Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Spontaneous Birthday Party and Instagram

Need to add some fun to your winter? Throw a simple birthday party, just you and your kids. By simple I mean, SIMPLE. Decorate a little, enjoy some sort of treat, and just make the day feel special. Before you know it, the day will be special. 

Yesterday we awoke to 3-4 inches of snow outside. The girls were thrilled! Immediately after eating breakfast they dressed for the occasion and headed outside to our winter wonderland. 10 minutes later they were done. What were we going to do with the rest of our snow day!? 

Then Hailey informed me it was Leo's birthday.

Leo is one of Hailey's imaginary friends. Don't be misled, Leo is a girl. And apparently yesterday was her birthday. And we were to throw her a party, which of course necessitated decorations.
Oh boy. I drug my feet on that idea. I was in no mood for partying, let alone throwing and decorating our own. Quickly though, Hailey's enthusiasm won me over, so birthday-party-it-up we did. Why do kids have the best ideas sometimes?

We pulled out streamers and ribbon, a plastic tablecloth, and even gift bags for the presents (their own toys wrapped up). Of course, there must be presents! Lucky for those girls I even had cupcakes in the freezer, leftover from Keira's birthday. We thawed those puppies and gave them a nice topcoat of Nutella and sprinkles. Yes, Nutella. No frosting? Use Nutella. It totally satisfied us. It was a bit thicker than frosting, but nothing a glass of milk can't help. :) No cupcakes immediately on hand? Bake some cookies or muffins together and stick a candle in it. If your kids are like my kids, they are quickly satisfied by anything with sugar. 

After cake and presents it was almost lunchtime. I had a few par-baked mini pizza crusts in the fridge, so we decided to use those up and make our own pizzas. This is always a hit with the kids.

Since it was suddenly a special day we pulled out a blanket and picnicked in front of a movie (which never happens). Win-win for me, pizza and some quiet time to relax!

Need a pizza dough recipe? Use mine, it's quick. I can whip up some crusts ready for toppings in just 45 minutes to an 1 hour. I store the extra in the fridge or freezer to be used later. It makes for an extra fun, yet super easy lunch.


So tell me, how do you like to spend your snow day? What do you do to keep you and your kids happy and sane during the winter?


Now, let's talk INSTAGRAM.

Yeah, what about it? 

Well... I'm now on it! Follow me @hillmade_blog. There is plenty I do day to day that doesn't make the blog. I'll post more of that there. I'd also love to see what you're up to! Have you used any of my ideas? Tag #hillmade_blog. I'd love to see it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My One Little Word (#OLW) for 2015 and a Free Printable

Is it too late to be discussing New Years Resolutions? (Happy New Year, BTW!) It's still January, so it counts, right?

I've seen the idea of choosing One Little Word to focus on for the year floating around bloggy-land. I love it. So I jumped on board. As I thought about it, and the word that kept coming back to me was:


I feel like if I practice having more patience everyday so many other things will fall into place for me. Our home will be happier, we'll love each other and laugh more, and I'll be more accepting of the person I am or am trying to become.

Free Printable: love is patient |

I had always thought of myself as a patient person, up until that moment I had my first child and became a mother. It is so much easier to be patient when your focus is on only yourself. Once you throw others into the mix, it becomes more complicated and patience is stretched and wears thin quicker. So... to aid myself in my journey towards more patience this year I put together a print to hang in a predominant area in our home, that I will see multiple times a day, in the hopes of helping me to settle down and practice more patience.

Free Printable: love is patient |

I spend a great deal of my day between the kitchen and living room, so that is where I hung up the print. I also put up a picture of our family, and plan to put up more pictures of my girls. If I see adorable happy pictures of them, I'm more likely to soften a bit and be more patient, right? That's what I hope at least. :)

I want to share the print with YOU! Click the image above, or follow this link to download your own 8x10 copy. I also resized it for 5x7 or 4x6 if you'd prefer smaller.

What is your One Little Word for the New Year? What are your goals?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Create: Sew a Felt Star Ornament

Boy, it's been a while, hasn't it? I've been here, just busy with life and not taking enough time to document all of it. But! Today I have a simple kids craft to share with you, just in time for Christmas.

Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

For her birthday, Hailey asked for a sewing machine. She is 5 and has never touched a sewing machine, but she has watched me and decided she wanted to try. I was not about to spend money on her own machine without seeing her sew first, to be sure this is something she really is interested in. Instead I made her a small sewing kit with some essentials to get sewing. Life became busy and we never found the chance to take some time to sit down together and work on a project. Finally one afternoon in a search for something Christmas crafty for Hailey and her friend to do for some quiet time I decided it was time to pull out some of those sewing supplies and have that first lesson in sewing.

We made felt star ornaments. I'll show you what we did.

You will need:
  • embroidery needles (for the beginning sewer- they are nice and big and easy to hold onto
  • crochet thread (it is found by the yarn and is thicker than normal thread, which makes it easier for little hands to handle. You could use embroidery floss as well.)
  • water soluble/disappearing ink marking pen
  • felt
  • star pattern (print one here)
  • fiberfill (not pictured- whoops!)
Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

I began by marking a small dot every 1/4 inch or so around the star on the front and the back. This was to help guide the girls in their needle placement so they would end up with reasonably even stitches.

Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

We had a quick chat about the seriousness of using a real needle and I pointed out that the tools used in sewing are not toys. And then I armed them with pre-threaded needles and showed them how to move from one stitch to the next.

Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

They loved it. "This is easy peasy banana squeasy!" Oh that made me happy to hear! I was unsure if they would really sit long enough to finish the simple project or if they would lose interest after two stitches.

Sew on they did. I did have to sit right next to them and help them solve their small issues and occasionally gently encourage them to keep going.

Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age
Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

Once you get about 3/4 of the way around the star stop and squish in a bit of fiberfil to give it some puffiness. Then continue stitching the star closed.

When they sewed all the way around the star we pushed the needle back through the very first point we made, right through the knot.

Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age
Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

Leaving a small loop of thread to hang the ornament by I slipped the needle underneath the last stitch and tight a knot tightly.

Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

Tada! It was finished. The girls were so excited to have sewn an ornament all on their own. Hailey's hangs proudly on our tree. The first thing she did when her dad came home from work that evening was to show off her fine work to him. Fine work indeed!

Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age
Sew a Felt Star Ornament | | a beginning sewing project for any age

I'm hoping she's game for another sewing project in the future and we'll keep working on those stitches. In the meantime, I think this little star is adorable. It makes my heart happy to see it hanging on our tree. My little beginning sewer's first project. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Create: Sew a Simple One Seam Child's Skirt

What is it about skirts that little girls love? It is a major struggle for me to get my daughter to wear pants or shorts. It usually requires a lot of talking it up and compromise on my part. Or a lack of anything else to wear due to my slacking on the laundry. :)

Well, if my little girl is going to insist on wearing a skirt everyday of her life, I need to at least provide her with an assortment to choose from so we're not wearing the same one over and over and over again. 

Enter: my quick cheaters method of skirt sewing. (Or really, I guess it is skirt resizing. However you want to look at it.)

A simple skirt sewn with just one straight seam. It doesn't get any easier than this! |

Really what this takes is finding a cute (preferably low cost) already made skirt at the store, and sizing it down.

I have scored great deals on knit mini skirts in the women's section at H&M. When sewing for kids, the key really is to find mini skirts, because they are already the right length for short child legs. This past spring I found a few different skirts on sale for $3 and less that I thought would be adorable on Hailey.

Step 1: I began with a skirt of Hailey's that is already the right size and set it on top of the bigger skirt to gauge sizing. 

A simple skirt sewn with just one straight seam. It doesn't get any easier than this! |

Step 2: I then factored in about 3/4" to 1" extra to account for a seam allowance. Use a rotary cutter to cut off the excess.

A simple skirt sewn with just one straight seam. It doesn't get any easier than this! |

Step 3: I ran it through the serger. Easy peasy. If you don't have a serger, simply use a zig zag stitch so the fabric is still able to stretch like it should.

A simple skirt sewn with just one straight seam. It doesn't get any easier than this! |

This skirt quickly became one of Hailey's favorites. It has the best colors and the proper amount of fantastic twirl. 

A simple skirt sewn with just one straight seam. It doesn't get any easier than this! |

This works for making pencil skirts as well. Hailey has a couple of those she sports too. If you spot a great deal, this is an easy, minimal effort way of sewing a skirt. No hemming, no threading elastic through the waistband; just one cut, one seam and then you're done!

(Depending on the length of the skirt and the size of your child, you may need to hem a little bit. Hailey wears a size 5/6 and the length of skirts has been perfect on her. If you need to hem, but don't want to, just roll the waistband up. It works, and no one will notice, promise. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Turquoise and Pink Country Wedding

01.19.16 edit: I have added a downloadable file for the Who Has the Groom game for those who may want to use it. 

June was a busy month for my family. My sister was married at the end of the month. I spent a good portion of my free time helping prep for the wedding. I was so excited for my sister, and of course very eager to help craft and create wedding decorations.

My now brother-in-law is a cowboy through and through. He is always in boots, jeans, and a hat. He and my sister go out hunting, fishing, and motorcycle riding. Naturally, the wedding was country themed: mason jars, burlap, lace, cowboy boots, and guns. The colors my sister picked were pink and turquoise, nice and bright for a fun summer wedding.

Let me share with you what kept me so busy helping plan this wedding. Besides helping with set up and food prep in the kitchen, I put my computer and crafting skills to work. When you procrastinate and do most of the work just weeks (or the night) before the wedding, it makes for jam packed days. Not that I did that..

To start the wedding month off, with some help from my mom and aunt, I hosted a bridal shower. Here is the invitation I made. Nice and simple.

When I throw a party I really don't go all out. I like it to be nice, but not over the top. I don't decorate much or do anything real stressful or elaborate. Keep it simple. Corinne did request to play one game she had spotted on Pinterest: Who Has the Groom? I thought it was a fun idea, so we went with that.
The idea of the game is that each guest is given an envelope with a card inside. Most cards hold a celebrity, one or two others hold the groom. Whoever has an envelope with a picture of the groom wins a prize. Pretty basic. We played this game as we went around the room introducing ourselves.

To make the cards I searched online and found an image of a model wearing a tuxedo. I also searched up different male celebrities and used Photoshop to place their heads onto the tuxedo body. I had so much fun making these cards! I included a few of Corinne's favorites, like Steve Irwin (who she loved as a child) and Spiderman.

I sized the cards to be business card size (2" x 3.5") so they would fit inside a small coin envelope.  I rounded the edges of the cards with a corner punch. For the envelopes, I used a template found on Everything Mary Beth and put the text on using Photoshop (or Illustrator) and then printed it all out on cardstock. To seal the envelopes I found a glue stick that was repositionable. It worked great! Follow the instructions, wait a minute or two before sealing the envelope, otherwise it will just stick like regular glue. If you wait, you can open and close it over and over and it will continue to stick and unstick. 

Now, onto the wedding. I designed the wedding announcements. I am really happy with how they turned out. They were double-sided, information on one side, pictures on the other.

At the reception, for centerpieces among the burlap and mason jars, my sister requested I make some fact sheets about each the bride and groom. I made a little table tent that had a picture and a few facts about each of them on either side.

Another requested idea were signs greeting guests as they made their way into the reception. The signs read a welcome message, the bride and groom's names, the date, and a few other fun messages like "The hunt is over!". To make these signs we cut some plywood into rectangles, I think they ended up being 8 x 16. I made stencils on the computer and used my silhouette to cut them out of cardstock, we taped them in place and then painted with acrylic paint and foam brushes. Then the plywood was glued to wood stakes that were found at Home Depot. The signs turned out even better than I had imagined (especially considering we finished them at 10:00 pm the night before the wedding).

The last item I helped with was a quilt. My sister had seen the idea of using a quilt as a guest book and wanted to do that. That's fitting for a country wedding, right? So just a few weeks before the wedding my mom and I got down to business and busted out a quilt top. There were a few times when we were together cutting squares all afternoon, or sewing with both of our machines next to each other. With the two of us working hard we got it done.

The quilt pattern I found is called a Siggy Block, I found it over at Sparrow Quilts. This pattern was perfect for the guest book idea. We did size it up a little bit, so the blocks were a bit bigger. It worked out great. Now Corinne and Taylor will have a guest book they will actually look at. Once we get it quilted that is... :)

That is a small bit of our summer craziness. Now to focus on completely reworking our backyard. Yay!

So tell me, what is keeping you busy this summer?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Create: Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Where has the time gone!? Seriously, anyone else feel this way? It seems to be that this time of the year gets busy, busy, busy for us. Nearly non-stop busy. Preschool is out, swimming lessons are in, and the park is calling our name. Besides that we have a wedding coming up, (My little sister is getting married and I have been trying to help out with preparations as much as I can. Some of which I'll share with you another day when I have a few more extra minutes.) family from both sides coming and going over the course of the next month and an entire backyard to tear up and redo.

We've been playing where we can, but nothing super structured. Come fall we'll start up again with fun activities. :)

In the meantime, while I'm trying to slow down just enough to catch my breath, let me share with you the tutorial I shared over at Someday Crafts back in March.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

The crafting series for the month was Crafting for Baby.  My brother-in-law and his wife were due with a baby boy, so I chose to make a gift for them. I have been wanting to make new hooded towels for my girls (and still haven't done it!), so I thought I might try it out and make one for baby boy.

I know I haven't posted much sewing on here recently, but I really do love it. It is my happy place- sometimes it's just hard to get myself there. Besides a love for sewing, I also love monsters. I think they are adorable and just plain fun!  Once I spotted this monster fabric at the store, it was pretty much a done deal. The hooded towel became a monster hooded towel. You can use this same pattern to make a non-monster hooded towel, just skip over the applique parts.

Ready to get sewing!? (Just FYI: This tutorial is for an infant hooded towel (ages 0-18 months)

You will need:
  • 1 yard terry cloth
  • 1 yard cotton fabric
  • scraps of white fabric
  • scraps of black fabric
  • small pieces of  fusible web (like Wonder Under)
  • pattern (found here)
All seam allowances are 3/8" (the edge of the presser foot for me).

Step 1: Print out the pattern, cut out the pieces, and assemble the hood piece (labeled A, B, and C).

Step 2: Cut the terry cloth down to 30" x 30". You will have some fabric left over, save it, you'll need it for the hood pieces. Also cut the cotton fabric to 30" x 30". Take the excess terry cloth fabric, fold it over lengthwise and pin and cut out the hood pattern piece (like in the image below). 

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Using the scraps of white fabric, and the white of eye pattern piece cut out the eyes. Use the white fabric to cut out the teeth as well. Do the same with the scraps of black fabric and the pupil pattern piece.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial
All cut and ready to sew! (This image is missing the teeth, they were an after thought.)
Step 3: Following the product instructions, iron the fusible web to the back of the eyes, pupils, and teeth. Peel off the paper backing.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Step 4: Lay out the eyes and teeth on one of the hood pieces. Make sure the eyes aren't too high or close to the edge, remember the seam allowance (3/8"). I placed the eyes approx. 1 1/2" from the top of the piece, and approx. 2" from the side. See the image below:

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Iron in place.

Step 5: Applique around the eye and teeth pieces. I used a zig-zag stitch. I set the sitch width to 2.5 and the length to 1.5. The scrap fabric I used was knit, which doesn't fray, so a small zig-zag works fine. If you use a fabric that fays easily, like cotton, you may want to tighten up the stitch width.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

If you haven't ever done applique don't be scared off by it! I hadn't either until this towel. It really is pretty easy, just go slow. Take your time and it'll turn out great! Around the curves, if you need to, don't hesitate to leave the needle down, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric slightly. Tight curves can be tricky, doing this helps a lot!

Step 6: Now take both hood pieces. With the right sides together, stitch along the bottom of the hood. Turn right side out and press.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Step 7: Use the corner rounding piece to round the edges of the 30" x 30" pieces of fabric (both terry cloth and cotton). Either pin the piece in place and cut around it, or use a pen with disappearing ink to trace around the pattern piece. 

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Step 8: With the right sides together, pin all pieces in place. Sandwich the hood between the terry cloth and cotton fabric.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Step 9: Starting in the middle of one edge, sew the towel together. Be sure to leave a 6 inch gap so you can turn it right side out.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

It is helpful to mark the gap with double pins, so you don't accidentally sew it closed.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

Step 10: Turn the towel right side out and press. Topstitch around the towel, closing the 6 inch gap.

Monster Infant Hooded Towel Tutorial

You're done! I know it looks like a lot of work, but it really is pretty simple. The most time consuming part is cutting out the fabric and assembling the monster hood.

Do you share my love of monsters? Check out my zipper mouthed plush monsters (or Munsters) too!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cook | A Quick and Easy Lunch for Kids

Spring is here! (And has been for a little while now.) At our house that typically means that life begins to pick up the pace. When the weather is nice I feel guilty spending the day inside. We have found ourselves at the park, on walks, jogging, bike riding, and hiking the beautiful landscape we live in. Spring also calls for yard work, cleaning and organizing, weddings, graduations, and trips to the local amusement park.

Seriously, I have been finding it difficult to find time to sit down, relax and just breathe. There is always something to be done! I love it- but boy can it be exhausting!

One of the ways I have found to help make the day run smoother is to have quick lunches ready to go. A lot of the time that we decide to go to the park it is a last minute decision. It is typically nearing lunchtime, so of course we have to pack something to take with us. It usually takes twice as long as I think it should. If I have something quick I can grab, then we can get playing quicker and for longer, and then I can also limit the amount of time I have little people at my knees asking if it's time to go yet. :) 

One of the quickest lunches we have are lunchables. Hailey loves to get them from the store, but they can be expensive! Instead of buying them I make my own ahead of time and leave them in the fridge ready to grab and go. Really, it's pretty intuitive, but I have step-by-step pictures for you anyway. :)

Start with a block of cheese, some lunchmeat (I prefer thicker cut meat, it works better) and crackers.

Cut the cheese. (He, he... Not like that! So immature. Cut the cheese... he he...) I cut the block along the long way, so the pieces are short, and then cut those pieces in half. 

If you want to get fancy, to easily cut the meat into circles I have found that my TBSP measuring spoon works great. Press it in and voila- circles! It's ok, you don't have to be fancy, just slice it up into small rectangles. It tastes the same, right?

To avoid being wasteful, I cut up the excess meat left over from cutting circles and save it to put on salads or in eggs.

Bag up the cut meat and cheese and now you have a quick lunch to grab and go.

It makes my kids happy. Making your own little sandwiches is so fun!

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