Monday, January 25, 2010

Paperless Kitchen Challenges

Now that our house is complete and we've got a few visits under our belt, I'm more focused on getting it equipped with all the things I consider staples of living.  Among those is a supply of cleaning cloths and a system for ensuring they're easy to find, use, and wash so as to reduce paper towel and paper napkin usage as much as possible.  At our home in Portland, we don't use any paper napkins and go through a paper towel roll maybe once a month, which is a far cry from switching out the roll every few days a year or two ago.

Since we bought the package for the rental program (oh, such a waste of money!), we do have a nice set of napkins.  However, I prefer to use a clean cloth napkin at each meal.  There are only six (maybe a few more) of the napkins that came with the package, which isn't enough to get through several days without laundry.  I plan to implement the same solution I do at home, which is to buy a large quantity of these cloth napkins from a seller on Etsy.  I also need to bring down a few more mesh hampers to get an easy laundry system down.
In order to truly put a dent in the paper towel usage, however, I need to bring down a lot more cleaning cloths.  Much like napkins, I tend to use cleaning cloths once or twice, then I launder them.  So, for me, having a stack of microfiber cloths like these (36 for $20!) is ideal.
If others are looking for a way to go paperless in the kitchen, either in your primary or your Loreto Bay home, check out this post with clear steps on how to do it successfully.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Currently in Mexico

Just a quick post to let other homeowners know we're currently visting our home.  If anyone would like pictures of their home, or any other minor check-up-type things taken care of, just let me know.  We're down here for over two weeks, so it's not a bother!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Trip Canceled

Bummer.  My trip had to be canceled due to the electricity outage of the hurricane.  We would have preferred to reschedule and fly out next week, but the change fees + price difference in the flights were a bit much to handle, so no Mexico visit this September. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Heading Down to Loreto on 9/4

Just a quick post to anyone reading who would like me (Megan) to look in on anything.  I'm heading down this Friday for a couple of weeks (assuming there are no travel delays due to the hurricane).  If anyone would like me to look in on your homes or take pictures of anything particular, please let me know!  Leave a comment or email 

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

May June 2009 Trip

We braved the Swine Flu hysteria and decided to take a quick trip down to our little casa by the sea. We were worried that it might be a little too hot this time of year, but actually as I type this at 11 a.m. on June 3, I am sitting with the doors and windows open and the AC off.
It does get hot between about noon and 4 p.m. - definitely too hot for any strenuous outdoor activity like walking around shopping with a toddler in downtown Loreto for example :), but the mornings and evenings are just perfect. We have made the most of those times by hitting the new community pool and the beach.
Avery (our 18-month-old daughter) loves being in the water and is constantly asking to go the beach or pool. Or as she says, "bee" and "bool". The new community pool in Founders is beautiful, but they are still having trouble keeping the filters and cleaners working.
As a result there is some slippery algae on the bottom in places and there are a few too many dead insects and leaves floating around. The shallow beach style entry is just perfect for hanging out with a toddler at the pool though, and the landscaping is great.
The other most noticeable changes since our last trip have been the progress on Agua Viva and some of the custom homes, and the maturation of the Founders' landscaping. Some of the courtyards are in full bloom and are beautiful. And the 'street' our house is on, Calle Santuario, is looking great.
Once again we are convinced this little community will be amazing once it's complete. It's just frustrating how slow progress is. The Posadas remain half done and there are still no shops or restaurants. As a result, you definitely need a car while you are down here as trips to Loreto to pick up groceries and supplies are frequently required. Luckily this time we were able to borrow a neighbor's car and that has helped us tremendously (thanks again, Rob!)

We have spent this trip trying to turn our casa into more of a home. We tried to by some art and decor touches but it's actually very difficult to do as there are so few stores that sell anything of any size - they all seem to specialize in stuff that can be packed and taken home. We did find a painting in Adwa (the same folks that did the blinds) and some smaller Diego Rivera copies in Conchitas Curios though and have hung those.
We also found a tapestry to use a table runner in another store and a few bowls and pitchers and things to dot around the place. The house still needs more color though; it is all very brown and white right now. We went looking for some bright throw cushions to put on the couches and beds, but nobody seems to sell them here.

Once again we will have a long list of items to bring with us next time. This time we managed to bring in a US region DVD player and a bunch of DVDs, a power drill / screw driver and a swiffer vacuum thing. Over time and several trips we will eventually have the place fully stocked up.

We probably won't be back now until next Christmas. So if anybody would like to use the place, please let us know. We would far rather it's used than sit empty. If we already know you, or if you are also an LBC homeowner looking to do a free house swap, there won't be any charge. All that we ask is that you pay for a check-in / check-out cleaning service on the way in and out ($80 each through LBC) and utilities (electricity, TV and internet) while you are down here. If we don't know you, we'll need to rent you the place throught the LBC Rental Program and that will include cleaning and utilities etc. Click on the e-mail link on the right hand side if you'd like to use the place.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Upcoming Visit - Anyone Need Anything Done?

This is a message for those fellow Loreto Bay homeowners out there:  we're heading down for a vacation at the end of May / beginning of June.  If anyone would like us to check on their house, take pictures of progress, and/or do any other little items while we're down there, please let us know!  We're more than happy to do so. The email address is located on the right side of the blog.

-- Megan & Damian

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pictures From Our Stay - Christmas 2008

We finally got around to downloading some of the pictures we took of the house and neighborhood during our stay over Christmas 2008. Here they are:

Our Casa - FN 529 viewed from the common area behind the house

The common area behind our casa (our casa is the red house at the top of the picture)

The little courtyard inside our casa (baby pictured for scale :))

The Great Room off the inner courtyard

The bedroom downstairs (french doors lead to inner courtyard)

The roof terrace upstairs

Viewing tower looking towards the mountains

Viewing tower looking towards the sea

The beach

The beach on a windy day

Kayaks lined up on the beach ready for action

Our "street" - Calle Santuario

Our neighborhood at night

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our Maiden Stay

Casa de Turtle is hosting her first guests: us! After weather delayed our scheduled arrival, we flew in on Christmas day. Luckily, we had booked two weeks to come down, so we still get a 10-day visit despite the delay.

While it's all fresh in my head, here are our thoughts on the current state of things:

Community Progress
Founders' Neighborhood doesn't look too much different from our last visit in September, 2007. Certainly more of the courtyards are landscaped, there are more houses, and more sidewalks are put in, but the overall feel of it hasn't changed much. It's still a construction zone, albeit the zone has shifted a bit further away from our little casa. This is about what I expected. The other day I was in the lobby of the inn and overheard another homeowner giving a manager an earful on the state of the community. While everything he was complaining about was both accurate and legitimate, I found myself wondering why he was so shocked. Then I realized if you don't follow blogs and status updates from other homeowners, and instead depend solely on the updates coming from Loreto Bay/Replay, you'd be a bit shocked upon arrival.

The golf course looks amazing. We walked around it this afternoon. It was my first time really exploring that area and I was most impressed.

Agua Viva is coming along quickly! At least it's considerably further along than I was expecting. There are a number of differences in it from Founders' that can be sensed just walking around. For example, the houses in Agua Viva seem to be built more in a row like fashion, whereas, in Founders' they are at various angles. The construction in Agua Viva is far less haphazard looking - at least to a novice like me - than it was/is in Founders'. They seem to have learned a lot of lessons. There are fewer rounded edges in Agua Viva, e.g. their high boys are square, the new design of the cupola is square on top, windows are almost all square, etc. The color options for the houses changed for Agua Viva; their options are more vibrant, ours are a bit more muted with a few exceptions.

Our Choices - Regrets or No?
  • House color: We got our first house color choice of red and I love it. However, it has its disadvantages. Red shows the dust way more than other colors. If you chip the paint, it's very obvious. If I had it to do over, I'd still pick red, but it's one thing to be aware of when choosing the darker colors on the palette. While we haven't yet tested this out, I am assuming that when we do paint touch ups, it will be more obvious with red than with a white or yellow.
  • Interior package: I am pleased with tiles and colors of the interior package we chose. I can't really compare it to the other packages since I've not recently seen houses with other packages.
  • Skipping the outdoor grill: We have no regrets because we are not big on grilling. As such, I can't imagine lugging all the stuff upstairs to grill. That said, those grills do look like good fun to enjoy when others are putting them to use.
  • Appliance color: We went with black and I'm pleased we did. The appliances, overall, aren't of the best quality, but they're sufficient.
  • Tile upgrade on the roof terrace: I'm so glad we didn't do this. It looks great, but the concrete is so much easier to sweep, and I expect (hope) it'll be easier to maintain.
  • Pergola: We never even debated this one and considered it a must have. Nothing has changed - I still feel it's a must have.
  • Granite vs. tile counters - I'm pleased with the tile as it looks now. Of course, I'm also already annoyed at cleaning it, as I knew I would be. I didn't want the granite solely because it stands out as "not Mexican." But on the maintenance factor alone, I would love the granite.
Vendor Review
I am fairly pleased with the state of the house. As can be expected with any new home, there are some issues. My greatest annoyance in this area is not with the developer. It is with TCC (The Construction Coach). They were paid to receive and inspect our furniture for any damage or issues. We have an obviously broken chair, a chair pad that doesn't match the other chair pads, and a refridgerator that you have to lean on in order to close properly. In addition, there are a number of things that I would have expected them to identify to be fixed. In fact, we were the ones who had to catch via pictures emailed to us that a door existed in a location that should have been a wall. One would think an inspection would catch an extra door, especially as we had given them plans for the house and had pointed this issue out to them before. Attention to detail is not their strong suit.

We ended up going the package route on our housewares, furniture, linens and AV. It would have been cheaper to buy these things individually ourselves, but I can't imagine finding the time or energy to do that with a 1-year-old. We'd rather start enjoying our house.
  • Our furniture was ordered from Casa Mesquite. We are very pleased with everything related to this vendor. They communicated well and delivered exactly what we paid for. The stain on the furniture is darker than we expected, but the quality of the pieces more than makes up for that. After initially being annoyed that we'd ordered armoires for the TVs per the (then) requirements of being in the rental program, we are now glad for the armoires. The dust is constant and I don't see that letting up anytime soon. While the couch and chair for the living room don't look Mexican, they are very comfortable and well constructed. The dining room is attractive enough that I wouldn't mind having it in our primary home. We have six dining room chairs, which is a bit much for the size of the room, but we have figured out an arrangement that makes it feel much more open. The beds feel well made and sturdy, though the mattresses are a bit soft for Damian's taste. Overall, the furniture feels sturdy, thereby giving it a high quality feeling. I also like the lamps.
  • The housewares package was ordered via Dahlgren Duck. This package is way overpriced for what it contains. Most of the items are of high quality (e.g. the toaster and blender are nicer than those we have in our primary home), but given the cost of the package, if you have the time and patience to gather all the stuff yourself, I would highly recommend that. A few more pots and pans would have been nice, too. Also a few very necessary things, like a trash can in the kitchen, are missing from the package.
  • The linens package was via Loreto Bay. Like the housewares package, it is insanely overpriced. The items are of hotel quality; while they're nice, they're also made to withstand lots of laundering, i.e. the sheets and towels are a bit rough. Everything is also a very bland white, presumably so the rental program can swap between houses. We definitely need to add some color to this place!
  • The AV package was via Road 9. Their service while we've been here has been very good and they've been responsive. However, once again, the package is overpriced for the actual goods you get. If you have the time, I would recommend getting the TV's etc yourself. The clock radios that come with this package are quite ugly, however, the cord that comes with them to plug into your iPod is very handy. Invaluable when you have a 1-year-old who likes music before a nap.
We are ordering our blinds from ADWA in Loreto. The owners of this business contacted us via email when the house was near completion. We like to give our business to those who are on the ball enough to pursue it. Adrian and his wife stopped by our house to measure the windows and allow us to pick the blinds for the various windows and doors. They were efficient and pleasant. Based on that interaction, all is looking good on this front. We'll see based on the finished product.

Items Needed
  • Vacuum cleaner. When you live near a beach - or in a construction zone - sand and dirt is everywhere, including the dryer. I initially thought why would we need a vacuum cleaner with tile floors? Asked and answered. We need a vacuum cleaner with attachments to get into nooks and crannies. It's also tough to get the floors completely cleaned with a broom because the distance between each floor tile is so wide. A vacuum would work much better.
  • Organization gear. Mesh basket for dirty dish towels, laundry basket, bin for recycling, trash can for kitchen, trash bins for bedrooms (they put just one bin in each bathroom, but I need trashcans in both the bathroom and bedroom).
  • Light labels. Next time we come down, I'm bringing labels for the various switches. Yes, it may look a bit tacky to put up labels from a label maker, but damn it, these light switches are not intuitive at all. I'm constantly switching them on and off to figure out which one goes with what. I know no one else cares what labels I need, but I'm going to reference this post when I get home: island, sink, fan light (2), dining (2), courtyard, courtyard - stairs, fan on/off.
  • Hook for kitchen towel. The oven handle doesn't work well with a 1-year-old crawling around.
We'll post pictures when we get back to Oregon.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Well, our casa is finally complete. It took about a year longer than we were expecting, and the final construction, furniture, AV, linens and housewares payments all came due after the US stock market collapsed...but we are now the proud owners of a second home in Loreto Bay.

We are going down for our first official stay in our new home over Christmas and during that trip will get the furniture all arranged and the AV installed. We are really happy that right now at least we are able to see the ocean from our viewing's certainly not an uninterupted view, but you can definitely see the sea. Below are some more pictures:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Drainage Test

I have little time, so I'm just going to post a few pictures from the surface drainage test done a bit ago.  The first one and the last one are probably the most interesting to the average person, but I figured I'd just load them all.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We have been notified that our home is complete.  Now we are working on getting it inspected and jumping through those hoops, as well as getting the furniture moved in and all the housewares, etc.  And by "we" I mean Damian, who has done everything related to this house.  Except the blog.  That's all me.

We have more pictures of our finished home. Very exciting!

Our courtyard.  The little door is to a storage unit under the stairs.  The entrance to the house (not shown) is directly to the right.
Bedroom on the first/ground floor 
View of the kitchen.  I just love the extra window we added shown on the right side. I'm happy we went with black appliances.  
Our deck under the pergola.  The stairs lead up to the viewing tower. Second floor bedroom is the room behind the wall.
Second floor bedroom.  Those doors lead out to the Juliet Balcony shown in the bottom picture.
 Second floor bathroom
Viewing tower looking at the mountain view.  You can also see one of the posadas to the right.

Exterior of the house.  Good view of the viewing tower and the Juliet Balcony.