My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Smoggy days of summer August 12, 2017

Filed under: Animals,Home improvement,Renovations,Sewing — blankenmom @ 11:00 pm
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I’m not sure about where you live, but around here, we get wildfires.  A lot.  Every year.  This year was no exception, except for the fact that as the neighbors who have been here longer than I’ve been alive tell me, this is the closest they’ve ever come to this neighborhood – figures.  At least it’s not flooding.

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Both fires within a mile; one in each direction.

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On top of that, we’re getting the smoke from fires up north.  It’s gotten so bad that it’s barely possible to leave the windows open, or even leave the house.  But we’ve also been hitting nearly 110*, so during the day, that’s not much of a concern, at night we’ve just decided black lung is a good way to go out.

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So a lot of projects inside the last few weeks.

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The flooring is finally being worked on, but I want to save that story for when it’s finished.  But I am getting plenty of pictures of the whole process and am in love with how it’s turning out so far!  I’m also learning plenty, and will have what I’ve learned in that future post.

I can’t work on any wood cutting or sanding for my bathroom project because of the heat and smoke – but this week is supposed to cool off and the smoke dissipate, so I’ll be back to work on that end.

 

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But just so you know I’m not completely slacking, I did get a porch project finished that I’ve been wanting since we moved in.

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What I wanted was the big, billowy curtains that all the other bloggers have, but judging from their pictures, they don’t have to contend with 30 mph winds on a regular basis.  So, this is what I came up with for our current situation, and I have to say I’m pleased with the results!

When it get’s above 100* out here, you can’t go near the back porch, but these curtains bring the temp down 10-15*.  Which definitely makes it more usable.  It also cuts down on how hot the actual house gets.  This side of the house stays warm all through the night from the solar heating it get’s all day.   I won’t say that it keeps it cold, but it is a huge help!  And with our stove still out of commission, this means I can use the grill all through the summer without needing emergency services.  I should just really put a solar oven out there!  Maybe next year?

It also covers the large window in the living room, cooling the living room down by about the same amount, which means my plants won’t cook anymore.

I know, you’re asking the same thing my dentist man asked “Why not just put curtains up?”.  As I said above, it’s not just about cooling the interior down, it’s also about being able to use the back porch, and grill.  By putting the curtains up outside, even over the big window, the house still stays brighter (good for my brain, and the plants), and the actual building stays cooler, and I can still use the back porch (if it’s not over 100*).  It also solves the problem of wanting the breeze, but needing the shade.  Sunset usually coincides with dinner time.

I’m in love with these!

Next year I will update them to brown to match the house, or forest green to match the roof, and make the curtains for the big window a bit smaller.  But they do exactly what I needed for this year!

Now if only they could keep the smoke out?

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Dog approved

 

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Mostly staying out of trouble July 15, 2017

 

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It’s summer – my favorite season!  I really do enjoy them all, but summer means three months of goofing off.  And by goofing off I mean doing projects without having to stop to grade schoolwork, or getting to take a trip without changing due dates.

 

This summer, after three years without flooring, we finally brought it home.  It’s acclimating to our home still, but it’s home.  2000 lbs in the back of a 30 year old truck for an hour and a half on a 100* day was a bit comical, but the truck came through!

 

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We’ve decided to color the pine with coffee.  It’s the only thing that provided the color we wanted.  As of right now, we’re trying to decide between polyurethane or shellac.  With the dog drool however, I think the poly may win out.

 

A couple of side projects that I’ve fit in between the our other engagements –

 

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A bird that had made it’s home in a flower pot out front had hatched its chicks and left it’s home behind.  It was so perfect, I couldn’t just toss it.  So it is now home to some plants I’ve been nursing back to health from last year.

 

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This box, sadly, has sat in my bedroom holding random construction items to be tossed, for about 2 years.  I don’t even remember what I used the stuffing for?  But I got tired of looking at it and one morning, decided it needed to be upgraded.

 

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And so, I got to work upgrading it.  It got another plant pot up off the floor and can be used for storage.  Even better, that ugly box is gone.

 

I’m also working the kinks out on the trim – I should be able to post a few pictures of our soon-to-be trim by next week!  But so far, it’s just a lot of saw dust.

 

Summer is definitely the busiest time of the year around here.  And I only have a month left to get my plans done.  But I love the whole thing – even the limited time.  Lack of time, just like lack of money, often makes a person that much more creative.

 

 

 

 

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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Picking your red shirt battles February 20, 2016

Filed under: Boys,Broken/Repaired,Family,Renovations — blankenmom @ 11:50 pm
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It’s been a long few weeks.

Someone… may, or may not have given themselves a concussion by smacking their head into the ceiling while taking cabinet doors down in the kitchen.  That same someone has also decided that really isn’t fun, and will be avoiding that in the future.

Once that drama was over, the second-born decided to do a repeat of his first summer camp, and broke his wrist at winter camp.  And this one too, will require surgery.  While I attempt to get records from one side of the state to the other, I’ll be picking out what I’ll be working on for my “Broken Wrist Project” to work on through all the appointments, surgeries and chaos.  For his last break, I made a *huge* blanket.  I’ll be scaling it down a bit this time I think?

 

 

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While his brothers were at camp, and we were all by ourselves, I realized that our fourth-born had been wearing the same shirt, for several days.  I know… ew.  How did I not notice this before?

Why?  Because he only wears red, short sleeved shirts.  That’s it.  Well, ok, pants too, but for his top, it’s always a red shirt, with a red sweatshirt.  It wasn’t until I noticed a stain that had been there a few days before that I realized how long he’d been wearing it.  When asked why he didn’t change he said “My clothes were all dirty.”  *sigh*  Apparently he’s never heard of a wash machine?

We went through his room and collected all of his clothes and frankly, it was time for some new shirts anyways.  We finished getting ready for church that morning and I realized that his sweatshirt was just as… um… gross.  Yup, definitely time for some new tops.

And this is when the battle began.  I told him it may be time at 14 (as of next week), that he wear more than just a red shirt every day.  A short sleeved, red shirt, to be exact.  He may have to branch out to a different color, or even a long sleeve.

He held his ground on this one, and was adamant that this wasn’t going to change.

 

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I had a choice I could make here.  In my still healing brain, and while I’m attempting to make doctors appointments and plumbing appointments (the pipes froze and burst in “that house” the same day as the broken arm) I could also argue with my youngest every day about putting on shirts he hates.  Or, I could just buy him all red shirts, and make sure he puts on a new one every time, and we both win.

Was this battle really worth it?  I mean the guy who runs Facebook wears the same exact outfit every day of his life and he makes like…. a gazillion dollars right?  So is this really where I want to make my stand?  Over red shirts?  I could be dealing with drugs, a freaky girlfriend, bad grades, a foul mouth.  Nope, my kid wants to wear red, short sleeved shirts every day.

And gosh darn-it, I’m going to let him.

We went to the craft store where they were having a big ol’ sale and bought him eight red t-shirts for $1.50 each.  One for each day of the week, and two for Sunday, so we’d have one for him to wear while we were washing the others.  I put the day of the week on the tag so we could make sure it’s a new one each day.

We went to the clothing store, and bought him one new red sweatshirt so we could wash one, wear one, and then trade the next week.

Some people may be rolling their eyes thinking I gave in.

I just knew when to pick by battles and save my energy for the big stuff.

 

….. I wonder if I could sneak a Star Trek logo on all of them?  Bwahaha!

 

 

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Switching colors February 6, 2016

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I promised I’d start to show some of my home improvement projects, and slowly but surely I’ve started getting a few pictures of the before’s before I managed to finish them.  One of the ongoing projects is replacing the electrical outlet and light switch covers and updating a few of them at the same time.

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One of the big perks to this project is that I can do this while the boys are doing their schoolwork since it doesn’t make much noise, and I can still be in the room with them to help.  Can’t say that about the air compressor!

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Our trim will be a darker wood against tan’ish walls, and with that, the cream plastic covers just weren’t going to do.  Once we put the new covers on, the cream outlets and light switches just wouldn’t do.  And after pricing the new colored outlets and light switches, there was no way we were going to replace our nearly 30 outlets and/or light switches for the whole upstairs.  (You really don’t realize how many you have until you start replacing them!)

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After doing a little research, I saw no reason why I couldn’t just spray paint them!  Safely of course!

And so I began my very slow process of spray painting all the outlets and light switches and staining all the new face plates.

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This is, of course, how the outlets and light switches started out.

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After taping out a basic template for both the outlets and light switches, I would tape them down, insert Popsicle sticks just barely inside (no electrocutions here please) and begin spraying.  You can use the same cover for each new outlet or switch that needs to be sprayed.

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I used a plastic spray for this, and it usually took about three coats to make it look just right.  Two coats with the “plugs” in, and one quick spray without them, but at an angle so the spray wouldn’t go into the plug-in, just get the edges.  As for the switches, you’ll have to do two with the switch up, and two with the switch down.  Just remember, light coatings or it takes for ever to dry and it’ll leave terrible looking drips.  (Notice I didn’t show you the ones I learned that on.)

The whole process usually takes about three days.  You can do more than one switch/outlet at a time by making more covers, or by removing the covers after a few minutes to use on the next one.

Also important, make the cover long enough to go down the wall to catch any drips from the spray can.  I’ve found that this company’s new spray nozzle clogs terribly and sprays wonky on occasion.  I now have a few paint touch-ups I have to go back to before I figured this out.

This is the end result.  The first two with the typical cream painted over, the next one is new fancy-schmancy dimmer switches.  I wasn’t about to paint over those at their cost! But since they were dark, I was ok with them remaining their own color.

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Some quick tips – let people know which ones you’ll be spraying ahead of time so they don’t blindly flick it on, and smudge the paint and paint themselves.  And do high traffic switches and outlets at night when everyone is asleep.  It will be dry by morning, and you can do the next coat the next night.

You may not like the colors I chose, but really, using the plastic spray, you can get just about any color you want to match your outlets, or walls, or your kiddo’s weirdest desire.

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.So far, with savage boys using the outlets and switches constantly, dogs tails and drool strings, I’ve only had to touch up one because *I* used it too soon.  Otherwise they’re holding up beautifully!  Someday I may go through and replace them with the actual, manufacturer colored, outlets and switches.  But for now, on our very tight budget, this works perfectly.

 

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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