Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Report: Be a Superhero in the Kitchen by Donna Glass #BookBirthday

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Be a Superhero in the Kitchen

Written by Donna Glass

Illustrated by Alejandro Chamberlain

Mascot Books, March 2020

 

Friends, if you are stuck at home with young children (and most of us are right now, due to COVID-19), I have a great idea for you. It’s time to enlist your superheros and teach them to cook!

Why not? Plenty of time, cooking reinforces OH SO MANY skills (math, reading, science, nutrition, fine motor, life skills), and your enlistees will be SUPER happy to help you make a meal!

Thank you, Mascot Books , for sending a review copy of Be a Superhero in the Kitchen by Donna Glass. I didn’t know I was getting a very cool COOKBOOK!

Let’s dig in!

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Why I LOVED this Book:

~ Super colorful and engaging

~ Each page spread is an entire recipe, filled with simple directions, ingredient lists, and illustrations; Cautions are listed along the way

~ 20 different recipes are included for entrees and side dishes, desserts and breads, and even a beverage

~ Superhero Cooking Tips are listed right at the beginning of the book! Yay!

~ The superhero theme is wonderful. I love how it is continued throughout the entire book. Kids will LOVE being a SUPERHERO chef!

~ This book is perfect for teaching young readers and chefs how to TAB a favorite recipe with a sticky note. The age old method of quickly finding your place…

~ Well written, fun, interesting, and very useful

~ With so many families caring for and homeschooling their children and grandchildren right now, this “activity” book is perfect. Plus, you get help making dinner.

~ Scroll down to the bottom of this post and follow the link to order your own copy.

Let’s get cooking!

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Amazon Blurb:

Every caregiver knows the trials of feeding a picky eater. Some nights are truly a battle. Nerves are frayed, and a pleasant, relaxing dinner can quickly be filled with tears, tantrums, and some nights, a battle of wills. Well, my goal with this book is to tip the scales in our favor. One surefire way I’ve discovered to get my picky eaters to eat is to let them help make the meal. After all, food tastes better when you’ve had a hand in fixing it. Let your child try their hand with the recipes in this book. A child who becomes the superhero of dinnertime is one who eats super well.

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To purchase a copy of Be a Superhero in the Kitchen, click this link:

Purchasing Information


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Welcome, November!

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I love November.

The scary stuff is gone. Pumpkins still hang out. Leaves whirl down and crunch underfoot. Nights and early mornings crisp any remaining plant life to bed. Birds flock and insects tuck in for the winter. November is perfect.

Also, let’s not forget Thanksgiving. When we lived in a house (bigger than the RV), I loved hosting Thanksgiving dinners. The good smells, tastes, and fun made the work all worthwhile. And after dinner, our traditional putting up and decorating a tree and watching a Christmas movie.

Notice I said “a” tree. Since I am a lover of Christmas trees, we usually had at least one in each room. Thanksgiving evening was just the harbinger of festivities in decor and traditional pastimes to follow.

AND November is my birthday. I’ve always had a fondness for my birthday month. So much fun anticipating not just my birthday, but also Thanksgiving with Christmas gaily tromping on its heels.

Apple crisp, pumpkin pie, juicy turkey, stuffed squash, toasty hot drinks. I guess I think and remember with my stomach. The nip in the air gives way to red noses and tingling fingertips. And if it’s to be perfect, the first snow falls. Just enough to whet my whistle.

November is also a time for me to focus on gratitude. Not only Thanksgiving Day, but each day of the month, I like to consider and remember the things for which I am thankful. God has been so good to me and my family. Giving thanks and naming the many blessings is the least I can do to honor Him.

Today, I am thankful for:

God and His provisions, my honey, my family, my veteran (our son), my RV (no matter how tiny), fall in all its glory, pumpkins, food, my health, friends, chocolate, our hunter kitty who keeps the fields free of tasty kitty morsels (mice and voles), warm clothes, music, and trees.

Which is your favorite month? How will you celebrate in November?

Blessings to you and your family.

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Spidey Snack, A Teeny Story

SPIDEY SNACK

by Angie Quantrell

 

Written in honor of Susanna Leonard Hill’s 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest. As Susanna says, “aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!” It’s time for some fun!

Read more tiny stories at Susanna’s blog here.

 

SPIDEY SNACK

“Help! I’m stuck in this cobweb!” shouted Bumblebee.

Hedgie looked up. “I’ll help” she called. But how? She was too low, Bumble too high.

In her workroom, Hedgie searched recipes. Grow tall spell? Invisible wings oil? Jumping legs gel?

Hedgie heard a chanting voice. “Hungry, yes, starving! Who’s in my web?”

“Legs is coming!” squeaked Bumble.

A floating spell? That’s the trick.

Hedgie mixed ingredients and chugged the potion. She glided up, grabbed Bumble, and popped open her spines.

“Ouch!” yelled Legs. “Wahhh! I’m still hungry.”

“You may not eat my friend. But do join us for Halloween pumpkin soup.”

 


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Throwback Thursday: Mama’s Cooking

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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my mom lately, especially in the car, which usually leads to driving through the tears. I truly miss all those phone calls, hugs, and visits since she passed away in May. She is happy. I will be fine. But I do miss her.

Which is not the main focus of my thoughts. For some reason, perhaps the upcoming season of feasts and gatherings, my inner foodie is on high alert. Mama was an excellent cook. Sure my dad usually had smart comments about biscuits being hard like hockey pucks or gravy being thick enough to plaster walls, but that was just dad. He loved to tease. That was how he showed love.

I know mama worked hard to keep us fed. She also worked as cheaply as possible, cutting costs, stretching meals, and making most meals from scratch. Even without much in the pantry, Mama was so creative, we still had filling meals. She might have been short on stature, but she was a giant in love and resourcefulness.

Not every meal did I LOVE. I avoided fried grit pancakes with syrup if possible and cornbread milk toast. Eggplant, no matter how much she battered and fried it, did not agree with my taste buds. But she was famous for so many of my favorite foods. I’m going to do a quick brainstorm list and see how many I can remember. Just consider that each dish was made from scratch…

Grits and eggs

Sausage gravy and homemade biscuits

Hash browns and gravy

Tortillas and refried beans

Burritos

Homemade bread, butter, and jam

Spaghetti (my go-to birthday request favorite meal)

The Gasser (her noteworthy casserole, aptly named, which included beans, onions, green chilies, corn, hash browns, corn tortillas, and enchilada sauce)

Chicken and dumplings

Pancakes

Homemade syrup

Jam

Fried bologna and cheese sandwiches

Sliced hotdogs baked with ketchup

Fresh corn (either frozen or on the ear)

Macaroni and milk, the first meal after stomach flu

Homemade noodles

 

Mama was always purchasing, harvesting, preserving, and storing food. I still remember the 50-pound bags of dried pinto beans, onions, and corn on the cob. We had goats, cows, chickens, and ducks. Eggs were plentiful and the milk was sold for extra cash. Nobody can drink that much milk! I was not a fan of the bits of cream lingering in the whole milk, regardless of how much we carefully skimmed it off the top. Unpasteurized to boot! It’s amazing that we survived.

How about you? Did you have favorite home-cooked meals? If you know my family, do you remember any other special foods my mama made?

 

 


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Fun Things to Do in Victoria BC

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Downtown Victoria BC view from our Hotel Grand Pacific balcony

Millions of thanks to my cousin, Melissa, for taking me to Canada with her! We had such a wonderful cousin time, exploring, giggling, eating, and shopping. So much fun and tons of memories (and calories). Don’t forget your passport!

Here are some of the fun things we did.

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Picturesque views while riding on the Clipper

1. Ride the Victoria Clipper. Besides getting us to Victoria in 2 hours 45 minutes, it was a fun way to travel. Parking at the Bell Street parking garage was only $10 a day with a pass from the Clipper. And only a block from the dock. Do check in online as soon as possible. We were in boarding group 1, and it only made life easier.

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Melissa and I headed north on the Victoria Clipper

2. Splurge for a nice hotel. Melissa chose the Hotel Grand Pacific, literally one block from the Clipper dock. It was so easy to wheel our luggage across the street and down the block. Check in was a breeze. Do check. They had our room ready early, though I can’t promise that all the time. The room was fabulous and we had a combined view of the city and the harbor. Comes complete with pool, hot tub, restaurants, high tea, and very friendly and knowledgeable concierges. You can’t lose with this hotel.

3. Schedule High Tea. Do it! Sure, it’s another splurge, but where (in my neighborhood) can I get fancy high tea? Uh…nowhwere. We researched a bit and settled on High Tea at our hotel, Hotel Grand Pacific. So much food, plenty of tea, oodles of sugar, ample time, short walk, wonderful company. Instructions included wearing proper shoes (no flip flops or beach wear items), so we planned ahead and brought summer dresses and dressy sandals. We both ate most of our tea foods, and swapped items we didn’t finish. Or left them on the tier. Not saying who. But I do enjoy a good smoked salmon. And tuna. Our server was kind enough to pack what was left in a container for later snacks.

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Loved this fountain!

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Two adorable 50-somethings enjoying Butchart Gardens

4. Ride city bus #75 to Butchart Gardens. Originally, we planned and booked a day-long tour which featured many popular destinations. Due to low registrations (I think we were on the only two), it was cancelled. We hemmed and hawed and eventually overhead someone saying, “Take the bus.” Excellent suggestion. $5 Canadian for an all day bus pass. Worth the entire fiver. Saved tons of money by going to Butchart on our own. And saw some great sites along the way. Skipped the parking lot fiasco. Butchart Gardens. Two words. DO IT. Gorgeous. We had lunch at The Blue Poppy Restaurant.

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Water lilies in front of Hotel Grand Pacific

5. Wander. From the bus windows, we saw the drug store we needed, plus many other fun places to explore. Touristy shopping is right on Government street, filled with all such souvenir treats one could want. It was pretty easy pickings to find surprises to take home with us.

6. Murchie’s. Visit both sides of this landmark. Coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks. We hit Murchie’s for breakfast one morning and I was enchanted to have my hot tea come in a pot! If you do this, check for tea strength. I think there were 4 (FOUR!) teabags in my pot. A bit strong, so I pulled some out. The bran muffin was excellent. We then walked right next door to the shopping portion of Murchie’s where we sniffed teas, handled tea items, and purchased loose leaf tea and gifts. Bagged and loose leaf teas are available, as well as tins, tea cups and pots, tea paraphernalia, and assorted whatnots. Knowledgeable tea staff are on hand to help with purchases and tea choices. Sadly, they no longer sell spices.

7. Eat at 10 Acres. They have 3 restaurants with farm to table foods. They grow most of the items they use to prepare meals. We first visited 10 Acres Commons Bistro. I loved my fresh salad and French onion soup. The drink I had included a (ONE) fennel seed, which had accidentally transferred over during the herb harvest process. It was so tasty. We would definitely visit this bistro again. A different evening, we timed our visit to 10 Acres Commons for happy hour when some foods would be on special. Delighted to have an outside table with a lovely view. My bunless burger and salad were exceptionally delish and Melissa’s fish and chips looked super tasty. Just a warning. And I thought it funny. My usual take when I ask for no bun, lettuce wrap instead, is that I am saving you money and buns. Their take is sure, we’ll leave off the bun, but charge you extra for the lettuce wrap. LOL. My happy hour price was eaten up by my lettuce wrap and bacon. Oh well, it was so yummy, I didn’t care.

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Garden of Roger the Marmot…we did not see him.

8. Stop and smell the roses. Or lavender, geraniums, dahlias…Victoria is a beautiful city. We traveled north in August, and flowers were on abundant display. Bees and bumbles adorned nearly every flower bed we saw.

If you wander near The Empress, facing the Empress from the harbor, follow the path along the left of the far left entrance. You will find the home of Roger the marmot and his accompanying bee hives. Though native to the area before land development, marmots do not usually live within city borders. Somehow, be it RV, big truck, or baggage, Roger found his was to this tiny hidden corner of rock walls, trees, and flowers. Four attempts have been made to capture him, but he is wily and wants to stay where he wants to stay. We didn’t see him in person, but what a fun character! The Empress has turned his garden into a wildlife bee and marmot sanctuary. Go see it.

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No photos of Rogers’, but plenty of treats from High Tea!

9. Rogers’ Chocolates. If you love chocolates, you will want to enjoy some treats. We only stopped once for an after dinner truffle. Mine was pretty tasty. But they don’t give correct change (true elsewhere). I asked why I didn’t get any pennies back for my change. I was kind of grumpy about it. I love my pennies. But she said they didn’t have any. Then as I wandered on, I vaguely recalled Canada doing away with pennies. Yep. That was true. No more Canadian pennies. The Rexall cashier explained in detail. I don’t know who benefits most. The government does surely, as it costed about $1.40-1.50 to make $1 worth of pennies. Do shop keepers? Customers? No idea. But don’t expect exact change OR pennies.

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Harbor view from Fisherman’s Wharf

10. Walk the harbor sidewalk. Sit and rest, watch the people, watch the boats and air traffic. Even sitting still, there is so much to see. Victoria is beautiful and popular.

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Pot of tea at Hotel Grand Pacific breakfast. My kind of WAKE up time.

We need to plan another trip. There was so much we did not see. Castles, distilleries, China town, pickle boat rides, museums, Parliament buildings . . . So many more restaurants and malls and exciting things to see.

Have you been to Victoria? What was your favorite thing to see, do, or eat?

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Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a hot day when we walked here, only food and one shop! But beautiful. Most of these are personal homes.


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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: dine

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tasting toes, flutters

and alights; dinner prepared

dine, consume, be full

 

dine by Angie Quantrell

 

Meet our dinner guests, flora and fauna beauties.

Welcome! Join us for a Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge. Leave your link or Haiku in the comments. One, two, three, go!


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Happy 300 Party!

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Happy 300 blog followers party!

I might be slow, but I eventually catch on. Love, Laughter, and Life has reached 300 wonderful followers. How exciting!

Let’s celebrate!

Music: Upbeat and fast-paced (insert your favorite celebratory tune here; I am hopeless in remembering song titles, unless they are for the 5 and under crowd)

Decor: Balloons, sweet-smelling flowers, streamers, candles (in hurricane lamps for safety)

Dessert: Dark chocolate truffles with a few charcuterie and cheese platters artfully arranged for good measure

Drink: Sparkling water with twists of lemon, lime, and orange

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Thank you, dear ones. I appreciate each one of you!

Onward and upward to 2019!


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Monday Mouthfuls: Spiced Walnuts

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I know walnuts are one of the healthiest nuts. And we should eat them every day. But I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t like them. I just like them in stuff. So I sneak them in my healthy dark chocolate cookies and muesli (which we eat nearly every day for breakfast), and put them on top of stuff. Mostly, my honey eats them as toppings (on yogurt, toast, crackers, nut mix). I’ve always been a hot fudge sundae without the nuts/cherry/whipped topping kind of girl. Just give me good old vanilla ice cream with plenty of hot fudge.

This recipe really helps me eat a daily snack of heart-healthy walnuts. Maybe they are not as good for you due to the small amount of sweetener, but they are not healthy for me if I DON’T eat them at all. Wink, wink.

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Spiced Walnuts

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Put parchment paper on cookie sheet.

In bowl, whip:

1 egg

1 T. cinnamon (we love cinnamon, another good-for-you spice, so I tend to go heavy-handed on how much I put in)

1/2 tsp. cayenne (more if you want some bite)

1 T. maple syrup (the real stuff)

2 T. (or so) brown sugar

Add and stir well to coat:

5 cups walnut halves

Spread on parchment paper and bake 20 minutes. Stir. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until dry. Cool. Break apart and store in covered container.

Eat every day.

 

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

You can read more about healthy walnuts here.


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Talk to Me Tuesday: Is RV Living Genetic?

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The Wheetley sisters had a weekend get-together a few weeks ago, hosted by my cousin and me. Ranging from 73 to 90, the four siblings are getting to the age where each trip just might be the last.

But persist, we did. Now I’m not going to mention age-related issues, but let’s just toss out a few things to consider if you are planning a cabin-in-the-woods adventure for the mature crowd.

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Steps. There will be steps. Unfortunately our cabin had NO handrails for the stairs climbing to the deck and front door. Gorgeous building, plenty of room, majestic pine trees, amusing chipmunks (squirrels? we could never decide) living in the roof of the cabin next door. But NO handrails.

The rule of thumb became: No one goes UP or DOWN the stairs unless Melissa or Angie is offering arm support (and perhaps humming the bridal march). I won’t mention names, but one of us did not follow the rules. And fell down the stairs. So there is that to consider.

Stubborn independence. We Wheetley’s are an independent lot. I think this character trait strengthens with age. Maybe even quadruples. Just be forewarned.

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Food. The two of us planned excellent meals, if I don’t say so myself. But we planned way TOO much. I went to the cabin with an ice chest full of food. I came home with an ice chest full of food. Not the same food, but most of the leftovers. I think smaller meals and lots of tasty snacks (zucchini bread, blueberries, fudge, fresh fruit, and cheese seemed to be the favorites). Keep that in mind. And always ALWAYS check the lid on new fresh pepper grinders before adding pepper to a pan of quiche that’s ready to go in the oven. Ah-hem.

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Hot tub. We enjoyed the in-deck hot tub surrounded by towering trees and blue skies. And neighbors going to and fro on the nearby road, but who’s worried about an audience? The STEPS rule came into play at the hot tub, with the added element of danger due to the slippery water. I’m convinced we could have videotaped us trying to maneuver all of us into and out of the water and won big money on American’s Funniest Home Videos. But the only one who fell in was Melissa, I mean, a younger person who was in charge of keeping everybody else safe.

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Games. Puzzles. Crafts. Oh, my! Surprisingly, these were not the hit. Socializing, grazing, and sipping before meal drinks were the favored activities. Three of us enjoyed working two puzzles. I colored in an adult coloring book (and later turned that paper into stamped cards, thank you very much). So I wouldn’t worry too much about planning extra activities. Family stories and funny incidents made up most of our adventure. And toting along a few chick flicks is a good idea. We enjoyed movies after dinner.

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Giggling. This will happen. At any time of day or night. And certain somebody’s might sneak into the sisters’ bed to warm up and giggle some more. Can we say adorable?

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We did make 2 short outings. One day we hit the thrift store and fudge shop, bringing back probably 2 million calories in a variety of fudgy flavors. A different day we took a drive to see the lake. No getting out, just a scenic tour.

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Where does the RV genetic link come in? My husband and I have been living in an RV two years this month. This is temporary (I hope) as we figure out the building a small home process, but still, we are living in an RV. During our many trips down memory lane, I realized that three of the four sisters spent at least two years living in RVs! Let me say that in no way have I ever wanted to live long-term in an RV, yet here I am. Genetically predisposed? Or environmentally influenced?

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Either way, I love my Wheetleys, whether it’s their fault I’m in the RV or not. Wink, wink. And we had a great time and made new memories.

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SURVEY TIME: Are there any other Wheetleys who live (or lived) in an RV? How about the Hill side of the family?