Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Make Kids’ Summer Clothes Winter-Ready

Winter has its charms for sure, but one of them is certainly not the annual agony of refreshing the kids’ wardrobes with a world of new winter garments they’ll of course grow out of by this time next year. The trouble is, given the way in which they inevitably carry more weight and material, winter clothes tend to be massively more expensive for kids than summer clothes and even autumn lines.

However, one of the most, perhaps the only positive thing that can be said about the weather in the UK is the way in which Brits are for the most part blessed with winters that are in comparative terms incredibly mild. The mercury rarely drops below freezing and snow is a rarity to say the least – this year of course having proved an exception, but generally speaking is really does hardly ever snow across most of the UK.

What this amounts to is a situation wherein it is usually unnecessary to stock up on the most expensive of Arctic-ready wares for kids, plus one that gives huge scope for making existing clothing items and wardrobe go much further than their specified seasons alone.

Consider the following ways and means of stretching out a summer wardrobe to cover much of the winter:

Think Layers

For girls and boys alike, the end of the summer months usually means the shelving of their favourite summer tops, t-shirts, dresses, short-sleeves shirts and so on – many of which will of course be too small the next time summer rolls around. So, why not stretch out their life a little longer by thinking more along the lines of layering this year? Rather than covering them in massive coats and jackets, the same warmth can in many instances be created by layering up with long-sleeved t-shirts and thermals underneath.

Hooded Tops

A tip that requires forethought admittedly but good-quality hoodies are just as much use in the autumn and winter as they are in the summer. Go for those with fleece linings or thicker fabrics and chances are it will come in handy long into the coldest months.

Warm Legwear

For girls that simply cannot bear to say goodbye to their favourite party dress this winter, it’s perfectly possible to make all the difference in the world simply by adding a pair of warm leggings –or a couple of pairs of thinner leggings. Leggings cost next to nothing and don’t come close to the expense of buying new winter clothes – a guaranteed time and hassle saver.

Beefed-Up Socks

Yes you’ll need to make sure they’re covered if and when the snow and rain falls, but when it comes to keeping them warm in the general cold of the winter months, thicker socks do exactly the same job as massively expensive insulated shoes for a fraction of the price. Chances are those three-figure trainers won’t fit come summer, so for the love of all that’s holy get as much use as possible out of them now!

Add Accessories

And finally, another excellent tip for stretching out the usable life of a kid’s summer wardrobe is to think more of accessorising than replacing. In other words, think of ways and means to keep them warm in terms of hats, gloves, scarfs, tights, earmuffs and so on, which can be picked up for next to nothing and put together to create some undeniably darling looks.

By Ella Stevens

Ella Stevens is a frustrated fashion and design addict currently working in administration for a local primary school. She likes nothing more than sharing her young fashion tips and insights with the world, regularly contributing to several leading fashion blogs.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored guest post, however I only post relevant information that I feel may benefit my readers such as this wonderful article.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gluten-Free Black Bean Chocolate Cake {Recipe}

Never in a million years did I think black beans would ever turn up as an ingredient in baking! I literally couldn't find one recipe online using black bean flour in a cake or brownie recipe instead of actual cooked/hydrated black beans, so I decided to create my own using fresh ground black bean flour from my WonderMill Grain Mill. This was my final recipe as part of the Grain Mill Wagon Challenge, but certainly not the end of my gluten-free baking and cooking experimentation. It's just the beginning! With access to freshly ground flours from my new WonderMill Grain Mill, my recipes are using fresher ingredients that can only enhance my recipes and encourage me to continue on my journey to healthier eating. It's been incredibly fun for me.

I rode the Grain Mill Wagon
{Check out all my Grain Mill Wagon Challenge recipes!}

This cake has an amazingly moist, normal cake texture, and almost, just almost resembles a cakey brownie. If you taste the batter, don't let the black bean flour taste fool you! Yes, it's bitter, but it won't come out in the final product's taste, I promise. This cake is perfectly chocolatey and not too sweet, so it's a middle of the road chocolate cake that anyone could enjoy. It's not a super crumbly cake like I've noticed with some gluten-free recipes, so I'm really happy this recipe worked so well. The only thing that could potentially be missing is some frosting or some oozing caramel as my sister suggested. I could have whipped something up but I thought that could be total sweetness overkill, but you definitely could add some frosting, extra chocolate or other deliciousness if you'd like. I'm even thinking a cream cheese frosting would be amazing!


1/2 Cup Butter, softened
3 Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/8 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Organic Sugar
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (up to 1 Cup if you desire!)
1/2 Cup Black Bean Flour (Freshly Ground)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
8 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips 


1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a stand mixer, mix together all ingredients (wet ones first), saving the chocolate chips until the very end.

2) Line an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with two strips of parchment paper. Evenly spread the batter into the dish. 

3) Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the middle.
 4) Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy! (I personally really enjoy this cake warm!)

It was really yummy and you'd never even being able to guess it was made with black bean flour!! If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery :: NEW Soft & Fluffy Sandwich Breads, $1,000 Reward Sweepstakes, $2 Coupon & Weekly Giveaways! {PLUS $100 Prize Package Giveaway -- Ends 2/3}

I love a delicious sandwich, but it can be hard to get that same satisfaction from gluten-free sandwich breads. I must say that Rudi's Gluten-Free is definitely the closest in terms of taste and texture compared to gluten-laden breads, but they're taken it a step further with a new line of softer, fluffier Gluten-Free Sandwich Breads! I can't wait to try them!
Are you ready to help find "Soft and Fluffy" in your freezer section? Enter Rudi's Gluten-Free $1,000 Reward sweepstakes (and print a $2 off coupon for entering!) and check out the Lost & Found Facebook campaign for weekly giveaways too! 

AND, on to an awesome giveaway just for my readers too!!

Win It!
One winner is going to receive the following AWESOME prize package, a $100 RV!

-Reusable Sandwich Bags
-Sandwich Press
-Gluten-Free Cookbook with Sandwich Recipes
-Colorful Ceramic Plates 

Monday, January 21, 2013 :: Get 12% Off EVERYTHING, 1/21 ONLY!! {PLUS $25 Gift Code Giveaway -- Ends 1/25} is pulling out all the stops and having a site-wide sale on EVERYTHING!! 
  Today only (1/21/13), take 12% off everything with code 123SAVE at checkout! 

{{Sale is for 24 hours only on 01/21/13 from 12:01 a.m. EST to 11:59 p.m EST. Promotional discount applies to purchases up to US$1,000}} carries over 35,000 products that encourage healthier living! From vitamins, supplements, organic foods and everything in between, they definitely have you covered for every stage of life, all at discounted prices. Moms and Dads? You have got to check them out! Shopping with Vitacost will make your life so much easier! Plus, with FREE shipping on orders over $49, or just $4.99 for orders under that, you can't go wrong!
Win It!
One winner will receive a $25 gift code to!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

YumEarth :: Choose Natural Candy for Valentine's Day! {Giveaway Ends 1/29}

YumEarth, America's #1 organic candy company, is the best choice for your Valentine's Day candy shopping this year. Made with only organic and natural ingredients, you won't have to cringe at the thought of giving your kids artificially colored and fake-flavored candy this year. YumEarth is a much better option! With no artificial colors or flavors, YumEarth sweets are gluten, nut and dairy free and include real fruit extracts and planet friendly ingredients. Famous for their organic lollipops and drops, the YumEarth line also includes gummy bears, and my favorite, Sour Beans!
YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans are the best sour jelly beans I've ever had. They come in Family Pack bags (with 10 snack packs inside), and also in 2.5 oz personal size bags. The snack packs are a fantastic way to ensure portion control, or to throw a treat into your kid's lunch box on special occasions. You can check out my review of Sour Beans from last year, and really, my opinion of them is totally the same. Irresistibly delicious, perfectly sweet and sour, and my absolute favorite non-chocolate candy!
I try to limit my sugar intake, but sometimes I just can't help it!! Where I do have more self control is with what I decide to indulge in. It's about choices, and that's what I've learned about a lot in the last year about all kinds of foods in general. For me and my family, the sweets we choose to eat are a better alternative to conventional, artificial sweets out there and I'm fine with the occasional indulgence! My favorite non-chocolate candy brand continues to be YumEarth. 

Price: YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans Family Pack - $5.99 
Buy It: Check out to order today or check a local retailer near you (I get mine at Whole Foods Market and Target).

Win It!
One winner will receive a
YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans Family Pack with 10 Snack Packs!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ivy Bridge College :: $1,000 Tuition Discount Giveaway! {Ends 1/24}

I've made a lot of goals for this new year. Perhaps too many! Many of them involve learning new skills in the kitchen, getting organized so we can focus on remodeling, painting and decorating our home, and many other areas that involve creativity. What are your goals for this year? Maybe it involves going back to school!
I earned my associate's degree just prior to having my son. Many of the courses I took were online, and I thoroughly enjoyed the flexibility. But because I didn't have a major in mind, I didn't continue and then I had Buddy. Although I'm very proud of accomplishing even my 2-year degree, I'd love to go back for my bachelor's degree some day. Going back to school is always in the back of my mind, lingering there, probably until it seems to be something I can focus on. As moms, sometimes we drop everything we want to do so we can focus on our children, and I think there's nothing wrong with that! However, I think for many of us going back to school is an attainable goal with amazing programs such as those through Ivy Bridge College.

Ivy Bridge College has a large focus on helping moms earn their college degree. In fact, 50% of their students are moms! They offer online college courses with flexible scheduling, a free private online community support service for moms, the ability to each an associate's degree in as little as 17 months, and easy transfers to "name brand" 4-year schools to earn your bachelor's degree. The most appealing part for me about IBC is the ability to easily transfer to a 4-year school since IBC has specific transfer agreements with 150 of these "name brand" schools. Transferring can be a major headache and I think that alone is part of the reason why I stopped going to school. I love that IBC is making is easier to obtain a bachelor's degree!

I know that cost is a big issue that deters a lot of moms from going or returning to school. The great part about IBC is that they cost less than 1/3 the amount of other private school tuitions making it a more affordable decision to go to school. Just think, through IBC you can continue to work or raise your small children and still go back to school! I'm excited to work on this campaign to tell you about Ivy Bridge College, and to also have the opportunity to give away a huge discount to one of you!

Win It!
One winner will receive $1,000 tuition discount to Ivy Bridge College!

Thursday, January 17, 2013 :: Acorn Crosslander Moc Slippers Review & Giveaway! {Ends 1/27} US/CAN

As the first winter in our new home, we're beginning to learn just how cold our home gets and all the layers we need to dress in to avoid a huge heating bill each month. Our feet are especially having the worst time since we have mostly hardwood floors that are oh so cold! The problem with most slippers I already have is that they cause me to slip around and create a bit of a falling hazard. Socks pose the same problem. Needing some new slippers I turned to a fabulous online retailer to get me situated with a better slipper option is the perfect online shoe destination if you want to combine style, comfort, value, and eco-conscious ethics with your shoe, bag and accessory shopping. Since 2001, has been committed to their customers and the planet. They sell over 160 of the top shoe brands available at competitive prices, they offer a CarbonFree® Shipping option to help offset carbon emissions from your order, and they even partner with worthy charitable organizations such as Soles4Souls, 1% for the Planet, and the Conservation Alliance. Shipping is free on orders over $49, return shipping is always free, and you can frequently find great deals and sales too!

I received the Acorn Crosslander Moc in the Cafe color to review for you. This is a women's slipper that features Italian wool-blend knit and water-repellent suede on the outside, and soft sherpa fleece and insulated Thermolite synthetic down on the inside. The sole is rubber with a natural jute center that still has a rubber feel for great traction. The interior footbed is made from a contoured piece of EVA foam with that deliciously yummy sherpa fleece interior that is to die for!! It's like my feet are wrapped in the most luxurious bath robe known to man. These are really that comfy. I also found them to be true to size, and shaped well for my wide feet. 

To me the Acorn Crosslander Mocs are very much slippers, as intended, but with the sturdy rubber sole these are a warm shoe choice for running errands if you'd like. Basically they're sturdy like an actual shoe without being too heavy, but warm, soft and cozy like a slipper. I love that I can wear these around the house and make a smooth transition into and out of bed without horribly cold feet now. There's nothing worse than climbing into bed and not being able to get warm because your feet are absolutely freezing (that was happening almost every night!). I've been wearing these at home throughout the day non-stop for a couple weeks and they're still just as wonderful! The rubber traction is awesome, and doesn't mark up my floors either. I've always heard great things about the Acorn brand, so it's nice to finally experience that first-hand too.

Need some new slippers or shoes this winter? I encourage you to check out so you can support a business that's doing a great job balancing fashion and the earth together. Also, take a look at their Eco Shop for all the eco-friendly shoe brands they carry in one spot.

Price: Acorn Crosslander Moc - $80
Buy It: Check out for these slippers and so much more!
Win It!
One winner will receive a pair of Acorn Crosslander Mocs!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gluten-Free Flatbread Pizza {Recipe}

Ahhhhh, good 'ol pizza. I'm so thankful there are gluten-free options available so folks like me can enjoy this comfort food favorite of mine! Not to mention my 4 year-old that begs me for pizza all the time and can't wait for mommy to "get better" so I can go out and eat cheese pizza with him. Poor kid doesn't quite understand that being gluten-free is a permanent lifestyle change for me! Homemade pizza is a great compromise though, and of course Buddy is happy anytime the word "pizza" is involved in any meal. 

I submitted this recipe as one of my Grain Mill Wagon Challenge recipes. This recipe has been adapted using Just Add Cloth's Gluten-Free Pizza Crust recipe with just a few tweaks and most all my ingredients were organic. I wanted a thicker dough so I changed up a few ingredients and also added parmesan cheese at the suggestion of the author. It definitely added some crunch and all in all the crust turned out to have more of a flatbread texture, thus the recipe name I gave it. Spread it thinner than I did and you could probably almost make a cracker or even use it as a flatbread for dipping or other recipes! Overall I'm really happy with the outcome and how easy this was to throw together. 


3 Eggs
1/4 Cup Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup water

3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Almond Meal
3/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour (Freshly Ground)
1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour (Freshly Ground)

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Pizza Toppings of choice (I did mozzarella cheese on one side, and homemade pesto/sliced grape tomatoes/mozzarella on the other)


1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Using a stand mixer, mix together the eggs, oil, water and garlic. Once combined, add the almond meal, flours and cheese.

2) Using a spatula, spread out the dough on a greased cookie dough sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper), or a pizza stone. I spread mine about 1/4 inch thin into a rectangular shape, although I probably could have gone a little thinner with this batch for an even crispier crust.

3) Partially bake in the oven for about 20 minutes and remove. It should look like this above!

4) Add desired toppings and put back in the oven for 12-14 minutes.

5) Allow to cool briefly, slice, and enjoy!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

BubbleBum :: The Inflatable Car Booster Seat {Now Available In Target Stores} PLUS Giveaway! {Ends 1/20}

Introducing BubbleBum, the world's first inflatable car booster seat! This exciting mom-invented, award-winning booster seat is coming to Target stores starting today, January 12th.
Traveling in the car with young children has never been easier! Forget lugging around heavy, bulky booster seats between cars. BubbleBum is the only portable, lightweight, compact solution! Just inflate to use, and deflate and roll up to store away. BubbleBum meets all EU and USA (FMVSS213) regulatory requirements in case you are wondering, so rest assured that this ridiculously smart booster seat is a safe, smart booster seat choice for your children age 4-11. It's compact size also allows for fitting three across the back seat too!

Price: $39.99
Buy It: Check out the store locator for the Target nearest you, or find BubbleBum at one of my local Target locations:

1925 Douglas Blvd
Roseville, CA 95661

2059 Cadenasso Dr
Fairfield, CA 94533

10451 Fairway Dr
Roseville, CA 95678

Win It!
One winner will receive a BubbleBum of their own!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gluten-Free Banana Blueberry Muffins {Plus Two More NEW Gluten-Free Recipes}

Hellllloooooo! Did you miss me?? I sooooo needed that break, so thanks for sticking with me. It was good timing too......holidays, birthdays, family get-togethers, and I had some horribly scary medical stuff come up in the past 3 weeks --- but I think I'm in the clear! More on that at another time.....but for now, let's indulge in some gluten-free muffin goodness. Mmmmmmmm.

Heavenly, lightly sweet, perfect breakfast muffins. These muffins turned out delicious!! I've been taking part in the blogger Grain Mill Wagon Challenge by creating recipes using freshly ground flours from the WonderMill Grain Mill (which is amazing by the way!). Head over there to check out my Gluten-free Banana Blueberry Muffin recipe!

One of my (many) focuses this year will be getting in the kitchen to cook and bake for my family every day. Experimentation with food through this Grain Mill Wagon Challenge has finally made me more comfortable in the kitchen so I've got a running start. I've been married seven years and yet I've never cooked so much, ever! I think it was the push and shove that I needed. We're finally eating at home more regularly too which means we're eating healthier, whole foods, and I'm gaining confidence in the kitchen. I can do it! Also, figuring out how to eat gluten-free is getting easier. For example, I've finally figured out my favorite blend to replace regular wheat flours in recipes is a blend of rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour. Gluten-free baking does not have to be hard, and it certainly isn't for me anymore. Anyway, be sure to check out my other two gluten-free recipes below...