Saturday, April 25, 2015

Me, Myself, and I

Since becoming a mother, a lot of things have been part of my identity. I am a babywearer. I am a diaperer. I am a storybook reader. I am a cuddler. I adopted so many new labels and titles... but what about who I am at my core?

Wait... you are your own person!?

I have been struggling with my identity as of late. What happened to that person that I used to be? Am I still in there!?

I am, and I need to be me more often. I can be all of these new things while still being me. You, my readers, know I love cloth diapers, babywearing, green products... but what about things I love (and loved) before?

This is me. All me. I'm not your typical mom blogger, probably, but that's not a bad thing. I just have a different perspective to offer. To save time, I figured I would make a small list of things I enjoyed before children/things I enjoy that don't involve children.

I am:
A music lover (playing/listening)
A cook and a baker
A video gamer (I love N64 and before, but that doesn't mean I could ever pass up some DDR!)
A gamer (RPGs, MUDs, board games...)
A nature lover (Can't love green items without loving nature! Well, you could... but still.)
A grammar-nazi (Sorry!)
An anime lover
A tea lover
A student (again)

...and much more. But that's a brief look into who I am that doesn't focus on children. I love Doctor Who and Pokemon, but no... that has nothing to do with my kids. Thankfully, my children now love Doctor Who and Pokemon, as well. I am going to incorporate more of my personal interests into the blog in the future, so you've been warned!

Also, adding to our "green" lifestyle, we will have 6 new family members joining us shortly. More on that to come.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for all content of this post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Stepping back

I've stepped back from my blog to ponder what it is, lately. My blog started as a blog for all things cloth. I loved cloth diapers. I still love cloth diapers... but my children are nearing the end of using cloth diapers.

Thoughts of Fluff grew to incorporate more than just diapers. Baby products, "green" products, toddler products, baby carriers (they sort of cover both baby and toddler!), and then recipes. Recipes count, because the kids have to eat, and I have find things they like and that are healthy (especially since Bobble was in Children's Hospital with Nephrotic Syndrome).

So then it became more of a recipe and toddler-geared blog.

The truth is, my children are growing, and soon the diapers will soon be gone. I will hold on to a few, but they will be gone. My children are developing their personalities, showing obvious preferences for anything and everything they do. I love seeing this, but that means this blog will have to shift a little bit more.

I'm going to take a week or two to finish up my current class (it's very demanding, time-wise), although I may post a little post between now and then, and then I am going to reintroduce you to my family. Squiggle, Bobble, Husband, and Me. I feel there should be more of me in this blog. More of my actual likes, not just my likes for my baby. More of what I enjoy, not just what I enjoy as a mom. It doesn't mean they are things I enjoy with my children, but I think it's time that I include me, too.

No worries, I adore baby wearing and that will remain a part of this blog for quite some time, as I still wear Bobble (and he's 4) and Squiggle isn't even 2 yet.

Please bear with me during this transition. I hope you enjoy what you read and continue to follow along, and I'd love to hear about what you want to see posts on, reviews on, or simply chat about.

I'm also contemplating a name change. I'd love thoughts and suggestions on that one, too!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Meatloaf with Lentils (original recipe)

I've been in search of a good meatloaf recipe for a while, and I finally gave up and made my own. It took a few times (trial and error!) to get the right ratios, but it's finally done and with pleasing results! It held together and tasted good to everyone (including the kids).

I am having trouble getting a decent photograph of it in a pan, though. Grease from the meat and having to use my old phone for these pictures certainly didn't help!

I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans, though the pictures seem to have disappeared from my camera. The last time I made it we served it with homemade potato wedges.

1/3c milk
2 eggs
2t sage
2t thyme
1t pepper
1/2c dry lentils (cook before using)
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1# ground beef

3T acv
2T brown sugar
1/2c tomato sauce/paste mixture (in lieu of ketchup)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix spices, milk and egg in large bowl.
Cook lentils, add to egg mixture.
Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil and then add to egg mixture.
Brown beef and add to bowl with mixture.
Mix well and place in greased loaf dish and add topping (mix all ingredients for topping together, then spread across top of meat mixture).
Bake for 1 hour.
Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. This recipe is an original recipe.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thursday Tips: Canned foods

Today's tip is one of those that might be one you already know, but it is worth mentioning in case someone didn't.

Canned foods, especially those that are not able to be just poured out of the can, can sometimes stick. Some people pound on the bottom of the can to get the item to fall out, others will take a knife or spatula and help it out.

There is another way, and it's ridiculously easy.

Since I was going to use up some tomato paste, I figured I'd give an example!

Open up your can, then turn upside down and puncture two little holes in the bottom side of the can (using the can opener). This allows the pressure seal to release the contents, and voila! Can is empty!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pumpkin Chili

I'm going to come straight out and say it: I was scared to try this recipe. I dislike all squash except zucchini and yellow summer squash. The only exception is pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie. While I will eat some squash I dislike (like spaghetti squash), I certainly try to avoid it. Still, I was super intrigued by this recipe from MOMables. Also, my whole family loves squash. I made this recipe already assuming I would dislike it.

With cheese sprinkled on top
The recipe was super simple to make, especially since we had a can of organic pumpkin on hand. Normally I avoid canned items, but we do keep a few things in the pantry just in case. Normally we end up using the foods as they near the end of their shelf life because we simply don't use canned foods frequently. That's okay, though. I'd rather have them around in case we do need them then be caught unawares!

Without cheese
The recipe is really simple.

We added 1 small onion and a can of pinto beans since that's what was on hand.

To my surprise, you couldn't taste the pumpkin. I was prepared to not like the meal. I have a super sensitive palate, and can taste pretty much anything... but not the pumpkin. It actually bothered me that I knew there was pumpkin in it and yet I couldn't taste it! Another thing that bothered me is the fact I couldn't taste the ground turkey as turkey. I wasn't upset by that since I actually have a strong dislike of ground turkey. I love ground beef, but I just can't get past the flavour of ground turkey. This dish tasted like regular (as in no pumpkin, and with beef) chili. Not too shabby! I added some greek yogurt atop my chili and then topped that with some cheese. Delicious!

This meal would have been delicious with some cornbread. Next time we are definitely doing this with cornbread!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Tips: Dry and Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are absolutely delicious, far tastier than dried. Some are even nearly impossible to over use when fresh, like basil. Basil, dried, can easily ruin a dish if too much is added. On the contrary, you could add an entire basil plant worth of fresh basil leaves to a dish and it won't be ruined (yes, I've tested this theory).
Freshly chopped dill
Dried dill
Sadly, fresh herbs aren't always an option, so dried herbs get used a lot, too. They cannot be used in the same proportion (as mentioned above with my basil example), so how much DO you use? Easy! Just add dry herbs in 1/3 of the amount called for in fresh.

1T of fresh = 1t of dried

Of course, opt for fresh if possible. When it's not an option, don't forget it's not a 1:1!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Shepherd's Pie

I have been looking for a good Shepherd's Pie recipe for a while, and finally saw one that grabbed my attention. I actually was hoping to make the recipe soon when I found the recipe in my inbox! (I am signed up for Serious Eats' newsletter, and it just happened to be Shepherd's Pie that day.)

I attempted to make the recipe as it was, but I lacked russet potatoes and fresh herbs, so I had to make a few adjustments. I mostly followed the recipe, though. Oh, I also used ground lamb instead of chunks of lamb. 

I must add: It was delicious! I don't think that there was enough potato for the top, and I also found the stew to be too liquidy, so I would probably add more flour (or less broth) next time depending on how it looked.

  • 1 1/2# ground lamb
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2T canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2T flour
  • 4c lamb or beef stock/broth
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (roughly 2 cups)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1t dried thyme
  • 1t dried rosemary
  • 1t dried oregano
Mashed Potatoes:
  • 3# potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1t salt
  • 4 lg. egg yolks
  • 1/2c unsalted butter
  • 1/2c heavy cream
*Preheat oven to 450 near the end of step 5

1) Brown the lamb meat and set aside.
*If you are using cubes of meat, dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper if desired, and saute in some oil over medium high heat. Let the meat brown to the pan for several minutes before stirring (stirring too soon will cause them to release water and boil instead of brown).Turn over after about 4 minutes and let brown again, then remove from heat.

Meat browned and set aside (in dish I later baked in)
2) Put the veggies in the pan the lamb was browned in, and stir. The veggies will release water while they cook and help remove the browned lamb from the pan. Scrape up any brown pieces from the pan with a spoon or spatula (leave in for flavour, though!). Continue to sweat the veggies for about 5 minutes.

3) Add in flour and let brown for around 2 minutes. Add in stock, then potatoes and spices. Return meat to pan and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 90 minutes, covered, until the meat is tender (if cubed) or until all veggies are done. Complete step 4 while this is simmering. When done, remove bay leaves and transfer stew into baking dish.

4) Boil potatoes until fully cooked, drain, then place back in pot. Stir for a few minutes over the heat to ensure they are dry. Add egg yolks, butter, and cream, mashing/whisking until smooth.
*Do this quickly, as the potatoes will become gummy and starchy if they cool too much.

5) Smooth mashed potatoes over the stew in the baking dish. (Or use a pastry bag and a large star tip to pipe the mixture over the top. I tried. I failed miserably at this.) Make sure to create a full seal across the top with the potatoes.

6) Place pie on top of a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until potatoes are browned and the filling is bubbly.) Let sit for 15 minutes, then serve hot.

I found this to be a bit more soup-y than stew-y when I made it, so I would cut back by 1/2c or 1c of stock next time, or just add more flour in step 3. It wasn't a big deal, I just drained a bit of the juice off and served. Absolutely delicious!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Recipe based off of Serious Eats' shepherd's pie recipe found here.