Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Haiku Moment: sworls

sworls flow, colors blend

patterns ridge and rise; be still,

my sunflower heart

 

sworls by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo by Angie Quantrell

P.S. It’s sunflower season. I can’t help myself!


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Make It Monday: Rustic (very) Apricot Galette

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This lovely treat was an experiment from the get-go, but worth every creative independent choice I made in the process.

First, the recipe said 6-8 apricots. I stopped at Barrett Orchards (Washington Fruit Place)  to purchase apricots. A HUGE bag, with possibly 20 apricots. And cherries. 2 pounds, Rainier and a different red cherry. I can’t remember the name. The recipe does not call for cherries, but I’ve been craving them.

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Then. The recipe says refrigerator pie crust. Nope. First. It’s not whole wheat. So I searched for a simple whole wheat pie crust recipe. Quite simple, but did not make very much. Or roll too thin.

Mixed the cream cheese mixture to put on the crust and realized this is more like an apricot cheesecake, but with less filling. I also reduced the sugar. Added it to the too small crust. So beautiful!

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And then apricots. It only took 3 to cover the top. I still have way too many for 2 people to eat before they are overripe.

Brush the crust with egg white. What crust??? There was barely enough to fold over. Ok. There wasn’t even enough to fold over. But I did my best to brush the crust edges. Sprinkled a little raw sugar on it like the recipe said. Barely any.

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So now I have a lovely rustic apricot galette! We can’t wait to have it after lunch. Or for lunch.

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I’m sorry, but I don’t know which magazine I tore this recipe out of…usually the pages have the name at the bottom. Thanks to Trinity Fruit Company for sharing this recipe!

Next time, I will search for a different crust recipe. And try to make a larger, more rectangular galette, due to the size of our cookie sheet and RV oven. One doesn’t bake big items in an RV. And use more apricots.

Bon appétit!
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Author Interview: Kindergarten Hat by Janet Lawler (little bee books)

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Kindergarten Hat

Written by Janet Lawler

Illustrated by Geraldine Rodriquez

little bee books, 2020

 

Happy book birthday to Kindergarten Hat (June 9, 2020)! As a former kindergarten and preschool teacher, I love any book that helps young students conquer their anxiety and make that leap into going to school. I enjoyed reading about Carlos, his mother, and his new teacher with the giant hat! Janet Lawler is spot on with this lovely, colorful book.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Janet! Don’t forget, everyone, to help Janet celebrate her delayed book birthday on Tuesday, July 28, at 10 AM (Connecticut time). See more info below and mark your calendar.

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Without further delay, here’s Janet!

Welcome, Janet! Tell us a little about yourself.

I started writing picture books as a second career after practicing law for more than a decade. Both careers require that you communicate clearly and simply. But writing for children is a joyful passion that gives me deep satisfaction and peace. I love how words make music, and I marvel at the way illustrators add detail and layers to my stories. Each book is a new adventure! I have had over twenty-five books published and have several more in the pipeline.

What was your inspiration for KINDERGARTEN HAT?

My son and daughter had the same terrific kindergarten teacher, 9 years apart, at our neighborhood grammar school. Judy Baccei always wore a huge flowered hat on the first day, so her students could find her easily. That hat inspired my story.

What was the writing journey you took as you wrote this book?

 My writing journey for this story started over thirteen years ago! I went through many revisions before starting to submit the story to various publishers. I did some submissions on my own and more than once put the manuscript in the “back drawer” as I worked on other stories.

Mirabel’s Missing Valentines was acquired by Brett Duquette at Sterling in 2017. Brett and I really connected throughout the editing process. So I asked my agent to submit KINDERGARTEN HAT to Brett after he’d moved to Little Bee. After one round of pre-acquisition editing, to add depth to Carlos’s emotional journey, the manuscript was acquired. Thereafter, I did another round of revisions, as well as several additional “tweaks” to get the story just right.

Everything is different right now with COVID-19, but how did you celebrate the book birthday of KINDERGARTEN HAT?

The pandemic certainly changed my plans for promoting this book! I had planned for a large launch event on May 30th that was canceled. I did a book birthday posting on my Facebook page, and both my publisher and my agency spread the word via Twitter and Instagram. I e-mailed and messaged indie bookstores and friends, fans, and family all over the country. I have recorded a virtual story time that will post live on the Kids Place of the Farmington CT Public Library on Tuesday, July 28 at 10 a.m. That will be my delayed “book birthday” launch! Anyone can visit that day or thereafter, to hear more detail about the book and listen to my full reading of the story. https://www.facebook.com/flkidsplace/

Surprise us! What else would you like to share?

I have had a 2nd book released this summer—Good Night, Little Engine. , The classic tale by Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could, celebrates its 90th Anniversary in 2020!  Grosset & Dunlap asked me to write a rhyming bedtime story as part of the celebration. Good Night, Little Engine is beautifully illustrated by Jill Howarth. I hope that both KINDERGARTEN HAT and Good Night, Little Engine will help comfort and encourage kids during uncertain times.

Congratulations, Janet! I look forward to reading more of your books!

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Amazon Blurb:

A practically perfect first-experience story, especially for anxious hearts and gentle spirits.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Carlos Abredo is scared to start kindergarten, but a special teacher with an amazing hat helps give him the confidence to start the school year with a smile.

Carlos Abredo loves building forts, playing soccer, vrooming cars, and gardening. But after moving to a new town, he’s nervous to start his first day of kindergarten. What if the bus gets lost? What if he can’t make friends? What if he can’t find his teacher?! Starting school can be intimidating for anyone, but when you’re also the new kid, it can be downright scary.

When Carlos gets a letter from his new teacher, he starts to feel a little better. He picks out a gift for her, and after a much-needed hug from Mom, he sets off for his first day. But when his present is accidentally ruined, will Carlos be able to salvage his first day of school?

From Janet:

Carlos is new to town and his anxieties grow as he prepares for the first day of school and travels on the bus with a special flower for his teacher’s hat. This floral take on the starting-school theme was inspired by Janet’s son and daughter’s wonderful kindergarten teacher. She always wore a huge flowered hat on the first day, so that kids coming off the buses could find her.
It is likely that little ones starting school this fall following the corona virus crisis may be struggling with messy feelings and worries. Hopefully, the humor and heart of KINDERGARTEN HAT will make them feel less alone and help each of them start their first day with a great big kindergarten smile.


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Haiku Moment: umber

umber does not mean

somber, though pandemic frowns

steal sunflower smiles

 

umber by Angie Quantrell

photo by Angie Quantrell


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Book Report: How Long Is Forever? by Kelly Carey, Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

 

How Long Is Forever?

Written by Kelly Carey

Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

Charlesbridge, 2020

 

Who loves blueberries, farms, kitties, and grandparents? I do! Thank you, Kathy Temean, for hosting Kelly Carey and Qing Zhuang. Thank you, Kelly Carey, and Qing Zhuang, for sending me a copy of this lovely picture book! I was thrilled to read it and I can recommend How Long Is Forever? to young readers (and their grandparents) everywhere. Happy reading!

And while you’re at it, let’s have blueberry pie.

 

News from Charlesbridge

Waiting for pie takes a long time, but not forever.

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready.

 

What I LOVE About This Book:

~ Nana! I am a Nana, so I love that the grandmother is named Nana

~ Blueberry pie!

~ The kitty included on almost every spread (I love kitties)

~ The concept of forever and how it is explored through the eyes of a young child

~ The lovely story

~ Wonderful, colorful illustrations

~ Farm and farm house!

 

Amazon Blurb:

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready. And Mason’s finally got the answer: forever is how long he’ll love Nana’s pie and how long he’ll love Nana and Grandpa, too.

 

 

 


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RV Living: Day (approximately) 1,339

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Creating fairy gardens

People.

This experimental RV living situation is really hanging on. At (approximately) day 1,339 of tiny living, far longer than we expected, life revolves around creativity, tiny-ness, storage woes, lost or in storage items, and a general lack of wardrobe.

For instance, last weekend we rearranged the furniture.

Don’t get excited. That only means we moved a rug, the cat tree, our box (end table), the couch, and chair. Those are basically the ONLY things that can be moved. Though Donavyn came in to see and suggested we move the stove over there and the table over there…(they are all built-ins). He was trying!

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The cat is discombobulated by the move. She is not comfortable. Her cat tree is not by daddy’s chair. She can’t figure out where to sleep. The scratching options have moved. But she does love being the in the slide and having 3 open windows at her beck and call.

The grands appreciate the long line of seating. Enough that the both boys fell asleep, tangled on the couch.

I love the evenings sitting on the one end of the couch in the slide, windows open, listening to the fountain right outside dripping and splashing. TV is off, book in hand. It’s quite like camping in the forest, but for the sounds of distant civilization.

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Hmmm. One of my computer keys is making a squeaking noise. That is not normal. Nor is it good.

We have baby goats next door! 4 adorable smaller-than-my-cat stiff-legged bundles of energy and cuteness.

Our neighbors pass on cool items. We take advantage!

Our medicine cabinet is a gallon ziplock bag.

The parking shelter is perfect for outdoor homeschool activities, especially those involving water and/or messes.

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The pasture. Swimming, biking, ball games, gardening, wildlife, throwing innumerable balls for the dog. That’s all summer (but winter? Sledding rules.).

We have nesting fly catchers! I’m excited about this. FLY catchers. Just imagine how many the mommy and daddy will catch for their hungry babies. Two adult males in my immediate vicinity can only imagine the bird droppings all over. Where is their sense of nature and adventure?
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The cat has been warned off of fly catchers, finches, and quail. She does not listen, but one can hope.

The hawks are nesting. I can hear them peeping and calling to each other. Soon it will be time for them to teach the young ones to fly. And then hunt.

The rabbits who nibbled off most of my spring flowers have moved on. We HOPE. (As opposed to ‘became someone’s lunch’). One wonders how 7 fluffy bunnies suddenly went missing.

Despite it being day (approximately) 1,339 of bumps and bruises from forgetting to look where one moves (we should learn, one would think), life is good in our RV tiny home.

As you can tell, we spent most of our time outdoors. The patio has become our evening resting place, sitting in camp chairs, watching the wildlife antics, calling the cat down from not-our-property, laughing at quail fighting over each other.

Here’s to day (approximately) 1,340.

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Haiku Moment: gnarled

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grizzled and gnarled,

you lichened, weathered, old man;

desert strong sagebrush

 

gnarled by Angie Quantrell

Cowiche Canyon, Yakima Valley, Washington State