Love, Laughter, and Life

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

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Writing Assistant


Storystorm is coming to an end in a few days. I will miss the daily posts by others working in the field of picture books!

Along the way, I’ve learned, brainstormed, taken notes, and jotted down many ideas for future writing projects. Way to go, Tara Lazar and all of the presenters! You can visit Tara’s site and check it out here.

Another unexpected result from Storystorm came this morning. I have now hired a personal assistant. Welcome, Mabel!

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Throwback Thursday: Shouldn’t Have . . .

Shouldn’t have eaten that last donut. No longer a size 7.5.


(Reblogged from 2010)


In honor of those pets we’ve loved and lost. Meet Annabelle, who was spending time with mommy and trying to nonchalantly fit inside her box. Miss you, my beautiful tuxedo cat fur baby.


It’s the RV Life for Me

by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

We live in an RV.

That’s recreational vehicle for you wondering about the abbreviation. Our tenement on wheels is like the Big Green Rolling Turd in the Robin Williams movie RV. Without the backed up sewer, ripped off awning, and Class A drive-and-walk-around feature.

Our RV is the type you drive in, unhook, set up, and drive away.

The Quantrells are on an adventure.

Phase 1: Complete – The house is sold. Closed. Done.

Here’s a chance to say “Thanks” to our 2 fantastic realtors, Stephanie Blehm and her son Kenny Blehm! They did a fantastic job. And they survived Kevin. I mean our process. Wink, wink.

Sorry, Kenny. Mabel thinks your card is tasty!

Phase 2: In Process – Live full-time in RV. Settle cats and selves in for the winter. Learn to grocery shop often for not much at all (no space). Wear the same clothes all the time (no space). Store rubber stamping supplies (no space). Eat outside with guests (no space).

Search for property and research choices.

Phase 3: In the Future – Build small home (tiny is too minute) on out-of-town property.

Our lives in a nutshell.

It’s been great so far. Things did get a little tense every now and then (sorry, honey). We relieved ourselves of many possessions. That felt good. Now we can see what we really need to survive.

An outdoor catio is a definite NEED. Poor kitties have adjusted well, but opportunites for exercise in the RV are limited. And, well, I just need them-who-love-outside-time to be out in the fresh air. Soon, babies, daddy will have it all done. It’s going to be great! I’ll post pictures when it’s complete.

Pumpkin season is here, and despite the lack of space indoors, the big beautiful world beyond the RV walls has plenty of space to display my favorite seasonal produce.

Anyone else out there living in an RV? Who else loves kitties, pumpkins, and fall? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Tornado Choices

by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

SO many events and changes going on in our lives right now, I’m having a difficult time choosing what to share. Let me just be honest and tell you that I’ve been avoiding posting just because of the vast plethora of options.

There. Got that off my chest.

It may take me months to fill you in. Or just a day. Let’s see, shall we?

Life in Quantrell Land has been tornado-like in the sense that every day has been consumed with a whirlwind of activities, decisions, stressors, excitement, responsibilities, and cat fur. Truly. At times, we just had to grab something – anything – and hang on!

But it’s ALL good.

Because now, we are living in the RV full-time with 2 insane cats. Which if you want some more truth, makes us the insane ones. 2 shedding, clawing, racing, sneaking, messy, loving, snuggly kitties. In. A. Small. RV.

This classifies as an adventure for sure. I kid you not.

When folks used to show up late for church spouting, “The cows (dog, birds, chickens, pigs, horse) got out and we had to chase them down,” I would nod in agreement. But now I REALLY understand the stress and anxiety produced by such an event!

MONET, the sneak, wants out. Not just a little want, but an all-consuming desire of wanting out. Of the RV. The problem is Tiger, who is resident cat on the property. Tiger is very territorial and has been seen chasing off and beating up other cats. She’s a sweetheart to adult people, but not other cats. So we don’t want the girls out unless we can protect them from each other.

MONET, who cares she thinks. I want out. So she watches the door and our feet and if the door is open, ZIP, there she goes. Oh, the anxiety and interesting language on our part! She is having a great time, but we are watching for the arrival of Tiger and trying to lure the naughty girl back in…

Last Sunday, to connect you to what I was sharing, she did it again. Kevin was being nice to the moth and trying to get it out (before MONET, the best moth-catcher west of the Mississippi, ate it). MONET saw the open door – a mere 3-4 inches – and zip, she was out.

Church day. Big luncheon to prepare. Stuff to take (we still forgot the meat and cheese). A wonderful guest speaker to hear. Responbililty to get there first to unlock the building. And we had a loose cat.

I understand, all of you chasing-of-escapees people! Arrrggghhhh!

We won. This time. Even made it on time (except the meat and cheese, which had to arrive with our son).

So goes our tornado lifestyle. Adventures around every corner and open RV door.

By the way, RV doors are difficult even when not dodging the cat. Narrow, steep, metal shaking steps. I cringe just waiting for one of us to biff the landing and go sprawling face down in the gravel.

But for now, we are good. It’s ALL good.

Because He is good.

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$125 Bucks Later …

Monet in one of her favorite napping spots. In her favorite position.

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

The first hint that something was wrong was the sound of the cat door furiously flapping.

The next hint was the flash of gray darting across the floor to the cat box. Monet had the kitty runs. Eww.

I mean the nasty smelly potty stops. While I’ve been there myself (though I don’t use the cat litter box nor do I go through the cat door), I’ve never seen a cat make a mad dash to the toilet!

Poor baby!

The dash and go lasted all evening and we were getting concerned. But since she continued to eat, drink, and play with her toys like a wild thing, we figured it would pass.

But this morning there was blood.

That definitely meant a trip to the vet. There was initial interest in the cat carrier by both girls, but the second I grabbed Monet to put her in, Mabel dashed off for hiding, afraid she would be next.

$125 bucks later, Monet was home. Colitis. Who knew cats could have that?

Cats eat all sorts of things. Especially Monet. She’s the wild girl and she very aggressively hunts, consumes, and shares her prizes. According to the vet, this is common.

No fever, healthy teeth, eating and drinking, playing, good fur, no temp = colitis and maybe a some worms (from eating before mentioned outdoor treats).

“Are you able to give her pills?” he asked.

“My guess is no, though we’ve never had to give them to her before,” I said. “Monet is our more intensive cat and pulls no punches when she plays. I’m guessing I would earn a bite or scratches from any attempts.”

This idea was confirmed when the vet came back with Monet after a little visit to the back room. “I did manage to give her a pill, but I had a technician and an assistant helping me. I gave her a shot. It’s not my first choice, but to prevent bites and scratches, it will be best for her.” (And me!)

As I thought.

How Monet loves to sleep.

So, guess what $125 buys? A vet inspection. A very strong antibiotic injection. One pill. Worming medication.

And a very happy-to-be-home cat who has already brought me a moth.

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Chester ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell


By Melanie Watt (and Chester)

(Kids Can Press, 2007)

Chester is a cat.

Not just any cat, but a very talented, imaginative, and creative cat.

Chester loves to be in the limelight. He also has ideas about what type of limelight and focus he wants.

And while Chester is all of the above, he is also – gasp – somewhat NAUGHTY!

Meet Melanie Watt, the author who is trying to tell the story of Chester, a very large calico cat who carries his own red correcting pen. At all times.

Meet Chester, the star of the book, who repeatedly hijacks the story and turns it to his own purposes.

Chester and Chester’s Back! are delightful, funny, and imaginative picture books. The voice of Chester interacts seamlessly with the author’s voice of Melanie. Kids will love Chester and his antics.

But beware, kids might get some ideas from Chester!


Make a Paper Plate Chester

Materials: wax-free paper plates, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers, crayons

1. Draw a cat face on your paper plate. Include eyes, nose, whiskers, and mouth.

2. Color your cat Chester colors (or any color you like – that’s what Chester would do).

3. Cut ears, paws, and a tail from construction paper. Glue them in place.

4. Cut a pen from construction paper. Make sure it is red! Glue it to Chester’s paw.

Now you have your own Chester. Both of you can make up your own stories!


Chester’s Back!

(Kids Can Press, 2013)


What’s Growing in the Garden?

Strawberries, raspberries, lavender, and radishes fresh from the garden.

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

What’s growing in the garden? I mean besides cat fur.

The strawberries are slowing down and I think ready for a big break to build up their energy. Whoa! This was the most prolific strawberry (also known as strawbabies and beebes around our house) harvest I have ever had. Not counting the minimal loss from slugs, sow bugs, ants, and raiding grandchildren.

Raspberries are coming on! Beautiful, tasty, sweet-tart lovely bursts of flavor – be still my heart. I love me some raspberries (also known as raspbabies and beebes at our house).

My miniscule crop of French radishes is nearing readiness for being pulled up, roots and all. I planted a roasting pan with radishes in hopes of avoiding above mentioned pests who annually decimate my peppery red and white treats. Take that, you vermin! Today Donavyn and I pulled up a few to check for size. And we gobbled them all up, just like Goldilocks ate Baby Bear’s porridge. Just right.

Lavender, one of my favorite flowering herbs, is starting to bloom strong. I haven’t seen many bees this spring, so I am pleased the purple blossoms are attracting several from somewhere. If only a swarm would descend in our area and we could capture it . . .

As always, parsley, thyme, dill, and sage are available free of charge to any and all. The sunflowers look like they will put on a great show in another couple of weeks. Birds delight, but beware the two slinking gray girls who blend in to the bricks and sand beneath your dinner table.

One of my failures this year is okra. I really wanted to grow some for my mom who grew up in Missouri. I’ve done 3 plantings, and there is nothing to be had but munched sprouts. I guess they taste good?

I’ve also done multiple plantings of echinacea, or cone flowers, for the bees and butterflies. This last batch is finally showing promise. I may just have to buy half grown plants.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockle shells,

And pretty maids all in a row.

There is always a furry body helping me. This one particularly loves to sleep on the strawberries.

My friends, how does your garden grow?


The Threat – Can Cats Read?

The experiment – Can cats read?

By Angie Quantrell Angie Quantrell

My husband walked into the kitchen with a guilty grin on his face.


“Nothing,” he smirked.

Seeing I wasn’t convinced, he added, “I’m just laughing at your book on CD.”

Ok. Weird. But I let it go.

After dinner, I went out to tidy up the patio and harvest strawberries. And then I saw why he was giggly.

On the chalkboard we have mounted to a wall (for the grands, of course), someone had drawn and written a message.

To our neighborhood bully cat, Mr. Mustache, or Stache. From our gray girls, Mabel and Monet.

Can cats read? Do they understand a threat? Is humor lost on them?

It seems my husband thinks so.

Did his threat work?

I’m sorry to say, but no, Stache has still been around spraying on our windows and chasing the girls inside.

To conclude this experiment in cat communication skills, we may assume that:

1. Cats cannot read.

2. Cats don’t care if you threaten them.

3. Cats don’t get humor.


Stache, boldly making his visit

Or maybe, cats just don’t read message boards.

Read more about Stache, the Bully, here.