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Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!

Today I want to share with you highlights from our Week 8 Community Supported Agriculture subscription box and a midsummer tablescape.

Week eight's box included garden carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes, naturally grown blueberries, herbs (oregano and basil), rainbow eggs, heirloom tomatoes, peaches, pink eyed peas, sweet potatoes, eggplant, ciabatta bread, and fresh burrata from Lioni (New Jersey).

The highlights were definitely the peaches (it's been a great summer for Alabama Chilton County peaches), the heirloom tomatoes, and the fresh burrata.  Burrata is a cheese shaped into a ball that's packaged in water, and when you cut into it or tear it, it's a bit runny.  Burrata means butter in Italian, and it is a yummy and buttery cheese.

We used the burrata in the big hit of the week:  

My daughter's favorite recipe of the week also included the burrata cheese.  Click here and check out the Peach Burrata Parmesan Crostini With Hot Honey.

Other favorite recipes from week eight include:

We received some of the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes that I've ever seen.  Carole from the From My Carolina Home  blog recently posted a recipe for Tomato Pie.  I thought I'd give it a try!  It was a hit in our home, and she really gives some great tips on how to cook one.  Click on this LINK for her post featuring this recipe.

This afternoon we will receive week nine's box, and I can't wait!

We have several July birthdays in our family.  Mr. Bookish loves the beach, lake, and fishing, so when I saw these darling fish plates on sale at Anthropologie, I thought they'd be fun for a birthday luncheon tablescape.  I think the fish (or whale?) has a funny little face, and I also like the pale blue and white stripes on the plates.  

I started with a navy and white tablecloth.  Then I layered placemats with a beach umbrella pattern.  Next I added MacKenzie-Childs plates as chargers, and I chose patterns that match the placemats.  The red and white striped napkins are a nod to beach huts, and I thought they would emphasize the red writing on the fish plates.

The yellow roses are meant to compliment the chartreuse on the placemats.  If you look closely, you can see that the napkins are trimmed in chartreuse, too.

Have you notices that scallops are in style right now?  I do have elements of them on the flower frog and the tablecloth.  If you keep things long enough they come back in style!

There is nothing new on the table other than the glasses and the plates, and I purchased them recently at Anthropologie.

In case you missed it....

I posted a small Bastille Day Vignette HERE.
You can read two romance and a classic book review HERE.

What I'm currently working on...

Since it's the All Stars break this week, I might try to do a couple of projects.  One that I'm wanting to try is a summertime cloche.  I'll also have more time to paint this week!

What have you been up to lately?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Midsummer Tablescape and More CSA Fun

Tuesday, July 16, 2024


Happy Bastille Day, My Lovelies!  I hope you are having a peaceful Sunday.  I wanted to pop in quickly today and share with you my little Bastille Day vignette.  As many of you know, Mr. Bookish is from New Orleans, and my in-laws lived one block away from the French Consulate.  We love French culture, and it has definitely influenced New Orleans and our family.  I don't know as much about the French Revolution as I do ours; I know that the French helped us immensely, and our daughters grew-up hearing stories about how the Marquis de Lafayette joined the Patriots in defeating the British in the Revolutionary War.  They also heard stories about the pirate Jean Lafitte and how he aided Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

I arranged the vignette on our Flower Press Work Table in our family room.

The first thing I did was tie grosgrain ribbon to the pegs.

Next, I added my Molly Hatch vase with red roses and red and blue carnations.
The quote on the vase is attributed to Marie Antoinette, but it's more than likely propaganda and fake news. 

I added the cute flora doora, and the quote on it is from one of my favorite movies, French Kiss.  It's a line that Meg Ryan says to Kevin Kline.  If you haven't seen this movie, you should because it is one of the best romcoms ever!

Finally, I added three of my favorite Peter Mayle books about his years as an expat in Provence.
Peter Mayle was a treasure.  I might need to reread these soon.

Have a blessed Sunday!

NOTE:  American friends, I wrote this post yesterday before the assassination attempt on President Trump.  Please if you are a praying person, pray for our country, President Trump, and the Trump family.  Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, we can all agree that our country is in deep trouble.  

If you like, please feel free to join me and my friends in praying for the United States.  Click on the graphic below.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Bastille Day!

Sunday, July 14, 2024


Happy Literary Friday!  How are y'all?  Is it hot in your neck of the woods?  It was very hot for Independence Day, and we had the best vacation.  It was truly a blessing having the whole family together for a week!  

Today I'm sharing three mini reviews with you of books I read while on vacation.  Two are romances, and one is a literary classic.  I'll start with the romances.

The first book I'll share with you is considered a "dark romance," and I ordered it from Barnes & Noble because they were selling an exclusive special edition.  I thought the book was pretty, and it's also a retelling of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast.  I have enjoyed retellings over the years, and I thought I might like it.  I did not realize it was considered a dark romance when I ordered it, and I wasn't aware of how popular this sub-genre is becoming.

The book is entitled One Cursed Rose by Rebecca Zanetti, and it is Book One in the Grimm Bargains Series.  Notice the pretty cover and beautiful edges.  The endpapers are also pretty with drawings of thorns.

According to Goodreads:

Information is power, and those who control it live like gods.
In my world, billionaires play deadly games of insult and influence where magic is the dirtiest weapon of all. Here, even a powerful princess can be swallowed by the darkest of shadows . . .

My name is Alana Beaumont, and due to a recent tragedy, I’m the sole heir to Aquarius Social, a family business being systematically dismantled by an unseen enemy. My father’s solution is to give me in marriage and create a coalition with a competing family, so I’m torn between my thirst for revenge and my duty. Now I just have a week to finish my hunt before the wedding.

There’s nothing like an assassination attempt to cut short the best of plans—even worse is my unwanted rescue by Thorn Beathach, the Beast whose social media empire is driving Aquarius under. The richest, most ruthless of them all, he protects his realm with an iron rule: no one sees his face. When he shows himself to me, I know he’ll never let me go.

Adam may think he can lock me in his castle forever, but I’m not the docile Beauty he expects. If the Beast wants to tie me up, I’m going to take pleasure from every minute of it . . .and we’ll just see who ends up shackled.

My Review:

First I'll share what I did like about the book.  There are four powerful families who control the world's four largest social media platforms.  They are not only powerful due to their wealth: The are also powerful physically, and receive longevity based on the ability to "charge" specific crystals.  Engagement on the platforms also increase this power.  I thought how the families wielded and remained in power was truly like a modern fairytale.

The plot and love story between Alana and Thorn were well written.  The story moved at a very fast paced, which I liked.  What I didn't like about it was that it definitely had a dark element (although most fairytales have this, I know), and it was a wee bit too spicy for me.  The author does provide trigger warning to readers at the beginning.  I will probably give it a high rating on Goodreads because it is very well written for what it is.  I'm just not into dark romance I've decided.

The second book I'm reviewing is Old Flames and New Fortunes by Sarah Hogle.  My daughter gave it to me for Mother's Day.  She wanted to purchase something for me from a very cute online shop called Wildflower Fiction, and Sarah Hogle is a favorite romance writer of hers.

These are all the extras that came with my book.

According to Goodreads:

A steamy second-chance romance about a magical florist’s unexpected reunion with her high school sweetheart as she fake dates his soon-to-be stepbrother.

A small, magical town tucked away in rural Ohio, Moonville is the perfect place for flora fortunist Romina Tempest to expand her shop, where she uses the language of flowers to help the hopeful manifest their love lives. After giving up on her own big romance eleven years ago, at least she can bask in the promise of others’.

So, when the shop’s potential financier shares news of his wedding, Romina jumps on the opportunity to discuss buying the business. What better place to negotiate a deal than at a wedding, even if she has to fake-date her chaotic colleague Trevor to get an invitation? But all hell breaks loose when she discovers Trevor’s soon-to-be stepbrother is none other than Alex her high school sweetheart. Her greatest love. The boy who, eleven years ago, broke her heart, and who now thinks she and Trevor are dating. 

What starts as an innocent misunderstanding becomes a week-long fake dating scheme, as Romina resolves to make Alex pay for breaking her heart. The only issue? She can’t deny their still-burning connection. Caught between proving to Alex what he lost, and coming clean and risking her business, Romina must decide whether giving Alex another chance means going back on herself, or finally releasing her hold on the past.

My Review:

First of all, I did not think that this romance was as steamy as the book blurb claims.  There is a lot of flirting and sexual tension between the two main characters Romina and Alex, but honestly I think this story is more of a slow burn.  The best thing about this book is the witty dialogue between well-drawn characters, and the magical realism elements are definitely charming.  The book's "misunderstanding" is well played, and it is a brilliant plot point that enhances Romina and Alex's reuniting.  If you like second chances love stories, magical realism, situational comedies, and  witty and entertaining dialogue, then you should love Old Flames and New Fortunes.

The classic I read is Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April.  It was part of my quarterly The Literary Book Club Subscription Box.

I have made a commitment to read and reread classics, and for this reason I subscribe to The Literary Book Club Box.  I like it because it has encouraged me to read classics I might not pick up.  Elizabeth von Arnim was a piece of work, I tell ya!  Originally from Australia, she was married German royalty, and after his death she had a multi-year affair with H.G. Wells.  Then she married British aristocracy, Frank Russell, the eldest brother of Bertand Russell.  

According to Goodreads:

A recipe for happiness: four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as needed.

The women at the center of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other—and the castle of their dreams—through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon. The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don’t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.

The Enchanted April was a best-seller in both England and the United States, where it was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and set off a craze for tourism to Portofino. More recently, the novel has been the inspiration for a major film and a Broadway play.

My Review:

Arnim wrote this novel while staying in a real fifteenth century castle while vacationing in Portofino.  She does an amazing job depicting the castle setting of the novel, and the reader truly is immersed in a well-researched sense of place.  There are four main characters in the novel: four women who travel to Portofino to spend the month of April in a castle with stunning gardens and views.  Lotti Wilkins is the vivacious young wife of a not so very delightful barrister husband.  She and a fellow member of her women's club,  pious Rose Arbuthnot, both see the newspaper ad on a miserably rainy winter's day.  In order to afford the rent, they find two other women to join them.  Mrs. Fisher is an elderly woman who lives in the past.  She clings to Victorian manners, and is a bit of a tough nut.  Lady Caroline "Scrap" Dester is a twenty-something socialite who is vapid and conceited.  There is a reason for her conceit and entitlement because she is so incredibly beautiful and charming that even when she attempts to be aloof others don't perceive her intentions.

I enjoyed this classic far more than I thought, mostly because of Lotti's character:  She is sunshine!  There is also a magical element to her personality as she's clairvoyant:  She sees events that will happen in the future, and she acts on this information with total conviction.  This is the reason why the married women (Rose and Lotti) invite their husbands to Portofino to stay for the remainder of their vacation because Lotti "sees them" at the castle.  There are a few surprises and twists to the plot that maintained my interest, and at the very least the novel is a lovely companion for the armchair traveler.  

... Why, it would really be being unselfish to go away and be happy for a little, because we would come back so much nicer.

Do any of these titles appeal to you?  What are you currently reading?

So far, I've read:
One Cursed Rose
Old Flames and New Fortunes
The Enchanted April

I pledged to read 15 books this summer, and I'm almost halfway there!

Bastille Day Vignette
More CSA Recipes and Links
Midsummer Tablescape

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: Two Romances and a Classic

Friday, July 12, 2024


Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  I'm in the midst of Independence Day preparations for our family.  I'm so happy we'll all be together this week.  I am truly blessed!  For my American Friends, what are your plans for The Fourth of July?

In case you missed it, a shared a casual patriotic tablescape in our breakfast room yesterday.

We loved our Week Six CSA Subscription Box.  It was my favorite one so far!  Let's take a look of all the goodness we received!

Contents:  Baby Garden Carrots, Onions, Garlic, Cherry Tomatoes, Currant Tomatoes, Wild Blueberries, Herb Bundles | Lemon Verbena, Basil, Oregano, Rainbow Eggs, Lady Peas, Zucchini, Hot Banana Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, and Pizza Dough from Hinkle's Bakery

I think the first thing we cooked was pizza utilizing the pizza dough and banana peppers.  It was delicious!  Here are a few links to other dishes we cooked this past week:

Tomato Salad with Tiny Tomatoes (made with the tiny, delicious currant tomatoes)

Since it was blueberry harvest, we received more blueberries.  I made a blueberry buckle, and everyone enjoyed it, especially for breakfast.

I have also been inspired by my Blog Friends.  Although we've been eating healthily organically grown produce for weeks, we still need a little bit of protein.  Sweet Kris from Junk Chic Cottage shared her yummy recipe for Chicken Paprika with me.  I have been searching for a delicious recipe to use with the paprika we brought home with us from Budapest.  Here it is:

Chicken Paprika


6 to 8 chicken thighs
1 container of sour cream (regular size)
3 T corn starch for thickening
1 can of chicken broth
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil your choice  Kris uses butter.
Parsley for garnish


Sauté the unions in the butter.  Then put paprika on the front and back side of the chicken thighs.  Coat them with paprika.  Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  After sautéing the onion brown the chicken thighs on both sides. 
Next, add chicken broth to the pan and simmer the thighs and onion mixture for about 30 to 40 minutes on low simmer, just so the thighs cook thoroughly.  (Use a meat thermometer.  Chicken is done at 165 degrees.)
Take 3 tablespoons or so of corn starch and add water to make rue to thicken the broth base.  Take the thighs out of the pot and bring the chicken broth to a boil and then slowly add the cornstarch to thicken.  After that is done,  add the container of sour cream to the thickened broth mixture.  Once well blended add the thighs back to the mixture.
Kris likes to eat this over rice, and it's often served over noodles or potatoes.  (I served it over noodles.)
This is so easy and so good!  You can add parsley as a garnish if you want before serving.  This tastes even better the next day as left overs.

COOK'S NOTE:  Kris suggested using sweet paprika, and that's the one I used.  It's the one in the green pouch, above.

***Thank-you, Kris!  It is the bomb, and it was a very easy recipe.  We also agree it's even better the next day.

It has been hot here, and I've spent lots of time and effort in watering our hydrangeas.  I've also been bringing them inside to enjoy.  Mary from Home Is Where the Boat Is has a great tutorial on how to arrange hydrangeas and ensure that they last for a long time.  HERE is the LINK.

We're headed to Lake Martin, and I won't post again before next week, so no Literary Friday post this week.  I hope all my American Lovelies have a very safe and happy Independence Day celebrating the very best Constitutional Republic in human history with family and friends.  God Bless America!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

CSA Week Six, Recipe Links, and a Recipe

Tuesday, July 2, 2024


Happy July. My Lovelies!  I thought I'd pop in and share with you a casual Independence Day tablescape in our breakfast room.  I've been spending a lot of time indoors because of the heat we've been having, so I've been playing around with bookshelves, vignettes, and tablescapes, especially in the kitchen.

I was out shopping a couple of weeks ago, and I went to Home Goods.  I rarely go there because I don't often find things I like.  This time was different, though, because they had the cutest Americana placemats.  I bought two sets, and the star shaped ones I placed in the middle of the table like a runner.  

Let's look at an overhead view:

I love the lighter shade of blue in some of the stars.  The backs are cute: They are solid red polka dots and will be perfect for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Alabama football.  Roll Tide!

Of course I had to use my MacKenzie-Childs dinner plates, and I chose patterns with reds and blues.
The napkins and napkin rings are from Pier1.

The flowers are from The Fresh Market.  I love them because they are dyed and have confetti patriotic stars on them (see first photo).  ;P
The vase you've seen a lot because I really love it for patriotic and Chicago Cubs tablescapes.  It's from Shabby Chic, and it also comes in a creamy white.  

That's it!  I have been playing around the house, and I wanted to share my new placemats with you.  There were several still available at our store, and they were on sale.  

Come back tomorrow for my adventures with the CSA subscription, recipes, and other inspirations.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Casual Independence Day Tablescape

Monday, July 1, 2024


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reviewing a book that has been on my TBR List for many years:  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  It is the Goodreads Winner for Best Historical Fiction of 2014.  Several of my friends watched the series on Netflix and loved it.  I'd like to see it, too, after having read the book.

According to Goodreads:

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.  

My Review:

This is one of the best-written books and best stories I've ever read.  The prose is so lovely, and the story is executed like a beautifully written musical composition, like Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune which is referenced in the novel.  This musical piece is a perfect compliment to the story because of its dreaminess and reflective qualities.  Both Marie-Laure and Werner are reflective of their situations, and although both are highly intelligent, they also each have physical weaknesses:  Marie-Laure is blind, and Werner is very small for his age.  They have absolutely no control nor freedom given their circumstances during the war, and yet they both conscientiously choose to act bravely toward its end.

Don’t you want to be alive before you die?

One reason this novel stands out is how Doerr methodically weaves the narrative back and forth through time and through each storyline: the reader knows what is happening in Marie-Laure's life and Warner's during the same time period, but their stories aren't told chronologically until the climax of the story, when the two meet.  This allows for many instances of foreshadowing: it's little wonder they are drawn together.  It's almost as it the "goddess" responsible for "creating" the museum's mysterious blue diamond predestined these two young people to meet.  I also like the details, especially all the discussion of physics (light and radio waves), and how Marie-Laure's father builds tiny models of their neighborhood in Paris and then Saint-Malo after their flight from Paris.  Each model neighborhood consists of small buildings, and some are actually trick boxes that can contain trinkets or prizes.  The miniature neighborhoods with their buildings and other landmarks serve to teach Marie-Laure how to navigate her environs.  

What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.

Major tropes are bullies and their targets, the weak versus the strong, devastation of war, the manipulation of history and self-interests, and uncommon courage in extraordinary circumstances.  The stories in this book are enthralling, and it is execution is as poignant as Clair de Lune.  I know I keep going on and on about the music, but it's a favorite of mine, and it is such a perfect companion to the book.  I highly recommend All the Light We Cannot See because it is the best World War II historical I've ever read by far, and I've read many of them.

You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: All the Light We Cannot See

Friday, June 28, 2024

Hello, Lovelies!

I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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