31 May 2017

Walls Walls Walls!

I admit, we did do some more fun house accessory shopping even though our walls were crumbling. There is some urgency when your walls are crumbling, yes... but there's also urgency in the small touches that can make a home feel more like a home in the meantime. I'll get to those later and let's all just pretend we worked on the walls right away like good home owners! 

So surrounding almost the whole house, at the bottom of the walls in these older homes, you'll see the  wall bubbling out just at the bottom. In one area in our hallway, I curiously touched the bubble, and poked right through the wall, dust and pieces crumbling to the floor! We called maintenance. 

They came through and crumbled all the walls back and re-cemented them. There is a lot of moisture in the air when you live in the jungle! And the walls are made of cement, and then painted directly over with paint. The water fills the cement and collects at the bottom, and the paint seals the top layer that bubbles out. Every once and a while new cement is needed.

We had to be out of the house for the weekend so they could work. (And so we went to Kigali and partied too much and did more shopping of course!) And when we came back the walls were all cemented up, and they had done a weird paint job around the house. Our walls used to be 'soft white,' and our bathroom was blue. When we came back, they had already painted the 'brilliant white' that we requested, but in weird spots around the house. And the bathroom was just painted on the bottom where they made the fixes.

Not to worry! I asked them to come back, they did a couple more full coverage coats of white over the walls, and they primed the bathroom. Believe me I was scared when I saw the first coat of primer. Paint quality here doesn't seem to be quite the same. 


But after more and more coats it all seemed to be OK. Luckily I stopped the re-painting of 'soft white' again!! See how nasty that color is where they started painting? The thought was they had more of that paint color though!

No more blue bathroom!!! Yet still so much more to be done...

We also got a ceiling board replaced in the bedroom.

Meanwhile, while all the work on the crumbling walls was happening Patrick and I went out dancing with friends in Kigali and then had a nice brunch at 2:00pm at a restaurant called Heaven.

See how I'm all hungover and green? ;)

And then we got to return to our beautiful home. Patrick did some yard work, and I supervised! It's always great to be back. :)

 A little bird :)


29 May 2017

First Up: House Maintenance!

We quickly realized there were a few fixes the house needed more urgently than the 12 indoor plants and the pink dishware I originally prioritized. The most important being the roof. Just for aesthetic purposes I initially wanted to raise our roof, and expose the beams... And then I heard some noises up there. While I am all about a high ceiling, I am NOT ready to take on the challenge of what was lurking up between our roof and our sub-roof. Luckily the maintenance staff was brave enough to go up there and check it out for us! :) And my curiosity led me up the ladder just to snap a few pics too...

The ceiling tile is beautiful, and those beams are great... and then the 6 years of piled dirt and wires and who knows what else- not so much. I let go of the dream to raise the ceiling and decided to keep the mess hidden. Instead, now I want to paint our current ceiling white and create an exposed joist look by adding white beams to the interior like this:

We'll see if that can actually happen. I tried explaining it and they didn't seem super confident that it would work. But I'll let you know once we take that on!

Well the drip was because the roof had a leak, and the scampering was rats. They fixed the hole and removed the nest! So far so good! :)

Then the floor was all cracked. We will have to do something about the floor since we both hate it so much anyways, but the cracks needed to be repaired first.

The cement is mixed with this red color powder to change the color and then applied onto the cracks. It doesn't totally match, but that's ok for now. Patrick's thought initially was to tile over the floors around the whole house. There's pretty terra-cotta tiles that are outdoor tiles, and in some of the newer houses they brought it inside too. It looks great. We got the quote for that, and decided against it! That was OK with me anyways, because I kind of had the thought of painting over the cement floors. That way it can all be one solid black color. We may bring the tile floor just into the bathroom eventually! :)

So now the ceilings and floors are figured out. I'm trying to lean in a more modern direction than the expected Ex-pat-living-in-Africa style I have seen so much of! Next up, our walls!



22 May 2017

Step by Step!

So right away during our first week here, we took a trip to Kigali (the capitol which is about 2.5 hours away by car.) You can get a lot more variety with purchases there and we figured we needed a LOT! Mostly what we needed was convertors for the walls so we could charge our computers and phones and everything, plants to decorate with, and then just basic household items like dish ware and that. It was fun. Tiring at times too, but really fun.

This is us checking out. We got wine glasses, water glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, bathroom mats, pots, a pan, hangers. Hangers were important to get us out of our suitcases and into our closets! This trip really helped us settle in. 

This is T-2000. It's basically like the Walmart of Kigali which has anything you can think of all shipped in from China

All those hangers!

Then they box it all up for you because it is illegal to use plastic here! We loaded up the car as you can see! The back of the truck was all filled with potted plants too.

Then we brought it all home! Patrick potted the plants, and I did a great job overseeing. ;) If you can tell, we're both covered in mud from carrying those really heavy plants and dirt all the way down to our house. It rained the whole drive back to Rubengera, and our new plants in the back of the pick up got a nice watering! 

I absolutely love this picture. 
Week by week we seem to be getting a nice new settled feel to our home. Plants make everything nicer. And obviously the fact that we can now eat on dishes helps too. :) Next up, the market!

Thank You for reading!!!


17 May 2017

Our Home As We Know It

There are a number of staff houses that are huge and lovely and perfect and new. Those are the kind of houses that I was expecting. I now get the impression that seniority matters to get those newer homes though, and since we're the newbies, mine and Patrick's fate led us to our cute little fixer-upper. It's been here longer, it's a little more vintage, going for the tiny-house hip vibe!

We were surprised, but working with the infrastructure and design teams on our renovations is what it's all about. Let me walk you through our humble abode!

The Living room area which opens to the kitchen.

 The kitchen

We have a hallway! Where our bedroom and bathroom are off of.

The bedroom

Our bathroom of relaxing neon ocean blue.

Our front porch...

That porch is our sanctuary. It's the best area of the house that we don't have to touch. And the view is incredible. Our house has THE best view.

While we may not have the biggest or newest home, we do have a lot of potential! I decided to become productive and come up with ideas to fix the things we wanted to change. And enhance the things we love.


  • The ceiling color
  • The uneven floors 
  • The kitchen counter/sink 
  • The bathroom walls/tile/lighting


  • The Living/Kitchen open space flow
  • The french doors to the living room with the sunset view
  • French doors in the bedroom!! I've actually always wanted that. :)
  • The front porch with its wood posts and perfect secluded view. 
  • The hallway. I actually think its pretty wide and nice. Although it may not have been the best use of space, I will utilize it and make it beautiful! 
Now that's a good start. Now the juices are flowing! If anyone can make this house a home, I can, right!? I look forward to the challenge. Let's see what we can do! Bam. 

We've gotten some shopping done in the meantime. I'll update on Friday about how that all goes down here. Until then 💋!


15 May 2017

We Made it!

Well, we're here! What a wild ride. For the past month and a half Patrick and I have been preparing in all the ways we know how to put closure to our DC lives & livelihoods, and pack as much as we could into farewell parties, closing projects, and 7 overweight suitcases.

All the while we have been planning our wedding in September too! I think that April was probably the busiest I've felt since the start of NAFASI when I would spend 12 hour work days figuring everything out. It is funny looking back at our DC April right now from my bed at 11:00 in the morning while leisurely writing a blog update and staring across rolling hills at Lake Kivu. The birds singing, cows mooing, nice breeze. I just started Party of Five season 1 on Netflix. ;)

It sounds nice doesn't it? It's all I dreamed of while pulling my hair out trying to get work done last month! Yeah, I wish it were that easy. I worked straight through until the Friday that we got on the plane to leave for Rwanda, and now I'm here and realizing I didn't give myself a chance to mourn. Luckily I'm writing after 2 full weeks of being here, and successfully out of my funk. This is Patrick and I 2 weeks ago all green and giddy for our new life adventure:

While it is true, I miss my job, my family and friends, my nephews, our apartmentttttt! (It was featured in an Apartment Therapy Home Tour actually right before we left! In case you miss it too ;)) I need to let myself be here. It is hard to switch so quickly from a million things to do, in such a comfortable wonderful place, to having less to do, in a whole new, yet wonderful, place. 

The things I do now are figure out where we cook, and how to use a Rwandan phone number, and when do we get a stove, and how do I say hello in Kinyarwanda. While overwhelming at times, it's also pretty exciting. And while the beginning is challenging no matter where you move, once you're over the hump, it just leaves surprises and adventure, and calmness again behind all the logistics. 

Rwanda is a breathtaking country. I said recently, there is not any direction in any place you look that isn't beautiful. It is clean and lush. It rains every day and cools off, and then the sun shines again. Out our window is a secluded hillside view of the sunset... every night, right in front of our house. Patrick is starting his job at an amazing organization and I get to be really involved. We live in a community in rural Rubengera of about 30 other people who picked up and moved too. They all seem to like dogs and board games and beer and pizza- all good people in my book! And just a couple hours away in Kigali I can get the best sushi or Indian I've ever had!

The house! I've got 2 weeks of filling you in on what's been going on with that! Our house is a bit more modest than what we expected... Which just means I've got a bigger job of designing it and making it our home again!! It has a living room, kitchen area, one bedroom, hallway, bathroom, and the best front porch ever. Stay tuned this week I'll be writing more to get up to date. And I'll post our before pictures too! We've got a lot to do!!!


On the plane- DC to Rwanda! 
Trying to read a French interior design magazine at a smoothie shop in Kigali
Was excited to show Patrick he can get Nike's at the mall in Kigali too! ;) 
Keza, one of the neighborhood dogs who keeps us company until Nami gets here in September!