Snow and the bathroom

It may suck to drive in the snow with a bunch of people who don’t know how (cough cough, PORTLANDERS!!!!) But it sure is beautiful to see all those trees covered in snow and the river lined with snow on the banks.

Trying to defrost my car this morning. And I clocked in almost on time woohoo!!!

Artemis LOVES the snow!!!!! She loves to run around in it. And look you can actually see her against the white backdrop haahahhaahah

He is replacing some of the old floorboards that didn’t hold up quite as well as others.

We spend a great deal of time wandering around Lowes and Home Depot now. That is currently our version of a date out of the house.

This was only a few days ago! Scroll back up to see the progress.

Oh look more Home Depot!!

YES we are finally finished with the taking down part of the bathroom and are starting the building back up! As is evident by him putting flooring stuff back in. I even hammered a nail and screwed in 4 screws Monday night Woohoo! Now I can pretend that I have actually helped.

We have bought the flooring already, a dark wood-looking tile. I think by the end of next week we will at least have a working bathroom and be able to move in!

So we have the new flooring, new bathtub, new sink and vanity already bought. We still need to buy the wall tiles and are trying to decide if we want to keep the old toilet or buy a new one. I guess we will decide that after we bleach the crap (no pun intended) out of it and see what it looks like. We also still need to buy a shower curtain rod, shower curtain, shelves and decorations along with hand towels and wash cloths (we bought new towels for pretty cheap at Costco but it was just the towels).

I think within 2-3 weeks the bathroom will be done and I think within 1-2 weeks we will be moved in!!!!

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I have sugarplum fairies dancing in my head

or more factually correct I have images of fresh baked bread and delicious meals and gardens and chickens dancing in my head.

I cannot wait to break out my bread maker for some fresh amazing bread. Sandwiches our first week in the house on fresh baked bread…..yes!

Brandon already said he would build me a chicken coup from some repurposed wood. In Salem you can have up to 6 chickens without needing any permits. I think we will start with 3-4 this year and see how it goes. Then maybe add the other 2-3 next year. Spacing them out like that will be good for timing too. They don’t lay eggs for about 6 months then they produce for about 2 years then it will be harvesting time. So each year we will have to order 2-3 new chicks (after the first 2 years) and I I’ll need to learn how to butcher a chicken.

I have already placed an order to the Burpee seed company, I will have 6 heirloom tomato plants shipping to me around April 9th ready to be direct planted when they arrive. I think I will pick up 1-2 cherry tomato plants just from the grocery store, not heirloom but that is ok. That is perfect timing and should give us about 2-3 weeks in the house to get the yard ready for planning. I will continue ordering plants over the next few weeks.

Ahhhh about 5.5 weeks at the most!!!!!

 

 

……………..Well we got a call and that 5 or 6 weeks we had until we got to move in just went down to 3! We just got notice that the tenets are moving out early! Which is amazing and moves our timetable up about 2-3 weeks.

We are hoping to start moving things in over presidents day weekend. Brandon gets that Monday off and he would like to refinish the tub that day so it has the rest of the week to “cure” and we could start using it the next weekend. The bottom of the tub is wearing off and pealing away a little bit, so Brandon bought a refinishing kit. This is much cheaper than buying a new tub (which one day we will do, hello claw foot soaking tub!!!! one day lol) Having the tomato plants delivering in early April means we have that as a deadline to get the backyard ready for planting. Spring is also when baby chicks are born and delivered so a chicken coup will be near the top of the list too.

It is going to be a busy but amazing few months as we move it, get everything up and running and settle in!

 

Ariana’s travel tips

 

  1. plan, plan, plan- I know some people like to fly by the seat of their pants and that is great but in some cases you need to plan. If you are not on a budget then you might have a little more room to play with this but if you are on a budget, as I always am, planning is your best friend. Also if you only have a limited amount of time planning ahead can save you hours of wasted time standing in line.
  2. research- Groupon is international if you didn’t know. For most places if you do a little research you can find inexpensive skip the line passes, semi-guided tours, activities and so much more at reduced costs and it definitely saves you on those hours in line.
    1. planning and research also help you squeeze in as much as possible in a short time period. For example we are packing Venice into a day and a half then on our last day in Venice which would have been a 3/4 day anyways we are instead taking the train and spending a few hours each in Verona, Florence and Pisa before laying our heads down in our AirBnB accommodations in Rome.
  3. Think outside the box when it comes to lodging- you don’t have to stay in a nice hotel to feel luxurious when traveling. If you once again research you can find nice places for a lot less expensive. I have stayed in some seriously nice hostels and and used AirBnB several times when I have travelled. If you are traveling with friends AirBnB is a great choice. We have accommodations in the heart of Venice, Rome and Barcelona through AirBnB that are less than $150/night,  whole apartment in each place, split the cost between everyone and you are looking at $20-30/night for each person in a nice place. and having and entire apartment means you have a kitchen so you can hit the market and make a few meals to save some money. You are still eating locally!!!
  4. Do a few things that aren’t overrun by tourists- on my first morning in Venice after some coffee and a pastry I plan on walking the opposite direction of the crowds and will continue to do this. That is how I will explore Venice, going the opposite direction of the crowds (obviously do a little research on places you should avoid and use common sense, if you turn down a street and it feels sketchy, backtrack quickly).
  5. Safety!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Be safe, research the places you are going, know the areas to avoid, know the laws and customs. Pay attention to the dress code. If something or someone doesn’t feel right get out of that situation and place ASAP. Think before you act. If you are alone, don’t get so drunk that you are impaired. That movie TAKEN with Liam Neeson is a fun thriller but it is also real, people are kidnapped and murdered every day, enjoy your vacation but be smart and be aware.
  6. common sense should see you through-if you wouldn’t do it at home don’t do it abroad. Again take 10 minutes and learn about the place that your are going, I would sunbath topless in Ibiza, I would cover all tattoos and most skin in the middle east, different place different experience.
  7. Check in. Give someone at least a vague itinerary of where you will be and when you will be there and when you will be home so someone will know if you don’t arrive. Try and check in at least ever 72 hours (I tend to check in at least once every 24 hours) you can find a free or very cheap internet café almost anywhere. And most cell phones have international coverage if you check. It will cost me $.55 every day to send 1 text message to my mom and get one back from her both acknowledging we know I am alive. $.55/day is not much to ensure piece of mind.
  8. Be a dork. Take selfies and make stupid faces and journal and take videos. Who cares what the people around you think, in 5, 10, 15 years you are going to be so glad you can look back on those memories.
  9. Be respectful. It may not be your culture, religion or favorite food but it is theirs. You wouldn’t want someone to bad mouth your way of life so don’t do that to anyone else. You don’t have to believe in it or even accept it but don’t be mean about it. Step to the side, quietly leave the church, discreetly bow out of the ceremony, say thank you and try the tiniest bite you can manage.
  10. lastly HAVE FUN!!!!! You may never be back, you may never experience something like this again so drink it all in. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and truly live this experience.

Day on the farm!

Brandon and I headed out to his grandparents small farm in northern Oregon to hang out for half a day and had such a great time! It was so relaxing and wonderful.

From the moment we got there Brandon was in front of the blueberry bushes snacking away while we talked to his grandfather. Artemis enjoyed the flavor of the pigs trough water hahahaha. This is the only pig they have left and it is much more of a pet than something intended for a meal. It is getting old and grumpy though. It likes having its belly rubbed hahahaha!!!!! It was a little wary of Artemis but surprisingly she was not afraid of it!

I spent some time talking to his grandfather about their Israel trip which sounded amazing. Then we all went out to lunch and a teriyaki burger hit the spot.

When we got back from lunch Brandon, Artemis, the grandparents dog and I all set off to explore the property. 1/4 of their property is basically a little forest area that is super beautiful, the cows graze down there in the heat and there are blackberry bushes going wild. We wandered down there and explored and snacked on blackberries hahaha. Definitely getting our fruit quota for the day. Have you ever had a yellow raspberry? Now I have! they are pretty amazing right off the vine and according to his grandfather that is how you have to eat them because by the time you have them in the house they are starting to go bad.



At this point we were both super hot as it was the hottest part of the day so we headed back instead to talk some more and look at pictures and cool down.

Around 5:30-6 as the sun was starting to move toward the horizon and a lovely breeze started we headed out to feed the cows!! Got some hay from the barn and some treats for the cows and they slowly wandered over. We fed them some treats as well, their tounge feels like sandpaper like a cat! Again it took a minute but Artemis wasn’t afraid! Though they were a little wary of her hahaha.




Once the cows were chomping away happily we headed back down to the wood area and spent about an hour picking blackberries! 



We went home with probably a good 8lbs of blackberries! I am so making a blackberry balsamic reduction to freeze to put on some amazing stuff this winter (that post to come). At that point the temperature was perfect, I could have stayed out there for hours, and the space and joy of the country was just everything. It was such a great peaceful day. I can’t wait to go back!

In a month or 2 their trees will be hanging low with Apples!!! Can’t wait to make some apple desserts and some great slow cooker meals with apples!

Adventure Tour in Costa Rica

After our 2 weeks of volunteering we headed back toward San Jose to a little suburb of it called Heredia, here we met up with several other volunteer groups to form a large adventure group of, I would guess 50. Another overnight in a hostel then in the morning our group boarded a bus. Our first day was mostly traveling, we stopped at a souvenir type place then headed to the Pacific coast.

I was pretty good at keeping a journal throughout my trip.

First day of sightseeing and exploring.

Our 2nd day was a free day in Samara Beach, we explored the small town and went on a small hike and just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. I had what still remains to be the best pizza I have ever had (at least in my head, I could be way over playing it in my mind, maybe I was just starved for pizza hahaha) It was so fresh and delicious and I love pineapple on my pizza and in case you didn’t know, Costa Rica is like the pineapple capitol so it was AMAZING!!! We swam in the bathwater warm ocean and layed out on the beach.

The 3rd day we got up early and went sea kayaking out to a small island. I hadn’t been kayaking in a long time and never on the ocean so I was not sure how this was going to turn out……..apparently I get a little seasick. I was fine in the beginning then it started getting a little choppy and I started feeling it. I started yelling out military like commands to my partner so we rowed in unison and rowed fast to get me to the shore of the island, LEFT! RIGHT! LEFT! RIGHT! LEFT! RIGHT! When we got to the island we all hung out for a few hours, had fresh cut pineapple, of course, and just explored. There were A LOT of lizards on the island. After the return trip, where I pushed my partner just has hard, we all jumped in the back of this crazy truck, standing up, and were driven back to our hostel over crazy bumpy roads where we all wondered if we were going to fall out. Later that day we had a 2 hour surf lesson, yep born and raised in southern California and I surfed for the first time in Costa Rica hahaha. It was really fun, but man is it a workout! No wonder surfers are in such good shape.

Major dork moment.

Day 4 was another mostly travel day, we went from Samara beach to Rincon de la Vieja

Day 5 was a horseback ride, tubing and a mud spa. All great things, but at this point I had been going, going, going for almost 4 weeks, I needed a break. I had a headache and was exhausted so I gave my days adventure to someone who hadn’t purchased the extra adventure stuff and stayed home and read and took a nap all while enjoying the peace and quiet of a nearly empty tropical mini resort. I don’t for a day regret that decision.

Day 6 was travel and adventure, we went from Rincon de la Vieja to the Volcano Arenal area where we stayed for 2 nights in an eco hostel. After our arrival we took a 2 hour hike into the forest past steam vents and boiling mud puddles to a clearing with a beautiful pool of water and an awesome waterfall. We all (well everyone who wanted to) took turns jumping off the rocks into the pool below. At the end of the long hike we came to this volcanic hot springs that was incredible! Right next to the hot spring pool, which was already in the middle of the amazing beautiful rain forest and totally deserted except for our group, was a rushing river with rapids. It was perfect.

See the volcano smoking?

Day 7 today was an adrenaline day. We went to an adventure park. The day consisted of 10 zip lines, some hiking and repelling next to a waterfall. It was pretty amazing. There is nothing like zip lining over the treetops of the rainforest. We also learned about an indigenous tribe called the “Maleku” That was interesting but truthfully dull after all the adrenaline. At the end of the day we went to another hot springs this time a resort though, very commercialized but still cool. There were 10 different pools starting at the top with the hottest water and only being about 6 inches deep all the way down to the bottom which was just luke warm bath water and the size of a pool.

The first step is the most difficult

Then it is smooth sailing

Day 8 Travel day from the Volcano Arenal area to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica

Day 9 Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge. This place was pretty cool it was an eco reserve. Our hostel rooms had thatch roofing and tent-like siding with wood floors. But inside they had four-poster beds with mosquito netting draped over it and  hot tub in the rooms! When you left each room there was a switch at the bottom that you could put your room key in and you turned off all the electricity to the room to save electric waste while you were gone. There were howler monkeys all around which was really cool. We went on a hike in the morning and had the afternoon to just relax. And I got to relax in the Caribbean ocean! We also took a boat ride to a little island village that we got to explore in the late afternoon.


Day 10 was a relaxing morning then we were given the option to go scuba diving if we wanted. For a mere $60 we could scuba dive in the ocean, I remember the cost very well because I had to call my mom on a phone card to send me more money because I was running low on funds and still had almost 2 weeks left. This seemed like such a great opportunity though, scuba diving in the ocean for $60! I was in! We watched an informational video then they loaded us in a car and drove to the beach were we strapped in and wadded into the water. We got to scuba dive for an hour or 2 and it was pretty cool, I would definitely do it again.

We stopped along the way for swimming and jumping off rocks. Yep, that is me mid-air.

Day 11 Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge to the Rio Pacuare. White water rafting!!!! This was awesome!! We drove to the river in the morning and were on the river by the afternoon. This river was class 3 and 4 rapids so it was a workout hahahaha. After a few hours of rafting we arrived at another eco hostel in the jungle, though where the other hostel was eco-luxurious, this was eco-basic hahaha. It was just wood bunk beds in a room…..with bugs and spiders. Thankfully small spiders. The hostel provided us with dinner but the dining room was overrun with a fire ant migration, these things bit and stung, most of us opted to eat standing up in a corner, a few of us made quick dashes across the floor to the tables. I made the dash and survived with only being bitten/stung by 2 ants.  The next morning we got up early and it was back to the river for another day of rafting. In the afternoon we boarded the bus tired and happy and headed back to Heredia where the adventure tour would end.

Day 12 Heredia. Everyone had arrived back from their various adventure tours and was set about to take care of last minute business before leaving for home or other adventures. It was a day of saying goodbye, getting packed, exploring Heredia for the last time, or in my and one other girls case getting a new needed vaccine to travel to Peru the next day. Getting a vaccine is a simple enough process until you don’t really know what vaccine you are getting hahaha. This girl, Laura and I, were herded off with our adventure tour guide to a Costa Rican version of Rite Aid/Health department and stood in a white room while a nurse who spoke no English gave us a shot. This is one of those moments where you just have to trust people. But I didn’t get Yellow fever and I still have an official card in Spanish saying I am vaccinated for another few years hahaha.

Thus was the end of our adventure tour, the next day I was off to Peru to start a whole new adventure. Stay tuned next month for that adventure and so much more!!!!

 

*It has been 7 years since I took this trip (wow time has flown) everything I have written happened but the order might be slightly out of sequence as I tried to remember it all.

 

Day 6 of 28 and hiking review of salmon river trail

Happy Saturday morning!!!

Yesterday the BF and I headed out for a little hike. We slept in and had smoothies for breakfast, I worked a little bit on flashcards for my Medical terminology class and had the last little 1/4th of a cup of smashed potatoes before we headed out. It was just over an hours drive to the trail so we stopped just before we got there for something to drink and cookies hahahaha. The trail was nice, mostly shaded and not too many people, we passed maybe a dozen people so I was able to let Artemis off her leash for about 3/4 of it.

Most of the trail meandered near the Salmon river, which was pretty shallow.

Lots of trees equaled lots of shade. Though being near the river it was a bit muggy.

We did an out an back trail so we stopped at mile 3.3 to turn around and head back. I brought a tortilla, 2 pieces of ham and some cheese and we shared a tortilla roll up for some energy to get us back.

It was a lot of rolling hills so we ended up running back about 2 of the 3 miles, maybe a little more. We made it back to the car pretty quick which was really nice. We decided to go out to Red Robin for dinner for some big juicy burgers, but I was good and got a side salad instead of fries. It was delicious. That was my day!

I really like the trail. AND Artemis went into the river!!!!!! She has never done this, normally I have to stand really still by the edge and coax her down and scoop handfuls of water for her to drink, this time she actually got in the water! More than once! Breakthrough!!!!!!

Volunteering in Costa Rica

Spanish lessons ended and the next day I had to meet up with all the incoming people who hadn’t done the Spanish lessons. The Spanish lessons and the meet-up place were in San Jose, Costa Rica. I don’t remember if I took a cab or if my host mom dropped me off where I had to meet everyone but I know I made it there hahaha!

I met up with the other nine people I would be volunteering with, including our guide. We stayed in a hostel that night and boarded a bus early the next morning to head up into the mountains, our destination was San Cristobel Norte.

When we got there we played a few ice breaker games and were introduced to our host families.

Thankfully one of the nine other people was going to by my roommate so I would not be alone this time. We hopped in the back of our host dads truck (which we were told the next day was a big no-no, whoops) and headed up to our home sweet home for the next 2 weeks……to say that it was different than what I was used to is an understatement, it wasn’t horrible or anything it was just not what I was used to but it was cozy and my host family was very welcoming. We hung out with our host family that night and went to bed early, or tried to go to bed early, we had to meet the group at 7am the next morning.

We were there to build the town a new water tower. The water tower was up a pretty good hill, that got very muddy whenever it rained……..it was summer in Costa Rica, it pretty much rained everyday at some point. What we started with was just a hole in the side of a mountain, it had been leveled out already by the towns people in preparation. We laid out grids then got everything to make concrete, we had a cement like mix but also added rocks and water to it and mixed it all up and poured wheel barrel after wheel barrel until it was a big cement slab. Thankfully we had oxen pulling an ox cart to haul the heavy materials up the hill for us……………yep you read that right, we worked with an oxen! It was pretty awesome!

In just over a week we went from an empty hillside to poured concrete, rebar reinforcement and rebar legs to hold the tank up, then we had to wait for an inspector to approve the next step.

Since we didn’t want to waste our time there just waiting we painted some desks in their school, repainted their boys and girls football (soccer) locker rooms and started paving a road.

Each morning out host mama would make us breakfast: usually eggs, tortillas and GalloPinto (rice and beans, don’t ask me why it was gallo pinto when I thought arroz meant rice) and fresh cheese! We also had black coffee with sugar, they do not have cream for your coffee over there.

My host family

Our host mama would bring us lunch every day, I was full vegetarian at the time so it was always a guess what I would get. Gallo pinto was part of EVERY meal, strangely I never really tired of it. One time when we were going for an afternoon hike I got a butter and cheese sandwich………I could only stomach about half of that before I had to say no way and dig into an odwalla bar I had packed from home.

Hiking

After lunch it was back to work for a few hours then in the afternoon we would stop for coffee and snacks at the various people of the towns homes. What we did at night depended on the day, some times we would play soccer with the local kids until the sun went down or would have little gatherings in the town. One family had an area in their backyard with a wood stove and a pretty big room. In two weeks we must have had at least 4 party type nights. We danced and cook and ate. There was a woman in town with the peace corps, we hung out with her a little bit. Some nights we would head home earlier than other nights due to exhaustion. Overall it was an amazing, sometimes very trying, but wonderful experience.

Milking a cow

Two things I distinctly remember that were difficult but definitely made me a better person:

HUGE spiders. I am afraid of spiders so this was very hard for me, especially when almost every night 2 giant spiders would show up on the walls of the room I was staying in at my host families house. We are talking the size of my hand. I would flip out a bit, my host family would tease me but kill the spiders and kick them out the doors!!!!!!! That is how big they were you can’t flush them down the toilet or anything like that, you just kick them out in the yard…….. It certainly helped me deal with small spiders a lot better hahahaha.

Our room

The other one was cold showers. I grew up in middle class America, I have never really not been able to take a hot shower. Our host family had this thing on their showerhead that was supposed to heat the water but it either didn’t work or work for about 10 seconds. Now I am been camping and am no stranger to a quick rinse off with cold water but when you have been laying concrete in the mud all day or paining or paving a road all with summer bugs nesting in your hair, you want a proper shower. I would turn the water on, rise off, get my hair wet, then turn the water off while I shampooed and scrubbed the dirt off, then the water would go back on, rinse everything off, turn the water off and repeat with conditioner. I also had to detangle my hair every time I washed it because the humidity was wreaking havoc on my hair.

When I got back to the states to my aunts house I hadn’t had a proper shower in over a week and my hair was a crazy mess. I jumped in a hot shower and stayed in there forever, detangling my hair and taking care of it………..my forever shower that I would have been like an hour was 20 minutes. My idea of a long shower had totally changed.

The ox cart parade happened while we were there. The designs were amazing

And that was my two weeks of volunteering in Costa Rica.