What would we do without the Sun?

Sun ~ {The star that is the source of light and heat for the planets in the solar system}

The sun is a miracle from God.🙂

It gives life and spreads its love across our globe. When I think of how much energy gets lost every day, without us harvesting it, I get a little sad.

We have tried our hand at some primal methods of harvesting the sun’s energy. In 2013 I tried some DIY methods to warm our water when our landlord at the time, refused to settle his municipal bill and the council cut our electricity supply. In hindsight, it was a learning curve.

Homemade shower

This was my homemade shower in 2013

We have a goal of building our container home totally off-grid and dependent on harvesting energy and water from nature. It has been said that:

“Enough sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface in one hour to satisfy the whole world’s energy demands for an entire year.”

The problem is, we are not capturing or harvesting it. So in our little corner of the world, we are working on some DIY solutions for our home.

We currently do not have access to an electric geyser, so we do not have warm water readily available. Although cold showers are somewhat refreshing some days, other days you really need warm water to soothe your soul and for washing hair! Ashley came up with this idea to build our own solar geyser…please note it is still under construction:

geyser

Home-made solar geyser pitched on roof

The idea is that the black painted barrel on top will warm the water and relay it to the 2nd hand geyser at the bottom, which we will clothe in a geyser blanket. The bottom geyser will keep it warm, ready for use as we need it. The process will begin again, by filling up with cold water on top and repeating. It should work well as we have sun almost 9 months of the year in Jozi.

Until then, this is my system:

Plastic geyser

Catching the last bit of sun for the day!

Warming our water in a water dispenser, and using it as a shower! It works quite well. I fill it halfway with water and I place it in a warm sunny place for most of the day. By 16h00 the water is quite warm, and ready for use!

make shift shower

Make-shift shower

The showers are calculated and quick! We use between 7-10 liters per use, which makes it super efficient! As I said before, going off-grid is not easy, but super rewarding!

sun warms heart

What have you done to go green? Please share!

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How to organise a small kitchen: DIY kitchen caddy

Kitchen caddy~{Organising aid that helps to streamline operations in kitchen.} 

Having a small kitchen comes with its own challenges. We are still building our home, thus there are many things that still needs to be done. Including our kitchen. We do not have cupboards yet, thus I have had to improvise.

Kitchen

Kitchen area

We have had to cleverly divide the big room into different functional areas. Behind the kitchen is Ashley’s office. To the left is the dining area.

I needed a solution to hang our keys and hang paper towel, foil and cling wrap. I picked up an old spice rack a while back at the local charity store. They were actually throwing it out. (the pic below is not the original spice rack. I forgot to take a before pic! Uuuugh! This one I got from the internet.)

before

Before

I sanded it down, and spray-painted it. I wanted a muted colour to fit in with the room divider, as I did with the spice rack I am currently using.

Kitchen caddy

Kitchen caddy

It has enough space to hang the keys, a resting place for the firelighter (which I use to light the gas stove), the paper towel roll and cling wrap, etc. I used the dowels as the rails to slide the cling wrap on.

Caddy next to black spice rack

Caddy next to black spice rackre

Besides the fact that it blends so well into the background, it is really practical too! Another great way of up-cycling an old spice rack.

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Going potty!: DIY-planter

Aaaaaah!🙂

…what a nice holiday break we had!

I purposefully switched off and it was great!

Now I am attempting to go back to what seems normal. No more sand between my toes. “Take me back to the beach!”

Towards the end of 2015, I made two small planters. It was an idea that I was toying with. Obviously it was my first attempt. I had two special households in mind when I made it.

I gave one to my cuz, Damian and his wife Lucinda as a gift. We stayed a night with them in Bloemfontein en route to Paarl before Christmas. When we returned in January en route to Jozi, I was pleasantly surprised to see them appreciate it like this!

 

Ain't it cute?

Ain’t it cute?

planter done 2

Love the grain of the wood

planter done

I think the pink one is my favourite

They bought little succulents in the cutest holders.  It warmed my heart. Look at it sitting pretty on their kitchen counter! What a nice way to bring the outside in…and these babies require very little maintenance.

Here is the before picture when I just completed it. It is made with saligna wood. It was left untreated as I wasn’t sure which finish they would like. They opted to keep it raw.

Planter

Planter

The other one I gave to one of my school buddies, Bernadette and her hubby, Andre. We visited them in Jeffreysbay also. Uhm…cannot wait to see how they have used it! Send those piccies Bernie!

Here’s to a wonderful 2016 for us all!

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DIY: Kiddies playstove

Play stove ~ {A wooden-build toy stove for kids to introduce them to the culinary world by encouraging imaginative play}

Another project I completed when doing my training course in carpentry in October, I am very excited about this one…especially since it is a surprise for my girls. They have no idea I made it for them…it is hidden in a special place…awaiting to be revealed in time for Christmas! Ssshuuuuuuuushhhhhh!

Stove

Vintage-inspired play stove

I was inspired by this one I found on Ana White’s website. I am hoping to build the complete kitchen over the next few months.

playkitchen

In progress

In progress

I used supa-wood off-cuts. I completed the project under the guidance of my training supervisor.

Stove1

Drawer

Stove2

Inside oven

It needs a few tweaks here and there, but I will give it to them in a few weeks time! I need to give it another lick of paint but I am super excited…remember don’t say anything…it’s a secret!

 

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DIY: Tap your Tippy Tap

Tippy Tap ~ {The tippy tap is a hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water. It is operated by a foot lever and thus reduces the chance for bacteria transmission as the user touches only the soap. It uses only 40 millilitres of water to wash your hands versus 500 millilitres using a mug. Additionally, the used “waste” water can go to plants or back into the water table.}

I had so much fun making this project!

Tippy Tap 4

As per previous posts, you will read that we currently use an outside bathroom facility as our container home is still under construction. It houses a shower and toilet, but no hand-wash basin. This posed a health problem as we couldn’t wash our hands. For the last few months we have been washing our hands in the kitchen sink! Uhm…not ideal.

Outside bathroom

Outside bathroom

Anyhooo. It was time to improvise. I saw this cool device on a local programme, Voetspore, a few months ago. It immediately caught my attention.

In my rubbish stash, I had some old easels that would be perfect to use. I used them previously for another cool project, where I made an A-frame shelf.

I started off attaching the frame to the fence. The idea is not to make a permanent fixture. So the fence was perfect.

I leveled it and assembled it. I added a water bottle and soap.  To fully operate it needs a foot lever which you fasten with rope and tie it to the bottle neck.

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Easel

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Attach frame to fence

Tippy Tap 1

Fully assembled

Tippy Tap 2

5 liter bottle and soap on a rope

Tippy Tap 3

With foot lever

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How to use tippy tap

The kids love this new device! It promotes good hand-washing habits and it is fun to use!

Would you use a tippy tap?

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A little rubbish here and there…

I have become a professional scavenger by now. I know what I want, otherwise I can easily be seen as a hoarder.

I am so excited about my new finds…

 

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Not sure yet what they’ll be…Watch this space…

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DIY – Salvaged chest of drawers

Chest of drawers ~ {Furniture with drawers for keeping clothes}

I love going to the rubbish dump. Last year I got this beauty from the local dump by chance.

Before

Just a skeleton

So I used it as is, without drawers, in our bathroom. About a year ago I did not have the skills to restore it. My training in carpentry has definitely paid off! I have managed to make 3 drawers to fit!

Drawer front

Drawer front

Drawer

Drawer inside

Front view

Done – Front facade

Side view

Side view

 

Up close

Up close

I used Saligna wood and decided not to finish it with handles. I wanted a simple look and just made big holes for our fingers to pull it out. I have also decided to not paint the drawers white. I just love it!

Another great up-cycled project that cost me very little!

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DIY-Wall clock done!

I shared my progress on this creation a few weeks ago.

This clock was inspired by the skyline of Jozi. I originally intended it to be vertical in shape. But as I started working on it, it evolved as is.

I found these off-cuts in a skip at my local carpentry factory. I love rummaging for good stuff. It is birch-wood plywood…oh, it is beautiful wood.

Wall clock.3

Quite happy on the container wall

Wall clock

I used Popsicle sticks to adorn the clock mechanism

 

Wall clock1

Unique and bespoke wall clock

 

Wall clock2

Lovely textures

And it is totally hand-made. Quite chuffed!

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DIY – Jewellery box

Jewellery: {An adornment (as a bracelet, ring or necklace) made of precious metals and set with gems (or imitation gems)}

As mentioned in my other blog, Obviouslyisaid, I have just completed a course in furniture-making. Whoop-whoop!

It is indeed a dream come true. Although I am self-taught, I needed corrective training and I started with the basics.

I needed to learn how to use all tools and machines and practice safety first. One of my first projects was a storage box/jewellery box. My very vocal trainer, Schalk, designed the box and supervised while I made it. (Not really my taste in design)

Unfortunately I could not take pics of the process as camera’s are not really allowed on the factory floor. With this said, here are some pics.

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Happy DIY-er!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra) ordinary

Extraordinary ~ {Beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable}

We frequent the Kruger National Park quite regularly. In fact for the last 11 years I think we have been there at least 15  times.

In June of this year we visited again. In all the years we have been going there, the sighting below is quite rare.

Lion 1

Lion 4

Lion 3

Lion 7

Lion 5

Lion 6

A whole pack of lions in broad daylight. They came so close to the vehicles it was nerve-wrecking and exhilarating at the same time!

First the lionesses and cubs made their appearance. Then the males came. Lazily strolling through the park while nosy cameras went wild.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

We have a lot of happy places as a family. One is a hidden gem in the Western Cape called; Grootwinterhoek in Afrikaans- which translates to Big Winter Corner in English.

Rockhaven

Expansive sky

Sunset Grootwinterhoek

Sunset Grootwinterhoek

rockhaven-grotte-007

Ancient Bushman drawings outside a cave

There is no or limited network availability which means you are cut off from the world. It is quiet and there are mountain streams galore. It is rich with history and even have ancient caves with Bushman drawings. The area is known to even have a few mountain leopards.

I miss it…I hope to visit there soon again!

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DIY wall clock – in progress

Wall clock ~{A clock mounted on a wall}

We do not tell the time in our new container home! We just go on about our business without any indication really of what the time is except from our mobiles.

So a clock has become a necessity. And not just any store-bought clock will do for Lilly Loompa. It has to be hand-made and obviously made with recycled material.

I made another wall clock a few years ago with a fish-can. See it Tuna can clock.

This one is still in progress, but here is a quick preview:

Sneak preview

To be continued…

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DIY: Rubik’s cube inspired art

Rubik’s Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture ErnĹ‘ Rubik. Wikipedia

In 2005, whilst living in Kuilsriver, Cape Town, I did a course in art. In fact it was a course geared for kids after school! Here I was, a 27-year old learning to paint with 7 and 8 years old! It was so much fun!

The fact that I do not have any formal training in art used to intimidate me…but in that year I let go of my insecurities and just painted!

The piece below I made later in 2005 and it managed to survive all our moves from house to house. I realised when I found it in a box earlier this year, that it reminded me a whole lot of a Rubik’s cube.

Art rubik's cube1

You can see the date in my signature! 10 years ago!

Art rubik's cube2

Same colours and shapes

Rubik's cube

Right at home on the wall in our new container home

I love painting! As a creative, it is one of the avenues I use to express myself. It makes me happy! While I am no Pablo Picasso I love surrounding myself with art that I love and that holds sentimental value.

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Grab a paintbrush and make yourself happy!

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Proposed container home floor plan

House Madeline

CONTAINER FLOOR PLAN

Ashley drew up this plan in January this year. So far we are right on track with following through. The plan illustrates how the home will consist of 4 shipping containers on the bottom floor. We have plans to build another floor…but that is only later.

I have highlighted in green the section that is completed.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Change~ {Undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one’s or its original nature}

People, it is official…I am getting older! As scary as it seems sometimes…I am changing, and my body  too!

These pics were both taken at my dear friend Jo’s parties. The one in 2012 was at her 40th, and the one below at her daughter’s 8th birthday earlier this year.

March 2012

March 2012

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Skin problems were cleverly disguised with the wonderful art on my face! Check the big pimple on my eyelid! I personally prefer the curly hair!

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Living in a container house: Photo essay

It has been 3 months since we moved into our dream home. Ironically it looks far from dreamy right now…but I can tell you for certain…I have never felt prouder. Our dream to build an off-grid, bond-free home, requires patience and sacrifice. Admittedly it is really tough some days without the usual luxuries, but other days you are reminded of the vision and you carry on happily!

I thought I would keep you in the loop with a photo essay:

Empty lot

Window gaps cut out

Window gaps cut out

Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Before moving in

Before moving in

Front facade with polystyrene panels on roof

Front facade with polystyrene panels on roof

Bathroom windows

Side view bathroom windows

 

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Polystyrene panels being mounted

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Side view panels up

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Front view

 

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Kitchen view

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Study

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Little hallway

 

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Dining area – open plan

 

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Sitting area

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TV + lounging area

That’s it for now!  I am hoping to give you another update on some new changes very soon!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Every Angle

Angle ~ {The space between two lines or planes that intersect; the inclination of one line to another; measured in degrees or radians; A biased way of looking at or presenting something}

Better late than never hey? I have been neglecting to post for a few weeks now…:(

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge. It was taken last year at a kiddies birthday party.

A great recollection of my Daughter playing putt-putt with her Dad.

Chelsea put-put 1

Chelsea put-put 2

Chelsea put-put 3

Chelsea put-put 4

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More red – DIY palm frond lamp

Frond~ {Compound leaf of a fern, palm or cycad}

These palm leaves are found almost all over. I picked up one a while back and immediately knew I wanted to make a lamp with it. It is really strong and takes forever to decompose. Thus this is a good way to re-purpose (except use as firewood!)

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Palm frond light in Ashley’s office

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Palm frond before painted (excuse quality of pic)

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Bare frond (taken with phone, excuse quality)

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Before I mounted it

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View from the bottom

It makes a great night light and it adds to the red pops of colour in the decor. We celebrate our first month in our new container home today! That explains the boxes under the table! Remember our project is constantly in progress. But I am glad to say we take it one day and dime at a time. Debt-free living requires sacrifice and patience!

Till next time!

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DIY side table – love red!

I have learned to love red. It is my husband’s favourite colour…but not really mine. But I do admit, it has wonderful qualities I have realised. So when I design, I try and incorporate hints and accents of red, as it is a really strong colour.

I scored a bunch of pine off-cuts from my local carpentry a few months ago and as you might know, I have a fascination with building tables with puzzle pieces or blocks. As seen here. So I decided to make a cute side table.

I started off by taping down a square using masking tape.

Off cuts

Build within the masking tape square

Off cuts1

Pack blocks tight like a puzzle

Off cuts2

Number the blocks

photo

Start painting

Table off-cuts1

Needs some colour…almost done!

Table done1

That pop of red just did it!

Table done

Beautifully accented table done!

Done and dusted! Beautiful and practical!

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Living in a shipping container house – Moving week

After about 10 days of being on site, our shipping container home was ready to move into. Now when I say ready to move into…I mean liveable, but not near done and complete as we want it to be.

We have big plans to overhaul this building to something spectacular. And with that said, our vision is to do this without a bond (or mortgage). We are going cash all the way. Now to create a warm and cosy home, you will have to provide essential components and rooms within the building. For now, we only have 2 bedrooms (one for us, the other for our daughters, and one big open living space which doubles up as dining room and kitchen. No bathroom inside yet! Eeeek!!!!

Outside bathroom

Outside bathroom

We use the outside bathroom (with shower) of the adjacent main house which our neighbour occupies. At least it has warm water! We have cold-water supply in our make-shift kitchen and basic electricity to power 3 wall plugs.

Our plan is to be off-grid by the end of 2015. We have started in our small way by using a gas stove and oven and solar lights in our outside bathroom.  This lifestyle is nothing new to us, as we lived without electricity for a whole winter in 2013. Although uncomfortable initially, it became a blessing in disguise. Our lifestyle became significantly slower and our quality of life improved tremendously. As a family we planned our days better to get optimum of the daylight and evenings were spent reading the Bible by candlelight. We learned to do our chores efficiently and had much more time to talk to each other. We intend doing the same now.

But until we find the best solar and water-harvesting systems, (budget-friendly and efficient) we will continue to live on  the-grid for the next few months.

So last week Monday, was our first night in our new place. Wow…it was cold! I am not exaggerating when I say; I have never been so cold in my life! It was like sleeping in a freezer! From our experience we know insulation is essential when living in a container, and it is a must-have. But the pressure was on for us to move in. We couldn’t find a reasonable price for the service and we wanted to test some alternatives.

Before moving in

Before moving in

So on Tuesday, in between packing out and settling, we started packing polystyrene panels on the roof. We found them by coincidence at a great price from someone who dismantled a cold-room. They have already made a huge difference in keeping the house cosier, but it is not yet perfect. This coming week, we plan to mount the rest of the panels onto the external walls before we clad the building.

Front facade with polystyrene panels on roof

Front facade with polystyrene panels on roof

So we have been in the house for 7 days now, and every day we are settling in better.

Newly upholstered couch

Newly upholstered couch

TV corner

TV corner

Make-shift kitchen

Make-shift kitchen…cannot wait for my real kitchen!

Dining room

Dining room

We are truly blessed!

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Building a shipping container home: Week 3

Although the last few weeks have been extremely busy, it has certainly been the most exciting time of our lives. My husband and I have build numerous homes for clients in the past, and finally we have the opportunity to build our own. A debt-free, off-the-grid house that will be home to ourselves and our children. Now although we have some experience with this kind of build, we still have a lot to learn. Our motto has become: “Trial and error…we learn as we go along.”

The build of a shipping container home should be fairly quick as it is a building block in itself. As a rule, we do not work on holidays and weekends, thus yesterday was our 10th actual day of working on the structure.

In this time we managed to get the house livable. We now have all of the following:

  • Running water (pulling from main house until we have a suitable off-grid solution)
  • Basic electricity (also pulling from main house until we have found the right solar solution)
  • 2 Bedrooms
  • A mini-kitchen
  • Painted walls and floor
Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Tinted floors and painted walls

Tinted floors and painted walls

Gas stove

Our big purchase this week was an entry -level gas stove

Solar lights

We bought a basic solar lighting system for our outside bathroom

Polystyrene

Polystyrene pieces we are buying for insulating the roof

My design philosophy has always been one of recycling and re-purposing. We are negotiating with the owner of these polystyrene pieces above which is currently unused. It was previously used as a refrigerator. We will be using it as insulation for our roof. During the coming week we are hoping to source major items such as insulation, exterior wood cladding among others.

Guys about to paint exterior feature

Guys about to paint exterior feature

Keeping in mind our inspiration:

Our inspiration house

Our inspiration house

We are happy to say we are moving in tomorrow! Whoop-whoop!

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Week 2

After 5 years of dreaming and conceptualizing, it almost seemed unreal when the containers were delivered last week.

We share the land with another couple who lived on the adjacent land, exactly the size of our plot. During last week, we continued completing the pre-cast wall, to create a boundary between us and the neighbour. We had to remove a tree and some branches in preparation for the trucks to deliver.

Container hit a tree

Container hit a tree

The delivery company was scheduled to deliver on Wednesday and when they arrived they realised the truck won’t be able to turn on the land as it had a super-link fitted. The next day we had more problems with the tree in the driveway and to cut a long story short, on Thursday late afternoon, after 2 days of logistical challenges, it was finally in position and level. The work continued during the days that followed with cutting out window openings and making the frames.

My beautiful aluminium window frames was delivered and will be installed today. As a designer I hate the idea of burglar bars on the windows, but due to our unfortunately high crime rate in SA we will have to. So we just opted for a plain design with horizontal bars.

Bathroom windows

Side view bathroom windows

Windows

Front view

The structure is positioned at a noticeable angle to maximise the northern sun.

Cutting out the inside panel

Cutting out the inside panel

We intend completing the building in 3 phases. Phase one consists of two 40’ containers. This will house me and my family comfortably. The home will have 2 bedrooms, 1 and a half bathrooms and an open-plan living area and kitchen. It will be 60 sqm in total. As the project progresses and funds become available, we will add another 2 containers which will double the living space to 120 sqm. For the next few weeks we will use the bathroom facilities on site, while we research off-grid water and toilet solutions. It is not ideal, but its ok as a temporary solution.

If all goes according to plan, we will move in 9 days. Yeah!

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House Madeline ~ Week 1

Progress ~ {Gradual improvement, growth or development}

Any progress is good, albeit little or not according to your plans.

Panhandle adjacent to main dwelling. This will become our driveway.

Panhandle adjacent to main dwelling. This will become our driveway.

Preparing ground for precast waling.

Preparing ground for precast waling.

Hubby consulting with the electrician on the land

Hubby consulting with the electrician on the land

We've opened up the driveway, to prepare for delivery trucks coming next week.

We’ve opened up the driveway, to prepare for delivery trucks coming later this  week.

We started preparing the land this morning. I will try and post a progress report weekly…watch this space!

 

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House Madeline – a concept house

Concept:~ {An abstract or general idea inferred or derived from specific instances}

It is finally happening. At long last we are going to build our dream home! At times it seemed like our dream was just going to stay that…a whiff…a dream. But even when all the odds were against us, we managed to persevere and push through.

Our fascination with this build started 5 years ago. Read about it here and here.  We fell in love with a tin can…a shipping container…and knew this was part of God’s plan in sending us to Johannesburg. Container housing was still a fairly new concept in South Africa in 2010, although in certain countries it was already rife and accepted.  The whole concept of debt-free and off-the-grid living immediately struck a cord with us.

Earlier this year we secured a piece of land in Florida, Johannesburg, and if all goes according to plan…our first 2 containers will be delivered next week! I wish you can understand how excited and thrilled we really are.

The land in Florida

The land in Florida

At long last we can build a concept home that could be a solution to our country’s dire housing problem. Have you spared a thought to the destitute and homeless lately? I haven’t lived on the streets thus I cannot fully comprehend how bad it must be.

We are humbled. We feel blessed and grateful that God chose us for this work. Everyone has a work to do. Each one of us must fulfill our God-given purpose. I cannot wait to finally start on mine!

I have started a new blog for this specific purpose. It is new…I should upload a few pics shortly.

www.housemadeline.wordpress.com

Be sure to follow us!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

Early bird~ {A person who gets up very early in the morning}

I must confess, I am not a morning person. As of late, I have had to get used to waking up at 05h00am.

I agree that daybreak is the most beautiful time of the day. With the dawning of the first light, the promise of a new day breaks.

Job 38:41 (God’s confronts Job)

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,”

Phillie early morning

 

One of my favourite pictures taken early one morning as I just worked through the night completing my final assignment while studying.  It was taken in Philadelphia, Western Cape.

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