Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Grandmother Thorn – Picture Book & KID KANDY

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GRANDMOTHER THORN

By Katey Howes

Art by Rebecca Hahn

(Ripple Grove Press, 2017)

 

Grandmother Thorn gives new meaning to the words OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). She maintains her gardens with an iron will, daring anything to be out of place, grow where it’s not supposed to, or become mussed by irresponsible footprints.

Only one friend, Ojiisan, the man with a dragging foot and droopy shoulder, was allowed to make tracks in her perfectly groomed gravel paths. For they were best friends and enjoyed hot tea, conversation, and tasty sweets.

All was well until one day Ojiisan tasted gorgeous red berries and urged the salesperson to take some to Grandmother Thorn (but DO NOT walk on the path).

As you can imagine, he did not listen and disaster befell the merchant, the garden, and the welfare of Grandmother Thorn.

Or did it?

This beautiful picture book shares the story of letting go and allowing some things to be. And not all weeds are what they appear.

I love this book, both for the story and the tapestry-like illustrations.

KID KANDY:

Berry Hunt

1. Read GRANDMOTHER THORN. Memorize all the details you can of the weed and its fruit.

2. Does anyone in your family go grocery shopping or visit a farmer’s market? It’s time to go with that person. Go shopping.

3. Search the produce section. Can you find the fruit found in GRANDMOTHER THORN? Maybe your adult shopper will buy some!

4. Perhaps you live in an area where this type of fruit grows. Look around your neighborhood and see if you find the vines. If you time it right, you might even be able to pick some of those tasty fruits!

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The MABEL Gate: In Memory of a Furbaby

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Just before Christmas, our family was devastated to discover neighborhood dogs had destroyed our precious love-love (my nickname for her) Mabel. It was pretty awful. We still miss our little gray girl every day.

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No more “Which one is this?” from the grands (and everyone else). No more help working on my writing projects. No more kitty tracks on my printed papers. No more head butts and lap cuddles.

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Monet, her twin sister, was lost for quite a few weeks and is now just finally starting to come into her own as an ONLY cat. There are times she quite enjoys the attention. The rest of the time she’d rather be out mousing or birding. She was always the more independent wild thing.

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To combat future attacks, we put up a gate on our driveway to discourage any other dogs from wandering in to check out what trouble they could get into. As Papa and Hayden finished up the gate, they decided it should be named after Mabel, a tribute to her short, cuddly, furry life.

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Perfect! In honor of our Mabes, Mabel, love-love, gray girl, kitty baby. The MABEL gate. Ta-da!


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STORYSTORM 2018 Day 17: Michelle Cusolito Flies Deep

Ooh, making lists of things we are curious about and things that capture our imagination and things we love! This is the perfect way to fly deep and dig up ideas for picture books!

Thanks, Michelle! Thanks, Tara!

via STORYSTORM 2018 Day 17: Michelle Cusolito Flies Deep


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STORYSTORM 2018 Day 7: Tim McCanna’s Technique Conquers All

Technique does conquer all! It’s not speed, size, or strength that helps us discover ideas or write well. It’s the technique, or craft, that helps us reach our goals of dreaming up and listing ideas – and then turning those golden ideas into projects.

In this blog post, Tim lists some techniques writers might use to brainstorm. He has some new ideas I want to try. But what popped into my mind was how I stare into space. It seems that helps me come up with new ideas. I also get ideas when I am outside in the mountains or going for a walk in my neighborhood. Now I just need to make sure to write down those thoughts.

Thanks, Tim! Thanks, Tara!

via STORYSTORM 2018 Day 7: Tim McCanna’s Technique Conquers All


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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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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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You Nest Here With Me ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

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by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

 

You Nest Here With Me

Written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

(Boyds Mills Press, An Imprint of Highlights; 2015)

 

I recently was given a copy of You Nest Here With Me. Thanks, Heidi Stemple!

That free gift, however, did not influence the fact that I had already fallen in love with the lyrical story and gorgeous illustrations of this picture book, having borrowed it from the library.

I see You Nest Here With Me as a good night story told by a mother to her daughter. The mother shares the nesting habits of many fascinating and captivating birds. Eggs, nests, habitats, birds, nestlings (is that a real word?) – and a human mama and her little girl. This is a perfect, calming, getting-ready-for-bed book.

While this picture book does not read like a science text, readers will still learn amazing bird facts. Readers can learn even more when they take the time to peruse the final pages where the authors share interesting information about each type of bird.

Readers will love You Nest Here With Me. I love You Nest Here With Me. Birds of a feather flock together. Tweet tweet!

KID KANDY

Look for Nests & Build a Nest

  1. Go on a nest hunting walk with your family. Spy high and peek low to find nests. Trees, shrubs, empty containers, bird houses, grasses…birds are very creative when they build a nest. How many nests can you find?
  2. Pull out some blankets and wrap them around yourself to build a nest. Grab some books, curl up in your snug nest, and read away!

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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