Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beach Break

I'm back from Spring Break and in the routine again.  It's Friday, so of course, it's time for Friday Fave Fives.  Things have been a bit crazy as I make the required adjustment, but I am pausing to remember the blessings of the past two weeks.

1.  Fun in the Sun and the Sand.  My job during the second week of my break was being Meema while Daughter #1 was in business meetings.  Huntington Beach for Spring Break?  Perfect!

2.  Time with her after work.

3.  Son #2 drove down from his university to see his sister and nephew (and us).   Precious times!

The boy and his uncle
Uncle and his mini-me

4.  There are certain advantages to having association with the university.  One afternoon, we attended a concert (mini grant presentation by a faculty member) of Celtic music.  I'm a huge fan of Celtic music, so it was a most enjoyable time.  We bought one of the CDs, so I can listen any time I want.

5.  Recently, I purchased a book someone had recommended to me.  Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron deeply touched me and challenged me.  In the book, St. Francis of Assisi's life and example of true Christianity during the late Middle Ages renews the main character's faith.  I highly recommend this story!

St. Francis Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
where there is injury, pardon; 
where there is doubt, faith; 
where there is despair, hope; 
where there is darkness, light; 

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 

to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love; 
For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What I'm Knitting

I've been knitting up my stash and finishing projects.

This Christmas stocking is finally finished.  My PAL who is six months old now will have her stocking for next Christmas.

Also, I finished a prayer shawl and a hat for a friend who is doing chemotherapy.  Because I was so focused on completing the shawl and getting it to her before her next round of chemo, I completely blanked on taking photos.  Here are the particulars:  Red Heart Soft yarn in a yummy warm raspberry color.  I knitted it in an elongated moss stitch which looks something like this:


Twenty-five inches wide, about fifty-five inches long.  The hat was a simple 2x2 ribbing and plain stockinette stitch for the rest of it.  Alas, no photo.  Again, I wanted her to have it to wear to keep her head warm and covered.

Since I am doing grandma duty this week, I will be breaking my promise to not begin any new project because The New Boy who is no longer new and no longer small needs a new Weasley Sweater.  We will be shopping and measuring.  Having a Meema made Weasley sweater is a tradition.  Here he is modeling his first sweater with Uncle Grad Student.

The newest model will likely be dark purple with a blue N.

Friday, April 03, 2015

April Fave Fives #1

Pausing in the gaiety of Spring Break (just kidding) to check in and be grateful.  Friday Fave Fives.

1.  A somewhat impromptu and unexpected lunch with nephew and his family.  This is the nephew who lived with us for more than a year while he and The Professor were both working for Intel Corp.  Now he's a husband and daddy to two adorable children.  Do nephews and nieces understand how much we love them?

2.  An evening with Will.  That is, William Shakespeare.  The Professor was lighting designer at the uni for a production of Twelfth Night, so we chose a night to attend and watch.  We shared the fun with three friends.

3.  Daughter #2 is visiting Daughter #1 this week.  Cousins are in playmate heaven. This is an example of their fun:

Overheard while playing cars, in between epic battles with the 'bad guy boss':
L: Want to stop for coffee?
N: Sure! And chocolate muffins. *orders a million chocolate muffins*
L: Are we going to eat here?
N: No, I want to eat at the Bat Cave.

4.  Tuesday was  a holiday for The Professor--the only vacation day we shared this spring.  So he asked, "Where do you want to hike?"  I replied, "Sycamore Canyon!"

Don't let the mileage fool you.  It's nearly straight up the canyon walls, switchback after switchback.

The wild mustard really is that high.  (The Professor is a rather tall man.)

See the tiny toy cars down there on Pacific Coast Highway?

5.  Spring Break always means marking items off the to do list.  I love having the time to pull weeds in the garden (check), see the eye doctor (check), finally choose a set of baskets for storage in the bedroom (still working on that).

As we head in to Easter weekend, I want to wish you all Happy Easter!  As we say in our church services, "He Is Risen!"

Friday, March 27, 2015

It's Spring...

Break!  I'm so happy!  Here are the Friday Fave Fives from Willow's Week.

1.  Obviously, two weeks off for Spring Break has to be #1!

2.  As a run up to Spring Break, our weather has been hotter than I like warm and sunny.  Every day I have spent at least a bit of time outside messing about in my garden.  Playing in dirt has been one of my favorite activities since I was a tiny girl.  I think I may be a bit of a garden geek.  I have prepped the soil and planted four tomatoes and two parsley so far in my tiny garden.  I've already used some of the parsley for soup, and look--the tomatoes are popping out flowers which will soon become tiny cherry tomatoes!

3.  If you live around here, in the spring you will immediately identify the aroma of these white flowers.  They are orange blossoms; these are specifically mandarin oranges.  Can you spot the itty bitty tiny oranges growing on the left and the right?  Come December, they will be ripe and I will relish eating them.

4.  These guys have been keeping me company while I putter in the garden.  This year there are several of these lizards in all different sizes.  They skitter around and pop out from under stones and leaves and surprise me.

The Sunbather

Mr. Body Builder doing his push ups

5.  The past few weeks I have had the tendency to almost finish a knitting project and then drop it to begin something new.  There were five six (I recounted) UFOs languishing on horizontal surfaces. (This does not count the high stack of hats which are finished but need the ends woven in.) Hence, no knitting posts lately.  So this week I declared a 'finish my projects' moratorium on casting on for new projects.  I finished these two almost identical cowls and have a third still on the needles.  These cowls are part of the Use Up My Stash Program.

Particulars for the cowls
Yarn:  Red Heart's Micro Spun 100% acrylic, Lily White, 1 skein (168 yds)
Needles:  size 10 circular
Pattern:  k1, p1 seed stitch.
Gauge: 7 stitches = 2 inches
Cast on an uneven number of stitches to make the cowl the length you want. Follow pattern of k1, p1 around and around until you reach the desired width, then cast off loosely.  My cowls are about 4.5 inches by 60 inches so they can be worn doubled or tripled around the neck.  As you can tell, the measurements do not need to be exact.

So that was Willow's Week of Thankfulness.  Do leave a comment and let me know what blessings you have noticed in your days this week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's My Party

Spring!  It's here!  After a few really really hot days (we broke local records kind of hot), the weather has settled into 70s and sunny.  Just in time for St. Patrick's Day and Spring.  And my birthday.  So Friday Fave Fives are all about celebrating my birthday.

1.  I hit a milestone birthday this year.  My Medicare birthday.  The Medicare part isn't the fave; it's that I am thankful (and a bit amazed) that I am that old.  Thanks be to God for giving me these years!

2.  The partying started on Saturday when the texts began binging.  "We're on our way."  "We crossed the state border."  "We're here!"  Our little Princess PAL arrived with her parents entourage for a four day visit.

3.  This is The Professor's Spring Break, so we took advantage of Monday did some sightseeing in Santa Barbara and Ventura.  PAL's mom's BFF and her family joined us from Orange County.  Their girl Faith was an instant friend for me.  We walked all over Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens holding hands.  Answering questions a mile a minute, I was enchanted by her curiosity and enthusiasm.

4.  Princess PAL attained her own milestone while visiting us.  She underwent a rite of passage, Dipping Your Feet in the Ocean for the First Time.  We were honored to attend such an important and solemn ceremony.

5.  I really am a St. Patrick's Day baby.  Born on that lucky day, I love the funny cards I receive. Like this one:  "Your birthday's on St. Patrick's Day?! [insert amusing green turtle looking surprised].  Inside, the message read, "You and a saint.  Go figure."  I think my sister/cousin watches all year to find the perfect card to send me.  My day was made complete with loves and cuddles from my little PAL and phone calls from every child and grandchild.  One grandson sent me a video message wishing me a Happy Birthday.  That's really all I want--love from my family.  Well, a birthday coffee and bookstore visit were nice, too.

Oxalis Oregana
(Did you know that there is an oxalis [shamrock/clover] which is native to the Pacific Northwest/Oegon?  How appropriate that is since I am an Oregon native and very much Irish/British AND born on St. Patrick's Day.)

So, that was Willow's Week in five birthday blessings--welcome to my party!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Almost Spring

Deep breath.  It's Friday.  Made it through the week.  I wonder if it's just the season.  Since there have been no breaks since the New Year, the long string of teaching weeks seem to get longer and busier as we approach Spring Break.  The Professor has next week off, as does our son the Chaplain's wife (more on that in a minute), but I have two more weeks until my break.  For whatever reason, the week just seems longer.  And busier. (I just said that, didn't I?) I didn't even get around to read others' FFFs and I really missed that.  [insert large sad face]  Due to a suspected cold coming on, I am taking today as a rest day.  I need it to catch my breath.  And I need to look back and remind myself of the blessings of the week.  Here are my chosen focuses for Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Sometimes I just have to stop and smell the roses.  These are the first two blooms in my garden.

2.  I have a new addition to my garden which came with a new visitor.  The monarch butterfly consumes only one plant--the lowly milkweed.  My arts group friend gifted me a small milkweed plant.  I have been carefully tending it, faithfully watering it.  It just wasn't thriving.  I couldn't understand why.  Oh.  Look!

 A caterpillar larva!  Evidently, the milkweed arrived complete with an egg.  I had been told by someone that it may look like the milkweed plant is dead, but it's not.  It's just being eaten down to its nubbins and will grow back its leaves as soon as the monarch larva enters the chrysalis stage.  I hope it's soon.  There's not much left of my milkweed plant.  That one little larva has a voracious appetite.

3.  One reason the week may have seemed so busy is that we started out busy on the weekend.  The Professor and I joined several hundred people at a local conference where Kay Arthur of Precepts Bible Studies was the speaker.  I've been a student of Kay's through her Bible studies since 1994, but this is the first time I had heard her speak in person.  It was amazing.  And I shared it with many friends.

4.  Then, to top off the weekend, on Sunday evening, we attended a choral concert by Los Robles Childrens Choir.  At first, I figured it would just be the normal kids' choir. But.  W.O.W.  I was impressed.  (It's a bit hard to impress me with children singing because I began singing in choirs when I was seven and continued until I graduated from college.)  They sang "An American Patchwork" and tenor Ross Hauck sang with them as a guest performer.  Added bonus:  some present and former students were in the choir and audience.  That's another fun part of teaching homeschool kids!

5.  Remember that I mentioned spring break?  We are anticipating the arrival our Princess from Phoenix!  She will be accompanied by The Chaplain and his wife, her parents.  Four days of loving on our grandgirl!

So that was Willow's Week.  We're heading in to hot and windy weather this almost spring weekend.  Is it warming up or cooling down for you?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

March: Spring is in Sight

It's been a busy, busy week here at Willow's Cottage.  Another week has slipped past and I didn't post a single picture or write a single sentence.  However, I must hit pause and post my blessings.  It's a tradition which I think is important for me--focusing on what I am thankful for.  The link up for Friday Fave Fives is at Living to Tell the Story.

1.  So, how many times and how many ways can I say that I love my TA?  Today--hand delivered Americano with soy milk and a maple scone.  And she taught half of one class as she is 'interning' under me.

2.  I am thankful for notepads.  Let me explain.  I write myself notes All. The. Time.  If I write it, I won't forget it, right?  I make notes about meetings and appointments.  Two doctor appointments this week.  One meet up for lunch.  One meet up at 'big box yarn and craft store' to choose yarn for a prayer shawl project.  I know it's a small and somewhat silly thing, but notepads make my life easier and I'm thankful for that.

3.  I have a special small notebook for class reminders.  I call it "My Brains".  The class helpers/TAs know if I say, "Put that in my brains, please", they should make a notation so I will remember to do something.  "Send MO vocabulary words because he lost his."  Check.  "Post information sheet about a special writing technique the students learned, so the parents will know what their kids are talking about."  [What's a 3SSS???]  Check.  "Send quiz to SB since she missed taking it when she was in Hawaii!" Check.  I love that little notebook--it came in a clear plastic zippered case AND it has a matching pencil.

4.  You know those days when you just don't feel like cooking?  What's your go to place to grab some food?  We like Sharky's!  This Mexican Grill has the Best Food!  We buy a burrito each and get four meals.  My favorite?  AJ Burrito--black beans, brown rice, avocado, and broccoli all wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla.  Add cilantro, salsa verde, and lime.  Yum!

5.  Monday afternoons are often reserved for spending a few hours with my artists group.  We're a tiny group, but we're passionate about expressing ourselves in our respective art forms.  I'm not a painter.  I don't do watercolors.  But in watching my friends and listening to them discuss forms and techniques, etc etc etc, I am slowing learning a little.  Happily and contentedly I sit and knit, and we drink tea and love each moment.  I treasure those Monday afternoon hours.  I'd show you a photo of the other shawl I'm working on (not the prayer shawl), but at this point, it's still a boring, crumpled ball of silk and llama.  Once it's finished and blocked it will be fun to photograph.

And, here's a bit of color for friends in snow bound lands.  Take heart.  Spring is coming!