Friday, September 21, 2018

Literary Friday: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine



Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  My reading slump is finally over.  Yay for me!  I decided to check-out Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine at the library because so many of my Instagram friends raved about it.  Gail Honeyman is an extremely good writer, and I found the book difficult to put down.

According to Goodreads:

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . 

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

My Review:

First of all, I need to correct the faulty book blurb above.  I hate it when they get it wrong....did this person who wrote it even read the book?

First of all, Eleanor only talks to her mother on Wednesday evenings via a phone call originated by her mother, not the weekends.  Raymond and Sammy do not live their lives in isolation.  Raymond has roommates and friends he plays computer games with, and he has a doting, loving mother.  Sammy has an extended family who loves him very much, and his children and grands are very much involved in his life.  Eleanor is the only one living in isolation, so when I read the book and then re-read the blurb, I thought, "What the what?"

Eleanor is a very interesting and endearing character.  The reader knows that she's had a harrowing childhood, and she is very, very awkward socially.   I thought that she might be spectrum-ish, maybe high functioning Aspergers because she is brilliant, having studied the classics at university and an avid crossword puzzle solver.   But there is much more to her than her limited, stringent lifestyle.

It is true that new possibilities open-up for Eleanor when she and Raymond help save Sammy's life.  She begins to interact with people outside of work (she and Raymond work for the same Graphic Design Company), and she decides to fall in love with a local musician who doesn't know she exists.  This juvenile infatuation leads to a series of events that thankfully mature Eleanor, and none to soon as she's thirty years old.

Although I think the book is well-written and it's arguable a wonderful book, I'm probably not as enamored with the book as several of my friends, and here's why:

Spoiler Alert!  Spoilers Below!

Eleanor is an atheist.  I don't have much patience with atheists who put their faith and trust in a vodka bottle rather than God.  When this was revealed in the book I almost put it down.  

Also, there's a plot twist that was completely unexpected, and it made me rethink everything I thought I knew about Eleanor.  Her issues were much more involved than I realized; the plot twist had me seconding guessing the Aspergers diagnosis among other things.  Eleanor Oliphant is NOT completely fine.  The title is a lie!  Plus, the book would have benefited from a bit more closure.

End of Spoilers

If you enjoy character-driven novels with interesting, well-drawn and quirky characters, you should like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.  


The book cover below is an affiliate link for purchasing Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine via IndieBound.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Early Fall Decor in the Breakfast Room


Ta-da!  I went with the orange and blue table runner.


Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  I appreciate all the feedback y'all gave me on how to decorate our breakfast room from this post.  I read all of your emails and comments, and you truly helped me make my decision.  I noticed that several of you suggested I add copper to my plan, and I thought y'all had a great idea. 

Let's take a look at my choices for early fall.  The table is set for after dinner coffee and dessert (Madeleines).  We'll take the desserts outside and watch what we call "Midnight Baseball," or when the Cubbies play starting at 8:40 PM CDT.  I don't really mind these late games because it does cool down up here on Oak Mountain when the sun goes down.  The only downside is if Mr. Art at Home has an early case the next morning because he wants to go to sleep and I want to stay up and watch baseball!  ;P



Dessert plates and napkins stacked and ready to go.
I chose vintage MacKenzie-Childs patterns that are more fall-ish, and the indigo floral napkins are perfect for fall.  The plate's pattern is Cayuga.



I love the grays, oranges, blues, purples, and bright reds in the table runner.  The candlestick has a dark gray stripe that blends nicely with it.



Platter for Madeleines
I chose the Brittany pattern for its purples, blues, and wavy copper stripe.  
Do you notice anything else that's copper on this table?



I couldn't resist the tiger-striped pumpkins and the book nook dishtowel from Anthropologie.






The ceramic cups can be used for coffee or wine.



I'll be serving French pressed coffee, the Tea Cake roast from Revelator Coffee.



Sugar and creamer set was a gift from my mom and grandmother.



The bright roses are from The Fresh Market.  They are more of an orangy-red.  The wooden buffet server has just enough chippy blue paint.






And in case you missed it, I chose a pair of small geometric copper tea light lanterns from Pier1.


So basically I took your idea of adding oranges with the blues while also incorporating copper in my decor.  I didn't have any copper on hand, so I purchased these lanterns with the geometric look that's popular now; but at $5.95 per lantern, that's a small financial commitment for a trend that probably won't last until Christmas! (But I do like this trend...)

Thanks for your input!  I still love the other two choices, and perhaps I might choose one for November.


Resources:

Chair cushions, table runner, sugar and creamer set, and dishtowel:  Anthropologie
Blue vase and indigo floral napkins:  Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic
Dessert plates, candlesticks, oval serving plate, and spoon rest:  MacKenzie-Childs
Spoon: Horchow
Lanterns:  Pier1
Roses and pumpkins:  The Fresh Market
Wooden buffet server: At Home, Homewood, Alabama
Cup set: Angel and Boho, UK
French press cozy:  Etsy find


Have you started bringing out the pumpkins yet?  If so, let me know in comments,  and I'll come over and be a looky-lou visit your blog!


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill





Monday, September 17, 2018

The Best Bowl of Chili I've Ever Had



Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  I love using our slow cooker.  I also enjoy perfecting recipes by tweaking them a little each time I make them.  But sometimes it's important to know when to stop....As Mr. Sketchy Reader says: "Sometimes the enemy of good is better!"

Speaking of Mr. Sketchy Reader....he is spoiled.  Spoiled rotten to the core.  He requested chili because he wanted it for chili dogs while watching Cubbies baseball.  Well of course he gets whatever he wants even though we've had the hottest temperatures this past week we've had all summer!  I want smoothies and he wants chili dogs!!!

But that's okay because it gave me the opportunity to work on this recipe yet again.  The base for my recipe is from Genius Kitchen, a recipe entitled (you guessed it!) The Best Bowl of Chili I've Ever Had.  Please click on the link to see the recipe because there are a couple of things I left out, and a couple of things I added.  Also, this recipe can be cooked in less than an hour, but I prefer to cook mine early in the morning and let it cook all day long on low in the slow cooker.

The most important ingredient in this recipe is the beef.  Find the highest quality beef you can because it makes such a huge difference in the quality of the chili.  It's also healthier to cook grass fed and grass finished beef.

I usually wouldn't share a slow cooker recipe this early in the season, but you can also make your own tweaks and perfect it before you host your first college football tailgate or viewing party!

Here is my version.  I'm also including the brands I like to use.

Ingredients:

1 1⁄2 lbs. ground beef (I use Miller Farms Grass Fed Beef, raised locally in Alabama)
1 large chopped white onion
5 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans kidney beans (Piggly Wiggly Brand)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes (Piggly Wiggly Brand)
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (Piggly Wiggly Brand)
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers (Old El Paso chopped green chiles)
1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar (cane sugar is fine)
1 T Dutch Processed Baking Cocoa (The Fresh Market Brand)
1 cup dark beer (I use Newcastle)
1 cup shredded cheese (Piggly Wiggly Mexican mix) (optional)
1⁄2 cup sour cream (Daisy Brand) (optional)
Louisiana or Tobasco hot sauce (optional)

Procedure:

1.   My slow cooker has a browning feature on it, so I brown my ground beef in the slow cooker on 350.

Cook's tip: A great tip when browning meat is to dump it from the package directly into the pan.  Let it brown really well for several minutes, and then, using a spatula, flip it and let it brown on the other side before you break it up with a wooden spoon.

Once the meat is crumbled and browned thoroughly, add the onion, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano,  and cayenne.  Cook while stirring, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2.   Add the Kidney beans (juice and all), canned tomatoes (juice and all), the tomato paste,  chopped green peppers (yep, juice and all), sugar, cocoa powder, and beer.

3.   Stir well, and cook on low for 8 hours.

4.   Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and hot sauce.


Cook's Note:  I think my version of the recipe has enough fire, but you can add hot sauce during cooking if you wish.  The original recipe calls for 1/2 t Tobasco.




If you try this recipe and want to add your own tweaks, please let me know in comments below!

This recipe is super as a topping for chili hotdogs, too!









Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill