Love, Laughter, and Life

The Writing Life of a Woman Who Might Be Missing a Few Brain Cells


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Expecting Spring

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tightly closed fists peek

pink wisps bulge with life – spring yearns,

bursts forth, nest and tree alike

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The most hopeful of seasons, spring, lies in wait, gathering herself in preparation to leap into the exploding fray of growth, buzzing with energy and promise.

 

What signs of spring do you see in your area?


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Trader Joe’s Potsticker Kale Soup

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We do love shopping at Trader Joe’s. Alas, the nearest location is over the river(s), through many woods, and on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass in Issaquah. Still, we visit regularly and stock up on favorites each time.

What do you do when hunger strikes, you live in an RV, and you want a quick dinner?

Soups’ on!

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Trader Joe’s Potsticker Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 T. Butter

1 T. Olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 32-oz. Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger Broth

1 16-oz. Trader Joe’s frozen Pork Gyoza Potstickers

Approximately 4 cups chopped kale (see Trader Joe’s produce section)

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 bunch chopped green onions

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Directions:

1. In a large soup pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter and olive oil until carmelized.

2. Add broth. Pour a small amount of water in the carton, swirl to rinse, and add to pot. Stir and bring to a boil.

3. Add frozen potstickers, kale, and peas. Return to boil. Cook 4-5 minutes, gently boiling, until heated through and kale is wilted.

4. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped green onions. Makes 2-4 servings.

 

This was so yummy! Next time, I would add julienned carrots to the onion and garlic mixture. Ohhh, julienned red peppers would be great as well.

Super fast, fantastically delicious. Too bad there are no leftovers.


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RV Life: 4 Household Necessities

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Welcome to the RV life.

When we decided to sell our stick house and move into an RV while preparing to build a small home, we knew space would be an issue.

In an RV, storage is calculated in square inches. Each tiny fraction of space is required, necessary, pondered, and strictly enforced.

Take, for example, my enjoyment of the toaster. On those days I want a toasted bagel or whole grain bread, I want it evenly browned, not charred in some areas and barely tan on others. The normal toaster from the big house (our old house, according to the grands) would not even fit in a cupboard. Hence the knowledge of charring and tanning acquired when using the method of a gas flame.

I also knew we would not be happy without a coffee pot. But our huge clunky version did not a) fit in a cupboard, and b) fit on the counter. I considered pour over, but was saved by a shopping discovery.

Yet another ‘what can we not do without’ moment was centered around the stove top where there really is room for only one pan, occasionally a tiny second pan. Cooking space was in high demand.

Humidity. The fourth requirement. As in DE-humidity, also known as dehumidfying. This need became increasingly evident as the winter embraced our valley, temperatures dropped, and snow began to fall. One can wipe down the windows only so many times without sinking into despair.

Should you ever be in need of RV advice, feel free to get in touch! Here are four solutions I’ve found to the above problems. While not perfect, each contributes significantly to our RV lifestyle.

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Mini-toaster. I love this! It doesn’t perfectly toast our food, but it works just fine. And like I said, charring over the gas flame does not work.

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Mini-coffee brewer. This four-cup beauty fits beneath the sink and makes a decent cup of joe. Check that off the list.

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Small electric skillet. One of the first things my mother-in-law told me was to get an electric skillet. I forgot that advice in the hustle of selling, packing, and moving. Once my stove top frustration built to a respectable level, that bit of advice popped right back. Works just fine other than needing to always be counting the total wattage of energy use at any one moment to avoid blowing the fuses. This took practice.

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Small dehumidier. We caved. It’s better to spend some bucks up front and get an electric dehumidifier than ruin the inside of the RV with mold. We have this plugged in all the time, moving it back and forth from the table to the counter. It doesn’t remove every drop of humidity, but it helps. We also employ disposable containers of Damp Rid. Looking forward to warmer air and open windows.

We picked a fine year to move into an RV. Record breaking snow fall, long damp wet winter, and a steep learning curve made some days a little tense. But now with the spring sun occasionally peeking through (snowed ALL day yesterday), we can see the (sun) light at the end of the winter tunnel. Drying out and deep cleaning are our spring goals.

I find it necessary to add that we are still married. To each other. Despite storms of frustration inside the RV.

How about you? Any favorite RV appliances or necessities? Let’s help each other out. Maybe you have a suggestion that would enrich our tiny living lives. Thanks!

 


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Coffee Like Papa

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As I was recently pouring cream into my coffee, adding just enough until the creamy clouds billowed up to the top breaking the surface of enticing black, I remembered my Papa. He liked his coffee the same way, at least when I was serving. I realized that I had adopted the same habit and method of adding cream to my coffee.

“Just pour it in until it swirls back up,” he told me. For the coffee was always hot or brewing at Grandma and Papa’s, usually available with some choice of sweet dessert. And evaporated milk, punctured open and sitting beside the sugar bowl, was ever at the ready.

Now my personal choice is half and half. But back then, that little red and white can was perfectly fine. Because we were sipping our brew together and catching up on the news of the day.

Cone on over and we’ll have coffee. Just like Papa.

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A Valentiny Story for You: Jello Did Not Like Valentine’s Day

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Jello did not like Valentine’s Day.

True, the holiday was fine. For everyone else. But for Jello? No one ever remembered to deliver a valentine specific to his – ahem – tastes.

“Jello,” shouted Hatchback. “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Strawberries, a favorite of turtles. Disappointing. Putting on a smile, Jello croaked, “Thank you.”

“Hey, mellow Jello,” squawked Licorice. “Will you be my valentine?”

Corn, a crow’s go-to meal. No surprise. Jello belted out, “Thank you.”

“Ssssay, Jello, old buddy,” called Slinky. “Rosessss are red, berriessss are blue. You are my friend. Here, jusssst for you.”

Speckled eggs. Eww, shells. Pasting a pleased look on his face, Jello gulped, “Thank you.”

“Hi-de-ho, Jello,” chortled Twitch. “My heart belongs to you.”

Dandelions, and I’ve no rabbity teeth for gnawing. Jello grunted, “Thank you.”

“Sweet as honey, Jello,” roared Buzz. “BEE my valentine!”

Sticky honey. Ugh. It glued Jello’s mouth shut. Jello bellowed, “Thank you.”

 

No one indulged Jello with his favorite treat. Valentine’s Day was a bust.

 

“Jello-pie,” croaked Jiggle. “True love of mine, you’ve wiggled into my heart!”

Jello gasped! A valentine, just for him! Pink tasty worms. Perfect for his – ahem – tastes. Beaming, Jello barked, “Thank you!”

Maybe Valentine’s Day was not so bad after all. Jello shared his valentine treats with his friends.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Written by Angie Quantrell (214 words)

 

The Second Annual Valentiny Writing Contest: by Susanna Leonard Hill

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is confused!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone confused (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to submit more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!


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Snow Cream

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Today is it, folks. At least for the Yakima Valley. Maybe.

Time to get out there and grab a bowl full of clean fresh snow before the rains hit tomorrow. Let’s make snow cream!

Snow Cream

  1. Fill a cereal bowl with clean snow. If you are doing this with kids, give them each a bowl to fill.
  2. To each bowl add about: 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. sugar, and enough 1/2 & 1/2 or milk to desired consistency. Mix with a spoon. This is very light sugar, as I don’t care for syrupy sweet stuff, but you can add more sugar if you want. This would also be great with fresh fruit.
  3. Eat, enjoy, repeat.

My mom used to make snow cream for us when I was a kid. I think she used to add eggs. But I’m not a big fan of raw eggs, and I was a kid. I could be way off base. Either way, no eggs.

Brain freeze!

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Storystorm Day 30: “Make Soup!” by Dr. Carrie Barron

by Dr. Carrie Barron Here is a wonderful quote I just found by psychologist and creator of the Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, Abraham Maslow: “A first rate soup is more creative than a second rate pai…

Source: Storystorm Day 30: “Make Soup!” by Dr. Carrie Barron

Creativity. Sometimes it comes and sometimes you have to start working and then the juices get flowing. Writers and other creative souls, we just need to start working with our ingredients, be those pen and paper, paint and canvas, clay and tools. Smell the soup!


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Storystorm Day 18: “Bake it Up, Shake it Up” by Veronica Bartles

by Veronica Bartles When Tara asked me to write a blog post for Storystorm about Inspiration, I knew this would be my Finest Achievement Ever. I’m so excited to share with you my brilliant, awe-ins…

Source: Storystorm Day 18: “Bake it Up, Shake it Up” by Veronica Bartles

Mentor texts? Fractured fairy tales? I want to do one of these! Love it!


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The Welcome Mat is Out – RV Life

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The snow that has fallen would easily reach the second step, but diligent shoveling makes finding the welcome mat possible!

The welcome mat is out. Snow covered. But out.

Bundle up, jump in the one-horse open sleigh, and drive over the river and through the woods to Nana’s house. I mean Nana and Papa’s RV.

First, we’ll visit and catch-up. Of course, in our tiny space, this may require sitting in shifts or booting a cat off the chair. Speaking of cats, the floating fur is free.

For the exercise portion of our gathering, shall we shovel some snow? As it seems to fall continuously, there are a couple of acres ready for your attention. We’ll add in a bit of slip-sliding our way up the hill to the irrigation ditch, view the wildlife, and sled back down into the pasture.

To conclude our fun times together, toasty hot tea or coffee and perhaps a snack or two shall be served.

As we wave you out of sight, know our hearts and RV are warmer and happier. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon.

Just aim for the welcome mat.

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The Christmas tree that shall stand in place until probably March – or until the snow melts enough to get to the base. It’s still beautiful, so I shall enjoy it until then!

Snow, glorious, snow.

Falling, drifting, growing

Into mountains

And triathlon driving adventures.

 

Snow, fabulous, snow.

Beautiful, peaceful, blanketing

Covering all

And putting to bed those who live under.

 

– By Angie Quantrell


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Gingerbread Haiku

wafts of spice tickle

quivering noses and tongues

gingerbread delight

~ Angie Quantrell

There is most decidedly a reason that gingerbread has become synonomous with Christmas.

The scent.

The fragrance of warm spices, the steam of a hot oven, the soft melting of toasted cookies melting in your mouth…

Welcome, gingerbread. Welcome, Christmas.