Friday, January 29, 2016

Literary Friday: Safe Haven

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  This week I read Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks.  Each Christmas, our daughters and I enjoy watching movies, and Safe Haven was a favorite.  Shanley Belle checked-out the book from the library, and I checked it out, too, upon her recommendation.

Erin is married to a monster named Kevin.  Kevin is a police detective in Boston, and he has a history of mentally and physically abusing her.  She lives in a virtual prison, and she never knows what will trigger his harassment and abuse.  Erin finds her chance to escape when Kevin must travel to another town to appear as a witness in a high-profile case.  She cuts her blonde hair and dyes it brown before catching a bus to Philadelphia.  She waits tables at a couple of restaurants because she needs the money, but she quickly moves on because she recognizes Kevin's car: He knows she's in Philly! Eventually she ends-up in the sleepy coastal town of  Southport, North Carolina.  She now goes by Katie.

Katie is in survival mode.   She's hungry, she's lost weight, and she wants to simply find a job and live frugally so she can save half her wages in case she needs to run again.  She is too broken and scared to form any relationships or friendships in her new town.  Her plans are thwarted when buying supplies in the local country store, she meets the store's proprietor, Alex.  They slowly begin a friendship and eventually admit they're attracted to each other.  Alex is a widower with two young children: Josh who's six and Kristen who's five.  Katie is great with the kids, and she enjoys spending time with the little family.  Katie is reluctant to let down her guard, but with the encouragement of her neighbor and friend Jo, she opens her heart to the possibility of joining this sweet family.  The only problem is that she's still married to a monster, and she's scared that his superior detective skills will lead him to Southport.

I love this book.  It is the first Nicholas Sparks book I've ever read, and from what I understand most of them have unhappy endings (hence the reason I don't read them).  However, this one does have a happy ending, and I like how Sparks tells the story about the marriage from hell in flashbacks woven throughout the novel.  The scenes containing the spousal abuse are tough to read (I almost had to book the book down a couple of times).  The story is told from both Katie and Kevin's points of view, and Kevin's depraved justification for his actions are truly chilling sections to read, so consider yourself forewarned!

On a side note, the movie is a lovely adaptation of the book.  Here is the trailer:

Safe Haven stars Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough

What have you read lately? This is a link party!

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Books & A Cuppa Swap

Hello, My Lovelies!  It's show off time for the Book & A Cuppa Swap hosted by Angie and Beth @ Chaotic Goddess Swaps.

My swap partner is the sweet Jolene @ With A Little Help From My Friends.

Check out the first mug she sent me:

Isn't it pretty!  And the scary thing is I set this table the day before receiving my package, and everything on the table matches the mug!  

I love the size and shape of the mug, and the handle is shaped so prettily! 

This mug is from the Pioneer Woman Flea Market Collection, and the pattern is Country Garden.
This is one of the prettiest kitchenware collections I've seen in a very long time!

She also sent me the cutest mug dressed for an Alabama Crimson Tide football game.  You know how we Southern women totally overdress for SEC football!  ;P

Roll Tide Roll!

Jolene sent me tea for my hot drink.  I'm so happy she did because we only have our breakfast tea and a tiny bit of Earl Grey left after the holidays and the late arrival of winter!  This tea is Strawberry Blush Rose Flavored Oolong Tea from Teavana.
It smells like heaven and tastes even better!  This is such a treat for me because I rarely get to shop at Teavana.
I love the pretty tin, too!

Books!  It's Book Time!!!

Jolene reviewed the first book Little Wild Flower a while back, and I was very intrigued.  The series is one of her favorites, and I can't wait to read it.  The Love Goddess' Cooking School  has been on my Wish List for several months.  Y'all know how I'm a sucker for books with recipes, and this one has a few in the back I can't wait to try!

Love the card....we feed hummingbirds in the summer!

I would like to thank Jolene for her thoughtful gifts and Beth and Angie for hosting!  

Thanks, ladies!

Please click on this link to see all the posts for this swap!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cold Random

Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  This week has been a busy one so far because last week I did practically nothing other than nursing a cold.  So not a whole lot has been going on around here other than school....

Here's a look at the (little bit) of doings going on around Chez Treleaven!

Finlay enjoying a nap in the sunshine.  He is overdue for a haircut, and his grooming appointment was cancelled last Friday due to the winter storm.

I started decorating for Valentine's Day yesterday.  More Valentine decor later!

Journal52's Week 3 prompt: Favorite David Bowie lyrics and/or song
You may read my post for this prompt here.
ink and watercolor

I am so excited about Chaotic Goddesses' Book & A Cuppa Swap.  

I received my packaged from Jolene yesterday.  I know you are D*Y*I*N*G to know what she went me.  Come back tomorrow and find out!  ;P

I can't wait to share my prezzies from Jolene.  She really did a fantastic job!

Check out the latest from Red Dot:

If you're in Birmingham, you should stop by for the opening reception!

Natalie's art

Louise's art

Here's a fun little video of some Valentine yummies from Terrain.  I wish we had a local Terrain shop, but I do enjoy shopping in their online store!

122215_VDay_Sweets_Final from Terrain on Vimeo.

Question:  What's your favorite Valentine's Day candy?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, January 22, 2016

Literary Friday: The Red Notebook, The Grownup, and Stars In Your Eyes

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  This week has been an overall bummer for me because I've had to go out of town a couple of times plus I've had a little cold.  I didn't accomplish much other than school and reading (I read three books this week).

My second book of 2016 is The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain.  Coincidentally, it is also about a Parisian bookseller like my first book of 2016, The Little Paris Bookshop.  I checked out this book from our local library because my librarian said I'd probably enjoy it since I loved The Little Paris Bookshop.

According to Goodreads:

Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There's nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there's all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

Oh, how I love this book!  The owner of said red notebook is Laure.  She is mugged for her expensive purse, and once the valuables are taken the thief throws the purse and the remaining contents away and that's how Laurent finds the notebook.  I enjoyed reading Laurent's quest for finding Laure's identity and then finding her.  An interesting side note is that it isn't strictly Laure's notebook that intrigues Laurent: He's also intrigued by her other possessions and her apartment.

Our homes and possessions do tend to depict a little of who we are.  I know that I'm guilty of being a looky-loo when I'm in others' homes.  I try to peek at two things:  their art and books!  Are you a Nosy Nellie like I am?  Mayhap I can relate to Laurent!

When I first read about this book I thought that Laurent might be a little stalker-ish, but he isn't. Without giving away any major plot points, Laurent is an intriguing man himself.  The red notebook is simply a serendipitous find at the most opportune time.

The second book I read this week was The Grownup by Gillian Flynn.  THANK GOD I checked this one out of the library.  *SO NOT* a fan....

According to Goodreads:

A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan's teenage stepson, doesn't help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

Whoever wrote this book blurb should become the next leader of either the Republican National Committee (or the DNC, whichever) because I've never read such an inaccurate blurb in my life. Spinnity spin!   I could write my own commentary after each line of the blurb, but I won't.  

The unnamed narrator is one of the most unlikable characters ever.  She's a failure to herself and to the sisterhood.  She has earned carpal tunnel syndrome, and she deserves it.  Just read the first sentence in the book.  I would post it here but it is so gross I don't want to mess up my pretty blog.


The back of the book asks the question: Do you like ghost stories?  Well, yes!  Yes, I do!  But unfortunately, someone on crack must have decided to pose that question on the back of this particular book because this is not a ghost story.  It's about a con women and upper middle class spoiled people who are a waste of oxygen on this earth (well they would be if they were real)...

The only positive is the plot.  It takes you places you are not expecting, and methinks it will take the narrator straight to jail.  One can only hope!

I don't recommend this one because I don't like to be lied to in book blurbs and on the cover of books!

BUT....according to the back of the book....this book self-identifies as a ghost story so I suppose I can add this one to my Gothic Reading Challenge hosted by Diana @ Book of Secrets.

The last book I read this week is Stars in Your Eyes by Lynn Kurland.  I bought this one with a gift card I received for Christmas.   I buy and read all of Lynn's books.  She is one of the very best romance writers in the world, and she's my favorite.  

According to Goodreads:

Imogen Maxwell is on a hunt for rare, antique items to use on a period movie set. The last thing she expects to discover in the peaceful Scottish countryside is a pristine medieval sword . . . or to suddenly find herself facing its very vintage owner in a far too authentic castle.

Phillip de Piaget has run out of patience with his recalcitrant Scottish betrothed and is determined that she will join him, once and for all, in front of the altar. Only the lass he captures fleeing his would-be keep seems more interested in running away from him than talking to him. In fact, she seems to have no idea who he is.

But taming his reluctant bride is the least of his worries; it seems someone else wants him at the chapel . . . in a stone box. As for Imogen, how can he let her go, when she holds the key to not only the castle, but his heart?

Finally Philip de Piaget's book is here!  I've been reading about Philip for over twenty years, so it's fun to finally read his book.  Philip is the oldest son of Robin and Anne of Artane for those of you who read this series.  Actually my expectations were guarded with this book because Philip's personality isn't as gregarious as his younger brother Kendrick's, so I wasn't expecting his story to be as exciting, and it isn't.   Given his unique family with time traveling in-laws, I was a bit surprised that he spends a big part of this book in denial, but in the end he remains calm and composed during a life or death challenge.

I am not a huge fan of Imogen.  Although she is brave during most of the book, I am disappointed in how she succumbs to her family's bullying toward the end of the book.  It seems out of character as she's the family rebel.  Philip deserves better in my opinion.  The epilogue doesn't help her case much, either, but it does make me appreciate Philip more.  I hope to catch glimpses of them both in future books because I would love to change my opinion of Imogen.

What did you read this week?  This is a link party!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Canvas Corp Brands 4" X 4" Canvas Challenge

When I was a little girl, my favorite day of the school year was Valentine's Day.  It came at the perfect time of the year when we were cooped-up inside due to cold, rainy weather.  I enjoyed having craft time to make a pretty box for my Valentines with purple, red, and pink crepe paper and construction paper.  Ribbons, hearts, doilies, and markers usually completed the project.  I can remember taking my time picking out the perfect box of Valentines for my classmates.  Should I choose Scooby Doo or Holly Hobbie?  Then I had the task of addressing the Valentines to my classmates.  I chose my favorite Valentine cards for my favorite classmates.  If I didn't like you, you were sure to get a Velma Valentine.  (Ironically Velma is my favorite character now, LOL!)  My teachers usually wouldn't let us read our Valentines at school; we had to wait until we got home.  Oh, the agony of waiting!

When Canvas Corp Brands sent me a 4" X 4" stretched natural canvas to use in creating a project that would represent me as an artist, I decided to make a Valentine.  Here's how my project turned out:

First of all, I painted the entire canvas with gesso (made by Golden).

The little stretched canvas is natural, but as an artist I tend to gesso everything, so I gessoed this one to make it seem like a small primed canvas.

Then I cut out the notebook paper image from the 7 Gypsies Ordre du Jour 8" X 8" 2-sided paper pad with deckle scissors.

J'adore the images in this pack!

I glued it to the canvas, and then painted an apple on an ATC canvas.

It's a tiny little painting!  I cut the ATC down to only 2" X 2" 
Since I'm an oil painter I wanted to use that medium for this project.

I then glued it in the middle of the 7 Gypsies paper, and added the wording with an ink pen.  Et, voilà!  A cute little Valentine reminiscent of a note passed during class.

I love how the 7Gypsies paper appears to be wrinkled.  It's designed that way, but it's perfectly smooth to the touch.  Many of the papers have trompe l'oeil in their designs!

I do like the little canvases.  This project is an easy one, and you could easily make a pretty collage with the 7 Gypsy papers and write a poem or love note to your Valentine!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Friday, January 15, 2016

Literary Friday: The Little Paris Bookshop

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  My first book of 2016 is the book Mr. Art @ Home gave me for Christmas:  The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.  Originally written in German, it was translated by Simon Pare.  What a great start to the year!

Monsieur Jean Perdu owns the ultimate Parisian Indie bookshop located on a barge moored on the Seine River.  Perdu is a phenomenon:  He can "read" a customer by asking a few direct questions and "prescribe" the perfect book to heal what ails him or her.  He's a "Literary Pharmacist," and he's also working on his Great Encyclopedia of Small Emotions:  A Guide for Booksellers, Lovers and Other Literary Pharmacies.  The only problem is, as his name meaning "lost" in French implies, Monsieur Perdu can't seem to help himself: He has nursed a broken heart for over twenty years and he's no better.

The rediscovery of a letter from a long lost lover and a couple of other events lead Monsieur Perdu to untie his barge and travel down the Seine to Southern France.  With his millennial sidekick and bestselling author Max traveling with him, they save someone from drowning, visit Cuisery, the amazing village in France where  virtually every shop is a bookshop, and dance the tango in a secret rave-like venue in Provence.  Throughout all of Monsieur Perdu's adventures, his persistent melancholia almost becomes too much.  Happily for the reader, he begins to heal once he's successful in a quest to find the identification of  "Sanary," the writer of Southern Lights, a book that "saved Monsieur Perdu's life."  There is healing for all the other characters in this wonderful story, too.

This book was written for those of us who love books, bookstores, quirky characters, and the transformative power of love.  Nina George also provides us with wonderful recipes from Provence and excerpts from Jean Perdu's Emergency Literary Pharmacy.  I cooked the Pistou recipe earlier in the week, and it was fantastic.  You may read the recipe here.

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

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Roll Tide Random!

I bought some Crimson and White spray roses to decorate the house for the Big Game:

Crimson and white is the prettiest color combination, don't you think!

Congratulations to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide!

45 - 40 Victory over the Clemson Tigers

16 National Titles

100 Victories for Coach Nick Saban at the University of Alabama

Hey, Tigers!
Hey, Tigers!
Hey, Tigers!

We just beat the HELL out of you!

Rammer Jammer
Give 'em hell Alabama!

This random post needs a little cuteness.  My Finlay is taking a nap with his newest Grinch Christmas toy.

He's actually holding the toy while he sleeps.  So cute!
The Grinch is wearing a Crimson and White hat.  Roll Tide!

School is back in session, and we've been creating lots of art and other craft projects.  

Gratitude is my word of the year.
See the crimson and white ticking flower?  Roll Tide!

This tiny little painting (2 1/2" square) is for a project.  Wouldn't you like to know what it's for!?!?!

Finlay always joins us in school, whether we're in the classroom or art studio.  Here, he piled two pillows on top of each other so he can watch what we do.  Apparently he became bored with sketching so he took a nap!  Mayhap he's resting up for the Big Game!

I'm participating in the Chaotic Goddesses' Book and a Cuppa Swap (click on the link in the sidebar). Speaking of mugs....look what was in my inbox from my sorority!  For a $25 contribution to the ZTA Foundation (my sorority) Zeta will send this go mug to a Zeta sister.  Mr. Art @ Home: Are you paying attention?  It's the perfect Valentine's Day gift!

I was a Zeta at the University of Alabama.
Roll Tide!

My daughter ordered some candles from Etsy:

Reading at the Cafe smells like coffee and chocolate.  It is the best smelling candle in the world.  It is!  The Sassenach candle is clean smelling with heather and rosemary.
My daughter is also an Alabama alumna and currently a graduate student at the University of Alabama.  Roll Tide!

I've been noticing many of your pretty winter mantels on your blogs.  I wish I could decorate a pretty mantel but we have the stupid big TV hanging there so it sucks for me.  But there was a pretty mantel in my inbox today.  Check it out:

So pretty!  This garden-inspired mantel is from one of my favorite online shops:  Terrain.

During the National Championship Game (which Alabama won) we enjoyed a wonderful Provençal soup found in a book Mr. Art @ Home bought for me for Christmas:

The magic ingredient in this soup is the pistou.  "Pistou" means "pounded" in Provençal, and it refers to a thick green sauce similar to Italian pesto that's mixed into the soup.  Pounded, as in how the Alabama Crimson Tide "pounded" the Clemson Tigers.  Roll Tide!



200 grams carrots
250 grams zucchini
1 leek 
500 grams potatoes (I used tiny colorful potatoes)
1 onion
200 grams green beans (I used 3/4 can)
1/2 can good quality peeled tomatoes, diced
olive oil
2 T Herbes de Provence
1 T Penzey's Sunny Paris Spices
1 can white Italian beans

For the paste (pistou)
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 t sea salt
3 - 4 bunches of fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan plus more for garnish
5 T mild olive oil


1.   To make the vegetable soup:  Wash and cut the carrots, zucchinis, leek, potatoes, and onion into pieces or cubes.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the vegetables and herbs and stir continuously for ten minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2.   Rinse the beans with cold water and pat dry with paper towels, then add them with the tomatoes and green beans to the vegetables in the pot.  Pour in 4 to 5 cups of water and add a little more salt and pepper to taste.

3.   To make the paste:  Peel and chop the garlic and blend to a smooth paste.  In a medium bowl, mix the garlic paste with the salt, basil leaves, and Parmesan.  Add the olive oil, and mix well.

4.   Spoon the pistou into four bowls.  Pour in the hot vegetable soup and serve.  Some people (like me) prefer to stir the paste into the soup afterward.  Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

I will review The Little Paris Bookshop in my Literary Friday Post this week!

We're off on a field trip today.  I'll visit with y'all tomorrow afternoon.

Until next time...and in case you missed it the other times I stuck it in this blog post....

Roll Tide Roll!
Ricki Jill

Monday, January 11, 2016

Chaotic Goddess Swaps Book & A Cuppa Swap

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  Today is going to be a GREAT day....there's a wee little football game tonight, and I.  Can't.  Wait!  Roll Tide Roll!

Speaking of I can't wait...I'm so excited about the new swap hosted by the Chaotic Goddesses Beth and Miss Angie:

I have my Amazon Wish List all ready!  Plus I have some fun ideas for mugs for my swap partner, too. Here are a couple of mugs I have my eye on:

Perfect for the Harry Potter nerd

What Outlander fan wouldn't appreciate Jamie's family's motto on a mug?

So I have football on the brain still....such a cute elephant mug who happens to look like Alabama's mascot Big Al!  Roll Tide!

I think this is a great idea for a swap....just in time for the cold January and February winter evenings!

I also enjoy seeing what others enjoy reading, what they want to read, etc....

Today is the last day to sign-up, so what are you waiting for?  Seriously, you must needs click on the button above and join in on the fun!

What's on your Reading Wish List?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Word of the Year 2016 Project

Happy Weekend, My Lovelies!  I hope you are having a great one.....I know I am!

This post is about my word of the year.  Can you see it?

Let's take a closer look, shall we???

Yep!  It's gratitude!

I am grateful to be a part of the Canvas Corp Brands Creative Crew, and I just received my first shipment of lovely art supplies to play with this weekend.

Look at all the lovely products, mostly from the 7 Gypsies line:

I love the vintage photo crate in white and I decided to make a memory crate for the entire family. It will hold all the little blessings, happy memories, and kindnesses of 2016 organized by month. During Christmas, we will dedicate time to sit down together and read all of them.

Here's how I made the little crate.  I cut out papers form the 7 Gypsies Ordre Du Jour Collection (12 X 12 papers) and decoupaged them onto the crate.  Then I embellished the crate with a Red Ticking Flower,  Bi-Color 7Gypsies Frame,  7 Gypsies Antique Silver Pins, 7 Gypsies Flea Market Findings Charm, a 7 Gypsies Moments Charm, and tea-stained seam binding.

I used velcro buttons to adhere the flower to the crate.

I am in love with the reds, pinks, and aquas in this collection!

For each month, I'm using a 7 Gypsies 4 X 6 Manilla File Folder.  I embellished each one with 7 Gypsies Ordre Du Jour 8 X 8 Pad Paper and Calendar Tickets.

I ordered an adorable Double Drawstring Ticking Bag   to store the super-cute 7 Gypsies Gypsy Moments Happiness Cards and Gypsy Moments Just Thankful Cards.  Whenever we want to record our grateful moments it will be easy for us to reach in and grab the appropriate card and journal away! 

The little crate will live on the desk in our kitchen so everyone can contribute to the gratefulness project.  I'm even sending a few cards to big sister at college so she can play along, too!

This was a super-easy project, and I hope you'll embellish a memories crate of your own!

Please email me or leave a comment should you have any questions about this project.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill