Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cut ALL the THINGS!

This weekend was spent creating a bit of mayhem and using extreme prejudice against the front yard hedges. We're not just talking "a little hedge." We are talking about 60 feet of 4-8 feet high laurel, juniper, English Ivy and raspberry bushes all bundled up together in a mash of of sticky, sappy, thorny, prickly, spider infested fun.
The previous tenants left their yard clippings off to a corner that then over took the side and outside of the fence line creeping and crawling over 6 feet of open area and the corner stop sign. Nice going there dummy.  You could have caused a wreck at that corner. Steve discovered a way to whack it down enough to start the killing off process and open up the area enough for drivers to see and not wonder what monster truck was barreling up the hill at them as they took a right turn. All I can think is dumb ass. Anyway, I'd say a good 75% of the yard is done thanks in part to a kick butt team of Valkyrie, SchnoodleFish, and Foreman.

The Boys are settling nicely into the area.  Charlie has become a lot more peppy and even more playful and vocal. I think the Washington sea air has made a difference and agrees more with him than the dryer mountain air. His ear is gumming up fast though so Steve has to keep on it daily. Under vest in the area, people really sit up and take notice at how big, fluffy and kind he is. He's not the normal service dog and trust me, this boy know it.  He's really working Steve too. They are out and about more daily, walking and playing and hopefully this next week, pounding the pavement for interviews.
Bentley is also thriving better in the Washington air. The consistent squeaking and hyperawareness has all but dissipated. He's really turning into a mellow mushroom! Don't let that fool you with the energy levels though!  We are taking these guys out 3-4 times a day to hard core run around and chase and play ball in the front yard (I'm really not worried about them leaping over a 6' wide by 8' high laurel fence) which has both given them a ton of freedom.  Bentley fly's across the yard and turns on a dime! It's a blast to watch and he has so much fun.  It's a night and day difference with him these days and when he's under vest, he just glows. I'm still working on getting over my fear of the grocery store, so I'm hoping once things settle down for us this week, I can be brave enough for just B and I to head out on a breakfast run.
This weeks plan is to catch up on all the older orders and get them out of my hair. I'm also hoping to spend some good hard training time with Bentley. Steve and Charlie are daily sending out resumes and even though people are telling him he's "unemployable" it's not an answer he's willing to accept and he WILL find his dream job soon.

That's it for this evening. I'm off to enjoy the PNW sunset and the freshly shorn hedges.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Round 2: Ding!

So yesterday was a complete wash out. I did attempt to get started on the items, but nothing happened. I got them to the house out of storage but then I crawled back into bed and hid after that. As much as I love Seattle, and this area, it’s nothing but a huge, massive PTSD trigger for me. I try to think of the good things, but I see a corner or a store or a tree or something and BLAM! I’m back in the past and freaking out, I mean on the floor boards of the car bawling and screaming. I had no idea when we made this decision that it would be like this, but I'm going to have to learn to work through the fog and smoke and keep pushing forward and make new thoughts about that store or that tree.

Then, Judy and Steve started talked yesterday afternoon.
And talked and talked, and Judy being a mental health councilor started pointing Steve to various state programs, including one called Apple (Washington Apple Health Program) for low to no income. We were immediately approved! I get to go back on my blood pressure pills, my heart meds, have access to a neurologist for the TBI as well as a mental health councilor for the anger and stress.

Oh thank you to the almighty! I can’t even begin to tell you just how amazing this feels to know in a few days I can call and make an appointment. Judy did point out it’s still a crap shoot as far as seeing a PA or a MD or even just meeting with a nurse practitioner, but one way or another I can start getting help and if I can work with the stupid VA teams, I can work with the civilians.

So with that high note, I leave you with the plan of attack: Work on Maureen's pillows and bag; finish up Joane’s bag, find that dumb box with Annetta’s shabby chic quilt fabric because I just can’t find it anywhere.

Oh, and it’s been suggested that instead of emailing, I’m going to be brave and start making these posts on WinterSpring. I’ll back date to some of the fist entries so there is a little bit of a backstory.
Because. I can. And there is now a following of 6. Whoo.

And I just found Annetta's box of fabric!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Accountability Day, Oh Goodie.

I did manage to get three orders out yesterday. I’m going to work on my, “Oh holy hell I’ve had these for how many months and they are not out yet?” special requests so that is no longer looming over my head and making my mind not shut off.

  • 2-22” pillows with appliqué
  • 2-bags

Something else, I just can’t remember what it is at the moment, I have it written down somewhere.
We’ve been here officially 1 full week. It feels like 1 full year. As much as I adore Judy and Dave, this isn’t my home and I’m not able to just settle and get it together. My TBI is off the charts and I’ve managed to sew 4 projects incorrectly and it’s so frustrating. Steve is loosing faith every day. We’ve contacted several veteran’s services. All of them have turned into the “We’ll call in a few days” and they never have. Ranging from emergency housing to work services. There’s only so much more of that I can take, I can only imagine what it must be like for him. He’s told me on numerous occasions that he wished he’s just remained a stupid video game tester and not gotten the degree. That breaks my heart.

We’ve also hit the end of the line financially. Again. And Again. At 42, I really just don’t think my body or brain has the capability to take it much more. I don’t think we will be getting our deposit back from MSU Housing (and honestly I’m too chicken to call and ask). The VA releases the last of the his stipend money’s. It should get us through October if I’m VERY careful. After that, hands in the air.

I’m going to stop being a Debbie Downer and go get this day started. Have a good one. Oh, and here's proof that I *have* been working on the SchnoodleFish collars.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

3 Packet Roast and Gravy for the Crock Pot


Can one technically have a gravy orgasm? If so, yes Ma'am, you are welcome!
I've just died and gone into a food coma.  Why didn't I find this recipe BEFORE. I've now fed two Army vets this roast and it's like Oliver Twist in my kitchen, "Please Ma'am! May I have more????" The best part is, it's dead simple to make!
Next time, I'm going to need a bigger roast.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 beef roast, any kind, sized to fit your crockpot
  • 1 package Ranch Dressing mix
  • 1 package brown gravy mix
  • 1 package Italian dressing mix
  • 1/2 cup very warm water

Prep:
Haul out that crock pot baby! It's going to be a good day!

Steps:

  • Line your crock pot with a liner. (One less damn thing you have to clean up.)
  • Place roast in crockpot.

  • In a bowl combine the envelopes of mixes together.

  • Sprinkle on top of the roast. Or just dump it in, either way, make sure you hit the meat.

  • Pour in 1/2 cup warm water.

  • Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5.



Don't forget to take the meat out for a few minuets before you cut it and let it rest.  Makes it just that much juicer!


For the Gravy:

  • Pour the liquid from your crockpot liner into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  • Thicken with a cornsatrch slurry (1 Tablespoon cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons of COLD water)
  • Make sure the drippings are boiling before you add the cold water mix.
  • Makes a delicious gravy.



Again, you are WELCOME!
And a big old thank you to Keeper Worth Recipes for this amazing find! You are a rockstar!




Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lead Dog From Behind

Disclaimer (and before my trainer hollers at me):
No this is not where I normally allow Bentley to work from.  He is usually at my side; very close by my side. We were out walking and taking photos of his new MOLLE patches and I put him on a "long lead" so he could have a bit of time off.


July has been officially labeled as "Challenging." Ok, who am I kidding, it sucked weasels backwards thorough a knothole. While the beginning start out with grand possibilities it took a serious downturn right after the 4th when both dogs came down with a nasty virus that caused colitis. As the virus ebbed it totally unbalanced the boy's intestinal bacteria and they became overloaded with the wrong stuff.  So. for almost 3 weeks we've enjoyed the use of the Bissell SpotBot and nightly emergency potty breaks.  That's not to say we blame or are angry with the dogs at all. We've both been very worried and upset we couldn't make them feel better.  If they could have talked, I know they would have been apologizing for the accidents, we both have very polite canines. Needless to say, our whole way of living changed around keeping the dogs comfortable and recovering as quickly as possible without breaking the bank. Between vet visits, massive amounts of chicken and rice and medicines, Steve and I were on a lot of mac and cheese and hot dogs.  It was worth it.  This week took a turn up, and with new meds onboard, probiotics and a really good, easily digestible kibble suggested by my trainer, Ron, these two immediately snapped back to their old selves and for the first time since the 4th, I got a full night's sleep last night.

One of the things we discovered while the boys were officially "off duty" is that they still must have their manners.  Just because they didn't have their vest on doesn't mean they get to be knot-heads and forget their training.  We were accused by a few people of being to harsh on sick dogs by telling then no, they couldn't counter surf their noses or they couldn't run around bumping into and moving the furniture. "But they're sick! Give them a break!" If I let Bentley counter serf now, and he snags a piece of meat that could potentially upset his stomach even more, it's another trip to the vet and more sleepless nights as we run outside for emergency poos.  If they rough house now, they will get the idea that it's ok to do it in the future and that's just not acceptable. I'd rather get them outside in the fresh air and run around where they can stretch their legs and really run. I'm not mean, my Bentley is my life and Charlie is Steve's, but there must be rules, boundaries, and limitations no matter what - sick or 100%.

So yesterday when it became obvious the Boys were back (you could all but hear, "Dad, I'm board. Mom I'm board let go do something," the vests went on, and we took a small trip to the mall to walk around, get our feet under us again in the cool air, and see what we needed to focus on this week. I can report, we didn't lose any training ground and in many cases we all bonded even more tightly as our teams and were able to really communicate our needs with each other. It just rocked.  Sometimes the Alpha needs to let the others take point every now and then.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

MOLLE Bag Challenge Week 5 "Qué Será, Será "


OK so it's been weeks since I've been even able to consider changing out Bentley's bag, and even though I really want to do more of Tula Pink's City Sampler, I'm just flat exhausted from all Life Drama. Not because I can't do them, but because using just the solid fabrics doesn't make those blocks pop. I don't know, maybe if I could sit down and talk to her for 30 minuets....Anyway, my mother's favorite saying to me was qué será, será.  Every little struggle is a step forward, and what’s meant to be will eventually, BE.

Block Pattern:

This pattern is from Blossom Heart Quilts Free Feather Block Pattern. The pattern is very well written, super easy to follow and oh my gosh I could make these blocks all day and just have a blast doing so! I shrank the original size down to my needed 6" and yes, it made for an interesting few feather pieces, but I love the way it turned out!

Fabrics:

These are from my "stash" of Moda Bella Solids I've been using for my Canoe Ridge Fresh Mini Quilt Club patterns.  I found these at Main Street Quilting Company here in Bozeman, and I'm pretty sure I jut need to go buy the bolts. These are my "go to" colors and I love the way they make Bentley's vest pop with color!

Moda Bella Solids: Kansas Red
Moda Bella Solids: Prussian Blue
Moda Bella Solids: Feather
Moda Bella Solids: Cheddar
Moda Bella Solids: Longhorn
Moda Bella Solids: Chocolate
Moda Bella Solids: Pesto
Moda Bella Solids: Dark Teal
Moda Bella Solids: Merlot
Moda Bella Solids: Charcoal

Aurifil

This blocks threads is my tried and true Aurifil 40wt Cream (2021). I angles the quilting to echo the feather angle and again, did it right over the top of the Velcro hook tape on the back.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Crazy is the New Normal

Throughout this past 3 months, I’ve discovered a whole new term to the meaning of “normal.” Yes, it’s still just a setting on the dryer, but it’s something that I achieve daily to be, and typing that out actually sounds weird. Our lives as of late are so upended that crazy is the new normal, and honestly I am so damn tired I just can’t keep up. I hear all the time, “You can do this! Just keep trying.” Not to sound like a total cad, but seriously? Why didn’t *I* think of that? I should just get right up off this couch and start trying! I knew there was something I was forgetting to do today!

I don’t sleep anymore, I rarely eat, and at the moment I’ve gained back the 20-pounds I lost. With no job, no income and the VA upending everything financially, my biggest fear is coming true. I’m about 95% sure we are going to be living in the car by the end of August. Now add to this stress 2 sick service dogs. I get up at 5AM not to go and sew, but to clean, because as soon as the dogs are up, I have to focus on them and their health needs as well as Steve’s. I’m cooking 6 cups of rice and boiling 4-6 chicken parts daily so it can cool off, I can separate the fat, skin and bones then prep baggies of meals with pumpkin so the boys will have their bland diet in hopes that this horrible tummy yuck will stop and I can get them back on their healthy kibble and take that food budget and put it back to the humans. By this point I wash my 3rd set of dirty dishes just so I can keep the chicken fat smell out of my house. Which, by the way, is driving me so mad that I all but vomit as soon as the chicken starts to boil. No, I don’t have a dishwasher, it’s all by hand, so my skin is trashed and bleeding.

By 8AM, I go and work with Steve and get him up and moving which these days is a real treat both emotionally as well as physically. It’s hard enough mentally to take rejections over and over for jobs you’ve applied for, but when you are physically hurting on top of it, you start to take things personally and the whole thing snowballs. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is in more pain now then I’ve ever seen him. He’s no longer even trying to do daily exercises or stretches and is having to use a cane to help take the weight off the right hip. The one breakthrough with the medical VA was his neurosurgeon getting him a full back MRI in September. He’s been waiting for this for 10 years. He’s applying to jobs hand over fist, daily, with little to nothing to show for it. Most of these job are now for things that have absolutely nothing to do with his degree, which, FYI, for those of you who know the VA system should be pretty pissed about because it was your tax dollars that sent him to school; thank you. He’s had some amazing interviews and a few possibilities but there always seems to be that one little hitch: Charlie. The only assumption I can come up with is the fact it’s not about the dog, it’s about what the dog stands for.

My Valkyrie business is not where I want it either and honestly, I’m just not in the right frame of mind to make it work. I’ve talked to 2 different people/groups who’s whole job is to help small businesses like myself get the info and guidance and support they need, but apparently I have to be the squeaky wheel and demand these people help me over and over or I have to have more money, or holler louder to be heard over the “other women” who have more money because their husbands have the start up for them. Yeah, I’m fighting like hell to keep my girl afloat, but there’s only so much fight left in me and guess where my priority is at the moment?  It isn't the fabric that's for damn sure.

By 10-11 AM I’m on the phone with local officials desperately trying to get answers or help. I’ve contacted our state’s congressmen and senator: Steve Danes, John Walsh, as well as John Tester’s offices. All told me that while the situation is not uncommon, they are very busy and will need time to figure out a way to help. They need time? Well cool beans, let me know when they come up with answers in the meanwhile I’m going to go start packing what belongings I want to keep and start selling off furniture and things in order to pay for rent and my electricity because you have people in the system doing one thing and saying another! One of the staffers even asked if they could use this as a sound bit to help with his candidates campaign. Without having done anything! I’m discussed. At the same time, I’m also talking to the American Legion (which Steve is a member of), I’m talking to the VA, I’m talking to state officials, I’m talking to federal officials, I’m talking and talking and talking and it’s going NO WHERE except to making holes in my stomach that hurt and another day go by being closer and closer to no reason at all as to why Steve should have gone back to school; this had to be the dumbest damn decisions we've ever made.  I’m told go to the food bank (which by law you can go to only once every 30 days and you can get a 5-day supply). I'm told go get food stamps, which will take 45-60 days to process. I’m told his VA medical is too much to help with rent, even if the amount is wrong and has been wrong for 5 years but it's sure site not enough to pay the rent. I’m told to talk to this person then go talk to that person, who tells me to go back and talk to the first person who doesn’t know how to help.

By 1PM I’m madly sewing to get the daily orders out, and getting them to the PO before 4PM so I can then take some time with the dogs and go and walk them in hopes of a solid poo. Yeah I said it, but that is the goal. I live for the day that my dog poo solid again and my stomach doesn't clench when I hear Steve come in telling me Charlie is still off, maybe we could call the Vet again?  By this time the smoke is all over the valley from the WA and Canadian wildfires making everyone sneeze and itch. Can I risk turning on the AC and hoping I can find a way to pay the bill? I go back, answer calls, answer emails and start on dinner for Steve and I, usually mac and cheese in a box or if I managed to save a few bit of chicken that. By 6:30 I’m shutting down. By 7PM my muscles have locked up and I am in so much pain I can’t walk my dog for the evening and Steve has to take Bentley. By 8PM all I want to do is curl up and sob because I’m replaying everything in my head over and over and I can’t get it out or straightened out. This is my day for the past 3 months. It is agony.

The cherry on the top was on Friday when we finally got the paperwork back from the “new” councilor for Steve’s Voc Rehab, who’s whole purpose is to help him look for work. This is the same guy who was “helping” Steve in December. The one who didn’t even take the time to help with the resume, but tells him to go research and figure it out. Oh, yeah, that whole 6 month stipend thing we were told by both Seattle VA as well as University of Montana VA? Nope. He only get’s 2 payments total. One after 30-days from 7-14 with 10 days to hit the bank account and one after 60-days with 10-days to hit the account. That. Is. It. We are totally screwed. I’ve even asked others with very well meaning intentions to help Steve out with the resume. Most are associated with groups we are a part of, and we understand he is one small fish in a very large pond of fishes. But right now, I’m not too worried about the other fishes, I really need these bigger fishes to turn around and see this smaller fish trying to keep up and help him out. I have to figure out a way to get a handle for Charlie’s vest so Steve stops getting tangled up in the leash and miscueing and Charlie. In reality, it's just a $20.00 handle should be that big of a drama right? I mean come on, $20.00!  That, now is 2 days worth of chicken for the boys to eat until their stomachs settle. What do you think I’m going to choose?

So while I’m thrilled to see the photos of the family beach pictures, and ball games and new cars and all of that fun stuff, please understand, I’m not trying to be awful nor mean.  I'm not ignoring you on purpose. I’m not trying to be bitter. I’m not even trying to be a debbie-downer. The reason I'm not responding is because it hurts, because *I* want to be on the beach drinking something fruity and I want to go to a ballgame and eat a sausage or be on a cruise with my family and seeing the whales jump up! My family is sinking. Hard. I’m scratching and clawing and desperately trying to not just keep my head up, but those of my husband and our service dogs going in hopes that we will get that *one* special company that will extend their hand and offer Steve a chance. We just need that one chance, and he will knock their socks off with his work. We just have to keep moving forward. One toe, one paw, one foot; one forward movement at a time.