My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

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.


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.


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!


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.


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


I could go on, but I’ll spare you….



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!)


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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?


Pictures coming soon…..


This, that and the other. February 14, 2015

Filed under: Family,Home improvement,Pets,Sewing — blankenmom @ 9:58 pm
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Being here has been on my mind the past few weeks.  I’ve missed a few weeks again, but thank goodness not out of frustration.  I’ve been busy with this, that and the other.  None of which was really all that unpleasant for once.  After several weeks of nothing but fog, Spring has sprung early for us here, thank goodness!   Not so much for my friends out east.  So while I’m getting our house ready for spring and summer, “that house” is getting socked in by snow and cold.


While balancing both house projects and the hubby being gone for two weeks, I’ve also been giving myself some distractions.






I made a very simple quilt frame for the quilt I’m working on, so I could sit more comfortably and next to the fire while it was still chilly.  Had I known earlier that our heat pump had stopped working, I probably wouldn’t have needed to snuggle with the fire quite so much.  But then I wouldn’t have spent some nice warm nights next to it working on my quilt… no one has to know I was watching James Bond.








Granny passed the week before Thanksgiving and last weekend we began going through her things.  The grand kids have all taken several pieces of furniture so they won’t go outside the family.  Some of them have been in the family for quite a while.  We took several pieces home ourselves and will be taking more once things get situated.


This piece however isn’t so much a cherished heirloom as a “groovy” piece of technology!  Yes, it still worked, before we had the t.v. taken out.  (The boys wouldn’t let me do it myself.  Apparently they thought *I* would shock myself on the CRT.  Pfffftttt – so little faith.)  And this cabinet “may, or may not” become the home to either a large amount of goldfish, a lizard, some frogs or a small terrarium.  We’re still researching…. I’ll let you know how that turns out?





Don’t be jealous!



We also confiscated her massive doily collection for a “project” (which I will share with you as I go along).  But first I had to explain to my boys what a doily was.


What a great few weeks we’ve had!  I could learn to enjoy peace and quiet, with a small side of mayhem.







One of “those” wives. August 15, 2014


Here’s the dealio –


With my current project affording me extra thinking time, I started to remember when my dentist man was one of the lowest men on the totem pole in the military (we’re talking E-3 here).  I would meet these women in the higher ranks who were sort of loud, sort of  know-it-all’s, sort of obnoxious and sort of ran ram-shot over most of us younger gals… and civilians.  They sort of scared me.  I remember telling him that I never wanted to act like that.






Nearly 20 years later and here I’ve discovered I’m “that woman”.   Well crap!


In the military world, I was in the middle somewhere.  Not a fresh newbie wife who knew nothing of what was about to happen to her and not the 20 years in veteran wife who had seen it all, either.  Nor was I so ingrained into the military lifestyle that civilian life scared or called to me.  I knew how to get certain things done easily and still had questions about others.  And when I was around other military wives, I fit in just fine that way.  Not too quiet, not too loud.  I knew “my place”  (don’t try to tell me mil wives don’t have a pecking order!).  Not to mention we’ve been in and out of the military, active duty and reserves and in different branches.  We’ve been around!

Now in the civilian world… all these attributes mean I’m loud, I’m abrupt.  I ask too many questions.  I know a little about a lot.  I’ve been to more places than most people I’m around and experienced things they may never know or understand.  I’m self-reliant and I get it done and now.  (As my poor dentist man recently learned the hard way.)  I may at times, even run ram shot over people to get things done.  “Waiting until your husband get’s home” may not have happened for months, so I’ve gotten used to packing, discipline, home maintenance, school, doc visits, paperwork and anything else the average civilian does with their spouse, done solely by me.  Not because my dentist man is lazy, but because that’s what we’re used to.  That’s what most military spouses are used to.  The last few years in particular!


So where is this all leading to?


Looking back at those loud, obnoxious, know-it-all women, I now understand them a little better.  I get that they’re loud because that’s how you get heard.  They seem obnoxious, because you sometimes have to be pushy to get things done and really don’t need your approval.  And maybe, just maybe the really did know-it-all… or at least a lot.


I think I’m starting to like this part of me.  I get it done.  I get it done quickly.  I have endurance and flexibility for the insane, crazy and throw-up-your-hands changes in life.  I know what I want, because I’ve experienced it.  I know what I really don’t like, because I’ve experienced it.  I also know that I do need my man for support, but I don’t need him right here with me all the time.  A weekend trip (or his two-week tour this month) can sometimes be a welcome break to remember how much I love him.  I can deal with the big boys – once you take on the military to get things done, state officials and inept renters start to feel like small potatoes.


While I’m still “finding my place” here –  instead of shying away from this crazy woman, I think instead, I’m going to let her out a little more often.  Enjoy her a little more, and if the people around me find it a bit too much, they’re probably boring anyways.






I want to be the type of wife who would do THIS while her dentist man is gone!




Birth control named Shadow June 14, 2014

Filed under: Boys,Family,Made by me,Pets — blankenmom @ 12:16 am
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wall hanging

One of the things I’ve been up to this week.


It’s been about four weeks now that we’ve had the puppy.


It’s been a very loooong four weeks.



At one point the third-born asked, “Is this what it’s like to have a baby?”.  Which made me pause… yes, yes it is very much like having a baby.  A baby that chews on you with Parana like teeth and goes to the bathroom in random corners of my house, but still very much yes.  The biggest difference being that you can, if you need to, leave the puppy in her “cage” without CPS becoming involved.  I however, hesitated to say this as he was lamenting at having yet another shift at watching her while I needed to head out the door and I’m still hoping for grandbabies in the future – the distant future!


As I drove away it occurred to me; schools should start handing out 8 week old pugs to teenagers.  Boys and girls.  To be given to the disabled at the end of the puppy stage.  When they’re fully potty trained, done teething and relatively listening to commands.  After all, that is what happens at 18 when they move out, right?  At least we hope?

Early morning wake up calls, late night potty breaks.  Meals usually including some sort of medication that the puppy absolutely refuses to take.  Messes in random places, shoes missing, and doing nothing without knowing exactly where that little devil is!


Am I making you want a puppy?  Yeah, it’s working about that well for the boys wanting kids about now too.  But in due time, I think they’ll come to realize as the puppy grows, that it was all worth the work… the scratches, bite marks, funny smell in the corner, the lack of sleep and not being able to do what they want for the time being.  But just like kids, all you really remember are the good things when it’s all said and done, after all – they are the good things!




Ahhh… a sleeping puppy.  Quick – go take a shower, clean the kitchen and make dinner!


Up to all good! March 21, 2014



Has it really been so long?



It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here.



From signing up to volunteer at church and at the local pregnancy center to woodworking and making felted baby rattles.  Throw in a sick dog, boys activities – including the big one and I’ve hardly had time to sit still.



The whole time I could hear a good friend in my ear asking if I’ve started my sewing room yet?  I’m workin’ on it, I’m workin’ on it!





I’m so glad for her voice!


This is what I have so far.  One wall partially completed with 3 more walls to go.  And yes, the chair looks really low.  I made the desks standing height so I’m not sitting as much.  I’ll be purchasing a “standing chair” in the near future.  I’ll also be organizing VERY soon.

Just for future reference if you’re thinking of doing something similar….. measure the length of your pedal cord.  They’re about 2 inches too short and I’ll have to make a small “stool” for them.


Paint color suggestions?


In between sawing, I have been sewing.  I’ve made two shirts and a pair of pants.  My favorite being this completely simplistic, but totally awesome, sparkly shirt.  I’m in love with it!





*sparkle, sparkle, sparkle*


I managed to get only one of our new light fixtures up outside.  Mostly because…. it’s good to know how many light fixtures you actually have on the outside of your house!  We found an excellent deal at Costco and bought three, only to realize we have seven lights!  I ordered the remaining lights elsewhere, at far less of a deal.  Now if the high winds could just die down I could actually put the rest up?  In the mean time – I’m enjoying the new view!






And lastly, a Pinterest find.  Felted baby rattles.  Something good to do while you’re watching your favorite show.  I love the results – I’ll definitely be making more for future cutie-patooties!





*rattle – rattle*


So I now have a clean garage.  A second-born signed up for classes next year at a tech school.  3 boys in 4-H.  A first-born with a job at the naval base and a dentist man who is happy that it’s been very quiet.





Designing my way out October 31, 2013

Filed under: Family,Home improvement,Hubby,Pets,Sewing — blankenmom @ 1:20 am
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You can only see part of the chaos in this room thank goodness!



Since I’ve been in such a funk lately, I have completely avoided neglected my sewing room for other projects around the house.  (You should see the work I’ve done on the pear trees we’re planting!)  Poor sewing – it always get’s the brunt of my moods.  But now the first-born is visiting with a project he needs sewn and a friend of his needs a snap put back on, so getting the sewing room at least partially set up is no longer an option.


So tonight I put it together with the bare minimum for when he get’s here for those projects.  But what about after he leaves?


Since I’m not exactly in the sewing mood, I’ve decided instead to get creative in another way… and get some of my frustrations out at the same time, by building my new sewing room; well, sort of.  I plan on building all new shelves, tables and cutting table (since mine is out cold from the move.)  And since we’re a bit tight on the budget after buying the house, I plan on using pallets.  I have a strange fascination with them?  Normally my dentist man would object, but since it’s relegated to my sewing room, he’ll just be happy I’m not spending any money and keeping busy.


Ok, I actually bought a new tool for the project.  Ssshhhh….






The main idea for my sewing room will be all standing or resting on a high stool.  My posture is getting very poor from sitting at the machine all the time.  Getting up constantly from sewing to press or cut was getting annoying and let’s be honest here…. sitting all the time is contorting my butt into a funny shape – not cool.

After a google search, I’m not the only person who does this.  So I’m only half-crazy.

Another thought, it needs to be easy to clean under when I vacuum.  The room is carpeted again, at least for now, which makes wheels on a chair tough to use and I’ll still have to vacuum instead of sweep.  Big bulky furniture is hard to clean around and once you move, leaves large spots on the floor from where you’ve been walking and not walking.  So having as little of a “footprint” from furniture as possible, makes for easier cleaning.

Since the sewing room is right next to the boys’ bedroom, I’ve had numerous complaints requests to sound proof the room a bit.  Seems my sewing machines tend to be a bit noisy?  Sheesh – I love the sound of a sewing machine humming, you’d think they would too?  I guess trying to sleep at 3 am with a serger battering next to your head doesn’t work very well?  Go figure!  So I’ll be attempting to sound-proof the room a bit on the adjoining wall and keep the machines on the opposite wall.  I wonder if that will work to keep little boy noises out of my sewing room?

My last thought was maximum storage without clutter.  Clutter drives me batty and my sewing room is the only place I can control it.  The rest of the house has monkey’s flying about, so I have to just learn to live with it.  My sewing room is under my control.   Bwahaha.. oh um, yeah.


This room is really a great one for business purposes if I choose to re-up here.  It’s got a door to the outside and a driveway right outside of it.  It’s got a door to the house, so when we do get dogs again, I won’t have to try to keep them out and I won’t have people walking in on a fitting by accident *awkward*.


Here is the design inspiration for the furniture ~






~ suggestions?


So for the next few weeks, or months (depending on how crazy things get around here), this will be my project.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress – good or bad – and hopefully by the time I’m done, I’ll have my sewing inspiration back!




Sew many projects June 9, 2012

Filed under: Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 6:01 pm
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You’ve sewn your paper, your spare fabric and maybe even your fingers and you’re still thinking you want to try this whole sewing thing.  Well that’s good, because you’ve already invested a good amount of time in it already, so marching on is a great idea!


But what should your first project be?


I usually tell my student’s to start with something simple.  If they’re more into crafting, a pet bed or curtains.  If they’re more into fashion an “A-line” skirt, no zipper (elastic waist).  If they have children, a blanket or very easy top/dress.  Easy enough projects, but without a pattern on your first try, not much progress is going to be made unless you’re one of those genius freaks, but then you wouldn’t be reading this!


There are A LOT of pattern companies.  I don’t even know most of them, but I can give you a heads up on the most popular ones and a few of the lesser known ones.  From there, you can go and explore their sites and start drooling over projects.  I can help you with a lot of things, but picking out your sewing pattern isn’t one of them.  I’ll point you in the right direction, but from there it’s all personal!


When you’re looking at their sites, you can usually look at the front and back of the patterns.  This will give you all the information you’re going to need before you even get to the fabric store.

I want to make an important note for when you’re looking at patterns – don’t look at what’s on the cover and judge by color or the pattern on the fabric.  That’s the perk to sewing.  You get to pick the color and/or pattern (or lack-there-of) on the fabric!  My boys do this.  They’ll see a pattern I have and say they don’t like it, until I show them the fabric I was thinking of and then they start to like it.  This also goes for length and width for the most part.  If you see a pattern you’ve fallen in love with but something bothers you about it, you can change it!  With practice, you’ll be able to take a few inches off or add on, a few inches in or out, change a collar, pockets, sleeves or change buttons to a zipper (or visa versa). 

I’d also like to say – you are NOT going to be the same size as your RTW (ready-to-wear… aka: store-bought clothing.), you WILL be a bigger size in patterns.  Get over it!  No on will know – there’s no tag!  I am about 4-6 sizes larger in patterns, I’m fine with that.  (If it makes you feel better – sew in a tag that says a smaller size.)


Here is how to take your measurements before you head off the to the store –






Popular patterns in the US:

  • Simplicity – Very easy patterns, youthful, very popular.
  • Butterick – Easy patterns, classic clothing, very popular.
  • McCall’s – Easy patterns, stylish clothing, very popular.
  • Vogue – More difficult patterns, very nice clothing, very popular.
  • Burda – Easy to difficult (your choice), trendy, very popular.
  • Jalie – More for athletes, sports or “undies”, more difficult because of the fabrics.
  • Green Pepper – Very easy, not as well-known.
  • Folkwear – More vintage wear, great for costumes.
  • Kwik-Sew – Easy patterns, great for lingerie, very popular.
  • Marfy – Easy patterns, nice designs, becoming well-known.
  • Ottobre – More for children (I believe it’s German?), very cute.
  • Onion – Easy to sew, lesser known company.
  • Amy Butler – She also has her own line of fabrics, very popular, very cute stuff.


(Here is a whole list of several more – most I’ve never heard of, but DON’T let that stop you from checking them out and loving them!)



Most patterns will include a hem allowance, which is usually 3/4″.  They will tell you on the pattern if they’ve included this or not, or if they’ve changed the amount.  It doesn’t make it any harder to use, it just adds an extra step to your cutting.  Not an issue! 

Some companies include ALL sizes, not just a range.  Which is nice if you’ve been elected to sew your entire flag teams new uniforms.  You don’t have to buy 2-3 sets of patterns to make them all!


Simplicity is just like it says, simple.  So this may be the one you want to start out with – as opposed to Vogue, which tends to add extra pieces or in one such case I’ve come across, only included French directions…. I don’t know French?  (They do have a great feature that tells you which patterns should look best on your body shape however.)  And Burda on occasion omits the seam allowances and that may be burdensome for your first time out.


All but a few come with picture directions, which is great for people like me who are visual, and for people who are just starting out and need to see what-the-heck the designer is talking about!  An even smaller amount don’t include any directions, just the patterns.  (When patterns first started, it was just the directions and measurements!)


*Money saving tip here*

Joanns craft/fabric store will have pattern sales every so often.  Either 5 for $5 (limit 10), 10 for $10 for Simplicity, Butterick or McCall’s or $1.99 – $3.99 for Butterick, McCall’s or Vogue – a great time to stock up!!  When this happens, go to the pattern companies website, pick out the patterns you want and then head down to the store.  Make sure to write out your list with at least 5 extra wants on there because a few on your list may not be there any longer.


Once you’ve picked out your pattern, you have to decipher the “coding” on the back.  I promise they’re not trying to keep anything secret, once you understand what they’re trying to tell you, it’s all good things!


Over the next few weeks, we’re going to cover pattern instructions – today we’ll just go over the back cover, so you can actually walk out of the fabric store with your fabric and notions in hand.

(Patterns are copyrighted, so I’ll be taking my best care to make sure I protect that while attempting to show you the information you need.)




Pick out the pattern envelope that has the most correct measurements. If you fall all over the place, go with your largest measurement since it’s easier to take in a pattern, than enlarge it.








 *It will tell you on the front cover what size you are buying.



Let’s take the top section – It gives you the description of each of the items that can be sewn from the pattern you’ve chosen.  While it doesn’t mean you *have* to sew it exactly as it’s stated, it’s what the patterns included will give you.  They are in letter order on the cover, instructions and pattern pieces to help you identify what you are working with.  Pieces can be used for more than one item and include several sizes. 


Fabric suggestions section – Most pattern companies will give you suggestions as to which fabrics will work best with the pattern you’ve picked.  While you can pick any fabric you want, sticking with their suggestions, especially in the beginning, will make your life much easier.  If you don’t use the right fabric for the item you’re making, it may not sit, drape, fold, turn or tuck correctly.  There are often ways around this however. 

If you don’t know what these fabrics are and want to stick with the suggestions exactly, you can either look up the suggested fabric on-line or one of the employee’s at the fabric store will help steer you in the right direction.


Size section – just let’s you know what size categories you can get in the envelope.


Yardage section – tells you how much fabric you’ll need for each item you want to sew and for the size you plan on sewing. 

Fabrics come in varying widths, usually 45″ – 60″ (90″ – 150″ also).  If you were to actually measure the widths, they don’t actually fall exactly on these measurements, but this is a universal measurement everyone goes by.




The top of the bolts of fabric will tell you all the info you need. How many yards it originally had. What it’s made of. How to wash it. How many inches it is. Where it was made and how much it costs. Sometimes it will have how many yards are left.




If you’re making dress “D” in size 14 with 45″ fabric, you’ll need 2 and 7/8 of a yard (that’s 2 yards and 7/8 of a yard).  If you are making dress “A” in size 20 with 60″ fabric, you’ll need 2 1/2 yards.

The stars next two the bolt yardages are with or without nap.  Nap is like when you vacuum a carpet.  You go one way and you can see where you’ve vacuumed and you go another way and it looks different.  Fabric can do that too, not all, but a lot of fabrics.  If you place the pattern pieces going in different directions, it will be noticeable. 



You’ll notice that the fabric looks two different colors. This is the same fabric, going in two different directions. While it can be an interesting effect – this wasn’t my plan and can be very embarrassing on a pair of pants!



The interfacing they talk about is a fabric like fiber that comes in varying weights and colors.  You place it behind your fashion fabric to stiffen and stabilize it to make sure it doesn’t shift, stretch or misbehave.  It comes in sew in and iron on.  Your pattern will tell you which one you will need.



These will come on bolts or in packaging – bolts are more economical. If you can’t find them in the store, ask where they’re at – they’re usually near the cutting counter anyway.  The tops of the bolts will tell you weight, and whether or not they are iron on (fusible) or sew in style.



The notions section – tells you if you need to buy elastic, zippers, buttons, hook & eye’s,  how much and what size.  It will give you this information for each piece that needs it, by lettering again.  In this case – only “A” needed these notions.  It will also remind you to buy matching thread.


Finished garment section – tells you how the garment will fit (unless it’s not to be worn, such as a pillow or curtains, then it will either describe how it hangs or won’t have this description).  When you are wearing an item, there is a certain amount of “ease” – how much room is left over between you and the clothing.  You want this so not everything is skin-tight (or huge) – unless you like that?  Stretch pants you want 0″ ease and a nice, comfy blouse you’ll want several inches of ease.  It also tells you how long it will end up.

For top “B” size 6, your keester (hip) measurement is 32 1/2″ or so and the finished measurement around that area will be 55 1/2″.  That leaves an extra 23″ to move freely in.  (That’s just a few inches from hip to shirt, after you distribute it all the way around your body) This is good to know if you plan on making pants and the bottom finished measurements are more boot cut than you’d like or if a dress bottom is a bit smaller than you’d be able to walk in. 

This is also good to know length wise if you’re going to walk up the front of your dress if it’s too long – that could be embarrassing!


Front/back drawing section – a drawn description of what you’ve chosen, front and back.  You never know when there will be a detail hidden in the back that you weren’t prepared for!  (Nothing like a big, hideous bow on your butt to throw a beautiful dress off!)



Well few!  That comes off much quicker in person – but I think I covered it all?  If I’ve left you wondering about something, please let me know and I’ll be glad to fill you in on it. 



Now go forth and shop!