Friday, August 28, 2015

Literary Friday: What Katie Ate on the weekend…..

Happy Happy Friday!!!  We have worked so hard this week in school because next week we leave for a Labor Day trip and the week after Labor Day Shelley has two art field trips.  We read Beowulf this week, and Shelley loved it!  Of course I've aways enjoyed it…who doesn't like brave warriors and monsters?

Because I didn't think Beowulf would be the more fun choice for Literary Friday, I thought I'd share with you one of my newest cookbooks and a link to a recipe I tried and everyone loved!

Katie writes a popular blog, and I use her first book What Katie Ate all the time.  She is a talented photographer and food stylist.  Her books are truly a feast for the eyes, plus the recipes are always fantastic.

I tried a wonderful salad recipe from the book.  It was a hit, and perfect for a warm summer afternoon.

Quinoa and Grape Salad

You may find the recipe for this salad here.

This is what I want to make next from the cookbook:

Click on the link above for more from this beautiful recipe book from Katie's blog!

I'm finishing a fun cozy mystery today, and I'll feature it on next week's Literary Friday post.

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Monday, August 24, 2015

Help From Linda, The Blog Fairy!

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  Last week I posted about Google's failed attempt at installing a cookie consent bar at the top of my blog.  For some reason the gray bar didn't have any text at all, so without the text readers couldn't give their consent.  I was in a panic because I didn't know how to fix it, and I didn't want to mess up my pretty blog template.

Luckily for me, sweet Linda from Life and Linda came to the rescue!

Click HERE to visit Linda's blog.

I like how she placed the cookie consent banner at the bottom of my blog….I didn't like it at the top at all!

Linda can help you, too!  Linda can make changes to your Cookie Consent bar for $10.00.  If you want a domain name for your blog, Linda can help you out for $1.17 the first year and $9.99 per year after.   She can easily set that up for you.  Linda designs blogs, headers, and provides Blogger support, so if you're frustrated with your blog, contact Linda!

I hope y'all have a great week.  We survived our first full week of school (whew!), and we have a full schedule this week.  I will be posting a couple of fantastic recipe links later this week and a cozy mystery review or two Friday.  Finlay has also been writing a guest post, so stay tuned!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Friday, August 21, 2015

Literary Friday: A Paris Affair

This week I read A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay...and I wish I hadn't.  She wrote The House I Loved and Sarah's Key, two books I loved!  But A Paris Affair is terrible.  *sadface* It in no way resembles what the blurb says.  I hate it when that happens!

First of all, I find it kind of funny how I read this book the same week that the hackers released the Ashley Madison accounts information because the book is basically a collection of short stories about how cheaters get caught and their spouses' reactions.  The book's only redeeming quality is that each affair is discovered in a unique way, usually with the help of technology.  But honestly the characters in the book were all so awful, and I'm not just talking about the cheaters.  I didn't like any of the characters in the stories.

If there's anything we can learn from this week's events and this collection of short stories is this: If you cheat in today's world you will get caught.  Period.  A day is coming when even our private electronic communication will be public, mark my words.  After all.....if the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency can't keep his affair secret,  ordinary citizens shouldn't be so arrogant as to think that they can.  My advice:  Don't kid yourself. Only cheat if you don't care about getting caught.

I hope you read a better book than I did this week.  Please share if you did.  This is a link party!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Best Breakfast *ever*

The following breakfast recipe is usually perfect for a lazy weekend brunch, but I thought it would be great Monday, the beginning of our first full week of school.

I set the dining room table with a fun summery/lake theme.  We'll continue visiting the lake well into the fall!

The centerpiece is a favorite wedding gift from my best college friend, Gretchen.

The placemats were bought for less than $3.00 each (on sale) @ Anthropologie.

The napkins are from Pier1, the rings are vintage, and the cappuccino cups are from An Angel at My Table.

The plates are from Crate & Barrel, the forks from Horchow.

What's for breakfast?  Poundcake French Toast!  If you ever wondered what to do with leftover and stale poundcake, I have the answer!

Poundcake French Toast


4 thick slices of poundcake
3 eggs
1/4 c maple syrup
2 - 3 T butter
powdered sugar


Beat together eggs and maple syrup in a large bowl.  Add poundcake slices to bowl and let the slices soak-up the egg mixture for about five minutes.

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, but don't let it get brown.

Add a couple of slices of the poundcake, and lightly brown on each side.  Repeat with the rest of the poundcake slices.

Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Truly, it doesn't need syrup, but you can pour syrup on the French toast or add whipped cream if you like.  Serve with strong Espresso or Cappuccino.

Serves 4.

I was too slow to take photos.  Plus someone ate my slice, but I won't mention any names here....

What's your favorite brunch recipe?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, August 17, 2015


How many of you received a notification from blogger about EU notification concerning the use of cookies on your blog?

Here's what my message said.  I clicked on a little megaphone icon on my Home page:

"European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent. 

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. 

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you."

UGH!  DOUBLE UGH!  I checked my blog (I changed my .com to .fr for France) and there's this stupid ugly bar on the top of my blog, but there's no notification in it.  And I don't want to mess up the pretty blog template trying to figure it out.

Do any of you have this same issue?  Gah, cookies are, like, EVERYWHERE!  What happened to implied consent?  WTH????

Have any of you fixed this issue on your blog yet?  I'm not happy.  Not a happy blogger.  I'll have to take out my Blogger voodoo doll again.

Blogger said they did this as a "courtesy" but we are not European.  We're American.  And I NEVER want to become European.  My ancestor left Switzerland in the early 18th century to come to America.  He fought for INDEPENDENCE from another European country.  But I digress...Crap like this makes me even more isolationist.

To my few European readers, truly I love you.  But not your stupid overreaching government!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

School Supplies/Crafts

Happy Monday!  I want to share with you some fun school supply crafts Shelley and I made last week. We were inspired by a recent article in Romantic Homes Magazine.  Shelley says it makes school more fun using girly supplies.

We covered the glue labels with pretty craft paper.

We like pretty ribbons on paper clips

Shelley has tons of washi tape, so we covered her pencils.  Aren't they fun!

Shelley embellished a 7Gypsies crate with washi tape and craft paper.  The little file folders will help her organize her French II vocabulary notecards.

Cute printables for her binders...  We even downloaded spine labels and backs (you can see the yellow one for her fran├žais cahier above).

School supplies on her work table in the classroom

The tiny latte bowls were purchased on sale from Anthropologie for about $1.50 each.  They hold glue sticks, binder clips, paper clips, and push pins.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, August 14, 2015

Literary Friday: Something to Prove *plus* Lemon Squares!!!

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Do I have your attention?  yummy lemony deliciousness on a plate

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all have had a wonderfully productive week and plan to have fun this weekend.

This week I read Something to Prove by Kimberly Lang.  I met Kimberly at the Summer Lovin' Romance Writers' Conference at our local library a couple of weeks ago.  My daughter wanted to attend because she has a romance book that's being published soon, and she hoped to meet other romance writers and learn more about the business.  During the Friday night dinner we sat at Kimberly's table, and she was lots of fun.  It was neat to discover that she graduated from the same high school as my daughter: the Alabama School of Fine Arts.  Ironically, neither of them majored in creative writing.  The conference also had discussion panel sessions and book signings.  Shanley and I had so much fun!  We ran into a few friends, met some wonderful writers, learned new things, and each bought a couple of books.  I bought Kimberly's because I liked her so much.

For those of you who've followed my blog for a long time you know that I don't read that much romance.  The only two romance writers I regularly read are Lynne Kurland (who's one of the very best storytellers on Earth) and Karen Marie Moning (whom I love and adore).  Both write paranormal, and Karen also writes urban fantasy and Lynne writes straight-up fantasy, so  it's extremely rare that I read contemporary romances.

But methinks Kimberly Lang has won me over to contemporary romances….her romances, at least. Something to Prove, the first book in her Magnolia Beach series, has such a wonderful sense of place that if Magnolia Beach, Alabama truly existed, I'd be moving!  She perfectly captures the spirit of a small Alabama coastal town, and the setting couldn't lend itself any better to romance.

Helena Wheeler has returned to Magnolia Beach to help her grandmother recover from a terrible fall. She's been away from home for almost twelve years, and she'd earned her nickname "Hell-on-Wheels" honestly when she was a teenager; she was not very delightful.  During her tenure away from Magnolia Beach, she's grown into a lovely responsible adult running her own graphic design business.  Helena loves the anonymity of living in Atlanta: it suits her well. Her icy homecoming reception by the upstanding citizens of Magnolia Beach had been expected, but it hurts nonetheless.

Ryan Tanner is Magnolia Beach's golden boy.  Everyone has admired him his entire life.  He never got into any trouble as a teenager: he was a football star, Auburn graduate, and now mayor of Magnolia Beach, juggling those duties with his construction business.  Helena hires Ryan to make her grandmother's home handicapped accessible, and they become friends with benefits.  Helena admires and respects Ryan so much she becomes concerned that their association might harm his reputation, so she wants to keep their relationship on the down low.  Ryan won't have it and finally asks her on a date.  Then things get very, very interesting.

I love Helena and Ryan.  As the story builds, their true characters are revealed along with Helena's storied past.  I think they're a wonderful couple, they balance each other, and I truly hope readers get a glimpse of them in the other books in the series.  I have already preordered the second novella for Nook entitled One Little Thing,  which will be released in November, and the second novel in the series, Everything at Last, which will be released in January.

And now onto the delicious part…

Kimberly shared some fun goodies at dinner.  Check it out:

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A mug from Magnolia Beach's Latte Dah coffee shop.  The shop's owner Molly befriends Helena, and Helena is able to do a little work there as Latte Dah has wifi.  Helenea loves Molly's "rocket fuel" and lemon bars.

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Kimberly also shared this bookmark with her table, and it has the recipe for the lemon bars on back.

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Don't forget to share your book love here….this is a link party!

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, August 13, 2015

First Day of School Breakfast: Bacon and Peanut Butter Muffins

Remember last Friday's Literary Friday post about Death of an English Muffin by Victoria Hamilton? I promised I'd bake the muffin recipe in the book, and I did.  The bacon and peanut butter muffins were more savory than sweet, and I thought they were pretty good!

Bacon and Peanut Butter Muffins


2 cups flour, sifted
1 T baking powder
2 T sugar
2 1/2 T bacon fat and/or melted butter  (I used 1 1/2 T bacon fat, plus 1T melted butter)
1 egg
1 c milk
1/3 c natural unsweetened peanut butter  (I used Peanut Butter & Co, The Bee's Knees)
3 bacon strips, finely chopped and partially cooked  (I used The Fresh Market's applewood smoked bacon)

*I also added 1t butter flavoring to the recipe.  Yum!


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix melted bacon fat, butter, well beaten egg, milk, peanut butter, and bacon.
Blend well, then stir gently into flour mixture, making sure all flour is incorporated, but do not beat!
Mixture should be just moistened.

Fill muffin tins or tins with paper liners 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

*They were very good warm.  They really didn't need any butter.  Makes one dozen muffins.

Yesterday was our first day of school.  I can't believe that my baby girl is a senior in high school! Shelley's first class was going into town for her art class at Red Dot Gallery.  What a great way to start off the school year!

Shelley's first day of her senior year!  She's sitting at her work table in the classroom.

Have you baked anything delicious lately?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Random Tuesday: Random Mail

Hello, My Lovelies!  This is our last day of freedom because school starts back tomorrow.  Yikes!  I wanted to share some pretties I've received in the mail lately, and some of the items are school supplies.

Little fake roses from An Angel at My Table
I placed them on my bookcase.

I just can't even...
I received this on July 14th, and I can't even open it.  *spoiler alert*  It is my understanding that Atticus Finch, only the best father in all literature, is not the same man we loved in To Kill a Mockingbird....

Suzanne aka An Italian Girl in Georgia sent me these adorable chalkboard paint plant stakes.
I can't wait to use them!  

This is the cutest Flora Doora ever!  I love Jane's little waterproof bags.  I'll feature this little French lady named Shabby Chandy with flowers soon, so stay tuned!

This is a must for this school year:  a pretty fabric-colored sketchbook from Latvia via Etsy.

ooooo I do love me some Caran D'Ache watercolor crayons.  And these colors are a special edition pastels set.  *squee*  From Dick Blick.

Another Etsy find from Sea adorable pencil case for Shelley

The first two mysteries in the Merry Muffin Mysteries series came in.  Yay!

We hope to have a great day today having lunch at a favorite restaurant and doing a little last minute shopping.  What are you doing today?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summertime Hydrangeas and Classic Modest Mouse

It's Monday, and that means art and music!  YAY!

Below is a painting by my art class buddy Mary Compton.  She's a meticulous artist, and a wonderful human being.   I'm happy to know her!

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This is a lovely little painting, and I can't wait to find a place to hang it!
Pink and Purple Hydrangea
6" X 9"
Oil on canvas

You can see more of Mary Compton's art on her Student Page on the Red Dot Gallery website here.

Since I'm wearing my Modest Mouse t-shirt my daughter bought me today to the art studio, I've had them on the brain.  Here's a classic video I hope you'll enjoy!

Modest Mouse
"Missed the Boat"

This song is sort of depressing.  But it makes me happy because my life is better than those depicted in the song...  Muahahahaha!!!!!

"Missed The Boat"

While we're on the subject
Could we change the subject now?
I was knocking on your ear's door but you were always out
Looking towards the future
We were begging for the past
Well we knew we had the good things
But those never seemed to last
Oh please just last
Everyone's unhappy
Everyone's ashamed
Well we all just got caught looking
At somebody else's page
Well nothing ever went
Quite exactly as we planned
Our ideas held no water
But we used them like a dam
Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell
Saying yes, this is a fine promotion
Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell
Of course everyone goes crazy
Over such and such and such
We made ourselves a pillar
We just used it as a crutch
We were certainly uncertain
At least I'm pretty sure I am
Well we didn't need the water
But we just built that good G*d dam
Oh, and I know this of myself
I assume as much for other people
Oh, and I know this of myself
We've listened more to life's end gong
Than the sound of life's sweet bliss
Was it ever worth it?
Was there all that much to gain?
Well we knew we missed the boat
And we'd already missed the plane
We didn't read the invite
We just dance at our wake
All our favorites were playing
So we could shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
Tiny curtains open and we heard the tiny clap of little hands
A tiny man would tell a little joke and get a tiny laugh from all the folks
Sitting drifting around in bubbles and thinking it was us that carried them
When we finally got it figured out that we had truly missed the boat
Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and we owned all the tools ourselves
But not the skills to make a shelf with
Oh, what useless tools ourselves

I'm joining Miss Angie at Musical Monday!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, August 7, 2015

Literary Friday: Death of an English Muffin

Good Morning, My Lovelies!  Happy Literary Friday!  

It's time for Back to School.  We went back to school shopping for school supplies and clothes this week because school starts for Shelley next week on Wednesday, August 12th.  We love back to school crafts, and I will be sharing them soon!

This week I read an adorable cozy mystery:  Death of an English Muffin by Victoria Hamilton, Book Three in the Merry Muffin series.  I received my copy from the publisher via a giveaway on Yvonne's blog, Socrates' Book Reviews.  I enjoyed the mystery so much that I ordered the first two via Amazon, and I'll read them within the next couple of weeks.  Cozy mysteries will be a much needed respite from Beowulf.  Shelley is taking Medieval British Literature first semester.  ;P

Book one in the Merry Muffin Mystery Series

Book two in the Merry Muffin Mystery series

I love the premise of this series.  Merry Wynter is the sole heiress to Wynter Castle, a sprawling estate built during the days of the robber barons left to her by her late eccentric uncle Melvyn Wynter.  The estate's location is halfway between Rochester and Buffalo south of Interstate 90. There are rumors that there is buried treasure somewhere on the estate's grounds, and treasure hunters and gossips are a constant nuisance to Merry.  But they are small potatoes compared to the Legion of Horrible Ladies.  Whenever I see the word legion I'm reminded of a group of demons who are many, and unfortunately the name fits (although I wouldn't use the noun ladies).  The Legion lives with Merry in the castle.  She's renting rooms to raise funds for repairs and renovations for the castle so when she sells the estate she can get top dollar for it.  

She'd be better off to up her insurance coverage and pray for Italian lightening, but I digress....

The most horrible of the League of Horrible Ladies is murdered during a Bridge Tea.  Although the world might actually be a better place because of her demise, Merry is up to her eyeballs yet again in another murder mystery.  And this one is a doozy because the list of suspects is overwhelming. Merry even struggles with her own feelings about the death of such a horrible person!  

Merry's character is so lovable and relatable.  Late thirties, widow due to a tragic accident, wonderful girlfriend and mentor, plus a mean cook and baker....what's not to like about Merry?  I think readers can relate to her frustrations as well.  Bullies and Queen Bees rarely ever reform.  We all have experiences with mean girls, don't we!  There's even a slow-building romance in the story.  Merry has a major crush on "Virgil the Handsome Sheriff."  Mayhap the only positive about the tragic disruption of murder is that Virgil is the lead investigator.  He's around Winter Castle often now: a definite silver lining for Merry!

Known for her muffins, Merry makes her rounds most mornings selling and delivering her muffins to various businesses.  There are a couple of recipes at the end of the book, and the family wants me to bake the Bacon and Peanut Butter Muffins over the weekend.  If I get around to it, I'll post the results next week.

The only negative thing about the book is that there is a huge cast of characters.  This book does work as a stand alone, and I think Hamilton does a wonderful job getting readers like me who jump in the middle of the series up to speed.  She also did a great job hinting at the previous mysteries without giving too much away.  I took the bait obviously or I wouldn't have ordered the first two.  :)

If you look back at my Summer Reading List, I got way off track.  One reason is because I left several books at the lake cabin, and I haven't been to the lake as much as I would have liked due to events beyond my control.  Summer reading will probably extend well into autumn.

How did you do on your Summer Reading List?  Are you still working on it, or are you done?

Don't forget that this is a link party!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill