Friday, January 30, 2015

A Mission-Field at the Tip of Your Pen - Hannah Conway

As a writer, I subscribe to several different blogs. This article came through my email today. It resonated with me for two reasons.

The first thing that caught my eye was that the author is living the military life as a spouse of a soldier. I am not the spouse of a soldier, but the mother of one who served overseas in Iraq. That place in my heart is tender towards others who live and sacrifice in this way. It is a hard place. Blessed, if one lets it be, but hard.

The other idea that I identified with is how the author finally realized that her mission field was right where she was. In the middle of battlefield madness. The military. If ever there is or was a place that needs us to pray, give, love, and help, it is to the members of the military lifestyle.

God has us right where He wants us to serve. Right. Here.

The other thing (ok, there are three reasons this blog spoke to me) I connected with is the missionary lifestyle plan. My plan was to do the whole overseas missionary life. But God showed me His plan. It is good. Different than I imagined and it was difficult for this opinionated and independent soul to accept in the middle of the changes, but it is very good. Blessed and extremely good.

Can you say that about His plan for your life?

Read this blog post by Hannah Conway. Good stuff.

Please copy and paste the above link to check out Hannah's post. Technical issues would not let me copy a direct link.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

This FOG is Driving Me Crazy!

Fog at the beach is one place I enjoy it.

It has been foggy for a million days. Give or take.

Seriously. After a month or two, foggy gray damp cold icy slick days ooze over onto each other and no one can keep track.

"Blah, blah, it will be foggy, blah blah blah, and slick. Blah blah blah, with a fog advisory alert blah blah blah," says Every. Single. Weather. Person.

I love gray. On the walls in my bathroom. Or at the beach (Washington beaches have tons of gray sand). Or on old, weathered wood. Even in my hair, though I prefer to call gray hair silver or twinkles.

But the sky? Occasionally. Yes. For the entire winter season? Uhm, no.

Gray skies, gray trees, gray mists, gray roads, gray cars, gray everything. Even gray people when I am out walking. Until they get close up, that is.

I am ready for snow. Or sunshine. Or rain. Or wind. Especially wind! Yes. Wind will blow out the fog.

Lord, I don't mean to complain. Sorry about that. I would just love snow. Lots of snow with blindingly blue bright skies after the snowfall. Especially in the mountains where we need the snowpack to be built up. Especially in the valleys that have been socked in for what feels like forever with icy cold fog. Please shower down snow in this northwest state that will soon be desperate for water. Fill our reservoirs and lakes and water tables. Let it be known that You are in charge of the weather and hear our requests. My request. Thank You for the fog. For it makes it feel like winter. Thank You for the weather and precipitation we receive for our farms and homes and parks and rivers and lakes. You are in charge of the cycles and seasons. For this we, I, give You praise. And thanks. Always thanks. Love, from the foggy-eyed lady with twinkles in her hair.

Angie Quantrell is wearing shades of gray. No, not that book. But literal glasses that see gray everywhere she looks. Patience and getting out into the gray is the key to staying sane. Right?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gender Reveal Party - Part 2

Hayden holding his gender reveal cupcake - the blue filling inside indicates the baby is a boy.

Welcome to our gender reveal party! Only 3 people knew the sex of the baby before the party. After the reveal, everyone knew about Baby Boy Aucutt.

I decorated a lighted year-round tree with pink and blue fabric strips.

The pink and blue table - complete with bandanas, cupcakes, a wide variety of pink and blue candies, napkins, and plates.

Pink and blue cupcake tree. Cupcakes were baked in pink and blue cupcake papers. I mixed pink and blue sprinkles on top of white icing. A pink and a blue plastic diaper pin adorned each cupcake.

Guests sported a clothespin that represented which sex they thought the baby was. Daddy Collin chose to show his choice by clipping it to his beard.

One fun activity was to make (yes, I made them) all of the guests pose with mommy-to-be. The fun part was the guests had to stuff a balloon under their shirt so they looked pregnant. Everyone was a good sport! Chelsie's grandparents are proud to be GiGi and G-Paw.

Nana and Papa join the photo game.

Drinks were clear lemon-lime soda with blue and pink ice cubes. I used food coloring to make the colored ice. The blue was the worst for dying tongues. But it looked pretty.

A cup of punch.

Pink ice cubes.

My sister and I painted our fingernails pink and blue.

Decorated cupcakes before the reveal.

I took one group photo of everyone who thought the baby was a boy.

A much smaller group thought the baby was a girl.

The revealing moment - Collin sees blue.

Even big brother, sister, and Daddy had to pose with Mommy.

All in all, the gender reveal party was a great success. We had loads of fun. I deem gender reveal parties the new wave of the current generation.

Angie Quantrell is a soon-to-be four-time Nana. When she is not chasing the grands, she writes, blogs, takes photos, and is working on simple living.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What in the World is a Gender Reveal Party? - Part 1

My daughter is pregnant with her third baby. She almost immediately began talking about gender reveal parties. And then, voila, she requested a gender reveal party.

Here is my journey with gender reveal.

1. First and foremost, figure out what in the world a gender reveal party is!

Simply put, a gender reveal party is a fun way for the parents-to-be to let family and friends (and the world) know if the baby is a boy or a girl.

Some do it via photo opps and social media, others plan out parties and elaborate schemes to surprise attendees or viewers. Either way requires that the mother find out the sex of the baby during an ultrasound and keeping it secret until the reveal. Really, that secret is the hardest part of the entire event.

2. Pinterest. This so far has proven to be the best source for ideas for all parts of a gender reveal party.

3. Plan for: decorations, games or activities, food, photo opportunities, location, scheduled date, invitations, and reveal plan.

4. Enlist help. In order to do this, either the person helping is in on the secret, or the one-in-the-know keeps the secret as themes of blue and pink are interspersed throughout the event and keeps said helper in the dark.

5. Send out invitations. I used a Facebook event invitation.

6. Shop for and collect necessary items. Party and craft stores have many cute options for boy and girl babies.

7. Bake or prepare whatever it is that you choose to use as the reveal.

We used cupcakes. I baked 48, half in pink cupcake papers, the other half in blue. I found a cool tool at Micheals that let me take a core out of the center of the cupcakes. I then filled the hole with the correct color of icing (blue for boy, pink for girl) and iced them in a neutral color. Sprinkles of blue and pink plus a blue and a pink plastic diaper pin were added to the top of cupcakes.

8. Decorate. Seriously, this is why my sister helped me. Decorating is not my strong suit. She's the girl with the gift. Some of the things we did for decorations will be featured in Part 2. But a few examples are balloons, a big yellow question mark on the door, a banner hanging from the fireplace, and a cupcake tree.

9. Charge the camera battery.

10. Celebrate!

Angie Quantrell blogs about life, love, family, and kids. She appreciates all of her readers. Thank you for reading!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Valentines Day is Coming - Rubber Stamped Card

Valentines Day will be here before we know it.

I took advantage of a Sunday afternoon and whipped up some cards. Rubber stamping is one of my favorite hobbies. I'm always searching for the next great idea, product, technique, or time to put them into action.

How I Made "Be Mine" Stamped Card:

1. Stamp large jar on white cardstock. The best paper for most of my projects is a speckle or stardust white cardstock.

2. Stamp small hearts inside the jar.

3. Cut out the jar.

4. Choose background papers. Cut to fit and layer on folded card. Again, I used the speckle for the card. Printed paper in shades of teals and blues was my choice for the card.

5. Adhere papers and jar to card with double-stick tape.

6. Tie bakers twine around the card.

7. Stamp sentiment on outside of card (Be Mine), inside of card (XOXO), and back of card (Hand Stamped With Love).

8. Add glitter glue dots and heart doodad.

9. Dry. Ready for Valentines Day!

The only problem? My Valentines may see the card I made for them when they read this blog. Oh, well. Be Mine?

Angie Quantrell writes, blogs, takes photos, drinks coffee, and creates rubber stamped greeting cards in Washington State. Yes, she is a Seahawks fan and can't wait for the Super Bowl. BOOM!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Reading with Kitty - Always Easier

What paper? What table?

Mabel, the skittish and hands-off member of the Motley Two gray girls, has adopted her 'acceptable-to-touch-me-zone."

That would be on top of the AM newspaper.

Yes. Now we know it's appropriate for loves if one is at the table, has the paper spread out or held up, and the reader is engrossed in perusing the news.

There's a cat on the newspaper?

Maybe because she has figured out WHEN it's ok (?) to be on the table. Or maybe just because she wants to be in the know about current events.

Either way. Reading with the assistance of a furry, four-legged, clawed feline is the way to go.

I do not see a cat on the table. Are you talking about Monet?

Angie Quantrell has seriously adopted many new house rules and redecorations as the result of adopting two gray kittens.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The 2nd BIG Question

Oh my.

Today I was asked the second BIG question in the world of kids. Our conversation about birthdays, babies, and parties took place in the best ever spot for kid-conversations - the car. Captive audience, right?

"Nana, how does the baby get out?"

As in, mommy has a baby in her tummy and I can't wait for the party this weekend to find out if it is a boy or a girl and I am so excited for it to get here maybe right after my birthday and how will mommy get it out?

I'm a firm believer in honesty + developmentally appropriate + answer only what the child is asking ... Let them ask whatever they want, but answer simply. Add more info as they continue to question.

"Oh, mommy will work very hard to get the baby out."

"Will she cry?"

I could see this conversation was not going to end quickly. Having been at her two previous birth events, I could safely answer. "No, but she will sweat. It's hard work to have a baby."

"Yes, but how does she do it?"

Not sure what mommy and daddy have said or how far they want to go with this five year-old.

"Oh, she has lots of help from the doctors and they all work hard to get the baby out."

And that was the end of that. He was satisfied. For now. The conversation went somewhere else.

Welcome baby number three. Your brother and sister are very excited for your arrival.

A few of you might wonder why I called this the second big question. Simply, "Where do babies come from?" seems to be the number one biggy for children. For adults, of course, popping the question - "Will you marry me?" - is the number one question. Or at least it used to be.

Angie Quantrell loves interacting with young children. One never knows what to expect when having car conversations.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

First Snow for Kitties = New Napping Spot

Mabel showing her reluctance to get her paws wet. This stage did not last.

We finally had a decent (by decent, I mean visible) amount of snow. This was the first snow for the kitties. They were entranced. And later muddy.

Monet dove right in. Surely there is something wonderful beneath that cold white stuff. (Yes, Monet, there is. It's called mud.)

Both girls loved the snow. And the beautiful sunshine that warmed the patio area.

Cozy girls atop my hutch.

Exhaustion led them to discover a current favorite napping spot.

It's a good jump for the girls. Whoever arrives first commands leadership of the sleeping vessel.

No longer can I decorate the tops of hutches, cupboards, shelves, tables . . . Candles are definitely out. Alas, we are a home with cats.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Underwear Storage System - FREE

Yep. That's right.

Because I want resealable packaging on the new chonies I purchase.

How many people keep and use their plastic bag after taking out the new underpants?

Survey says: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you are invited to sign up to receive blog posts in your email inbox. Thanks!

And don't forget to reuse those underwear baggies.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Beware of What You Say - It May Be Used Against You

Ages ago when my babies were young, my writing desk - aka office - was along one wall of the dining room. Always a disaster and rife with projects in process, my office was what I had. So I used it.

On the occasions that I had a looming deadline and was in desperate need of no interruptions, I had to finally resort to laying down the rules.

"My door is closed."

Funny. There was no door. Or wall. Or any other physical item that marked off the office. Just air.

But it worked. That invisible door, once my stressed voice was heard slamming it in their faces (honey was included in this), stood between many a sibling squabble, demand for food/rescue/mediation/first aid, ringing phones, and general household chaos.

Years later, the kids are grown and fledged, roosting in their own nest. And my office actually has a real, wooden door. And walls. And lots of office-y type stuff. Perfect for me. I can (really) easily shut out the world when in the midst of scrunching out words.

My poor honey. He does not have the same luxury.

His office is a corner of the living room. That's the room in which guests, grands, cats, family, and all sort of noise and interruptions descend with regularity. The television, kitchen, table, and all matter of other life inventions reside within eyesight of his desk.

Don't get me wrong. We love our interruptions.

But there are times when my man needs to work and focus. Alas, he has no door. That sounds familiar.

So today, with a looming service in a few hours, I heard my own words uttered against me.

"My door is closed."

Oh. So that's what they felt like way back when. I was shut out. No trotting in with a quick observation, offers of a cup of tea, handing in the mail . . . Though it doesn't stop me from taking a photograph through the invisible door.

It is true. Our very own words often come back to haunt us. What we say does impact others, good or bad. But that's ok. It means someone was listening.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bacon & Potato Cheesy Soup Recipe

Made this for dinner tonight - very rich and delicious. I will definitely keep these ingredients in mind for the next cold, winter's eve.

Bacon & Potato Cheesy Soup


1 lb. bacon
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced
3 red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces (skin on)
2 medium brown potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces (skin on)
2 cups broccoli florets
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
Italian parsley
grated cheese
black pepper
cayenne pepper


1. Cut bacon in half. Cook each half separately in Dutch oven. After first batch is out draining, discard bacon grease. Add remaining bacon and cook. Discard all but 3 T. bacon grease. Chop bacon into small pieces.

2. Add onions, celery, and carrots to bacon grease. Saute until onions are starting to turn translucent.

3. Add potatoes, broth, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, and 2 T. chopped parsley. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn down heat, and simmer until potatoes are fork soft, about 20 minutes.

4. Add broccoli. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes until broccoli is done.

5. Add 1/4 cup chopped bacon and 1/2 & 1/2. Stir well and heat until steaming.

6. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sprinkles of cheese, parsley, and bacon bits.

7. Enjoy!

Bacon & Potato Cheesy Soup before 1/2 & 1/2, cheese, bacon, and fresh parsley

Thursday, January 15, 2015

To Stick or Not to Stick - Sticky Stuff

Sticky is not all it's cracked up to be.

I just finished attaching used, ironed dryer sheets to the top of greeting cards. Sounds odd, yes, but it is a new trend I've noticed in the world of creativity. The dryer sheets give a sort of gauzy finish to card creations.

The problem is to get said dryer sheets to stick to said greeting cards. A component of that problem is that the adhesive cannot be visible through the dryer sheet. I tried many options like adhesive spray, glue stick, double-sided tape, and even a glue pen. There is no going there with those items.

The solution came down to good old Elmer's school glue. A certain small amount of card warp-age is visible, but since it is a negligible amount, that can be ignored.

And then I started considering sticky things.

~ cockleburs (ouch)
~ syrup (yummy)
~ cookie dough (double yum)
~ road tar (ugh)
~ doggy poo (triple ugh)
~ hairspray (necessary evil)
~ peanut butter (sticks to our mouth and our backsides)
~ tree pitch (lasts forever)
~ bubblegum
~ toffee

Some things we like to stick. We enjoy the tasty items, not minding leftover residues of stick.

But other items are on the do-not-like list. Maybe on the downright-gross-don't-let-it-touch-me list.

For those icky-sticky's, we go all out to conquer the stick. We scrape, cut out, scrub, pick, sanitize, and resort to other elaborate means of sticky-removal.

In my spiritual life, I sometimes have the same policy of stick.

I like some things, even enjoy them and seek them out. Singing, reading my Bible, praying, reading good books, spending time in nature, writing, and going to church are just a few activities that impact my personal relationship with the Lord. I let these endeavors stick to my soul.

Life gets in the way. At times, deadlines scrape off my scheduled Bible time. Emergencies peel away my song. Illness and exhaustion wash away my interest in writing. Discouragement picks away at church responsibilities. Tight schedules keep me locked away from nature. Distractions run through my head like mini-video clips and keep me from focusing during prayer.

And sometimes, icky sticky's litter my life. A bit of gossip (not cool), poor language choices (oh, my), whiny and unthankful attitude (yes, at times), forgetfulness (what?), and judging (sorry!) are some negative things that have great stick. I don't want them, but somehow I end up with these sticky nasties.

What I need is to apply that school glue to those habits I want to adhere. I can let the non-essential or negative stickies fall away, but I want to grasp tightly to what is good and pure. My soul desires that I stick to Jesus, rather, stick with Jesus. He is able to keep me stuck together regardless of circumstances.

Maybe sticky is all it's cracked up to be. If one is sticky for the right reasons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Hazards of Early Thawing

I admit to loving the feeling of warmth and comfort from being inside on gray winter days, snuggled in my soft flannel pajamas. I won't admit how often I am found in that state of dress. Or undress.

Just recently discovered, by the ever watchful Mabel, are new inhabitants who also desire warmth, and spring forth from being inside, safe and thawed, during the cold temperatures of winter.


Yes. A certain piece of my Christmas décor, an old beat-up miniature wine barrel which was a part of the Christmas tree I won from the Festival of Lights raffle, is the culprit. Actually, not the wine barrel. The wood logs that lie therein.

Picture this. Frozen chunks of wood, stored in an outside woodshed. In the midst of below freezing temperatures, a woman pulls out attractive pieces, has them cut to size, and plops them into a wooden vessel. AND displays said vessel in a nice, cozy, warm house.

No rain, snow, sleet, or sub-freezing climate inside this new abode.

Wait a month or so. And notice.

Why are the gray kitties suddenly making much ado over the wine barrel? What is so interesting amidst the sticks of wood and strings of white lights? Why does Mabel spend her time perched carefully on top of the logs?


Oh, yes. Hatching. My guess is it took about a week for the eggs to thaw out. Then about another three to four weeks for them to hatch. Now they are slowly migrating out into the light of our kitchen floor. And who waits for them?

Mabel, the bug killer and Monet, the sometimes assistant.

I guess humans are not the only ones who enjoy warm and cozy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gates & Rock Walls

Not from Scotland, but English rock walls are just as captivating.

I just spent several long minutes drooling over the beauty of Scotland. Amazing collections of nature at its best. Enticing and gorgeous photos of the land, animals, and people of Scotland populate a social pinning-to-a-board site. You might know it as Pinterest.

Oh, God was surely doing some of His best work when He decorated nature in Scotland. The forests, rocks, beaches, lochs, waterfalls, cliffs, lakes, streams . . . beautiful and magnetic.

I want to go and explore every nook and cranny. It appears there are many in Scotland, nooks and crannies that is.

What I would love to do is adopt one of those moss-covered ancient rock walls, you know the ones that separate the fields, buildings, roads, and so on?

I love rocks.

At our house, we have plenty of rocks. Even old rocks, as far as rocks go, since all rocks are pretty old. But I think those in Scotland look older. Ambiance, right? But wouldn't one of those meandering rock walls look fabulous in my yard? Add a perfectly adorable weathered wood gate, and I would have to get a sheep or two to run around in the walled area.

And wouldn't I love to have an inviting gate, one that says, "Come on over here, see what's on the inside!" If there is an intriguing gate, don't you just want to go through it? I can barely restrain myself. But I prefer to not trespass unless otherwise invited.

Currently, we have chain link. Nothing imaginative there. Not even opaque. Just pure transparent wire.

While I may not live in Scotland and have one of their cool rock walls, I do know of some excellent gates that I get to go through. I get to enter those gates where the Lord is present. I get to fellowship with Him and give thanks. He has some seriously wonderful outrageous gates. Those are the gates I know I am welcome to pass through.

That's way better than Scottish rocks and gates.

Open for me the gates where the righteous enter and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there.
Psalm 118:19-20 (NLT)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mirror & Lights - Winter Table Design

Christmas may be over, but beautiful winter lights should last until spring.

Using an old mirror with a frame as a reflective tray, I added sparkling glass jars, fake white snow (Epsom salt), tealights, silver wire balls, a white tree, a rustic metal angel, and a Christmas ornament house that has built in lights that change colors.

This winter scene tableau rests in the place of honor where we dine. The lights - reflective, burning, and battery - add illumination and beauty to short daylight hours.

Easy. Peaceful.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Good to the Last Drop - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I'm one of those people.

I cut the bottom off of the lotion tube to scoop out the part that won't squeeze out.

I recycle every tiny piece of paper. Bigger good pieces are saved for art projects.

I feel guilty when I have to throw away actual trash.

I pay the city for recycling services.

I can't believe we don't recycle glass. It hurts me.

I have upside down bottles of stuff around the house, all to gather the dregs and put them to use.

I dumped the huge cream rinse container into a reused coffee cup and keep the ugly thing by the tub so I can get all the drips.

I have trained my honey to do the same thing.

I am upset that the fabric softener people do not make the cardboard refills anymore. I once had a plastic bottle that I kept for years, just by refilling. Until someone (who shall forever remain nameless and guilty) threw it out.

I make people use cloth napkins at my house. Some of them resist. But I keep trying.

We use real plates and silverware as often as possible.

Our recycling bin is larger than our trash bin.

Some of my clothes are decades old. Literally. If they look good, why get rid of them?

Some of the old, old clothes are ugly. They transform into work-in-the-yard and paint-the-house clothes just fine.

Hand-me-downs are fun. And already broken in.

I compost all I can. I wish the city would enable us to do more.

The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. (Psalm 24:1)

The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it. (Genesis 2:15)

There is so much I can do to make a positive impact to our natural world of finite resources. There is so much more I can do.

Choice by choice, I strive to not leave my mark.

What do you do? Maybe it is something I haven't thought of yet.

Angie Quantrell blogs from Yakima, Washington, where nature in the form of farms, orchards, vineyards, mountains, lakes, and rivers is abundant and beautiful. She would like to keep it that way.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Raspberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Crackers

If you love zesty, sweet, creamy, tasty snacks, you will become addicted to these little mouthfuls! Perfect for snacks, Super Bowl parties, finger food events - any time would be great. My taste buds loves these!

Raspberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Crackers


wheat crackers

raspberry jam

cream cheese

preserved sliced jalapeno peppers


1. Scoop a large amount of raspberry jam into a bowl.

2. Using forks, scoop out several slices of jalapenos. DO NOT USE BARE FINGERS. You will thank me for that advice. Use a fork to hold the slices and a knife to dice them into small pieces. Remember, keep fingers away from jalapenos.

3. Add diced jalapenos to jam. Stir well. You get to decide how spicy you want your spread, so my measurements are vague. We love lots of heat, so I added plenty of green.

4. Spread cream cheese on crackers.

5. Use a teaspoon to put a small amount of raspberry jalapeno sauce on each cracker. Taste one! If it is too hot, add more jam. Too boring, add more jalapenos.

6. Devour.

7. Make more.