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Tales of the Traveling Totes: Lake Martin, Alabama *PLUS* a Giveaway!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Happy June, My Lovelies!  Welcome to another edition of the Tales of the Traveling Tote.

This past quarter I only traveled 83 miles from our home in Birmingham to beautiful Lake Martin, Alabama.  It's our home away from home.  In this post, I'll share with you a few of my favorite places on the lake.  I have been "trying out" cameras, and the learning curve with them all has been a thing, I'm not going to lie.  Some photos are better than others, so please forgive me for a few less than stellar photos.

Duck swimming near Goat Island

This post will feature:

1.   Jim Scott's Gardens
2.   SpringHouse Restaurant
3.   Tallapoosa Art School
4.   Chimney Rock

First stop:  Jim Scott's Garden

Jim Scott began his gardening journey after a tornado felled several trees on his property.  Rather than replanting the trees, he started a small garden.  He has added to his property over the years, and now owns just under seven acres on the banks of Lake Martin.  The property is mostly sloped, and there are many garden "rooms" on multiple levels, often separated by pathways and water features.  His gardens are only open during the month of May, and this year everything was stunning.  We've had a wet spring in Alabama, so it's been one of the prettiest springs that I can remember.

La Countess de Monet and I toured Jim Scott's Garden with my ECW group.  This metal pot is located in a woodland area near the street side entrance and pavilion.  

Street side entrance to path leading to the gardens

One of the numerous water features in the garden

What I love most about the garden is the fairytale-like quality.  I was expecting to see Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs around each corner!

The property did not have a single stone on it; instead it was composed of Alabama red clay.  Although the above water feature looks natural, most of the rocks were brought in from Sewanee, Tennessee.

I took several photos of containers because they were all so beautiful and most were dramatically planted.

Handmade swing in a tiny glade filled with hydrangeas and ferns

Detail of playhouse

I wonder where this little doorway leads...

This is one of my favorite water features

What kind of voodoo magic is this?  I can't seem to grow maidenhead ferns in my home.  I love them, and they are stunning in Jim Scott's garden!

Top of lakeside gazebo

Hippopotamus sculpture in the reeds, lakeside

One of the lawn areas

SpringHouse Restaurant

In my opinion, SpringHouse Restaurant at Russell Crossroads is arguably the best restaurant in Alabama.  I know it's my favorite!  Executive Chef Rob McDaniel sources local produce and products.  But not only is the food par excellence, the setting is stunningly gorgeous.  The buildings are constructed of stone and rough hewn timber overlooking the stables and rolling hills leading to the lake.  

The grounds are so pretty

This photo is taken from the promontory upstairs.  This is my favorite part of the restaurant because it overlooks the well house and the stables.

The Well House is a
circular, 12-seat private dining room accessed via the restaurant’s
subterranean wine cellar.  I would love to host a party there one day!  We asked for a tour, and it's truly an amazing space.

View of the Stables at Russell Crossroads from SpringHouse Restaurant

Tallapoosa Art School

Dorothy Littleton has created an amazing space to create art on the shores of Lake Martin in Dadeville, Alabama.  The Tallapoosa Art School hosts workshops throughout the year, and I was so lucky to get to attend Qiang Huang's still life workshop earlier this spring.  Dorothy is the ultimate hostess, and her family's property, called Blue Heron, is a wonderful facility with lakeside cabins for visiting artists and a beautiful studio.  Plus, one can't beat the beauty of Lake Martin for plein air painting practice.

La Countess de Monet outside the Blue Heron's art studio.

The outdoor spiral staircase leads to a loft where visiting art instructors can stay.  It is the most charming studio I've ever seen!

Inside studio, looking down from loft

The following photos are courtesy of Dorothy Littleton

One of the adorable cabins visiting artist can stay in while attending workshops.

Qiang Huang teaches a plein air lesson

Some plein air workshops visit Jim Scott's Garden for painting demonstrations and classes.  There's plenty of inspiration for landscapes there!

Sunset at the Blue Heron

You can read my blog post about my experiences at the workshop HERE.  I had such a great time that I'm already signed-up to take another workshop at the Tallapoosa Art School this summer.  I will probably take more than one, actually.  For more information about scheduled workshops, click HERE

Chimney Rock

One of the most popular hangout spots at Lake Martin is Chimney Rock and neighboring Acapulco Rock.  Youngsters enjoy jumping off the rocky cliffs, and it's a great place to people watch.

I apologize about the quality of these photos.  I'm still learning!  ;P

I hope you enjoyed our adventures.  La Countess de Monet and I appreciate your attention and patronage, and we'd like to treat you to some ice cream!

And now on to the giveaway!

That's me!  I'm The Sketchy Reader!

In order to enter, please fill-out the Rafflecopter widget below!
LEGAL:  This is a sweepstakes, and the winner will be chosen at random via the Rafflecopter widget.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please visit all the other ladies and totes by using the links below!

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths 
Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch
 Patti with Miss Kenzie @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie and Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess De Monet @ The Sketchy Reader You are HERE!
Cherry Kay and Carrie Ann Hall @ Entertaining Women  

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today.  I hope you are having a lovely late spring wherever you are, and I hope that those of you affected by flooding will dry out and rebuild soon.  Much love to you all!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. Well, I can certainly understand why I haven't seen you this Spring Ricki Jill, you have been enjoying Lake Martin! The gardens are magical, I am sure stepping into that world you feel just a little like Alice in Wonderland! And your art workshop had to be heaven, what a fabulous artist to inspire you and such a beautiful spot! I haven't ever been to SpringHouse but my children have, and say it is amazing...beautiful photos! It sounds like you have a fun summer coming up with more art workshops!

  2. What a great spring you've had, RJ! Love the vibe of the Dorothy LIttleton art school, and the Jim Scott gardens are breathtaking! The scenery, hardscape and landscape are fabulous.
    Have fun with the camera hobby. I'm confident you'll find your niche with continued use.the good news is Countess de Monet will always be ready for new photo ops!
    Happy June!

  3. What wonderful adventures. Just proves that often some of the best places are close to home! The gardens are lovely, and I know the art school was a fabulous experience. The space looks so inviting! I think you and Jenna must have a lot of fun attending these classes. Have you two ever considered going to one together? Thanks for sharing and taking us along. Happy Summer!

  4. Such a lovely tour of some beautiful and interesting places! Thank you! I, too, love the maidenhead ferns! Jenna sent me to your blog, so I'll thank her later! Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  5. What better place to be this spring than Lake Martin! Such a beautiful spot and not far from home. Wow, I would love to tour the gardens. Jim Scott's garden is amazing. So lush and green and oh how I love his containers. It does look like a fair landscape with the little doors. Love, love, love that! The restaurant sounds amazing and I'm sure you enjoyed the art class and it's location. I've enjoyed touring Lake Martin with you RJ. Fabulous post!!!!

  6. What a great trip you and your traveling tote made. The gardens are beautiful. I bet that was wonderful to see. Happy Weekend.

  7. Wow...this was a wonderful post! The gardens are gorgeous and the doorways made me think of Mary Lennox and The Secret Garden (I wanted to be her when I was a little girl) The art retreat must be fun, especially staying in that cute room! Good luck learning to play with your new camera....I am to the point where I dont have an interest in learning any new Technology, but I need a new computer - which i keep putting off for that very reason!! Your pics are fab!!! BTW- have you ever jumped off the rocks into the lake?

  8. All of those places look fantastic! If I'm ever in that part of Alabama in May I will definitely have to check out that garden! It is beautiful! Love all your photos.


  9. Ricki, I've been to Jim Scott's garden and it is magnificent! Truly amazing. So large and beautiful. You have a wonderful place to get a way and take art classes, dine in good restaurants and enjoy the lake. Thanks for sharing your activities with us. I always enjoy the TT posts and you have a lovely giveaway but don't include me in the drawing. I have been extremely fortunate to win several TT giveaways already.
    Happy weekend.

  10. I am in love with these beautiful garden photos, it looks like a magical place.

  11. Beautiful gardens! And I'd love to take an art class or two!

  12. how lovely! i'd love to take an art class there!

  13. Oh RJ, it's wonderful. Every bit of it is fabulous but you know what I'm going to say is my favorite -- the art studio. I loved the overhead shot and just the tiniest bit envious that you were able to spend time there working on your art. I know that had to be the most remarkable experience and so inspiring in that environment. (And thanks for the giveaway offer!)

  14. Well that just looks like a wonderful trip all the way around. I think I like the garden, best...where does that little door go?? Hmmm...and I think I need a hippo now, too! ;)

  15. Fabulous gardens RJ. The door is interesting and I do wonder where it leads as well. Going to an art retreat sounds like fun. Love the round building. Yes, a party would be wonderful there. Lots of pretty photos to take in. Happy Sunday.

  16. You covered a lot of territory for only traveling 83 miles. Lake Martin has so many beautiful thing to offer. I love the forest pics. Hey, are you leaning toward any particular cameras, yet? I'm definitely enjoying my Z7 now. So much so that I pretty much carry it with me everywhere I go. It has put the pleasure back in photography for me. I know you'll love whichever one you pick, too. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. Cherry Kay

  17. Hello,
    I need to come visit. I LOVE the gardens. I would not be able to leave.
    Love the photo of the hippo. :-)

  18. Ricki Jill, I love your home away from home so much charm! I can see why it is home away from home for you all! An art retreat would be heavenly and I am sure it was for you. I enjoyed your post on IG from when you were on the art retreat.

  19. How amazing that you have so many wonderful things to do and see close to home! I've enjoyed this post! Sweet hugs, Diane


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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