December 25, 2012

Happy, happy

I've been doing lots of nothing but...

eating lots of food.  Not "good for you" food.  Yummy fattening deliciousness.

watching lots of TV/movies.  Helped my parents finish Downtown season 2 to get ready for season 3 in 2 weeks! And Thor.  I can't stop re-watching Thor.  It's even better the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time.  And Iron Man 2 because...well, because it's Iron Man.

thankful for some time to celebrate the birth of my Savior as well.  Amazing church services and worship time. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 19, 2012


Have you seen Frozen Planet?!

I'm obsessed with it right now.

Found it at the library and have been trying to slowly watch it instead of watching all 8 hours at once.

It's crazy good.

And the snippets of how they film 

Anyway, if you need a last minute gift for someone who loves documentaries or nature, Frozen Planet would be a great idea.  I mean there are narwhals, polar bears and penguins.  And the frozen tundra that melts and becomes some of the most beautiful landscape you will ever see.  It's addicting.  And educational!

December 18, 2012


Still running.

Can't even believe it myself.

I feel like I started to slowly turn the corner with my whole attitude towards it.  I don't do it as much as I should.  Only a few times a week (or once a week, if I can't nip that laziness in the bud). But when I do actually do it, I don't feel sick or like I'm dying every second.  The winter weather may be the blessing in disguise for that.  Whatever the case, I'm thankful for the change. 

I started running back in the spring of this year.  After many failed attempts in years past, this time it stuck.  Maybe it was turning 35.  Maybe it was having goals to look forward to.  Maybe it was having a plan in place rather than just winging it.  Maybe it was me praying "Lord, help me get the better of my laziness." Probably a combination of all those things. Whatever it was, it's working.

I must tell you that I'm not an athletic person.  I was blessed with family genes that have given me a small, slender frame for my entire life.  I didn't have to exercise to be skinny.  I wasn't good any any sports, so I just didn't really participate other than some volleyball in high school. I was much more content to sit in my room and read, craft or write.  A dangerous habit, if you want to live a healthy life.

Reaching middle age (really?!) I realized that if I want to be healthy, I have to do something about it.  I have to be the one to get off the couch and do something.  I have to be the one to gain control over my laziness and go outside in the mornings.  So I did.  I choose to run.  I choose to have those tough  mornings when I just want to walk and not run so badly.  I choose to push myself to go further when I don't want to.

So for those of you that just don't want to.  You hate running. You don't have time.  You can't run to your mailbox to get the mail, not to mention 1 whole mile.  For all of you, let me say that is is possible.  You CAN do it.  You can train yourself.  You can run 1, 2 or even 3 miles.  Just put on those running shoes and do it.  Stop making excuses.  Stop waiting until next year.  And then keep up with your goal.  Refuse to let your laziness win.  Refuse to keep giving up and starting over.

You may not love running.  I don't.  But I do love the energy I get from doing it.  I do love finishing a run and knowing I "ran".  It's a mental game.  It is.  The physical stuff is much, MUCH easier than the mental game.  It's exciting to gain control over that crazy mental block.  It's exciting to feel the wind in your face and push yourself.  And all those comfy running clothes aren't too shabby either!

****ps..I still would much rather swim than run.  It's just that the pool is so expensive and my favorite one to swim in is 45 minutes away, by my parents house.  Thankfully, the holidays mean that I'll be able to jump in a few times while I'm visiting them. 

December 07, 2012


(Blue Window by Michael Carson)

"You have been uniquely wired and uniquely gifted by God. You've been drawn to certain hobbies, drawn to certain habits, placed in certain neighborhoods, and given certain positions that you might reflect the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ in powerful ways to the world around you so that my hope is you wouldn't be so bored in life but rather would enjoy the life you've been given as you see the eternal weight of it. " -Matt Chandler "Galatians - A Former Life" Feb 12, 2012 

This little section of a message by Matt Chandler (heard via podcast) has been stuck in my head since I heard it on Monday.  (I've started listening to podcasts while running and LOVE it).  Totally inspiring.

December 03, 2012

365 update

(my brother and my niece washing dishes at my parents.  melts my heart)

I'm about a month away from finishing up my 365 photo project.

What an experience.

I'm so glad I decided to do it.
On a whim, no less.
No forethought other than...
"Take a photo today and one tomorrow and the next day"

(the Winnie dog completely puzzled by the sounds from the record player.)

That turned into 11 months.

I will say that I don't think I would have done it without my iphone.

I just know that if my photos depended on lugging around my DSLR everywhere, it would have ended on week 3.

(pretty fall colors)

But my phone, I have with me everywhere.
When I go running.
When I go to the store.
When I'm sitting in my room playing with yarn or glue.
When I go on adventures.
It's right there in my pocket, getting pulled out dozens of time to capture something.

(my view while running this morning.  so crazy beautiful. no filter either.)

It will be exciting to finish up mid January (I started the day I activated my iphone).

A Blurb book should be in the works to commemorate it.
It can go along with my #campsummer14 book.

A year of photos.

A year of my life.

So much fun and just a little bit of work.

November 17, 2012

Crazies and food = favorite Fall activity

One of my very favorite Fall traditions is our local Rennaissance festival.  I've heard it's one of the best in the country.  Luckily for me, it's literally 20 seconds from my church which means traffic is super fun on Sundays in the Fall!  Just kidding.  Well, not really.  Traffic really is quite awful, but I'll trade that for being so close to all the Ren Fest magic.

I usually wait and go when the weather cools down and the leaves are just starting to turn and float down to the ground.  After doing the festival in the rain (no thanks) and the heat (again, no way), I've learned that the cool days of October are prime for enjoyment.

The cooler weather doesn't deter anyone from dressing up in their Renaissance best.  There are a host of all sorts of crazies with strangest costumes I've ever seen.  It's highly entertaining and addicting.  People watching is the best part of the Ren Fest.

Okay, more like food and people watching.  Both are portrayed quite well in this shot.  I like to grab my food and then sit and stare at people walking by.  And there are so many delightful treats that it's an easy thing to do all day.

You could eat at a different stand for a whole week and not eat the same thing twice.  After this place has been open for an hour or two, the lines are crazy long and people are shoving food into their faces every where you turn.  And it's good food too.  Delish.

And the shows...some of the best live entertainment I've ever seen.  All the show are included in the admission price, so you can just plan out your schedule and squeeze in as many shows as you can between your people watching and eating.  There are a few favorites that I always make sure to see.  Like this guy in the photo above.  This is his second year here and is now a favorite of mine.  Hilarious.  I laugh so hard my stomach hurts.

This troupe has been at the festival for almost 15 years.  They do Shakespeare mixed with improv.  It's magic.  I see them at least twice each year.

The Bro decided to do the Wall Challenge this year and was super close to ringing that bell.  He's quite the climber now, living in those crazy Utah mountains.

The festival is always the most fun when you can share it with people you love.  It was so much fun to have The Bro back with me this year.  We went for the first time together about 7 years ago.  A favorite tradition of ours until he moved away.  Thankfully, he was back this year while it was still going on.  And we had sweet M with us too.  Such a fun fall tradition.  Magic, food, crazy people.  What more could you want?!

Do you have Rennaissance Festival in your state?
What's it like?

November 16, 2012

Tourist in your town city

When The Bro was in town last month, I wanted to make sure we had lots of options for fun things to do.  I had seen a discount for Segway tours on Living Social and immediately knew this would be something fun that we could do together.  Not because we needed to see DC again.  No, we've done that a bazillion times.  But we could see DC while riding Segways.  Yes, that was the secret ingredient.

The day we ended up choosing wasn't the most spectacular weather-wise, but we made the best of it.  The rain and drizzle held off for most of the day.  It wasn't too chilly either.  We zipped all over that city.  White House.  Washington Monument.  Lincoln Memorial. Capital.  And a host of other fun places.  All of which we had seen before, but again not on a Segway.

It's funny how you create a scene when you are in a Segway Tour.  People were taking pictures of us instead of the monuments not to mention stopping and staring.  I have to admit that I've done the same thing when I see groups go by in the city.  It's just a strange contraption and they zip along so fast.

It was all kinds of fun and we both would do it again in a heart beat.  Segways are really easy to operate. Very easy to get comfortable with.  And it really was a fun way to see lots of the city especially one that is so spread out and requires hours of walking.

The whole time all I could think of was Gob yelling "Michael!" as he zipped around.  How can you not?

There you have it.  Segway tours = thumbs way up.  Even if you seen the city so many times you can't count.  It's fun being a tourist in your own city sometimes.

***We did the 3 hour tour through City Segway Tours in DC.  The tour guides were great at making sure that you knew what you were doing before you headed out into the city streets.  The tour part was fine.  Not very detailed, but if you are more interested in seeing lots of sights instead of knowing lots of facts, this is the way to go.  We saw almost all of the "big" spots in DC in just 3 hours which is impossible if you are walking.  It's pricey, but you can always find coupons and deals if you know ahead of time.  We got our tour for half price.  

November 14, 2012

photo talk

For those of you who don't have smartphones or use Instagram, they now have a profile for their users for the rest of the online world.

I have a page (used name: cottage_girl) where you can see all my crazy photos.

It's been my blog replacement for the last few months that I have been "internet deprived" at home.

Bits and pieces of my everyday life.

And at the moment, I'm in the middle of a photo challenge with my friend who is a legit photographer, not just a "play at photography" person like me.

Plus, I'm two months away from finishing my first 365 project.

One photo every day for one year.  (I started in the middle of January when I got my iphone)

It has been one of the most fun/challenging projects I've done in years.

Oh, and I did a "photo-a-day" project this summer too that I just printed into a Blurb book.

This year will be completely documented in iphone photos.  And you know what?  I'm totally okay with that.  I've taken more photos than I have ever taken.  EVER.  And the record of the memories is more important than DSLR quality photos.  I'm totally loving my year of iphone photography!

November 11, 2012

Fingers crossed

I'm working on our Internet issues here at the Cottage.

What does that mean?

Well, basically there is a chance that I will be able to figure out some major computer technical jargon/hardware installation and get the Internet to work at our house.

That will also mean that I will be back to a normal posting schedule which will be so wonderful because I have a huge backlog of posts building up in my brain.

Exciting on so many levels.

You'll get to hear all my crazy ramblings and the 5,000 stories I haven't been able to tell in this space.

I'm still on Instagram. @cottage_girl. In 2 months I will finish my 365. A whole years worth of photos. And one of the most challenging and fun things I've ever done photography-wise.

There you have it.

Fingers crossed...I'll see you again soon.

October 22, 2012

Crazy Fun Color Run

You guys....

I did the Color Run.

Here's the proof:

Up bright and early.  It was chiiiilllly outside.

All decked out in our white duds. They look so sparkling white.  They won't stay that way for long though.

6,000 Color Runners.  And this was a small one, or so one of the officials told us.  People of all ages.  Kids too!

We got near the start of the line.  Oh, the excitement!

And then, we were off!  Every kilometer there was another color station with color volunteers ready to douse you with beautiful colored powder.  Oh, it was incredible.  And fun.  And amazing.  I had to take a photo along the way so I could remember the cloud.

Here we are after the blue station, headed to the finish line.  The DC run was right along the Potomac.  Beautiful!

Almost finished!

Crossing that finish line was such a fun thing.  A big deal for me, it being my first 5K.

And then, the Color party at the end.  Talk about a color fest.  Every 10 minutes or so there was a color throw.  And yes, it was that beautiful every single time.

Tons of free stuff is thrown out like fanny packs, sweatshirts, T-shirts, socks, head bands, bags, color packets, you name it.

There's lots of fun music playing and everyone is dancing and throwing color and laughing.  

All the runners get a color packet to throw at the end.  And then they throw out 100's of packets to keep the color fest going for a while.  It's crazy how happy a little packet of colored powder can make you.  AND happy you are.  Ecstatic.  Tossing it about like you are the happiest, messiest person on the planet.

I didn't pull my iphone out while we were in the cloud because it got dark as night and the dust would have destroyed it.  It was tough to breathe, so you just had to hold your breath and laugh until it disappeared.

Thankfully, we had a perfect weather day and the breeze just swept the color away after a 30 seconds or so.  You were just left covered in glorious color, laughing and dancing to the music.

One of my favorite shots of the day.  Tara could either be at a Hillsong concert or trying to snag some more free stuff.

Ben decided that he wanted to be first across the finish line.  Mission accomplished.  Very first.  He ran that thing FAST.

The aftermath was even pretty.  Color splattered/covered asphalt.  We picked up the trash, of course.  And eventually the color was swept away with leaf blowers.

Before and after.  Oh my gosh, I would do it again this weekend.  And every weekend.  It was incredible.  I love my running buddies, Michelle and Tara. We just had fun.

So if the Color Run comes to your hometown, GO!!!  It's ridiculously fun.  You don't even have to run.  So many people walked or pushed strollers with kids, jogged, danced.  It's just for fun and no one times you.

*All photos were taken with my iphone. I just put it in a Ziploc when I wasn't taking pictures.  It got powder on it, but I just dusted it off and it was fine.

***We had one more friend who came along, but he got snagged by the Color Run people to take photos for them for the day.  He had been taking photos of us with his fancy Canon and they saw him and hired him on the spot when 2 of their photographers didn't show up for the day.  

******All the color cleans up pretty easily.  I got most of it out of my clothes and shoes with OxyClean and cold water.  Only an old white cotton shirt had a few stains, which I kind of love.  And there are a few spots on my shoes, that I could have gotten out, but I kinda like the little happy reminder there permanently.  That white, long sleeved zip-up in the photo above is totally white again.  All that beautiful color....

October 05, 2012

in town

My whole entire family will be in town this weekend.
From near (Maryland) and far (Utah and Michigan).
Time to drag that DSLR out of the closet and dust it off.
I've been hankering for a reason to take a photo adventure.
Adventure ahead...

September 28, 2012

once more

What song have you had on repeat lately?

This is mine:

Ghosts That We Know by Mumford & Sons on Grooveshark

September 26, 2012

Shall we?

I miss my dear little blog.  

And all of you.

I miss connecting with people.

I miss writing so very much.

But I don't have internet at home right now and it's just not possible to write when I want to.

That's so frustrating and sad to me right now.    

So let's just pretend I can invite you all over for a nice cup of iced tea or chocolate milk.  We can have a face to face chat instead.  I can tell you all about my trip to see my sister last week and my love of the new iOS6.  We can trade photos.  You can tell me all about your favorite TV shows that are back on the schedule and the best movie you've seen lately.  I can tell you all about how my Netflix queue is full of TV shows (ER season 15 and Breaking Bad).  We can talk about the books we are reading (me:  My Life in France by Julia Child which I found for a quarter at the thrift store). We can sit and watch the river turn into a pink and purple and orange wonder during sunset on the most beautiful Fall evening.  Then we can watch The Avengers because I had to run out and buy it the day it came out on DVD.

Let do that instead, shall we?

September 20, 2012

raised hands

(my little iphone camera amazes me sometimes)

A few nights ago, my amazing friend Tara and I went to see Hillsong Live in the big city.  It was one of those spur of the moment decisions back in June.  The tickets were pretty cheap, and it's always fun to have something to look forward to at the end of summer.  Plus, Tara isn't living at camp any more, so we made up a fun reason see each other and have a friend date.

The concert was really great.  There is something about seeing 1,000's of people worshiping Jesus together that gives me chills and makes me think of heaven.  We sang pretty much all of my favorite Hillsong songs. The band/singers were really fantastic.  Bonus... Australian accents for 2 hours!   It was very worshiped focused too.  Not about those leading the worship, but about all of us together singing about Jesus.  Loved it.

It was one of those nights that just filled me up and let me focus on Jesus for a while and not the insanity of life.  It was all about who He is and how He loves me/us/all.  Raised hands.  Closed eyes.  Singing as loud as you want to because no one else can pick your voice (no matter how bad it sounds) out of the crowd.  Amen.

September 12, 2012

rambling weather post

There's this part in Jane of Lantern Hill (a favorite book of mine since I was young) when a big storm comes.  It blows and howls and shakes the house.  And when it's all over, summer is over as well.  Fall arrives with its crisp cool weather and fall foliage shortly behind.  It has always stuck in my head and I look for that storm every year.  That big last hurrah of summer.

That pretty much describes this storm.  We had had some ridiculously hot and humid weather for most of August and the beginning of September.  Now, I love summer.  It's my favorite season of all.  I love the hot weather and steamy days.  I don't really love the humidity, but that's inescapable if you live on the east coast during the summer.

Anyway, on Saturday, this lovely sky came rolling through.  I knew it was coming because I had been checking the weather all day.  There is nothing more incredible than watching a storm roll down the river.  It's equal part terrifying and amazing.  I ran down to the beach to snap a photo or two and watch it roll in.  There wasn't any thunder or lightning, which was really odd, but the wind was pretty incredible.  A great end of summer storm that really did bring some of the most beautiful weather behind it.

Rambling post all about the weather...complete.

September 07, 2012

a long 5 months wait

Having to wait until January seems like torture when the UK gets it next week!

September 06, 2012


Because it's Thursday.
And because the early 90's were my high school years.
And because this show that seemed so perfect, even back then, is still so great today.
Jordan Catalano, people.  Jordan Catalano.  

September 04, 2012


I made this yummy dish the other night.
I found it on one of my favorite blogs, Cakies, a while ago and have been wanting to try it.
It was a hit for my roommate and I.
Definitely will make it again.

And then, since I had all the ingredients on hand, I made one of my favorite new desserts.
This one comes from the pages of one of my favorite cookbooks.
It can also be found on PW's website.
I can't even explain how ridiculously easy this recipe is.
Nor can I put into words how delicious it is either.

It was a Happy Labor Day meal.
Just because.
Because I wanted apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream mostly.
Now I have to invite more people over to eat these apple dumplings because I will eat them all myself if I don't.