Monday, June 30, 2014

Blog Tour

Happy Monday!  I guess my American friends are gearing-up for Independence Day festivities.  We are around here….I'm decorating today!

Recently I was asked by Carol from Art and Sand to participate in a Blog Tour.

I love Carol's blog: She shares all about life in her adorable seaside cottage, along with her many crafts and projects.  I enjoy how Carol loves primary colors, and her home is filled with art painted by her husband.

Please visit Carol at Art @ Sand.  Her cottage and projects are inspiring!

Peek inside Carol's cottage here.

Carol requested that I answer four questions for the tour:

1. What am I working on? 

I have several irons in the fire right now.  I'm completing a few projects in our powder room, and in the process of working with a landscape architect on redesigning our backyard.

I have a couple of Pinterest boards to help with the backyard project.  Base plantings for our deck should be a top priority.

I'm also working on a painting of three peonies in a round mercury glass vase:

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I only have three washes on this painting.  I have several left to go!

But perhaps the biggest project (first posted here on this post) is that we've decided to homeschool Shelley for her last two years of high school.  I am so happy!  Do you remember when we remodeled an unused bedroom into a home library a couple of years ago?  I wanted to homeschool then.  I'm just very happy that everyone is *finally* on board!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

This is my biggest problem.  My blog is all over the place just like my life! I don't think it really fits in any genre.  I've thought about completely redirecting my blog and asking Angie to redesign it, but I haven't decided what my focus should be yet.  I'm open for all suggestions!

You can look at the top of my header and see the different pages of my blog.  

I do write about family life; I post recipes my family enjoy; I post current art projects; and I write about books I've read.  I host a weekly link party called Literary Friday:

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I usually participate in Musical Mondays:

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3. Why do I write/create what I do? 

I write about what I do and what we do as a family.  I started out writing it to share with out of town family and friends what's going on with us because I don't really care for Facebook.  I had to join Facebook for our book club because most people thought that it would be the best way to communicate with each other.  This is another reason why I'm contemplating a change since I'm now on Facebook, and Mr. Art @ Home has been on there for several years.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

My blog is not really contrived with the exception of special link parties, like this one:

I love this party!  You can look at other links I've participated in on my Link Parties page, above.

Also, Literary Friday is a "planned" post, but I usually finish books mid-week and start new ones over the weekend, so it made sense to host Literary Friday on Fridays.

As much as I enjoy decorating and tablescapes, I don't like blogging about them as much as other things.  Sometimes I feel like readers don't care about anything else but home decor.  

I enjoy tablescapes, but they're not my favorite thing to blog about.

I don't mind doing fun projects for blog posts, like when Debbie-Doos hosted the Copycat Challenge.  I love participating in creative link parties!

I think I need a blog life coach, LOL!

I was meant to get three bloggers to participate in this tour. Unfortunately no one wanted to play.  I understand….the timing is bad for some, and others don't like being tagged.  I'm embarrassed to say that this leg of the tour ends with me, and I'm so very sorry, Carol, but I tried!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Friday, June 27, 2014

Literary Friday: Summer Reading List

Happy First Friday of Summer!  School's out for summer, and it's time of compile those Summer Reading Lists!  Here's mine:

*currently reading*

These nine are a very good start, and I've left some wiggle room for the books I receive from the Books 'n' Bloggers Swap.

You can keep up with current reads on my sidebar.  I'm reading Written in My Heart's Own Blood, and it's exceeded my expectations so far.

What's on your Summer Reading List?

Share and link-up!

Literary Friday

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, June 26, 2014

First Day of Summer Celebration

Our first day of summer was Tuesday, Shelley's first day out of school.  Her last test was her driver's test to earn her yellow card for her license.  She passed, and she's so happy!  So how did we celebrate? Chocolate cake (by request), of course!

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I can't tell you how happy I am that school is out, and it's time to relax and play until after Labor Day.  *squee*!!!

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Nothing matches on this table, but who cares?  SCHOOL IS OUT FOR SUMMER!!!

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Tiny chocolate cake for Shelley.  I bought it at Whole Foods.

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Every piece of this place setting was bought on sale for at least 50% off, so I guess that although they don't match, they do have that in common.

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I had espresso.  I think I have an addiction!

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I've been making rosette crafts lately, and I made a little ribbon to congratulate Shelley on passing her driver's test.

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Yay, Shelley!
The young drivers in our area have it hard…we live near one of the most dangerous highways in the country, and we must drive on it to get anywhere.
I had it much easier growing-up in a small Alabama town.

What are you celebrating today?

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Monday, June 23, 2014

Musical Monday: Coldplay: A Sky Full of Stars

Happy Monday Afternoon, My Lovelies!  I'm pleased to announce that Shelley had her last day of school today.  She finished her coursework on June 3rd, had one day off, and then started Driver's Ed.  She passed her driver's test and earned her yellow card, which means she'll get to go to the DMV in a couple of weeks and get her driver's license.  YAY, Shelley!

YAY for school being *out*   YAY YAY YAY!!!!

When Shelley told our priest at church yesterday that she was nervous about taking her driver's test today, he said (loudly)  "Freedom!"  Sort of like this:

Well....maybe not quite as loudly as Mel Gibson in Brave Heart...
but made Shelley giggle!

Sorry for the on to Musical Monday!  

I love Coldplay, and I've been enjoying listening to their new album Ghost Stories quite a bit! A Sky Full of Stars is the second single from the album. Enjoy! 

"Sky Full of Stars" Lyrics

'Cause you're a sky, cause you're a sky full of stars
I'm gonna give you my heart

'Cause you're a sky, cause you're a sky full of stars
'Cause you light up the path

I don't care, go on and tear me apart
I don't care if you do

'Cause in a sky, cause in a sky full of stars
I think I saw you

'Cause you're a sky, cause you're a sky full of stars
I want to die in your arms, arms

'Cause you get lighter the more it gets dark
I'm going to give you my heart

And I don't care, go on and tear me apart
And I don't care if you do

'Cause in a sky, cause in a sky full of stars

I think I see you
I think I see you

Because you're a sky, you're a sky full of stars
Such a heavenly view
You're such a heavenly view

What have you been listening to?

This is a linky @ My So-Called Chaos!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, June 20, 2014

Literary Friday: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Dreams of Lilacs

Good morning, My Lovelies!  Thanks for your kind comments about Finlay's post.  Last weekend, I read two wonderful books, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Dreams of Lilacs.

I've read every romance that Lynn Kurland has ever written.  I think she's the best romance writer, and it's been fun to read about the de Piaget and MacLeod families over the years.  This one is not a time travel novel like several of her books: Instead it's a straight medieval story about Isabelle de Piaget.  Kurland's fans have been waiting for her story for years….she's the youngest daughter of Rhys and Gwen (and Miles' twin sister).  I enjoyed the story arc as Amanda steps "out of the shadows"  and becomes a confident and graceful lady who can easily manage a fierce French duke.  Isabelle always felt less than her beautiful and gregarious older sister Amanda, and she also felt like she was second to her in every way, but from everyone else's point of view, she certainly seems to be equal to Amanda in beauty and certainly in fierceness!

Isabelle receives a mysterious missive: if she doesn't appear at her grandmother's abby in France, her family will be systematically killed.  It also says she can't tell anyone about her mission to save her family.  Amanda tricks her brothers and manages to almost make it to France disguised as a boy before her ship is wrecked and she barely makes it to shore.  Gervase de Seger finds her roadside during a storm and rescues her.  He's recovering from a brutal beating that almost killed him and left him in immense pain, so he fails to notice that Isabelle is indeed a beautiful woman.  Once her gender is discovered, he puts her to work in his kitchen as a scullery maid.  At this point Isabelle has lost her memory, and her family is frantically trying to find her.

I love the de Piagets.  The fiercest knights in all of England, they aren't thrilled to discover that their precious Isabelle has been working as a scullery maid. {Poor Gervase.}  I enjoyed seeing a different side of Miles in this story: He's a bit more serious as the situation warrants.  I also loved being introduced to Gervase and (most) of his younger brothers.  I was not surprised by who wrote the missive bringing Isabelle to France in the first place, but the backstory and motivations are interesting.  This is a great beach read, and now I want to go back and read Rhys and Gwen's story.

My second selection, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, is a gift from Sun Dog Books in Seaside, Florida.  Thank-you, Mr. Art @ Home!  I loved it!

This is a sweet story about a nerdy indie bookstore owner named A.J. Fikry. The store is located on a fictitious island off the coast of Massachusetts:  I love the setting!  A.J. is a recent widower, and his grief is killing him (literally). During one of his drunken episodes, A.J. leaves the store unlocked, and a thief steals his priceless folio of Poe's Tamerlane from his apartment above the store.  It appears that an exchange has been made because a toddler is found in the bookstore shortly after the folio is discovered missing.  A.J. becomes attached to the little girl and adopts her.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but what I loved most about the book is how A.J. and his daughter Maya love literature and share this love with each other.  A.J. begins reading short stories because he finds he can manage them easier while taking care of Maya.  At the beginning of each chapter, A.J. introduces a short story with a critique for his daughter and an encouraging word or two. I loved that about the book, and a few of my favorite stories are included:  A Good Man Is Hard To Find, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and A Perfect Day for Bananafish.  Such wonderful stories!  This book makes me want to be like Grigg from The Jane Austen Book Club and read all the stories referenced.

Although the plot does have a few interesting twists, this is definitely not a plot-driven story.  A. J. is a very opinionated bookseller who truly relates almost everything in his life to quality literature.  His flaws are equally endearing, and the secondary characters are quirky and eccentric, too.  I love how several book clubs are formed based on interests in the town, and Island Books becomes a gathering place for the island's inhabitants.  I want to live on Alice Island! 

What have you been reading?  This is a link party!

Literary Friday

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hi, Y'all! It's *me*….{Finlay.} Guest Post #2

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Hello!  It's me!  Finlay!  I'm having to write this guest post today because my Mommie RJ has gone *crazy*….
For the past week, she has gone to the mailbox everyday looking for something, and she has NOT been happy….until today.  
This is what she's been looking for:

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See it?

Apparently it's a book she's' been waiting for for years!  She screamed very loudly when she opened it. She hurt my delicate ears!

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She has her little set-up all ready for some serious reading.  She has:

1.  Reading lamp
2.  Tissues
3.  Chocolate (Which I'm not allowed to have….)
4.  Flowers in a thistle vase (whatever)
5.  Scented candle

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All this next to MY chair….

She's told the others that they can fend for themselves until she's done reading the book.  It's a long one.  Plus she's been on Facebook posting stuff like this:

Who's this guy?

Methinks my Mommie has lost all good sense.  If anyone approaches MY chair while she's reading, she points at this:

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Yep.  She's demented.  Over something I could chew-up in sixty seconds. My Mommie says I can break a brick!  But she must know that I can't fend for myself.  

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After she feeds me, I hope she'll play with me instead of the stupid book.  The second she puts it down, I'm chewing it to teeny bits!

Love and puppy kisses,

Monday, June 16, 2014

Musical Monday: Girls Chase Boys

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Happy Monday Morning!  I hope you had a great Father's Day Weekend. We had a busy one, and it was *great*

Our daughter Shanley Belle has a special request for Musical Monday, but first I think we should view the inspiration video:  Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible."  I must confess that I love this video, and one of my friends (Ainslie) is in the video.  *fun*

Now on to the video of the day:  Ingrid Michealson's "Girls Chase Boys."


"Girls Chase Boys" Lyrics

"Girls Chase Boys"
All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Let's not make it harder than it has to be
Ohh, it's all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls
I'm a little let down but I'm not dead
There's a little bit more that has to be said
You played me now I play you too
Let's just call it over
All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Let's not make it harder than it has to be
Ohh, it's all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls
Chase girls, chase boys, chase boys, chase girls
I'm a little bit home but I'm not there yet
It's one to forgive but it's hard to forget
Don't call me, I won't call you too
Let's just call it over
All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Let's not make it harder than it has to be
Ohh, it's all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls
Chase girls, chase boys, chase boys, chase girls
I got two hands, one beating heart
And I'll be alright
I'm gonna be alright
Yeah I got two hands, one beating heart
And I'll be alright
I'm gonna be alright
All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Let's not make it harder than it has to be
Ohh, it's all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls
(Oh everything is going to be fine
Oh everybody loves you baby)
All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Let's not make it harder than it has to be
Ohh, it's all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls
Ohh, it's all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls

What have you been listening to?  Share @ My So-Called Chaos!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Friday, June 13, 2014

Literary Friday: Bridget Jones's Diary and The Alchemist

Good morning, My Lovelies!  It's yet another rainy day here in Central Alabama.  We're mildewed!!!

This week I read two books I've wanted to read for a very long time:  Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

I must admit that the Penguin Ink edition caught my eye in the bookstore.  I cannot lie!  I'm not that intrigued with tattoos generally speaking, but the art of these special editions are breathtaking!  

Even the backs and flaps of these books are illustrated.  You can learn more about Penguin ink Editions here.

Most of you have probably seen the movie, and it is a great adaptation of the book in my honest opinion, but if you haven't read the book, you should. Bridget Jones's Diary chronicles a year in the life of a "Singleton" extraordinaire.  She begins the year with admirable self-improvement goals: she basically wants to lose a few inches around her thighs, "form a functional relationship with a responsible adult," give more to charity, and get a better job. Bridget meticulously logs her caloric, tobacco, and alcohol intake, all obviously either helping or hindering her quest to be a better Bridget. Interestingly, the movie Bridget is a little more plump than the one in the book as Bridget fluctuates between 119 pounds and I think around 130 at the most.

What I love most about this book is Bridget's voice.  She must truly love her friends, especially the happily married ones who subject her to all sorts of abuse about her Singleton state.  I also admire her hope: She remains hopeful of finding a nice man to date in spite of witnessing her friend Jude's horrible boyfriend, "Vile Richard."  The witty dialogue between Bridget and Daniel Cleaver is entertaining if not sexual harassment lawsuit material.  He even puts it in writing through company's messaging system:

"You appear to have forgotten your skirt.  As I think is made perfectly clear in your contract of employment, staff are fully expected to be dressed at all times."

Then there's Mark Darcy…..*le sigh*…..What girls doesn't dream of dating a Darcy?  It's surreal in the book when Bridget writes about Colin Firth's Darcy, and Colin Firth plays Mark Darcy in the movie.  That was fun to read.  I love Mark Darcy's character.  I liked his subtle dialogue that was funny in the moment as well as his mannerisms.  What.  A.  Catch!  

Although I married young and obviously chose very well, I can still relate to Bridget's character.  Everyone struggles with self doubt and unrealistic goals. But if I could have a conversation with Bridget, I'd encourage her to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho because the following quote alone would encourage Bridget:

Isn't this a fantastic quote?

I literally read The Alchemist in one day.  I couldn't put it down, and I'm ashamed it took me twenty-five years to read it.

The 25th Anniversary Edition has a new Foreword by the author.

This book is genius in its simplicity.  It's a fairy tale about a young shepherd boy from Andalusia named  Santiago.  He was sent to seminary at a young age, but he decides he doesn't want the priesthood because he wants to travel.  One night as he sleeps in a ruined chapel, he has a recurring dream about a treasure buried near the Egyptian pyramids.  Encouraged by a gypsy fortune teller and an elderly king, our young hero embarks upon a quest to find his treasure.  He sells his flock of sheep and heads for Africa. Along the way to the pyramids he meets many interesting characters: a thief, a crystal merchant, an English alchemist, a beautiful girl named Fatima, and a desert alchemist who has achieved the ultimate goal of alchemy.  The quest for treasure soon becomes a quest for knowledge and truth, and the full circle of the plot leads to a happy conclusion.  I enjoyed cheering-on young Santiago: He's a worthy hero.

Simple truths are shared in this little masterpiece.  I hope to read it many more times, and it's so good I almost want to learn Portuguese so I can read the original text.  You must read The Alchemist!

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

Literary Friday

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill