Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Stone House on the Hill ~ Living in a ‘DIY’ World

 
DIY – abbreviation for ‘Do It Yourself’
            -- Webster’s Dictionary

DIY or Do It Yourself projects are the focus of some of my favorite blogs, television shows, FB posts and publications.  Always inspiring, they provide step-by-step directions to living in a colorful, clever world that you’ve designed, painted, built, sewn, or otherwise created by yourself.

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The Scout completes the clothes line
Long before it became the catch-phrase for creativity, Do It Yourself, was a way of life in the rural area of Greece where we make our part-time expat home. And it continues to be the way repairs and projects are completed even now in our part of the Greek Peloponnese.

To be honest, it has tested the skills and abilities of these two city-slickers from suburban America, each of whom are more comfortable and confident at a computer keyboard than brandishing a hammer or screwdriver.

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Dozens of parts and directions in Greek
In the States, we have been known to pay a wee bit extra to get items assembled before delivery or to hire a handyman to make repairs or changes. While we still hire help for many of the projects we’ve undertaken in Greece there is a remarkable (for us anyway!) number of things we’ve accomplished by DIY. 

By the way, ‘It’s Greek to me” is favorite phrase we use when directions for the DIY are written in Greek. Thank goodness for illustrations: we’ve often resorted to matching parts and screw sizes to the drawings and then guess at what we are to do with them. 

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The Stone House on the Hill - the Mani, Greek Peloponnese

Slowly, slowly, or siga, siga as they say in Greek we’ve strung a clothesline, assembled coat racks, and constructed book and storage shelves. Each completed project bolstered – a wee bit --our DIY self confidence!  Just enough that by last fall we were dreaming up things we could DIY at our Stone House on the Hill:

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Chalk painting the chest of drawers - DIY project

Our first project – such a tiny step for most DIY folks but a giant leap for us -- required finding a paint store in Kalamata (our big city an hour north), then explaining we wanted to purchase craft ‘chalk’ paint, wax to finish the project and the tools to apply both.  (Keep in mind neither of us had ever ‘done’ chalk painting but I’d been insistent  we do it – after reading those darn inspirational DIY home decorating blogs. . .) 
“You know, you create your own hell.”  --Warren 'Dean' Starr 
While we still had the painting bug --  and upon discovering they make a paint for bathroom grout, we tackled our guest bathroom.  A dark-colored gray grout had apparently been popular (because it didn’t show the dirt) when our 10-year-old house was built. From ceiling to floor it was used, making the room look, well. . ., dirty.

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Painting the grout white - a DIY of tortuous, tedious measure

If we each painted, we reasoned, we could probably change that room in a day. Once started we couldn’t change our minds either. So with teeny-tiny brushes and cloths to wipe the excess, we set forth. What. A. Joke. Hours and hours, days later, our DIY was done.  Happy with the end result, but vowing never to do that again!  

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”
— Ray Bradbury
 
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So how much stone did we order anyway?

Having spent a week of gloriously beautiful fall weather indoors on that tedious project we headed outside for the next.  We had a vision for our garden area, so we set to work.  You might say that we had rocks in our heads, both literally and figuratively, on this one!

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First step, hauling the stone down the steps
We ordered brown gravel which we would use to create new garden cover at the front of the house, to the side, and in parts of the upper garden.  Darn, those Pinterest photos of Mediterranean gardens!! First task, hauling the gravel from the bags in our parking area, down the stairs and to the gardens. (If you are wondering, we used plastic pails and made hundreds of trips up and down those stairs – a better workout than going to the gym!)

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge
-- Robert Fulghum

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The 'before' garden DIY project photos
We added a new Greek word: kopiastiki, to our vocabulary. It means ‘backbreaking’.  Finally, we accomplished what we had set out to do:

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Garden in front of The Stone House on the Hill

From the front of the house down into the grove. . .

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Olive grove terrace garden - The Stone House on the Hill 

  To the side garden. . .

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Our vegetable garden - The Stone House on the Hill 

And in the upper garden. . .

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We added a winding pathway through the upper garden



“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte 

Before we returned this spring we told ourselves  that this stay we’d get out and do some hiking on those wonderful old trails that still link the villages scattered about our hillsides. We’d go to the beach – something we have yet to do. We ordered books that we’ve been wanting to read. But then I saw a cute little strawberry planter on FB that you could make from a laundry basket. . .it just required a few supplies.  Then a video came across for making concrete plant stands and stools which could be so cute . . .

So what will we be up to this spring at our Stone House on the Hill? Not sure yet.  But we do hope you’ll be with us again next week as we settle into life in Greece. And if you are in the neighborhood in real life, stop by. There’s always time for a visit!  As always, thanks for the time you spend with us at TravelnWrite ~ Safe travels to you and yours.

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration






















25 comments:

  1. So reminds me of my house in rural France... still going strong on the renovations 15 years later (not to worry you - we're just slow!)

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    1. We would slow down I think if we didn't always have the 90-day rule guiding our stays. Seems we race to get things done so we can have a week or two to enjoy them - then we hate to go anywhere because we want the time to kick-back and relax. Maybe this time!

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  2. Oh my goodness, Jackie, you and Joel have NOT stopped since you arrived! Your stone house on the hill is looking stunning! I love the pic of the sea in the background; you are lucky to be walking distance to it!

    Your hard work has paid off; your garden is looking very refreshed. ENJOY it! There will always be another DIY project on that Mani horizon!

    Happy Spring!
    Poppy xx

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    1. Thanks Poppy. Yes, as we've already found this trip there are plenty of DIY opportunities; some fun, some necessary but always a project out there with our name on it! Hugs to you - Jackie xxx

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    1. It is Suza. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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  4. Oh. my. goodness. That's a LOT of gravel! But, the end result is fantastic! I'm more a D-I-Why? type, but every now and then the bug bites me, and it is satisfying to know you did it yourself.

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    1. My new phrase! You've nailed it: D I Why? It is nice to see a project completed but my enthusiasm for the big stuff is paling proportionately!

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  5. Wow! It's looking very impressive!
    Shelley

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    1. Thanks! We are pleased with the way it is shaping up.

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  6. Before blogging, Steve and I paid experts to do most everything, but in retirement, we have more time and the confidence to actually try things.

    Have fun with your projects, but make time for the beach.

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    1. We would like the time to take things a bit more slowly but when you know you have only 90 days and things can take forever (the brown gravel took weeks to arrive for instance) you just need to hit the deck and think how lovely the beach looks from a distance. One of these days though we will get there!

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  7. I used to love household projects and the DIY TV programs. In fact, we had a series of Time-Warner books (remember those subscriptions where you received one book each month?) that we used for years before You-Tube showed us how to do things. And I loved the feeling of looking back at a project and that warm glow of accomplishment when it was finished, although I had some, "Damn, what was I thinking?" moments as well as a few disasters! Looking at what you've achieved at your Stone House to turn it into a home is really impressive. However, I might have come up with a few more words than "kopiastiki" if I'd been hauling all that gravel up and down the stairs! 😆

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    1. Well, I have to admit I did go on strike during the gravel hauling. . .which really was quite tedious. As The Scout kept getting bigger buckets so it would get done more quickly I finally quit hauling them and concentrated on crawling around on my hands and knees spreading the stuff. As it was it took a month back in Seattle before I got the crink out of my back from that little foray into the DIY world. And yes, I do remember those Time-Warner books!

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  8. I am so glad you have been DIYing Jackie! There is nothing more satisfying than to transform something with your own hands. Your garden certainly is a labor of love. It looks fantastic! And I'm glad to see that you've caught the chalk paint bug! Isn't it wonderful stuff?

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    1. Mary if you ever do one of your road trips and head this way while we are here I do hope you'll come visit and see it first-hand!

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  9. Definitely kopiastiki, but the results are beautiful and gratifying. However, I'm glad to be over most of the DIY and don't think much about landscaping, just landscapes. Do hope you make time for some hiking.

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    1. Well, our first week has come to an end with no end of projects yet in sight. We have 11 weeks left. . .tick, tock, tick, tock. . .thanks for stopping by Gaelyn!

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  10. Well you've done a great job. The brown rocks look great in the garden and the white grout made such a difference. I'm feeling your pain with the application though. I laughed at your "Its all Greek to Me" :)

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  11. You've worked so hard!!! Your home is looking more and more beautiful. :-)

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  12. Your DYI projects looks like they had gone very well. So well done you! I'm impressed by the paint effect on your chest of drawers, and your crazy stone pathways (were you crazy?). I'm looking forward to more stories from your stone house on the hill.... I hope you have started putting them into a book while you've been slumming it back in USA. Have fun back in Greece.

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  13. You brought back memories from my childhood! My mom used to be (I think she still is) a DIY person. One time she decided to create a pond on or backyard. We went to a nearby river to get the stones that were going to be used at the bottom of the pond. It was a fun project and it end up pretty nice. Best wishes for this spring! #TPThursday

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  14. Absolutely beautiful, great work! Nice to see the progression.

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  15. Good on you for DIYing your improvements. It's a common thing where I live and most furniture and "project" items come in "flat packs". Your creativity is great.

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  16. My 14-year-old son is the designated assembler of the unassembled. It's a natural extension of all those LEGO building skills he's developed. Your garden looks lovely. It must be so satisfying to look at all your handiwork and know that you are behind it all. I do hope that you have some relaxing time scheduled for your next stay, though.

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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