Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Applesauce Day ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

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Applesauce Day

By Lisa Amstutz

Pictures by Tabitha Shipman

Albert Whitman & Company, 2017

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I love Applesauce Day!

Fall is my favorite time of year, when the apples, pumpkins, squash, and other great produce is harvested. I can’t wait to sink my greedy fingers into a box of apples or a trunk-load of pumpkins.

Applesauce Day takes me right into autumn. I can just imagine the fun and tradition of gathering with family to make large amounts of applesauce. What tastes better than homemade applesauce? Nothing! Ok, maybe homemade pumpkin pie or apple cake or pear tartes or . . .

This lovely picture book tells the tale of a family traveling from the big city to the orchards to pick apples and then to grandma’s house to put those apples to good use. What’s special about Applesauce Day is the family heirloom – the applesauce cooking pot. Family traditions and passed-down items are a passion of mine, so I immediately bonded with this tale.

I found Applesauce Day to be well written and beautifully illustrated. Flashbacks! I don’t know that I’ve seen other picture books with flashbacks, but the ones in this book are adorable.

Even though apple season is at an end, boxes of apples are still available. Go ahead. You know you want to read this book and make applesauce. Just imagine the scent of warm apples and cinnamon wafting through your home. See? I can smell it from here.

KID KANDY

Make Crock-Pot Applesauce

Ingredients:

apples, cinnamon, water

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and core apples. Slice into wedges.

2. Put apples in Crock-Pot. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Add about 1/4 cup water.

3. Cover Crock-Pot with lid. Turn heat to high and let it simmer. Occasionally stir and check apples for tenderness.

4. When apples are soft and mushy, use a potato masher to mash the apples into sauce. I love chunks, so I don’t strain it.

5. Eat warm! Cool and put the rest in the fridge. Or freeze individual containers for later.

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I love making Crock-Pot Applesauce with my students every fall. Everyone brings 2 apples, no matter what variety, and we put them all together to cook. By the end of the day, everyone in the school wants what’s bubbling in our room!

I’d love to hear (and smell and taste) how your applesauce turns out!

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Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

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It’s been a rough year for my family, so we decided to switch things up. This year, we went off the charts for Thanksgiving.

We chose to:

-travel to the beach (off-season is awesome)

-cook our own little turkey breast

-decorate for Christmas

-begin our annual Christmas movie countdown

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What really happened:

-beach plans were cancelled due to health issues

-went on a drive to the mountains to collect pine cones for art projects

-soaked by pounding rain

-did a little off-roading to travel up a steep, rocky, bumpy, muddy path

-met a wolf

-the wolf turned into a Husky, lost VERY far from civilization

-he loved us. And jumped eagerly into the pickup

-had to figure out what to do with a huge lost dog (wearing a collar, but no tags)

-Did you know everything is closed (pretty much) on Thanksgiving? Unless you are shopping.

-which was good, since we needed dog food

-by the time we got home, it was very late when our little turkey breast went in the oven

-spent all afternoon taking photos, hanging out, searching for lost dogs, and contacting friends and social media groups in efforts to find this handsome boy his family

-nowhere to keep a large, very large dog in the RV

-our daugther and family took Mr. Handsome home to sleep

-Mr. Sweetie (SO good with kids, pets, noises, crowds) hunkered down in exhaustion

-turkey dinner became our traditional leftovers meal: turkey, cranberry sauce, cream cheese, sliced red onion sandwich (I had a salad)

-actually had a six-course meal. That’s what I told Kevin as we ate and drank different courses while waiting for the turkey to get done

-nearly sugar-free crustless pumpkin pie is delicious!

-decorated the RV. Put up our tree in less than 5 minutes. Done.

-put up the outdoor tree. Less than 5 minutes. Done.

-finished the Harry Potter movie marathon. Next, Christmas.

 

Our day was totally nontraditional. But we liked it.

Who knows? Next year we might go back for pinecones.

Or another lost dog.

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P.S. More about our Mr. Handsome later.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;

His love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

 

While I always remember to give thanks this time of year, I wish I would remember to daily recall the many blessings and gifts the Lord has given me.

We hear the saying,”Christmas is not just one day, but 365 days a year” and “Keep Christmas alive every day of the year.” I think the same could be said of Thanksgiving.

I’m just going to bring my New Year’s resolutions forward a bit…I’d like to spend 2018 remembering and giving thanks each day. Happy Thanks-for-giving from 1 to 365.

Happy Thanksgiving, lovely ones. I pray you are surrounded by loved ones, great food, warm houses, and thankfulness.

Feeling thankful.

 


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Wonders and Mysteries of Fall

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By Angie Quantrell

 

Caramel apples

Leaves poised to drift and rest

Golf course cowboy in full roping regalia

 

Kites of black crow

Squabbling magpies dropping nuts

Blaring country western music serenading golf athletes

 

Fruity wafts of fallen apples

Crisp air floating watchful hawks

Horseshoes traded for clubs and pixellated balls

 

Scrambling squirrels pursuing future feasts

V’s of noise and harsh wing beats

Cowboy hats capturing sun-touched heads

 

Hollow seed pods knocking one another

Waving grass kissing heat and drought good-bye

Wheeled-steeds rolling into the tees of sunset

 

Familiar autumn memories prance and greet

A lifetime of fall memories merging together welcomes interlopers

Cowboys and golf marry, valley mysteries

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Sea to Ski: Anniversary Travel & Fun

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Pre-hike view of Mt. Rainier

While celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary last week, we experienced what I have tagged a Sea to Ski holiday. In our area, there is a Ski to Sea athletic event, and we certainly engaged in exercise during portions of our explorations, but nothing up to iron man/woman or triathlon levels. Not even close.

Fun, fast, feast, foray. That’s was our goal.

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Seattle from Alki (West Seattle)

Sea = Day 1 Trip to Seattle

We dined on extremely tasty blackened cod tacos and salad at Salty’s on Alki. We walked along the beach, rode the water taxi across the bay to the Seattle waterfront, hiked the Pike Street Hill Climb, enjoyed clam chowder at Ivar’s, and scoured an antique store for a tiny glass bottle. Parking was just fine at Salty’s and the water taxi was a treat.

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The Seattle skyline from the water taxi

Ski = Day 2 Trip to Mt. Rainier

Technically, we did not ski. But we hiked in the mountains. And saw plenty of snow. We parked at Ohanapecosh Campground and hit the trail leading through the hot springs, past Silver Falls, discovered a new trail (for us) to the Grove of the Patriarchs, and totalled over 6 up and down miles. About 60 floors in elevation gains, according to my Iphone. For hot days, this was perfect, as most of the trail was shade covered, gorgeous, and green.

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The hiking look

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See? A nice and shady path

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Waterfall and creek at Ohanapecosh 

Ride = Day 3 Motorcycle Loop

To make up for the hiking, we sat on the bike to see the sights. We traveled up Highway 410, gazed at the packed snow and ice gracing the top of Chinook Pass, followed Highway 123 to Highway 12, and returned through Naches to make a loop ride. We took the back road around Clear and Rimrock Lake. There was no lack for beauty, but it was getting pretty hot by the time we completed the ride.

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Mt. Rainier from Chinook Pass

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We left early to avoid the heat, so the morning hours required layers and layers! Which slowly came off as the mercury rose.

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Our shadows and us admiring the snow and Mt. Rainier

Watch = Day 4 Movie to Beat the Heat

As per suggested temps of 100, we hit the theater to take in the new Pirates movie. We both loved this episode as it tied in to the original three. AND we avoided the gagging heat.

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Ferns at Ohanapecosh 

All in all, we had a fantastic anniversary holiday, me and my honey. The northwest is full of gems, just ready for exploring.

Where do you love to go? All ideas are welcome…next trip is just around the corner.

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 Fish tacos at Salty’s


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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!