Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Masha Munching: New Book Author-Illustrator Amalia Hoffman Interview! Plus #Giveaway!

And the winner is . . . Debra Daugherty! Congratulations, Debra. I will be in touch soon! Thanks everyone, for stopping by to check out Amalia’s new book!

Get ready to read Masha Munching on March 1, 2022!

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a very important blog post featuring a special book by author-illustrator Amalia Hoffman, Masha Munching!

Be sure to read to the bottom to learn how you can get your name in the hat to win a free copy of Masha Munching, compliments of Yeehoo Press (US only). Thank you, Yeehoo Press and Helen Wu, for this opportunity!

Welcome, Amalia! Let’s get to it and learn more about your newest book.

Congratulations, Amalia, on your newest picture book Masha Munching! Living next door to goats, I couldn’t wait to see what Masha munched. What was your inspiration for Masha Munching?

Growing up in Israel, my family spent our summers in a small village where farmers raised cows, chickens and goats. We used to laugh as the goats tried to nibble on our cloths. I have another book, The Klezmer Bunch, with a goat character, also named Masha, so that means that I have a soft spot for goats. One day, I just came up with this alliteration; Masha Munching and that kind of sat in my brain for a while, till I came up with the idea of a goat that longs for great food.

I love hearing how picture books get their beginning. I’m sure growing up around goats gave you plenty of ideas.

I love that you create all of your own art and illustrations. They are amazing! What is the process you used to create Masha Munching? Do you write the story first or begin with the illustrations?

As an author/illustrator, I usually start by scribbling images and words in my sketchbook. As the story evolves, the scribbles become more and more defined. For Masha Munching, I used paper cuts. The animals and many elements are hand painted and hand cut. I cover the board surface with Liquitex modeling paste and add textures by scraping the surface while it’s wet. When dry, I paint the background on the board. Then I glue all the cut-up elements on the board. When satisfied, I photograph the image. Sometimes, I add more textures, details and color in Photoshop.

Fascinating! So many details and steps. Masha Munching has wonderful backgrounds and colors.

Where do you do your creative work?

In my small studio that was once my son’s bedroom. I like working at home, close to the fridge and coffee pot.

Me too! I work in a she shed I named Huckleberry Hutch.

What special plans do you have to celebrate the March 1, 2022, release of your new book?

I plan to present the book in several libraries and bookstores. I’m in the process of creating a puppet that looks like Masha. I designed it in such a way that the mouth will open and close, so Masha can eat all sorts of stuff like old socks, empty containers, and newspapers. I think the kids will get a kick out of that. I plan to create a video to demonstrate how I created my illustrations. Also, I plan to have a contest on social media for kids to come up with funny things Masha could eat.

What a blast! I think young readers (and their parents and teachers) will enjoy meeting Masha!

You’ve had several picture books published through Yeehoo Press. How did you get started with Yeehoo Press and how do you submit new picture ideas to them?

I found out about Yeehoo Press from a message they posted on Facebook. Then, my agent sent them my book dummy for my story, My Monsterpiece. Yeehoo accepts non-solicited submissions so authors and illustrators can send their submissions directly.

Great advice! Thank you.

What is one tip you could give to new picture book writers and illustrators?

Be tough and ready to take rejections. Join author and illustrators groups. Stay true to yourself. Don’t write what you think will sell. If you’re an illustrator, don’t try to mimic someone else’s style.

You have several wonderful books out in the world. What surprises are you working on now?

I’m working on another picture book, illustrated in the style of Masha Munching and also a nonfiction story.

Yay! I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Thank you, Amalia, for sharing Masha Munching with us! Congratulations and best wishes as you continue to create amazing picture books for young readers.

Ready to find out how to get your name in the hat to win a copy of Masha Munching (US only)? A winner will be randomly chosen in one week on Thursday, January 14.

1. Like and comment on this blog post. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win. Example: bookwinner (at) yahoo (dot) com

2. Follow this blog and tell me how you follow. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win.

Amazon Blurb:

Award-winning author-illustrator Amalia Hoffman delivers a hilarious tale about a goat with an insatiable appetite and her journey to finding the best meal ever! Perfect for farm animal-loving readers.

Masha LOVES food. She chews and chomps, slops and slurps, and gobbles and gnaws through breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the farm. But Masha grows tired of eating the same meals every day. She decides to venture outside the farm in search of something new.

When Masha discovers The Bistro Magnifique, where waiters serve fancy meals in bow ties, Masha thinks it’s her lucky day! But at a proper restaurant, can Masha satisfy her desire for wonderful food while staying true to herself?

With colorful, intricate paper-cut art to amuse readers on every page, this timeless tale follows a young goat discovering that the best meal is the one shared with good friends.

Author Bio:

Amalia Hoffman is an award-winning author and illustrator of many children’s books, including My Monsterpiece, which was a 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Award gold medal winner; All Colors, a 2019 School Library Journal Best Board Book; and Dreidel Day, a PJ Library selection. She is also the author of The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero, illustrated by Chiara Fedele, which was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. Amalia frequently tells her stories in schools, libraries, and bookstores with puppets and props. She lives in Larchmont, New York.

Books by Amalia:

Masha Munching, Yeehoo Press, Chinese & English versions, March 2022

My Hands Make the World, PJ Publishing, May 2022

My Monsterpiece, Yeehoo Press, Simplified Chinese and English editions March, 2021

Astro Pea, Schiffer Kids, 2019

All Colors, Schiffer Kids, 2019

The Brave Cyclist, Capstone Editions, 2019

Dreidel Day, Kar-Ben Publishing, 2018


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Cauliflower Parsnip Soup a Success #magnolia

It’s actually called Cream of Cauliflower & Parsnip Soup and I found it in Magnolia Journal, issue 21, a gorgeous magazine with several test-worthy recipes.

I’m notorious for finding and ripping out recipes I “want” to try. Which often (mostly, okay, maybe never) happens. But this time I remembered to buy a head of cauliflower and parsnips at the store. Everything else was on hand. Even my bottle of herbes de Provence I’ve been trying to find a use for.

My only change was to add a bit of grated cheddar cheese. Success! This is so delicious. The recipe makes a huge pot of soup, so plan ahead to serve it to a crowd. We will be eating this for the next 3-4 days. And I am quite happy about that!

Two thumbs up.


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Book Review: Pie for Breakfast, A Baking Book for Children by Cynthia Cliff

Pie for Breakfast, A Baking Book for Children

by Cynthia Cliff

Prestel Publishing, 2021

Thank you, Cynthia Cliff, for sending me a copy of this gorgeous cookbook for children! I read about Pie for Breakfast on Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating, a blog about books and the publishing world. Thank you, Kathy, for featuring Cynthia and allowing me to win a copy. What a delicious feast for my eyes and my tummy!

Complete with colorful, detailed, delightful illustrations (all done by Cynthia-check out her website), Pie for Breakfast is filled with recipes from around world. Each recipe has directions appropriate for ages 5-9 and suggestions on when to ask for help from an adult. Safety tips are included.

I love how Cynthia wrote this cookbook as a picture book story. Hazel is the main character who loves to bake and likes to raise money for special projects. As Hazel discusses the school’s fair, she has the idea of organizing a bake sale at the fair to raise money for the school library. Since Hazel loves books as much as she loves baking, the project is a perfect fit. Hazel invites her friends to bake something special for the bake sale. Pie for Breakfast is filled with the recipes and bakers who contribute to the bake sale.

What I loved about this book:

~the recipes, yummy!

~the colorful illustrations filled with enchanting details

~the bake sale that ties together all of the recipes and friends

~a bake sale for books! Sounds perfect to me.

~metric measurements are included

~the overall adorableness of the book

Amazon Blurb:

A beautifully illustrated baking book for children featuring recipes for delicious treats along with a powerful message about family, diversity, and helping others.

When Hazel and her father bake together, her mother says they make the whole house smell like a fancy bakery. And when they bake in the morning, they get to eat their goods as a special treat–even if it’s for breakfast. One day Hazel decides to organize a morning bake sale for her school and encourages her friends to contribute to the effort. The results take readers all over the world, from strawberry mochi and pumpkin empanadas to Indian-spiced shortbread and Egyptian basbousa cake. Best of all, each of these treats including with muffins, carrot cake, scones, and vegan and gluten-free items–comes with its own easy-to-follow recipe. Cynthia Cliff’s charming illustrations combine the simplicity of folk art with a sophisticated flair. Her down-to-earth baking accommodate all sorts of substitutions and skill levels. The perfect book for satisfying baking, Pie for Breakfast introduces children to new flavors and treats, opening their palates and their eyes to the delicious ways that baking can bring us together.

Thank you, Cynthia. Congratulations and happy baking!


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Thanksgiving Words

T – Thankful thoughts and prayers for overflowing blessings

H – Home filled with love and family

A – Answered prayers and wishes

N – Needs fulfilled

K – Kindness extended (and accepted)

S – Security of faith

G – God who provides

I – I AM

V – Victorious life

I – Inconceivable joy

N – Necessities in abundance

G – God who saves

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4 NLT

Wishing you a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving Day filled with love, laughter, and gratitude.

Thanksgiving Words by Angie Quantrell

photo by Angie Quantrell

Ahtanum Mission, Yakima Valley


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Haiku Moment: two seasons clash

snow, ice, sunshine, warmth

orange green red harvest decor

fall and winter friends

two seasons clash in

popularity battle!

yet time marches on

die, rest, rebirth, grow-

to repeat again, cycles

chase each other home

two seasons clash by Angie Quantrell

photo by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley, WA


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The Gingerbread Tradition

“Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!”

Or I could say, “Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Nan (a)!” They try, but Nana captures them all for hugs.

This was the first year everyone tried icing bags. Some successes, lots of messes, plenty of fun.

It’s easier to eat icing straight from the bag.

The grands are growing up fast, and they tried to run, but Nana and plenty of sugar captured their taste buds and creative imaginations.

Welcome to our annual Gingerbread House decorating tradition. The designs are getting a little bit more sophisticated, but I noticed decorations disappear just as quickly as in previous years . . .

Mullet Man. Yep.

Nana is getting shorter . . .

Must remember to put toothbrushes and toothpaste in with Christmas gifts.

See? There are some decorations left!

Curly-locks twins!

Jamie claimed the extra house! Whew.

Getting shorter . . .

I’m still taller than a few of them!

Here’s to gingerbread, sugar, and sweet grands!


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Book Review: The Chickens Are Coming! by Barbara Samuels

The Chickens Are Coming!

Written and illustrated by Barbara Samuels

Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2019

I was sitting in my she shed the other day and heard a nearby rooster crowing. Very nearby. Just a note: we do not have chickens OR roosters.

Though our neighbors do. So we often have feathered guests running around the pasture. But I’ve never heard the crowing this close.

I carefully tip-toed to the window and looked out. Sure enough, there was a handsome fellow and his girls right outside the door! They happily pecked and picked, enjoying free range exploration and snacking.

Sorry about the Eiffel Tower right in the middle of the photo…I didn’t see it until later.

They make me laugh, those chickens. Seeing them made me remember a picture book I had just read to my grandson, The Chickens Are Coming!.

This is such a fun picture book. A brother and sister who live in a large city see a sign about chickens needing a new home. Pretty soon they are the owners of a delightful group of hens, each with a name and personality. The story continues as the siblings hope for eggs, but no eggs are found.

Why I Like This Book:

~ the chickens have personalities

~ the story line is fun: discover chickens need a home, adopt the chickens, learn about chickens, try to help the chickens get ready to lay eggs, try to find eggs, try to find chickens

~ plenty of detailed and engaging illustrations – my first grader was captivated by all of the things he could see on the pages

~ chickens in the city!

~ chicken dance

~ free range eggs (a personal favorite of mine)

Feeling like a good chicken story or adopting a hen or three? The Chickens Are Coming! will give you plenty of good reading and/or help you learn what you need to do when your chickens arrive.


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Happy 10th Birthday, Khloe! #birthdaytrip

I started a tradition. When a grand turns 10, we get a special trip, just the 2 of us. Khloe turned 10 on the 23rd, and we left the next day to go to Ocean Shores – the beach! We barely squeezed in our trip with school starting the 31st. But squeeze it in, we did!

Someone (name beginning with “K”) got a phone for her birthday. At the beach? Check. Testing the new phone? Check. We had the most gorgeous weather.

Watch out!!! The shark got her! Thank goodness the shark throat led us on a fun shopping adventure.

We both enjoyed eating out. Bennett’s Fish Shack. Mmmm

Khloe is pretty happy to have her own hotel bed. (Me, too. She hogs the covers.)

Ready for the favorite birthday trip activity: riding horses on the beach!

Khloe. Waving at me (aqua sweater). Me. At the back. Rocket likes the back. Rocket is not very rocket-y. General (aka Mr. Waddles, Khloe’s horse) likes to be up closer to the front in the middle of the herd. Not Rocket. He could care less. He likes to go back “home,” the horse staging area.

The view from the back. Rocket. And everyone else’s backsides. And the beach.

Damon Point is one of my favorite beaches in the Ocean Shores area, so Khloe just had to visit it with me. Look at this sturdy driftwood throne. Perfect for the birthday princess.

The obligatory fairy house, complete with table, chairs, bed, sink, fire pit, and shade.

The puzzle challenge. I did not win. Someone cleverly hid my last 2 pieces . . .

We tried flying a kite (not windy enough that day), had pizza on the beach (it was too windy and cold, so we sat in the car to eat), took a last drive on the beach (it was fogged in on our last morning, and the tide was so far out, we couldn’t even see the water), had fun swimming and enjoying the hotel hot tub, learned how to play solitaire, watched the Food Network, and even hit a huge thrift shop in Packwood on the way home. What a FUN trip with my grand!

Happy 10th birthday, Khloe! Love you!

What special birthday traditions do you have? I need more ideas. 🙂


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Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: Frost Me Sweet Bakery and Bistro

Once in a long while, we get hooked on watching Guy Fieri as he travels around the U.S. showcasing fabulous meals on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Sometimes I’m hoping to be inspired for dinner, other times I want recipes. I LOVE watching the chefs prepare the meals and I’m always astounded at how MUCH they make! The quantity is mind-boggling. And when the featured location is nearby . . . I want a road trip!

We recently caught an episode filmed in Richland, Washington, a mere 90 minutes or so away. Road trip, here we come! I have no idea about the original air date of the episode, but Frost Me Sweet Bakery and Bistro is still in business, so it’s all good.

Sweet potato lasagna. Oh, boy. That’s what I wanted. And the Duck Banh Mi sandwich. Those were the two items featured on the show, and wow, they looked wonderful! Unfortunately, the Duck Banh Mi was sold out. So Kevin went with the Prime Time, a Prime Rib panini.

The only bad thing about our trip was the heat. We arrived early, about 11, since we eat lunch early. But it was still heading up over 90. Despite that, we chose to sit outside in their adorable covered seating area. There was a line waiting to get in even at that early hour! And nearly the entire time, people were waiting to be seated for the bistro side of the business. Note: The bakery is right next door. Both are connected and you can enter either door or walk between both in the waiting area.

Sweet Potato Lasagna

This dish was so yummy! I loved the sweet potato “noodles”. A few edges were a tiny bit underdone, but not enough to stop me. And I think it could have been hotter (temperature). Well, I ALWAYS want heat in my food, so I would add crushed peppers to my sauce. Mmmm. This dish was so tasty and hugely filling! I think it was a bit much with the heat, but come fall and cooler temps . . . give me ALL the sweet potato lasagna! Served with grilled pesto toast. I LOVED the sauce and meat and the way all the gooeyness came together. Mmm. I would definitely order this again.

Prime Time

Kevin’s Prime Time panini featured thinly sliced prime rib, carmelized onions, horseradish aioli, Swiss cheese, and au jus. The panini was made with their own garlic focaccia bread, and was served with a salad. I had a taste, and it was pretty delish! The au jus was very salty, so dip wisely. And (we both love spice) I think Kev would have loved MORE horseradish to heat things up. The sandwich was very filling and yummy.

The bakery had tempting treats, but we were stuffed, and with the temps, we didn’t want to haul around something that would melt.

Two thumbs up for Frost Me Sweet Bakery and Bistro. The menu is chock full of other dishes we want to try. So once fall hits, I’m counting on another road trip to sample the menu.

Have you hit the road to find a featured location from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? Let us know how it went. And if you have any suggestions for fun dining, do share! We’d all love a taste.


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Garden Harvest: A Win for the Onions (and Garlic)

Today’s post is a far cry from yesterday. Lavender to onions and garlic. Oh my. Cry if you will over chopped onions . . .

Let’s take a little diversion from fragrant to pungent.

Due to earwigs and extreme heat, most of the garden is struggling. But for alliums. The onions, garlic, and leeks are doing great! Not only producing, but surviving all of the above. Let’s hear it for alliums. And don’t forget the chives, a favorite snack food of a certain young onion/chive lover. The chives are marching along in perfect order.

This is the first year I’ve tried spring onions. Wow, did they love the garden bed! Since I’ve never grown them before, I tested a few before they were ready. Now they are all harvested and drying. I’m not sure if that’s the correct procedure, but it’s what I’ve done and it seems to be working.

The garlic was a surprise from last year. I think. I’m forever popping sprouted garlic cloves in a garden bed or patch of ground. Usually, they are eaten before I get anything useful. This spring, for the longest time, the middle bed had only this big bouquet of garlic greens. Finally, after the complimentary squash plants over grew it and scapes started growing, I could tell they were done. I pulled them out and we actually have garlic! Also drying with the onions.

I pretty much leave the leeks alone, letting the bees enjoy the flowers (and earwigs-isn’t that odd?). Sometimes I will harvest a leek, but most are left alone to reseed. And they do that very well.

How about you? Any tips for growing alliums? Or better yet, a favorite recipe?

Looking forward to next year and a fresh crop.