My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

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!

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Piecing it together March 4, 2017

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A friend from our last duty station lost her mother nearly two years ago.  She handed off several of her t-shirts to me to make a memory quilt soon after.  I felt honored she’d trust me with this.

I could have wisely chosen simple squares, but we all know I’m not that wise.

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After nearly two years, I am finally able to start putting the “blocks” together.  If you’re quilter… please don’t judge me.  I’m not a quilter.  I don’t tend to measure anything exactly – which may be part of my issues with cooking.  But we’ll work on that another day.

She knows I’m not a quilter, so this is merely because I sew, and I love her and someday, I may actually get it done.

This quilt has made it on several trips across the state to my dentist man’s office and family get-together’s.  It’s been a staple at the pool, far away from the water.  Arm and ortho appointments.  It’s become a big part of my home and family life.  There will definitely be a big part of me that goes with it.

 

I had a six month pause while working though.  I didn’t want to take it into the break room for fear it would pick up a weird smell, or get spilled on.  It was one of the first things I picked back up once my wrist was (almost) healed.  And now the blocks are coming together, almost nicely.

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It never goes quite how we picture it, does it?

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It does feel nice getting back to sewing again.  The pets agree.  Two at my feet and one enjoying the temporary wool backing that keeps finding it’s way to the open floor for layout.

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As a full labor of love, the entire quilt has been hand pieced, short of sewing on the backing for turning, done on the treadle.  I guess you could say that part was done by foot? Once the quilting part starts, I’ll pull out my homemade quilt stand.  Hand-quilting will be a nice break from working on the house, or something to do while poking and prodding distracted children during schoolwork.

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It’s nice to finally see some progress.

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No matter how it looks now, it will turn out amazing.  Things made with love always do.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rounding the corners and creating more space July 30, 2015

Filed under: lessons,Made by me,Sewing — blankenmom @ 1:45 am
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Have you ever looked at a pattern that has curved edges and wondered how exactly you were supposed to do that?  Ten burnt fingers later, after trying to lay the edges down to press it and finally giving in, and ending up with a shirt with wonky edges.   (Wonky is technical word you know.)

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This lesson, I will show you how to round your corners, whether it’s on a collar, a hem, or something in between, without losing your mind, or spending hours burning yourself.  I’ll also show you a quick and easy way to give yourself a bit more space between your shoulders if you’re like me and have “swimmers shoulders”, but no chest.  Meaning, you’re back is bigger than your front.

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Let’s start off with the room in back –

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I tend to pop stitches under my arms and on the back arm seams when I move because of this, even in ready to wear clothes.  But I also have plenty of room in the chest of the same exact shirts.  Sure I could redo the whole back, which would mean adjusting the collar too, but if I just want a quick, easy shirt, why?  Plus, it adds a little style.  Like you were all technical and fancy!

This is not the only way, but it is a very easy way.  Just make sure it doesn’t affect the look of the fabric or style of outfit.  Casual shirts, nice blouses, some dress bodices work well with this, and you can always modify it for your own tastes and affects.  (Click on photo’s to enlarge.)

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shirt 13

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When you put the pattern edge to the fold, creating the center back, place the bottom in the correct spot.  No extra fabric, just as the pattern calls for.

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shirt 14

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At the top, give yourself some extra space, I used and 1″ (one inch – more or less, depending on how much more room you need).  Just keep in mind that if you keep the line on the pattern 1″ from the fold, it creates 2″, an inch on both sides.

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shirt 12

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Now you’ll stay stitch the top.  (Stitching the unfinished edges, usually of the neck and shoulders, so the fabric doesn’t shift when you start putting the pieces together.  You will not be sewing together two pieces of fabric, just running the fabric through the machine to make it behave.)  To create this particular fold, I butted the two edges of where the fabric *should* have been cut, up to the center fold and stitched it down and pressed.  By doing this, the top of your shirt will still match the collar.

You could make the fold on the outside, by putting the folds the other way.  You could also place a small tack stitch (a stitch to make things stay put – look at the bottom of a ready to wear zipper) farther down the back, creating a more “bubbled” look.  I have a few vintage patterns that do this.  I wanted something very casual.

By doing it this way, and not adjusting anything else, it created only a slightly bigger back.  Even though I didn’t make any other adjustments, the waste still fit me correctly.

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Now let’s start with those curves –

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shirt 10

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Place your curve, here we have a ruffle edge, under the presser foot close to the edge.  You’re going to sew it as you would a ruffle, gathering as you go.  Put your stitch setting on a long stitch.  I had mine at 5, which is the smallest gathering stitch.  If you have an older machine, this may actually be your largest.

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shirt 8

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Tie off one end so it doesn’t slip as you pull the thread on the other end.

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shirt 6

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When you pull the threads, it’ll look like a big ol’ mess.  It’s ok.  Keep gently pulling until it starts to lay itself on the inside, towards the center.  Press.

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shirt 5

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That big mess, now looks all purdy and lays flat.  Make sure to use steam if possible, to make it easier.

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Now turn over and press again.  If you used a regular sewing machine, you may need to cut some of the fabric away from the edge, so you don’t have a lot of fabric inside the corner, or fold over again, to make the edge look clean.  If you’ve serged, this won’t be necessary.

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shirt 4

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See how nice that looks!

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And repeat at hems.

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shirt 3

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This is a bit more subtle since the corners aren’t as sharp.  And it will be necessary in some places, but not in others since parts of the shirts hem may not have a curve.  You don’t need to run the gathering stitch across the whole hem, only at the curves.  And, there is no exact spot.  It’s ok to eye ball this.  Pull.  Hem stitch and Press.

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shirt 2

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Now show off your curves!

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shirt 1

 

Just finished! April 1, 2015

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I’m finished.  Done.  Throw up my hands in so much not caring any longer.  Throw in the towel.  Finito.  Terminado.  Fertig.  Criochnaithe.  Fartik.  However you want to say it.  I’m finished

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If you want me, I’ll be under my desk… hiding.  Possibly with some wine.  And a coloring book.

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If the best part of your week is “Well, at least no one’s died so far.”, you’re not doing so hot.  Granted, the second-born’s oral surgery went well today and I did get to laugh at him a bit when he kept repeating himself, and petting me.  Not so funny when he keeps trying to open the car door on the way home.

With the insurance company coming out last week to “that house” to try to get us a bit more money from the water company’s insurance company, and saying “Well, we can get you more, but not enough.”, yeah, not cool.

When you’re actually excited one of the repair bills “doesn’t cost over $1000”.

Taxes due.  And in all new and confusing ways because of the new practice.

And when a close family member passed in a sudden and tragic way last week.  Definitely not cool.  Still working that one out.  Prayers would be welcome.

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At a certain point you just look up and say “Really?  I mean really?”

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But a slow progression to getting things done is creeping back in.  A small, but important one is the quilt I had been working on.  I finished it yesterday with its final ironing… and cat hair removal.  No thanks to the cat who then proceeded to lay on it again behind my back.

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Quilting is not my favorite, nor is it what I’m best at.  But I will make them on a rare occasion for someone special.

Mostly done by hand, excluding putting the blocks together, all the quilting, applique and border were done by hand.  A labor of love.  Hopefully the recipients feel it when it arrives.  (The paranoid part of me hopes they don’t look at it and think “Seriously?  What was she thinking?”  But I’m squashing her back into her hiding place and sending it anyways.)  These people have been amazing to us over the last 5 years and I’d do just about anything for them.

She gave me her kimono before we left to see if I could fix it, but wasn’t able to repair the damage because of where it was.  In frustration she just said “Toss it then.”  Bought on a work trip to Japan several years earlier, couldn’t bear to since it was her favorite.  So I kept it all these years and moves until I figured out what to do with it.  And this is what I ended up with.  The flowers are from the kimono and the blocks are all the different shades from the fabric.

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I wanted the flowers to move like they were floating in the wind, like the blossoms in Japan.  One stray even floated to the back.

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Sorta wished I had moved it further down, but too late now.

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With that finished and about 3 other sewing projects lined up to be mailed out, I’m able to move on to a few other projects on the less expensive end.  And a new gift from the hubby to assist in the home reno project will help immensely!  It’s not expensive, but it’ll help a ton.

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The second-born was joking the other day that we should start buying and laying the floor a board a day.  He may be on to something there?

I’m hoping that with a few projects to finish, my heart will begin to mend the loss of my loved one and I’ll start to feel normal again.

And hopefully with some new renters in soon, the nightmare of the last two and half years with “that house” will finally be over and we can start to move on.

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I know there will be a few more hiccups, hopefully with no more major losses anytime soon, and we can finally say were finished.  And smile.

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Saying AMEN! Even when ice skating through the kitchen. January 17, 2015

 

 

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Things are settling into a groove for the new year here in our blankenworld.

 

My dentist man is working solely at his own practice now – even got a write-up in the local paper!   But I can wholeheartedly say it is a bit scary, but the man has never failed at anything, so between him and the good Lord, I’m not sweating it… too much.

 

The boys are back to school and staying ahead of schedule; even starting to talk about getting together with some friends.  Which is nice to finally hear!

 

 

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Trim and more flooring is being removed… none being laid, but we’ll get to that someday.

 

 

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The only thing really not moving forward is “that house”.  It’s actually headed in the wrong direction.  I know – you’re shocked!  I mean really, when is it not?

 

 

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While texting a very good friend out there who has been especially helpful after the eviction, a whole thought process started.

 

Through this whole catastrophe, we have found we have some really, really wonderful people backing us.  For someone like myself who trusts no-one (I mean really, why would I?), there really are a lot of people to thank!  However having these three people (and their spouses), bending over backwards for us has been such an eye opener that there really are people that won’t let you down.  And through it, I’ve found that stressing does no more than make me ill, grouchy, grey, wrinkly and not very fun to be around.

 

And those two items all combined this week.

 

Tuesday, one of them discovered a skating rink on the first floor due to the water company failing to shut the water off when scheduled, before the big freeze.  He just happened to be checking in on the house when he found water gushing from two locations.  He climbed through snow and mud to turn off the water valve under the house to stop the gushing water, in his business clothes.  Another one’s spouse, rushed over to try and remove as much water (now frozen) from the floor, counters and filled sink as he could before work.  But the damage from a week of flowing, and freezing water was already done.  The final person, after hearing this, came over to assess the damage for me as soon as he heard.  He is the one who replaced all this just the year before.

And that’s when he found it.  The former renter didn’t think it was enough to steal the power meter (which is why we still have no power) and the baseboard heaters, but he decided to take the pipe that catches the excess gas that comes from the intake valve (or some-such jargon).  Which was fine for their family, since the gas company turned the gas off for none payment.  But had we turned the gas back on before we had found it, the house would have gone up!

 

*BOOM*

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Good for us – we’ve been begging for that house to go away!  Not so good for the gas man… or if delayed, the workmen fixing everything the renters had broken.  Or… our next renters and their children.

I am learning, through this “lovely” house, that God does things for a reason.  It may not be pleasant, but if you’re paying attention even in the slightest (which unfortunately I’m usually not), He is yelling in His loudest whisper, what we really need to know.

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If we didn’t still have that giant money pit, I wouldn’t have learned that I can give, even when things get really hard.

If we didn’t still have that piece of crap, I wouldn’t have learned to trust Him in all things.  Like say, buying a new practice.

If we didn’t still have that stupid house, I wouldn’t have learned to trust people.  Well, not all people.  The renters proved that.

If we didn’t still have that freaking *&$, I wouldn’t have learned that sometimes, a seemingly bad thing, is really a blessing in disguise.

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If the water lines hadn’t of broken, the house would have killed someone.   That is the last thing I ever want to happen!

The water company is paying for the damages and so far are being great about it.  I am taking a deep breath and taking it as it comes.  Stressing isn’t going to change the wet, warped floors, cabinets and walls.  Nor is it going to get the utilities hooked up or the gas line fixed.  It’s not going to make us more money or bring a renter in any faster.

And as I’ve learned this last year, through court dates, nasty texts, repair jobs, skating rinks and theft; the more stink that happens – the more I should give.  The more I give – the better life gets.  The better life gets – the more I want other people to feel the same way.

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Yes, even the former renters.  (You know, once they stop stealing.)

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~So giving I’ll do~

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I’m smack in the middle of one of my friends blankets.

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quilt flowers

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I just finished another round of baby blankets.

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cat - blanket

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And I’m about to work on pillow cases for more foster kids.

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blankets-cases

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I’m going to say Amen – and start charging money for the skating rink in my kitchen!

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skating