Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Week

Really, it's the week between Christmas and New Years.  For many of us, it's a week off.  This time has generated many blessings.  Here are Five Fave blessings which I'm sharing via Susanne's blog.

1.  I love how The Professor has described our Christmas break:  it's a series of Saturdays.  Day after day, it's Saturday.  We truly needed a rest, and so far this Christmas has been just what we needed.  Rising late and slowly.  Sipping coffee and maybe getting another cuppa at our favorite coffee place where we sit and read quietly.  Visit points of interest.  Run an errand or two.  Do the usual Saturday stuff.

2.  A day at The Getty Villa
I know most people spend their time at Getty Villa gazing at statues and other ancient artifacts such as these

Dionysos (Bacchus) on a jar handle

Victorious youth statue (Greek, bronze, 300-100 BC)

But I always end up spending at least half of my time wandering in the gardens and photographing the flowers and landscape views.

The weather that day was perfect--sunny, 80 degrees F

3.  AND our girl was with us.

4.  A friend sent me THIS for Christmas!
(oh, this looks like so much fun!)

5.  I love how my children have embraced our love of Christmas carols.  On facebook, they posted their favorites:  Silent Night and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.  I love so many, how can I choose just one?  I remember singing O Little Town of Bethlehem in choir in elementary school and in first grade, I sang Away In A Manger as a solo in the Christmas program that year.  But I think I'd have to say that this year, at least, Come Thou, Long Expected Jesus is my favorite.  What's yours?

My younger daughter has begun a blog titled Love Tree.  Her latest post tells the latest news on the adoption of our little ones.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Almost Christmas

It's Almost Christmas!  This week I've been thinking about and doing all the 'almosts'.  Some weeks, almost is as good as it gets.  And that can be a blessing too.  Here are my Five Fave Almosts:

1.  I am 'almost' finished with school work for the calender year.  All the papers are corrected and materials are ready for the first class in January.  All that's left is to write thank you notes to students for gifts they gave me.  My policy to hand write a note to each child who gives me a gift.  Their Christmas homework assignment is to write a thank you note for a present, so it is only fair that I write thank you notes to them.  And trust me, they carefully inspect the notes they receive to make sure their teacher follows her own instructions.

2.  My daughter is 'almost' here to spend Christmas week with us!  She arrives tomorrow!  CAN'T. WAIT!

3.  We are 'almost' finished sending all our Christmas cards.  Just a few to go and we'll be done!

4.  I am 'almost' finished with a couple of knitting projects.  Of course, during this 'almost' week, I have 'almost' taken some photos.  I knitted a quick bulky weight scarf for a friend.  She bought the yarn and showed me the sample and I made it.  Then, I 'almost' finished a pair of fingerless gloves for someone.  They're not quite done so I hope to get a photo of them before I hand them over to him.

5.  We're 'almost' done with Christmas shopping!  Since we will be seeing the grandchildren AFTER Christmas, we still have their gifts to choose and purchase.  But thanks to Amazon and its wonderful option to SHIP THE PACKAGE for me, my shopping was so very easy this year.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas from Willow's Little Cottage in California!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

That was Fast

Wow, that was a fast week.  Weather went from frigid with rain (California style) to pleasant and sunny.  I feel like I hardly had time to breathe.  But Friday is here and I can stop and take some slow breaths and focus my brain on the bright spots.  Here are my Friday Fave Fives:

1.  I knitted a pair of fingerless gloves and posted a photo of them on facebook.  It made me really happy that so many people commented about them and 'liked' them.

And they're warm and comfortable, too.

2.  This Christmas carol.  In the Bleak Midwinter sung by Gloucester Cathedral Choir.  Thanks for sharing, Sara!

3.  Christmas break! Yay!  Last class and last tutoring session for 2013.  I am looking forward to a restful time.

4.  My students always love the last class day before Christmas because they know they will be given these lollypops:

It's fun to see their excitement at receiving such a simple gift.

5.  In turn, my students love to give little gifts, too.  I arrived home with oh so many cookies.  It must be the year for cookies, all kinds--chocolate chip, white chocolate and cranberry, chocolate with sprinkles, and on and on...  I think I'm going to need to throw a cookie eating party to share all. the. cookies.

Happy Third Week of Advent!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Two Finished Projects

These fingerless gloves with caps were finished just in time for this last bout of cold Southern California weather.

Two people have noticed them and asked me if I would knit a pair for them--and they offered to pay me.

This makes me a bit nervous.  It's not that I don't think I can knit them; it's that I want to make sure the buyer is happy with my product and satisfied with the price.  Have any of you, my dear readers, had this same situation?  How do you handle it?

Here is the nine month sweater and cap set I knitted for the little man who accompanies his mama to my Tuesday morning Bible Study.

Simple Fair Isle patterning adds so much to a plain sweater.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

It's December

First Friday in December.  And of course that means Friday Fave Fives which is hosted every week by Susanne at her blog Living to Tell the Story.

1.  I don't need an excuse to visit The Getty Center.  Since it was a first visit for two of our Thanksgiving guests, we happily arranged an expotition.  Although we were not allowed to take photos in the exhibits we chose to view (Canterbury and St. Albans), the architecture and views of the LA coastline did not disappoint.

2.  My daughter and the two little ones stayed on for a few days after the others left to return home and to work.  The weather was frightful.  But that didn't stop us from a couple of beach visits.  Equipped with warming drinks, the adults staked out our sandy claim

while the children did what children do--ignored the temperature and headed straight for the water.

3.  The pelicans were fishing.  I may have taken an abundance of photos...

4.  Listening to Christmas music in the car...

5.  and attending the Christmas concert of the Channel Islands Choral Association which is a local choral group comprised of both local people and students from California State University, Channel Islands.  We attend every year, and this week our little ones accompanied us (and did very well sitting and listening to the music which included several pieces played on the harp).

These are the highlights of Willow's Week.  There were of course many normal, boring hours and events, but each day was filled with blessings.  How was your week?

Monday, December 02, 2013

When You Teach Students to Write Similes,

this is what you might get:

"Leah was as pretty as a princess."

"These unusual owls had brightly shining blue and red feathers which were as beautiful as sapphires and rubies."

"The dog seemed as smart as a human."

"Raven who was the toughest, meanest girl in all Ventura, teased her hair so high it looked as big as a beehive.

"He was as angry as a gorilla."

And my all time favorite (for this year):

"She was as worried as a porcupine carrying a bundle of balloons."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Day FFF

Short and Sweet as I skid to a stop between activities...

Friday Fave Fives

I am thankful for
1.  safety for my sweet ones who drove in three different cars from Washington and from San Diego.

2.  beautiful weather while we played at the park on Thanksgiving morning.

3.  talking on the telephone with Son #1.

4.  skyping with The New Boy and his mama.

5.  clean water, central heating and wholesome food.

Bonus:  for friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you all~

Random beach love

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Week of Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks.  This month of November and in particular this week of the US Thanksgiving holiday, everyone around me, on facebook, and in the news, is focusing on giving thanks.  One of the main reason I like to participate in Friday Fave Fives is that ALL. YEAR. LONG.  Every. Week. I engage by my own focus and by the encouragement of other people in giving thanks for whatever comes my way during that week.

1.  I love 'spur of the moment' outings.  My friend/neighbor had a free day and after hearing me rave about the Cyrus Cylinder at the Getty Villa, she decided she wanted to take a Monday afternoon field trip and invited me along.  I loved returning to reread and review the exhibit.  I learned more history and noticed more details.  I was able to revisit one of my favorite museums with one of my favorite people.  Win-win.

2.  Company coming provided the impetus to deep clean my house.  I love a clean and orderly home, but I'd let myself get in to a rut of just making do and the house was looking like it.  Knowing that Thanksgiving (and next month, Christmas) company will be arriving has given me the boost I needed.  I've made my cleaning list [two rooms a day] and I'm sticking to it.  I've even moved some furniture around.  It looks like a new place.

3.  Finishing a couple of knitting projects.  Two red and green hats for a baby for his first Christmas.  A sweater and hat(s) set for a relative's grandson.  After I mailed them off, I realized I hadn't taken photos of them.  Even so, it was good to get them off my 'Works in Progress' list.

4.  On Saturday I washed my car.  It rained on Wednesday.  Obviously, there is a connection.  Everyone in my area should thank me for our first rainfall--all .17 inches of it.  You're welcome.

5.  A full week off for Thanksgiving.  No more explanation necessary.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Geeky, Nerdy Grammar Post

My job is to teach kids to write better.  Last week I taught them about adverbial clauses, those dependent clauses one adds to another clause to provide more information.  Their homework was to take one sentence, "Joe likes to sing" and add seven different adverbial clauses to it.  Here are the sentences written by one of my students:

1.  When Joe likes to sing, I run away.
2.  While Joe likes to sing, I plug my ears.
3.  Joe likes to sing where our fir tree is.
4.  As Joe sings, I rip out my hair.
5.  Since Joe liked to sing, I moved away.
6.  If Joe likes to sing any more, I am going to die.
7.  Although Joe likes to sing, he isn't very good.

I love my job!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More Thankfulness in November

November is half over.  In two weeks we in the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  I've seen several people on facebook posting daily 'thankful' updates.  I like that and enjoy reading them.  But my favorite way to participate is in Friday Fave Fives because I do this every week during the year and it helps me focus DAILY on my blessings and reasons to be thankful.  Last weekend, my schedule went a little crazy and although I posted my Faves, I didn't get around to share in others' blessings.  I missed that and hope to be able to better reserve time in my schedule this weekend.

1.  Finally, there is evidence of autumn in Southern California.  While the temperature hasn't dropped, the flora is showing the season.  I do love the color changes which tend to be more pink and red rather than orange.

2.  Speaking of autumn, yeah, I love love love Southern Califerornia mediterranean fall weather--dry and in the 70s.

3.  Again this week I had occasion to drive to Santa Barbara.  There is something about that drive along Hwy 101, hugging the Pacific Ocean.  It is. Just. Beautiful.  In fact, we did that drive twice.  One Sunday, we enjoyed a delicious lunch with two friends.  I think we sat there in the restaurant for nearly three hours, chatting.  What a blessing that was!

4.  Monday, Veteran's Day, was a holiday, so we decided to do something special.  What could be more special than a visit to Getty Villa?  Again, we drove along the Pacific Ocean coastline (this time on Hwy 1), AND we saw the CYRUS CYLINDER.  Click on the link to learn more about this amazing archeological treasure.

The Getty Villa is breathtakingly, heart-achingly beautiful during any season, but in autumn the landscape glows and complements the colors in the buildings.

5.  I saved the best until last.  I *heart* technology! On Monday evening in our time zone, our family orchestrated a five way conference call via skype, so we could chat with each other across seventeen time zones!  I appreciate the care and love my kids have for their family, and I love how they sacrificed their time to be available to make the call happen.  From the East Coast of the US, to the Southwest desert, to the Pacific Coast, to Eastern Indonesia, we all connected so Son #2 could tell us about his research, Son #1 could share about his new hospital chaplain position, we could find out that The New Boy likes school and his favorite subjects are computers and recess, and we could hear the latest about adoptions progress and Marine Corps gunnery sergeant course.  This mama's heart was bursting with thanksgiving for my four children and their love for us and each other.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

First Week of November

This first full week of November brought that dreaded time change malaise.  It also brought us a cold virus which we've generously shared with each other here at Willow's Cottage.  Even so, there were many blessings to remind me to be grateful. I share them here for Friday Fave Five.

1.  A beautiful day
      in a beautiful place

2.  With my favorite person
We packed a lunch, bought some coffee, drove up the coast highway, and enjoyed a picnic in a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Summerland is a tiny beach town near Santa Barbara, and its community park has FREE parking which is a small miracle along El Camino Real in sight of the beach.

Sitting at the picnic table under the pine tree watching the birds which were perched on the branches above us.

The school of surfers was sharing the water with a pod of dolphins.  (Just so you know, it's very difficult to catch a photo of a dolphin breaching the waves.  I tried.  Many times.)

3.  Encouraging words from friends in person and by email.  They remind us of how many people love and care for us and each other.

4.  A comment from my daughter's facebook page made me laugh.
My grandkids *heart* musicals.

"Little Man just took a bite of his food and said, "Mmmmmm... Rum punch." 
Thank you, Mary Poppins."

5.  Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps!  My daughter and son-in-law enjoyed attending the Marine Corps Birthday Ball this week.  Waiting for photos of them all dressed up in their formal clothes.

Bonus:  We don't live near any of our children.  But this week we talked with each one.  That's a wonderful gift!

I hope you've had a great week!  What gifts came your way?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Thankful #3 and #4

Two of my favorite things
coffee and the beach

(Yes, the Christmas cups are already here)

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Thankful #2

Today we drove to Santa Barbara to visit our friend who had a stroke recently.  I am THANKFUL that she is making wonderful progress!

Random beautiful photo

the camellias are beginning to bloom

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fave Fives in November

So begins the month of giving thanks which ends in the celebration of Thanksgiving in the US.  I like to focus on gratitude and thanksgiving all year, each week, each day, and Friday Fave Fives helps me do just that.  Here are my faves for this week:

1.  This comment from a friend's facebook page.  It made me LOL.

The worst part of exercising is when I fell like I'm going to throw up and pass out and then the instructor says, "Now that we've warmed up, let's get started..."

2.  I continue my obsession with reading Louis L'Amour books.  As The Professor states, they are not great literature, but every once in a while L'Amour nails it with a brilliant and entertaining sentence:

"His background was unknown, except that it seemed more than probable that it had included a postgraduate course in the unrefined arts of murder, mayhem, and assorted varieties of robbery."  
The Trail to Seven Pines

3.  This week, although I was unable to join in the celebration, a little girl was formally adopted into her forever family.  The Professor and I are 'honorary grandpa and grandma' to this sweet girl and her big sister who also call my daughter 'Auntie Mimi'.  Her mama told me a couple of weeks ago that after October 30th she was giving me permission (and, indeed, encouragement) to post photos of their new daughter. 

Welcome HOME!
Little Miss N with her mama and sister

4.  Yes, there has been knitting.  The last Christmas stocking, which is for The New Boy, is nearly finished.  Isn't it just adorable?

5.  Sometimes it's just serendipity.  I was in the right place at the right time to be gifted this beautiful yarn-- hand spun silk and wool, hand dyed in my favorite blues.  There is 14 oz, certainly enough to make a vest, or maybe a sweater.

What has happened in your week to produce in you daily thanksgiving?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Absent With Out Notice
Oops.  I didn't mean to be gone.  It just happened.  Life was busy around Willow's Cottage what with jobs and life, and we took a couple of trips to the south.  It was a great two weeks but you know how it is--it gets tiring running around and having fun.  I definitely chalked up the blessings during these two weeks.  I'm sharing them here and on Friday Fave Five.

1. The main reason we were in San Diego was to celebrate a certain seven year old's birthday with a Bat Girl Party.  Happy Birthday, ZG!  We are so very thankful that you are in our family and we will be able to celebrate your birthday every year forever.

2. While we were in San Diego that weekend, we decided to drive up to Julian.  Julian is a sweet little town east of San Diego, up in the mountains.  Julian is over 4,000 feet in elevation and therefore has actual real seasons.  In October, there are pumpkins and yellow leaves and horses standing in golden fields.

3. The days in San Diego were wonderful.  Playing hide and seek--

"I'm hiding!"

Playing cars

 Finishing Christmas stockings

Knitting Pink Socks

4. Then The Boy and his mama met us in Los Angeles.  What do you do when the family is together?  We visit museums.  A little back story here would help.  When my younger daughter was in college, she was an anthropology major.  Her close friend and classmate is now employed at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum in Exposition Park.  So we enjoyed a special tour of labs at the museum.

Their favorite find?  Coprolites  (common name:  fossiled animal poop)
Such kids.

Then we were off to the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.  (This is where my daughter worked during her internship)

 skeletons and skulls

Dire cat skulls

Finally we ended the day the way we love--eating Indonesian food!

This is the only food photo I caught because I was too busy eating rice, veggies and peanut sauce.  The dish in the picture is a special chicken soup called soto ayam.  Note the TWO spoons--you just gotta share!

5. Our final day together was at the Getty Center.  Oh we love that place!  There is just So. Much. To. See.  Check out the permanent and special exhibits here.

Even the buildings and autumn leaves are breathtaking!

So this is why I disappeared for two weeks.  We were making memories.  Did you make memories this week?