Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where Have All the Manners Gone? Long Time Passing...


You know you are getting old when you compare the past with the current.

Case in point. Since when do business owners answer phone calls with their company name only? Not saying "Hello" or "May I help you?" Not exhibiting courtesy to customers? Speaking in a bored/aggravated/can't-wait-till-5 voice? Waiting for me to say thank you (instead of them expressing appreciation for my business)?

Customer service any more is anything but.

True, there are wonderful examples in some places of how owners and workers show excellent interest, helpfulness, professionalism, and true appreciation for customers that frequent their business establishments.

But the others. . . allow me to be sarcastic for a minute or two.

I'm sorry to disturb your conversations with your friend/spouse/girlfriend/co-workers when I need assistance.

Oh, here, let me carry/find/bag/fix whatever I am searching for. No. Really. You stand there pretending I am not in your store.

Yes, I can tell you have an attitude towards customers. Or maybe just me. But your attitude is not encouraging me to ever return to your place of work. Or to tell others anything positive about your place of work.

Do you think you have the only pharmacy/grocery/clothing/gas/convenience store in our area? I will exercise my right to go where I am respected.

Have you heard of the internet? It's this really easy to access place where I regularly post reviews of local businesses. Believe me, I do not say good things about places where I was ignored or treated disrespectfully.

Gray hair. Yes, I have some. But not enough that I need extra help. I do notice if you ignore those with true need of added assistance and patience.

What was that again? Why do you have a business? OH. To make money. Which could be difficult if I (and those within my influence) refuse to give you any in exchange for your products or services because I will not patronize your place of business.

Bathrooms? Would you use a bathroom that looks like that? One word for you. HAZMAT.

Sure, I realize I owe YOU. I should be tickled pink that I can visit your place and mingle with the upper crust. Allow me to adjust my ungrateful attitude. Much better. Now I can truly enjoy your arrogance and "you are wasting my time" viewpoint.

No, I don't want you to be kind, friendly, or ask me how my day is going. Please. Don't do that. Just grab my stuff, throw it in a bag, take my money, and toss me any change that comes back. Especially DO NOT say "Thank you. Have a great day" when I leave. That might put me over the edge with shock.

End of sarcasm.

I really miss the good old days when people (in general) were kind to each other. Common courtesy, good manners, and hard work ethics seem to be things of the past. I fear for our country, that we have forgotten many of the habits that made us great.

Yes. I do think good manners and courtesy make us great. If you have a job, be thankful. You are there to work. Having a positive attitude that goes along with a willingness to work hard in a professional way is essential for employees. And their employers.

Wondering what other establishment I can torment today when I visit and expect customer service . . .

DISCLAIMER: I do understand that people have bad days. Really. I get that. I have bad days when all I want to do is get in, get what I need, and get out. But when the same people/employees/places of business ALWAYS have bad days, one wonders. I try to be a good customer, pleasant, helpful, tidy, respectful. I even try to cheer up the occasional checker or worker who is down in the dumps. But one can't live and work in the dump all the time. It gets a bit smelly in there.

Let's chat. Where have you experienced excellent customer care? What do you think is important to find in great customer service? How have you turned a bad customer/employee situation into a better day for all involved?


PS I added the lovely lavender to avoid incriminating any specific business. Plus I adore lavender. This was taken at the Selah Ridge Lavender Farm.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tails of Two Kitties


It was the best of cat times,


It was the coziest of nap times,


It was the age of gray fur,


It was the age of tails and dander and claw marks and toys.


The tails of two kitties.

The gray girls. Mabel. Monet.



~ A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)

Thanks, Mr. Dickens.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Make It Yourself - Handmade Rubber Stamped Cards


I got together with college friends and roommates last weekend. What a refreshing and creative time! We, of course, ate too much, talked too much, visited too much, and generally made too much of a creative mess. Wait. Is that even possible? We ate, talked, visited, caught up, walked, shopped, and made cards. What a perfect time!

(above) Love using old library cards in card making - add ribbon, a brad, stamped images, and colored ink. And glitter glue. NEVER forget glitter glue.


Our new discovery was glitter tape! Excitement! This copper tape was repeatedly used in many different card designs. Add colored paper and a very awesome brad.


This card features a different and wider color of glitter tape. We experimented with finger tip daubers. Too easy and fun.


Ink, glitter glue, twine, and colored pencils came together just right in this card.


Old books, especially falling apart dictionaries, are perfect for card backgrounds. We utilized a borrowed stamp, glitter tape, gel pens, and colored paper to make cool crow cards.


If one is clever, the actual words can be torn out of old pages. The definition of crow stands out in detail on this card.


This bee card is filled with lots of sources - paint swatch, glitter glue, wax twine, embossed cardstock, patterned paper, and glitter tape. Not much else to add!


Another favorite is to reuse beautiful wrapping paper. I carefully clipped out pieces of fancy French paper and made each a centerpiece for a new card. Add jute ribbon, glittered sunflower, brads, and colored paper for a "Wow!" response.


Yet another use of wrapping paper and library cards. This card has a little parchment paper pocket and the collage stamped library card is actually a removable bookmark! My French themed cards are truly favorites. Maybe I will not give them away...


And a great time was had by all. See you next time!

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Brought to You By the Letter Gg


I am amazed (and not thankful) for the poor quality of certain letters when they are cropped from words and enlarged! So sorry for the ick factor.

Today, brought to you by the letter Gg, things for which I am thankful. I challenge you to make your own list. A thankful heart is a happy heart.

~ God (bet you saw that one coming)

~ girlfriends

~ gardens

~ green

~ groceries

~ gardenia

~ grils (what my grands call girls)

~ grapes

~ grilled vegetables and meat

~ grasses

~ grazing horses

~ Galaxy (ours is pretty gorgeous)

~ gables (on a roof)

~ gauze and gossamer fabric (cool for menopausal women)

~ gecko (cute, aren't they? Though one did drop from the ceiling onto our table once while we were at a luau)

~ giggles

~ gingerbread

~ gas water (sparkling)

~ Glasgow (Scotland, a place I want to visit)

~ going (places)

~ Golgotha (for the hope it brings)

~ giving

~ Gospel (Good News)

~ grandma (= Nana)

~ guitar music

~ guinea pigs (adorable)

~ Gypsy (our border collie, formerly named Maggie, who went to live with the dancing lady)

~ Glory


gravity, gregarious, graduation, gravy, grapevine, Grand Canyon, grandfather

Glorious glut of great Gg words.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Container Landscaping - Porch Decor for the Season


We have a very tiny front porch step. Small though perfect for a vibrant green pot and assorted adornments.


Christmas and winter are but memories, so out goes the pinecones, swags, ribbons, and stuff.


In comes gorgeous pink blooms standing in front of (recycled Christmas) branches of thin grape vine tied into sprays.


A tiny house rests in the dirt hauled from the raised garden beds. The blue cast iron kitty stands on mossy old bricks to keep its feet out of the water that invariably leaks from the bottom after watering.


And Monet noisily interposes herself in the middle of the process. Decorate on, mom. Looking good! Hand me that fly, would you?


Welcome, spring!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Breaking News: Grandson Demonstrates Social Graces


The grandson beats out Papa!

Nana enjoyed a weekend away with her college friends, a time which mainly consisted of eating, talking, eating, stamping, walking, and eating.

But who cared most about her being away (besides two gray kitties with newly discovered neurotic tendencies when mommy is gone)?

The grandson.

How could I tell?

1. He awoke quickly the morning I left, got ready, and helped me load the car.

2. He said, "Nana, I will miss you while you are gone."

3. He quizzed me on what I would be doing with my friends.

4. He totally enjoyed our early morning trip to - gasp - get gas, chocolate milk, and a cookie.

5. He saved me half of his cookie, saying, "Nana, I'm going to leave you this so you can rememberize me." (New word alert - love it.)

6. He knew I was going to visit my friends and asked, "Nana, did you share that cookie with your friends? And the chocolate milk? (He also left me some milk for rememberizing.)

7. And today, just barely awake, he asked, "Nana, where are your cards? Can I see them?"


My bubba wins the prize of being most interested in Nana's trip - and the first to ask to see her card creations.

I just love kindergarten kids. Especially if they are my grandkids.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Sunday Show by Sally Cronin - Guest Interview Post


Sally Cronin, one of my favorite cyber friends (maybe we will one day meet in person when we are on the same continent), invited me to be the guest on her Sunday Show. I was honored to be interviewed and Sally truly made the process easy and fun. I hope you stop by and check out Sally's blog to see what else she is up to in her writing life.

Follow this link to view The Sunday Show . Copy and paste if necessary.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/the-sunday-show-defining-moments-with-author-angie-quantrell-2/

Thanks, Sally!

Stuffed Poblano Peppers - Recipe


Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Oven: 440 degrees

3 large poblano peppers, cut in half and cleaned
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
@ 2 cups chicken broth
1 Roma tomato, chopped
olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
3/4 cup small cauliflower florets
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. crushed red peppers
1/2 tsp. each garlic and onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder

shredded parmesan cheese

1. Cover a baking dish with parchment paper or spray with olive oil and preheat oven.

2. Place peppers in dish.

3. Add a small amount of olive oil to a saute pan. Saute onions, garlic, and celery until softened. Add remaining ingredients except parmesan cheese. Stir well and let simmer and cook down until most of broth is absorbed.

4. Remove from heat. Stuff each pepper half with mix.

5. Bake about 45 minutes or until peppers are soft and piping hot.

6. Top with parmesan cheese and let melt. Serve immediately.

Angie Quantrell makes up most of her recipes when she needs to use what is in the refrigerator, which results in some good and other not so good meals. She loves spicy foods, though experts say to avoid spices to curtail hot flashes. Bring on the napkins and pass the spice, please!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring is Springing


"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want-oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

~ Mark Twain (as discovered in Mutts, a comic strip)


Signs of spring in the Yakima Valley.






Though Angie Quantrell loves fall best, spring brings new hope and fresh air. Not to mention beauty and bliss that is sometimes missed during the cold days of winter. Happy Spring!



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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Thankful for Things Beginning with the Letter F


Friends, let's not forget thinking about things that begin with the letter F for which we are thankful.


~ friends

~ Father, as in God the Father

~ father - my dad

~ France (and all things French)

~ French fries (with ketchup or fry sauce)

~ fish (both alive for viewing and tasty for eating)

~ fresh flowers

~ feet (to go walking)

~ faith

~ freedom

~ February

~ fingers, oh, for so many reasons

~ fancy - events, foods, fun times

~ fun

~ forgiveness

~ fall (the season)

~ falling leaves

~ falls of water

~ fried eggs (plus bacon plus grits)

~ foxes, falcons, finches

~ FAMILY

~ ferns

~ FANS (menopausal cooling devices)

~ fireplaces

~ footpaths through forests

~ fudge

~ forget-me-nots


This female Quantrell frequently finagles fudgy treats from her fantastic spouse. Should you find other fabulous F words, comment below so we may all not forget to be thankful.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Broken Together


Casting Crowns has the most beautiful new song called "Broken Together."

When I first listened to "Broken Together," it sounded so much like the love story of a couple who had fallen on very difficult times. The couple were at the end of their strength and were seriously close to ending the whole thing.

The chorus says it perfectly:

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I'll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we'll last forever is broken together


(Casting Crowns, from the album Thrive)

The haunting melody and musical bridge led me to consider all of the broken dreams and struggles in my own marriage. We have been married almost 30 years, but length of time together does not mean perfection. I think the song reminded me that being broken is the first step in allowing God to put things back together, a job that only He can do. Both of us have shattered dreams, dreams that have fallen in pieces to the ground. But what it? What if we both agree and bring those broken parts together and allow our hearts and marriage to be healed?

It has worked for us, though I've just labeled it through this song.

And then even more recently, I was listening to a radio host talking about "Broken Together" being a picture of human beings, not just married people or couples in a relationship.

This song is a perfect fit for those deep relationships between brothers and sisters, moms and dads, kids and parents, and friends. Nobody is perfect. We hurt others and they hurt us. Sometimes our dreams come true, but not every time. What the Lord wants is our brokenness. Only then can we be complete and healed forever, for He completes us in every way.

The only way we'll last forever . . . is broken together.


Angie Quantrell listens to K-Love, a Christian radio station. K-Love features wonderful touching songs which are refreshment for her soul.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Garden Advice Requested - Slugs?


It's almost that time again. Actually, I could and should plant cold weather vegetables ASAP.

Last year I planted a type of French radish. They were 2-3 inches long and oblong in shape. A hot dog of a radish instead of a ball. Those fresh radishes were so delectable, I couldn't keep my hands and my mouth away from them!

Neither could the slugs. That is my guess. The photo shows how something has eaten around the top of the radishes. In the beginning, this only happened on the top of the radish. Later, small nibbles were found below ground. I'm suspecting pill (sow or potato) bugs did that damage.

I would gladly glean from the wisdom of the collective worldwide garden. Please!


Who was eating my radishes?

How should I get rid of them?

Should that work, what is your favorite recipe for radishes?

This gardener can't wait for spring produce.

Angie Quantrell loves growing fresh food for her family. She does not like to share with garden pests and respectfully requests your insights into protecting her future meals from present bugs.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Come, Have Tea with Me


I recently read a delightful post by Rosie on her blog, Everything's Coming Up Rosie (http://ecurosie.com/2015/03/14/if-we-were-having-coffee/?c=645). I felt like we were old friends, though I had just met her through her blog.

I love having tea with my friends! So I thought I would invite you to tea with me. Virtual tea this time, but call ahead and we will brew the real stuff.

Grab a cup of your favorite tea and maybe a piece of shortbread or two. Something gooey and chocolate-y would be nice.

If we were having tea, watching my kitties bring in something gross or sleeping off the night spent hunting, I would tell you that:

This morning was chaos. It usually is. But today I woke up, opened the blinds and saw Monet out on the patio flipping something in the air. Fine I thought, as long as it stays there. What to do? I went to take a shower, hoping that I would not find anything unusual when I opened the door. Instead, I found Mabel, who stole Monet's mouse and brought it inside, playing cat and mouse in my living room. The mouse was alive and well, tiny, but big and quick enough for me to shriek and jump on the couch. Stereotypical scenes of farmhouse wives smacking a broom on terrified mice played through my mind. Mabel eventually let the mouse loose one time too many and it ran under the couch. A community effort was involved before little Mickey was caught and removed. Let's just say husband and I are happy. Cats are not.

Last week Hayden had pink eye in one eye. Today sister has pink eye in two eyes. They are sharing the wealth. My eyes are itching . . .

Kevin (my honey) and I did our what is becoming our Sunday afternoon traditional long walk. We meander along on a 5 mile loop out to a nearby Starbucks. We hit the coffee shop because they have a restroom (and I have a busy bladder). It is also a nice spot to sip a drink and chat. And window shop at Inklings, a lovely indie bookstore. Our other Sunday afternoon tradition is a motorcycle ride, weather permitting. It was raining, so walking won.

The kitties have provided an unexpected problem with the new season's garden. They like my raised beds, for, uhm, digging holes. Yes, that's it. Holes for their stuff. Ick. We know they can climb chain link and wood fences. What to do, what to do?

My nose has been to the grindstone for the last month and a half. Two big projects are in the mail and others have been emailed. Somehow, several deadlines managed to congregate on the same calendar page. I am feeling the joy of completion!

We had 29 regulars at church yesterday, with 8 regulars not there! That is good news for Amplify. Easter is soon to be here and we are working on fun activities for the children (who almost outnumber the adults).

Taco soup is on the menu for dinner. I actually have all of the correct ingredients without going to the store. A miracle has occurred at the Quantrell household.

I'm going stamping with my college friends this weekend. After a particularly stressful day, when my husband said I was being grumpy with him, he asked me if I needed to get away. YES. Maybe a little too forcefully, I responded. Off I go on Thursday with my trunk and back seat filled with supplies for creating greeting cards. Maybe we will have tea!

That was fun getting together for tea. Wish it were real tea! I'd love to hear how you are so we can catch up.


Blessings!


Angie Quantrell loves tea and friends, the perfect combo. Come on over anytime. Though you might want to bring a mouse trap or two, since Mabel thinks our house is a catch-and-release-inside zone.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Thankful for Things Beginning with the Letter E


It's Thankful Thursday! Today I am thinking of things that begin with the letter E for which I am thankful. (Let me tell you, E is a challenging letter. Can't wait for X.)

I am thankful for:

~ Elohim

~ eyes - to see the wonder of my children and grands and God's creation

~ elbows - how else to hold up my head if my elbows didn't bend?

~ elephants

~ eagles

~ egrets

~ electricity

~ ears - all the better to hear you with, my dear

~ email (not spam)

~ eggs - to eat

~ eggs - new life

~ errors - to learn from (such as, don't end with a preposition or don't microwave eggs or don't say unkind things about someone else - they will find out and their feelings will be hurt)

~ excitement

~ existence - here on planet Earth, and later in Heaven

~ England (I do love to visit)

~ ├ęclair!

~ equines


Did I miss anything extra engaging?

Angie Quantrell strives to be thankful and give thanks in all things. She also enjoys (another e word!) playing with letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and entire stories. As a person oriented to print, this is exactly true.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Turkey Quinoa Stuffed Green Peppers - Tasty Recipe

(We were so excited to eat the stuffed peppers, I forgot to take a picture. I did grab the camera for the leftovers-turned-into-soup.)

Last fall I made up this recipe. As soon as we tasted it and discovered how wonderful it was, I shared it on Sally Cronin's blog at smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com. I decided I should also share it here. We love both forms of this recipe - stuffed peppers and leftovers turned into soup. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I'm off to buy some green peppers, quinoa, and ground turkey.

Bon Appetit!

Turkey Quinoa Stuffed Green Peppers

Ingredients:

6-8 green peppers, cored and seeded
1 lb. ground turkey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg. onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
2 c. shredded green cabbage
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. cooked quinoa
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 8-oz. box Neufchatel cheese (or regular cream cheese)
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 T. olive oil
1 T. dried sage
2 T. Mrs. Dash
1 tsp. nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red peppers (to taste)
Salsa (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Prepare green peppers by washing them, cutting off the top, and removing seeds. Arrange on baking sheet.
3. Add olive oil to a large pot. Add garlic, onions, and carrots. Stir and cook until garlic is browned. Add turkey meat and cook until done, crumbling with a wooden spoon.
4. Add cabbage, tomatoes, broth, and seasonings. Cook until well blended.
5. Add Neufchatel cheese. Stir until melted and blended. Add quinoa and stir.
6. Remove from heat. Stuff each pepper to the top.
7. Cover with foil. Bake for 50 minutes or until pepper skins are easily pierced with a fork.
8. Serve while hot. Top with salsa.

Leftover stuffing can easily be turned into a delicious soup by adding additional chicken broth to thin to desired consistency. Top with grated cheese and sliced red onions. Serve hot.

About Angie
My name is Angie Quantrell. I live in the Yakima Valley of Washington state – a veritable fruit and vegetable bowl for the nation. I happily urge my garden to produce and then figure out ways to use what is successful and has not been eaten by the slugs. For instance, the sage I use is from my garden. I prefer to use it dried, so I regularly dig into the jars of dried leaves, grab a handful, roll them until they crumble, and add the fragrant herb to whichever dish I am preparing. Sage and nutmeg go very well together in fall dishes!

I am a writer, a blogger, a teacher, a Nana of three (soon to be four) precious grandbabies, and a wife to Kevin. I love nature, being outdoors, gardening, writing, photography, rubber stamping, and my crazy kitties, who are 11 months old and have yet to learn manners. Actually, I love creating of any kind. My husband is extremely happy that I have retired from teaching, as I have time to create great tasting meals.

I love to experiment and play in the kitchen. I usually make interesting (both good interesting and bad interesting) meals by adding bits of this and that to a collection of leftovers. Kevin, my husband of 29 years, fell in love with this recipe and could not stop expressing his gustatory delight as he ate huge amounts of both stuffed peppers and leftover soup.


You can find me at:


Twitter: @AngieQuantrell
Facebook: Angie Quantrell
LinkedIn: Angie Quantrell
Blogs: www.angiequantrell.blogspot.com; www.bookblabbyabooklover.blogspot.com; www.angiequantrell.wordpress.com
Google+: Angie Quantrell
Pinterest: Angie Quantrell

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sunday Motorcycle Loop Ride - Old Yakima Valley Highway


The early March weather was too good to pass up. After church, we ate a quick lunch, dressed in our motorcycle duds, and headed off on a lovely loop ride through the lower Yakima Valley.


We drove south from Yakima and hit the Old Yakima Valley Highway just outside of Wapato. I wanted to hit it at the beginning at Parker, but the husband was not into the proper motorcycle sign language at that point. Don't worry, things did get better for our communication. (Note: No headsets. Lots of quiet thinking time on our trips).


Mt. Adams showed off lots of snow.


Stinky cows remind one that fresh air is not always pleasant fresh air.


Yakima Valley Highway winds and turns, but mostly parallels I-82, all the way to Prosser, our destination for this trip. Why you ask?


Starbucks. Potty stop. Treat.


The handsome driver.



We then looped behind Prosser and hit Highway 22, which runs parallel I-82, but much further south.


This road actually bends around Grandview, Sunnyside, and Granger. It goes below Toppenish and then swoops right up to Highway 97. We drove straight through Toppenish, the actual town, went back across I-82, hit Yakima Valley Highway heading north, and turned onto Konnowac Pass.


Konnowac Pass is a short but pretty jaunt through orchards and up over the sagebrush hills. The scenic road then drops bikers, tractors, and vehicles down into Moxee. And again, we went straight through Moxee, following all sorts of back roads. This part of the trip was gorgeous as well, with sunny temperatures, budding greens, blooming apricots, and lots of people out enjoying the early spring weather.


I'm sorry to tell you, we took so many roads I can't name them all. But we did eventually reach Terrace Heights Drive, which lead us straight to our home.

What a perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon - motorcycle, beautiful sights, my honey, and a coffee date somewhere down the road.


Thought she may not look it, Angie Quantrell is a motorcycle Nana. She loves riding behind her husband on their Honda Shadow. She really loves getting off and moving so the circulation will get going again. Coffee stops are the icing on the motorcycle cake.