Thursday, February 24, 2011

The End of the Second Month

The second month of the year is nearly over.  Here at Willow's Cottage, I am anticipating the arrival of March.  Even so, each day and each week is a wonderful gift and I choose to appreciate every opportunity to be thankful for the little things in life as well as the big things.  Susanne hosts Friday Fave Five as a way to focus on being thankful every week.  Check in on her blog to join FFF.

Here's what happened around Willow's Cottage this week.

1. The plum tree is blooming!  Spring is coming! 

2. I spent five days in San Diego this week visiting my daughter and son-in-law (and the puppies and kitties), and during most of those days, it rained.  So all my plans to hike with the puppies and walk the beaches did not materialize.  On Monday the sun finally shone on San Diego.  I strolled the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter and wandered down past the courthouse toward the bay while my daughter was at work.  The view from her fifth floor office is amazing!  I hope to post more downtown/GasLamp Quarter photos this weekend.

3.  Downtown San Diego is thriving and bustling.  There are restaurants on every corner and in every block of the Gaslamp District.  The Mission Restaurant on J Street is a place you won't want to miss for breakfast or lunch if you ever visit San Diego.

4.  Amtrak's Surfliner train is a great way to travel.  I scored an ocean side window seat and enjoyed the views as we chugged through San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, Los Angeles County and on into my little Ventura County.  Come back later to see more photos of the Pacific Coastline.

5.  The best part of traveling, even for a long weekend, is coming home.  As I disembarked from the train, there was The Professor waiting right in front of the station in our little blue car.  I ought to have been wearing my red shoes so I could have clicked them three times and exclaimed, "There's no place like home!"

That was Willow's Week!  How was yours?

Friday, February 18, 2011

On the Run

Instead of sitting quietly in Willow's Cottage on Thursday evening, I was rocking my way to San Diego on the Amtrak Surfliner.  Visiting my daughter this weekend, I knew I'd be late posting on Friday Fave Five.  But as the saying goes, "Better Late Than Never".  It is never ever too late to express gratitude for the week's blessings.

1. A week ago, our weekend included a fun evening with friends that began with a yummy dinner of black beans and rice, fresh asparagus from the farmers market and gluten free chocolate brownies, all prepared by my green thumb friend who grows the most incredible square foot garden.  My contribution to the dinner was these strawberries which I had purchased that morning at the same farmers market. They had been picked from the local fields earlier in the morning.

2.  There was knitting.  While the others played bridge, I knitted.  Then, during the week's evenings, I knitted.  Finally, I photographed two of the finished projects.  The fingerless mitts are made from a pattern that MinimalistKnitter asked me to test knit.  The result was a very comfortable pair of mittens.  You can get the free pattern from Robyn's blog here.

The photo on the right is a hoodie/scarf I knitted for my soap-making friend Laurie.  She investigated all the yarn options at Joann's and chose this Angel Hair yarn.  Then she said, "I want a hat that has the scarf attached to it."  I remembered seeing the perfect thing in Homemade Handknit years ago and went searching.  Basically, all you do is knit a very long scarf about 9 inches wide, fold it in half and stitch down one side from the center fold for 8 or 9 inches. That's it.  Because the yarn was so very fluffy and beautifully variegated, I chose a moss stitch pattern to show it off to best advantage.

3.  Obviously, a phone call from my far away military son will always make my fave five list.

4.  After a week of hot high winds blowing in from the desert to the east of us, the gentle rains coming from the ocean to the west of us have been a welcome weather respite.  We don't have to water the plants, and I had a great excuse to not wash the car.

5.  Saving the best until the last, I am spending my long weekend in San Diego with my daughter, son-in-law, the two puppies and two kitties.  If the weather cooperates, we'll be taking a couple of hikes with those doggies, walking along one of San Diego's marvelous beaches, and maybe finding a great restaurant meal.  The only downside to this little weekend visit is that The Professor can't join me since for some obscure reason his university does not take Presidents Day off.

 Remember to stop for a few minutes every day to reflect on the good things (and ignore the difficult moments).  As usual, Susanne will have her link for Friday Fave Five posted on her blog for anyone who wants to join FFF.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sweet Thoughts

It has been a busy week but one filled with great gratitude.  I like to pause quietly at the end of the week and remind myself what made the days better.  Thanks to Susanne for hosting Friday Fave Five where I link up and share the best of Willow's Week.

On Friday and Saturday - yes, all day, both days - I attended a seminar/training led by Precept Upon Precept Ministries.  Based on the completion of the training -20 hours of pre training homework (!) and 15 hours of class time -, I am now qualified to lead discussions of the Precept Studies.  That was a long but beneficial weekend.

While I was studying and learning, The Professor kept the home fires burning, did the laundry, cooked our dinners, purchased our fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers market.  We make a great team, don't we?

The mother of one of my students is very observant.  She noticed that I tend to wear blues and purples and that I love anything fiber-related.  So she created this felted heart pin especially for me, and her daughter gifted it to me this week for Valentine's Day.

My own little white and yellow flowers continue to bloom.  In December, a friend who lives in Santa Barbara offered me a cardboard box full of discarded bulbs from her garden.  I popped them in the ground and waited to see if any of them would grow.  They did.  Aren't they so sweet?

We are very selective (picky) about soaps that we use.  Because of sensitivities to fragrances and chemicals, here at Willow's Cottage we only use the handmade old fashioned soap that my friend Laurie makes and sells.  We were running out of soap, so I emailed her an SOS for soap and just like that! she sent off a box of unscented goatsmilk soap for us.  What a great friend!

That was Willow's Week!  How about you?  Anything special in your week?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


On my journey to and from Manhattan Beach today, I drove the Pacific Coast Highway.

I saw two film locations.  Going in both directions, I also spotted police cars and trucks mounted with large cameras.  I'm wondering what movies were being filmed.

Passing the military base, I glanced over to see men in military camis shooting weapons at targets.

Traffic slowed as we passed the three rock/mud slides that closed PCH for several days in January.  There were bicyclists in the bike lanes.

Pepperdine University still has a humungous green lawn stretching from the highway up the hill to the main campus buildings.

Unfortunately, Malibu Beach Shack at Trancas Canyon Road appears to be closed.  The building is for sale.

The sea--ahhh, the surf was relaxed and moderately calm.  The atmosphere was hazy which blurred the horizon between sea and sky.

Altogether, it was a lovely day for a drive along the Pacific Ocean.  Not bad for a Tuesday.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

If Panda Says It, It Must Be True

1. A Panda Express/Panda Inn fortune cookie informed us of something we already know:

2. Neither Panda Inn nor Panda Express needed to remind me that life is returning to the trees and bushes in my community.  The trees are furiously blossoming although with all the wild wind we've had, it's a wonder that there are any petals left on the branches.

3. One important component of a happy, simple life for me is finding time in my schedule to play with fiber.  I took Saturday as a fiber play day and volunteered to demonstrate spinning at a local Waldorf School's Winter Faire.  It felted wonderful to hold the wool and silk roving and allow it to slip through my fingers, twist tightly and be drawn onto the spindle.  It had been too long since I had pulled my wheel from the closet and spun some yarn.

4. Here at Willow's Cottage, we love music.  Specifically, we love choral music.  On Sunday evening, we were privileged to listen to the magnificent Men's Chorale from Azusa Pacific University.  All I can say is, "WOW!"

5. Another simple pleasure was having a little coffee date with The Professor, that most excellent of husbands, on Tuesday morning, after we made a quick visit to the lab for a routine blood test.  Morning coffee and oatmeal at Starbucks was my reward for being stabbed and jabbed by a needle.

Thank you to Susanne for hosting Friday Fave Five.  If you want to join, go over to Living To Tell the Story, sign in and post your Faves.

So that was Willow's Simple Week. How about you?  Did you have a simple week?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Flower Love

A tiny narcissus

and an even tinier sedum

are blooming in my front garden.

Another camellia.