Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hand made gifts

When we were invited to our friend Fernando's for his sisters birthday, I knew I would need to take a gift. While we had been at the house, I had noticed a small butterfly decoration, and took that as my inspiration. 

I set to work on a plastic, painted, melted sun catcher of sorts. Not really a wind chime, because it had no noisy bits (I thought of adding shells, but decided less was more). 

This is the finished product. Four strands hanging from a painted sand dollar. Plastic soda bottle butterflies, green plastic soda bottle "beads" and flowers from yogurt bottles and beads. The butterflies  are painted different on both side. 

Tricky little thing to photograph. When we got to the sisters house, who the present was for, I saw that she had many butterfly decorations, so I knew it would be a home run!  I couldn't wait for Viviana to open it! She was thrilled, and all the ladies loved it, they passed it around and oohed and awed, it was great! I certainly knew I had to make more for Christmas!

Unfortunately time just got away from me, and I only got one new one made. But, this is Ecuador and Melissa (Fernando's wife) and Lola (Fernando's mom) live in the same house, so one was fine. (Now I know when Melissa's bday is, so she can have her own soon enough)

The plastic bottle when cut into shapes and held over flame, really turns into "shrinkydinks", I played with different shaped butterflies on this one. 

Played with more "beads" making the circles, and coloring these. (The "beads" in the first project were squares cut out of plastic, with the edges softens by flame)

Not everyone was home when we dropped it off, so they didn't open anything, but it was proudly displayed, when we checked in with them later. They think I'm some sort of witch I'm sure, haha!

Now that Christmas is over, I need to get back to my curtain project. Time sure flies when you're "retired"... Stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Feliz Navidad

Let me tell you, it really is difficult to get "in the Christmas spirit" when it's 80 degrees! I went to the mall in Bahia the other day, and you really didn't know it was Christmas there either, no music! Very little decorations in our small little town, a frivolous expense, so I just takes some getting used to. (Don't get me wrong, I HATE the capitalism and frenzy of the holiday in the States, so this is nice)

Our little town doesn't even have a Christmas tree, but San Clemente does...and will probably have crazy festivities there tonight, but we will stay home. Quiet is more our style.

They used the same tree form as last year, but did ribbon instead of the plastic bottles. San Clemente also does a large nativity, out doing themselves from year to year...

This year a fountain! (Last year they added the water feature in the form of a creek, complete with alligator, maybe it was supposed to be mangroves.)

This is a great picture of my home town at Christmas, you can take the girl from the beach, but oh wait! I'm still AT THE BEACH! 

So, Feliz Navidad! Hope wherever you are, you are happy and feeling loved. And stay tuned...the adventure continues!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

New shoes

I grew up doing errands for my mom, we lived near "town" where I could do some shopping at the market, help with banking and post office, pick up at the pharmacy or cleaners, and the shoe repair. Most "young adults" my age (or younger) have probably never had anything repaired, so much is disposable these days, bought cheap, so why fix it, just buy new?

I had two pair of flip flop sandals that needed new soles. Three weeks ago I put them in a ziplock bag and put that bag by my purse, it still took me two weeks to take them with me to town! And the day I took them, Fernando the shoe repair guy had closed for lunch! But Joffre is one storefront down and he said "leave them with me", I thought he meant so that I'd have them next time I saw Fernando, but when I went to the fruit truck yesterday, Joffre had already turned them in to him.

One pair he said was Basura, trash, he said that because the fabric on the top of the sole was ripped, and he didn't have any to repair it (I could have probably done it, but oh well) the other pair he re-soled and presto chango! New shoes!

Now, if I had been the one to turn them in the Fernando, I would have asked if black sole was available, and I would have asked him if he had anything to "pretty up" the metal ring, that has been ruined by the salt air, but again, oh well.

I will sand down the metal ring a little, and coat it with my oil based paint, now do I do silver or black? Hmmm decisions... So a little more work and I'll have new shoes for $3!

Been pretty unmotivated the last couple days, but today I really do need to make some Christmas presents, as I was reminded yesterday that it is in less than a week! Good grief, where do the days go? So, stay tuned! The adventure continues!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pizza delivery

For most of my readers, on any given day, if you wanted pizza your options would be numerous. Your options would include jumping in your car and driving to your favorite pizza place, or calling one of a hundred pizza delivery places and within X amount of time, voila! hot and fresh at your door...not so in this tiny fishing village of San Jacinto, at least not until recently.

A restaurant in San Clemente Ceibo y Bambu is owned and operated by an Ecuadorean man and his Spanish wife. When we first moved to San Alejo we would frequent it quite often, as it was one of the few places who offered other things than the usual coastal fare. The had fish and shrimp, but would put the Spanish flare in the spices and cooking techniques, and they also offered a very good hamburger, not to mention when they started up the brick pizza oven!

But alas, when we moved yet another mile farther away (a year ago yesterday) we went less and less. We liked the place, the atmosphere is great during the day, but at night the lights are TOO BRIGHT, like an operating room, so again, a reason we've not been lately.

About a month ago on Facebook they ( the restaurant) put the question out, would we be interested in delivery? And so many of us expats shouted yes! We live two miles away, and our friends down at the end of the Boca live three miles, that's a pretty long trek even for pizza! (Round trip 6 miles) Finally the menu was posted online and delivery was starting Tuesday thru Sunday from 3-8pm. 

So, Mike and I decided on what kind we wanted, we were getting two, because...leftovers! Yeah!! Then of course our Ecuadorean cell phone was dead, because we rarely use it, and had to wait for it to charge a little...but finally I was able to call in my order. They put the young daughter on the phone, but she could not understand my directions, giving directions is tricky because we have no address and we have no street in front of us, we are on the back side. After a bit of a struggle on the phone, she hung up and in a minute or so another lady called, Linda is an expat living here, though we've never met her. She was able to make sure the order was correct, and got the directions, we still said maybe call when they get to El Centro San Jacinto and I could walk towards the street.

That phone call from Linda was 5:45, we had our wonderful pizzas and were eating within an hour! I did have to go the two short blocks to town to meet the delivery guy, but he gave me a ride back to the house, and now knows where we live. We ate our fill, and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day. Next time, I may just call Linda directly, and let her place the order, or maybe I'll bone up on my directional Spanish, and try my hand again. (Of course it should be easier since he knows where we live now)

Another first on the coast of Ecuador! Things are progressing all the time, I'm getting eggs, beer, water, coffee and now pizza delivered ! Life does NOT suck so, stay tuned...the adventure continues!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Making muebles

Los muebles, is furniture in Spanish. When we moved into this house (almost a year to the day...) the sofa we bought from neighbors didn't fit. We bought a 3piece sectional, footstool, chair and coffee table, and we could only fit one sectional piece in the tv room! We dreamed of having something built, and finally had some extra cash to spend, so we called our carpenter Manuel.

He had recently built a beautiful banquette at our friends house, and outdoor benches for their patio space, we learned the word mismo which is supposed to mean "exactly". (When I translated it, it came up "the same") and so we tried to convey what we wanted. Manuel is good with our limited Spanish, he's been dealing with gringos for awhile, and between the English he's learned, pen, paper and sign language we get the point across...mostly

We had 5 things on our list, kitchen island/counter, couch/seating, two side tables and a footstool. He started on the kitchen island

Not exactly the picture I showed him, but it will have a bottom shelf for the big water bottles, and another shelf for some dishes. Counter height, far better than the plastic card table I'd been using, and much more flat surface.

Veronica checking to see if Manuel's still working. She also saw the neighbor cat back there the other day, so she may be on "cat patrol".

Two days and maybe $75 worth of materials, not bad. He trimmed it out very nicely, made my space for dishes a bit smaller, but like I said, it's mucho mejor. (Much better)

Now onto the next project, the seating for the tv room...we requested a large bench, with hinged lid for storage. We requested it be lower than the sofa we had in there, to accommodate for the cushions we would have made...we went over and over with the measurements, he understood about the cushions, we agreed on 30 cm, somehow the bench ended up being 36 cm, hmmmmm. We put interim cushions on it, but decided it wasn't comfortable enough, and maybe the sofa wasn't so bad, ugh.

We had agreed to Manuel for 5 days, it was the nearing the end, everybody was tired, and he still had my side table, and the footstool to build. We decided to end it with what he had done, we'd already purchased the wood, but really didn't want to go over budget for two more days of labor, he understood and was happy with it.

So we had $125 in labor, and $250 in wood, have waaaaaaay more storage than we did a week ago, and even tho the bench seating didn't work out for the tv room, it will be used. We will go to PortoViejo one of these days to the cushion guy, and who knows, maybe he can make really comfy cushions for us. Mike's side table turned out bigger than the measurements given too, but he's got it all figured out.

Manuel is 62 years old, and from now on I think we will stick to smaller projects. 2-3 days would be better, it also means we don't have to save up as much money. He's happy for the work, and is a good guy, but we can tell when he's tired. He was very thankful for our new shade structure, it made for better working conditions, we just asked for too much. (Typical American, right?)

All is good, another great day on the coast of Ecuador, waiting for the organic egg man and then it'll be walk on the beach time. Mimosas and brunch with friends maƱ stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


The first time I saw the word Listo, was on an Ecuadorean washing machine, it means ready, finished, the end, on the washing machine it meant the washing cycle was over, here it means I'm finally done with my Driftwood Christmas tree...

And the tree topper

Two starfish and a bow made from a plastic soda bottle.

Everyone who stops by to say hello over the fence says it's muy Linda, very pretty, and I would have to agree with them. Now I need to get onto other things, I've been commissioned to make curtains and was even paid for the project with a sewing machine! Woot woot, Merry Christmas to me!!

The last of the ornaments, the colored slings really made these cute.

Shadrach photobomb, he's always wanting to be so close...

And a close up, another project I saw on Pinterest and have been wanting to do. Love how the glittered starfish turned out. (Inspiration picture below)

Manuel has started our work, kitchen island/counter and new seating and side tables in the office/tv room. He's working on the kitchen counter first, which is great because I'll need to use the plastic table I'm using now for sewing. Not a project I can do outside...

Another beautiful day on the coast of Ecuador, even with all these Christmas decorations around me, it doesn't really FEEL like December, probably because it's pushing 85F/35C. Not that I'm complaining, I've said before, and will say again...I'd rather shovel sand, than snow.

Enjoy the day, stay warm (if you're in the cold) and stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas tree still in progress...

I've been trying to get Christmas stuff wrapped up, so I can move on to other projects, but the days just drain away and not everything gets done. I'm still working on the tree topper, so the tree is not complete, and I haven't decorated under it either...just like the holiday season, never enough hours in the day!

I did finish some non tree decorations...

Mike likes my Blue footed Boobie so well he wants it to be my "signature" and I am getting better at him...

And here are some more ornaments up close, my favorite are the plastic bottle poinsettias!

Yogurt bottle with washi tape, certainly not perfected, I think I need more strips... Bottom of the soda bottle flower, and starburst a made from drinking straws.

I painted some shells with aluminum paint, and didn't drill holes in them first, so I'm making little embroidery thread slings/nets for them, they'll be great.

But that's it! I'm not making anymore ornaments this year! Doesn't look like we will make it to Bahia to buy an artificial tree this year, next week we will have Manuel start some work, and they'll probably be sold out. Oh well, the way the days drain away it'll be Ano Nuevo (New Years) before we know it!! I checked in Charapoto while there on Sunday for market, only ONE store had ONE tree, and it turned out to be too big for our little house and it was $48.

Manuel just stopped by to get our ideas for the work we've commissioned, the ATM was down, so we couldn't give him money for materials. But it looks like he will start work in the morning,so....

Stay tuned! The adventure continues!