Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

Ever since a dietician I work with gave me this healthy brownie recipe I've wanted to try it out. It's vegan, gluten-free, and is made with black beans! Usually I have a hard time giving up flour and eggs, after all I am very fortunate not to have any food sensitivities or allergies. But I thought I could make an exception this time. It always feels good to sneak healthy things into your kids treats too, isn't it?

We decided to try them out and thought they would be the perfect chocolaty treat for Valentine's Day! I must admit I was very sneaky in the kitchen, not letting my 5 year old see the black beans at all. Just in case. They were a big success in our house. The centres are soft and fudgy just like "real" brownies, and it's so fun choosing different toppings. Everyone loved them. I even ate a few for breakfast, and didn't even feel guilty about it.

The best thing about these brownies is how easy they are to make. You basically just throw all the ingredients into a food processor and pour into a muffin tin! The day I decided to make them, I had all the ingredients in my kitchen already and didn't need a special grocery shopping trip. 

You can find the recipe for these Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies here, from Minimalist Baker.

What is your favourite healthy treat recipe? Do you like to hide healthy things into your kids treats? Happy Valentine's Day!

xo Marie

Recyclable Christmas Wrapping Ideas

Ever since I found out that wrapping paper often times isn't recyclable, or very difficult to recycle, I've been looking for alternative ways to wrap gifts. Lots of people use gift bags which can be reused year to year, however, I don't like keeping and storing items around my house that I only use once a year. Who has the space for that? I'd rather prioritize my yarn storage, thank you very much. 

I am not a perfect person (surprised?!). In general, and when it comes to earth friendly habits. I make small steps here and there, like ditching the single serve plastic coffee cup machines for an old fashioned drip machine. The way I wrap my gifts is my next small step.

I now use Kraft paper, which you can find at the post office, and is easy to recycle!  I also hold on to last year's Christmas cards, use the templates found here and here from Martha Stewart and make my own gift tags out of the cards. 

I thought my 4 year old daughter wouldn't be too happy about the switch to brown paper, but she loves the recycled card gift tags so much she hasn't really noticed! I'm also prepared to let her stamp and colour all over the paper if she wants to, when she's giving a gift to a friend. 

Not only does this simple method of wrapping gifts help save the environment, it helps save money too! Will you be trying these recyclable gift wrap ideas this year? How do you take small steps to reduce waste and save money over the holidays?


Starbucks Holiday Beverage Door Decoration


I am about 6 months into a new job, and I was thrilled to find out they have a Christmas door decoration contest! I gussied up my office door to be a Starbucks holiday beverage! Doesn't this make you want a Peppermint Mocha right now?

This was so easy to do. I used red Kraft paper from Michaels, brown Kraft paper from the post office, and I printed an image of the Starbucks logo onto legal sized paper and cut it out. I wrote my name with an extra large sharpie. The white lid was made with the backside of some wrapping paper! 

Do you have a door decoration contest at your workplace, or do you decorate just for fun? Share your ideas by commenting on the blog, or share a photo and tag us on instagram! 

Happy decorating!


Marie's Cutest Crochet Earflap Hats


Marie developed the pattern for these quick, adorable Cutest Crochet Earflap Hats in the spring when we first started the blog, and I've been waiting ever since then for the weather to cool down again so I could make one for my son. Marie made a new one for her daughter too and the cuteness almost killed me when I took them out to do this photo shoot together. We're so lucky to have them as friends! 

Hunting for ladybugs is serious work.

Hunting for ladybugs is serious work.

I really appreciate how these hats are cozy but yet not too hot, so perfect for fall and spring. And the oversized earflaps framing those chubby kid cheeks? The chill in the air is so worth it. 

Check out Marie's original post and free pattern here!


Beary Cute Mountain Play Set


Well, here's part two of my tiny mountain bear play set! It's going to be so fun to give this to a sweet baby for Christmas! I'm really pleased with how it turned out. If you missed it a couple of weeks ago, you can find the pattern for my Tiny Mountain Bears here. They fit perfectly in this little cave, and look SO cute peeking out with their little noses!


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I hope you enjoy trying this one out, let me know if you have any questions! 


Size 4.0 crochet hook
Medium Level 4 yarn in white, gray, black
Yarn Needle
Polyfil stuffing


SC = Single Crochet
CH = Chain
HDC = Half Double Crochet


Notes: Unless specified otherwise, to switch colours carry the yarn from behind. Be careful with your tension to avoid misshaping. 

Using white yarn, make a magic ring. CH 1, SC 8 into magic ring.
Row 1: 2 SC, SC 3, 2 SC, SC 3 (10 sts)
Row 2: 2 SC, SC 4, 2 SC, SC 4 (12 sts)  
Row 3: 2 SC, SC 5, 2 SC, SC 5 (14 sts)
Row 4: 2 SC, SC 6, 2 SC, SC 6 (16 sts)
Row 5: 2 SC, SC 7, 2 SC, SC 7 (18 sts)
Row 6: 2 SC, SC 8, 2 SC, SC 8 (20 sts)
Row 7: 2 SC, SC 9, 2 SC, SC 9 (22 sts)
Row 8: 2 SC, SC 10, 2 SC, SC 10 (24 sts)
Row 9: 2 SC, SC 11, 2 SC, SC 11 (26 sts)
Row 10: 2 SC, SC 12, 2 SC, SC 12 (28 sts)
Row 11: 2 SC, SC 13, 2 SC, SC 13 (30 sts)
Row 12: 2 SC, SC 14, 2 SC, SC 14 (32 sts)
Row 13: 2 SC, SC 15, 2 SC, SC 15 (34 sts)
Row 14: 2 SC, SC 16, 2 SC, SC 16 (36 sts)
Row 15: 2 SC, SC 16, SC into next stitch, but pull gray yarn through the last two loops. 2 SC next stitch in gray, carry white yarn from behind, SC 7 in white, pulling gray yarn through last SC, SC 3 in gray, SC 7 in white (38 sts)

Row 16: 2 SC, SC 16, pull gray yarn through last SC. SC 2, 2 SC, SC 4, switch to white, SC 4, pull gray through last SC. SC 8, switch to white, SC 2. (40 sts)
Row 17: 2 SC, SC 14, pull gray yarn through last SC. SC 5, 2 SC, SC 6. Switch to white, SC 3, pull gray yarn through last SC. SC 10. (42 sts)
Row 18: (in gray) 2 SC, SC 3, switch to white, SC 8, pull gray yarn through last SC. SC 9, 2 SC, SC 20 (44 sts)
Row 19: (in gray) 2 SC, SC 7, switch to white, SC 5, pull gray yarn through last SC. SC 9, 2 SC, SC 21 (46 sts) 
Row 20: 2 SC, SC 10, switch to white, SC 3, pull gray yarn through last SC.  SC 9, 2 SC, SC 22 (48 sts) 
Row 21: 2 SC, SC 23, 2 SC, SC 23 (50 sts)
Row 22: 2 SC, SC 24, 2 SC, SC 24 (52 sts)
Row 23: 2 SC, SC 25, 2 SC, SC 25 (54 sts)
Row 24: 2 SC, SC 26, 2 SC, SC 26 (56 sts)
Row 25: 2 SC, SC 27, 2 SC, SC 27 (58 sts)
Row 26: 2 SC, SC 28, 2 SC, SC 28 (60 sts)
Row 27: Turn, SC DEC, SC 27, 2 SC, SC 27, SC DEC
Row 28: Turn, SC DEC, SC 27, 2 SC, SC 26, SC DEC
Row 29: Turn, SC DEC, SC 26, 2 SC, SC 26, SC DEC
Row 30: Turn, SC DEC, SC 26, 2 SC, SC 25, SC DEC
Row 31: Turn, SC DEC, SC 25, 2 SC, SC 25, SC DEC
Row 32: Turn, SC DEC, SC 25, 2 SC, SC 24, SC DEC
Row 33: CH 1, turn. SC 26, 2 SC, SC 26
Row 34: CH 1, turn. SC 27, 2 SC, SC 26
Row 35: CH 1, turn. SC 27, 2 SC, SC 27
Row 36: CH 1, turn, SC in each stitch to end (56 sts)* Repeat for rows 37 - 42. Tie off. 


Notes: At the beginning of each row, join to the second CH from previous row. Always work first HDC into the same stitch as CH2. 

Using black yarn, make a magic ring, CH 2, HDC 12 into magic ring, Pull closed. 
Row 1: Join, CH 2, HDC into same stitch as CH2, 2 HDC in each stitch around (24 sts)
Row 2: Join, CH 2, HDC, HDC  [2 HDC, HDC] Repeat around (36 sts)
Rows 3 - 8: Join, CH 2, HDC in each stitch around (36 sts) Join and tie off after row 8. 

Mountain Base

Make a magic ring, CH 1, SC 8 into magic ring, Pull closed. 
Row 1: 2 SC into each stitch around (16 sts)
Row 2: 2 SC, SC* Repeat around (24 sts)
Row 3: 2 SC, SC 2* Repeat around (32 sts)
Row 4: 2 SC, SC 3* Repeat around (40 sts)
Row 5: 2 SC, SC 4* Repeat around (48 sts)
Row 6: 2 SC, SC 5* Repeat around (56 sts)
Row 7: 2 SC, SC 6* Repeat around (64 sts)
Row 8: 2 SC, SC 7* Repeat around (72 sts) 
Row 9: 2 SC, SC 8* Repeat around (80 sts)
Row 10: 2 SC, SC 9* Repeat around (88 sts) Tie off. 


Hold the seam of the cave together with the bottom of the cave opening in the mountain. Make a slip knot, join in the first stitch at the bottom of the cave and SC both pieces together.

Carefully stuff the mountain by adding small handfuls of stuffing, shaping as you go. 

Sew the base, right side out, onto the bottom of the mountain using the whip stitch. 



Gauge Swatch Doll Blankets


I despise gauge swatches. Since I am still quite a beginner, I'm slow at crocheting. I am a busy working mom, and I can't find enough time within the week to do the things I love, such as sitting down with a crochet project.  I suppose that's why spending precious time making a gauge swatch gets me feeling so frustrated! 

I can't bring myself to throw them away, so I decided to turn them into doll blankets for my daughter's dollhouse.  They just happen to be the perfect size, and it was super easy!  Just add a fancy edging or tassels and you're done!

Do you despise making gauge swatches as much as I do? What do you do to repurpose yours?






Gauge Swatch Doll Blanket Pattern

sc = single crochet
sl st = slip stitch
dc = double crochet

Start with one completed gauge swatch.
Round 1: Ch 1, sc into each stitch or stitch space around the piece, working 3sc in the corner space, sl st to join last sc to 1st sc.
Round 2: Ch 1, (sc in next stitch, skip 2 stitches, 5 dc in next stitch, skip 2 stitches) around, working 5 dc in the corners, sl st to 1st sc. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Colour Block Cozy Vest


Have you ever had the best, most original idea ever and then googled it only to find out that you're about the bazillionth person to think of it? This vest. It's a great idea, like I mean a really good idea. I believe that. It's SO easy to make, and cozy. It's essentially a blanket with arm holes in it. So, I really thought I was on the something. Genius level crochet design. Ok, maybe not "genius," but still. A great and original idea. 

Spend some time on Google and you'll find out that there are actually a lot of variations of this vest online. Some crocheted, some knit, all looking nice and cozy. This is my version. I took colour inspiration from a gorgeous knit version found on Purl Soho, because the colour block on their Sideways Garter Vest is really something special. I just needed to figure out a way to make it into something I could crochet. I tried a bunch of different stitches, and finally chose to crochet this vest in the third loop of HDC stitches. I love this stitch because it looks really neat but also has such a cozy, soft, scrunchie drape. This completed vest feels so soft and snuggly, and falls really nicely too! I start the pattern with a row of foundation single crochet stitches to be able to manage a colour change in the foundation row. If you've never tried a foundation single crochet, don't be scared! This was actually my first time, and it's a lot easier (and more fun!) than I'd imagined it to be :) 

I was a little giddy making this because I really love to be cozy. It's the middle of summer in Alberta, it's not cold by any stretch of the word, and I was going on and on about how cozy I was going to be, really excited. I was even starting to feel bad for my husband and son because I realized I was going to be so much cozier than them and offered to make more versions in their sizes. My husband actually stopped me at one point and said, "I'm glad that you're excited about it, but you should know that I don't feel the same way about "cozy" as you do." Noted. All the more cozy for me! 

I decided to make one side on the front longer than the other so I could pull it across and fasten it closed with a shawl clip. (I really like my little feather shawl clip from The Irish Knitting Room on etsy) But it would be fairly easy to modify it to close with a button or to make both sides the same length and just have it drape down. I've included the pattern to make this vest in my size (I'm 5'4" and usually wear size medium) but it would be simple to modify by starting with shorter or longer rows, and adding or decreasing the number of rows to fit you. I hope you enjoy this one, stay cozy out there! 



Medium Level 4 Yarn (in two colours)
Size 5 crochet hook


FSC = Foundation Single Crochet (helpful tutorial from moogly blog)
CH = Chain
HDC = Half Double Crochet
Third loop = HDC stitches create a "third loop" (helpful tutorial from My Hobby is Crochet)


Start with the darker colour.
Row 1: FSC 70. Switch colours when pulling through the 70th stitch, but do not tie off. FSC 48 in the lighter colour. Turn.
Row 2:  (wrong side) CH 2. HDC in the third loop (under the front loop) of the next stitch, and continued to work HDC's in the third loop of each HDC stitch of the lighter colour of the previous row. Carry the darker gray yarn up to pull through the last light gray stitch, and continue to work HDC's in the third loop to end of row. Turn.
Row 3: (right side) CH 2. HDC in the back loop only of each stitch, carrying the lighter gray yarn up to switch colours at the 70th dark gray stitch. Continue to HDC in the back loop only to end of row. Turn.
Rows 4 - 16: Repeat rows 2 & 3, working in the third loops on the wrong side and back loops on the right side. 
Row 17: Repeat row 3, but tie off dark gray after colour change, HDC in back loop only to end as usual. Turn.
Row 18: CH 2. HDC 32 in the third loop. HDC through both loops of next stitch. FSC 15, switching to dark gray in the pull through of the 15th FSC. FSC 10 in dark gray. Skip 25 stitches, HDC in the third loop to end. Turn.
Rows 19 - 57: Repeat rows 3 and 2. 
Row 58: Repeat row 2, but tie off light gray after colour change. Turn.
Row 59: CH 2. HDC 59 in the back loop only of each stitch. HDC through both loops on the next stitch. FSC 10, switching to light gray in the pull through of the 10th FSC. FSC 15 in light gray. Skip 25 stitches, HDC in the back loop to end. Turn.
Rows 60 - 89: Repeat rows 2 and 3. 
Row 90: Repeat row 2, tie off both colours.
To Finish: I chose to single crochet along the bottom edge of the dark gray to give it a more defined shape and finished look, but left the top edge (light gray) as it is so it would have more stretch when it's folded over and wrapped around my shoulders.