Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Sunday Inspiration

photo by Angie Quantrell

Palouse to Cascades Trail

Easton, WA


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Book Review: Braver Than Brave by Janet Sumner Johnson and Eunji Jung

Braver Than Brave

written by Janet Sumner Johnson

illustrated by Eunji Jung

Capstone Editions, 2022

Be brave!

That’s what I keep calling this delightful picture book about a young girl who must find her own kind of courage to ride the BIG one like her older brother and friends.

Thank you to Janet Sumner Johnson and KidLit411 for sending me a copy of Braver Than Brave!

There are so many reasons I enjoy this book. The message is wonderful for young children. The setting is fun, the characters are just right, and the problem-being brave enough to do something scary-is perfect for ages 3-5 who face an amusement park full of new experiences (in life and at actual amusement parks). And let’s not overlook the fact that Wanda is adorable!

Congratulations, Janet and Eunji!

Why I LOVE this book:

~adorable Wanda

~the amusement park setting is fun and facing BIG rides is a common fear and experience of most children

~great message

~colorful, action-filled illustrations

~surprise ending!

~back matter that shares more about being brave

~a chicken exit (own it!)

Back Cover Blurb:

Go forth and be brave!


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Haiku Moment: yellow tree

yellow tree with bee

how’d you get so tall? standing

with your family

yellow tree

by Angie Quantrell

photo by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley


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Book Review: Reach for the Stars by Emily Calandrelli and Honee Jang

Reach for the Stars

Written by Emily Calandrelli

Illustrated by Honee Jang

Godwin Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2022

Thank you, Kathy Temean at Writing and Illustrating, author Emily Calandrelli, and illustrator Honee Jang for sharing this beautiful book, Reach for the Stars! Thank you for sending me a copy to read and share. Congratulations!

A heartwarming picture book, Reach for the Stars shares the wonder and amazement of the natural world and all that is in it. Calandrelli leads readers through the growing up and exploring years in the life of a young girl, all the while encouraging readers to be amazed and to dream the big dreams about life. Jang perfectly captured the beauty and imagination of the story. Reach for the Stars is a lovely book to read to inspire, inform, and enjoy.

Why I Love This Book:

~ beautiful illustrations, dreamy and imaginative

~ the wonder and awe about the natural world the author and illustrator share throughout the story

~ the fun of reading the story in rhyme

~ the natural world is amazing, and that appreciation and respect for learning about and exploring more is front and center in this book

~ science! STEM. Girls in science!

~ the encouragement to readers to dream big, explore, and follow your dreams

Amazon Blurb:

From Emmy-nominated science TV star and host of Netflix’s hit series Emily’s Wonder Lab Emily Calandrelli comes an inspirational message of love and positivity.

From the moment we are born, we reach out. We reach out for our loved ones, for new knowledge and experiences, and for our dreams!

Whether celebrating life’s joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of the world around us, this uplifting book will inspire readers of every age. A celebration of love and shared discovery, this book will encourage readers to reach for the stars!


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Cascades Hike: Lodge Lake, Snoqualmie Pass

At nearly 4 miles round trip, Lodge Lake is a perfect hike if you have a small window of time. We went on a rainy Tuesday, which was perfect, since I love hiking in the rain!

At the top of Snoqualmie Pass (I-90), go to the far far west parking area and you will find the parking lot for the Pacific Crest Trail and the trail for Lodge Lake, both of which share the path until you reach the lake. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for this parking area.

The hike first travels across the ski slopes. The view across I-90 is gorgeous, and it’s fun to walk where normally 10+ feet of a snow base covers the slopes. Traffic from I-90 and the buildings from the top of the pass are easily visible (and audible). But once you crest the hill and start down the other side, the noise disappears (other than occasional air traffic) and it feels like you are out in the middle of nowhere. The sun and heat from open slopes cools right away once you reach tree cover. Ahhh.

This is not a busy trail. We saw a total of 9 people (including us), 1 dog, and 1 cell tower service worker. There is some rock scrambling, sections of roots to watch, and even a pretty stream to ford, but it’s not difficult. The trail is well-maintained. The peace and quiet, forest scents, bird song, views, and exercise were just what I needed.

There are two places to watch. I read one report on the Washington Trails Association website, which warned us about both. Once you reach the top of the slopes, do not follow the steep path up towards the cell tower. Instead, find the path to the far right and take that. When you see the I-90 sign on a tall tree, look to the right for the trail. It has an edging of rocks.

The other section is knowing how far to go on the trail. You WILL see the Lodge Lake sign on a tree. Just take that path. You will glimpse the lake through the trees. If you miss this sign and find one for Stampede Pass, you’ve gone too far. Turn around.

The lake was so beautiful! Just as we arrived, it started to rain-my favorite! Plan to keep moving or bring along the bug spray. The mosquitos were starving and aggressive. We only stayed a short while and had to leave to get away from them.

Pretty views streamed out in every direction, from wildflowers to tiny waterfalls. Other than the skeeters, the Lodge Lake hike is a gem! Plan this hike in spring, summer, or fall. Come snow (and skiing season), you will need skills and equipment beyond what I have!


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Happy Independence Day!

Photo by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley Trolleys Powerhouse Museum, Yakima, WA


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Star Bright Books: PINWHEEL DAYS and FRIENDS AT NIGHT by Ellen Tarlow and Gretal Parker

Pinwheel Days and Friends at Night

written by Ellen Tarlow

illustrated by Gretal Parker

Star Bright Books, 2021

Sending many thanks to Vivian Kirkfield and her blog and website, Vivian Kirkfield – Writer for Children, and R. Skyler Lambert, Editor and Marketing Manager at Star Bright Books, for sending me a copy of both of these adorable picture books! They have been quite successful with my learning-to-read grands.

Comments from the Peanut Gallery:

Gage (just completed first grade): Can I keep these? Can I take these in the car? (They lived in the car for weeks so he could read them on the way to and from school.)

Autumn (just completed kindergarten): Read this to me. What’s a pinwheel? It’s that flower! (giggle) They’re hiding!

Why I Love These Books:

~adorable stories, 2 per book

~just right for beginning readers

~large text which makes it easier to read

~engaging illustrations and text

~spot-on situations to capture the attention of readers

~cute animals characters!

~sturdy construction

Thank you, Vivian and Skyler! Two thumbs up from this household!


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Central Washington Hike: Umptanum Creek Falls

What a beautiful hike!

Whether spelled “Umptanum” or “Umtanum,” it was gorgeous! Here is the view from the bottom of Umptanum Creek Falls. The clamber down was pretty slicky-slidey in dirt, but worth the effort. The crawl back up was even more tenuous! I noticed someone had tied a rope between two points on the south climb back up around. We didn’t use it, but look for it if you choose that way to get back to the top of the falls (the way back to the car park).

Proof of the “Umptanum” spelling. No potties here, friends, so plan ahead.

Evidence of a previous fire lines both sides of the trail. I found the stark black a beautiful counterpoint to the spring greens and gray bark.

Umptanum Creek is such a pretty, quiet little stream!

From the bottom of the falls. We had a wet, drizzly day (perfect to my way of thinking), so it was pretty chilly sitting at the bottom while we enjoyed the view.

This is the view from the top of the falls. The wildflowers were out in abundance! Gorgeous!

Pretty scenery along the way. We didn’t encounter very many people on the way to the falls, but the crowd was picking up on our way back.

Just starting to bloom!

Also…DUH dum…this looks like stinging nettles. There were huge sections of this plant lining parts of the trail. Just a heads up. I double-checked my photo with online sources and they look the same to me. We hiked with poles, so it was easy to push back plants as we walked through.

Honey? I want this in my back yard!

The hardest parts of this trails were: 1. getting there (pretty, but long drive from Yakima on a dirt road); 2. getting back up the steep hillsides from the bottom of the falls; and 3. no potties.

You can read more about this hike at Washington Trails Association.


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Haiku Moment: puzzle time

cat must bathe upon

table top work-in-progress

pieces here and there

puzzle time by Angie Quantrell

feline model and puzzle assistant: Monet