What is it like to be a franchisee?

Joining Cookery Doodle Doo as a franchisee is a great way to launch your own cooking school business, with the support and experience of our team. With our hands-on training, equipment and marketing advice you’ll hit the ground running and ensure your classes get noticed!

What is it like to be a Cookery Doodle Doo franchisee? Here are some of our team’s experiences.

katie black cooks 2Katie Black previously had a successful career in HR and now operates her children’s cooking school from her home in Hampshire.

“Trapped in a corporate job that I still loved but no longer made me happy (long commute, longer hours, never seeing my children), I genuinely didn’t think I had any other ‘real’ options. One day as I ate my sandwich at my desk, I flicked onto a website for working mums and saw an advert that literally turned my life upside down!

I have always loved cooking as my time to de-stress, and am a complete recipe-junkie with food magazine subscriptions coming out of my ears. The advert was for a franchise teaching cookery to children. It had never seriously occurred to me that I could combine my passion with a term-time role but suddenly a light-bulb had come on. The idea of running my own business terrified me, and yet the idea kept nagging away at me – and the idea of a franchise meant I’d have help and support with all the things I was less-sure about.

Being the woman I am, I embarked upon a serious period of research: I spoke to people, trawled the internet and looked into all manner of things. Speaking to Katie Elfer at Cookery Doodle Doo confirmed everything I had been thinking – I could do this, and what’s more, I was going to! My boss and my husband were both incredibly supportive as they knew the challenges I had been facing and suddenly the decision was made… I haven’t looked back.

children cooking rainbow tartsMy journey with Cookery Doodle Doo has been exhilarating. I have tapped into a huge range of skills I never knew I had, and developed a whole lot more. Being in charge of my own business is so rewarding and I honestly haven’t missed the corporate life that I previously lived for. I can work when I want to, set my own deadlines and challenges, and have so much more time with my own children. I have created something of my very own that I am truly proud of, and whenever I’m not sure – or want to celebrate a success – Katie and the rest of the team are there to call.

Research can only take you so far, but Katie has been-there, done-that. She created the business herself and knows it back-to-front. Whether it’s marketing and PR (she writes a mean press-release!), helping you practice a sales-pitch, discussing new and creative ideas for your business, or simply confirming which size egg works best in a recipe, she is available and happy to help… and if anyone wants my business to succeed as much as I do, it’s her.

making ladybird crackersIf you are thinking of joining us, give Katie a call. If you want to know what it’s really like, give me a call. We are friendly, honest and won’t pull the wool over your eyes. It can be hard work, and you have to put in the effort to push and motivate yourself, but the rewards are numerous. Maybe one day, you too could be writing about how Cookery Doodle Doo changed your life!”

Jess joined Cookery Doodle Doo after her son was born after having previously worked as a secondary school teacher.

Cooking teacherRunning my own franchise has been positive in so many ways. Coming straight from maternity leave I have been able to slowly build up my work, fit it in around childcare and set new challenges for myself (slowly ditching my ‘baby brain’!)

I’ve loved the classes as I am able to teach a subject I am passionate about and I have surprised myself with how much innate knowledge I have about food and the cooking process. There is something about the way Cookery Doodle Doo is run that makes classes friendly and calm and more importantly fun. I’ve found the recipes easy to follow and pretty much foolproof and the marketing material looks superb.

In the last four months I’ve been involved in such a variety of work:
From Saturday baking classes to a lovely after school club run in both English and Spanish;
From making edible chick cake decorations at Brighton and Hove Food Festival to helping run a healthy eating workshop at a nursery;
From running Cookie Art decorating parties to helping out at Holiday clubs.

I’m excited by my future at Cookery Doodle Doo and have more exciting developments already in the pipeline. I think it is a fantastic brand with amazing attention to detail. The support I’ve received from Katie has been amazing and I look forward to working alongside an ever expanding team.

If you are interested in finding out more about running your own children’s cooking school with Cookery Doodle Doo please email katie.elfer@cookerydoodledoo.com or visit our Franchise information page.

How Cooking Games Can Inspire Young Chefs

We all like to encourage our kids to be creative in the kitchen, but there are more ways than one to keep their passion for food ignited. Wild foraging, blind taste tests or raiding the recipe books for new dinner ideas you can cook together are all great ways to engage kids with real food.

If however, your struggling to drag them away from Angry Birds there could be another way to inspire them that is becoming popular with parents and kids. Games websites such as MyGames4Girls.com have cooking games which encourage children to embrace many different recipes, while simultaneously increasing their culinary ambition.

Educational tool for kids to learn about food

girls playing on tabletJust as grown-up will watch cooking shows or YouTube video ‘How To’ videos, games which have recipes integrated within them expose children to the amazing potential of food. They make them aware that food is something for them to appreciate, share and experiment with (not just eat). These games educate children on different foods from around the world and encourage them to find out more about foods that they may never had heard of previously.

Whether your child loves cupcakes or salads, sushi or hotpot – they’ll find something within these games that they will love which can be a a handy tool for fussy eaters. Food games encourage them to broaden their minds and familiarise them with new cuisine. After all, not many children could follow a virtual recipe without wanting to try it out in real life…

Of course, the best way to cook is to don an apron, scrub up and get cooking for real! But on the days where they fancy doing something less practical, there are cooking games on this site include step by step instructions alongside characters who enact the cooking on the screen (when prompted by the user).

Learn How To Wrap a Virtual Tortilla!

game wrapping a tortillaThis game teaches users to make chicken chimichangas – a Mexican recipe. It even demonstrates the best way to wrap a tortilla!

Other games include a fully integrated recipe that users can look at before or after playing the game. Not only does this educate kids on which foods are contained within certain recipes, but it also allows them to envision how making the recipe would play out in reality, and sometimes how the food would taste.

This could be a useful introduction to foods before going on holiday or a restaurant outing with friends.

The ultimate goal of these games is to captivate youngsters who love to cook, and intrigue those who have never really been exposed to cooking. They embrace a child’s creativity and inspire them to be innovative in the kitchen. Not only that; but they educate children on new foods, ingredients and recipes. Parents can even play along and test their children throughout the games, watching their curiosity about food grow.

primary school girls cookingWhat better way to spark your child’s imagination and set their ambitions in motion? After all, every chef has to start somewhere. The next step? Heading to a real-life cookery class, of course!

See what children’s cooking classes are happening near you.

FIND A COOKING CLASS

We’re Growing! Local Mum Launches Cooking Classes for Children in Hampshire

The Cookery Doodle Doo franchise is growing fast and soon children as young as 3 will soon be able to learn to cook with their parents at new children’s baking classes in Whitchurch, Hampshire.

katie black cooks 2Katie Black, a mum of two has joined children’s cooking franchise Cookery Doodle Doo and is excited to support youngsters learning this important life skill.

“Cooking is such a brilliant skill to give your kids. If they can rustle up wholesome home cooked food it’ll keep them healthy, save them money and as they grow up to share with hungry housemates no doubt make them friends too!

Parents are so busy now that not everyone has time, or frankly wants all the mess of cooking at home so Cookery Doodle Doo classes make it easy-peasy for parents to come along and have fun while learning new recipes with their little ones.”

Cookery Doodle Doo opened in 2011 in Brighton and has grown in popularity due to its quirky children’s events at food festivals and creative recipes. Founder of the company Katie Elfer said:

“I’m so thrilled to have Katie Black on board. It was a scary step leaving my 9-5 job to launch Cookery Doodle Doo, but the benefits of spending time with my kids (also my best recipe testers and most brutal critics!) have been huge. To launch the franchise in Hampshire where Katie is based, is a dream come true and I know she’ll do a fab job of spreading the Cookery Doodle Doo ethos of real, fun food to a new audience.”

Hampshire children can expect to make everything from croissants to fruit sushi in the new pre-school classes which launch on Wednesday 23rd April. In the first cooking class the children will be baking Little Fishies cakes – omega rich salmon and parsley fish cakes. Bookings are now open for ages 3+ online at www.cookerydoodledoo.com/northhants or by phoning Katie Black on 07473958402

Ends.

Notes to editors

1) Photos are attached, more available on request OR
1) Low resolution photos are attached, high res versions available on request.

For more information please contact Cookery Doodle Doo founder Katie Elfer:
M: Katie on 07588692955
E: info@cookerydoodledoo.com
W: www.cookerydoodledoo.com
Twitter: @cookerydoodledo

Cookery Doodle Doo LogoInformation about the Cookery Doodle Doo
Cookery Doodle Doo is a new children’s cooking franchise that originated in Brighton, Sussex.
Launched in 2011, their unique approach to cooking utilises everything from hamster-balls to edible puppets to entertain and educate children at Food Festivals. Cooking classes and holiday clubs for children aged 3-10 are available across Sussex and Hampshire.
More information can be found on their website: www.cookerydoodledoo.com

600 Children and a Pink Bearded Easter Bunny at Brighton Food Festival

Cookery Doodle Doo was part of a team of local companies who volunteered to put on free foodie activities for children as part of this year’s Brighton Food Festival on Hove Lawns this Easter Weekend.

Foodie activities included moulding chocolate eggs, making healthy ‘pot noodles’, tasting Thai inspired egg canapés and creating edible Easter chicks. The Rockinghorse Children’s Charity also raised funds for hospitals with a popular tombola and art activities.

Over the 2 day event children’s cooking school Cookery Doodle Doo saw over 600 children join them to learn to sculpt Easter chicks from edible ‘play-dough’ and using ‘magic ink pens’. Children were amazed to be able to eat the cute models – pen ink and all.

Bearded easter bunnyOf course, Easter isn’t complete without a visit from the Easter Bunny and the pink bearded version at the food festival handed out free mini cakes to delighted children. The blushing man behind the costume – Sam Elfer is husband of Katie; owner of local children’s cooking school Cookery Doodle Doo.

Sam said:

“Katie told me that I would be helping at the food festival but the details were vague. I’d been distracted by moving house this week and it was only when I noticed the bag from a fancy dress shop with fluffy rabbit ears sticking out that I suspected my role.

I’ll be back in the work suit on Tuesday, so hopefully I’ll have got the pink hair spray out of my beard by then!”

Ends.

Notes to editors

1) Photos are attached, more available on request OR
1) Low resolution photos are attached, high res versions available on request.

For more information please contact Cookery Doodle Doo founder Katie Elfer:
M: Katie on 07588692955
E: info@cookerydoodledoo.com
W: www.cookerydoodledoo.com
Twitter: @cookerydoodledo

Cookery Doodle Doo Logo

Information about the Cookery Doodle Doo
Cookery Doodle Doo is a children’s cooking franchise that originated in Brighton, Sussex.
Launched in 2011, their unique approach to cooking utilises everything from hamster-balls to edible puppets to entertain and educate children at events and Food Festivals. Cooking classes and holiday clubs for children aged 3-10 are available across Sussex and Hampshire.
More information can be found on their website: www.cookerydoodledoo.com

Press Release: Free School Launches Bilingual Cooking Classes for Children

A Brighton-based free school known for its entirely bilingual curriculum has partnered with a children’s cooking school to launch a new ‘Talk and Eat’ afterschool club which will be taught in both Spanish and English.

Cooking instructors from children’s cooking school; Cookery Doodle Doo will be taking children from the Bilingual Primary school and teaching them how to make nutritious international recipes as they practice their spoken Spanish with native speakers.

Katie Elfer, owner of Cookery Doodle Doo said:

“It’s been a struggle for me to pick up any foreign languages and as an adult I really regret not having learnt as a child. On holiday, I’ll always be interrupted mid-sentence when I ask for the toilet because I am just too slow despite all my enthusiasm to practice! The bilingual school is giving children the opportunity to learn another language at an age where it can be fun, feel natural and become part of their daily lives.

Socialising around the dinner table, eating home-cooked food and having a good chat is something everyone can appreciate, so that is what our ‘Talk and Eat’ club is all about. We show the children how to cook a healthy savoury meal from scratch and they learn some Spanish along the way before we sit and enjoy tucking into the results”

You can book the course now which is starts after Easter at The Bilingual Primary School in Falmer.

Ends.

Notes to editors

  • Photos are available on request

For more information please contact Cookery Doodle Doo – Katie Elfer:

M: Katie on 07588692955

E: info@cookerydoodledoo.com

W: www.cookerydoodledoo.com

Twitter: @cookerydoodledo

Information about Cookery Doodle Doo

Cookery Doodle Doo was launched in 2011 and is now expanding as a national children’s cooking franchise. The company’s prides itself on great quality ingredients and creative recipes utilising everything from hamster-balls to edible puppets to entertain and educate children.

Cooking classes and holiday clubs for children aged 3-10 are now available across Sussex and Hampshire.

More information can be found on their website: www.cookerydoodledoo.com

Information about the Bilingual Primary School

The Bilingual Primary School is a Free School based in Falmer, on the outskirts of Brighton, Sussex. The school strives to be the leading model for bilingual education in the UK, offering the very best of British education through a comprehensive programme of learning through English and Spanish.

More information can be found on the website www.bilingualprimaryschool.org.uk

Get The Most Out Of Your Leftovers

beef noodlesFor some people leftovers are like fine cuisine that they would sometimes prefer to the original meal. Others find that there is a smorgasbord of unsavory items in the fridge at the end of the month and they feel guilty for wasting all that food.

If you’re looking for a way to save money, learning to use up your leftovers is a great way to make it happen. And sure, using all your leftovers may take some planning—is it worth it if you don’t have a money issue?

Maybe not, but if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle you are spending more on your groceries than you used to—and maybe you could stand to save a few bucks too. You need to find a few ways to cut corners. Making the most of your leftovers is just one way.

Variety Matters

Done correctly, you can get by with using one or two meats all week. If you are going to use one meat, don’t eat meat every day. Your body needs variety. Either use two different kinds of meat or find another source of protein and iron and skip meat for a day during the week. Most people don’t live the kind of lifestyle that requires meat as a part of their daily diet anyhow and there are plenty of ways to get protein and iron without it.

Get the Most Out of Your Main Course

When you do use meat, make it the main course without shredding it or grinding it up. A roast cooked in the crock pot, steak smothered in mushrooms, broiled pork chops, these are all great ways to start your main course off. You’ll be changing their form later in the week, so you want your leftovers to be in large pieces if you can.

When you have leftover steak, pork shops, or even chicken, put it in the fridge for a day. Eat a different meat or skip meat the next day. So if you have steak on Monday, have chicken on Tuesday. On Wednesday, cut your steak into small pieces and make a sauce to go with it. You can easily make a stroganoff with your leftover steak, or fajitas, or use whatever sauce you prefer to make use of the leftover steak.

Don’t Forget the Side Dishes

Your side dishes usually don’t offer as much as your main course does, but you can combine them any way you want to in order to get the most out of them. Use your vegetables to makes a stew or casserole, or combine your vegetables for a mixed vegetable side dish for another meal. They key is to use your leftovers in a different way than they were used the first time.

Suggestions for Leftover Dishes

Though you can use your leftovers in plenty of ways, it’s sometimes hard to get creative after a long day of work. Below are some suggestions for you.

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Casseroles
  • Goulash
  • Pot Pies

Feel free to get creative and add your own ideas!

This guest blog was written by Samantha Moore. Samantha is a professional blogger who shares advice on healthy cooking for your family. She blogs for RecipeChart.com, where you can find a large selection of delicious recipes.

Ten Healthy Baby-Led Weaning Recipes

What is baby-led weaning?

baby weaningWhile the baby jar and spoon-feeding phase seems like an inevitable stage in parenthood, there is a growing alternative to traditional weaning – known as ‘Baby Led Weaning’. Originally coined by Gill Rapley, the philosophy of baby led weaning is essentially that at around 6 months, babies are capable of reaching for and eating solid food on their own; no purees or food processors necessary!

 

How do I get started with baby-led weaning?

Baby led weaning is very simple. Once a child is over six months and able to sit up independently and reach for objects, they are ready to start weaning. Start by including your baby at mealtimes with weaning-friendly finger foods, when they are ready they will reach out and grab for the food. As their hand-to-mouth coordination and pincer grip develops, you can introduce a larger variety of foods. In the initial stage of baby-led weaning food is predominately about exploration and play rather than nourishment so it can get very messy! Purchasing a simple plastic or wooden highchair and a plastic mat underneath the table is recommended.

 What are the benefits of baby-led weaning?

There are many advantages of baby-led weaning; an obvious benefit is that it can be very cost and time effective as there is no need to purchase expensive jarred food or food processors and meals can be eaten together without the need to puree.

 Convenience aside, advocates of baby-led weaning claim that there are many developmental benefits including a faster development of dexterity and hand to mouth coordination. A common problem experienced during traditional weaning is that toddlers are unwilling to try new textures once they get used to pureed food, so introducing all sorts of textures and flavours from the start of weaning can help them to be more adventurous with trying new foods. Baby-led weaning also makes eating together as a family easier to put into practice, which can help to establish long-term healthy attitudes towards eating in children.

 What about the risk of choking?

Many parents are weary of baby-led weaning due to the perceived risk of choking, but as with children eating solid foods at any ages there are certain precautions to take when preparing food to reduce this risk; such as halving small fruits, not giving your baby nuts and ensuring that your child is never alone during mealtimes.

 Advocates of baby-led weaning claim that giving your child control of the food they put into their mouth actually helps to reduce the risk of choking.  It is important to familiarise yourself with the difference between gagging and choking; young toddlers have sensitive gag reflexes which can be alarming but babies are rarely bothered by it! In fact, as gag reflexes are most sensitive at around 6-8 months of age, baby-led weaning can help them learn not to overfill their mouths before they can swallow.

Important facts to remember:

Children under one should not ingest more than 1g of salt per day

Allow your baby to go at their own pace – don’t put food in their mouth or force them to eat more than they choose to pick up

Never leave your baby alone when eating

Do not give children under one shellfish, nuts, honey or under-cooked eggs

Here are some healthy recipes to get you and your baby started on your baby-led weaning journey:

 Broccoli and Cheese Muffins

Beetroot Hummus with Vegetable Dippers

Pea and Pancetta Frittata

Spanish Apple Cake

Zucchini and Ricotta Pitta Pizzas

Vegetable Pancakes

Homemade Fish Fingers

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Banana Bread

Apple, Carrot and Yoghurt Muffins

 

 

 

A Guide To Winter Foraging

Foraging is an excellent way to gather fresh and unusual ingredients you’re your meals, without spending the earth. Many excellent fruits, fungi and plants are ready to harvest across the winter months so why not don your waterproofs and wellies, and get out into the woods for some truly organic foods?

Top Wild Foods


Funghi


Oyster Mushrooms

Mushroom growth flourishes in damp, woody land such as forests, so get down in the undergrowth to harvest these tasty vegetables. Oyster mushrooms are a key species that sprouts out from the undergrowth, and are often found on logs or tree stumps. What’s more, they also spring up in different areas across the forests as opposed to growing in the same patch all year round. Like the common button mushroom, oyster mushrooms are tasty when stir-fried with a chinese sauce, boiled in a stew, or blended into a soup.

Blewits Mushrooms

Another prominent wild species are the Blewits mushrooms. Also known as the bluey or the blue button, these mushrooms wear a purple tinge, and work great with meat dishes such as beef or rabbit. These colourful, intensely flavoured mushrooms are common on grasslands such as parks, and are typically ready to harvest between October and January.

Leafy Greens

Nettles

The word ‘nettles’ on a food post probably made you cringe a little, but you can actually cook these leaves like spinach, or blend them into a yummy soup! If you delve beneath the crunchy leaves on the surface of the nettle patches, you’ll find young, luscious leaves that make a great ingredient. When picking these self-defensive plants, always wear gloves, and do the same whilst preparing them for cooking. That, or have a dock leaf on hand!

Dandelions

Another weed, yes, but much like nettles these pesky little plants can actually be a wonderful addition to a main meal. The leaves can be bitter on the taste buds, but when mixed into a leafy salad with some croutons and dressing they can help to create a harmonious flavour balance. You can also use dried and ground dandelion roots to make dandelion coffee, a drink that is both warming and caffeine-free.

Ground Elder

Much like dandelions, ground elder is a predominant garden weed that proves nightmarish to kill off – even for the experienced gardener. What many green-fingered beings don’t realise though, is that ground elder leaves are edible vegetables that have been used by everyone from the Romans right through to those living in the Middle Ages. Fresh, new born leaves are a great addition to any winter salad, whilst the older, more mature leaves are a satisfying alternative to cabbage.


Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is a small, delicate plant with leaves that look like stinging nettles and d quaint groups of small white flowers atop the stems. Found in damp, shady hedgerows, the leaves can be crushed to deliver a mild garlic flavour and smell. Chefs often use the leaf as a replacement for garlic cloves, to add a fragrant kick to salads, stir-fries and soups.

Fruits

Apples

Although many think of apples as a spring and summer fruit, some apple species will cling to the trees right through until the New Year. Winter apples can range in flavour, from highly tart cooking style apples, to the smaller sweeter varieties. Cancel out the tartness of the large apples by slicing them up as a base for a quality pork joint that, when cooked, will also form a sweet base to a homemade, apple sauce accompaniment.

Tips for Foraging

Do your research

Before you head out foraging for the firs time, make sure that you do plenty of research into the species that you should be looking out for, and the species that you should be avoiding. Whilst most plants are harmless, there are some varieties that can look like a safe species but are actually be fatal to your health. Fungi are a key plant type to be weary of, because some mushrooms can be extremely poisonous and detrimental to your wellbeing.

You may find it helpful to print out pictures of the different species, along with a short blurb about their characteristics. That way you can take the images with you as you forage, to compare the appearance of the plants you’re about to pick to your lists of safe and dangerous plants.

If you aren’t sure, don’t pick it

If you come across a plant that looks safe in comparison to your researched images but looks harmful due to an odd colouring or shape, don’t pick it. Even if it matches with the criteria that you have researched, the plant may have picked up a wild infection or disease, which could in turn be harmful to yourself. The common consensus amongst experienced foragers is that if you have an ounce of doubt in your mind, leave it in the ground. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Make sure that your chosen foraging location isn’t protected

It goes without saying that National Trust parks and similar locations are protected by bylaws that prohibit foraging. Wherever you choose to forage, ensure that it is a public location that isn’t owned by a landlord or official body, or regulated under local legislation. That said, don’t be afraid to ask the landowner or authority for permission to forage on their grounds. Some landlords may be happy for you to take home a sample of foraged goods, whilst other may allow you to take as much as you want or need.

Look out for local foraging events

Many local cookery schools and sustainable food outlets across the UK host foraging days, where you can journey out with a group of like-minded foragers and experienced professionals. Under the guidance of knowledge leaders, you can be sure that all you pick is safe to eat, making these days ideal for foraging beginners.

Foraging is a wonderful way to save money on your groceries, and to enjoy sampling some unique and unconventional ingredients. Why not host a foraged dinner party, where your meals consist of foraged foods and odd ingredients? Whatever you choose to do with your hand-picked goodies, we hope that it encourages you to head out into the great British open as opposed to globally-sourced supermarket.

 

Featured images:

This guest post was written by Alex, who is a writer with http://www.britishandirishwalks.com/walking-holidays/england/. She is a keen foodie and enjoys trying new meals with unusual foraged ingredients.

 

 

Christmas Traditions In Europe

Do you know which country’s children believe that Santa Claus lives in Spain? Or where it is considered traditional to head to the sauna on Christmas Day, after first indulging in a roll around in the snow? If the answer is no, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge of Christmas traditions around the world.

Expedia has published a special Christmas infographic, unveiling the different customs and traditions in countries around Europe. You will get to see inside a typical living room in each country, discover the festive foods and decorations, and find out about the rituals that make each country’s Christmas unique. There are also audio recordings that will teach you how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in each language.

Once you have explored these quirky and exciting traditions, you will have the chance to send a postcard from your favourite destination, sharing it with friends and family online or keeping it as a souvenir of your ‘Merry Questmas’ with Santa.

Click on the map to start your quest now!

Christmas tradition infographic

Words by Matt L.

Take a monster to school!

There’s something about monsters that kids just seem to love. From the Sesame Street’s Grover to the always flexible claymation wonders Gumby and Pokey, to the loveable stars of Pixar’s Monsters Inc. and Monsters University, if it can’t be easily classified into the existing animal taxonomy, kids go absolutely wild for it. So, it’s no wonder that monsters regularly show up on t-shirts, shoes, and most any other kind of clothing or accessory that children love to wear. Well, if your child is wild for weird and wacky, surprise him with this fun DIY monster backpack! Just take his current boring backpack and a few odds and ends from your nearby fabric store, and with a little bit of effort you can create a book bag that your kid will be excited to bring to school. Just be careful, you wouldn’t want your child’s backpack monster to eat anyone’s homework!

How to make a monster backpack

This infographic courtesy of a guest blog from yourfleece.com