Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Starting Solids | Serenity's First Food

I consider myself a fairly "crunchy" mama ~ I prefer to use natural methods whenever possible for whatever I am doing, and parenthood is no exception. Part of that philosophy includes something called "baby led weaning" which basically means you don't force your child to eat on a schedule or by a certain age, but rather you watch for certain markers that indicate your child is ready to start eating solids, then let them take the lead (using safe foods, of course). You typically end up avoiding purees, and most babies that start solids using this method do not start eating solids until they are between 7 and 9 months old, and sometimes older. The markers to watch for are a) sitting unassisted, b) loses the tongue thrust reflex, c) shows interest in eating, and d) is at least 6 months old.

I had totally intended to use this method with Serenity. And I did ~ it just didn't turn out quite how I had expected.

Serenity started showing interest in what we were eating at only 4 months old. I was not thrilled, but figured she'd be fine for another 2 months. Not so much. At 5 months and 1 day old, Serenity grabbed my fork with both hands, and just about managed to stuff it into her mouth before I got it away from her, and she threw the biggest fit I have ever seen on a baby this age. Screamed and screamed and screamed!!! So we went back to the drawing board, and decided that since the only marker missing was her age, we would go ahead and start her on solids a little early, and just take it slow.

We started with egg yolk. She wasn't much impressed...

You might be wondering why egg, and some of you might be freaking out because eggs are not recommended until a year old because of the risk of allergic reaction. Fear not! I have an explanation.

The allergenic properties of egg are found in the white portion, not the yolk. So as long as you remove all of the white and the membrane, you're golden (pun intended, haha).

"What is this stuff?? I think she's trying to kill me!!"

Serenity was more than ready to grasp things with her hands, but she wasn't yet scooping small objects with her fingers, so she wasn't getting the hang of picking up the pieces of egg yolk. She wasn't a big fan of me sticking pieces of yolk into her mouth (she's already incredibly independent, and wanted to feed herself), so I mushed up the yolk with a little water and smeared it on a spoon. Handed it over, and off she went! Happy as a clam, and ate almost a full yolk before she got tired and pooped out.

So starting solids didn't go quite as I had planned. But she's taken right to it, and is happily chowing down on something yummy once a day for over a month now. So far, baked sweet potato seems to be her favorite *smiles*

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stylish Storage | Packaways Reusable Plastic Storage Boxes | Review

Whether you're off to college, moving into a new place, or you're like me and are trying to store 6 sizes of little girl clothes at once, everyone needs a little help when it comes to finding the right storage solution.

Packaways can help! They have styles in Classic, Totes, and Under Bed storage, and they fold flat for easy storage when they're not in use.

I had the pleasure of reviewing the pink and green Classic boxes, and I absolutely love them!!! If I have my choice, I will never use another regular storage tote again, and if you know me, you know that I adore my bright and colorful plastic storage tubs, so that's really saying something.

Here are some great features of these storage boxes...

  • Corrugated Plastic, Protects from Water & Humidity
  • Instant Set-Up, No Tape Required
  • Reuse Hundreds of Times
  • Collapses Flat When Not in Use
  • Unique Wipe Away End Panel

I received these boxes just in time to help me transport food and party stuff for my sister-in-law Kristine's baby shower. They worked great!

I used the larger pink box to carry gifts, decorations, balloons, and about 15 other random party supplies. I left this box open to accommodate the taller items and the inflated balloons, and the box held stability beautifully.

I used the green Classic box to transport the food, including a full sized crock pot full of apricot meatballs, and 5 2 liter bottles of lemon lime soda for punch, and not only did the box hold up extraordinarily well, it held up better than I did, trying to carry it! Considering that these boxes use folds to hold their bottoms and tops together - no tape - that is extremely impressive!

The two boxes fit in easily in the backseat of a little Toyota sedan along with Serenity in her carseat, a diaper bag, the large crib bedding set you see in the picture above, and a huge box of cookies. Had both boxes been closed, I could have fit another one on top, no problem!

Be sure to check out Packaways on their website and on Facebook. The Classic boxes pictured are available in 3 colors or in a natural white, starting at $8.95.

Disclosure:: I received the products mentioned above free of charge using Tomoson.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and may differ from the opinions of others. All opinions are my own, and may differ from the opinions of others. This post is in compliance with FTC regulations. Learn more on my PR and Disclosure pages.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beanfields | Corn & Gluten-Free Black Bean & Rice Chips | Review & Giveaway

You may remember from eons past on this blog that I have had quite a bit of difficulty with digestive issues for over a decade, with few answers to cause at this point. I experienced an unexpected reprieve during my recent pregnancy, but now that my daughter is almost 6 months old I have begun to see a resurgence of symptoms, and I have to tell you, I'm not thrilled. I already know that I have trouble with Candida overgrowth, but one theory that I've tossed around is that I may be sensitive to gluten - the protein found in grains like wheat and barley. Another theory is that I may be sensitive to corn. At this time, I am limiting my gluten intake with intentions to eliminate it completely after the holidays (what, a girl's gotta live a little, even if uncomfortably), and corn will follow once that is under control. I'd throw it all out at once, cold turkey, but frankly, it's just a little much right now. I know - people do it and do it well (my sister-in-law's family did, just this fall), but what can I say? I guess I'm a little chicken. Or maybe just lazy. Feel free to not tell me which you think it is. *wink*

I had the pleasure of testing Beanfields Crispylicious! black bean and rice chips. Corn and gluten-free, these chips are made from high quality black beans and long grain rice, and are flavored with natural ingredients. My mom helped me taste test (so did my husband, but more about that later).

Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips are great tasting snacks that are healthier for you:

bullet point Complete Protein: 4 grams in every serving, as much as a 4 oz. glass of milk.
bullet point Fiber: 4 grams in every serving, the same as a ½ cup serving of raisin bran.
And you get both soluble and insoluble fiber, which aids digestion. The fiber also helps
you feel fuller longer.
bullet point Allergen Specific: Beanfields is free of every one of the FDA's eight most common
ingredients that trigger food allergies.
bullet point Complex Carbohydrates provide long lasting energy.
bullet point Minerals our bodies need, including potassium and magnesium.
bullet point Half the saturated fat and one third less sodium than most corn tortilla chips.

To make these chips even more awesome, all of the flavors are free of any genetically-modified organisms (non-GMO) and are recipients of the prestigious Non-GMO Verification awarded by the Non-GMO Project.

 They also received Best Of Show at the 2012 Natural Products Expo West for 2012! Here's what VegNews had to say about Beanfields...

"We are obsessed (no, really) with Beanfields' new Nacho Bean & Rice Chips. The vegan answer to Doritos!" - VegNews

Corn free, vegan, and gluten free, Beanfields Crispylicious! Nacho Bean & Rice Chips contain 4 grams each of protein and fiber, and have been called the healthy alternative to Doritos.

I tried these chips, and they are interesting. The bean flavor - a subtle earthiness - does interact oddly with the nacho flavor, and I am not personally a fan of that. But they're not bad! I'm not a big fan of nacho flavored chips in general, so perhaps I am not the best judge of this particular flavor, though. My mom said these were her favorite, and she does like nacho flavored chips. Perhaps we'd better take her word for it instead of mine?

The Naturally Salted variety of Beanfields is the closest to nature of the varieties. Earthy and crisp, but without much defining taste. I think these would be best used in a recipe, like taco salad or similar, where they are there more for texture than for flavor.

Evidently, the Pico De Gallo flavor of Beanfields is delicious. Sadly, I wouldn't know, because my husband ate every last one of the 2 bags we received before I even knew they had arrived!

"These things are amazing!!" ~ Nick Belleque

I was really excited about the Sea Salt & Pepper flavor of Beanfields, but I personally found them to be way to peppery. It's a great flavor, just too strong for me. I think these would be good crumbled into a hearty stew or soup, though *smiles*

These were my favorite! Sea Salt - nice and subtle, a little zippy, and perfect for a light snack or a side with soup or for nachos. Yum!

Overall, I like these chips, and I think they are a good alternative to corn chips. It's good to know that there is a decent choice for those with corn or gluten intolerance, and even those who can eat anything they want may enjoy the change of pace from plain ol' corn. I personally love black beans and how versatile they can be, and these chips are testament to just that!

You can connect with Beanfields on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

Beanfields products are currently available in multiple stores on the west coast, and online. Full cases of 12 6oz bags in any one flavor or your personal assortment of flavors are available for $40.00 and $8.00 shipping/handling, and full cases of 24 1.5oz bags in any one flavor or your personal assortment of flavors are available for $30.00 and $6.00 shipping/handling (Naturally Unsalted is not available in 1.5oz bags).

Want to try these chips out for yourself? One lucky reader of Our Little Bit Of Wonderful will be winning a 1/2 case (6 bags) of Beanfields chips in assorted flavors! You must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the United States in order to win, and only entries received via the Rafflecopter widget below, and entries will be verified. Good luck! *smiles*

Disclosure:: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com in exchange for an honest review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own, and may differ from the opinions of others. This post is in compliance with FTC regulations. Learn more by visiting my PR and Disclosure pages.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

With Every Letter | Sarah Sundin | Book Review & Giveaway

With Every Letter
by Sarah Sundin

{ About This Book }

As part of a morale-building program, World War II flight nurse Lt. Mellie Blake begins an anonymous correspondence with Army engineer Lt. Tom MacGilliver in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, they develop a deep friendship. But when they're both transferred to Algeria, will their future be held hostage by the past—or will they reveal their identities?

Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them? Combining excellent research and attention to detail with a flair for romance, Sarah Sundin brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing, and true love.

{ My Thoughts On This Book }

With Every Letter is the first book in Sarah's new Wings Of The Nightingale series, set during WWII. Sarah Sundin once again marries the grand sweep of history to the fine detail of a faith based romantic novel, and this book is by far my favorite of hers to date!

The heroine struggles to relate to her fellow nurses, and with self-image issues. The hero hides the deep pain of a childhood full of rejection and misplaced blame behind a bright shiny smile. Both fear that no one could even look past their preconceptions to see the real person beneath...until an anonymous letter writing program designed boost troop morale brings them together at the heart.

The lies we tell ourselves are always more damaging than the lies others tells us about ourselves. Mellie and Tom learn this the hard way, almost missing the love of a lifetime in their individual quests for self-preservation. This is a story that will reach behind your masks, and poke you where it hurts. If you are honest with yourself, as these characters were in the end, you will likely come face to face with a little change of your own while reading this book.

I recommend this book, and all of Sarah's books, to anyone and everyone!

Be sure to check out my review of Sarah's previous book, Blue Skies Tomorrow, here.

{ About The Author }

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

You can connect with Sarah on her website and Facebook.

Be sure to check out the interview I did with Sarah last summer, here.

{ Buy This Book }

You can purchase your own copy of With Every Letter for $9.99 here.

{ Win This Book }

Sarah has kindly offered to give away a copy of her new book, With Every Letter, to one lucky Our Little Bit Of Wonderful reader! You must be a resident of either the United States or of Canada, and at least 18 years old to win this giveaway. Sarah Sundin will ship the book to the winner once they are confirmed (you will have 48 hours to respond to the winner's email or we will pick a new winner), and Our Little Bit Of Wonderful is not responsible for prize fulfillment. This offer VOID where prohibited by law.

{ Disclosure }

I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and may differ from the opinions of others. This post is in compliance with FTC regulations. Learn more on my PR and Disclosure pages.

Monday, October 8, 2012

You Don't Know Me | Susan May Warren | Book Review & Author Giveaway

You Don't Know Me
by Susan May Warren

{ About This Book }

Sometimes the secrets we keep to protect ourselves can be our undoing.

To all who know her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses a sporting event, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the quaint harbor town of Deep Haven, Deidre received a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker.

Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on parole and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the courage to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?

This is a Deep Haven novel.

{ My Thoughts On This Book }

Fast paced, with characters that are deeply flawed and entirely believable, You Don't Know Me is a story about the destructive power of lies - even ones born of necessity - and the astonishing power of forgiveness when found in Christ Jesus.

I enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to anyone who likes modern fiction with timeless messages of hope and redemption.

Find out what others are saying about this book here. You can also read my reviews of Susan's books Heiress and Baroness here and here.

{ About The Author }

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.

Find out more about Susan May at http://www.susanmaywarren.com/.
{ Buy This Book }

You can purchase your own copy of You Don't Know Me for $9.18 here.

{ Author Giveaway }

Welcome to the campaign launch for Susan May Warren’s latest offering in her beloved Deep Haven series, You Don’t Know Me. Susan is celebrating with a $200 Weekend Getaway Giveaway and hosting a fun video Author Chat Party!


One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one and “Get to Know” your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the You Don’t Know Me” Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/23. Connect with Susan for an evening of book chat, Deep Haven trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be info about Susan’s BookShout read-along and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of You Don’t Know Me and join Susan on the evening of the October 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

{ Disclosure }

I received a copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and may differ from the opinions of others. This post is in compliance with FTC regulations. Learn more on my PR and Disclosure pages.