Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Hobbies? Rubber Stamping Cards is One of My Top Favorites

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My stamping buddy (aka college roommate and friend of many many years) and I were recently trying to figure out how long we’ve been stamping. We sort of came down to the correct decade and several-year span, but we couldn’t quite pin it down. Suffice to say stamping has been a part of my life for most of my life.

This hobby has become a habit. A tradition. A much anticipated gathering.

Actually, another college roommate joins us or we join her to feed our habit. Maybe being a college roommate is a prerequisite? LOL. No. We have other college buddies and friends that join crafting days or at least tolerate our obsession by bringing their own crafts or visiting with us while we crazily create.

I think it’s the creation part that is addicting. Playing with stamps, papers, inks, glitter (always glitter!), and stuff is exhilarating!

And just look! The benefits involve large stashes of beautiful cards, fit for any occasion.

Let’s hear it for the college buddies, friends, stampers, and crafters!

P.S. A recent stamping trip netted an addition of 45 lovely cards. Coming your way . . .

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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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Dead Stuff

by Angie Quantrell

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dead stuff

every. single. day.

dead stuff is delivered.

fur. teeth. tails. tiny feet.

feathers. skulls. wings asunder.

the odd beak.

legless bugs. drips of blood.

eerie green body parts.

dead stuff. in life. in dreams.

felines hard at work.

freeze. winter. come soon.

put to ground the endless corpses

delivered as gifts.

pause the need for caution

when opening the door or

placing feet along the body strewn gravel,

blending in, creating traps for thoughtless tread.

drop. temperature. ice-over.

to sleep. to fly south. to hibernate.

what happened to lumps of fur nested

in front of roaring fires?

rest, kitties, rest.

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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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One Year in RV: Survival!

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August 20 was our one year anniversary of moving into the RV. And guess what? We made it!

I haven’t taken him (my honey) out, though I’ve sent him out when I need to clean (or write, cook, organize, read . . .).

He still loves me even if the heat factor in an RV – during summer – is higher than my happy tolerance level.

He survived record-breaking snowfall and freezing winter temps regardless of how close I came to helping him build his own snow igloo far far from the RV.

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I managed not to throw out the superfluous (not for him) heating items – throw, bed blanket, heat lamps, floor heater – and we were both able to speak in civil tones. Most of the time.

Long-time RV living is not for the faint of heart, but definitely for the adventurous!

Let’s pretend you just arrived for a fancy cooked-mostly-by-BBQ meal. We’ll fill you in on some observations and interesting events that came about from our inaugural RV year.

– It is possible! One can live without piles of stuff – and survive!

– Storage? Premium. If we don’t use it, it has to go. To storage, to someone, to the thrift store…

– Less is more. Truly. The less we have inside the RV, the more space we have to move about.

– Cooking is a bit tricky. Too hot in the summer for the stove. Very humid in the winter.

– Humidity is an issue. One chore I never dreamed of having? Wiping down windows on a daily basis.

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– Electrical circuits can and will be blown. Until you figure out which items can be used at the same time.

– The electric skillet will most likely blow the fuse if anything else is plugged in and going. Anything.

– Do not use the skillet and the AC at the same time.

– Splurge on the skirting. We only experienced one tiny freeze in a waterline. That’s saying something when we were below zero several times and hovered in the frozen zone for months.

– Cats. Litter. Fur. Toys. Cat tree. A bit crowded. Now that they are free to roam, we are all much happier. The catio is disassembled.

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– Mice. Peek before letting cats back inside. Trust me on this.

– Company. Things will be different when guests arrive. Say, for instance, seating. Or standing. Finding room to maneuver. But that’s what makes entertaining exciting.

– Breezes in the bedroom. This is awesome. Open both windows and the wind just blows across our bed. As does dust, smoke from fires, and stinky skunk fragrance, but still!

– My office. A drawer. Half the dinette bench plus the table. That’s it. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I yearn for a bigger creative area.

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– All of outdoors. Right here.

– We have everything we need. Running water, electricity, internet, laundry facilities, bathroom, bed, fridge, grands in and out.

– Our home moves. We can hitch it up anytime we want and hit the road.

I’d say our inaugural year was pretty successful. So you’ve seen me wear the same clothes over and over again. I am dressed, right?

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Happy RV anniversary to us! Come on by, we’ll cozy up and share a seat. Maybe even throw in a meal or tour of the facilities. Feeling up to the challenge? Either the visit or the RV living? Love to hear about it.

 

 


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We Survived the Eclipse: Story Through Photos and Haiku

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A painting of the eclipse (red because it’s darker) – Art by Khloe

 

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Our tiny view of the eclipse through a pin-hole camera

 

Boxes, foil and tape,

wondering children marvel

as sky lights shake hands.

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Pin-hole cameras

 

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Hayden and Khloe peeking at the solar eclipse

 

The daytime and night

heavenly bodies dance past,

a peek-a-boo tryst.

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Gage trying to see the eclipse…he’s only 2, so was not impressed

 

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Stacking rocks was more enticing than solar and lunar escapades

 

The waiting is long

Look, play, work, gaze, pinhole view;

Light sliver eclipse.

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The PacMan stage (coined by Hayden) of the solar eclipse

 

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Taking a solar break – by hauling bricks

 

But how? Why? We gasp.

Fleeting, amazing, we stop.

Cooler, darker day.

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Mabel was definitely more exciting to Gage than the sun and moon

 

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Putting down bricks, mid-eclipse

 

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Solar Eclipse, by Khloe


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Caturday funnies — cat shaming edition

Or a live and squirming rat...

Who me? I would NEVER bring in a headless rat…

Source: Caturday funnies — cat shaming edition

Oh, this is too funny! I can’t decide if my two girls should be shamed more for the headless rat in our bedroom or the live and romping rat in the guest room (in the middle of my birthday party)!

How about you? What naughty things has your kitty been up to?


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Library Culture

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I spend time at the library. MUCH time.

Because I love books. The smell, the feel, the sight, and the anticipation of opening the pages and jumping into an adventure pull me in. Every. Single. Time.

So I live, I mean visit my library. Actually, I patronize nearly all of my libraries, the ones in the Yakima Valley. Plus I have connections with other libraries not in my area, which is perfect when I need resources or just want to snoop and see what is out there.

Really you can’t lose when you visit the library. Free books! Free help, internet, bathrooms, AC (or heating), gathering place, information, friends…The library is community.

In my much library time, I’ve noticed several different groups frequenting the hallowed halls of bookdom.

Story Time. If I pull up and the lot is full, I know it’s story time. Stories, songs, games, crafts, and fun times for the kiddos be going on. During the summer, libraries gain a larger audience in the form of kids and adults on break. Reading incentive programs keep readers involved and active with the printed word.

Computer Users. In the olden days, there were no computers. Period. But patrons can now log on to banks of computers to research, read, and check email. Library users can even log in with personal computers and use the internet free of charge (at least at our libraries). Electronic resources are available for check out and the card catalog can be searched from the comfort of home. While the term card catalog is out of date, library resources are still present and much easier to access. One of my favorite library features is the ability to reserve books from home and pick them up when they arrive at the nearest library.

Homeschoolers. The homeschool population is growing. I see homeschool families return to the library on a regular basis. Wonderful resources and reading materials are ready for the picking, so why not?

Book Clubs. What better place is there to have a book club than the library? Our library sometimes hosts a community read with a local author. Most times, the author does a guest visit where readers can meet and greet. Special programs are provided for different age groups, complete with authors, books, and activities.

Study Groups. High school and college students are often working collaboratively around large tables at the library. The library design has planned for this activity by including both small and large tables and seating areas which are perfect for meeting and working.

Retirees. These folks have it going on! Unlimited books to read, books on CD to listen to, computers to use, help on hand if necessary, and interactions with others make the library the place to be.

The Homeless. The library is free and climate-controlled, provides restrooms and drinking fountains, and offers multiple forms of entertainment and resources. While I’ve noticed several incidents of improper behavior, most of the homeless patrons seem to enjoy library benefits without causing any trouble.

Teachers. Yes, teachers, the library is an invaluable resource! During my teaching years, I made weekly trips to check out and return books. Lots of books. I became quite good at gleaning themed picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) for my students. In fact, there was one librarian who watched my shelf and request list so she could make her own book list.

Writers. I fit into several of the above groups, but the writing group is the closest fit. I regularly research different topics and locations around the world. I research picture books and check out stacks of them for my studies. I even haul my computer to the library and set up camp on one of the bigger tables when I need to work on deadlines. Love my library!

Readers. Of course. Why else? Book addicts. Adventurers. Researchers. Learners.

As the plant in the above photo illustrates layers of leaves, stacked and connected by a network of roots, libraries also connect information to people, layers of knowledge spread through the network of libraries – full of words.

I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card. ~ Laura Bush

 


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You Nest Here with Me ~ The Golden Shovel

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This may be golden, but it’s no Golden Shovel.

The Golden Shovel. What is that?

I recently read a post about said shovel. And it has nothing to do with physical digging, but plenty to do with mental excavating, sleuthing, and creating with words. The Golden Shovel is a fun writing exercise.

You can learn more about the Golden Shovel poetic form by visiting here.

The rules for creating a Golden Shovel masterpiece are as follows:

– Choose a line from a poem you enjoy.

– Use each word in the line as the last word for the lines in your poem.

– The end words must stay in the same order as the original poem.

– Please give credit to the author of the original text you’ve chosen to use.

– Now create away! Your new poem doesn’t have to match the original theme. This baby is your baby.

Here is my Golden Shovel.

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Inspiration for my Golden Shovel

I love to play with you.

Let’s build a blankie nest.

Snuggle here,

read and play, with

warm cocoa, you and me.

(July 19, 2017)

My words are both the title and specific lines from the beautiful picture book You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple (Boyds Mill Press, 2015).

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The help I receive on a daily basis when I write.

How about you? Give the Golden Shovel a try. I’d love to read your poem!