Domestic Triumphs


Its still a bit too cold to do much outside, so we’ve been focusing on acquiring items to prepare for the thaw as well as items for inside. Our favorite “shopping mall” are local thrift stores, and the treasures we find sometimes amaze us.

Here’s one of our found treasures — an oil painting that is perfect for our dining room. I was absolutely thrilled.

One of my kitchen challenges has always been my dish rack. I felt like I started playing Tetris, then evolved into a leaning tower of disaster. With breakable dishes and cups, the tower of freshly washed dishes really became interesting. Jim surprised me with a double-decker dishrack, which I now love, love, love.

Maybe if I bought instant everything instead of making food from scratch I wouldn’t be so overjoyed to have a double-decker dishrack. Makes washing and stacking my dishes so much easier!

My pantry was starting to get nightmarish, so I decided to get some of those racks for canned food. We live so far from town that we shop once each month, which means we buy in bulk. Sounds easy enough until we get home and try to organize it all in the pantry. I opted to get commercial-quality racks that had to be ordered from a restaurant supply. They arrived and had to be assembled.

This is what they looked like when I finally figured out how to translate Chinese-English instructions.

Stacks of boxes piled on each other that took a lot of room were converted into an organized dream that is space efficient and makes getting ingredients really easy to access.

We hope as the cold is starting to ease that we can do some real work soon. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying finding ways of maximizing every inch of our future home.

Let There Be Light!


We have been focusing on finishing up the base coat of paint on anything that doesn’t need patching. Just the blah-white base coat is brightening things so much.

Corner of kitchen

This is one corner in the kitchen. You can see where we’ve put down the base coat — the vomit violet is still visible around the area that needs patching. Behind this wall was the busted water heater we took out. As soon as the wall is done drying out, we will be able to patch it.

While I was putting base coat down, Jim got busy with the wiring. A lot of the wiring was done wrong, so he redid the wiring in the kitchen ceiling, installed a huge light fixture, and set it up so it has an on-off switch instead of a pull cord hanging off a light bulb. Wow — talk about a major difference! The fixture has wood trim, but it’s hard to see against the ceiling (which will be completely replaced one day).


Soon the piping for the stove will be redone so it will be against the back wall instead, and then, we will repair the wall by the wood-burning oven.

We have also temporarily set up the bedroom with a cot and a few amenities. This way we can come in to work, spend one night, and the following day work until late afternoon. We have animals to feed, so we can’t be gone that long!


Jim has also been rewiring everything in the bedroom. There were light switches that didn’t work, exposed wires hanging from the ceiling, and a bare bulb with a pull chain in one corner.

He’s installed an old hanging lamp he had in storage that works with a dimmer switch! It’s perfect for us in the bedroom. And, yes, we still have newspaper taped to the windows. We haven’t finished painting yet, so there was no point in removing the paper.

My seedlings should be ready to plant next week, so we’ll probably focus a little on rototilling the garden plot next time we are there. I’m so excited to start on our crop of veggies!

Holiday Hiatus


We had thought to finish most of the kitchen before the holidays.  Included in the plans was moving the propane stove out of the dark corner.  After disconnecting OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe propane lines and moving the stove away from the wall, we found that wall and flooring was also in awful condition.  So, Jim patched and filled in the holes in the wall and put in cement on the floor.  Now we wait for everything to dry.

My Mom also came out to visit for Christmas, so we enlisted her help in priming a few walls in the bedroom.  The walls were a dark brick red with black ceiling and black floor — depressing!  So, focusing on two walls that don’t require much attention other than painting, Mom and I accomplished great feats!  Jim fired up the spray painter and we’ve discovered Mom loved that gizmo!

After these accomplishments, we decided to let the house rest so we could enjoy Mom’s company to go shopping, watching movies, story telling, cooking and laughing.  Mom made some of her infamous Apple Bread and Death by Chocolate Cake.  Jim ate so much cake he made himself sick, but that hasn’t stopped any of us from appreciating Mom’s culinary delights!

I absolutely hated to see Mom leave to go home, but we plan on making a trip this year to see her.  So, I guess a temporary separation isn’t too bad.

Drippy Weather Brings Us Inside


It looks like the warm weather is pretty much over, and now that the sky has become a constant cold shower (I prefer hot baths), concentrated work has begun on the inside of the house.  As reported in the last post, the kitchen had to be the first room to start on.

We took down the old counter and cleaned up the one wall to start work.  Jim found out about a type of adobe-mortar that is recommended for an adobe-style rammed earth mix.  Basically the adobe mix includes 10% of cement, and when it dries it looks like the typical adobe but is waterproof.  Jim mixes everything in a wheelbarrow outside and rolls it in when filled with the thick, damp goo.  It kind of looks like a very dark bread dough.

Here’s the result of 10 days work in repairing the one wall in the kitchen.  Its a little hard to see some of the deep holes in the first picture, but trust me — some of those holes made it possible to see the great outdoors when sitting on the floor.  Now its all filled in and smooth and we are preparing to begin working on the flooring in front of that wall.  We just have to let the wall finish drying.

We’re debating whether to paint the whole wall before installing the counter and sink or leaving the wall looking raw because the counter will be covering it.  The paint is going to be a plain, flat white to serve as a base coat for future painting.  At the present the walls are an awful shade of purple and the ceiling is made of sheets of plywood that are painted a very dark brown.

We have another week before we can install the counter, so if you get a chance, give me your opinion!  We are really torn and we continue to debate paint or no paint with no solid decision.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow we are going to try an experiment.  We will be bringing our cat (Chamako) with us.  He absolutely loves hunting, stalking and catching mice.  There are plenty of prey for him and although he’s never been here, we are hopeful that within a few minutes of exploration that he will begin the hunt.  Crossing our fingers!