Thursday, March 29, 2012

Featured on Better After!

[and more about the aberturas]

What a thrill to have Lindsey feature my rattan loveseat on her blog, Better After! Her description of the former fabric cracked me up :)
Better After hosts before-and-after makeovers from all over the blog world, and Lindsey's commentary is always a hoot. In fact, saying hoot reminds me of Woot! and Lindsey would make a great writer for that site too!
Thanks so much, Lindsey, for including me.

Yesterday we went back to Cordoba to pick up the doors and windows we had picked out the day before. Unfortunately, failure to put down a deposit cost us our chosen front door :(  A doctor had been in earlier in the day and snatched it right out from under us. Oh well. *sigh* BUT, as the owner of the business pointed out, both doors we had chosen for the front and back were narrow and it would be best if at least one of them was wider. It was too late to do more than a cursory search last night and we have to go back again to pick up the cortinas (built-in roller blinds) for the windows, so hopefully we'll find something else we like then. I'm a little sad because I really liked that door, but I'm not heartbroken.

I WOULD have been heartbroken if someone had taken our bedroom and bathroom doors, though, because I absolutely adore them! They remind me of the doors in the first elementary school I attended back in the mid 60s: big solid wooden doors with windows in the top panel. The ones we bought have frosted glass which is great for privacy yet still allows some light through.
I snapped this photo as Ivan and Charlie were unloading everything out back, so it's laying on it's side. But try to imagine it upright and all nice and cleaned up. Being used, these doors and windows will require some TLC; they need to be stripped, stained and varnished. There will also be some minor repairs for gouges, missing chunks and broken window panes. But these are all good, solid pieces (most of them cedar) and so much better quality than what we could afford to buy new. Besides, I love the character of older doors and windows! And once refinished, they'll be beautiful AND functional.
We bought three big windows this size (not quite 2 meters wide and over a meter high) for the main living area. And peeking up behind you can see another window that will go in the bedroom; that one is 135 cm high and 120 cm wide.

We're still looking for windows for the kitchen and bath, and may have to go to a different place to find them since this guy deals mostly in bigger pieces. Between the large, walk-in pantry, back door and the fact that the stove will also go along that wall (and it's illegal to put a window above a stove), there won't be much space to put a kitchen window. In fact, we've determined it can't be any bigger than 75 cm wide and a meter high.

Did you know that the tops of windows are typically placed level with the tops of doors? I'd never paid any attention, but Ivan said you can tell when someone doesn't do it because then it looks "off". So there you have it, your fact for the day :)

And now I need to go stain some tongue-and-groove for the bedroom ceiling at the casita. Ivan wants to have the roof buttoned up by the end of the week, which is tomorrow, so I'd better get cracking!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


That's the word used here to refer to doors and windows (openings in a house).

And that's what we went looking for yesterday, because we're at the point where we need to have those dimensions.

But first we stopped at the mall where the Apple store is located, so we could drop off my poor, pitiful computer that's been having major power issues. I had packed a picnic lunch and we decided the second floor food court was a good place to eat. Initially we were going to sit out on the rooftop deck but it was a bit too cool and windy so we moved just indoors, right next to the windows. The views are pretty spectacular -- you can see cityscapes, like this one, in every direction:

Then we headed to a store that our architect recommended that features used aberturas (among other things). Now, you have to drag me, kicking and screaming, to go clothes shopping. But drop me into a place like this...
...and I'm happier than a pig in mud. I could spend HOURS in this kind of store.

Wait, I did spend hours there! Well, only a couple. I mean, how can you resist a place with such a vast amount of loveliness?
I know some of you wouldn't consider that eye candy. But how about this:
Oh yeah. Now we're talking! I've been trying to figure out a way to bring that big boy home with me, but it's waaaaaaay over my budget. *sigh*

Especially since I have no budget for a bathtub at all. We'll just have a shower, like 95% of Argentines. Tubs are rare, and antique tubs even more so. So yeah, that one will remain at the entrance to the store, sharing porch space with some pretty gorgeous doors and an odd assortment of bathroom paraphernalia.

But every once in a while I'll take out the photo and dream a little bubble bath dream.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Google Doodles

Do you ever wonder how Google chooses which birthdays or events to celebrate with a special logo (which I now know is called a doodle)? I mean, there has to be a ton of possibilities for every single day, and obviously Google doesn't do one every day. So how do they choose who -- or what -- to honor? I found the explanation here, AND you can even go look at all the doodles ever created.

In case you're having trouble with insomnia, it's a fun way to pass the time. 
Just sayin'.

What got me started on this whole thing was Friday's doodle celebrating what would have been the 125th birthday of Juan Gris.
Never heard of him? He was from Spain and part of the whole Cubist movement in painting. I thought the Google team did a great job combining some of his works into a doodle!

I came across his work a number of years ago, and when I wanted to try my hand at an art quilt, I decided to start with interpreting his Landscape with Houses at Cerat.
Cubism was perfect for my purpose because the corners don't have to meet -- an important criteria for someone whose sewing ability at the time left much to be desired.  And I liked that particular painting because, although cubist, it was still obviously a landscape.

I had a lot of fun making this quilt, which was a house warming gift for dear friends who had just bought their first house in Washington, D.C. She has it hanging in her dining room; at around 3' x 5' it does a nice job filling up wall space. In this photo it's impossible to see all the beads, buttons and other dimensional items I used, but you can see more detailed photos of the quilt here.

One of these years I'd like to do another art quilt for my own house. And sticking with the cubist style suits me, because even though I've improved in the sewing department, I'm still far from being an accomplished seamstress.    

Do you have a favorite Google doodle?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"There shall be showers of blessings..."

In my last post I mentioned we had a productive, and blessing filled, break in Sta. Rosa this past week. While I was working on the loveseat, Ivan was able to get the lawn mowed -- even though it took two days because the grass was really high, so he had to go slowly and double back on quite a bit of it -- and he fixed the water heater. Little-by-little we're chipping away at a very EXTENSIVE list of things that have to be done out there.

On Saturday night we went to dinner with good friends, Jorge and Silvia. We've known them for years; they were some of the first people I met when we visited Argentina back in '96, and of course Ivan has known them even longer. I consider Silvia one of my dearest friends and it was such a blessing to just have time with them, relaxing and enjoying a good meal together. With my language limitations, I'm not able to really have in-depth conversations with too many people but Silvia knows some English so we manage to communicate pretty well. Between their busy schedule and ours when we're out there (always mindful of that long to-do list), we aren't always able to get together when we go. But I told Ivan we need to make it a priority because I think they need it, and I know we do!

Our favorite mechanic is in Sta. Rosa and Ivan was hoping he could take a look at the car, which had some issues on our long trip to Uruguay and back. Thankfully Cristian was able to get it in on Tuesday morning, and are we ever glad he did! It turned out the timing belt was so dried out and cracked that it was really, REALLY close to failing -- which would have led to major engine damage. God surely protected us! And the timing belt was only one of many things that needed attention. It ended up taking Cristian from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. to do all the work.

A friend in Sta. Rosa told us about two places that sell used household items (everything from doors and windows, to furniture and appliances), and one of them was in Villa del Dique, about 20 minutes south of Sta. Rosa. Because it took all day Tuesday to get the car fixed, we stayed over an extra day, and decided to check out the place in Villa del Dique before heading home on Wednesday. We couldn't find the place so stopped at a gas station to ask. Apparently that store had closed, but another customer at the pumps approached Ivan and said that while he didn't have any doors or windows, he had a complete bathroom set he'd just removed from a house he's working on. So we followed him home and ended up buying the whole set, kit and kaboodle! It includes the toilet, bidet, the shower fixtures, and a 2 meter long slab of algarrobo wood with two sinks (excuse the messy green tarp hanging next to it) :
We loved the rustic charm of the wood (which needs some work) and these handles are perfection!
And the handles are on both sinks, the bidet and the shower!

Sadly, one of the sinks did not fare well in transit :(
The other sink already had a hairline crack (which Ivan hopes we can fix) but I don't think this one is salvageable. Ivan's been looking online and a replacement sink will cost more than half what we paid for the whole set :( But we have time to look and maybe we'll find another used sink that doesn't cost so much. We just think it's pretty cool how God provided the set! What are the chances you'll stop to ask directions at the very same time someone else is there who has something you need?! God is good!

After we arrived home Ivan checked at the bus terminal and found our printer had arrived. We've had trouble with our printers ever since we got back from the U.S. Ivan has spent countless hours trying to fix them, to no avail. We thought he had one fixed but it only worked a short time and then quit again. So we knew we had to break down and buy one. After looking at stores here and in Cordoba, Ivan got online and found a much better deal on MercadoLibre (South America's version of eBay) so he ordered it while we were still in Sta. Rosa. The mail system is too iffy, so the preferred method of sending a package is via the bus system (which is extensive), so that's why we picked it up at the bus terminal. It's going to be so nice having a printer again!

I've posted on the P365 blog and shared some photos of progress on the foundation. We're getting down to the wire on choosing a wall system (we're considering 3 options) AND we really need to get the doors and windows, pronto! We'd prefer to get good quality, used ones but so far have not been successful finding any. Hoping in the next few days we'll have time to drive to nearby towns and look.

And that's what's happening in my world: Showers of blessings!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lovin' the Loveseat

After an extra day in Sta. Rosa -- so our favorite mechanic could fix our car -- we arrived back in Carlos Paz last night. It was a wonderful time away, quite productive and filled with blessings. I'll share more tomorrow when I (hopefully) have more time, but for now I HAD to share photos of the completed loveseat!
This was the first time I've done a zippered cushion cover AND the first time to make and use piping. There were plenty of mistakes along the way, with some hair pulling and moans of frustration. A trip to find wifi so I could look up how to do it properly helped immeasurably! Overall we're very happy with the finished product...
especially compared to the before! 

I fell in love with this indoor/outdoor fabric but didn't buy a lot of it because I knew I'd have to use it sparingly for my hubby's sake. He's more of a solid kinda guy :) But this loveseat is smallish and I think the large floral looks fabulous on it. It will look even better when paired with the chairs once I turn the coordinating striped fabric into covers for them. The first day I took a photo of the fabric laying over a dining chair, up against the wall, so you could see how well the colors go:
But since my photography leaves much to be desired, it's hard to tell the walls are a light aqua (not white!) and the fabric looks great against it. Here's an old photo from when we painted the walls, that gives you a better idea of the wall color:

And here's a teaser photo to give you a hint of one of the blessings:

Hasta luego!

Linking to:

Friday, March 16, 2012


That was never more true for me than today! It's been a busy few months and even though conference was a blast, it wasn't exactly relaxing. But this afternoon we're heading to Sta. Rosa for a few days and I am sooooo excited! Because even though we've got a list of "to do" items, we'll also have time to rest.

I posted on my P365 blog this morning and shared how Ivan found a rattan love seat at a local thrift store. We're taking it to Sta. Rosa and pairing it with the rattan chairs already there. I'll be making new cushion covers for all of them this weekend, using some indoor/outdoor fabric that I brought back from the states. [photos of loveseat and fabric on the P365 blog]

Ivan's taking the mower and I'm not sure what tools so he can take care of some maintenance and repairs on the house.

Quite honestly, just being there is relaxing for us. It's so peaceful because it's out in the country and there are very few people around (it's mostly vacation homes in that neighborhood). I'm sure Ivan will periodically head down to the river to cool off. Who knows? I might even join him this time.

One thing I didn't put on the P365 blog was a progress report on the house project. When we left for Uruguay we knew the crew had not been able to hit anything solid in 10 of the 12 spots requiring a post (corners and middle of walls). Thankfully by the time we got back they'd dug down far enough in all ten spots and even started putting posts in three of the holes. They ended up having to dig about 2 meters down. This week the work continues.

Tuesday it rained all day and even though Ivan was out to the lot once, and the head of the crew twice, someone still managed to break into the casita. The thieves used a crow bar on the door and stole a bunch of hand tools the foundation crew stored inside, and some masonry trowels Ivan had left. Thankfully they didn't notice the pump motor wrapped in some paper in the corner. Ivan put a padlock on the door for now, but making the house less easy to break into is a priority. It was something on Ivan's list anyway; it just moved to the top.

While in Uruguay I shared on facebook how my computer quit working. It would not turn on the whole week :( We made plans to take it to the Apple store in Cordoba, but on Monday when I went to clean the keyboard before we left, it turned on! How weird is that? Have no idea why it wouldn't work, and then did, but I'm just glad it seems fine now.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Should we cheer up?

Someone on facebook linked to an article in Reader's Digest: Cheer Up! 17 Reasons It's A Great Time To Be Alive by Matt Ridley. It's a fun read and has it's merits. But for some reason it brought to mind an old Hee Haw classic:

I used to be a pretty optimistic person; all Miss Sunshine and glass-is-half-full kinda gal. But over the past dozen years I've turned into Debby Downer. I'm working to change that, but have you noticed how hard it is to break old habits? And being a Debby Downer has become a habit with me.

My first reaction is usually a negative one, no matter the topic of discussion. I've just come to expect the worst. Of people, places and situations.

There's a word for that. It's called cynical.

On an intellectual level I know that the only "person" I can trust is the Lord. Others will inevitably fail us. But when they do, when expectations are not met, how do you deal with that? In my case I think I kept lowering my expectations... and lowering them... and lowering them some more... until I had no expectations at all. I began expecting failure, and learned to live with it.

How sad is that?

Was everything a failure? No. But I disregarded anything else as an aberration and went right on expecting failure.

It's a slippery slope into a deep pit and, I'm finding, not an easy one to climb out of. What encourages me is the Word. God gave us so many examples of people whose expectations were not met, whose friends and family failed them, but when they kept their focus on God (like David) they did a whole lot better than when they didn't (like Elijah when he ran from Jezebel).  I'd rather be like David, wouldn't you? For all his faults -- and they were legion -- David loved God with all his heart, mind and strength and he came through situation after situation victorious.

So I am doing my best, and asking God to help me, banish the Debby Downer attitude once and for all. And, like Matt Ridley exhorts, "Dare to be an optimist!"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bread Pudding and Other Delights

I've been such a slacker when it comes to posting on this blog. However, I have been faithful with the P365 blog each week -- and am even remembering to take a photo a day!

Tomorrow we're heading to Uruguay for our annual missionary conference. It's always a great time of connecting with the other missionaries, singing hymns in English, brainstorming and learning together... and just having a change of scenery. This year we'll be staying at a campground in a small town right on the ocean. The camp isn't on the ocean but a 10 minute walk gets you to the beach. Usually we have little time to enjoy the beach, though; they keep us pretty busy!

I've been trying to use up leftovers and clear out the fridge these last few days. Last weekend I had made some cinnamon bread and we still had a few slices left. I happened to think that it might be just enough for bread pudding, so I looked up a recipe, and sure enough, we were good to go. I made that for breakfast yesterday morning and it was very yummy! But the recipe was waaaay off on baking time. At 45 minutes it was still quite liquidy, and actually took a full hour before it was completely done. But boy, was it worth it! So here's the recipe, with the adjusted baking time:

Cinnamon Bread Pudding

  • 6 slices day-old cinnamon (or plain) bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
  4.  Bake in the preheated oven for an hour, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.
Oh, and if you don't have cinnamon bread, don't sweat it. I'm sure it will be fine if you use plain bread; I just think it's extra good if you use cinnamon bread.

We've enjoyed some different salsas to go with the tortilla chips we found in Cordoba. Have you ever tried mango salsa? I like that sweet and savory mix. I don't have a recipe, per se; I just use what I have on hand. We like it best when we have some red (or yellow) pepper to add to the mix of mango, onion, dash of lemon juice and salt to taste. Cilantro makes any salsa better, in our opinion, and I had just enough the other day to add to it.

In the process of cleaning out the fridge today I made up a batch of tomato salsa using the last of our garden tomatoes, plus onion, roasted garlic, avocado and cucumber. Now my crisper is clean and we can look forward to the salsa with either chips, or on top the leftover beans and rice we'll be having later. Sadly there was no cilantro left. Our cilantro plant is growing, be it ever so sloooooowly. It took two weeks just to grow enough for the mango salsa the other day. If anyone has any tips on growing cilantro, please share!

I had hoped to have the top of the baby quilt done by now, so I could layer it with the batting and fabric backing and take it on the trip to quilt. Sadly I have not managed that. At the rate I'm going with this quilt, the baby will be a year old before she gets it.

I did get some other things made, though, and you can see them on my P365 blog post this week. All will be (or have been) given as gifts. Once I get the baby quilt done I'll have to do another "What I'm Creating" post.

You can also check out the P365 blog for progress on the lot. We're moving right along! It was pretty exciting this week to see work begin on the foundation. It will be fun to see how much is done by the time we get back from conference. They expect it to take a month to get the foundation finished, depending on any problems they encounter, as well as weather conditions.

It's hard to believe it's already March! Although I'm very thankful because March brings both cooler weather AND we get our city back from the tourists :)  Getting around has been so much easier this week! Temperatures finally climbed down from the high 90s/low 100s we've been having almost non-stop since mid-December, and we've enjoyed consistent temps in the mid-to-high 80s this week. One night it even went down into the 40s! We typically leave the windows open at night to let the cool air in, and we woke up COLD that next morning. 
I know you probably don't think that's very cold, but when you're used to the heat we've had, it IS cold! 

I'm not complaining though. I love it when the nights are cool and the days are warm!