December 31, 2009

Best of the year - books

Books I loved in 09. A shorter list this time, but still full of great ones. And it appears to be full of sci fi this year. Hmmm...

1. Catching Fire (This series is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. This second installment didn't disappoint. And it had me screaming for the 3rd and cursing the wait until it comes out.)

2. Brave New World (A classic I never read in high school. Recommended by The Bro. Sci-fi classic and oh, so good)

3. Ender's Game (I was shocked how wonderful this was. The story had me on the edge of my seat and didn't disappoint at the end)

4. Ender's Shadow ( I loved it even more than Ender's Game. So well written)

5. Buffy Season 8 comic (Don't mock. It really is amazing. And I'm totally jealous of comic artists. Wish I could dry like that...)

Best of the year - blogs

Blogs. I love, love blogs. Here are some that inspire. Blogs that are tops on my Yahoo reader. These are my favorites among the bazillion that I read. Click away and find a new one to adore.

1. A Beautiful Mess (been following her for years upon years now. She is one of the most inspiring people in the world to me)

2. Smile and Wave (Wish so much I could sew and craft like her)

3. A Place Called Simplicity (They are my heroes. Since I was little, I've dreamt that my family look very similar to theirs. Children from all over the world.)

4. Tara Whitney (Photo genius. I'm in awe of her)

5. The Image is Found photo blog (They take the best wedding photos I've ever seen. Ever.)

6. Cakies (I wish upon a star that I could sew cute dresses and crafty things like she does. SO inspiring!)

7. my happy little life (and her Tumblr too) (Crafty, wonderful writer, just adore her blog. Her Tumblr is full of beautiful images.)

8. on earth as it is in heaven (Katie's blog) (This blog changed my life forever. No joke. I'll never be the same again)

9. Mammoth Men (Funny, photos, so creative. Photo vacations should be a must for everyone)

10. One Glad Morning (a new blog friend who posts things all the time that I was "just thinking about." Love the things she finds and shares)

11. Promise Tangeman (I'm so jealous of graphic designers, especially ones that use their gift for a greater good. Wow.)

12. Pioneer Woman (Yes, it's really as good as the hype. And she really is that funny and nice in person. Plus, her recipes have made the Cottage girls a hit at parties!)

ok....what are your favorites this year?

Best of the year - TV

I love TV. I love lists. Here's mine for 2009.

(feel free to skip this entry if you are sick of my TV ramblings!)

Funniest new show.....Modern Family (I need watch each episode several times to truly get everything they cram into one episode. It's a genius of Arrested Development proportions)

Best series finale....Scrubs (these writers got it right. The last montage was one of the best EVER.)

Guilty pleasures....Gossip Girl (it's terrible, but I can't stop), Smallville (it's so ridiculous, but I can't stop watching), Rachel Zoe (so silly, freakin' addicting), Grey's Anatomy (I'm ashamed, yet hooked again after a 3 year break)

Guaranteed goosebumps with each viewing.....Glee (it's really ridiculous how happy I get when they burst into song.)

Best over-all show...Friday Night Lights (the cast, the stories, the anticipation from week to's got it all.)

Can't believe it's over and I miss it.....Battlestar Galactica (the ending wasn't perfect, but I liked it. Saying any more would give it away for those who are just now diving into it's wonder)

Slowly grew on me and got better with each episode.....Dollhouse (I'm now hooked and it's now canceled.)

Favorite characters....Chuck Bass (Gossip Girl - I miss him being bad, but still love him to pieces), Landry Clark (FNL - this actor is gonna be big one day. He steals every scene he's in. Funny and adorable all in one), JD (Scrubs - words cannot describe my love for this one. I think he may be my all time favorite character on TV ever. He can make me laugh and cry with just a look. love, love, love), Adama (BSG - You don't mess with him. But you fall in love with him all at the same time.), Archie Morris (ER - I seriously miss this character. MISS him. He was so wonderfully wonderful.)

Best soundtrack....Battlestar Galactica (no contest. it's THE best on TV. I'm listening to it right now.)

Best episode in a show I've stopped watching....The Office Wedding episode. (I've given up on The Office this year, but I've re-watched the wedding episode quite a few times. It may be my favorite episode of the entire show.)

Supporting characters that make the show....Chuck's Buy More employees. (I just adore this little show and how they lovingly support the nerds.)

Saved by Hulu viewing....Lost. (I like to wait until the season is over and watch it all together. Except this final season which starts in Jan. I'm sure I'll find out what happens at the end if I don't watch it live.)

Canceled, but not forgotten...Veronica Mars, The OC, Gilmore Girls, West Wing, Firefly, Arrested Development (I watch all of these often, and still be-moan their demise.)

Hello, old friends....ER. The revolving door of past cast members in it's final season. So well done.

Eye candy, complete with plot....Mad Men (I would watch it just for the costumes and sets, but this season's plot was the best of it's 3 seasons)

Stand alone hilarity....Man vs. Wild with Will Ferrell episdoe. ( I laughed so long and loudly.)

I'm sure there are about 100 other things, but that's enough for now.

Did I mention..

...the Bro was also home for Christmas? Cause he was. I got to have a Sunday like the old days. Church, lunch with friends, hang out time. The only bad part was I dropped him off at the airport instead of at the house he used to live in, which was next to mine. But hey, I'll take what I can get. It was wonderful. Something I thought about every single Sunday since he left.

And let's not forget, I'll see him again in less than a month for SUNDANCE!!!

One more I'm going to post a few lists of favorite things from 2009. The posts will go up though out the day, so keep checking back!

December 30, 2009

family photo

Took some quick pics (in about 5 minutes) of my sis and her family right before I left at Christmas. This was my favorite one. I like interaction photos so much more than "everyone look at the camera and" photos. They just seems more real.
Also love white garage doors that aren't in direct sunlight. My parents have the best one. Such great lighting!

Steal away, sis.

December 29, 2009

Yum alert

I LOVE granola. It's my favorite cereal by far. I've tried 100's of different kinds and this year I'm determined to try to make my own.

But before I do, I wanted to let you in on a little granola secret. Michele's Granola. It is simply THE BEST granola I've ever had. To die for. So light and perfectly baked. My favorite is Cherry Chocolate Macadamia. It has dried cherries (I'm not a raisin fan), chocolate chips (dairy free, fair trade chocolate) and Macadamia nuts. Mmmmm... The first bag I bought was gone in a flash. I eat it by the handful, as a snack. Oh, it's so yummy!

I also love the company's attention to green living and fair trade. Plus, it's always nice to support locals (artist, bakers, etc...). Try a bag. You won't be disappointed!


The story was good, yet predictable.

But the special effects....the special effects were really almost better than they were hailed to be.

It was A-mazing.

It's a MUST see in the theater.

In 3D. Gotta be in 3D.

Next on the list....The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson? yes, please!), Sherlock Holmes, and Up in the Air

December 28, 2009

Warm winter adventure

I don't think it's any secret here that I hate the cold. Yuck. Give me warm/hot humid days and I will be happy as a clam. Cold, blustery days make me cry. Seriously. I hate the cold.

So today, I was that happy little clam all warm and toasty surrounded by 1,000's of these beautiful green growing delights.

First of all, I don't think we can ever say that things don't match when God puts colors and patterns together like this in nature. Crazy, no?!

Second, I think that indoor gardens are pretty much heaven on earth. Yes, heaven would be something just like this. Warm and full of growing beautiful things.
Here is a hint of where this spectacular place was. Can you see it?

Oh, to have full sized palm trees in your backyard even when it's 30 degrees outside that glass ceiling. I have decided that if God grants me wealth, I will build one of these and invite everyone over to ENJOY the winter days in warmth. We will have tea by the orchids and dessert by the ferns. Camp outs next to the water falls and reading time with the hibiscus. You would come, wouldn't you?

And of course, it's better to share an adventure such as this with friends. Here are a few of them.

I instantly wanted to put this in my pocket and run out the door. Then I realized that it was almost as big as the cottage. But still. I die...

Yes, friends, indoor botanical gardens in massive size are the way to go.
I'm moving in. And there is plenty of room for you, too.

December 27, 2009

little munchkins

I lovesss them so much.

ps....Christmas went by too fast. Why does that always happen?

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to all

Dear friends,

May you all have a wonderful holiday full of family, fun and love. I spent a few minutes this morning in peaceful reflection of the miracle of the birth of Jesus. Does anyone ever just feel blessed and humbled when you take the time to be quiet in his presence?! What a wonderful day. What a glorious Savior.

And it's been just wonderful to have my WHOLE family at the table together, sharing meals, laughing, talking just BEING together. Best Christmas present!

Love you all! So happy to have you following along!!


Cottage Girl

December 24, 2009

The eve

It's Christmas Eve! The Bro's flight arrives in just a few hours. The family will all be here!

Hope all of you are enjoying your holiday as well! Happy Christmas!

December 23, 2009

dynamic duo

I'm so, so excited for this film from this amazing pair. Have you seen the new trailer?! Creepy and enchanting all at the same time!

I say they do creepy and enchanting better than anyone. Like this one....

It's one of my all time favorites.

December 22, 2009

Ni hao, China!

Today, I went to see a little piece of China that was visiting the East Coast. I brought my roommate with me to enjoy it and my crazy family. She's actually known my brother in law for longer than I have. They were friends for years.

So we went into the big city for the afternoon/evening, taking the metro (fun), people watching at restaurants (even more fun) and bundled up against the cold and snow that is still EVERYwhere.

There were no photos allowed in the exhibit. But the giftshop....that was just fine of course. My niece decided that she liked my nice friend. Look at those rosy cheeks and blue eyes.

This was one of those replicas that they made so that we could touch and take photos. It was truly amazing, simply A-mazing how detailed and beautiful the Terra Cotta soldiers are. You just stare forever. They are ALL different. Faces, facial hair, hairstyle, clothes. And there are thousands (!!) of them. There were only a few here, but even still. It was awe-inspiring.

Hello, several thousand year old (replica) China man. Very nice to meet you.

It was a wonderful experience. I highly recommend it if it comes to a city near you!

December 21, 2009

Where did the day go

I finally managed to get out into civilization today. Not without a few slips and slides and NOT without the bazillion other people who had also been trapped at home and were milling about any type of store they where could purchase a Christmas present. I raced (aka...waited in traffic) back home and happily resumed my hermitage. I forgot how insane and not at all fun it is around here at Christmas.

I spent the rest of the day finishing up Christmas presents whilst watching The Return of the King and Star Trek, which was wonderful again, but definitely better on the big screen. I'm still wanting to go see Avatar, but it's playing at our theater which is at the mall. And there's NO WAY I'm going there!

Ok, enough rambling. Tomorrow I'm off to see a bit of China that is traveling here on exhibit at a museum. Should be fun day. And I get to see my sister and her fam! Yippeee for family time!

December 20, 2009


I feel like my cottage is drowning me at the moment. Being stuck at home for 2 days is tough! Especially when there ARE several things I NEED to be doing. The snow didn't do much melting today. It's so deep that there were several cars stuck for a little while. I'm hoping (fingers crossed) to get OFF THE PROPERTY and back into the civilized world tomorrow.

Also, my family starts coming into town tomorrow, which means my Christmas presents should be bought, wrapped and packed for their trip home. Uhhh....yeah....not really happening. Oh will all get done. And who really cares about presents anyway. As long as we'll all be together for a few hours.

Just love this promo shot from this season of Mad Men. Something highly un-nerving and yet so dashing about sitting in your office while it fills up with water. Love-idy love it. ....and Don Draper....

best episode of the season (so far)

All the characters are at their best. Oh, goodness this is hilarious!

December 19, 2009

no, it hasn't stopped

Or slowed down, for that matter. It's almost snowing too hard to take my camera outside, but I just had to get some more pictures! I have no idea how much is out there, but my estimate is around 15 inches. Thankfully the wind has died down, so no power outages yet! Yippeee!

Here's some more for you to enjoy. I'm still watching it come down in the window behind my computer monitor. Crazy!

Silly snow is trying its best to come inside. Most of the screens in the house are covered in snow because of the wind. And the trees have piles of white all over them. It's so beautiful!

Our porch screens have done nothing to keep out the snow. It's just as snowy inside as out. Oh, well....

The river takes on a murky greyish tint when the sky is grey and the ground is white. Still so beautiful though.

Can you see the difference from the photos I took earlier?

There used to be a road out there. Won't be finding it anytime soon....

I've had to shovel our front deck every 2 hours just to keep up. It's coming down so heavily.

It's so hard to get a good photo of how deep it is. But it's actually up over the bottom railing of the fence. The wind has made a little pathway at the bottom where the slats are open.

In other news...I'm getting lots done in my little craft factory. My sewing machine doesn't seem affected by all this snow. Plus, the internet is working, so I'm catching up on Dollhouse. Only a few more fantastic episodes left before it says goodbye. Stupid cancellation.

Tonight, we are having a bunch of camp people over for dinner and a movie. It's not like we can go out to see Avatar. Drat. I'm dying to see it....

I'll try to post more, but it's getting dark, already. Dusk at 3:30. Uhhhggggg. Can't wait for longer days!

and it's only the beginning

Taken at 9:30am. Only the beginning of the heavy snow/blizzard. Forecast of 16-24 inches by the time it's all over! Hello, white Christmas!

All these photos are the view out of my bedroom windows. Wait till you see the river.

More to come....

December 18, 2009

all ready

hot cocoa...check

movies (Star Trek, Holiday Inn, National Lampoon's Christmas).....check

extra heater....check

yummy snacks that are full of fat and calories....check

lots of windows to enjoy the view....check

Book to read (The Mysterious Benedict Society)....check

Crafts to work on (knitting, sewing, wrapping)....check

Our first official snow storm of the season has begun. It's looks like it may be the biggest one we've had in years. All snuggled in at the Cottage and ready to enjoy the next 2 days of snow, snow, snow! We may actually have some left for a WHITE CHRISTMAS!!

crafts and snow

I'm so behind! Time to kick the factory in to high gear to complete all my little projects by Christmas. One last trip to the craft store today before the snow arrives. "Heavy snow" is the wording the weather forecasts are using. And just to clarify, we don't get snow like this very much. It's going to be a crazy few days here!

December 17, 2009

give it away

Ok, I just feel like I NEED to this again each year. I know you could read back through any of the other times I've written things similar to this, but it can't hurt to remind everyone again, right?!!

Here are a few of my humble suggestions for GIVING this Christmas. Ways to HELP someone in need. Ways to look beyond my(your)self and see the world that Jesus calls us to SEE and LOVE.

And just so you know (and most likely already do if you have read my blog for any amount of time) I love orphan ministry. It's the burden God laid on my heart when I was little. So, most of the organizations I support are orphan based. I know there are many, many wonderful organizations that do other great works in the world. This is just the path that the Lord led me on.


1. Show Hope (Shaohannah's Hope)

Show Hope is an organization that cares for orphans. They give grants to Christian families that want to adopt, but need help with the funds it requires. They also have a special needs orphanage in China that opened this year. I've been supporting them for years and have been blown away with how they operate. They are doing a mighty work in the life of orphans around the globe. And their founders are Steven and Mary Beth Chapman, whom I simple think the world of.
Every month I get either an email or a post card with the story of a family that has been able to adopt because of a grant from Shaohannah's Hope. It's a crazy, God-filled story most of the time. And usually I finish the last sentence with tear filled eyes. How beautiful to see orphans placed in homes where they will learn about the love of Jesus!

2. Amazima Ministries

This one is new this year for me, but it has dramatically changed my life. I found Katie's blog though an adoption blog that I used to read. After hearing her story and seeing her heart, I instantly knew that I had to be involved. Amazima helps children in Uganda. The founder is a 21 year old girl who has adopted 14 little girls. Her organization helps feed, cloth, and educate hundred of children through sponsors. It's incredible. I could go on for hours about Amazima, but instead I suggest you read Katie's blog from the beginning. Be prepared could change your life forever.

3. Compassion
Every time I get a letter from my little sponsored child in Indonesia, I'm reminded of the important work that Compassion is doing. They get it. They do it right. This year I also got a letter from my sponsored child's pastor. Compassion believes in the ministry of the church and how important it is in the spiritual growth of their children. I love, love, love Compassion.

4. Living Hope International
I support a friend who is in China with her family working with Living Hope. Living Hope helps the orphans of China is so many different ways. They run orphanages. They teach English. They show orphans love. You can read more here. Those little faces will melt your heart.

5. An Orphan's Wish
I introduced you all to Janie a few weeks ago. I support her through An Orphan's Wish. This the newest organization that I've been involved with, but I really am loving how their organization works. I found them through another adoption blog I read. The author is the volunteer in charge of the clubfoot unit, so she posts about AOW often. AOW also has a blog, which shows pictures of the adorable orphans and the medical care they are receiving.
An Orphan's Wish helps special needs Chinese orphans. They help them get the medical care they need, so they can lead happy healthy lives. Some of them even go on to get adopted after their life changing surgeries. AOW lets you sponsor a child and directly impact their life. It's amazing!

I pray that God speaks to your heart about giving this year. And not that it has to be to one of these organizations. I'd love to see where He leads YOU! The most important thing is that we step out in faith and do what He asks. Maybe that money sitting in your bank account (which isn't yours anyway...sorry, but it's true) is the money He has set aside to feed one of Katie's children. His money is spread out all over the world in bank accounts of 1,000's of believers who are "saving it for a rainy day." I am totally guilty of that too. But stepping out and giving when we are called, giving when it doesn't make logical sense for our "savings" account, giving when we can't spare a single penny, that is where Jesus lives. That is where miracles are. That is where we see Him more clearly.

Are you ready to let Him lead you on a great giving adventure?!!

December 16, 2009

stuff and nonsense

Anyone else feeling incredibly behind in their gift buying?

I'm determined to not go to crazy this year. I've become more and more convinced of the ridiculousness of STUFF in my life and I don't want to force it on anyone else either. I just want to give something that will let someone know that I love and appreciate them in my life. Maybe that's through food, or a handmade gift, or a heartfelt letter. Aren't those things more valued anyway? I mean I keep handwritten notes and cards for YEARS. So many of them are stuck into my Bible or on my walls or in a book as a book mark. I TREASURE those things. True, loving thoughts and moments. That is what life is about.

I'm working on a post for end of the year giving again this year. I truly feel this is so important. Not that you do it at the end of the year necessarily, but that you GIVE where you feel the Lord leads your heart. I'll have a few options of organizations that I support and think the world of. Organizations that are making a difference in the world. It will be up soon. Hope it inspires you to GIVE to those less fortunate this year.

December 15, 2009

I remember...

...the day he was born.

It was the evening of my kindergarten Christmas program.

My mom wanted to come, even though she was in the early stages of labor.

My sister and I were sent off to stay with the neighbors, our pastor (is that right mom?).

Anyway, I remember going to the hospital to meet my new brother.

I remember him being tiny and small and getting to hold him only when I was sitting down on the couch or some other cushy/sturdy seat.

I remember his little lisp and his high squeaky voice before it changed.

I remember giving him baths and changing his diaper.

I remember him taking his first steps in our living room on the burgundy carpet.

I remember when he sucked his fingers to fall asleep while clutching his favorite blanket.

I remember him running around the backyard with me and my sister, making mud pies and making our slide slippery with pieces of wax paper.

I remember forcing him to play orphanage and dress up because he was the youngest.

I remember riding big wheels and roller racers around the carport during rainstorms.

I remember him sitting the in the same seat at the dinner table at every meal, every day of my growing up life.

I remember coming home from college and realizing he wasn't 10 years old anymore. I could have real conversations with him about adult things.

I remember him graciously letting me hang out with him when I was lonely after coming back home to live after college for 2 years.

I remember being ecstatic when he came to work at camp.

I remember being over the moon when he came to LIVE at camp for almost 2 whole years. I never took him being only a walk away for granted.

It's such a strange thing when your siblings grow up. They just have to always be your dearest friends. They know everything about you. The good, the bad and the really bad. They love you more fiercely than any other person you are ever friends with.

When I think about him now, off on the other side of the country, working at a place he loves, meeting new people and living his life, he's still that 3 year old that would pound on my bedroom door until I let him come in to play. He's still that 10 year old that built huge contraptions in his bedroom just so he wouldn't have to get out of the bed to turn off the light at night.

He's all those things and he's all grown up too.

It still freaks me out that he is an adult now. In my mind, he'll always be that 2 year old with a lisp, just small enough to be picked up and carried around on my hip.....

Happy Birthday, my dear brother. I love you lots and lots.

snowy day

You can almost see Ron and Hermione holding hands in one of the turrets, can't you?! Or maybe an owl swooping over head. Or maybe a wand shooting sparks out of a window.
I just love this magical photo (that I did not take). Click it for more info...

ps....a very happy birthday to The Bro. I can't believe I'll see him in about a week! EEEEEEK!!!

December 14, 2009

watch while working

While I was doing most of my birthday crafty projects over the last few weeks, I've been watching The Lord of the Rings. Again. Extended versions. With the cast commentary ON. That's the only way I really watch the first one. Just love it.

I love Aragorn. He's so strong and true. And mysterious and dark.

And these two are hilarious. Mostly because they are so funny in real life, but still. I love them.

And this guy. He's magic on the screen. It seriously looks so real. I'm in awe every time I watch.

And what girl doesn't want to be Arwen. Sigh...she's so beautiful and graceful and in love.

But my absolute favorite story is that of Faramir. His story in the books is so much deeper and actually quite different from the movie. He is never tempted by the ring. He's true and brave. He's the underdog. And he ends up with his princess. I love their beautiful story. Wish it could have been told more in depth in the movies.

What have you been watching lately?

December 13, 2009

adventure, adventure, adventure

I had quite an adventure today. It's was fantastical. Wonderful. Fun, fun, fun. Ignore my face, please. I really am excited here. Almost too excited to eat from this menu in front of me.

On a whim, my roommate and I decided to head north in the midst of another rainstorm (haven't we had enough rain already this year?!). We hopped in the car after the early service at church and hit the freeway.

We were greeted by about 587 other people who decided to also go on an adventure today. Hi, people we don't know but ended up spending several hours with. You were all very nice!

We were all staring at this podium. Waiting...waiting...trying to wait so was hard.

And then, she excited was I that I couldn't keep my camera from shaking.

Wait! That it! There she is!! Can you tell?

It's PW. THE Pioneer Woman! Yes, we got to meet Ree.

And she was just as kind and wonderful as her addictive blog. She was gracious and so sweet. And we were star-struck and mumbling and loving every minute of it.

Such a cool adventure. Such a fun experience. So happy we threw caution to the wind and just went.