Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ending the Month on a High Note

These four weeks in January have sailed by so quickly.  During this week of classes, day trips and wind storms, I continually took note of what was happening to me and around me, paying attention to everything I am thankful for.  Participating in Friday Fave Five is a great training exercise in gratitude, and if I post nothing else here at Willow's Cottage blog, I make sure I write about my five faves every Friday.  Thank you, Susanne for hosting this at Living to Tell the Story.

1.  I know that it's January when the early camellias begin to bloom.  Both the flowers and I are soaking up the warm sun.  I learned years ago that cold weather and I are not compatible companions.  Even Southern California winter rain storms cause me to shiver and be miserable. (I know, I know.  I sound like a wimpy wus, but I really do not do well in freezing temperatures)  When the sun shines and the temperatures hover in the 70s, I'm just a happier person.  I can identify with the camellias.

2.  Recently, we received a communication from long time, long ago friends telling us that they would be in the San Diego area the end of January and asking if we could get together.  He was our fixed wing and helicopter pilot during the first two years we lived in Papua, Indonesia.  We saw them on Saturday afternoon and evening and enjoyed reminiscing with them about those days when we were all a lot younger, living in the jungle, flying around in the three seater Hiller helicopter, and being stranded in crazy places by crazy weather.

3.  Spending Saturday night and Sunday morning with our daugther Mia and her husband (and the two puppies and two kitties) in San Diego before we drove back home through the four SoCal counties was another highlight of the weekend.

4.  This week there has been simple knitting.  Knit one, purl one. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Five inches wide.  Five feet long.  Soon, it will be a scarf.  Sometimes I appreciate the relaxing and repetitive hand motions of a simple knit.

5.  I am continuing my relaxation reading.  This week, I finished The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes which won the Newbery Medal in 1924.  Hawes published only two books in the early 1920s before his untimely death from a sudden illness.  The Dark Frigate tells the compelling story of a young man who is boatswain on a British ship that is commandeered by pirates, and from the first page, I was enthralled by both Hawes' writing style and the very true to life tale of danger on the high seas.  I know I mentioned the Newbery Medal books last week--I'm wondering if this will be a recurring theme--the best children's literature of the Twentieth Century.

Willow's Week was sunny and quiet.  How was yours?  Snow?  Rain?  Sun?  Loud?  Busy?  Relaxed?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some weeks are busy; some are quiet.  Fortunately, after last week's busyness, this week has been slower paced.  However, every week has moments of joy and gratitude and I want to focus my thoughts on those.  Friday Fave Five helps me do that. (Follow the link to join FFF at Susanne's blog.)

Birthday Buddies.  My friend Dorothy rode the train up from LA to visit me for the day on Friday.  After I picked her up at the train station Friday morning, she joined me at my Bible study group, and then we shared a birthday lunch.  Whenever we get together, we decided whose birthday we're celebrating-hers or mine.  This week it was her turn.

Birthday Boy.  My younger son, The Grad Student, celebrated his birthday this week.  I realize I am his mother and people might accuse me of being a little biased, but I think he's pretty wonderful!

Books.  Recently, I decided that I needed to allow myself some downtime to sit and read.  So I pulled out my Newbery Award books and read two this week-- The Midwife's Apprentice and Shiloh.  Do you enjoy reading well written and thoughtful books?  Consider reading the Newbery Award and Newbery Honor books!

To Do Lists. Coupled with choosing a decluttering 'mini mission' every day, my to do list of five 'mini jobs' is actually getting completed. I've been super productive this week in accomplishing many projects including writing notes and letters and cleaning out the trunk and glove box in my car.

Better weather. Sunshine and warmer temperatures have continually called me outside this week. Weeding and pruning in the garden are great excuses to soak up some sun.

Did you have sun, snow or rain?  Busy days, quiet evenings?  Did you read books or celebrate with friends?

Monday, January 17, 2011

ABCs of Tall Ships






Thursday, January 13, 2011

Busy Again

It has been a busy week at Willow's Cottage.  There has been work, a little bit of play and a whole lot of driving.  As I walked and worked through my week, I tried to focus on what was the best part of each day, what I enjoyed, what I learned.  That's what makes up my Friday Fave Fives, those memories of goodness and thankfulness.  I truly appreciate the opportunity to share FFF every Friday.  Even if my week has been busy and I haven't been online much to post here or to read other blogs, I try to pull everything together to share my best moments for Fave Five.   Thanks goes to Susanne who hosts this every week at Living to Tell the Story.

1.  The Tall Ships sailed in to Ventura Harbor last week.  Although we have seen them before in other harbors, we decided to head over to Ventura to tour the two tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Adventure.  Can you imagine learning how to identify all those ropes to furl and unfurl the sails and keep them from tangling up?

2.  On Saturday, we drove to the southern part of Los Angeles County to meet a very special person-- the little girl who recently arrived from China to join our friends' family.  The dedication and welcoming of this sweet baby was a long anticipated event.  Out of respect for the privacy of the family, I won't post photos, but we were thrilled to meet this little one and celebrate with her new family.

3.  We took a second trip to Los Angeles on Monday afternoon to meet up at Farmers Market and The Grove with our daughter Mia, her husband and their friends.  Dinner at the Singaporan/Indonesian restaurant in the Farmers Market was oh so wonderful.  There's nothing like gado-gado with peanut sauce, mie goreng and es cendol!  Oops~no photos! In my excitement to see my kids, I left my camera in the car.  Here's a little history of Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax in West LA--it was first opened in 1934 as a weekly farmers market in the fields of a local farm where fresh vegetables and fruits were sold to area housewives.  As the market grew in size and popularity, it moved into a permanent building which is where the market still thrives, attracting celebrities, local students, and foreign visitors from all over the world.

4.  Did I mention work?  Yes, classes started again this week.  I loved greeting each group of students as they arrived--the smiles and excitement were contagious.  While I do greatly enjoy my vacation times, I also love to teach.  I have no interest in 'quitting my day job'.

5.  I have really missed having walking buddies to keep me accountable for my exercise.  This week, a local group has formed to challenge each other to walk 10,000 steps every day for the next two months.  I have walked my 10,000 steps only one day this week, although the other days I've exceeded 6,000 or 7,000 steps. But that's OK with me because I'm back on task with others to encourage me.  It's amazing how many steps you can accumulate walking around a grocery store while you are gathering your bananas, cereal and frozen peas.  Who knew shopping for food could be exercise?  Some days, I acquire unusual walking buddies like this deer which kept pace with me as I walked along the street that winds up the hill in my neighborhood and she pranced to meet her buddies who were waiting for her behind the bushes.

That was Willow's Week!  What wonderful things happened to you?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Editor's note:  Yes, I'm aware that the blog looks different.  I'll be working over the weekend to figure out what happened and to rectify the changes.

Friday Fave Five is hosted weekly by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.  The goal of FFF is to look back at your week and find the good stuff, the five favorite happenings, events or thoughts that encouraged you.  Join us by clicking on the link above and signing in on mr. linky.  And, Susanne, THANKS for faithfully hosting FFF every week!

Because it is the beginning of the New Year 2011, many people, including bloggers, including me, have made resolutions and goals to simplify, declutter and minimalize their lives, their possessions and their activity calenders.  Simplicity has been a long time interest of mine.  For many years, I have sought to simplify my life, have read innumerable books and blogs on the topic, and have even taught classes and led discussion groups on voluntary simplicity.  If you are one of the people who have stated that this year you are going to 'simplify your life', you may be interested in looking at these five fave websites or blogs.  Some are focused on decluttering your home and give excellent advice and guidance for doing just that.  I have learned so much from these people and want to share their wisdom to help you on your journey to simplify your life.

1.  Messies Anonymous

2.  Flylady

You can gain inspiration and great ideas from reading these three blogs written by people just wanting to simplify their surroundings and lives.

3.  Colleen at

4.  Rethinkingthedream

5.  becomingminimalist

I just have to add one bonus website.  Project 333 is the brainchild of Courtney Carver who since October of 2010 has been challenging people via her blog, twitter and facebook to simplify their basic wardrobes to 33 items.

Is simplicity your goal this year?  What is your first project?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hopes and Goals

Having a cold/flu during New Year's celebrations certainly puts a damper on attending parties and being merry.  The fuzzy brain which results from such a cold also definitely affects cognitive ability and focus on New Year's resolutions.  I tend to be reluctant to make New Year's resolutions anyway because it sounds so definite and almost negative.  The past few years, I've changed my focus.  Now I make a list of "hopes and goals".  Because I've been muddle brained, I have only now begun to think about my 2011 Hopes and Goals.

This year I hope to accomplish the following goals:

1.  Begin teaching an internet-based writing class.  As soon as I write the first lesson, I'll be sending it off to two willing guinea pigs students.

2.  Print note cards using my own photographs.

3.  Be more consistent in posting on this blog.

4.  Finish (once and for all) the digitalizing of the hundred plus years of family photographs that are in my keeping.

5.  Use up the rest of my yarn stash.  I've been toying with the thought that if I do not use the yarn THIS YEAR, I will donate it somewhere.

6.  Knit more items to sell or donate to help Generate Hope and Forever Found, two groups of amazing and courageous people who are focusing on stopping human slavery and trafficking in California and other places in the world.

7.  Regain my optimum health by focusing on food choices and exercise.

Other things I would like to do this year:

1.  Travel (where? I haven't decided yet).

2.  Plant a square foot garden (again). 

3.  Become more familiar and adept with the new(ish) camera.

4.  Continue in some form the exercise of creativity in limiting my wardrobe via Project 333.

5.  Create time and space in my life and surroundings so I can focus on what is truly important to me--my faith, my husband, my family.

Have you made any resolutions, hopes or goals lists?