January 31, 2014

Monster Patch

I saw this cute pin years ago, and haven't really needed it until now.  Cue a growing hole in my son's jeans, and a bit of sewing later, and I had my very own version of the monster patch to share.  This is a great way to use up little scraps of fabric you have left over from other projects, by the way!


  • Red fabric, enough to back hole with some excess past it
  • White fabric for detail
  • Black and white thread
  • Sewing needle
  1. Trim away straggling fabric stretching across the hole, but leave raggedy edges along the outside.
  2. Cut out piece of red fabric large enough to cover hole in jeans, extending at least 1/4" past the hole.  Pin in place inside the leg of the jeans so that the hole sits on top of the fabric.
  3. Cut out white fabric for teeth.  Position onto red fabric, beneath the hole (inside the leg of the jeans).
  4. Sew red and white fabric into place on the jeans, using the black thread, with back stitches.  Be careful to sew far enough past the hole that the stitches will hold, and not tear out on the shredded fabric when tension is introduced.  Turn pant leg inside out and knot securely when finished.
  5. If desired, use white thread to sew teeth into place so they are not loose (I did).
  6. Cut out two circles for eyes.  It's actually cute if they aren't a perfect match.  Sew in place with white thread, using back stitches.
  7. Sew pupils with black thread, like you are embroidering.  Again, different sizes increase the cute factor- don't stress over making them perfect circles or even.
  8. Trim any excess thread on the outside of the jeans, then turn inside out and trim any excess on the inside.  Make sure that all thread is secure and will not unravel with wear and washing.

January 18, 2014

Making a Storage Ottoman into a Mushroom

Last weekend I pulled together a project for the nursery that I was very excited about.  I want to have a woodland feel to the baby's room, and part of that was this idea I couldn't shake--having a storage ottoman that looked like a mushroom.  I didn't want to spend $70+ for the ones I saw online, and so began the DIY adventure.  I think I have to credit those years of watching Trading Spaces with giving me the (maybe false) confidence that covering something in batting and fabric was easy enough.  :)
This easy-to-follow post helped direct me, but I made changes based on the materials I was using and what I had in mind.  I wanted to use an ottoman I already liked, so that I could remove the mushroom covering when the baby outgrew the nursery theme.  I'm thinking long term reuse here!  I also wanted a separate lid, rather than a one-piece affair, so I could use it for toy storage.  Storage is EVERYTHING these days.
I worked on this project on and off through the day, probably a few hours in total, and spent roughly $50 on supplies.  I call it a win.  :)


  • 1 lidded pre-made storage ottoman, or bucket with a lid
  • Fabric to cover base and lid, measured to fit (mine was 2 1/2 yards off white for base, 1/2 yard red for lid)
  • Scraps of white fabric to cut into circles
  • Scraps of green felt for grass accents
  • Pins
  • 1/2" to 1" foam pad for lid
  • Electric carving knife
  • Cotton batting
  • Staple gun and medium staples
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread
Directions (pictures to follow)
  1. Iron all fabrics, focusing on steaming out any deep pleats or wrinkles.  The fabric will get a bit wrinkled again as you work, but will look fine when stapled into place in the end as long as you don't have any deep wrinkles.
  2. Trace circles of varying sizes onto scrap white fabric.  I used measuring cups, prep cups, a drinking glass, and a tablespoon to get my sizes.  Cut circles from fabric.
  3. Lay out red fabric and pin circles in a random arrangement in center.  Sew in place.
  4. Cut foam pad to fit on top of lid without any overhang.  Then trim corners and edges to make a rounded shape.  It does not have to be neat and can even be lopsided for extra character.
  5. Roll cotton batting onto sides of storage ottoman base, overlapping slightly or even rolling enough for two layers.  Arrange so that there is at least 2" of overhang on both the top and bottom of the ottoman.  Pin into place.
  6. Stand ottoman on end, but be careful not to pull the batting to lose the overhang on the bottom.  Staple batting to the inside lip of the ottoman.  Flip upside down, and staple batting to bottom of ottoman, pulling taut.  Remove pins from vertical seam.
  7. Arrange foam on ottoman lid, and lay batting on top.  Flip upside down, and staple batting to underside of lid, pulling taut but not so tight that you squish the foam.  You can use the existing ottoman fabric as a guide on where to staple the batting in place.  Staple the batting just at or past where the current fabric ends, likely about 1" in from the edge of the lid.  Trim excess batting.
  8. Lay red fabric on top of batting-covered lid, arranging so that your white circles look good to you.  Note that some of mine extend under the edge of the lid.  The idea is that your project does NOT look perfectly arranged, but more random and natural, adding to the cute whimsical look.  Flip lid upside down and staple into place, pulling fabric taut as you work, just as you did with the batting.  Trim excess fabric.
  9. Roll off white fabric onto the ottoman base just like you did with the batting earlier.  Pin into place if needed, though the batting may hold it nicely in place.  Be sure to leave at least 2" fabric overhang on both the top and bottom, then flip and staple the top end under the lip.  Flip upside down and staple the fabric to the bottom of the ottoman, pulling straight and taut, adjusting as you work so that it remains taut. Trim excess fabric where necessary, especially on bottom of ottoman so it sits flat.
  10. Cut green felt scraps into grassy pieces, and lay in place.  Attach with spray adhesive, hot glue, or by hand sewing.  I went with hand sewing because I didn't want to risk damaging the existing ottoman fabric with glue stains.
  11. Place lid on top and marvel at your awesome re-purposing skills, because seriously wasn't that pretty straightforward?

The before.  Very pretty, and I'll love having this even when it's no longer a mushroom.

Circles cut and pinned into place.  I told you- keep it random!

Circles are now sewn on.  I showed the fabric all laid out so you could see how I placed everything in the center of the fabric.

Foam trimmed at the corners and edges so it isn't boxy, but instead slope-y.  My foam was a thin rectangle (and also reused!  It was cushioning in a mailed package.) so I actually cut it in half and made two layers which I cut together.  Spray adhesive would definitely help here to keep the layers attached to each other.

Bottom covered in batting, and stapled in place.

Time to cover the lid!  Foam laid on top, then layer of batting over everything.

Batting in place, and now time to arrange the red fabric with an eye toward how those circles look.

Half the fabric stapled in place to lid, and I needed to trim so I could keep working without getting lost in fabric.

Close up of stapling to inside of lid.

SO close to done!  Really!

Off white fabric laid out, showing the excess allowed on the top and bottom of the ottoman base.  I rolled the ottoman up in the fabric, pulling taut as I did so to keep it nice and tidy.

Stapled in place along the top, under the lip of the ottoman.  I actually didn't trim the excess fabric because it wasn't too bad here, and not really troublesome anyway.

Ooo, lid on top of the covered base!

Felt cut and laid in place, then hand stitched on.  TA DA!  All done!

January 5, 2014

Peppermint Chocolate Cake Roll

I have been meaning to write up this recipe for weeks!  I pinned this amazing dessert about a year ago and couldn't find the right opportunity to make it until this year's office holiday party.  It was a HIT.  I was also reminded of Buche de Noel (Yule Log).  While this really isn't one (different ingredients, not at all decorated like a log, etc.) it still fits the bill of "cake filled with nummy icing and rolled up."
Part of the reason I wanted to write this up is because the original pin is a bit of a wild goose chase taking you to two different pages in order to make everything.  It will be nice to have this all written up in one spot, along with notes from my experience (e.g., don't let the cake hang around in your fridge for a day).

We'll talk about the rectangle shape later in the post.  But believe me, it tasted amazing.

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for parchment and pan
  • 2/3 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder, plus more to dust cake for handling
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped Peppermint Andes (I used the Peppermint Crunch ones), plus more Andes to finely chop/shave for cake topping

Chocolate Pouring Sauce
  • 2/3 cups dark chocolate (1 large chocolate bar, chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 4-5 tablespoons warm water

  1. Heat oven to 350°.  Butter a large Pyrex dish (mine is 11" x 15").  Martha Stewart's cake recipe recommends a 10.5" x 15.5" x 1" jelly roll pan.  I'm not a fan of using specialty pans/equipment for a one-time recipe, so I just used my large Pyrex and it worked just fine.
  2. Line with parchment paper.  Butter the paper and coat with flour, tapping out the excess flour.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda together twice into a medium bowl then set aside.  Now, this step is deceptive because I actually needed two bowls.  I sifted the mixture into bowl #1, but then needed to pour the mixture back into the sifter and sift again, without losing any of my mixture.  I just placed a small bowl under the sifter to catch any mixture that fell through during transfer, then resumed sifting into the newly-empty bowl #1.
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Skim off the white foam with a spoon, and pour the clear yellow butter into a small bowl, discarding leftover white liquid at the bottom.  Set aside in a warm place (like on top of the preheated oven).
  5. Set a small pot of water to simmer.  In a medium heat-proof bowl that will fit on top of the pot without touching the water, whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Set the bowl over the simmering water, and stir mixture until it is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (3-5 minutes).  Remove from heat, and beat on high speed in a stand mixer until thick and pale and has tripled in bulk, 5-7 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat 2-3 minutes more.
  6. In three additions, gently fold flour mixture into egg mixture with a spatula.  While folding in the last addition, dribble melted butter over the batter and fold in.
  7. Spread batter evenly in pan, leaving behind any unincorporated butter in the bottom of the mixing bowl.  Tap Pyrex dish on counter several times to remove air bubbles.  Bake until cake springs back when touched in the center, 15-20 minutes.  Don't overbake or cake will crack.  Let sit in pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle (~1 hour or more).
  8. Dust surface with cocoa powder.  To make rolling easier, run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen from the Pyrex dish.  Cover cake with a sheet of waxed paper and a clean, damp dish towel.  Invert onto a work surface, and peel off the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.  Dust with cocoa powder.  Starting from one long end (the 15" side, not the short 11" side), carefully roll up the cake in the towel.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use, but no more than a couple hours.  If you let the cake sit for a day or more, it is going to harden more into its shape and be difficult to roll later, hence the odd rectangle shape I got rather than a nice circular roll.  Still, it all tastes the same in the end so don't sweat it too much.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth.  Try not to eat it all.
Chocolate Pouring Sauce
  1. Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl over simmering water.  Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes to melt without stirring.  Then slowly stir mixture until well combined.  Add confectioner's sugar and mix to combine.  Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until pouring consistency is achieved.  It should be the texture of chocolate syrup (not watery).  Set aside and let cool until it is merely warm (not hot).
  1. Unroll the chocolate cake and spread with buttercream filling, to about 1/4" thickness.  Make sure you spread filling evenly over entire cake.  Roll filled cake from long end to long end, just as you did when you chilled it.  Trim ends for clean finish (and so you can get the very important tasting pieces).
  2. Place fully assembled roll on a serving platter (or on a cooling rack if you want to pour the chocolate sauce, then transfer to another plate for serving with a clean presentation, which I clearly did not do).  Pour chocolate on top.
  3. Sprinkle with peppermint Andes shavings.
So. Delicious.