My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

No excuses… July 16, 2016

 

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I know it’s summer, and I could easily use this as an excuse for why I haven’t been here.  I could tell you fibs that we’ve been away on amazing trips, or laying around reading, or out hiking the near-by canyons.

We haven’t.

We’ve been mostly home.  We’re poor.  We aren’t even having a “stay-cation”.  Poor people don’t do that.

Oh wait, my dentist man had his two-week-tour, becoming my sailor man while away at 29 Palms.  Just the vacation every man wants. (read sarcasm)  100* at night, 120* during the day.  Peering into marines mouths that haven’t brushed for two weeks, or bathed, or washed their uniforms.  Let’s just say he was a little more than excited to be back this year.

 

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I have gotten a few projects finally completed.  A child almost moved out, picked up a part time job (see above about being poor), and some projects for the clinic and the house.

I’ve also been “torturing” my children with continued math tutoring through the summer.  While we did end up taking July off so the tutor could take her needed trips, that still only gave them a month off, and she left work for them to do while she was gone. HA!

Ok, we did get a mini trip out to my dentist man’s practice for a few days, but mostly it was because we had dental appointments, and it was Independence Day.

Summer time is a slow time in the dental world, people vacationing, beautiful outside, and having fun makes them not want to be in the chair.  And so is our budget then, when you’re still paying off student loans and a practice… and repairs from your former renters… still.  And the renovations… oh the slow, slow renovations.  But we are making progress.

Here are a few things I’ve completed during my time away –

I do believe I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer at a medical clinic, where our mission is to just love every person who comes in to see us, no matter what.  I teach parenting classes once or twice a month, and was recently asked if I could help out with some updating.  While we’re still in the middle of updates, here are a few things we’ve gotten completed.

 

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All forty weeks of pregnancy up in our classroom.  So the parents who come in can see where they’re at.

 

One picture was taken by one of our new dad’s and the other was taken by my son’s girlfriend.  The boards on the adjacent walls were made a few weeks ago.  I didn’t even realize it until I saw them all up that the colors matched the pictures!

 

The rooms have been newly painted.  Pictures up on the walls.  New furniture and decorations and more to come…

 

And around here –

 

(No looking at the mess – I can either renovate or clean.)

I have the stained cabinets back up and the new lights finally installed!  Ok, I admit I did end up having to call an electrician when I couldn’t get the flexible drill bit out of the wall.  Once he came out we realized it wasn’t my fault.  There was a stray piece of wood left in the wall that neither of us anticipated.  His bit slid right passed it and within minutes, we had the cord up the wall.  He left the rest up to me.  Great guy – he’ll be back out for the bathroom fan during the winter when it isn’t 120* in the attic.

But here are our new lights!  We’re actually thinking of changing them to brown bottles.  I’ll keep you posted on that.  But they’re up and working and the was the main issue!

And just as an FYI, clear bottles cut the easiest, followed by blue, brown and green very. dead. last.  I have no idea how red cuts.  Couldn’t find them anywhere?

I also learned that I don’t like champagne on this project.  After six bottles of it.  Bleh!  (Not in one sitting.)

And finally –

 

Today I managed to get the spare bathroom counter and sink finished.  From the 1980’s to the 21’st century… except we’re going for an old pub look, so… I’m not sure how that one works out?

During any down time, I’m still plugging away on a dear friends memory quilt.  You know, it’s only been a year.  But I did warn her that I was very slow, so hopefully she didn’t think I was exaggerating.

As for the remainder of the projects, I have taken up a part time job in the natural food dept. at the local grocery store to help pay for said projects, while my dentist man pays off the remainder of the repairs for “that house”.  (Yes, we’re still paying off repairs two years later – that’s how bad it was.)  Together we might get this life thing tackled.

 

Someday, we’ll take an actual vacation.  But now is not that time.  For now I’ll take my quiet, morning bible studies with the fur-babies.

 

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Get growing! May 14, 2016

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Gone camping July 30, 2015

Filed under: Animals,Boys,Family,Home improvement — blankenmom @ 12:18 am
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My boys have all gone off to camp.  Last year was the first time I had ever been separated from them for more than a day.  This year, my dentist man is also gone.  Three whole days to myself, excluding the pets.  The conversation on the way to camp rotated around the boys’ conclusion that 1) I’d go crazy.  2) I’d put glitter on everything.  And 3) That I must have never done a chore before, during or after having them, since they felt the need to instruct me on every one of their chores.

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I’m not sure if you realize this, but when you clean the house, and there is no one there but you, it stays that way?  It’s like… some sort of magic?

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I’ve used a total of four dishes the whole time they’ve been gone.  Although I will admit that I made a trip to the store and bought everything that I wouldn’t eat while the boys were home.  I’ll also admit, that I’m sort of sick now.  I guess Ding Dong’s, chips and salsa, frozen Chinese and creamy mac and cheese are not a good combo.  Who would have thought?  I regret nothing!

My dentist man comes home tomorrow and I managed to get our master bath mudded and primed for when we start on our final plans for the bathroom.

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bathroom 1bathroom 2

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I promise it’s completely painted now.

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So when the boys come back, and ask me what I did the whole time, as though I don’t exist without them, I’ll tell them I actually got something done!  (And then give them all giant hugs!)

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And tell them about all they missed –

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A large hawk, smacked into our window, shaking my bed. It hit so hard you could see its beak feathers stuck to the window! There has GOT to be a way to preserve this window mark when we replace the windows?

 

Crap(per) in the dining room July 13, 2015

Filed under: Home improvement — blankenmom @ 11:05 pm
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It never fails.

We don’t have company for months and months while mostly everything is put together and then *boom* we have two while I’m in the middle of priming the guest bathroom.  Don’t care – its company!

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Poor souls.

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The bathroom looks like it’s from an abandoned mental institution and it’s 112* outside.  I’m so excited about visitors that I don’t even care that we still don’t have floors or that the a.c. is barely chugging along making it almost 90* in the house.

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At least the toilet was still in the bathroom at the time.

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I’m impressed with my first mudding job though.  The only marks you can see will be behind tile.  Why bother making it perfect when will it actually be covered?

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Primed and ready for the good (not white) stuff!

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(And now maybe I’ll get some of my summer sewing done?)

 

First month of summer…. June 29, 2015

Filed under: Home improvement,Pets — blankenmom @ 8:35 pm
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I don’t know about everyone out there, but over here, it’s flipping hot!  I didn’t move to Arizona for a reason.  I like summer, I don’t like Hades.  Right now, we’re teetering on Hades.  Over 100* for three weeks keeps me cooped up inside the house for far too long.  And the bag of cheese – curds I threw at my husband last night may be a good indication I need out of the house longer than to just water my plants.  And for those of you who live in hotter than that climates… my hat’s off to you.  I want back outside!

I’m still working on the house here.  I think it will be a looooong process, since the money we were going to use for it went to cover “that house”.  A “small” loss, in the mid five-figure range that the state has said is part of doing business with them.  The so-called “can’t lose any money” they touted on their paperwork turned out to be not so true.  Noted.  Don’t do business with the government.  Ever.  *cough* still waiting on military pay too!!

But the repairs are all done with and the insurance company is now slowly doing their part for the water damage.  No worries – it’s not like we need that money or anything?

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Camera’s are up – and are awesome!  I love being able to see what’s going on over there.

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Now – new renters.  Not sure if that’s said with excitement or dread?

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Our “Spare” cat is no longer spare.  Our 20-year-old cat, that we had for 18, developed a fast growing tumor in her mouth.  (I’ll spare you the picture.)  Not wanting her hurting any longer than she had to, we opted to quickly put her down.  There is a good reason she lived for so long – she was one ornery cat!  She has taken two trips through the dryer (one of those for almost an hour – thank goodness for cloth diapers!), had her tail slammed in a car door.  Was lost in a drug store for a week, the ceiling, and the crawl space.  She survived four boys, four dogs and a new cat 15 years her younger that she could still take down a few pegs.  She’s seen more states than most people can name.  It took 2 vet techs and a vet to get the IV in and two of the heart stopping shots to get her to go down.  And I was with her to the very last.

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That a’girl!

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(And if you’re keeping track, that’s 4 pets, in 3 years.  The others are starting to get nervous.)

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Can’t you tell? That’s the look of fear right there. Three very stressed out pets.

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But not one to sit around too much thinking about what I can’t fix.  I opted to take down a few things and to stitch up a few things instead.  Four babies in one week makes for a busy sewing schedule!  I also finally picked out the last thing for the house – the bathroom tile!  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’m having a hard time with the ceiling paint.  Did you know that when you paint the ceiling the color is different from on the wall?  And… why can’t I find light tan paint?

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The slate matches perfectly with the fireplace – what we’re decorating around. If you can’t change it, use it!

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The paint on the far left is the same as on the wall?

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This is how I know my dentist man loves me. He comes home from his two-week tour to this and says nothing.

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No, these aren’t the hardest decisions in my life, these are just the minor distractions from the infuriating ones.  Let’s see what excitement the second month of summer brings!

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pug and spare