House Tour: Outside

 

House Tour: Our Room

House Tour: Upstairs

House Tour: Living Room

House Tour: My Bathroom

House Tour: Kitchen and Storage Room

 

Last but certainly not least is the part of our little Cancun rental house that won me over from the beginning… the outside. When I first saw the house, I fell in love with the climbing tree in the front yard. It’s still my favorite part of the entire place!

Let’s start off with the backyard, shall we?

Backyard

We still love our new patio and the palm trees are growing nicely, although the grass we had seems to have been a failed endeavor.

The large fan palm is by far my favorite of our palms. I kinda wish I'd only used fan palms since it seems to do so, so well in our backyard.

The back of the house... a hot mess, but that doesn't bother me because we rarely have to look at it. The big duct tape X on the window is probably left over from Hurricane Wilma back in 2005. After Wilma, many Cancun houses still had duct tape Xs that wouldn't come off the windows. (They're put on there to keep the window from shattering in a hurricane)

Love the design in our patio! Dolly and Suki like it, too.

We FINALLY moved our orchid tree from the front planter to the backyard. The flowers and leaves immediately died off (we figured they would), but the branches are still green 3 weeks later, so I think my precious orchid tree is gonna make it! I've been watering it every evening.

 

Front Yard

(I use the word “yard” loosely)

View from the front door

When the house owners painted the front this bright orange a few months ago, I was less than thrilled. Now, however, I really like it! Very bright, but very cheerful.

Our beautiful copa de oro tree

Love this view 🙂

Our yellow flowers have gotten pretty wild! I like it. Please excuse our table, we like to eat lunch outdoors sometimes.

House Tour: Kitchen and Storage Room

 

House Tour: Our Room

House Tour: Upstairs

House Tour: Living Room

House Tour: My Bathroom

House Tour: Outside

 

Happy Monday, readers! I hope you all had an amazing weekend.

Time to move on with the house tour!

I'm taking you down this hallway from the living room... you can see our pantry (yay pantry!) on the right, then the bathroom door (from Friday's post). On the left is the kitchen, and at the end of the hallway is our storage room.

 

Kitchen

Our kitchen is probably my least favorite part of the house. There’s only one small square of counter space and it’s very narrow, making it very difficult for Jorge and I to be in there at the same time.

We've tried to make things less cluttered by putting shelves and hooks up. They've been a huge help!

You can really feel the smallness in this one. I love how the refrigerator door opens directly into a wall. You have to stand in the corner to open it.

Jorge's cereal collection on top of the fridge, and part of my vast fruit collection on the counter. Our boxes of milk (yes, in the Yucatan, they're boxes) have a special place on the floor.

Jorge and I dream of one day having a big, open kitchen with tons of counters and cabinets. For the next few years, this will have to do.

 

Storage Room

Our Cancun rental house was advertised as 3 bedrooms, but I’m not sure this room is big enough to count as a bedroom. Maybe for a 3-year old with no need of closet space? I dunno. At any rate, we use the back room as a storage space.

In the right-hand corner, we have some old clothes and a bunch of wedding gifts that we love but can't seem to fit into our tiny kitchen. We're hanging onto them until we can get a bigger house.

We recently got the brightly colored bins to organize all our stuff. So far, they've been amazing for papers and random junk.

 

House Tour: My Bathroom

 

House Tour: Our Room

House Tour: Upstairs

House Tour: Living Room

House Tour: Kitchen and Storage Room

House Tour: Outside

 

After more than a year struggling with less than satisfactory water pressure in the upstairs bathroom, I recently discovered that the downstairs shower has excellent pressure, even with hot water! I quickly decided to take over the downstairs bathroom as my own. It’s not as big as the upstairs bathroom, but I’ve still managed to make it cute.

Yet another sad, tiny sink... oh how loathe them

I have candles, a green wastebasket and a Target bamboo floormat, all brought down from the US

In place of a mirror, I have a piece of art. It's a peacock made entirely of seashells and caliz that was given to us as a wedding gift. It was made on the Yucatan coast, near Jorge's mom's hometown of Chabihau.

Our carpenter friend Leo made these little shelves. There's Bath and Body Works soap and lotion kit, shells from Chabihau (I have a whole bag full of them), and a flower pot that my Aunt Bobbi painted for us as a wedding shower gift.

House Tour: Living Room

 

House Tour: Our Room

House Tour: Upstairs

House Tour: My Bathroom

House Tour: Kitchen and Storage Room

House Tour: Outside

 

The living room is my favorite room in the house right now. It’s filled with so many of our collectibles and so many memories.

For the first year and a half in this house, the living room was empty!

This is how the living room looked for a year and a half

Another "before" shot

But ever since December, we’ve finally saved up to buy enough furniture to be able to spend some time here. Love, love, love!

aaand after! We're still missing a ceiling fan in place of the bare bulb.

Gotta love my 7-year-old upright fan, with a bag hanging over it to keep it from vibrating too much. I tie up the curtains during the day because I have no curtain holders!

Our beloved entertainment center, and a red light cover my friend Viri brought us from Tepoztlan, Mexico

filled with all the things we love most!

Part of Jorge's Nintendo collection... Super Nintendo and Game Cube

A little blurry, but this is a candle my mom got me and some dead coral I collected in Akumal

On top of the entertainment center is a painting of Rio de Janeiro my sister Sarah did, and a wooden sailboat I bought in Belize

Also on top of the entertainment center, a cool photograph/drawing mix and a wedding album, both created by my sister Sarah

My alebrije collection... I'll do a separate post on it in the future. It's my fave thing! Some I bought, most are gifts from my mom.

I got this "barro negro" piece in Oaxaca City, Mexico

Another piece from Oaxaca, this one made of "barro rojo"

A photo of my dad and me at my sister Noelle's wedding, with a frame my sister Sarah gave me

On the wall, a photo collage from my sister Noelle's Vegas wedding

Above the sofa, a tryptic painting by my sister Sarah (sorry for more blurriness, I wish you guys could see the beautiful colors here)

My carpenter grandfather made me this beautiful magazine holder several years ago. We don't read magazines, so we use it to store Nintendo accessories 🙂

Our coffee table, another item made by our carpenter friend Leo. We saw one at a department store, took some pictures, and had Leo make it cheaper (and bigger).

House Tour: Upstairs

 

House Tour: Our Room

House Tour: Living Room

House Tour: My Bathroom

House Tour: Kitchen and Storage Room

House Tour: Outside

 

Next stop on our house tour is the rest of the upstairs! Just like our bedroom that you saw yesterday, the other rooms upstairs have had a few improvements done, but still have a ways to go.

The Guest Bedroom

This is probably one of the more embarrassing parts of the house because we haven’t really touched it since we moved in. Right now it houses my old bed (the one I used my first 5 years in Cancun), my old plastic dresser and our broken ironing board.

We use the bed for drying damp clothes and storing stuff we have no good place for.

We recently brought down my old bedsheets/comforter from the US, but I'm scared to put it on the guest bed because I dunno what the humidity will do to it!

Yet another amazing closet! I cleaned most of it out last month because it was filled with papers, but it still holds my mini-library , my wedding dress and my "winter clothes" (which in Cancun means light jackets)

 

Jorge’s Bathroom

The upstairs bathroom mainly belongs to Jorge. Ever since I discovered that the downstairs bathroom has amazing water pressure, I have taken it over as my own. You’ll see that later this week!

A few months ago, we had our friend Leo (who also made our headboard) install some shelves to clean the bathroom up a bit.

The shower is pretty big! I still can't wait for the day when I have a bathroom with a counter, though. Dare to dream...

Here are the shelves Leo made. We'd been waiting so long to have a place to put our soap dish / toothbrush holder set that we got as a wedding present.

 

Upstairs Landing

The upstairs hall is surprisingly bright thanks to a small skylight. We also have a linen closet. A LINEN CLOSET! Like I mentioned yesterday, it’s so hard to find a rental house with closets in Cancun, and we have several really big ones. We really lucked out.

Look at the size of that linen closet!

Skylight! Maybe someday we'll get a light fixture to cover that bare bulb... but probably not.

House Tour: Our Room

The most asked for thing on my Reader Photo Requests was a tour of my house, so I’ll be posting that all this week! Let’s begin with our room.

This house is our first home, so we’ve been setting up furniture and whatnot slowly but surely. Since we spent so long focusing on the backyard and the living room (which was empty up until last December), we haven’t done much upstairs yet… and that’s reflected in the sad, sad state of our bedroom. Still, there’s lots of potential there! At the same time we don’t want to do too much because, well, we rent.

Also, the sheets are weird-looking because they’re new (from TARGET!!!) and I had just taken them out of the box the night before.

Here goes:

The view from the door. As much as I like the green curtains, they clash with the wall color. We plan to switch them out for bamboo shades and maybe some white sheer curtains soon.

I like this one because you can see part of our flip flop collection strewn about the floor.

No, it's not wonky... the roof just slants. We had some of this paint color left over from painting the living room and used it up here. Love it 🙂

The view of the top of our beautiful copa de oro tree

My nightstand usually looks like this: water, book, cell phone, perfume and sunscreen

This is the saddest part of the room. I'm (still) in the middle of organizing a lot of our stuff to clear junk out of the bedrooms and move it to the downstairs storage room (more on that later this week). At this point, some of the stuff is still sitting in our room waiting to be organized.

It's really hard to find a good closet in Cancun. We lucked out with wood doors, shelves, drawers and cabinets! Luxury 🙂

Our dresser always looks like a mess. This is a HUGE improvement from before I started organizing last month, but we've still got a long way to go, baby.

On top of our dresser: some wood bowls from Belize, a flower girl basket and the lazo cross from our wedding, pictures, a borrowed DVD player, a small mirror from my childhood friend Catie, and a few other odds and ends.

 

Tomorrow we’ll tour the rest of the upstairs!

 

House Tour: Upstairs

House Tour: Living Room

House Tour: My Bathroom

House Tour: Kitchen and Storage Room

House Tour: Outside


Kitchen Mini-Makeover

**For anyone who has ever wanted to see Jorge figure skating, check out my sister Sarah’s blog, Nerdy and I Know It! She recently had a photoshop contest, and I won. 🙂

 

The last few months, we’ve been doing a lot of changes to the house we’re renting. (About time, too… we’ve been there almost 2 years!) We finally have the furniture we need in the living room, so now we can spend most of our time downstairs instead of upstairs.

This week, we got shelves in our kitchen, and it is AMAZING. We have a teeny tiny, one-sided galley kitchen with minimal storage space and only 1 small square of counter space. Since we had nowhere to put our toaster oven, canisters, juicer and blender, they were all kind of stacked on top of eachother on the counter, cutting my tiny counter in half.

Now my counter space has gone from impossibly small to kind of small, and I’m so excited! We also had hooks put in under the shelves, so now all my pretty hot pads are on display (2 years after I got them), and our pans don’t have to be stored in the oven anymore.

 

Our Backyard Makeover: Before and After

So waaaay back in August I told ya’ll that we were going to redo the backyard, which we did! I hadn’t gotten around to taking pictures of it until this weekend, mainly because I am stuck in the office during daylight hours. But now I finally have the “After” shots!

Here’s the “before”:

And here are the “afters”…

Unfortunately, the grass was damaged by the recent “Backyard Pool” incident. Then again, it wasn’t growing in well to begin with! If anyone has advice on growing grass, I’m all ears.

We’d also like to paint the walls white, and eventually remove the potted tree and potted bush. We’re still thinking that one over, though… we really hate that tree, but it does provide good shade. We’d replace the tree with my new orchid tree. After my last post on it, a reader (Thanks, Pauline!) identified it as an orchid tree, not a plant, which is very exciting! No shade from that baby for a few more years, though. 🙁

The total cost for this makeover, including palm plants, grass, dirt and patio, was somewhere around $300 US. Not bad, eh?

Our Beautiful Custom-Made Bed

One of my best friends has a boyfriend who is just learning carpentry. Last Christmas, he showed me some photos on his cell phone of tables he’d made, and I was HOOKED! I asked him right away if he could make a few things for our new home.

Since Jorge and I have very different styles, we knew it would be hard to find furniture that suits both our styles, so hiring Leo to build custom-made furniture was perfect. Jorge likes very modern, streamlined, minimalist decor. I prefer a more colorful look with lots of textures, and my favorite thing is rustic Mexican furniture.

Anyone who lives in Cancun knows that it’s HARD to find good furniture! There are lots of stores that sell cool-looking things, but a closer look shows poor quality with plastic-y materials. The only store that has good furniture (in my opinion) is Liverpool, a higher end department store… but it’s EXPENSIVE.

So what did we do? Jorge and I went to Liverpool a few months ago and took pictures of things we liked. Some of the headboards we loved cost THOUSANDS of dollars. No thanks!

We showed Leo a few pictures, and a few weeks ago we got this….

Anyway, we love it! It has all the rustic Mexican charm I love without being too heavy, and it’s sleek and modern enough for Jorge’s taste.

Guess how much it cost? $2500 pesos! That’s only about $200 US dollars 🙂 For the headboard and the base. AND it was the first bed he’d ever made. Amazing job, Leo 🙂

Leo told me yesterday that he finished the nightstands to match!! Can’t wait to see how they turned out!

If any of my readers in Cancun or Merida want Leo’s info, let me know.

Renting a House in Cancun

I had another post all done and posted, but I needed to talk a bit about this today. (Sorry to my subscribers who are getting multiple e-mails!)

Since Jorge and I are getting married in July, we’re looking for a new house to rent. We have found two AWESOME options, both of which are near the upper end of our rent budget, at $6,000 pesos a month.

Here are the pros and cons of each house:

House Number 1
Pros:
-Great kitchen with lots of cabinets, and a stove/oven already included (most kitchens in Cancun come with no cabinets… no lie)
-Very spacious living room
-A/C in living room and 2 bedrooms
-Has 2 bathrooms (not like we need 2, but still, pretty cool)
-Bathrooms are in awesome condition
-Great lighting fixtures throughout the house
-separate dining area
-full closets in both bedrooms (hard to find in Cancun)
-perfect location, walking distance to 3 supermarkets and 2 malls and a large park
-lots of bus routes passing nearby

Cons:
-tiny bedrooms
-no garden
-tiny back patio, with no grass
-no window in the master bedroom

House Number Two
Pros:
-amazing kitchen. Seriously. You have no idea. Looks like a rich person’s kitchen.
-same goes for the bathroom…amazing
-large front and back yard, with lots of grass areas (important for dogs and gardening), plus a nice tiled area in the backyard for small parties
-best closet I’ve ever seen in my life in the master bedroom, plus a full closet in the 2nd bedroom
-A/C in both bedrooms and kitchen
-lots of natural light
-private neighborhood with security
-lots of families living on the same street… kids playing and stuff, very charming
-a 15-minute walk from 2 of my best friends’ houses

Cons:
-good location, but a 10-minute walk from the main road (I need to grab taxis every day) I don’t mind the walk, but closer is always nicer, I guess.
-no bus routes nearby
-house is missing a few details… some handles on kitchen drawers, 2 lighting fixtures are just holes in the ceiling, the ceiling fan in the master bedroom is about to fall out I think, the outside is in desperate need of a paint job… no biggie, but not cool for the price they’re asking. Since the owner lives in Merida, we’re not sure she’d be willing to pay to fix these details. (We talked with her sister, not with the owner)

I think we’d prefer the second house. Jorge loved the awesome, tricked-out kitchen, and I was excited about the backyard garden and tiled patio for gardening and for my dogs. We both liked the fact that the neighborhood was private and had security, plus it seems to be all families.

Problem is, we can’t move into either until beginning of July. With all the wedding expenses, it’s just not in our budget to pay that extra month of rent (June). We might be able to, but it would be really REALLY tight.

Plus, I’d be living by myself until the wedding, so that’s almost 2 months of living alone. 🙁

I already missed an opportunity by waiting out an awesome apartment a few months ago to save money, and I don’t want the same thing to happen here! The house we want has been for rent since January, I think, so it’s unlikely someone will snatch it up… but still, ya never know!

What I might try is offering to go ahead and pay the deposit and sign the contract now, but ask for the contract to start July 1. That way we won’t pay June, but the owner can see that we really are planning on sticking around. Since it’s been on the market since January, she may be desperate. 🙂 I might even see if she’ll go down to $5,000 a month, but I’m such a wuss sometimes that I’m no good at bargaining. Neither is Jorge. We’re such pushovers.

Sorry to go on for so long. I just needed to get all my thoughts out there, I guess. Hey, it’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to. 🙂

What to do? Being a grownup is hard. Gotta decide by tonight. Advice is welcome.