Friday, September 28, 2012

More from the Curtain Refashionista

We have had no internet for almost two weeks.  Every day I call and every day there are promises made....and broken.  Anyway, I've got some time of my own today that I'm spending at the office trying to do a blog so you all don't think I've totally disappeared!  Even at the office the speed is terrible, so we'll see if I get this posted or not.

Do you remember my post on refashioning curtains for one of the apartments we were setting up?  By the way, that seems like years ago, what with the flood and all.  In reality, that was only two months ago!

Anyway, just before the flood hit, I did some more curtain fashioning and refashioning.  I just haven't had a chance to post about it since I've been maxed out since the flood waters hit!  (Yes, life revolves around the flood these before the flood and life after the flood!).

Back when we were still in the 2010....I bought a bedspread with orange and blue stripes.  I also bought plain blue curtains for our living room in Maryland.  They went well with the bedspread, so I planned to use them in our bedroom in Niger.  I packed the bedspread and the curtains in boxes and had them shipped to go on a container coming to Niger.  While waiting for the boxes to arrive, I had the bedroom painted orange and blue.  Well, we got all of our boxes but one, which nobody knows where it disappeared to.  Missing was the bedspread and one panel of the two sets of curtains.  So I had three panels of curtains, but really needed the 4th panel.

I thought that wouldn't be a problem.  When we went back to the US this summer, I would just buy another set of curtains.  I went to the store where I had bought those and, wouldn't you know it, they had discontinued that model of curtain.  The ones I had bought there had tabs on top, for hanging.  I could find the same color of curtain, but not with tabs and not made from the same fabric.  I finally bought one curtain in that same color.  And I bought a valance to make the tabs from.

I ended up making tabs, then sewing them on the curtain.  But that made the curtain too long, so I had to shorten it.  Also, it was a lighter weight fabric than the originals and both John and I like our bedroom really dark.  So I had to buy another piece of fabric to sew on the back to make it heavy enough.  In the end, it turned out pretty well.  Can you tell which panel is the "fake" one?

Since the bedspread was also in the box that went missing, I plan on making an orange and blue quilt to finish off my bedroom. For now we are using this blanket we got as a wedding gift.  We recently got our first ever brand-new bed.  In our 26 years of marriage, we've never had a brand new bed!  But that will be for another post.  This is our old bed, that John bought used shortly after we were engaged.

Before we returned to Niger last August, I brought a new yellow and blue striped shower curtain and a yellow rug.  We had the painter paint the walls above the tile bright yellow.  But the curtains we had were disgusting and had to go!  I went to a shop here and bought some plain blue cloth.  From Pinterest I got the idea of sewing ribbons on the curtain instead of rings or tabs.  I sewed yellow ribbon on the curtains, but then I had to figure out how to tie the ribbons.

I finally worked out tying them around this round pencil sharpener.  That worked well.  I really like the way these curtains turned out and they were very simple to make. You'll also notice that when I washed the shower curtain, it shrunk about six inches and is now way shorter than the shower curtain liner!  Fortunately it didn't shrink in width as well!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

House Hunting

Have you ever seen the TV show called H*use H*unters International?  The show features an individual or a couple who want to rent or buy a house or apartment somewhere outside of the US.  They meet with the realtor and tell him/her what they'd like and what they can afford.  She then takes them to three places and they choose from among those three places.

All of the episodes I've seen have taken place in either Europe or a nice tropical island somewhere.  I'm thinking it's time to have a Niger episode and that I could totally be on it.

When the flood waters hit, 53 adults and kids living on our two campuses found themselves with uninhabitable houses.  23 of those lived in the dorm, so I didn't need to work on finding housing for them.  But, I was very involved in finding housing for the 30 others.  The first thing we did was send a letter to other missions asking if they knew of any houses for rent.  Often when missionaries leave they want somebody to live in their house until they get back or they know of houses for rent in their neighborhoods, etc.  We found four houses this way....three on one compound and another is the seldom-used guest house of another mission.  These four places are already furnished and the people only had to move in.

But that still leaves five places we've gone house hunting for.  Unlike the show where they show you three and then you choose, I've looked at 19 houses and am going out today to look at more.  And other people have looked at houses, too.  It's not as quick and easy as they make it look on the show.

The thing is, not all houses are that nice or move-in ready.  They're what might be referred to as "fixer-uppers".  Or they're too nice and so is the price.  Finding a nice house in our price range takes a lot of time with the realtor!  A side note to spending this much time with realtors (I've been working with two different men) is that I've spent a lot more time than usual using my Songhai and French.  It's been good for my language skills!  My newest French word is "sinistre" which means people who have been displaced by a disaster.  It does NOT have the same meaning as the word "sinister"!

Let me give you a peek into some of the houses we've rejected (if I can get the internet to load my pictures!)
The all-in-one bathroom....sit on the toilet, take a shower, and brush your teeth all at the same time.  The sink still needed to be installed where that drain pipe is.
The leaking, mildewed ceiling in a brand new house.  Several rooms in this house had this issue, which was too bad because it was a pretty nice house.
Pretty sure the house wouldn't fall down????
This is actually a decent kitchen and it already had a washing machine hook-up.  No, houses here don't come with machine hook-ups.  This kitchen is large compared to most, it just needs some repairs.
The hall that lead to nowhere.

A little over two weeks ago when we realized how many houses we needed to find, it was a bit overwhelming!  But just the day before I had heard about a missionary moving, so we were able to get their house.
A nice feature of this house is its walk-in closet.  This is extremely rare here where most houses don't even have closets.
There are actually two houses on the compound, so that provides housing for a family and a single lady.

We found another house not far from that one that two of our single ladies will share. It had previously been rented by a family who had put screens on the windows, so we won't need to do that.  We're sprucing it up with some paint, adding a few outlets, and putting in a washing-machine hook-up.

Another family found a house close to their work place.  In fact, we've rented this house in the past, but had heard it had already been rented out.  It turns out it is still available, so we won't need to do anything to get that house ready.

One more house to go and we should have a place for everybody.

Not only that, but two HUGE houses (mansions!) have been rented; one for the elementary school and one for the secondary school.  Another two very large houses, side by side, have been rented for the dorm.  One will be the boys' dorm and one the girls' dorm.  (I had nothing to do with finding those buildings.)

All of this is costly, though.  We rent our SIM-owned houses at less than market value, and now people are finding themselves having to pay more than they budgeted.  It is also costly for the school to have to rent buildings rather than use their own completely paid for buildings.  Part of our relief project will help cover this increase in rent. The project will also help pay for restoring our buildings once the flood water recede.

And let me remind you, that 50% of the project goes to help local families who lost their entire houses to be able to rebuild.  Simply click here if you'd like to donate to this flood relief project.