Vela Creations is an in-depth resource for off grid living. The site documents our research and experiences, hoping that they might help others interested in pursuing this lifestyle. This blog is designed to document our day to day experiences as we build our new, sustainable homestead. If you are interested in seeing more photos and videos, we have a flickr account at the following url:

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Photo credit

In my last blog, when I gave the link for more photos, I said that the ones with a black border were Emily and Roelands' photos. Well, after converting them to JPEG, they lost the black border. Theirs are the ones which are slightly wider than ours, entitled DSC instead of SAN.

Leo's first Christmas

We have just got home from a wonderful trip to see Abe's family. Part of the journey home was through snow, which was a little stressful, but it's over and we are now back to the civilized temperatures of 40 to 70 degrees!!

It was Leo's first real Christmas and it was quite an event. There were 14 of us altogether, including Jim and Vickie, their five kids and partners, and the three grandkids.

Leo was fantastic. Despite, or perhaps because of, all the people and commotion (remember that we live a pretty solitary life), he had a blast. He had trouble falling asleep, afraid that he would miss something, but when he went down, he slept great. And even though he got overtired at times, he really didn't have any tantrums.

He found the whole present opening affair a little overwhelming and confusing, but seemed to enjoy it nonetheless.

There were horses, chickens, cows, a horse and cart, a trike with Leo-sized basket. In other words, he wanted to be outside all the time, and he didn't appreciate being told no, when it was too cold. Still, there were plenty ways to distract him in the house too, such as his new talking, moving Elmo and stick horse.

He seemed to have particular games he reserved for particular people. For example, every time Jim would come in, he would run into their room, open Jim's sock drawer, take out a pair of socks, and then throw it at Jim, shouting "ball".

We want to thank all the family for a wonderful time, especially to J and V, who housed and fed us. Hopefully it won't be too long before we can do it all again.

For more photos and videos, please click here. The ones with a black border were shot by Roeland and Emily.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a wonderful 2010.
All our love,
Abe. Josie and Leo

Kids Rooms Floors

We only worked a couple of days this week, but they were very productive (and tiring!).

We finished working on the sheet rock, then moved onto the floors.

We got both floors done, using a basket weave pattern out of CEBs. They look great, and Leo has already christened them by taking almost all of his toys up there to play. Didn't get to do the landing floor, but no biggie.

Once we get back from the holidays, we just have to do the landing, paint, seal the floors and brick walls, and make shelves. Then we can move in. Yippee.

More Photos

Sunday, December 13, 2009

20 months old

Another month has passed for Leo... already. Goes so fast, but he does seem to pack it in.

Communication is improving, word by word, though still fairly slow. He has now said his first Spanish word - "huevos" or eggs. He will also repeat the alphabet and numbers when you say them to him. His attempts are pretty incoherent, but great to hear him trying, and he gets so proud of himself!!! He seems to be into a stage when he will repeat things back to you. I guess it won't be too long before he starts to commit the things he says to memory and then come out with them independently.

Physically, he is progressing leaps and bounds... literally. He has loved getting on things and jumping off them for a little while, but now he's trying to jump up in the air from flat on the ground. It's great to watch. He is also developing a pretty good throwing arm, hurling a ball clear across the room. He is starting to catch too (by catch, I mean he puts his hands together and you throw a ball into them!). He seems to be getting stronger, taller and heavier by the days.

The favorite toys this month are balls, legos (which he likes to stack in one teetering tower), one particular book (which he'll put on your lap - over and over again - and point and say all the things in the book, like the dogs and cat and eggs and water and hat, etc.), his tractors and farm animals and three cuddly toys (a kangaroo, rabbit and bear). He will sit for a long time lining up his toys, and then rearranging them, and then putting them back how they were. It's quite strange. He is also getting more imaginative, like pretending to give them drinks from his water.

Eating has been harder this month. He's been kind of picky, preferring to snack and pick at food rather than eat a meal. If you would let him, he would happily just eat nuts "nu nu" and grapes all day long. But we don't let him, and when we curb the fruit and nuts, he hunkers down and eats his meals a lot better.

He's been able to brush his own hair and teeth for a long time, but he is now starting to do a few other things for himself, like put his shoes on. He hasn't yet shown any desire to dress himself, although he puts his arms out and pushes them through the holes for you. He seems to prefer to take clothes off than put them on, but that seems pretty natural to me!

He did go through a tantrum phase, and although this is not over yet, it does seem to have eased up a lot.

It's all an adventure, that's for sure.

For photos of the last month, click here. Blogger hasn't allowed me to insert images today.

Insulation and Sheet Rock

First, we put up the insulation. We stapled black plastic to the top of the ceiling framing and then put 8 inches of polystyrene on top of that. Made sure that the two layers of polystyrene overlapped, so the joints are covered by the layer on top.

We then put up the sheet rock on the ceiling and interior walls. And all of a sudden, there are two rooms separated by a hall with stairs. It's also now holding in heat and is very comfortable to work in, even on cold and windy days.

We started taping and filling the joins and screw holes, but didn't get that finished.

More photos. For some reason, Blogger didn't want me to put a photo on this post... not sure why.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Framing and Wiring

We are doing the interior walls and ceiling out of stud and sheet rock.

We have now framed up both the walls and the ceiling, and Abe has done most of the wiring.

Almost ready for insulation and sheet rock. Next week should see some drastic changes!

For more photos, click here.

Room Closed off

The room is now closed off, just in time for the weather turning pretty chilly, getting down in the 30s this week!

We poured the bond beam on top of the brick walls. As usual, our mix was 3:1 sand to concrete, with added fibers. We used castillos, with extra rebar at corners and above the door and window, as reinforcement.

Once the bond beam had hardened, we made the sophet (out of sheet metal), which seals the eaves, from the gutter board to the bond beam.

We also hung the last of the windows - the only one in the brick walls.

It is amazing the difference in temperature inside the rooms, now that it's all closed off. The only opening is under the door, which will have to wait until we do the floors.

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