Lately the kids have been hooked on Clif Z-Bars, which can get pretty pricey. I decided to try making a homemade version, so after several tests, this is my copycat recipe of the Chocolate Brownie Z-Bars that we’ve named B-Bars.

I used this recipe as a jumping off point, but I knew I wanted to use less dates because I don’t like the tangy quality that lots of dates can give bars, and I wanted these to be as close to the store-bought kind as possible to increase the odds of my picky eater accepting them. I also wanted to make the Chocolate Brownie flavor of Z-Bar that my kids love so much.

The original Clif brand bar on top next to the homemade version. For this version I spread the dough in one mass on the wax paper and used a pizza cutter to make them rectangular.

The original Clif brand bar on top next to the homemade version. For this version I spread the dough in one mass on the wax paper and used a pizza cutter to make them rectangular.

In the end I had a blind taste test, and this recipe won out. My kids could tell the difference, but the non-picky eater said they were all his favorite. The picky eater said she liked this better than the store-bought kind! We’ll still buy the Clif brand ones for on-the-go (you can’t beat the convenience of the wrapper and shelf life sometimes), but these are great healthy treats for at home.


 

This is the second batch that I dropped on the wax paper like cookies, but elongated. I added some large chocolate chips for an extra punch of chocolate. The kids loved the "chocolate buttons" on these.

This is the second batch that I dropped on the wax paper like cookies, but elongated. I added some large chocolate chips for an extra punch of chocolate. The kids loved the “chocolate buttons” on these.

Chocolate B-Bar Recipe

Makes approximately 24 1-1/2″ x 4″ bars.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking)
  • 2 tbsp flax meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder (depending on how dark your powder is)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup whole pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (I used Tahini because I like sesame flavor)
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg (you can omit if you want them vegan, but they will be more crumbly in texture)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or lay out wax paper. These do tend to stick a little.

Put the first six dry ingredients in a food processor and blend until it resembles a coarse flour. Add the wet ingredients and continue processing until batter is thoroughly mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Spread your batter on the prepared pan as desired, either dropped like cookies or one thin mass that is cut into rectangles. It should be about a half inch thick.

Bake for 9-11 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy!

Keeps for about a week at room temperature, or you can freeze them. I recommend storing them on a plate or in a plastic container, rather than a ziploc bag. They are a bit fragile and can break easily if not treated gently.


I had a lot of dry ingredients in little plastic bags from the bulk food aisle of the grocery store, so I made some pre-measured mixes in jars for ease of future baking (and because I hate having lots of baggies in my pantry).

I had a lot of dry ingredients in little plastic bags from the bulk food aisle of the grocery store, so I made some pre-measured mixes in jars for ease of future baking (and because I hate having lots of baggies in my pantry).

I think this has been the longest blog hiatus ever, but such is life. Hello!

Last weekend I was able to whip up some flannel pajama pants for my little monkeys in a couple of hours, thanks to their help. The older monkey helped me with the cutting and sewing, while the toddler monkey took a big nap. The latter was probably the most helpful!

Flannel pajama pants

I didn’t have a pattern (I wish I had, it would have been even faster), so I traced some pajama pants of Alice’s. This would have worked perfectly, except I forgot to account for seam allowances, and I made the waist area too narrow. It’s hard to trace pants without taking them apart. So they came out way too small, which made me glad I had started with her size. Those first pants became James’, and I learned from my mistake to make hers the right size. When James woke up, I tried his on him, but they were a bit tight in the diaper area. They looked like 70s disco pajamas. So I opened up the back seam and added an insert of fabric into the seat. Now they fit, and look cute to boot.

More pants

The fabric I used is a Sarah Jane flannel print that I got on sale online. They’re so cute in their matching pajamas, and they were both thrilled.

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Jason says they look like nurses in scrubs, but it’s still cute.

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If anyone knows of a good, simple pajama pattern, please share. I’d like to make more, but I’d rather not have to wing it so much next time.

Alice and I love to go fabric shopping together, and she especially loves choosing fabric for me to make her dresses. Unfortunately, she can choose fabric and plan dresses exponentially faster than I can actually make her a dress. (Isn’t that the perpetual problem with crafting?) During our most recent fabric buying spree, I had a light bulb moment. I decided to make her a closetful of winter dresses (which she needs, since pants are rarely tolerated) by sewing skirts onto store-bought knit shirts. That way, I save the time and effort of the hardest part, and I don’t have to worry about the fabric of the print she loves not being stretchy or soft enough for a dress. A fabric order and an order to Old Navy later, and the first three dresses are done in about 2 hours of total sewing time!

Before you look at the pictures, I should explain that we decided to do a “fashion show”, and she picked out a bunch of accessories, so that she would look like “a pretty fashion lady”. The Elton John glasses are the best.

This one was the prototype that we did before the online orders arrived using existing materials, hence the short sleeves.
IMG_6424
She picked the skirt fabric out. I simply sewed a tube, gathered it, and attached it to the drop-waist of the shirt. It tended to hang down past her hips too far and bug her, so I later added a band of elastic inside the shirt waistband to hold it up.

This dress was made by cutting the skirt fabric into an A-line and seaming at the sides, instead of the back. I used a wide band of high-quality pink elastic to attach the skirt and shirt together, which conveniently hid the raw edge of the skirt, and helped calm the two prints where they attach.
IMG_6407
The fabric is Sarah Jane’s balloon print from Children at Play. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some of that for a while. The combination of the dot top and balloon print isn’t my favorite, but Alice insisted that it looked pretty, and it’s her dress after all.
IMG_6414

This one I’ve saved for last because it’s my absolute favorite. It’s another Sarah Jane print from her ocean collection. Alice picked the print and the top, and the combination is fantastic.
IMG_6433
She looks like she’s headed for a cruise on the Riviera. For this one, I directly attached the shirt and skirt. The skirt is seamed in the back, but the fabric tube is more of a trapezoid, so it has some nice drape in the back and is smoother in the front. I used a bit of 1/4″ white bias tape that I had on hand for the hem, which really finishes the skirt nicely.
IMG_6439
Fabulous, darling!

When I was sewing the bucket hats from the Little Things to Sew book, I asked Alice to browse through it and tell me if anything else caught her interest. She immediately fell in love with the Red Riding Hood, and just seeing the pattern set off a series of pretend play around the theme. A month or so later, I actually found the time to sew it.

Little Red

She picked out the red fabric and the heart button on a special trip to JoAnn’s fabrics, and I had her pick a fabric from my stash for the lining. Originally she had picked an aqua fabric, like the pattern shows, but later decided instead on the green candy fabric.

Little Red

She has a Little Red Riding Hood game that shows the character wearing a green dress, so Alice insisted on wearing her green Christmas dress with it. That makes whole costume hand made, which is pretty cool. We had a good time taking a walk down our neighborhood path through the woods to take pictures.

Little Red

We weren’t accosted by a wolf, but a little boy playing on the path said, “Hey, she looks kinda like little red riding hood,” which made me chuckle.

Little Red

When we got to the park, an older girl came running up to Alice to ask her if she had treats in her basket. Then she asked her mom if it was Halloween. Alice was tickled.

Little Red

All in all it was a great success. The pattern was quick and easy to sew, and Alice is absolutely thrilled with her play hood. Sewing play clothes for her is quickly becoming my favorite thing to sew. Fun and rewarding!

Little Red

Alice says that she wants to be Little Red for Halloween, so I might be done with Halloween sewing in June (at least for her). Then again, sometimes she says she wants to be Izzy from the cartoon, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so I’m not ruling out a pink pirate costume this fall.

Little Red

I’m home with a sick James today, who is now napping, so it’s the perfect chance to sneak a blog update in. With all of the gorgeous summer weather we’ve had here this spring, I realized that James needed a new sun hat. That realization and the discovery that I already had the perfect pattern in the Liesel Gibson’s book Little Things to Sew was all the prompting I needed to do some kiddo sewing. I love it when I can make a project without buying anything!

James’ hat came first from a solid oatmeal colored linen fabric and a woven plaid. I had about given up getting a modeled shot of the hat, since he would always whip it off instantly, but miraculously he left his hat on this weekend at the park. (I think when it’s really sunny and hot, he likes it.) So I chased him around the park (literally) with my phone camera, taking whatever pictures I could.

Bucket Hat

Bucket Hat

Bucket Hat

Bucket Hat

Of course, when Alice saw me making a hat for James, she just had to have one, and we had fun picking out the fabrics together from my stash. The funny thing was that Alice and James wear the same hat size, so that made all the cutting and marking easy! (As you can imagine, there are many So I Married an Axe Murderer “head” quotes bandied about our house.)

Bucket Hat

Alice picked out a lovely Erin McMorris print for her hat, and I talked her into lining it with a yellow Violet Craft print that coordinated perfectly. I was thrilled with the fabric she picked and a bit surprised, since she’s been in an “everything pink” mood lately. She was satisfied with the occasional pink flower of this print however.

Bucket Hat

Bucket Hat

She was an easier model, but there were definitely a lot of goofing around outtakes to sort through…

Bucket Hat

As for the pattern itself, I found it to be quick & easy, though obviously there’s a lot of sewing curves. I made a small mod with Alice’s hat where I sewed in the lining of the crown with RST and left a hole to turn it through, hand stitching just 2 inches or so, versus hand stitching the entire thing as the pattern instructs. It was easier with better results that way. I definitely see more of these hats in our future.

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