Friday, 26 February 2010

Tracy's challenge 74.


I would consider myself a pretty talented person (I can cook, scrap, knit,  embroider, sew, create a Balance Sheet and a Budget, operate a drill – with fear and difficulty mind you – understand complicated law and psychology, etc. etc. etc).  Maybe I should rather say that I am a pretty capable person – show me how to do something once and I can usually pretty much get on with it right away.

Now, I usually enjoy being creative in some form or other and I consider cooking and baking to be a creative talent … BUT somewhere along the line, I have a mental block when it comes to providing a meal for my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I CAN cook – pretty well in fact – I can make basics from scratch, like white/cheese/pepper/mushroom sauces, gravies, stocks, etc.  I have dozens of Cookery Books, which I have read from cover to cover.  I watch the cooking Channel on BBC Food AND I have attended very “fancy” cooking lessons.  And guess what?  I can even throw a pretty impressive and yummy Dinner Party … I just don’t enjoy everyday cooking and I don’t like shopping for food, not only because it is like a big black hole in our hard-earned finances, but because it’s boooooring.  Okay, so I know I sound like my teenager here … tee hee … but you cook, you clean, you shop, you cook, you clean, you shop … and so the cycle goes …. Booooring ….

On top of all of this, my boys are so darn fussy … they don’t eat veggies, so no stir-fries or anything veggie-related. They don’t like mince, so there goes Lasagne, Cottage Pie and Spaghetti Bolognaise.  They don’t even like rice, or stews or anything that even resembles a stew or casserole … It’s sooo frustrating and almost impossible .. sigh … BUT I do what I have to …

As for baking … well, I’ve tried on numerous occasions with very little success … It’s kind of a joke in our home because once a year (on Bryce’s Birthday) I get all geared up to bake for him – after all, I have to send cake to school, then we have family over for cake and tea and then he usually has a Birthday Party with his mates … that’s at least 3 Cakes and other baked goods.  So, I get organised early (ahem … usually the day before …) – I check the recipes, buy all the ingredients and get to work, but somehow, it always flops (even those supposedly “flop-proof” recipes I get from well-meaning family and friends …).  Okay, so sometimes it burns even though I have pre-heated the oven at the correct temperature and checked cooking times, etc. Sometimes Greg even has to go to a 24-hour Garage store at like 11pm to buy more eggs, or milk or something … sigh …

Alright, so we’ve established that I can’t bake and I don’t like to cook BUT my boys are fit and healthy and they love me, despite my lack of culinary talent … and that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

February 2010”

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Stefanie's challenge 74.

Just call me Domestic Goddess
 because it sounds better than maid, taxi driver, nurse, gardener, cook, organiser, homework supervisor, pet deflea-er, grocery shopper, finder of lost items, laundry operator, petty cash officer, sunscreen applier, dish washer, tea maker, menu planner, gift procurer, party planner, cake decorator, teacher, disciplinarian, librarian, memory keeper, photographer, hairdresser, flower arranger, girl Friday, mentor, alarm clock, sandwich maker, shoe polisher, pharmacist, fact finder, knitter, cheer leader, weather lady, fashion advisor, repairer, stationary supplier, masseuse, general dogsbody, otherwise known as 

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Helen's challenge 74.

I have this thing about organisation, storage especially. To me there is a right & a wrong way to EVERYTHING, from how to arrange the toiletries on the bathroom shelf to which way to fold the towels & how to make the beds{hospital corners no less...}I have even come up with the "Tilbury fold" for our clothes after they have been ironed. I'm not out to convert anyone else but all the systems I have instituted work for me & make my busy life just that little bit easier.
I have days for washing, days for kids to help me with dinner {"kitchen duty"} & Friday is the day I get my car refuelled & go through the carwash. These little things make me feel in control & like I am "on top" of things. Of course this OCD needs to be tempered at times & drives the rest of my family a little nuts, but they also appreciate that they can find anything whenever they need it {or should I say, I can find it for them!} because everything has a home & I always say "put it back where it lives".
I guess this sounds kinda sad to outsiders but I like it. I grew up in relative chaos so I really battled at first to get my life on track & read many books about organisation. Now I consider everything I buy & only keep things I love, that have special sentimental relevance or are just darn gorgeous & enrich my life. I tell my kids "Everything you buy you have a responsibility to for the rest of time – once it is yours you need to clean it & care for it, house it & dispose of it responsibly should you tire of it".
I regularly sort stuff out for repurposing or passing on. While I love to have a clear out I never fill up a black bag for the bin, like you see on the TV shows. Coming from Zimbabwe I have seen far too much poverty to even contemplate that & even spend hundreds of Rands sending my old stuff back there to Christopher, my gardener there {as we still rent out our home there}rather than getting my maid here to sell it for next to nothing. Once stuff is gone here it is difficult & expensive to replace so I always have a garden shed to house all those things I'm not willing to dispose of just attics or basements in homes here.
I hope I manage to instil some of my ideas in my kids. Chelsea is already totally "anti-tidy" but hopefully this is just teenage rebellion as she used to be a really good little helper when she was small. Jack is already Mr. Neat but has always been that way & poor old Bing-with his dyspraxia-is pretty much a lost cause.His policy on his wardrobe is "TFTT" {Take from the top} which always makes me chuckle. I actually love that he is so un-image conscious that he really doesn't care what he wears.Luckily he has a lovely wardrobe & also gets to share Jack's lovely "kit" {clothing}.
Jack is Mr. Stylish too & loves branded clothing, especially white, & always buys it himself with Christmas/birthday money & anything he manages to earn from his random entrepreneurial ventures. {He always seems to have a plan on how to make a buck...} He colour codes his wardrobe just like me-At least I have a protégée!Sharing a room has been challenging for these 2 boys but buying them each a couple of chests of drawers has gone a long way to helping them keep everything separate. Plastic wheelie boxes under their beds keep the rest of their "stuff" tidy & accessible too...
I find the best systems are custom-made, ie:- the ones that work for you. The same goes for storage. Always see what you have that needs housing then custom buy or make according to your specific requirements. Containers are my passion – I own them in all shapes, sizes & materials, from basketry to wirework, to clay pots, to wooden boxes, hand-carved or with intricate marquetry. Plastic containers are a positive addiction but the truth is, somehow I do use them all! The fridge gets an almost daily makeover & all the left-overs are decanted into the right sized container, preferably square so as not to waste precious fridge space!
I spend so much time keeping the lives of my loved ones organised that my scraproom is the last place I sort out! I am busy overhauling it at the moment - in anticipation of our house move - and am hoping that the floor to ceiling cupboards will make keeping a "neat look" easier to achieve. While I love scrapbooking I find the storage aspect of it all a bit of a nightmare, as my requirements are ever-changing & there is very little, if any, dedicated scrapbooking storage available here in South Africa. That said I already have a really cute selection of storage options, from cupcake containers to dressmakers forms {used to hang my ribbon off} & cute organza flower-embellished baskets, plus dozens of mini cookie-jars for buttons & other embellishments ;-D
Keeping track of the possessions of a big family is challenging it is rewarding too. Even Cami {definitely not the neatest kid on the block} "knows the rules" when it comes to putting stuff away etc & I think this already gives her an advantage in this mixed-up world we live in. Fortunately Shane shares my sentiments, to a degree, although he definitely wouldn't mind if I was slightly more chilled about it all. I just find it easier to keep at it as it does seem to be a never ending task & often my "just 15 minutes" turns into an hour or more. I like to think this "hobby" of mine has positive spin-offs all round though!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Nicole's challenge 74.

I love food.  That's no secret around here!  LOL  I have tons of cookbooks and torn magazine pages of recipes I would love to try.  I also photograph my dishes so that I can share them with others, even when things don't go quite as planned.  I have been fortunate enough to have my photos featured on a national food site and have had people in the food industry commend me on some of my photographs.  It really makes me feel good to know that people are seeing what I do as worthwhile and interesting but I'm not so sure how my family feels about being my "guinea pigs" for all these recipes!  I do know they appreciate the time and effort it takes to make something from scratch and would rather eat my cooking than something from a box (most of the time anyway!). 

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Liza's challenge 74.

Title:  Plant Whisperer

Have you ever imagined growing up in a home without plants surrounding you?  I can’t!  Ever since I can remember there were always flowers, plants & shrubs surrounding our home.  And I have my Mama to thank for it! 

The smell of freshly nipped leaves, the feel of damp soil watered down early in the morning, the seemingly whispering leaves and flowers around our home.  All made possible by her love of gardening.  Her nurturing hands help bring life and beauty to these natural creations. 

We never did inherit from her this natural talent.  But we are her big admirers.  Our home is much cosier and happier with her plants around us.  It is just one of her talents that makes us love her even more.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Cabbie's challenge 74

 title: God given
sharing one's talent is the best gift one can give. It is a way to bridge our passion and connect it with others. God blessed us with talents so that we could use them as instruments to inspire others. We use our talents to show what creativity really means and in the end, what we show to the world will always remain in the hearts of many.

Friday, 19 February 2010

 I haven't chosen one of my talents in the traditional sense, but have journaled about something I take care to do that affects my friends & family.

Journaling reads:
I'm always careful to let my friends and family know just how much I appreciate their cards & gifts. Not only when they are given, but when I come to use them too. Accepting gifts without guilt doesn't come easily to me, but a gracious acceptance makes such a difference to the person who has given the gift, knowing that their thought & effort is very much appreciated. My joy becomes their joy & my guilt eases, know that the gifts were given in the spirit of love.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Cindy's challenge 74.

"Is it a talent or a skill? I need to ORGANISE - usually our lives.  Appointments are made well ahead of time, calendars updated, weekly schedules written on the fridge for all to see, and reminders given constantly to the girls.  We all know where we have to be on any given day.

The girls relish this organisation.  Alina counts down the days to appointments, holidays, her swimming and dance lessons etc.  She doesnt stress at appointments and is well prepared for what to expect.  Kelsey is the same and since doing this the household runs more smoothly.

Steve, well... it mostly relates to the girls but if he is needed he can plan ahead at work instead of rushing out.  Now I just need to organise the cupboards."

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Melissa's challenge 74.

Journaling: I am a bit of an adventurous cook. I rarely use the same recipe twice unless I really love the end result. I often throw things together because the combination sounds good. Unlike my husband, I don't believe that anything from a box is considered real cooking. I don't know if it's the Mom in me or that I am a lover of food - real food - and real home cooking that leaves evidence through a mess and plenty of dirty dishes! - 1.30.10

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Shayne's challenge 74

"Remember this day?  When I decided to test out new cupcake toppings for Valentine’s and Easter.  Remember how irritated I got because Olivia wanted to help me every 5 minutes?  Remember how Dean and Daniella wasted no time in offering their suggestions? Remember how I snapped at everyone to leave me alone so that I could just get on with what I wanted to do?
Remember?  And then remember how excited everyone was when they saw the
outcome of my    creativity?  Remember how scrummy they tasted?  Remember?
 24 Jan 2010"

Monday, 15 February 2010

Challenge 74

This one comes from Julie B one of our readers (
Journal about one of your talents and how it affects the people in your life. 

Her journaling:

If I die tomorrow, one thing I would be remembered for would be the huge amount of time and effort I put on making keepsakes for my family.
Books, albums, boxes, much memories to keep forever.
It's stronger than me, it's my talent, it's who I am.
Now, I just hope my kids (and my future grand kids) will appreciate it someday?!?

thanks Julie.

January winner

The winner for the Debbie Hodge's everyday class is Debbie from Debbiesdaysz.
congrats Debbie.
Please email me your details so that I can forward them to the other Debbie.
(stefanie    my mail address eyeore at telkomsa dot net)
Congratulations on your prize.

I seem to have misplaced some emails so if anyone emailed me their valentine's submission,m challenge 73 please contact me again. There were no comments left with links for this one.
Remember there is another prize up for grabs , a super class from Debbie for February.
Get it scrapped: Travel and vacations for the value of 10 US dollars.
I copied this from her website at

SCRAPBOOKING TRAVEL & VACATION self-paced class by Debbie Hodge
One of the biggest challenges to getting vacations scrapbooked is the large number of photos a trip may yield. In Scrap Your Travel & Vacation, you get 5 lessons in pdf form that provide:
strategies for organizing and culling travel photos;
a page planner and approaches for telling several kinds of travel stories;
color strategies (not schemes, but strategies for coming up with schemes);
design approaches;
and sketches. (The sketches come in bundles with 6 sketches per bundle, and 5 bundles total. Each bundle of sketches provides design unity while giving the variety you need to scrapbook varying numbers and types of photos.)
As you consider ways to scrap various travel and vacation photos, you'll mix and match a series of sketch bundles and travel color schemes to scrap a variety of travel pages efficiently and beautifully.

The lessons cover the following kinds of vacations/trips:

The Weekend Getaway
A weekend getaway can be as much about the company as the destination. It might be a short trip to hang out with friends, find some romance, see an exhibit, or just take a break from your typical weekend routines. With fewer photos from fewer activities (than you’d have with bigger trips), the scrapbooking of weekend getaways can focus on impressions, stories, companions, and moments.

The Road Trip
A “road-trip” type vacation is not necessarily a literal trip in a car on a road or highway. The “road-trip” vacation is one that takes you to a series of what may be quite different locales over the course of one trip. The road-trip is a story that’s well-suited to being told in chronological order (more or less).

Being There
Some trips take you to one locale. There’s limited sightseeing on this type of vacation, and it’s more about enjoying place, people, and activities. Examples of this kind of vacation include:
visiting family
staying at a lakehouse/beachhouse
going camping
the ski slopes
Going On Tour"
The “On Tour” travel experience is one in which many of the details are decided ahead of time–and, in fact, taken care of for you–so that you can relax as well as experience new sights and experiences. There are many ways to go “on tour” from taking a cruise to going on guided hike and camping adventure. You might take a bus tour through Europe or go on safari in Africa.The photos you take while on tour will include those of the sights you visit as well of those of the aspects of the tour experience (i.e., lodging, people, routines). A combination approach that mixes chronological telling of the trip with select subject pages would work well for this kind of travel scrapbooking.
Themed Destinations
The “themed” vacation is one that takes you into a created world where you are doing more than viewing, where you’re entering into and experiencing a manufactured reality. You may have gone on a Disney vacation, visited a historic settlement where you’re re-enacting the way things were done in the past, travelled to Santa’s Village, or many other variations on the themed destination. The photos from a themed vacation can cover a lot of territory, and they don’t usually require a chronological telling. Aspects of a large theme/amusement park may include: characters, rides, performances, events, posed portraits, sights and more.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Helen's challenge 73.

Shane – you make a great father – I know you know this already but never doubt your abilities & try to overcome your reserve if I am not around for those one-on-one chats that aren’t really your “thing” – you know that communication is key & that I believe in 100% honesty when it comes to the kids questions – no matter how awkward they may be.  Remember we don’t want them to grow up with any hang-ups.  The best we can do for them is send them out into the world with a clean slate – ready to face life head-on without any disadvantages.  I want you to be happy & don’t expect you to mope around – I need you to be strong for the kids.  Make time for yourself too – you deserve it & would be a real catch – go for it – if I’m not around one day I don’t expect you to mourn me forever.  You have my blessing!
Chellie – you are the eldest – of course you know that & I realise that you resent it at times, but I am counting on you to keep everyone together & not let anyone stray.  I want you all to remain friends forever, it’s not too much to ask, you need to keep the lines of communication open & forgive if necessary.  Remember that this is the way God wants it to be.  Never lose your Faith or question God argumentatively – just accept that he knows what is best for you. Try to live out of his will & you will bear the consequences–please pray for that not to happen – please! Keep your gentle nature & be patient with your younger siblings. Trust your heart & find your happiness – keep searching & you will find your passion.  I know we fight at times but I utterly adore you & have always loved you to bits & pieces!
Jackie Boy – I know that you are dying to spread your wings & get out there & live your life! I hope I get to see it all & experience at least some of it with you.  You know your Dad & I have great hopes for your future & the Lord does too.  Just remember to stay in God’s will & he will make all your paths straight & open up all the right doors for you if your heart is right with him.  Be good to Chel & Bing & Cam, even though they exasperate you at times. You are great in a crisis & always handle things so competently.  At times you may need to take charge & be the man of the house – I have 100% faith in your abilities & am counting on you to keep everyone on the straight & narrow – including yourself!  Know that you have filled me with so much pride & joy so far that at times my heart has felt close to bursting!
Bingy – You are the sweetest little man alive – everyone who knows you immediately picks up on your gentle spirit.  Stay humble & remember our saying “Why try to fit in when you were born to stand out?”  God has made you the way you are for a reason.  Who cares if “the populars” don’t see your light shining?  It is their loss & I know that one day you will find a wife with a beautiful heart just like yours & become a wonderful & caring father.  Always stay as undemanding as you are – that way any blessings you receive will fill you with the same joy they do now.  Just be a good boy & keep that soft heart!  Your time to shine is still to come & I have every confidence in you & your amazing creative & mathematical abilities.  You are a genius waiting to be discovered – just keep on thinking outside the box!
Cam – Remember you are the coolest little girl on earth & big things await you. Your beauty is phenomenal & it will take you far, but remember that it’s the heart that counts & true happiness comes from within.  Be bold & have faith in yourself & God.  You don’t need to be good at everything, just be excellent at what you do well.  I am so proud that you are the best reader in the family & I love that you immerse yourself in “Princess Poppy” books almost daily & prefer to spend money on them rather than anything else.  Whatever you become remember that you are loved, cherished, adored by all your family & that you have brought me more joy than I can even try to explain.  Never cease to find wonder in the simple things like your love of swimming & the beach.  Be good for Chel - listen to her & don’t be lazy! 

Friday, 12 February 2010

Shannon's challenge 73.

The journaling reads:

I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out things.....and so far I haven't found many frustrates me that I’m still spending so much time trying to gain "your" approval, trying to "look" the way i should because it makes "you" happy....I’m sorry that I can't make my hair look the way "you" like it...what do I have to do to make each one of the "you's" in my life happy? I would love it if you just let me be who i am....with my unfortunate size, hair and apparent lack of achievement....maybe just maybe....I am ok the way I am....maybe the answer to all of "your" constant nagging and backhanded compliments....and "correcting helpfulness" is that I just ignore it....keep going and be patient...maybe just be myself and try to love my imperfect self....knowing that I was created for a matter how insignificant that reason is...a, I here to save the world? probably not....but my imperfect life is making a difference to someone somewhere...seen or unseen...I can change things like my hair, my weight, my outlook...but only you can change the way "you" look at me, treat me, talk to me....and I’m letting you know this because I love you....and hope that you love me enough to listen. 2-2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Janis' challenge 73.

Hidden Journaling (inserted inside the envelope):

Five years into our marriage and our love has grown stronger than ever.  I love that we stay on our toes to keep the fire burning - - not everything is roses, I know, but somehow we have managed to stay sane and in love like we were married only yesterday.
This year will be a tough one for us as we are to undertake one of our big projects for the family - - building a place we can truly call our own!  I love that you buy magazines to get ideas for the house design, I love hearing you talk about ?our house? with the kids (and make them excited at the prospects of their own bedrooms and dogs too!!!), I love that you are truly committed and would do everything to make it happen.
This is just a little note from me saying that I love you and that I am sooo excited to work with you on our project and that I’m sooo happy I took you as my hubby, to have and to hold, for better or for worse. 
You know the rest.
Babe, January 31, 2010

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Liza's challenge 73.

Title:  Rain or Shine
Handwritten letter hidden under the photo:
Love, remember this photo? It suddenly rained that night, New Year's Eve (2009).  But there we were out on the street.  It seems cheesy but it's so sweet! You were holding the umbrella making sure we don't get wet, and me holding to you tightly. That rain didn't stop us from neighbor-hoppig. It's been like that with the two of us for the past 5 years. Never mind the rain or setbacks. We just hold on to each other, we go with the flow and make the most of the situation. And it is no surprise that we see a ray of light, a glimmer of sunshine that makes us smile, laugh and enjoy every minute of being together. I'm sure we will continue to be like this for a long time. Rain or shine, it will be you and me always!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Lynn's challenge 73.

Eternal Love

I feel blessed that we share such a strong & loving relationship. Sure there are times when we don't quite see things eye to eye but we don't let that get in the way of our friendship. When you love someone so deeply, nothing they do can change that love. I feel safe knowing that you'll always be there for me when things aren't going so well & I look forward to sharing all the good times with you. I am very grateful to have a mum as caring as you are and want you to know that I'll love you too, Always & Forever

Monday, 8 February 2010

Cabbie's challenge 73.

you make me happier

dear sons, it always amazes me to think that i would be raising 4 sons at this point in my life. i never thought that being a 24/7 mother would be so tiring yet so fulfilling. somehow, destiny speaks for itself. each of you has his own trait which i love and some which i have to understand. i hope that the good values instilled in you all with my daily musings would mold you into better persons in the future. as you mature, may you realize the true value of family life. always remember that family matters a lot in everything. it is the essence of our existence

Friday, 5 February 2010

Nicole's challenge 73.

It's hard to believe that I've known you for almost 1/2 my life.  It seems like yesterday that we met and I was telling everyone you were the most charming man I'd ever met.  And it didn't hurt that I thought you were cute too.
     You became my best friend and I could tell you the secrets that I never told anyone else.  You loved me without reservation.  I lived for your phonecalls and letters.  They were the fuel that kept us going while we were so far apart.
     We've built a good life together and still say "I love you" everyday.  The intensity of our romance is gone but the embers of that fire still glow.  There is no one else I'd ever want to be with.  You'll always be the one for me.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Shayne's challenge 73.

Come rain or shine, summer or winter, not a day goes by that I do not get a cup of tea (in a tall mug) brought to me in bed; You love D as your own and do far more for her than her biological father does; You support me, no matter what - even if you don't quite agree with me, if it's important enough to I know I can count on you; even though it appears that you are not listening/paying attention to what I’m saying (which drives me scatty) I know that you are.  My Christmas pressies were evidence of this; you are 100% involved in the care of the girls - right from changing nappies (way back then) to fetching from sport, helping with homework, bathing or doing puzzles; you are happy with egg on toast if I don't feel like cooking (which is often); you will always reach for my hand or have your hand on me when we sit next to each other; you always open the car door for me; you come outside to say hello and to help with parcels when I return from town; you love to cuddle; when I told you in 2004 that I thought we should end our very new relationship, because you were moving from the Western to the Eastern Cape  - you said no.  Where would I have been now if you'd listened to me?