My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Smoggy days of summer August 12, 2017

Filed under: Animals,Home improvement,Renovations,Sewing — blankenmom @ 11:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

0608171252a1.jpg

.

.

.

I’m not sure about where you live, but around here, we get wildfires.  A lot.  Every year.  This year was no exception, except for the fact that as the neighbors who have been here longer than I’ve been alive tell me, this is the closest they’ve ever come to this neighborhood – figures.  At least it’s not flooding.

.

.

0716171710a[1]

0627172053c[1]

Both fires within a mile; one in each direction.

.

.

On top of that, we’re getting the smoke from fires up north.  It’s gotten so bad that it’s barely possible to leave the windows open, or even leave the house.  But we’ve also been hitting nearly 110*, so during the day, that’s not much of a concern, at night we’ve just decided black lung is a good way to go out.

.

.

.

0802171954a[1]

.

.

.

So a lot of projects inside the last few weeks.

.

.

The flooring is finally being worked on, but I want to save that story for when it’s finished.  But I am getting plenty of pictures of the whole process and am in love with how it’s turning out so far!  I’m also learning plenty, and will have what I’ve learned in that future post.

I can’t work on any wood cutting or sanding for my bathroom project because of the heat and smoke – but this week is supposed to cool off and the smoke dissipate, so I’ll be back to work on that end.

 

.

.

But just so you know I’m not completely slacking, I did get a porch project finished that I’ve been wanting since we moved in.

.

.

0725171553[1]

0802172051a[1]

.

.

What I wanted was the big, billowy curtains that all the other bloggers have, but judging from their pictures, they don’t have to contend with 30 mph winds on a regular basis.  So, this is what I came up with for our current situation, and I have to say I’m pleased with the results!

When it get’s above 100* out here, you can’t go near the back porch, but these curtains bring the temp down 10-15*.  Which definitely makes it more usable.  It also cuts down on how hot the actual house gets.  This side of the house stays warm all through the night from the solar heating it get’s all day.   I won’t say that it keeps it cold, but it is a huge help!  And with our stove still out of commission, this means I can use the grill all through the summer without needing emergency services.  I should just really put a solar oven out there!  Maybe next year?

It also covers the large window in the living room, cooling the living room down by about the same amount, which means my plants won’t cook anymore.

I know, you’re asking the same thing my dentist man asked “Why not just put curtains up?”.  As I said above, it’s not just about cooling the interior down, it’s also about being able to use the back porch, and grill.  By putting the curtains up outside, even over the big window, the house still stays brighter (good for my brain, and the plants), and the actual building stays cooler, and I can still use the back porch (if it’s not over 100*).  It also solves the problem of wanting the breeze, but needing the shade.  Sunset usually coincides with dinner time.

I’m in love with these!

Next year I will update them to brown to match the house, or forest green to match the roof, and make the curtains for the big window a bit smaller.  But they do exactly what I needed for this year!

Now if only they could keep the smoke out?

.

.

.

0719171002b[1]

Dog approved

 

Advertisements
 

Not proud or anything July 23, 2017

Filed under: Boys,Church,Family,Hubby,Military,Navy — blankenmom @ 9:56 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

0618172044-1[1]

 

After finally fully recovering from the excitement, not only from my first trip on my own, but seeing my second-born graduate from basic, I can finally boast… eh er… post about it.

 

After our three conversations totaling 30 minutes over six weeks, it was nice to just see him again without interruption.  He graduated from the same place his dad did, 20 years ago, but his dad wasn’t able to revisit due do his own military duty.  I missed my dentist man’s graduation, so it was great to see what he did too, but from what I hear, the ceremony is a bit different now.

 

TWT 2017

 

First-things-first – after the first and second days ceremony, you have to go out onto the field to “tap out” your graduate.  That means, finding someone who may or may not have completely changed, AND all the men look the same with shaved heads and uniforms!  On top of that, there were two recruits with the same last name.  So, walking through the whole crowd of graduates and families, all taller than I am, looking at name tapes for matching last names and then looking under their pulled down brims probably entirely too close for their comfort, to find the one you hope is yours… tapping them on the shoulder so they can relax.  THE ONE YOU HOPE IS YOURS!  Otherwise you’re tapping some random person!   Not that they might mind, that means they get to go relax… maybe I should have just “tapped” random people – bwahaha!

(After feeling horrible for several days, picturing my husband standing there at his graduation, without anyone to “tap him out”, I sheepishly asked him about it, and told him how sorry I was for not making it.  “We didn’t do that?  Sounds stupid.”  Oh thank heavens!)

Just in case you were worried – they do the buddy system.  Anyone who didn’t have family to tap them, their buddies came and got them.  No one is left behind!

 

Watching the pomp-and-circumstance was neat, and he was excited that so many important people happened to show up to his graduation.  Including the governor of Texas and the head of the Air Force.

 

0616170926a

 

That weekend ended up being incredibly hot – that Saturday topping out at 118*.  And of course that’s the day we picked to go to Six Flags.  We didn’t last long.

 

The San Antonio river walk was amazing – unfortunately I have no pictures.  Heat and humidity apparently don’t help old phones work well.  Which also made for some comical directions.  The guys weren’t allowed out of uniform, so while we enjoyed our walk, we also enjoyed the wonderful people giving all the newest graduates their thanks and congrats.

He showed us his dorms.  It was the first time in 19 years I’ve ever seen his bed made.  We did all the touristy things.  He enjoyed some local go-cart/race track time with his fellow graduates.  And lots of food!  We just basically ate where ever we went.

 

My favorite part of the whole trip – Sunday church service.  (No pics allowed)

This is everyone’s one hour of rest per week.  Where they don’t get yelled at.  Where they get to dance, or just relax a bit.  They get sat according to their weeks in, different services (this base trains all services), and graduates and their families.  Every week they call the groups out by week, service or graduates – and that group sounds off with a big “WHOOOP”.

And then they worshiped.  Marines, lifting their hands in praise.  Three weekers dancing in the pews.  Army guys in front of us, on their knees saying their prayers.

I loved every minute of it!

 

And then it was time to go.

 

He’s currently at tech school, where his dad and I had our first apartment together.  And then off to two other bases for training before his final duty station, where he’ll be diagnosing problems to be repaired for F-35’s.  He’s loving it so far.  Well, he loves most of it.  No one enjoys a 6:00 am death-by-power point, or 3:30 am workouts.

 

Here’s the deal though, less than 2% of the US population has ever joined the military.  Knowing someone who has been, or is in the military, may not even be something people do on a daily basis.  Him signing up, even if he hadn’t made it through, made me proud.  It’s not everyone who understands that it takes a big person to give up their attitude; their ability to be in control.  That takes a lot of self control – a lot of strength, to willingly give up, even temporarily.

So am I proud – heck yeah!  I’m proud of my husband, and my son (and hopefully a few others in the future).  They proved just how strong of men they are, not only possibly handing over their lives, but also by allowing someone else to be in charge, at least temporarily.

 

Plus… they just look so good in their uniforms, don’t they!  (Totally not biased.)

 

0616172107

 

Mostly staying out of trouble July 15, 2017

 

0219171221~2

 

It’s summer – my favorite season!  I really do enjoy them all, but summer means three months of goofing off.  And by goofing off I mean doing projects without having to stop to grade schoolwork, or getting to take a trip without changing due dates.

 

This summer, after three years without flooring, we finally brought it home.  It’s acclimating to our home still, but it’s home.  2000 lbs in the back of a 30 year old truck for an hour and a half on a 100* day was a bit comical, but the truck came through!

 

0626171204a

 

We’ve decided to color the pine with coffee.  It’s the only thing that provided the color we wanted.  As of right now, we’re trying to decide between polyurethane or shellac.  With the dog drool however, I think the poly may win out.

 

A couple of side projects that I’ve fit in between the our other engagements –

 

0709171719

 

A bird that had made it’s home in a flower pot out front had hatched its chicks and left it’s home behind.  It was so perfect, I couldn’t just toss it.  So it is now home to some plants I’ve been nursing back to health from last year.

 

0706171854

 

This box, sadly, has sat in my bedroom holding random construction items to be tossed, for about 2 years.  I don’t even remember what I used the stuffing for?  But I got tired of looking at it and one morning, decided it needed to be upgraded.

 

0711170937

 

And so, I got to work upgrading it.  It got another plant pot up off the floor and can be used for storage.  Even better, that ugly box is gone.

 

I’m also working the kinks out on the trim – I should be able to post a few pictures of our soon-to-be trim by next week!  But so far, it’s just a lot of saw dust.

 

Summer is definitely the busiest time of the year around here.  And I only have a month left to get my plans done.  But I love the whole thing – even the limited time.  Lack of time, just like lack of money, often makes a person that much more creative.

 

 

 

 

Busy doing nothing June 7, 2017

 

 

IMG_3321

 

 

School for us ended last week.  In typical fashion we ended with one child finishing at the very last moment.  1:00 am, on the final day.

These are my final two – one becoming a sophomore and one a junior, but heading off to college (not uncommon in our state – and something his oldest brother did also).  So I’m down to one.  I’m sure he’s thrilled at the prospect of being the only one left for me to hover over.

 

With their “finals” done for school, and the third-born done with testing for college entrance, I am off on my summer schedule.

 

Redecorating the clinic I volunteer at.

Renovations coming along quite nicely (picture coming soon… it’s a looooong tedious project I’m working on).

Some summer schooling (I don’t want them going brain-dead after all that work).  But it’s a light schedule.

Getting ready for the third-born’s mission trip to Costa Rica this summer.

Camp.

Family reunion.

Two-week-tour.  (In Hawaii… ppffffttttt – that’s camp!)

And, of course, my trip to see the second-born’s graduation from basic next week!  Eek! Not only do I get to see him follow in his dad’s footsteps, but it’s also my first trip alone.  I am both looking forward to it, and nervous.

 

So much to do, and only three months to fit it all in.   Along with all the usual stuff like yearly testing, working on the quilt still and babies showing up at the end of the summer.

I am enjoying the weather, and the schedule.

 

 

Office photo

 

 

I love being busy doing “nothing”.

 

 

 

 

5 feet and several thousands under water May 13, 2017

 

111-HOME

 

 

We get a lot of phone calls for “that house” from companies wanting us to renovate or do something new.  Our usual response being “Well, we hate the house, we’d like it to burn, but we like our renters and don’t want them dead, so… no, we don’t want (insert their product), thanks!”  Their usual reply is a laugh, “Gotcha – thanks!” and that’s the end of it.

The last company that called, all I heard back was “You don’t want your renters dead?”

 *EGADS*  

That’s all she got out of that?  I guess we won’t be using that one again.  I’m on some watch list now I’m sure.

 

I have great news… sort of?

 

We’ve been told “that house” has finally broken even, which means we could, possibly, maybe, sort of, *shrugs* sell it?

It’s weird though.  For ten years, this has literally been on my mind almost constantly.  Sad, I know.  But when you’re losing more than the house itself costs, and you *cannot* afford to just walk away (plus, we don’t think that’s ok unless you **really**, really can’t keep it any longer), and your previous renters have been dirt bags to the extreme (they left people poop in buckets ya’ll) it becomes this looming beast over your head.

We got in touch with our favorite realtor man who gave us our most recent, most epic renters; I mean, they pay on time, don’t do drugs, don’t bug the neighbors and, as far as I know, haven’t stolen anything from the house – I mean c’mon – can you get better than that?  He says the market is slightly turning in our favor, even though the house is built 5 feet below sea level two blocks from the ocean (seriously, what THE heck!) and may be a tough sell.  Ya think!?

While I hate to do this to our amazing renters, we need this.  We need this so bad.

 

Here is my bigger problem.

 

I am developing a relationship with this house like an abused spouse.  Not making light of those situations, but honest-to-goodness it is the best comparison I can make.  Realizing we could actually be done finally.  I started panicking.  The thoughts of what could go wrong, how much will *this* cost us, OMG’sh I think I may actually be too beaten down to go through this!  (If you’ve ever bought/sold a house on the east coast… you feel my pain – it’s crazy!!)

What do you do when you’re so tired of something slowly killing you, that you’re too tired to even stop it?

 

train

 

The realtor has been amazing so far.  He lets me freak out.  He makes sure the paperwork is done.  He talks me down out of my panic.  He may not fully understand, but he does a great job of faking it.  And right now, that’s what I need – just little nudges, or maybe a giant push, off the cliff to get things going.

 

Now to hopefully get our ending started…

 

Light-at-end-of-the-tunnel

 

 

 

Cross, to wild, blue yonder April 29, 2017

Filed under: Boys,Family,Military — blankenmom @ 8:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

 

 

easter-cross-sky-M56707

 

 

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster around these parts.

 

Happy (late) Easter, btw, for those of you who celebrate it.

 

We had a nice dinner at home with double the amount of food I normally cook.  Which is double the amount of a normal family.  It was gone within hours by the three sons home and one husband.  Can’t complain though – must have been good!

 

The weekend that followed found the second born and myself getting the last bits of his life put together before we shipped him off to Air Force basic.  And I swear – if I hear one more civi tell me “Oh, it’s just the AF.  My cousins, brothers, sisters, fathers roommate was a Marine, and theirs is much, much harder.”  I will have to start shouting “Yes.  I know it is.  The Air Force isn’t looking for brute force, they’re looking for brains.  And unless you want to sign up yourself, shut-it or give them props for doing it for you.”  ... did I say that out loud?

I took him in to the same MEPS station I took his dad to 21 years ago.  There is just something very strange about hearing the same thing, but with your child.  You also get treated very differently as the mother, than as the wife.  Short of the bag check at the door, I knew the routine.

 

And no, he won’t be flying a plane.

 

It’s also the first time since he was four, that I went grocery shopping without having to arrange entire meals around his diet, read ingredient lists, and budget for specialty foods.  I was a bit lost.  Hopefully the next trip will go a little smoother.

For basic he’s just sucking it up.  He’ll be fine.  Grouchy, but fine.  He’d be grouchy anyways though, so no one will even notice.

 

The paperwork given to me said he’d be calling in two weeks with his address.  The day his plane landed he said he’d be calling in three days.  The first day in, he called and my first thought when I saw who was calling was “Oh no… he broke his arm.”  Just the address.

 

The rest of the week has been a lot of catch up after the last two weeks.  Work on the quilt, planting the seeds for the garden, knitting up a baby gift, and a few home projects.  Tomorrow we’re taking his bed down.   Makes it sort of final, in a good way.

 

Readjusting to a new life, is our life in this family.  Glad we’re used to it.

 

 

0510161324

 

 

 

Bottled up April 11, 2017

Filed under: Boys,Made by me,Sewing,Simplicity — blankenmom @ 2:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

.

.

20170410_234213

.

.

I promised a review on the new batting I got this weekend, but a snag (pun intended) delayed it a bit.  Snag removed, review presented.  (And yes I know that me being so excited over batting makes me a huge nerd… I’m ok with that.)

.

The person I’m making this quilt for works in a laboratory “knocking up ocean animals” (slightly cleaned up) as she once said.  (Her company helps ocean animals.)  Needless to say she cares a lot about the environment.  The ocean environment specifically.  So when I was putting her quilt together, I thought it would be great if I could find a batting with that in mind.  One that was made of recycled plastic more specifically.  You know, the kind they find floating in the ocean, or stuck on ocean animals?  Yeah, that kind.

Don’t get me wrong.  Plastic has it’s purpose, just not floating around.  Its much better tossed in the recycling bin after it’s use.  Less garbage to pay for too!

Low-and-behold there are actually a few companies out there that make it!

.

.

 

batting

 

.

.

You can look up recycled batting and find a couple of companies, or go to Amazon.  I got this one at Joann.com on discount (they always have some sort of coupon).  Unless you have a larger quilt store in your city, you’ll only be able to buy this online.  Even Joann’s doesn’t sell this in their store, and I have no local quilting stores nearby, so buying local isn’t an option unfortunately.  Maybe if more people start buying it?

.

According to one of the companies, the size that I bought 90 x 108 inches (229 x 274 cm) saves approximately 20 bottles.

Ok, not a huge amount, especially with just one quilt, but if more quilters and more quilt companies start using it, it could save a lot more.  And the price difference isn’t much more that buying the cotton.

.

.

20170411_002427

.

.

Ok, enough with the greeny stuff, how does it feel?

.

.

20170410_234411

.

.

I will admit, I’m more of a cotton girl, so I wasn’t expecting much with the feel.  I have the standard polyester batting that I loath, but use when I know the blanket won’t be used often or will be used outside.  And I do tend to use it with baby blankets.  Mostly because the poly won’t hold smells and liquid quite as well.  And lets face it, baby blankets rarely get used for family heirlooms, so I don’t want to add cost where it isn’t necessary.

So when I opened the package and this batting was actually soft and smooth I was very, very surprised!  It felt nearly as silky as the cotton.  It still catches on any rough spots though, which makes it a little tougher to work with if you don’t have baby-butt soft hands.

It’s still a bit thinner/fluffier than the cotton, more like the poly, however, it is a lot stronger than the poly when I tried pulling on it.  I’ve had far too many poly quilts and blankets pull apart inside, no matter how closely I tie it off.  It just can’t hold up to the abuse of a family of all boys – it’s just not cape/parachute/fort/tug-o-war/stair-sledding/whipping/climbing material I guess?  Go figure!

.

This would be great for outside blankets because it won’t hold water or mold like cotton, but will hold up to the elements better than the poly.

.

From what I can tell, this is the only thickness it comes in.  Low loft, which I believe is about 1/4″, so if you’re looking for thicker, you’ll have to double up.  And working with it so far is a bit more like the poly when putting in the stitches.

.

.

20170410_234356

All of these are considered “low loft”.

.

.

I will definitely be using this again.  I still prefer my cotton, but when I need to use the poly, I’ll be getting this instead.

.

.

Now… on to the next step we go!