My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Softer side July 29, 2019

 

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When we bought our house, we used a VA loan.  They go through extra steps to ensure your house is sound.  Some people won’t sell to people using the loan because of it.  And honestly, sometimes the extra steps can seem a little crazy.

When they did their testing, they almost didn’t allow us to buy the house because of the water.  We didn’t understand it at the time, but soon figured it out.  They fixed the “stale” water issue with bleach before we moved in, but they were still on the fence due to the hard water issues.  We didn’t quite understand.

A few months ago I finally found a water softening company that would actually call me back.  (Nice to know business is so good, you can ignore phone calls.)  When they tested our water, it was 25/411.  For those like us, who those numbers mean nothing, the healthy zone is under 10/180.

 

WOW!

 

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Which would also explain why everything in our house is crazy crunchy.  Including our skin and hair.

We recently finished our spare bathroom renovation.  I turned on the water once to test the new fixtures and it stained it with that one use.  There was no way I was going to actually use my fancy new bathroom with this issue happening!

But that left me at an impasse.  We still have the kitchen and master bath to go, but then wouldn’t be able to use them.

For the last few months I scrimped and saved (kids don’t actually have to be fed right?), and Friday we finally got our water softener installed!  A surprise to my dentist man.  Part of his Father’s Day gift.  He’s been a dad a while.  We’re running out of idea’s.

 

So far it’s been interesting.  The first night our normally sweet tasting well water tasted more like the plastic water softener container.  That made us a bit worried.

They did tell us to use *a lot* of water over the next 2-3 days, a bit of a challenge since both of the boys remaining in the house left for the week.  But the fourth born did what he could before he left.

A few showers and dishwasher and laundry loads later and I’m glad to say the plastic taste is gone.  The salty taste still remains.  Not like, salt lick salty, more like… “is that salt I taste?”  But I think the only reason why we notice, is because we’re used to good flavored water.  Something a lot of people don’t have the luxury of.  We won’t be complaining.  (Our outdoor spigots aren’t connected, so if we’re really desperate for that sweet well water flavor, we can always fill our glass from there.)

 

I am happy to say though that our showers have been *amazing*!  As in, they felt so good we were a bit weirded out when the softened water finally made it through the system.  My dentist man came out of his first shower and said “The water feels slippery?  Slick?”

 

Well it’s water… of course it’s slippery?

 

I took a shower.  He was right.

 

So, can I say I would spend that much money for salty water again?  Yes!  Our dishwasher is already getting cleaner.  Our clothes are already coming out cleaner.  And my hair feels amazing!  And the fact that we didn’t know water was slippery says a lot about how long we’ve lived with the hard water.

 

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My entire next week will be spent updating the kitchen counter, sink and faucet (back splash will come soon).  Finally.  Do I know how to party or what?!

 

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Cat got your home July 22, 2019

Filed under: Animals,Moving,Pets — blankenmom @ 11:27 pm
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This is “the black cat”.  Any cat that comes on our property gets fixed now.  After a litter of kittens were born in our bushes, we weren’t going through that chaos again.  So far this year we’ve fixed 9 cats.  Including this guy.

Handsome fellow!

We got him fixed a month ago and he was very not pleased.  He actually escaped the very large kennel we had him in for recovery.  That had never happened before!  And off he went.  And we expected it to be like normal and we’d never see him again.  He’d be out in some field near by hunting mice for me like the rest of the feral’s.

Two weeks ago he came back.  Skin and bones, with a scar on his nose and begging for help.  I made sure he had food outside and figured that would be the end of it since he wasn’t friendly.

Apparently being mean goes out the window when you’re hungry.  He figured out how to get in our cat door, or meow out front until he got in.  My husband was not thrilled.

With four cats already, two more than we had planned on, and a move to a studio apartment over a dental office in our near future, a fifth cat wasn’t happening.  And frankly, I am ok with that.  However, I’m not willing to just chuck him out either.

 

We contacted our vet and got several rescue numbers, most of which didn’t want him because he was about a year old.  I appreciated their honesty on why they didn’t want him.  (People don’t want cats, they want kittens.  They don’t have room for cats that stay that long.)  One did say to come in so they could look him over.

I went in last Wednesday to a small building behind several others.  Hard to find, but once I saw the kennels I knew I was at the right place.  I walked up to the door to my “appointment” and realized there were about 15 other people in the tiny front room.  The woman inside yelled “Come in quickly!”  So I did.

I found a seat and placed the carrier on my lap.  For an hour I watched the large woman wheel around the room in her office chair going between sick, tiny kittens broken up by an adult cat or two.  She’d sit at her desk, pulling them out of their kennels one-by-one to inspect eyes, noses, and ears.  Often giving medications to the ones they decided to keep.  Others were sent home to wait for pick up the next week.

Between each feline check, she would spray herself down with Lysol, filling the room with a thick fog.  Since I had never used Lysol, I hadn’t realized I was not compatible with the product.  As my throat swelled up, lungs started burning and voice started leaving, I wondered if I should sit out on the hot porch while I waited?

One woman announced to the room that she couldn’t make it the week before because she had a mental breakdown and couldn’t make it.  Fair enough.  Not something I was prepared for in this setting however.  They went on for about 20 minutes between talking about her breakdown and discussing how amazing the cat’s eyes were.  It was decided that he’d be on the next transport to the closest rescue.

A few more people later, and we were down to myself and another woman who was very pleased with herself and her abilities as a rescuer.  “I’ll go last.  I think we have a lot to talk about.” she declared to the person checking the animals.

“I guess it’s your turn.” the rescue worker said as she pointed to my kennel.  I moved the kennel to the desk and set it down.  Without even opening the door, she shined a light on him and said “I won’t even take this cat out.  He’s got ringworm.  Highly contagious.  It takes weeks to see if he actually has it, and weeks to cure it.  Take him to a vet and bring him back once it’s treated.”  I was a bit shocked, but that’s their rule.

I went home and made the appointment with our vet.  A few days later, he was in the kennel again headed to the vet.  He was loved on by all the workers because he really is pretty awesome.  The vet got out his light, and checked the scar in question, which was nearly gone by this point.  He went over the crusty nose issue with the light, and a swab.  Nothing showed up.  The vet was stumped.  “I don’t know what she saw?  There isn’t anything now?  I mean, maybe?  Could be?  It’s possible?” he stood there looking at the handsome cat in front of him.

“Ok, lets do it this way.  I need this cat to be adopted.  Would it hurt him if we just gave him the meds for just-in-case?”  He looked at me not expecting this response.  “Well, no?  And it would probably clear up the crusty nose issue?  It’s probably just some sort of cat cold he picked up in the wild, so I can give you the meds and it should clear everything up?”

“Excellent – lets get it going!”

I walked out with a healthy cat, but toting meds.  For someone who rarely uses medication, this was new for us.

I waited over the weekend, frustrated at the situation, and listening to a grouchy dentist man.

Today I posted him one last time on our local FB page.

I am happy to say, there are at least seven people asking to look at this handsome boy!  And one crazy man who keeps asking why I didn’t use that particular rescue.  There always has to be a crazy one.

Definitely a new experience for us, but he’ll be going to a fantastic home by this weekend.

 

Floored July 15, 2019

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If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that we’ve been attempting renovations for the last 6 years.

We bought our house knowing it would need massive updating from its original 1979/1980’s interior.  It was a challenge.  It was made even more of a challenge when “that house” started to take over reality.

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Reality fought back for control and we’ve started to actually get things done!

The family requested floors first.  (If I had to do it over again, it would be far, far lower on my list… like after plumbing.  Seriously.  Do plumbing first.)

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For 5 years, we walked around on subflooring.  And I have to admit, it started to grow on me.  You could spill anything and it didn’t matter.  I even started toying with the idea of just sanding it down a bit and leaving it.

Yeah, I was getting desperate.

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But we got a break after I quite work and had a little extra money left over to finally buy some flooring.  It took about a year to get it in, but… it’s in.  And it’s fantastic!

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Let’s start with the fact that we have two dogs.  Two dogs that NEVER leave my side.  Seriously.  If I leave the house, when I get home, they are up my keester.  The big dog actually left a nose print on my “crack” last week after I got home.

So, I had to do the floors creatively.

We’ll start off with the boards.  8 ft by 8″ pine from Lumber Liquidators.  They were amazing through the whole process!  We paid in installments and when I came to pick it up in my old truck, they had me call when I got home to make sure I made it all the way (an hour and a half drive in a truck with a broken speedometer.)  We wanted lots of knots and weird marks.  I would have preferred just boards, but they came interlocking.  We rolled with it.

The “stain” is coffee.  We used free coffee grounds from the local coffee shop.  (We’ll also be using it for the trim now too because we can’t get a good color match with actual stain.)  The darker you want the color, the more coffee “brew” you “paint” on.  Our floor took about 11 coats.  (The trim is taking about 13.)

The final protective coats were Tung oil and Waterlox.  I was trying to keep it as natural as possible since the pets would be on it all day long and we’d be smelling it for weeks before it dried.  I don’t have babies any longer, but it would be safe for them also.  Tung oil is what they used to use to waterproof boats.  It smells yummy!  Like chocolate.  So when I used D-Limonene to “water” it down for the first few coats it smelled like a chocolate-orange factory!  Fantastic the first few days, not so much after a month or so.  And finally Waterlox for the final two coats.  It’s not completely natural, but it’s about as natural as you’re going to get for durability and shine (along with it’s waterproofness for the big drooly dog!)  My dentist man wanted it “super shiney” as his only request and Waterlox has that!

I spent 5 years researching.  I am very satisfied with my choices.

To be honest though, I didn’t want perfection.  I wanted cracks between the boards.  I wanted scratches to happen.  I wanted discoloration over time.  I could have put on a few more coats for perfect protection, but I really didn’t want that.  I wanted an old, lived in look.  It was going to happen with any floor we put it, so we might as well make it a feature!

I picked underlayment that was recycled, “slightly” natural and helped cut down on the noise between floors.  A huge issue we have.

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Because of the dog/butt issue, I couldn’t just put the floor down and then stain it.  No.  No that would have been entirely too simple.

So, instead, I did 15 stained/coated boards at a time, and then tilted them up against any available wall.  ANY wall, while they dried.  Boards were everywhere.  The family loved it…not.  But they could at least see progress.

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I am VERY satisfied with the final product!  They turned out great!  And other than a massive flood in the bathroom, they’ve done perfect!  The dogs drool all over the floors, new kitten accidents, leaking plants, a leak in the kitchen, it’s taken it all without any issues.

The only thing I’d change – I wanted nails for the “authentic” look, but should have just put the holes in for the look instead.

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Our final touch, before sealing everything up, was of course…

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I managed to get two boys to let me paint chalk outlines of them before laying the underlayment.  It’s awesome – love my boys!

 

 

Up in the air July 8, 2019

Filed under: Growing,Home improvement,Moving,Renovations — blankenmom @ 12:53 am
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A couple of years ago, I put in trellises for our raised garden beds.  My beds aren’t anything amazing, you can’t really get to fancy when you know you’ll be moving again, but for us, these are working pretty well.

I wanted something that even my 6′ husband could walk under, that was inexpensive and would accommodate changes.  With twine attached, this did all those things.

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However, the trellises were leaving something to be desired.  They kept flying away.

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We get pretty strong winds out here, and for the last two years at least one has been going down on a monthly basis.  Very frustrating.  After two flew away into the neighbors 20 acres and the 4th born and I had to run after them, I was done.

After constant repairs, readjustments, even bolting them down –  I needed to rethink the whole thing.

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These have been amazing!

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A little more than we had planned on spending, but, we can take them with us when we move and reuse them.

I’m very, very pleased with these so far after a couple of months of 40 mph winds – I haven’t had to catch even one!

If you’re looking for trellis idea’s for your garden, I highly suggest these.

At 4’11” I was able to pound the cattle fencing poles in rocky ground myself.  I was able to put the panels up myself.  The birds love them, and the plants are doing much better with these.

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How are your gardens growing this year?

 

 

Time is relative July 1, 2019

Filed under: Church,Places,Random thoughts,What's happening — blankenmom @ 1:43 am
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This last weekend I helped a mom host a baby shower for her daughter.  She had never thrown one before, so I obliged, having thrown a few, and attended more than a few.

Keep in mind, I will give extra gifts to the expecting mom if she leaves me off the party list.  I genuinely do not enjoy these types of parties.  Give me a few friends, a quiet place and good food and that’s what I call a party.  I truly am not offended by not being invented if of course it wasn’t out of malice, in which case, you’re just going to get boring gifts – so there.

But I get her stress at trying to figure out the scheduling and invitations, and all that goes into one so I said of course.

Here is where things get more interesting…

Ok, the family is Mexican.  As in, straight up from Mexico.  And if you’ve spent even one event with a family of Mexican’s you already know, they’re going to be late.  And not like, 15 minutes late.  No, they’re going to be 1-2 hours late.  Usually two.  So when I was helping her get out the invites, I suggested giving them a two hour difference on their invitations, and she whole heartedly agreed specifically because we only had the room for two hours.

However, in all the chaos of the baby arriving very early, she forgot this step.

The baby shower turned into a “Welcome Baby” party, and the absolutely adorable 5 lb baby girl was adored by all!  Of course, mom arrived an hour late and new mom arrived an hour and a half late.  And all the guests arrived 15 minutes after that.  Leaving us with 15 minutes to swoon over yummy baby scent.  Thank you to the venue allowing us the room even after our time, since there were no more parties booked after us – that was awesome!

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I have a friend from Nigeria who is notorious for being 30 minutes late every where she goes.  During her cancer treatment, our bible study took turns taking her to her appointments.  Which in turn, also had the added benefit of getting her there on time.  “I’m on African time” she’d say in her thick musical accent.

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When we have parties with some friends out this way who are from various places south of the border, and a few of us North American’s, they will accordingly invite us all at different times.  We’ve had a good laugh over this –

White folks show up 15 minutes early.

Asians show up exactly on the dot.

Black folks show up about 30 minutes late.

Latinos show up 1-3 hours late.

Plan accordingly.

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For the first year we knew them we never met their family because we always left for church on Saturday night before their families even made it!  But once we got the schedules figured out, and we switched churches, those were the most amazing parties!

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The same was definitely true for the baby shower.  Once the waiting was over, for those of us who showed up 15 minutes early… or somewhere in between, meeting all their friends, trying out new foods, getting to hear their stories of how they know each other and them teaching about what their culture does with new babies, it was an excellent time.

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Every culture, and family, learns different customs.  It would be so boring to ignore them.  The more people I meet, the more interesting the world becomes.

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I was glad to be reminded of “African” time from my Mexican mom’s.  And see that time, is relative.