Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


40 Years Ago Today

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Senior Prom, 1981; Dress made by my mama, hair by Aunt Helen, hunk complements of his parents!

My honey keeps track of the ‘little’ big important days.

I know birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, that sort of thing. But for remembering the dates for first date, first kiss, first trip, and so on, he wins the prize.

First, he tells me that Tuesday (today) is a special day.

“What is Tuesday?” I ask, wracking my brain.

“I’m not telling you, you have to figure it out.”

Great. I am not good at this game. We’ve known each other a very long time. More than 40 years.

After several comically wrong guesses, I vaguely recall this time of year being when we finally got together as a couple.

“40 years ago, you agreed to be my girlfriend!”

Aww. He is absolutely right. I think. 40 years ago today, we started dating. As his mother used to say, “No, you keep him, you’ve had him longer.”

I agree. I’ll keep him. I have had him longer. I still want him. 🙂

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Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day, neighbors!

I love this old earth. It’s the only one I’ve got, so I suppose I should help take care of it. Earth Day reminds me to do something, not just talk about it or ignore the problems I see.

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For example:

~Yesterday and today, I planted thyme and basil, both edible yumminess for humans and flowering treats for bees.

~I’m trying to convince my pasture mowers to leave the dandelions as is for bee food.

~We avoid spray unless absolutely necessary and spend more time hand weeding.

~I keep planting baby trees from the Arbor Society to create habitat for birds and small animals.

~I always have water out for the cats, but wildlife benefits from the source of hydration.

~I’ve been noticing lots of trash along roads and paths, so it’s time to carry along a trash bag and pick up as I go on walks.

~We pay extra in our valley to allow us to recycle trash items like cans, cardboard, and certain plastics.

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I know there are many ways to help Planet Earth. These are only a few ideas to be good stewards of the beautiful environment God created for us to enjoy and care for. Spend some time outside today and pay special attention to how awesome our Earth is.

How about you? I’d love to hear what you do, especially if you have fresh ideas!


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Happy Easter!

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Happy Easter! He is Risen!

Matthew 28:5-10 (NIV)

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Happy Resurrection Day! Hope your day was filled with love and joy!

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Rubber Stamping Alert: Success Despite Losing Battle with Concrete Curb

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Last weekend was my first foray into Stamping Land over the Cascade Mountains since fall. I was long overdue for hours of creativity, messes, visiting, snacking, and generally solving world problems.

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Initial bruising and future scar (at end of eyebrow). That tiny hole caused so  much bleeding!

But first! After tripping mid-street and saving myself 3 times before reaching the cement curb, I landed right-face-side smack on my eye bone and glasses up against the edge of the curb. Curbs do not give way. Glasses and faces do!

Alas, the nearby young lady was probably scared for life after witnessing my bumble and being unable to prevent the collision, but she was extremely helpful in procuring napkins, tissues, and aids of phone calls or rides someplace. Any place!

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Gold duct tape for my poor glasses.

Lots of Good Samaritan help came my way, despite the blood pouring from my eye lid bone (the part at the end of your eyebrow, whatever that bone is called). A passerby offered a package of tissues and advice to get it checked. The restaurant owner repeatedly came in and out, bringing napkins, concern, and reassurances that I was not the only one to find this edge in the middle of the road. The young lady stayed with me until my ride arrived. And my ride came post haste after I remembered I had her number stored in my phone. Whew! Thanks, Connie! Otherwise, a long walk up steep hills with broken glasses and napkins held to my swollen eye/head…

Back to Stamping Land. Ahhh. The glorious experiments and messes we made. Interspersed with walks for meals, snacks, chatting, even a book on tape! Not that we could solve the mystery…Alyson’s B & B fit the bill for a weekend of crafting. Thanks, hostess!

After my initial concern of decreased productivity (due to head injury), you can imagine my relief when 66 cards were completed. Good progress!

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Wow, when I compare then and now, I might just look worse now!

Rubber stamps, ink pads, markers, colored pencils, chalks, booger dots, patterned papers, cardstock, glue sticks, tape, scissors, paper cutters, bits of ribbon and scrap paper-just a little bit of anything and everything. PLAYING is what we call it. Playing with our stuff. And what do we get? Fun cards!

Have you ever given yourself a black eye? Or a wound with ample amounts of blood? What do you do when you get creative? Here’s to grace and play time!

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New glasses! Worse color. I promise, I am getting better!

 


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Book Report: How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby

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How to Walk an Ant

Written and illustrated by Cindy Derby

Roaring Brook Press, 2019

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Cindy Derby, Roaring Brook Press, and KidLit411 gifted me with a copy of How to Walk an Ant. Thank you for such a delightful book!

Opening lines:

“My name is Amariyah, and I am an Expert Walker.

No, I don’t mean I walk perfect,

I mean I walk things.”

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Amazon Blurb:

There are nine steps to becoming an ant walker, and Amariyah, the expert ant walker, is here to show you how it’s done.

This irreverent and quirky picture book, How to Walk an Ant, follows a young girl as she goes through the process of walking ants, from polite introductions to tragic leash entanglements.

In the end, this unique book from author-illustrator Cindy Derby shows that as long as you’re doing what you’re best at, you may find a like-minded friend to tag along.

*Zero ants were harmed in the making of this book.
**Oops, 7 ants were harmed in the making of this book.

 

Why I Like This Book:

Quirky and irreverent is correct! I loved reading about Amariyah and her efforts to educate me in the best ways to walk ants (always carry plenty of thread, …). The illustrations perfectly match the story and I had to laugh loud and giggle to myself several times as I read. Seriously, which picture book do you know where FUNERAL plans are a part of the appendix?

The writing is clear and entertaining. Amariyah has a unique voice and I love her personality and adventures. A limited palette for the illustrations allows images to pop into life. Add diagrams and insets, and anyone who reads How to Walk an Ant will quickly reach expert level. This book is a fun read.

Spring is here, the best time to practice walking newly emerged ants. Read How to Walk an Ant and then head outside to practice walking ants.

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KID KANDY:

Ants on a Log

Ingredients: celery, peanut butter (or other nut butter if you can’t eat peanuts), raisins

4 Steps to Eating Ants

1. With an adult, wash and cut celery sticks into 3-4 inch pieces

2. Spread peanut butter in the celery (log) trough.

3. Plop ants (raisins) on the peanut butter.

4. Eat ants on a log. Now you are an expert eater of ants.

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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: worm salad

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spring rain brings party,

water-logged crawlers become

salad of dead worms

 

worm salad by Angie Quantrell

 

I hate walking outside after a rain, afraid of stepping on and squishing the lovely gardeners who struggle to escape overwhelming water in their aerating holes. I never have time to rescue the big ones, tossing them into garden boxes and grassy resorts. Instead, when I return home, after the rain has headed east, I find piles of worm salad.

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Mud: The Perfect Nature Sensory Activity

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First we had February. Snowmageddon and all of that. The season of snow.

Next we had the melt. Flooding, slush, and slippery ice. The season of melt.

Now we have rainy April days and plentiful water. The season of mud.

Does mud bother my grands? Not in the slightest. Nearly all the kids I know love getting dirty, playing in the mud. From what I’ve observed, most of the problem with mud comes from the adults. The ones who have to do laundry, wipe mud trails off of floors, wash boots, and repair muddy landscapes.

Forget all of that worry. It’s time for the season of play!

Enter mud play. A fine mist was falling, water stood in the wagon and various items strewn about from building fairy houses, and mud was plentiful.

They dug, scooped, buried, and transported mud, rocks, and sticks. They gathered water, poured it around, and put a dead worm in the mud in case he wanted to wake up.

They painted small pieces of logs by using a stick as a paintbrush, using the stick to smear mud across the flat surfaces. And then they decorated the wagon and fairy gardens with mud-encrusted artwork.

I love it when I see preschoolers and children (and even adults) use their creativity and imagination. I love it even more when nature and messes are involved!

I’m not sure if the parents agree, but playing in mud is excellent for sensory engagement and exploration of nature.

So…put on some old clothes, just in case, plop on the wellies, and head out for some messy fun.

 


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NO! The End is Near (For This Sweater)

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2019 Word of the Year: Treasure

A treasure can be nearly anything you want it to be. This year I am spending time considering and giving thanks for the treasures in my life.

This may seem odd, but I think favorite items of clothing can be treasures. Laugh if you will, but for 2019, I am thinking of eternal treasures, earthly treasures, intrinsic treasures, and treasures of gifts and talents. With the right glasses on, anything can be a treasure!

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Meet my sweater. The sweater of a thousand photos. Read this post about my favorite sweater.

This treasure was a BARGAIN I found at Goodwill. Years ago, I paid maybe $1.99 for this classic. Barely used but definitely broken in, I wore this soon-to-become-favorite with nearly all of my outfits, matching or not. I LOVE bargains and I’m not above wearing yard sale or thrift store clothes. After washing of course.

I wore my treasured sweater when menopause forced me to constantly put on and remove clothing to keep up with body temperature fluctuations.

I wore this beauty (in this case, maybe beauty is in the eyes of the beholder) on trips for ease of packing and smashing into a tote or suitcase.

I wore this lovely on too-many-too-count walks and hikes. Easy to put on, simple to remove and tie around my waist.

This sweater seen in many photos is a treasured wardrobe item. I’ll bet not too many of my family and friends have not NOT seen me wearing this.

And now? It has a significant OWIE! The elbow hole! Worn clean through.

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First signs of failure included missing buttons, which I dutifully sewed back on, finally realizing I didn’t mind if the match was perfect. Sleeve and bottom edges became frayed. Armpit and elbow areas thinned. Lint was no longer an issue.

This is so sad! Can one grieve a sweater? I’m working up to it. Not yet ready to toss my soft fashion necessity, but the time is getting closer.

I’ve been hunting for a new sweater treasure. At stores (full price), bargain stores (on sale), yard sales, thrift stores, even closets of friends. Nothing has come even close to my favorite sweater.

The end is near. Should you hear the sound of taps being played outside and the metal clanks of a shovel on stone and dirt, it might be me, burying my poor, worn out sweater.

Here’s to fond memories of favorite clothes. We all have them. What’s your favorite clothing treasure?

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Book Report: Borrowing Bunnies, A Surprising True Tale of Fostering Rabbits by Cynthia Lord

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Borrowing Bunnies, A Surprising True Tale of Fostering Rabbits

Written by Cynthia Lord

Photographs by John Bald

Illustrations by Hazel Mitchell

Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2019

 

“Come along on a surprising adventure with two very special bunnies as they find their forever families!” (back cover)

I send a special thanks hopping to Cynthia Lord, for gifting me with a beautiful copy of Borrowing Bunnies, complete with three autographs! Thank you for the bunny keepsake! Thanks also goes out to Kathy Halsey and Group Blog for offering the opportunity to win a copy of this adorable bunny tail. Tale. Hop on over to read about great books.

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Amazon Blurb:

Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord likes fostering rabbits—or, as she fondly calls it, “borrowing bunnies.” This is the heartwarming true story of the author’s own journey with two very special rabbits.

In the spring of 2016, Peggotty and Benjamin were saved by Maine’s Cottontail Cottage Rabbit Rescue after their previous owners had neglected them. But before the two Netherland Dwarf rabbits could be adopted, Cynthia had to help them learn to trust people and feel safe inside a home. The bunnies slowly settled in, enjoying their clean pens, nibbling new foods, and playing with fun toys, while Cindy’s husband, John Bald, photographed Benjamin and Peggotty’s every step toward adoption. At that time, hundreds of viewers were drawn to Cindy’s Facebook page to watch their progress. Now, she has adapted the rabbits’ true story into a picture book that explores love, responsibility, empathy, and letting go—along with fostering’s many surprises, both big and small.

Young readers will delight in watching these bunnies thrive while also learning a few fun animal facts. With Cindy’s pitch-perfect blend of warmth and real-life experience, Borrowing Bunnies is a new classic in narrative nonfiction.

Things I Like About Borrowing Bunnies:

1. BUNNIES! At once glance, I was in love and wanted to run out and foster (to keep-ok, that is called adoption) a baby bunny! Fortunately, I live in an RV and there is no room for in indoor bunny. Outdoors will not work, as we have a hunting pair of hawks who return each spring to nest, raise their young, and teach them to hunt-right in our pasture.

But read on, friends. Be prepared to spend time and resources to care for, love, train, and snuggle with these cuties.

2. New information. I learned so much about rabbits and their habits. Wonderful illustrations and photographs merge on colorful pages, telling the story of fostering bunnies. I’m still wondering how to potty train a bunny though. Is it like a kitten where you just keep putting it back in the kitty box until it potties and makes the connection? One of my junior high friends had an indoor pet rabbit and it left a trail of bunny pellets everywhere it traveled.

3. Narrative. Cynthia Lord writes in a clean and captivating way, engaging me and explaining along the way. Young readers will love the bunny story and not even notice how much they are learning!

4. Illustrations and photos. Perfect combination of information, character profiles (bunnies), and adorableness.

5. Overall package. This book is just right. Spring, when we tend to think of baby bunnies and other assorted baby animals, is the optimum time to read Borrowing Bunnies. This book would fit right into an Easter basket or collection of spring animal books.

6. Emotions. Some sections of this book will make you cry, laugh, love, and experience loss. Readers are exposed to the emotions connected with fostering and caring for animals. Discussing these emotions will help young readers understand their feelings.

I hope you are encouraged to purchase or check-out Borrowing Bunnies and read all about real life bunnies. Maybe one day you will foster baby animals!

 

KID KANDY:

Here are a few fun things you can do after reading Borrowing Bunnies:

~ hop and leap like a bunny

~ use blankets to make a soft bunny nest for stuffed animals or yourself

~ curl up in your nest and read Borrowing Bunnies!

~ visit a zoo or farm to see and pet live bunnies

~ eat a bunny salad for lunch (carrots, lettuce, radishes, peas)

~ pick dandelions to make bunny bouquets (bunnies love dandelions)

~ use paper, markers, glue stick, and cotton balls to make a bunny picture; draw the bunny with long ears and whiskers; glue a cotton ball on for a tail

Hoppy Day!

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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: ode to pesto (plus recipe)

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rip, shred, pulverize-

greens, cheese, garlic, oil becomes

feast! dine, friend, pesto.

 

ode to pesto by Angie Quantrell

 

Spring is here and with it comes potted basil plants from Trader Joe’s. Basil is the scent and flavor of all things yummy. I cheat, buying multiples of potted plants each trip to Seattle, instead of planting. Though this year I am tempted to throw some seeds in a planter box and see what happens. Last year I picked up a basil plug from the grocery section at a store, and it performed beyond expectations! Of course, I repot the potted plants and plugs in good potting soil and harvest leaves as I need them.

Every summer, we gorge on pesto-on pizza, salmon, chicken; in sauce and soup. So pungent, cheezy, and filled with garlic, we can taste the beauty and intense flavors the next morning. (Yes, we brush our teeth…but my pesto is the gift that keeps giving…lol).

I use my little RV-sized food processor, so one batch is perfect for one meal.

WALNUT BASIL PESTO

Ingredients:

basil (lots of leaves, fill the food processor)

walnuts (coarsely chopped)

shredded Parmesan cheese

3-5 chopped garlic cloves

olive oil

sea salt

Optional: I’ve added spinach to up the nutritional value and use up left over amounts

 

Directions:

Add basil, walnuts, Parmesan, and garlic. Pour on olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Blend, adding additional olive oil to get the consistency your prefer. I always have to stop the machine and stir down the pesto to get it all to mix.

I don’t measure anything with this recipe, other than how much garlic I add. It’s never been too thin, but rather I need more oil. Serve right away with chicken, pizza, salmon, steak, or on toasted bread. Store leftovers (if there are any) in tightly sealed container or freeze immediately.

Now, where’s my tiny food processor?