Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Haiku Moment: land, hop, walk

land, pause, freeze, and look

what’s a bird to do? can’t move

winter’s sticky tape

hop, hop, hop-three jumps

and you are there, discover

snowy hidden treats

different bird tracks;

walk, waltz, snoop: toes in, toes out

winter hides the food


land, hop, walk

by Angie Quantrell

photos by Angie Quantrell

Winter in the Yakima Valley


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From the Cat: Happy New Year!

Monet wanted me to send out her greetings and wishes for a wonderful and joyful new year!

From her humans (aka slaves), we also hope you have a beautiful 2023!


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Haiku Moment: breathe

dark broken by light

snow day, but no sleeping in

time to wander, breathe

breathe by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley


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Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for you!

Sending warm thoughts of delicious food, blessed fellowship, and grateful thoughts.

Peace and grace.


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Haiku Moment: the path

here or there, the path

sometimes smooth, other times rough-

love keeps us on track

the path by Angie Quantrell

photo taken in Montreal, Quebec


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Happy Book Birthday to Hanukkah Nights by Amalia Hoffman (Author-Illustrator Interview)

Hanukkah Nights

Written and illustrated by Amalia Hoffman

Kar-Ben Publishing, 2022

Ages 1-4

It’s so lovely when authors I’ve interviewed or featured on my blog swing back by when they have a book birthday for a new book. Congratulations, Amalia, on the October 1 release of your beautiful, very colorful Hanukkah Nights! Thank you for stopping by today.

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

What special traditions do you enjoy with your family during Hanukkah?

We always throw a huge party with tons of food and two homemade kinds of latkes: with and without onions. Each guest brings their own menorah and we light all of them. It’s a beautiful sight. We decorate the table with chocolate coins and sing many Hanukkah songs. After the 3-5 drinks, we dance to Klezmer music.

That sounds beautiful! The lights, food, singing, and dancing, what lovely traditions.

I love how readers will learn new ways to paint when they read Hanukkah Nights. How did you get your start as an artist and illustrator?

I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. I used to make fancy greeting cards for my family members on birthdays and anniversaries. And later I sold handmade greeting cards to a shop in Jerusalem where I lived.

My parents encouraged my passion for art and craft.

My mom used to stir shredded newspaper with flour over the stove to make Papier Mache and I made puppets for our family theater. My parents enrolled me in after-school painting classes and when I was a teenager, I spent the summer in an artist village in the Galilee where I experimented with mosaic, ceramic, and stained glass.

After high school I attended the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. Basically it was a very traditional academic school. I didn’t love it but I learned how to draw from a model, proportions and perspective. When I came to America, I earned my BFA Cum Laude from Pratt Institute and MFA from NYU.

I joined SCBWI so I could meet other illustrators and enrolled in many workshops. Then I got enough courage to work on my stories, accompanied with my own illustrations. I created a story, entitled Purim Goodies and eventually sold it to Gefen Publishing, an Israeli publisher that publishes mainly in English.

As I gained more confidence, I went on to illustrate many other books.

I love how your family supported you as you grew and explored your dream of being an artist.

How did you celebrate the October 1st, 2022 release of your new book?

Actually I participated in a huge book fair that took place on the same day, https://ryebookfestival.com/meet-the-authors  So I rolled in Hanukkah Nights in a baby carriage. As usual, on every book launch, I got roses from my man & toasted with Champagne.

A baby carriage and a book fair! That is awesome! And what a sweetie to give you roses and toast you with champagne! Well done.

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

Don’t try to force yourself to work in a particular style that you think is popular. Trends change frequently and you’re better off perfecting your own techniques and styles.

Excellent advice. Thank you.

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

I have a new picture book coming up in 2024, but at this time I can’t provide details yet, only to say that I’m very excited about it.

I’m also working on a new board book and new picture book.

That’s wonderful, Amalia! We look forward to hearing more details as your new projects come to fruition.

Congratulations, Amalia! Thank you for sharing with us. All the best wishes for you, Hanukkah Nights, and your creative work.

Contact Amalia Hoffman.

Book buddies, be sure to check out Hanukkah Nights. Find a copy at your local indie or favorite bookstore and ask for your library to order a copy. Don’t forget to show some author love by leaving a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Thank you!


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Haiku Moment: tree people

daylight freezes them

and winter, but come August

tree people watch, play

tree people by Angie Quantrell

Lake Keechelus, I-90, Washington state


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Lake Easton Hike

A few weeks back, we went for a hike around Lake Easton. It was a gorgeous day with both shady and sunny sections. If only we had our swimsuits, we could have jumped in the lake to cool off!

The above picture is of the bridge visible from I-90. If one travels east first, this is at the end of the hike. You can just see the trail bridge across the lake along the Palouse to Cascades Trail (near center, whitish line along the water).

We started out at the picnic area/day use portion of the Lake Easton State Park (Discover Pass required). It wasn’t too crowded when we got there and we managed to get a great parking spot. But beware late arrivals when the weather is warm! When we got back from the hike, the parking lot was crammed, people were circling looking for spots, and the beach area was wild. The better plan is to arrive early.

The directions I found were a bit vague-I love well-posted hikes with good signs. But alas, we did not get lost. We wondered once or twice but just kept going. And once we were headed towards Ellensburg on the Palouse to Cascades Trail, but we didn’t get too far before we realized we were headed east instead of west. (Once you pass through Easton, you must head back west to circle the lake.)

Starting at the beach/picnic area right on the lake, we walked east, following a sort of general trail. Which proved to be correct. The Kevster, my honey, is walking along the tree-lined trail above. The surprise was when we had to climb a hill, which we did not notice as we drove in.

Follow the trail past the lake. It will eventually go past the lake and meander right beside the Yakima River as it exits Lake Easton. Pretty cool!

We passed the Yakima River two times. Once, as seen above, is right past the eastern end of the lake. The other is on the opposite end of the lake, where the Yakima River enters Lake Easton!

After the riverside trail leads you back to the main road, Lake Easton Road, hang right and walk back across the bridge and through Easton. Once you are through Easton, follow the signs to the Palouse to Cascades Trail (a right turn on Cabin Creek Road).

I’m standing between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tracks. Continue over the tracks, easing right (not left like we did at first) around another corner and you will see a sign leading you to the Palouse to Cascades Trail. It looks like a road. Great for walking!

And a tunnel! I love tunnels, particularly ones I can see through without too much difficulty.

I love this picture!

And then this! A very cool trail bridge over the Yakima River! On the right side you see the beginning of the lake, on the left is the Yakima River. Just think, this river flows all the way down to my valley!

Lake Easton, looking north. I-90 is right behind the trees along the northern edge of the lake.

The Yakima River

The obligatory selfie with my honey.

Continue over the trail bridge for just a short distance and follow the signs on the right to travel along the western edge of the lake, looping back around the lake. Keep going and you will pass an old concrete bridge. This location is usually full of swimmers, fishers, and boaters! We saw all three. And you can see it at the bottom of the big hill as you drive east from Seattle on I-90.

We walked through the campground, trying to avoid the main road. Which didn’t work the whole way, but it was fine. Pretty soon we were back to the car, already imagining hiking further along the Palouse to Cascades Trail towards the top of the pass (but maybe not the whole 18 miles in one day!).

This is a beautiful hike, and interesting because of the scenery changes.


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Book Review: Wake Up, Freight Train! by Danna Smith and Jon Andersen

Wake Up, Freight Train!

written by Danna Smith

illustrated by Jon Andersen

Little Simon, 2022

Choo-choo! Hop aboard this hard-working nighttime freight train!

Written by Danna Smith and illustrated by Jon Andersen, this sturdy board book will delight train lovers of all ages. 🙂

Thank you, Danna Smith, Lynne Marie, and Rate Your Story March on with Mentor Texts! After participating each day, reading posts, commenting, and reading/studying mentor texts (picture books worth a closer read), everyone was eligible for prizes offered by blog guests. Fortunately for me, my name was pulled and I won a copy of Danna Smith’s adorable board book Wake Up, Freight Train!

Thank you to everyone for a fantastic month of reading, studying, and learning!

Why I Love This Book:

~ adorable!

~ fun, rhyming text

~ trains, an ever popular subject matter for young readers

~ word play and train-specific words

~ answers to “What does a freight train do at night?”

~ bright colors, animals and wildlife, shaped board book

~ plenty of onomatopoeia so readers can join in the fun!

From Goodreads:

Hop aboard this train-shaped board book that introduces each car of a freight train during a nighttime adventure!

Blow the train whistle, shovel more coal.
Here we go, freight train! Get ready to roll!
Toot-toot goes the horn, Blink-blink go the lights,
Clang-clang goes the bell, all through the night.

Featuring all the cars of a freight train, this board book is perfect for young readers who love trains! And since freight trains ride at night, there are adorable sleepy animals throughout for little ones to find.

Toot-toot! Happy adventures on the freight train!


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Haiku Moment: pre-flight check

ready for take-off

secure seat-back tables and

buckle up. Let’s go!

pre-flight check

by Angie Quantrell