Thursday, June 30, 2016

Whole-Grain, High-Protein Breakfast Cookies

Have you noticed yet that I have a small....(**cough cough...BIG) obsession with cookies? Also, apparently I have a thing for making new cookie recipes.


Well this morning, little Miss 3-year old requested cookies for breakfast. Are you seeing a pattern here? Last time I made up a recipe was when she requested cupcakes for breakfast. You can find that muffin recipe here.


And, as I'm not really opposed to eating cookies for breakfast, making a high-protein and high-fiber cookie seemed like a fun challenge. That is where my education as a dietitian helps: I can find a way to justify cookies for breakfast. :) And I had all of these ingredients already on hand, so score!

Add a glass of milk and a couple of apricots (which is what the Bean had with her cookies), and you have a fairly well-rounded meal. Each cookie in this recipe has 4.5 grams of high-quality protein. That's pretty dang good for a cookie.

These cookies use whole grains. I used regular whole-wheat flour and instant oats (which are just whole oats that have been cut into smaller pieces for quicker cooking). They also have a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids because they have both walnuts and pecans in these babies. But, if you don't like nuts, you can keep them out.

And, well...because I love chocolate, they have some semi-sweet chocolate chips in there. To amp up the protein even more, in addition to the whole grains and nuts, I added non-fat dry milk powder (yes, I have that on hand), and some 100% whey protein (I found mine in the bulk section of my grocery store for a very reasonable price. Also, it is nice that it is 100% whey protein without added stuff like non-calorie sweeteners).

Of course, cookies for breakfast are always a hit, and these were no exception. And if you want to have cookies for breakfast too, well here you go! Now you too can justify having cookies for breakfast:

Whole-Grain High-Protein Breakfast Cookies

makes 2 dozen; bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup instant oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup non-fat dry milk powder
2 Tbsp. whey protein powder

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees; make sure the rack is in the center of the oven. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe container (like a glass pyrex measuring cup) in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds. In a medium-large mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix with a hand-mixer on high speed for a minute. 

2. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, oats, nonfat milk powder, and protein powder together until well combined. Add the flour mixture into the butter/egg/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed with the hand-mixer until just combined. Add in the nuts and chocolate chips and mix together. 

3. Place scoops of dough (I use a 1-oz. cookie scoop--about 2 Tbsp.) on a greased cookie sheet (or sheet with silicon baking liners). Flatten the dough balls a bit with the palm of your clean hand, or the back of a glass. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges just start to turn brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to completely cool (if you can let them cool before you eat one). 

dough balls that have been flattened
4. Enjoy! Store in an air-tight container. They are best the day they are baked, but will still be good for a few more days. 




And in case you are wondering if cookies made with whole wheat flour can taste good, the answer is: most definitely! They have a lovely texture and an added nuttyflavor, But to tell you the truth, the 3-year old didn't notice anything different from plain-ol' regular cookies. And I couldn't really either. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Simple, Delicious (and EASY) Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

It's birthday season, and end-of-school-year season, and lot's-of-sewing-stuff season (wait, it's always that season), and I'm tired season. So when it came to choosing yet another cake to make for a birthday (and what did little Bean want? Chocolate of course!) I was extremely grateful for a simple recipe that was easy to throw together and not a ton of work (and most importantly, didn't leave a huge mess in my kitchen).


Let's just say that I'm not the cleanest baker....and homemade cakes usually come with homemade frosting which often comes with powdered sugar....ALL OVER. The mess is augmented by the fact that I'm usually in a hurry which means I'm kind of frantically flailing ingredients around. So the best part of this recipe is that it contains very few ingredients and NO powdered sugar.

The frosting is elegant because it's chocolate ganache, but ganache is SOOOOO much easier than a powdered sugar/butter frosting. Which led me to wonder: "why do I bother with any other frosting?" Hmmm...one of life's mysteries to ponder upon. 

Was I in a hurry with this cake? Of course. Did it take long to make? Not at all. Did it stress me out making this cake? Nope! Will I be doing this cake again? Possibly for every birthday from here on out whether it's asked for or not. Do I have a habit of asking myself a question and then answering it in the next sentence? Apparently! 

So, will I actually make this for every birthday now? Probably not. I'd get bored. But I will be making it again. That's for sure. In fact, I may have one baking right now.....


This cake takes about 5-10 minutes for the batter to come together, and then only 30 minutes to bake. And it uses regular all-purpose flour and still gives you a light and airy, moist texture. Mmmm. I also made it the day before and when it was cooled from baking, I wrapped the layers and froze them until a couple of hours before I needed them. I think this helps lock moisture in (keeping the cake moist) until the cake is needed. The buttermilk also helps with the fine, moist texture, as well as using boiling water. The original recipe from Hershey's calls for hot coffee, but I used boiling water (brought to a quick boil in my microwave in a glass Pyrex measuring cup) with a couple of teaspoons of vanilla instead. 

The end result is dark chocolate cake with a rich chocolaty flavor, fine crumb and moist texture. Then by adding a ganache frosting (just cream and semi-sweet chocolate....that's it) that is whipped until spreadable, you've got a delicious very easy, no-stress from-scratch chocolate cake. 

My dad said it was one of the best cakes he's every had. But.....he's my dad :). But this IS my new chocolate cake recipe I'll use now: for it's ease and lovely end result. And of course, because it tastes AWESOME. 


Black Magic EASY Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar (for an extra-fine texture of your cake, use Baker's extra-fine sugar)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk and add 1 Tbsp. white vinegar and allow it to "sour" for 5 minutes)
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup Cocoa (I used a Dutch-processed cocoa)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat your oven to 350*. Cut parchment rounds for 2, 9-inch round cake pans (or you can bake it in a greased 9 x 13 pan). Grease and flour the cake pan(s).


2. In a large bowl, whisk together until well-combined the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add the eggs, oil, buttermilk, hot water, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. The batter will be thin. 


3. Evenly distribute the batter between the pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out just clean. Remove from oven and cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a thin knife around edges of the pan and remove cakes to completely cool on a wire rack. Then either frost the cake, or wrap and freeze it until you are ready for it!


fresh out of the oven

cooling completely on the rack

Chocolate Ganache Whipped Frosting

2 cups heavy cream
24 oz. (1 pound plus 8 ounces) of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I confess that I used Costco semi-sweet chocolate chips here and it worked out awesome. 

1. Place chocolate (chopped) in a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream just to a boil on the stove. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until chocolate is mostly melted. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until completely smooth. 

2. Cover and place frosting in the fridge until it is spreadable without being runny. If it gets too hard, place it in your microwave on reduced power (50%) for 10-second intervals, stirring in between to make sure you don't melt it too much. But if you do, just place back in the fridge for a bit for it to thicken it. When the frosting is spreadable, you can use it as-is and spread it on your cake, or whip it with some beaters for a few seconds. Keep in mind that the more you whip, the cooler the frosting gets and harder it may become (which may mean you will have to soften it again, but it won't ruin it). You can also use this frosting when it is slightly runny as a glaze to pour over the cake. You can't really mess it up, and it tastes great. And no powdered sugar! 



Enjoy! I know we sure did! (Especially the birthday girl...sniff sniff....who turned 3 and is growing up).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I'm-A-Jerk Carrot Cake: Delicious Cake with a Hint of Guilt

It's the Beginning of Birthday Season! Which means lots and lots of cakes!

First up? My mom! She loves spice cake and carrot cake, and I couldn't decide on one, so I did both!

Let's see how many more sentences I can end with an exclamation point?! I can keep going like this all night! What's that?! You feel like I'm shouting at you?! And not in a jubilant fun way, but in a kind of aggressively joyful way?! (I'll bet you never read those two adjectives in succession before. Language: it's amazing).

Alright, so I did a little overkill. I still haven't learned how to end on a high note. My apologies. :)

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, cake. Today I'll share how I made the carrot cake, although the spice cake was delicious too. Maybe I'll save that one for some other time.

Now when it comes to carrot cake, there are at least a couple different camps. One camp with fruit (pineapple and possibly raisins), and one without. Sometimes there's the addition of coconut, most of the time there are nuts.

Which camp does my mom lie in? She happens to like her carroty cake with pineapple, but she didn't say anything about raisins (thank goodness because plump, juicy raisins in baked goods are just gross), which means I left them out.

And...well, I left out the pineapple too (sorry Mom), because I can't stand most baked fruit in desserts. Pineapple gets mushy and stringy. And raisins...I already covered that. Plump and juicy are not the adjectives that I want with raisins. Actually, I don't really want raisins with any accompanying adjectives. Let's just say that you'll most likely never see a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies on this blog. Kind of sad since I was born and raised in the Raisin Capital of the world.

I was a little selfish in making this cake. Because I wanted some carrot cake too, so I sided with the no-fruit camp. But it wasn't my birthday, so I guess I'm sort of a jerk. But I made her a cake, so that gives me some redemption, right? Ok, now I'm feeling guilty.



Where do I stand on the nut issue in this cake? It shouldn't surprise you that I'm pro-nut (when you can't beat 'em, join 'em, or when in Rome..., or some other cute saying that may apply here). So this cake has pecans (not walnuts) in it to enhance the flavor and texture. Hitting a crunchy nutty spot in a bite of cake: totally acceptable. Hitting a smooshy gooey raisin: completely unacceptable.

In my opinion, the best qualities of this I'm-A-Jerk Carrot Cake include the fact that it has three moist layers (so it is decadent) and it is covered by a traditional cream cheese frosting that is amped up a bit with a hint of ginger and orange flavor. And of course, the best quality (for which it is named): it has NO fruit in it...which makes me a bit of a jerk.

There is nothing to get in the way of enjoying this cake. No stringy pineapple bits to pull out of your teeth later, and no fat raisins you have to eat around, and possibly gag on when you miss one and you suddenly find yourself with a goo of sickeningly sweet, slightly fermented raisin in your mouth that has broken through it's skin. So yay for that!

Once again, overkill. I think I made my point on my disdain for raisins in baked goods.

I didn't spend hours poring over the pages of the Internet in deciding which recipe to use (I may sometimes do that....), mostly because I didn't have time. But I followed Paula Deen's recipe found here (because it didn't have fruit in it and had a lot of good ratings, many of which I read through), with some minor adjustments. And as a side note, there is NO WAY that this cake serves just 8 (which is what Ms. Deen's recipe states). It has three layers, people. It definitely serves at least twice that many.


And for the cream cheese frosting, I decided to amp it up a bit with a hint of orange and some fresh ginger. I got the idea from this recipe from the Food Network here.

Making this cake is not difficult; it uses simple ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand, and uses all-purpose flour (not cake flour), so it's even more user-friendly. I also used my hand-mixer instead of a stand mixer, which also made it less complicated.

You make a simple cake base with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and fold in some chopped pecans and 3 cups of carrots. Then divide the batter evenly between 3, 9-inch round cake pans, bake for about 25 minutes (also an alteration from her recipe---the original recipe calls for 40 minutes, but the cake would be way overbaked by then).



The trickiest part of making this cake is making sure you use parchment paper in the bottom of each cake pan. And even then you need to spray the parchment and sides of the pan generously with cooking spray. If you don't, your cakes will stick rather badly to the bottom and sides. I ran a thin knife around the sides of the cake pan after the cakes had cooled on the rack for about 10 minutes. And I had to coax the bottom (apparently I left about 1/8th of an inch ring uncovered by parchment) out a bit carefully.


To make parchment rounds, trace the bottom of your cake pans onto parchment paper and cut them out. Then spray the bottom of the cake pan first, place the parchment inside (now the parchment will stick to the pan), and spray the parchment and sides of cake pan again. Or....order parchment rounds off of Amazon. I totally intend to do that some day, but for some reason I haven't brought myself to do it yet.

The layers of this cake don't rise very tall (they're about an inch thick each). When the layers are cool, I recommend wrapping them in plastic-wrap and placing in freezer (if not eating/serving the cake that day). I made this cake the night before it was served, and I actually froze the frosting in layers too (I piped frosting on wax paper inside two of the cake pans to make two layers of frosting). The frosting took about 30 minutes to freeze enough for me to layer my cake with frosting (minus the top layer of frosting) right in one pan, and inverting the other pan over the top to encase the cake. I then used plastic wrap to seal the two cake pans and kept the cake in the freezer until about an hour before it was served. Then I frosted the top, decorated it with some whole pecans, and it was ready to go!
So without further ado, here is the recipe I used:

I'm-a-Jerk Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut 3 parchment rounds and place in the bottom of 3, 9 inch round cake pans. Grease the pans.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl; whisk to evenly distribute ingredients. 

3. Add the eggs in one at a time while using a hand mixer on medium. Add the oil in a slow stream until all combined. Fold in the carrots and pecans using a spatula or large spoon. 

4. Distribute the batter evenly between the 3 pans, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Begin checking for doneness around 20 minutes. The cakes are done when a cake tester (toothpick) comes out clean, or with a couple of moist crumbs. 

5. Allow cakes to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to release any portions of the cake that may be stuck to the sides of the pans. Carefully remove the cakes from pan (careful, the layers are not very thick) and cool completely on a wire rack. You can either frost them when they are completely cool, or wrap the layers in plastic wrap and freeze until you are ready to use them. 

6. Place bottom layer of cake on serving dish, top with the cream cheese frosting, followed by another layer of cake and a subsequent layer of frosting. Add the last layer of the cake and top it with frosting. I left the sides free of frosting, but feel free to frost the sides if you want to. I decorated the top of the cake with half pecan pieces. Refrigerate the cake before serving, at least one hour (if it was not previously frozen). Store the leftover cake in the refrigerator. 


Orange-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter (1/2 cup) at room temperature
2, 8 oz. bricks of cream cheese (do not use Neufchatel cheese, it will make your frosting too runny)
1 2-4 inch piece of ginger root
1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
6 cups + powdered sugar. 

1. Grate the ginger onto a piece of cheesecloth, a sturdy paper towel, or a coffee filter. Squeeze the juice into a small bowl. You should have around 1 Tbsp. of ginger root juice. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice to the bowl.
piece of ginger root

grated ginger root into a coffee filter

ginger root juice: smelled great!


I just squeezed a bit of juice from the orange I used for the zest


2. In a separate medium-large bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese bricks together on high speed until fully combined and creamy. Beat in the juice mixture on medium speed. 


3. On low speed, add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until you achieve the desired consistency. Any un-used frosting can remain in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 


This cake and delicious frosting was a crowd pleaser! And it didn't take too long to make; it was delicious and not too complicated. 



Luckily I wasn't too big of a jerk: my mom liked it. So I only felt a small twinge of guilt as I enjoyed my piece. 

Happy Birthday Mom!

Next up on the birthday parade? My husband. But he doesn't like cake, so I guess I'll avoid being selfish this time and actually make something he really wants ;). And if I'm lucky, I'll like it too (but let's face it, if it has sugar in it, I'm probably gonna like it. As long as it doesn't include raisins!).

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Still got some ADD goin' on...

I haven't been blogging so much. Because I've still got a lot of ADD crafting/sewing going on, and I still am enamored by Instagram.

Now if you read my post here, you know that I'm a newbie to Instagram, and I am still in awe of it. I post a picture, and a fabric designer whose fabric I adore and whom (grammar police? I don't know to use "whom" or "who" here, so correct me if you know down in a comment..hee hee) I have never met can see it and like it and comment on it. Wha?? Amazing. It makes it a little more personal when I'm buying loads of their fabric. I'd still buy loads, but now I know what they look like. Ha ha.

And as a follow-up to the couple of sewing contests I joined, sadly I did not win. But alas, losing did not deter me from sewing. And the Bean got 4 dresses and a cute bag that she takes to preschool religiously.

Here are some pics of the dresses that she now can sport to church (and that I've already had to spray-and-wash because....she's 2):



She was such a good girl and really tried hard to do what I asked to take those pictures. 


I appliqued a little kite on the skirt of this one. The fabric line is called "Sommer" and is designed by Sarah Jane (and manufactured by Michael Miller Fabrics) in case anyone is interested.

Here is her second dress from the same fabric line:




I made that little belt too. It even has a vintage mother-of-pearl buckle that I ordered off of etsy. I really like this little retro style dress. Those mirrored swans are fun.

Then after the dress sewing contest, I started following all these quilt-people on Instagram, and so I joined a Block-of-the-Month group (Sarah Fielke's). I will be learning some new techniques with that group, so I am looking forward to that. Here is some needle-turn applique that I did on some of the blocks:



I am currently working on 3 quilts (intermittently), and I hope that at least one gets finished because I'm obviously all over the place!

And of course, life wouldn't be complete without some cookies. I wonder how many chocolate chips I go through a year? Or how much butter......Mmmmm....butter.

Alright, it's time to go pick up some kids and take them to piano lessons. Until next time!







Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chocolate Whole Grain Applesauce Muffins


For those of you who know me, you know that I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with eating a brownie or a cookie or a piece of cake for breakfast if I happen to have one of those available to me in the morning. However, sometimes that leaves me not feeling the greatest physically. Not because cookies and brownies with a glass of milk are bad, but because I tend to be a victim of convenience, a lover of baked goods and sugar, and well...lazy. So if I made brownies for dessert last night, there's a good chance that's what I'm having for breakfast too. Because it's there. And when I'm hungry, one brownie with milk doesn't satisfy, so I usually have a couple...and then sugar coma.


Well, what if you want some chocolate, but some added nutrition too? Well, this recipe actually came to fruition because the Bean requested cupcakes for breakfast. And well, I might be able to rationalize that, but this mommy wasn't gonna make cupcakes for breakfast for her 2-year old. So I adapted the pumpkin oatmeal recipe from this past post here.

Whole wheat flour?
Check.

Whole rolled oats?
Check.

Protein from the milk, eggs, and whole grains?
Check!

Fiber?
Check!

Applesauce for vitamin C?
Check!

Still relatively low in fat?
Check!!

Chocolate for breakfast?
Double check!

So if you're like me, and you want to feel better about eating your desser...er whole grain breakfast, well....you're welcome ;)
Yes, I put chocolate on a new quilt top! Eek

Whole-Grain Chocolate Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

yields 24 muffins

2 cups whole oats
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1 cup applesauce (I use no sugar added)

2 eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to taste (or 1 cup)


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners or parchment liners. Meanwhile, thoroughly mix oats, milk or buttermilk, and applesauce together in large bowl. Allow the oats to sit for 15 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil until well mixed, about 1 minute.

3. In a third bowl, sift together the white whole wheat flour, cocoa powder baking soda, and salt.

4. After the oats have soaked in the applesauce/milk mixture, add the egg/sugar/oil mixture and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture to the rest and stir together until the ingredients are incorporated. Mix in some mini (or regular) chocolate chips

5. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Place in oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for five minutes before removing the muffins to a wire rack. Enjoy!


Do yourself a favor, and keep an eye on any small children while they consume these.....


And what did the 2-year old think? Well...after gobbling a couple of them up, she said, "Mommy, let's go to Disneyland now." Oh, the possibilities are endless when you're 2 and your mom makes you "cupcakes" for breakfast! Ha ha ha.




Thursday, March 10, 2016

I'm an ADD Crafter

I blame Instagram. And Pinterest. Now as usual, I'm late to the party. I always am. Instagram has been around forever, but it's only within the last few weeks that I've been using it. 

Like when iPods first came out, I stated: "That's dumb. Who needs to carry all their music around with them wherever they go?" Ahem...sooooo...yeah, look what iPods spurred on. It took me a few years after that before I finally succumbed and bought my iPod nano. I was later than my mother to that party. And yeah, I saw the use for it eventually. Now we're on to many iGadgets later.

I was late to the Facebook party too. And the Pinterest party. I'm still avoiding the Twitter party. And I also avoided the Instagram party...until I decided to enter that Nature Walk Sewing Contest (I mentioned in my last post).

To enter that contest, I had to use social media and use a hashtag and everything. Which meant I had to start using Instagram.
Easter Dress from Cottontail line from Hawthorne Threads
And that has spurred my crafty ADD.

Because entering that contest opened up to me a world of people who sew/create for little girls. Boutique owners, talented seamstresses, fabric designers, fabric manufacturers, sewing pattern designers...are all part of their own world. And I feel like an alien peeking in. I have looked at images of all these adorable dresses, fabrics, and patterns and I think: "Hey, I could try that for awhile."

Vintage style dress I made from Straight Grain's Tinny dress pattern
So that's why in a matter of a few weeks, I will have made 4 dresses (2 more to come and add on Instagram before this ride is over) and a skirt for a two-year-old who doesn't need that many dresses....Because when I decide to do something, I go full throttle until I get burnt out. But not to worry when I get burnt out, because there are always more worlds to explore.

You can find the Easter dress pattern I used here: Made for Mermaids
and the vintage dress pattern I used here: Straight Grain
The Bean trying on dress, post-nap (after I finished it)
Sometimes I'm a voyeur of the quilting world. You can't call me a quilter, although I like to make quilts. But I'm not devoted solely to quilts, nor am I great at it. I like to make a stuffed rabbit one day, a doll the next, focus on some dresses for awhile, then quilts, then felt ornaments...and that's how it's going. You can't call me a seamstress, although I have recently been sewing up a storm of little girl clothes, because again, I'm not great at it, and it's not all I do.

So....ADD Crafter. That's what I am. And I'm sure I'm not the only one in this world.
Easter Bunny in the works (I'm actually working on the pattern after this: this one looks like a dog)

Twelve Days of Christmas Ornaments (designed by mmmcrafts): from goose a--layin' to partridge and the pear

And when I'm tired of creating stuff out of fabric and felt...I move on to the baking. I've got rolls rising as I type this. Mmmm. Because I finished a dress yesterday, and I'm taking a little break (and mostly was in the mood for rolls). But during nap time, watch out: I'll be making a doll for a friend's little girl. Because I'd rather do all of this than laundry. Or cleaning. Or organizing. And sometimes showering......

So there's a little insight into why this blog/me is all over the place. It's just my space to express something, and to avoid my responsibilities.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spring Sewing is in the Air!

Yes, I know my last post was about pumpkin, which is traditionally a Fall thing. And I've been hand-sewing Christmas ornaments too, so I may be a little confused, but.....

Spring is on it's way!! Yippee!

Now, living in California, this doesn't have as much of an impact as when I used to live where it snowed. No matter what, when March came, even if there was snow on the ground, I would get excited. Because it meant that the short, dark, cold days were coming to an end. I no longer live in the snow, but I still love the end of Winter and I love that it's March.

Now that I have a new sewing hobby in my life, it also means that new Spring fabric lines are coming out, which is also kind of exciting. I get emails with alluring photographs of new colorful fabrics and beautiful projects made with them, and well...I succumbed to buying some bright Spring fabrics to try to make my own cute things.

One of my favorite fabric designers is Tamara Kate, and she came out with her new line called "Nature Walk." I love it. So I bought some. One of the fabrics is a panel of all of the letters of the alphabet, so that is fun. I decided to use the "e" and make my little bean a toddler messenger bag to take to preschool (which she just started and loves and calls "me-school").

I did something I haven't done before, either. I entered a sewing contest that Tamara Kate and Michael Miller fabrics was hosting. Eek. It ended yesterday. I don't think I'll win (they haven't announced yet) because there were some pretty amazing entries, but it was fun to try nonetheless. I was wanting to make a bag for the bean anyway, and the contest got me motivated.

I had to incorporate the Nature Walk ABC panel in some way, and use other fabrics from the line. So I entered my bean's little bag, which I designed myself.


 Here is what the panel looks like. Super cute!


I pieced together the body of the bag with different fabrics from the Nature Walk line:



I love the colors of the fabrics. My only regret is I think I incorporated too much of the solid pink. I was able to work on my piecing skills again, and even my embroidery, as I embroidered the flower and moth. And the bag is also quilted ("in the ditch" mostly, with some decorative lines on the gray fabric).

Look at all those triangles. They give you a closer view of the fabrics, too.







I added some turquoise piping to the flap of the bag.


The center of the flower is embroidered with a bunch of french knots, and I filled in the petals of the flower with a gradient of 3 different colors. I didn't get as fancy with the moth...which by the way, did you know that elephant moths are bright pink and green? I did not. Until I did a little research before starting my embroidery.

The inside of the bag is lined with the green and white fabric called "Tall Grass" which comes in different colors:


After I made the bag, I had almost the entire ABC panel left (since I only used the "e"). I used the rest of the panel to make a ruffled tiered skirt for the bean, too, which she wore proudly:




And then she was done with pictures. Photo session length: 5 minutes. Not bad for a two-year-old. She was less cranky than the 12-year olds who were along for the ride.



To make the skirt, I used the length of one row of letters (the width of fabric-45 inches) for the first tier (Each row of letters on the panel was 8 inches tall, so that is how tall I made the tiers), and I sewed a row and-a-half together for the second tier.

I sewed along the top with a basting stitch, pulled the bobbin thread to ruffle it, and matched it to the first tier. I ruffled the first tier (with a basting stitch and pulling bobbin thread again) and attached it to the waist-band.

(I did the waist-band like this tutorial here, except mine was smaller--because I used the Bean's waist measurement-- and the width of my waist band was about 2 inches).

Then I added a trim of the light turqoise fabric on the bottom, about 2 1/2 inches long. I hemmed it and ta-da! Quick little skirt.

Now I can say that it feels like Spring!