Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hello! It's *me* {Mustang Sally}

Hello!  My name is Mustang Sally:  And I like to CLIMB!







I can climb all day long.






I'm so tired from climbing I must needs take a nap, so that's all for now!


Thanks for taking the time to share, Sally!  Be careful of where you climb, please!


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Friday, August 12, 2016

Literary Friday: Lowcountry Stranger

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  This week I read Lowcountry Stranger from the Sweeney Sisters Series by Ashley Farley.





About Lowcountry Stranger

• Publisher: Leisure Time Publishing; 1 edition (July 1, 2016)

There's a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay.

The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year- old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity. Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.



Add to Goodreads badge
 


Purchase Links

Ashley Farley

About Ashley Farley

Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you've read the last word, then she's done her job. After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. Ashley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions. Ashley loves to hear from her readers. Feel free to visit her on Facebook or Twitter. Visit her website at http://www.ashleyfarley.net.


My Review:

I have not read the first book in the series (Her Sister's Shoes), but I wish I had.  While Lowcountry Stranger is a stand alone, having read the backstory would have helped.  The book starts out at a wedding, and several characters are introduced so it was hard to keep everyone straight at first.  But if I'd read the first book, then all the characters would have been familiar to me.

The Sweeney girls are drama magnets.  They face several real-life issues such as: infidelity, alcoholism, domestic abuse, facing an empty nest, aging parents, death, terminal cancer, a hostage situation, kidnapping, and a psychotic stalker...and there are even more I didn't list.  I enjoyed the story even though it was filled with drama.  I was a little surprised that the family was willing to take in a virtual stranger who crashed a wedding, but then I realized that these sisters have a history of making poor choices.  (Yep.  I'm on my high horse about that one because who would allow a stranger to babysit an already traumatized child with selective mutism?)  But the sisters are kind and want to do the right thing for those they love.  Sam is the most intriguing of the sisters to me.  A recovering alcoholic, she is her own worst critic, and I was truly hoping she'd see herself the way others do.  Told from all three sisters' points of view, I liked how each sister had a shoe at the beginning of each chapter to represent their personalities (Sam's is the preppy Sperry Top-Sider).

I was expecting more from the setting: I didn't really get a strong sense of place, and as a Southerner I wanted to experience more of the South Carolina Lowcountry.  This story could have been based on the coast practically anywhere.

If you enjoy books filled with family drama and strong female characters, then you will love Lowcountry Stranger. 

There's a lovely recipe for white gazpacho at the end of the book, and I intend on trying it soon because it has been so hot here in Central Alabama.  It would be the perfect dish for lunch on a hot Southern day!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Lowcountry Stranger via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.



Would you like to win an Amazon gift card   Ashley Farley is hosting a generous giveaway, and you can enter for a chance to win below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Did you complete your summer reading list?  Please share your favorite book of the summer in the comments section below!


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pinterest Made Me Do It: "Homemade" Cruffins



My eldest daughter is now spending more of her time in Birmingham than Tuscaloosa.  She's finishing her graduate program, and we're so happy to have her home for a short few months.  But there are some things she misses about Tuscaloosa, like studying at her favorite coffee house that serves her favorite treat:  cruffins.

What's a cruffin, you ask?  It's the love child of a croissant and a muffin.  We thought it would be fun to try and make them, so we went to Pinterest to find recipes.




Ummm.....Pinterest was almost a disaster.  Almost.  It seems that most of the beautifully pinned cruffins were made via a very complicated process involving pasta makers.  We don't make much pasta around here.

But, alas.....Pinterest to the rescue yet again when we saw a pin for a cruffin recipe using ready-made croissant dough from Trader Joe's!  *squee*

So who is the genius behind this oh, so easy cruffin?  None other than Liza Graves @ Style Blueprint.

This is what you need to do to bake delicious cruffins:




Buy these croissants from Trader Joe's.  Place them on a cookie sheet to thaw and rise overnight or for several hours if you want to bake them in the afternoon/evening.  They truly rise and get much larger!



The get much bigger than this!


Next you have plenty of flavored sugar on hand.




The way I made them is to sort of smash two croissants together and sprinkle sugar liberally on the dough.  I then rolled the croissants into a cylinder shape and crammed them into a muffin baker.

You will need to watch the cruffins while they bake.  They need to be really brown, not a light, golden color.

You also might need to bash them on the head with a wooden spoon a couple of times during baking if it looks like they're trying to make an escape.





The cruffin above is the cappuccino one I made for myself.  Yum!


I baked the cappuccino one for me (I used the espresso powder and cinnamon sugar for that one). While they were baking my daughter went downtown for her ballet class (she was expecting to enjoy her cruffins later).  In the meantime, Mr. Art @ Home came home and started "sampling" them.  He then proceeded to eat the maple sugar one and the cinnamon one in their entirety.  Poor Shanley Belle. She's left with the vanilla one.  With a significant bite taken from it.   :/

Well there's more of that dough at our local Trader Joe's so methinks I'll must needs buy more and constantly keep a stash in our freezer.  These cruffins are delicious!





Have you tried a cruffin yet?

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Late Summer Tablescape *plus* Introducing Finlay's Mom, Mustang Sally

Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  It's a gray, rainy summer's day here in Central Alabama.  We are busy getting our eldest daughter settled at home for a few brief months while she completes her graduate school externship, and packing for our youngest daughter's first semester in college.  I'll post her adorable dorm decor once she's moved-in at the end of the month.

The house (especially upstairs) is such a mess that I haven't been doing much "fluffing," but I did put together a simple tablescape for a Farmer's Market Salad.
















I spy with my little eye two Westies on the table.  And guess what?  We now have two Westies!



*cue the music*





The Commitments
"Mustang Sally"



We adopted Finlay's mama, Mustang Sally!  You first met Mustang Sally here.  Sally is so much fun and has so much personality.  












Finlay in front with Mustang Sally






A photo posted by Ricki Jill Treleaven (@westiechicks) on



We love these pups so much!

Both have plenty of Westitude!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Friday, August 5, 2016

Literary Friday: Interesting Summer Reading Books

Happy Literary Friday!  With only a few weeks of summer left, I want to share with you three interesting summer reading books.




Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play, so it isn't written in novel form: it's a script.  I don't want to post many spoilers, but I will say that I found it odd that there are so many short scenes: I think that it would be difficult to stage.  The plot is interesting and is centered around Albus Severus Potter and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy as they attempt to go back in time and save Cedric Diggory. Several plot points seem to not fit with the original series, and Harry seems completely out of character in this play. I suppose that's my biggest disappointment.  It's a quick read, but I'd check it out at the library first before purchasing it.





The Society by Jodie Andrefski is one of Shelley's favorite summer reading books.  I read it and appreciate how it depicts a very important topic plaguing many teens today:  bullying.

According to Goodreads:

Welcome to Trinity Academy’s best-kept secret.

The Society.

You’ve been handpicked by the elite of the elite to become a member. But first you’ll have to prove your worth by making it through Hell Week.

Do you have what it takes?

It’s time to find out.

Samantha Evans knows she’d never get an invite to rush the Society—not after her dad went to jail for insider trading. But after years of relentless bullying at the hands of the Society’s queen bee, Jessica, she’s ready to take down Jessica and the Society one peg at a time from the inside out.

All it’ll take is a bit of computer hacking, a few fake invitations, some eager rushees…and Sam will get her revenge.

Let the games begin.


I highly recommend The Society to teens of all ages.  It covers important topics like bullying and harassment;  difficult dating situations;  terrible behavior which disappoints friends;  and family betrayals.  Samantha is a victim of bullying from almost all of her classmates at her exclusive prep school, but she decides she's been a victim long enough and plots to get even with them. She takes things too far, and tragedy ensues. She must face the consequences for her actions, and she takes responsibility for her mistakes with grace.  I like Sam's character for her flaws as much as her strengths. Redemption is another important theme, and the ending of this book does not disappoint as Sam matures from an anxious, vindictive high school student into a settled and composed college student.




I adore Susanna Kearsley's books.  Recently I read Named of the Dragon, and it didn't disappoint.  

According to Goodreads:

The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift - conveniently in search of an agent - is the deciding factor.  On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen's baby arouses painful memories of Lyn's own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.

Who is the father of Elen's baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen's dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him?  As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.


One of my favorite things about this book is the Welsh setting.  Another one is the inclusion of Welsh myth throughout the narrative.  When Elen and Lyn begin to share the same dreams, the plot gets very interesting.  Lyn's dreams are so real that it's difficult to tell reality from figments of her imagination. Ghosts make appearances throughout the story, and not just in Lyn's subconscious.  The characters are fantastically drawn (especially Lyn's best friend Bridget), plus there is romance, suspense, and a very nice, feel-good ending.  Buy it for your end of the summer beach trip!



Named of the Dragon fulfills the above challenge.



What have you been reading this summer?  Please share in the comments section below!


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill