My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Simplicity February 25, 2017

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(If you’re not a faithful person… stick with me here.)

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In Genesis 2:15, as I read it, God is telling Adam that He has given him a great gift. A gift that he is to take care of.

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“ The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. “

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God gave Adam, Eden, along with all the animals in it with the great command of taking care of it.

Easy in a sinless world.

And then our sin came along, us deciding we know better than God, the creator of our environment. Once we decided to live contrary to how we were supposed to naturally live, we had to make unfortunate sacrifices. Taking the lives of plants and animals to live, being a major one. But having an impact on the environment around us, being another big one… among many others.

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“I have a hard time with the idea of the K cups. All that waste?” I mentioned.

“I don’t!” a fellow Christian neighbor exclaimed. “Like an elderly southern-woman once told me ‘I throw it in the dump, like the good Lord intended!’”

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I was a bit taken back by the last part of that comment. “Like the Lord intended.”?  I get people who say “The Lord will take care of us.” That’s trusting in Him at least. Or even “I don’t worship the Earth!” from fellow Christians. True and wise. But “As the Lord intended.”?

Let’s start at the basics of this. The Lord never intended us to “need” caffeine. He never intended us to “need” a machine to make the coffee to get to that caffeine. He never intended for us to work hard at all!

Our garbage and excess, is a symptom of our sin. Call it a T(ransmitted) D(isease) of our day to day busyness and having to work after we messed up. He never intended for dumps to be necessary. He would take care of our every need, with no excess. And while He still takes care of us, our sinful needs brought with it baggage.

All things I am guilty of myself.

I have always been a bit “earthy”. Growing up part time on my dads small farm, your life depends on the land itself. On the animals you take care of. How you and your neighbors take care of what they were given. There was a cost to what you put on your hay, to what you feed your animals, the practices you use to farm. When I would go back to the town my mother lived in, I would take those idea’s back with me.

Many of my fellow Christians have a hard time with this. “It sounds like worshiping the Earth, instead of the Lord.” Which is the furthest from the truth – I want to honor what God has given me. Is it a commandment? Well no. But neither is the advice not to abuse your kids. God has given them to you, so you wouldn’t dream (I hope) of beating them. But the place He gave you to live is perfectly fine to abuse?

Jesus’ command of loving your neighbor would be a perfect example of this. Would you want your neighbor damaging his property so much that yours is damaged?  So why would you leave a bunch of garbage behind for them to clean up? Or for your children to clean up, they are after all, your neighboring generation.

So how should we live then in this sin-filled world, with this in mind?

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Simply.

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Talking with several customers, I realized that a lot of people are trying to eat healthier, to take care of themselves more, get back to basics and live better. A lot of them were driving themselves crazy in this attempt though. I had to point out several times that while I applaud and encourage this, they have to balance that with not killing themselves in their venture. “Are you making your life miserable, by trying to make your life better?”  I found that with this small amount of permission, a lot of people became more comfortable with their attempt. Baby steps. After all, Jesus was more about the heart, than the law.

People should always come first – we are the whole reason for all of this anyways. But if we’re sick, and our home is sick, we can’t take care of the people around us.

All this encouraged me to get back to even more simplicity in life, now that I’m back home full time.  Having the craziness of “that house” dragging us down – the extra baggage that we don’t need – I know first hand what carrying garbage means.

With this in mind, every so often, when I find something that I think may be useful in this attempt, I’ll post about it under “Simplicity”. Something that helps eliminate waste, or a healthier choice by just doing less, making a small change or making life a little simpler – I want to share it. Cooking, cleaning, sewing, renovating or even moving.  Living simple should touch your whole life.  And a side benefit to living this way – it tends to be budget friendly. (Listed this way, you can also skip it, if it’s of little interest to you.  I’m not here to beat anyone over the head with this, but encourage.)  If you’ve got something to suggest – please let me know!  I would love to hear how you are living a simpler, cleaner life.

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Deep breaths. Prayer (or meditation) and bible (or book) time. Healthy living. Simplicity. And life’s garbage – gone.

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We were intended to live a clean life, with no garbage, inside and out. To use what we were given, including our lives, to the fullest. We can’t do that with garbage around us, or in us.

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Simplicity

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Champagne tastes… January 11, 2016

Filed under: Family,Home improvement,Renovations — blankenmom @ 3:25 pm
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 … on a boxed wine budget.

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I’ve started taking pictures of our renovations on the house, to you know, actually post!  Most of the projects are only partially finished because of trim work, or staining that needs to be done.  With our recent budget woes we’re having to get very creative.  Which I don’t find all that bad.  I think the house will turn out much better if we have to figure out another way to do things.  I just wished I had more time though.  No money and no time isn’t the best conditions for a whole upper floor renovation, but it *will* get done!  (I think?)

We’re going for a pub’ish feel.  I don’t want to get too locked into a “look” though, or it becomes gimmicky and goofy looking, so I just want the casual, comfortable, masculine feel of a pub.  Darker colors, because we get a ton of light and can carry the darker colors.  Wood, stone and metals.  The floors will be worn pine that can be scratched and nicked without me panicking – I’ll actually encourage it to make it look like it’s been there for a while.

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What I’m finding out with this project is, that I have impeccable taste in home decor, although I suppose depends on your decor style?  As I’m looking for bathroom and kitchen fixtures, I chose to go with oil rubbed bronze… having never replaced fixtures for the purpose of just updating instead of to just get it to work correctly, I had never priced nice fixtures.  Yeah, oil rubbed bronze happens to be one of the more expensive looks I could have picked.  So, I’ll be spray painting it on where I can (places that won’t be touched) and saving the money for the fixtures that will be touched frequently.

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The copper sinks will remain on my Houzz page, except in the kitchen.  We’re making that a focal point, something extravagant, and saving money on other things to pay for it.  But I have discovered that you can make your own sinks out of bowls for a very nice, casual look.  I am so in love with this idea for the bathrooms!

All but a few of the lights are already up, leaving  just a few to either still be decided on, or just be installed.  (It’s too cold to be up in the attic right now unless I have to be.)  Our bathroom light is the one that’s really stumping me.  With not enough room to either side of the mirror/cabinet to put lights up like they say you “should”, I have to decide whether I go with what people say, or what I want?  So… it’s on hold.

Bathroom fans are being discussed still.  We have a gap in our opinions with one of us wanting a quiet bathroom fan that would actually be turned on during  showers and one of us wanting a jet fan that covers… um… noises in the restroom.  So, I’m still doing research.

The current project is staining cabinets and doors.  You don’t really realize just how many cabinets you actually have until you have to pull them all off, mark, strip, stain and put them back up.  So far I’ve nearly gotten the laundry room done and our bathroom.  Leaving all the other doors, the other bathroom and the whole kitchen.  The whole kitchen… yeah.

I started in the laundry room so that I could get used to the product in a room most people don’t go in to, before I go to the rest of the house.  So the laundry room looks slightly different from what the rest of the house will look like, but not enough to make you wonder what happened.

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We are currently on the look-out for a non-latex, small chemical mask.  If you’ve know of one, let me know – I’m starting to get a bit high on the fumes!

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We’re holding off on the floors for more than budget reasons.  Yes it would be awesome to have floors again, but it’s so much easier painting and staining with out them!  I highly recommend leaving your floors until the last if you can if you ever do a renovation.  “Oops!  Dropped paint on the floor – don’t walk through it.”  That’s it.  No panicking over the carpet or new floor.  We will however be starting to buy the flooring we want on a weekly basis.  Little by little, ready to install when we’ve worked our way from the top, to the bottom.

There are three places we’re putting trim.  Around the doors and windows.  Floorboards.  And we’re doing something called “picture railing”.  I was looking up chair railing and picture railing popped up.  So I’m having to find trims that all go with each other.  And… I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous about cutting trim.  It’s not cheap, and I don’t want to screw it up.  I have trim for the kitchen that needs to be put up, but there it sits with me YouTubing trim work until I feel comfortable with the miter cuts, and my measuring skills.

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And this is where we start the new year with our house renovation.  Slow but steady, it’ll come together and be gorgeous.  And as promised, pictures are coming shortly.  I can’t wait to share the projects as I go along.

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Drowning in DIY October 17, 2015

I have been thinking of you non-stop, but that doesn’t translate into actual sit down time.  When you haven’t had time to check your email for 3 days, blogging doesn’t even have a chance.

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With our new, *paying*, non-crappy, non-psychotic (literally), actually leaving their house on occasion, fixing it when it needs it and allowing repairmen in, non-state-aid renters, we’ve sort of had money to start the renovation we began last year.

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Well, sort of.  We think we finally finished the last of the repairs the last renters caused.  After they stole the utility meter, copper piping, copper wiring, soaked the carpet in dog waste, left human waste in buckets on the deck, broke the fridge, caused a minor flood… the last repair (we hope) was to fix the re-wiring they did on the third floor.  The *entire* third floor.  And our current renters – total champs about it!  I could seriously hug these people!  The first two months of rent money went to “that house” still, but this month – all ours!

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Well, sort of.  Being a (new) dentist isn’t cheap, so after paying a lot of insurance(s) (yes there is more than one we have to pay) for the next six months (on top of student loans, taxes, business fee’s, advertising, on-going education, new/updated equipment, etc) it will be ours.

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Well, sort of.  We have to start Christmas shopping.

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I could go on, but I’ll spare you….

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I do know that I save *tons* of money doing majority of the repairs myself.  The new spigot I put in myself saved us about $350.  The new outlet outside, about the same.  The 9 outlets that were already wired, but just needed the actual outlets, another $500 (was the lowest quote).  Sometimes it’s totally worth having someone else do the job though!  The windows will be done by pro’s.  I’m not even remotely big enough to get a window in, especially when it comes to the 5′ x 12′ windows.  But I *can* hunt down the best price for them.  (Or, in the case of the big windows, a company that will just make them – very hard to find item.  Thank you Fleetwood!  The only company we found that could make the windows in that size, or at least call us back about them.  Either way, they get our business!)

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What I can do?  In the last three months I’ve:

  • Painted 1800 sqft, including the ceiling.  With four different colors.
  • Added one new spigot.
  • Added one new outdoor outlet.
  • Repaired the faulty outlet in the covered area that is about 12 ft up.  (No I have no idea why.  And yes we use it.)
  • Hooked up 9 new outlets in the garage.
  • Replaced 11 lights in the house.  With three remaining.  (Can’t quite decide on what I want?)
  • Rewired the kitchen light so it’s actually grounded.
  • Replaced 3 switches.  Switching from toggles to fancy/shmancy dimmer switches.
  • Discovered you can spray paint switches/outlets to get any color you like.  (Very carefully!!)
  • Kitchen ceiling tiles.
  • Removed a hanging kitchen cabinet.  (Looks so much better now!)
  • Repaired where we took down a wall.

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What I still have left to do feels a bit overwhelming though?

  • Trim.
  • Cabinet re-staining in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Also the bedroom doors.
  • Floors.
  • Kitchen and bath tiling.
  • Windows/Doors.
  • Shower plumbing.
  • Kitchen and bath sink replacement.
  • Painting the fireplace doors.
  • Possible ceiling fan in living room. (still deciding on that one?)
  • Pendant lights over the stove.

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It’s all about finances and how much I can fit into my daily schedule now.  On top of our usual schedule of schooling, tutors, youth group, volunteering and normal projects, we now have two permitted drivers that I have to teach to drive and I’ve got very little time left to do much else.

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However, I have designated Saturdays as my “No working on the house” day, and “Don’t bug me, I’m not even getting out of my pajamas” day.  Maybe if I stink enough, they won’t even come into my sewing/office room?  Did I mention I moved my office down to my sewing room?  This designation gives me a chance to breathe, and get here each week.  Along with some sewing time and a little time for my hands to recover – so many blisters!

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The most comical part in all this, is that the people at Lowe’s are actually starting to learn my name!  I have been there at least once a day for the last three months.  The place I used to love to just wander around and get idea’s, I’m starting to sort of dread.  Just send our paycheck to Lowe’s please.  They’ve been pretty awesome though.

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I know, first world problem!  But after the last 2 1/2 years of dealing with the insane renters and their, well… insanity, this is a huge blessing.  And thanks to an ever working dentist man and some actually decent renters, at the end of most days, my biggest worries (now) are what color the floor should be, if I’m going to shock myself again and if I’ll survive today’s drive with the boys.

I get to take a pause from remodeling the next few weeks, so our finances can catch up with the projects list, but I by no means will be idle.  A requested memory blanket, Christmas gifts to be made, and *hopefully* (if I can pick out the right color finally), cabinets to be redone.  That’s free right?

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Pictures coming soon…..

 

Can’t or won’t? May 31, 2013

Filed under: Family,Military — blankenmom @ 3:34 pm
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I’m not sure how it works in your circles, but in ours, the sequester is actually causing an issue.  Manufactured issue or not, it is.

 

 

With budget cuts at our base for civilians, there is going to be a lot of already short belts being tightened.  With many of the families, both parents or spouses work on base, so they get hit twice.  Imagine losing $500-$1000+ a month along with a $500 health insurance rise.

 

Many of the families tell me that I just don’t understand because my husband is a dentist, as though he was born one?  After 18+ years together, he’s only been a dentist 3 of those.  I frequently get told that they can’t afford a budget cut or to even be a one income family, but we wouldn’t understand that either.

 

Ummm – for the most part, we’ve been a one income family for the entire 18 years!  Yeah, I pitch in here and there when things get tight, but it’s nothing major, just enough to get through.  4 boys on less than $50,000 was a usual for us and I have people with only 1 or 2 kids telling me they won’t survive on $100,000?  I have a hard time with this?  What the heck are they buying?

 

Ok, I’m not the most frugal person.  I can’t write a budgeting, couponing or major savings blog, but I can encourage people to know it can be done, with a lot of self-control.  And I’m not putting those people down who feel like it can’t be done either, they just aren’t used to the idea.  A one income family, no matter how many kids and, within reason, the income, can be done – even if it’s just to put the second income in savings for a rainy day.  Hey, some people aren’t completely crazy and actually like leaving their houses!  I get that too!

 

My heart really does go out to my friends though.  This is a major hit.  It’s scary and they truly don’t know how they’re going to make it.  I get their fear (especially since money is my biggest stress causer, even when we have money in the bank), but I also won’t coddle the idea that it can’t be done.  Nonsense is nonsense, even when you think it’s true.

 

 

 

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Do you have a lot of big toys you don’t need?

Do you really need cable?

Smoke; drink soda or alcohol?

Do your kids really need that many activities?

Do *you* need that many activities?

Do you cook most of your meals or is take out brought home more often?

 

 

 

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It all boils down to, can’t or won’t.

There are so many little and big ways that we all spend money we shouldn’t.  I would love to hear your favorite ways to save money!