Saturday, July 22, 2017

Small Creative Project

Peaches, cream, and raspberry-colored arrangement
I haven't been arranging flowers much this summer, but I put these two flowers together, and I think I like it!

Happy Saturday, My Lovelies!  I hope you are having an enjoyable weekend so far.  We're chillaxin' at the lake.

I wanted to share with you a small little project that only took about five minutes.  I decided that the inspiration board in our library was looking a little tired: It needed an update!  Due to its location, I thought book quotes would be appropriate.  I used the pretty quotes from my Once Upon a Book Club subscription boxes.

Currently the inspiration board is on our large desk between the computer and printer.  It's displayed on a tabletop easel.  I like to move it around the house, so the easel is perfect for that!

If you aren't a Once Upon a Book Club subscriber (but really you should be) you can create your own quote cards using your favorite quotes, plain 4 X 6 notecards, and markers.

Another thing I want to share with y'all is that I've reactivated my art journaling blog.  I thought it might encourage me to draw and journal more.  My other blog is called Meditation of My He{art}, and you can follow the link on the bottom of my sidebar.

Here is one of my latest art journaling pages:

On this page I included a cantaloupe and peach salad recipe.

I drew the peach using Prismacolor Colored Pencils.

I'm trying to decide how to proceed with my art journaling.  I've seen so many beautiful mixed media pages, and I'd like to learn new techniques.  BUT I really want to improve my drawing, and I like keeping a written journal, too.  What I really need is an art journaling workshop, but I can't find one close by. Maybe I can travel to one in the fall once Shelley returns to college.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, July 21, 2017

Literary Friday: The Almost Sisters

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I read the most delightful book this week:  The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson.  I know it will definitely make my "Best of 2017" list (which usually only consists of three books).  It is laugh out loud funny and poignant at the same time.  You must place it on your To Be Read List immediately!

According to Goodreads:

With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality---the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy--an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

My Review:

I love everything about this book.  I'll start with the setting:  Tallapoosa County, Alabama, near the shores of Lake Martin.  I read this book in Tallapoosa county (Dadeville, to be exact) on the shores of Lake Martin (we have a lake cabin there).  Leia spent all of her summers with her grandmother in the fictitious town of Birchville, so the residents of said town consider Leia one of their own; they show no compunction at alerting Leia to her grandmother's "Late Unpleasantness" (or breakdown) at the Baptist Church's annual fish fry.  This scene is one of the funniest in all of Southern fiction: I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.  Leia's phone starts blowing-up about her grandmother while she's at her stepsister Rachel's house during what was supposed to be her family's weekly Sunday lunch.   Rachel had canceled lunch due to a knock-down drag-out fight with her husband, but Leia missed Rachel's message about the cancellation. Take charge Rachel helps Leia make travel arrangements to Alabama, and she insists Leia take her thirteen year old daughter Lavender with her.

I absolutely love Leia's character.  She's a nerdy comic book artist (she's a DC Girl, but I won't hold that against her) with a thing for Batman.  I can't even begin to tell you how this book appeals to my inner nerd.  Plus the fact that Leia meets batman at a Comic-Con in Atlanta is a perfect plot point. Leia shares her predicament with Lavender before she has a chance to tell Rachel, and things truly start to get interesting.  (Thirteen-year-olds have mad social media skills.)

Although the book is laugh out loud funny, it also explores serious issues like racism (especially in the Deep South), dementia, and familial roles.  Sisterhood is also a major theme.  Women in the South can get things done, but pair two together working in tandem and they are practically invincible.  The Almost Sisters is truly more than just a fun story.  It will make you think about what role you play in your family, and, if you're Southern, it will challenge you to determine in which South you live:

"The South I'd been born into was all sweet tea and decency and Jesus, and it was a real, true place.  I had grown up inside it, because my family was there.  Wattie's family owned real estate there, too.  The Second South was always present, though, and in it decency was a thin, green cover over the rancid soil of our dark history.  They were both always present, both truly present in every square inch, in every space, in both Baptist churches, at both tables."

The Almost Sisters, page 221.

Disclosure:  I received an ARC of The Almost Sisters from the publisher William Morrow in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interactive Books to Spark Your Creativity

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  It's VERY HOT here in Central, Alabama.  It's so hot My Mom canceled her birthday plans for today (Happy Birthday, Mimi!)

When the hot midday weather keeps me indoors, I like to pursue creative activities.  I recently bought a few fun books to spark my creativity when I don't want to go to the trouble of taking out oil paints.

Plus, they're very portable.  I can easily take them to the lake, a coffee shop, or on a plane.  All I need are a few Stablio pens, drawing pencils, an eraser, and sharpener.

I keep a few art supplies for travel in my "sketch" pouch, above.

Danny Gregory's Art Before Breakfast has a handy workbook.  I am a fan of Gregory's books, and this workbook combines creative tips with fun drawing prompts.

This is the first page in the journal.  There are several challenging prompts, like drawing items using only triangles.  

Literary Listography is what it sounds like: A book of lists!  No drawing in this book, but my inner nerd couldn't resist!

Although there isn't any drawing in this book, there are pretty watercolor illustrations on almost every double page spread.

There are more drawing prompts in this book than not.  I love some of the categories, like drawing your favorite literary villains.

This activity didn't involve drawing, but how could I resist a good Shakespearean insult (or four)?

I haven't started this guided journal yet, but it promises to help spark your creativity across several disciplines.

Finally, I checked out this book from my local library.  I thought I might learn a few techniques to use in my art journaling, but I really need to not use so much wet media and practice drawing.

Is it unbearably hot in your neighborhood?  What do you like to do (other than swimming and going to movies) when it's so hot?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, July 14, 2017

Literary Friday: The Keeper of Lost Things

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Recently I read the very best book I've read all year:  The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.

Below is a video introduction of the book featuring Hogan:

According to Goodreads:

A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.

Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.

Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?

Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

My Review:

Well that explains it!  If you read the last paragraph of the Goodreads review, three of my favorite books are compared to The Keeper of Lost Things:  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

Anthony Peardew (love the anglicized version of "perdu" which means lost in French) is an obsessive keeper of lost things because of something precious he lost decades earlier.  Now Laura must take the reigns and try to put to rights the massive collection of lost things Anthony has meticulously curated and stored in his study.  In exchange for continuing his work, she has inherited his lovely home and gardens, not to mention the handsome and sexy gardener named Freddy who tends to the property. Plus there's a disruptive ghost.   She doesn't execute her mischief in a malicious way, but more in do-I-have-your-attention-yet way.  

Shortly after moving into the home, Laura befriends Sunshine, a young lady and neighbor with Down Syndrome.  Sunshine is aptly named because she sheds light, humor, and often times wisdom on various situations within the household.  She has amazing gifts that are supernatural and helpful to Laura.  I really enjoyed her interaction with the characters of the novel.

This book is so well-written, and the characters are unforgettable.  The resolution of the mystery of Anthony's lost thing as well as the thing his beloved fiancée Therese lost on that fateful day decades earlier is genius, I tell ya.  If you love romance, mysteries, magical realism, and ghost stories, this book is what your Summer Reading List is missing.

What's on your Summer Reading List?

Until next time...

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Two New Taylor Patterns from MacKenzie-Childs

Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!  I hope you have had a wonderful week so far.  Mine has been busy, and the traffic in Birmingham has been very bad this week, especially for summer.

A few weeks ago I received an email about the newest Taylor patterns from MacKenzie-Childs. They are both so pretty!  Here they are:

This pattern is called Kings Corners,

and this one is Forest Home.

I love both patterns.  I like the unique center of Kings Corners, and I like the green and purple stripes on Forest Home.

Mr. Art @ Home likes Kings Corners much more than Forest Home.  I want to purchase two of the flat rimmed plates in each.  

I recently bought a Kings Corners mug.  I like the silhouette of this mug better than the old style mugs because it's more sturdy.

The Barn Sale is right around the corner.  I would love to go and purchase more items in these beautiful new patterns.  My daughter and I went five years ago, and we had so much fun!

Will you be going to the Barn Sale this year?  Don't can be honest.  I'm not looking for a personal shopper or anything like not me.  Seriously I'm not!

I would also want this bunny planter if I went...

It looks like this one is planted with Mexican heather, and it looks pretty!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pretty Paper Goods

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  It's that time of the year....Independence Day is over, and the Back to School commercials and ads are in full swing.  It feels like summer is over, and it makes me a wee bit sad.  But summer isn't over, especially here in the South.  After all, it's the All Star Break in Major League Baseball which means the season is only half over.

But on the other hand, I love back to school supplies.  I love paper goods, planners, sticky notes, stickers, and anything else that is pretty and useful.  Recently, I bought several very nice paper-y type stuff to use in my tiny office nook in our kitchen.  I know I've featured my desk before on the blog, but it's time for another visit just to see my new paper goodies.

My desk with the charging station for my devices.

I keep books that I haven't blogged about yet on my desk as well as books I need to return to the library or to friends. 

This year's planner 

Here is a sample spread from my planner.  I prefer those I can see a whole month at a glance.

Notice the print on the cover.  It's from August 2016 - December 2017.

This drives me wicked crazy!!!!!

WHY do the planner people do this???  Are you supposed to have TWO planners going simultaneously from August to December?  Would someone care to explain this to me?  I hate planners like this!  The first half is blank because I started using it on January 1, 2017!

So you may ask why in the world I bought this one to start with....well it's because it was the only one I could find that is thin and opens flat.

I love to plan a weekly menu, and this pad is wonderful because it also has a space for the grocery list that is perforated.

I will use the above sticky notes and stickers in my 2018 planner.  I love how they match each other and.... new planner!  And guess what!?!?!?  It ONLY covers the 2018 calendar year!!!
Praise the Lord someone at Paper Source realizes that there's a market for normal twelve month planners!!!

I thought this was totally cool.  I can share recipes with Shanley in Baton Rouge...

The recipes come with these cute little envelopes for mailing.

All the paper goods were bought on sale, even the 2018 planner was offered on sale for a limited time last month at Paper Source.  In addition to Paper Source, I bought these items at Michael's and Anthropologie.

I love getting in touch with my inner nerd with back to school supplies and paper goods.  How about you?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Book Review: Soulmates

About Soulmates

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)

 "For anyone who has ever suspected something sinister lurking behind the craze of new-age spirituality, Jessica Grose has crafted just the tale for you. With the delicious bite of satire and the page-turning satisfaction of a thriller, Soulmates is a deeply compelling, funny and sharply observed look at just how far we will go to achieve inner peace." ~Lena Dunham 

A clever, timely novel about a marriage, and infidelity, the meaning of true spirituality, perception and reality from the author of Sad Desk Salad, in which a scorned ex-wife tries to puzzle out the pieces of her husband's mysterious death at a yoga retreat and their life together. It's been two years since the divorce, and Dana has moved on. She's killing it at her law firm, she's never looked better, thanks to all those healthy meals she cooks, and she's thrown away Ethan's ratty old plaid recliner. She hardly thinks about her husband~ex-husband~anymore, or about how the man she'd known since college ran away to the Southwest with a yoga instructor, spouting spiritual claptrap that Dana still can't comprehend.

But when she sees Ethan's picture splashed across the front page of the New York Post -"Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave"- Dana discovers she hasn't fully let go of Ethan or the past. The article implies that it was a murder-suicide, and Ethan's to blame. How could the man she once loved so deeply be a killer? Restless to find answers that might help her finally to let go, Dana begins to dig into the mystery surrounding Ethan's death. Sifting through the clues of his life, Dana finds herself back in the last years of their marriage . . . and discovers that their relationship (like Ethanís death) wasn't what it appeared to be. A novel of marriage, meditation, and all the spaces in between, Soulmates is a page-turning mystery, a delicious satire of our feel-good spiritual culture, and a nuanced look at contemporary relationships by one of the sharpest writers working today.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Judith Ebenstein

About Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a writer and editor. She was previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire, Spin, and several other publications, and on She lives in Brooklyn with her husband. Find out more about Jessica at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

My Review

I almost didn't agree to review this book  knowing what July is typically like for our family, but I'm so happy I did because I was very pleasantly surprised: I read it in one day.  It wasn't what I expected at all.  The book is [very] loosely based on a true story about a couple -whose relationship to each other and their New Age spirituality-went off the rails.  So I was expecting a story about what went wrong with Ethan and "Amaya," but what I wasn't expecting was how scorned ex-wife Dana loses sight of her original goal to prove her ex Ethan innocent of murder/suicide.

Dana is a complicated character.  She's very capable in the courtroom and boardroom, but her professional focus is a sharp contrast to her role as a wife.  From the first chapter  I was completely on Team Dana...until the second chapter from Ethan's point of view made me slightly more sympathetic to him.  Grose's characterization and multiple points of view (organized per chapter) make the story engrossing and are necessary for seeing a more complete picture. Unusual and unexpected plot points guaranteed my family a crappy leftover dinner Sunday night because I couldn't stop reading.

Every woman should read this book.  I think it's a great beach or lake read, but it also makes the reader think; that's why I highly recommend it for book clubs.  Grose did her homework researching cults, yoga, and religious leaders.  What she found is that all cult leaders use the same strategies to control their followers, and unfortunately people are sheep and easily led.  So the moral of the story: don't be a sheep.

On a sidenote:  Our daughter LOVES Lena Dunham, and she's a subscriber to the email newsletter Lenny.  Jessica Grose is the editor in chief of Lenny, so I'm sending her my copy to her because she will totally have a fangirl moment and immediately read the book.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Friday, July 7, 2017

Literary Friday: Summer Reading List

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  And a VERY HAPPY 20th Birthday to our youngest daughter, Shelley!

I have been reading a lot this summer, and I thought I'd share the books I've read so far.  If you click on the link beneath the book covers, it will take you to my Goodreads review.  I thought if I included all the reviews the post would be way too long!

I certainly gave these books very mixed reviews, but I will tell you that if you love fantasy, read the last book on my list!

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

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Shanley's Baton Rouge Loft

Shanley's art gallery in her dining area.

Hello, My Lovelies!  Today I want to share with you Shanley Belle's student loft.

At a Glance:

What:  End Unit Loft Built in 2008
Size:  977 Square Feet
1 1/2 baths, 
Total Open-Concept with Bedroom Loft Above
Feature:  Soaring 20' Ceilings Downstairs with Very Large Windows
Style: Boho/Hippie Chic
Where:  Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Before I begin the tour, I want to share some "before" photos from the listing:

Here, the carpet is nasty, and the walls desperately need new paint.

You can't tell from the photos but the kitchen cabinets are a mess and they had to be repainted.

The tile floor needs a good scrubbing, too.

The carpet still gives me chills.  Fleas!  Filth!  Rust!  I wanted to run screaming from this place.  But I was brave.  Very Brave.   ;P

The location of the loft can't be beat, and there's great storage, including an attic!

Okay so I'm sure you've had enough of this.  I get the heebie jeebies looking at the before photos!


Clean!  It's amazing what fresh paint and cleansers can do for a space.

We did not replace the tile floors downstairs, but I had to spend HOURS removing paint from the floor.  Otherwise, the painters did an excellent job.  I couldn't paint the loft because we don't have a lull for painting twenty feet in the air!

Marble top coffee table is from Target.

Desk is behind sofa, and you can see her computer monitor and table lamp.

The throw pillow says:  "Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn."  Very appropriate for a speech language pathologist!  Pillow from Sugar Boo.

Mr. Art @ Home built the shelving in the nook to the right of the front door.
A few of Shanley's favorite classics are on these shelves.

This dresser provides super storage for purses, umbrellas (a necessity in Baton Rouge), remote controls, electronics, sweatshirts/sweaters, and ballet gear.

The powder room is to the left of the TV.

Artwork in powder room.  Walls are painted Tahitian Breeze by Behr.

A view from front of built in book case across to kitchen
Lampshade Anthropologie

Due to Shanley's asthma, she opted for no rugs or carpet.

Top of coffee table and raspberry agate coasters from Target.
Shanley's colors are mostly blues and greens with raspberry, yellow, and lavender accents.

Shanley's desk and work area is directly behind the sectional sofa.  Behind the work area is her eating space.  This bookshelf holds books and supplies for her coursework.

Tablecloth from Anthropologie

Although subtle, Shanley Belle wanted a little purple in her loft.
Slipcovers and tablecloth wash easily.

I painted the kitchen cabinets.  Other than that, we're leaving it alone for now.  Soon we want to replace the countertops, sink, and add a backsplash.

Barstools are from Pier1, and mail holder is from Target.
Shanley Belle also chose her paint colors.  Her program is going to be hard, so she wanted soothing colors in her loft.  Wall color is Ethereal Mood by Behr.
Pillar candle holders are from World Market.

Canisters from Mod Cloth.  Bearded Iris teapot is from the Taylor Collection by MacKenzie-Childs.

Creamer and spoon from Mod Cloth, and sugar bowl is from MacKenzie-Childs.  

Let's go upstairs!

Shanley's Vespa helmets to the left of the front door and by the stairs leading to the loft.

Look up!  The Cubs Win!!!  The W flag is flying!

We replaced the nasty carpet on the stairs and in the loft with laminate flooring.

Shanley wanted an accent wall.  She chose Shamrock Green, and Shanley and I painted it.
Door to right of dresser is large walk-in closet.  Bathroom is on the left.

Bed is custom made from Southern Accents in Cullman, Alabama

Bedding via Target
Nightstand from Pier1

Only two authors rank high enough for the cubbies in her bed:  Lynn Kurland and Nalini Singh
Apparently Rocket likes Lynn Kurland, too!

Shanley's childhood dresser

Vanity mirror via Etsy and painting by me.  Pont means bridge in French, and this signage is from one of the 37 bridges crossing the Seine in Paris.

Shanley's reading nook.  Only reading for pleasure upstairs!  Behind door is a large linen closet.  The tower holds comic book collection, and the bar on the right is her ballet bar.
Behind the chair you can see the ledge overlooking the living area below.

Baby Groot!

There is a large laundry area in her bathroom.  There are also two large vanities that are dark with black granite.  We hate them, and we will replace them eventually.  You can barely see one in a "before" photo.

Shower curtain is from Anthropologie and the towels are from Target.
The gold is for LSU
Paint color is Tahitian Breeze, same as the powder room.

Looking downstairs 

We moved Shanley in during Tropical Storm Cindy.  Literally her backyard was four inches deep in water (With a French drain in the middle of the yard!), so I couldn't really share the small patio and yard with you this time.  The front needs plants badly, but we couldn't deal with that given the weather situation.

We are thrilled for Shanley Belle as she begins her exciting doctoral program at LSU.  As we make updates and fluff it a bit more, I'll share here on the blog!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill