My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Talent, gift, desire, whatever…. March 25, 2013

Filed under: Random thoughts,Sewing — blankenmom @ 3:28 pm
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This video has been passed around FB for a while now, but I just love it.  I always wanted to be able to play music, or sing.  I was actually in band and choir growing up; not sure why as my musical abilities are as severely lacking as the math talent it’s supposed to assist with?  And as I popped out little boys – it only got worse.


It doesn’t stop me from appreciating the music however.


That makes me think of my talent, or gift, or whatever you want to call it.  Sewing definitely creates something and is even an art, but it’s not as if sewing brings dramatic feelings to a person.  We don’t see a person crying tears of joy over newly hemmed pants (well, I’ve seen some pretty weepy brides over their gowns?) or people standing in ovation at the pure amazement of a new scarf.  So what does a person do when their talent isn’t life changing or ovation worthy?


If you think about it, the car mechanic doesn’t get much glory, or the plumber.  Mothers, teachers or road workers.  But that’s their calling, gift, desire or talent.  And without them we wouldn’t be able to appreciate musicians, actors, artists or the various other creative outlets that bring everyone else so much passion and joy.


So, as someone who “just” sews, the appreciation for our talent comes from knowing that the person out front sharing their gift, has all their dangly bits covered so we can all better enjoy their talent.








1/4″ at a time March 23, 2013

Filed under: Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 9:11 pm
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Not so much a sewing lesson I guess, but sometimes getting to know a new tool that can save you time – thus money is nice too.






This little tool is called a 1/4″ hem roller (you can actually buy them in different sizes I believe, but not by much).  You would use this for napkins, sheer fabric hems, some curtains.  Places you’d see both sides of the fabric so you want as little hem showing as possible or as light weight as possible.


You can do these hems by hand, but trust me, as someone who has done this by hand on yards-and-yards of a hem – get the foot!


You need to start out by doing a quick, very close to the edge straight stitch.  This keeps the fabric from stretching as you sew with the roller foot and give the fabric something to roll around so to speak.  You’ll want to leave the thread tails for something to hold onto to pull the fabric through in the beginning since it won’t want to feed by itself.  It’s also useful at the end so you can keep the fabric feeding through the foot and won’t pop out.






Attach your nifty little foot, set the needle to just barely catch the fabric curl (it’s about a 3 on my machine) and feed the long threads you left through first.  If you just set it under there, it sort of self feeds itself into the foot.  Do make sure that the thread from the needle and bobbin are fed through the bar AFTER the curl or the fabric won’t go anywhere.  You’ll have a lot of thread coming out the back of the foot – it’s ok, you’ll cut it off when you’re done.  Set the foot down right before the fabric and start the fabric through.  You’ll want to start slightly before the fabric, but not much.  Pulling gently letting the fabric curl through the foot.





You can see it curling itself here.

It works best for me to pull (very gently) with my left hand and guide with my right for this.  You’ll want to play around to find the “sweet spot” for guiding the fabric in that get’s the best roll.  It’s usually slightly to the left for me.  If it’s a long enough piece of fabric you can just hold your hand in one spot letting the fabric slide through.


This is what will come out of the other side.


Sorry for the bad photo.  Odd angle.

It ends up being very neat and clean if you do it right.  You may end up with a few spots where it didn’t tuck the fabric all the way up and you’re left with a slight raw edge.  You can go back through with small scissors and cut those spots off – being careful NOT to clip the folded edge of the sewn fabric.

This does take practice, but’s well worth the time and it’s well worth the $20 for the foot!











A little help from our friends! March 19, 2013


Sorry for the double up on posts, but I have had several people ask me about the letter we ended up sending to the congress people for help with “that house”.

I’m glad to say, it worked.  Within the day of sending out the letter to three congress people, Congressman Pallone’s office was good enough to assist us.  They even called us twice to make sure we got the assistance we needed.  By the end of the day we had the check we needed to begin work and the next day – we had floors!


Never thought I’d be so excited for sub-flooring!



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It’s beautiful, isn’t it!






And since I didn’t name our insurance company, I’m posting the letter here for those people:



“Our family bought a home in NJ while my husband was in school for the Navy. After graduation we were unable to sell it due to the housing bubble and hurting economy, and couldn’t refinance or use the military program to buy us out. Not wanting to go back on our contract, we’ve done everything possible to hold on to the home, including losing several thousands of dollars. We’ve worked in good faith to be good home owners, and now reluctant landlords.

We are now stationed in our home state, over 3000 miles away.

When hurricane Sandy came, it devastated the entire town where the home sits. The whole town was washed out under 7 ½ feet of water. Our home being raised higher than most, sustained “minor” damage comparatively – it’s still standing. However being over 100 years old, it could no longer hold out even under the “minor” 2 feet of water that made it in and buckled, warped, cracked and rusted. It’s livable, if we could only get the money to fix it.

Our renters, who hadn’t even been in the house long enough to unpack lost everything for the second time that year due to weather and held out for 3 months before finally giving up. I was amazed! Not only did they help us by being there for inspections and scheduling, they even apologized when they could no longer afford to pay for the hotel they had been staying in. With 3 more month to go until she delivered her little girl, I completely understood and wished them the best. In those 3 months we of course could not charge them rent and had to give back their deposit. However, they still can’t retrieve their possessions on the second and third floor because there is no first floor.

Our contractor, knowing our situation, showed up as soon as people were allowed back into the town to inspect our house and start cleaning and removal. He has been a champion for us and has dealt with things for us as much as he could. We wouldn’t have made it this far without him, but he can only do so much. He does have other jobs he needs to work on however and cannot wait for insurance to decide to pay us.

We are now 4 ½ months post Sandy and have a floor-less, wall-less, potentially molding home to show for our wait. With no protection from the snow, wind and environment from underneath. The second and third floors are now starting to show signs of problems that didn’t exist before due to moisture that the insurance company will not cover.

We’ve been doing our best to keep up with where the paperwork is and what we need to do to keep up our side of this process. We’ve made sure our payments were never late or short, we’ve done all the things that have been asked and yet…. we’re still without repairs. We even went so far as to take out a small personal loan to get things started and to show we were serious about getting it fixed.

After talking with the insurance company numerous times over the last several months and getting no answers other than “We haven’t seen your report yet.” we recently found out that we were on a list for “second homes”. Apparently meaning that we could afford to sit and wait – on a military salary. After sitting on our inspection report for 4 months, the adjuster, after much pushing finally sent in their report but yet, still we sit.


My husband is in one of two groups of ships out to sea now, serving on the USS John C. Stennis. This after being deployed to the same area last year. This means we’ll have seen him less than 1 ½ months in the last two years if he get’s home when he is actually supposed to. This is part of the job and normally, while it makes us miss him more and wouldn’t be an issue, however he’s starting to get worried about us at home. We’ve already stretched our budget further than we should have, paying for any extras out of groceries. Extras being our 18 year old’s birthday (no gifts) and our 11 year old’s 2 gifts (no party). We paid to put our two sick dogs down after Christmas with Christmas gift money and can’t afford to fix the check engine light on our van.

After talking with the insurance people several more times, and being reminded several more times that people are still homeless out there – which we feel extremely sad about, especially when they lost a home they loved and we’re still stuck with a house we can’t stand, that still doesn’t change the fact that they are able to get free food, free or low-cost housing due to their situation, money for loss of use of their house and government help, where as we are on the other side of the country where people don’t even know that there are still issues going on. We don’t get reduced food or housing, we still have to pay full rent, mortgage and insurance. We didn’t get help with Christmas. We can’t get help from the insurance company for loss of use even.

Where was the insurance companies compassion towards the homeless when our soon-to-be-expecting renters couldn’t find another place to live for the 3 months they stuck it out with us hoping for a fix (or even just a floor)? We know all too well how it was affecting the people who are there!

During a call to ask for the inspection report the adjuster asked “And how exactly, does this effect your husband’s job performance?” How exactly? To be 5000 miles away from your wife and kids for nearly 2 years is hard enough, but to also know that they are struggling financially because of insurance bureaucracy is even harder. Knowing that your wife has all the normal daily struggles, is raising the kids on her own, all the craziness and worries that come with deployment and now the added stress of following the paper trail of insurance, inspections, contractors, new laws, multiple phone calls to try to get some straight answers, renters issues and paying for it all from 3000 + miles away.

At this point we are left with two choices: Lose the house because we can no longer afford to pay for it in spite of all our efforts to keep it and deal with the financial repercussions that come with that or move out there and live in a house that has no floor, heat, electricity or water, all because the insurance company has dragged its feet.

I would love to get a job to help with the situation, but with about 4 months left to this duty station, employers are not willing to hire and train someone. We are literally stuck.

The small check they finally, just recently sent, can’t be used because it’s not large enough to cover any repairs and it has to be signed by my husband who they know is out to sea.

We have become second class citizens according to the insurance company because we are military stationed away from the house and may very well become homeless ourselves, with little understanding from them or the people around us, who don’t understand how bad the flooding was.

I’m not asking for anything special, for financial help or handouts. I’m asking for the insurance company to stop being dishonest. To stop the silly paperwork shuffle. I keep getting reminded that there was a disaster and there are hundreds of thousands of people in our situation, so one would think they would have a better system set up after Katrina so people wouldn’t have to “homeless” for 3, 4, 5, 6 months or more, or like my husband, wouldn’t have to worry about his family back home, while the insurance company shuffles their paperwork around to justify not paying.

The people in the town are my friends and neighbors, and my heart breaks when I see the devastation they’ve gone through – because 3000 miles away, we’re feeling it too. But now that they are back in their homes and getting back to normal, they are actually starting to feel bad for us and what we’re going through.”



This was truly our last resort – but it worked and we are VERY grateful for the assistance of Pallone’s office and for ALL the people – our contractor, realtor, former renters, friends that live there still and those of you who kept us in your thoughts and prayers, who helped us finally get this started.  I feel very blessed to have so many amazing people in my life!  My one last hope (other than the dang house would just float away) would be that all the people who still haven’t gotten the help we did, can find the people in their life that can assist them.















This is your brain…..

Filed under: Boys,Family,Hubby,Military,Navy — blankenmom @ 8:05 pm
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This is your brain on deployment!






If all goes well, my dentist man should be home on time – which is good.  Especially since my brain left me a few weeks ago and I can’t seem to find it?  I could be in the flood paperwork, tax paperwork, the new move paperwork (and if you’re mil, you KNOW what that website is like – bringing grown military men to tears!!), graduation paperwork, school work, church work, soccer paperwork or medical paperwork.


And yes, I’m fully aware that if it’s small enough to fit into the paperwork folder I didn’t have much to begin with.  Hush you!


After this weekends mishap of getting one of my sons to their soccer game 30 minutes late, “Game time’s at 3:00, but we need to be there at 2:30 for warm-up – got it.  Leave the house at 3:00 to get there on time.”  Yeah, you read that right!


Today I called to get tax info on “that house” and after the initial “Hello”…. it was all down hill from there.  Actually, it was a cliff.  That’s all that would come out.  That poor, wonderful woman managed to piece together what I needed from my few studdered, fractured words, let alone any sentences, that managed to make it out of my mouth.


I’m still not even sure what I said?  I hope I was polite?


I’ve officially named one of the girls on my soccer team “Not Bonnie” due to the fact that  that’s all I can get out when I see her….. her name is Brooke and Brooke would really like me to stop calling her “Not Bonnie”.  And as team manager, I really should!  Right Benny, Becky, Bennet….. Not Bonnie – dang-it!


As I down another cup of coffee and the boys check their soccer practice schedule to make sure we’re headed to the right field, at the right time, on the right day, with the right child, we speed off and I hope I remember where I’m going before we get there!


“Where was I going again?”




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Seriously? March 9, 2013

Filed under: Broken/Repaired,Hubby,Military,What's happening — blankenmom @ 6:02 pm
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May I please take a moment to vent before my head pop’s off my shoulders and roll’s away from me….


Sandy (that b****) came at the end of October.  Our poor renters had only been in there two weeks and hadn’t even been able to fully unpack.


*SWOOSH* The whole first floor was gone and most of their belongings!


It’s now been 4 1/2 months: no rent, no insurance, the best we’ve gotten was a small check that can’t even be used because it’s too small to fix anything… and this is after numerous calls, pleads and emails.


We took out a small loan to get things started and were assured that we’d get that money back from insurance….. still waiting….


Our renters have finally left for their own safety and sanity, although anything they had on the second and third floor is still stuck up there because there is no first floor to walk on.


Today I received that small check back in the mail stating that my husband…. yeah, the one that’s been out on the ocean for nearly 2 years, needs to sign it also.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – they full well know he’s been gone this whole time.  This is after all the same insurance company that explained to me that they put us on the list of “second homes” after I explained we had it rented out because we’re stationed on the other side of the country.  I’m sorry – what?  Sure, I just fly my private jet out there every weekend to enjoy *that house* because military families really make that much.  So sure, I can sit on an extra mortgage payment every month, why not!


So now they’d like me to apparently swim out and get his signature too.


Ok, ok.  The reality is that I have to resend the check with his POA.  (Or at least I hope that’s all they’re going to ask for?)  But that’s not the point here.  This insurance company has been delaying a lot of people’s checks, not just ours, to get their homes fixed and putting a rental home as a “second home” is being even more dishonest.

They knew full and well that we wouldn’t be able to use that check.  I just am at a loss as to how they think this is justifiable?


This is the same insurance company that would remind me every time I called “That people were homeless and we were not, so we should feel thankful.”   My only replay was “You mean LIKE MY RENTERS!”


I think the part that really got to me was when the adjuster actually said to me, “How *exactly* is this affecting your husbands job?”

“Uh well, the poor guy is 5000 miles away and has no idea what is actually happening.  Knows we can’t afford a mortgage and rent.  Is wondering if we’ll lose the house, if we can pay the rent or pay for food.  He has no control over anything and knows that I’m over here alone, taking care of both houses, insurance crap, dying dogs, our family and preparing for the next move.  So you tell me, how exactly this would affect your job?”


4 1/2 months later –




– this is all we’ve got, with a check that can’t be used.

I really just have no words…..