Thursday, February 14, 2013

Of weekends, Port Alberni and kitchen revamps

So this weekend I have been in Port Alberni. This is where I grew up. Port Alberni holds a very special place in my heart.

I lived here until I was 19 and then I moved to Tofino for 4 months and then to Nanaimo for school. I never lived here full time again after that. When I lived in Nanaimo for school I was less than an hour from Port and still had many friends and family that lived here, so I visited often. Even when I lived further away in Victoria I visited Port Alberni very often – it helped that my parents still lived here – so holidays were guaranteed here as well as extra visits.

Once I moved to Vancouver I still came home for most holidays (aside from the ones my family celebrated in Vancouver) but it definitely lessened as the ferry boat is all that connected us. I LOVE riding the ferries but my pocketbook can’t stand to take the cost of it often. When I was raising support to go into ministry though, I came to Port Alberni a lot. And as I got married and had a cousin that got married, Port Alberni was still a hub. Since then my parents have moved and the rest of the Port Alberni family (minus my Grandma) comes to Vancouver for holidays I rarely make it over. In fact with being gone for 3 months last summer, and being busy packing up to leave for the 2 months before, and being busy unpacking and settling in for the 2 months after, and then moving I haven’t been here in almost a year and a half, September 2011.

I miss the people and the city. A lot of people tease about Port – they make fun of the Mill we have that used to caused it to smell like poop each afternoon (that was unfortunate). They make fun of the fact that at times there aren’t a lot of jobs and that can make for lower income people. But I can tell you…this city was wonderful to grow up in and has the makings for a fantastic place to live. It’s home to the best lake in BC – absolutely wonderful. Sproat Lake is my favorite place in the world. It has wonderful views, great places to explore and is a great size. And the people are lovely. I am constantly amazed at what a gracious group of people live here. Whenever I come to visit I am so blessed by the people. They love my parents well, even through the Alzheimer’s diagnosis and they shower me and Jenna with love when we come back.

And what Port doesn’t have due to its size, Nanaimo (only an hour away) does have. Costco? Sure, in Nanaimo. Mall? Sure, also in Nanaimo. It’s win win. Plus it’s on the way to Tofino and that’s always a positive.

Anyways, I am loving being home. I have come this weekend to hang out with my Auntie Sandy and my cousin LeAnna. LeAnna and her family live in Cambridge, UK and I don’t often get to spend a lot of time with her. We are the same age and went to school and youth group together and even got married the same summer. I love getting to spend time with her. The trip was also planned because my Auntie Sandy wanted some help getting her kitchen cupboards in order and I LOVE to organize. We planned this trip before Christmas and I have been looking forward to it ever since. I took the Friday off of work and Monday is a holiday, so it is a nice LONG weekend.

I took the ferry over Thursday night after work and enjoyed a time of blogging (which later deleted itself) and working on notes for a talk I’m doing in two weeks. Then Auntie Sandy and LeAnna (and baby Walter) picked me up in Nanaimo – we went to ABC Country restaurant for dinner and then headed to Port. We stopped at Whiskey Creek for ice cream (oh my childhood dreams come true) and then stayed up late Thursday talking.

Friday I slept in. I didn’t set an alarm. I didn’t have a plan, other than to sleep in as long as I wanted. After a Christmas spent moving and travelling, and then a January spent filling our house with students and getting the house ready. Last weekend I babysat my nephews so had limited sleep. Man, I was ready for a real rest. I woke up feeling so rested. It was LOVELY. LeAnna and I sat in our PJ’s and talked with Sandy while she cooked us up a breakfast and man, it was awesome. So spoiled!

And of course we played with Walter...a lot

[He loves his Jolly Jumper]

Then it was work time. We emptied out the kitchen cupboards into a few piles. Throw out, Keep – every day use and Keep – not every day use. Then LeAnna wiped down the cupboards and shelving, which was harder than I expected since there’s a wood stove in the kitchen and that makes things messy! While LeAnna did that I sorted through the two keep boxes sorting like things together. Once each pile was sorted I started working on what containers to keep things in. Rather than have a bunch of sauce bottles or vinegar bottles it’s much easier to have a plastic basket that contains all the vinegars and sauces. It helps things stay organized and you know where to look for things. Slowly we made sure things all had a home.


[Walter supervising us]

Then it was time for a nap – spoiled! And then we headed into town for dr’s appointments and Walmart trips. We grabbed a few more baskets that we realized we needed and headed back out to the Lake. After a delicious Spaghetti Dinner we started the process of putting shelf liners onto the shelving and then started putting all the contents back in. By the time this was done we were ecstatic with the progress. It looked awesome! And by that time it was most definitely bed time – it was long after midnight!

All Organized!

Again we slept in – Auntie Sandy headed to Nanaimo for the day for a course and around noon I headed into town to see an old friend. I haven’t gotten to hang out with Jenny since our 10 year reunion summer of 2011 so it was great to connect. They’ve recently had some sad things in their family, and I was glad to be there to support her and her family and to reconnect. I swung by Walmart afterwards and picked up two super cute $5 shirts and then headed back out to the lake. After another nap I spent time babysitting Walter while LeAnna went to mass. I also decided it was time to tackle the cupboards in the pantry. I pulled everything out while Walter played with the plastic lids.

Then eventually when Walter started to fuss we went to lay down and play together. After Sandy came home to play with him, I continued my sorting and organizing. These cupboards housed the baking supplies, plastic containers, Tupperware and canned goods and snacks. We again threw away anything that was gross or old and made sure to only keep containers that had their appropriate lids.

Then it was dinner time – Mmm pulled pork sandwiches. While Auntie Sandy was in Nanaimo she stopped at Micheals to get the chalkboard sticker that I swear by. So after dinner I began the process of cutting out labels. We needed a lot of them! I know from experience that I needed to make all the labels we could possibly need or it wouldn’t get finished, as I’ve experienced at my house. They are all shapes and sizes so it takes some time. Micheals Chalkboard sticker is really great – it has a grid on the back, so you figure out what size you need and cut accordingly. Then you just peel off the back sheet and stick the chalkboard sticker where you want it. It’s repositionable if you want to move it later but it also does a great job of sticking in one place. There were a few baskets and containers that I knew it wouldn’t stick to, so for those we cut out some cardstock and put the sticker on that and used super adhesive to stick that to the baskets. It worked perfectly. And this step is where you realize that presentation makes such a difference; the cupboards looked so much better once labelled!

[Which means it is time for a final before and after:]

[And with the middle step...]

While we cut out labels we watched Murdoch Mysteries and Restaurant Impossible. I also took the time to finish sorting through all the plastic container and Tupperware, making sure everything had an appropriate lid and then determining with Auntie Sandy what pieces she wanted to keep and what she wanted to let go of. Finally it was time to figure out how to house all the containers and put away the cans and food goods. I always swear by storing types of things together, as mentioned above. So the different types of plastic containers and Tupperware were grouped by type – lunch containers, storage containers, etc. The food stuffs were sorted into type – plastic baskets to pull out – one for chips, one for pastas, one for breakfast spreads, etc. Then the random cans of things were store in a shelving system in the back, behind the basket pullouts. Now everything was visible and easy to access.

During this stage we also took apart the canned good storage next to the Tupperware Cupboard. We'd grabbed some risers from Walmart and added some plastic baskets from the dollar store with more chalkboard labels. 

[Here it is the start:]

[And after:]

[Here is the before, during and after:]

We also took a moment to sort through the coffee and tea supplies to make a coffee station – always a helpful thing to have. We labeled and sorted the coffee and tea items, and grouped them together. This freed up space in other cupboards and better maximized the cupboard that currently housed the coffee. Now there is a legitimate coffee station for guests and house members to easily make drinks.

[I forgot to take a before picture...but basically just the coffee and Keurig cups were in this cupboard - we brought over the rest. This is the during and after stage.]

After writing on all the labels we were finished! And tired as it was late. I went to bed and had an amazing and sound sleep.

This morning it was up by 9 for church at 10:30. I went to Arrowsmith with them. I love going there – the people are wonderful. I think that’s one of the best parts of coming home to Port Alberni – both of the churches I grew up in here have such wonderful congregations. Jericho Road and Arrowsmith were both churches that I grew up going to and were huge supports when I went into ministry and when I go back to them now they make me feel so loved. I’m thankful for that.

As I sat in Arrowsmith I was reminded that God moves in each church in different ways. Here is a church that is packed – there are so many signs of life there! Not only is the sanctuary full but there are small groups and home groups and clubs and youth meetings and young adult meetings and luncheons and bible studies and people coming to know Jesus and people growing closer to Jesus. It is a fruitful church. This is also a church that hasn’t sped up it’s music since I started going there. There’s no clapping, there are only a few people with raised hands and yet Jesus is alive and well in that church. And I love that. I’m thankful that each church doesn’t have to look the same or follow a certain style to be successful.

It’s always fun to talk to my Auntie Sandy about churches. She loves the people at her church AND she loves the people at our church. I love the people at our church AND her church. I love the style of worship and service at our church. She loves the style at her church. We are both in the church where we encounter God. Neither church is better, they are just different ways of meeting God. That is pretty cool.

After church we headed home to have beef dips for lunch and then take naps (oh that was nice). Then it was time for dinner – Pine Café! Tasty, greasy, Western Chinese Food. Oh man, it hit the spot. 

We brought Grandma with us – she was the same as always. She asks the same questions about heaven and Jesus. No matter what our answer is, no matter if we don’t answer, the questions still get asked over and over again. For this visit she decided it was easier to just call me LeAnna and not remember my name. So there were two LeAnna’s and no Tara’s at dinner. But she was so glad to see me, despite not wanting to use my name. She asked all about Paul and life – and though she didn’t wait for answer – you could tell she was glad to see me. Also she made a very funny joke, which we all enjoyed.

And now it’s the last night of my weekend – Auntie Sandy (Baba – Ukrainian for Grandma) and LeAnna are bathing Walter in the sink as we listen to John Denver and Uncle Jake putters around doing Uncle Jake like things (starting fires, moving wood, etc). It’s restful and it’s a nice way to spend my last night here, especially since I’m so so very full. After Walter is in bed we will watch old home movies of us.

[Walter is adorable in his Tiggy pajamas]

[So much love]

Monday we’re leaving here before 10. I have a Chiropractic appointment in town at 10:15 and then we’re off to pick up Grandma and head to Nanaimo. I’m meeting up with my friends at 3pm in Nanaimo, where Lisa and Gwyn and I will eat at Gina’s Mexican Café. Woo! And then I’ll be headed back home to see my sweet love and meet our new student, Miho, from Japan, who arrived while I was away. 

Edited to add:

The trip to Nanaimo was a success! Lots of familiar sites...

and then a great lunch together at Montana's. Tasty and fun.

[Auntie Sandy had a tricky time getting all three of us in the photo]

[The gang of us]
[LeAnne, Walter, me, Grandma and Auntie Sandy]

[Rib Tips!]

Then it was on to Gina's Mexican Cafe with Lisa, Tony and Gwyn...flauta's and sangria!

I caught the 5pm ferry and ran into a new friend, so it was great for conversation and I was glad to make it home to Paul safe and sound!

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