Literary Friday: Banned Books Week 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Happy Literary Friday!  I hope y'all have been celebrating your right to read this week.  I know I have!  I'm so thankful that I can read my Bible without fear of being persecuted.  I'm grateful for a wonderful library system in my community.  I'm also one lucky duck that I can spend a little money on favorite books to stock a home library.  Yep!  Life is good, but it's better with a great book in your hand!

Below is a wonderful infograph of the most challenged and banned books from 2014.  All artwork and photos on this post are courtesy of the American Library Association.

There are several books on that list I've been wanting to read, especially #1.  I've read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I think it's an important book for OLDER teens, not younger ones.  Again, parents need to be engaged and guide their children in reading age appropriate books.

By the you know the number one most challenged and/or banned books from the list of classics?  I'll give you a hint:  It's one of my all-time favorite novels, and I required Shelley to read it last year as part of her American Literature curriculum.  Give up?

How crazy is that?

Since I'm not posting a review this week, there'll be no linky, but PLEASE link-up next week! 

Share your favorite banned/challenged book in the comments below!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Pretties Found In My Inbox

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Happy Thursday!  I haven't had much time this week to play on social media, but surprisingly I found some lovely things in my gmail inbox.  I thought I'd share them with you today.

This first photo is the stunningly beautiful Kitchen of the Year according to House Beautiful Magazine:

Don't you just love that pink island?  I know I do....I feel vindicated.  Here's our kitchen island:

I love the pretty entryway (below) all decked-out for autumn.  I even like the "blowing leaves" although I'd probably clean them up after about fifteen minutes.  Still, it's a pretty entry.

Tomorrow I'm bringing out our pumpkins.  Below is some pumpkin inspiration from my favorite online source for all things gardening, Terrain.


That's about it for today.  My lesson plan book awaits my attention (not to mention the scary mountain of laundry threatening to spill over into the kitchen).

Come back tomorrow for a scary Literary Friday!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Banned Books Week: Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

Monday, September 28, 2015
Happy Monday!  This week we celebrate our freedom to read.  If your a student of history, then you probably remember that the second thing the Nazis confiscated after guns was books.  It would take a really big Nazi to take a book away from me.  Maybe two….

I also believe that parents should guide their children in what they read and no one else. I've spent countless hours previewing books before making the decision of whether or not my daughters were ready to read them.

I hope you celebrate your freedom to read this week by reading either a challenged or banned book!
I'll be sharing one of my favorite banned/challenged books on this week's Literary Friday post.

I hope you'll join me there!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: The Copper Gauntlet

Friday, September 25, 2015
Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!

THANK GOD this is the last week of Piers the Ploughman (homeschool).  It has kicked our butts!  It's interesting that the book is so incredibly timeless, and it means more to me reading it now than it did when I was in college.  We as human beings haven't learned a thing since medical times, apparently.

This week I also read The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Casandra Clare.  It's the second book in the Magisterium Series.  I reviewed book one, The Iron Trial, last week.  You can read my review here.

The book begins during the summer after Call's Iron Year at his mage school The Magisterium.  He's returned home with his chaos-ridden wolf Havoc which adds to the strain between his father Alistair and himself.  Both father and son seem to be at crossed-purposes, and finally a confrontation with Alistair forces Call and Havoc to run away to his friend Tamara's estate.  He's shocked to discover his friend Aaron and "frenemy" Jasper in attendance at a lavish party upon his arrival, and  he's mesmerized by the level of wealth Tamara and other mages enjoy.   After a couple of weeks of fun in the sun, the four return to The Magesterium to begin their second or Copper Year.  

At school Call learns about a sinister plot involving his father.  Recently an artifact called the copper gauntlet has been stolen from The Collegium, and Alistair is the number one suspect in the theft.  If caught, he will be killed without a trial.  The danger of the copper gauntlet is it can separate chaos magic from a mage.  The process is deadly, and it would threaten the life of their Makar Aaron.  The Makar is a rare (once in a generation) mage who can wield chaos magic, and Aaron must be protected at all costs.  Call is loyal to his friends, but he now questions his original judgment of Alistair's actions during the summer.  Can he get to his father before Assembly mages find and execute him?

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are two favorite young adult writers, but this series is for middle readers, grades 3 - 7.   I enjoyed this second installment of the series even more than the first.  I would still preview the series first for younger readers as there are some frightening monsters and scary situations in the book.  This should be a hit for Black and Clare, and I'm already looking forward to book three!

What are you reading?  Please share!  This is a link party.

Pssst!  You can see what I'm currently reading by viewing the Goodreads widget in my sidebar on the right.

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

A is for Apple and Autumn!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy Autumn, Y'all!  Today is the first full day of autumn, and you won't find any pumpkins around here.....yet.  I like to ease into autumn with apples.

We have been crazy busy with field trips, riding lessons, senior portrait sittings, and church activities plus everyday academics.  But still I wanted to treat the family to a delicious, fun dessert.

I made Apple Upside Down Cake, but I cheated by using a cake mix.

Apple Upside Down Cake

1⁄3 cup butter, cut up
1⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
6 small cooking apples, halved, stems removed, cored (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb.)
1 box Simple Mills Vanilla Cake Almond Flour Mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup water
1 T vanilla


Preheat oven to 350°F Place 1/3 cup butter in a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Place in oven 5 minutes or until butter melts. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter; stir. Arrange 9 apple halves in mixture, cut sides down. Bake in oven 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven.

Whisk eggs, oil, water, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Add baking mix to the wet ingredients and stir until complete combined.

Spoon over apples and spread evenly.

Bake 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edges; invert onto platter. Cool 20 minutes; serve with ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Makes 9 servings.

Let me know if you try this!  Upside Down Cake is an old fashioned dessert, but what makes this recipe nice is it's gluten-free, and the cake mix helps save a few steps!  Don't substitute the grapeseed oil.  It truly makes a huge difference in the flavor.   I served this to the family and my friend and her husband.  It was a huge hit!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: The Iron Trial

Friday, September 18, 2015

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  I couldn't be happier that the weekend is upon us.  Shelley and I have been struggling through Piers the Ploughman in British Literature, so I read a fun children's book written by my two very favorite YA writers Holly Black and Cassandra Clare:  The Iron Trial.  It's the first book in their Magisterium Series that will include five books total.  You can visit the fun website over at Scholastic here.

Callum "Call" Hunt has been recruited to take entrance exams to a secret underground school for mages, "The Magisterium."  The competition is stiff as only a few students are accepted.

Call wants to fail.

Every other student is competing as hard as he or she can to gain acceptance into the school, but Callum's father has warned him his whole life about the dangers at the Magisterium, how the mage instructors or masters use their students in experiments to glean knowledge about magic.  Call's mother was killed during a mage war, and to complicate his life even further, he has a disability with a weak leg because he suffered a horrendous injury as a child.  But in spite of Call's horrible performance during his admissions testing, he's admitted to the Magisterium and placed with the mage who had instructed his father years ago.

I enjoyed this book in spite of the fact that the school is underground in a series of caves. The plot is fast-paced, something readers have come to expect from Cassandra Clare and Holly Black.  I had to pay attention to every word so I wouldn't miss anything important.  Call and his teammates Tamara and Aaron eventually bond and work together to face frightening foes in an unexpected climax.  The three friends' characters are well-developed, and I can't wait to read their next adventure in The Copper Gauntlet.

Fire wants to burn
Water wants to flow.
Air wants to rise.
Earth wants to bind.
Chaos wants to devour.

I took the quiz on the website and the element I'd master at the Iron Trial is earth....not surprising, LOL!

PARENTS:  There are some frightening scenes in these books, so you might want to preview before you allow a younger child read this book.   Its target audience is grades 3 - 7.

The Iron Trail book trailer

Magisterium Series trailer

I love getting in touch with my inner child by reading children's books.  Have you read any children's books lately?  Don't forget this is a link party!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Sumi-e: Japanese Art

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Happy Random Tuesday, My Lovelies!  If Japanese Sumi-e Art isn't random enough for you, then I don't know what is!

A couple of weeks go, Shelley and I took a class in Sumi-e.  Sumi-e literally means "the way of the ink," and according to the Sumi-e Society, SUMI-E is the Japanese word for Black Ink Painting. East Asian Painting and writing developed together in ancient China using the same materials —brush and ink on paper. Emphasis is placed on the beauty of each individual stroke of the brush.

Below are the Four Treasures used in Sumi-e:

Fude:  brush  (made from bamboo)

Sumi:  ink (comes in a block form)

Suzumi:  ink stone (Made from slate.  Ink block is rubbed vigorously on stone, and there's water in the bowl part to mix with the ink.)

Washi:  Paper (traditionally mulberry paper is used)

Sumi-e is a very difficult art form to perfect.  The reason it's called "the way of the ink" is because the ink finds a path of its own and it is almost impossible to control it. The ink oftentimes takes a random path.   The artist must build on where the ink leads.

The first subject an artist must master is bamboo.

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My bamboo painting on newsprint

We practiced on newsprint in class before we were allowed to use the mulberry paper.  Newsprint was super easy compared to the traditional paper.  The ink truly had a mind of its own on the mulberry paper!

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Shelley's painting on the traditional mulberry paper.  She used more water than ink.

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My painting on traditional mulberry paper.  I used more ink than Shelley.

We took the class at the Birmingham Museum of Art along with other students and parents in Shelley's homeschool cover school.  Before the class started, a docent took us on a museum tour of art from the Silk Road.  The tour was wonderful, and I fell in love with Korean pottery.

Below is a horse painted with the sumi-e technique.  I would love to take more classes and move beyond bamboo one day!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

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