Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Field Trip to America's Hometown: Laurel, Mississippi

One of two shops owned by Ben and Erin Napier in Laurel, Mississippi

Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  A few weeks ago I went on a field trip to Laurel, Mississippi: America's Hometown.  Laurel is featured in Ben and Erin Napier's HGTV show, Home Town.  On the day I visited, it was overcast, and it eventually stormed before I left.  I'd like to share the highlights of my trip with y'all.

First of all, Laurel is not far from Interstate 59.  Laurel is about 150 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and about 142 miles northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana.  It's a fun day trip if you live in Alabama or Louisiana, and I plan on returning at some point this year.

My first stop was the Laurel Mercantile.  The shop isn't large, but it is very well curated.  There were several people shopping on the Saturday I visited in spite of the inclement weather.  

I liked the selection of milk glass in the shop as well as the vintage-looking glassware.

The Mercantile sells toweling by the yard (i'd love to think of a creative way to use it) and I also loved the cheerful artwork.

If you need anything for your kitchen, you can find it in the shop.

The Mercantile also has a lovely selection of Farmhouse Pottery.  I have a few pieces of their pottery and love it!  The shop sells pieces from the Laurel collection like the crock, above.

The pillows with the iconic Scotsman truck on them are so cute.  I regret not buying one!

I did purchase Ben and Erin's book.  

The book has a handy map in it showing the area where the homes are located that Ben and Erin have renovated for the show.  

After I left the Laurel Mercantile, I went to lunch at the famous Pearl's Diner.  It was crowded, but I didn't have to wait long for a delicious lunch of fried chicken and vegetables.  Pearl's is famous for fried chicken.  I did not take any photos because there were too many people, and by this time it had started raining.

The next stop:  The Scotsman General Store and Woodshop.

Ben and Erin were still filming this season, but as the light was off in the General Store, I didn't get to see Ben filming in his workshop *sadface*

The General Store sells lots of candy, and other food stuffs.  Ben runs on caffeine, apparently.  I also bought some Camellia red beans because they're hard to find in Alabama.

Big Ben's Blend is very strong, but excellent.  I also bought a mug and a Scotsman t-shirt for trip.

After I visited the Scotsman General Store I used the handy-dandy map from Ben and Erin's book and drove around and looked at all the beautiful homes in Laurel that have been featured on the show.  I also saw Ben and Erin's adorable craftsman-style cottage.  By this time it was raining hard, so again I didn't take any photos.  This is why I want to visit again, maybe during the week, when the weather is pretty.

One final note....Today is Mr. Sketchy Reader and my anniversary!  :D  We've been married 31 years today.  Miracles DO happen!  ;P

Do you watch Home TownI love Ben and Erin's designs, and I also enjoy their show!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mid-March Update

Finlay is sharing his St. Patrick's Day spirit!

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!

I hope y'all had a very Happy St. Patrick's Day!  We had a nice, restful day, and we ate some wonderful, authentic Irish food.

I barely got the house decorated for St. Patrick's Day on Friday, so we won't get to enjoy it for long, but that's okay!

I went with vintage MacKenzie-Childs in pinks and green for our St. Patrick's Day table.  I cooked traditional Irish soda bread and corned beef stew.

I'm sorry I've been MIA the past couple of weeks.  I had to help Shanley Belle in Baton Rouge because she had a scheduled minor surgery that led to an ER visit for sepsis.  A few days later, I contracted a nasty upper respiratory illness I more than likely caught in the ER.  I'm just now getting over it,  but I'm not 100% yet.

There are several things I want to share with y'all as we finish out March.  Here are a few posts to expect in the near future:

I took a field trip to America's Hometown, Laurel Mississippi

Because I've been sick, I haven't read much, but I did read The City Baker's Guide to Country Living in February.  I'll be sharing it with you this Friday.

I just received The Library of Lost and Found in the mail, and I will share this on Thursday, March 28th.  I love Phaedra Patrick.  She's one of my favorite writers!

I planted these pansies in October.  Our pansies have never wintered as well!  It's a shame that it's almost time to pull them all up!  I'm planning our spring container gardens this week.  I have a fun Pinterest board for container gardens!

I'm also considering a few spring home decor projects.  I love how Rachel Ashwell has wallpaper on her cabinet.  The colors are so pretty!  If you don't follow Rachel on Pinterest, you should  Click on THIS LINK to follow her inspiring pins and boards!

Last but not least, I have been savoring my library's annotated Anne of Green Gables.  I'm also immersing myself in all things Anne with an "e."  I will put together a post or two about the above books before our Book Club Discussion on Anne of Green Gables Friday, March 29th.

Today is my grandmother's 99th birthday.  Because I've been sick I'm not going to visit her today because I do have a bit of a cough (still).  I definitely do not want her to catch what I have!  Hopefully I can visit her in April when the weather is warmer and I'm hopefully better!  

That's about all for now!  What have you been up to lately?  Tell me in comments!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, March 15, 2019

Literary Friday: The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing with you a a very interesting supernatural mystery:  The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick.  

According to Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of House of Shadows and The Phantom Tree comes a spellbinding tale of jealousy, greed, plotting and revenge—part history, part mystery—for fans of Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley and Barbara Erskine

London, 1765

Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.

Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…

250 Years Later…

When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can't tell what is real and what is imaginary.

As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.

My Review:

First off, I think some of the comparisons in the Goodreads synopsis are interesting, but I think the BEST comparison would be with Susanna Kearsley's books.  If I could describe the plot in a nutshell, I'd say that the plot centers around a mysterious dress and how it impacts three women: two who lived in the past (Lady Isabella Gerard and her lady's made Constance) and one in the present (Fenella Brightwell, or Fen).  The narrative's supernatural elements include a "timeslip" enabling the enchanted dress to "travel" from the past to the future.  The dress's erie qualities aren't ever truly explained, and this is one of my only criticisms of the book.  What we do know as readers is that whatever unique tendencies our personalities have (good or evil) the dress magnifies them exponentially.  Also, all three women are abused by the men in their lives, so the major theme is female empowerment as all three overcome the abuse.

Because the story is told from all three women's points of view and the plot is very fast-paced, none of the three were well-developed.  For example, I really don't understand what Fen actually teaches at the college where she's employed; it is never truly explained.  Still, I love the story, and I couldn't put it down; I literally read it in one sitting.  Another thing that Nicola Cornick does in her writing as she weaves together two dispirate plotlines is this:  She will throw out a sentence (usually a passing thought of one of the three women) and it's like a little tasty morsel about the mystery.  Then nothing!  I would think: What did I just read?  What is the backstory to this?  Fortunately for her readers, Cornick does explain most of these tasty plot morsels, but she does leave a few to the imagination especially about the power of the dress.

If you enjoy gothic, historical, time-slip novels, you will love The Woman in the Lake.  I learned from Nicola Cornick's author's note that one of the novel's characters was based on a real person: Lady Isabella was based on a real-life aristocrat, Lady Diana Spencer, an ancestor of Princess Diana.  Cornick is also inspired by the history of Swindon, especially the moonrakers.  Serendipitously, I recently read a little blurb about the history of the moonrakers in the UK edition of Country Living Magazine, legend has it that smugglers were first called moonrakers in the Yorkshire village of Slaithwaite.  Smugglers avoided arrest when retrieving their bounty from the village pond by claiming to be moonraking, or trying to catch the mooon, which was reflected in the water.

Disclosure:  I received an ARC of The Woman in the Lake from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a raid and honest review.

Have you read anything fun lately?  If so, please share in comments.

Also, I wanted to remind you that we are reading Anne of Green Gables for book club this month.  Discussion will be on Friday, March 29th.  

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill