Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Food Time Machine – One Bite Whisked Me Back to a Favorite Place & Time

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Do you ever taste something and it takes you right back to a specific time and place?

That just happened to me. Tummy rumblings broke my concentration from a writing task, so I grabbed a slice of Swiss cheese from the fridge. At the first bite, I was instantly transported to France. Such delicious memories!

My husband and I were on a short-term missions trip in Paris. Near our motel was a wonderfully fascinating store, Auchan. Auchan had pretty much anything one could want or need at reasonable prices. The chocolate aisle and cheese cases kept us returning nearly every day for meal items. Yes. Chocolate and cheese do make a meal.

Today’s bite of Swiss cheese took me right to the cheese counter. The gentleman who worked the cheese aisle was so very kind and cut us off a chunk of Swiss from the large wheel. With our garbled French and hand gestures, he whacked off the hard rind and sliced the rest for us – perfect. He even gave us a bit to taste, just to make sure it was what we wanted. We wanted.

Fresh baguette, sliced Swiss, some fruit and veg, all the makings of a perfect meal. Thank you, Mr. Auchan cheese guy. You made our day.

How about you? What have you eaten that transported you back to particular event or location? I’d love to hear about it. Just so I know I’m not the only one who is consumed with love for food.

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Let’s not forget the crepes! Be still my hungry mouth…

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Writing Assistant

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Storystorm is coming to an end in a few days. I will miss the daily posts by others working in the field of picture books!

Along the way, I’ve learned, brainstormed, taken notes, and jotted down many ideas for future writing projects. Way to go, Tara Lazar and all of the presenters! You can visit Tara’s site and check it out here.

Another unexpected result from Storystorm came this morning. I have now hired a personal assistant. Welcome, Mabel!


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Blanket Wars

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No. This is not THAT kind of post. Sorry to disappoint.

This story does take place behind closed doors. Bedroom doors. And it involves blankets.

Backstory: We live in an RV. While this is fairly new, having moved in last August after selling our home and getting rid of most of our belongings, we are pretty settled – as much as a couple plus two cats can be living in an RV – and have dealt with enough RV issues to allow us to feel somewhat competent and resourceful.

Some things we’ve experienced: sub-zero temps, above 100 temps, blown fuses, broken microwave (rough, I know), broken entertainment system (again, tough to handle, right?), frozen water hose, condensation like there’s no tomorrow, broken toilet (equals running, not stopping, water), frozen closed door (with us inside), and broken window shades (thanks, kitties).

Usually Mr. Q gets right on the problem and we finagle a way to make it work or fix it. Often this involves a call to Skyler, the fabulous service manager at Broadmoor RV where we purchased our home on wheels. Skyler is on speed dial. Skyler knows Mr. Q well, and after the recent broken toilet fiasco, my respect for him has quadrupled. Mr. Q was well and ready to pull the RV plug and throw in the towel. Skyler talked him off the ledge and assured him of solutions and assistance. Thanks to Skyler, we still live in the RV.

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But there is one mystery we have not been able to fix. The blankets. The moving, twisting, weird blankets.

Setting: Queen bed. Sheets, both fitted and top. Kind of fuzzy dual-controlled electric blanket. Quilt. Second quilt. Small fleece throw for kitties.

Bedtime finds us tucked in cozily, snug as bugs in an RV rug. Staggered morning wakings ensue in a twist of layers and colors. He goes to work, I make the bed before digging out my computer.

Make. The. Bed. Every. Day. While this is challenging in itself – half cupboards at head height, sharp corners, floor cupboards, more sharp corners, narrow alley around most of the bed, electric blanket cord, and doorknobs – what happens to the tucked in bedding is most confusing.

I end up with the sheet. And sometimes one of the quilts. His side of the bed has the majority of the electric blanket, no sheet, and maybe a quilt. This happens every day. I don’t know how we do it, but it’s as if Mr. Q performs some magic trick to pull out the middle layer of heat and shuffles the rest my way.

The blankets are still tucked in at the foot of the bed. The plug is still attached. Even the kitty throw is in place. But that middle layer? Totally separated as if plucked and sorted by a giant’s hand while we sleep.

The blanket wars are on! I tuck with a vengeance, both when making the bed and when I get in at night, just to make sure I still have some covers left in the morning. He settles in while firmly grasping blankets over his head. Despite our efforts, the sheets still come my way, the electronic warmth goes his.

A mystery of epic RV proportions. Who will win? Will she freeze? Why do the sheets go east, the blankets west? Does he figure a way to make them stay layered? And what about the kitties? Whose side do they stay on?

Tune in this spring to discover if the warming trends of the season solve the blanket wars, once and for all.

Until next winter.

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Throwback Thursday: Parking in Paris

I so love Paris! I thought it would be fun to read (and see) about our stay in the City of Light back in 2009. Bienvenue!

bumper to bumper cars

Bumper to bumper cars

That’s it. As far as the eye can see, cars sticking bumper to bumper. I am SO happy to not have a car while living in Paris. The Metro is just perfect, thank you. Or my own 2 feet.

I am fascinated with drivers in Paris…it’s amazing how little damage actually occurs as people get from A to Z in as little time, distance, and space as possible.

Some observations about parking in Paris, just in case you want to drive and park while here:

no limit except vertical walls

No limit except vertical walls

Motorcycles, scooters, bicycles…pretty much can park anywhere. They are supposed to follow normal driving rules, but motorcycles have a secret lane between the outside 2 driving lanes, and both motorcycles and bicycles will pass stopped vehicles and get in front of them to get away first when the light turns green. Or if there are no pedestrians…

Optional parking on top of cones

Optional parking on top of cones

Your choice – between or on top of cones.

Space between vehicles is negligible

Space between vehicles is negligible

Bonus points are awarded for vehicles with minimal space between bumpers.

Accidents WILL happen.

Accidents WILL happen.

Expect some slight scratches or bruises

Expect some slight scratches or bruises

Clever drivers will gently ease into tiny parking spots, avoiding major warping and scrapes on bumpers and fenders.

And my personal favorite trick for in city driving ~

Always carry duct tape.

Always carry duct tape.

It’s true. Duct tape can fix anything.

Despite these captivating photos, drivers in Paris really are amazing. There are few accidents, pedestrians remain unharmed, vehicles stay on the road, and traffic flows in seemingly flawless pathways. Hats off to the competent drivers!

How about you? Where is your favorite destination? How are the drivers? We’d love to hear!


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Foot Warmers: A Letter to My Cats

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Dear Kitties,

I know it’s cold in the RV. In fact, sometimes it’s Jack Frost icy. I realize that furry coats don’t always do the job in the warm-me-up department. I even acknowledge that though there are only 2 of you (and you are sisters from the SAME litter), touching each other often causes undo excitement, hissy fits, and flying bits of gray fluff.

We have a queen bed. In the RV. Crammed into a tiny alcove. Six-foot two-inch hubby requires most of the square footage available on said bed. That leaves me a tiny sliver, I’d even say the edge is my only slumber real estate.

I know we have an electric blanket. I admit to enjoying the toasty slide into pre-warmed sheets. The heater ducts blow comfortably hot air into our bedroom. This makes our room the most desirable location during long winter nights.

It also makes me be squished.

Sliver of bed. Closet alcove for darkness naps. Tall husband. Two cats.

Kitties. I have short legs. But even then, when you are both snuggled and sleeping like furry gray rocks along the bottom of the bed, I am left with nowhere to put my feet.

Out of the covers? Brrrr. Between you? This is one event where you allow yourselves to touch, even become glued together with your sibling. Beneath you? Your elephanty weight belies your small stature. Against the hubby? Uhm, his long legs leave no room. Up against your warm bodies it is then.

A ball. You will find me rolled on my side up near the outer wall of the RV. Sushi roll style, head wedged against the “dresser,” shoulders along the “headboard,” hands and knees tucked into the middle like bits of julienned carrots and radishes. The seaweed wrap of electric blanket coccooning me. And there the sushi mama roll will stay all night, on her less than 1/4 of the bed area.

You, my kitties, will have plenty of sleeping room. Purring contentedly, stretching at ease, lengthening and contracting with the rise and fall of space and temperatures.

Thanks for keeping us company and for blanketing our bed with your heat and snuggles. I don’t mind sharing with you. Not a bit.

Sleep well, feline foot warmers.

The Sushi Kitty Mama


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I Love Hand-Me-Downs

I’m not above totally enjoying digging through a bag of my sister’s hand-me-downs to pull out new-to-me favorites.

(That would be a literal hand-me-down, as I am older but much shorter than she.)

I also thrill to the seek-and-find treasures I discover at local thrift shops. In fact, the sweater (Mr. Roger’s style cardigan, come in the house-trade the coat for a sweater style) I wear all the time is my best ever purchase from Goodwill.

Seriously. I think my family may be a tad bit exhausted of seeing me wear the same old sweater. Every. Single. Day.

But it is the best sweater! I know I look more granny-like wearing it, but it is comfy, broken in, not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

I’ve had this sweater for over 5 years, conservative estimate. It appears to be well made and may last for another 15. Score! I think I paid $1.99, maybe $2.99.

My husband and I enjoy keeping clothes long past the expiration date (yes, we are THAT couple). One of our favorite games is counting back to find out who is wearing the oldest outfit.

“I’ve had this shirt since Chelsie was 3,” I said.

“Well, I bought these sweats when we were in England,” replies the hubby.

“But I had this dress for Easter when we were in Wapato,” I counter.

And on and on goes the battle.

It is our game. And our life. We are not ones for top of the line, current fashion, get rid of the old and buy new all the time. Some of you may be saying, quietly in your heads, “YES, we know! Go get some new clothes!!!” Maybe you are even yelling that, hoping we will hear.

It’s OK. We are happy with our little game. I think, at heart, we are children of the depression, though we are not really old enough. We use every little thing until it is beyond use. And then maybe we can still find a use for the scraps that remain.

I’m thinking that’s being a good steward of natural resources and God’s providence. Recyling, repurposing, reusing.

Besides, it’s fun.

I’d love to hear where you find your favorite clothes. Are you a scavenger like me? Let’s share tips.


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Two-Year-Old Giant

I’m too big

to sit on a tiny bristle block chair

to sleep on a little bristle block bed

to kiss ducky good-night

I’m too big.

The bed and the duckies

2’s do have an idea of how big they are, and it’s fun watching them figure it out to be certain.

What am I too big for?

Nothing, I hope. Living as a child-at-heart is so much better than an old fuddy duddy.

What are you too big for?

The chair


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Sunday Markets

The fountain at Place Monge on Sunday Market day

The fountain at Place Monge 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. We only hit one Sunday that had a simultaneous flea market going on, but the rest of the days, there was no lack of choices for purchase. 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 – mouthwatering sustanence.

flowers on Sunday Market

flowers at Sunday Market

Meat vendor at Place Monge

Meat vendor at Place Monge

vegetable vendor at Place Monge

vegetable vendor at Place Monge

Market fare from Place Monge

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 is musical entertainment. Steel drum music was such a wonderful accompaniment to the outing.

My grandbaby hits the Sunday Market

My grandbaby hits the Sunday Market

Our boycott was in vain. We encountered people we knew, interacted with community members, and socialized under the hot sun. Purchasing fresh produce and showing off our grandson was at the top of the list of 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, where ever the people were…Perhaps more productive to relationship building 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.