Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;

His love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

 

While I always remember to give thanks this time of year, I wish I would remember to daily recall the many blessings and gifts the Lord has given me.

We hear the saying,”Christmas is not just one day, but 365 days a year” and “Keep Christmas alive every day of the year.” I think the same could be said of Thanksgiving.

I’m just going to bring my New Year’s resolutions forward a bit…I’d like to spend 2018 remembering and giving thanks each day. Happy Thanks-for-giving from 1 to 365.

Happy Thanksgiving, lovely ones. I pray you are surrounded by loved ones, great food, warm houses, and thankfulness.

Feeling thankful.

 


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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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One Year in RV: Survival!

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August 20 was our one year anniversary of moving into the RV. And guess what? We made it!

I haven’t taken him (my honey) out, though I’ve sent him out when I need to clean (or write, cook, organize, read . . .).

He still loves me even if the heat factor in an RV – during summer – is higher than my happy tolerance level.

He survived record-breaking snowfall and freezing winter temps regardless of how close I came to helping him build his own snow igloo far far from the RV.

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I managed not to throw out the superfluous (not for him) heating items – throw, bed blanket, heat lamps, floor heater – and we were both able to speak in civil tones. Most of the time.

Long-time RV living is not for the faint of heart, but definitely for the adventurous!

Let’s pretend you just arrived for a fancy cooked-mostly-by-BBQ meal. We’ll fill you in on some observations and interesting events that came about from our inaugural RV year.

– It is possible! One can live without piles of stuff – and survive!

– Storage? Premium. If we don’t use it, it has to go. To storage, to someone, to the thrift store…

– Less is more. Truly. The less we have inside the RV, the more space we have to move about.

– Cooking is a bit tricky. Too hot in the summer for the stove. Very humid in the winter.

– Humidity is an issue. One chore I never dreamed of having? Wiping down windows on a daily basis.

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– Electrical circuits can and will be blown. Until you figure out which items can be used at the same time.

– The electric skillet will most likely blow the fuse if anything else is plugged in and going. Anything.

– Do not use the skillet and the AC at the same time.

– Splurge on the skirting. We only experienced one tiny freeze in a waterline. That’s saying something when we were below zero several times and hovered in the frozen zone for months.

– Cats. Litter. Fur. Toys. Cat tree. A bit crowded. Now that they are free to roam, we are all much happier. The catio is disassembled.

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– Mice. Peek before letting cats back inside. Trust me on this.

– Company. Things will be different when guests arrive. Say, for instance, seating. Or standing. Finding room to maneuver. But that’s what makes entertaining exciting.

– Breezes in the bedroom. This is awesome. Open both windows and the wind just blows across our bed. As does dust, smoke from fires, and stinky skunk fragrance, but still!

– My office. A drawer. Half the dinette bench plus the table. That’s it. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I yearn for a bigger creative area.

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– All of outdoors. Right here.

– We have everything we need. Running water, electricity, internet, laundry facilities, bathroom, bed, fridge, grands in and out.

– Our home moves. We can hitch it up anytime we want and hit the road.

I’d say our inaugural year was pretty successful. So you’ve seen me wear the same clothes over and over again. I am dressed, right?

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Happy RV anniversary to us! Come on by, we’ll cozy up and share a seat. Maybe even throw in a meal or tour of the facilities. Feeling up to the challenge? Either the visit or the RV living? Love to hear about it.

 

 


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To All The Dogs I’ve Loved Before… Maria Gianferrari’s Inspirations for “Hello Goodbye Dog” (plus a giveaway!)

Source: To All The Dogs I’ve Loved Before… Maria Gianferrari’s Inspirations for “Hello Goodbye Dog” (plus a giveaway!)

DOGS! This is such a fun post about favorite dogs and literary dogs. Who are your favorite dogs? Real life and imagined!

Maggie, Jessie, Jody…


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Sea to Ski: Anniversary Travel & Fun

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Pre-hike view of Mt. Rainier

While celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary last week, we experienced what I have tagged a Sea to Ski holiday. In our area, there is a Ski to Sea athletic event, and we certainly engaged in exercise during portions of our explorations, but nothing up to iron man/woman or triathlon levels. Not even close.

Fun, fast, feast, foray. That’s was our goal.

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Seattle from Alki (West Seattle)

Sea = Day 1 Trip to Seattle

We dined on extremely tasty blackened cod tacos and salad at Salty’s on Alki. We walked along the beach, rode the water taxi across the bay to the Seattle waterfront, hiked the Pike Street Hill Climb, enjoyed clam chowder at Ivar’s, and scoured an antique store for a tiny glass bottle. Parking was just fine at Salty’s and the water taxi was a treat.

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The Seattle skyline from the water taxi

Ski = Day 2 Trip to Mt. Rainier

Technically, we did not ski. But we hiked in the mountains. And saw plenty of snow. We parked at Ohanapecosh Campground and hit the trail leading through the hot springs, past Silver Falls, discovered a new trail (for us) to the Grove of the Patriarchs, and totalled over 6 up and down miles. About 60 floors in elevation gains, according to my Iphone. For hot days, this was perfect, as most of the trail was shade covered, gorgeous, and green.

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The hiking look

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See? A nice and shady path

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Waterfall and creek at Ohanapecosh 

Ride = Day 3 Motorcycle Loop

To make up for the hiking, we sat on the bike to see the sights. We traveled up Highway 410, gazed at the packed snow and ice gracing the top of Chinook Pass, followed Highway 123 to Highway 12, and returned through Naches to make a loop ride. We took the back road around Clear and Rimrock Lake. There was no lack for beauty, but it was getting pretty hot by the time we completed the ride.

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Mt. Rainier from Chinook Pass

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We left early to avoid the heat, so the morning hours required layers and layers! Which slowly came off as the mercury rose.

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Our shadows and us admiring the snow and Mt. Rainier

Watch = Day 4 Movie to Beat the Heat

As per suggested temps of 100, we hit the theater to take in the new Pirates movie. We both loved this episode as it tied in to the original three. AND we avoided the gagging heat.

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Ferns at Ohanapecosh 

All in all, we had a fantastic anniversary holiday, me and my honey. The northwest is full of gems, just ready for exploring.

Where do you love to go? All ideas are welcome…next trip is just around the corner.

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 Fish tacos at Salty’s


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Daddy and Me: Throwback Thursday

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1970 – and I was stylin’! Most weekends, the Hill family, a complete set of 6 by that year, hit the road touring the historic, interesting, or just plain hot sites and locations of Arizona.

Station wagon, two parents, dog, 4 kids, full gas tank, and off we would go. Funny, I don’t remember seeing any maps. We just seemed to find these fun places. In 1970 I was about 8 and in second grade, so perhaps maps didn’t hit my radar. As long as we made the mandatory stops for pop, chips, a loaf of white bread, and a package of hot dogs, we were happy campers.

I remember Colossal Cave. Not so much the interior, which I am sure was cool and interesting and quite a break from the heat. But the name is clearly imprinted in my memories.

It didn’t matter what we did as a family. The important thing was spending time together, whether we were chasing horned toads (they squirt blood you know!), scaring off rattlesnacks, stopping to pick tortoises off the road (good old Humperdink), or camping at Turkey Creek, we loved hitting the road as much as our parents did.

Or maybe they didn’t enjoy it. With 4 kids and a revolving zoo of pets in a single wide trailer, I bet they HAD to get out of the house on the weekends, for sanity purposes.

Just kidding. We loved exploring. I got that from my dad and my mom.

Excuse me while I grab a loaf of white bread and some hot dogs. Feeling a road trip coming on…


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One More Hug

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One more hug.

That’s what I wish for. Just 1, maybe 2 long hugs.

Before I say good-bye.

But it’s too late. I’ve missed the chance. You’re gone.

 

I’ll remember our last day together.

Talking, remembering, sharing, eating.

That one half hug when I arrived.

It wasn’t enough.

 

So I’ll grab all those memories,

Wrap them tight in my heart.

Keep them close to ease the pain.

An invisible hug for eternity.

 

Missing you.

 

For my Dad.

My Daddy passed away on Good Friday, April 14. I was blessed to spend the day with Daddy and Mama, talking and visiting and hanging out. He went on to Heaven later that evening. We had the gift of clear-minded conversation and enjoyment of recalling my growing-up years the entire day. I even learned a few things I hadn’t known. I miss him dreadfully and worry about Mama without her love of nearly 57 years of marriage. But I know he is fine and she’s not alone. She has her kids, a part of Daddy. We will share our heart hugs about Daddy and remember the good times.

But I would still love one more hug.

Don’t wait. Hug with abandon.