Thursday, February 28, 2013

So This Happened Yesterday ...

The funny thing  was that I was having a bad kitchen day and this meal was the one I pulled out of the hat to save dinner and The National Post's Gastropost thought it looked pretty yummy too.

I've been cooking a lot lately and am really enjoying toying and modifying recipes to suit my gluten free, meat free and dairy free diet.  My husband won't eat any of it, he is a meat and cheese kinda guy, but Fin and I and my friends are enjoying the Mother Ship kitchen experiments.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Operation Freedom Forty

So, this is what operation freedom forty looks like people.  Our new house is located nearby the fishing village of Salinas Grandes, which is on the coast of Northern Nicaragua just about a 25 minute drive into the city of Leon.  

We were told in December that our house would be turn key move in ready in February. Looks like we'll be moving in next week!   Don't worry we never believed for a second we'd be closing on this house in 60 days from that day in early December.  We are in fact aiming to move in this fall for the entire winter. 

We are having a zinc roof put on the house.  The metal framing is complete and the zinc will follow hopefully in the next two weeks. The zinc will be covered by a layer of clay tiles. (Seen in the previous post.) The ends of the clay will be filled in with cement to keep the bats and lizards OUT! The inside of the roof will be lined with cane which looks really nice when complete. The cane itself is treated to detract bugs before it is hung.  Any metal framing will be covered with wood and then stained a natural colour.  

Front entrance of the house.  We will build a dip pool out front here. The water will help cool the house.

Nothing moves quickly when building a house in any country.  This house began in early October. The house is only 900 square feet.  If you look closely at  the photo above you can see the workmen are beginning to smooth the walls under and around the windows.

Side view of the house. Ocean to the left.

We have plans to add natural fencing down our lot lines comprised of short palm trees for shade and privacy and cactus for security.  These plants are native to this area and once we are down there living we can spend the time to keep them watered so they will establish.

Other side of the house with side door.  The outdoor bathroom & shower will go on this side.
We have seen plans and actually stayed in a hotel with an outdoor shower that drained into the root bed of the tree which was within the privacy wall of the outdoor bathroom.  We have definite plans to work with a similar model for our second bath.

Of course Big Daddy P has been researching solar power for the hot water heater in the shower and to add to along the line so that we can support the electricity to power the house. Electricity in Nicaragua can be spotty and is very expensive. Besides that, we like the idea of existing off grid as much as possible. 

We have left a large portion of our lot on the back side of the house undeveloped at this time. We want to see how life in Nicaragua will unfold for us before we commit to building anything more. If all is working out great then a two car garage with a full two bedroom two bathroom suite with 360 degree views of the ocean and volcanos will be built on top of the garage as our main living space. That will leave the little house as a full time rental and to house our guests. 

Given that we've bought and built on a kick ass surf break and we are only 2km to Puerto Sandino surf break we anticipate a lot of visitors and a healthy rental return on our investment!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hate Grocery Store Plastic Bags? Me Too.

If the winter blahs have you trapped in side and you need a project to do I have one for you!  Do you have a stock pile of plastic grocery store bags hanging around?  You don't have a giant dog to pick up after and use up those plastic bags? Well how about a crochet project!

One of our local artists, Mary Helen Ellis, is a client at the yoga studio where I guide classes.  She came in with the most amazing yoga mat bag I had ever seen.  She had crocheted it out of plastic grocery store bags!  Yoga and crocheting or knitting go hand in hand (pun intended) as both lend themselves to the practice and study of movement meditation allowing the hands to be busy while the mind gets to relax. So it was not a surprise to see Mary Helen was mastering both.

I have a disdain for plastic grocery store bags. I usually carry my own reusable grocery bags but when I saw this yoga mat bag I was totally stoked about the possibilities of reusing bags so they don't end up in our landfills or worse yet our beautiful ocean.

Just before Christmas Mary Helen gifted me with my very own hand bag crocheted out of grocery bags.  The gift came with a caveat - that I learn to crochet my own bags.  Mary Helen is a self taught crocheter and she has confidence in my abilities...

Crocheted from plastic grocery store bags by Mary Helen Ellis

This week Mary Helen arrived, true to her word - and left me with the directions to make my very own bags. Thought I'd share them with y'all:

Directions on HOW TO make your own STEP ONE.


To find out more about Mary Helen Ellis & check out her beautiful property check out her website Hawks Rest Cabins.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Casa No Name Salinas Grandes Nicaragua

This is our beach!  Isn't it beautiful?  The sand is very dark, even black in some areas and the seashells are a stark white lying against the sand. We have yet to show a proper post of the land we have bought and the house we are beginning to build in Salinas Grandes, Nicaragua, so here you are.  

Standing on the beach in front of our build looking north.

Standing on the beach in front of our build looking south - note the rancho.
I can't wait to wake up with the sun and walk this expansive stretch of beach. Under the bright full moon we will be able to go out on the beach to keep baby turtles safe as they hatch and make their way to the water. This beach holds many great adventures for us. 

Standing in the scrub between the beach and our build.
Casa No Name ... which knocks the socks off Casa Albatross (our last house owned and dumped after the housing crisis in the USA) has yet to be appropriately titled.  I keep calling it Casa Pequeno (small in Spanish) but we are open to suggestions.... that is your cue to leave us a comment with your suggestion!  So far we have 'Sur' endipity, Sur'fin, Surf Dog and are you ready for Big Daddy P's suggestion; Palicimo Seximo.  Oh dear gawd. 

Front veranda and main entrance to the house.

Side lot. Big Daddy P, Fin and our friend Paul.

Standing inside the house looking at the bedrooms.

These guys are using a water level.

Big Daddy P holding clay roof tiles to be laid over a zinc roof.

The lots are grouped into 10 lots each with a communal area with a rancho shared between the houses. This photo is taken from the rancho adjacent to our lot.  You can see in the photo below our friend Paul's white circular house named Apres Surf.  It's going to be a three story three bedroom three bath house with spectacular views from the top deck.  The fishermen already use Paul's house as a landmark since it is the first house on that stretch of beach.

In the rancho looking at Paul's white house Casa Apres Surf.
That is our build in that clump of trees just over wall line of the community building.

Our friends Sasha, Shamus and Big Daddy P chowing down.

Lobster and fish dinner.
Thank you to Rafael & Donovan our developer / builders for hosting such a delicious dinner in the rancho.  We feasted on fresh local caught fish and lobster.  The fishing co-op is in the town of Salinas Grandes which is a short drive from our house. You can bet Big Daddy P and I will become regular faces at that co-op. Steve is very excited to get spear fishing and has replaced all the spear gun's components already.
Finster entertaining us after dinner in the rancho.

A spectacular end to our day. Squeeeeee! This is our front yard! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Beach Dogs in Salinas Grandes

There is no shortage of skinny stray dogs in Nicaragua.  When we arrived at the beach in Salinas Grandes to check on our build the first thing to take our hearts were these gorgeous little puppies!  I  hadn't even seen the beach or our lot yet, you would think I'd be running to look, but no, I got all caught up in puppies!  Who can resist a puppy in paradise especially with a three year old girl's sheer delight at her discovery of them?   

There were two pups with a gentle mama and another female pup about a year old from her litter last fall.  Papa dog was floating around, although, he was not nearly as social as the ladies. Ha-ha!  Sounds familiar.

Finley is absolutely smitten with the puppy.

Fin petting / trying to pick up a pup.

The next day when we returned to the site we were with our friends Sasha and Shamus.  They brought along a big bag of dog food for those puppies and their family.  The dogs wasted no time plowing into the kibble.  I swear when we came back again the following day we could see the puppies had filled out, we could see a few less ribs.  Of course the workmen building the three houses are caring somewhat for the dogs. They do get the odd scrap and we fed  beach dogs some pieces of fish from a delicious dinner put on by our builder. Check the next post for that spread!

We can't wait to get down to Nicaragua and have some beach dogs to love.  It's been a long year here in our house since we lost our dog Cecil last January.  A home is just not complete without a dog to love!