My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Bottled up April 11, 2017

Filed under: Boys,Made by me,Sewing,Simplicity — blankenmom @ 2:20 am
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I promised a review on the new batting I got this weekend, but a snag (pun intended) delayed it a bit.  Snag removed, review presented.  (And yes I know that me being so excited over batting makes me a huge nerd… I’m ok with that.)

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The person I’m making this quilt for works in a laboratory “knocking up ocean animals” (slightly cleaned up) as she once said.  (Her company helps ocean animals.)  Needless to say she cares a lot about the environment.  The ocean environment specifically.  So when I was putting her quilt together, I thought it would be great if I could find a batting with that in mind.  One that was made of recycled plastic more specifically.  You know, the kind they find floating in the ocean, or stuck on ocean animals?  Yeah, that kind.

Don’t get me wrong.  Plastic has it’s purpose, just not floating around.  Its much better tossed in the recycling bin after it’s use.  Less garbage to pay for too!

Low-and-behold there are actually a few companies out there that make it!

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You can look up recycled batting and find a couple of companies, or go to Amazon.  I got this one at Joann.com on discount (they always have some sort of coupon).  Unless you have a larger quilt store in your city, you’ll only be able to buy this online.  Even Joann’s doesn’t sell this in their store, and I have no local quilting stores nearby, so buying local isn’t an option unfortunately.  Maybe if more people start buying it?

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According to one of the companies, the size that I bought 90 x 108 inches (229 x 274 cm) saves approximately 20 bottles.

Ok, not a huge amount, especially with just one quilt, but if more quilters and more quilt companies start using it, it could save a lot more.  And the price difference isn’t much more that buying the cotton.

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Ok, enough with the greeny stuff, how does it feel?

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I will admit, I’m more of a cotton girl, so I wasn’t expecting much with the feel.  I have the standard polyester batting that I loath, but use when I know the blanket won’t be used often or will be used outside.  And I do tend to use it with baby blankets.  Mostly because the poly won’t hold smells and liquid quite as well.  And lets face it, baby blankets rarely get used for family heirlooms, so I don’t want to add cost where it isn’t necessary.

So when I opened the package and this batting was actually soft and smooth I was very, very surprised!  It felt nearly as silky as the cotton.  It still catches on any rough spots though, which makes it a little tougher to work with if you don’t have baby-butt soft hands.

It’s still a bit thinner/fluffier than the cotton, more like the poly, however, it is a lot stronger than the poly when I tried pulling on it.  I’ve had far too many poly quilts and blankets pull apart inside, no matter how closely I tie it off.  It just can’t hold up to the abuse of a family of all boys – it’s just not cape/parachute/fort/tug-o-war/stair-sledding/whipping/climbing material I guess?  Go figure!

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This would be great for outside blankets because it won’t hold water or mold like cotton, but will hold up to the elements better than the poly.

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From what I can tell, this is the only thickness it comes in.  Low loft, which I believe is about 1/4″, so if you’re looking for thicker, you’ll have to double up.  And working with it so far is a bit more like the poly when putting in the stitches.

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All of these are considered “low loft”.

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I will definitely be using this again.  I still prefer my cotton, but when I need to use the poly, I’ll be getting this instead.

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Now… on to the next step we go!

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Cleaning weekend away April 2, 2017

Filed under: Family,Knitting,Military,Pets,Places,Sewing — blankenmom @ 11:22 pm
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Last week, poor Lady was tripoding (walking on only three legs) due to her arthritis in a back leg.  Bad breeding from meth heads does that.  Along with bad genes, too many litters too soon, her body won’t last as long as even the normal short life of a healthily bred mastiff.  But we’ll love her anyways, all the way to the end, hopefully several years from now.  But… it will take a lot of work between now and then to keep her comfortable.

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Cleaning up other peoples messes, always does take a lot of work, doesn’t it.

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However, that doesn’t stop us from needing cleanings.  And when your dentist lives four hours away, you make a weekend of it.  Thank goodness my dentist man has an apartment above his practice, or we’d be sleeping in his dental chairs for the weekend!

We left her and her sister home with the second-born and pain meds, so she wouldn’t have to work the stairs while she’s in so much pain and over work that leg.  He now appreciates me being home and getting to pee by himself, and the girls are ecstatic that I was back home to stalk.

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While we were there though, we had a nice time relaxing, talking, trying some locally brewed cherry hard cider, a bit of a family Doctor Who marathon and a short trip to the cold, cold ocean.  And then headed back home again.  It’s always tough to come back after our trips, but it is nice to be home.

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He has reserve duty this weekend though, so we won’t see him for another two weeks  Glad we made the trip.

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In the four hour trip there, the four days we were there, and the four hours back, I finished knitting up a pair of gloves that still need to be felted, got as far as I could with a baby gift (waiting for more yarn) and only have a row left putting the quilt pieces together.  (The batting shows up this week – I will be showing that off next weekend – it’s pretty cool… or should I say warm?)

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A busy couple of weeks, but very productive and yet, relaxing.

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~ That’s a good life.

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Confession of a not so closet trekkie March 11, 2017

Filed under: Sewing — blankenmom @ 8:20 pm
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Star Trek

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So… I’m a trekkie.  (A fan of all things Star Trek, if you’re not privy to that term.)

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A lot of my time watching reruns now however, is seeing how they made the costumes?  I know all the plot lines.  I know where it’s going, so I can spend more time trying to figure out just how they got that hem line, crease or shade.  While watching the original series, I spend a lot of time just trying to figure out how in the world they got the garment to stay exactly where they needed it too, with out… parts… popping out?

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Yeah… we’re talking to you ladies wearing the magical tape, glue or wires!

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One costume specifically, even as a kid, I’ve always wanted.  Maybe not exactly how they made it, but the idea of it.

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Dr. Polanski 2

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Recently I told my dentist man that I really I want to make it.  One of those – long, drawn out, slowly done, time consuming, artsy-fartsy that will take forever, but its worth it – type of projects.

“Why?”

“Because I want to?”

“When would you wear this?”

“Vacuuming?”

“Then why would you make it?”

…looks at him confused…

…looks at me confused…

“Because I can?”

“Ok?”

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He doesn’t understand, but he rolls with it.

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On breaks from the quilt and renovating, mostly while I sit waiting for the boys at random events and appointments, I will start to plan and plot what I want exactly.  What I’ll need.  How I’ll do it.  I’m quite sure it will change as the project goes along, but that will be part of the fun – to see where it goes!

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After 40 or so years of watching Star Trek, and wanting this specific costume.  I’m finally going to start it.  Slowly… very slowly.  No reason to ruin something you’ve thought about nearly your whole life, by rushing it.  Especially when there’s no deadline.

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Dr. Polanski 1

Is There No Truth In Beauty? S:3 Ep:5 1968

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What are dream projects for you?

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Piecing it together March 4, 2017

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A friend from our last duty station lost her mother nearly two years ago.  She handed off several of her t-shirts to me to make a memory quilt soon after.  I felt honored she’d trust me with this.

I could have wisely chosen simple squares, but we all know I’m not that wise.

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After nearly two years, I am finally able to start putting the “blocks” together.  If you’re quilter… please don’t judge me.  I’m not a quilter.  I don’t tend to measure anything exactly – which may be part of my issues with cooking.  But we’ll work on that another day.

She knows I’m not a quilter, so this is merely because I sew, and I love her and someday, I may actually get it done.

This quilt has made it on several trips across the state to my dentist man’s office and family get-together’s.  It’s been a staple at the pool, far away from the water.  Arm and ortho appointments.  It’s become a big part of my home and family life.  There will definitely be a big part of me that goes with it.

 

I had a six month pause while working though.  I didn’t want to take it into the break room for fear it would pick up a weird smell, or get spilled on.  It was one of the first things I picked back up once my wrist was (almost) healed.  And now the blocks are coming together, almost nicely.

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It never goes quite how we picture it, does it?

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It does feel nice getting back to sewing again.  The pets agree.  Two at my feet and one enjoying the temporary wool backing that keeps finding it’s way to the open floor for layout.

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As a full labor of love, the entire quilt has been hand pieced, short of sewing on the backing for turning, done on the treadle.  I guess you could say that part was done by foot? Once the quilting part starts, I’ll pull out my homemade quilt stand.  Hand-quilting will be a nice break from working on the house, or something to do while poking and prodding distracted children during schoolwork.

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It’s nice to finally see some progress.

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No matter how it looks now, it will turn out amazing.  Things made with love always do.

 

 

 

 

 

Rounding the corners and creating more space July 30, 2015

Filed under: lessons,Made by me,Sewing — blankenmom @ 1:45 am
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Have you ever looked at a pattern that has curved edges and wondered how exactly you were supposed to do that?  Ten burnt fingers later, after trying to lay the edges down to press it and finally giving in, and ending up with a shirt with wonky edges.   (Wonky is technical word you know.)

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This lesson, I will show you how to round your corners, whether it’s on a collar, a hem, or something in between, without losing your mind, or spending hours burning yourself.  I’ll also show you a quick and easy way to give yourself a bit more space between your shoulders if you’re like me and have “swimmers shoulders”, but no chest.  Meaning, you’re back is bigger than your front.

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Let’s start off with the room in back –

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I tend to pop stitches under my arms and on the back arm seams when I move because of this, even in ready to wear clothes.  But I also have plenty of room in the chest of the same exact shirts.  Sure I could redo the whole back, which would mean adjusting the collar too, but if I just want a quick, easy shirt, why?  Plus, it adds a little style.  Like you were all technical and fancy!

This is not the only way, but it is a very easy way.  Just make sure it doesn’t affect the look of the fabric or style of outfit.  Casual shirts, nice blouses, some dress bodices work well with this, and you can always modify it for your own tastes and affects.  (Click on photo’s to enlarge.)

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shirt 13

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When you put the pattern edge to the fold, creating the center back, place the bottom in the correct spot.  No extra fabric, just as the pattern calls for.

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shirt 14

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At the top, give yourself some extra space, I used and 1″ (one inch – more or less, depending on how much more room you need).  Just keep in mind that if you keep the line on the pattern 1″ from the fold, it creates 2″, an inch on both sides.

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shirt 12

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Now you’ll stay stitch the top.  (Stitching the unfinished edges, usually of the neck and shoulders, so the fabric doesn’t shift when you start putting the pieces together.  You will not be sewing together two pieces of fabric, just running the fabric through the machine to make it behave.)  To create this particular fold, I butted the two edges of where the fabric *should* have been cut, up to the center fold and stitched it down and pressed.  By doing this, the top of your shirt will still match the collar.

You could make the fold on the outside, by putting the folds the other way.  You could also place a small tack stitch (a stitch to make things stay put – look at the bottom of a ready to wear zipper) farther down the back, creating a more “bubbled” look.  I have a few vintage patterns that do this.  I wanted something very casual.

By doing it this way, and not adjusting anything else, it created only a slightly bigger back.  Even though I didn’t make any other adjustments, the waste still fit me correctly.

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Now let’s start with those curves –

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shirt 10

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Place your curve, here we have a ruffle edge, under the presser foot close to the edge.  You’re going to sew it as you would a ruffle, gathering as you go.  Put your stitch setting on a long stitch.  I had mine at 5, which is the smallest gathering stitch.  If you have an older machine, this may actually be your largest.

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shirt 8

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Tie off one end so it doesn’t slip as you pull the thread on the other end.

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shirt 6

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When you pull the threads, it’ll look like a big ol’ mess.  It’s ok.  Keep gently pulling until it starts to lay itself on the inside, towards the center.  Press.

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shirt 5

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That big mess, now looks all purdy and lays flat.  Make sure to use steam if possible, to make it easier.

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Now turn over and press again.  If you used a regular sewing machine, you may need to cut some of the fabric away from the edge, so you don’t have a lot of fabric inside the corner, or fold over again, to make the edge look clean.  If you’ve serged, this won’t be necessary.

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shirt 4

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See how nice that looks!

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And repeat at hems.

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shirt 3

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This is a bit more subtle since the corners aren’t as sharp.  And it will be necessary in some places, but not in others since parts of the shirts hem may not have a curve.  You don’t need to run the gathering stitch across the whole hem, only at the curves.  And, there is no exact spot.  It’s ok to eye ball this.  Pull.  Hem stitch and Press.

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shirt 2

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Now show off your curves!

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Skirting the issue April 9, 2015

Filed under: Knitting,Refashioning,Sewing — blankenmom @ 3:19 pm
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I picked up a skirt while out in NJ at this great shop called Vintage Variety but had no idea what I’d be doing with it.  I just moved it around for about 5 years.

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I see your confusion at the word skirt here.  But if I wore it as a skirt, it would puddle around me.  The bottom, worn this way, hits just below the knee.  But I really liked it!  So it stayed in the back of my closet.  Calling to me every so often.

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I received a gift card for Joann’s fabric store the other day and went to poke around.  Nothing really coming to mind on what I wanted to make, I bought a few things for some up coming baby items and a new thread rack.

Way in the back I found some trims on sale – deep sale.  Sparkles galore!  Also some lovely coral ribbon in the exact shade I would like for every piece of clothing.

And this is when I finally figured out what to do with the skirt in the way back of my closet.

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This excellent piece of sequined trim covers the top elastic waistband section.  It is black, although it does appear a bit brown in this picture.  You can still see where I joined the two pieces together in the underarm area.  I chose this spot because it would be less noticeable while I was wearing it.  I bought a lot of it, so you may see it on something else later on.

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As for the rest of the dress, I chose to also give it a bit of sparkle since it had dots, it was ready-made for it.

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It’s sad it doesn’t sparkle as much in the pictures.  But I promise these little black, glue on jewels do in fact have a very nice sparkle!

I would like to take a moment here to point out that when you glue on jewels, you need to make sure you’re using washable glue.  As in, you can wash it and it will stay.  I made the mistake of using some regular sewing glue, but after looking at the bottle realized it was washable as in, it would wash off easily.  And, after almost finishing gluing them on and then realizing this I put it in hot water and yup, jewels floated right up.  Off to the craft store for a few more jewels and some specific jewel glue.  Much better!

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Something along these lines.  By-the-way, I usually use these jewels on the heads of my push pins on my cork boards.

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The main body has one size, black jewels and the “drops” at the bottom have larger grey jewels.  Gives a little something extra to the all black.

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I’m much in love with the simplicity and sparkles of this new dress!  Kind of reminds me of a flapper dress.  Now I’ll need to knit a shawl just for this dress – something with sequins I think?

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Just finished! April 1, 2015

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I’m finished.  Done.  Throw up my hands in so much not caring any longer.  Throw in the towel.  Finito.  Terminado.  Fertig.  Criochnaithe.  Fartik.  However you want to say it.  I’m finished

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If you want me, I’ll be under my desk… hiding.  Possibly with some wine.  And a coloring book.

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If the best part of your week is “Well, at least no one’s died so far.”, you’re not doing so hot.  Granted, the second-born’s oral surgery went well today and I did get to laugh at him a bit when he kept repeating himself, and petting me.  Not so funny when he keeps trying to open the car door on the way home.

With the insurance company coming out last week to “that house” to try to get us a bit more money from the water company’s insurance company, and saying “Well, we can get you more, but not enough.”, yeah, not cool.

When you’re actually excited one of the repair bills “doesn’t cost over $1000”.

Taxes due.  And in all new and confusing ways because of the new practice.

And when a close family member passed in a sudden and tragic way last week.  Definitely not cool.  Still working that one out.  Prayers would be welcome.

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At a certain point you just look up and say “Really?  I mean really?”

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But a slow progression to getting things done is creeping back in.  A small, but important one is the quilt I had been working on.  I finished it yesterday with its final ironing… and cat hair removal.  No thanks to the cat who then proceeded to lay on it again behind my back.

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Quilting is not my favorite, nor is it what I’m best at.  But I will make them on a rare occasion for someone special.

Mostly done by hand, excluding putting the blocks together, all the quilting, applique and border were done by hand.  A labor of love.  Hopefully the recipients feel it when it arrives.  (The paranoid part of me hopes they don’t look at it and think “Seriously?  What was she thinking?”  But I’m squashing her back into her hiding place and sending it anyways.)  These people have been amazing to us over the last 5 years and I’d do just about anything for them.

She gave me her kimono before we left to see if I could fix it, but wasn’t able to repair the damage because of where it was.  In frustration she just said “Toss it then.”  Bought on a work trip to Japan several years earlier, couldn’t bear to since it was her favorite.  So I kept it all these years and moves until I figured out what to do with it.  And this is what I ended up with.  The flowers are from the kimono and the blocks are all the different shades from the fabric.

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I wanted the flowers to move like they were floating in the wind, like the blossoms in Japan.  One stray even floated to the back.

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Sorta wished I had moved it further down, but too late now.

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With that finished and about 3 other sewing projects lined up to be mailed out, I’m able to move on to a few other projects on the less expensive end.  And a new gift from the hubby to assist in the home reno project will help immensely!  It’s not expensive, but it’ll help a ton.

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The second-born was joking the other day that we should start buying and laying the floor a board a day.  He may be on to something there?

I’m hoping that with a few projects to finish, my heart will begin to mend the loss of my loved one and I’ll start to feel normal again.

And hopefully with some new renters in soon, the nightmare of the last two and half years with “that house” will finally be over and we can start to move on.

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I know there will be a few more hiccups, hopefully with no more major losses anytime soon, and we can finally say were finished.  And smile.

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