Category: House

Unbearable cuteness…in my laundry?…And 23 weeks, today.


There is so much cuteness hanging up in my living room on the clothes-drying rack right now.  I’ve started washing the little onesies and other baby clothes we’ve gathered, and they are painfully cute.  Today, we picked up two ginormous sacks of hand-me-downs from a cousin whose little boy has outgrown them, and it’s quite an ecclectic collection… some of my favorites so far are:

  1. The pimp coat (a white faux-fur hooded coat)
  2. The intellectual sweater (a bland, beige cardigan from Bennetton that looks like something I would have worn to death in grad school- much to the chagrin of my then-boyfriend.)
  3. The little sea-green baby converse that Little Dude is going to ROCK. 😛

Of course, we have things that I brought back from the US and that Mom and Dad brought over, but it’s always fun to see what you get in those hand-me-downs! Lil’ Dude is going to rock. (I know I just said that, but it’s ever-so-true!)

Little Dude also has treasures from America–

  1. Mom tracked down a blanket that Grandma (Dad’s Mom) made for my eldest sibling…as the story goes, it’s the only handicraft she ever made, and she had a hell of a time doing it. It is blue and pink crocheted scallops, and quite special.
  2. Grandma (Mom’s Mom, still causing trouble) made a lovely green, soft, knit blanket…. gentle rows of sage green and white contrasted with knitted rows….lovely.
  3. Mom made a lovely golden blanket, quite similar to this… all of Mom’s work is impressive 🙂
  4. Mom found a little weensie knit hooded jumper that she’d made for me (and that I’d worn) as a baby…it’s an adorable little yellow ball of cuteness.

On top of this, Mom knitted some very groovy ensembles…another hooded jumper, a couple pairs of baby booties, an extra cool pair of booties that look like moon boots… and, (photos must come soon, I realize) a ‘garlic bulb’. I’ll explain.

I made a ‘monkey sock’ for Bestie’s Baby….a light cotton circular-knit tube, closed at one end, that was intended to function as a blanket that the little muppet wouldn’t kick off. I thought this would be a good idea since I’d been watching my little niece kick blankets off (for the fun of it) while in her stroller and at times when a blanket really was a good idea. I didn’t know if Bestie Baby would like it, or if Bestie would think it looked like some trash, but she appreciated it, and Bestie Baby rocked it very well.

Since that worked, I decided to make a bigger and warmer one for my Little Dude…Little Dude will be living in a much cooler climate than Bestie Baby, so his was knit with thicker yarn…and I made this one bigger so he could use it for longer. It’s pea green with buttery yellow stripes. That sounds nasty, but it’s cute. It’s a ‘pea pod’.

Then, Mom and Dad came for a visit, so Mom made her own groovy baby sock…. Obviously, she made a ‘garlic bulb’ 🙂 Ribbed at the top to cling to baby’s midsection, big around the legs for kicking room, and tied at the bottom, so a diaper change doesn’t necessarily require removal of the sock.

And then (and I realize it’s all gotten out of hand by this point, but don’t worry…it’s the last one), I made a ‘humpty dumpty’. (Apparently, I can’t help myself with the nicknames for random objects. Carry on.) The ‘humpty dumpty’ is a groovy striped sock with legs at the very bottom…the legs can be loosely tied together when the baby is sleeping, so it is just a sock…. but if you want to use it in the Baby Bjorn, untie the legs, slide the Little Dude down, and roll the top front down into a little pillow for the Bjorn… the back can roll up over the head like a little hood. Cozy goodness on the go.

As I said, I stopped after making the ‘humpty dumpty’ as I realized this had all gone too far 🙂

Aside from all of these things, Little Dude has groovy onesie hand-me-downs from Bestie’s Baby… (tie-dye, peace symbols, Bob Marley… the usual) and a Paul Frank monkey suit I found at a consignment store.

My child does not need any more clothes… until he’s one. Then we’ll need more.

And finally, today marks the end of week #23 of this pregnancy 😉 I’m almost 6 months! Craziness 😉

In Re: Houses…


A while back, I posted about my excitement/anxiety/angst/elation regarding a possible new house/mortgage/move… This being Portugal, all negotiations go through an agent, and negotiations are slow. Very slow.

Yadda yadda yadda, we’re not going to buy the house. (The details getting us to this point are pretty underwhelming, so I’ve decided to skip them. Because I care. About you. And stuff you’re going through right now.)

We still might rent the house, however…. or we might stick it out in Mafrica through the summer (which will actually be awesome) and then move into the apartment we own have a mortgage on in Malveira. (Malveira, for those of you who don’t live there, is a pretty little place, though it is not as quaint as Mafrica. There’s no palace/convent/historical library, for example. The apartment is in prime real-estate, however, and getting around and walking to the market or the store is a piece of cake. Plus, the apartment is modern, equipped, spacious, insulated, and sunny, from what I’ve heard.)

The upside to pushing off the purchase of a house is actually manifold. True, this is partially attributable to my “always look on the bright side of life…” perspective on stuff I can’t control. (This holds up for the most part…cut me a break ;P) Nonetheless, this way we can enjoy planning and discussing houses, arrangements, design, outdoor spaces, and a host of other details that we otherwise would not have had the luxury of planning. For instance, perhaps we will (someday, in a galaxy far, far away) buy land (either in the Lisbon area or perhaps in the Algarve, where My Man can also work) and build a house. Or maybe we’ll find a house with a huge plot of land, and we’ll have to renovate the house. Or maybe we don’t need a lot of land as much as we thought, but we could build a house with a great courtyard. A straw-bale or rammed earth house would perhaps work, since we prefer a single-level house (perhaps with a loft, because who doesn’t love a loft?). Anyway, the discussions are fun, and they kill time while we’re still freezing our nads off in the Mafrican winter. (It rained all day again. Can you tell by my tone?)

Nowadays, my brain and dreams and many firefox tabs are filled with links not unlike these:

http://www.61custom.com/house-plans/category/courtyard-house-plans/

http://www.modresdes.com/2010/09/friendly-lovable-home-interior-design-ideas/

http://www.trendir.com/house-design/courtyard-architecture-by-innovative-toronto-architecture-firm.html

http://www.trendir.com/house-design/prefab-sustainable-home-by-method-homes-for-sale-in-washington.html

http://www.trendir.com/house-design/prefab-country-homes-cedar-home-design-in-norfolk-england.html

http://www.trendir.com/house-design/horizontal-house-in-switzerland-countryside-with-interior-courtyard.html

http://www.trendir.com/house-design/whimsical-house-nautilus-house-in-mexico-city.html (I love the indoor carpet of vegetation on this one!)

http://zainteriora.net/2011/03/07/traditional-white-greek-house/

http://www.animicausa.com/shop/index.php

(The last one is just fun…)

Anyway, that’s where things stand, for now… No big moves (that we know of) just yet.

At least my sneaky little brain is well-occupied again… world-domination will wait for another day.

Hail, flying shelves, and existential-angst-fueled insomnia


AKA, “It’s 3:20 AM, it’s been stormy all day, and despite emotional fatigue, I can’t sleep because interest rates (rather than sugar plums, for example) keep dancing in my head…”

I think the title I went with is a bit smoother, however.

The weather has been interesting today. Earlier this afternoon, I changed my facebook status to “Ellen is my Oprah”…because she is. Ellen is awesome goodness, and if the entirety of all the goodness and cheer in my personality were squished together into a talk-show host, that talk-show host would be exactly like Ellen. There would have to be an evil, poopy talk-show host made up of my personality left-overs…but let’s leave the hypotheticals out for now.

I needn’t point out the obvious cache Oprah has with the US world universe. An oft-quoted and quite possibly fictional survey once determined that if Oprah ran for President of the US, she’d win by a landslide, no sweat. That, and she can purchase minor deities as a hobby, if she so chooses.

The ever-so-logical leap (I’m sure you’ll take it with me, reader), then, that the intense thunder/lightning/high-wind maelstrom that manifested (quite abruptly) after I changed my facebook status was quite probably the embodiment of Oprah’s omniscient, passing, mild irritation at my hubris is evident.

At some point between the facebook post and the time My Man came home from work, the wind whipped some metal shelves off our veranda and smashed them to the sidewalk one storey below. (Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn, Oprah! Why you gotta be like that?) I didn’t distinguish the whip or the crash from the thunder and wind, so I’m not sure when the shelves died.

Much like that Flight of the Conchords episode where the guys find themselves in a gang war with all the rappers (all of them), I find myself bravely holding my own in a meteorological Mexican standoff with Oprah. My standoff is less amusing, isn’t on You Tube, and doesn’t come with awesome music. BUT you know what I do have?

….

HAIL! That’s right! Freakin’ hail. We’ve had hail (teeny hail, about the size of bb’s, but NOT sleet) twice since this afternoon.

Hm. In retrospect, that was pretty anti-climactic.

Anyway, the ongoing storm should make for great sleeping conditions (what a good excuse to curl up in a tight little ball under a fluffy blanket with my gorgeous man)…but all I can think of are our finances, savings, responsible living choices, risk/pros/cons to a variety of rental/buying scenarios regarding housing, and what I want to cook tomorrow (today) [I’m going through a pie-shaped-oven-food phase… probably due to the surplus of veggies in the house and the cold weather]. Plus, I came up with a weird little upcycling design for house slippers involving an ugly plastic tablecloth I’d love to have disappeared from our house, some ugly terry cloth kitchen towels, felt, and a hack on baby booties.

Dude. Something’s wrong with me.

Hm. The wind just stopped. Weird. Man, I’m tired.

Homeward bound?


Or perhaps ‘Mortgage bound?”… or maybe just “Bound”, for a sexy B-grade twist on things….

What? Nevermind.

So. Homes. Marriage. Life. Mortgage. It’s quite possible I’m becoming an adult.

My Man, The Puppy, and I want a house. We want a house with a yard. We want a house with a reasonably-sized yard, space from neighbors, and sunlight.

We’ve been house perverts for a while…taking time on our weekends to make sinister house-trolling drive-bys, scanning the internet for possible matches, and driving through small towns in case we see something good…

Two weekends ago, we even went to a dealer.

He is, quite possibly, the worst house-dealer in Portugal. Then again, the more I hear about Portuguese house-dealers, the more I think this guy is just average. Ugh. That only irritates me more. However, I’ll leave the worst-dealer story for another time… or maybe for no time. Whatever.

Fast forward to last Saturday. Worst Dealer is sitting at his dealer desk, looking at his dealer database of houses, and doing his damnedest to ignore the requirements My Man and I set out. The guy is  showing us dark, overpriced, box houses with no yard by the bucketful. He brings another Bad Dealer over to his desk to talk about some house we assure him we don’t want. Worst Dealer and Bad Dealer take their time talking about the house for us anyway. I am, as usual, reading the database on Worst Dealer’s computer screen and just barely resisting the compulsion to use his keyboard for a more effective search.

Then, I spot it.

3 rooms+big yard. Reasonable Euros. In the right area. I write down the reference number (because Worst Dealer and Bad Dealer are still discussing a 250k v2 with 40m2 that we don’t want), and then I interrupt them, firmly (and a little too loudly) asking My Man (in English, because I’d lost the patience required to piece together Portuguese about 30 minutes earlier) to tell them that when they’ve finished their little discussion, I want to look at listing 1234.  My Man tells them something more polite. (I’m fairly certain my irritation transcended  linguistic boundaries.)

A few minutes later, when they decided to wind down their conversation, Worst Dealer turned back to the computer screen and did a half-assed scan for the house I wanted to look at. Up and down, up and down, the screen sped past fruitlessly. Finally, Worst Dealer’s fat fingers managed to get the scroll moving  slowly enough that I could point to the listing (and tap condescendingly on the screen) saying “THIS ONE”. He seemed to be trying to ignore it.

Luckily for My Man and I, Good Dealer walked by. He’d popped by a couple of times, spoke English with me, and acknowledged the words coming from My Man and I. He must have seen the vein popping out of my forehead. Averting an aneurism, he stepped in and guided Worst Dealer to the property.

Yadda, yadda, yadda….

We love the house…Ok…We really like the house. We love the yard. We love the area. The things that we would like to do to the house in the future to make us love it even more are also things that would raise the property value. Not that we want to move. Ever. Especially since mortgages here are generally 40 year mortgages. (NOT making that up.) And the house is happily, comfortably, perfectly livable now.

My man dropped off a ‘good faith’ check (cheque, for some of you) to the Good Dealer today. He talked to the bank. He made an offer. Depending on lots of things, we may be buying this house.

HOLY SHIT.

A house. A home. LAND. Nuggets. Dogs. Guests. My Man and I. All comfortably coexisting. And let’s be clear: a mortgage (especially a 40 year one) kicks marriage up to another level. I kind of feel like a mortgage like this is more cementing than having kids together. Which is fine, for both of us, I think. And that’s cool. So I guess life is going well. Very well.

I’m still a little anxious about the idea of being tethered to a single geographical location. Marriage never freaked me out. Marriage is a partnership between to lovers-friends-partners-business partners…Marriage takes compromise, of course, but it has a great payoff and improves life immensely. It is change, but it is welcome, happy, awesome change. But it isn’t tethered to any country, any town… Marriage is portable. MORTGAGE is not. (nuggets are also portable, to a point. At least they are as much as a marriage is…)

So. Holy shit. Is the economy going to go more nuts? Will we have a good supply of reliable renters at the rates we need for our apartment? (NOT the groovy apartment we’re living in… I’m referring to the luxury, modern, fully equipped apartment My Man owns and is renting out to friends to pay THAT mortgage.) It’s Portugal, so will the banks go mad and suddenly insist of full repayment of the mortgage in another year or two? Or will the interest rates go to 20%? Will my small bits of paid work dwindle rather than grow? Will I be inexplicably unemployed for the next 30 years? What if we have nuggets and they have massive medical needs? Or what if we can’t have nuggets?

Ahhhhhhh….that’s the good old neurosis I know and love…Letting it wash over me 🙂

Honestly, I think this is an educated risk. I think the house is a very reasonable bargain. I think it could turn out quite well. (hmmm…but do you remember that movie, “Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelly something? argh….wait…ok…it’s passing.)

Thoughts? Encouragement? Genius insight into the housing market in Portugal and educated predictions for the future? Let me know….