Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baby by KIDBOX Review

My kid has better clothes than I do, and that's not going to change, especially when we've got KIDBOX.

You've probably heard of Stitch Fix, an online clothing company that sends you a certain number of clothes in the mail based on your personal style preferences, and you can keep all of the items or only keep a few. Well, that's what KIDBOX is but for kids!

And they've just added baby clothes to the mix! The new extension Baby by KIDBOX has clothing in sizes newborn to 24 months.

My 1-year-old opening up her KIDBOX.

The beauty of KIDBOX and Baby by KIDBOX is that you don't have to take your kid to the store to try on clothes. The clothes are delivered to you, and you can have your child try them on in the comfort of your own home. If something doesn't fit, you can exchange it for a different size. If your child doesn't like something, just return it. It's so easy!

What's also cool about Baby by KIDBOX is that you're getting name brand clothing at a discounted price, even if you only choose to keep one or two items. But if you keep the whole box, which usually comes with four to five outfits, then it's only $58 total! AND, for each KIDBOX you keep, the company donates a brand new outfit to a child in need.

Excited to wear her 1-year-old sticker from the KIDBOX!
I was given the chance to check out a free Baby by KIDBOX box for my daughter. Our box included four two-piece outfits and a six-piece set of towel and washcloths. (If you watched my Instagram story from awhile ago, you saw us unbox the clothing.) Here's what we got:

1. Dress and Short Set by Babygear - SO CUTE! Perfect for summertime. She can wear it to play in at home and at daycare.

2. Top and Short Set by Jessica Simpson - I love the colors on this. The top looks more like a dress on her with little matching shorts. This is also a perfect summer outfit!

3. Tee and Short Set by DKNY - Who knew that DKNY made baby clothes? We didn't try this one on before deciding to keep the whole box because my kid had an ear infection, and I didn't feel like forcing her in and out of clothes. The shirt on this was difficult to get over her head, but with some stretching out, it ended up being a good fit.

4. Top and Short Set by Lucky - Again, another brand that I had no idea made kids' clothes! I love this shirt and short set. The colors on this will be perfect for wearing on the 4th of July and all summer long!

5. 6pc Bath Set by Babygear - You can never have too many hooded towels and washcloths, am I right?

I was really impressed with the quality and brands of clothing that we received in our KIDBOX, and I think the whole idea of clothing delivered to you is just genius. Who wants to spend an afternoon in a dressing room with a whiny kid?

Plus, it's always fun to get something in the mail! And double plus, there's the charitable component, a great way for you to start a conversation with your kids about giving back!

I think she likes it!
What do you guys think of the KIDBOX concept? Check out KIDBOX and Baby by KIDBOX here!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gluten-Free Veggie Quesadillas

In our quest to eat healthier, we tried out a Fit4Mom recipe for what are, essentially, veggie quesadillas. This was so easy to make, and you can really customize the quesadillas to your liking. Ours contained sliced mushrooms, feta cheese (definitely needed to add MORE of that), and diced green peppers.

To make these gluten-free, we just used gluten-free corn tortillas. They are a little harder to work with than flour tortillas, unfortunately, which is why I don't like to make wraps and stuff with them. But for quesadillas, they work pretty well.

I simply cooked these in a skillet on my stovetop, but you could also use a panini press or George Foreman grill, and I'm sure it's possible to grill them on your outdoor grill or a stovetop grill if you have a gas stove.

Don't forget to garnish wish sour cream or plain Greek yogurt if you're watching your calories!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Greek Yogurt and Nut Butter Balls "Granola"

Didn't have time to make up a meal plan for the week. We'll just figure it out. In lieu of a meal plan, here's a fun recipe idea for breakfast: Greek Yogurt and Nut Butter Balls "Granola".

This is based on the DELICIOUS Nut Butter Balls that I made during the FIT4MOM Month of Mama challenge. (And I have continued to make them since.)

When you're putting the Nut Butter Balls together, not all of the chocolate chips, oats, and coconut flakes get stuck into balls. So I saved the extra bits and used it all as a topping for plain Greek yogurt. It was an easy workday morning breakfast!

The original recipe is NOT gluten-free, but you can easily make it so by using gluten-free oats and checking to make sure all of your other ingredients are gluten-free, too.

If you want the original recipe for Nut Butter Balls, download the Month of Mama recipe booklet. It's all there!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Shine Scrapbook Page

Here's a fun two-page layout I made using a bunch of random scraps! These are all pictures of the baby back in December.

The "shine" embellishment is from Heidi Swapp, and it was on sale at Michael's awhile ago. And the glittery star stickers were from a baby girl sticker pack I purchased at Michael's several months ago.

There are three pieces on this layout from a Valentine's Day-themed patterned paper that I purchased to complete a "kit" I made myself. I cut them out and used them as individual pieces on this layout.

And I also discovered a lot of great patterned paper I'd been hoarding in a Valentine's Day scrapbook paper drawer! So that's what I decided to use as the main patterned background. Valentine's Day stuff for non-Valentine's Day pictures. But it's still all about love!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

An Outlaw and a Lady - Book Review

I feel kind of bad. I am a huge music fan, but I had never heard of Mirriam Johnson or Mirriam Eddy or Jessi Colter.

I had heard of her husband Waylon Jennings. I had heard of Waylon's friends Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Hank Williams, Jr. I had heard of her son Shooter Jennings.

But I had never heard of Jessi Colter. Until now.

Her memoir An Outlaw and a Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life with Waylon, and the Faith that Brought Me Home was one of those books that looked interesting enough, and so I picked it to review for lack of a better option. But I'm glad I did pick it.

If you know anything about Waylon Jennings and his music, then you'll want to read this book, which gives another perspective to what was going on during those times. And if you don't know anything about Waylong Jennings and his music, you'll still get a unique perspective from a woman who has endured in both her marriage and her faith.

Though she didn't have as big of a musical career as her husband, Jessi was a successful singer and songwriter with a few of her own albums released. But she was also a wife and a mother, and being married to Waylon wasn't always easy. Jessi's mother was a preacher who instilled in Jessi a love of God, but as Jessi became an adult, she shied away from the faith of her childhood only to realize later on that she needed God in order to have the strength to make her marriage work and be the source of strength that Waylon needed once he was ready to turn away from his reckless ways.

I found Jessi's life very interesting, and the chapters are pretty short so you can get through the book rather quickly. I would find myself finishing one chapter and saying, "Well, the next chapter won't be long. Let's just read another one!" I really did want to find out what stories the next chapter held. (And yes, there are some pictures.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, June 9, 2017

Bella Gluten-Free Review

A few weeks ago, I came home to a box waiting for me on my front stoop. When I opened it up, I found this!

Yes, they may look like pints of ice cream (that's actually what I thought at first) but they are cute containers filled with different gluten-free mixes: biscuit mix, a cookie mix, pizza crust mix, brownie mix, blueberry scone mix, and dinner roll mix! I got to sample the biscuit, cookie, and pizza crust mixes.

But first, here's a little background on the company. Bella Gluten-Free was started by three chefs who wanted gluten-free baking to be safe, simple, healthy, tasty, and fun. So with Bella Gluten-Free mixes, all you have to do is pour, mix, bake, and enjoy. 

These mixes are wheat-free, gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, peanut-free, lactose-free, casein-free, and non-GMO. And with the exception of the brownie and cookie mixes, everything else is soy-free.

I decided to make the biscuits first so that we could make gluten-free egg sandwiches for dinner one night. What I liked, aside from the cute container, is that the container actually becomes one of the bowls you use for mixing. Pour the mix into a separate bowl and then whisk your egg in the Bella Gluten-Free container! Less clean-up, too!

The biscuits turned out about as well as I expected. I'm not sure I've ever tasted AMAZING gluten-free biscuits. But in terms of consistency and appearance, these biscuits were a pretty good imitation of regular biscuits. Might also have helped if I had served them fresh from the oven, but I baked them in advance because when you have a 14-month-old in the house who won't let you do anything except sit right next to her while she plays on the floor, you have to make things like this during naptime.

For the chocolate chip cookies, I can only go by what my husband and dad told me. I never got to taste one! They both said these cookies were really good. I'm lucky I even got a picture snapped before the cookies were all gone.

The cookies are made in a similar way to the biscuits. Pour the mix into a separate bowl and use the container to melt butter and whisk eggs.

And then there's the pizza crust. This is definitely good as long as you're making it a personal pizza. It's a little small to share. At least, I couldn't get the dough to roll out any bigger. But it was very easy to make (once again!) and easy to top with our favorite toppings. Which are just cheese and pepperoni. But whatever.

The company also makes an All-Purpose Baking Mix for use with any of your from-scratch baking adventures. I received a small sample of that, too, but haven't made it yet. (I'm actually planning on using it in tonight's coconut pancakes!)

All in all, I'd say these new gluten-free baking mixes are a success! I would certainly make the cookies again, especially because I want to try them next time. And I'd love to try out the dinner rolls and brownies.

You can find the products in grocery stores such as Wegman's, HEB, Whole Foods, and World Market. Or if no stores near you carry Bella Gluten-Free (as is the case with me), just order online from Lucky Vitamin. You'll find a store locator tool here and the link to buy online right here. Each one is about $4.99.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Is the Bible Good for Women? - Book Review

Wherever Wendy Alsup is speaking, that's where I want to be. Here is a woman who has a lot of good insight, a lot of Biblical knowledge, and an interesting way of explaining things. Several years ago I read her book By His Wounds You Are Healed, which was a Bible study for women through the book of Ephesians. Looking back at my old posts about reading the book, I'm reminded how much I enjoyed it (and how much I've forgotten from it, unfortunately).

I didn't make the connection between Alsup's new book Is The Bible Good for Women? and By His Wounds You Are Healed when I first requested to review the new book from Blogging for Books. I just thought it sounded interesting for someone like me (a Christian woman) to read. But once I received the book, I realized that I was familiar with the author, and so I was even more excited to get started.

If you're wondering if the Bible is good for women, Alsup is going to tell you "yes". You should just know that going in. You can't go into reading this book with suspicions. Leave all your baggage at the front cover.

Here's the thing about this book. It takes you through a lot of Bible background, and this is in an attempt to help you understand how to use the Bible to find the answers. The Bible is its own source! You just have to understand how all the stories are interconnected, as opposed to each story standing on its own. Some Bible stories about women might seem bad, but those events were part of a larger picture that could only be understood down the line. Alsup writes in chapter 5, "The stories of women of Scripture, read thousands of years after their death, inspire me, too, to give myself to something that transcends my lifetime." (p. 93)

You have to understand the context of each story and remember that things in Biblical times were not like how they are today.

The book was good but it wasn't what I expected. I wanted to go through the stories of women in the Bible and dissect them to see what they really meant back then and what they mean for women today, and there just wasn't enough of that for me. The way the book was written was not what I had anticipated, and I just couldn't move past that to really enjoy reading the book as much as I had hoped.

Alsup is able to make some good points, but she needed to make them faster for me.

If you're going to read this as a Bible study or small group book, then you'll be pleased to know there are discussion questions in the back of the book to aid your group conversation about each chapter.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - June 5

We're getting a little experimental this week. I have leftover coconut milk from the donuts I made last week, and I want to use it up somehow so that I'm not wasting food or money. So, wish us luck!

Sunday: Italian Sausage and Potato Roast

Monday: Chicken Fettucine Alfredo

Tuesday: hot dogs, baked beans

Wednesday: Herb Noodles (from 101 Cookbooks)

Thursday: tuna sandwiches and fries

Friday: Coconut Macaroon Pancakes (from 101 Cookbooks)

Saturday: pasta

Friday, June 2, 2017

National Donut Day

Happy National Donut Day!

Growing up, we always got our donuts from a local place called Paul's Donuts, and they had such good donuts! My favorite was always the vanilla long john. Now, I don't know if it's just a Paul's thing or a Missouri thing, but there are NO vanilla long john donuts in New Jersey or New York. I don't know why Dunkin Donuts makes chocolate long johns and NOT vanilla. Seems like it would be pretty easy to do. You're already making long donuts with chocolate on top. Why not just make a batch of vanilla icing for the long ones?

But I digress.

In honor of this year's National Donut Day, I decided to break out my donut baking pan and whip up some gluten-free, low-sugar donuts because I have been holding on to this really delicious-sounding recipe for months and I was dying to make it!

The recipe for Coconut-Vanilla Doughnuts (donuts or doughnuts?) was published in American Lifestyle magazine (a magazine that our real estate agent sends us every month), but the recipe can also be found in Ella Leche's Cut the Sugar: You're Sweet Enough Cookbook.

Be prepared to do some grocery shopping because you're going to need ingredients that you might not already have in your pantry. Lucky for me, I already had a huge bag of Sugar in the Raw cane sugar, coconut oil, and all-purpose gluten-free flour. But I did have to buy powdered Stevia. The only thing I could find was powdered Truvia, and that's basically the same thing: a powdered form of a sugar substitute, right?

The one thing I could not find was rice malt syrup. Apparently, you HAVE to buy this at a health food store. My local ShopRite did not have anything aside from maple syrup, so that's what I ended up using. Not so low sugar, huh? It only goes in the icing over the donuts, so you could totally omit that part if you wanted.

Overall, this was a pretty easy recipe to put together. I made it during afternoon naptime. However, you definitely need to let the donuts cool down before removing them from the pan. These donuts are very FRAGILE. Not the same consistency of regular donuts.

Not all of mine turned out pretty (or like the picture in the magazine). But seriously, they were edible! And not just edible, tasty! You'll be pleasantly surprised at how sweet these donuts are even without all the added sugar.

So don't feel bad about indulging this National Donut Day!