Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fourth of July Craft Project

Khloe with her Fourth of July flag ~ it was kind of heavy!
By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

Pinterest wins! This Fourth of July craft project turned out adorable.

The grands loved it as well, though they really wanted to just paint all over the old barn wood plaque. That would be a project for a different time. This time, Nana wanted some resemblance to a flag. It was on OLD barn wood after all, and that stuff is hard to come by.

That being said, use any wood you like. Or cardboard or a piece of canvas. With just a little help, you will be ready to celebrate the birth of our nation in style!

Audrey adding white stripes to her Fourth of July flag.
Fourth of July Flag Craft

Materials: wood, acrylic paints (red, white, blue), plastic containers to hold paint, paintbrushes, apron or old clothes, wire

Tools: saw, drill, wire cutter, broom

Donavyn is done with his flag and enjoying a freeze-pop on this nearly 100 degree day! UGH
1. Cut a rectangle from the wood. Drill two holes in the top for wire.

2. Use a broom to dust off the sawdust and dirt.

3. Squirt each color into a container.

4. Help do the handprint. I held each child's hand and thickly painted it with blue paint. I also helped place the hand and held it down until I had rubbed it all over. Wash!

Hayden working on his white stripes.
5. We did red stripes first, making sure to leave big spaces for the white. For older kids they can pretty much be told where to start the stripe and they will be fine. My younger guys needed a little more assistance. Normally, I would just let them paint however they wanted, but these were on barn wood...

6. Add the white stripes between the red.

7. Dry. Loop wire through the holes and twist together to form a hanging loop.

Happy 4th of July, America!

Monday, June 27, 2016

I Work at Home ~ Encouragement from a 7 Year-Old

Comments from the peanut gallery...

by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

I work at home.

I'm sure some people think I just goof off, sip coffee, play in the backyard, eat bon bons, and read great books.

It's true. I do those things. Occasionally. Or maybe even almost daily.

But I also work. At home.

Last week, my grands and great-niece and their adult caregivers (mom and Nama) hit the road to visit Owen Beach at Pt. Defiance Park near Tacoma, Washington. As the road trip one-way was about 3 hours, there was plenty of time to talk. This conversation came from the way-back seat of our van.

Nama: Audrey, are you talking to grandma (via Face-Time)?
Audrey: Yes.
Nama: Is she at work?
Audrey: No, she doesn't work. She just goes in her office.
Hayden: (Looking incredulously at Audrey) Nana does that! She works in her office. (Now looking at me) Nana, you write books in your office!

Long-distance-front-seat-to-backseat high five!

Yes! He gets it. I am working in my office. I do have a job. I don't make much money right now, giving credence to the term "poor starving author," but I am working.

This writer felt very pleased and encouraged by the voice and total belief in the voice of a 7 year-old boy. He believes in me.

Who encourages and believes in you and your life's work?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Going to the Beach in Washington

Hayden, 7, at Owens Beach, Pt. Defiance, WA. The gray? Rain. Sheets of.
By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

When in Washington (the state), going to the beach may look different than going to the beach in other locations.

For instance, one may need to wear a winter hat at our beaches.

Hayden, Audrey, and Khloe sporting layers, hats (including winter), and beach tools.
Sweatshirts may be required.

You will get wet. With rain more than salt water.

Barnacles and tiny crabs abound.

Picnics are held under shelter. Or you eat wet food.

Picnics under shelter keep the food dry.
Seagulls will peck open unattended packages and ruin the cookies.

Sand will be discovered in odd and stayed-in-the-van-how-did-sand-get-there places.

You will bring too many things in order to plan for any type of weather.

Gage, 1. The same beach and same age when Hayden first went to the beach.
You will take home more than you bargained for. Some of those things will smell after a day or so.

Laundry and deep cleaning will be necessary once you get home.

He who wanted to throw himself into the water. Or eat sand. It was hands-on-Gage for one adult at all times.
Wet, cold, damp, briny kids smell just like that in the close confines of a van. Wet. Damp. Cold. Briny.

Umbrellas are often in use.

Can you see the little feathery barnacles? The openings are ones that are feeding.
One might wear a camera around the neck, but it will be covered with a plastic grocery bag that is tied tightly to keep out the rain. And sand. And stuff.

Water sandals are the perfect shoe. Waterproof and protective against stones.

Seals will wonder what you are doing. Bald eagles will soar, seagulls will annoy, ferries will pass, squirrels will steal, raccoons will beg, deer will graze.

Looking at wildlife.
Those dead looking rocks with barnacle crusts are not dead. Just put them in a bowl of ocean water and see what happens.

Strangers are kind. They may even bring a new crab specimen and seaweed clump for investigation.

Our barnacle and crab observation project.
On rainy days, you will mostly have the beach to yourself.

You can still get sunburned if it's raining and cold.

If you want to go to the beach, go. Sunny or rainy, windy or stormy, the beach is a wonderful destination. Just know that our beaches will not resemble southern beaches (most of the time). The water will not be warm. Body extremities will turn blue. Noses will run.

But it will be the beach.
The group - minus the photographer who quickly unwrapped the camera for a quick shot.
Layer up, my dears. Or at least plan for a variety of beach weather. This is the life of Washington beaches.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What's Your Fragrance?

Lavender, my signature flower
By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

A few days ago, I was reading in 2 Corinthians, chapter 2. Immersed in the words, it took me a moment to realize that I was reading with a scent in my nose.

Tantalizing wafts of fragrance swirled through my thoughts.

"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing," (2 Corinthians 2:14-15, ESV).

As the words I read floated through my mind, they were accompanied by the memories and aroma of lavender.


In my heart, Christ (and therefore God) has the refreshing, calming, soothing, and beautiful fragrance of lavender. He smells like lavender! The Peace that fills my soul and permeates my life is that of lavender.

Quiet. Peace. Reverence.

Is it no wonder that lavender is one of my favorite blooming herbs? I am drawn to lavender as the bees, seeking scent and beauty. I gently brush my fingertips along the flowers and attempt to capture the faint scent. Or I crush and bruise petals and stem between these wretched fingers, forcing the flowers to release their fragrance. For my benefit.

Isn't that what happened so long ago? He was crushed and bruised, all to release the gift of His life, the fragrance of salvation. But that was not just for me. Rather, it was for all of us.

The fragrance of lavender.

Do you read with your nose? What fragrance is God to you?

Oh, to smell like lavender to those around us.

Friday, June 17, 2016

It's Cherry Time!

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

It's cherry picking time in the Yakima Valley.

A total of 7 children and adults plus our tour guide Mr. T. visited a local fruit ranch to pick not-quite-full containers of fresh ripe delectable cherries.

Not only did we have fun traipsing through the cherry trees and orchard rows, the young fruit pickers learned several new things.

Picking cherries is harder than it looks.

It's takes lots of cherries to fill even tiny buckets. Lots.

It's more fun to visit and play than pick cherries.

Don't use the port-o-potties (as advised by Mr. T.).

It was a great outing. Plus I have a big bowl of the yummiest cherries just waiting to be gobbled up.

Fresh and raw, pitted and baked. Any way, any time.

Cherry season!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How a Garden Transforms a Backyard

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell
These are before and after pictures of our backyard. The after pictures are really just snapshots of specific moments in time, as gardens are always changing and evolving.

Nearly 7 years ago we purchased our home. Putterers by nature, we have planted, chopped down, removed, added, painted, built, dug up, relocated, and generally wrecked havoc (or as I like to say, made improvements in accordance to our tastes) with the yard. Front and back.

The above photo shows what the triangle garden looked like when we moved in.

This is the patio door overlooking the old cement triangle garden.

Here is Kevin digging out the cement to create a new garden area.

Here is a view of the new triangle garden, after many years of growth.
 This is the view looking out over the old gravel bed.

Here is our view.

 The old backyard view while standing at the house.

The same view a few years later.
The garden shed without any sunflowers or privacy fence.

Our well worn garden, including a privacy fence and garden beds.

My garden and backyard today.

What we've added: a dogwood tree, a brick patio (covered now by the sunflower forest), 5 garden beds, a flower bed, hundreds of plants, cedar privacy fence, a clothesline (behind the shed), underground sprinklers, shade curtains around the patio, and lots of love.

That's my garden. What changes have you made in your garden?

Monday, June 13, 2016

What's in the Garden? Edible and Not

Almost bursting open sunflower. As Kevin says, my sunflower jungle is alive!
By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

I'm amazed at how quickly the garden is taking over the backyard.

I'm sad that several icky pests are winning and eating as much as they can (slugs, earwigs, pill bugs, and aphids). Since I prefer not to spray my garden with pesticides, it's a daily battle to find those critters. Loss is expected.
Strawberries are still blooming, though they are exhausted!

But mostly, I'm happy to see this dirt produce food and beauty for our eyes, nose, hands, and tummies. I supposed I could add ears to that list, as the bees are a humming, though they classify as beauty not food. At least for us. The cats love to snatch and gobble them up.

Here are some things growing in the garden.

Oregano, much loved by bees, is heading towards full bloom.
Tea roses - beautiful though they were plagued by aphids early on in the season.

Creeping thyme, a walkable plant (you can walk on it). But watch out for bees!

Edible thyme is blooming.

Radishes are tasty and almost gone. Mmmm

Sunset lily. I love the color of these blooms.

Ripening Roma tomatoes.

The pumpkin plants that are threatening to take over our tiny backyard. Soon, it will be true.

Poor, sad, dwarfed okra. I've replanted 4-5 times. This is the best so far.

Wax beans love my back yard. Green beans? Not so much.

Dill entices more bees and is ready for canning.

Part of the sunflower jungle.

Lavender and friend.

Raspberries are coming on strong, much to the delight of the icky pests.

Baby zucchini

The parsley is blooming. Those tiny sweat bees love this stuff.
Garlic. I have no idea when it is done!

Baby yellow squash. If you squint, you can see someone else was impatient to try it. Go away, bugs!

Sage. This is also in bloom. But there is more than enough to go around. Five times around.

That's my garden so far, all from the backyard. I'd be happy to share, especially the herbs. Has anyone else grown okra? What trick am I missing (other than heat, which I think it really needs)?

Happy tasting, smelling, seeing, touching, and hearing in your garden today!