Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you, family and friends. Sending extra special wishes and prayers for love, joy, and peace. And if you are missing a loved one and having a tough holiday season, may the comfort of the Lord surround you and your family.

Joy and peace.


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Sunday Inspiration

Photo by Angie Quantrell

Little Naches River area, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 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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Throwback Thursday: Can You Name the Year of the Carpet? #TBT

Can you name the year of this good old days photo?

At the bottom of the heap, we see Taylor (4), our oldest, who is happily ensconced on the shag carpet, ready to suck his thumb while perusing the pages of the ever-popular Sears Yard and Lawn catalog. We had a collection of Sears catalogs: lawn mowers, chain saws, yard equipment, vacuums, ceiling fans-actually any and all types of mechanized machines. Every trip to the mall required a stop at Sears so we could pick up the latest and greatest catalog.

On top, ready to torment her brother (nothing much has changed), Chelsie (2), our baby, gathers her energy for playing King of the Mountain. Or tickling her brother. Or just sitting on him because he was there. That’s what 2s do, right? There was no interest in the catalog, mowers, or engines of any sort. There was a brother on the floor, perfect for perching.

Taylor is not unhappy. In fact, he appears to be pleased with his piggy back sister. Chelsie looks gleeful and somewhat loving (I might point out that her arms are nearly around his neck, so this is debatable) while spending quality torment time with her big brother. You’ll notice the pile of ignored wooden blocks, a mainstay for any family with preschoolers. We still have the blocks, which have been loved and abused by many grands, nieces, nephews, preschool and kindergarten students, and a variety of Sunday school classes filled with sweeties.

Ahh. The good old days.

Did you figure out the year? I’ll give you credit for the correct decade. Go ahead, play along. Make a guess, then scroll down to the first comment to see the year this photo was taken.

(She laughs to herself. Ugh. The carpet . . . it’s embarrassing.)


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Book Review: Happy Birthday Winter by Justin Ogden and David Condry

Happy Birthday Winter

Words by Justin Ogden

Pictures by David Condry

Justin Ogden & David Condry, 2020

I was recently gifted a copy of Happy Birthday Winter from Sylvia Liu, Elaine Kiely Kearns, and KidLit411 at http://www.kidlit411.com/2020/12/the-weekly-411-121120.html. Thank you!

Have you ever imagined having a birthday party for Winter? This delightful picture book shares the story of a young girl and her father who celebrate a very special day with Winter-the very first snowfall of the year. This easy read is just what young children need as they prepare to enjoy winter snow.

Why I Liked This Book:

~ snow and winter!

~ simple text sharing the story of a special day between a daddy and daughter

~ beautiful, colorful illustrations that make me want to join the party!

~ winter activities are highlighted as the characters enjoy the birthday party

~ easy to hold size for young hands

~ fascinating “snowflake” backmatter

~ the evident love of nature and the outdoors seen in the book

Thank you, Justin and David!

Blurb from KidLit411:

About the Book:  Happy Birthday Winter aims to bring joy and curiosity to the changing of the seasons. As the world in which the characters live changes from Fall to Winter, the characters embark on a journey to continue a tradition of celebration to welcome the Winter Season. 

Read more about Happy Birthday Winter at https://happybdaywinter.wixsite.com/happybdaywinter


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Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Lord bless you and keep you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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Thank YOU, Veterans! We LOVE YOU!

Once our son enlisted in the Army and spent a tour overseas in Iraq, we realized the depth of thankfulness and pride we had for our son and his fellow servicemen and women.

Thank you. To each and every branch, to every single troop, to all locations of service, and to every type of work, again, I say, “Thank you!”

Thank you for your selfless service and sacrifice for our country. We appreciate you and what you have done.

Thank you for being willing to leave behind your own family – wives, husbands, parents, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends – and travel to far flung destinations. You missed much. Thank you for being willing to miss the day-to-day life events – for us.

Thank you for staring danger and discomfort straight in the face.

Thank you. From the bottom (and top and middle) of my heart, I say thank you.

And families of servicemen and women. Thank you for your sacrifice. The waiting and the missing is never easy.

For those who did not return the way we prayed, my heart is with you. For those who came home draped with a flag, my heart breaks for you and your family.

Thank you.

May we never forget.

Reposted from: http://angiequantrell.blogspot.com/2015/11/thank-you-veterans.html


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Book Review: Bess the Barn Stands Strong by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia

Bess the Barn Stands Strong

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia

Illustrated by Katie Hickey

Page Street Kids, 2020

Barns and me, we go way back. My family can probably still whip up perfect eye rolls if I mention a barn I saw or attempt I made to have the vehicle stop so I can take a few photos. Backseat eye rolls, accompanied by the driver eye roll, sideways glance, and scurry to find an appropriate place to pull over, filled many happy family road trips.

Barns are fabulous. Of course I was super interested in reading Bess the Barn Stands Strong. Fortunate for me, I received my own autographed copy from Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia via Vivian Kirkfield’s www.viviankirkfield.com site. WordPress has changed and I haven’t figured out how to add JUST the words I want in a link, but here is the specific link for Bess the Barn Stands Strong: https://viviankirkfield.com/2020/09/08/happy-book-birthday-bess-the-barn-stands-strong-plus-double-book-giveaway/#comment-202883

Thank you, Elizabeth and Vivan, for sharing this wonderful picture book!

Bess the Barn Stands Strong is a story about a barn. Bess is a sweet barn, strong, beautiful, and caring. As a main character, Bess is pretty awesome. But she ages, as we all do, and eventually becomes overlooked for the new fancy barn build just over the fields. And Bess is ignored. Until the storm.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you, because YOU need to read the story yourself and see what happens to Bess and all of her barnyard friends.

If you love farms and barns, you will enjoy Bess!

Why I LOVE This Book:

~ barns!

~ a barn as a main character – how often does that happen? This could be the first time ever. (Don’t quote me on that.)

~ great story with just the right amount of tension

~ reading that there is purpose to old things, and old things can still be useful (I’m working on the older part as my birthday comes this month)

~ barnyards and animals are very popular with young readers

~ old versus new; I’m definitely of the older is better school

~ beautiful illustrations enrich and fill out the story

~ barns!

Amazon Blurb:

A steadfast old barn shows she’s sturdy enough to save the day.

Beam by beam and board by board, Bess the barn is built by able hands to keep the farm’s animals safe and sound. Through many seasons and celebrations, that’s just what she does, until she starts to sag…and creak…and slump. Then new everything comes along: a new farmer and a shiny new barn. A mean storm arrives not far behind, putting both barns to a dangerous test―can old Bess weather this threat to the farm?

Bess opens her doors wide, welcoming all to celebrate the year-round ups and downs of farm life and admire the enduring strength and importance of something made to last.

“There’s a marvelous mix of peppy text and bone-deep comfort at work within the language of this story . . . [and] visual treasures abound in the corners of the art . . . Seasons come and seasons go, but cozy concepts like barns on farms will never die.” – Kirkus Reviews


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Book Report: The Science of Defying Gravity by L.G. Reed

The Science of Defying Gravity

Written by L.G. Reed

Illustrated by Basia Tran

Keyes Canyon Press, 2020

Does your child have a science fair coming up? Or perhaps your middle grade student loves things that fly. This book is for both of you!

Cassie is not interested in science class, and therefore, her grades suffer. But she REALLY wants to go to Space Camp. After her family experiences financial difficulties, Cassie has to take Space Camp attendance into her own hands and figure out how to be able to attend. Setting the goal to make it to camp is just the right fuel to blast her rocket into space.

Thank you, KidLit411 www.kidlit411.com and L. G. Reed for sending me a copy of The Science of Defying Gravity! This chapter book is a very engaging read, and I couldn’t stop-just one more chapter, oops, two more chapters . . . and suddenly I was done reading it.

What I Liked About This Book:

~ Cassie and her best friend Wylie are great characters; flawed yet lovable

~ Excellent premise of a student having no interest in science class transforming into a driven young tween who worked her tail off to implement a stellar science fair project and presentation

~ Family issues were on target and added to the build-up towards the story climax

~ Cassie continued marching forward despite hitting numerous obstacles

~ Cassie and her feelings of being overlooked by her parents, which led to her striving to gain their attention

~ Cassie’s best friend, Wylie, is on the spectrum; this adds an extra layer of interest and learning about others who may be differently abled

~ Budding romance, just barely, but adorable

~ Science-I learned quite a bit about science fairs, gravity, what makes things fly, how to plan a winning science fair project, how they are organized, and even specifics about scientists in the real world

~ Cassie is a strong female main character, and will surely inspire other young girls to follow their interests in STEM fields

~ Helpful backmatter

~ The usefulness of this book to help students prepare for an actual science fair (lots of examples)

Amazon Blurb:

“Useful, entertaining, and encouraging; will inspire confidence and an appreciation of science.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Tweens who enjoy making, building, and learning will get the most from this book about what it takes to become a scientist.” — Booklife Reviews

In this mashup of STEM education and fiction, 11 yr old Cassie films her life. She loves movies and dreams of becoming a movie director in SPACE. *Her plans to go to Space Camp are derailed when her dad loses his job and she must win a SCIENCE FAIR to earn a scholarship to attend. Spunk, a caring teacher, an engineering mentor and her friends keep her dream on track.* Contained within THE SCIENCE OF DEFYING GRAVITY is an actual science fair project, including tables and charts for kids to see. The project covers the four forces of flight—lift, thrust, gravity and drag—which are embedded in the fictional story but are factually accurate.


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Throwback Thursday: The ’74 #TBT

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Check out this cute guy. Turns out he was giving me a ride in a shiny green ’74 Chevy.

The curls, the swagger, the adorable guy hauling around his honey. The guy would be my honey, Kevin. The girl would be me.

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Back in the early days of our relationship, we traveled far and wide. Most of that was back and forth to college, Seattle, Tacoma, the mountains, the beach. This trip was over Chinook Pass where we stopped near an overlook featuring Mt. Rainier. Beautiful mountain and cute guy. My mom used to roll her eyes. Yes! She did. Because all I would say was, “He’s so cute!” I think she got tired of hearing those words.

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The green truck has been in and around our family since it was brand new. My then future father–in-law bought it when it was about 6 months old, a dealer model. Love that avocado green! It’s been a favorite color for me since, well, forever. Kevin’s family took it to Ocean Shores each summer, hauling along the Prowler camper. I was so excited when they invited me to go along. Believe it or not, all 4 of us (Kevin, both of his parents, and me) road around Ocean Shores sitting on the long bench seat. Clam digging, crabbing, eating out, beach runs, yard sales, hot fudge sundaes. I have such wonderful memories of the old green ’74.

Let’s not forget one of our first dates. Kevin had just barely received his drivers’ license and asked dear old dad to borrow the lovely green pickup. So we were dragging the ave. Yakima Avenue. We stopped at a stop light, my honey. He was driving so careful. But the drunk lady behind us was not. On our first outing, we got rear-ended! Her car was pretty smashed up. But good old greeny had a tiny dent and bent bumper. The fear of telling dad what had happened was worse than the actual accident. But we all lived to tell the tale.

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After we were married, Kevin and I had it for several years. We also toted along the Prowler when we took our family to the beach. This truck went wood cutting, Christmas tree hunting, and moving people to and fro.

Later, my dad had the ’74 for quite a few years. He loved to tinker with it and keep it running. He managed to fix it up quite nice. After a certain number of years, one had to always carry a quart or two of oil behind the front seat and commit to regularly checking the dip stick during long trips.

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Eventually, my dad gave the ’74 to Bub, as he liked to call our son. Because old green ’74 was showing her age. Bub, a talented and gifted mechanic, a man after dad’s own heart, was nearly the only one besides dad who could keep the old gal running and on the road. And he didn’t mind constantly repairing this and that. Dad and Bub spent many happy hours puttering and repairing not just the ’74, but an entire fleet of old Chevy trucks and vehicles.

Today? The ’74 is still going strong. My honey recently remade the original wood racks that had graced the back for decades. (Literally.) Rust has worn holes in several sections of the fender. Green spray paint has been added to protect and keep additional rust from making holes. There is nearly a hole beneath the drivers’ side feet-rust, water, salt water, sand, dirt, many years of use.

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Ok, maybe she needs a bit more spray paint. But I do love my rust.

It’s alive and kicking. And we are all the more fonder because of the special memories each of us have surrounding this approaching classic truck. Chevy. Like a rock. The heartbeat of America.

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Kevin made this picture frame from the old wood rack rails. A very talented friend painted this picture for Taylor from a phone snapshot. This is the Chevy line-up, folks. Chevy.

What stories can you tell about your favorite Chevy? (I’m not allowed to name any other brands.)