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.

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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…..

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Monday blanken-style June 1, 2015

Filed under: Animals,Dentist,Military,Pets — blankenmom @ 11:10 pm
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It’s been busy, but boring around here the last few weeks.  Repairs on “that house” have been going on and it’s now up for rent again… so we wait.  School is officially out for the home school portion, so we were busily rushing to get the last of it finished off.  And my dentist man is off saving the world, one mouth at a time… for his two weeks.

.I guess the crazy quiet, like ants quietly working on a hill, wasn’t quite enough for us.  This morning’s shower alone may give us a clue as to what may be in store for the rest of the week.

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After dropping the second-born off at his tech school, I got home and did my usual morning routine.  Let the dogs out, check FB messages, email, bible study, shower.  All according to plan.  Radio is playing, hair is conditioning, one leg shaved.

That’s when I see The Spare Cat run passed the shower with something in his mouth.  Grrrr – it got another one of my birdies….  Well, I’m soaking wet, so I figured I’d get it when I get out.

Then I see the pug race passed the shower to the corner where The Spare Cat is now hiding his treat.  Behind the toilet and trash can I hear barks, hissing and faint chirping.

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Wait, what?  CHIRPING?  *ducks in the shower*

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The Spare Cat brought in a LIVE bird!

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Well of course Lady hears the commotion and wants in on it, so now I have a bird flying around my bathroom, a cat trying to catch it, a pug trying to catch it and the cat and a mastiff trying to catch all three.  And here I am.  Naked, wet, soapy, conditioned and half shaven.

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Anyone else want to come join this circus?  Where’s the old lady cat?

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I grab pants from the counter and throw them on the bird where it’s landed.  Shoo out the carnivores and close the door.  Figuring the bird would be just fine until I was finished, I got the remaining leg taken care of and my hair mostly rinsed, and step out to dry.  Mid shorts leg I see cat claws coming from under the door.  Slowly opening it from the bottom, sliding it, quarter-inch, by quarter-inch.  The bird, who is now resting in the sink in a towel, hears the meowing and clawing and starts chirping, which only eggs on the fur-babies on the other side of the door on.  The door is now fully opened by each consecutively larger head and the bird is now attempting to fly again.

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Quickly recapturing the bird.  Two dogs and a cat removed once more.  And another attempt at putting my shorts on.  Everyone quiets long enough for me to get dressed, hair combed and shoes on.  Now to sneak the bird out?

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As soon as I pick the stinker up it starts chirping again – which alerted everyone that it was time to start chasing each other!  I make sure it’s fully wrapped in its towel, open the door to three drooling quadrupeds, “Meow”, “Wheeze”, “Sniff”.  I rush past them and out a door I know they can’t open.  I deliver the bird a field away and put it under some sage to let it rest a bit more before it fly’s away.

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It’ll fully recover.  But if this was just the first few hours of my week, I’m not sure if I should be scared or excited for the rest?!

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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!

 

 

boys

 

 

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

 

 

neked floors

 

 

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?

 

 

kitchen

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Moving on… January 1, 2015

 

 

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Just as everyone else is posting their year-end post, I thought I should, in between firework displays, get my few words in as well.  (Short of my beginning of the year wifi crash.)

 

As I sit back and reflect, 2012/13 are still haunting us, no matter how hard we try to toss them away.  The flooding brought on side effects that will last us for forever I’m now thinking, as “that house” may follow us to our eternal resting place, probably still flooding.

 

 

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The passing of our faithful companions, brought about two new ones this last year.  I’m still deciding if that’s a good thing or not?  Lady has definitely been good for us!  On the other hand, anyone want a pug that poops on their bed?

The cat, who turned 20 this month has decided on a few new places to curl up, so even she has a few new tricks up her furry sleeve to bring to the new year.

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2014 brought about a new practice for my dentist man, albeit 4 hours away, but that just means I get to decorate a house AND an apartment – yay for me?!  It also makes for a good transition from him being on the ship, to him being home… constantly… for days at a time.  This is a good transition for us!

 

 

office

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The boys have started finally making friends, and enjoying school (for the one who attends outside school).  Finding their place in our new place.  Which is good because they were starting to, you know, act a little weird – darn homeschoolers!  And the oldest, finding out what it’s like to be a “real” adult – can someone say *food budget and Mustang payment*!

 

And, as I’ve posted before, this last year brought about quite the challenge with our thieving, lying, crazy people who haunted me night and day.  That is one thing we can say about 2015 with certainty – at least they will be out of “that house”!  *see my happy, happy dance*

 

 

door

 

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The biggest thing we’re taking away from 2014 and into 2015 is that God has carried us through this whole last year.  Days without work, paychecks that shouldn’t have carried us through, days where my body didn’t think it could make it.  Stress levels that made it so I could hear my heartbeat in my head (which I have been informed by my dentist man is not a good thing) and paperwork up to our eyeballs.

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We’re still here.  We’re still strong.  We’re still able to help others out.  We’re still smiling.  We’re still full of faith.

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While part of me is terrified of the new year and what new crazy things He has planned so that we can grow, a bigger part of me is excited to see what new things He has planned to bless us with.

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So, bring it on 2015!

2015

 

‘Tis the season, for craziness… December 1, 2014

 

 

 

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Gosh, I didn’t even realize how long it had been.  Life get’s so crazy sometimes!

 

Since I have posted last, my dentist man has gotten his very own dental office – yay for great, no money down loans!  (Or it would never happen… for any dentist these days.)  He is very much enjoying his new office, but not so much the paperwork.  We realized he’s never paid bills before (my job, since he was always gone), so I’m having to coach him a bit.  But he’s a quick learner and doing great – and honestly, he’s a great dentist, so it can only get better from here!

 

I just wished it wasn’t four hours away. 

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Christmas is coming – and the question on everyone’s lips is, “What are you’all making this year?”.  I know I’m getting asked this by just about every person who knows I sew?!  So, what are you making?

 

I have to admit, I did buy more fabric for the clinic.  It was a darn tootin’ good sale too!  Most of it ended up being about $2.00 a yard.  For 12 blankets, that’s a good deal!

 

 

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I let the ladies know I’d be making mostly boy blankets, as most of the ladies who donate prefer to make girls quilts, but as I’m discovering, even when I go with boy themes, it ends up slightly girly?  Blue or green, flowers?  I’d proudly use it – it’s still stylish!  Green with a pink bird, meh, I’d probably still use it?  After all, I’m really the only one with the “pink issue” I think?  But I’ll be keeping my eye out for that issue with the next few rounds of blankets.

 

I did get another shirt completed and I’ll even have a tutorial coming up on it.  How to work with sweater knits!  It was not as easy as I was thinking?  But I love the shirt and can’t wait to wear it!

 

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Last week my dentist man came home from his other office to a new surprise –

 

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Not exactly sure what made me suddenly in a pillow mood, but pillows were made.  And people are happy!  And he’s made a request for a 6 foot pillow for the floor?!  This should be interesting?

 

He has also mentioned that every week, when he get’s home, there is a new plant… I have no idea what he’s talking about?

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These are tomato plants!  In December!  I have learned how to grow new plants from cuttings off the mother plant (behind them – which is also still growing and fruiting.)  I think we’re up to about 6 now?  I have no idea what I’m going to do with 6 tomato plants in January?  Any one want a tomato start?

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And my current sewing project, that will not be done for Christmas, but instead, enjoyed slowly through the process –

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Yes, there is pink.  Show’s how much I love these people!

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A friend of mine who has helped us countless times over at “that house” left us with his wife’s kimono that she loved, but sadly couldn’t be repaired.  So, to tell them how much I appreciate them, I am making a hand-sewn quilt with it.  The picture above is the colors from the kimono.  I will post the entire quilt when it’s finished… in 2 or 3 years!

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These are all great distractions from “that house” and the current holding pattern.  Their 33 days for us to hold their property are up, and they claim they want their items, so by law we can’t throw it out yet.  But since he was stabbed six times while trying to break back into the last house he was thrown out of, we’re not sure that will be happening any time soon.

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Sewing therapy… it’s good for everyone.

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And, at the very top, is the 96″ star the boys and I made.  After several failed attempts to get it out the door *sigh*, we had been trying for weeks to figure out how to get it all the way up the wall where it could be seen from down the hill.  Too low and the wall blocked it.  Too high and the ladder didn’t reach (and mom got a little sick from heights) and no one could lift it.  Today, we came up with a pulley system that worked excellently – if the hook holds!  But, for now, it looks amazing!  And… I am giddy.  And I got a Science/Math lesson out of it!   

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Sometimes, you have to just enjoy the crazy…

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In remembrance of our Granny.  She was taken home before Thanksgiving after 94 years of faithful service to the Lord, her husband and family.  She was ready, and we are happy for her.  Love you Granny!

 

Funny thing happened…. February 13, 2014

Filed under: Dentist,Hubby,Navy,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 12:36 am
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…..on the way to the dentist.

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Hubby 5

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I finally did it.  I finally had to go in and be seen by my dentist man.  It’s bad enough to have to be seen by a regular dentist, but to be seen by the guy who already knows that you skipped brushing two days ago…. after that soda and maybe even a glass of enamel eating wine – is just too much.  Uhg.

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To be honest though, I am truly the worst patient ever.  Not only do I *really* REALLY dislike going in, but I’m complicated too.  I freak out over the shots (I’ve been known to not open my mouth, or jump out of the chair).  I’ve got the wrong number of teeth.  I *always* have cavities no matter how well I brush (and yes I do actually floss!).  My mouth is the size of 6 year old’s and to top it off, my mouth will get stuck open if it’s left open too long.  (Stop snickering at the imagery thank you…..)  And I’ve been told I bite.  *heeheehee*

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Dentists dread hearing I’m coming in that day.

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I’ve seen him in his element through pictures on the ship.  I love those pictures – I may hang those pictures.  But that was different, those were guys stuck on a ship.  Where were they going to go if they didn’t want to come in – swim for it?

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But that was the amazing thing.  For the first time I got to see him do his job.  Like, actually do it, not just talk about it with his “dental geeks” or look in my mouth and go “Yup, that’s pretty gross!”  I got to see him in his lab coat, with his instruments, with his assistants – fixing people.  Fixing me!

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And that’s when it hit me…..

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……my dentist man is really, really good at what he does!  And to see him do what he does, first hand and to be able to honestly say he’s pretty amazing at it – was a great day.

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If he were a janitor, plumber, paper pusher, electrician, painter, or whatever he had ended up otherwise – if he did it as well as he did this, I’d be just as excited to see him do his work.

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Seeing your spouse do what they love and do it well, no matter the job, is something not to be taken for granted.

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I felt very proud to claim him as mine.

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Not so sure he’d say the same about me as patient though?

 

Muslin: One of Life’s Musts January 19, 2014

Filed under: Hubby,Random thoughts,Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 10:49 pm
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My dentist man came home from work Wednesday and informed me during our hurried “before co-ed soccer” dinner that the company party this Friday would be semi-formal.  My eyes bulging like a cartoon character must have let him know something was up, as his next response was, “What?”

 

In two days, we had to have something semi-formal to wear, along with school, car repairs and still making dinner.  Not an issue to a man who has business suites, military uniforms and frequently updated work clothes (we won’t go into the 20-year-old flannels).  It was a bit more of an issue for a stay-at-home mom who’s necessity for “fancy” clothes was extremely limited and consisted of shirts without stains and jeans without holes.  It’s just not something I think of?

 

Yes, I could have run to the store and bought something…. and then proceeded to alter and hem it.  $100 to do what I could have just done from the beginning?  I think not!  So, bright and early Thursday afternoon I went off to the fabric store.  I must admit the local place is *very* limited in their nicer fabrics, but I did find a brown silk that would do just perfectly.  And as an added bonus, it would be my first time wearing silk.

 

And this is where that clever title above comes in.  The importance of a muslin in life.  After going over my measurements once again and shedding a tear or two as I cranked “Betty” to my new correct size, I began to look over the pattern size I would be needing and realized I was two sizes larger on the bottom than the top.  Three actually, but the pattern didn’t go that small on top.  *sigh*  It’s a good thing I know how to decrease.

 

Before even attempting to cut into my on sale, “you bought 1/4 of a yard too little” and “you’ve got one shot at this because tomorrow is the party” fabric, I made the first muslin.  Sure enough, it was too small in the keester.  As in, stitches were popping and no amount of shaving my legs was going to help it ease up.  And the top was gaping open as if to say “Seriously – you really have that small of a chest?”  No worries, I proceeded to retrace the pattern in the adjusted size.

*SLIP*  It went over the bod like butter and not one thread of my fancy fabric was harmed.

 

While this may not be a tale of woe or a super huge lesson on life itself.  Had I jumped over this step to try to save time, I would have had to show up in my fanciest jeans and nicest t-shirt.  Oh how impressive.

 

Making a muslin = no skipping steps.  You can use it as a metaphor for life.

 You’re welcome!

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I looked smoken’ by-the-way!