Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party *plus* a Giveaway

Welcome to the Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party!  

Please play the following song for your listening pleasure while you visit my party.  It gives a clue to this year's theme.

Paul McCartney
"It's Only a Paper Moon"

Hurry!  Don't be late!  It's time for the Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party hosted by Vanessa @ A Fanciful Twist!

Anytime is the right time for tea!

Come right on in and don a hat crafted by the Mad Hatter!

Let's get this party started.  The Cheshire Cat has taken the most comfortable chair.

Be my guest and choose your teacup!

You chose a lovely teacup!

Are you ready for some tea and refreshments?  Mayhap some berries?

It's too hot today for hot tea, you say?

It truly is hot as blazes here in Central Alabama with heat indexes in the 100's.  How about some Southern Peach Iced Tea instead?

And if you'd really like to cool down, how about some lime sorbet?

I hope you've enjoyed the party.  Please take a posy home with you!

Here is my recipe for peach tea.  The homemade syrup will last in the fridge for about two weeks, but it's usually consumed within a matter of days around here.

Peach Iced Tea

Black Teabags (I used Lipton, three small)
two peaches, pits removed and sliced into half inch wedges
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water

Make tea and steep according to taste.  While tea steeps, make peach syrup.  Combine peaches, sugar, and water in a heavy saucepan.  Heat on high and allow to boil.  Stir, and once sugar is melted, remove from heat. Smash peaches and cover pot for about twenty minutes.  Pour and strain into a container.  

Pour tea into glasses and add syrup to taste.  I also like to add mint leaves and fresh peach slices.


Sorbet Glasses: Vintage
Tea Pitcher:  Lismore by Waterford
Syrup Pitcher:  Williams-Sonoma
Tea Glass:  Neiman-Marcus
Napkin:  Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic

All paper crafts were made from back issues of Daphne's Diary Magazine:

Coloring pages via Wonderland by Amily Shen:

Would you like to win a copy of this lovely coloring book?  Do you like to color?  Below is a cupcake and a plate I colored from the book:

I used Caran d'Ache colored pencils (box of 18)

Enter the contest below which starts at midnight tonight.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to visit our hostess Vanessa for links to all the parties.  Thanks so much for hosting, Vanessa!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Your Invitation to the Mad Tea Party 2016

You're invited to the Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party hosted by Vanessa @ A Fanciful Twist.  I've been busily preparing in this relentless heat.  I hope y'all will join us.  It's my favorite link party of the year!

See you this Saturday morning!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What We Had for Lunch: BLT Sandwiches

Hello, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all are staying cool.  With high nineties and heat indexes over 100, we're spending more time indoors (sadly).

Look at the tomatoes!  They'll be ripe soon!

We've been watering everything around our home relentlessly, and I wanted to share a few of our tomatoes with you.

Mrs. Powers is "watering" our tomato plant.

We're growing big boys and creole purple tomatoes.  The creole tomatoes aren't ripe yet.

Two of our first big boys.  Aren't they pretty?

I sliced the tomato thinly for our BLT's.

We're trying to keep gluten out of our diets, so I made the BLT's like a lettuce wrap, or like my favorite burgers from Burgerfi with stacked lettuce substituted for hamburger buns:


Summertime BLT's

Sliced Big Boy Tomatoes
Applewood Smoked Bacon, one rasher per person
Iceberg Lettuce
Stonewall Kitchen Sriracha Aioli 
Salt and Pepper

Wash lettuce and stack several lettuce leaves on a plate.  Add sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put a tablespoon of aioli on the tomatoes.  Stack more lettuce and add bacon.  Put both together and make a sandwich.  

Easy peasy and yummy!  I hope you try this....perfect for summer!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, July 15, 2016

Literary Friday: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!

Recently I read the Best.  Book.  Ever.  Seriously it's definitely the best book I've read during 2016: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos.  I've read several of her books, and they are all fantastic, but this one is my favorite.

According to Goodreads:

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary — professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter Willow only once. 

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister — a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Told in alternating voices — Taisy’s strong, unsparing observations and Willow’s naive, heartbreakingly earnest yearnings — The Precious One is an unforgettable novel of family secrets, lost love, and dangerous obsession, a captivating tale with the deep characterization, piercing emotional resonance, and heartfelt insight that are the hallmarks of Marisa de los Santos’s beloved works.

My Review

I will never forget the characters in this book.  They are drawn to perfection, and having both Taisy's and Willow's points of view give depth and perspective that wouldn't have been possible without them. Alternating POV's don't help my opinion of Wilson.  UGH!  He is horrible and I hate him. Taisy's obsequious relationship with him made me want to hit something really hard.  Not only is her father responsible for tearing apart her family, he's also responsible for her biggest heartache she's ever experienced: her break-up with the love of her life, Ben.

Willow grows on the reader as she makes typical and not so typical teenage mistakes.  She matures and begins trusting and loving her big sister.  The dynamic between the sisters change when Taisy shares the story about her relationship with Ben.  This opens the door for Willow to share aspects of her difficult adjustment to high school after having been homeschooled her entire life. Willow has placed herself in a dangerous situation, and fortunately she has Taisy for advice and encouragement: she's the one Willow turns to in her darkest hour.  They both join forces to create the family they want against Wilson's better judgement, and that's the lesson of the book:  It is possible to decide what type of relationship one wants with others (especially family members) irregardless of strong, manipulative personalities who always want things their way.  

This is one of the best family dramas I've ever read.  The characters are engaging, the plot is a page-turner, and the complicated relationships ensure this novel's excellence.  There are a couple of sweet romances in the story that made me sigh.  These would not have been possible without interesting male characters who are willing to forgive and focus on what could be.  This book is being placed not only on my keeper shelf, but my favorites shelf.

What has been your favorite book of 2016 so far? Please share in the comments section!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Neverwhere: Author's Preferred Text by Neil Gaiman

About Neverwhere

• Paperback: 464 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 7, 2016) National Bestseller 

Selected as one of NPR’S Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of All Time The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s ultimate edition of his wildly successful first novel featuring his “preferred text”—and including his special Neverwhere tale, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” Published in 1997, Neverwhere heralded the arrival of a major talent and became a touchstone of urban fantasy. Over the years, a number of versions were produced both in the U.S. and the U.K. Now Gaiman’s preferred edition of his classic novel reconciles these works and reinstates a number of scenes cut from the original published books. Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart whose life is changed forever when he stops to help a bleeding girl—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

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Neil Gaiman

About Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College. Find out more about Neil at his website, find all his books at his online bookstore, and follow him on Facebook, tumblr, Twitter, and his blog.

My Review:

I read the American edition of Neverwhere many years ago, and it is the standard by which I judge all urban fantasies.  This edition is a combination of the British version with its quirky humor and the American edition, and it is much longer.  Even if you've already read Neverwhere, this edition is worth it just to read about one of the most intriguing characters in the book, the Marquis de Carabas. At the back of the book there's a short story entitled "How the Marquis Got His Coat Back."  The action in the story takes place after we last see the Marquis in Neverwhere.  Without sharing any spoilers, I can promise you that the circumstances of the story made my jaw drop, literally.  I wasn't expecting it!

London Below is one of the most eerie settings I've ever had the pleasure of reading.  Once a person becomes a part of that world, London Above becomes a thing of his or her past: That person becomes invisible.  The whole premise of "falling through the cracks" is frightening.  In addition there are two of the most insidious and down-rite evil villains in the duo of Mr. Croup and Mr. Valdemar.  They give me the willies!  Even the characters with better intentions are creepy as Richard Mayhew attempts to navigate London Below in his quest to aid the Princess Door.

If you enjoy urban fantasy, you really should read Neverwhere, and I recommend you read the Author's Preferred Text.  Once you're finished, watch the BBC miniseries.  I love it!  Here is the Introduction of the Marquis from the miniseries.  Notice his amazing coat!

Got to *love* Richard Mayhew's Scottish burr

Residents of London Below meet for floating markets.  "How the Marquis Got His Coat Back" begins at one of these markets being held at the Tate Gallery, and the Marquis is purchasing mushroom toast below this painting:

Sir Edward Coley Burne-JonesTitle
"The Golden Stairs"
Oil paint on canvas

Of course I must love a story set partially in the Tate!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Neverwhere: Author's Preferred Text from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill