Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Tips: Vacuuming with Toddlers



It's not always easy to vacuum when you have toddlers around. They seem to fall into one of two categories: scared of the vacuum or wanting to play with the vacuum. Personally, though it's frustrating having a child in the way of the vacuum all the time, I'd rather have them want to play with it than be scared of it. Both of my children love vacuums, so I had to come up with a way to make it so I could vacuum without it taking an hour for one little room.

I did a bunch of shopping around and found that you can get a little stick vacuum at Walmart for about $15. It varies by store as to what brand and price you will find, but there seem to consistently be some under $25. I got a Eureka "The Boss" stick vacuum, and gave it to Bobble. He loved it. I would plug that in for him and he would vacuum while I did. It is a real vacuum, so it picks up. It doesn't have a roller/brush, so their fingers cannot get stuck in anything, nor can things they roll over. It's a bagless vacuum, too. Just eject the collection area, empty, snap it back in. (I recommend doing that when the child is not around, of course!)

Bobble at 28mo with his brand new vacuum (and his very own mess to pick up right behind him!)
Not only does this let the child help out and keep them away from the expensive vacuum, but it is the same price or less than the toy vacuums and it is real. My make/model has a detachable head so you can use it as a little hand-held vacuum if you need, and there is a button, much like on an umbrella, that allows you to extend the handle to a comfortable height.

So, there you have it! Inexpensive, works, and you can also really help your little one understand how to clean up a mess they make!

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


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cloth 101: Diaper Covers

When looking into diapers, many people want to know what is the absolute BEST diaper of a certain style. This post is to show you why you really can't select one "best" diaper... there are many designs for the same type of diaper! This post will show you the variation between just a few of the many different styles of diapers covers.

                             Rumparooz                                Flip                               Blueberry

Rumparooz (Far left)
Rumparooz (OS) have a very stretchy material, making them ideal for covering any sort of diaper (including even the bulkiest of fitteds). They have elastic at the top of the diaper in both front and back, creating a snug fit for any body type, and the double gussets around the legs keep in messes like a champ. The waist and hip snaps are directly above one another, and there are rise snaps to adjust for baby while they grow.

Flip (Center)
Flip (OS) covers are also stretchy. They only have elastic along the top back section of the diaper, but they do have a flap to put the flat/prefold/insert in to hold it down. Due to the lack of elastic in the front, sometimes the material stuffed into the diaper pushes the flap up a wee bit and can cause it to poke out over the top of the diaper. This can cause small leaks or wicking of moisture. This is easily avoided by not overstuffing or by making sure the snaps are creating a snug fit around baby's waist, though it might not allow for enough absorbency for nighttime use. Flips only have the single bit of elastic around the leg, hip and waist snaps immediately above one another, and rise snaps to adjust as baby grows. They don't always cover all parts of some brands of fitted diapers. These covers are ideal for padfolding/trifolding.
Trifolded prefold in a Flip cover

Blueberry (Far right)
Blueberry (OS) covers also provide a good amount of stretch in their material. They have elastic along the top back of their diaper (not in the front at the top), and double gussets. They have off-set waist and hip snaps (meaning they snap at a slight angle to allow for more room in the hip than in the waist), and rise snaps to adjust while baby grows. The diapers also will cover even the bulkiest of fitteds, making them ideal for nighttime use as well as daytime.

These all perform the same function of covering a diaper, but they are designed (and fit) differently. These are just THREE of the many different covers out there, too! Different diaper covers fit different body types in different ways, and they also cover different types of diapers in different ways, so it is best to think about what features mean the most to you before investing in a large quantity of any one brand. If possible, it's best to try out a variety of styles before settling on only one type of diaper.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake (LS, Original Recipe)

With a new diet requirement (low sodium), I find myself having to come up with alternatives to lunch for Bobble's school. He eats really clean at home, but the preschool doesn't really want the parents sending lunches since they have to make sure it would meet certain dietary requirements. I find this rather frustrating since I feel that they are not well versed in nutrition. In all fairness, that's not their job... their job is to teach 3 and 4 year olds, not know what veggies have what vitamins and minerals. Either way it goes, now we find ourselves making his lunches and attempting to keep it similar to what the kids at school are eating because literally everyone else has the same thing.



I saw a "spaghetti pizza bake" on the menu, and I have no idea what that is. I can only assume it's spaghetti with sauce and some cheese (maybe other toppings?) baked on top... or mixed in. Here was my version that I made for lunch that day, filling an 8x8 pan. (We set some spaghetti squash and sauce aside for a separate bake and to use sauce on pizza later in the week. Original amounts to include the other bake and pizza sauce would equal a full spaghetti squash, 5 tomatoes, 1 can paste, a whole serving of chopped pepperoni, and 1/2 tsp. salt.)

This can easily be vegetarian by omitting meat and adding other veggies instead.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake
2c. Spaghetti Squash (cooked and scraped out to be noodle-like)
3 Tomatoes
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. tomato paste
1/2 serving turkey pepperoni chopped up (or chopped peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. for a veg. dish)
1/4 lb ground beef (browned) (or more chopped veggies for a veg. dish)
1 1/2c. shredded mozzarella
Fresh Basil to taste
Dried Oregano to taste
Coconut Oil to grease dish

1) Shred cooked Spaghetti squash and then put in a greased 8x8 dish


2) Blend tomatoes, paste, basil, and oregano. Add in chopped pepperoni, ground beef, or any veggies you want to use.

3) Mix sauce and spaghetti squash together, and top with mozzarella.



4) Cover with Aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

5) Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

This whole dish would contain roughly 1,000 mg. of sodium, so a generous serving of 1/4 of this whole dish would only be at around 250mg for the meal!

Please keep in mind that the sodium content can vary GREATLY from brand to brand, so (obviously) check your labels. To replicate this recipe exactly, the specific brands I used (other than general items like ground beef or spices) were:

Boar's Head turkey pepperoni
Happy Farms Mozzarella (Aldi brand)
Friendly Farms Tomato Paste (Aldi Brand)

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cloth 101: Prefolds and Flats

When looking into diapers, many people want to know what is the absolute BEST diaper of a certain style. This post is to show you why you really can't select one "best" diaper... there are many designs for the same type of diaper! This post will show you how "old fashioned" diapers are used today.

Prefolds


Above is a prefold diaper folded around "baby" (Obviously there is no baby there!) and held in place with a snappi. This doesn't take much time to learn, and can create less diaper laundry for you by holding poop in the prefold instead of it getting on the cover. (You should change the cover if it gets poop on it, otherwise you can keep using it!) This is trimmer than padfolding since the material is spread out.


Above is a prefold (left) and an example of one padfolded (also called "tri-folded") in a cover. You simply take the prefold out of the cover when wet, and replace it. You can continue using the cover for the entire day, or until poop gets on it... whichever comes first. This is very easy to figure out, though it can seem a bit bulkier, especially when compared to a prefold (or a flat) folded around baby.

 Flats


These final pictures show Squiggle in a flat with a Rumparooz cover (trim!), and the one below shows a flat diaper folded around baby in a modified kite fold and held in place with a boingo. The material I'm holding up I like to fold over the closure before putting a cover on baby.

As you can see, you don't have to use a diaper pin if you don't want to. You have the option of Snappis, Boingos, or nothing at all! The covers you select will be more important (in terms of fit) than anything else when it comes to "old fashioned" diapers.

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thursday Tip: Cheesy Pasta (LS)

Bobble loves macaroni and cheese (or any pasta and cheese), but with his sodium restriction that gets tricky. Have you ever looked at the sodium content on cheeses? It's pretty high, considering. In an attempt to give him noodles and cheese, I turned to goat cheese. Not all goat cheese is low in sodium, and any of the herbed goat cheeses will be higher automatically. I did find 2 brands, Specially Selected (Aldi) and Silver Goat (Trader Joe's), that only have 40mg of sodium per serving, and that serving is plenty to cover a normal serving of noodles.

Simply cut the serving of chevre into the fresh made pasta and stir. Being such a soft cheese, it melts super easily. Voila! Cheesy noodles! It may not be super pretty, but it is super tasty.

Below is my (overly large because I'm sharing) serving of leftover pasta with a serving size of chevre on top. I just heat it up and stir when it's leftovers. Easy-peasy, the kids love it, and it is very low sodium!


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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cloth 101: AIO diapers

When looking into diapers, many people want to know what is the absolute BEST diaper of a certain style. This post is to show you why you really can't select one "best" diaper... there are many designs for the same type of diaper! This post will show you the variation between just a few of the many different styles of AIO diapers.

GroVia



 Above you can see the Grovia AIO diapers. They have rise snaps to adjust for a growing baby, and the absorbent part of the diaper is attached. There is a snap in booster that can attach to the underside. These diapers are side-snapping.

Totsbots
 

Above are the v3 Totsbots Easyfits. They came with a liner (far right), and have one long tongue that can be stuffed into the diaper (seen on left) or that could be folded to rest atop the diaper. They have rise snaps to adjust for baby's size. These diapers can be stuffed with extra absorbency, or left as-is. These diapers have some of the sturdiest aplix you will ever find.

Blueberry




This is a sized Blueberry AIO (simply because my OS is a bit stained inside). It has openings on both ends of the diaper to stuff the absorbent tongue and any extra boosters you might want. The tongue agitates out in the wash. This particular diaper is side-snapping. Below is a picture of the (exterior) of a Blueberry OS AIO. The diaper also has dual openings and the tongue agitates out, but the material inside is natural and not a stay-dry material. You can see the rise snaps on the diaper and it is not side-snapping.



As you can see, these three brands are all very different from one another, but they all are AIOs. THREE of the many different AIO diapers out there! Some AIOs have the absorbent part completely sewn down (so they don't create "tongues" - these take much longer to dry). Different diapers fit different body types in different ways, so it is best to think about what features mean the most to you before investing in a large quantity of diapers. If possible, it's best to try out a variety of styles before settling on only one type of diaper.

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Braised Barley and Vegetables (LS)


I had never made barley in my life before trying this recipe, so this was definitely an experiment for my family. In fact, I don't recall ever EATING barley in my life. I'm sure I've had it in a soup or something, but I'd never really had it to where I remembered it. I had no idea what it would be like, or how well I would make it. Still, it sounded tasty, looked simple, and easily could be a low sodium dish.


I don't have a kitchen scale, so I just eye-balled it. I also had no idea how much 8 ounces of cut rutabaga and 8 ounces of cut potatoes would look like. In fact, I'm most certain that I didn't have the "correct" amounts of them in there. This dish claiming to serve 4 people should fit in my 3QT pan, so I had a rough idea. The pan was to the brim, so I definitely went with the larger pan the second time around.


The meal turned out well. Inexpensive, easy prep (just chopping a few things), super easy to make, and hubby even said, "...this isn't what I expected. It's DELICIOUS, just not what I expected!" before I even had one bite.


It was delicious, actually. Very delicious. I was surprised, as there wasn't really any spice in it to flavour it, but it was a good flavour. It would be good with cut up mushrooms in there, too. If you like mushrooms, that is. It was so delicious, actually, that both children LOVED it!

Pre-cooked Bacon (optional!)
This is a FABULOUS cold-weather meal.It would be great accompanying a variety of meats, though the second time around I put in 4 slices of (finely crumbled, cooked) bacon. I used the Aldi uncured bacon brand "Simply Truth", which has 65mg/slice. This is the lowest sodium bacon I have found anywhere. There was no salt added to the veggie stock since I make my own, so the overall sodium for this entire dish was roughly 300mg, 560mg with the added bacon. Keep in mind that the sodium content will be altered by using store-bought stock, and by how much of particular vegetables you add. I googled the nutritional information for each veggie I used to get a rough idea of the sodium content they added. 

* NOTES *
  • I only had a 2 cup pyrex cup, so I guesstimated the additional 1/2 cup of water, covered with plastic wrap (and a rubberband to secure it), and left over night in the fridge
  • Lacking a kitchen scale, I added half of a rutabaga and only 2 (red) potatoes. I also added 3 ribs of celery and 3 carrots.
  • I sprinkled in a tiny bit of some pink Himalayan sea salt and ground some fresh pepper into the pan (it was a peppercorn medley and not just black pepper), brought it to a boil, then set the stove to 3 for a simmer.
  • I seriously had no idea how to tell if barley was done, so I just set the timer and hoped for the best. Worked out great. Timer went off, turned off the burner and moved the pan from the heat (like I do for other things that need to lose their liquid or absorb/thicken).
  • I expected this, originally, to feed all 4 of us with a bit left over for someone for lunch since youngest isn't going to eat a full serving.... we have enough for ALL Of us to have left overs, and then even one or two more servings after that.It goes a long way!
  • For extra flavour, you can soak your barley in stock instead (all the water the barley is with gets dumped into the dish anyway)

This is another recipe out of my Russian, German & Polish Food & Cookingcookbook.

Braised Barley and Vegetables 
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pearl or barley
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 8 ounces rutabaga or turnip, cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 8 ounces potatoes, cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • celery leaves, to garnish
Instructions:
1) Put the barley in a measuring cup and add water to reach the 2 1/2 cup mark. Let soak in a cool place for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight. (Below is when I first put it in to soak that morning, and when I took it out to use that afternoon)



2) Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the onion for 5 minutes. Add the sliced celery and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is starting to brown.



3) Add the barley and its soaking liquid to the pan. Then add the rutabaga or turnip, potato and stock to the barley. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pan.

4) Simmer for 40 minutes, or until most of the stock has been absorbed and the barley is tender. Stir occasionally towards the end of cooking to prevent the barley from sticking to the base of the pan. Serve, garnished with celery leaves.

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