Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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A Little Encouragement Goes a LONG Way

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I might be one of the worst encouragers. Seriously. I think all these wonderful thoughts and admirations, but often forget to pass along many (or any) of the encouraging statements floating through my brain.

Case in point. Last week I texted my honey while he was at work. Almost daily he sends me lovey dovey, encouraging texts. I tell him I love him, but I don’t usually reply with much lovey dovey stuff. I feel it, think it, know it. But forget to tell him. This time I texted him first and told him how much I love him and what a blessing he is to me and how much I love our life together. He was so touched! I felt horrible for not doing it more often. I mean REALLY, not just thinking good things, but sharing. It’s not that hard. You can guess what one of my simmering on the back burner goals is now, can’t you?

Here’s yet another example of encouragement that goes a long way. While enjoying my writing residency at Holly House (Hypatia-in-the-Woods) I opened the writing desk drawer to find many different encouraging notes from previous residents. What a wonderful surprise! I loved reading each note and added a few of my own. Permission to take a nap! Yay!

The short of it: saying or writing an encouragement to someone doesn’t take that long. As long as it’s heartfelt, encouragement is the gift that keeps on giving.

Who can you encourage today?

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RV Living: Day (approximately) 1,125

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Speaking of “Adventures with a Book Lover” (part of the title of this blog), we moved into our RV on August 20, 2016. That was approximately 1,125 days ago. Do I sense a celebration coming on?

Let me tell you. We are still married. We still love each other. We are better at dancing around each other in tight spaces. We wear the same clothes over and over again. We ignore the wardrobes in the shop for the ease of grabbing the same somethings from the tiny cupboards. We cook, shop, store, and recreate differently than when we lived in a stick house. We entertain in unique (and sometimes HOT or COLD settings, due to outside venues) ways. We rotate seats when groups > than the number of available seats visit. And I still haven’t gone through EVERY cupboard and drawer to remove things we have never used. That goal was from summer #1 in the RV.

Due to several circumstances, we are no closer to building a small house than when we settled in this tiny RV space. That’s an entirely different and very long post.

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Was it worth it? You bet. How you ask? I love lists. Here is the short version:

1. Finances. The RV is paid off. DEBT-FREE living.

2. Coziness. We have this in droves. Come on over if you need a cupful.

3. Less stuff to worry about. Though I do have to shop more often, I need to purchase less because of storage. That was an interesting revelation.

4. Moveable. We don’t have to stay in one spot. We do, for the most part. But that will change in a few years. Travel options are unlimited.

5. Tiny living. This is it baby. We have about 228 (or some ridiculously low number like that) square feet, about 60 of them dedicated to the cat. LOL. We have learned that we really do not want a tiny house. We want a small house. About 800-900 square feet. With some breathing room. And a bigger shower. But for an RV, our bathroom is deluxe.

6. Cute RV. Really! Our RV is pretty cute. I’ve learned how much I can decorate without the cat knocking things over or the circuits getting blown.

7. Weather. We know what the weather is. Hot is hot. Cold is cold. The RV, four season though it is, is still a tin box. With excellent insulation, but still. We are so thankful for our super furnace and AC. The addition of the skirting really makes us successful during our northwest winters. We always know what the weather is. It’s a habit of RV life. Check the weather. Feel the weather.

8. Rain. On the roof. I love listening to it fall! The same goes for snow and wind. Weather is an interactive experience.

9. Creativity. Let’s say our creativity is enhanced due to multiple opportunities to solve tiny house living issues. We are building our brain cells!

10. Adventure. We are living the dream. RV living is definitely an adventure. One day (we tell ourselves) we will look back fondly on the funny and not so funny episodes of RV life and miss the adventures.

But until then . . .

It’s time for a celebration! Happy 1,125th day of RV life, Quantrells. Enjoy the ride!

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Throwback Thursday: Kids & Nature in the Arizona Desert

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I was probably in first or second grade in this picture. And I can tell you, we had no nature deficit disorder in my family. We were always outside. Either the kids were out, by choice or by mom’s choice, or the entire family was off and exploring.

It seemed like our family spent most weekends in the station wagon or camper, heading off to explore and find what we could find. Though I know we also went to church on a regular basis, so maybe we spent Saturdays traveling and skipped a random Sunday now and then to camp. Life as a kid was always an adventure.

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken at Turkey Creek in Arizona. Turkey Creek was a great spot. I can remember camping there at least 3 different times. Judging by the grin on my face, I loved getting outside. And in Arizona, being outside around water was a treat. Being a desert and all. We four of kids (maybe not James, who was a baby) had a ball splashing in the creek. We did the usual-get muddy, catch critters, drench ourselves, throw rocks, find favorite rocks, go fishing with plain sticks. I remember one trip in particular when I found a snapping turtle. I was, of course, sticking my finger towards its mouth, seeing if it would snap. It did. Pinched my finger hard enough that I wet my pants! I remember crying. Hello. If you poke a wild animal in its mouth, it will bite.

Besides random attacks from snapping turtles, I remember all of us being together. That was important. The mom and dad, the 4 kids, the dog, the cat, the bird. We all crowded into the camper and dad drove us along bumpy dirt roads to get to our camp or picnic destinations. That was back in the good old days when kids rode in the camper while the vehicle was in motion. We played cards, colored pictures, ate snacks, climbed up and down from the over-the-cab bed, and I’m sure, fought like crazy. But somehow, we all made it to adulthood.

Looking back at this picture of myself standing on rocks and my sister collecting nature items, I can remember the beauty of the water, the rocks, the plants, the dirt. I can feel the sun on my back. Just look at those boulders behind me. I mean, they are gorgeous. Plenty of lichen and hiding spots for poisonous desert dwellers. But we didn’t worry too much about those. Stay away from the obvious dangers like tarantulas and rattlesnakes. Leave them alone, they’ll (most likely) leave you alone. Dappled light gives great luster to this photo. I love how the sunlight highlights my braids. And I see I am, even at that young age, wearing one of my lifelong favorite colors. Orange. And stripes. I’m still into stripes. Funny.

I’m so glad my parents instilled in us a love of the outdoors and exploring our surroundings. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are interesting and beautiful nature hot spots just waiting to be discovered. You can go as far as your backyard (welcome, gallon jars of tadpoles) or escape to a different state or country.

Hello, Arizona desert. I miss you.

How about you? Where did you go exploring when you were a child?


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Haiku Moment: the stakeout

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freeze, hold your cat breath-

shopping at mole hill mountains,

stakeout meal to go

 

stakeout by Angie Quantrell

 

Monet. Checking her dinner options. Patience always wins.


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Throwback Thursday: Things I Adopted Back Then That Are Still With Me

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Can you date this photo? Judging by the sandals, tank top, shorts, hair style, watch . . .

Well, I know the exact week. This picture of me (waayyy back before selfies-my honey had to take this, with an actual film camera) was taken on our honeymoon in June of 1985. So if you guessed mid-80s, you were spot on.

Looking back, I recognize signs that make me, well, me. Things I always do, have with me, or wear.

Tote bags. I LOVE tote bags. Just ask anyone who has traveled with me. One of my favorite souvenirs is a tote bag commemorating the location or adventure.

Minnie Mouse. Disney. I LOVE taking trips to Disneyland. We spent our honeymoon in Southern California, hitting Disneyland, the wax museum, and Knott’s Berry Farm. But Disney is my favorite.

Sandals. These pour things! I can’t believe I traipsed all over Los Angeles with them. Of course, now I am so much better at wearing appropriate shoes. šŸ˜‰ TEVA sandals are all I wear. Much sturdier than these babies, and oh, what a fashion statement. It only takes one week in March to get back my TEVA tan. On my feet I mean.

Notepad and pen. I cannot comfortably leave home, travel, visit, meet, plan, or do anything without paper and pen. I can see I was already in the habit on our honeymoon.

The watch. Back then, no cell phones. People actually wore watches that ONLY told time. Like this one. Now, of course, cell phones do everything but put food in the oven. I’m sure they can turn the oven on though, for some tech-advanced families.

The brace. That’s a freebie. I tore my knee ligaments at college while playing in a racquetball tournament. This is the LITTLE brace! I was so happy to graduate from the full-leg version just before our wedding. Still, I walked with a limp, as evidenced by the wedding video. After our honeymoon, I returned home to multiple sessions of physical therapy to regain my graceful gait. ;0

Hair. Oh my. I actually had hair! And it was fluffy. Now with thinning and lots of products, most days my hair is under control. Or in a bun. A nana bun.

Shorts. Short shorts. Mine were not too bad, but the people in the background had much shorter shorts. You can’t see the waist band of mine, but it was one of those huge wide belts that were in fashion. Eww. Now I’m all about comfort. And skorts. I adore skorts. Skorts are me.

Generally speaking, this is me. I still sit with my foot out of my shoe like I did in this picture, I feel happiest when I have pen and paper, and my hair curls (or frizzes) wildly.

How about you? Do you have a picture of a younger you that showcases what you are today?


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Calling all writers of picture books and chapter books. SCBWI has a new award out in memory of Kate Dopirak. What a wonderful way to remember such a special person!

Check it out. This year the focus and award is for writers of picture books. Go for it!

via Kate Dopirak Craft & Community Award


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Haiku Moment: shred

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give it to me, grrrr

i’m gonna rip you to shreds

old shirt, you die. die!

 

shred by Angie Quantrell

 

Ginger LOVES her new 9-ply T-shirt rope. Too bad

1. It’s white. That was the only color I had.

2. It’s really gonna die soon.

3. Chocolate labs are ferocious players. We need toys. Lots of toys. Please send toys.


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Book Report: Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

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Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

Written by Cathy Baker

http://www.cathybaker.org, 2017

 

I was recently gifted Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by the amazing Cathy Baker. Ok, by recently I mean…a bit ago. But I digress.

I started reading this adorable little devotional guide, again, a bit ago. Then I realized it would be the perfect special devotional guide to take with me on my week-long writing residency at Holly House (Hypatia-in-the-Woods). So I tucked it in my growing stack of things to take with me on my residency.

It turns out I was correct. This little gem was just the right length and focus for my week near several beaches in the Shelton, Washington, area. I loved reading the entry for each morning and reflecting on God’s beauty, vacation (though I was on a residency), relaxing, and resting. I especially enjoyed Cathy’s inclusion of travel days and coming back to reality after vacation.

Cathy has a sweet spirit, which is very obvious when you read her book or her newsletters. I first discovered Cathy when I bumped into one of her posts. Her site has a picture of the cutest Tiny House on the Hill. My honey and I want to build a tiny house, so I latched right on to her site. Cathy and her husband are working on her writing studio/retreat tiny house. I’ve loved watching each step they take as they add to the tiny house. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.

If you are heading out for a week away, or are still looking forward to vacation, consider reading Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by Cathy Baker. Check out her web site at CathyBaker.org.

Thank you, Cathy, for the gift of a book that added just the right touch to my writing residency. Be blessed!

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Haiku Moment: creeper

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if I could but creep

on fence and stalk, spinning webs

you’d watch out for me

 

creeper by Angie Quantrell

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Welcome, cat-faced spider. Eat all you want. But please, keep your webs from my face.

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Book Report: Badger’s Perfect Garden

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Badger’s Perfect Garden

Written by Marsha Diane Arnold

Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

 

Welcome Badger’s Perfect Garden!

I read a blog post about this new picture book and checked my library for a copy. They didn’t have one yet, so I requested the addition. Here it is! I love being the first one to check out a new book.

Hint: If you see a book you want to borrow from your library but they don’t have it, most libraries have a way to suggest new titles. Spread the word. This really helps authors.

I love the imaginative setting of Badger’s Perfect Garden. I know I’m not the only one who remembers being a small child and creating tiny worlds of my own, places where animals talked and anything I dreamed up happened?

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Badger’s Perfect Garden seems to be an extension of my early childhood tiny worlds. I love Badger and his plans to plant the perfect garden. He’s been carefully saving seeds and has made plans to prep the soil and plant the seeds just so. Badger has great friends who help him with his gardening adventure. And then they wait. But a summer storm wreaks chaos on Badger’s dream garden. I love the rest of the story, but you’ll have to read it to find out. šŸ™‚

I am Badger, with my perfect garden plans every spring. I’m not beyond experimenting to see what happens. I hoard seeds and plot where they would best grow. But every year, by the end of summer, my brilliant plans have exploded with choatic growth of every which sort. But still, I plot, plan, and dream. Just like Badger.

What I love about Badger’s Perfect Garden:

*Badger and his type A personality feel just like me. šŸ™‚

*The friends and friendships in Badger’s Perfect Garden are wonderful. Badger’s friends live with him through his plans, disappointment, and story resolution. Who wouldn’t want friends who would be right beside us all the way? And help with the hard work of gardening?

*The setting is one of my favorites, imaginative and nature-based.

*The plans and what really happens encourages readers to go with the flow. Some things we just can’t control. Let go and enjoy.

*The writing is simple, easy to understand, and tell the story in the best way.

*The illustrations are colorful and just perfect for this picture book.

 

You can find Marsha Diane Arnold on Twitter @MarshaDArnold

I hope you’ll buy a copy of Badger’s Perfect Garden or check it out at the library. Great read!