Category Archives: Construction

Adorning the Chim-chiminy

If you remember, one of my goals for 2020 was to finish the front of the house. There are several small projects that need to be done for that to happen, one of which was the adornment of the chimney face. 

My husband had a bee in his bonnet that he wanted to use what he called “pasta” to make a design. So we spent nearly three fruitless weeks looking for a place that sold pasta. Every place that we were referred to had gone out of business it seemed. Finally, we found a ferretería that sold this pasta–which is actually called PegaDuro Piedra en Polvo. 

Examples of molds. We wanted the top one.

In order to make the design, you need a mold of some sort. The PegaDuro spreads on with a play-dough like consistency, then the mold is pressed into it while it’s still wet to make the pattern. We looked through the catalog and picked a color and molding design. 

Of course, when the supplies were delivered, the ferretería had sent some sort of texturing device instead of a mold. Back to the store we went. It turns out, the piece we had paid for was the texturing thingy, not the mold. The mold would cost $1,500 pesos and they didn’t even have the design we wanted. My husband was having none of that.

He decided that he’d make his own mold and he wanted to use my bath. I objected. Then he said he’d use the car mat. I was still making faces at the idea. Finally, he said we could get a tile piece and use that as a mold.

This is the design I wanted.

We went to the tile shop and bought one tile for $83 pesos. I wanted to tile the section to begin with, but my husband said it would cost over $2,000 pesos just for the tile plus we’d have to get the grouting and adhesive and stuff. My second suggestion was that he use rocks from around La Yacata. There are plenty of those, it would be free, and I already know he can do a fabulous job based on our two fireplaces. Nope, pasta it would be.

Well, the tile didn’t work as a mold. As I mentioned, the consistency is like play-dough, so it just stuck to the tile. While my husband was hemming and hawing, my son decided to try and draw a pattern with a stick. I have to say, it didn’t turn out too bad. It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but I suppose it will do. I also noticed that the very top of the chimney seems a bit lopsided, but I think I won’t mention that at all.

Currently, the three of us are in a heated debate about what color to paint the house, so the next step might take awhile. 

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Pantry Shelves

I had a bee in my bonnet about more storage space in the kitchen. I mentally planned out several options before deciding that the entire wall could become shelving. It took some time to convince my husband that it indeed was possible and what’s more that it wouldn’t be a huge undertaking.

I was right. He finished it in about a week. We bought boards at the madereria (wood shop) which he sanded down, a few boards each day. Then he installed them and attached the entire shebang to the wall. After which, he and my son took turns with the stain. And VOILA! 

During the construction project, I also happened on these lovely tiered crates to store the fruit and give me just a little more counter space.

Both the shelving and the mini-crates also have the advantage of minimizing the food that the mice can get at. We’ve been having a bit of a mouse problem. More about that in a future post!

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How to Stay Warm in Rural Mexico

Yes, I live in Mexico which is substantially closer to the equator than the U.S. or Canada or Russia for that matter. However, it DOES get cold here. As most homes in Mexico are not insulated, nor do they have a heating system, well, that coldness seeps right into the bones some days.

fireplace

Our toasty fireplace

I am a very lucky lady in that my husband made us a fireplace which in the most extreme weather conditions, we can light. In our area of central Mexico, that usually happens part of November and most of December. When my husband deems it is not sufficiently cold to light said fireplace, I have developed a few other ways to keep the chill off. 

I expect I shall feel better after tea.

Hot Drinks

Hot tea is my constant companion during the colder months. I’m not too particular about flavors. I like hot jamaica, hot manzanilla, and hot yerba buena, either harvested from my little herb garden or already bagged up bought from the store. Hot tea keeps a body warm.

Hot chocolate is another favorite of mine. I like a nice hot chocolate, made with Abuelita circles, in the evening. When there is fresh goat milk available, even better.

IMG_20190924_093608 (2)

All of those jars are Cafe Oro.

Hot coffee is my morning drink of choice. We’ve been drinking Cafe Oro for years because I use the glass containers as food storage jars in my pantry. They are square you see, and fit nicely lined up on the shelf. However, we are trying out new flavors this month. Some have been amazing, others rather disappointing. 

Este caldito resucita a un muerto

This broth will raise the dead–South American saying

Soup

Soup is another requirement for cold days. Not only does it warm you from the inside out, but the long cooking process also heats the kitchen, which is where I am, in front of the fireplace. Bone broth, chicken soup, beef stew, pozole, even menudo on occasion can be found simmering in a big pot in our house. 

Pajamas and Slipper Socks and Sweaters

I have quite an extensive selection of warm pajama bottoms and slipper socks. When I’m teaching classes online, my students can’t see my nether regions, so I swaddle them in furry jammie pants and fuzzy slipper socks. Sweaters work great to cover over that cute strawberry PJ shirt too. 

Throw Rugs and Blankets

Most houses in Mexico do not have carpeting. The tile floor can get mighty cold even with slipper socks on. Strategically placed throw rugs can reduce the amount of time your little feet come in contact with the tile. Think of it as setting up your own giant board game, and you are the plastic piece that needs to move forward and backward only on those throw rug spaces.

Blankets can be used to wrap yourself up in, or hung in doorways and over windows to keep down the draft. I like to fashion myself an entirely separate living space by hanging blankets at all the entrances to the main living area (the kitchen) where the roaring fireplace is doing its best to keep me warm. 

Snuggling

If there is nothing pressing to be done that cold, cold day, you might find me as snug as a bug in a rug in my bed piled high with blankets. I might have company, or I might be alone. My husband doesn’t allow the animals in the house, otherwise, they’d be right there with me, dogs, cat, and possibly a chivito or two. Isn’t that how the Eskimos keep warm?

Space Heater

When I must venture from my cocoon and work in my office which is farther from the fireplace than I would like, I plug in the space heater and put it under my desk. It uses quite a bit of electricity, so I only use it when I just can’t get warm, but it is an option. 

Get Outdoors

Most houses in Mexico are made with brick or block, which means cold walls and indoor temps. It’s great on hot days, but on cold days, not so much. 

If the temperature indoors is lower than the temperature outdoors, I go for a walk in the sunshine. A little bit of exercise raises my body’s internal temperature and I feel warmer, if only for a little while. 

Be Active

To keep that internal body temperature up, you can do some indoor activities as well. Sweeping, the job that never ends, cleaning the bathroom, and dusting are all great cold-weather chores. Some chores should not be done in frigid weather, like hand washing and mopping because getting all wet on top of the cold makes a miserable woman indeed. 

These are some of the ways that I stay warm in rural Mexico. How about you?

 

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