Posts filed under Holidays

A New Challenge for Valentine's Day

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!  For a very important date!  Yes, it is February 8th and I have absolutely NO plan for Valentine's Day.  It's not making me feel any better to see updates from all my lovely friends with their cute kiddos making VDay crafts and treats.  It has been on my to-do list to get safe VDay chocolate to give out for days now.  I am not sure why, but I have been a master procrastinator this year.  I keep putting off my "order safe chocolate" to-do item and haven't really been in the VDay spirit.  Then I saw a "Pop Quiz" about VDay from Mylan (makers of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr.) that got me thinking outside of my box and excited to try something new.  This year, I am challenging myself.  No food treats for Vday this year! FACT or MYTH:  Everyone loves to get a box of chocolates:  MYTH!

"For people who have potentially life threatening (severe) allergies, getting a box of chocolates might not be a welcome gift.  Many chocolates may contain some of the most common food allergens like cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts." - Mylan

There are some more fun facts and myths from Mylan below (click on the graphic to enlarge it) but the above stood out to me the most.

It is no secret that I love chocolate.  If you look around my blog, chocolate is a very common theme that pops up often.  So naturally, for VDay, I have always done chocolate.  That said, just because no-nut chocolate is safe for us, it might not be safe or a welcome gift for other families.  Aside from allergies, other parents might not want their kids cracked out on VDay sugar, artificial flavoring, and food dyes.

Please join me by not going the candy and treat route for VDay this year.  Need some last minute non-food VDay ideas like I do?!?!  I got em' for ya!  Check out the links below for some awesome VDay ideas that will get you and your kids looking like crafty (not foodie) little Martha Stewarts!

Foam roses, heart shaped animal cards, paper heart chains, stained glass hearts all from Allergic Living

Heart shaped crayons, heart people, love bugs, tissue paper hearts, stained glass window hangers, cute caterpillars, heart shaped pillows all from Allergic Living

10 non-candy ideas from She Knows Parenting

Peanut Free Zone's Valentines Day Pinterest Board (is Ah-Ma-Zing!)

I just updated my to-do list from "Order safe chocolate for VDay" to "Buy crafts for VDay cards."

Let me know your fabulous non-food Valentine gift ideas in the comments below!

And for more information about severe allergies and anaphylaxis, visit AnaphylaxisRevealed.com.

Posted on February 8, 2014 and filed under Holidays.

Our first Nut-Free Halloween...

Halloween is right around the corner and it is by far our favorite holiday, only coming in second to Christmas of course.  Our girl has been talking about Halloween for months.  She wanted to discuss her costume options in July (no joke)!  After months of discussion, she finally went with her first choice - Sophia the First - which I knew she would go with the entire time.  Anyone with a toddler or preschool age girl knows little Princess Sophia.  She asks to put on her Halloween costume every morning when she wakes up.  She asked me to go ahead and decorate for Halloween in mid-September.

Needless to say, we are excited.  This is also the first Halloween we have had since finding our about our daughter's peanut, tree nut and shellfish allergies.  I have been stressing for months about Halloween.  Trick-or-treating has always been a huge tradition in our family and I have been wondering if it could ever be the same for her.  Let me tell you people, it will be!  I have talked to many moms through the No Nuts Moms Group, read other blog posts and researched safe candies and chocolate.  I was even lucky enough to be invited to attend an exclusive webinar put on by Mylan with special guest Jo Frost, the Super Nanny, who also lives with life-threatening food allergies.  The topic was about safely navigating Halloween with food allergies.  ***Please see the link to her tip sheet at the bottom of this post for having a food allergy friendly Halloween.  At this point, I can actually say that I feel really comfortable with our plan, and not just comfortable with it, but excited about it.  Our girl will be three in one short month and she is now old enough to really experience and remember this Halloween and it is going to be AWESOME!

We have decided to let her go trick-or-treating and of course either myself or my husband will go with her while the other one stays at our house to hand out candy.  We will set the ground rules early - no eating candy while we are trick-or-treating.  Everything goes straight into her pumpkin bucket.  Then, when we get home, we will swap everything for safe candy.  I am not really comfortable with sorting through the candy and trying to determine what is safe and what is not.  Plus, I feel like there is the potential for a lot of cross contamination with everything just thrown in together.  I have literally prepared another pumpkin basket just like hers that is full of safe treats.  We will let her know why we are doing it and will make the swap together, as a family.  I think there is educational value in doing it this way.

I have heard of some families creating a tradition where a "switch witch" or similar Halloween creature comes in the middle of the night to switch out the candy, and at first I thought this was such a cute idea but ultimately decided against it and here's why:  I wanted to keep Halloween simple and straight forward.  She can't eat the candy she collects because  it could have nuts in it, so we will participate in trick-or-treating and then make it safe for her by switching out the candy as soon as we get home.  I want her to be able to enjoy some that night.  I also don't want to make up something that other children could be critical about or question - "Who is the switch witch and why does she only visit you?"  Or, "there is no such thing as the switch witch," or "I've never heard of that before," etc.  I think it is a cute and creative idea but I just think simple and straight forward is better for us.

Now, on to her goodies.  Her bucket will be packed with Junior Mints, Dove chocolates, YumEarth organic lollipops, and treats from Vermont Nut Free and Amanda's Own Confections.

Please check out this great tip sheet from Jo:  ***Jo Frost Halloween Webinar Tip Sheet copy

Happy trick-or-treating all, and here is to a safe and fun Halloween!  Tell me about your plans in the comments below!  I would love to hear!  xo

Posted on October 13, 2013 and filed under Holidays, Product Reviews.

The nut-free Easter bunny is coming and he is bringing chocolate...

Of course with Easter right around the corner, I have seen a lot of ideas on blogs and websites for healthier or entirely food-free Easter gifts for food allergic children, but I must say that one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of Easter treats is chocolate. No bunny ever gave carrot sticks or toys in my family!  It has always been about the chocolate.  Even more so than Halloween, it was the one time a year I could devour what seemed like 5 pounds of the sweet stuff in one day.  I like to think that I have grown into a chocolate connoisseur (ok, choco-holic in reality).

Last Easter, our daughter was too young to enjoy Easter treats but this year, things have changed.  She recognizes the Easter bunny, asks when he is going to visit, and has her basket ready to go.  Of course it should come as no surprise that chocolates and desserts of all kinds are notorious for cross-contamination with both peanuts and tree nuts.  That should be a game changer for us, but this nut-free momma is not gonna let it get in her way!

Her basket will be filled with Vermont Nut Free crispy milk chocolate eggs, Amanda's Own springtime bunny bags and Peeps.  Just a note - Amanda's Own is great for people with other food allergies as well.  All of their chocolate is nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free! Of course I had to taste test all of the chocolate since it was the first time I had ordered from both companies and honestly, they were great!  The fact that I don't have to sweat it when my sweet girl devours it gives me such peace of mind!  Planning in advance and taking the time to special order these chocolates versus trying to find something safe at the local grocery store was totally worth it and I will definitely be ordering from both companies again.

I am so glad we will (safely) be keeping our sweet Easter chocolate tradition with the girls.

We are ready for the nut-free Easter bunny to arrive!

Posted on March 26, 2013 and filed under Holidays, Product Reviews.