Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!

My new Jesus Is Calling Blog is LIVE!  Click HERE for the LINK!

In case you missed yesterday's post, let me explain.  I'm participating in the Faith Project this year, and I chose FAITH as my word of the year.  

When I chose this word as my Word of the Year last December, I had no idea how much my faith would be tested.  

We have all had our challenges this year, and I am the first to admit that my faith has been challenged.  But everyday I attempt to put on the Full Armor of God, and I have found that Sarah Young's Jesus Calling devotional has been a wonderful addition to my daily walk with God as well as to the Faith Project.

This book was written as if Jesus is talking to you.  Each day's devotion includes scriptural references, and it's best to read these devotions with your Bible or Bible App open so you can read the Bible verses.  That was Sarah Young's purpose in not including the Bible verses.

That's where my blog comes in.  I will be posting the Bible verses everyday that correspond to the daily devotions.  I hope that others will join me and leave comments about their thoughts concerning the scripture and lessons learned from the devos.  I will also post an image or two meant to inspire, whether it's a drawing, photograph, or a mood board.  Mood boards sometimes help me focus and learn; it's a creative outlet for me.  Plus, I'm a kinesthetic learner, meaning I learn from doing, so creating the posts will help.

Jesus Calling has been criticized.  Most of the arguments against Sarah and her books are weak, and many are a stretch in my opinion.  This is the BEST DEFENSE of Jesus Calling I've read so far.  It's logical and explains how her writing is steeped in scripture.  

You might have even read Jesus Calling several years ago when it first came out.  If you'd like to dust it off and join me, please consider it.  

Sarah also has some free downloads HERE if you're interested.  

Below is an IndieBound affiliate link for Jesus Calling.

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As I said yesterday, there are many versions of this book, and the kids' version might be my favorite.  

Do you read any devotional books?  If so, please share in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  I'm getting ready to host a tea party Saturday, and all of y'all are invited!  It's a themed tea party, and the blog hop is hosted by Sarah at Classical Homemaking.

I'm going to give you a hint about the theme for my party:

“It's delightful when your imaginations come true, isn't it?”

I also have an announcement:  I've started a little blog that is a companion to the Jesus Calling daily devotional.  

Friends, when I chose FAITH as my word of the year, I never knew how tested my faith would be.

I began reading and studying the scriptural references from Jesus Calling earlier this year.  I've seen it around for years, but I've never read it before.  It has been a lifeline for me, and it also dovetails the Faith Project I'm participating in, too.

I have been thinking about this blog for a while, and I'm committed to writing the blog for at least a year.  Jesus Calling was written by Sarah Young.  She has written each daily devotional from Jesus' perspective, as if he is talking to you.  Each day also lists scriptural references, but not the scriptures themselves.  I am posting the scriptures on my blog, and a thought or two about them or the devo (I am not breaking any copyright rules at all...I just thought it would be helpful to have the scriptural references posted.)  I'm posting the correct translation used because not all verses are from the NIV.

I will also post either an original photo, artwork, or mood board inspired by the scripture.  I'm a kinesthetic learner, so this will help me study the scripture.

This is my version, but there are many.  There is even a teens' version and a kids' version.  I can vouch that the kids' version is wonderful!

If any of y'all want to join me (I'm sure several of you have this already), I would love to read your thoughts in comments about each day's message.

Below is an IndieBound affiliate link for the hardcover version.

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I will post a little bit more about the blog tomorrow and it will be live tomorrow as well.  There is a link at the top of the page in the menu.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!
  Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, and I think it should be celebrated!  ;P

Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite around here: I have posted many varieties of chocolate chip cookies over the years.

My favorite way to eat them is warm from the oven.  But once they've become room temperature, there's always the microwave.  I prefer chewy too crispy, and having the appropriate amount of vanilla and brown sugar is key.  (This recipe produces a crispy cookie, Mr. Sketchy Reader's preference).

I found a recipe with espresso powder, and I thought that it would be the perfect match with the chocolate.  But I thought it would be a little too bitter with semisweet chocolate chips, so I replaced half the semi-sweet chips with milk chocolate ones.  Also, this cookie bakes at a much lower temperature that what I'm used to.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips 


1.   Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2.   Cream the butter with the paddle attachment of your mixer on medium speed. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. 

3.   Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.

4.   In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, and then beat into the butter mixture at low speed until mixed. 

5.   Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.

6.   Using a 1-ounce scoop, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2-inch circle. 

7.   Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges.  Cool for a couple of minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  Serve warm.

Cook's note: This recipe is best with a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips.  I had to add five minutes to the cooking time, but check after twenty minutes. 

What do you like best with your chocolate chip cookies?  I like coffee, and with this cookie, I had an espresso.  The next time I bake them, I will add a little cinnamon because I think it would taste great with the Espresso powder.

Are you baking cookies today for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!

Lately, I've been making recipes I've never tried before from my favorite recipe books.  This week I made a super-easy Chocolate Ricotta Mousse Cup from Erin Gleeson's The Forest Feast.  I own a couple of her books, and I love how easy her recipes are, and her tips for entertaining are fantastic, too.

If the book sounds familiar, I featured it and a few of Gleeson's other products five years ago.  Here is the LINK to that post and recipe.

What I love most about this book:  Almost all of the recipes have four or fewer ingredients.  They feature fresh produce, which I love!  Plus Erin is an artist, and her illustrations are so pretty.  Not only will this book make your tummy happy, it is also a feast for your eyes!

Chocolate mousse should count as a comfort food, especially when it's hot outside.  My best friend gave me the little parfait glasses, and I love them.

Erin added real whipped cream and chocolate shavings to her mousse.  I decided not to do so and save the calories.

What I love about this recipe is there is just a wee bit of sugar in it, and you can choose the type of chocolate you use.  If you want it more bitter, use a bitter chocolate; if you want it a little sweeter, choose a German chocolate baking chocolate.  Here is the LINK for the chocolate ricotta mousse cups recipe.

I have completely reorganized our kitchen and tiny pantry.  Nothing blog worthy, but it has made me fall in love with the space all over again.  It's amazing what a little organization and editing can do for any space!

What is your go-to summertime comfort food?  I think I've found a new one!

Below is an IndieBound affiliate link for The Forest Feast.  Just click on the book!

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Thank heavens for my local indie bookstore, Little Professor.  They have curbside pick-up service.  So does my little local library.  Our libraries are still closed, but we can order books to pick-up from a table outside.  I'll share more about that next week.  Little professor is also selling and shipping fun activity packets so that parents and grandparents can supervise little mini at home day camps for kids.  Use the link above to check them out!

Thanks for reading my blog, and please take the time to leave a comment so I know you've stopped by.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Happy Thursday Evening, My Lovelies!  It has been way too long since I've blogged.  The main reason I've been MIA:  gremlins.  Gremlins in my laptop and camera.  And since all of Shelley's college coursework is online these days, she is monopolizing the desktop.

And an added bonus: I.  Destroyed.  My.  Blog.....literally crashed it and burned it up.  

You see, I found a super-cool blogger template I fell in L*O*V*E with.  The only problem: it broke my blog.  Broke it to bits.  I had nothing to do with it, haha!

And I didn't have the heart to call my administrator, the Blog Fairy herself, Miss Linda.  Because she would've killed me been very annoyed with me.  But if you break your blog, or need any help designing your perfectly pretty space on the interwebs, Linda is the lady to help!

But the good news is: everything is fixed!  *knock on wood*  I've heard that things break in threes, and it's true!

Lately I've been getting reacquainted with my camera at home in Birmingham and in Dadeville (at Lake Martin).  

I've been working quite a bit outside in our garden.  Our house will be painted next week, and I'm looking forward to the painters getting the job done.  We also have a couple of other projects in the works that I'll blog about later.

Spending so much time outdoors has inspired me to bring the outside in.  I'm reading a delightful book currently, and I'm dreaming of several projects to turn our home into a "garden house."

I have all of Selina Lake's books, and this one might be one of my favorites.  

I don't go anywhere these days other than nurseries.  I can go and walk around outside, mask free.  Masks and asthma don't go very well together.  I'm making friends at a few of them, and these businesses are some of the few that are thriving during this crisis.  Everyone is spending so much time at home, and they are in the fluffing, repair, and remodel mode.

I love pretty containers, both for inside and out.  Lately I've been using a peachy terra cotta outside, and a deep charcoal gray inside.  I can't afford to have all my plants in MacKenzie-Childs pots!

I am trying to think outside the box when it comes to containers.  I was thinking about maybe finding some milk glass.  I love it, and I don't own a single piece.  I thought they might contrast nicely with the charcoal terra cotta.

The compote might be nice for a container garden, and I'd love a little pitcher for a vase. 
I have not bought any milk glass yet, though.  Still thinking about it....

Y'all I am VERY WAY BEHIND with my Literary Friday posts.  I'm probably going to write a spring-summer roundup post with mini reviews to get caught-up.  I will get to work on that over the weekend and share next week.

I hope y'all have a super weekend!  Please leave a comment and let me know what you've been up to.  

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Monday, My Lovelies! 
Today I have a fun book written by a local podcaster Knox McCoy entitled All Things Reconsidered.  When TLC Book Tours approached me about reviewing this book, I wanted to participate because Knox lives here in Birmingham.  I have been listening to Knox and Jamie's podcast, The Popcast with Knox & Jamie, and they make me belly laugh.  I love it!  This morning I listened to this episode "Pop Culture Things We Reconsidered."  Again.  It's hilarious.  Jamie also wrote the foreword to the book, and she did a super job: it's brilliant.

Enough gushing about  their podcast.  Now it's time to gush about the book.

According to Goodreads:

If we ask just one question, does everything fall apart? 

In All Things Reconsidered, popular podcaster Knox McCoy uses a unique blend of humor, pop culture references, and personal stories to show how a willingness to reconsider ideas can actually help us grow ourselves, our lives, and our beliefs. 

In this laugh-out-loud defense of reconsideration, Knox dives into topics like:

Are participation trophies truly the worst?
Is it really worth it to be a ride-or-die sports fan?
Do we believe in God because of the promise of heaven—or the threat of hell?
Does prayer work? Is anyone even there?
This book is the catalyst we need to courageously ask the questions that will lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves—and God. It’s time to start reconsidering. 

My Review:

This book is nonfiction, and it's categorized as Christian Living.  Yet Knox tackles a plethora of topics (not just biblical) in his book.  His intent isn't that his reader agree with all his observations: He challenges us to form our own conclusions and understand why we believe what we do.

The book is divided into three parts: Reconsider Self, Reconsider Life, and Reconsider Beliefs.  From Reconsider Self, I could relate to Pronunciations oh, so well.  In that chapter, Knox describes how he has consistently mispronounced words, and continues to do so.  He includes a lengthy list of said words, how he pronounces them, and an explanation for his mispronunciations.  The reason I can relate so well are three-fold:  1.  I'm an only child and an avid reader.  I mispronounced many words I understood in writing, but could not pronounce.  2.  I lived in New Orleans.  The mixture of French and Indian words tripped me up all the time.  Knox had a few of these words like "beignet" and  "lagniappe" on his list.  (FYI He pronounces beignet "beige-net."  3.  Our oldest daughter, also an avid reader and University professor, does the same thing, LOL!  It's genetic!

Reconsider Life should be mandatory reading for millennials.  My sweet Sister-In-Law talks about the nefariousness of Participation Trophies all the time.  She is right, and so is Knox's counter, especially when one considers the typical high school sports hierarchy in the South.  Inclusion happens only when the kids are little, if at all.  I can truly see both sides of this one.  Also in this section is Kid Names.  If you want to get an eye twitch about how a name can totally screw-up your child (or grandchild), then this is the chapter for you.  I laughed out loud throughout it.  I can remember that a few well-meaning friends told me that if I named Shanley "Shanley Belle," that kids would tease her and call her Tinkerbell.  It never happened.  Knox's advice is to never tell friends your unborn child's name.  Good advice.  Also, he lists ten names that are examples of old-white-guy names that are "on the cusp of being shelved."  How unfortunate, because my DH's name is on there.  ;P

Reconsider Beliefs is my favorite chapter.  I was stunned when I read the chapter The Good Place.  A reference to one of my favorite comedies (one of the very few programs I have binge watched in recent years), I was stunned to read that Knox's thoughts on heaven were eerily similar to mine.  Scary.  I also appreciate The God Card.  This chapter is about people who make poor decisions and pull the God card.  One example Knox shared is the guy who gets a mortgage to build his man cave, and uses the God card to qualify his stupidity.  When Christians do this, it drives me nuts.  

In conclusion, I recommend both the podcast and the book.  If you can get away at all this summer, the book is great because the chapters are fairly short, so it's an easy book to pick up, read a few chapters, and put it down until you can pick it up again.  Plus, Knox is so witty.  And thoughtful!  Run to your favorite Indie Bookstore and get curbside pick-up for this fun book.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of All Things Reconsidered from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Below is an affiliate link to purchase the book via IndieBound.
My independent bookstore is Little Professor in Homewood, Alabama.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Do you listen to any podcasts?  Please share in comments below!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  For this edition of the Tales of the Traveling Tote, I'll be sharing what I've been doing while under medical martial law.  

Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!

Today I'm sharing a very inspirational book: The Fight to Flourish by Jennie Lusko.  

According to Goodreads:

How do you live a full life? Perhaps the better question is, how do you really live when life throws you sucker punches, when you face obstacles that seem to snuff out your faith, when you lose something or someone precious to you? In The Fight to Flourish, Jennie Lusko encourages women to suit up and thrive, not just in the dailies of monotony and routine but even in the most desolate of places. Using the backdrop of her second-born daughter Lenya’s passing into heaven five days before Christmas in 2012, Jennie invites readers to embrace whatever destination they’ve landed. She teaches how, through the good and the bad, they can learn to grow, be strong, draw near to God, and be a blessing to others. It is in this sacred space of pain and promise that women can begin to flourish.

One of many important biblical truths shared in The Fight to Flourish, from the chapter entitled, "The Silent Treatment."

My Review

The week I read this book, I couldn't help but notice how Jennie Lusko's story and her biblical references were dovetailing nicely with my current Bible study on faith:

"The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."  Psalm 34:19

"So do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

If you guessed that I have been studying the chapter about when faith is hard, then you are correct.  Faith is never easy in this world, and there are times when it seems impossible to believe in a divine God who always has your best interests at heart.  However, He is always with us, and his love for us never changes.  Jennie reminds us early in her book that since God exists out of time, he is also in the past with us, comforting us still in our darkest moments. 

In The Fight to Flourish, Jennie shares how to not only survive the heartbreaking times, but how to flourish.  I feel like I know Jennie now, and I enjoyed how she uses boxing analogies to make a point.  I also appreciated how she bravely shares excerpts from her journal.  These entries are so raw: They will break your heart!  And yet I can see God's grace and love for Jennie as she struggles with the loss of her daughter as well as the mundane, everyday aggravations, like getting four children ready for the day and out the door. 

Each chapter offers insight into how to depend on God (and his fighting for you) in order to flourish.  Of the seventeen chapters, my favorites are:  "Born to Shine," "You Can't Hug a Porcupine," and "Stir Up the Sweetness."  In "Stir Up the Sweetness," Jennie shares her struggle with how her face reveals what she's thinking.  I, too, have an easily readable face, and although it might briefly reflect my thoughts, it isn't a reflection of my heart.  Jennie encourages us to cultivate kind eyes: "This happens on the inside.  It's a heart issue.  Kind eyes get their running start from the soul."  

If we are to have kind eyes towards others, we need to first look to the One who looks at us this way.  This is where sweetness begins...[Before we were saved] Forgiveness was our biggest need because sin was our biggest problem.  If we can fully receive God's forgiveness, then forgiveness will flow from us, and from that well we will be kind and tenderhearted to those around us.

Stirring up the sweetness through kindness by making people feel welcomed, invited, loved, and appreciated helps those around us flourish.  Clearly this book isn't just for people who have suffered incredible loss: It's for anyone who wants to live a more fruitful, meaningful life, and encourage others to do the same.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of the book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thank you!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Above is an IndieBound affiliate link for purchasing the book.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

the favorite

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  My reading slump is finally over.  Yay for me!  I decided to check-out Eleanor Oliphant is Com...