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.
Smarties
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.
Hershey's
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.
Wrigley
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
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

11:30-nap

2:00-wake up, eat, play

4:00-nap

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.






Thursday, August 14, 2014

5 Quick Steps to a Clean Bathroom

We are deep into potty training mode and that means the bathroom my little guy uses is, well, not as spotless as I'd like. With a new baby, and two dogs also thrown in the mix, its tough to keep up! But bathroom clean up doesn't have to take forever.


Step 1: Take a look around. See anything that has made its way into the bathroom that doesn't belong? (examples include but are not limited to: shoes, blocks, Ninja Turtles, crayons). Recruit your little ones to help you and put that stuff away.  If you're short on time and minions, toss it in a basket and put it in the room they belong in. Maybe they will magically get put away?

Step 2: Toilet time. Throw the bowl cleaner in, give it a good scrub down and then clean the outside with either a Lysol wipe or spray.  I like to use something that smells fresh so I really feel like its doing the job. Yes, I know, it's probably working the same as non yummy smelling ones, but its a treat for my nose.  This is also when I wipe down any surfaces, and the sink.

Step 3: Remove all garbage and line the trash can with two or three plastic bags to make it easy to dispose of the full bag and the next is already in place.

Step 4: Forget the broom and grab the vacuum.  I use the hose and brush on all my non-carpeted floors and it makes it quicker and does a much more thorough job.  Use the brush to get the corners and the parts of the toilet where dog hair and dirt tends to congregate too.  

Step 5: If time allows, I use a sponge to mop so I can really scrub, but if you're short on time, do a quick mop, let it dry a minute or two and do it once more.  I use Gain Mr. Clean All Purpose in a big thing of super hot water. It smells amazing and shines when I'm done.

Oh, guess what! You're done!

You may notice I skipped the hamper and shower/tub.  I empty the hamper as it gets full and toss a load of laundry in, and the showers I don't do every time I bathroom clean.  Typically, unless they are super dirty, I do those every 3-4 bathroom cleans.  Or I ask (demand) my husband do them, because I hate that job.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Superheroes Believe in Miracles

Have you checked out Superheroes Believe in Miracles? It's a wonderful charity organization which sends birthday packages to kids with serious and chronic illnesses.  To cover some the shipping costs, they are auctioning off many items, including a Crooked By Design Minion hat I recently donated. To check out the auction be sure to "like" their Facebook page and stay tuned for tonight's auction.  There's a bunch of other great stuff from other Etsy shops as well and it goes to a great cause!




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gluten Free Shake n' Bake Chicken

Remember Shake n' Bake? So easy to throw together and so delicious. I wanted to try a gluten free version and this one came out amazing. So easy and quick to make and it makes a lot of the mixture so  you can store some for later.


I followed the recipe almost exact, only I used chili powder instead of cayenne and onion powder instead of flakes because it's what I had on hand.  Recipe taken directly from The Black Peppercorn.

  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp dry parsley
  • ½ tsp dry basil
  • ½ tsp dry oregano
I let Atticus shake it up in a Ziplock bag and then baked on 400 for about 20 or so minutes. The mixture stayed on it great and it was moist and delish. Atticus enjoyed it too!







Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Adventures in Cloth Diapering


When I was pregnant with my daughter, who is currently 3 months old, I decided I wanted to cloth diaper.  The reason was simple really: I wanted to save money.  I thought my husband would be happy with this, after all, money is to be saved! But he wasn't.  He didn't want the hassle of extra laundry and definitely didn't like the upfront cost of cloth.  I assured him, it would save money, just give it a try. He agreed (probably because I was so incredibly lucky that my sister's friend provided me with everything I needed to get started). 



So, there I was, a newborn baby in hand and a pile of  gDiapers on the changing table.  So, what do I do now? I'm not going to play it cool here, I was confused about even the most simple principles of cloth diapering.  I had never used them before. To answer my questions, I did what I always do: I did some research and asked other moms.  Hopefully my experience can help you along with your adventures in cloth diapering!

1. First things first, how do these things work?
I am using gDiapers, mostly because they were given to me, but also because I like them.  I do use some Bum Genius as well, which I also like.  For the g's, you do have some work involved with assembling them each wash, but because you swap out the liners during the day, you don't have to wash the actual diaper part each time there's a messy or wet diaper.  Also, the g goes on the back, which is opposite of what I thought!  The Bum Genius have a cloth insert to catch all the wet, but the whole diaper does need to be washed each time.







2. How do I wash them?
The first thing I wondered, was what kind of detergent do I need to use on these and will that be expensive? I did some research on the best and worst detergents to use and found that Gain is the worst, and that Honest Co. is the best. I already get my Honest Co. supplies every six weeks so this was perfect!  It's what I've used on the diapers ever since and works great.  A little goes a long way, which is wonderful, because you only need a couple tablespoons per load. 

Without subscribing to the bundle, it is $12.95 for a bottle.  Pricey, yes, but you only need a little.  I use this on the baby's clothes too, so the bottle lasts awhile since I'm only using it on this.  If you get the bundle, you get 5 full sized items for $35.95, so you can save by doing this.  

Also, Target just announced that have Honest Co. in stock, so you can try it out without subscribing to anything.

I'm sure everyone has different ways of washing and used different products, but this is what I do and what works for me.  I wash every couple days.  We part time cloth, using disposables during then night and if we are out and about.  90% of the time, however, its cloth.  When I am ready to wash a load, I add about two tablespoons of detergent and wash on the warm cycle, all of it thrown in together, including my cloth wipes (which are mostly just baby wash cloths).  Once that cycle is done, I do another wash with no added detergent, on the hot cycle.  When it comes time to dry, I air dry the plastic inserts and toss the rest in the dryer on the regular setting, with a big towel in the dryer with them to soak up some of the moisture and make them dry faster.  Or, line drying is always great, too.

**Be sure to close the velcro tabs before washing or they will be a tangled mess!**

To avoid the staining and ruining of the diapers, it is advised that you don't use diaper cream or anything with them, but since starting them at about a week old, my girl hasn't had many rashes, compared to those she was getting with disposable (poor girl with her sensitive skin!).

 

 

3. How are the dirty diapers stored between wash days?
This took some trial and error on my part, and I haven't perfected my method yet. I started with a bin, with the lid on, thinking that would do the trick, but it got very smelly in there when the lid was removed. I switched to a lidded trash can with a mesh laundry bag inside. When wash times comes, I wash the laundry bag with it too.  I am going to upgrade to a wet bag soon, I just haven't gotten around to it.

4. What about cloth wipes? How do those work?
I began cloth wiping from the start because my kids tend to have sensitive skin.  With my son, I cloth wiped for the first few weeks and then switched to sensitive wipes.  My daughter has used cloth for the most part and free and clear wipes when I am out and about.  To make the wipes solution, I mix:

-1 cup warm water
-1 tbsp baby wash
-1 tbsp baby oil

I gently mix it and add it to a container or spray bottle.  I prefer the spray bottle, but it does get clogged with the baby wash sometimes.  I used Honest Co. but any kind you use on your baby at bath time is great. I used what I had handy and what I knew didn't upset her skin.  I have heard coconut oil works well instead of baby oil.  When a cloth is used, I toss it in with the diapers to be washed.

For the actual wipes, I made some, and also use little baby wash cloths.  


4. Why cloth diaper and wipe?
For me, it was to save money.  Yes, the environmental reasons are great too, but I mostly wanted to cut down on cost.  Babies use a lot of diapers and if I can cut down on how many I purchase, that is reason enough for me.  Sure, my electric bill might be slightly higher with the extra laundry, but not enough that I have noticed it.  Here is some great information on cost and cloth diapering in general.

5. But isn't it a pain to constantly be washing?
Yes, and no. Sometimes, it is annoying that I have extra laundry to do.  But at the end of the day, I have a ton of laundry, constantly, anyway, so its not that big of a deal for me.  I am home with my kids, so it works for me.  I can toss them in the laundry during nap time, no problem. It has just become routine for me, and honestly, not having to buy diapers often is a huge relief. My husband has come around on using them, as long as he doesn't have to wash them, which I agreed to.  But the long and short of it is, they work for me, so I'm sticking to it.  My girl is breast fed, so it makes the yucky diapers easy to clean, which is great.  We'll see what happens the food starts!

As with all things parenting, I am still learning this system, but am here to answer any questions I can about my experience.  I'm sure everyone does this different, and that's ok! Do what works best for you and your baby and feel free to comment with or message me with questions, that I will do my best to answer.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Trash to Treasure: DIY Garden Space

It's that wonderful time of year where we de-clutter like crazy here at our house! We've been sorting, tossing, donating, and boy does it feel good to clear some space. One place I haven't given much time lately (or ever) is my basement. It's wet, its creepy, I don't like it. Save for laundry days, I don't go down there much.  But as I started tossing things out, I finally asked my husband to get these rusty old shelves out of a corner down there. They have been there for who knows how long, way before we lived here.



 Instead of tossing it, I took about a half hour and cleaned it up for use as a garden area storage solution.  I hosed it down, scrubbed off a little of the rust and just spray painted it with gold spray paint I found at AC Moore.  I ran out of spray paint and plan on giving it another coat at some point, but I loved the way it turned out!



I am not much of a gardener, as much as I wish I was.  I don't have the patience for weeding and it gets really humid here in upstate NY during the summer, so I like to spend as little time as possible pulling up weeds.  I have failed at gardening many times, but I won't let that stop me from trying again! This year, with a new baby and an eager 3 year old, I decided to take the easy road and head on over to Wal-Mart and grab some pre-planted veggie plants. I started very small, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.  We'll see how they go and possibly add some more.  But for now, I'm happy with our tiny garden, and our little garden space!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

This Week's Meal Plan

Here's what I have planned for the week!  I like to plan out my week of dinners so I can look for coupons and then grocery shop. Doing this helps me stay on track with what I need at the grocery store, and helps reduce impulse shopping with racks up that grocery bill!  I also like to use what I have in the house, so as much as possible, I use what I have before buying ingredients.


Saturday: Chicken Kabobs on the grill

Sunday: Corned Beef & Cabbage (because I have a ton in my freezer)

Monday: Sheppard's Pie (with sweet potatoes and turkey burger)



Thursday: Burgers on the grill

Friday, June 6, 2014

Your Pins Tested! Skinny Chicken Broccoli Casserole

I'm not a big broccoli person, but I try my best to eat it since its so good for you.  Atticus isn't really into it, either, so I was surprised at how much he enjoyed this meal.


I found this casserole from this pin and you can also find it on my food board on Pinterest.
You can find this recipe here.




 


The only thing I added to the recipe was a little garlic salt. Next time I make it I'll add some minced garlic when cooking the onions and mushrooms and I would have used a little more chicken.  Also, I used sharp cheddar cheese instead of Mexican blend.

To make this gluten free, like I did, substitute Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour instead of regular flour.  

Feel free to send me recipes on Pinterest!  Follow me here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Week of Dinner Ideas

Now that things are settling down with our two month old baby girl, I'm getting back on track with my meal plan, couponing and budgeting.  I also want to re-fill my freezer.  What a time saver having those meals ready to go in the freezer!  Since I'm grocery shopping this weekend, here's my list of dinners for the week:

Saturday: Oven Tacos with Mexican Sweet Potato Skins

Sunday: Lemon Chicken Fettuccine

Monday: Homemade Pizza

Tuesday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches with a Garden Salad

Wednesday: Skinny Chicken Broccoli Casserole (double, so I can freeze one)

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Lasagne (double, so I can freeze one)



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crooked By Design is Turning 2! Win a Free Hat to Celebrate





Crooked By Design is turning 2 on May 27th and as a THANK YOU! for all you do support my craft, I'm giving away a free hat.  Enter below for your chance to win! Winner will be selected at random on May 27th at 5:30 pm and chooses any hat from the shop as a prize. 

*the winner be notified by email and announced on the shop's Facebook page. Your email is used only for this purpose and not added to any sort of email mailing list or anything like that!

Photo credit: The amazing TDBimagery

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cookie Monster & Elmo Party With Guest Blogger, Angela of the The Mommy Stories

A big thank you to Angela from The Mommy Stories for this awesome photo filled write up on having a Cookie Monster & Elmo inspired party!
**All photos by Angela Avery

 

our little sunshine's Cookie Monster & Elmo party!

I am pretty sure when I was pregnant with one of my children I stumbled upon this blog post by Annie's Eats and said to myself, I MUST have a Sesame Street party someday!



(My sister wrote out her welcome Happy 2nd Birthday Addisyn chalk announcement. So cute! She wouldn't let go of her new shopping cart for the picture.)

Then I had a daughter who was totally obsessed with what she called Elmo (really Cookie Monster) her entire second year of her life. So, voila, Sesame party it was!

However, I'd also had the idea of a You Are My Sunshine party. It was the song my mom used to sing to me as a baby and now I sing to my daughter, so I thought it was sweet to do a party. She's also so sunny, smiley and happy, it was fitting for her. When she showed her true love for Cookie Monster and eventually the real Elmo, I decided, why not, let's just combine two themes?

It was fun this way actually. I was a bit nervous, not sure if it would tie together. We made it work super fun, all for her, of course. What worked with doing the two themes was not going over board on either one. I didn't do all the many, many ideas I found on Pinterest. I just did a few for each theme and it came together great.

(She wasn't impressed to have to stop and say "cheese" in the middle of playing that morning before guests arrived!)

We luckily were given this adorable Cookie Monster shirt from her cousin. I got the headband at Target last summer. The tutu my mom found at a consignment sale, so adorable. Who doesn't like tutus for a girl's birthday party?! The tights were also given to her from her big cousin, she wore them last year at her birthday, too. So cute.

I loved how her outfit said everything about her... she's a Cookie Monster lover, enjoys food like he does, bright and sunny like her outfit and totally girlie, yet with sneakers on to signify she's ready to run and play with the big boys if she needs to. This is totally my daughter. 


We decided on a morning pancake breakfast because that would cover the You Are My Sunshine theme, as well as pancakes are one of Addisyn's favorite foods. I loved doing a breakfast party. We set everything the night before and only had to entertain the kids for maybe two hours in the morning before the party. Then the party was over at their nap time, so they went right down. It was a great timeframe. We started the party at 9 a.m.

We sent an Evite invitation online. I love these, they're just easy and a good way to keep track of who can attend. The invitation read:

Addi is our sunshine, our only sunshine, she makes us happy when skies are gray... and she is also in love with Elmo and Cookie Monster! Join us for a sunshine morning breakfast, brought to you by the letter A and the number 2. Come hungry for pancakes and more sweet treats.


I work in a middle school. I knew I wanted the letter A and the number 2 somewhere for my daughter's party, to match Sesame Street, however I'm not artistic at all. I knew where to go - I asked the art teacher to send me an artistic student. She sent me a sixth grade girl who listened to my ideas and then ran with it. She created that sign above, "Addisyn's Street" for the door to the party. I loved how cute and Sesame Street-like it looked. Just a sweet touch, and I was super glad I didn't have to attempt to make it myself :)



We had the party at my grandparents' house that we rent out in the summers. It was perfect, large, open, nothing in it since it's a rental house. We had plenty of space inside and out on the deck for everyone. Love that I didn't mess up my own house, too!

I set up this table for the kids. Unfortunately, maybe 4 of the kids actually sat at the table. It was just so busy and everyone was running around. I thought it looked cute though, oh well!

This banner below was made by the wonderful Jessie Estes. She gave it to me for my son's fishing party a few months ago, and it worked perfectly with our color scheme for this party, too. Loved it! I got so many compliments on it, and had to admit I wasn't the one who made it :) 


Another Dollar Tree special! I got all of the cups and plates, table cloth, silverware, etc. from the Dollar Tree.

The blue and white straws I found in the dollar bin at Target. Loved them!

The cone hats were a MUST in my mind. I just kept picturing all of my young birthday party pics, we always used to wear cone hats. I ordered them on Amazon, two packs for about $10 I think it was. Again, only a handful of the kids actually wore the hats. Oh well, I tried to be cute!



The birthday girl's seat! Her awesome Cookie Monster hat was hard to find. Most Sesame Street things are either for first birthdays or all Elmo. I found this at a random party store I found in New Hampshire when just driving by. Love it :)


A funny thing that emerged when planning was the color scheme of yellow (for sunshine) and blue (for Cookie Monster), which are my husband and my wedding colors. Our daughter was born the day before our anniversary, we call her our anniversary baby, so it was fitting that her party was with these two colors!


For treat bags, I made them simple. We were having an Easter egg hunt where the kids would get treats in the eggs, so I wanted the bags to be smaller. I also am always aware of not giving people tons of junk or extra things to just add to their already-packed house full of kids' toys, so I tried to pick things I thought people would really use.


I had these paper bags in the kitchen and last minute before the party decided to put the treats in them, drawing a sun and their names on each bag. It was so simple, I loved it!

I'm usually a little overboard with party planning, I liked that with this party I scaled back a little bit on my creativity and Pinterest-ing. I couldn't do all of the bigger ideas I had because we chose to invite so many kids this time. I can do more when we don't invite so many people, but we loved having more people at this one. It worked out great!


Inside each bag the kids were given a box of Sesame Street crayons and some Crayola bath soap, both found at the Target dollar bin. Then each child got a Sesame Street coloring book, "Sunny Days," perfect for our Sunshine party. I found those at Dollar Tree and Target. We threw in some eggs, too.


For food we had everything you can imagine at a breakfast! We had SO many compliments on the food. It was awesome. My husband did an amazing job cooking. The best part was we prepared everything the night before, only had to cook pancakes and throw things into the oven that morning. It was so easy.




We had two platters of French Toast Creme Brule, my husband's family recipe, SO yummy! I made an egg, cheese, mushroom, peppers, onions, etc. bake casserole. Then we had cheese and grapes, watermelon, chocolate chip cookies (of course, Cookie Monster's favorite!), Panera muffins and croissants, danishes, etc. We also had chocolate chip pancake muffins with maple syrup (back left corner with Elmo cupcake toppers in them), these were yummy but the wrapper stuck to them, unfortunately. Then bottom right of the above picture we made banana cupcakes... slices of bananas, spread peanut butter over it, top with coconut and a blueberry. So cute!


Then there was Cookie Monster made out of blackberries and grapes, with yogurt eyes! LOVE this :) We made a small version since blueberries aren't in season right now. My sister made the Cookie Monster and the sunshine cheese platter. Love how these turned out, so cute, easy to make, and looked awesome.



I had been looking for a You Are My Sunshine sign for months, just hadn't found one reasonable enough. Two weeks before the party I was scrolling Facebook and found this on Sassy Steals. LOVE that site!


I made the blue notecard signs for a few of the food dishes that morning. I was proud of myself going another simple route here. Usually I type up notecard signs for food, they look cute, but then get tossed out, I don't think many people care about seeing them. This time, I went simple and just wrote a few out, not for each food, and it looked fine and was helpful to identify what certain foods were.

My husband made this adorable pineapple spread. So cute!

I didn't get a great picture of it, but we had a yogurt and pancake bar of toppings (shown below on the counter in front of the stove).  We put out two kinds of yogurt and some granola, then we had the following toppings for either pancakes or yogurt:
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • raisins
  • peanut butter
  • sprinkles
  • chocolate chips
  • cranberries
  • coconut
  • cinnamon 
  • 3 kinds of maple syrup (blueberry, strawberry and plain)


For the cake, I knew we didn't really want to give out cupcakes at 9 a.m. so instead we had mini muffins for the kids or cinnamon buns. For my daughter, I made a simple stack of pancakes cake! It was very messy, so non-traditional, but worked great, she loved it!

I just put 4 pancakes stacked on top of each other, sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles and strawberries, with whipped cream. Then I added her candles, done! It was a messy cake, but she smiled, it worked.

Note to self: wait until pancakes are cool before topping... it all melted! haha





Big brother wore his Elmo T-shirt for the special occasion!


Just a little reading in the middle of her party. Love this :) 


After the kids ate, we did cake, and then we did presents. I usually do presents and then cake, because I have a busy boy who after eating cake cannot possibly sit still to watch someone open presents. We did all the food first at this party though since it wasn't real sugary cake, it was all breakfast treats.

She loved all of her baby dolls and girlie toys :) So fun! 



Then after presents we went outside for a huge Easter egg hunt! Her party was the day before Easter Sunday, so of course I had to toss in a third theme to the party, Easter! Ha! I went a little crazy with themes this party, but come on, after I realized the party was right near Easter I thought, how can we not have an egg hunt? It was perfect. The kids LOVED it.

I got all 130 eggs at Dollar Tree for $5. We filled them with erasers, rings, balls, stickers, coins, jelly beans, and chocolate eggs.

We did two egg hunts, one for the 3 older boys (3-7 years old) because we knew they'd outrun the younger ones. They had their own section of eggs to find. Their eggs had lots of coins in them, real money. Then we did a baby and toddler hunt for the 10 months to 2 1/2 year olds. It was so cute.



We also had chalk and bubbles for the kids to play with outside as activities. 



Overall, a perfect party. We had so much fun, tons of food, so many people told us how great of a day it was, sunny and outside, egg hunt and yummy breakfast.

Can't believe our little sunshine is TWO!