Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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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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Pumpkin Patch 2020

In the year 2020, everything changed. Yes, we all know this.

Each year, I’ve planned a pumpkin patch outing with my grands. This year, we were lucky to find one (a pumpkin patch, not a grand). And this year, I had separate trips with the two families, mostly due to scheduling, but also . . . 2020.

The Quantrells went with me on a very rainy day to Washington Fruit and Gift Shop at Barrett Orchards. We’ve used Barrett’s displays as backdrops and adventures before, but never on such a wet outing. We were the ONLY people outside and inside other than employees. Though adults and children alike were damp and dripping, pumpkins were chosen and lovingly carried home for fall fun. Papa broke my rule (see below) and carried out Donavyn’s huge pumpkin.

The Aucutts went with me to Dagdagan’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand, where the owners conveniently displayed a mini straw bale maze filled with piles of pumpkins. We were the only ones in it for most of the time and need only don our masks to go inside to pay for the chosen orbs. I might say, the older they get (the grands) the larger the pumpkins they choose. My rule: you have to be able to carry it. That sort of helps me out.

Both Hayden and Donavyn (oldest child in their respective families) chose close to 30-pound pumpkins. An oldest thing? A boy thing? Who knows. Autumn, the youngest, chose three mini pumpkins, caring for them as a mother would her young children (or stuffed animals). Gage chose traditionally and Khloe went with a white pumpkin, though she also leaned towards a larger choice.

Happy Fall to all!


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Book Review: The Ocean Calls, A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho

The Ocean Calls, A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

Written by Tina Cho

Illustrated by Jess X. Snow

Kokila, An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC; August 2020

I was super excited to win a copy of The Ocean Calls, A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow, from Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating website. You can read more from Kathy and check out her post at https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2020/07/21/book-giveaway-the-ocean-calls-by-tina-cho/ . Thank you, Kathy and Tina!

The Ocean Calls, A Haenyeo Mermaid Story is the fascinating story of women divers who use the skills passed down from generation to generation to dive and gather the fruits of the sea. Living on Jeju Island in South Korea, the mostly mature and elderly women dive into waters off the island, up to 30 meters deep. They do not use breathing equipment and can hold their breath up to two minutes! I am amazed!

The story focuses on Dayeon, a young girl, and her grandmother, one of the diving mermaids. Grandma is trying to encourage Dayeon and teach her the skills necessary to become a Haenyeo Mermaid. I love the way the young girl struggles with the fear of jumping into the wild ocean, even as she dreams of being able to do what she sees her grandmother doing.

This engaging story is delicious! I loved learning more about a new subject, one I had never heard about before. What an encouraging picture book, one that invites readers to explore a new world with their eyes, ears, and hearts!

Why I Love This Book:

~ The story is wonderful

~ The fascination I felt as I read about Haeynyeo Mermaids

~ The underwater world of women divers

~ The illustrations bursting with color and extra details

~ The setting on and off an island of South Korea

~ The history and the traditions of generations of courageous women

~ Fabulous backmatter

Amazon Blurb:

A breathtaking picture book featuring a Korean girl and her haenyeo (free diving) grandmother about intergenerational bonds, finding courage in the face of fear, and connecting with our natural world.

Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.

Tina Cho’s The Ocean Calls, with luminous illustrations by muralist Jess X. Snow, is a classic in the making.


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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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Holiday Haiku – 25 Days of Christmas Haiku: sum total

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children dancing with

excitement for sugar, treats,

and presents galore

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choirs singing with

exuberant heralding

joy for the season

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bright stores bursting with

color, music, fanciful

hope for green year’s end

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trees painted bright with

pointed stars, handmade baubles,

tall signature guest

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churches fill with

the eager, the worshipful,

ones who seek the Babe

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my heart blooms with peace

nostalgia and holy praise

for the Holy Gift

 

sum total

by Angie Quantrell

 

Thank you for joining me on this Christmas Haiku journey! May this Season of Light speak to your heart and fill you with hopeful anticipation.

Read more Christmas Haiku here.


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Holiday Haiku – 25 Days of Christmas: sacred

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green, everlasting

evidence of sacred life

hope springs eternal

 

sacred

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 remind you of what is sacred.


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Holiday Haiku – 25 Days of Christmas Haiku: silent

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frozen reminder

season of rest, of silence

time stopped, be at peace

 

silent

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 fill your heart with the peace of silence.


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Holiday Haiku – 25 Days of Christmas Haiku: sacrifice

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Baby born to be

the world’s greatest sacrifice,

Lord Jesus, Son, Redeemer

 

sacrifice

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 show you the true Sacrifice.


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Holiday Haiku – 25 Days of Christmas Haiku: tradition

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lights, keepsakes, decor,

put on display, treasured bits-

Yuletide traditions

 

traditions

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 traditions become clear in their importance to your family.


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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

 

gift

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.