Love, Laughter, and Life

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


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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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Welcome Spring!

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Spring Wildflower

S – shows of life, green carpeted paths

P – peek at bursts of color, winters’ grays fade away

R – renewed vigor, earth joyfully bursts forth

I – invitation to celebrate, cold passes as warmth returns

N – nature dons her new attire, fresh and vibrant

G – growing time arrives, rest is over for bounty begins

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Columbia River Gorge


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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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Visual Learner? That’s Me

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It has recently come to my attention that I have strong tendencies towards being a visual learner. I think visually and that impacts the things I do and how I do them.

Take for instance, my desire to learn French. This is what initially made me consider my bent towards visual learning. I love the French language. I adore seeing text – signs, words, symbols, and books in French. But hearing is a part of language learning, and I realized I can’t really hear what is being said and understand the different words. I kept thinking to myself If only I could SEE the words, I’d be able to comprehend what was being said.

Visual learner, yes I am.

Another example that points towards my tendency to acquire knowledge through visual means or to impart something visually is the way I plan for teaching. In my classroom, my displays – bulletin boards, posters, learning centers, student work, general decor – are of the utmost importance. I can’t rest until the room is visually arranged and attractive.

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Some other habits I’ve noticed:

~ In the teaching plans I write, I nearly always include suggestions for visual impact – displays, table decor, posters, signs, and room arrangement. Rarely do I include hearing-only activities. Good thing to notice right? Now I can make sure to suggest activities that lean towards the hearing and doing types of learning.

~ Photographs. I love taking photos of everything thing I do and every place I go. These photos become a visual diary of my pursuits.

~ Instagram. I love this app! Pictures and text inform and delight my visual brain.

~Pinterest. Same reason. Pictures and visual clues. I don’t often read the original post or seek out the origins of the image. I glean by reading the pictures, and my imagination goes from there.

~ Reading. I LOVE reading, and reading requires visual skills. I’d be happy if I could live in front of a fireplace sipping hot cocoa and reading a great book while snow piled up against the eaves.

The visual learning list goes on.

Do you think you are a visual learner? Check out this post I found that lists 10 Characteristics of Visual Learners here. I’d say I nailed it!

Of the learning styles, which are you? Visual, auditory, kinesthetic? I’d love to hear. I mean, see your name and comment in print. Wink, wink.

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Hoping for spring flowers. But first, the snow must melt.


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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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Storystorm Day 29: “Let’s Play Books!” by Kirsten Hess

by Kirsten Hess, Bookseller It has been wonderful to read the posts in Storystorm this month, to get a peek into the creative processes that go into the many wonderful books that we carry in our sh…

Source: Storystorm Day 29: “Let’s Play Books!” by Kirsten Hess

I love having books and play partnered together! Perfect match. Need to visit this bookstore!


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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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Storystorm Day 21: “Zen and the Art of Illustrator Maintenance” by S.britt

by S.britt When Tara initially asked me to be a guest writer for Storystorm, I was flattered. When she then suggested I write about how motorcycles influence my artwork (and vice versa), I was intr…

Source: Storystorm Day 21: “Zen and the Art of Illustrator Maintenance” by S.britt

Today my husband had to fire up the Honda Shadow. It was too cold, icy, and snowy to go for a ride, but he got to dream about future trips this spring when the weather is nice. Nothing like blowing out the cobwebs to allow great ideas to pop up!


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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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