Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Expecting Spring

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tightly closed fists peek

pink wisps bulge with life – spring yearns,

bursts forth, nest and tree alike

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The most hopeful of seasons, spring, lies in wait, gathering herself in preparation to leap into the exploding fray of growth, buzzing with energy and promise.

 

What signs of spring do you see in your area?


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Throwback Thursday: John Smith

This talking-to-myself post originally aired on April 21, 2012.

It was warm outside and Captain John Smith was looking a bit washed out…

I crack me up.

Hello, Captain John Smith, toy of my daughter from years past. He was just hanging around, catching some rays. Now we know how many years plastic figures last.


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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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Favorite Summer Recipe ~ Stuffed Squash

Crispy stuffed squash, a summer favorite!

by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

Ahh. The bounty of summer awaits my growling tummy!

Though I am posting this recipe today, I made this dish several weeks ago. Due to the odd weather this year and very early and hot spring temperatures, the produce schedule is very early or entirely off schedule!

I know. But we take what we get and have a fancy meal. I also acknowledge that I post this recipe in some form almost every year. It is that good.

This year, on July 1st (so early), I harvested a zucchini and a yellow squash plus wax and green beans. So delish!

 

Stuffing for the squash

Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey

washed and chopped green and wax beans

2 squash, washed, cut in half lengthwise, and scooped out

1 can of black beans, rinsed

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 cups chicken broth

parsley

black pepper

crushed peppers

salt

Mrs. Dash

onion powder

olive oil

grated cheddar cheese

Prepped squash. I sometimes like to add olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper before I stuff them.

1. Saute onion, garlic, and carrot in olive oil. Add turkey meat to brown it.

2. After turkey is browned, add black beans, beans, tomatoes, and spices (to your taste). Add enough chicken broth to make a thick mixture. Let cook until bubbling and fragrant.

3. Stuff peppers with stuffing. I love them full and overflowing. You will probably have leftovers, which makes a tasty soup or casserole base. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

4. Place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Check often as you near the end of your cooking time to make sure squash ingredients are not overcooking. We like a crispy cheese topping, so we let them cook the full time.

5. Remove and enjoy!

Ready for the oven.

You can add almost anything to this dish. If I have quinoa, it goes in the mix. At times I’ve added broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms – you name it, I’ve probably had it in my stuffed squash.

I just love summer gardens and their tasty treats, don’t you? What’s your favorite summer dish?


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How a Garden Transforms a Backyard

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

These are before and after pictures of our backyard. The after pictures are really just snapshots of specific moments in time, as gardens are always changing and evolving.

Nearly 7 years ago we purchased our home. Putterers by nature, we have planted, chopped down, removed, added, painted, built, dug up, relocated, and generally wrecked havoc (or as I like to say, made improvements in accordance to our tastes) with the yard. Front and back.

The above photo shows what the triangle garden looked like when we moved in.

This is the patio door overlooking the old cement triangle garden.

 Here is Kevin digging out the cement to create a new garden area.

 Here is a view of the new triangle garden, after many years of growth.

 

  This is the view looking out over the old gravel bed.

 

Here is our view.

 The old backyard view while standing at the house.

 The same view a few years later.

 

 The garden shed without any sunflowers or privacy fence.

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Our well worn garden, including a privacy fence and garden beds.

My garden and backyard today.

What we’ve added: a dogwood tree, a brick patio (covered now by the sunflower forest), 5 garden beds, a flower bed, hundreds of plants, cedar privacy fence, a clothesline (behind the shed), underground sprinklers, shade curtains around the patio, and lots of love.

That’s my garden. What changes have you made in your garden?


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What’s in the Garden? Edible and Not

Almost bursting open sunflower. As Kevin says, my sunflower jungle is alive!

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

I’m amazed at how quickly the garden is taking over the backyard.

I’m sad that several icky pests are winning and eating as much as they can (slugs, earwigs, pill bugs, and aphids). Since I prefer not to spray my garden with pesticides, it’s a daily battle to find those critters. Loss is expected.

Strawberries are still blooming, though they are exhausted!

But mostly, I’m happy to see this dirt produce food and beauty for our eyes, nose, hands, and tummies. I supposed I could add ears to that list, as the bees are a humming, though they classify as beauty not food. At least for us. The cats love to snatch and gobble them up.

Here are some things growing in the garden.

Oregano, much loved by bees, is heading towards full bloom.

Tea roses – beautiful though they were plagued by aphids early on in the season.

Creeping thyme, a walkable plant (you can walk on it). But watch out for bees!

Edible thyme is blooming.

Radishes are tasty and almost gone. Mmmm

Sunset lily. I love the color of these blooms.

Ripening Roma tomatoes.

The pumpkin plants that are threatening to take over our tiny backyard. Soon, it will be true.

Poor, sad, dwarfed okra. I’ve replanted 4-5 times. This is the best so far.

Wax beans love my back yard. Green beans? Not so much.

Dill entices more bees and is ready for canning.

Part of the sunflower jungle.

Lavender and friend.

Raspberries are coming on strong, much to the delight of the icky pests.

Baby zucchini.

The parsley is blooming. Those tiny sweat bees love this stuff.

Garlic. I have no idea when it is done!

Kale.

Baby yellow squash. If you squint, you can see someone else was impatient to try it. Go away, bugs!

Sage. This is also in bloom. But there is more than enough to go around. Five times around.

That’s my garden so far, all from the backyard. I’d be happy to share, especially the herbs. Has anyone else grown okra? What trick am I missing (other than heat, which I think it really needs)?

Happy tasting, smelling, seeing, touching, and hearing in your garden today!


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Encroaching

Beautiful yet encroaching and taking over a flower bed

By Angie Quantrell Angie Quantrell

Encroaching.

honeysuckle

crab grass

pink flowers

vines

raspberries

strawberries

parsley

pumpkins

sunflowers

evergreen tree

birch branches

moss

 

slugs

sow bugs

daddy long legs

yellow jackets

aphids

white grass bugs

ants

 

gossip

television

news

media

politics

pollution

violence

wars

famine

drought

 

Encroaching.

In my yard. In my community. In my world.

 

Aggressively encroaching vines grasping for toe holds

It starts small, but once you start looking, it’s everywhere at every level.

Encroaching.

What is encroaching in your life?

Yet. There is always hope. Big or small encroachments, He is here.

Raspberries escaping and encroaching throughout yard

But you are a shield around me, O LORD;

you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

To the LORD I cry aloud,

and he answers me from his holy hill.

I lie down and sleep;

I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

Psalm 3:3-5 NIV


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The Curious Garden ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

A garden that is curious?

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

The Curious Garden

By Peter Brown

(Little, Brown and Company; 2009)

The Curious Garden is a picture book that was inspired by the Manhattan Highline Railway.

I’ve read articles about the Highline that tell how the lonely stretch of railway has been transformed into beautiful public gardens. But this is the first picture book I’ve found on the topic.

The Curious Garden tells the tale of Liam, a young boy who explores the empty spaces to find railways breaking down and nature taking over. Liam decides to help. Together, Liam and the garden grow and explore the empty spaces.

“The garden was especially curious about old, forgotten things.”

I love that sentence. The garden is not just a thing in this book, but one of the main characters!

The Curious Garden (doesn’t the title take on a new personna after you’ve read the above sentence?) will delight explorers and nature lovers.

KID KANDY:

Nature Walk

I walk almost every day through my neighborhood. When I walk tomorrow, I am going to look for places that nature is acting curious and spreading in unexpected places.

How about you?

Ask a parent or sibling to walk with you.

Look for:

– weeds growing in sidewalk cracks

– flowers springing up in odd spots

– old rusted things covered in grasses or vines

– moss creeping along damp, shady areas

– nature that is being mysterious and curious as it expands to new areas

What did you see?


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National Haiku Poetry Day

Monet in the garden

by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

National Haiku Poetry Day was on Sunday. I love wrangling words to create a 17 syllable story poem.

Cat in the garden

Ladybug is mine, Mine. MINE.

I can’t have it? Fine. I’m gone.

Fine. You won’t let me have it, I’m outta here.

Cat, photos, and Haiku are mine. Happy Haiku Holiday.