Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Will You Be My Girlfriend?

circa 1981

I said yes.

On this date, April 23, 1979, at my dad’s birthday party, this guy popped the girlfriend question. And the rest, they say, is his (and her) story. Our story. What an adventure it’s been! 43 years ago.

The attempted photo recreation…

circa now

The journey continues, my honey and me, best friends.


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Book Review: A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale by Karen Rostoker-Gruber

A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale

Written by Karen Rostoker-Gruber

Illustrated by Kristina Swarner

Albert Whitman & Company, 2020

Hello, friends! Just look at what I call “Girl in a Tree.” Her (current) favorite thing to do is climb trees. She was more than happy to shimmy up and strike a “missing-teeth” pose with Karen Rostoker-Gruber’s traditional retelling of a Yiddish folktale, A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale. Thank you, Miss Autumn.

And thanks to Karen for sending me a copy of this beautiful book and Kathy Temean for hosting Karen and her picture book. You can read more about Karen on Kathy’s blog, Writing and Illustrating.

Now, as a person who lives full-time in an RV with her husband and quite hunting-crazy cat Monet, I know something about being crowded. When all the grands are over (7), there is nary a place to sit. We have to double-up AND use the floor. Inside the RV, we have also had: 2 cats, 1 dog, a fledgling goldfinch, spiders, earwigs (YUCK), flies, wasps, adults, grandchildren, 2 bunnies…I think that might be it. Thankfully, this crowd was not all at the same time. Oh, and the occasional Monet-attempted catch-and-release mouse.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale. Told both in rhyming and lyrical text, the mix was perfectly combined for a satisfying read. Not too much of either, but just right. For a fun retelling of a traditional story, you need to read about Farmer Earl and his crowded farmhouse.

What I Like About This Book:

-humor abounds, though I imagine Farmer Earl would not feel the same way

-the hugely huge family (this phrase cracks me up)

-a fun, re-imagining of a classic tale

-the animals and chaos

-perfect little rhyming couplets that young readers will pick up in no time

-the combination of both lyrical and rhyming text

-adorable and engaging illustrations filled with plenty of details to amuse readers

Amazon Blurb:

Farmer Earl has had enough―his home is too crowded! So, he visits the wise woman in town for help. She tells him to bring all his ducks in the house. And then all his horses. And all his goats too! How will there be more room with all these animals? This updated folktale uses humor to explore what it takes to gain a new perspective.

Find Karen:

Amazon

Instagram

Twitter


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Required Number of Fleece Blankets for RV in Winter? (Also Haiku Moment: fleeced)

People.

RV life in the winter, particularly in a four-season location (like the Pacific Northwest, east of the Cascades), is not a piece of cake. Nor is it for the faint of heart.

I should have opened with a question mark and let you guess first. How many fleece blankets do you think a person would need to adequately block window drafts against winter chills? In January. While living in an RV? And all-season RV. At least that’s what it says on the side.

Nine. We require an assortment of 9 lap throw-sized fleece blankets to tuck along the cracks of all window openings to block drafts. Is this a pain? Yes. Do I despair? Yes. Murmur? Unfortunately. Yes.

But we are warm! The draft-blockers do their job. So well, in fact, that on super chilly mornings, they block the heat to portions of the curtains and the curtains freeze to the windows. Don’t worry! It eventually melts and we wipe away the beaded rivers streaming down into the window tracks.

Extra tasks are required for RV life in the winter. There is a longer daily chore list. But we keep warm. Our tricks of the trade keep us nice and toasty, despite ice, fog, snow, sleet, wind, rain, and sub-freezing temps. How about you? Any winter RV tricks you’d like to share with a couple of RV popsicles?

A Haiku Moment for you:

fleeced

winter’s chills gobble

heat, invite mr. frost in

9-fleece kicks him out

fleeced by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley


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Haiku Moment: stuck

winter freeze equals

locked in place, stuck in RV

special escape tool

stuck by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley


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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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Sunday Inspiration

Photo by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley


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Haiku Moment: bunnies for sale

bunnies for sale, free

hopping, leaping, eating all;

please, take some bunnies

bunnies for sale by Angie Quantrell

Rabbits for Food (the book cover I want to make into a large poster and display in the pasture for the bunnies to read so they will decide to nibble elsewhere)


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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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RV Living: Day (approximately) 1,594

What it looks like when I dig out my craft supplies.

We are just getting ready to tuck into bed at the close of our approximate 1,594th day of RV living. $1,594 dollars does not seem like much. 1,594 days seems like much much more.

This was not the plan. But. 2020. Plus housing market. Plus bidding wars. Plus zoning laws. Plus all sorts of things.

We are happy to have a tiny home on wheels, though an RV is not exactly the same thing. We have tiny and we have wheels. We feel blessed to have shelter near our loved ones.

We are still talking to each other, the cat keeps us free from pasture mice and voles, and the electronics and utilities work.

Just in case you are considering long-term RV life, think about this.

Storage is minimal. Even utilizing the boot (under bed/outside access storage at the front of the RV), we stack items on empty window casings, counters, and floors. And still I go the store more often and buy less.

The shower is tiny. I have no idea how my 6′ 1″ husband does it. I bang elbows and knees when I shower and I’m only 5′ 1″.

The fridge is tiny. The freezer even more so. Without an extra fridge/freezer out in the shop you can kiss Costco good-bye.

The stove is tiny. No more large turkeys. As long as I purchase a small turkey breast, cooking in the RV oven is doable. If I want a full turkey, I have to use my turkey roaster.

The bed is small. Queen? Methinks not a true queen. It gets a bit crowded with both of us and the cat, who loves sleeping crosswise between our pillows.

There. Is. No. Closet. Wrinkles are our wardrobe accessories.

Humidity is an issue in the winter. Perhaps we should purchase stock in the companies that produce dehumidifiers.

This meal could have been mixed together, but I was practicing. Works great!

On the other hand . . .

We enjoy our cozy space. COZY.

It doesn’t take much to heat such a small space. Or cool it. Though you will catch me whining when the temps are in the 90-100s.

Low utility costs, at least during spring and fall.

I have become quite tricksy at RV cooking. We regularly utilize the RV oven, stove top, and outdoor BBQ grill, depending on the season, temperature, and meal plan.

We are used to short showers.

I’ve figured out the way to work around only one stove rack. I make a foil dam and cook multiple foods at the same time! Casseroles are another way to work around the one rack.

I don’t have to clean much. We live in a pasture, so there is always dust.

We have and use what we truly need. There is no space for extras. We are working on this for my creative and work space.

We spend plenty of time outside, since that’s where the fresh air and clean living space is found in abundance. Nature is pretty wonderful. Not mice and vole heads, thank you Monet, but alive sorts of nature like hawks and bunnies and finches.

My honey is fabulous at upkeep for our tenement on wheels. At this rate, it should be good for another decade. Please.

Here’s to day 1,595 . . .

Monet, the office assistant.


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Haiku Moment: twinning

double take – sisters!

who is who? swoosh here, stripe there

one box, twice the fun

twinning by Angie Quantrell

Mabel and Monet, 2017

(before a dog pack got Mabel)