Tuesday, April 29, 2014

*ENOUGH* Already!

First, it was the snowpocalypse.  Now this….two days of severe weather with TOR:CON values of seven here in Central Alabama.

Last night was scary.  I dread this afternoon.  Sending out prayers for safely here in Alabama and elsewhere in the Southeast.

Off to carpool….this is the second day of early dismissal, and I'm.  Just. Over it….
I can't get anything done, so forget blogging or anything else fun.  

Although I won't be getting buzzed, mayhap I ought to do so…
My nerves are frayed!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Lisa

Dear Lisa,

I remember first knowing you at the University of Alabama.  You were roommates with one of my pledge sisters, Terrie Foreman.  Although you were in a different sorority, I would NEVER hold that against you  ;P   You and Terrie are proof that ladies majoring in Elementary Education aren't out for "Mrs." degrees because you both became outstanding teachers.  Lisa, I have learned so much from your knowledge and wisdom.

We both dated young men from a particular fraternity.  I married mine, and yours was a complete idiot when he broke-up with you.  But his loss became your husband Mike's gain.  Shanley Belle recognized at a young age how Mike has always doted on you.  He adores you!  Shanley has always said that she wants a husband one day just like Mr. Mike!  She has set the bar high.  She is also a wise woman like you!

It was an honor to serve under you when you were PTA President.  Our organization thrived, and under your leadership we were awarded an unprecedented number of awards and grants.  Thinking about staying up writing grants late into the night with you and Ainslie when we were so tired we were getting "punchy" makes me smile and giggle, even now.

Your service did not end with our children's elementary school.  Your advocacy has helped so many children in our school district and beyond. You have been the most amazing resource for children with special needs as well as gifted children.

You courageously fought breast cancer twice.  What a brave pink warrior you are!  You have also been an angel to three friends of mine who've fought the hideous disease, and I'm sure there have been many others.

What I admire the most about you is that you are an encourager.  I want to thank you for all the times you've encouraged me to be a better mother, advocate, and friend.

Your sons are both beautiful and kind young men.  What a legacy! Sometimes the world pushes us to focus on things that really don't matter, but you got it right. You built a legacy of love for your boys.

Last year we celebrated our birthdays together on May 3rd at The Club with Barbara Calhoun and Melinda Groover.  I always teased you about your being 20 days older than I.  It was such a pretty day.  I got sunburned, but it was worth it. What a pleasure it was eating lunch outside overlooking the city. I will always cherish that memory.

Lisa, you will be missed.  I will miss your quick wit, sarcasm, and snarky "crazy-ass" comments.  You have been a "touchstone" friend to me, and it hurts that God called you home.  But it's my hope and wish that you can advocate for children where you are, because like Barbara says, there can't be a better place than heaven for that.

As much as I will miss you, I am thankful that your struggles are over, you will never know pain again, and you are at peace.

Love always,
Ricki Jill

My dear Bloggy Friends:

Please be in prayer for Lisa's sons, Jacob and Zachary, and her husband Mike.  I'm unsure at this time about the funeral arrangements, but just in case I want to go ahead and cancel Literary Friday for this week.  It's ironic, because Lisa was our local book club leader, and she loved to read.

Thanks for being the best Blog Friends in the world, and I'll be back on Sunday or Monday.

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our Daughter Is In a Commercial For The SEC Network Featuring Alabama and a Paul "Bear" Bryant Voice Over

Roll Tide Roll!!!

SEC Network "Take It All In"--Alabama

The new SEC Channel kicks-off on August 14, and I love how the McKinney Agency rocked all 14 spots for all 14 schools.  GREAT JOB, guys!  

Our daughter is the young lady outside the Bama Theatre at night with her boyfriend.  Shanley's friend and fellow Alabama School of Fine Arts Graduate Chandler Champion is also in the spot in the dance studio.  Shanley and Chandler were in the same class at ASFA.

All the spots are wonderful, but being an Alabama alumna and seeing my daughter in the spot with Coach Bryant's voice over is priceless.

Here is a link to the AL.com article.

Until next time…

Roll tide roll!
Ricki Jill

Happy Earth Day!

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Love the Earth!

Good Morning!  We have a beautiful planet home, and today's a day to celebrate it!  My daughter is having Earth Day festivities at her school and a local park today, and I thought it would be fun to plan and prepare an Earth Day dinner.


Fresh tomato bruschetta on French rounds
Sautéed Spring Vegetables
Key Lime Pie

Many years ago, I saved a recipe card for the Sautéed Spring Vegetables from Martha Stewart Living.  We've enjoyed the recipe over the years, and I tweaked it just a little by adding a vinaigrette.  I think it's smart to eat food while it's in season, and I hope to eat even more locally grown produce this summer and autumn.

Sautéed Spring Vegetables

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch-long pieces
6 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch-long pieces
6 ounces asparagus (green and/or white), tough ends trimmed, cut diagonally into 1-inch-long pieces
6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, strings removed, and cut diagonally into 1-inch-long pieces
6 ounces cherry tomatoes (yellow and/or orange), cut in half (I like the yellow ones best.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn in half

1.   Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and carrots; cook 2 minutes. Add beans, asparagus, and sugar snap peas; cook until tender but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer vegetables to a large bowl of iced water to cool. Drain again.
2.   Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add blanched vegetables, tomatoes, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Raise heat to medium high; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.
3.   Remove from heat, add basil, and toss to combine.

To make the vinaigrette you'll need:

¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice (try a Meyer lemon)
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. Dijon mustard

Whisk all the ingredients together and pour over warm vegetables.

I set a simple table, keeping the same napkin rings and placemats from Easter.

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Chargers and napkin rings:  Pier 1
Flatware:  Horchow
Dinner plates and flower pot:  MacKenzie-Childs Taylor Collection
Recycled wine bottle glasses:  Olive & Cocoa
Napkins:  Yves Delorme
Terra cotta votives: Vintage eighties
Marin floral salad plates:  Crate & Barrel (currently on sale for $4.95)

Are you participating in any Earth Day festivities today?

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Monday, April 21, 2014

Musical Monday: Nickel Creek Reunites!

Happy Monday morning!  Are you in the mood for some alternative bluegrass?  I hope so because last Wednesday night, Mr. Art @ Home took me on a date to see Nickel Creek.  We've followed their career since they were very young.  We haven't missed any of their performances in Birmingham, and it was a joy to hear them perform at the historic Alabama Theatre again.

Birmingham was the first stop on their Spring Tour 2014

The band played many of my favorites, and I enjoyed the songs from their new CD A Dotted Line.

I wanted to share my favorite song with you today:  The Lighthouse's Tale

"The Lighthouse's Tale" lyrics

I am a lighthouse, worn by the weather and the waves.
I keep my lamp lit, to warn the sailors on their way.

I'll tell a story, paint you a picture from my past.
I was so happy, but joy in this life seldom lasts.

I had a keeper, he helped me warn the ships at sea.
We had grown closer, 'till his joy meant everything to me.

And he was to marry, a girl who shone with beauty and light.
And they loved each other, and with me watched the sunsets into night.

And the waves crashing around me, the sand slips out to sea.
And the winds that blow remind me, of what has been, and what can never be.

She'd had to leave us, my keeper he prayed for a safe return.
But when the night came, the weather to a raging storm had turned.

He watched her ship fight, but in vain against the wild and terrible wave.
In me so helpless, as dashed against the rock she met her end.


Then on the next day, my keeper found her washed up on the SHORE.
He kissed her cold face, that they'd be together soon he'd swore.

I saw him crying, watched as he buried her in the sand.
And then he climbed my tower, and off of the edge of me he ran.


I am a lighthouse, worn by the weather and the waves.
And though I am empty, I still warn the sailors on their way.

from Jimmy Fallon
How I Wrote That Song: Nickel Creek, "Helena"

"Love of Mine" from the new CD

"Love Of Mine" lyrics

Love of mine when you're born I tell myself that you'll never die.
And I throw my arms around the girl who finds you, 
‘Cause the world is rosier 
through your eyes. 

I don't suppose you caught her name. 
Never mind I'll just name her after you, love of mine.
I'll fashion her into a sweet long legged icon making all praise holier.

Oh, but she gave us to each other.
The only thing she's done for me that you could never do. 
For that she'll always be remembered. 
After she discovers I don't love her half as much as you.

Love of mine when she goes why can't you stay, 
here with me. 

Love of mine when you die I tell myself that you'll never live. 
Even as I curse the girl who says she'll find someone worthier of the gift. 
Someone who wants to share it with her, 
far away from those who take you to have and to hold.
Now I'm stuck here trying to not remember, 
for all these pretty words it wasn't her but love that I adored. 
It's my love I adored. 

Love of mine when you're born I tell myself that you'll never die.

What have you been listening to lately?  Join Miss Angie @ Musical Monday!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen!

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Until next time…

Easter blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Confessional 4/18/14

Happy Friday!  It's time for Friday Confessional hosted by Aubrey @ High-Heeled Love!

I confess…

I confess that we took way too many road trips the past month:

1.  Atlanta, GA for a horse show
2.  Charlotte, NC to bring home Finlay
3.  Two trips to Tuscaloosa (not far, but hard work) moving Shanley into her cottage.

TOO MUCH I tell ya, but all were worth it.  I confess that I'd do it all over again!

I confess…

I confess that I'll be happy when Lent is over Sunday!  Plus I love Easter. Giving up sarcasm has been difficult, but I confess that it's made me a much nicer person!

I confess…

I confess that I tried to find the Candy Crush candy everywhere, and everyone around here has sold out of it.  I wanted it for my own self the girls' Easter baskets, but, alas, it was not meant to be...

I wanted the color bombs.  Have any of you tried it yet?

I confess…

I confess that I have too many wonderful project ideas but little time to do them.  Puppy Finlay is taking up most of my time these days!  He's so dang cute!  I confess that I really need to finish donating and organizing books around here!!!  I do have a great start on this project, and I'll post the end results when I'm done.  I confess that I've been trying to complete this project since January!  I'm being relentless…only keeping books I would like to read again at some point and sharing the rest.  Plus, I've been very good about my weekly visits to the library!

I confess…

I confess that there are three books this year that will cause me to drop everything and I mean everything to read them!  My poor family had better get ready for this for dinner:

Here are the books responsible for my (future) familial neglect:

I confess…

I confess that I have a new guilty pleasure:  Korean dramas.  If you didn't think I was already odd enough, this should confirm it.  My oldest daughter started watching Hana Yori Dango while she was in high school (Japanese) and then she watched the Korean version Boys Over Flowers.  The entire season is on Netflix now *squee*   I confess that I'm enjoying watching it with my youngest daughter.

Boys Over Flowers series trailer

Stand by Me by SHINee
Theme for Boys Over Flowers

What do you have to confess?

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: Chronicles of Nick: Illusion

This week I read Illusion, the fifth installment in the Chronicles of Nick.  For those of you who are Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark Hunter fans, you'll recognize Nick's character.  Many fans can't wait for his book to be published, but for now we have a YA series with Nick as a teenager before he's "slapped in the face" by Artemis.

Here is a link to my review of the first three books, and here is a link to my review of book 4, Inferno.

For Kenyon fans, you'll be happy to know that the Dark Hunters series and Chronicles of Nick series are soon to be major motion pictures.  :D

Illusion frustrated me at first.  Nick's soul is swapped with another Nick Gautier in a parallel universe.  Few of the characters resemble themselves from Nick's original world, so Nick has a difficult time not only with his smaller and blonder body but also with whom he can and can't trust.  I've never enjoyed stories with parallel universes.  Plus, there are several more characters in this book than the others, and I really wish that Kenyon would place a character log with family chart in the back of her books.  She does have a character list on her website, but I want one in the books.  A glossary of the order of demons would be helpful, too…maybe with a hierarchy of demons, demigods, and gods.  A bulk of the series is based on Greek mythology.

The good news about this book is we finally understand who and what Kody is, and it's a shocker.  Kody is Nick's not so human girlfriend, and it's nice for her to finally answer questions rather than replying, "trust me," when in my honest opinion she hasn't really earned Nick's trust until this installment. Also, much is revealed about Nick's parentage and the importance of Nick's mother, Cherise.  As a mother, I love the fact that the adults are not only present but prominent in the series, and that there are consequences for breaking rules, like curfew.  For these reasons, I highly recommend Illusion.  I also highly recommend the series for teenagers of all ages.  There are some scary scenes, but the language is good and I think the relationships are depicted in an age-appropriate way.

Here is the trailer for Illusion:

Literary Friday

I apologize for posting this so late.  I am feeling a little better!

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Happy Good Friday!

Happy Good Friday, my lovelies!  I've had a terrible sinus headache for the past 24 hours or so.  I'm fighting it as best I can, and I'm hoping this steady rain will help wash away all the nasty pollen.

My Literary Friday and Friday Confession post will be live by 8 PM CDT. Sorry for the delay.  In the interim, I'll be drinking lots of hot tea with honey to help my poor pitiful self!

Until then…..check this out:

*deep sigh*

Guess what song I can't get out of my head now!!!

Cameron Diaz from Charlie's Angels 

Until about 8 o'clock or so…

Ricki Jill

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fun, Easy Ways To Bring Spring Into Your Home

Good Morning!  I wanted to share with you some fun ideas to bring spring and color into your home. I'll be fluffing the nest this weekend, so I plan on trying most of these ideas!

1.   While spring cleaning, why not keep your fun, colorful dishtowels handy in a vintage French wire laundry basket?  I would love to find one of these for an inexpensive price.  I've collected tea towels and dish towels since Mr. Art @ Home and I were first married!

2.   Bring in hardy house plants that are hard to kill!  A hardy plant list is available @ iVillage.

3.   Okay admit it....you've seen color coordinated books on Pinterest and have always wanted to try it.  Try it because it's free!
Sources unknown

4.   Don't forget your spring dining table.  Napkins are an easy and less expensive way to dress-up your table for spring.  
The top two are from World Market, and the bottom Shabby Chic.

5.   Feeling crafty?  What about this AH-dorable decoupage wall art?
from BH&G

6.   I love the look of flowers in old tins.  I'm saving mine for little floral arrangements like these.

7.   Don't forget fragrance!  I love this shabby chic inspired etched honeysuckle filled candle.
from Pier 1

Have you fluffed the nest for spring yet?  Tell me about it!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Happy List: Happy Holy Week!

Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  I have lots of Easter Happy to share with you today.  Holy Week began having the family together for Palm Sunday, and we enjoyed a sweet service at St. Stephen's.

My Happy List

1.   I'm happy I at least got one room (and only one room) decorated for Easter this year:  Our Breakfast Room.  I've used the same pastel decor for the past several years, and I was looking for something different.  I found it at Pier 1, and there's very little pastel in the mix.

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When I saw the runner, flower arrangement, and votive holders all from Pier 1's Natural Easter Collection, I thought that they'd mix well with the napkins, rings, and placemats I already had.  What do you think about the natural colors with the traces of orange and purple?

2.   Filling Easter baskets makes me happy!  I gave the girls their baskets Palm Sunday because we won't all be together on Easter Sunday.

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The hit of the baskets:  Printcess mineral make-up.

My nerdy girls love the literary theme, and the colors are wonderful.  Both girls have already tried out the make-up, and they are both raving about it! Printcess has two lines:  Literature and Fairytale.  Here is a link to the site.

3.   I've been baking a little lately.  Baking makes me happy!

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I baked some lemon squares for Charles.

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I baked two dozen gluten-free strawberry muffins for Shelley's HS's Cafe monthly fundraiser.  I usually bake blueberry muffins, but I thought strawberry would be a delicious change.

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Finlay loves helping out in the kitchen.  He has a fascination with the dishwasher!

4.   Mr. Art @ Home and I have been in Tuscaloosa the past two weeks (off and on) helping Shanley Belle move into an adorable cottage one block from campus.  It's so cute!  It has a tin roof and cathedral ceiling.  She will live there at least three more years due to graduate school.  Fluffing Shanley's little cottage made me very happy!

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We had the interior painted Ralph Lauren's ultra white.

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Mr. Art @ Home made the salvaged wood frame.

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Shanley's bedroom.  I bought her some new bedding from Target (on sale).

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I painted her an image of the entrance to a bridge in Paris.  Pont means bridge in French, and I couldn't resist the retro font of the dilapidated sign.
We hung a Flora Doora with Pier 1 flowers on her bed.

5.   I saw the first trailer for Outlander.  I'm.  So.  HAPPY!!!!

What's making you happy this week?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, April 14, 2014

Musical Monday: Bad Moon Rising

Tonight there will be a lunar eclipse at approximately 2AM EDT (Tuesday morning).  Are you planning on watching it?  Many are speculating that since it is the first in a series of four consecutive complete lunar eclipses spaced approximately six months apart (called a tetrad) that it signifies something significant in history.  I don't think I've ever seen a blood moon before, although I know they've occured during my lifetime.

I have no idea if anything of historic significance will happen, or if it's the beginning of the end, the rapture or tribulation, etc.  But I do know that it will be a pretty sight, and that God created a beautiful universe.

In honor of the eclipse, I'm in the mood to hear a little Southern Rock and Roll:  Credence Clearwater Revivival's Bad Moon Rising.  The lyrics are included in the video!

So I think I'll make some coffee, stay up, and watch the eclipse!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, April 11, 2014

Literary Friday: The Invention of Wings

This week I read The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  It's our St. Stephen's Episcopal Church's  Book Club's selection for April.  The book was chosen for Oprah's Book Club, and I couldn't wait to read it because I *love* The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair.  Oprah's Harpo Studios owns the movie rights, and I'm sure Oprah's company will produce a wonderful film adaptation.

This book is historical fiction, and in Kidd's author's notes she explains how she was looking for two sisters to write about when she discovered Sarah and Nina Grimké at The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn  Museum in 2007.  Judy Chicago's artistic rendering of a banquet table complete with place settings honoring 39 female guests of honor is displayed over a porcelain tile floor inscribed with the names of 999 other outstanding women who've contributed to history.  On these tiles, Kidd read the names of Sarah and Nina Grimké. She was stunned that these outstanding women were from Charleston, her hometown.  How could it be possible that she'd never heard of them before?

The Grimké sisters grew-up on a plantation close to Charleston.  The family also had a town house in the city with many field and house slaves.  Both women left their church, family, and beloved city to travel north to Philadephia to become Quakers and outspoken leaders in the abolitionist movement.  But when the two increasingly speak out about women's suffrage, the Quakers expel them, and many in the abolitionist movement shun them for dividing the abolitionists.

The Invention of Wings is told from alternating points of view between Sarah and her personal slave, Hettie "Handful" Grimké.  Sarah is given Handful as a present on her eleventh birthday.  Sarah's rebellion starts early: she teaches Handful how to read and write.  Both girls are punished for breaking the law, and there isn't much more information in history about Handful after other than her death from an illness.  Most of her story and her history is fabricated in the book, but I enjoyed reading the story from her point of view very much. I can only imagine how many other slaves must have had similar thoughts and feelings.

Sarah's biggest issue in life isn't her flaming red hair, but that she was born extremely smart and has ambitions beyond her station in life.  It must be bitter watching her older brothers experience college and law school (her dream) and having access to her father's library taken away.  During a time when finishing school and marriage was the best option for young women, Sarah chooses to remain single to pursue her dreams.

It's harder for me to relate to Sarah's plight than Handful's.  I think the abolitionists had a good point in that they needed to focus on one issue at a time.  Although I do see Sarah's point in that women could be in a better position to push the abolitionist cause if they had equal voting rights.

Most of the plot centers around the Charleston home of the Grimkés with their many children, harsh mother, and various house slaves.  Handful's mother, Charlotte, is an interesting character, and her story was remarkable and tragic.  Charlotte makes Sarah promise to help free Handful when she was just a young girl, and she believes that teaching her to read will fulfill that promise.

As tragic as slavery was in our history, another tragedy has occurred: women who have made a difference…those who have made it possible for us to achieve our dreams, fade from history.  Why is that?  My hope is that there will be more women history writers to preserve the stories of remarkable women who've risked their reputations, social status, and security to make a difference for us all.

NOTE:  Oprah’s Interview with Sue Monk Kidd

The television interview airs on “Super Soul Sunday,” Sunday, April 13, 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Literary Friday

Are you in a book club?  If so, what are y'all reading?

Until next time…

Ricki Jill