Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap Up

On this last day of 2015, I spent some time reviewing the year via the photos I took each month.  Thinking it would be a great way to end the year, I have posted at least one favorite photo from each month.  I started out with the idea I would choose one picture per month, but obviously I couldn't limit myself to just one.  Another observation is that I seem to favor two types of photography:  landscapes and micro shots.

I love where I live.


The weather was stellar in February and we enjoyed hikes in the hills and the beginnings of the growing season.

More hikes and my first time growing milkweed to attract monarch butterflies.

I spent Spring Break at the beach.

More California poppies.  I particularly like the photo of the honeybee in the lavender because I can see the bee's fluttering wings.

I am not great at photographing people, but this little one is so photogenic that it's easy to get good pictures of her.
More beach and a photo of Mt. Shasta in Northern California.

Two landscapes--Washington DC and a midwest forest.

Humboldt County is usually gray, but the beauty of the area is not diminished by the lack of deep blue skies.

Everyone loves the sunset at the beach.
And an unusual-for-me photo of the sky.

A forest cathedral in an east coast nature preserve.

More Southern California mountain hikes

A study in micro photos of moving water.
And a magnificent sunset to finish out the year.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Poinsettias

Nothing says Christmas like the poinsettias which you see everywhere -- in every store, every church, every holiday display -- all during December.
Where I live, poinsettias grow into large perennial bushes.  These plants line the rural road just a mile from my home.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Blessed Christmas!

God Bless Us One and All

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Herein is LOVE
not that we LOVE God
  but that He LOVED us.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Getting Ready for Christmas

In all the busyness leading up to Christmas Week, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I pause and meditate on the blessings of my week-- Five Fabulous Faves which have reminded me to be thankful.  Each Friday, I am thankful for Susanne who hosts Friday Fave Five where I connect with others who choose to focus even a few minutes during their week on gratitude.

1.  This wasn't exactly my plan for decorating for Christmas.  But the handyman's schedule dictated ceiling work done, so decorate with plastic sheeting, orange buckets and blue ladders we did.  The fave is that by Thursday evening we were able to redecorate with boring red poinsettias and a simple creche set.  It's not as dramatic, but it's infinitely preferable.

2.  The other advantage to having workmen in the house the week before Christmas is that when they leave, I have to deep clean.  Probably, I'd be cleaning anyway, so it's a win-win.  Clean up after the work crew, and clean for Christmas.

3.  I enjoyed a lovely hike through a seaside town near Santa Barbara. Summerland and I go way back to the days before I was married many years ago.  During the summer we were dating and through the year and into the summer we were married, The Professor and I would walk along Summerland Beach on our days off.  But this was the first time I have ever hiked in the hills behind the town.  It was marvelous.

Bougainvillea adorning the front gardens and the rural fences.

Horse properties and lemon orchards

3.  The Professor finished giving his last final of the semester and I taught my last class before Christmas break.  Three weeks off!

4.  It is so much fun to read the adorable cards that my students write me at Christmas.  "Thank you for teaching me to write better."  I treasure each one, and truly, I have a little drawer where I keep those special notes and save them to reread.  Do you do that?

5.  Anticipation!  And now we wait.  We will check weather and flight status and traffic.  Soon, soon,  we will drive to LAX's arrivals terminal.  The New Boy and his mama will be here to celebrate Christmas with us!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Friday Fave Fives, mid December

Friday Fave Fives for this week.  It has been one crazy busy week.  I need a slow weekend!

[I have a question for Willowscottage readers, and maybe for anyone who uses blogspot.  For the past few months, I have been having a problem with my domain.  If I leave my website open on my computer and move to any other window or a document, the website is hijacked.  Usually it moves to a website called gogarden although sometimes it connects to a myspace page.  I'm really annoyed and haven't been able to find out why or how to stop it.  Has anyone had this problem with Willowscottage or with other websites?  Does anyone have any suggestions for a fix?]

1.  Wow. Not one, but TWO dinners to celebrate with friends.  On Saturday night, twenty-three of us gathered for food and fellowship.  Then The Professor and I did a repeat on Tuesday evening with another small group--this time thirteen.  We love church small groups!

2.  The local community choir and the chorale from the university join to sing in performances.  We like to attend the Holiday concert each year.  And each year the director quizzes us, "When are you going to sing with us?"  Someday...when there is a bit more time in our schedules.

3.  Of course, there was knitting this week.  I'm stitching my way through sweaters for the grandchildren and am currently on #3.  Knitting will always make my fave list.

4.  I was gifted a lovely poinsettia!  I did take a photo, but as you can see, it didn't turn out well...blurry and maybe underlighted?  (I've taken several photos, but they're not looking great.  I'm wondering if some basic settings are off.  Checking the camera is on the to do list for the weekend.)

5.  Mary, Did You Know by Pentatonix is my favorite Christmas carol this year.  I can't listen to this too often!

Monday, December 07, 2015


Yesterday was the second Sunday of Advent.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

In the busyness leading up to Christmas at the end of this month of December, let's pause and continue to be thankful as we were in November.  Giving thanks isn't just of Thanksgiving week.  It's a daily exercise.  Friday Fave Fives helps me focus on that.

1.  I had the week off last week.  It was wonderful to have a few extra days to just relax and rest.  The Professor called it having three days of Saturdays in a row.  In fact, I completely forgot that Friday was Friday until it was Saturday and didn't post any Fave Fives although I did complete the November Thankfulness Thirty Days of Gratitude posts.  I think we needed those rest days.

2.  One afternoon we decided to take 'a real walk'.  We drove to the university and hiked in to an area along a (mostly dry) creek, past the abandoned dairy buildings and into the hills.  It was great to 'take a hike'.  As always, I love finding the flora of our mediterranean climate although there isn't much in bloom in the mountains right now.

California daisy (maybe the chocolate daisy?)


Where we were hiking, we could still see evidence of the fire which swept past our house and through these hills all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  That was two and a half years ago, and we still haven't had any rain to replenish what was burned.

3.  I've often mentioned my wonderful friend and former TA who is now a co-teacher.  I woke up with a headache and knew I'd need extra coffee at class to help me combat it and function well. So what did I do?  After I was in my classroom, I called and left her a message.  Her reply text was, "Latte is a comin!"  She knows what I like and truly blessed me.

4.  Recently I was invited to join a prayer shawl knitting/crocheting group.  It meets only once a month, so it doesn't take up too much time.  I am thoroughly enjoying becoming acquainted with the ladies in the group--people I would likely have never met any other way.  Each month, my friend asks me a knitting question which challenges me.  This time it was, "How do you make a central double increase?"   Hmmmm, we looked at youtube videos, we consulted, we practiced.  I think we got it.  And I learned something new.

5.  A need was expressed in our Adult Bible Fellowship class.  It was a simple request from the 'secretary' who sends cards and encouragement to people who have been sick or absent.  When we found out that she had been paying for supplies and stamps, I asked if there was money in the church budget for it.  The result?  People simply handed me rolls of stamps and bags of cards which they generously gifted to the cause.  These acts of kindness encouraged me.  It was a small thing, but I loved how people simply stepped up and helped.

What blessed you this past week?

Monday, November 30, 2015

November Thankfulness #30

November 30th, Monday
This is the last day of November, the last day of my month of thankfulness posts for this year.  Today I have been thinking about how thankful I am for warm things--warm socks, warm slippers,cozy jackets.  I am thankful for a solid and secure home which has an adequate heater.  I have an abundance of blankets.  All these items help to keep me warm when the temperature plummets to 49F.  Yes, I live in Southern California where 50F is considered frigid.  That doesn't change the fact that I appreciate wool sweaters and warm hats.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Thankfulness #29

November 29th, Sunday
Today is the First Sunday of Advent.  Each Advent season, I create an Advent wreath.  With a one year old scheduled to join us for Christmas, I have been searching for ways to keep burning things out of her reach.  So the Advent candles are tiny this year and on the table (and easily moved to the kitchen bar).  I call it the Minimalist Advent Wreath.

Thankful for HOPE.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November Thankfulness #27 and #28

November 27th, Friday
I have spent the whole day thinking and acting as if it is Saturday.  As The Professor noted, "We have three consecutive days of 'Saturday'."  Today I am thankful for the beautiful place I live where we can hike in the hills nearby.

November 28th, Saturday
Today I'm thankful for healing and comforting tea.  Yes, we did pull out the Christmas mugs yesterday!  I have been hibernating all day nursing the beginnings of a virus or cold.  Gypsy Cold Care tea.  Echinacea drops.  Airborne.