Love, Laughter, and Life

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


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From Snow to Pansies

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It has ever been such a long, cold, snow-bound winter for us. The first season of surprises in our RV.

Not sticker or culture, but rather seasonal challenges and lack-of-space shock.

Today dawned with swirling and dancing fog. Thick mists block sun rays, and though the weather “suggestions” report zero chance of rain, my eyes tell me the overhead clouds and heaviness may disagree.

Yet spring is here. We have moved from this:

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to this:

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Cheerful pansies rest and smile in rain dampened glory.

Content.


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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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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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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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A Photo Becomes A Painting

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A photo tells a story.

At the end of a recent vacation, I shot a selfie of the two of us, relaxed and replete after several days of downtime and fun. This picture is one of my favorites.

Factor in one of Kevin’s co-workers, Kathy Bensch. She wanted to do a painting of us for Kevin’s office. Just because. We gave her a copy of our favorite photo.

Et voila! There we are, in living water color. Thank you, Kathy! Perfect!

Not that the painting will ever make it to Kevin’s office…I do have some ideas on how to share.

But I think this painting looks great in the RV.

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Throwback Thursday: The Princess and the 100-Year-Old Dress

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Princess Autumn is happy to show off an antique gown.

The title says it all. Here is Autumn, our princess. She’s not 100-years-old, but 9 months, and comes complete with teeth, crawling agility skills, and potential for climbing.

Autumn is sporting a 100+-year-old cotton dress. Notice the intricate stitching and detail as she chews on her hair brush. See the tiny buttons stitched to the opening on the back of the dress. Allow your gaze to appreciate the length of the long dress and long sleeves. For posing and walking, this ankle length gown is divine. For crawling, gnawing, and drooling, maybe not so perfect. Over 100 years ago, this antique gown was handcrafted by a loving and skilled female member of the family. I adore vintage.

Throwback Thursday welcomes Princess Autumn, which is kind of ironic, as she has not even had that many Thursdays…yet.


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Throwback Thursday: Sunday Markets, I Miss You!

Summer farmer markets, oh how I look forward to you! Enjoy this throwback post from August 2009.

The fountain at Place Monge on Sunday Market day

Place Monge (Paris) fountain on Sunday Market day

In France, one of the things we truly enjoyed was the Sunday market held in the Place Monge town square. One could buy ANYTHING needed for eating, drinking, or giving. One Sunday we encountered a simultaneous flea market, but I could never figure out when another was going to be staged. I so wanted another chance at finding treasures!

On any given Sunday, there was no lack of choices for purchase at the market. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers were squashed in among stalls of stinky cheese and fish, raw meat and poultry. Lucious homemade breads competed for the winning fragrance award with occasional ‘meals made for you right now.’ The entire experience was a delight for the senses. Taking home the goods – mouth-watering sustenance.

flowers on Sunday Market

Flowers at Sunday Market

Meat vendor at Place Monge

Meat vendor at Place Monge

vegetable vendor at Place Monge

Produce vendor at Place Monge

Market fare from Place Monge

A meal comprised of market fare from Place Monge

Many years ago, in the Yakima Valley, a Sunday farmer’s market was hatched. Of course, being at church  most of each Sunday, we did not frequent the market. In fact, we boycotted it simply because it should be held on Saturdays (our opinion) so market workers and go-ers could attend church on Sunday. Granted, I don’t believe our boycott gained any new members of a church anywhere…

With our recent life change of full Sunday church responsibilities to experiencing ‘house church’ at a local park on Sunday mornings, we decided we would check it out – to see what the rest of the valley does on Sunday mornings. It seems that many residents take pride and joy at what is locally available, fresh from the fields, and the hands of gardeners, farmers, and crafters.

Sunday Market in Yakima

Sunday Market in Yakima

Pleasantly surprised, we found a plethora of aromatic and tasty produce, fruit, home-produced crafts, and food items. Mixed in was a variety of ethnic food stalls (I love the panset and lumpia) and shoppers galore.

Checking out the goods

Checking out the goods

An added bonus was musical entertainment. Steel drum music was such a wonderful accompaniment to the outing.

My grandbaby hits the Sunday Market

My oldest grandbaby (now he is 7) hits the Sunday Market

We encountered people we knew, interacted with community members, and socialized under the hot sun. Purchasing fresh produce and showing off our grandson were top prizes for the day.

Hayden with Papa at the Yakima Sunday Market

Hayden with Papa at the Yakima Sunday Market

I guess the boycott was a misguided waste of time. The Master Gardener did not stick Himself in church and stay there all day on Sundays. He was out among the people, out in the community. Perhaps more productive to relationship building, making new friends, and reaching out is to be where the people are…not where we think they should be, but where they actually are.

A challenge to myself – where are the families in my community on any given Sunday morning? Maybe it’s time I found out…and made some new friends.


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The Sweater of a Thousand Photos

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The sweater of a thousand photos joins me as I corral and snuggle our 5 grands!

New beginnings.

January always brings fresh hope and promises of renewed dreams, goals, plans.

 

View the sweater of a thousand photos.

This wardrobe piece awaits my beck and call all hours of the day and night. Menopause requires layers. And this, my Goodwill find from years past, is perfect. Cold? Snuggle in this button-up baby. Hot? Fling it across the room without any answering complaints. Fold it. Wad it. Wash it. Toss it. Wear it. Love and hate it.

From my viewpoint, the sweater of a thousand photos matches every item of clothing I own. Because I wear it with any and every thing. Coordinating or not.

As evidenced by photos. At least 1,000 of them.

Life in the RV has finally taken its toll. Laundry facilities are stranded across compacted snow and ice trails inside the stick house of our son and his family. Sometimes one forgets to empty the dryer on time. Usually that is ok. But just this once, it was not.

For the sweater of a thousand photos has been damaged. Heated too long and too hot. The yarns melted into permanent wrinkles. Never before static cling haunts attempts at layering. What once was fuzz and softness is now thin and bare. The sweater of a thousand photos, MY sweater, the $2 deal, is nearing the end.

My heart is sad but realizing the futility of wearing holes and wrinkles held together with bits of yarn. It is time to move on. Let it go. Wave a fond farewell, not looking back.

Unless it is in photos.

New beginnings come in different forms. Out with the old, in with the new. Or maybe new-to-me.

The hunt has begun. This year, I resolve to capture the next sweater of a thousand photos. The search will be in reverse order, according to hunting aficionados, but this works well for clothing.

Hunt. Bag. Shoot.

What will you be hunting this year?


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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.


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Stocking Number 5 (Or 11) – Christmas Traditions

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I just completed stocking number 5. Or 11, depending on how far back you want to go.

Autumn, the youngest grand princess, wore her Christmas stocking just in the nick of time, since all other stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and mommy and daddy were patiently waiting for Nana to finish sewing for the fourth family member.

Christmas is a very short time away, right?

Making Christmas stockings became a tradition as soon and my honey and I were married. I strip-pieced matching stockings for both of us about 31 years ago. They have been used every year, except this one, when they are hiding in storage. And maybe next year, which will most likely be the same.

After each of our two children were born, I made them giant strip-pieced stockings. Somewhere (again, in the storage unit) are pictures of them wearing their stockings. As adults, Taylor and Chelsie both have their stockings in their own homes. Spouses (and child-of-our-hearts) received their own stocking. All that was missing were the baby pictures in stockings, but, well, they are just too big to wear them!

Jump forward to the next generation of grands.

First came Hayden, our 4-wheelin’ boy. Nana got busy right away to make him a stocking.

Next came Khloe, Princess of the Blue Eyes. Nana stitched and sewed to get her set for Christmas.

Donavyn, the brown-eyed ducky boy, came next. Here he is wearing his stocking beside his baby sister. He barely fits!

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Gage, little wild man, made his appearance over a year ago. Nana dusted off the sewing machine and created his stocking.

And finally, Autumn. Last winter, when I was making Gage’s stocking, I cut out the base for another stocking, since we knew grand number 5 was on the way. Good thing for me, as we didn’t know we would soon be shoving all of our belongings into a tiny storage unit. When my Christmas senses kicked in, all I had to do was pull out the trunk with my fabric, dig out the stocking base and Christmas fabric, and I was reading to sew.

Stocking number 5. Or 11, depending on where you want to start counting. For us, it all began 31 years ago.

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