Friday, July 03, 2020

July Has Arrived

2020 is already half over!  It's hard to believe.  Here we are in July.  And here we are on Friday.  I've been writing parts of this post for Friday Fave Fives during this week as I think about what gives me joy and what I am grateful for.  Being thankful is a good thing to practice.  Every Day.

1.  I am catching up on a couple of books I started awhile ago and set down.  I am really enjoying The One-Page Financial Plan.  The author has a great sense of humor that shows through his writing about a difficult subject:  money.  One of my favorite statements so far:  "There isn't anyone who know what the next week, month, year, or even decade of the stock market will look like.  And if an advisor or investment expert tells you they can: run."

2.  I decided to post a picture a day on facebook, focusing on photos I have taken through the years.  I'm enjoying wandering through my history via the photos. Today is July 3rd.  Here are my 1st, 2nd and 3rd photos.

1st:  happiness is... my hubby and me and our coffee.

2nd:  favorite colour.  It's obvious.

3rd:  mirror.  On the shed wall at my friend's farm.

3.  This happened.  The Professor said I should add it to my fave fives.  He was scrolling through some movie options on the tv, and I said, "I remember that movie.  We watched it.  It was good."  Then I added, "I remembered a movie! We should mark today on the calendar!"  You see, for some reason, I simply do not remember movies.  It's a family joke.  Usually, I'll remember movies I've seen in a theatre, but since I didn't grow up going to movies and I didn't much care, I don't store movie trivia and data in my brain.  So actually remembering a movie is a highlight of a week for me.

4.  Some evenings we walk a bit earlier and so can take the trail up above our neighborhood.  We love the view.  I'm thankful to live (for now) in such a beautiful place.

5.  I am an American.  For that I am thankful.  Happy Independence Day!

Enjoy your weekend!  For those who are U.S. citizens, Happy Fourth of July!

Friday, June 26, 2020


I know that I love summer.  Here in coastal Southern California, we usually have those June Gloom foggy mornings and then sun in the afternoons.  I love early summer here!  Somehow, no matter what is happening, I am happy in the summer.  And it makes it easier for me to find my FRIDAY FAVE FIVES.  Follow the link to join in and read what people around the world are thankful for.

1.  Dining in.  For the first time in how long?  We dined in at our favorite restaurant!  Yummy burritos and the BEST salsa verde!

2.  After taking our house off market for a bit (thanks to  pandemic stuff), we are back on market and hoping to move forward to sell our house.

3.  I 'rediscovered' a t-shirt that is in my shirt drawer.  I hadn't worn it for awhile, and when I pulled it out and read the front, it made me smile and giggle a little.  Who doesn't love a t-shirt that says,

Ye not in the affairs of
Dragons for
Ye are
crunchy and good
with Catsup!

4.  Today is The Professor's birthday!  We are celebrating quietly.  All he wanted was a razzleberry pie from Marie Callender's.  One of my favorite photos of him is this one which I snapped as he was sitting on the porch steps of our bush house in the interior of West Papua, Indonesia--a long time ago.

5.  And today is also my mother's birthday.  Were she still on earth, we would be celebrating her ninety-eighth birthday.  I know she is much happier where she is in heaven, but we still miss her.  My brother called me earlier today and we reminisced about our wonderful mom.  I don't have many photos of my mom from her early years--this one was taken during World War II when she was a young woman.

Happy SUMMER to you all!  Let's find the blessings in this sunny season!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Notice the Beauty

I'm a bit late posting my Friday Fave Fives.  I have a good excuse (which you can see below).

1.  Yesterday (Friday), I had a doctor appointment.  Yes, I'm fine.  It was just a check up.  But I am happy that I finally had a face to face appointment.

Other things that blessed me this week:

2.  We went to the beach!  It's the first time we've ventured out to the beach since March.  Ventura State Beach.  Oh, my heart is just full!

3.  The beach doesn't just have seaweed, rocks, shells, driftwood and shorebirds, it also has flowers in the dunes.  I love the color and beauty that greets me at every step on the trail.

4.  Our evening walks often provide us a look at our area wildlife.  We often say HI to the bunnies which are prolific this year.  We've seen a coyote once before this year.  But this week, we heard one howling and yapping and ended up meeting him on the golf course.  He didn't want to get close enough for a photo op, but I managed to catch him on the run.  Blurry because I had to zoom in so far.

5.  Sunsets have been gorgeous this week!  It's June Gloom time which means we have fog and low clouds rolling in at night and keeping the sun hidden in the morning.  But it also means beautiful sunsets.

  As I finished writing this, I realized that four of my five faves involve being outside!  Yes!  If you need some encouragement this week, get outside!  Enjoy and experience our beautiful world.   The wildlife, birds, flowers, trees, hills, valleys, mountains, beaches.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Where's Your Focus?

Well, this week included fires, riots, dissension...but I can't focus on those things.  I choose to put my focus on the good things in my life, the blessings and the things which make me grateful.  If I do nothing else here at Willow's Cottage blog during the week, I still post my Friday Fave Fives.  I have to.  I need to.  It blesses me.  I hope it blesses you, too.

1.  I have had three face to face meetings this week!  In person!  We (mostly) observed distancing.  But oh!  It is wonderful to really SEE people!  First was our small group from church.  Just the women.  For Sunday lunch.  It was in a back garden, under a jacaranda tree, next to the avocado orchard.

2.  Then my Bible Study small group met at our leader's home.  Just six of us.

3.  One afternoon, I told The Professor, "I miss your sister, and I want a burrito."  (Note that I said I miss her first.)  So we set up an early dinner at a park near her home.  We picked up the burritos and a taco for her then sat and chatted and laughed until the cold wind blew us back to our car and her to her home.

4.  (Notice a pattern here?)  We got to go to church on Sunday!  We wore masks while we sang, but that's ok.  It was wonderful!

5.  I took a total of two photos this week.  One was to verify I had ordered the correct book for a study I am doing.  But I liked the other picture.  How often do you find a hawk sitting in someone's front garden?  As we walked past on our daily walk, it hardly moved until it decided we were too scary and it flew into a nearby tree.  How I love seeing all the wildlife that lives around my neighborhood!  The photo is a bit blurry--but you can't be choosy with a hawk.

So this sums up Willow's Week.  Just another quiet Covid week.  Stay safe and well, my friends.  And focus on the blessings!

Friday, June 05, 2020

Hello, June

Thinking about the fact that it is JUNE is making my head spin.  I guess that is what happens when you mostly stay safely and boringly at home for almost three months.  Truthfully, I'm not bored.  I am purposely staying busy.  And the things that keep my brain and body busy also help me be thankful and grateful.  This week at Willow's Cottage has been quiet but productive and I'm sharing the parts that bring me joy.  Linking to Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Sunsets.  Usually, we take our main walk around the neighborhood after dinner.  That's the perfect time to view the sunset.  The sky was incredible this week, partly because there was a fire on Santa Cruz Island (one of the Channel Islands off our coast).  That's not the fave although it is now completely under control.  The fave is the effect of the smoke and clouds on the sunset.

2.  Moon.  I love the waxing and full moon and it makes me happy to watch it rise in the sky in the evenings. 

3.  Calendula Salve.  For the first time, I hitched up my big girl pants and braved making my own salve from my calendula flowers.  I have such dry skin from working in the garden that I am thankful to have a DIY option for helping heal my hands.

4.  Garden.  We had an outdoor project that needed doing, but we were concerned about the heavy work that it involved.  So we hired a high school boy from our church congregation to help us.  He worked for seven hours and took only one half-hour break for lunch!  We were very pleased and made sure he knew it and his parents knew it.  And, the edgers along our property line are in place and look great!

5.  More Garden.  I've mentioned before that I am reading Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer with my art friends.  This week, we read and discussed the chapter titled Gardens and Gardening.  I love these two quotes:

Human beings were made to interact with growing things,
not to be born, live, and die in the midst of concrete set in the middle of polluted air!
Growing plants are supposed to be doing something to the air human beings are breathing,
and human beings are supposed to be doing something to the plants.

It seems to me the beauty which causes strangers passing by to stop
and ENJOY a garden,
provides a background and already 'says something'
which gives an emphasis to what it is important to say.

I want my garden to bring joy to me and to the people who walk or drive past my cottage.  Maybe that will remind them that this is really all God's creation.

Bonus!  More of God's creation!

King Quail watching over his kingdom

monarch butterfly

Friday, May 29, 2020

End of May Faves

Some weeks are just harder than others.  This has been a tough week and too much overload. I have just had to cut out news and much of social media.  A friend shared this liturgy from EVERY MOMENT HOLY this morning.  I love how these words calm me and help me focus on the right things.
Give us discernment
in the face of troubling news reports.
Give us discernment
to know when to pray,
when to speak out,
when to act,
and when to simply
shut off our screens
and our devices,
and to sit quietly
in your presence,

casting the burdens of this world
upon the strong shoulders
of the one who
is able to bear them up.

And I love to focus on things that bring me joy and gratitude.  FRIDAY FAVE FIVES does that for me.  Every day, I think, "Oh!  This should be in my Fave Fives this week!"  And then on Friday, I have the opportunity to review my week and be thankful again.  (Follow the link and join in!)

1.  Even though we are planning to move, we still want our home to look its best.  So we have been working on the border of our property to add edgers along the property line.  That way people can see exactly what is the property they would own.  It's a lot of heavy work, but it is going to look great.

2.  I have spent hours and hours this week in the garden.  It's small, but I love it.  I pulled the weeds and added some plants.
I had just read an article about Spilanthes, and lo and behold, there it was in the garden center!  I just had to have it.  I would be likely to call it the eyeball plant because I think that's what the flowers look like.

Marigolds pair nicely with Spilanthes.

Another new to me plant.

Doesn't it look nice with the Angelonia?

3.  Also, I worked at cleaning up my potting area.  I have numerous terracotta pots which I am not using and don't plan to move with me.  So I gifted them to a friend.  And we spent a lovely hour social distance chatting on her patio.  And my potting area is tidy.

4.  AND, I had a great park date with a friend.  We brought our lawn chairs and sat six feet apart and talked for a couple of hours.  I am so thankful to be able to see friends face to face.

5.  I love my Kindle.  While I do prefer a paper book, I am thankful that I can utilize the ebook option at the library and read more books.

Bonus:  Last week for FFF, I neglected to add the photos of the monarch caterpillars and raindrops on the flowers.  Here they are.  Enjoy!  Because you can't get enough garden!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Late May

Hello!  It's Friday!  Time for Willow's Week at Friday Fave Fives (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).  How was your week?  Mine was just the same old, same old.  Hanging around the house.  Staying safe.  Taking walks.  Being thankful for the small things.

1.  I've been doing a bit of sketching and really working at improving my skills.  I love the satisfaction of finishing  a sketch.  (The photo is a bit blurry, sorry.)

2.  This week, I received an email from the mother of a former student, thanking me for the input I had in her daughter's life.  Oh how my teacher heart glowed.  This young woman is surging forward in her writing!

3.  Ya'll doing Zoom and Skype sessions?  I know that, for me, sometimes I am 'zoomed-out'.  But I am thankful that during this time we have the option of 'seeing' people and 'spending time' with them.  I know it's not the same as really face to face interaction, but it's better than nothing.

4.  We woke up Monday morning to RAIN.   I managed to catch a few photos of raindrops on my flowers.  And the rain didn't bother the monarch caterpillar at all.  They just kept on chewing on the milkweed.  I do love my garden.

5.  It's still jacaranda tree time.  Normally, when we drive down the streets of our city, I don't notice the trees except that they're there and provide green and shade.  But during Jacaranda Season, oh my!  Those purple blossoms just celebrate spring!  Here are some photos of jacaranda trees in various spots around town.  [please note:  BEFORE deciding to plant a jacaranda tree, understand that there is no middle ground.  They're beautiful. BUT, they're messy. See bottom photo.]

Yeah, they're really messy.

I hope you had a good week and are staying well.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Mid May Faves

Spring is blooming in full force now.  The California poppies are still showing their orange blossoms; the bougainvillea are blooming in all their vibrant shades.  Roses are opening on the bushes.  I love spring and love the idea of new growth.  I'm thankful as always for the beauty around me.  Here are the things that have popped out at me that made me thankful this week.  My Friday Fave Fives.

1.  I just can't help sharing!  Everything is blooming!  The jacaranda trees!  We had an outing to the grocery store, and because we haven't been driving around town, we hadn't seen that the jacaranda trees are blooming!

2.  PAL graduated from preschool this week.  There was no ceremony, but the teachers came by her house and she put on her cap and gown and received her graduation diploma.  We are able to watch the 'ceremony' via skype.  Then her parents sent us these pictures.

In honor of all the masks I've been sewing, I decided to have a bit of fun and sew a mask for Eleanor.

3.  After I sent a picture of Eleanor wearing her mask to show PAL, I decided that her bunny Beatrix needed a mask, too.  So I made another one and mailed it off to her.  It's important to keep our bunnies safe, too.

4.  We miss spending time with The Professor's sister who lives in town.  So today we got take out from our favorite restaurant, Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill, and took it to her house where we sat on her front porch and had a social distance lunch with her.

5.  My wonderful art group friends are special to me.  Every Friday morning at 7:30 am, we get together on Skype and chat and pray and discuss a book we've chosen to read.  Now we are reading Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer.  I love this special time with my friends.  We share our art projects and it doesn't matter if we're in our robes sipping our morning coffee.  We just love our time together.

I hope even during this very weird time in our lives that we will continue to keep on keeping on.  We can still be thankful for all the blessings in our lives.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Mother's Day in May

Hello from Willow's little cottage!  It is May and Friday and almost Mother's Day.  It's also 2020, and life is not normal.  Let's put some normalcy into our week and focus on what we are thankful for daily and weekly.  Here is Willow's Week in FRIDAY FAVE FIVES (the link for you to join us).

1.  It has been really hot (for us) this week!  I am thankful for air conditioning!

2.  What we see on our walks.  This week, we walked in the back part of the (closed) neighborhood golf course.  That's where we see deer and bunnies and geese.  Sometimes, we see birds like hawks, owls, quail, and egrets.  And road runners!  The picture isn't great, but Road Runner took off with his crest and tail feathers sticking up.  We don't often get to see the road runners, so that was fun.

3.  My favorite time of day is sunset.  I love the painted skies!

4.  I also love watching the moon rise above the mountain ridge behind our house.

5.  Did you notice that three of the four Faves are about nature?  I love God's creation.  He was the first landscape architect and shares His beauty with us.  My mother was the first person to constantly share her love of nature around us, and I carry that in my earliest memories.  "Oh, look!  The mountain is beautiful today!"  "See the beautiful forest?  There are fir trees and ferns and flowers!"  "Oh!  The ocean is so blue today!"  I'm thankful that my mom instilled her love of nature in me.

my mom in her early 20s


Friday, May 01, 2020

May Day!

May First!  May Day!  Wow, 2020 is moving along. Some days it seems like it is creeping slowly and other days just zip by.  But here we are in the merry month of May (although it doesn't seem so merry right now).   And it's Friday and time for FRIDAY FAVE FIVES here at Willow's Cottage.

1.  I know that it seems like every week when we are focusing on our blessings that someone mentions acts of kindness that people either give or receive.  This week as I was talking with someone, she mentioned how her mom (for whom she is a caregiver) insisted on knocking on a neighbor's door to say hello when they were on a short walk.  It turns out that the neighbor needed help with some things, and so our church care group was able to step up and help.  A knock on a door resulted in an older man being able to get the help that he needed.  I love hearing that story of kindness multiplied.

2.  My friend is decluttering her yarn stash.  I cluttered up my stash with three bunches of beautiful yarn, one white wool yarn, one deep ruby red alpaca yarn, and one hand dyed variegated blue and green merino wool yarn.  I've been scouring various sources searching for just the right pattern for each yarn.  I see lots of blissful shawl and sweater knitting in my future because of my friend's generosity.

3.  I'm thankful for lots and lots of books to read.

4.  I love those phone calls that begin with, "Hi, Mom!"  Those may be my most favorite words ever.

5.  Do you love cloudy days?  I realize that where I live (right now) that most days are sunny.  That's what a mediterranean climate is.  So when we get those "May Gray" and "June Gloom" days, we are enjoy them to the fullest.  We even had some May Gray days at the end of April.  The fog and low clouds hang on the mountains and hover over the coastal plain.  I think it is beautiful, and I'm thankful for cooler days.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Bye, April

Last week of April.  The end of self isolation is Not in sight yet.  How have you spent your week?  I have been focusing on the beauty around me, on blessing others and appreciating how they are blessing me.  That's a whole lot better than grumping about not being able to get out or not having what I want at the store.  Right now we must all focus on what we are thankful for--I'm thankful for FRIDAY FAVE FIVES!

1.  SPRING FLOWERS.  Super bloom is happening!  The poppies are growing wild!  How I love California's state flower.  We walk around the neighborhood, peek out our back window, gaze at the mountainsides.  Poppies everywhere!!  (warning:  poppy picture overload below)

poppies all over my garden

even 'popping' up in my lavender

cream colored poppy

two toned poppy

ruffled poppy 

2.  SKILLS.  More masks made.  Oops. I didn't take  a photo of the five masks I dropped off at the gathering point on my friend's porch this morning.  The call for masks hasn't slowed down.  I've lost count of the number of masks I've made.  It doesn't matter.

3.  KINDNESS.   I made masks for several couples/families in our small group at church.  Some sent me notes to thank me, one gave me flowers and oranges, another shared some homemade carrot cake.  One of the things I am loving about all this crisis time is that I am seeing the KINDNESS of people.

4.  HUMOR.  This made me laugh.  Even the topiary bunny in our neighborhood is maintaining self isolation and social distancing.

5.  LIFE!  The baby I made this kimono for was born this week.  She is a preemie, in NICU, but thriving.  We've prayed her and her mama through all these months of stress and uncertainty.  Soon she'll be home and wearing this little sweater.

What KINDNESS, BEAUTY, or HUMOR have you experienced this week?  And here's hoping that May will be filled with more positive changes.