Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Haiku Moment: fall explosion

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woods, stream, leaves, and fall

collide, put on nature shows-

such beauty explodes

 

fall explosion by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo Credit: Angie Quantrell, Hood Canal, Belfair State Park, WA state


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Book Report: Everything is Always Gonna be Alright, Durban Frankenshooze by Jamie McHone

Everything is Always Gonna be Alright, Durban Frankenshooze

Written by Jamie McHone

Illustrated by Walter Policelli

Mascot Books, November 5, 2019

 

Happy Book Birthday! Today is a special day for both Jamie and Walter as Everything is Always Gonna be Alright, Durban Frankenshooze is released to the world. Book birthdays are super important to book authors and illustrators. Cue the music, balloons, and confetti!

Chris Baker at Mascot Books sent me a review copy of Everything is Always Gonna be Alright, Durban Frankenshooze. I am happy to spread the word about this new release.

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Book Blurb:

Durban is a bird with giant sneakers and wings so small he can’t fly. He’s tired of being made fun of by all the other flying birds, so he sets off on a journey to find out who he really is. Along the way, he meets Maudry, a smart and sassy female bird, and Wainwright, a grumpy worm with a short temper. Together, the unusual trio goes through thick and thin to discover what it really means to be yourself.

This zany tale of Durban Frankenshooze and his friends will help children begin dialogues about diversity, acceptance, and appreciation of differences, all while building vital language skills.

Southwest Virginia native Jamie McHone is delighted to share her very first children’s book with young readers everywhere! Although McHone enjoys animals, she does not have birds in her home in Blacksburg, Virginia. Instead, she has Rottweilers!

To set up an interview, reading, signing, or for information regarding Everything is Always Gonna be Alright, Durban Frankenshooze, please contact Chris Baker at chris@mascotbooks.com.

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What I liked about this book:

~ The names are super creative and fit each character and the problems faced by the characters. Clever and fun!

~ The issue of feeling unlovable due to personal characteristics-be it tiny wings, huge feet, needing glasses, or having thick eyebrows-is universal to humans of any age. Young readers will discover how Durban, Maudry, and Wainwright form a unique friendship and head out to explore the world and solve their “challenges.” (Really, they have fun together and learn to enjoy life in spite of their perceived physical shortcomings.)

~The vocabulary is wide and varied. Readers will be exposed to different words, idioms, and sayings. Stopping to discuss new ideas and vocabulary will enrich the story and reading time.

~While the story is told in a longer format and might not work for a read-it-all-in-one-session, it would be easy to break the story into sections for multiple readings. Older readers will enjoy reading this as a chapter book.

~I love the friends aspect of this book. Despite their differences, all 3 main characters find commonalities and learn to enjoy time spent together. They also make new friends as they travel on their adventures.

 

For a fun read, check out Everything is Always Gonna be Alright, Durban Frankenshooze.

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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: 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. 😉 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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#TBT The Anniversary Cruise

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For our 25th anniversary, we treated us to an Alaskan cruise. Princess Cruise Lines really outdid themselves. So many options, so much great food and entertainment. It was a delight to travel with my best friend. Relaxation, sight-seeing, swimming, activities-the offerings were more than any one person could attend. Looking back, our appearance seems much younger than now. LOL.

The first picture was a selfie taken while we were watching an outdoor movie on the top deck. Remember, it was Alaska! Blankets provided, snuggling necessary to stay warm. We were thankful that it wasn’t raining!

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This picture was taken during the fancy dress-up evening on board our ship. After arriving home, my honey treated me to a no-cal floral cake. Beautiful!

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We found this totem pole in Juneau. I love the faded paint and weather-worn wood.

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Panning for gold did not improve our financial prospects. Not one bit.

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If you ever get the chance, do enjoy a cruise! We were fortunate to get a balcony, which really helped when we felt motion sickness. Between the cool air from the slightly open balcony door and the rocking of the ship, we had the best sleep ever.

Next year will be our 35th anniversary. I wonder where we will end up for that anniversary? What adventures have you had when celebrating special occasions? All suggestions will be considered. 😉

 

 

 

 


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Throwback Thursday: The Horse

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This is me with my third horse, Blaze. Royal Blaze.

Actually you can count her as my first horse, since the other two, Sissy and Lady, were more like family horses. Sissy and Blaze were both quite happy to dump me somewhere along the road and run home like horses on fire. And sometimes Blaze ran home to the fancy barn at the neighbor’s house, just for spite.

Maybe I spent more time walking than actually riding, but I did get better at holding on to the reins for dear life, forcing Blaze to stop so I could get back on. Spooking at ANY little thing. Like a rock, or a leaf, or maybe a butterfly. That was Blaze. Sissy just bucked you off and took off running if your heel came within 12 inches of her ticklish flank.

Though, as I think back, some sounds were spook-worthy. Maybe the giant crashing sounds in the shrubs along the road (bear, cow, mountain lion, elk?). Snake in the road? Check. Barking dog. Check. Shadow. Check.

Perhaps I took my life in my hands each time I headed out riding through the forest and range lands, but God looked out for me and kept me safe. Yes, He did.

This photo was taken sometime between 1976-78. I was probably 14 or 15 and we lived out in the middle of NOWHERE in the White Mountains of Arizona. Going to school was a 35 minute (or so) ride to Springerville/Eager on a mini-bus over a mountain pass. Yes! If snow was in the forecast, we got out of school early and headed home before the pass got bad. No sirree, the school did not want to have us spending the night! Going shopping or to work (Dad) was another 30-40 minute drive in the opposite direction to Show Low. Our mailing address was actually in Vernon, about 6 miles away, and our property ran up against fencing for forest land.

Blaze. How much I loved thee, knothead that you were. Mom and Dad bought her for me when she was about 4 months old. You can’t tell from this photo, but she was a roan Appaloosa. When we picked up ‘Fancy’ from the previous owners, she was the cutest thing! Spots were noticeable along her rump, but only if you looked hard. A sparse tail was the only other clue to her breeding. Her daddy’s name was Royal something (this was a LONG time ago, folks) and she had a blaze down her forehead, so Royal Blaze she became.

This horse provided me with hours and hours of adventures and companionship. Every day I’d head outside with our collie, Jody, tell her to get the horse, and whistle. Within minutes, thundering hooves and joyful barks raced towards me from the nearly 8 acre cedar-covered pasture. If if was a good day (for the dog) the three of us would head out for a couple of hours, exploring and playing. If it was really a good day, the dog would find something dead to roll in and stink to high heaven. If it was a bad day for the dog, I would try to sneak outside without her. This never worked, but sometimes I knew other dogs would be an issue, so she had to stay home. These days always crushed our girl.

Some fun things to remember:

-a broken off piece of salt block in my pocket to lick as we went for rides

-making up adventure stories involving cute boys and big events

-freezing my toes and fingers off (not literally) while riding in the deep snow

-cleaning out the horse tank and taking the first drinks of clean water

-climbing, circling, admiring Timber Knoll

-the cool deserted cabin behind Timber Knoll

-dead stuff

-forgetting I had on my dirty old cowboy boots and wearing them to school

-Poky, the cat, riding atop the horse, playing catch with branches trailing along Blaze’s back as we walked through the pasture

-snakes, lizards, tarantulas. Oh, my!

-surviving exit (of me) attempts by the horse brushing as close to the trunks of trees and shrubs as possible, hoping I would come off

We really did have loads of good times together. One just needed to be prepared for her to pull a trick! Good old Blaze!

What’s a favorite memory of adventures you have?

 

P.S. See the tree on the right side of the photo? That’s the spot the cougar/mountain lion spent the night! In. Our. Front. Yard. The dog was having a fit, but we didn’t let her out.

Middle of nowhere, folks. Middle of nowhere.

 


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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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Day 29 of RV Living ~ Plastic Sinks

Plastic sinks and all – it’s the RV life!

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

RV sinks are plastic. Did you know that?

Why, you ask, is this even important?

The last several days, 5 to be exact, we’ve had to boil water to do dishes in the plastic sink. Dirty dishes require hot water. Plastic sinks do not. The whole process was a delicate balance between boiling water and cold tap water.

We had to boil water (in the electric teapot) because the gas was off.

The gas was off because the carpet got flooded.

The carpet was soaked from the leaky hot water tank.

The hot water tank leaked because it had a tiny hole.

It’s a wonderful thing that we have an extended warranty. First, for the microwave that decided to retire early after only 3 days of us living in the RV. Second, for the leaking and flooding hot water tank.

Kevin’s trip number 2 (not including the shopping trip and picking up of said RV) back to Broadmoor RV Superstore in Pasco where the customer service was phenomenal resulted in a brand new hot water tank and assorted necessitites required for repair.

The Kevster strikes again! After a few phone conferences with the service center manager, we are back in the hot water business. Thank you, Kevin and warranty and Skylar of the Superstore, for excellent customer service and my hot showers and soapy dishwater.

The plastic sink thanks you as well.


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Thinking in 12’s ~ RV Living

12’s become significant…

by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

Lately, I’ve been thinking in 12’s.

12 towels (the hubby uses many each week, plus there are the grands . . .)

12 dish clothes

12 sets of silverware (in case we have company)

12 wash clothes (we are messy)

I don’t know why 12 seems like such a good number. Except 12 towels will hold us if I can’t get to the laundry for a bit. Dishes shouldn’t be a problem, though we do go through them each day.

I am a 12th Fan (Go, Seahawks!). Maybe that’s the influence of 12.

A dozen. That usually means good things. A dozen eggs, donuts, months in a year . . .

Hmmm. 12’s were always the hardest for me to remember when it came to multiplication facts. I still have to think hard (or cheat) to figure out 12’s.

Moving into an RV trailer is a huge commitment. The storage space. Oh, boy. I mean the lack of storage space. That is the challenge. But we are up for adventure.

To end on a positive note, let’s have a list of 12 great and wonderful reasons to live in an RV!

1. Life will be one big adventure.

2. It will feel like camping. all. the. time.

3. We can move our house any time we want a change of scenery.

4. Less square footage means less area to clean!

5. Change. Change is good. Change makes you think outside of the box in which you currently reside.

6. Weeding. This is necessary to reduce personal effects to a sufficiently tiny amount that they fit inside the RV.

7. Cooking requirements will force creativity!

8. Potential for blog posts (the good, the bad, the ugly) will increase exponentially the longer we abide in each other’s hip pockets.

9. The porch. Sitting under the awning enjoying the evening quiet (and chatter of young grands) will be exquisite.

10. Free time! No sense in shopping – there’s no place to put it.

11. Clothing choices will be easy each day. With a limited wardrobe, it’s recycle outfits over and over again.

12. Fairy tale living. It’s true! I will be snuggled up to my honey in our home sweet home.

13. And for the baker’s dozen – Living in an RV will get us ready to live in our small home.

Now. That being said . . . I’d love to hear your RV living suggestions, tips, and strategies! Pretty please!