Sunday, June 30, 2013

Follow the Art!

Please follow me via Bloglovin 

or subscribe via email.

I'd be so honored, and I'd follow you back!

And for a little lagniappe, please follow me via Pinterest, too!  ;P

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Confessional: The Color Pink in the Kitchen, More Comfort Food, and Mr. Art @ Home Is In the Dog House!

Happy Friday, my lovelies!  It's confession time!!!

I confess...
I confess that I'm loving the pink in our kitchen.  And I've been accessorizing! Take a look-see:

LOVING the pink roses from the Farmers' Market.  They still look so good!

Pink sea salt in an adorable little turquoise salt cellar from Lanikai Pot and Plant.

Sweet little rose covered magnetic memo board from Villabarnes.  Rosemary is so creative, and her up-cycled treasures are so pretty, fun, and functional!

I'm enjoying my pink salt pig I bought a while back.  It came with its own pink sea salt, and I'm almost out!  The coconut macaroon candles smells like heaven!

Speaking of heaven....this might be my favorite candle in the whole house.  It's from the Illume Spring Eden collection.

I would love this vintage pink cabinet for the kitchen.  It's from An Angel at My Table.  LOVE that site!

So I confess that I'm thinking about buying the above cabinet.  Do you want to know why?  Well, obviously it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission....

Do you want to know why else?  Here's why:

I confess...
I confess that I'm ticked-off at Mr. Art @ Home.  
It's bad enough he bought a turquoise Vespa.

And then it had a baby...they're multiplying....

Ummm....I dont remember the conversation about buying either of them.  Mr. Art claims that they are an investment.  Yep.....I've heard that one before.   :/   
Plus, we live on a mountain.  They aren't safe!  We can't even get out of our neighborhood without putting our lives in danger!

But OH, it gets even BETTER!

Do you see the round thing on the back?  It was made for a Starbucks Grande and Venti go cup.  

REALLY????  Now is Mr. Art mocking me, or is this "you appeal" because the last time I checked I was in BIG TROUBLE for my Starbucks habit, the hypocrite.  Did I say that out loud?  :/

I love ya, Babe, but you're in so much stinkin' trouble....

I confess...
I confess that Miss Pat asked me in art class if I cook all the time or what? Well, yes, I do, Miss Pat (got to love her)!!!  I have very spoiled peeps in my house....very high maintenance....

So here's my latest recipe, and it's dedicated to Miss Pat because it doesn't make a whole lot, so there won't be leftovers for days!

Three Cheese Penne Bake

1 (8-oz.) package penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk 
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
Pinch of ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and half-and-half; cook, whisking constantly, 5 - 7 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1cup Gruyère cheese, and next 3 ingredients until smooth.
3. Stir together pasta and cheese mixture, and pour into 4 lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Top with remaining Gruyère cheese.
4. Bake at 350° for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

I confess...
I confess that I must needs a Starbucks fix right now! 
I might get a Cap'n Crunch Frap in addition to my cappuccino!  They're the yummiest! 

Later, lovelies!  ;P

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I liked myths.  They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories.  They were better than that.  They just were.
~Unnamed Narrator of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, p. 53

This week I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.  It seems like I'd been waiting patiently for months for its release, and I must say that all the hype and anticipation was well-worth it.  I absolutely love this adult fairy tale full of myth, magic, suspense, and survival, and I was sad when I finished reading it.  I'm planning to re-read it over the weekend to better enjoy the mythology hinted at in the story.

The story is primarily told in flashback.  A middle-aged man has returned to his small village in Sussex to attend a funeral.  After it, he drives past where his childhood home stood to the Hempstock Farm at the end of the lane. Once there, childhood memories about fantastical and horrifying events come flooding back, and thus the true story of the novel begins.

Gaiman has said in interviews that the young boy in The Ocean at the End of the Lane experienced a childhood very similar to his own in rural Sussex. Both were bookish, and the main storyline of the book begins after the narrator's heartbreaking seventh birthday party when none of the invited guests came.  I can't imagine anything like that happening to Neil Gaiman! The narrator's family had fallen on hard times and begin letting a bedroom in their home.  One of their tenants, an opal miner from Australia, steals the family's Mini Cooper and commits suicide at the end of the lane near the Hempstock Farm.  This act unleashes a terrifying series of events that involve the seven-year-old narrator. 

The Hempstocks are three generations of women who are immortals only pretending to be human.  They are brilliant in this book: They're totally self-sufficient and explain to the narrator that the only purpose for men is to produce male children.  They came to Sussex from far away before the old country either sank (according to Hettie who appeared to be around eleven years old) or blew-up, according to the grandmother.  The narrator soon discovers that there are realms just beyond the Hempstock Farm that are best left be.  The monsters in this world are terrifying and want to consume everything in our world. The odd rituals to counteract the monsters and injuries sustained in the story are so well-written that the reader can feel the cleansing of the salt water.  It truly is delicious!  Lettie and the narrator get in way over their heads, and the results are tragic. But memory is such a tricky thing, and perhaps not remembering character-building events is the most tragic thing of all. 

Neil Gaiman reads an excerpt from The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Literary Friday
What have you been reading lately?  Please link-up to Literary Friday!
Until next time...
Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mud Pies and Other Recipes

Not many books take me back to my childhood like Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow.  Published around 1960, it is a recipe for dolls, and apparently dolls like to eat found objects and common things found in gardens.

I can remember making mud pies with Paulette Alexander.  She lived down the street from me, and I loved playing at her house.  She had a playroom with a million toys in it, several cats, and a very large backyard.  We made many hundred mud pies during summer vacations, and we always added wild onions to them.  Yum!  We never wore shoes, and Mrs. Alexander sprayed us off with the garden hose after playing in the mud.  I still remember the sting on my shins from the nozzle!

Paulette was two years ahead of me in school, so she could do everything better than I.  She was the best colorer in the neighborhood because she knew how to outline pictures in coloring books before she filled-in the pictures.  She knew where all the trails behind her house led, and she knew all about mud pies.  Paulette moved while we were still in elementary school, and I have been thinking about her a lot since I found this adorable mud pie book.  Paulette could have written her own!

I had so much more freedom as a child to explore and play, especially during summer.  My children had a much more structured childhood, and it makes me sad for them.  I certainly watched my children play, and we planned play dates rather than sending the girls outside to find someone to play with.  I don't know whether it's the difference between growing up in a small Southern town compared to a Southern suburb or or the times we live in now. I doubt that my girls ever made a mud pie.

The above photos are from a very cute blog called Here We Are Together. Aren't the photos too cute!  They are from a post entitled In the Garden. Miri was kind enough to let me use these delightful photos from her blog, and I hope you will visit her blog and say hello!  She has young children, she homeschools, and she and her family live on England's south coast.

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The perfect hors d'oeurves tray for dolls

One of my favorite recipes is for Honeysuckle Wine:

"Put a honeysuckle blossom beside each plate.  They should be slightly chilled in the shade before serving."

I remember drinking honeysuckle nectar as a child.  This book brings back so many wonderful memories, and I think it could make new memories for the youngsters, dolls, and young at heart people in your life.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We Want to Know Wednesday *and* Farmers' Market Roses

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{no. 1} What are a few things on your bucket list that you hope to accomplish this year?
I don't really have a bucket list.  Maybe I should write one!

{no. 2} What would you rather have, a short order cook or a maid?
Neither.  I'd much rather have a chauffeur because I hate driving, and I hate the traffic here in Birmingham!

{no. 3} Are there any projects you hope to do this Summer?
At the moment I'm too focused on my kids.  It's proving to be a very busy summer, and we're focusing on academics with one in summer school and one receiving tutoring.  I am planning on starting a series of paintings based on literary heroines this fall once the kids are back in school and in a regular routine.

{no. 4} What do you want your next big purchase to be?
I would like to buy a sweet-tempered thoroughbred.  {for Shelley}

{no. 5} Why did you start blogging?
I had major surgery, and I was bored.    ;P

As you know from yesterday's post, we visited the Farmers' Market in our area Saturday.  I bought a few roses, and I wanted to share them with you.  It's interesting to see the ones that opened fully and the ones that didn't.

Finally, the creamy-white ones tinged in pink opened-up!

I miss our rose garden in Arizona.  If I'm ever blessed to have one again, I'll grow some old-fashioned David Austin roses, like these:

Speaking of roses....I have a new blog obsession. If you've never visited Hedgerow Rose, you should, like, right now!  The photography is simply stunning.

Maybe I should change my answer to #4.  I need a big girl camera!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Happy List: What a Wonderful Weekend, *plus* Early Summer Squash

My Happy List
1.   Grab my delightful button coding for your post above.
2.   Link-up a happy post.
3.   Visit other bloggers and enjoy!

We had a very Happy Weekend.  :D

My Happy List

1.   Shelley had a great time @ Clairmont Show Stables Saturday.  We all did, actually.  It was lovely! Clairmont is one of the prettiest little barns we've ever seen!  If you missed my post about the horse show you can read about it here.  Horse show weekends make me happy!

2.   After the horse show, we went to Mt. Laurel for the Farmers' Market.  The market always makes me happy!  An Italian cooking school had a booth there with some delicious canned goods.  We also bought some homemade peach and strawberry preserves.  Plus, we couldn't pass-up the early summer squash.  It's the most tender at this time of year!  I also bought some roses because my favorite flower market had a booth there, too.  I'll post photos later this week once they've opened.

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Mr. Art @ Home couldn't resist the artichoke bruschetta from the Italian Cooking School folks.
The preserves are from a small farm in Chilton County.  They'd sold out of peaches before we got there!

3.   Shanley Belle and Charles came home  yesterday and had supper with us.  Shanley Belle has been working hard this summer taking Chemistry and Statistics.  She's making very good grades, and I'm so proud of her! Spending time with her makes me so happy, and this summer school semester will be over this week.  YAY!

Sunday Supper Menu:
Filet Mignon grilled on hot iron skillet
Squash Casserole

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Squash Casserole

6 cups large diced yellow squash 
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute the squash in olive oil over medium-low heat until it has completely broken down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Line a colander with clean paper towels. Place the cooked squash in the lined colander and squeeze excess moisture from the squash. Set aside.

In a large skillet, saute the onion in butter for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and mix all ingredients together except cracker crumbs. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

This is the first time I'd ever made squash casserole without eggs, and I think I liked it a wee bit better this way.  Can you tell that I'm trying to get rid of the big box of Ritz crackers and the cheddar cheese I bought for the Poppyseed Chicken Casserole?  ;P

4.   I really appreciate the participation in Literary Friday last week.  Y'all made me so happy!  

5.   We're going to the library today and tomorrow.  I'm happy because I'm determined to find some great books, and I'm reading a fantastic book right now.  :D  

So far so good!  It's a creeptastic book for sure!

What's making you happy?  Please link-up your happy posts and share!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, June 24, 2013

Musical Monday: Kodaline's "All I Want"

I must admit than I'm not overly crazy about what's been on the top rotation at Alt Nation lately.  But I really do like Kodaline's "All I Want."  It's a sweet little ballad, I think.  Please keep in mind that I fell in love the song before watching the video.   The video is very {special} very interesting, sort of like Beauty and the Beast.

I hope you enjoy it!  Why don't you share what you've been listening to lately with us @ My So-Called Chaos.  Just follow the button!

"All I Want"

"you scard the sh*t out of me
you scared me "

All I want is nothing more
to hear you knocking at my door
'cause if i could see your face once more
I could die as a happy man I'm sure

when you said your last goodbye
I died a little bit inside
I lay in tears in bed all night
alone without you by my side

but If you loved me
why did you leave me

take my body
take my body
all I want is
all I need is
to find somebody

oooohhhh ohhh

'cause you brought out the best of me
a part of me I'd never seen
you took my soul wiped it clean
our love was made for movie screens

but If you loved me
why did you leave me
take my body
take my body
all I want is
all I need is
to find somebody

if you loved me
why did you leave me
take my body
take my body
all I want is
all I need is
to find somebody
to find somebody

like you

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Comme en Provence

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Can you guess where we are?  Are we in Provence?  No, it just looks like Provence.  Shelley competed in a horse show at Clairmont Show Stables right here in central Alabama, about seven miles from where we live! Clairmont is a lovely barn, and they're fantastic hosts.  You can see photos of the pretty barn above.  (Yes, they are photos of the barn!)

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Shelley helping Elmo get accustomed to his new surroundings.

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Shelley riding in her equitation class

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Shelley won her first equitation class!

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Shelley was awarded first and second place in her equitation classes.  She came in third (twice) and fourth in her courses.

Linking to:

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Confessional *plus* a Recipe for Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Good afternoon, lovelies!  It's time for yet another Friday Confessional.  You can join Aubrey @ High-Heeled Love each Friday for this link party.  Just click on the adorable button!  Thanks for hosting, Aubrey.

I confess...
I confess that I should have followed my advice from last week's post and walked away from the suckish book I read....that took me two weeks to read...When will I ever learn to stop reading bad books!?!?!?  UGH!!!!

Read at your own risk.

I confess...
I confess that I'm so happy to see the sun!  We've had lots of rain this spring, especially during June.

Sun in the dining room!!!  LOVE it!

I confess...
I confess that after several days of bland food, I wanted some comfort food! So I cooked a Southern staple, Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole.  I can't tell you how many functions I've attended over my lifetime where this has been served.  Every Southern lady knows how to make it.

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup (condensed)
1 16 oz. tub of Daisy sour cream
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
3 T poppy seeds
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine everything but the crackers and butter in a bowl and stir well.  Spoon into a lightly greased 11 X 7 inch baking dish.  Top with crackers, and then drizzle butter on top.  

Bake uncovered for 25 - 30 minutes or until bubbly.  Let stand for ten minutes before serving.

Serves 6 - 8.

I could only eat a small plate, but it tasted so good!

There is a recipe for Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole in this cookbook.  There are other Southern classics in it as well.  If you want the quintessential cookbook for traditional Southern recipes, this is the book for you!

I confess...
I confess that I enjoyed not cooking much this week!  ;P

My aprons have been lonely!  ;P

I confess...
I confess that I have been having patio and garden envy from many of your posts this week.  

I need a pretty outdoor retreat like this one!  {Don't you think!?!?}  It's pinned on my Shabby Chic Outdoor Spaces board.

I confess...

I confess that I only subscribe to TWO magazines.  But check this out:

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I've received these magazines the past couple of weeks in the mail.  I only subscribe to two ( a third one was a gift subscription but I think it has expired) of them and there are twelve here!

So why do you reckon I'm getting all of these magazines?  And a few of them are British!  I don't think I should have to pay for something I didn't order. Has this ever happened to you?  I love magazines, but I only have time to read two or three at the most each month.

I hope y'all have a fun weekend!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill