Friday, December 12, 2014

December Faves, Take Two

I love Christmas, but it is also a stressful time.  This month it is more important than ever to focus on for what I am thankful.  Thanksgiving may be so-last-month, but giving thanks is always a current event.  Susanne's Friday Fave Fives is a great venue for doing that.  As I stare at mud everywhere on my street and in my neighborhood, I have been reminding myself of this quote I read last week (my paraphrase):  Be thankful for the many things that are right, and don't focus on the few things that aren't.)  Yes, my neighborhood is a mess.  But we are safe.  If you google mudslide, Camarillo Springs, California, you can read more about it.

1.  Strong and willing helpers were definitely a fave this week.  We had to move our piano.  Although it is a smaller upright spinnet, The Professor and I can not move it ourselves without help.  We asked around and could find only one young big strong guy to help us (huge shout out to Jason who is awesome!).  Then our dental assistant replied to our comment that we were stressed about moving the piano--as she was cleaning our teeth---her husband is big and strong and willing to help. And they brought another strong and big guy with them.  So we the guys got that thing moved right in up the five steps and into place in its new home.  They also moved all the book boxes (they asked, HOW MANY boxes of books do you have???) and the book shelves in less than a half hour total.  What a blessing it was for us to have found willing and strong helpers.

2.  As of Thursday afternoon I am on Christmas Break!  No more explanation necessary.

3.  Oh, those students of mine--they are hilarious and adorable.  One set of classes wrote poems and made cards.  One girl wrote a cinquain poem:

Ms. (my last name)
You're very nice.
I think that you should know
that I love you. Have a Merry

4.  This hawk has been hanging around.  The little wrens and finches aren't thrilled, but I think he's quite handsome.

5.  Blogger got hacked this week.  Did anyone else have a problem?  My blog spent about a day redirecting to some ad site.  The Professor did some research and found out where that issue was and knew google was working on the problem.  I'm thankful it's fixed and I can just let someone else do the fixing.

Have a happy weekend!  Hug the people you love, and be gracious to the people who are grumpy.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

December Faves, Take One

Hmmm, it is Friday and I am a bit stumped.  I'm not going to lie or pretend.  This has been a crazy and challenging week.  Therefore I am searching my memories of the past seven days to find the little blessings to share with you in Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Oh yeah.  Saturday!  We took a hike!    I love this hiking trail.  It's easy.  It's level.  It's gorgeous.

2.  After hiking, we stopped by S*bucks and I ordered a soy hot chocolate.    Yum!

3.  Rain!  About 1.5 inches.  Any amount helps us fight the drought.  And sometimes rain comes with rainbows.

4.  And no mudslides.  Following the disaster from Halloween night where our neighborhood was inundated with mud in the first rain storm of the season, our local fire department and disaster relief teams gathered in the parking lot of the golf course and evacuated people from 75 homes.  But fortunately, although there was A LOT of water running down the streets and through our gardens, there were no mudslides and no more homes destroyed.  [If you want to know more details, google Camarillo Springs mudslide or just click here.]

5.  An email from Son #1 that stated "We checked our schedule.  We can come for a visit December 16-19."  'We' means Son #1, his beautiful wife and our newest grand girl!  Can't wait!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Crochet, too

Sometimes it is a good thing to switch from always knitting.  Crocheted granny squares are simple to create and singularly adorable when they're finished.
Best relaxation therapy ever:  Our PAL's new blanket for her crib.

Granny Squares Crib Blanket
Crochet hook #G
Cotton Classic Yarn, 100% mercerized cotton
70 squares, all different combinations of five colors (red, light green, dark green, blue, yellow),
edged in light cream

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Perfect Timing = Thanksgiving Day  +  Friday Fave Fives.  Thanks to Susanne for leading the Fave Fives each week.

1.  I am so very thankful for my family!  We skyped with both daughters and their families and Son #1 and his family.

2.  Son #2 and a friend were here in person.  They helped cook and did the dishes after dinner.

3.  The Professor's sister and her #2 Son were with us, too.

4.  Son #2's other friend and his dad spontaneously accepted our invitation to join us at our Thanksgiving table.  There is never any shortage of conversation with these friends.

5.  Son #2's friend's little sister stopped by in the evening and we just picked up a chat about knitting and kids books.  So much fun!

I do love Thanksgiving!  Family, Friends, Fun!
How was your week?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Week Begins

We are entering Thanksgiving Week.  One week from today, Americans will be recovering from a huge feast, still sleepy from all that tryptophan consumed in the form of roast turkey, satiated with an overdose of sugar and fat bombs, also called desserts, pies or cookies.  But that's not the real reason for Thanksgiving.  In 1789, the first US President, George Washington, proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be a National Day of Thanksgiving.  Usually, we think of this day as a Family Celebration Day.  I like to think of Thanksgiving as a season to focus on the abundant blessings I have.  Of course, I do this weekly here at Willow's Cottage with others via Susanne's Friday Fave Fives at Living to Tell the Story, but in November it's a bigger deal.

As I concentrate on my week's blessings, I keep being reminded of my Fave Five from a few weeks ago when I focused on the basics.  I just have to do that again.

1.  Abundance of Nourishing Food.

2.  Warm clothes.  This includes shoes and socks, slacks, sweaters, shirts, jackets and gloves.  I love my gloves.  Because my hands are unusually sensitive to cold, I wear those gloves in the mornings as I drive to work.  Even when it's only 50F, I'm wearing those gloves.

3.  Shelter.  One of the paragraphs I model for my students during Thanksgiving week is my appreciation of safe and secure shelter.  I've lived in many types of homes from vacation tents and bush houses constructed from native materials to large four bedroom homes.  I cannot count all the places I've called 'home'--just too many.  Basic shelter is truly a blessing.

4.  Clean Water.  I don't have to boil it before I drink it.  I turn this little knob  at the end of pipe and presto! the water flows out and into my pan or cup.

5.  Transportation.  I have a great, economical car which is in good repair.  And money enough to buy gas.

As of today, I am on Thanksgiving Break!  It looks like our housing situation is going to return to normal within the next week.  I am looking forward to reduction of  the stress--oh how I am looking forward to that!  (I may even pull my camera back out again.)

SO MUCH to be thankful for!  If you leave a comment here, I hope you will share ONE thing for which you are thankful.  I will rejoice with you!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Absent With Leave.  That's what I was last week.  I was given an opportunity to travel.    I flew to the rescue of my grandson who needed a nanny for a few days while his mama was busy in meetings for work.   Who wouldn't happily take that option?  I had a few weeks' notice, so I arranged my schedule.

Here's how it all played out with wonderful blessings along the way.  I'm linking this to Susanne's Living to Tell the Story Friday Fave Fives.

1.  A great substitute teacher.  It's not easy to get a sub for my job.  You have to have had training as an IEW teacher.  Last summer I spent a few days working and helping to train four women who are now teaching the curriculum alongside my boss and me.  Finally--I can confidently take a week away from classes and know my students will smoothly move on through the program.

2.  Time with that New Boy who has grown up so much.  In the mornings, I monitored his schoolwork.  Easy peasy.  He just sat down and did it.

It turns out that the heated swimming pool was the best attraction of the days we were in a city in the northern climes (read:  colder than California!)  It was beautiful, though.

On the last day, we finally persuaded him that a trip to the park would be OK.

3.  One of the best parts of the trip was meeting many of my daughter's colleagues who obviously respect her abilities and expertise in her field of work.  Of course it was fun to listen to the interaction of the brainiacs around the dining table.  I am incredibly proud of this amazing woman--my daughter!

4.  To sweeten the deal, my daughter added three days in Phoenix with our new little PAL to the offer!

The cousins meet for the first time.

New Boy definitely had fun with his uncle!  Who had the most fun??

5.  The Professor had a hand surgery already scheduled for the time while I was gone.  Although it was a simple surgical procedure, he needed 'supervision' for a day.  Son #2 to the rescue!  How I appreciate my son who just rearranged his grad school academic schedule and came from the San Francisco Bay area to hang out with his dad for three days, drive him around, and watch football with him.

So that was my little adventure to Utah and Arizona.  Now it's back to the routine.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Travel Light

Last week I spent three nights in Utah and three night in Arizona.  Because I flew, I decided as usual to travel with only carry-on luggage.  For me, it's a fun challenge to work out a system where I can carry everything I need in one nineteen inch rolling suitcase and one computer bag.  People often ask how I can travel without checking a bag, so I thought I'd write a bit about how I pack.  My basic reminder of what to pack is advice from Rick Steves:  if you're not going to wear it three times, don't take it.

Layering was the most important part of my wardrobe planning because I was going to be in two very different climates.  I took a navy fleece jacket and a black fleece vest.  I also threw in a red hoodie which it turned out I only wore once.  My reasoning for taking it was two-fold.  It was a possible gift for my grandson, but it didn't fit him.  And if it was really really cold in Utah, I would have a third layer to keep me warm.  Accessories included a light turquoise cowl, a long turquoise silk scarf, a dark teal pashmina shawl (for the plane), a thin black fleece cap and a pair of black gloves.  I wore everything except the hat.

Here is a list of the other clothes.  I needed enough for the whole seven days I was gone because I didn't want to do any laundry.
2 pair of black slacks (probably could have limited myself to 1 pair)
1 pair jeans
1 short sleeved t-shirt (dark grey for casual times in Arizona)
2 long sleeved t-shirts (1 white, 1 light aqua)
3 light weight sweaters (lavender with white and black argyle, purple also with argyle, aqua with cables)
2 white camisoles (to wear under the sweaters)
1 white sleeveless top (for Arizona)
1 3/4 length sleeve white cardigan (again, for Arizona)
small purse to use while not in transit

I took 2 pairs of shoes, but it turns out I only wore the slip on flats a couple of times.  I could have taken only the other pair of black tie shoes and been fine.  Add 4 pairs black socks.

Because everything was color coordinated to match the black slacks or jeans, it was easy to layer the black vest with a long sleeved shirt, add a cowl or scarf and be toasty warm and still look dressy casual.

The hardest part of carrying those layers was packing up the two fleece pieces in the suitcase on the last leg of the journey from Arizona back to Los Angeles.  It was just too warm to wear them, so I stuffed them in the suitcase.

The other trick to not checking a bag is to have only small amounts of liquid items.  Through the years, I've collected little bottles to use for air travel.  Lotion, make up remover, mouthwash and shampoo all go in travel size bottles.  Often I wrap them in their own sandwich baggies and then put them in the quart sized bag.  When I'm in transit, I keep the baggie in my computer bag for easier access.  Soap, toothpaste and non liquid make up go in a separate bag with cotton balls and q-tips.

Clothes and personal items have become easy for me to downsize and limit myself during a trip.  Where I still struggle is in taking too many books and too many knitting projects!  Why am I always so optimistic about how many books I will read and how many hats or scarves I'll knit?  I thought I had done well to choose 'only' three books and three projects!  I did read two of the books and I would have finished all the knitting projects except I ended up BUYING two skeins of yarn to make a hat for grandson's friend.  It was one of those balls of yarn that fell out of my computer bag in the security line and made a run down the aisle.

When you travel, do you check a bag?  Do you take only carry-on bags?  What's your best tip for easy travel?