Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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The Things We Do for Cats

Eh-hem. Cats. Once you have one, I mean a cat has decided you are worthy of serving its needs, you will realize the lengths one goes to to make sure said cat is happy and has all her Highness requires.

Cat patio? Check. Multiple concrete cat patios? Why, yes. Strategically placed throughout garden areas, including under the RV deck, where, incidentally, the Great Hunter loves to gnosh on freshly caught mice and voles. And birds. One never knows when she will gift us with a leftover foot, skull, liver, or fluff of feathers. For certain there are stains we cannot get out.

Cat shelter/cute house to hang out in when the weather is inclement? The Favorite Lap Guy just built her a new pad over Christmas break.

Cat tree? Yes (and quite a furniture saver it is). New cat tree which turned out to be sized for kittens? Returned.

Replacement sisal rope added to decimated anchor leg of favorite cat tree? Just completed. Has she used it yet? Nope.

We are testing one leg at a time to see if it holds up.

Fuzzy blankets galore? Check.

Heated blanket for cold days? I mean for the people (but the cat claims it)? Plug it in and let’s get this show on the road.

Favorite cat food (both dry and canned), cat treats, and a special cat toy basket? Stashed in proper cat food basket.

Strategically placed light-weight items on top of the printer to keep the solid-weight cat from sitting there and breaking it? Done. Not you? Well. Princess Monet deems that location perfect for gazing west through the RV window.

Wire fencing placed across winterized garden beds? (You KNOW why.) All set.

Roof added to top of TARDIS garden shed so cat can shelter out of hot sun? Done and done.

Vet on speed dial to order anti-“straw” meds? Definitely. (We prefer to call tapeworms “straw.” Oh, look? Is that straw? Time for more meds. It sounds nicer than the actual term. And. They do look like bits of straw.)

Evening chores are rushed through so the Cat can have her lap of choice for her evening resting pleasure? Certainly. And, BTW, said lap is not mine. She is a Daddy’s girl through and through. Unless food is involved. Then whomever has it is favorite.

Pillows poised to be pulled to the bed edges so the Princess can sleep smack in between Mom and Dad’s heads? Ugh. Yes. Nothing like waking up with someone’s tail-end right up against your chin. Or open one’s eyes to see two alert ready-to-get-up ears pointed right at you. Sleep in? What’s that?

But. Cats. We do it all because we love our kitties. What “special” things do you do for your royal felines? Perhaps Monet needs just one or two more human habits to make her life truly happy, and you know just the right thing. Do share. Her Highness is waiting.

Do you see the cat? She’s there.


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Gingerbread and Pillowcases

Not much was the same in 2020.

We became creative, inventive, technologically gifted, resourceful-all in the effort to live life and connect with fellow humans. Plans were ditched or tossed aside, trips canceled, 35th anniversary trips to magical locations did not occur. Birthday parties became drive-by’s. Travel screeched to a standstill as nature locations filled to overflowing with folks desperate to get outside. To get OUT. Childcare and transfer between shared-custody parents became fraught with contact points and who was sick and who was with whom when they got sick. Schooling reached new heights of teamwork between parents, teachers, and Nana’s. Vocabulary increased to include 2020-specific words like virtual learning, hybrid learning, Google Classroom, Zoom, Loom, Chrome Book, internet capabilities, mute yourself. DIY projects blossomed and not once was Lowe’s closed. I suspect they, and other home improvement stores, had a banner year of profits due to the frenzy of home projects. That, along with shortages of flour, yeast, sugar, and toilet paper gave insight to what most of us were doing. Staying home, fixing up, and baking.

The traditions were the hardest to “fix.” Outdoor gatherings, socially distant of course, and much fuss over wearing masks (cute, cotton, and washable) has become so normal, I fear for our social skills and facial expressions once the pandemic settles down.

And then Christmas. How to do gingerbread houses? Carefully. In a huge area. With only healthy grands.

And Christmas gifts? Christmas pillowcases became my idea of the year. Totally reusable gift bags, tied with jump ropes. Open your gifts, put your gift bag, er, pillowcase, on your pillow for a good, snowy night’s sleep. Why didn’t I think of this before? Sure, sewing them on Christmas Eve Day is not advisable, but it did allow me to work my way through several Hallmark Christmas Movies as I cut, pinned, sewed, and ironed. And I’ve already purchased my fabric for next year to avoid the same rush. (We might check back on that one, because having purchased fabric is not the same as having sewn the pillowcases. . ..)

Gingerbread cookies were baked yesterday. December 30. They taste just as good, no matter the date, especially plain, with coffee.

Are things looking up for 2021? I certainly hope so. But even if the recovery is slow, I know we can do it. We’ve had all of 2020 to figure out how to make things work. Like in the days of the Depression, our ancestors made do, made it work, or made do without it. We are ready.

May the Lord go before us, bless us, and keep us as we journey into the new year! See you next year!


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Throwback Thursday: Take Those Wedding Photos!

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“Just one more!” says every wedding photographer. And nearly every person standing in formation for the photo replies with groans.

We finally found our wedding album. It was MIA for a few years. But now we have it. And the precious family photos we had taken are even more meaningful, especially the ones of our parents and grandparents, who have all passed away.

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Should you be at a wedding-online, Zoom, social distanced, streaming-and someone asks for just one more, and “Smile for the camera!,” just grin and bear it. One day, sooner and later, those photos may become treasured memories for the wedding couple and their families.

Reflections on 35 years of marriage.

And, trivia for you, my mom made my dress! First from a sheet-to make sure all the pieces fit, since I had requested my dress be created from 2-3 different patterns-and then from chintz. I might have had the worlds’ least costly wedding dress-until we came to the wide cotton eyelet lace. A wonderful memory of my precious mama. And, another trivia, notice that my dad is smiling. Only in ONE photo, but capturing one of his smiles on camera was indeed a rare treat.

Smile, friends. Make those memories.

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Holiday Haiku – 25 Days of Christmas Haiku: gift

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pinterest attempt,

Baby, Christmas gift, story

told in painted rock

 

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by Angie Quantrell

 

Thanks for joining me on a Christmas Haiku journey as I celebrate with words, thoughts, and photos that take me deep into my family’s Christmas traditions. Read more Christmas Haiku here.
May this Season of Light brighten your life and fill your heart with true gifts.

 


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Toddler Tuesday: Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

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Fall and pumpkin season are my absolute favorites! So the other day when I had the urge to provide a fun activity for my two youngest grands (2 and 3 years-old), it was time to knead up a batch of orange, pumpkin spice play dough. This recipe is my old standby, perfect for adapting to any season.

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Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

In a large heat-proof bowl, mix:

3 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 T. oil (baby oil is nice, but vegetable oil is fine, too)

1 T. powdered alum

1 T. pumpkin spice powder

Boil 3 cups of water. Before measuring boiling water, add orange food coloring to measuring cup. Add water. Quickly pour 3 cups boiling water over ingredients in bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir until dough cools slightly.

Immediately dump dough onto table. It’s hot, but for best results, knead while hot. It will cool off fast enough. It may be sticky while hot, but will knead together nice and smooth. I sprinkled a little bit more of the pumpkin spice on the dough as I kneaded. It smelled so good!

As soon as the dough is well-mixed and cool enough to be safe for young hands, it’s time to play. I have a tub of different play dough tools and toys. I’m not exaggerating when I say my two toddlers were occupied for over 30 minutes. It would have been longer, but we had to leave to get big brother.

Store cooled play dough in a covered play dough container. I love the Costco cottage cheese containers best.

You’re welcome. 😉

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Stocking Number 5 (Or 11) – Christmas Traditions

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I just completed stocking number 5. Or 11, depending on how far back you want to go.

Autumn, the youngest grand princess, wore her Christmas stocking just in the nick of time, since all other stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and mommy and daddy were patiently waiting for Nana to finish sewing for the fourth family member.

Christmas is a very short time away, right?

Making Christmas stockings became a tradition as soon and my honey and I were married. I strip-pieced matching stockings for both of us about 31 years ago. They have been used every year, except this one, when they are hiding in storage. And maybe next year, which will most likely be the same.

After each of our two children were born, I made them giant strip-pieced stockings. Somewhere (again, in the storage unit) are pictures of them wearing their stockings. As adults, Taylor and Chelsie both have their stockings in their own homes. Spouses (and child-of-our-hearts) received their own stocking. All that was missing were the baby pictures in stockings, but, well, they are just too big to wear them!

Jump forward to the next generation of grands.

First came Hayden, our 4-wheelin’ boy. Nana got busy right away to make him a stocking.

Next came Khloe, Princess of the Blue Eyes. Nana stitched and sewed to get her set for Christmas.

Donavyn, the brown-eyed ducky boy, came next. Here he is wearing his stocking beside his baby sister. He barely fits!

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Gage, little wild man, made his appearance over a year ago. Nana dusted off the sewing machine and created his stocking.

And finally, Autumn. Last winter, when I was making Gage’s stocking, I cut out the base for another stocking, since we knew grand number 5 was on the way. Good thing for me, as we didn’t know we would soon be shoving all of our belongings into a tiny storage unit. When my Christmas senses kicked in, all I had to do was pull out the trunk with my fabric, dig out the stocking base and Christmas fabric, and I was reading to sew.

Stocking number 5. Or 11, depending on where you want to start counting. For us, it all began 31 years ago.

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Unexpected Gift Perfectly Suits

A purrfect gift. @AngieQuantrell

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell 

We were recently given a handmade gift that perfectly suited our family.

As we served an appreciation luncheon for co-workers, a certain woman, well-known for her hospitality and kindness, walked up to me and delivered a gift.

Since this luncheon was for them, I was not expecting a gift. We were doing the giving. But in her thoughtfulness, she remembered us with a hostess treasure.

When time allowed, I dug into the package and discovered a large, white hand-embroidered dish towel. Beautiful!

The homemade varieties are the best sort, are they not?

I quickly went to her table to thank her for the thoughtful gift. That was when I discovered four reasons the unexpected gift perfectly suited our family.

1. We are facing a shortage of decent dish towels. I prefer to use them until they are rags. We are breathing down the neck of the rag stage.

2. The embroidery neatley featured a cat. We love cats and have two terrorist cats of our own.

3. The embroidered cat was gray. Aha! Both of our monsters are affectionately called the Gray Girls.

4. The towel design included a cat clock of the old fashioned sort. We have a cat clock, of the new fashioned type.

 

I decided to use the dish towel as a mini-tablecloth. For now. @AngieQuantrell

A simple dish towel delivered true joy and pleasure for the one who was trying to give appreciation.

Have you ever received a perfect, unexpected gift?