Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: orbit

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burn, reflect, dispel

darkness be gone; circles drawn,

rings, orbits of light

 

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by Angie Quantrell

 

Welcome to Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: orbit. Enjoy mid-week frivolities by sharing a haiku poem. Happy day!


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Annual Gingerbread House Decorating

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The grands are getting older, and therefore much more able to decorate gingerbread houses. For the older two, decorating is the goal instead of consuming vast amounts of sugar from the icing and candy. The younger three, well, sugar is the main goal.

Nana got smart this year and combined gingerbread house decor with Thanksgiving Dinner and Smashing of the Pumpkins. Once December hits, the schedule goes from zero to 100 mph and Christmas festivities cut into my attempts to gather all 5 for my Nana tradition. This seemed the best bet. Plus, a good meal was had, so some sugar was counter-balanced with turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

Before and after shots of grands and houses.

Tips for Your Gingerbread House Decorating:

*Gingerbread kits can be found in all variety of sizes, configurations, and number of homes included. Coupons and sales abound in a variety of stores. I found one set with 5 homes. Done. 5 grands equals 5 homes. Though I think some parents wanted to participate. Maybe next year I will need 2 sets.

*Hot glue houses together. This saves tons of time and keeps the houses steady for little hands. And who really eats gingerbread houses anyway?

*Cover cardboard with foil and tape to secure. Hot glue houses to foil. These bases provide plenty of room for landscaping and home decor.

*Purchase cake decorating pieces like our Christmas lights and snowmen. The grands loved adding them to their houses.

*Use tub frosting. The royal icing is soooo stiff, only the oldest 3 could manage to add it to their houses with the tube included in the kit. Soft frosting is just fine for adhering candy.

*Give each child his/her own plate with treats, decorations, a plastic knife, and a glob of icing. If they lick the knife (safe to lick, plastic!), it’s their own germs they eat.

*Limit sugar consumption by making sure home decorators have first eaten a meal. Divvy up candy between all involved decorators, thereby spreading the (sugar) wealth.

*Take lots of photos! Who knows what will happen once the houses go to their respective homes!

*Have fun! Messes are expected, so don’t worry about the small stuff. Everything washes off with a wash cloth.

Merry Christmas and Happy Traditions to You! Happy Gingerbread House Decorating!


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10 Gift Giving Ideas that Support Writers & Authors

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Do you have a writer in the family? A friend who is a writer? Or maybe you love to read books?

Writers work hard, most don’t make enough to pay the bills, and many need to build their readership (so in the future perhaps they CAN make enough to pay the bills and not hold down a full-time job AND write at the same time). Christmas is the perfect time to support the writers you know and love. Anytime is the perfect time to show support and help writers on their journey.

Here are some GIFT GIVING IDEAS that Support Writers & Authors.

1. Purchase the book. Paperback, hardback, digital. Spring for a REAL copy. This will financially support your writer and encourage him or her to continue writing.

2. Join Goodreads. Look up titles you read. Write a review, rate the book, follow the author. Goodreads is a great community of writers, readers, and professionals dedicated to the world of books. My kind of community. P.S. You can discover new authors and books by reading reviews and suggestions!

3. Post book titles you are reading on your social media accounts. I love to include a snapshot of the cover so other readers will remember the title, author, and cover. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, and more are great social media ways to show and tell.

4. Check out the book from the library. Even if you’ve purchased a copy. Tell the librarians how much you enjoyed such and such author. Check out other books by the same author.

5. Not in the library? Most libraries have a way to suggest titles for purchase. I’m fortunate that my library system has a very up-to-date web site. I can go right in and suggest titles. I love it when I get a confirmation email for an approved purchase. I’m also the first in line to check it out! Pretty cool.

6. Write a review on Amazon. The more reviews a book has, the higher it ranks in importance. Don’t ask me to explain more, because that’s all I’ve got. Somehow, reviews help drive the benefits authors receive from Amazon (benefits=promotions=sales=income for authors). Even ONE sentence helps!

7. Tell someone why you like the book. Share your copy. Tell others about your favorite authors. Don’t keep it a secret.

8. Suggest books for book chats, book discussion groups, or book gifts. Give books as gifts. Include book titles on your wish list.

9. Make book giving a tradition in your family or circle of friends. I love to give a new book to my grandchildren each year. Some families (granted, with only one or two children) have a book pile for Christmas Advent, each book individually wrapped. One is opened and read every day leading up to Christmas. This could be a shared advent project for families with more than one child. OR if you are independently wealthy, each child could have his or her own advent stack of books.

10. Send a note to an author. Tell what their books or writing means to you. Give the gift of encouragement. Now that’s a jolly gift!

Extra Gift Idea: Follow authors on your social media platforms. Look for their web sites and follow those. Sign up for newsletters to receive notices of new book releases. Read their blogs. Join discussions by commenting. All efforts will be appreciated.

How about you? Can you think of any other cool gifts to give to writers? Share below in the comments. Thanks! Happy Gift Giving!


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Smashing Pumpkins (2nd Annual)

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The pumpkins were frozen solid, as was our turkey, on Thanksgiving Day. This made for an invigorating hunt for fresh turkey to cook for the main event. It also made for challenging smashing of the pumpkins.

Overall, smashing pumpkins this year was a bust. 😉 Only 2 large carving pumpkins were hollow enough to smash when tossed. One rotten butternut succumbed to smashing by foot. All other squash, regardless of variety, bounced upon re-entry to gravity-meets-earth. Add to this recipe of disappointment, drenching buckets of rain descended on this, the 2nd Annual Smashing Pumpkins event. Rain and icy cold temperatures. Bah-humbug.

Still, there is hope. The next warm day (will there be one before spring?), more attempts will be made to roll, toss, and smash the pumpkin stash. In hopes that next summer, the pumpkin fairy will deliver bounties of new beauties.

Until next Thanksgiving Day, have a wonderful winter, dreaming of sugar pie pumpkins and dancing jack-Ă´-lanterns.

Toasty warm wishes to you!

 


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Book Report: The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill

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The Three Rules of Everyday Magic

Written by Amanda Rawson Hill

Boyds Mills Press, An Imprint of Highlights, 2018

 

Believe. Give. Trust.

Those three rules of everyday magic are what give Kate hope over difficult life circumstances. From her Grammy, who is sinking into loss of memory, these rules are passed to Kate to help her deal with a fading best friend,  missing father, and stressful home and school life. Though Kate doesn’t believe in magic, she clings to the three rules to seek help with her struggles.

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic is a well-written, interesting chapter book by Amanda Rawson Hill. I loved the characters, situation, and real-life stresses faced by Kate and her family. Tough issues, like mental illness, memory loss, school, and friendship give this book a current world flavor. The music theme ties the components of the story together in a refreshing and believable way.

I recommend The Three Rules of Everyday Magic for upper elementary and middle school students, especially those who are struggling with home life and need someone with whom to identify.

Thanks for a copy of The Three Rules of Everyday Magic from Literary Rambles, Natalie Aguirre, and Amanda Rawson Hill. Thank you for sharing good literature for young readers.

 


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Sewing in an RV

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The RV life. Let’s just agree that certain jobs, chores, and hobbies require flexibility, working in tiny spaces, and unimaginable chaos.

For instance, for my birthday I thought I’d sew my new flannel nightgown. I used to wear flannel nightgowns all the time, compliments of my mommy. I loved those gowns and wore them to rags. Once I could sew, I made a nightshirt version of nightgown, easy to sew, roomy, comfy. And I wore those to rags. I haven’t had a flannel nightgown for at least a decade, as menopause negated any desire for cozy pajamas.

But now, sensing the end is in sight (of hot flashes and general always-hot flashes), I found a very cute woodland animal flannel when shopping for my soon-to-be-born nephew and decided I needed a matching (to his quilt) flannel nightshirt.

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The fun begins when one makes the choice to sew. In an RV. Steps for me included:

-clear the table (dining room, office, rec room, living room)

-clear counters for work space

-wash the fabric (next door in the Quantrell community laundry room)

-dig out the sewing machine, mini ironing board, iron, tub of sewing supplies (stored beneath the bed)

-set up sewing machine and accoutrements on table

-use TV tray for extra work space

-postpone any plans for cooking, relaxing, or doing any other sort of work until completion of project

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Of course, this is just setting up. As I worked on my new jammies, I had to creatively fight my foot around the table leg to work the foot pedal. I had to iron carefully, as the top of the board plus the iron totaled more than available space before hitting the stove hood. The table is not wide enough to contain all the fabric, so slippage from the table made me use all hands to control, hold fabric, and press controls. Putting in snaps required a trip to the shop for a hammer and working on the floor with the wooden cutting board. I only broke one snap and put one on backwards. Haha! Besides ironing something that was not supposed to be ironed (thereby melting it to the iron), everything went pretty smoothly.

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The news is not all dire. In such a tiny space, the TV and Hallmark Channel are a mere 5 feet away. Normally, I’d be watching my Seahawks, but since they won Thursday night, they had the day off. So Christmas frivolity and cozy romance played as background to my stitching adventures. The kitchen is at my back, so snacks and drinks are literally within arms’ reach. Benefits are to be had when living in an RV.

Et voila! New jammies!

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Takeaway: You can do anything you want in an RV. Just know creativity, perseverance, and patience are key.

What challenging hobbies (chores, tasks, work) have you done in an RV or small space? Not in an RV? What fun hobbies to you enjoy?


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National Take a Hike Day

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November 17 was National Take a Hike Day. In our neck of the woods (quick quiz: who is famous for using that phrase?), the weather was clear, blue skies sparkled, and the temps were brisk but not frigid. It was a perfect day for a near-winter hike.

Er, walk. I did something to my back and have been experiencing excruciating pain for most of the day. I suspect an odd twist, weird picking up of a grand, or hauling heavy laundry through tight RV doors. So we walked, not hiked.

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Any-who, my honey and I went to the Cowiche Canyon near Yakima, Washington. It’s been on our list and ‘something else’ has consistently popped up and blocked us from this destination. There are so many more options for hiking the canyon now than when we first starting hiking at this location. One can scramble up rock cliffs, stroll along cliff edges, amble above canyon level through sage brush hillsides, or take the path through the base of the canyon. Fantastic!

Who knew, but wildlife is abundant in this practically in town outdoor area. Warning signs hint at cougars and bears. It goes without saying that rattlesnakes will be present (just keep walking). This is central Washington after all. Due to the cold temperature, I wasn’t too concerned about snakes. For our walk, we heard quail and various bird calls. Rustling in the bushes made us wonder, but they were tiny rustles. And with the other humans and their dogs, wildlife was probably running for dear life.

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Due to my back woes, we took the slow path from the east canyon entrance. No trails up and down the cliffs, highlands, or even to the end of the canyon. There was even a sign pointing towards wineries, which we did not take, but still! In the middle of a nature hike, an adult venture. LOL We took the easy jaunt on a nice path through the canyon, skirting the Cowiche Creek, checking out beaver dams, listening to the burbling water. It was a lovely day to take a hike.

There are so many outdoor options around Cowiche Canyon. This destination hike is definitely on our list for future outings. Read more about Cowiche Canyon here.

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How about you? Did you “take a hike”?


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Disneyland: 10 Tips for Surviving Your Vacation While Experiencing Menopause

Reblogged from my old blog at AngieQuantrell.blogspot.com on October 8, 2014.

Yes. It’s true. Menopause does change your outlook on life, at least temporarily. I didn’t know how much until we took a recent trip to Disneyland. It was my only trip to the Big D while enjoying the side effects of the Big M – menopause.

Mostly, the heat made it miserable for me (and thereby, my hubby). Shade and AC were my favorite attractions this go-round. Here are some tips that helped me stay sane while experiencing the magic of Disney while hormonally unbalanced.

1. SHADE. I’ve already mentioned this. Shade is your friend. Your very best friend, next to AC. Find it and stand there. Seek seats in shady areas to recoup or wait for parades. Take an umbrella if necessary to make your own shade. Shade is found in all sorts of lovely shops, restaurants, attractions, and natural settings. Seek and find.

2. AC. Air conditioning should be first, as I LOVE AC. Some of the best places to find AC? Again – shops, restaurants (indoor), and attractions. Pirates quickly became a favorite ride due to the blasts of cool air propelling from the doors, as well as the approximately 15 minutes worth of sit-down-in-AC-time while on the actual ride. Find those indoor rides and patronize them. We were also rejuvenated by lolling about in our hotel room, complete with beautiful AC.

3. Go NAKED. NOT really! But do wear thin, cotton clothing. I wanted to wear sleeveless tops, but my little backpack then chaffed my upper arms. Plus, short sleeves protect your shoulders from sunburn. Thin clothes do the trick. Cotton absorbs sweat and dries from sweat relatively fast. I lived in shorts and thin shirts.

4. Eat SMALL. Huge meals made me have more hot flashes, in addition to the multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE) hot flashes I had due to change in temperatures from the northwest and the heat spell found in Orange County. Small meals and snacks made it easier to deal with the constant dripping sweat resulting from hot flashes (hereafter to be called HF). Relief, if there is such a thing, comes in lack of heavy clothing.

5. NUTS. This is perhaps one of my favorite discoveries. Buy nut pack cases from Costco. Carry around a few packages. Eat them as a snack or a meal. The protein and extra salt helped replace what I was licking off of my upper lip and wiping off of my sweaty brow.

6. Alternate. Enjoy an indoor attraction or event. Then head out for a sunny ride. Go back inside to shop. Stand in line for an outdoor show. Etc. Etc. Give your body a chance to reset.

7. Embrace the COFFEE BREAK. This is another favorite that we just discovered this trip. Take a coffee break. Every day. You don’t have to drink coffee. Now that Starbucks is on both Main Street (inside the park) and Downtown Disney (outside the park), the opportunities are plentiful. We hit the Main Street store each morning, staked out an in-the-shade table, and drank iced green or passion tea. Plus we added a snack – a nut pack or pastry. I needed the shade break and cool drink. My honey needed the food. Perfect win-win situation.

(HINT: You cannot reload your Starbucks card while inside Disneyland. If you are planning on collecting stars, load at home, load at Downtown Disney, or set your card to automatic reload).


8. FLOAT a BOAT. Drink enough water to literally float a boat. I drenched my clothing continually all day with sweat. Really, it was disgusting. So I had to drink, drink, and drink some more. Not just plain water. What was really refreshing was sparkling water. We stocked up at home, brought a few cases with us, and kept it cool in the hotel fridge. Ahhhh. The pause that refreshes.

9. Get a FAN. I could not have survived at all without my hand fan. It’s just a cheap little paper fan with wood slats. But it folds up so I could put it in my backpack or pocket and take it out as needed. It was in use most of the time, providing a breeze where none was to be found. Disneyland does have those cool battery driven fans that spritz water out as they spin. They cost $18. I was too cheap to buy one. Instead, stand beside some kids who are holding one. They don’t pay attention and will accidentally spray you. I spent some time next to a few youngsters while waiting for a show. They kept my legs cool (not that they knew it, but I felt it). Or buy a water fan in advance of your trip. Take it along.

10. Be REALISTIC. I thought I was still 25 and not experiencing hormonal surges and an excess of HF’s. We quickly learned. Slow down. Have fun. Get a 5 Day Pass. You will have plenty of time to see everything. EVERYTHING.

I can’t wait to make a return trip. Go Disney!


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Throwback Thursday: Disney with Hot Flashes

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Four years ago, my honey and I took a trip to Disneyland.

We drove. I was smack in the middle of horrid hot flashes. The AC quit just when we hit LA traffic. Record temps for October visited the area. Sweat was my constant companion.

Why this photo? I look slim! And mostly happy. And tall. Though I’m holding my shoulder weird, no idea why. There’s probably a build-up of sweat on the opposite shoulder or my shirt is soggy and I’m trying to make it not touch my body. I can’t remember if this is Minnie’s or Mickey’s house. Mickey’s I think, on the way to the cartoon room where we watch oldies while waiting our turn to see Mickey. If you look close, you can see my red, sweaty face. This was taken while inside an air-conditioned attraction. Sad.

Despite miserable menopause (M&M, but not the good chocolately kind), well, Disneyland! Disneyland is always fun, though this trip I had to learn new coping skills for heat, salty sweat, despair, damp clothing, and general crankiness. But…Disneyland!

If you happen to need special tips for visiting the Big D during the Big M, I’m reblogging  my favorite tips on Friday. Best wishes to you if you need these tips. My sympathies go with you.

 


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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: frost

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delicate layers

frozen silk, icicle strands

spider roost hoar frost

 

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by Angie Quantrell

 

I LOVE hoar frost! Magical frozen icing drapes every day scenes with cold lace. I also realize hoar frost drops the temperatures to triple cold. But take pictures, I will, frozen fingers or not.

How about you? Write a haiku about cold weather and share with us. Happy Hump Day!