December 31, 2011

What are you doin'

I couldn't help but post this.  It's adorableness was just begging to be shared.  And if you've already seen it, it's ok to watch it again....or maybe 7 more agains.   I know I have.

Happy New Years Eve, everyone!  

December 30, 2011

up to

(*taken by the Bro while in Utah)

I'm re-formatting my broken computer today.  Hopefully all will be well by this weekend.  (Photoshop, here I come!) Just in time for me to leave again.  Off to the next state for more family time.

What are you up to?

December 29, 2011

Favorites of 2011: places on the web

Another tough list to make.
I read A-LOT of blogs.
Kinda an addiction of mine along with TV, so choosing among them is always tough.

Anyways, these are some of the best/the ones I read every day/the ones I miss when I'm away from my computer for days at a time.

1.  A Beautiful Mess For years and years now, it has been one of my favorites.  This year, Elsie had one of her best blog years yet.  

2.  Casey Wiegand  A new one for me.  I enjoy hearing Casey's thoughts on art and God and family.  And the beautiful photos are addicting too.

3.  Rockstar Diaries  Been casually following this one for a while, but it made its way into my reader this year.  Now I'm completely hooked.  Her Fort Bridger posts were my favorite of almost every blog this year.  The photography has been a constant inspiration for me this year. 

4.  Pioneer Woman  Sometimes I'll leave her for a while, but I always get sucked back in.  Those recipes.  Oh, those recipes!  When I need to make something, she is the first person I turn to.

5.  Cakies Too many reasons to list why I love this blog.  Photos, vintage, crafty, Godtalk.  It's one of the best.  

6.  Tara Whitney  One of the first photographers I fell in love with years ago.  Her blog was one of the first that I ever started following.  Her photography style is one that I aspire to.  

7.  A Place Called Simplicity This family's story was totally a God story this year.  I'm constantly encouraged and convicted when I read Linny's words. 

8.  The Image is Found (personal blog too) They are the standard of amazing photographers for me.  The tip-top of the best.  

9.  Kelly McCaleb's blog Totally random and delightful.  I love how open and honest she is.  

10.  Ali Edwards Yes, it maybe a scrapbooking blog, but I just love the way Ali tells stories.  She is inspiring in so many more ways than just paper and photos.  

11.  Ni Hao Y'all  Stefanie's family's journey to Poppy this year literally had me in tears several times.  What a beautiful story of God's love for the orphans of the world.  

12.  Twitter I know it's not "technically" a blog, but kinda.  I mean, how else would I have found out that Zachary Levi was at Disneyland the same time I was at Disney World?  Or that Zach Braff made a Christmas video with Donald Faison?  Oh, Twitter, I love you!

So that's the short list.  There are about 200 other blogs I enjoy and read several times a week as well, but these are the cream of the crop for me right now.  Funny to see how most of them have been on the list for years now.  It's fun to watch people grow and change and transform.  

December 28, 2011

i miss you PS

I miss my Photoshop and actions something fierce.  

And by that I mean that every time I open a photo I know exactly how I want to edit it/how I want it to look. Then I realize that my computer is dead, and I'm not home.  That means that I have to edit everything in Picnik which is fine and dandy, but not Photoshop in the most elementary of senses.  

I know.  I know.  One shouldn't depend on Photoshop to make their photos perfect.  One should be able to make their photos perfect with the click of the shutter.  

Well, I'm getting there.  I'm further along than I used to be.  But I used my tiny point and shoot for most of the photos I took while on vacation.  That means they pretty much never look the way I want them too.  The value of a pocket sized camera that can be slipped in and out of my back pocket won out this trip.  So, came back home to find a bunch of ok photos.  They just screamed to be edited.  

Aside from all that, here are a few that caught my eye at first.  They are without people/munchkins/family/glee-filled smiles, but be assured each of these were present.  And there will be many photos with those subjects to come.  

Until then....

Oh, and this one that has had me staring at it dreamily for a while now.  
I decided to lug around my SLR this day.  
This photo made it worth it...

*all photos edited in Picnik on my parents computer while listening to Bon Iver

ps...please note the beautiful clear sky in each and every photo.  We had not one drop of rain and 80 degree days.  It was heavenly.  

pss...I didn't buy one single souvenir.  Not one. Because these are my souvenirs, and they are much more valuable to me 20 years down the road.  

Favorites of 2011: Books

Favorite books.  There were several others I enjoyed, but these were the ones that I still think about and mull over.

1.  If I Stay by Gayle Forman  This is one I need to buy.  I still think about it constantly.  The storyline just grabbed me like nothing else this year.  It's my favorite this year by a mile.

2.  Where She Went by Gayle Forman  The sequel to #1.  It wasn't as good as the first, but still that whole story is soaked into my brain for a long time.  I loved how it continued the storyline with a different voice.
3.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith  Who would have thought a vampire book would worm its way onto my favorite list for this year.  Not me.  But the fantastical mix of history and fiction was exactly the right recipe.  Makes me want to read Gone with the Wind again.

4.  Decision Points by George W. Bush  Sometimes the truth is even more interesting than the craziness of fiction.  This was one of the best autobiographies I've read in a while.  

5.  Bossypants by Tina Fey  Funniest book I've read...probably ever.  She knows exactly how and where to find the funny.  

December 27, 2011

It's a movie!

I know everyone has seen this by now, but it would just feel wrong not to have a record of how excited I am for this little movie to come out.  I know it won't be as good as the book, but by golly, I freakin' can't wait!

And I will say that I think Jennifer Lawrence could be a perfect Katniss.  Her performance in Winter's Bone actually reminded me of Katniss.  And Donald Sutherland as President Snow....he was what I imagined in my head when I was reading.  
Come on, March!

Favorites of 2011: TV shows

(source: Banksy)

My favorite time of year.  Lists of favorites from the past year.  Here we go....

First up:  TV shows.
Oh, boy.  
This one is always tough for me.  

I have so many I get hooked on each year, but there are always a few that I just can't wait to see from week to week (or disc to disc).

1.  The Vampire Diaries   Once I started, it became an obsession.  Thank you to everyone who suggested I dive into the world of Mystic Falls. I'm totally hooked.  I started this summer with season one on DVD and have enjoyed every single episode.  It's been one of the most intriguing stories of this season too.  

2.  Friday Night Lights.  It finished just as it began.  Perfectly.  They had one of the most perfect series finales ever, ever, ever.  Those characters are stuck in my brain.  I still re-watch because I miss Dillon Texas.  And when Kyle Chandler won his Emmy....the icing on the cake.  It was one of the best written shows that has ever been on TV.  Right up there with West Wing, although it maintained it's excellence throughout the entire series and WW was pretty lame by the end.  

3.  Grey's Anatomy.  Again, I can't believe this show has wormed its way back onto my DVR after years of being gone.  But last season and this season have been 2 of the best.  I can't even believe that I love Meredith's character, but I do.  Her storyline has been one of my favorites.  

4.  The Amazing Race.  This last season was probably one of my favorites ever.  It was devastating when the snowboarders lost.  But they were such an absolute joy.  Their testimony was so cool to watch.

5.  The Good Wife.  After hearing all the hoopla about this one I had to give it a try.  Wow.  I never thought I could enjoy another law drama.  This one is saved from "new case every episode" boredom because of it's fantastic characters.  Kalinda may be my favorite of the entire year.  Archie Panjabi steals every scene she is in, no matter if she has dialogue or not.  

6.  Parks and Recreation.  It's so rare that comedies make it onto my lists, but this one is just about as adorable as it can be.  It's so funny I find myself re-winding and re-watching parts all the time.  "Treat you'self" to some Parks and Rec, if you never tried it.  It's a gem.  

Honorable Mention:
Smallvillle Had a great last season, but wasn't the amazingness that was season 9.  Not enough Chloe and Oliver..

Modern Family  Still funny, but not as great at the end of last season.  This season has been back on track though.

Revenge  A newbie, so it's hard to know if it will end as great as it began, but as for's on my "must watch immediately" list.

December 26, 2011

Book review: history mixed with crazy

On the drive down to the land of magical wonder, I read this fascinating book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  I had read an article about the author in an Entertainment Weekly a while ago (along with the news that Tim Burton is producing the upcoming movie) and put the title in my "to read" list.

I know, I know.  Another vampire book/movie/TV show.  And yes, I can agree with that.  It's a bit ridiculous.  But I've always been fascinated by the great Lincoln and the Civil War too.  Mix that together with a vampire hunter and I couldn't help but be intrigued. 

My little review:
I really, really enjoyed the way it weaved true history and events around the whole vampire hunter thing.  The details are really fun.  The grief he encounters is staggeringly painful.  The characters are well rounded and engaging.  The whole idea is pretty crazy until you start reading, and then it almost seems completely believable.  And the ending....oh the ending.  There is nothing better than an ending that you want to re-read 10 times before you close the book for the last time. 

I haven't stopped thinking and pondering this fun story.  Lincoln has randomly popped up in conversations or on TV lately, and it's all I can do to not start talking about this book with anyone nearby.  It's almost like a mix of National Treasure and Buffy.  A fun vacation read.

December 25, 2011

Christmas greetings from the road

Merry Christmas, everyone!
I'm sitting in a moving vehicle somewhere on I-95. That means that vacation time is now over. Sad Face.
However, yesterday was a delight of a surprise. After dropping off my sister and her crew at the airport in the mornin' my parents decided on a whim to forgo driving 10 hours and head back to Disney's Hollywood Studios for an extra day. This little Cottage Girl was happy as a clam. We watched shows (Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid and stunt cars and Fantasmic) saw the amazing Christmas lights (Disney blows everyone else away, although Sea World was pretty beautiful too) and rode lots of rides (Tower of Terror 2 times in a row to finish off the night). It was quite a shiny way to spend Christmas Eve with 50,000 other people. That place just makes me happy.
I'll be back to regular posting this week. Lots of photos to share, of course. Most are snapshots with the tiny point and shoot because who can be bothered with a huge DSLR when there are rides to ride and kids to push in strollers.
I do hope you all have a wonderful Christmas celebrating Jesus.
Cottage Girl

December 23, 2011

look down

I looked down to take a photo of my feet like I've done 5,000 other times and found this happy sight.

Three pairs of Chucks in a circle.  And his little black hi-tops were identical to mine. 

Friends forever.

December 22, 2011

(at the bottom of the Delicate hike.  the moon was just rising and reflecting in the pond.  i stopped and stared for a good long while here)

Anyone else excited that the shortest day of the year is finally here and now we get to start gaining daylight?

Well, I sure am. 

As much as I love twilight, it sure would be nice to be friends with it at 9pm rather than 4:30pm.

December 20, 2011

Sometimes I just have to sit back in wonder at the places I get to go on this earth.

I was blessed with a very healthy love of travel.

Passed down from several generations, as I have found in the old journals and photos I have been going through recently.

I love discovering new places, hidden corners, tall trees and wide open spaces.  

There is something about it that excites me more than anything else on earth.

December 17, 2011

Sometimes there is no need for photo editing.
Even with crumbs on the table.
Even with peanut buttter all over the face.
Even with cheeks flushed from a feverish cold.
The cuteness is 100% sooc. (straight out of camera)
An every day moment captured.

I am missing those kiddos all the way over in Seattle something fierce.

December 16, 2011


Making my favorite cranberry muffins,
while watching a favorite Joss show
(search the picture carefully to find which one).  

I say that's a lovely way to spend a morning, don't you?

Only problem with this little combo of watch/make is that
a favorite show can be incredibly distracting.
I forgot the baking powder in the first batch.
They still tasted delightful.

December 15, 2011


So the last day I was in Seattle, R and I had a girls day.  The kids were going to be in school or with grandparents, which meant we had most of the day to ourselves.  Bliss!

We threw around a bunch of ideas (hiking in the downpouring rain got a big NO from me), shopping (been there done that), movie (nothing worth seeing).  We were starting to get frustrated when R mentioned that ifly Seattle just opened a few months ago.  And then her hubby mentioned that he had buy one/get one free coupons.  That settled it.  We threw caution to the wind and managed to get in to the last spot in one of the last flights of the day.

I've always, always, always wanted to try one of these.  Skydiving too, but that's way more expensive and intense.  But this....this was too much fun for words.  R was really nervous the first time (we got 2 one minute flights), but for some reason, it wasn't scary at all to me.  Maybe all those years at camp strapped in a harness climbing 50 feet in the air have helped.  This requires no saftey equipment other than a helmet and goggles.  Other than that, it's just flying fun. 
You go step through a doorway into a giant vertical windtunnel.  The instructor is in there to help you get your body in the right position so you can actually fly and away you go!  There is no "falling" feeling.  It really does feel like you are flying. 
We both immediately wanted to do it again.  And again.  And again, so we could get really good like the instructors and fly vertical like superman.  That's my new goal.  Flight. 

December 14, 2011

Dear HP World,

We have a date together, friend.
I hope you have prepared some fine weather for my visit next week.

Also, I would love to have a butterbeer or some pumpkin juice, if you have any to spare.

I plan on sending an owl or two with messages for friends.
Will there be any available?

And finally, I'm sure to be completely giddy with excitement when I arrive.
Please don't take my gaping mouth and stunned silence the wrong way.
These are only mere clues to the absolute glee that is bubbling up inside me and trying so desperately to show itself.

I remain your faithful, Muggle friend,

Cottage Girl

December 13, 2011

Exciting news

This little adorable munchkin is Janie.
I've been sponsoring her for a few years through 2 different organizations.
And now *cue the excited squeals* she is available for adoption!
If this little face melts your heart, then go to An Orphan's Wish website to get more information.

December 12, 2011

beckon it to return

(taken by The Bro. Please note the snow capped mountains in the archway. So beautious.)

When I went to Canyonlands and Arches, we did Canyonlands the first day. And, I kid you not, I had an early onset of Alzheimer's. We woke up the 2nd morning in our hotel room in Moab. We had done Canyonlands the morning/early afternoon before, ending the day in Arches at Arches at Turret Arch and the Windows at sunset. I could not for the life of me remember Canyonlands. Not a single thing. It was freaky.

Sometimes I think that when I spend too much time behind my camera, I don't truly enjoy the view in front of me. It is only remembered in those photos I take. I don't take time to breathe in the air or really look around me a soak in the view.

Thankfully, now, I have vivid picture in my head of Canyonlands. I can picture the plateau we drove on with the canyons on either side. I can picture this arch, Mesa Arch, and smell the cold, clean breeze that was there that day. I can see the visitor center with my introduction to the pit toilets (fancy porta-potties, if there is such a thing) which are the only restrooms in the parks. I can see those amazing, larger than life, deep, rust colored rocks on my right side as we drove up to the Canyon. I can picture sitting on the rock ledge with my feet hanging over ledge (1,000's of feet to the bottom of the canyon). I can see my brother looking excitedly out the car window saying "I want to climb that so bad!" about every .25 miles. I can feel the excitement in seeing something new and completely unlike anything I had ever seen before.

It was a great reminder to put down the camera every once in a while and drink in the world around me. Live in it before I try to remember it. Have a memory with these photos other than just snapping away, trying to feverishly capture everything permanently before I forget it. Create those mind stamps that will stick me forever and come back to my mind the moment I beckon them to return. The sights, smells, feel of a moment that can only be recorded because the Lord chose to give us memories. Remember.

"A memory is not strictly mortal in its nature, either. It is a strange thing, after all, to be able to return to a moment, when it can hardly be said to have any reality at all, even in its passing. A moment is such a slight thing, I mean, that its abiding is a most gracious reprieve. "

-Marilynne Robinson Gilead

December 10, 2011

What I'm up to tonight....

"I used only the good notes."

Christmas isn't complete without a parade of Christmas movies to watch. This one is an absolute favorite, especially if I can fast forward through Cameron Diaz's storyline. I got a weakness for Kate Winselt's perfomances. She's a top 5 favorite.

I've also checked off: Little Women, It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. Up next: Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street(new version) and Elf.

What are some of your favorites?

December 09, 2011

press delete

It's been a little over a month now since I've been on my great adventure.

I feel like I've had writers block here. Truthfully, I have been writing quite a bit lately. Just journaling more than blogging. One little experiment I wanted to try during these 3 months was journaling every day. No matter what came out. Just get it on paper. Maybe it would lead to a grand idea that would require more writing (a book, screenplay, short story, etc).

For some reason, when I sit down to type out a post I end up spending more time deleting the paragraphs I write than actually writing them. Just this post, I've deleted about 10 times already. Seriously. The reason could be because I'm watching an old episode of My So Called Life on the Sundance Channel. I'm constantly being distracted by the writing (which is still so good after all these years) and the Sundance commercials (I'm still mourning the fact that I will miss it this year). At the moment, I completely distracted by Jordan Catalono and Brian Krakow's conversation about a book report and Angela's totally 90's plaid dresses. That show is still one of my all time favorites.





Another deleted paragraph. Okay, this must stop. I'm signing for tonight. Maybe my little brain will be able to make coherent sense tomorrow.

**photo taken by my little brother with his IR camera. It's super cool.

December 08, 2011

two kids

Tonight, on my treasure hunt through my family's past, I found a box of negatives that my grandfather took, mostly in the 1940's. There were even a few glass negatives of my grandparents' wedding photos. Ah-mazing.

My grandma was a war bride. They met in England and he brought her back after their first child was a few months old. Because my grandfather was a photographer, he has tons of photos from back then. I even found a few color negatives with her grandmother in an amazing blue 40's dress, pin curls and rose red lipstick.

So, as I was looking at those negatives tonight, I was thinking about this photo that I wanted to post yesterday, but ran out of time. Two little kids (not really, but it feels like that when we're together) with cameras plastered in front of their face. Two kids that no matter what new place they go, those little black boxes are positioned right at eye level with the shutter clicking away. Making time standstill for a frame or two. Trying to capture the light and scenery as exactly as it appears.

I was also reminded that I need to print out some of the 30,587 photos that I have locked away on hard drives. Then maybe one day, our grand kids (more like neices and nephew) can look back through our photos and follow along on our adventures. They can laugh at the clothes we wore. They can see the old cars and ancient cameras and cellphones we used. Our past will be a bit more alive to them.

December 06, 2011


I went swimming today.

And loved every minute of it.

No, that doesn't have anything to do with this picture.

I just loved this photo.

And those little munchkins, whom I miss quite a bit.

December 05, 2011

passed down to me

I spent the day today buried in the past.

I discovered that my obsession with journaling and writing is very much an inherited one.

Piles and piles of journals.

Some dating all the way back to the 1880's.

Ridiculous details of everything imaginable.

Post cards. Stacks and stacks of them.

Paper over 100 years old.

Photos full of history.

My mom let me go through the first of boxes and boxes of family stuff. It's embarrassing how much I enjoy a good organization project. Add old photos and journals on top of that? This was like an early Christmas present. Reading my great-great grandfather's journals. His post cards to the girl he loved and the ones she wrote back. My great uncle's MIT college scores. Old secrets revealed in letters. Postcards from my grandfather when he was at summer camp as a child. They didn't throw anything away, it seemed.

I can see, as well, how much journaling is in my blood. And photography. And travel. All these things were very prevelent in the scraps they left behind. Post cards from Hawaii in the 40's. Photos of cross country trips to the Grand Canyon by car in the 40's. (Those photos are incredible, btw.) I am quite the product of my family passed down from generation to generation.

If only I also got some of those genius genes too....

December 04, 2011


I was completely charmed by this movie today. Read about it in a magazine and knew that it was going to be on my "movies to see" list this month. And I wasn't disappointed.

It was superbly cast. Each person shined in their role, especially this young guy. He was fantastic.

But as good as he was, he doesn't hold a candle to Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. She's got to get an Oscar nod for this one.

Her performance was a beautiful transformation. All the hype you hear about her in this role is accurate. She is a wonder. I was mesmerized for the entire movie. All the way down to her makeup, hair, clothing and mannerisms.

It was a simple story, but if you're a fan of old Hollywood and Marilyn (like me!) than you will enjoy it. And will you just look at the color palate in these photos. It's just a small bit of the beauty that is in this little charmer of a film.

December 03, 2011

If you're gonna do a hike, you wanna make it a good one, right? That's the way I think, at least. I like a good hike. I love a good hike actually. I would rather hike for 50 miles than run for 2.

So when my dear brother told me that this was the hike to do, I said "yes, please." Even though it was 1.5 miles straight up. It was tough, but not hard/exhausting. The way down was a piece of cake.

As long as hiking isn't a race, I'm game. I like to take my time and enjoy the scenery as it goes by. Stop every once in a while and look behind me. And I like to have something to look forward to at the top. A big reveal, if you will. A huge sweeping vista or a waterfall or a hidden beach.

Anyway, I loved this photo because it shows how far we came. And how high up. See....

Under that big blue arrow is our tiny, tiny car. Those little white dots are the cars in the parking lot. And this wasn't even at the top of the mountain. It was about a quarter of the way down.

It was so neat to hike on the red sandstone. It's not like the rock faces on the East Coast that are super slippery. You can walk straight up and down these red beauties, even in tennis shoes. It's rough face is kinda like sandpaper. Fantastic.

The desert is there is so beautiful. Not as pretty as a tree filled forest (in my humble opinion) or the amazing evergreens in Seattle or the beaches of Hawaii, but beautiful in it's own way. I have about 578 more photos to share of it. Hope you don't get sick of them....

December 01, 2011

I miss you and you and you and you and you and you

People are often shocked when I tell them that I love (LOVE) Seattle.
"It's rainy!" they say.

"It's gloomy!"

"It's grey and drab!"

My answer is always (at least in my head),

"But you don't know the Wilson's who live in Seattle. None of that matters when you are with them. It could be a monsoon outside and you wouldn't even notice."

They are the reason I dream about Seattle at least once a day. They are the reason that I MISS it there so desperately. They are the reason that Seattle is a happy, joyful, sunny, bright place full of laughter (even if it really does rain quite a bit).

There are too many miles between the East and West Coasts. Too many long, long miles. They should live right across the street so I can run over and play kickball in the backyard with the kids. They should live across the street and then I could have tea at night with R & R and watch New Girl after the kids go to bed at night. They should live across the street so I can read books to the 2 littles while their sibiling are at school. For a million other reasons, they should just live across the street.

I miss you, friends.

I miss you.

Return from whence I came

I have returned.

Back from an unbelievable month on the West side.

I have about 1,000 photos to sort and share.


I've been gone so long that i don't even remember everything I shot.

It will be like re-living the trip all over again just looking at them.

This particular shot (above) was taken by The Bro.

He has a totally covet worthy wide angle.

Covet, covet, covet I am over that thing.

Good think it's a Canon mount....

Oh, and this is 100% SOOC (straight out of the camera/no editing).



I'm missing my sweet friends and family that I had to say goodbye to.

After 3 weeks with my R, I'm going through some serious withdrawl.

The airport goodbye wasn't pretty.

There have been multiple texts back and forth since I left a week ago.

And then there were 5 glorious days with The Bro.

He was a peach and took me to Arches and Canyonlands.

I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly beautiful it was.

A different kind of beautiful than I have ever seen.

He's been 2 times before, but he knew I would love to see it.

(Our family has always been kinda in love with National Parks.)

He took me to all the cool places and made sure I did the best hikes.

Like this one in the photo above.

1.5miles straight up the side of a mountian to see this sight.

150% worth it.

Especially at sunset.

Well, goodness me.

I have so much to say that I'll just have to stop now.

The stories will trickle out as the days pass.

Are you ready?

I'm back!