Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beaches and Rain and Bibles

Friday Fave Fives.  It's a must in my week.  Even if a week slips by and I don't post anything else here at Willow's Cottage, I have to write about the five blessings of my week.  This exercise led by Susanne keeps me accountable and keeps me thankful.

1. Rain.  Southern California is having a drought.  But. It. Rained. A. Little.

O Happy Rain

2.  An afternoon visit to this quilt-yarn-sewing-needlework-craft shop, Roxanne's, A Wish and A Dream, in Carpinteria with my sister-in-law.  She is an excellent, professional quilter, so it was fun to see a favorite shop of mine from her perspective.

3.  Light. There is something about the light where I live that I love.  The slant of the sun.  The dryness of the atmosphere creating a clearness that glows. The light quality that is so beautiful it breaks my heart.  

Add to that my love of the beach.

4.  How many times can I count skyping with my son as a fave?  Never enough.  As he prepares to fly to Australia for a conference where he'll be presenting a paper, he took time to chat with us a couple of times.  I love the accessibility skype gives to staying in touch with my out-of-the-country son.

5.  I am a devoted member of a Precepts Bible class. If you aren't familiar with Precepts, I can tell you it's a Bible Study program which focuses on scholarship and delving deeply into history, context and personal application of what you are studying. Right now I'm studying Old Testament historical books-- Kings and Chronicles.  You'd think this would be very boring.  You'd be very wrong.  Every week I'm challenged.  It's an important part of my life and I'm thankful to have the opportunity to be part of the class.

So that was my week (which also included the usual knitting).  How was yours?

Monday, January 27, 2014

What I've Been Knitting

Among other items, I have knitted a stack of baby hats for the local hospital's NICU.  
Twenty-eight hats in various pastel colors.

People hand off a large number of skeins to me (and to the spinners/weavers guild) because they either have leftovers from a project or they changed their minds about knitting something.

The NICU isn't particular.  They simply want to keep the babies warm.  So I knit hats at night while we are watching NCIS or an old movie or Sherlock.  I don't need to look at my fingers or the needles.  I just knit by feel.

If you have lightweight soft acrylic yarn sitting unused in your stash, check with your local hospital or knitting groups and donate for making hats to keep babies' teeny tiny heads warm.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Busy Days

Here are five of my many blessings from my busy days of this past week.  Although I've heard some hard news concerning a childhood friend with cancer and an older friend who will soon be leaving her beloved husband and family, I choose to pray for them and ask God to bless them in their difficulties and grief.  I understand that sometimes life is hard, and that's why it's even more important to remember the good things in my days.  Susanne helps us by posting Friday Fave Fives every week.

1.  Spending five more days and nights with my girl and the little ones was definitely a blessing for me.  Mostly, we prepped rooms and boxes for their move, but we also took time off to relax.  Of course we had to shop for groceries.  Here is Zoe's grocery list:

The reason this is a fave is because a year ago, she didn't know letters or sounds and certainly couldn't have written any words.  I'm so very proud of her!

2.  Every time I visit San Diego, I try to have one breakfast at The Mission Restaurant in East Village.  The best granola in the world is served there.

The french toast is excellent.

And the coffee--I could go on and on and on about the coffee.  I'm picky about my coffee.  This was the best Americano I've had. ever.  In fact, I ordered a second cup.

The little ones came with us and they waited patiently for their 'brunch'.  Their mama knows how to keep them entertained with cars and leap pads.

4.  I took the Amtrak train home which means -- beach views!  I was sitting on the coast side but the windows were really dirty.  And since I was on the later train, and since it was a 'coastal fog and low cloudiness' day, all my photos look a bit 'surreal'.  Even so, they're beach pictures.  And you can never have too many beach pictures.  (These are especially for you, Kathie!)

5.  When I stepped off the train, The Professor was there on the station platform waiting for me.  That's the very best.

These are the five faves of Willow's Week.  I hope you have taken a few minutes each evening to think about the day's blessings and be thankful.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Time for Friday's Fave Five with Susanne.  My week has been hectic and wonderful, filled with grandchildren making messes, making me laugh, making me remember how wise God was to give us children when we're young.

1.  Our daughter and the two little ones stayed the entire week with us.  What fun it has been to flex my grandma muscles.  One activity we had promised them was their Christmas present.  We had decided that instead of buying things for them, we would purchase an experience.  What more exciting adventure could there be than a train ride from our town to Santa Barbara.

  It involved just enough time on the train to keep it fun but not boring, several station stops and views of the Pacific Ocean and beaches which are world famous.  An added bonus was that The Professor's brother who is just as train crazy as The Professor came along.

2.  Then on Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a lunch and visit with four of the five siblings in The Professor's family.  Having almost all of them in the same place at the same time is an unusual event which doesn't happen often since one sibling lives in the midwest.  Mostly, I just sat and listened.

3.  Our local community healthcare district sponsored an evening of cooking with Chef AJ.  I was fortunate enough to sign up early and scored TWO reservations for this culinary class, one for me and one for Younger Daughter.  I gotta tell you, not only did I learn some great new ideas for cooking unprocessed plant based whole foods, I found Chef AJ to be a hilarious and highly entertaining speaker.

(photo taken by Younger Daughter on her cell phone)

4.  One afternoon we decided that the Little Ones needed a good run outside to expand some of their boundless energy. Their favorite place to play is the beach, so off we went to the same spot we enjoyed last week--the pirate ship playground. beach in Ventura. The weather was perfect, and the sun was shining.  I had compositions to correct, so I dragged them along.  I've decided that the best place to do my grading is the beach.  I might just make this a weekly event--sitting on a beach blanket correcting papers while watching the waves roll in, and the seagulls stand guard, and the sandpipers scurry along the shore's edge.

5.  To top off the week, I decided at the last minute (truly in the last hour) to grab a suitcase and some knitting (and compositions) and hop in the car with The Littles and their mommy and head back to San Diego with them.  I don't have responsibilities at home for the next five days and I can spend that time helping my daughter organize, declutter and pack for their cross country move (compliments of the US Marine Corps).  As The Professor says, I do love to declutter and organize other people's stuff.  And as a friend commented on facebook this week, the drive from Ventura County to San Diego is one of the most scenic car trips one can imagine.  I agree.  Here is a photo I snapped from the car at sunset as we passed San Onofre Beach--so amazingly beautiful--it makes me misty-eyed.

Looking back, I realize that Willow's Week has been about family and beaches.  How was your week?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Week Two 2014

I had intended to post my 2014 hopes and goals this week.  That didn't happen.  I thought I would start the year strong on blogging.  Oops.  That didn't happen either.  But if I do nothing else in blogland during the week, I still consider it an imperative to post my Friday Fave Fives.  As always, I greatly appreciate Susanne's faithfulness in leading us in naming our weekly blessings.

1. I know that most of North America has been in a mess of ice, snow, and sub zero temperatures.  Our family members have been inundated with WEATHER.  But here in our mediterranean coastal climate, we have been experiencing dry winds, temperatures in the 60s and 70sF, and plenty of sun.  I love where I live because I just can't deal with cold and snow.  I am truly thankful that I have not had to.

2.  One afternoon I spent a couple of hours with women from a small "Creative Call" group of which I was a part last year.  We are all committed Christians and we all spend much of our free time delving in to various forms of creative endeavors.  We met to renew our focuses and to plan some new adventures for this year.  LOVE. THIS. GROUP. OF. WOMEN.  They encourage me and push me to new levels of creativity.

3.  My younger daughter arrived on Monday afternoon with her two little ones (who will SOON SOON be part of our forever family).  We are enjoying these days!  Lots of playing in parks.  One day we took them to Ventura Marina Park where there is a special children's play area--a 'shipwrecked' structure and a zip line.

ZG loved the thrills.

Even The Little Man decided the zip line was fun as long as Bapa was there to protect him.

4.  The Professor's brother and sister-in-law decided to escape their midwest winter and are staying in our area for a couple of months.  We have enjoyed seeing them once already and are looking forward to many more fun family times in the next few weeks.

5.  I love sharing interests with my daughters.  With my younger girl, it's knitting.  We have been trading patterns, ideas, yarn.  Mostly she's been dumping her leftovers sharing some skeins with me since she is moving soon and doesn't want to pack and ship extra stuff.  So now I have enough yarn to finish afghans for all three grandkids plus knit up plenty more hats.  And I probably won't need to buy any yarn for at least a decade.

So this has been Willow's Week.  I hope you will take time to reflect on your week and recognize with gratitude the blessings, large and small, that happen in your world.  I'd love you to share one in the comments.

Friday, January 03, 2014

New Year's Week 2014

Huh. I forgot it was Thursday.  You know, I am totally immersed in the 'every day is Saturday' mentality, and I quit keeping track of the real day.  Until I was checking my posts and noticed nikkipolani had posted Friday Fave Fives, it had completely escaped my notice that it was Thursday night.  And by then I was just too sleepy to write anything.

So.  It's Friday morning Pacific Time in the US (that's mid day to all you Easterners) and I'm running late.  But here are my Five Faves:

1.  More of those lazy days.  Evidently, we needed them because we slept in, lazed around, motivated ourselves for major expeditions out the door for walks and coffee sipping.

2.  We needed to save up our strength for our trip here.

Can you guess?

Yes, Legoland!
All three grandkids in the same place at the same time!

We did the drive down to Carlsbad, the visit to Legoland, and the drive back home all in one day.
Then we needed more major downtime.

3.  One more weekend with our older daughter who lives a million miles away.  Saturday market.  Sunday church service.  Daily walks.  We had a goal of watching as many old movies together as we could fit in.  (We managed at least fifteen--The Professor and Older Daughter are huge old movie fans.  I enjoy them too, and I have my knitting.)  AND a new movie:  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  

4.  We have the world's best neighbors.  They are also our friends.  Somehow, we managed to spend three days in a row with them.  New Year's Eve at our place, watching a movie and ringing in 11pm.  New Year's Day at their beach house walking on the sand, assembling a circular puzzle (now, that was a bit of a challenge), and January 2nd at their home, watching another movie.

5.  Speaking of that walk on the beach...

The tide was far far out, and we strolled along the edge of the surf where, just a few hours before, we would have been several feet under the surface of the water.

And so we speed into 2014 at a slow, slothful snail's pace.  I think it will pick up next week...