Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Week

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!  This is a national day of Giving Thanks.  I think it's better to be thankful every day.  Here are five things I'm thankful for this week and am sharing on Friday Fave Fives.

1.  My wonderful husband.  He put me on a plane to visit my daughters and he even drove me to the airport at 4:30 am.

2.  Friends who allow us to crash at their home near LAX so it's easier to catch those 7:00 am flights.  We go back many years and it's always so good to catch up with them.

3.  A safe flight; two, actually, as I had to change planes in North Carolina.

4. Hanging out with my girls.  Last year at Thanksgiving, I was in England with Daughter #1.  Those were wonderful days and wonderful memories.

my girl in Avebury

5.  Funny texts from my brother.  Don't siblings share a special bond?  I'm thankful for the relationship I have with him.

Yeah, this Fave Five is short and sweet--it is, after all, Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Time To Be Thankful

Happy Friday! (I'd be happier if I could figure out how to find my downloaded photos on my new laptop.  No pictures today unless I can find them and add them later. Update:  Yay! The Professor did his magic! I have photos!)  It has been a busy week at Willow's Cottage, but I want to stop and reflect on the blessings.  Thanks for Susanne for always faithfully organizing Friday Fave Fives.

 1.  This week, I read the following quote in, of all places, the local newspaper.

Be the reason someone else is thankful.

Excellent thought. 

2.  Knowing I have had a lot of stuff on my mind lately, World's Best Neighbor treated me to a pedicure which included a relaxing time in a heated massage chair.  It was exactly what I needed.  And I have dark red toe nails.

3.  The Professor and I stopped by an estate sale in our neighborhood.  He scored a stack of music cds.  As we were leaving, the elderly owner saw what he had purchased and said, "Yay! You have the same musical taste as my husband!  Enjoy!"  The Professor has been having fun choosing what to listen to first.  In addition, he found a cd of bagpipe music and gifted to our friend who PLAYS the bagpipes.

4.  While most of the north hemisphere is feeling the cold and rain and snow, we are enjoying mild days, usually sunny, occasionally cloudy.  The flowers are still blooming

and the monarch caterpillars are still chomping away at my milkweed bushes.

5.  One never takes light and easy traffic for granted on Southern California freeways.  We had to make an unexpected trip sixty miles each way into the South Bay of LA to deal with a medical appointment.  The traffic was much lighter than we expected and planned for, so we arrived home in record time.  Such a drive is always a fave for us.

Final thought:  Another quote and good advice for this holiday season.

(Being too*) Busy is being under Satan's yoke.
*my addition

Friday, November 10, 2017

More Hashtags

I had so much fun writing the post a few weeks ago with hashtags.  So I decided to do it again.  Here are my Friday Fave Fives for this (fortunately much cooler and pleasant) week.  #fridayfavefives  #thankssusanne

1.  An elderly friend was talking with me about aging gracefully and mentioned words of wisdom from someone else who stated that it is important to think about becoming better if you don't want to become bitter.  I like that.  #betternotbitter 

2.  The Professor and I took our bikes out for an excursion this week.  In the past year or two, a dedicated (and protected by steel rails) bike path was built along the edge of Hwy 101 on the ocean side.  We were just feet from the beach and ocean.   I think I could ride this section of the trail every day!  #bikinginventuracounty

Only metal fencing separating us from the beach on the left and Hwy 101 on the right.

Our view at lunch.  One of the Channel Islands in the distance.

3.  I dislike shopping so much that when I find a basic item like pants that fit, I buy an extra pair.  This summer I bought an inexpensive pair of black yoga pants and decided to see if I could find another.  Lucky me!  There were not, one, not two, but three, pairs in the store.  I bought them.  Now I wont't have to shop for pants for a long while.  #blackpants

4.  One afternoon we decided to hike up to the top of the hill at the end of our neighborhood.  There is an electrical company 'station' there, so the road is paved most of the way.  We spooked five deer who were grazing in the area.  (Can you see all five deer?  Evidently, brush and cactus make excellent camouflage. )  #walkingtheneighborhood

5.  I've been busy knitting hats for the local hospital's NICU.  I posted a photo on facebook and two people asked for the pattern, so they can knit, too.  #twentytinyhats


Thursday, November 02, 2017

November is Here!

Friday Fave Fives.  It's November  and the month of Thankfulness.  People focus their thoughts on being thankful here in the US during November because of Thanksgiving Day.  I think we should be thankful every day and that's why I join Friday Fave Fives each Friday.  It's a good way to PRACTICE THANKFULNESS.

1.  Here in Southern California, we love November because the weather finally cools down.  Last week the temperatures were over 100F, but this week, ah well, the weather was wonderful!  Obviously, I have to count cool and foggy mornings as an example of the blessings of this week.  I love the clouds over my mountains.

2.  Yes, autumn even comes to SoCal.  We get fall colors in small amounts.

3.  Although The Professor is retired from the university, we still occasionally attend various functions.  This week we enjoyed attending a class on world music history featuring Singer Chamber Players who played and gave short explanations of the periods and styles of music they played.  They played samples of Baroque, Classical and Romantic music (18th and 19th Century).  It was a wonderful performance!

Campus in the fall

4.  Saturday I volunteered at the handweavers and spinner guild Harvest Sale, working in the area where we sell odd bunches and bits of fiber and yarn which people donate from their stashes.  I bought one lovely green skein for myself and was able to take home several other balls of yarn which didn't sell.  The fave?  I'll have some new options to use for hats throughout the year.

5.  The Professor and I have entered that stage of life where we are needing to move our health care coverage to MediCare.  That's not the fave part.  The Fave is that The Professor has been researching and dealing with all the changes, so I don't have to.  Honestly, I don't see how people can navigate that whole system without throwing up their hands in despair and total frustration.  I'm so thankful that he has been able to work out the issues with grace (and without losing his mind!).

Bonus:  I just have to share this photo.  A cow in a fenced paddock surrounded by oak trees and bouggainvillea bushes!  It amuses me as one does not normally associate the lovely bouggainvillea with cow pastures.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Fiber Goodness This Week

What I've been knitting.  There are a couple of other projects but these are the ones I'm focusing on this week.

Finishing an afghan for my daughter-in-law

A pair of fingerless gloves.  I'm not really a fan of using black yarn and smallish needles, but this is what the owner of the gloves wants.

And finally, something for me.  A raglan top down pullover.  The yarn is really a bit darker.
Size 6 needles

And more yarn goodness was added to my stash.    On Saturday, I helped the handweavers and spinners guild at our annual Harvest Sale. I came away with a few skeins that I am already having fun choosing projects and patterns to use.

Isn't this beautiful fiber?  I'm thinking that a scarf or small shawl would look great as the yarn is sock weight and will drape beautifully.

Five balls of Knit Picks yarn in three different colors and fiber content.

And (in a fuzzy photo not quite in focus) a bumpy acrylic yarn in my favorite colors.
What should I make with it?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Week 4

It may be the last week of October, but our weather here in Southern California doesn't seem to get the meaning of the word 'autumn'.  We had triple digits temperatures and HOT HOT east winds.  It certainly made me thankful for air conditioning.  I can think of so many other things to be thankful for--like laughter and friends and good deals.  Here my Friday Fave Fives for the end of October.

1.  What made you laugh this week?  Laughter is good medicine!  Seeing a pumpkin sitting on a pillar next to the freeway made me I'm used to smiling at the bell on the side of El Camino Real (Hwy 101) as we drive past, but this week, we saw the carved pumpkin grinning at all the commuters and just laughed out loud.

2.  That phone fiasco that was fixed?  We had a little problem with my phone again (it got it fixed right away and all is well).  When I made a call to my brother and left a message, the phone couldn't hang up because the screen was blacked out. So I just kept on talking and telling him silly things.  Made me laugh.

3.  On Saturday we met dear family friends for lunch half way between their house and ours.  We've known them since we first moved to Los Angeles.  They are like family and they wanted us to meet so we could meet 'J's girlfriend'.  We love this family!

4.  Years ago, Dr. Mike gave us a gift card which he decided he wasn't going to use.  I saved it, forgot about it and then found it again.  This week, I took to the store, found out it had $20 on it.  When I checked around the store, I found a sweater on sale for $22.  With tax, I paid less than $4 for it!

5.  World's Best Neighbor called me and said, "Want tea at the tea shop?"  She had an errand there, so we enjoyed a cuppa and a scone.  I love those spontaneous 'let's do it' times.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


My youngest daughter lives near Baltimore, Maryland on the Mid Atlantic Seaboard.  When we visit her, we often make the drive into Baltimore to explore the area.  Here are three snapshots that made me laugh or smile.
Someone at the Maryland Science Center has a sense of humor.

I know some people who would proudly drive this van around town.

The persistence of some plants amazes me.
This brave petunia was blooming in the midst of brick and cement.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October, Three

I have had some posts mulling around in my head, but I haven't written them yet because, well, I am waiting for my photos to be able to be downloaded to my new computer.  We'll see if I get any up for Friday Fave Fives this week.  Every week, I join others to focus on my gratitude for the blessings in my life.  (Yes!  The Professor did his magic, and I have pictures!)

1.  This past weekend I spent both Saturday and Sunday spinning at a historical adobe site.  Each autumn, Reyes Adobe in Agoura Hills celebrates with a two day (or more) festival.  Reyes Adobe is one of the loveliest simple original adobe homes left in Southern California.  Each year, our spinning and weaving guild is invited to demo our craft at the site.  Truly, we are given The Best Spot for our demos.  We're on a patio under an arbor with a covering of grapes vines.  The staff is fantastic and the visitors are friendly and interested in what we are doing.  In addition, I am allowed to encouraged to sell my hats.  Which I did.

2.  This week, I received a letter in the mail from a former student.  Occasionally, we correspond because his mother asked me to please keep in touch with him.  I had sent him a postcard from one of our recent trips, and he responded right away.  It's obvious he is thriving in his writing and other interests.  It does a teacher's heart good to know her students are doing well.

3.  I finished the last of the seventeen scarves I am sending to be included in a holiday give away for homeless people in the LA area.  They're all boxed and ready to be sent off.  More stash used up!

4.  A long hike.  The Professor and I decided to finally drive up the coast to Summerland and hike the trails that I did with a group a couple of years ago.  I remembered most of it, but when we decided to take the shorter way back to the town from the mountains behind, we evidently turned the wrong way on one trail and ended up, and I do mean UP, the mountain which added an extra two miles to our hike.  Really, it was fun.

You can't really tell from the photo, but way out there beyond the orchard on the hill is the Pacific Ocean.  That's where we started.  If you were in downtown Summerland looking up at the mountains, you'd be looking where I am standing to take the photo (about a 500 ft rise).

5.  On the way home, we stopped and had my phone fixed.  Yeah, I dropped it and broke the screen.  The fix wasn't cheap, but the fix-it guy is local, and we were happy with his price and his work.

Since I have my photos available, here are some bonus pictures just for fun.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More October

Hello!  I am writing on my new computer although I still don't have all my photos available.  Most of my files have been transferred and The Professor will most likely finish that task tomorrow.  Here I am to post my Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Safety in travel.  As we were leaving Humboldt County, we drove through California wine country. Yes, that wine country which has been burning in the fires.  We passed through the area Saturday afternoon.  Friends from the reunion last weekend had difficulty getting through the areas affected because they were traveling on Monday.  I am so sad for all the people who have lost family and homes.  So thankful we are safely home.

2. 3. 4.  Yes, we are happy to be home.  A wise proverb states that there are three great goods in life:  a comfortable bed, a hot shower and a good cup of coffee.  We are home and we have all three!

5.  Toward the end of this week (having recovered some from our trip) we decided to drive down to eastern Los Angeles County to visit the Southern California RV Show.  It's a long drive with horrendous traffic, but we were curious just what is available in the RV market these days.  A fave that resulted from it was that we were admitted FREE because The Professor is a (card carrying) military veteran.

Bonus:  An evening and a morning with Dr. Mike as our paths intersected in Stanford University area where he was giving a talk and we were overnighting on our trip.  I love it when serendipity happens!

I hope you have a great weekend with many unexpected blessings--watch for them, make note of them and be thankful.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Los Angeles Beach City

Redondo Beach is where a good friend of mine lives.  The city is tucked in among the beach cities south of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  Whenever we are down in Los Angeles, we try to get over to see my friend and her husband (who is The Professor's friend as well). In fact, when we travel, we have permission to use their driveway as our car rental space.  Their beach town is an amazing place and we love to visit.

The Redondo Beach Pier is not your typical coastal pier with one long walkway stretching straight out from the beach into the ocean.

The pier is triangular V or horseshoe U shaped.

From the Boardwalk along the beach you can walk out over the ocean and then reconnect with the pathway farther down past the parking structures.

You can fish from the pier, stroll slowly and watch the waves roll past the pilings under the pier, or stop at Tony's for great seafood. I recommend the fish and chips. Redondo Beach Pier also has a number of touristy type shops, but usually I just pass by them without giving them a glance.

There are benches where you can sit and relax and catch your breath before jumping back on your bike (please walk it through the designated 'no riding' areas) and pedaling south to Palos Verdes.

I think we need to put our bikes on the bike rack and arrange a visit (coffee?  dinner?)!

Friday, October 06, 2017

Hello, October!

Again,last week I missed posting anything.  I didn't even put up any Friday Fave Fives.  The reason is that my computer screen LED light died.  My computer works, but I can't see anything on it. [insert sad face emoji]

We have been traveling again this week. But I want to be sure to check in with Friday Fave Fives if I get nothing else posted.

1.  So my first blessing of this week is that I have a new laptop computer.  The Professor checked, used his magic hands, but in the end, he determined that even having a new light installed was not cost effective.  The local computer store had a model I liked, so I got it AND got the sale price for it.

2. I am so thankful for a husband who knows computers, having been a university lecturer in Computer Science for many years.  After we brought home the new computer, he went to work setting everything in order and beginning to move the files over from the old one.  That task is mostly finished now.  It has been interrupted somewhat by our road trip.

3. That's my third blessing.  We drove north from Southern California to Northern (truly Northern) California so The Professor can join some of his classmates for a reunion at his high school in Humboldt County.  (If you don't know where Humboldt County is, think almost to Oregon along the Pacific Ocean Coast. )

4.  Faves Four and Five reflect back to the week before when we spent a week in the mid-Atlantic area (think Washington D.C, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia) on the East Coast of the US visiting with our youngest daughter and her family.  Mostly, we simply enjoyed sharing their daily lives, but we were able to visit a few historical spots like Annapolis and Baltimore inner harbor.  Incidentally, there are excellent independent coffee shops and unique book stores in the area.

5.  We arranged our schedule so we would (almost) be there to celebrate our granddaughter's birthday.  Although it was a few days early, we had dinner and a cake and gave her her gift in person.

Did you notice--no photos?  Yeah, that part of the computer will be set up soon.  I hope.

Happy Weekend!  We will be traveling south, waving at San Francisco...

Friday, September 22, 2017


Late to the party.  I am traveling and completely missed Friday Fave Fives last week.  And now it's Friday night. Again.

So here are my Friday Fave Fives from points east of Southern California.

1.  Visiting family!  Can you believe I did not take any photos of my The New Boy who is now a big fourth grade boy?  We had a great time;  we played Super Scrabble; we walked the dog.  At least I got a photo of the dog.

2.  This is the BEST time to visit the areas east of the Mississippi River.  The leaves are beginning to turn and show their autumn colors.

3.  We love driving through the mountains-- here are fleeting photos of the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains.  Obviously, these pictures taken from a speeding (rental) car don't show the true beauty of the mountains.  But we feasted our eyes on mountains very different from our Southern California mountains.

4.  And farm houses.

5.  The best part?  Being greeted with hugs and smiles.  "Hi Meema and Bapa!"

Friday, September 08, 2017

Friday Fave Fives #hashtagfun

Yikes! It's Friday evening and I'm finally posting my Friday Fave Fives.  Where do the days go?

1.  I found a couple of books at the friends of the library used bookstore.  Normally, I just browse my favorite area, but this week I picked up two from the gardening section.  #canthavetoomanygardenbooks

2.  Not all books are fun and entertaining.  Currently, I am reading a book which was recommended to me titled Chasing the Scream.  I'm not sure what I think about it, but the subtitle The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs told me from the first that it would challenge me.  Drugs are a problem.  What's the answer?   #warondrugs

3.  Anyone who knows me also knows I hate to shop.  However, I really really needed some casual and casual dress tops.  I live five miles from a major shopping outlet mall.  So, The Professor pushed me to go and find some new things.  Success!  Now I won't have to shop for new clothes for a long time. I hope.  #canibedoneshoppingnow

4 and 5.  This week I spent an inordinate amount of time with two different friends on two occasions.  I've been friends with one of them for forty-nine years a long time, since we met the first week of college.  The other has been my friend for thirty-one years  almost as long.  You know, we could just talk for hours, and we did.  It's refreshing to connect on that level with long time friends. #oldfriendsareablessing

How was your week?  Any books you've read?  Any goals reached (like finally buying some clothes)?
#sharethefun #fridayfavefives

Friday, September 01, 2017

Every Day Gratitude Edition

Every Day Gratitude

Gratitude doesn't have to be reserved for magnificent announcements.  It isn't only 'real gratitude' when something amazing happens.  Gratitude is an every day occurrence, an every day habit.

1.  Sometimes, gratitude is simply part of a normal every day kind of life.  Case in point.  Every morning, when my husband hands me a cup of coffee made just the way I like it, I am thankful.  I'm thankful for the coffee, and I'm thankful for a kind, caring and faithful husband. That's simple, every day gratitude.

2.  What prompted this rabbit trail of simple daily gratitude was the thought that I am thankful for air conditioning.  We poke our finger a couple of times on a gadget attached to our hallway wall, and presto magic-o, a machine starts working and the air temperature in Willow's Cottage returns to a comfortable level.  I'm thankful that I have air conditioning in my house (and my car).

3.  This week has been HOT (at least hot for us) and some of my neighbors don't have AC.  World's Best Neighbors are waiting for the AC guy to race through his work list and get theirs installed.  In the meantime, we've told them that our house is open for them ANY TIME to drop in and cool off.  Chocolate, wine or tea will be served.  We've enjoyed the impromptu conversations.  Who wouldn't be thankful for congenial neighbors?

4.  Another every day habit I am thankful for is our evening walk.  Most evenings, right around sunset, if you were to pass through my neighborhood, you'd find us out walking.   We have a nearly perfect place to walk--lots of challenging hills, a paved nature path (maybe 4 blocks?), access sidewalks to golf course paths. Our walks are usually about 2.5 or 3 miles.  I suppose that is really two things for which I'm thankful.  A pleasant place to walk and the ability to walk.  These days when it's just too hot to hike our bare mountains, it's lovely to have a way to exercise in the cooler evenings.

5.  This is supposed to be a knitting blog.  The subtitle of my blog is "Life and Knitting at Willow's Little House".  I realize that I write mostly about life, not knitting.  However, I knit every day.  Sometimes I think that it's boring knitting.  Fortunately, this week I finished this hoodie for a baby boy in our extended family.

AND...I'm working on another shawl.  This one is for me.  I admired one a friend had knitted but the pattern is no longer available.  So I found a similar pattern and have been adapting it a bit to match what I want.  Particulars are size US 6 circular needles, double strands of a made-in-France 100% acrylic fingering/sock yarn.

I am grateful that I have an every day activity which brings me such joy.

[I made good on my pinkie promise to post the Indonesian peanut sauce recipe.  If you missed it, you can find it HERE.]

Monday, August 28, 2017

That Peanut Sauce Recipe...

Here it is.

            Adapted from The TMF Cookbook

1 cup chunky peanut butter
½ cup sweet soy sauce (I use ABC brand)**
Juice of one lemon
¼ of medium yellow onion, sliced
Hot sauce to taste of your choice (I use Indonesian sambal bajak, can also use tabasco sauce)
Water as needed; start with 1 cup

Saute onion in water until soft.  Add peanut butter, soy sauce and hot sauce with enough water to make a thick liquid.  Cook over medium heat, adding water as sauce thickens.  Just before turning off burner, add lemon juice.  Serve over rice and vegetables.

*note: I have started experimenting with adding ginger and we like the taste; if you like garlic, you could add that, too.
**note#2:  if you can't find the sweet soy sauce, you can use regular soy sauce and add brown sugar or molasses to sweeten it.

Other notes:  to make it easier to measure, I usually just take a jar of peanut butter which is normally about 2 cups (16 oz).  That doubles the recipe, but what's not to love about MORE PEANUT SAUCE?
I knew someone who used those dried, fried onions that come already packaged.  She thought cooking up my own onion was too much work.
Because I don't eat meat, I serve this over veggies and rice.  It's also good with sauteed meat on skewers.
I didn't create a pdf for this recipe.  You can just copy and paste it into a file.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Five Faves from Santa Fe

Happy Friday!  It's already time to post Friday Fave Fives.  I've barely been home long enough to catch my breath!  Here are Five more highlights from our trip to New Mexico and Arizona and back.

1.  Spending more days with our son in Santa Fe will always be a fave.  One afternoon we spend exploring here:

There were Churro sheep and weaving looms so I was in fiber heaven!

2.  Since Los Alamos is close by, of course we had to visit the science museum there.  After all, I had science-physics-computer guys in the car with me.

3. And more history.  Bandelier National Monument is a fascinating historical treasure.  Ancient cliff dwellings!

And kivas and villages.

And people displaying and selling woven rugs!

4.  While Dr. Mike worked, we visited a couple of places in Santa Fe.  We avoided the plaza because it was very crowded with 'tourists'.  So we took another short hike, this time up the hill to Cross of the Martyrs.

Beautiful view over the top of Santa Fe.

5.  On our way home we stopped in to spend the night with our PAL!  I had knitted two snuggly shawls for her and her mom.  PAL agreed to model hers for me.

How about if I lie down on the sofa and ottoman to show the shawl's snuggly quality?

And no visit would be complete without a photo of the three of us!  How about if we all sit on the floor?

Hmmm, Bapa is pretty tall!

That sums up Willow's Week and Five Faves although there was So. Much. More! But I had to choose Five.

NOTE:  I know I promised to post the recipe for Indonesian peanut sauce--I will do that this week.  Pinky Finger Promise!