Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas - 2009

Hello again! My second annual blog Christmas letter- how exciting. Not entirely comfortable sending out an actual paper letter detailing our year, I felt no qualms whatsoever about stuffing our Christmas card envelopes with small photos containing my blog address. Makes it purely an optional event for those who'd like to stop by to read and catch up. In case you are not familiar to this here blog, this is normally where I (Emily) wax poetic about my crafty endeavors - or their unsuccessful attempts, as well as my crazy children, family and friends. For this month though, I will keep our Christmas letter up front and center, but feel free to visit anytime throughout the year to see what we are up to!
Oh -and for anyone stopping by from the crafty blog-o-sphere and wondering where something crafty or thrifty is - just you wait, I've got much to share come January when gift giving is all said and done...

This past year has been a busy one for us. We've managed to keep our sanity (barely), enjoy good health and wonderful friends and family, and watch our babies get ANOTHER year older.

Rowan turned 7 this past October. She started 1st grade and loves it. Her highlight has been riding the bus to school 3 out of 5 days each week, and from school every day. Currently, she is quite enamored with Taylor Swift and sings 2 songs that I'm sure you all have heard before CONSTANTLY. I know it could be worse, and at least it is very comical to hear a 7 year old belt out love songs like she has a fractured heart. Both Dave and I try hard to contain our smiles/smirks. Rowan has spent some time sitting on mom's lap while trying her hand at a few sewing projects this year. She even asked Santa for a sewing machine for Christmas with no provoking at all from her Mother dearest, I swear. Rowan continues to have the softest, biggest heart and loves to help anyone out. She is growing up much to quickly for our liking, but still saves plenty of time for cuddling and being our little girl.

Griffin turned 5 in September. We (OK, probably just me) were very happy that he missed the Kindergarten cut off. I'm not really ready for my baby to start real school yet. He was just born, for gosh sakes! Griffin did start pre-school and goes 2 days a week. He spends the remainder of the week at his Aunie Vanetta's house and alternates between being wonderfully sweet to devilishly naughty. A chip off the old (David) block, it seems I've heard from a few Thom siblings. His current love is dinosaurs. He loves them passionately... he can name and identify everything from a Lambeosaurus to a Iguanadon... but his favorite (go figure) is the T-Rex. We are very often subjected to extremely loud stomping and snarling as he wanders the house in search of prey. All this apparent toughness was offset by a recent viewing of a Discovery channel Dinosaur special. About 1/2 way through it, a teary eyed little boy came crawling in my lap asking me why the mean old dinosaurs would try to eat the babies. "You are not s'posed to eat the babies"! He is turning into an amazing little man and we enjoy him every day.

Dave spent the year changing roles at work, playing with his band (The Deadwoods) for some cancer benefits, finding the time to finish his degree, and is now starting his MBA. His highlight may have come this past fall when we were able to buy the cabin next door to my parent's house on Eagle Lake. We cannot wait to be lake people next summer- watch out for the new neighbors Mom! While I may be thinking ahead to the warm weather, Dave is currently thrilled that we are getting snowed on. During this time of year, he scans the weather reports constantly to find out where the snow is and where it is going to be. Then he chases it, snowmobile in tow, all winter long. He even finally gave in and had Lasik surgery done, but really only so he could see out of his snowmobile helmet better.

I myself am not sure where this past year went. It seems to be flying by faster than ever! I spent some time in Texas this spring visiting my Grandma and Aunt (and her fam)... and spent a lot of time this summer vegging on the beach or at the lake with the monsters. I found time for crafting, sewing and reading... and continued enjoying my part time hours (both while at work and while NOT at work). I love scouring the Internet for crafty ideas and inspiration and feel quite lucky to have the time to do so. I have the best friends and family - for reals - I do. OK - enough sap, but truly it has been a great year.

Last, but not least, Tupelo, our German Shepherd, turned 10 this November and is doing well. He had a rather rough patch with a lingering flea issue this fall, but has finally managed to kick it and is now enjoying being allowed back in the house (and on the couch) again.

We are blessed again this year to enjoy good heath and happiness - both within our immediate family and our larger extended families as well. We wish you all health, joy and happiness during the holiday season and all through 2010!
Merry Christmas!
Emily, Dave, Rowan and Griffin

Here are a few photos to highlight our year~

Griffin went through some phases in 2009. Here are the many faces of our boy...

Buddy the Elf


Indiana Jones

and last, but not least,Griffin the Dinosaur. We are still living this phase!

Here is our girl enjoying a swing at Grandma and Papa's.
(Auntie Jody snapped this shot)

Rowan and Mom snuggling prior to a nighttime visit from the tooth fairy.

Rowan and Griffin with their cousins Chloe and Oliver
gearing up for the 4th of July parade in Moose Lake.

Rowan helping celebrate Auntie Lauren's confirmation.
Hard for me to believe my littlest sister is graduating in June!!
Where did that time go?

Mom and the monsters this summer at the lake.
While they enjoy a good argument and tussle (as evidenced by the injury on Griffin's cheek),
these 2 beasties are still the best of friends .
We spent a weekend at Dave's sister Theresa's cabin for her birthday this year with some friends. Dave impressed us all by his water skiing prowess
(especially since he had not been out skiing in 10 years or so).
Rowan and Dad caught a few fish at the lake.
Tupelo barked from the end of the dock the entire time they were out.
We managed a quick family vacation to Canal Park in Duluth. Here are Griffin and Dad watching boats go under the lift bridge.

My mom and step dad gifted us a great sign as we christened our new cabin!

Last up, thanks to Brooke, we had a great family photo shoot this fall.
Thanks for visiting!
Merry Christmas!

busy busy busy

There has been much activity going on here lately. Painting walls, cleaning EVERYTHING, purging the house of clutter.... but not much crafting or sewing. Turns out I cannot get a new pile of books from the library and also craft at the same time. Huh. I started reading the Percy Jackson series (I ended up with #2 and #4, but they read just fine out of order), along with some new to me witchy/vampire series (set in neighboring Wisconsin- by some lucky chance). The witchy series is by Tate Halloway, and so far, I like. Much more Sookie than Bella... in that I spent more time laughing than mooning...

I did manage a little sewing just prior to our annual cookie exchange a week or so back. I made up a quick tote from some thrifted (AMY BUTLER) fabric and an Orla Kiely dishtowel from Target. I left the Orla tag inside... just so it could be confused with the Dabbler tag on the outside pocket. Voila... (we can just call it Jen's bag, since she is the "lucky" girl who now has 2 Dabbler totes)

For the actual exchange, 8 of us, including my Rowan, met up to exchange cookies, swap gifts and eat Chinese food. I was unsure if my gift was an official $10-$15 one. Hard to put a price on it since it actually cost no where near that to make. Just to be sure, I added a bottle of Burt's Bees peppermint body wash... and THAT was my exchange gift. The company was wonderful... the dinner, fantastic, and the cookies were great - unfortunately they are all eaten already. Humph....hello New Years resolutions.

Prior to hitting the library, I also managed to operate a spray paint can and craft up some door art. Reminds me of the refrigerate poetry a bit. These are kiddie plastic letters sprayed with matte black paint. I have them on the inside of my front door- to message all those leaving the premises. Quick and easy, and rather fun.

There is some serious sewing happening here starting tomorrow. I am WAY behind on my holiday gift crafting... but in college I seemed to work best under pressure. Oh, and with some vino as well :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am honestly so very grateful for piles and piles of things this Thanksgiving day. I have a healthy, happy family. We have good jobs, a roof over our head that I constantly redecorate, and food (albeit uninspired) on the table each day. I am so very lucky to have good friends, and feel blessed that I've been able to spend time on my crafty endeavors - whether it be actually doing projects, or simply being inspired by all the creativity I find out in blog land. All this said, I'm particularly grateful today that I am not hosting or traveling far for Thanksgiving. Extremely bad form, I know, to show how selfish and sloth-ish I am today, but I am still in my jammies and sipping coffee at 11 o'clock today. Bliss. We are heading to Dave's sister's house later today... just across town. Since I was feeling so giddy to not have to do any of the hard work this year, I did make a hostess gift for Jody. I feel confident (and guilty) that she'll be too busy this morning to see this post, in the odd chance she were to visit the blog, so I'll show you all the apron I made her. Here it is...

This is from the A is for Apron book. In the book, this pattern is called "Kaleidoscope", and the pin tucks and contrasting fabrics are what really drew me to it. I made one of these a while back for a swap, so this one came together pretty quick. My only issue was that copied pattern from the copy shop was not quite right - I'm guessing the measurements were a bit off - specifically the trim was not long enough. I just traced the bottom of the main apron pattern itself,measured up 3" or so, and made the trim that way.

The pin tucks on the obi belt are not hard, just a bit tedious, but they really add a fun element to the apron. It is made to be worn up high on the waist, so that you stay clean while leaning into counters or tables.

The ties have 2 vintage buttons each on the ends. I deliberately mismatched all 4 of them. I went to my favorite "go to" fabric combination (surprise) - Zazu by Tina Givens. Love these 2 together... and they seemed fall-esque, thus appropriate for Thanksgiving.

I'd better be off... I may have finally gathered up enough energy to do some dishes and make beds. Love me a good lazy morning! Happy Thanksgiving all! Eat lots, share some wine, revel in family and friends and count blessings! That is my agenda for the day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

randomness from Monday

This post is scattered and random, kind of like me, as of late. It all relates to some quick shopping from Monday though, so that is the "tie".

I managed to hit Joann's $1.99 pattern day (McCall's and Simplicity) on Monday. Looks like I have the makings of a new wardrobe. Can't wait to try out some of these! They may have to wait until after some holiday sewing is done though...

On Monday, I also found a souvenir tablecloth at a thrift store. I've been looking for one of these off and on for awhile now, and I am SOOOOOOOOO thrilled with this one. Whether it is actually vintage or not, I'm not sure, but it is fun! It does still have the original sticker on it from when it was purchased- and I only paid 99 cents!

At another thrift store, I found a retro end table. Only $2.95. I haven't decided how/if it will be painted or repurposed... time will tell. I've got some new (to me) wing chairs coming to replace these checkered chairs, so I wanted a table that was shorter than the vintage sewing machine that "lived" there before. My mom is moving these chairs to her new condo in Florida. Between my mother, sister and myself, it is usually a bit of a free for all or switch-eroo with all of us in regards to furniture and who has what at any given time. Dave has a hard time keeping up. I suggest he does not try :)

You may see the paint bucket behind the chair. On Monday I also got a wild hair to change the paint color in the kitchen and family room. The walls are divided into 3 sections by some trim pieces. It had been painted 3 different BRIGHT colors. Now, I'm neutralizing a bit and going with 3 different shades of khaki/tan. We've got enough going on with all the bright furniture and accessories, so I'm going to make the wall less of a distraction. Now, the room is in chaos, with 1/2 the furniture pushed to the center of the room, and the other 1/2 hauled into the front room.

Monday, November 23, 2009


We spent this past weekend doing some thinking about Thanksgiving and what we are thankful for. I saw a blog where the family had created a "thankful tree" (it was here), so the kids and I made our own version. The kids called their daddy, all the way up in his deer stand, to find out his thankfuls too. Turns out he was not to be thankful for "catching" a deer...and honestly, I'm rather thankful that there are no dead deer in my garage, as there has been in years past. Just don't tell him that.

After compiling our lists, we wrote our thoughts on the "leaves" made from some fall colored scrap book paper. Since these are SO obviously my kids, food was a prevalent topic - as was family and friends.

Turns out some of us are very thankful for dinosaur toys, while others for snowmobiles...

That was not the end of our turkey day crafting. Rowan drew an adorable turkey and then wanted it made into a pillow. She has me in the palm of her hand if her wants include me sewing something :) I had her re-draw the turkey design on the pillow fabric (some thrifted corduroy) with a fabric pen and then I did reverse applique to "fill it in".

Here is a happy, and thankful, girl, chill-axin on her pillow. (Nance, notice she is in her cousin's old VB jersey... she loves it!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

repurposing some thrifts

Just a quick post to show some repurposing that I squeezed in today between cooking and cleaning up after cooking. Both projects were done using thrifted goodies I just picked up this week.

In my last post I mentioned I was making a pinboard from this tutorial, right? It is done! Hooray!
I found a hideous plasticy-brassy colored, oval frame at the thrift store, but of course, did not take a picture of it to show y'all a "before" shot. To help you envision it, I'm pretty sure it was circa 1983, lots of mauve and country blue in the print that showed a cottage and a small stream. Puke. I ditched the print right away and threw a coat of plastic primer on the frame. Today, I added a coat of antique white on it with a teeny paint brush because a) it was all I could find and b) it adds more texture and brush strokes, so it looks more chunky. And for this project, chunky is good. Last, I put a piece of cardboard behind some burlap, screwed the frame back on again, and voila, pinboard is done.

I love the detail on the frame edge - almost looks like flowers.

I don't have an exact location/home for it yet, and only threw a few pics on it for blogging purposes, but I do love it. Oh, the pics of the kids are from Brooke at Tadpole Photography taken last year. I just put my order in for our new ones...can't wait to get them!

I fell upon a cashmere sweater for $2 at the thrift store. $2 people. Actually, $1.99. It was a 1/2 button down cashmere sweater from Talbots. The style was not, erm.. flattering, and the color a bit much for me to actually wear, so I knew it was going to be repurposed into something. After some googling, I attempted this hat tutorial, but the ribbing was just too short to attach well. Then I decided to use one a tiny sliver of my coveted Heather Ross Mendocino Seahorse fabric to make the band. I have been hoarding this fabric for the "perfect" project. This counts as it matched perfectly.

I left the buttons on the hat, copying the cute tutorial. I had originally thought that this could be for Rowan, but my kids have had "off the chart" head sizes from the get go, so it may have to be part of my slowly growing Christmas gift stash.

I still have way over 1/2 the sweater left for other crafting pleasure. Scarf like this? Stuffie like this? Hmm.... we'll have to see!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quick thrift trip

Seems I should have a regular post titled this, as I do manage a quick trip while Griffin is at preschool almost each week. I don't always leave with things, but today had to actually grab a cart. Since I received some money from my Dad and Step-Mom for my birthday, I went a little more hog-wild at the Goodwill than usual. I know, crazy talk. Well, not WILD wild, but I did find some goodies.

I found this adorable lamp. Just cleaned it up a little and it works great.

I picked up a small chalk board for the monsters. They have been writing on it all night.

I found 2 men's sweaters for repurposing. I forgot to take a before picture, but from one of these, I now have me a capey-shawl-thingy that I made using this tutorial. A quick side - My Mama Made it is a repurposing, fashion genius, and her ideas inspire me to actually care about what I wear each day. Huh, who knew? Her ideas are responsible for all the embellished t's I've done lately.

Here is me in the capey-shawly-thingy in the backyard.

No more pics, but I also picked up some fabric that is in the washer with the other wool sweater, a gargantuan embroidery hoop and a huge oval frame that is in the garage with a coat of primer on it, awaiting its new life as a framed pin board (ala this tutorial). Seems this trip yielded more projects and work than a lot of instant gratification. That is good, as I am in a project-y kind of mood.

Therapeutic Sewing

We are a bit down here... got some bad news on Friday and then had an extremely lazy weekend where we moped and vegged. I read 7 books (love Nora and her alter ego JD for giving me a distraction) and watched every Bones episode I could find on Hulu. Last night, I finally decided to try to recapture my "groove" and did some sewing. Turns out it was very therapeutic.

Of late, I seem to have grown a fan in Rowan. As I was opening my sewing hutch, she asked, "Mom, are you going to make me something?". But of course, silly. She picked out some fabrics and I made here a new shirt and a dress.

The shirt is from this tutorial (like this one was too) from Blueprints. I actually wrote down her measurements this time so I can recreate it without starting from scratch next time. Rowan wanted the red thrifted fabric with birds and houses for the main fabric and found a fat quarter of the orange fabric for the sleeves. She is very warm blooded, so despite the fact that our ground is covered in frost this morning, she still asks for short sleeves.

Love the red fabric - little houses and flowers and birds (oh my!).

I added a little patch of the orange to the bottom corner and included my homemade label. She loves this part - and honestly so do I :)

I finally tried the Sienna Dress pattern from Lil Blue Boo last night as well. It is a pattern that lets you re purpose t-shirts into a cute dress, shirt or tunic. I did not follow all the directions, and learned from my mistakes.... but am still happy with how it turned out. Rowan is as well - she loves that this dress is a hodge podge of t-shirts from both Mom and Dad. She decided to wear it to school today, over jeans. When I said I thought tights would work a bit better, she stated (rather snottily) "Mom, I have my own fashion style and I like it with my skinny jeans". Hmmph. Guess she told me. I can't wait to try this again on some more t-shirts.... this time using shirts of like weight and starching things before hand, hint hint. Those were my 2 "issues" this time around, that were unnecessary, had I followed the directions (Ack!).
Here is Rowan's "skeleton/guitar/Audrey" version. A good mix of Mom and Dad, per Miss Sassafrass herself.

My friend Shari drew my attention to this pattern a few months ago, so we'll have to find some t-shirts to make up a version for her Miss Quinn as well. It would be (is, per the flickr site) adorable for a little one too. For Rowan's, I kept the sleeves short (as dictated) and did not hem them or the bottom, instead letting the knit roll just a bit. Love it on her... and she does too, but is mad at me in this picture for the tights comment.

So thanks to sewing for some cheap therapy. And, better yet, thanks to the wonderful friends and family that refused to let an unanswered phone get in the way of "talking" to me this weekend. I got tons of emails and facebooks messages, and voicemails too. I appreciate them all :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Orchard play date

We met up with some friends today at an apple orchard. Beautiful weather + busy and imaginative kids + a fantastic orchard + wonderful friends = a great day! Thanks Brooke and Becky!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Birthday gift for my Mom

Since we are on day 3 of Dave gone a-hunting, there has been more sewing going on than usual around here. It helps that it was beautiful outside, so the monsters are playing "dinosaur hunter" and "camping" in the back yard, while I get my sewing groove on. I finished my mom's slightly belated Birthday gift today. Heck, it is still her Birthday month, so it is not really all that late.

My mother may have mentioned awhile back she wanted a Lickety Split bag... so the pattern (Made by Rae pdf pattern- love it) was easy to choose. Fabric selection was a bit more of a dilemma. I hemmed/hawed over what fabric to use for either side of this reversible bag. She is not a fan of LOUD funky fabric (ahem... like me...), and does not care for my vintage stuff, so most of my fun fabrics were out. She does love quality fabric... in fact she cringes that I buy fabric online when I can't actually touch it first. I ended deciding to use some fabric she bought for me on her last trip to Hawaii for one side. She loves tropical prints and it is such a nice fabric... is it kind of "regifting" to make her something of it? Oh well, she won't care. While scrounging through the stash of fabric I own for the other side, I bumped into some printable photo paper. I had used it to make these bags a few months ago. It triggered some inspiration and I decided to print out some pictures of her 4 grandkids and put them on as pockets. Then it was easy to decide on some off-white corduroy fabric for the body of the bag... so as to not draw too much attention away from the cute kids. I was extremely lucky to have photos on hand that Brooke (Tadpole Photography) took of both sets of kidlets last year. Love her shots! Here is the Hawaii side.

Here is the corduroy side. From this angle, you get just a peek of the pockets, a "tease" if you will. But if she were walking at you with the bag, you'd see whatever pocket is forward. She can decide which grandkids are her favorite for the moment each time she uses it. She'd like that...

Here is the pocket with my niece and nephew on it.

And finally, the one with my beasties on it.

Rowan had to take her Gooma's bag for a spin as well. Looks beachy to me.

I am thinking maybe a nap now (if I can convince the kids to partake as well) and them more sewing??