Friday, February 26, 2016

Literary Friday: Macbeth 2015

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  This week I have nothing great to share because I'm still reading savoring The House at Riverton.  I probably would have finished it had it not been for the debacle of a movie entitled Macbeth 2015.

You see, we're reading Macbeth in British Literature.  As Shakespeare should always be heard, I always begin by watching a version of the play we're studying, and I thought it would be a good idea to  watch Macbeth 2015.  What a Charlie Foxtrot.  It was so bad!  The lines were literally mumbled, and many of the best lines were edited out.  Not a great idea….Mama was not happy when THE Scottish Play was reduced to weird effects and sword fights.  

NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD:  When you decide to produce another one of Shakespeare's works, remember that folks during the Elizabethan era used to say they were going to "hear" a play….not "see" a play.

Some weeks homeschooling is like a house of cards, especially when the teacher has been ill.  
Wasting the time on this poor production set us back, and I had to "reassess" what to do next.  Hence I didn't get to finish my book this week.

Just keeping it real here at Art @ Home!

In case you're curious, here's the trailer for Macbeth 2015:

Oh, well….
"What's done is done!"

So let me live vicariously through you, my Sweet Bloggy Friends!  What have you been reading this week?

Art @ Home

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Looking Forward to Spring

Happy Wednesday!  While I'm writing this post, storms are raging across our state.  But the good news: severe weather in Alabama is a harbinger of spring!  I don't know about you, but I can't *wait* until spring and summer.  We have Spring Fever.  We need a vacation.  We need sunshine!!!

I finally (today, yikes!) put away our Valentine's Day decor.  Now I'm starting with a clean, quite minimal slate which is fine with me for a week or so!

If you've followed my blog long, you know about my obsession with Jane's Flora Dooras.  I *heart* them so much.  They're plastic-lined bags you can put water and fresh flowers in and hang wherever. Here is a link to Jane's Etsy Shop.  I love them so much I have a Flora Doora Pinterest board.

Here is my latest one:  This Flora Doora has a natural color drop cloth base and drop cloth handle, it is accented with a floral hankie from the market in La Charite, France, which is sewn on the front.

I put a few wilting spray roses in it....LOVE the yellow with the purplish-blue.

See the sweet one on the right?  It's a little lagniappe from Jane, and I will feature her next week, so stay tuned!

I'm looking forward to pulling up the pansies and planting spring flowers.  I've been looking online and in catalogs, and here is one of my favorite new varieties for 2016:

These superbells are called Holy Moly.  Aren't they great!  I'm planting them in a large black planter, and they're so obnoxious I might get a letter from our HOA.  ;P

In a couple of weeks I'll decorate for Easter, and I've found a trio of chicks that will be my new addition to our Easter decorations.

These party chicks are from Olive and Cocoa.

I saw the prettiest spring floral arrangement from Daphne's Diary (English) Facebook page.  I love the tulips in it, especially the ruffled ones.  The jonquils are pretty, too!

You can like Daphne's Diary on Facebook here.

Finally, here's the latest stop action animation video from Terrain.  It will surely make you smile!

Do you have spring fever yet?  

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, February 19, 2016

Literary Friday: Little Wild Flower

Happy Literary Friday!  This has been a week filled with Shakespeare in homeschooling, so I didn't get as much reading for fun accomplished as I'd hoped.

My sweet friend Jolene sent me two books via the Book And A Cuppa Swap, and I read one of them this week, Little Wild Flower by Samantha Jillian Bayarr.

I can't wait to read Love Goddess' Cooking School soon!

According to Goodreads:

Jane Abigail Reeves is Little Wild Flower. Raised as a city girl; her father moves fifteen-year-old Jane and her entire family to a farmhouse in a rural Amish community in Indiana as a respite for her alcoholic mother. Finding farm life more complicated than city life; Jane shuns herself from family and neighbors, until she stumbles upon sixteen-year-old Elijah, the Amish boy next door. As she slowly ventures out of her comfort zone, she begins to mimic her family's acceptance of Amish living, realizing it's a practical solution for squelching the dysfunction of her family's past. Set in the 1970's, Jane's story is full of cultural obstacles she must overcome in order to survive in the community in which she and her family reside. Can a hippie-chick like Jane find friendship with a sixteen-year-old Amish boy, despite their cultural differences? Will their feelings for each other change as they grow up? 

Amish fiction is becoming an increasingly popular sub-genre in Christian fiction, especially Christian romance.  I think that this one is a bit different because Jane's family is so dysfunctional compared to their Amish neighbors.  All of the family members at least try to become a part of the community except Jane.  She doesn't want to have anything to do with their change in lifestyle.  I also think that setting the story in the mid-seventies is interesting because it's the peak of the Women's Rights Movement, not to mention the other social changes occurring then.  So the plot containing teenagers marrying so young is jarring because the seventies is the decade where women were empowering themselves by accomplishing goals before marriage.  I also question the acceptance the Amish have of Jane and her family.  They clearly aren't Amish, yet their church seems okay with (several) marriages between Jane's family members and members of their sect.

I enjoyed the characters, especially Elijah.  He also has a rebellious spirit matching Jane's.  They seem to find a way to spend some time together without chaperones which also seems odd to me.
I must stress that this is the first Amish story I've read, so I don't have anything to compare it to, and I'm not an expert on Amish culture.   But if you like this genre, I do think you'll enjoy Jane and Elijah's story:  their narrative is a lot of fun.

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

Art @ Home

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Random Tuesday: Mid-February Edition

I've been drinking booty-loads of tea lately:  loading up on the fluids!

Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  I hope you're keeping warm today.  Let's get on with the randomness!

I'm blessed with some very sweet friends who've made the flu a little less horrific by sending me all kinds of goodies, flowers, and comfort food.

Congratulations to Shelley for qualifying for Regionals the last weekend in January.  She'll compete later in the month, and our hope is that she'll qualify for zones.

Congratulations to Shanley Belle for her second book's release.  Shanley has also been nominated for a Best Series award in a large Yahoo group.  Yay!

Speaking of books, Shanley texted me this yesterday.  It made my day!

Shelley has been practicing a lot with her team, so I baked the girls a peanut butter banana bread one Saturday morning for their afternoon clinic.  The beauty is that the recipe makes two loaves!

Peanut Butter Banana Bread


3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (6 medium) 
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips, if desired
2 teaspoons vanilla


1.  Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or non-stick pans). Grease bottoms only of 2 (8x4-inch) loaf pans with shortening.

2.  In small microwavable bowl, microwave peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 30 to 45 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir until mixture is smooth.

3.  In large bowl, beat sugar and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed 1 minute or until blended. On low speed, add peanut butter mixture; beat well. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream to peanut butter mixture, beating on low speed until blended. Stir in bananas, chocolate chips and vanilla until blended. Divide batter between pans.

4.  Bake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

I found this recipe on the Betty Crocker website here.

I don't know about you, but I'm giving up winter for Lent.  So over winter....I'm ready for spring!  I found these lovely napkins on the Terrain website.  I really wish we had a Terrain store here in Central Alabama!

Will you be decorating for Spring soon?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, February 12, 2016

Literary Friday: The Lake House

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  So sorry that this post is so late, but this flu has totally knocked me on my butt!  I also want to apologize to last week's participants.  I promise I will visit your blogs and read your posts from last week later today.

This week I read The Lake House by Kate Morton.  She is one of my very favorite writers, and I can't wait to discuss this book next week at Our Book Club meeting!  :)

from Goodreads:

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

I received this book for Christmas, and it is definitely a keeper along with Morton's other books. What I love most about the book is the setting: the Loeanneth Estate in Cornwall.  Loeanneth means "lake house" in Cornish, and I can't think of a more lovely setting than a lake house close to the sea in sunny Cornwall.  The house itself becomes a character in the saga of the Edevane family: neglected, abandoned, but never forgotten.  The atmosphere of Loeanneth is magical: One wouldn't be surprised to find Cornish pixies and other fairies in the gardens surrounding the lake.

Point of view is so important to the story that the reader gains insight that the other characters never know.  These characters are all hiding secrets, and in order to unravel the tangled plot, head-hopping is a necessity.  Alice's point of view as a teenager is annoying as she is self-absorbed to the point that she's wearing blinders to everyone else's narrative.  I much preferred Alice's point of view as an octagenarian; her character becomes much more likable as the story progresses.  Eleanor is perhaps the most intriguing character in the entire book.  Please pay close attention to her narrative. Although flawed, she also suffers the most loss.  Sadie's story is a little confusing.  It took me a while to catch on to what is going on in her life.  Her story arc is fascinating: She is smart, and she is confident in her instincts as well as her investigative abilities.  Had it not been for her inimitable determination, two closed cases would have gone unsolved.  

Morton is the master at family saga/dramas.  Her stories always delve deep into family histories and secrets, and the settings are usually glorious English country estates.  All of her characters are complex, and they are relatable even when their narratives are flawed.  The Lake House is not my favorite of Morton's books, but I did love it.  My only criticism is the ending: Everything falls into place a wee bit too easily for me.  I started losing my suspension of disbelief.

You may read my reviews of Morton's other books by clicking on the links:  The Distant Hours and The Secret Keeper.  I thought I'd reviewed The Forgotten Garden on my blog, but apparently not.  I'll try to write a review of it soon because it's my favorite of all her books.

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

Art @ Home

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Friday, February 5, 2016

Literary Friday: The Rosemary Spell

Happy Literary Friday!  So sorry for posting this late, but I'm slow moving this morning.  This week I read The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman.  It's this quarter's book club selection for Page à Vu.  Click on the button below and visit the blog!

Page à Vu
According to Goodreads:

Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam's older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.

I really enjoyed this little book.  It's characterized as a middle grades book probably because the main characters are in middle school, but I think YA readers will enjoy it, too, given the supernatural qualities of the magical book.  Thought to be a Shakespeare false codex, the mysterious book contains a list of flowers and herbs found in Shakespeare's writings.  The rosemary spell is from Ophelia's mad speech:  "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray [you], love, remember." This book would enhance the reading of Hamlet and/or Macbeth.
The codex itself is found in Rosie's room which at one time belonged to a famous poet, Constance Brook.  Rosie and Adam are partners working on a classroom poetry project and decide to choose Constance as their topic.  They believe she's their only hope in saving Shelby from the void, but when they visit her at the nursing home it's clear that Alzheimer's has taken its toll on her once sharp and creative brain.  Constance does have a few lucid moments, and with her hints and their research, Rosie and Adam think they know how to rescue Shelby, but they are pushed for time because the spell becomes permanent at the start of the new moon.
The timing could not have been better for my reading this book because we are reading Hamlet now in school, and next week we'll read a few sonnets before moving on to Macbeth.  I've already decided to assign The Rosemary Spell as independent reading next week.  
Thanks to Beth, Angie, and Kenzie for a great choice for this quarter!

This book also contributes to my Gothic Book Challenge hosted by Diana @ Book of Secrets.

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

Until next time...
Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I *heart* You!

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!
 I hope your day is better than mine.  The cold I had last week decided to morph into Influenza-A Monday.  (I know that's medically impossible, but the point is I'm sure the cold and then going to two horse shows over the weekend didn't help.)

The good news is that Tamiflu is a miracle drug.  I'm so much better after only two doses.

I already had these photos of hearts around our home in my camera, so I thought I'd share.  

My latest Valentine's Day decor bought this year at Pier1
I like the ribbon because it reminds me of MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check!

Mr. Art @ Home bought me these MacKenzie-Childs bowls for Christmas.
I think they look great with my older placemats.

These photos are from the dining room.  If the heart placemats seem familiar, it's because they can be buttoned together to form a table runner.

I know I post this heart all the time, but I love it.  I bought it when we'd only been married a year or so.  There is a hanging charm for each month, and of course February's is a heart.

I did read a book this week, so there will be a Literary Friday post tomorrow.  It just might not be my best post, and it will probably be brief.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill