I’ve been inspired lately by Taking Route’s blog series on homes around the world. And even though we aren’t currently in our home in Africa right now and when we go back we will actually be find a new place, I thought it would be fun to do a blog about the place we did call home from 2016-2018. It was Ezra’s first home and our first home in the Horn of Africa, and it will always hold a special place in our heart.
I’m also going to try and link some of my favorite things to bring back in suitcases for decorating, because sadly Target, Ikea, and Hobby Lobby haven’t cracked the market where we live. However, there are a few new places that popped up about a year after moving there that have provided a few affordable decorating options! But it’s still nice to bring those cheap Amazon and Target finds from home.
And speaking of home, I’m hoping this helps inspires me for our next place. In case you are interested in our crazy timeline of events our 2019 house hopping looks like this:
Baby Girl arrives end of December 2018
We pack up our belongings and move out of our temporary housing here in the states and head back to Africa mid-March 2019
We find a place to stay for a week or two as a family of four until we move into our supervisors house in April
We house sit for our supervisors while they are away, and slowly try to find a few necessary things in storage (baby bassinet, blender, etc)
For the summer, we make the mass exodus to ???? (location to be determined based on our language needs and availability) If you haven’t been following along or heard me talk about it, everything shuts down for the summer because of the heat. Our programs come to a stop, locals leave to visit family in neighboring countries, and expats take the chance to visit home or brush up on language skills in other countries.
So for the summer we will be living out of suitcases in another country (as we don’t plan to return to the states for summer 2019 due to cost) and hopefully we’ll stock up on a few needed things and escape the heat.
Then in September we return to our host country and begin searching for our new place!
So yeah, home is very relative these days, and I’m about to become super nostalgic for our old/first home in the Horn of Africa.
The Living Room
We were lucky enough to find an apartment that was mostly furnished. The year we moved to the Horn of Africa there was an influx of refugees coming from Yemen and needing apartments with furniture, so most of the places included everything. Now (only two years later) that’s nearly impossible to find, but it also means cheaper rent since there are way more places for rent. However, it also means we have to buy some furniture when we return…a very costly expense in our country.
As a side note, I LOVED this dining room table! It was a beautiful wood and huge! I would decorate it for each season and we did family meals, language study, projects, you name it on this place. One of my goals is to find a table this size for our new place. It’s perfect for having friends over too. It’s hosted many of holiday parties and random get togethers.
Some other things we added to the living room:
A rug. While I wish I could have afforded some beautiful rug that brings the whole room together, it just wasn’t possible. I mean, even in the states rugs are expensive! But we did have access to the US military base and we bought an off-white carpet rug that ended up being perfect. The main reason is because when Ezra was still crawling (or learning to crawl) the tile floor was too much. Once we got a rug, he immediately started crawling! Plus rugs are just great.
Target dollar finds for the wall. We have concrete walls and even though we got a drill out we still could not manage to get anything hung on the walls with nails. So I gave up and used velcro strips. REally important to note we did not use anything but velcro! Anything else was too flimsy and the heat would just melt it right off! But for some reason the velcro stayed through the heat. I’ll link these things below too. My favorite was a gather sign that I found for Thanksgiving in the dollar section and hung above our dining table.
Even though I had all of these photo frames to hang on the wall, I had to give up that dream. So I took the photos out of the frames and ended up hanging them up with clothes pins on twine.
The Guest Room/Nursery
One thing I wish we had more of at this apartment was a place to play outside. Even though it’s hot, there are some months in the year where it’s nice to be outside, especially with a toddler. We only had a small little area and it’s really where the cars went, but I made use of this favorite corner of mine and always took photos here.
Links To My Favorite Things
Wall Decals - Since I can’t find the feather ones I bought I just linked a bunch of things from Target, but if you can browse Target you’ll find better deals
Battery Operated String Lights (I didn’t mention these above, but I love these. I use them for the holidays and also for general decor. I’ve draped them around the tent for Ezra and also put them in glass jars as well as hanging them above doorways.
Hammock Swing (Which I’ve failed to figure out how to hang yet)
Couch Cover - we bought this one but the price has gone up quite a bit! But there are lots of options out there, just make sure you get the right size
Bamboo Towels - If you don’t have a dryer and hate crunchy towels, then get yourself some bamboo towels! They dry so soft and are amazing! These are the ones we bought, but they are unavailable, so just search for bamboo towels on amazon
Travel Power Surge Protector - This is a must have! We have had a hard time finding a surge protector and already had several issues, so I got another one of these babies and use it for our tv or any important electronics.
Over the Door Organizer - I used something similar to this for our bathroom since bathroom storage was non existence and furniture/plastic drawers are crazy expensive!
Pillow Covers - I haven’t actually purchased any yet as I’m always looking for deals at Ross or TJ Maxx or Target, but I really like this color scheme, however I may have to change my curtains to make it match a little better…we’ll see what I end up with.
Ikea Rug - fits in your suitcase and makes a great background for baby photos
Gemstone Knobs - I got similar ones to this for some of our furniture
Similar Taco Mat (I found mine at Walmart but it’s not there anymore, but it’s just an idea, these things are lightweight and great to add a little something to the floor)
If you’re interested I also have a pinterest board for inspiration for our next home. Everything is based on ideas that can be replicated at low cost or brought in a suitcase (minus a few pieces of furniture). You can find it here: https://www.pinterest.com/jessicaleegardner/gabode/