Sunday, December 28, 2008

few more gift/projects done...

OK, so I lied a bit when I said I was "done" with my Christmas crafting. Not "lie" truly, more like, fudged the truth a bit. There were a few more things I planned to get to and did not in time for Christmas, but seeing that I would not see the giftees until after the holiday, they are really not late.

I attempted mittens for my girlfriend's 2 boys - but they were a disaster due to the stretchy-ness of the fleece, and my own lack of a serger (probably lack of skill too, but I'm going with the serger). When these did not work out so well, I changed things up a bit and went for slipper socks. My mother had made these for Christmas gifts for my sister and I a few years back. Way before I had began sewing in earnest, or at least beyond just hemming curtains. She didn't really have a pattern, but gave me a cut out, unfinished sock as a pattern. I winged it, and eyeballed/shrunk it down to fit a toddler and kindergartner and created these 2 pair. Hope they fit the boys! I'm sure that slipper socks were not high on their Christmas lists, but they should keep their tootsies warm.

The same friend has a baby girl as well. I opted to do a more girly gift, as opposed to the slipper socks. The only fleece I had was in the above referenced "lumberjack" style. Instead, I whipped up an Oliver+S Lazy Day Skirt for Miss Vada - plenty girly, huh? It is pathetic that I want another baby so I can make tiny little skirts for them too? OK, so that is not the only reason, but it sure seems a good one to me!

Last, while not really a gift, I finished up another project for the same friend. She had a quilt made when her daughter was born, and asked if I'd embroider Vada's name and date of birth on it. Only took me like 5 months to do it, SORRY BL! I threw in an Aimee Ray birdy, just 'cause. Oh, and I took the picture before the water I had used to get rid of the water soluble pen had dried, so it looks (and is) wet. It dried just fine! (Black box has been added to protect the innocent:))

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Winter Sassy Apron Swap received

This post is late due to the holidays, but I HAD to blog about the fantastic apron I received from Katy a few weeks back. The swap was hosted by Lucy, and the theme of this Sassy Apron swap was holidays and cookies. Katy made a very cool Christmas apron for me - which was exactly what I wanted. It is full of fun things like ribbon, circle-y pockets and large ric rac. I think it has a funky, vintage-y feel to the design. I absolutely love it!

Katy included (all the way from Australia) cookie cutters and a book with TONS of cookie recipes. Although I'm shocked to say I'm a bit cookied out today, after eating my weight in holiday cookies the past few weeks, I have a feeling I'll rebound quickly after browsing the book from Katy... Thanks partner!! I may have to extend our holiday festivities a bit so I can wear it awhile longer this year. Who's to say you can't wear a holiday apron while taking down the decorations and tree? And while crafting for next years' gifts? I'm sure I can come up with a few more excuses,er, reasons to wear this beauty during the off season!

Favorite Projects Christmas 2008

I already posted a collage of the projects I did for Christmas, but there were a few that I felt deserved their own post. Not due to my crafting prowess (giggle, snort), but rather to how cool, easy or fun they actually were to do.

*Oh, and just a note I'm not going to bring up the 11 pair of Lounge pants I made in this here post, since I already blogged about the first ones here, but these were definitely fun, cool and easy...last time I'll bring them up, I promise.

First off - the Pleated Beauty bag from the Bend the Rules Sewing book by Amy Karol. I made a version of this a few months ago, using just some scraps I had on hand. Then, I perused the BTRS group on flickr and saw this fantastic fabric combination on one using 2 Tina Givens fabrics. I fell in love and bought them both, then did nothing for a few more months. I decided my little sister needed to have this bag for Christmas, so here it is. It was rather hard to give it up, since I love it so much, but she seemed to really like it!

Next, Dave and I made coat/towel hooks for some family members who have hot tubs and no where to hang their towels. The design was loosely based off a candle holder in the Junk Market Style book. I requested and drew them and Dave hand crafted for me, doing a bit of ad libbing when his and my thoughts did not mesh ("WHAT?" say you? After 10 years together our thoughts do not perfectly mesh? Ha!). He was not truly "into" the handmade effort at first, but I think he was happy with the finished product.

Then, I used a bunch of different tea/dish towel apron tutes I found online, as well as the fantastic one I won from Sara this summer, and came up with a version I liked. It is made from 2.5 dish towels and I plan to use the rest of the 5 pack for another of the same design. It was pretty easy to put together but best of all, it is much more absorbent than aprons from quilting cotton. You can actually dry your hands on it :) It was gifted to my sister in law who watches Griffin for me when I'm at work. I thought it might come in handy with a dozen or so noses to clean up, numerous meals to prepare and tons of art projects to oversee each day.

Last, but not least, I made jammies for my niece, nephew and my own kids. I used flannel for the bottoms, and did a non-technical, made up, reverse applique of their first initial on t-shirts (store bought) on top. Brooke reminded me of this technique we'd saw on all the turkey hand print shirts were floating around crafty blog land leading up to Thanksgiving. I don't know how to really do the applique stuff, but these have been washed a few times now and seem to be holding up great! The kids love having their initials on them and I was thrilled with how easy it was to do...
Here are Oliver, my nephew, and Griffin (with his Spidey gloves) showing off their jams.. (Ollie's are a bit long, but I'm hoping he grows into them soon!)

Rowan and Chloe (niece) love theirs too! Sorry for the crooked angles, I would have had to move off the couch to have gotten a straight on full body shot of the girls.. and as you can see, that was NOT going to happen.

Does every crafter swear to start earlier next year? I am buying a huge bin and starting my 2009 holiday crafting in February. I'd start in January, but I'm planning to work on a lap quilt...which will probably remain in our home as I have some concerns with how well my first quilting venture will go. While I LOVED making all sorts of things for Christmas gifts, leaving it til the end of November was a bit stupid and self defeating. Definitely reminiscent of how I used to write my college papers - the night before they were due, of course!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I just got done with ALL our holiday projects. Thought I'd quickly share what my dining room table looks like while in the midst of crafting hell.

Dave is ready to either move out or rent me out as a sewing sweatshop worker.

So I don't give anything away before they are truly "given" away, here are some of the things I've been "building". More about the good, the bad and the ugly after Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Letter - 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Hello there! I've included a web address on our Christmas card - (photos and layout design by my amazingly talented friend, BTW) so if that is how you got here - Welcome! This is normally where I blog about my crafty projects and kid stuff, but this post is solely intended to give a wrap up of the Thom family's 2008 and visit some of its highlights!

We have had a year filled with home improvements, continued post-secondary education, various crafty endeavors (showcased here in said blog) and our kids growing freakishly fast! It is hard to believe that it is a whole year since we celebrated last Christmas with the entire Borndal family in Cocoa Beach ... but it really is so! Since then we've remodeled a bathroom and built a shed, learned to sew and learned to seam rip and start over. One of us started Kindergarten, while another began working to finish up college. We mourned the passing of our dog Shiloh, and yet celebrated both an election victory (though barely tolerated the election season) and the normal, albeit wonderful, milestones associated with having small children. A crazy, action packed year... where did the time go?

Dave, besides taking on a new role at work, decided it was high time to finish up his undergraduate degree. He only needed a few credits, but due to switching degree programs, this got spread out to a year and a half of school work. In doing the required undergraduate coursework, he simultaneously started coursework towards his Masters as well. He'll wrap up here in the spring with his bachelors and then plans to continue on with a masters program geared towards Corporate Communications in the fall. A bit belatedly, we've both realized the wisdom of completing school prior to having kids. Let this be a lesson to any reader not yet encumbered with mini-monsters - finish NOW if you haven't - just do it! School and the kids, along with work and his music (the Deadwoods are baaaaa-ck!) keep him constantly busy. He does manage to fit in some fishing, hunting and snowmobiling, depending on the season, - so don't feel too bad for him.

Rowan turned 6 and began kindergarten this year. Somehow I lost my toddler girl and developed a Hannah Montana-loving, sassy, drama queen - but I guess that is part of the growing up deal. She danced and played t-ball this past year, and enjoys writing songs with her daddy in the basement. She visited South Dakota with my Mom & step dad and her cousin Chloe this past year and is convinced it is the "best place on earth". Rowan is a chip off the old blocks - embracing Dave and my best qualities... and, honestly, a few of the not so great ones too.. but this is not the time/place for those types of disclosures! She is artistic and caring, a bit bossy and overbearing, but overall has the kindest heart and most inquisitive mind I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

My baby Griffin turned 4 in September. He spends his days acting as various TV or movie characters. His favorites are Indiana Jones, Shaggy (from Scooby Doo), Spiderman and Harry Potter. He has full costumes and gear for all of them and constantly tells us to call him his character name, "Not Griffin!", when he is acting the part. At least we hope he is displaying acting skills -and not multiple personality issues :) He is still a cuddly, sensitive soul who swaps between tackling and wrestling with Dad (and Rowan) and snuggling with his mama over a good book. Griffin goes to his Auntie Vanetta's for daycare 3 to 4 days of the week and is adjusting to many of the kids he has known since birth leaving to start school. He is slowly adapting to this and learning how to be one of the big kids, not just be bossed around by them!

I've enthusiastically embraced the grandmotherly arts of sewing, embroidering, knitting and crocheting this year. Yes, dorky, I know, but somehow very fulfilling and rewarding. I've continued to work part time and am able to be home with the kids the other part of the time. Well, usually not home, but out and about running errands, but you get the picture. Some girlfriends and I visited the East Coast for a long weekend earlier this year and I spent over a week in Duluth this summer crafting and drinking with the Borndal clan while my Auntie Nancy and her girls visited from Texas. I've feel spoiled a bit by my husband, both in his working with me to accommodate my need/desire/want to stay home with the kids a few days, as well as in the various gifts he's given me this year (most importantly a new sewing machine and a new camera). Pretty sure these gifts are bribes so I forget the 3 weeks he spent hunting this year - but it works for us :) Dave and I are still working on how to eek out some time for just us, without kids, but also know that there will be plenty of years for that once they don't want/need us as much as they do now.

We are very lucky that our families are healthy and happy. Dave's parents (who celebrated 50 years of marriage together this year), his 13 siblings and their families along with various canines, felines and birdies, are all well and good. My own sets of parents, grandmother, 2 sisters and brother, as well as numerous cousins, aunts and uncles, are all (truly all of them) doing wonderfully (visit my mom's site here to hear all the goings on at Eagle Lake). Seems I should knock on something as I write this - don't want to be tempting fate, so consider this laptop keyboard "knocked", just in case.

Thanks for taking the time to check in with us! We hope you and yours are all enjoying the holidays and have a very Merry Christmas! Here's to a wonderful 2009.
Emily, Dave, Rowan and Griffin

P.S. I've posted (some are re posts from this blog) some pictures below taken throughout the year as well. Enjoy!

Dave and Rowan at Cocoa Beach last Christmas

Rowan's snowmobile
The Thoms at Cocoa Beach

Rowan riding a pony

Dave entertaining usual.

Griffin...ah, I mean Indiana...

Thom kids and their cousins hanging at the Lake... well, pool at the lake...

Sassy Miss Rowan helping celebrate Oliver turning 3

Jumping on Auntie Lauren's trampoline

Dave and his catch of the day

Rowan in South Dakota
Dave and Griff at the beach

Celebrating Griffin turning 4

Rowan's dance recital

Griff and Miss Shiloh. RIP.

Merry Christmas!
Posing with some cousins...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hi I'm Emily and I'm a late swapper...

I'm pretty embarrassed. I must have mixed up my swaps, because I was sure I had until next Monday to get my final apron swap of the year done and out the door. So, feeling somewhat smug and proud of myself for being early, I found the email with my swap partners information, and read a bit further to see that the due date was Monday Dec 1. Yep, 2 days ago. I know it is not a big deal to most y'all, but I feel plenty bad. If you are my partner, I am very VERY sorry. I beg your forgiveness! It is all packaged sitting by the door ready to go out in tomorrows mail, I cross my heart...

The theme to this swap (Sassy Apron Swap, btw was to make an apron - full or 1/2 - and we needed to include a cookie recipe and cookie cutter. I went with my favorite Christmas cookie ever - Chocolate Mint Dreams - as my inspiration. Well, scratch that, my intention was to use this cookie as an inspiration. I got some mint hot cocoa and chocolate mint truffles to accompany the apron - but could not find fabric I liked with both mint green and chocolate brown. Then, turns out, my partners preferences indicated she was not a fan of pastels, so I was a bit stumped. What to do? Well, I changed it up a bit - did chocolate brown and aqua - not pastel, right? I still went with the theme being minty chocolate dreams though. Maybe I can pretend I'm color blind, right BL?

So, the next hurdle, I fell in love with the Kaleidoscope (or Obi) apron from the book A is for Apron. I first thought, "Pin tucks, how odd... and why so high waisted?". Then it started to dawn on me that an apron that covers nearly up to the "chestal" region makes a ton of sense. How often do I get messy in that exact area when washing dishes?? And the pin tucks really grew on me. So much so that each and every time I opened the book, this was the apron that I felt a burning desire to make. I went and had the pattern (included as a page in the book in mini size) enlarged at Kinkos to the appropriate size, but not until after wasting tons of paper before I realized my printer was not capable of separating the copy into multiple pages. All was good until the hem did not match/fit. Then I was required to do some improvising. And it is not lined and does not really address how to make it "pretty" on the inside. So I winged that too. Turns out a few others out in cyber land have had issues with some of the editing that occurred in the making of this book - the patterns are not perfect, the directions a bit jumpy and not detailed, and few, if any, picture aids. Does this mean I will not try more of the aprons in the book? No - 'cause I love them, but I will honestly try to read through the entire directions a few times and may even consent to a muslin. (Ack - hate that though. Seems like you expect to fail.) Oh, and Pin tucks - let's talk about them. Not difficult to do - but tedious and messy. Lots of strings requiring cutting off when all is said and done. I love them... they made this apron, in my opinion. Hope my partners likes it (and is not sad/mad it is late!! Sorry again!).

Here is the picture from book....

And here is my version. Think Chocolate Mint Dreams.... right? Pretend the aqua is mint for me, k?

This is a close up of the pin tuck Obi belt. Yep - I'm now a raging fan. What else could I do with one of these??

And buttons that were found in the antique sewing machine that I was gifted from my step dad. Pretty sure they are vintage, if not antique!

Oops - accidentally submitted first without pictures - sorry those on the feed....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tree Cutting Adventure

I guess you could chalk it up to Dave's (unused) Forestry degree, but he does require a "real" Christmas tree each year. I usually appreciate this eccentricity, except when I'm vacuuming up a carpet of pine needles. The pine smell alone makes it worth it though. This morning, after having the easiest holiday we've had in 6 years (since Rowan was born), he brought up going to cut our own tree. We've never done this, but as stated, we were a bit giddy with how good the kids were at Auntie Theresa and Uncle Robb's for Thanksgiving. They honestly played with their cousins for about 6 hours straight with very minimal crying/whining/acting up. It was amazing and liberating. Also a bit sad, since they did not really want much to do with either of us. Big cousins were much cooler than Mom and Dad, for sure.

On this "good kid high", we drove a gazillion miles north listening and singing Christmas music. We passed about 4 other "cut your own tree" places til we found the one Dave had wanted due to their natural growing approach (??) as well as complementary tractor rides. Then we found our perfect tree in a dusty field. We had fun and it was great - except that without snow it was not as pretty as it could have been. Also not as cold as it should have been, so I'm really not complaining!

May have been the start of a new tradition, but Griffin developed hives right before we got to lunch. Not sure what he was reacting to - either the hay we were sitting on in the tractor trailer or possibly the plastic frog he insisted on bringing with that I found in his mouth every other second (latex?). Not sure. He's all good now, but we'll be chatting with his doc this week for sure. (Note: Mom's are still cool when you are not feeling well, so I'm not totally obsolete yet.)

Here are some pics of the tree cutting adventure. Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was great!

Our tree- Griffin named it "Spiderman". Hmmm.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

last solo weekend

This weekend was my last as "solo mama". Dave is done with his hunting extravaganza as of today, so I tried to sneak in as much "girly" stuff as I could while he was still gone. On Friday, my mom, sister and I went to see Twilight. I am very pleased with how faithful to the book it was - but it did take a while to get used to Edward wearing more eye makeup than Bella and the extreme pasty white skin on the vamps. I managed to get over it pretty early on and LOVED it overall. Here's to hoping they'll make the other books into movies as well...

Saturday I hooked up with my 2 oldest/dearest friends for pizza, gabbing and some delicious Raspberry Mojitos. Between us, there are 6 kids, none older than 6 years old. Rowan was the only girl, but she warmed up quickly to all the boys and both my kids had a blast. No one truly knows you as well as old friends- and there is probably not a whole heck of a lot that April or Sarah don't know about me. Love that we can go for long stretches without seeing each other and then seem to pick right up where we left off and gab for hours. Miss them though as well, and it takes a night of fun with them to realize just how much. Then I read Agnes and the Hitman when I got home. I stayed up til around 1:30 this morning reading it 'cause it was so dang good. Literally laughing out loud. Good, quick read...I'd recommend it for some fun, light entertainment.

Today I neglected all the laundry and housework to do some sewing. I hauled my sewing machine and ironing board up from the basement where my sewing room is and took over the dining room so that I could be on the same floor as the kids. They kept busy playing Candy Land, Cootie and Elefun while I finished off a few more projects.

Griffin had picked out some brown corduroy for me to make him "Shaggy" pants on Friday. He is currently into the Scooby Doo movies. We've moved on from the Indiana and Spiderman crazes of yesterday and now he really loves Shaggy. He keeps chasing our dog around the house pretending they are running from "Ronstors?? ROh Oh!!" and begging for Scooby snacks. I took just a normal elastic waist pant pattern, traced it on freezer paper and made them more "belled" at the bottom. He loves 'em.... as you can probably tell from the picture!

I then finished a tote that I had cut out a few months back. These were a bit frustrating when I made the other 3 due to the heavy duty fabric, but I managed to finish this without breaking even one needed today. Yes - I'll pat myself on the back for small victories, thank you very much. Think this will be a easy way to package a gift for Christmas this year. (Just noticed that I took the last picture here on the railing as well, so it looks like I could be lying, but I promise it is newly created today...)

I have been meaning to make the Wide leg Lounge Pants from Amy Butler's In Stitches for a while. (yes - I start lots of blogs with this, there are a lot of things to make on my "to do" craft list) I had cut out a pair from some funky 70's thrifted sheets about a month or so back and had just not had time/energy/motivation to finish them. Today I finished them - and then kicked myself for not doing them sooner. The pattern was really easy - I had read other blogs about these that really stressed double sewing a few strategic places and to add elastic to the waist band. I did both on the pants and I love how they turned out. Well, loved how this pair turned out that is.

After drinking a mug of coffee with my dinner I decided to cut out 8 more pair for Christmas gifts. I have been picking up sheets at garage sales and thrift stores all summer and had washed the hell out of them last weekend, so why not? (Let me clarify what "wash the hell out of them means" in case the idea of pants from thrifted sheets give you the heebie jeebies - I washed them with a bit of bleach and soap on the hot water setting not once or twice, but 3 times. I then dried them on the hottest possible settings as well. These babies are clean as they can possible be!) Now that I realized how quick the pants actually go together, I then even opted to sew another one. I should know better than to push it. Notice anything wrong with this pair?

Look closer - maybe this will help...

Yep, the birdies are upside down. Arg. What lucky person will get this pair as a Christmas gift? Maybe I'll have to draw names. Fortunately, these were the only sheets with a real "up" side, so there should not be many other of these types of errors for the other 7 pair. I'm leaving the sewing machine on the dining room table until they are ALL done, since it stresses me a bit to see it there. Good motivation to get 'em done...

Friday, November 21, 2008


I've finally gotten around to finishing some things around here - namely getting Rowan a new pair of glasses, a few embroidery projects and A NEW CAMERA for ME! Hooray! Dave came through due to intense separation and parental guilt from going off hunting the past 2 weekends while I was suffering a cold and sever (says me) sinus congestion. He may have also come through because I've been talking about one for the past 6 months or so. He probably wanted me to just shut up. I offered to forgo a Christmas present - which was awfully nice of me, I thought - so I got this now instead of a month from now. Yes - I feel very spoiled today. If I thought Dave actually read this, I'd say "Thanks" to him here, but I'm fairly certain a crafty blog is not his cup of tea. All the pictures from this post were taken with my new camera! Bear with me while I discover how to work all the bells and whistles!

Here are my overdue embroidery projects finally finished. A couple tea towels with Sublime Stitching patterns and my own cheesy captions. Probably a gift for my mom's birthday - also a bit overdue. I saw a cute towel here with the ribbon edge, so I copied the idea. They were a bit tougher than I thought they'd be. Flour sack towels are not as forgiving as I'd like and I may have to put stabilizer on any tea towels in my future.

I am not sure what to do with this - may be part of a quilt. That is if I can figure out how to make a quilt. I had oval embroidery hoops that led to the design. We'll see what it ends up being.

Here is Miss Rowan with her new specs. She chose them herself and seems to be excited about wearing them for that specific reason. Whatever works! I'm slowly learning to pick my battles carefully.
Just because I don't have enough unfinished projects, I've decided to learn a new craft. Here is a hint. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've been wanting to do silhouettes of my kids forever. I've been seeing them all over blog land -and think they are a good combo of old fashion and modern crafty-cool (?? is that a "genre"? Well, for me it is). Alas, I could not figure out how to play with my photo shop to do it- and could not even fathom doing the whole light bulb and shadow tracing plan. For those of you who know me personally, or have one of your own - can you honestly imagine my 4 year old boy sitting long enough for that??? I do not think so. Then I read on one of the crafty blogs I peruse (long list on right) how one of the smart woman blogger (yes - a redundant phrase, but very true none the less) just printed out her profile pictures and then colored them in with a black sharpie. HOW COOL AND EASY. I wish I could remember which blog I read this on - so I could give credit where it is due - but it was a while back and I did a quick search and could not find it again.

I decided to give it a go. I can handle this - or so I thought. Turns out, we are not a household of permanent ink. And note to self: Dry erase markers and photo paper do not mix well. It makes for very messy hands and tables and towels and jeans.... you get the idea. I ended up painting their profiles with black acrylic paint after cutting them out from normal old photos. The paint worked well enough and I love them to pieces. And I really love how I can see my babies in them.

This is while they were drying. You can see the brush strokes and what not here, but not in a bad way when they were actually framed and hung up.

Rowan and I also made some beads from rolled up magazine paper and white glue and strung them to make a necklace. Similar to this method. She wore her necklace to school and can't wait to make more for Christmas gifts.

And yes -just because I made jokes that Dave does not normally "catch" a deer (he laughs at me when I say "catch" but I have an Elmer Fudd vision of hunting in my head) - he did get a big old buck this year. yippe. yeah us. OK - I'm trying hard to find the good things in this (Thanks Martha). I know that they are overpopulated and what not, so the "thinning of the herd" is a good thing. Dave is also donating the hide and some of the meat - which is also a good thing. Finally, I myself will not have to eat it - which is the best good thing.