Rolls
  • 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
Contact Tootsie Roll Industries at 773-838-3400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 773-838-3400 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Smarties
Most of Smarties' line of products is considered gluten-free and vegan, 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.
Contact Smarties through the company's website.
Hershey's

After several years of listing only a few products as gluten-free, Hershey's published a gluten-free list as of March 2012 that includes several more products, mainly Hershey's Kisses varieties. As of October 2012, the following list of Hershey's candies are gluten-free:
  • Almond Joy (all)
  • Mounds (all)
  • Hershey's Kisses
  • Hershey's Filled Chocolate Kisses
  • Hershey's Nuggets
  • 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
  • Heath Bars
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (all except for seasonal shaped items)
  • Skor
  • Skor Toffee Bar
  • York Peppermint Pattie (all)
    The following Hershey's products are NOT gluten-free:
  • Hershey's Special Dark Bar
  • Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme Bar
  • Hershey's Air Delight
  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Drops
  • Hershey's Miniatures
  • Hershey's Nuggets
  • Mr. Goodbar
  • Symphony Bar
  • Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate
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.

Contact Hershey's at 800-468-1714 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800-468-1714 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Wrigley

Wrigley makes chewing gum and other candy products (for more on gluten-free gum, see the link above). According to the company, "all U.S. Wrigley chewing gum and confection products have been assessed to be gluten-free with the exception of the products listed below, which contain ingredient(s) derived from wheat or are made on shared equipment that also processes products with wheat and may contain trace amounts of gluten." Here's the list of Wrigley products that do contain gluten:
  • Altoids Chocolate Dipped Mints (made on equipment that also processes wheat)
  • Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints (contains wheat maltodextrin)
  • Hubba Bubba Gummi Tape Candy (contains wheat flour and wheat fiber)
  • Lucas and Swinkles Branded Candy Strips (contains wheat flour and wheat fiber)
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 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (800) 974-4539 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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).
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 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800-522-3267 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Necco

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 Conversation Hearts (available for Valentine's Day only)

Contact Necco at 781-485-4800 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 781-485-4800 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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 October 2012 all the company's marshmallow candies that are safe from cross-contamination will state "gluten-free" on the package by the ingredients listing. 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