Sunday, November 29, 2020

Friday, November 27, 2020

Day After Thanksgiving- Still Thankful

 This post may be a hurried attempt at Friday Fave Fives.  We are going to be heading out for a hike after we help Older Daughter finish a project at her rental house. 

1.  Today is the Day After Thanksgiving.  I am not a fan of Black Friday shopping.  In fact, I try to make a point of NOT shopping, so we will be doing #optoutside.  I am thankful to live in a naturally beautiful place.

2.  Thanksgiving Dinner at our house!  For the first time in So.Many.Years I hosted more than two people for Thanksgiving dinner.  We totaled eight people.  Only one was not from our immediate households.  (the extra was someone we knew in CA who has relocated to the same city and his plans were cancelled the day before).  No turkey.  Ham, chicken, salmon.  Obviously not traditional.

3.  I'm thankful my daughters are great cooks!  Pies.  Vegetable dishes.  More pies.

4.  This year, I baked the family famous Grandma Rylander's Rolls.  It's a prize winning (truth!) roll recipe that has been in our family since my grandmother started making them at least seventy years ago.  At one point I wanted to learn to make them, so she showed me the recipe and I copied from the cook book.  Then.  She said, "But I don't make them that way."  So I watched her make them and rewrote the true recipe.  As you might expect, one of the ingredients was 'a pinch of this'.  Our extended family has shared this recipe with new generations and I heard that this year, my cousin's daughters made batches of these rolls (and Grandma's orange bow knots, too).  I love the traditions that the generations continue to pass on.

5.  No Fave Five post is complete without the mention of a walk or hike.  The Professor and I managed to get outside between rainstorms this week and take a long walk on one of the many bike paths.  As you can see, most of the leaves are blown from the trees.  That makes it harder for the deer to hide.  Can you spot the camouflaged deer in the second photo?

So, Happy Day After Thanksgiving!  Let's not stop being thankful!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Hodgepodge

Let us  choose to be thankful!  The last two Hodgepodge questions focus on thankfulness.  Have a great Thanksgiving, all my American friends. (And if you're not American, be thankful with us!)  Join me and others to write about Thanksgiving stuff.  THIS is the link.

                                   From this Side of the Pond

1. It's Thanksgiving week in the US of A so let's talk turkey. And by turkey I mean the elephant in the room because it's still 2020 and our blogs are a record of sorts of the times in which we live.   Do you live in a state (or if you're outside the US, a country) that's instituted restrictions on the size of gatherings in your own home? What do we think about this? (keep it classy folks)

We live in a state where we are required to social distance and wear masks in buildings.  But at this time, there are no more restrictive requirements.  I will say that the numbers are booming in the state, and that's not a good sign of the times.

2. Let's move in a cheerier direction. Will there be corn on your holiday dinner menu? How so? Cornbread-corn pudding-corn chips and dip-cornbread dressing/stuffing-corn chowder-or regular canned, frozen or fresh corn in a bowl...which of the 'corns’ listed is your favorite? 

Probably, there will be chips--corn chips.  That's to keep the kids from being hangry as they wait for dinner.  Me? I enjoy corn (tortilla) chips with green salsa.  My favorite way to eat corn is fresh on-the-cob.

3. What is there a cornucopia of in your home, job, or life currently? 

Cornucopia is a symbol of plenty.  I have plenty of food, clothing, warm blankets and books.  I'm ready for winter!

4. Have you ever quit something (such as a habit, a food, a time-sucker, a relationship) cold turkey? Is there something you need to quit cold turkey? 

About twelve years ago, I quit soda cold turkey.  I read some literature on just how bad it is for you, and I just QUIT.  I haven't had a sip of Pepsi since.   Something I need to quit cold turkey?  Sugar?  I was going to write pumpkin pie, but that's not going to happen until after the weekend.

5. Share a favorite verse, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to gratitude. 

My first thought was HYMNS.  Thanksgiving hymns!  Now Thank We All Our God. By Martin Rinkart (1636)  This is a bit of background to the writing of this wonderful hymn. " Rinkart wrote this song during the horrendous 30 Years' War and was the only clergy left alive in his city of Ellenburg.  Due to the disease and famine in his city, it meant he had to perform 40-50 burials per day.  In the midst of such, he wrote this amazing song of thanksgiving." ( Here is a link so you can listen to it.  CLICK HERE.  And here's another link to a choir singing the same hymn.  CLICK HERE.

6.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Being thankful is a choice.

Friday, November 20, 2020

November Fave Fives, Third Week

Hello to November Friday Fave Fives, Third Edition.  Is it really almost Thanksgiving and Advent??  Here are Five Faves from this past week, things I am thankful for.  And HERE is the link to Susanne's blog, so you can read more about being thankful this week.

1.  We are down to fewer than a dozen boxes to empty!  I am thankful that our home is starting to 'come together'.

2.  Because we've been helping Older Daughter empty the garage and shed before the house sale is closed, (YAY! Her rental house is nearing the SOLD condition!) we have been storing some things in our garage.  First I am thankful I HAVE a garage (first time in almost 15 years).  Secondly, I am thankful that we got it organized and park in there again.

3.  Older Daughter gave me her potting table!  It fits well in the garage and I love it!  I am thankful for a dedicated gardening work area.

4.  I love that phone call that says, "Hey, Mom. Can you drive me to my dr appt this morning?"  I am thankful to be living near my daughters so we can help them and they can help us.

5.  Lunch with someone I know.  I met a lady through my older daughter several years ago when I was visiting here.  We have many connections like both being from SoCal, work connections, church connections.  I am thankful that there are restaurants open for lunch and that my friend met me.  Then we walked around the town plaza so she could show me some of her favorite shops.  I'm thankful I'm making friends here!

Have you noticed that lately there have been no new photos here at Willow's Cottage?  My camera is working just fine.  It's the computer not wanting to talk to the camera that is causing an issue.  Hopefully, we can get it figured out soon.  In the meantime, here are some photos from my 2016 trip to England.  Exactly four years ago, Older Daughter and I were beginning our week of adventure exploring Devon and Dorset, just the two of us.

I still just can't get enough of England and English countryside!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


K--E--Y.   M-O-U-S-E.  Mickey Mouse.  Mickey Mouse.  Forever let us hold our banner high!  Now it's time to say good by and join our family.  MIC  KEY.  MOUSE!    (Now that tune will be stuck in your head all day, like it is in mine.) 

Click HERE to participate in the Wednesday Hodgepodge. 


                                        From this Side of the Pond

1. It's Mickey Mouse's birthday (November 18)...happy birthday Mickey! He reads here, right? Have you ever been to Disney, any of the parks at all? Are you a Disney superfan or something less than that? They're open right now so tell us, would you go if you had the time/money/a free trip?

    I've been many times to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.  Did you know that many local college students (in the 90s and 2000s) would purchase a year pass and pop over to D-land when they wanted a quick break or a quiet homework spot?  Yes, there are quiet hidey hole places where you can grab a coffee and study for a few hours.  How do I know this?  My two oldest kids had the passes, and when I'd visit them during the semester, they'd get me a guest pass and we'd go to Disneyland.  That being said, I'm not a huge Disney fan.  I like California Adventure better.  Would I go right now?  Yes.  For one reason.  I could visit my SoCal friends!

2. Your favorite place to go when you want to be quiet as a church mouse? Would those who know you well describe you as more churchmouse or perhaps more like mighty mouse? 

    Best place for me?  I go for a walk or hike.  Or just the back yard and mess around in the garden.  People who know me might say I'm friendly and have a strong sense of justice, but I am a homebody, too.

3. The day before Mickey's birthday happens to be National Homemade Bread Day. Did/will you celebrate? Do you bake your own bread? Last time you had hot out-of-the-oven homemade bread? What's your favorite kind of bread? 

    I used to bake bread all the time; when we lived at the end of the world, and if we wanted food, we had to make it ourselves.  (That's how we learned to make donuts)  Now we don't eat much bread, so we buy a loaf which lasts us several weeks.  I love Ezekiel bread and Dave's Killer bread.  Whole wheat and grains, seeds.

4. What's something you might say is 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'? 

    Best thing?  Electricity!  Ours was out for several hours on Sunday evening, and while we can handle the no lights/ no heat time, I do greatly appreciate having electricity.  Thank you, Benjamin Franklin!

5. Let's keep the gratitude theme we started last week rolling on through November. Share with us five little things you're grateful for today. Small blessings. One catch-they all must start with the letter T. Gotta keep us thinking, right? 

    Tea.  Thermostats.  Toast (with orange marmalade).  Tacos.  Tempe.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

    Are you listening to Christmas music yet?  I am!  I love my Christmas music!  What's your favorite?

Friday, November 13, 2020

November is Thankful Month 2

 It's Friday.  The Thirteenth.  2020.  Doesn't sound so comforting, does it?  Maybe it's time to focus on some good stuff.  Like Friday Fave Fives, the best way to express your blessings from this past week.  Head over to Susanne's blog to read more good stuff and to join in.  HERE'S THE LINK.

Here is Willow's Week.  All the best things.  Or at least five of them.

1.  Unpacking can be daunting, unpleasant, boring, tiring.  But then you unpack the books!  It's like reconnecting with long time friends.  Am I the only person who yells, "Oh, I love this book!  I can't wait to (re)read it!"  Now comes the hard part.  What to read first?

2.  And then I unpacked some old teaching manuals and found the two books that my TA created with thank you letters from my students that last year I taught.  I opened them and read every one of those notes from those young children who told me that I made them want to become writers and authors and to write their own books.  Oh!  That made my heart sing all over again!

3.  Probably the last bonfire with family this year.  Aren't backyard bonfires the best?

4.  I do love the turning and falling of leaves in the autumn.  I posted these photos on a social media site and more than 100 people responded to their beauty.  The tree in our front yard.

5.  Since I changed to a newer, lighter weight laptop, I haven't been able to play my music cds because it doesn't have a cd player in it.  So this week, we bought a boom box.  Yeah, I know.  Old school.  But I love it!  Right now, I might be listening to Christmas music...

Well, this sums up some of my best things from this past week.  May you be thankful and blessed this week!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Eleven Eleven

 Hodgepodge On Wednesday

From this Side of the Pond
1. It's the 11th day of the 11th month and bloggers often make lists on days like today. Let's go with a list of eleven things you're feeling grateful for today.
    My eleven things for which I am grateful:
        1. food
        2. shelter
        3. clean water
        4. electricity
        5. paved roads
        6. car
        7. husband
        8. children and grandchildren
        9. friends
      10. Bible
      11. books
       and I could go on for another eleven!

2. What's something you decided to do or act on at the '11th hour'?

        I changed my life's direction in July after I graduated from high school.  I was set to attend college in San Francisco Bay area of California.  But I applied to and was accepted to a college in northern Los Angeles County and, sight unseen, enrolled there.  My brother drove me there which was an adventure in itself since neither of us had ever been farther south than San Jose.  He dropped me off at the dorm and drove away.  There I was in a place I'd never seen, committed to spending the next four years there.  Truthfully, it was one of the best eleventh hour decisions I could have made.  I met my husband my senior year.  I still keep in touch with two of my profs and many of my college friends.

3.  Apparently the Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe contains 11 herbs and spices. What's a dish you make that calls for exactly eleven ingredients? Feel free to share the list and/or recipe. 

        This is a tough one because all my cookbooks are still packed.   But I have this recipe in my computer files.  Wah-la!  It has eleven ingredients!  I realize that few people would care to try a vegan recipe, but truly, it is delicious.

Easy Vegan Lasagna

Adapted from


For the lasagna:

15-18 lasagna noodles (Trader Joe’s Italian lasagna noodles)

Virgin olive oil

1 medium zucchini, shredded

8oz package mushrooms, sliced

12oz spinach, chopped

5-10 cups marinara sauce

Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella style cheese shreds 

For the tofu ricotta:

2-14oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

10oz tub roasted garlic hummus

½ cup nutritional yeast

¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F.  (If you are using different lasagna noodles, cook them al dente.)

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Once hot, add zucchini, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add spinach and saute for another 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.

Place drained tofu in a large bowl.  Crumble with hands.  Add hummus, nutritional yeast, and basil.  Stir together until it is semi-smooth and resembles ricotta.

Place about 1 ½ cups of marinara in the bottom of a 9x13in baking dish.  Top with 4-5 noodles.  Next add half of the ricotta mixture, mozzarella shreds, and half of the vegetable mixture.  Top with 1 ½ cups or more of marinara sauce.  Repeat with more noodles, tofu mixture, shreds, and veggies.  Then top with one last layer of noodles and more sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

4. Something you remember about your 11-year old self?

        When I was eleven, I got my first pair of glasses.  That event changed two things.  I could see clearly!  Also, I first became self conscious of my physical appearance.  If you wore glasses, do you remember being called "four eyes"?

5. The 11th of November is Veterans Day in the US of A. This is a day to honor those who have served their country in war or peace-dead or alive-although according to the government's website it's largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. 

Memorial Day is when we honor military personnel who died in service to their country. 

Share a thought relating to Veterans Day or tell us something about a Veteran you know-love-admire. 

        I come from a long line of veterans.  My father, three uncles, husband, brother-in-law, former son-in-law, and son have served in the military.  World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan.  My son currently serves as a USAR Lieutenant Colonel Chaplain.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

        That LC Chaplain?  It's his wedding anniversary today!  Happy Anniversary to Chaps and The Princess!

Friday, November 06, 2020

November is Thankful Month 1

Hello November!  The Thankful month!  But, wait!  Aren't we supposed to give thanks always and always be grateful?  Not just one month of the year.  That's why I work hard to join Friday Fave Fives even if I don't write anything else all week here at Willow's Cottage.  Here are my FFFs for this week.  (Join in by clicking THIS LINK.)

1.  I am a bit late posting my FFF because we drove over to the bureau of motor vehicles to get our new drivers licenses and new car titles and new car registrations.  It's done!  We are now officially residents of our new state.

2.  While we were there at BMV, a problem was found with someone having 'used' my Social Security number.  It was determined that the whole thing was a typographical error where someone mistyped a SSN and didn't amend it properly.  Therefore, our visit to BMV was a lot longer than we expected.  But 

I am thankful for excellent, efficient and cheerful workers and supervisors who fixed the issue. 

3.  This actually happened two  weeks ago, but I didn't mention it then.  A couple we have known since our Older Daughter moved to this are eleven years ago dropped by our home bringing homemade soup and home baked sourdough bread!  It was delicious and helped us so much those first few days!  I am thankful for both the food and the friendship!

4.  We have a lawn mower!  Since we haven't had any grass to mow for more than a decade, we don't own a mower.  However, Older Daughter's renters moved out, she's selling her rental house, and she gave us the mower that was there!  Score!  I'm thankful we didn't have to run out and buy a new mower to mow the lawn ONCE until springtime.

5.  AND.  The weather has been Southern California marvelous here.  Perfect temperatures for doing lawn mowing, a bit of garden clean up and moving things out of the rental house (see #4).

BONUS!  There's always more to be thankful for!  My beloved Daughter-in-law called me this week.  She is so busy being a wife, mom and teacher that when she has time to call and chat, I love that she chooses to call me.  I know mothers-in-law often get a bad rap, but I know this girl loves me  I am so thankful that my son found that girl as his wife!

How has your week been?  I hope you are well and safe! (notice that I didn't mention politics at all???)