Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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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.


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Haiku Moment: earth treasure

is it time? harvest?

soil erupts with sharp fragrance,

come, my garlic treat

earth treasure by Angie Quantrell

Photos by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley

This is our third successful (meaning: no earwig damage) allium crop! Maybe next year should be a season of rest for the garden beds when I grow just alliums and let the exploding earwig population die off a bit. The idea does bear tasty consideration…


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The Egg Mystery

It started out innocently enough.

The day after Taylor, my son, mowed the pasture, I was playing my one-millioneth game of chuck-it with Ginger and she stopped to nose around up by the ditch. Usually NOTHING will keep her from her ball, but something smelled goooood. I went up to see, since she was ignoring me.

And rats. It was a broken egg, most likely crushed by the lawn tractor. This had happened once before, with a killdeer nest. The babies were so silent with fear, they flattened out and survived the blade. This egg was unhatched and didn’t survive. But when I looked closer, the shell appeared white, and the yolk huge. Not a killdeer egg. But what type of egg was it?

This past weekend, my honey was changing the sprinklers and found an egg. Right in the middle of the grass, tucked down low. I went hunting, and sure enough. A big-enough to be chicken, but not quite pointy on either end, with a tinge of green.

Same day, later, Taylor was weed eating the pasture edges and ditch bank. With his fans in tow (Donavyn and Autumn), they discovered 2 more broken eggs and 2 whole eggs, but none in a nest beside each other. Some on this side of the ditch, at least one on the far side. One of the broken ones could have been the broken one I found. Or not. Same type of egg.

Later, after dinner, I went walking the pasture. I found yet another egg, randomly laid in the middle of the pasture. That makes 6 or 7 eggs, not in a nest or placed close to each other. Chicken-egg sized but oblong rather than pointy, all with the slight greenish hue.

What a mystery! As often as the next door chickens come and eat our bugs (thank you, chickens!), one would think we should have an egg or two found in odd places. But though I often urged them to nest up and share, they all know where they live, and at the slightest hint of one of us, they go running home.

Which is good. Because. You know. Bird dog.

Pasture. Roaming neighbor chickens. Turkeys. Wildlife by the buckets. Hawks, magpies, the occasional heron, crows, ducks. I’ve been trying to think of the larger birds that could be possible wandering egg layers. There’s just no sense of why here, and there, and way over there??? The egg on the opposite side of the ditch sort of rules out chickens, as they would have to cross the water and they are not too motivated unless food is involved.

Here is one of the eggs, with my thumb to give an idea of size. Does anyone have any ideas? All day yesterday I was on high alert, watching for birds in that area. Zip.

The mystery continues.


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RV Cooking Hack Plus Recipe: Garlic Rosemary Potatoes and Meatballs

What some of you might not know is that RV ovens have one rack.

At least our RV oven has one rack. And it’s not a large one either. A half-pan cookie sheet fits inside, with just barely enough room around it for air flow. A Dutch oven does not fit (it’s too heavy, and I fear it would bend/break the rack). A low casserole dish fits, but some lids might bump the top. And once you turn off the oven, you have to let it cool completely before restarting it. The gas pilot light is under the bottom tray at the back of the oven, right where you will burn your arm if you try lighting it while it’s hot. Personal experience speaking here.

And something to watch out for, a lesson I learned just this week with the future scars to match my experience, is the spring loaded oven door is very spring loaded. Very. Using a similar trick as shown in the above photo, a foil wrapped pan, I attempted to put the pan in the oven, the foil stuck, I somehow lost control of the door, and it swung shut on my arm. Did I mention the oven was preheated? I threw the pan in as I jerked my arm out, bouncing the hot stove door edge along my arm. Yikes! I am thankful for fast reflexes. Yes, yes I am.

Oh, but our RV DOES have an oven. We love using it in the winter to heat the RV. We avoid it in the summer, preferring to cook on the BBQ and keep the heat outside.

I’ve often been frustrated by meal plans that need two dishes to be in the tiny oven. And then I started experimenting. See the above photo.

As with all experiments, you figure out new things to try or ways to improve an idea. Now, with the above meatballs and garlic rosemary potatoes, I wouldn’t bother with the foil dam in the middle. Just let the juices mix. Yum! But some things I might not want to touch while baking, like juicy salmon and sweet potato fries. Or something like that.

Either way, combining a main dish and side or two is the perfect way to utilize a small RV oven. I always try to cook too much, because leftovers make perfect lunches for the next day or two.

Garlic Rosemary Potatoes

5-6 small red potatoes, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces

5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 6-8″ sprig of rosemary, washed, dried, and chopped (leaves only, not stem)

olive oil

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

Optional: fresh grated Parmesan cheese, Tabasco sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and enough olive oil to coat it all. Spread on one half of a foil-covered cookie sheet (I like to spray my foil with vegetable spray to keep food from sticking). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the other half with meatballs. No recipe here for these. I love the Costco frozen meatballs.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. We like crispy sides, so we cook them longer. If you want to cook yours until just done, aim for 25-30 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking and test potatoes along the way.

Serve potatoes and meatballs with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a few splashes of Tabasco. We always add broccoli, salad, or green beans. Gotta have those veg!


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Meet the Author: Zach Christensen #authorinterview

Meet the Author!

Scromlette the Omelet Chef

Written by Zach Christensen

Illustrated by Chiara Civati

Mascot Books, 2020

Hello, book friends! Today I’d like to introduce you to the author of Scromlette the Omelet Chef, Zach Christensen. I was sent a copy of Scomlette the Omelet Chef by Mascot Books. You can learn more about Mascot Books here: https://mascotbooks.com/ .

I featured Scromlette the Omelet Chef back in December with three other newly released picture books. Today, let’s take a closer look at a book about food – one of my favorite subjects. On a side note, during a critique group meeting, one of my critique partners mentioned that many of my books have a theme about food, or some type of food connection. Lo and behold, now that she said that, I’ve noticed MOST of my books have some sort of link to food. You can imagine a book about omelets would catch my eye. Er. Stomach? On to Zach’s book.

My Short Blurb:

This book has a great message. Scrom goes from being a bullied child to an adult who shares his love of making omelets with those on the streets. I enjoyed reading how Scrom survived the bullies of his childhood by hanging on to what he loved: making omelettes. The closure of what the bullies did and seeing them later in life as adults-in-need helps Scrom understand why they did what they did, and offers him a chance to help even more. The colorful illustrations help tell the story. Scromlette the Omelet Chef makes me hungry for an omelet!

Meet the Author

Welcome, Zach! Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Angie, and to any readers out there, thank you for listening in. I’m from Nebraska, I’ve worked in social services for six years, and I have always loved a good story. I have a master of arts in theology, so I had suspected for years that my first book would be something quite dense in the realm of philosophy or religious history. Instead, I came to find that a true test of your creativity and material is to distill ideas into simple and accessible stories for children. There is something magnificently compelling about a story that inspires you, give you hope, helps you reframe your state of mind, and reorient how you interact with the world around you. I have always enjoyed helping people find stories that illuminate their lives in new ways.

Zach, I just read what you said in a craft book about writing for children: A writer has to know and research much information about a subject in order to distill it down to create simple, engaging stories for children. I love how we both are thinking about this.

What was your inspiration for SCROMLETTE THE OMELET CHEF?

My primary inspiration was having seen such a resilience and fortitude in my peers and contemporaries around me for my entire life. Growing up, there is a great deal of bullying that children are susceptible to experience. Childhood is already a turbulent time, and it is when we are our most vulnerable that we are most susceptible to endure the worst trauma. Naturally, the book has strong anti-bullying themes. My aim is to tell children that there is something on the other side of the disorienting journey of growing up, and you’ll be able to see it more clearly if you can find something that you love.

With that, I wanted to likewise encourage children to find things that they love giving their time and energy to, while also finding ways to serve people around you. If you can find things that overlap in these two domains, then you have found something that is life-giving for yourself and the world.

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

Believe it or not, I actually wrote the entire story in a parking lot while I was waiting for an AWOLNation concert to start. It was as if the story already had existed and I had it in my imagination for years, but the rhymes and stanzas just came to me in that two-hour window of time. The writing of the story really was a materialization of ideas that I had felt children (and really people all of walks of life) needed to hear for some time. I think that is actually central to the craft of writing a story – it is taking what you have encountered in your life, the good and bad, and synthesizing them together in a way that people can look at what you’ve created, and they feel a sense of shared experience with you. When people hear a story and think “me too,” I believe this what is empowering and compelling for people.

All this to say, if you have some life experience that left a lasting impression on you, whether it was characterized by pain, joy, a convergence of the two, or something else, I’d submit to you that you could transform that into a story, and there are people out there who need to hear it.

That’s pretty amazing – two hours! In a car. While waiting for something else. Writers out there? Keep those notebooks handy. Zach, I love this.

Everything is different right now with COVID-19, but how did you celebrate the book birthday (book release day) of SCROMLETTE THE OMELET CHEF?

Unfortunately, I was not able to have a conventional release party due to the pandemic, but I have been networking with a number of different teachers and educators to help circulate Scromlette to the general public and to get it into classrooms. Likewise, many people among whom I have promoted Scromlette were able to get their copies before Christmas.

Surprise us! What else would you like to share?

I have more stories in the works and some manuscripts are completed and ready for submission! So keep an eye out for new books of mine!

Zach, that’s great news! I look forward to hearing more about future books. Thank you for visiting my blog today, Zach. And thank you for writing such an encouraging picture book.

You can find Zach at:

Instagram: @psaltingtheearth

Twitter: @EarthlyPsalt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScromletteTheOmeletChef


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Happy Thanksgiving!

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


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Haiku Moment: treats

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salt, ice, elbow grease

mix, roll, squish-science freezes

creamy treats go fast

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treats by angie quantrell

photos by angie quantrell

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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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