I had a wonderful day yesterday. We did a bit of shopping, had lunch at our favorite restaurant and just enjoyed a day off. And later in the afternoon we packed some food and drinks and drove to the house to have ourselves a little bbq party there. The previous owner left a big bbq (made from an old oil drum) behind and we used that. Such fun!
And then we had the most perfect sunset to watch, from our own porch.
Life is good.

Three Things: 48

I turned 48 today. Okay, it would be nice to say I turned 28, but then again, I know what those 20 years were like. And though I do have a few regrets (but then again, too few to mention – name that song), some things that I would do differently if I could go back, I also know that most of the hard parts were just things that happen in life and I’m glad I lived through them.

One of my favorite quotes from a Star Trek movie is this one: ‘You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!’

Anyway, here are three things I’m promising myself today (and this year and the rest of my life):

– be kind to myself. I’m my own worst critic and that has to stop. I may not be perfect, but I’m not too bad either.

– accept my changing face and body. It’s what I am (middle aged) and what I’m becoming (old). There’s not much I can do about it. Okay, there are some things I can do, but I don’t want to. I even want to stop dying my hair.
That’s why I’m posting that picture above. Wrinkles and all (and an infection in my right eye, so no contact lenses and squinting).
The other part of this is taking beter care of my body. Stop ignoring my food intolerances (sugar and soy, but also dairy and gluten) and find solutions to eat the right way and still enjoy food, eating out and cooking.

– enjoy life, take time to stop, breathe and notice the good things.
My practical approach to this is to gift myself a notebook today and start a diary, but maybe I’ll also get back on the bandwagon with gratitude posts on Instagram (still have mixed feelings about that medium and its owner, I really love old-fashioned blogging a lot more)

Linking up with Carole’s Three on Thursday

The big renovation – phase 1

We’re already talking in phases here. Though we have the most beautiful plans and ideas, it’s just not possible to get it all done within a few weeks or even months. Partly because we don’t have the time and energy to do all that, partly because we have to save up money for the bigger parts of the renovation.

So phase 1 is actually quite simple: make it acceptable to move in.

I guess that’s a very vague description, because most people would like a house to be kind of finished before they move in. But we just want to move as soon as possible. It will save us rent (for the apartment we’re now living in), gas (for driving up and down almost daily – it’s about 25 minutes from where we live now), and it will be much easier for us to switch between work and renovating if we’re living in the house. Right now it’s hard to combine my work and his and the renovation, especially since we don’t have electricity and internet there yet, so we can’t just be there the whole day and work on our laptop when needed while the other one keeps working on the house.

So, here’s what we really need to do as soon as possible:

– install electrical wiring in the whole house (though we only install a junction box in rooms we’re not using for now) – T. is working on that right now, he thinks he’s about 75% done
– install/replace water pipes
– wait for Aqualectra to connect us to water and electricity. This can take a while, it depends if they see us as a new connection (then they will send someone over to inspect what we’ve done) or as an existing connection (there is a meter, but the house was disconnected years ago).
– get internet
– repair the roof – we had someone over at the house on Sunday who will give us an estimate (we can’t do it ourselves because we’re both afraid of heights)
– repair cesspit (it’s partly collapsed, but we think it can be saved)

Bedroom (the bigger one)

– remove ceiling – done
– add lamp (ceiling fan?), switches and outlets
– install air-conditioning
– clean walls (bat droppings!) – almost done
– clean floors (bat droppings!)
– clean windows

optional, but preferred before we move in:
– install ceiling
– paint walls
– paint door and door posts
– paint window bars

Small bathroom

– remove ceiling – done
– install ceiling
– add lamp, switches and outlets
– clean walls, floors and sink
– add faucet for sink
– add shower head and faucet

Hallway, stairs
– remove ceiling – done
– install light, switches and outlets
– clean walls
– clean floors

optional, but preferred before we move in:
– install ceiling
– paint walls

Big bathroom
– clean walls and floors
– make it possible to install washing machine (drain, tap)

optional, but preferred before we move in:
– paint walls
– install toilet (must be reconnected to partly collapsed cesspit)
– install sink


– clean cupboards and counter – done, but needs another round
– clean walls
– clean floor – done, but needs another round
– clean windows
– remove ceiling
– remove smelly cupboard
– install light, switches and outlets
– make a connection to either big gas bottles outside or a smaller one inside (in one of the kitchen cupboards)

optional, but preferred before we move in:
– install ceiling
– paint walls

Outside toilet
– clean – done
– connect water
– connect electricity

– install outside lights (for safety)
– remove weeds and bushes around the house to be able to reach all walls – almost done, need a bigger saw (chain saw?) for the last bushes

So yeah, there is some progress, but it’s a lot of work.

When we got the key, I was very optimistic about how quickly we could move in, but after 11 days of hard work, we’re both feeling that we’re not that young anymore.
We can do it, but we need to slow down and be reasonable or we end up being sick, burnt out and prone to accidents (T. cut his hand on the planer Monday, I managed to bruise my thumb so badly I couldn’t use it for the first two hours).
We still hope to move in July, but it might be August.

So I’m working on adjusting my attitude. My character and upbringing is to just keep going, but it’s wiser and healthier and better to just take it slowly and enjoy the process.
Poko poko, as the locals say.
Big life lessons included with the house…

Sometimes you've got to listen to the yarn

I’ve had this skein (and a similar one) in my stash for a while now. And since I got it, I’ve been thinking it would make a great poncho. I even started knitting one in January.
But then I tried to be practical and dismissed that idea again. I will hardly ever get a chance to wear it (it never gets that chilly here) and I don’t know anyone in my family who would wear a poncho. So I frogged what I had started and stuffed the yarn back into my closet.
Last week I dug it out (my stash isn’t that big anyway) and I cast on for a hat.
But soon I realized the color changes were actually too subtle for a hat and it would be a shame to break that beautiful (large) skein up into two or three hats. So I changed plans again.
I pondered making a shawl for a while, was really interested in a pattern for a cowl/shawl combination and then realized that was quite similar to a poncho and that the color changes would be beautiful in a simple poncho pattern like this one. So a poncho it is. I guess the yarn just wants to be a poncho.
You can’t really see how it looks since it’s still on short needles, but I already love it.

linking up with Nicole’s Crafting on

Weekend adventures

(I’m running out of time, so this is going to be a very short post).
Our weekend was full of work. Lots of time and energy spent on the house (I’ll share an update on that later this week), but when I look back at my pictures, I find proof that we somehow managed to squeeze in a lot of view admiring and beaches and sunsets too. Ah, the Caribbean life!

Three things I found in the house

I was going to stick with ‘three things that make me happy’ on Thursday, but today that list would be like this: 1. the house, 2. the house,  3. the house. And while true, that would make a very boring list.
So I decided to list three things I found in the house instead.

1. There was a bin in the kitchen and it felt like there was something in there. It took me a while to work up the courage to open the lid. I was going to dump everything in a garbage bag, but much to my surprise the only thing I found was this pair of flippers. In my size. Nothing wrong with them. just a little warped from standing up in a garbage bin for years. So I put a heavy stone on them to make them flat again and will probably be using them when snorkeling (not that I do a lot of snorkeling, but we’d like to)

2. In the kitchen, there’s an old closet (not pictured, this is one of the kitchen cupboards). It’s a smelly one and I’m not sure if I will be able to save it (but I’ll try, since we have a tight budget and hardly any furniture). Inside the cupboard, I found four smelly, stained towels. I took them home, washed them twice on high temperatures and then cut them up. Hey, presto! A nice stack of cleaning rags (boy, I really do need a lot those in this house right now!).

3. On the kitchen counter, I found a rolling pin. It was rolling nicely, but very dirty. I poured boiling water over it a few times and cleaned it thoroughly. Now it doesn’t roll very good (because it’s wet inside), but I’m hoping it will dry out. I’ve been rubbing it with oil to feed the wood and also let the oil drip inside the roller. We’ll see if that helps, otherwise, I’m throwing it away. It is kind of fun to try to save these things.

Bonus: we also found a skeleton in the closet! But it was so tiny (a really, really small salamander) that it got lost when I took out those towels, so I don’t have a picture of it.

Linking up with Carole’s Three on Thursday

House tour

So, let me warn you first. Don’t let all those pictures of the view from our house fool you. We’re not rich people. We can’t afford to buy a beautiful perfect house in a resort.
We did get lucky and found a fixer-upper in our price range that has the most beautiful view and quite a lot of land. But that comes with a price.
Before you look at these pictures you have to ditch the idea of the Caribbean dream house. It will be, one day, but we’re on a very tight budget, so for now our efforts are purely aimed at making it acceptable to live in, not at design and style.
The house had been empty and neglected for years (we don’t know how long, but we guess over ten years). The owners did get rid of the thornbushes in the yard before putting it on the market and I suspect it has been sort of cleaned a few times. But most of the wiring was stolen, the waterpipes were taken too and there were bats living inside the house. That last part isn’t really worrying me, bats don’t like people, so they are already moving out, but they’re not the most housetrained pets you could have. So there are bat droppings all over the place. The place has also been infested by termites, wasps, bees and other insects over time and though those were all exterminated, the remains of it are still visible.

Anyway. This will be a great before to look at when time passes. Oh, also, these pictures were taken before we actually got the keys, so that’s why the front door is closed (we entered in the back).

So, this is the front room, where you enter the house. Those double doors go out to the front porch. See the bat droppings? Yuk! It’s also all over the walls.

When you come in there’s a bathroom/toilet to the right (so to the left in the picture above this one). It’s a nice size (there’s empty space to the right of the toilet, but a mess.

On the left (right in that first picture) there are these stairs. The left one goes up to the upper room.

They removed part of the floor to find a bees nest. The windows are missing, that’s why there’s wood in front of them.
I know… It’s a mess.
But this room has so much potential. It could be a master bedroom (there’s enough space to add a small bathroom), or a living room. We’re also thinking it might be a beautiful space for a home office.

Behind those doors there’s a big attic space, on a slightly higher level. The floor is where that wire is. We (we’re kind of tall) can stand up straight in about half of it, but we’re dreaming of raising the roof and opening it up to make a really big balcony. Someday. For now we need to get rid of the bats that seem to have moved into that space since we started working on the house.

You’ve already seen this picture, but that’s the view from this room. And that would also be the view from that big balcony.


When you go down from those stairs a few pictures back you find this little hallway. Two rooms to the right, bathroom straight ahead. Bat droppings again.

This is the small bathroom. No toilet, since the cesspit is on the other side of the house on a higher part of the lot (so connecting to that one won’t work). When we remodel this bathroom we might add a small cesspit on this side of the house, so we can add a toilet.

First (slightly bigger) bedroom.

Second bedroom. This where we entered that day. The window is missing and the bars are broken (they already were). When we got the keys, the first thing we did is replace those bars by more sturdy ones (from a window in the kitchen that you cannot reach without a ladder). We don’t want people to enter the house this way. We’re also looking for a window to replace the missing one.

Back to the stairs and up to the big entrance room.

This is the side porch, seen from the front. That door in the back goes to the big bathroom. The white thing is a water tank. It was full, so that’s what I’m using to clean. In the end I want all this gone and fill it up with plants and comfortable chairs.

Front porch seen from the side. You can see it’s a very big front porch, with an open kitchen at the end. We want to get doors for the kitchen, to be able to close it (you don’t want people to come and steal your equipment when you’re on the beach). You can also see part of the front doors on the right of this picture. Those will be replaced by sturdier ones. When we can lock the house safely, we’ll get rid of those bars on the front porch.

The kitchen, only five days before we got the keys. But one of the owners got to the house and took away the table, one of the chairs (you can see those in the picture above this one) and that lamp. They left behind a lot of other stuff (like the wine glasses in the green tub and a desk in the garage), so I don’t really understand why they did this. I would have liked to have that table and two chairs. They were weathered, but sturdy.
Oh well.

Our property (ending after the first row of trees) seen from the house (husband for scale).

And another corner (car for scale), with that amazing view (it’s even better in real life).

The sunset shawl

I finally finished something. It’s been a slow knitting year so far. But I’m back (I hope).
It was fun to knit. It started as an assymetrical design (decreasing at one side), but I added a border.

In hindsight I should have done a few things differently. Because I didn’t know I wanted a border at first, I did a small border at the side where I later picked up stitches. That transition doesn’t look too smooth, but I didn’t want to start all over.
Also, one side is rolling a bit, but I don’t have a place to block it (yet). But then again, I love the colors and it’s perfectly functional to wear on chilly evenings or mornings.

Don’t laugh. We do have them. When your days have temperatures around 90 F, (or even higher sometimes) evenings and early mornings that are ‘only’ 77 F actually feel chilly, especially with the sea breeze.

I’m so happy to be knitting again!

linking up with Nicoles Crafting On

Weekend adventures

I came up with this title for what seems to be a ongoing series on Monday last week. And then we had a very not adventurous weekend. But that doesn’t matter. It was one of the best weekends we ever had.
Last Thursday we got a message that we could pass the house on Friday after all. There was a bit of a mess up. One of the sellers was abroad and he left an authorization for the other seller to sign in his name. But that somehow got lost in the communication at first. We were a bit annoyed by another delay and asked why he hadn’t authorize the other seller, then they called him and he said he already did. Anyway, we got the keys on Friday and we were so happy to finally start working on the house.

This weekend we:
– ripped out the ceilings in the lower part of the house (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a little hallway)
– cleaned up the mess we made and dropped it off at the landfill
Well, that was sort of an adventure – we are used to a very organized way of dropping off garbage, in Holland you have to sort everything into the right container and there are people keeping an eye on it to make sure you do it right. Here you drive up a hill and just dump whatever you want to get rid off and then they shovel it into a bigger heap with the rest of it. They weigh the car before and after and then bill the weight of what you left behind.
– T. repaired three windows that weren’t working correctly (thus saving us the costs of replacing them)
– T. redid all the electric wiring in the bathroom and one of the bedrooms (the whole house needs to be rewired, most of it was stolen)
– I cut away all the bushes growing at (and into) the front and the side of the house.
– I sweeped the floor of the big room (but it’s still not clean, there were bats living in the attic, and those droppings… yuk!)
– I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen (including the floor). I will probably do that a few more times before I’ll actually prepare food there, but it looks so much better already!

I’ll post a real housetour later this week (if I can find some time), but that’s it for now.
Oh! Wait! It’s not weekend post if I don’t post a sunset, isn’t it? This is a very clouded one, but taken from our own porch. So, wow!