Forty Days of Lent: Fifteen Minute Project – A Corner

 

The second in my series of 15-minute declutterings. You can find out more and play along here.

This is the spot in Tau’s room where toys that are not played with go to die get tossed aside. But he had a friend coming to sleep over and so we tackled his bedroom together.

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I know the before picture doesn’t look that bad — a plastic bag containing small gifts and stocking stuffers from Christmas (!), his stuffed animals in their pet bed (yes, we had to buy them a real pet bed from the store), and a pirate’s treasure chest, which contains at least five years’ worth of plastic birthday-party and fast-food crappy giveaways.

But consider that this project also involved purging and reorganizing the books and toys on the THREE bottom shelves, and making the floor so that you could walk on it again … at least until Tau’s friend arrived, and then 30 minutes later, it was covered in Beyblades and Lego all over again.

It was clear for those few moments — I have the picture to prove it!

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Forty Days of Lent: Fifteen Minute Project – A Table

 

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I decided to play along with Beth Woolsey’s 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects. My intention is to do at least five of these 15-minute purges throughout Lent, in the hopes that our home will be less messy and my mind feel less cluttered!

Maceo’s room doubles as my craft area — he’s too young to care! And the craft table and shelves, of course, become the dumping ground for anything that doesn’t fit in his closet or that I don’t know what to do with just right at that moment.

Before

Truth told, this was more of a 25-minute project than a 15-minute one. The purging and neatening took a wee bit longer than 15 minutes. I then spent another 15 minutes after the tidy up framing those four little pictures you see on the wall below — the frames have been sitting on said craft table for at least two years, waiting! It feels SO good to get this done!

After

One Community: March!

 

One Community is a monthly photoblogging project where participants take pictures of their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide.

Our cues this month come from Sarah at Beauty School Dropout, and they are:  Shower, Calm, Green and Friendship

Here goes!

Shower. We haven’t had rain in San Diego in — pfft! — 300 days or something crazy?! Then this past week, it rained on and off for four days. It may as well have stormed for a month, punctuated by tornadoes, an avalanche and perhaps an earthquake or two.

San Diegans have a hard time with weather and with rain in particular for some reason. Local TV stations refer to coming showers as thunderstorms, even when there is no thunder, and a friend told me last week that we were due to have the worst weather in recent history for the region.

I got nervous for a moment until I remembered the night of torrential downpour, thunder and lightning that Dave, three-month-old Tau and I survived in Africa — a storm so fierce and unrelenting that rangers at the game lodge we were visiting had to drive us back to our rondawel through the mud in a big-wheel jeep, and even then it was touch and go.  I decided that the killer storm of San Diego 2014 probably wouldn’t be that bad.

This picture was taken through our dining room window Sunday. A steady but light rain, three days of it and, ahem, we survived!

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Calm. Meet my new friend Shimi, that’s short for Sashimi. He sits on my desk at work and is charged with keeping me chilled and focused on the bigger things in life.

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Green. Here is my little one, Maceo, watching the rain make puddles Sunday morning outside our bedroom window. He took every opportunity to slip outside and ride his push bike through the wet on our patio. He also took great pleasure in putting on his swim goggles and dunking his face in the deepest puddles.

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Friendship. This past weekend was my birthday! And throughout the week I got small parcels from friends. Lovely books and fabric from Kelli, and this fun naked mail from my friend Joslin. She knows I love me some Dark Chocolate Raisinets!

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Click the link below to read more One Community posts and join us!

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

One Community: February!

One Community is a monthly photoblogging project where participants take pictures of their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide.

Our cues this month come from Africankelli: Heirloom, Style, Heart and Warmth

Heirloom. I have my mother and maternal grandmother’s engagement and wedding rings. I also have my great-aunty Boo’s string of pearls, and a very solid silver filigree clip bracelet that belonged, I believe, to my great grandmother.

But do you know what my most valuable heirlooms are? My granny’s biscuit-colored mixing bowl, and the yellowed bone-handled knife and battered spatula that my mother always used when she made scones and cupcakes. When I cook or bake I feel as close as I possibly can to Mom and Granny Sylvia. They’ve both passed away in the last five years, and using their tools is one of the best ways I know to spend time with them.

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Style. Our home is not filled with a whole lotta fancy. It’s small, so we try to keep it simple and uncluttered. And we tend not to decorate with store-bought stuff — pretty much all the decor in our home is personal and holds meaning.

This little glass bird, for example, belonged to my dad’s mom, my Granny Grace. It was given to her by my grandfather after a trip he made to France, likely in the 1940s. It’s beautiful when the sunlight catches it on my bedroom window sill, and its delicacy reminds me so much of her.

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This vintage map of the Natal coastline hangs on our dining room wall, a reminder of where Dave and I were raised in South Africa and where we met before moving to North America. The place names remind us of different trips and vacations, and I love the simple framing.

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Heart. We love San Diego. Love-love San Diego. But if there is another place on earth where my heart truly belongs, it is my Granny Sylvia’s family home in Johannesburg, at 60 Dunottar Street, where many of my happiest childhood memories are centered.

On the bookshelves in our San Diego living room, I now have the 80-plus year old house number off the gate at Dunottar street — the low gate and fence, which were replaced with tall concrete and barbed wire as break-ins and violent crime became more prevalent in Joburg in the 1980s.

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This number plaque, and those little wooden elephants too, come to think of it, are representative, and part of the few leftovers of all the years my maternal family spent in that heart-home where my grandmother and her sisters, and my mother too, were all raised.

Below is a picture of my Granny Sylvia in her early twenties, standing between her parents outside the Dunottar street house, her sisters Yvonne and Joy to the left.

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Warmth. Any skill I have with needle and thread, I come by honestly. Heh heh. My mother, grandmothers and great aunts all sewed, knitted and crocheted well. I could do all three by the time I was eight.

When my brother and I were little, my Granny Grace crocheted granny-square blankets for the two of us, and one for each of my four cousins. My mom loved what her mother-in-law had done so much that she did the same as soon as her grandchildren came along.

This blanket is Tau’s — insert link to adorable baby-Tau waking up picture here. It is perfectly matched to the colors in his bedroom, perfectly executed, as only my mother could.

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When Maceo came along, Mom asked for swatches of the colors I was using in his room. It was her way of ensuring that our adopted babe would be wrapped in the same granny-love from the other side of the globe.

Turns out, Mom never got to finish Maceo’s blankie. Rapid-onset dementia meant that she suddenly lost not only her cognitive abilities, but also the ability to see and work with her hands. So when I traveled to be with her, shortly before she died, I made sure that I found the unfinished blanket in her closet, squares neatly organized in a box with all the right hooks and yarn, and brought it home with me to finish. It’s been two years since Mom passed, and it’s finally time for me to take the blanket pieces out the box and learn to crochet again. It’s my project for the year, and it might take me even longer. So be it. My boy will need his blanket. And my Mom will want to know that it’s done.

Click the link below to read more One Community posts and join us!

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

A Very Canadian Christmas

 

A very Canadian Christmas

Except for the part where there was no snow, it was a very Canadian Christmas. We did all the things we love doing in Victoria—bundled up and went walking, took in an ice-hockey game, warmed up in good coffee shops, and visited with all of Dave’s family.

Perhaps because I was more concerned about cramming ALL OF CHRISTMAS (!) into our suitcases before leaving, I forgot to pack my Canon, so the pictures on Flickr are courtesy of my phone unfortunately. Still, I hope you enjoy them!

One Community: January!

 

I’m not even going to try to limit myself to four photos for this month’s One Community roundup! We spent Christmas and New Year in Canada with Dave’s extended family, and the pictures are just too rich to not share!

Treasure. The heart of our visits to Victoria, BC, is always the opportunity for our boys to get to know their grandparents and older cousins, and spend time playing with their younger cousins. Tau asks about Kai (9) and Tait (6) often and opportunities to see them are rare. So when they do get together, it makes for rich little-dude photo ops like these:

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Cosy pub lunch after watching Kai’s ice-hockey game

Kai loves his baby cousin

Kai adores his baby cousin

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Silver.  We were lucky enough to have two big feasts! One on Christmas day and a second a few days later when our oldest niece Kendra and her fiance Zack flew in from Australia where they live. 

At the first dinner, Dave’s sister Trisha placed a handmade cracker on each plate. Inside? A small gift for that person—holiday perfection.

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What this picture doesn’t show is the certifiable CRAZY that defines Walsh get togethers. Twenty-five of us crammed into a home designed for four people, climbing over each other to move from room to room, hunting down your misplaced wine or beer glass, washing and drying dishes in between courses, straining to converse with an aunt or nephew that you haven’t seen in a year over the shouting din. The kids’ table looked like this at the first meal. Not exactly off the pages of Martha Stewart. Right after this, Maceo spilled someone’s juice all over that table.

Just a few of the kids!

Just a few of the kids!

Resolution. There is little room for me-time or reflection on our trips North. I did get out for a nice long walk around our old neighborhood of Oak Bay on Old Year’s Eve though.

Dave and I lived in Victoria for 12 years before moving to San Diego. We married there and put each other through college there. It’s the place where we forged our partnership, struggled to make ends meet, and aspired to live somewhere else. So, returning is bittersweet. Around every corner in this town shrouded in winter is a memory, a feeling, a sense—each one particular and loaded with emotion.

So my walk around the bay, up through the golf course, and back past our old apartment was poignant as I closed out 2013 and looked forward to the new year. Surrounded by our old community, I was very aware of the choices we made twelve years ago to go do something different, and the many blessings we have experienced doing so.

These days, as a working, older mom of small boys, I am beyond torturing myself with New Year’s resolutions. Looking into 2014 is more about focusing on gentle intensions. On small actions that I can give priority, that will lead me to be healthier and more capable. That is all.

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Garden gate, Victoria, BC

Winter. We were fortunate to have moderate weather during our visit. Four years ago, we were in Victoria for Christmas and the cold was bitter! This year we packed warmer clothes, fleecy PJs and slippers, a hot water bottle and heating pad. And it made all the difference.

We are spoiled by San Diego winters—the sunshine, the balmy temperatures, the outdoor opportunities. Winter in Victoria reminded me that our sunshine and longer days are like gold!

Sunrise, Christmas morning

Sunrise, Christmas morning

Mid-morning, overlooking Oak Bay

Mid-morning, overlooking Oak Bay

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Happy New Year, friends!

See you next month!

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

One Community: November!

A quick post this month for our One Community roundup!

Gratitude. This  summer, old friends of ours moved to San Diego. Steve and Vicki were grad students in Dave’s lab some fifteen years ago when we lived in  British Columbia, Canada. Since then, they have lived all over the United States and had three great kids! Not only have they moved to our city this year — they moved right into our neighborhood! Our kids get on extremely well and for the adults, it’s as if no time has passed at all. That kind of friendship is rare, and I am grateful for this unexpected gift!

Below, Halloween treats for our boys from Steve and Vicki’s three.

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Fun.  The long-awaited taekwondo party for Tau’s birthday was a huge success! The Plants Versus Zombies cake turned out well, and the kids had a blast. Best part of the party, I think, was the Chicken Grab, where each contestant has a rubber chicken tucked into the back of his or her belt. The object of the game is to spar and wrestle on the mat, and the first person to liberate the chicken from their opponent is the winner. Much fun had by all!

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Blue. This boy recently discovered the local library not only as an endless supply of books, but as a place where you can RUN without getting too lost or your mother freaking out too much. It is also the home of the FISHES. We love them FISHES!

It is in moments like this one, where I see him boost his small body up on tippy toes on the librarian’s step stool to seek out the fishes who are “hiding, Mom!” that I realize how just big he is getting. As he steps into those small blue Crocs, which used to be his older brother’s.

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Home. We had two other families over for the night of Halloween. We ordered in good pizza and served champagne with spiders in it for the adults, punch with eyeballs and witches’ fingers for the little people. And our home was suitably decorated for once!

Then we took the kids out trick or treating around the ‘hood, which because we live in a dense townhome development, makes for good candy bang for your buck. Our kids came home with loads of sweets! I told Tau the dentist would buy it all back from him for a dollar a pound, but he figured that he had about three pounds and that three bucks was not a good deal!

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See you next month, all!

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!