Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Most Favorite Banana Muffins

Early on when I had a kitchen of my own, I discovered a love for making muffins. They are very easy to make, don't take too long to bake, and can be fairly nutritious with the right ingredients.

This recipe I adapted from a low-fat banana muffin recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I added spices, some whole wheat flour and chocolate chips. They are our all time favorite muffins and my children all love them. A variation of the word muffin has been a part of each of their early language.

On to the recipe. I have doubled and tripled the recipe, made them as mini muffins, extra large muffins, and even a special one year old birthday treat frosted with cream cheese. They are especially good with chocolate chips, but very tasty without. I've used egg substitute and a variety of different flours. They always turn out great. I think all the bananas make it a very forgiving recipe. These could probably be made with very little sugar and still be good, but we haven't tried that.

The Best Banana Muffins
Low Fat Banana Muffins
1 large egg
1 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (3-4)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar (loosely packed) or less
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour: 1 1/2 wheat, 1/2 cup white
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional: 3/4 cup (or less) chocolate chips

Yields 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together first five ingredients. Mix in flour mixture with a few light strokes just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix; the batter should not be smooth. Fold in chocolate chips (or nuts). Divide the batter into sprayed muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve as soon as possible, preferably the day they are baked.
Mini muffins bake about 11-14 minutes.

When the kids are younger, I double the recipe and spoon out half into a mini muffin pan, then add chocolate chips to the remaining batter and make regular sized muffins. They freeze exceptionally well too. We hope you enjoy them. My family calls them the best banana muffins!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Earrings fit for a Toddler

Kessa was playing with a small bracelet this afternoon and putting it on and off. Then she gave it to me. I hung it on her ear. She thought that was a great idea, earrings! She felt it wiggle against her ear as she moved.

I thought why not. I have beads and clear elastic. It wouldn't take more than a few minutes, even with a toddler helping.

And there we have toddler earrings or are they ear bracelets?
Of course they will only be worn in short bursts with constant supervision.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Patchwork Hoop for Kessa

Kessa always wants to help when I am taping hoops. Sometimes I give her a scrap of tape hoping to appease her. She tries to find a place on the hoop for the scrap of tape.

This gave me an idea. I hadn't made a hoop just for Kessa before. She's not even 20 months yet. But she has been practicing with the hand hoops I made and is getting quite good at getting the hoop to spin around her a few times.

I cut and connected a small hoop for Kessa and told her it was for her. Then I sat down to do the taping and cut a small piece off. I kept cutting off little pieces alternating colors. We kept this up for a while. Kessa was delighted to be working on her hoop and actually applying tape. As the hoop was getting covered it reminded me of the children's book character, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. She lost interest for a little while and I continued with the patchwork design. It was also a good use of my orange that was almost gone.
Patchwork Hoop

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hoop Jewelry

Having spent a great evening hooping with my daughter, I still had hooping on my mind in the morning. I thought having some hoop jewelry would be really neat and a super conversation starter!

I did a search for hula hoop earrings and didn't see anything like I had in mind.

As I was considering possible hoops for earrings, I remembered the black jelly bracelets of my youth. They would make neat hoops too.

Along with my toddler, we started at Lowes. I planned to check out o-rings for earrings. As soon as I was looking at them, my toddler called out hula hoop! They were perfect.

I picked up some jelly bracelets too.

Once home I took my hoop tape and cut it down to 1/8" and wrapped the "mini hoops". They are all very cute!

Mini hoop earrings and mini hoop bracelets

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nail Art

In the last year or so, we have gotten into doing nail art. It started with a request from my daughter to have ladybug nails. I looked around the Internet and found a few tutorials. I also learned about nail art pens. Makes doing polka dots easy and fun. We have done ladybugs, unicycles, dots, jack-o-lanterns, and a spider web with a spider.

Recently my niece showed me her water marbled or tie dyed nails. They looked really cool. Nail polish is dropped into water and swirled, who thought of such a thing? She told me there were tons of tutorials out there, so I looked it up. I found this photo tutorial at Chloe's Nail's for water marbled nails. Looked easy enough and not too messy. We tried it. My daughter picked out three colors, I tried two. The effect is really cool.

I wasn't sure about re-doing the nail polish for every nail, so we didn't. The fourth and fifth nails aren't as interesting as the first three, but still look cool. I also wasn't sure about how to dispose of the water and polish mix. After doing the nails I swirled my toothpick in the cup and found all the polish was drier and was sticking to toothpick. Easy clean up too.

We did use clear scotch tape to protect our fingers and that worked well. We taped one hand, prepared polish, then dipped fingers individually, waited a little, removed tape, taped other hand, prepared new polish, dipped, removed tape.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Heart Shaped Hand Muff

A hand warmer muff was on my mind today. I had one as a child. It was fuzzy and warm.

I thought it might be a nice "pocket" option for my toddler.

I'm not quite sure she gets it yet. She will put her hands in and say warm. She will try to put things in sometimes too. But really she wants to carry it around like a purse.

This was a pretty easy and quick project. The trickiest part for me was figuring out which sides get sewn together. The first try was good for learning, but that is about it.

The basic steps are as follows.
Cut out four heart shapes. I used fleece. Sew 2 hearts together, right sides together on the sides only. The amount of side seam is how much of an opening for the hands you will have. Repeat this step with the other 2 hearts.

Make a strap. I cut one long piece, sewed a seam, right sides together and turned. I was careful to have the stretch go sideways. I put it up to my child to determine the length.

Turn one heart right side out. Place it inside the other heart. Doing this, they will now be right sides together. Match up all the same edges.

Pin the tops of the heart and the bottoms of the heart together. You will be sewing the two hearts to each other. A lining to the outside if that makes sense.

Before sewing, attach the strap. It will mostly be inside, between the two hearts, with the two ends poking out in the seam where you want them. Also, be sure to leave a small opening for turning the whole thing right side out.

Sew carefully around the top and bottom leaving a small area for turning. I left part of the bottom open as it is a nice straight area. Remove all pins, clip curves and turn right side out. Smooth all seams. Stitch up the small opening and it is done!

If there is ever interest in a better tutorial with pictures, I could probably be talked into doing that. It really was a fast project, even with a toddler climbing on me and "helping."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Pocket For Kessa

My little girl is 19 months and notices everything. Lately she has taken note that while Mom and Dad have pockets in their clothes for keys, phones, money, and hands-she does not.

I didn't want to add pockets to all of her clothes...what to do.

As the pocket ideas were coming to me, I couldn't help but think of Corduroy and little Lisa helping him out.

Finally I settled on a toddler sized apron with pockets. It was one of those projects that I love: have the idea, go make the project, and actually finish it and use it all in one day. This one was being used inside a half hour.

But I'm sure it could use some improvements. I actually think a hand warmer type muff would suit her better. Maybe for another day...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Princess clothes for dolls

As I was preparing to post about a princess dress for a doll I made back in 2006, I was searching Google for images. I guess if I needed a pattern for a doll now, I'd be all set! But I still think my doll dress matched the girl dress better.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Water Hunt Game for Girl Scout Brownies

The Brownies have been working on the Journey W.O.W. Wonders of Water. I read about a game involving searching for water and wearing a baby doll tied to the child's back. The doll symbolizes the fact that many children are responsible for taking care of their younger siblings. The dolls were tied on with fabric I had in the house. It was about 12" wide and about 2 yards long.

The girls enjoyed the game and reading the signs. After the game they were working on water color paintings and making droplets of water with messages about protecting water for a bulletin board. As the girls were finishing their other projects, many of them asked if they could play the game again. I said sure! The girls even wanted the baby dolls tied on again and went out in search of clean water. Once the water was found, they came and showed us their success.

I would certainly recommend the game to others.

For #1 I had a dirty bucket with leaves and some water in it. For #2 I had a Rubbermaid container with a sandy colored piece of fabric in it to show the creek was all dried up. #3 had a full Rubbermaid container of fresh water. When you are done, the water can be dumped outside on some plants to not be wasted.