My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Back to the basics September 1, 2014






Summer is going as quickly as it came around here.  The days are rapidly going from 100* to 80* at best, the tent has been brought off the front lawn and school has started.  That means outdoor projects are quickly coming to an end so I can be inside cracking the educational whip.


It also means back to sewing, making good dinners that couldn’t be made in the heat and indoor projects.  I think I heard my dentist man hint at getting the floors put back in as he was picking out another sliver – silly man, that’s what we have slippers for!


With one of my up-coming sewing project I’m actually asking for your help.  Both summer dresses – but I’m determined to figure this out… before next summer!


I made this dress as you may remember ~




And hemmed this dress~






And quickly realized that hemming them for heels, when I only get invited to lawn parties, wasn’t smart.  But I still would love to go to a grown-up party that calls for heels… at some point… in these dresses that I bought and/or made for that very purpose.

So my question to all of you sewers out there:  How would *YOU* go about hemming a long dress or skirt so it could be raised or lowered a few inches, without it looking like a bridal gown?


Stumped as I am?  Give us a few months – we’ll come up with something!  


And along the way I plan on making a few things I found in the newest Burda Style magazine.



Jersey Dress with Shrug 11/2013 #111

I hope I don’t look as angry as her in it?  



Top and bottom

Wide Leg Pants with Front Seam 12/2013 #103B

Draped Jersey Top 12/2013 #119A


I absolutely fell in love with these!  And the bonus – they’re husband approved.  As in, he says I’ll actually probably wear these (instead of just looking at them in the closet and saying “Ooh – that’s so pretty!” like I do with all the dresses I make).


Along with a few baby blankets for the clinic I volunteer for, and to just keep on hand seems as how people keep feeling the need to procreate and all.  I also found the pattern for pillow cases to donate to kids in foster care.  So be ready for a lot more sewing projects to come!  And possibly a few more home improvement projects… you know… to keep me out of trouble.



Tragic comedy of being responsible August 27, 2014




My dentist man is back from his camping trip with the Marines out in the field.  For my former airman turned sailor, it wasn’t quite as cushy as he would have liked.  But he’s a trooper (or a sailor I should say) and sucked it up and made it through.  Nothing like working on mouths that haven’t seen a tooth brush in two weeks to make you yearn for the luxuries of a ship!  Let alone his excitement over a real toilet again.


As for me, my callouses are beginning to heal and I look less like a losing prize fighter each day.  Must be time to work on some more linoleum?  


The day after his return, we enjoyed our 19th anniversary in style.  A movie you can eat in.  As I tell him – it’s a date for married people.  No chit-chatting over dinner, we already know what’s going on with each other.  And a nice action flick, no unnecessary romance, he already knows he’s got a sure thing waiting for him.  What – it’s been two weeks people!


As we’re getting ready for back-to-homeschool, I thoroughly enjoy walking past all the frantic parents trying to shop their schools list, I feel a certain giddiness.  Until I realize I need to buy the boys all new laptops because theirs won’t run any longer with their school programs.  (No raised eyebrows please, we get netbooks.  The cheapest ones we can buy.  I can usually get 2-3 years out of them.  Then we wipe them, and give them to another family or two.) 

I hear “Pfffttt – but your husbands a dentist, like this is a big issue for you?”

Normally no.  Even with our ginormous student loans, cost of being a doctor (insurances, required on-going learning and what not’s), we do fine.  I’m a saver, so we do fine even in dry times, however we’re experiencing the most bizarre financial issues as of late?  Normally I wouldn’t discuss such things, but they’re just too bizarre NOT to talk about!


Our renters out in “that house”, or as I’ve started calling it “Goliath” to remind me it can be defeated, broke a window, lost several screens, ruined the shower/tub area and…. couldn’t replace the batteries in the smoke detector, all without informing us, causing the state housing authority to deny us payment when they came to do their yearly inspection, until we get such items fixed.  


I want you to sit and grasp this for a moment…

The same people that CPS keeps leaving children with every time they come out,

can’t even replace batteries in a smoke detector…

did you catch that?


Ok, easy enough fixes you say!  True, that is, unless your window company stalls for a month and a half and then closes overnight and runs with all their customers money.  Yup.  That would be us.  We are now part of a class-action suit.  Can you feel my enthusiasm? 

Frantically we run to another window company.  They understand our situation.  We’ve already lost 2 months worth of rent because the people we were kind enough to share our home with, broke it.  

The window company lost our paperwork, and thought they had come out already.  They told me they’d call me when they were done.  One month later when I called to check on it, they were very embarrassed.  That makes 3 months without rent because the state encourages sad, pathetic behavior.  

After asking daily for two weeks for the renters to make an appt. to go with their schedule, we finally made it for them.  They don’t show.  And because it’s summer – the busy window season, we can’t get another appt. for another month.  That makes 4 months without rent because our renters have no respect for anyone else.

I hear you – “Why weren’t you doing more to make sure this didn’t take so long?”  Silly me thought I was working with adults this whole time.  And yes I’ve learned my lesson – if it’s going to get done right, I have to do it myself, or ride some backsides to make sure it’s done!!

Now, as we’re realizing how drastic this situation is getting, I start calling around.  Oh yay – my good friend that helped with the deck and fence is back from the South of France – the lucky SOB -  when he hears how bizarre this has turned out, he is stunned by the situation and is coming to our rescue by this weekend.  


The bathroom had already been repaired, but they broke it again (it took them one month), so he’s fixing the bathroom for them again.  Installing batteries.  Measuring windows for new glass and screens. 

And the jewel – He’s installing cameras.

Yup, I’ll be able to watch the property.  All.the.time.

Like apartments survey their property ya big freaks – I don’t want to see what they’re doing inside *shiver*!


Lest you worry about *their* rights – they are being made fully aware of the cameras.  They should love that!  What with the cops having been there 5+ times since December.


And to pay for our newly adopted family of five on the other side of the country, my dentist man is working his usual two jobs.  His weekday job and his weekend warrior job.  The latter of which also ins’t paying him correctly.  I know, you thought it couldn’t get any more comical did ya!  

Apparently someone dropped the ball several years ago when we left the AFR and didn’t give us our release papers.  So now the Navy is requiring *us* to track it down if we want to be paid correctly.  We’ve been getting nearly half the pay we should for over a year now.  And we’re still waiting for the bonus we were promised.  

And just make good and sure we’re feeling it, the coming two weeks will be the slowest possible at the offices he works for.  Between rodeo’s, parades, holiday weekends, fairs, and yes, another reserve weekend, we’re feeling the glorious pain!


As I’m trying to keep up beat and find the good in all this, trying to learn to praise in all situations, I found myself actually coming up with the smallest of things.  The day he came back from his two week tour.  After cleaning the sheets for the 4th time that day because the pug felt the need to relieve herself only there (yes I closed the door – she’s freaking magical?!), I found myself thanking the good Lord that at least it wasn’t the big dog doing it!




I had someone ask how I keep a good sense of humor through all this – 

You can laugh or cry.  Or cry till you laugh.  Which ever, it’s not bringing the money back.

And feeding your own family is over rated right?



 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18




One of “those” wives. August 15, 2014


Here’s the dealio -


With my current project affording me extra thinking time, I started to remember when my dentist man was one of the lowest men on the totem pole in the military (we’re talking E-3 here).  I would meet these women in the higher ranks who were sort of loud, sort of  know-it-all’s, sort of obnoxious and sort of ran ram-shot over most of us younger gals… and civilians.  They sort of scared me.  I remember telling him that I never wanted to act like that.






Nearly 20 years later and here I’ve discovered I’m “that woman”.   Well crap!


In the military world, I was in the middle somewhere.  Not a fresh newbie wife who knew nothing of what was about to happen to her and not the 20 years in veteran wife who had seen it all, either.  Nor was I so ingrained into the military lifestyle that civilian life scared or called to me.  I knew how to get certain things done easily and still had questions about others.  And when I was around other military wives, I fit in just fine that way.  Not too quiet, not too loud.  I knew “my place”  (don’t try to tell me mil wives don’t have a pecking order!).  Not to mention we’ve been in and out of the military, active duty and reserves and in different branches.  We’ve been around!

Now in the civilian world… all these attributes mean I’m loud, I’m abrupt.  I ask too many questions.  I know a little about a lot.  I’ve been to more places than most people I’m around and experienced things they may never know or understand.  I’m self-reliant and I get it done and now.  (As my poor dentist man recently learned the hard way.)  I may at times, even run ram shot over people to get things done.  “Waiting until your husband get’s home” may not have happened for months, so I’ve gotten used to packing, discipline, home maintenance, school, doc visits, paperwork and anything else the average civilian does with their spouse, done solely by me.  Not because my dentist man is lazy, but because that’s what we’re used to.  That’s what most military spouses are used to.  The last few years in particular!


So where is this all leading to?


Looking back at those loud, obnoxious, know-it-all women, I now understand them a little better.  I get that they’re loud because that’s how you get heard.  They seem obnoxious, because you sometimes have to be pushy to get things done and really don’t need your approval.  And maybe, just maybe the really did know-it-all… or at least a lot.


I think I’m starting to like this part of me.  I get it done.  I get it done quickly.  I have endurance and flexibility for the insane, crazy and throw-up-your-hands changes in life.  I know what I want, because I’ve experienced it.  I know what I really don’t like, because I’ve experienced it.  I also know that I do need my man for support, but I don’t need him right here with me all the time.  A weekend trip (or his two-week tour this month) can sometimes be a welcome break to remember how much I love him.  I can deal with the big boys – once you take on the military to get things done, state officials and inept renters start to feel like small potatoes.


While I’m still “finding my place” here –  instead of shying away from this crazy woman, I think instead, I’m going to let her out a little more often.  Enjoy her a little more, and if the people around me find it a bit too much, they’re probably boring anyways.






I want to be the type of wife who would do THIS while her dentist man is gone!




Fire in the bush August 11, 2014

Filed under: Boys,Family,Home improvement,Homeschooling — blankenmom @ 12:06 am
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We’ve been spending our days of late working outside on our giant juniper bush.  It was blocking our view from downstairs and in our area, having a juniper bush that close to the house is a big ol’ fire hazard!  We’ll miss the bunnies scurrying into it, but not enough to risk fires.  No worries, they still have the lower part of the bush, sage brush and junipers on the side of the house.  Bob, Bobbett and the little Bob’s will be well taken care of!




Local fires smoke blowing through.


Between 110* plus temps, trips and camp, it’s taken a little longer than I had planned on.  I had multiple projects slated for my summer.  The comical part was that we were only able to get about 125 ft x 5 ft x 6 ft.  We still have about 125 ft x 25 ft down the hill to go!  We’re saving that fun for next summer – do we know how to do summer or what!


There has been no sewing, no interior projects, no other yard projects.  Just… the bush.






My children strongly dislike me now.




I know, it looks pretty hideous now.  This time next year it will be all green again!



Our legs are cut, bruised and scarred.  Our arms itch.  We’ve all discovered that we’re allergic to the darn thing (good thing it’s going!).  Multiple hornet nest and various other interesting bugs.  We’ve discovered muscles we didn’t know we had.  And we’re all sporting lovely farmers and sock tan’s.  Try to be classy in heals when you’re sporting a sock tan!  




Blocked view



The good parts though – we all have a healthy glow.  We now have a view from downstairs.  There will be far less of a fire hazard next year.  The boys made a little cash.  I also now know how to  make any necessary repairs to my chain saw.




New view



I also got to spend several days, without distraction, with the boys.  Good or bad, we talked – a lot!  I know their plans for life.  I know every lame joke possible.  I know what they’ve been Youtubing and listening to on Pandora and Spotify.  I know what they want for Christmas and their birthdays.  I know what they think on current politics.  I know what kind of girls they like.  I know every.last.detail. of what happened at camp.  I know every useless fact that has ever come off the internet!  Grumbling or not, they obviously needed the time to share.






What an amazing thing to end up knowing my boys so much better, because we took a huge project on together.  Somethings a little too much?  Kids may grumble and groan at the prospect of work.  Before, during and after.  I may have wanted to wring their necks at some point (or several) through the process, revoke every dime I had offered them, or send them back in, but I knew this is what they needed.  Someone to listen between the lines, between the complaints, between the “twig” jokes.  Our kids are talking to us.






Tonight after picking up the last few branches in 102* temps, tired and hungry, I was sort of bummed it was over.  We start school Sept.1 (I love it when the 1st lines up on a Monday!!), then they go back to schoolwork and a schedule.


They are the biggest reason I love summer!








Home Alone July 31, 2014

Filed under: Boys,Church,Family,Hubby,Pets,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 11:14 pm
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On Sunday afternoon I handed over all three remaining chillens’ to a youth pastor who took them to church camp across the state.  For one week, someone else took care of all three of my younger boys.


My house is empty.


For the first time in my *cough* 38 years… I have the entire day to myself.  For an entire week no less!  It’s also the first time my dentist man and I have ever been alone.


I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this?


I will admit there has been some nekedness involved, merely because I could.  Not to mention it’s been hot as heck here!




No, we don’t live in Death Valley and no, that wasn’t directly in the sun.  INSANE!


What did I do with all my new-found time alone?  Not much actually.  I took the time to clean (and have it stay that way).  Made some homemade ramen noodles, soon to be attempted in a gluten-free version and had some long discussions with the dogs.




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Can you tell they’re listening?



Oh and had a lovely date night.  We’ve actually been sneaking pre-made Amy’s meals all week.  Mmmmmm!


Mid-week the oldest called since he knew I was going a bit stir-crazy.  It was nice to catch up and hear his voice.  Eight hours is a long time to go without a conversation I’ve discovered.


Next year I may be more prepared for this week.  Plan something a bit more exciting or go somewhere, but for this year, the experience was enough for me.  To be alone.


I pick them up at 2:00 tomorrow and while I’m enjoying getting to hear my own thoughts a bit, I will be ecstatic to hear the boys’ craziness again.

Even if that means putting bottoms back on.







No worries for my neighbors, there was a sundress involved in this picture.


Planet side July 20, 2014







No, I haven’t fallen off the planet… it’s just summer craziness.  And with us that always includes some sort of drama.


Between beach trips, dog watching, lost military paperwork, evictions (not ours), camps, summer classes, heat waves and colossal yard projects, we’ve just been stretched thin.  Due to some lovely hay allergies (read: I sound like a barking seal), I’ve been forced to slow down for a week or so.  Which is making me grouchy.


I’ll leave you with this little picture.






Today at church I saw a man.  He looked very similar to the husband in the couple that has been “mentoring” me through the bible.  (I *love* these people!)  So one would assume I know what they look like.  In my snot-bogged brain’s stupor I mistook this man to be the husband.  “Hey (insert name)!  Say hello to your wife for me!”  His face was the perfect definition of confused.  As I walked on further I realized… I don’t think that was who I thought it was?  I know, I know, we’ve all done this.  I got home and texted them just to make sure.  Sure enough, they weren’t there tonight.  

Instead of being completely embarrassed, I’ve decided I’m going to do this every week, sans the name, just to make him wonder.


I’m slightly evil.  I know.




Sew seamless June 23, 2014

Filed under: Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 1:31 am
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I wanted to demonstrate how you can make a seamless elastic top seam like you would buy in the store.


You could just sew straight through the elastic on this top, but it would make a very noticeable line across the top.  Which, unless you are adding it on purpose with a design in mind, wouldn’t look very good for this particular look.


We want a clean line that doesn’t look like anything is really holding it up so that the pleates can fall freely.



I’ll start by saying, all I did to measure this was wrap it around me.  I will also make sure to mention (if you didn’t read the other post on this dress) to make sure to measure it around your largest body part.  Once done, sew up the side seam or seams to make a long tube.

When selecting an elastic for this dress, I wanted something larger so it wouldn’t roll or fold.  I wanted it to act as a foundation and as a sort of facing.  It also had to be able to hold up a large amount of heavy fabric.  I believe this was 2″ elastic.







Sewing the end of the top to the end of the elastic.  (Ok, you could really do this with the machine, but I was watching the World Cup, but you get the idea.)





What it should look like when you’re done joining the two.








Flip the elastic over, only showing the fabric.  Here is where you would normally sew it down, creating a seam line.  Instead, tack the elastic down at the side seams and any other inconspicuous places, making sure to add a mark for front and back if necessary.  (Some tops or dresses this isn’t necessary as it’s obvious, but this type of dress, it’s a bit harder to tell.)



That should be all you need to keep the elastic in place and from flipping every time you try to dress.



A very nice clean look!








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