Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Today I had intended to write more about Stanford University or about our weekend in Los Angeles, but I just have to tell you about a place we visited on Sunday afternoon on our way home from Long Beach.

We often drive up and down Pacific Coast Highway when we travel to and from Los Angeles. PCH takes us right along the coast and through Malibu.

On Sunday afternoon, we meandered home slowly, choosing the scenic route. The weather was a bit cloudy and foggy, but the ocean was a beautiful blue and the coastal vegetation looked fresh and sunny.

We stopped at our usual stopping place, the Starbuck's at Trancas Canyon, at the north end of Malibu. I cannot tell you how many times we have pulled in to that parking lot, gotten out of our car and turned our backs on this little nursery tucked in behind the back parking lot.

This time, I decided I'd like to take a peek in Malibu Gardens Nursery, just because we weren't in a hurry and just because it was there and I was a little curious. I mean, what kind of a nursery would Malibu, the famous home town of more movie stars than Hollywood, have?

Well. Wow.

The owners of MGN obviously love their garden and someone who works there is obviously an artist. The whole nursery was filled with color! Pots and plants everywhere in a casual, Southern California, everything arranged in easy going, seemingly haphazard way that is really the carefully thought out work of the true artist.

I was enchanted. The Professor came looking for me and there I was staring at osteospermum in all these colors! Who knew?

Even the lettuces were beautiful!

I wonder if the cat is for sale.

If you are ever in Malibu sightseeing and you get tired of looking for movie stars, take a peek at Malibu Gardens Nursery. If you meet the owners, tell them that the lady who bought beets and lobelia sent you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday Fave Five #30

Welcome to the weekly post for Friday Fave Five. FFF is hosted by Susanne over at Living To Tell The Story.

1. Books. This is what's on my book table.

2. The book in the middle of the photo above was a birthday present from a good, non-blogging friend. I had mentioned to her in a discussion about knitting books that Knitting The Threads Of Time had been recommended by Jocelyn at Knitting Linguist and I wanted to read it. When I was over at her place, visiting her garden, well, there it was. I'm looking forward to having some time this weekend to read it.

3. I finished reading The Graveyard Book which Chaplain Dan and The Princess gave me last weekend for my birthday. It is the newest Newbery Award book. It's a mostly delightful read, with flashes of brilliance (in my humble opinion, because it made me laugh).

4. Another friend and I have been wishing each other 'Happy Birthday' every March for the past mumblemumble years. On Sunday we celebrated together with our husbands at PF Chang's. Great food, great fellowship, great memories.

5. The New Boy is learning to walk! He is taking a few steps, stopping and contemplating his uprightness and then sinking to his knees, having thought better of this new method of forward locomotion. But it won't be long until there will be no stopping him!

6. I just have to add one more~ The Professor and I ordered some garden seeds online from Victory Seeds of Molalla, Oregon, a purveyor of rare and heirloom seeds. I'm looking forward with excitement to receiving them (in 2-3 weeks, they're back logged!) and planting some carrots and cucumbers and squash and lettuces and, oh, a few other things....

To share in the fave fun, go on over to Susanne's blog.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Signs of Spring

Nothing says Spring better than
blooming on the hillside behind my home,
the purple and white nestled in the bright green of runaway mint and poppy,

unless it's the early Iceberg rose bud

that opens up its twirly dancing skirt after it is clipped and brought inside
and placed in a vase on the piano to spread its joy and fragrance throughout the cottage.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sightseeing at Stanford University, Part 1

Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

I had said that I'd like to share more pictures and information about Stanford University. The reason the university has suddenly become important at Willow's Cottage is because Son #2 has accepted an offer to pursue his PhD in Anthroplogy at Stanford! He will be migrating north to the San Francisco Bay area in August. I think we will be making the trip along California's Highway 101 often. We will learn to recognize this view as the marker of 'almost there!'

Main Entrance, Palm Drive
The Oval
(as seen for the first time through Willow's car window)
The Oval is a (very) large grassy area in front of the Main Quad, surrounded by the one way street lined with parked cars.
As you drive around the Oval and reach the far end, you see the main entrance and Quad on your right.

The main entrance to the university faces the Quad, and the Memorial Chapel is directly in front of you beyond the entrance arches.

Stanford Memorial Church stands at the center of the campus, and is the University's architectural crown jewel. It was one of the earliest, and is still among the most prominent, interdenominational churches in the West. Jane Stanford built the church as a memorial to her husband, Leland. Together, Senator and Mrs. Stanford had constructed the University as a memorial to their son, Leland, Jr.

(information courtesy of the official Stanford University website)

The church was not open the day we were on campus, so we will be looking forward to seeing the inside of the church on a future visit. August? September? October?

There are so many interesting educational and architectural sights at Stanford. I'm looking forward to sharing the Hoover Tower, Green Library, the sculptural gardens and a really cool clock tower with you!

But I'm sure this will be my favorite sight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday Fave Five

According to Susanne, this is Friday Fave Five, #29!

I love doing this post every week. It helps me focus on the blessings in my life. All week long I'm watching for positive events, blessings from God, beauty in my surroundings.

1. Sunday was the best, best day! I have no photos to prove it but trust me, it was great. An early morning drive from our house to Long Beach (where Sara lives), a stop at the local coffee place where the regulars still remember us from the years we sat with our kids and had coffee there before church. Then a wonderful church service, catching up with friends, lunch and dinner with our children. TIME spent in the best way.

2. Monday Ellen and I drove to Santa Monica and had tea at Tudor House. I wrote a post (see below) about our great day. We celebrated our birthdays between our special days.

3. My birthday was Tuesday! One of the first grade classes did the birthday dance song. I definitely got in my cardio workout. Emails and phone calls and birthday packages. The cutest email came from Son #2 who emailed me at 12:45AM to wish me a Happy Birthday with the query "Am I the first?" The kids like to see who can be first to wish each other a happy birthday!

4. I got sucked in to a great children's book that The Princess and Chaplain Dan gave me to add to my Newbery Award list. I really enjoyed this book because I love children's books and I love England and I love history. I wouldn't say this is a happy book, but it's an accurate portrayal of what life was like for poor people during the Middle Ages.

Crispin, The Cross of Lead by Avi. Newbery Award winner, 2003

5. Last but not least, it's spring garden planting time in southern California. The Professor and I have prepped our little vegetable plot and I've already put in two kinds of parsley and an heirloom tomato. Because Fridays are my day off, I plan to plant more tomatoes and some lettuce today. A friend gave me some extra bean and pea seeds and I'm thinking about trying out her idea to plant them in buckets.

Thank you, Susanne, for hosting FFF each week! Enjoy others' weekly faves by going to Susanne's blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Remember the Koolaid Yarn?

Yes, this handspun hand dyed yarn.
I asked for ideas about what to knit with these skeins dyed with Kooaid and I got lots of comments in response. Thanks for taking an interest in this project! I was amazed at the number of people who responded and at the creativity expressed in some of the ideas.

I went through all the comments and wrote down every suggestion and put them in categories. Fourteen people suggested that I knit a striped sweater (vertical not horizontal stripes, one friend reminded me). In addition to other ideas, y'all said socks (3), scarves (2), shawl (2), tanks/vests (1), baby sweater (1), various kinds of blankets (7).

I asked The Professor his opinion. He gave me one of those looks and declared that this was a discussion he'd bow out of, thank you very much. Wise man, huh?

I have spent a lot of time just thinking about this, weighing the advantages to having a bright spring sweater, knitted vertically, wondering where I'd place the rainbow blanket in my somewhat color understated house. I've had some longish car trips lately that lent themselves to just sitting and thinking, instead of gripping the door handle and car seat as we whip through Los Angeles freeway traffic. I have realized that one reason I have not knitted anything except Eleanor Elizabeth's dress and jacket with this yarn is because, while I love vibrant colors, I don't wear them. I'm a navy and light blue girl myself.

So. Today I thought, "Well, I should find out how much of each color I have just in case I knit a sweater."

I would need to decide what my base color would be. I have the most skeins of Rasberry Reaction (no, it's not pink; it's the light turquoise) and the second most is Wild Watermelon Kiwi (spring green). I counted strands of each to estimate the number of yards I have of each. My estimate is that I have @575 yards of the turquoise and @450 yards of green.

Neither color is enough to make a single color sweater. BUT. I. might. be able to make a Fair Isle sweater or vest using the turquoise as my base color, the green as a secondary, and the other colors like Lemonade, Grape or Pink Lemonade as accents. Now I have to ask myself, "Pullover, cardigan, or vest?" But. Maybe the blanket, after all. Ripple or blocks?

See my dilemna?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Saint Patrick's Day is here and with the celebrations of green beer, leprechauns, corned beef and cabbage and maybe even talk of the blarney stone, I also celebrate my birthday.

Today in first grade we failed to trap a single leprechaun but we did write limericks about them:

There once was a sneaky leprechaun named Lucky,
who danced on the bookshelf and sang haha hee hee!
That tiny tricky leprechaun named Lucky.
My birthday extravaganza started on Sunday when all the family assembled at The Block in Santa Ana (for non Californians, we'll just say, slightly south of Disneyland) for lunch, coffee and dinner. When the children asked what Mama wanted, I said, TIME. And that's what they gave me (along with a few little gifties). I loved it so much I didn't take a single minute away from the day to photograph it.

Then on Monday, which for some reason unknown to me was a school holiday (not that I minded), Ellen and I drove down Highway 1 along the Pacific Coastline to Santa Monica. On the way we spotted dolphins splashing, playing, feeding, swimming near the shoreline.

The purpose of our visit was to check out this place:

Tudor House is located on 2nd Street near Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica. We are happy to recommend this truly authentic tea room.

We chose to sample the traditional tea with salad, sandwiches, scones and petit fours. Our tea choice was Earl Grey.

After tea we walked the one block to Ocean Blvd, crossed the street and strolled along the park on the bluff that overlooks Santa Monica beach~

Santa Monica Pier was just a few blocks south, stretching its wooden planks out in to the Pacific Ocean.

This evening, after tutoring and a quick drop-by my lys, The Professor served me barbequed salmon, asparagus, mashed potatoes and green salad. I think we'll end the night on a green and chocolate note. I noticed some mint chip ice cream in the freezer.

This day is not just leprechauns, beer, Willow's birthday. It is also a day to remember Saint Patrick, the man who brought Christianity to Ireland. I've always loved sharing my day with Saint Patrick. He wasn't actually Irish himself; he was from Cumbria and lived for years as a slave in Ireland. After escaping and returning to his home, he was compelled to return to Ireland as a missionary to teach his former captors about the love of Christ.

The God of life with guarding hold you,

The loving Christ with guarding fold you,

The Holy Spirit, guarding, mould you,

Each night of life to aid, enfold you,

Each day and night of life uphold you.

May God shield me,

May God fill me,

May God keep me,

May God watch me,

May God bring me this night,

To the nearness of his love.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday Fave Five

It has been another busy week that started with traveling several hundred miles by car up and down the California coast (you can read more about it in the post below). And then it took me a few days to recover from the trip.

Does this happen to you, too?

As I look back over the past week I want to share my Fave Five:

1. Of course, my trip to Stanford University was the number 1 highlight. Spending the weekend with The Professor and Son # Two in such an interesting place~ what could be better? They didn't seem to mind too much when I'd be walking several paces behind them, stopping to take a photo. Sometimes they even pointed out photo ops. 'Did you get a picture the tower?' and 'You'll want to walk around to the side of Memorial Chapel.'

Don't you just love it when you see the father-son combo? Walking the same way, using the same mannerisms...

2. All that car riding time was well spent. The twisted stitch socks turned out just right. I love the simple long cuff of twisted stitches worked on a K2P2 rib. I wore them to dinner on Friday night, smiling to myself.

3. I love herons. This blue heron was hanging around the harbor at low tide on Tuesday.

4. Spring has really and truly arrived in Southern California. The mornings have been cool (43 or 48F is downright cold for us) but most of the afternoons have been warm and breezy. The deciduous trees are bursting out in blossoms and leaves.
5. More anticipation! This next week is my birthday week. I was a St. Patrick's Day baby and all over the world people will be celebrating my birthday with green beer! The family will be gathering at a central (sort of) location on Sunday for dinner.

I think next week will be a Fave Week, too!
To share others' fave fives, visit our hostess Susanne at Living To Tell The Story.


Where did The Professor and I go on the weekend? North!

We cruised through Santa Barbara, whizzed past Solvang (Willow looking longingly at the exit sign, knowing that she was driving by The Village Spinning and Weaving Shop and NOT STOPPING), sailed by Pismo Beach, gazed out the car windows at the bright, bright green grass and tree studded hills of the California Coastal Mountains and Valleys. Familiar place names like San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Paso Robles, San Miguel and Salinas were written on the mileage signs, reminding us of California's Spanish past.

Rural Coastal Southern California along Hwy 101, El Camino Real, as seen through Willow's car window at 70 mph. It really is THAT green.

Finally, after dark, we arrived at our destination~ Palo Alto, the home of Stanford University. Son # Two had invited us to spend the weekend with him and explore the campus while he was in meetings.

While The Professor and Son # Two had both been to Stanford before, this was my first visit.

There is so much to see and I love the atmosphere!

I would describe Stanford University campus as Ivy League with a Western Twist.

Over the next few days, I'd like to share more of the campus--the Hoover Tower, Memorial Church, Main Quad, Frank Lloyd Wright's Hanna Honeycomb House, Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden and New Guinea Sculpture Garden, Green Library. I hope you don't get bored. Obviously, I didn't.