Friday, November 30, 2012

Literary Friday: The Secret Keeper

Recently I read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.  Morton is one of my favorite authors, so I always purchase her books rather than checking them out from the library.  She is the queen of plots steeped in intriguing family secrets, and I truly love her stories.

Laurel Nicholson is England's most beloved actress.  She had recently placed second in "The Nation's Favorite Face" poll, and could basically get any role she wanted.  But now she must play the dutiful daughter and eldest sister due to her mom's failing health.  Laurel returns to her family's rural Suffolk farmhouse along with her three younger sisters to care for their mother Dorothy during her final days.

Laurel has kept a secret from her siblings for a very long time.  During a family creekside birthday party, sixteen year old Laurel escapes to her treehouse to daydream about a boy and becoming an actress.  Her mother returns to the house to retrieve a cake knife when Laurel witnesses her mother kill a man in cold blood with said knife.  Laurel is stunned and goes into shock: How could her nurturing and vivacious mother commit such a crime?

The answers to these questions can be found in the past, in London, during the blitz.  Most of the novel's story is centered around Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy: three people whose lives would forever be altered due to a misunderstanding and a direct hit from a bomb.  Their story will keep you reading until late at night, trust me.  An added bonus to the plot is that Laurel could easily quit her day job as an actress and become a detective.  Her ability to piece together her mother's story using clues from the past is fantastic.  The Secret Keeper's ending is shocking, and I'm fairly certain it will make my Best of 2012 list.

Kate Morton discusses The Secret Keeper

What have you been reading lately?  This is a linky!

Until next time...
Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What's for Breakfast: Creamy Quinoa

Here's a fantastic breakfast dish for you quinoa lovers.  :D

Creamy Quinoa
Makes 4 servings


1 cup quinoa
Generous pinch of fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
4 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fat-free milk
8 teaspoons chopped nuts/seeds (I used sunflower seeds)

nut/seed options:  Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds


1.   In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa, salt, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes (the quinoa should be tender, but it's okay if it's a little wet).

2.   Uncover, stir in the evaporated milk, flaxseed meal, and 2 teaspoons of the honey.  Return to a simmer and cook, stirring until the milk is mostly absorbed and the cereal is a thickness you like, 4 - 6 minutes.

3.   Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla or almond extract.  Top each serving with 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon honey, and 2 teaspoons chopped nuts/seeds.

Per 3/4-cup serving:  286 calories, 14g protein, 5.5g fat (0.5 saturated), 4.5g fiber, 289mg calcium, 1mg vitamin C, 45g carbohydrate, 154mg sodium

Next time I'd like to try toasted pumpkin seeds in it!

What did you have for breakfast?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wit and Whimsy: Christmas Floral Arrangements

Since I'm going with a fresh greenery/candle theme this year, I searched for some inspiration for Christmas foral arrangements on Pinterest.  Here are three of my favorites:

from BH&G
Got to *love* the woodland theme with the bark vase!

I love this combination of amaryllis and magnolia leaves (I'm a Southern girl after all)!

The silver enhances the paper whites and dusty miller leaves.

I will post more of our fresh greenery and floral Christmas decor later.  I'm waiting because I want it to be fresh for Christmas.  Do you like to decorate using fresh greenery?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Happy List: Schedules and Plans

Peaceful little corner in the art studio

My Happy List

I'm so happy that we are all home from New Orleans, the kids are back in school, and we are in a routine again.  I'm hoping that I'll continue to feel better now that we are on a regular schedule.

Simple Christmas:  candles, fresh greenery, and Poinsettias

This year I'm keeping our Christmas decor simple:  mostly Poinsettias and candles/votives.  I'll add fresh greenery closer to Christmas.  I have a plan, and this makes me very happy!

One of two pear paintings I'm working on:  I want to finish them by the end of next week!

I'm so happy to be back in the studio painting today.  I haven't painted in over three weeks, so it's good to be painting again!

What's making you happy?  Jolene and Aubrey are hosting My Happy List.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Happy List

Jolene is hosting My Happy List this week.  Thanks, Jolene.  You're the best!
I wanted to pop in and write a quick post to thank everyone for their kindness during this difficult time for our family.  Your emails, comments, cards, flowers, gifts, etc. have meant the world to us.
When I left for New Orleans Thursday for my mother-in-law's memorial service, I had a terrible sore throat.  By the time we got home Saturday morning, I had pneumonia.  
Plus we're hosting Thanksgiving this year.  I'm a wee bit overwhelmed, but I have delegated most of the meal out to others.
I am happy that I will be spending Thanksgiving with my family, including my mother and grandmother.

I am also happy that my sweet neighbor JaWanda sent me some mini pies because I'm sick (she is baking one of her world-famous sweet potato pies for our Thanksgiving dinner, too).  So I am happy to say I got to pick between the Praline Sweet Potato Pie or the Chocolate Marble Sweet Potato Pie for my lunch today.  :D

Check out JaWanda's website!

Decisions, decisions!  

I decided to eat the Sweet Potato and Chocolate Marble pie.

What's on your Happy List this week?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rest in Peace

My mother-in-law, Marjorie Treleaven, passed away this morning.  My husband is devastated. You might remember that my father-in-law passed away on July 23rd.  I truly don't know when I'll be back, but I'll make an announcement about My Happy List later on today.

Please be in prayer for our family.  My youngest daughter Shelley is taking it very hard.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

My Readers Are the *Best*

I want to thank y'all for your help with my blog and Facebook issues.  I have followed your advice, and I only had four spam comments this morning and they went into my spam folder. Your advice is working.  Yay!  I also think that my Facebook account is secure, too.

The two posts attracting the spam:  Picnic Jug Lamp Tutorial and Halloween Decorations. Weird, huh!?!?!?

This has been an exhausting week for me and my family.  Plus, I've caught some type of flu-like virus.  I will be resting this weekend, and I plan to watch football and read blogs.  I won't be posting because I don't feel like it.

Sorry I did't post a Literary Friday post, but I was so frustrated I didn't feel like it.

I will be back on Tuesday with My Happy List.  I will be hosting the link party again for the rest of November.  Please consider participating because I'd like to encourage Mamarazzi. Methinks she needs it!  :D

I will be consuming tons of tea this weekend, too.  I have some new blends I'm looking forward to trying.

See you on Tuesday with My Happy List!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Call for Help Plus Wit & Whimsy: Patriotic Bedroom

Bloggy Friends...HELP!  I need your advice.  

1.   First of all, I was DELUGED with SPAM comments on (mostly) two of my posts.  My gmail inbox was packed full of crappy spam!  :/
2.   Then my gmail account was compromised, and my Facebook account.  I had to delete some Facebook posts and links I didn't post! Please, if you've gotten an odd comment on Facebook from me the past couple of days, assume it wasn't from me.

At first I set my blog to invitation only, and the spam did stop. Grace suggested that I moderate all comments for a little while.  I'm doing that.  I reset the password to gmail and I think that's taken care of for now.  Google has been helpful with this issue.  Any other advice? The big issue is actually finding important emails, like the ones form my daughter's school.  I usually get several emails from her school weekly, and I get panicked if I can't find them in the middle of all the spam.

Thanks for your help!

This is a post that I intended for yesterday, but with all the problems with gmail, Facebook, and Spam I didn't want to post for fear of even more spam.

First of all, our country is split, and the election was not a mandate like the 2008 and 2010 elections.  Our country not only elected a democratic President, but also elected a republican House of Representatives. Obviously the electorate wants a mixed, more moderate approach in solving our problems.  We have millions suffering without jobs, and thousands homeless from Hurricane Sandy.  I pray that both parties can work together  and compromise to get us back on track and avoid the impending financial cliff. We have a history of strong leaders working together for the betterment of the United States of America:  Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil and Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are two examples.  Let's pray that Barack Obama and John Boehner can work together, and let's pray that they start by implementing all recommendations in Simpson-Bowles.

I have always loved red, white, and blue rooms.  In honor of the election, I wanted to feature a patriotic bedroom.

I love the dots, check, and toile.  The sweet flowered quilt on the footboard is so pretty, too. There is even a white lamp, red books, and blue glass on the small nightstand.  :D

Do you like this cozy bedroom?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Happy List: Quite Random!

I haven't heard from Mamarazzi, so I'm unsure when she'll be returning to blogging.  Still, I wanted to write a Happy List because I thought it would be something positive for me to focus on rather than the ridiculous numbers of amendments I'll have to vote on today.  Here's an idea, Alabama:  How about trashing our overly long and outdated constitution and start all over from scratch?  :/  *steps off soapbox*  Now on to happier things!

This week's list is randomlicious!

My Happy List

1.   I am always happy when October turns into November.  I am not a huge fan of Halloween, and October is one of our busiest months.  Yay for November!


Calendar by Ling Chang

2.   I won a neat postcard from a German artist during Le Mysterieux Carnival party.


Thanks so much to The Public Postcard!

3.   I won a fantastic giveaway @ Holiday with Matthew Mead!  Check out these neat vintage jelly jars!  I used them on Halloween to serve pumpkin pudding.  You can see my recipe for pumpkin pudding here.

I love the jars!  Winning neat prizes like this makes me so happy.  They even sent me the neat moon graphics on heavy card stock.  :D

4.   Forstall is having a sale!  I buy most of my art supplies from them.  

A sip and shop?  Allowing me to sip wine while shopping for art supplies is probably Mr. Art @ Home's worst nightmare!  ;P

5.   I'm so happy that our hydrangeas are still blooming!  :D

6.   I have been decorating a little for Thanksgiving.  Decorating for holidays makes me so happy!

7.   I met Caroline from Glitter Tart Designs on Friday.  Happy!  We had cappuccinos and treats at one of my favorite places in Birmingham:  The Continental Bakery.  We discussed books, art, and family.  Caroline's adorable, and if you haven't visited her enchanting blog, you can do so here.

What is making you happy this week?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, November 5, 2012

Musical Monday: "Red"

Shelley is the biggest Taylor Swift fan on the planet, so we've been listening to Taylor's new CD.....a lot!

Methinks I now know it by heart!  But I must say as a mom that I think she's a great role model for my 15 year old.  :D

What are you listening to this week?

Link-up to Musical Monday!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Please Help Super Storm Sandy Victims!

You can help Super Storm Sandy victims by buying pretty and affordable art!  :D

Daily Paintworks is sponsoring an art sale where all proceeds will benefit storm relief. These same folks could also be hit with another storm on Wednesday of this week, so please be in prayer for these people on the coast.

I have put one of my minis in the sale, "Vampire's Worst Nightmare."  Please visit my minis page, and if there is a painting that interests you, I will include it in the sale.  All of my minis are framed!  If none of my paintings appeal to you, there is a huge variety of paintings included in the sale.

Vampire's Worst Nightmare
3" X 4"
oil on canvas
This little painting depicts a collection of onions and garlic in a vintage copper pan.

Starting bid is only $25.00!

Please click on this link for the Hurricane Sandy fundraiser.  I have a widget at the top of my sidebar that will take you to the art sale as well.

You could also get an early start on your Christmas shopping!

If you are an artist, I hope you will consider contributing a painting for the sale.

I hope you will consider supporting this Hurricane Sandy Fundraising effort.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Patriotic Tablescape in Breakfast Room

In honor of Election Day here in the US (November 6th), I created an All-American tablescape in our breakfast room.

The gumbo bowls are vintage mid-eighties.  I am using them for red beans and rice.
There's nothing more American (or Southern) than red beans and rice!

Tablecloth, butter dish:  Anthropologie
Westie salt and pepper shakers:  The Church Mouse, Fairhope, AL
Quilted placemats:  Vintage; I bought them in Nashville 25 years ago!
Red checked napkins, blue striped napkins, and chargers:  Pier 1
Plates, cracker basket, and 2001 Inaugural Basket:  Longaberger
Leather napkin rings:  Williams-Sonoma
Crystal vase:  Horse show trophy
Gumbo bowls:  Vintage
White bistro candlestick:  MacKenzie-Childs

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Day Flower Arrangements

I want to share with you two patriotic flower arrangements for election day. They are in our dining room, and I'll share the election day tablescape in the breakfast room later.

The hydrangeas are from our garden.

I bought the large Pottery Barn white linen runner online for $19.

The vases are by Molly Hatch via Anthropologie.

The patriotic runner is from Pier 1.

I must confess that the election is getting on my very last nerve.  I have very close friends from both parties, and I'm just tired of the discussion.  I tried to do something positive and creative about my anxiety, and focus on the freedoms we enjoy and the responsibility/privilege of voting.

I am avoiding Facebook right now, and the reason I've been such a bad blog friend lately and not visiting you is because we have been so incredibly busy. I haven't been home to blog jog!

Linking to:

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, November 2, 2012

Literary Friday: Clara and Mr. Tiffany

This week I read Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.  The novel is based on an exhibit at the New York Historical society and its fascinating catalog,  A New Light on Tiffany:  Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls.  Clara Driscoll was a detailed letter writer like many of her Victorian contemporaries, and this allowed Susan Vreeland to piece together Clara's amazing story.

In 1893 Loius Comfort Tiffany shocks the world with his innovative stained glass windows in the White City at the World's Fair in Chicago.  Tiffany is not the business man his father is, but he is a visionary for a new art aesthetic.  A large part of this book describes the painstaking process of making stained glass mosaics, lampshades, windows, and other items from concept through completion.  As an artist, I am fascinated about the process, but I wonder if other readers might get bored with it.  Tiffany owns his own glass factory in Queens, and the process always begins with the gorgeous and varied glass. At the Tiffany studios, the women's division, led by Clara Driscoll, design almost all of the stained glass lampshades.  Tiffany runs a tight ship, and doesn't allow any of the women to continue to work for him once married. Clara leaves him when she marries only to return to the company once widowed.

The story is told from Clara's point of view, and I find her to be a complex and lovable character. She wears so may hats in the novel:  artist, leader, lover, progressive, friend, advisor, manager, and encourager.  Clara is definitely an encourager to everyone in her life, and this is what I love most about her. Clara was never given credit publicly for her beautify designs, and this breaks my heart because according to her letters, she never allowed discouragement to affect her love for art.  After several complicated relationships with men (most of them platonic) Clara must decide whether to remain with Tiffany's or choose a different path for the love of a good man.

I highly recommend this book.  Another thing worth mentioning about the book are the many quotes of Walt Whitman poetry.  I loved this about the book, but I could have done without the Dickinson.  I know that America only produced basically two decent poets during the nineteenth century, but only Whitman was genius.  When I taught Dickinson to high school students (I had to as it was part of the curriculum) I always brought in a recording of The Yellow Rose of Texas because all of her poems can be sung to the tune of it. I really don't think that an intelligent, creative woman like Clara would have really appreciated Dickinson.  Sorry for the digression and commentary!  ;P

Susan Vreeland discusses Clara and Mr. Tiffany @ Beauty and the Book Club

What have you been reading lately?

This is a linky!

Until next time...
Happy reading!
Ricki Jill