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.

 

29 Palms 2016

 

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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March-ing on March 26, 2016

Filed under: Family,Hubby — blankenmom @ 11:59 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 

birds

 

I have been wanting to post for weeks now, but to be fully honest, this has been a truly terrible month.  And I don’t mean that lightly.

To start the month off, we realized our mortgage company, Seterus, lost several thousands of dollars in escrow money (money they put aside to pay for things like taxes and insurance), and hasn’t been paying our hazard insurance, in spite of collecting for it.  Insurance we have to have to keep our mortgage for “that house”.  Both of which are illegal.  After several, multi-hour conversations, with them attempting to blame us for the lost money and their inability to pay the insurance they’ve been collecting money for, they told me to call back a few days later while they try to straighten it out.

 

I called our lawyer instead.

 

A few days later, my brother-in-law who has been battling bi-polar disorder/schizophrenia for nearly 20 years now, ended his life while his mother made his birthday dinner, leaving behind his heartbroken 15 year old son, older and younger brothers, and parents that he had been living with, and whose birthdays were only a few days later.

He stopped taking his meds when the program that delivered them, and helped insure he took them, ran out of money.  I’m so glad my taxes go to pay for dead-beats who choose not to work, but not for people who are truly ill and would still be here, working, if only for that same money.  I wonder if the large amounts of money we lost to our crappy state-aid renters would have helped keep him with us?

 

I guess that’s one way to solve their budget issues.

 

And this is all while I was gearing up for the first anniversary of my sister’s sudden passing.  My sister who had been battling alcoholism and depression for as long as I can remember, killed herself, accidentally, and left behind her heartbroken husband and 16 year old son, our older brother, myself and three sets of parents (divorce people, we’re not complete freaks).

 

The month is almost over, and hopefully this feeling of overwhelming pain, sadness, confusion, anger and frustration, all wrapped up in one little month, will be also.

 

My biggest consolation here is that tomorrow is Easter, the biggest day of hope possible.  I will see them all again, healthy and whole.  The mortgage company, whether we get this fixed or not, will fall away.  God’s promise through Jesus’ resurrection is that all this is defeated and the pain is only temporary.  While it hurts and frustrates us now, there is still hope.  Always hope.

 

Onto April please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ring it September 9, 2015

Filed under: Family,Hubby,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 12:36 am
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new ring

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I have a confession – I never liked my wedding ring.  Or my wedding for that matter.

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It was bought on a sale because frankly, that was all we could afford at the time.  It wasn’t the color or the shape I wanted, it was just, a ring.  The diamonds were kind of wonky, but I can’t really blame the jeweler.  I blacked out in the store while they were fixing a few of the loose stones a few months into my pregnancy.  They just wanted me out.

The wedding was at the courthouse, with my son in tow.  Rushed, so my dentist man could go off to basic.  Not what you picture as a little girl growing up, even if you’re a tomboy.

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The ring I really wanted, I kept a picture of for 20 years, for our “big” anniversary.  20 years seemed so far away at the time?  I had wrapped my mind around this ring with a choke hold.  That is what I really want!  In my mind, I didn’t get a “real” wedding, so why not a pretty ring?  Ok, so I didn’t get a “pretty” ring, so how about a “really pretty” ring on our 20th?  20 years I thought about this.

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Pathetic… maybe.  Hush you.

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A few months back, a pastor was talking about how much people spend on weddings.  Upwards of $15k for a “small” wedding.  I think ours may have cost $200, maybe?  And of those weddings, about 50% get a divorce before their 20th anniversary.  He wondered why we as a society spend so much, just to throw it away a few years later?  Why not spend that much on a 20th, or 50th anniversary?  Why not celebrate a real accomplishment?

I mean, the joining of two people to become one is amazing, but in reality, they’re still in “puppy love” – it’s no miracle.  Morning breath isn’t even an issue yet.  20, 30, 40 years later when they’ve gotten passed “dutch ovens”, seeing childbirth, financial difficulties, teenagers, and possibly severe illnesses together – that, right there, is something to be celebrated with a huge party!

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This began to change my view on my scrawny, unloved ring, and for that matter, my scrawny, unloved wedding.

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6 months ago I put up a picture of “the ring” on the inside of my dentist man’s bathroom mirror with the request “If you’re going to get me a gift, I want *THIS* ring.  No other ring.  *THIS* ring.  I don’t care what size diamonds.  What color.  Or how inexpensively you buy it.  I want *THIS* ring!”  And after 20 years of waiting, we found out my finger is too small for it.  I think it *might* have fit my thumb?

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stupid pygmy fingers

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For a bit there, I was really, sadly, a bit devastated.

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My dentist man and I went and picked out a very similar ring, that fit my stupid pygmy finger and we waited for it to come back from the jeweler.

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And waited.

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And waited.

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It feels like forever you know.  Especially when you’ve waited 20 years.  Ok, it was only a week and a half, I was a little impatient here.

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But while I was waiting, I looked at my “old” ring.  The one I had thought of as so ugly, and boring.  And I thought about our wedding, that I thought of as so shameful.  And I thought about us getting to 20 years and still being so in-love.  And the thought of being together until death, and still being in-love.  And that “old” ring started to become so beautiful to me.  All of it’s nicks and dings.  It’s wonky diamonds that have a back story.  It’s worn out underside because I refuse take it off.  A little paint stuck between some of the diamonds.

And looking over the wedding photo’s of two young kids, who were really, truly in love.  Even though the product of that love showed up a little earlier than we would have planned, we had a “quicky” wedding, because we cared more about living, than a party.  We got “just a ring” because we cared more about each other, than material things.  We may have been still in “puppy love”, but it’s grown more than I could have imagined.

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My ring showed up today.  As I slipped the unworn, pristine diamonds and gold up against my worn out, wonky diamonds and dented gold, I was so proud of them both.  They tell a story of two people, who became one and made a whole new world for themselves.  To tell you the truth, the ring was never really that important day-to-day.  But when I look at them now, I’m reminded to see our past, present and future, with pride.

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Oh I want a big party still.  But I want a big, giant 80th anniversary.  In wedding style.  Let’s celebrate the big accomplishments here!

I will never look at our wedding, our anniversaries, or our small day-to-day memories the same again.

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And just in case you were wondering what I got him?

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glasses

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Liquor glasses, with all the roles he’s played over the past 20 years.  He’s worn a lot of hats, and done them remarkably well.  And frankly, being married to me, takes a lot little liquor every-so-often!

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

‘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!

 

Take it down a notch… or ten. November 3, 2014

Filed under: Boys,Church,Hubby,Knitting,Made by me,Sewing — blankenmom @ 11:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

 

I’ve gotten quite a few easy projects done this last weekend.  Easy sometimes is a good thing.

 

The shirt I made I had planned on wearing to church the day I completed it, but somehow it ended up with a funky smell before it was even worn?  So, it’s in the laundry… I hope that smell goes away?  

 

My mother-in-law bought some very yummy yarn a few weeks back, but it was a bit spendy, so we only got one skein of the Alpaca/Silk goodness.  What exactly can you do with just one skein?  Well thank goodness it was a big skein and Ravelry is awesome.  I searched for the yardage and voila!  Infinity scarf, with beads no less.

 

 

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She’s going to love it.  And the lard I rendered for her this weekend.

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Yeah, you heard me, lard.  Don’t be jealous!

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I also made the most epic pajama bottoms ever!

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I know, they’re awesome right!

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I had actually planned on seasonal and regular stash p.j.’s, but alas, one needs to know how much yardage is needed before one buys.  Remember that kiddies!  These took me about 2 1/4 yards because of the pattern.  Without the pattern I could have gotten away with the 1 1/2 yards I have.  I guess the regular stashes will become an excellent pillowcase for me!

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And, as I type, I’m wearing the most comfortable pants I think anyone should be allowed to wear in public.

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Wow… uh pictures really do add weight?  

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No matter – these pants are awesome!  I made them out of “jegging” type material.  Very heavy, fairly thick (meaning no see-through cheeks going on) and uber soft.  And I mean, uber.  And the bonus, my dentist man asked where I bought them – always a compliment!  I will be making more of these.

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See, I have been productive!

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So productive, I’ve been running ram-shot right over people who clearly don’t deserve it.  While sending our potential new renters their background check packet, I managed to scare the pants (figuratively I hope) off the poor woman!  I’ve been so used to having to deal with thick-headed, lying… well, our last renters, that I didn’t even give the poor people a chance to breathe.

After a very personal sermon at church this weekend on gratitude, I realigned myself, took a breather and remembered that “that house” may be our curse, but to someone else, it may be a blessing.  If I’ll let it.  So I’m loosening my grip, taking a breather and taking the “DEFCON 1” level down a bit.

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Productivity is a good thing.  Scaring people to get it done, not so much.  It’s good to know I have it in me though, for future use.

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And tonight, our nice wood guy made his final delivery of our 3 cords of wood, at about 10 pm.  The guy likes to work!  So hopefully I can burn off a bit of that pent-up energy stacking, and stacking, and stacking.

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Oh who am I kidding… that’s what I have boys for!

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This counts as P.E. right?

 

Back to the basics September 1, 2014

 

 

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Summer is going as quickly as it came around here.  The days are rapidly going from 100* to 80* at best, the tent has been brought off the front lawn and school has started.  That means outdoor projects are quickly coming to an end so I can be inside cracking the educational whip.

 

It also means back to sewing, making good dinners that couldn’t be made in the heat and indoor projects.  I think I heard my dentist man hint at getting the floors put back in as he was picking out another sliver – silly man, that’s what we have slippers for!

 

With one of my up-coming sewing project I’m actually asking for your help.  Both summer dresses – but I’m determined to figure this out… before next summer!

 

I made this dress as you may remember ~

 

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And hemmed this dress~

 

 

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And quickly realized that hemming them for heels, when I only get invited to lawn parties, wasn’t smart.  But I still would love to go to a grown-up party that calls for heels… at some point… in these dresses that I bought and/or made for that very purpose.

So my question to all of you sewers out there:  How would *YOU* go about hemming a long dress or skirt so it could be raised or lowered a few inches, without it looking like a bridal gown?

 

Stumped as I am?  Give us a few months – we’ll come up with something!  

 

And along the way I plan on making a few things I found in the newest Burda Style magazine.

 

Top

Jersey Dress with Shrug 11/2013 #111

I hope I don’t look as angry as her in it?  

 

 

Top and bottom

Wide Leg Pants with Front Seam 12/2013 #103B

Draped Jersey Top 12/2013 #119A

 

I absolutely fell in love with these!  And the bonus – they’re husband approved.  As in, he says I’ll actually probably wear these (instead of just looking at them in the closet and saying “Ooh – that’s so pretty!” like I do with all the dresses I make).

 

Along with a few baby blankets for the clinic I volunteer for, and to just keep on hand seems as how people keep feeling the need to procreate and all.  I also found the pattern for pillow cases to donate to kids in foster care.  So be ready for a lot more sewing projects to come!  And possibly a few more home improvement projects… you know… to keep me out of trouble.