My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Busy doing nothing June 7, 2017

 

 

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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.

 

 

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I love being busy doing “nothing”.

 

 

 

 

Cross, to wild, blue yonder April 29, 2017

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

 

 

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Bottled up April 11, 2017

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

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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!

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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?

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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All of these are considered “low loft”.

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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.

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Now… on to the next step we go!

 

Two down… May 23, 2016

 

 

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Our second-born, also known as Michael, turned 18 today.  We wouldn’t dare say it’s been a breeze, because he was definitely our challenge.  The one where if it was going to go wrong, it went wrong… and yet, he still came out amazing!

From about the 5th month of pregnancy I knew something wasn’t right?  Born two weeks late but induced due to a slowing heart rate, he was literally pulled out by our midwife because his shoulders had become stuck.   He was already challenging us!  After delivery though, his little heart came back twice as strong.

He was quiet and strong.

After a couple of weeks with this perfect little bundle, his jaundice set in.  “Pumpkin” the nurses called him when we headed back to the hospital for the light therapy.  His bilirubin count was so high they nearly took him in an ambulance.  That’s when the quiet ended, but the strong didn’t.

For over four years this little man cried.  Cried like his fingers had been closed in a car door.  We went to doctor after doctor, all the while being told he was just fine, it was just who he was.  Four years of no sleep.  Four years of rashes everywhere.  Listening to screaming for the majority of the day.  Four years of having strangers whisper, or tell me straight to my face what a terrible parent I was because of his screaming.  Four years of not knowing how to fix his hurting.

 

 

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But when he did stop, if only for an hour or so, he was so happy, and so beautiful.

 

 

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After four years, we decided to take him to a therapist to see if they could help.  “Take him to a naturopath if the doctors won’t listen!”, he said.

Best advice ever!

Our son was allergic to several foods – corn, wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein).  All of his favorites of course!  After cutting those out, we were still left with a kid who only knew how to get angry, but could now at least function.  Four years of therapy to correct the damage that had been done and all the time lost, and some very caring church leaders, coaches, naturopaths, family and friends who stuck it out with us, he was a completely different kid.

 

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Always challenging.  Always pushing.  Always trying something new.  I couldn’t imagine what life would have been like without him, his energy, his mischievous giggle from the other room and the lessons he brought with him.  Still strong, sometimes quiet.  Always a challenge.

Scary delivery, jaundice, food allergies, night terrors, stitches, multiple goose-eggs, Poison Ivy, two broken arms, and none of it slowed him down!

 

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Yes, he still has his allergies, albeit less intense now.  Yes, he manages quite well with them.  Yes, it’s changed everything in our life, mostly for the better.  Not so much for out pocket book, but definitely for our bodies.  And I am thankful for that!

 

 

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Our computer nerd through and through, he’s graduating high school with a certificate in Computer Technology, and is about to leave home for a new adventure.  I’m sure however, we’ll see him grocery shopping our pantry and finding his way home for the wash machine.  This strong willed, energetic, enthusiastic, kid is ready for the world… I hope it’s ready for him because he doesn’t knock down easily!

 

 

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Get growing! May 14, 2016

 

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Ok, that was a corny title.  Work with me here.

 

It’s beautiful out my way… well, today is raining and cold, but we could use it.  The last few weeks have been unseasonably warm though, and I don’t mind one bit!  And while we’re on a pretty tight budget, we still needed could use a garden.  Last years use of bags, while effective, not only took down a fence, but we were only able to do tomatoes that way.  So this year, I searched all the different pins and sites to find inexpensive ways to make raised garden beds.  If we’re planning on moving, I’m not going to spend a small fortune on amending soil for a garden, and because we live in the high dessert/plains/valley (yes, it counts as all three), our soil, neigh, sand… sucks.  We literally found cactus in the field behind us (which is now growing nicely in a pot on our porch).

I decided to go with just three this year.  I could have fit more, but that was in my budget and I’m working on my little bit of “OCD” and picked an odd number to help me move on.  Besides, when you plant in your garden, you’re supposed to use an odd number right?

 

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Each raised bed cost me approx. $20.  $16 if you don’t count the 2×4’s we already had from another project.  I won’t bore you with the building part because there are probably 100’s of sites out there with tutorials on that part, so I’ll send you there.  I will say that I bought 8 3 x 5 cedar fence planks for just under $2 each.

Now here’s the part I was really excited about –

We have really amazing neighbors.  We live in a rural “neighborhood” of 2 1/2 acre plots.  All the other neighbors are original to when the development was put in.  So they’ve been here since 1975 – 1980 depending on the house.  The house we own, was actually built by one of the neighbors parents… ironically former dentists.  The “kids”, who have been here since 1975 I believe, have a massive grass pile near a corner of our property that they’ve been dumping in since they had grass.  I called and asked if I could use it to amend what little soil I had left over from last years tomatoes and they said “Yes, of course!”.  As we… ok, the boys, were piling the grass into the back of the truck, we realized that majority of the grass was really, really excellent dirt.  We hit the dirt jackpot!  We have free access to free, fabulous dirt!

 

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After getting all the dirt/grass out of the back of the truck I installed the new mini sprinklers.  I have to say though that I’m not thrilled with them and will be changing them out.  The don’t spray the “5 ft” it said and the third one won’t even spray at all.  Not a lot of water pressure up here on the hill.  So I’ll be changing back to the drip hoses once I find the right connections.

 

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Don’t judge the poor things, they were *just* put in the ground on a 90* day.

 

In the mean time, my tomatoes and sweet potato starts have been transplanted and we’ll be getting a few other items this weekend.

 

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It was great to get away from staining cabinets for a while.  I got to get out and get dirty, on the cheap.  What a great start to the summer!

 

The blame game April 9, 2016

 

 

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I’m diverging a bit here, so follow me down my minds rabbit trail if you will please.

 

I was strolling through Pinterest, when I get to one pin full of dental shirts.  *thank you dentist man for your profession invading my pinterest, fb and every other feed, I hope you get sewing supplies suggested*  Very cute shirts too mind you.  Things like “This dentist is the greatest dad”, or “This hygienist has the greatest patients”.  Me, being me, seeing several comments, made me wonder what would make  you comment on something like that?  People saying “Ooh how cute?”  or, “That would be great for so-and-so!”?

No.  No, to my surprise it was someone commenting on how misogynistic it was that this company would assume that the dentist was male, and the hygienists and assistants were female.  (I won’t even go into the statistics on the fact that yes, majority at this time are male and yes, majority are women….)  A quick click on the product page showed that every item (short of the mom/dad shirts) were unisex.  Meaning, that both male and female dentists were represented, and both male and female hygienists or assistants could have the greatest patients.  After pointing this out, a barrage of comments pointing out that the company shouldn’t assume that a male is the dentist and shouldn’t advertise that way, as though they had unlimited space to advertise every product available.  And that men are the reason why most women choose to be hygienist or assistants over dentists.

My argument that more women than men are now becoming doctors only infuriated the commentators more.  However, I didn’t have time for this… I have a life.  However, my mind would drift back while doing random jobs around the house.

In the U.S., I can get any degree I choose.  I can go into any profession, even to the front lines of battle.  If I choose to hold the same hours as a man, I can make the same amount of money.  I can own a gun.  Vote.  Leave my house whenever I want without an escort.  Drive.  Buy a house.  Choose to have, or not have children.  To get married.  What ever the heck I want!

The only time I’ve ever had a man tell me I couldn’t do something, was at Home Depot.  I’m not sure what’s up with Home Depot?  Anytime I got a wild hair up my backside, it was a bunch of guys telling me to do it.

I’ve only had a few women tell me the same thing.  Usually being told  “You don’t look right for this position.”,  “You aren’t smart enough.”,  “You’re too small.”,  “Girls don’t do that.”,  “Why would you want to do that?”, the lovely  “Don’t you have a husband for that?”, or  “Wouldn’t you rather….?”.

Or in this case, it’s blamed on men.  “Men won’t let you.” “They don’t become hygienists, assistants or nurses because they’ve been told it’s not ‘manly’, whatever that means?”  What does that say to those male nurses that have been working on my son’s arm?  Or the male assistants my husband works with in the Navy?  How misandrist of you!  (I want brownie points for that new word btw!)

 

Not falling for that here in the U.S. or any other first-world nation in 2016!  Or, even since I was a child and Sesame Street showed women as doctors, police officers, CEO’s, business owners or astronauts.  Nope.  Whatever you choose to become, it’s your choice, no one else’s.

 

 

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Mind you, I was pondering this while researching underwater welding careers.  And while rewiring the heater in my van, replacing it’s door handle, wiring in new lights into my kitchen and researching some new tools for the counters I’m about to build.  All with the help of men who were cheering me on, coaching and pushing me to try something I hadn’t done before.  “Of course you can do it?  Why couldn’t you?”  The words of a misogynistic patriarchs telling me what roll I should play in society?  Or words I’ve been hearing from my society for the last 40 years?

Unless you can actually point to a resume, college application or some form of documentation that says you were denied, or steered from a certain career, merely because of your ta-ta’s, I’m not falling for this evil patriarch stuff.  What you choose to do, in our current first-world society, is all on you babe!

And me telling you that there is no hidden misogynistic patriarchy holding you to a certain position in today’s society is not tearing you down, it’s opening your eyes to all the things you are capable of.

 

You, are the holders of society – You hold society in your bellies.  You hold it at your breast.  You hold it on your lap.  You hold it on your shoulders.  You hold it in your arms.  You hold it in your hearts. You shape the world around you.  Not men.  You.  A woman.

 

You aren’t being held down by men.  You’re being held down by your excuses.

 

 

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You really want to rock the world – go volunteer to help some girls in the third-world.  Now *that* would really be changing something!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching the top February 28, 2016

 

 

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The second-born’s surgery was Friday, along with numerous doctors appt’s before hand, for his broken wrist.  Surgery went well, he now looks like he lost a war with a nail gun however.

 

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I’m taking a little time between pain killer dosages, escorted bathroom trips and ice pack delivery to show my latest completed project.  I’m very excited over this one too!

 

This is just about what we started with, minus a few opaque panels that we may, or may not have accidentally broken in various ways.

 

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Only one light worked consistently, one on occasion, and one never worked.  And yes, we tried changing out the bulbs.  And the final nail in the coffin for these lighting fixtures – they started humming.  Very, very loudly.  If they’re going to make that much noise, they had better at least work!

 

 

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We took down the lovely trim, and the lights, and I nearly lost a finger on that last one to the right.  They were all connected to the same wire, so the wiring was pretty easy.

 

We were still left with a giant 80’s hole in our ceiling, so we took several months to save up for to figure out what we wanted to do with it.

 

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We finally decided to go with just one light down the middle, that will eventually hang over a very small island.  It’s on an adjustable light switch and is extremely bright, so no other light is really necessary – save the lights we’ll be putting in over the stove where we cast a shadow from this one.  And a faux copper tile, that will also eventually match the sink.  If we were going to be stuck with this space, we thought we’d at least make it look like it was there on purpose!

 

These tiles are super easy to put up, and they come in a ton of colors and styles.  We actually took a few months to pick out the exact color/design combo we wanted.  They also carry the real stuff too if you’re feeling rich.

 

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Almost there…

 

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During measuring, we discovered that one side of the inset was about 2″ wider, than the bottom.  This is how we solved the issue.  I doubt it’s what a builder would do, but since it’s going behind very light panels, and then being nailed from the trim, I’m thinking it’ll be perfect for the next 30 years or so when someone updates again.

 

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Done!

(Quite looking in my cabinets!)

 

This project has definitely taken me the longest.  I was scared silly thinking about cutting the trim.  I had to learn to do something called “coping“, where you cut the backside of the trim so that it matches perfectly when it butts up against the other trim.

I finally worked up the nerve to cut it and…. there were a few mistakes, but you really have to work to see them.

 

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I have to say, I’m uber proud of how this turned out.  I love the way it looks and am very thankful it’s over with.  You may not personally like the color or style, but it may just give you an idea what you could do with an eyesore of a ceiling in that one room you’ve been avoiding.

I have been working on the cabinets also (hence, no doors in the picture), which feels like it’s taking forever also with all the other stuff going on right now.  But if I take it as slowly as this, they should look fantastic too!

 

I’m off to strip (cabinets), medicate (broken children), and have a drink or two (of something in the hot chocolate range).