Thursday, January 31, 2013

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins Revisited

I was excited to try to make a better muffin recipe and I think this round was good.


Mix together
1 banana
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
Add and mix
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Add and mix
6 oz plain Greek yogurt
Add and mix until just combined

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add and mix in
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Divide into 24 mini muffin pan
1/4 cup chocolate chips to sprinkle on top

Bake 12 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

These muffins were more moist with the banana and had a slight banana flavor.  The chocolate still was the dominate flavor.  I still wonder about the baking soda and baking powder and wonder if I could leave one out.  Reducing the egg and oil seemed to be just fine.  In addition I reduced the flour by a bit.

The consensus is that these muffins are an improved version!  

5/2013 - Made some substitutions and tastes great!  1/4 cup coconut oil (olive oil), Ener-G egg replacer (egg), 1/2 cup wheat flour + 1 cup white flour (1 1/2 cup flour)  Nutritional Info is for coconut oil, wheat/white flour mixture and an egg.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

We were sampling the giant chocolate chips and I thought why not make something with them. I settled on this recipe for Double Chocolate Chip muffins from the Ghirardelli website.

All the ingredients were on hand except for a cup of sour cream. We did have six ounces of plain Greek yogurt which I hoped would work out.

I would like to experiment more with this recipe to reduce the butter and possibly the eggs. I bet some banana would add some moisture and a nice flavor.

This muffin recipe makes a fairly dry and sticky batter and isn't overly sweet. They have a nice chocolate flavor. I bet using smaller chocolate chips would yield a more even chocolate flavor.

I used my mini muffin pan and baked for 14 minutes at 400 degrees.

Everyone here seemed to like them okay, even the Greek yogurt skeptics.  As they are, they cannot be considered a favorite yet.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Blip on the Radar

Finished Quilt
Since being diagnosed with breast cancer almost six years ago, I had not yet had a friend diagnosed until now.  She's a newer friend and we didn't know each other when I went through treatment.  Finding out her diagnosis along with her certainly brought back many memories.  The decision making, the waiting, and how cancer related appointments and recoveries seem to gobble up more and more of your schedule.

A quilt started to take form in my mind.  I wanted to have some pink ribbon fabric symbolizing the pieces of the breast cancer journey.  As the ideas were coming to me, I thought of how cancer is almost always on our radar.  Usually it's just a blip, maybe a friend, a family member or a friend of a friend.  When someone is diagnosed, the blips come more regularly.  There are many appointments, decisions to be made, more appointments, and recovery.  Eventually, hopefully, it all becomes a distant memory and the blips are spaced out further and further apart.  Perhaps a blip might be your own cancerversary or something in the news, or someone's new diagnosis.

First layout
My first lay out of this idea didn't come out as I expected.  After looking at many quilt ideas, I decided I just needed to add more fabrics to the mix.  Fortunately I had some coordinating colors on hand.  Using a disappearing nine square design sounded like a good idea.  The squares I had cut were 6.5".  I added six more printed fabrics and decided to try to make all my "nine square blocks" fairly random with the exception of the top and sides.  I used pink on the sides of every block and green on the top and bottom.  This would give the whole quilt a bit of pattern mixed in with the more random large and small squares.

I've done quilts with the disappearing nine square pattern before, but never tried a more random pattern.  Once I had about a third of the blocks done, I figured out that I needed to start planning the future blocks in order to keep the randomness going. 
Disappearing Nine Square

Nine Square

A nine square block turns into four new blocks.  Alternating the colors for the middle square and outside four squares creates new patterns and randomness.

Pieced Back of Quilt
For the back, I had already purchased the striped fabric that seemed to match the pink, green, and brown so well. Because of the pattern I chose to do with the alternating pinks and greens on my quilt front, I had extra Disappearing Nine Square blocks with the pink rectangles on "top."  I decided to use these along with extra pink and green for a pieced back.  Because I wasn't able to work on it all in one day, I had time to consider other options.  I thought a heart block would be neat to include.  I had never made one before.  I found a nice tutorial from Tallgrass Prairie Studio for a heart block.  Had I worked on the back all at once, I might have chosen a new color for the heart, such as pink.  But then I wouldn't have made a heart block at all.  Another consideration which occurred to me later was to have the blocks and pink and green sections a bit away from the outside edges.  Had I forgotten this step, I would have cut some of it off after quilting it.
Close Up

Free motion squiggles are still one of my favorite quilting designs to make and goes fairly quickly.  I used more of the striped fabric for the binding and had just enough fabric left.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Zippered Pouch

While planning a sewing day for the third grade Girl Scout Brownies, I wanted to make sure we had enough to do in the time allotted.  Also, while it is nice to make donations, I know the girls really like sewing for themselves and being able to take something home.  We didn't get to this project yet, but hope to make them in March.

I looked around for easy patterns and decided to do a less easy pattern, but that I would prepare it for them.  A zippered pouch would be a nice finished project.  This tutorial and this other one had nice instructions.  After testing out the pattern, I decided to only have the girls sew around the outside edge and make a flat bag.

Before the meeting, I emailed each parent to ask their girls' favorite color. Fat quarters were on sale and even though the material isn't very thick, the lining should add some thickness and be ok.

Zippers were ordered in bulk.  I ended up with 8" zippers.  The outside fabric and lining were cut to 10" x 4".  To save a step, I ironed down one long edge of the outside fabric and lining to be sewn to the zipper.  I did this all in one step.  I completed the bag and created instructions for the girls to finish the zippered pouch.

After sewing the zippers in, I trimmed the pouch down so that the zipper was closer to the length of the fabric.

The next step was to open the zipper halfway and then sew around the outside of the fabric right sides together and the lining right sides together, leaving a small opening in the lining bottom.  Then clip corners and flip.  Finally hand sew the small opening closed.

Update 3/2013: We were able to sew these pouches together at our March meeting. I thought it would be a very quick project because we are essentially just sewing one seam. But it took longer and was just right for them. I had instructions with photos of the steps which was helpful. Pinning took time, taking turns on the machines, then turning and finding the corners. Finally we just sewed the opening in the lining by machine. We only had three machines for this project and less than an hour allotted. There were eleven girls present. When the girls weren't working on their pouches, they either looked on, hula hooped, or worked on some coloring pages.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Quilting with Girl Scouts

It was my turn to lead the group of third grade Girl Scout Brownies.  I enjoy sewing with the girls, but like to be sure to have additional sewing machines and adult helpers.  The stars all aligned and there would be five machines and five helpers for thirteen girls!

I cut out 6.5" squares and planned out two simple quilts with diagonal squares quilt design.  I also started planning another quilt for a friend. 

Some of the girls really enjoyed sewing and spent most of the one hour and thirty minute meeting sewing.  I had brought graph paper for the girls to learn about quilt planning and many of them enjoyed coloring too.

In the time allotted, we were able to sew the squares into rows for both quilts and started putting the rows together for one of the quilts.

I was impressed that the girls were able to sew quite straight.  There were a couple squares that were attached backwards and needed to be ripped out, but otherwise the quilts went together smoothly.

My job will be to finish up the quilts and then we will be donating them.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bag for a Recorder

It's that time of year at our school that the third graders get recorders and begin learning to play in music class.  We didn't need to order a recorder because we had one from her older brother.  However the small muslin bag for the recorder is long gone.  My daughter asked me to make a new bag and to put an "S" on it.  I had planned to use fabric I had, but when I was at the store I saw this cute print with musical notes on it.  My daughter suggested a quilted bag, but I didn't think it was necessary.  I didn't even line the bag.  A quick little project and a one of a kind bag that won't get lost!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Knitting Scarves

My Mother-in-law has knitted some lovely gifts for us over the years. This year Sydney got a new scarf made with a Pom Pom yarn and Kessa got a red jumper. Kessa thought she would like a scarf too, but like Sydney's scarf she received last year which was in a pink fun fur.

We headed over to JoAnn's and picked out some new yarn. We found a multicolored thick yarn and purple fun fur. That afternoon I got out my knitting needles and started making the scarf. Right away it all seemed too tight and I wasn't sure which stitches I should use. It seems that I know a bit about knitting, but not enough.

After taking it out and starting again, it still wasn't right. My mom knits also. I gave her a call and she recommended larger needles. I picked up a set of 15s and some regular weight yard. Coupled with the fun fur, this combination worked very well. The scarf took shape quickly, but it isn't the perfect stitch. The edges rolled in a bit and there is a right side and a wrong side.

At the store, Sydney had picked out a Sashay yarn to make a frilly scarf. I wasn't sure exactly how to make that kind either. My mother in law was coming to visit the next day and she got the scarf started for me. It's very easy to make because the "yarn" is so wide. It was fun to start and finish it in one day.

I decided to test out a pattern from the Red Heart website.  I added some of the extra fun fur yarn in stripes for Kessa.  She is hard to please apparently!

Finally one last trip to the store for more Sashay yarn and a small scarf for Kessa and a longer one for me.  :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Birthday tote for a preschooler

My youngest has been invited to her first birthday party.  I asked her if we should make a tote bag.  She happily came along to my sewing room and helped pick out the fabrics to use.  She was very agreeable when I suggested pink lining fabric and pink ribbon for the middle seam.  
These little totes go together very quickly and because they are quilted, they hold their shape well.  It's also a great small size to practice new quilting designs.