Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine's Day Decorations and Peer Pressure

I have received several emails asking me this:  "Where are your Valentine's Day decorations? Time's a wastin'......"

Let me first explain that since my husband is from New Orleans, we decorate for Mardi Gras starting Twelfth Night, on January 6th.  Decorating for Mardi Gras alleviates the disappointment of taking down all of our Christmas decorations and Christmas tree.  Our kitchen and dining room are decorated for Mardi Gras, so that basically leaves only my coffee table for Valentine's Day.  Our house is small, and we do not have a lot of surface areas for pretty vignettes that I see on other websites and blogs.

So, here it is...our coffee table decked-out for the holiday of *love*....

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I started with a plastic red toile print tray and placed most of the items on it.  I used pink, blue, and gray for the vignette.  First, I placed a crystal vase with pink hydrangeas on the tray and a gray bird candle holder.

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I also placed tiny bisque hearts in a bowl on the coffee table.  They have holes in them, and I need to use them for a project.  Any suggestions?

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I placed two other small MacKenzie-Childs votives that match my color scheme on the tray, too.

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Then I added a vintage-looking Valentine on handmade paper and a bisque heart.

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Look at what is written on the bottom of the heart...so sweet!  And of course there is no greater love than God's love, hence the pink cross.

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Everyone needs kisses and Valentine M & M's!

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Y'all know that I *love* to read, so I have placed three of my favorite Love Stories tied with a Shabby Chic fabric ribbon with pink and blue flowers.

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I love these books:  Juliet, The Tenth Gift, and Shannon.  Do yourself a favor and read them during the Month of Love!

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But look what I am reading now.  I have waited a long time for this book, and I think it is gorgeous!

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I might post some pictures of our Mardi Gras decorations in the dining room later.  I am working on a project in there, and it is a mess!  You can see some of our kitchen decorations here.

Linking to Ruby Tuesday, White Wednesday, and Feathered Nest Friday.

Linking to Debbie's Newbie Party.  Click on this link to meet some new bloggers!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Apples to Apples

My DH (dear husband) is a hoot.  He loves board games, and loves his girls. He sometimes "makes" us participate in "required fun" activities.  Yep! Compulsory fun...which is an oxymoron....I think....

Anyway, his latest is Apples to Apples, Family Edition.  And I must admit it is some kind of fun!

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This is a very brief synopsis for how to play the game.  The "judge" let's everyone pick a card from their hand of five cards to fit a "category" card read by the judge.  Then the judge determines who wins the hand.  Then the next person gets a chance at being judge.

For example:  say your hand has these (red) cards in it:

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And the category is "nice" (the green card)  :

Which would YOU choose?  I don't think I'd choose soccer mom...not in this neighborhood, anyway *giggles*

I was going to bake a lovely apple pie to have for dessert while playing this game, but one of my daughters insisted on making an Apple Dump Cake.  I was hoping to bake and post a beautiful pie like Donna's over at one of my favorite blogs, Conghaile Cottage.  *sighs* Check out her adorable Apple Pie and Bears post here.

The recipe is so simple, and my daughter learned how to bake it in GA's (Girls in Action) when she was very young.

Here is the recipe:

Apple Dump Cake

2 cans apple pie filling
1 yellow box cake mix
2 sticks of butter

In a 9 X 13" cake pan (ungreased) put in 2 cans of apple pie filling.  Dump yellow cake mix on top of pie filling, then slice butter into pats and place evenly on top of cake mix.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or longer for desired brownness.

It sound gross, but it actually tastes pretty good, and the girls like to bake it themselves.

There are other editions to this game, and it is probably my favorite of late.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dixie Diva Book Club January Meeting

The Dixie Divas met at Janice's house on Tuesday night and discussed Pat Conroy's My Reading Life. Janice is such a sweet hostess because she fed 16 of us shrimp and grits.  It was delicious!  Meg's pound cake was a hit for dessert, too.  I was going to take lots of pictures, but I was too busy socializing.  I did take a couple of pictures of Janice's dining room table:

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I think her flower arrangement is absolutely perfect for a shrimp dinner, don't you!

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We had a special guest from Sweden named Karin.  So many of us have read Stieg Larsson's trilogy, and we asked Karin if she could recommend any other Swedish writers, and she suggested that we read Vilhelm Moberg.

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I enjoyed reading My Reading Life even though I have only read two of Pat Conroy's novels. The discussion was great (as usual).  There are several Dixie Divas who are huge Pat Conroy fans, and they have encouraged me to read a few more of his books, like The Prince of Tides.  What impressed the Divas about Conroy is the amount of books he has read over the course of his life. He has read at least 200 pages everyday.  In one of the chapters he describes this "city of books" he can visit anytime he wants constructed of all the books he has ever read.  I think that Conroy has a fantastic memory for what he has read; he is amazing.  I also enjoyed reading about his High School English teacher who had a profound impact on Pat and his reading and writing. This teacher even took Pat to meet successful writers as a way to encourage Pat.  Another chapter that many liked was the one about Thomas Wolfe.  Conroy gives a strong defense of Wolfe's importance in American letters, and if I were a critic, I would not want to verbally spar with Conroy about Wolfe.

My favorite part of the book was how Conroy's mother encourage his reading. They shared their "reading lives" with each other, and I think it was a way to escape the abuse of his father. I loved the fact that Pat's mother, Peg, re-read Gone With the Wind every year.  In My Reading Life, Pat shares many titles that have influenced him, and he (almost) makes me want to read War and Peace.

Janice asked us to reflect on our reading influences in preparation for the meeting: who influences us in our choices in books,  and what books have impacted our lives.  It was a great discussion with a lively group.

The Dixie Divas meet the fourth Tuesday of every month, and February's selection is Room by Emma Donoghue.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

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This week I read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.  I chose it because it is a Barnes and Noble Recommends Book.  I have had very good luck with these selections: Garden Spells, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane only to name a few.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of these books.  I have only disliked one of the B&N Recommends selections I've read, so I do pay attention when Barnes and Noble recommends a book to their readers.  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is one of Barnes and Noble's more recent recommendations, and it did not disappoint.

Let me start off by explaining the title.  In the South, we learn to spell Mississippi in Kindergarten like this:  M-i-crooked letter, crooked letter-i-crooked letter, crooked letter-i-humpback, humpback-i.  Small town Southern Mississippi is the setting for this story: a town with little more than a paper mill.  This is the story about an unlikely friendship between Larry, a white, lower-middle class young man, and Silas, a very poor black boy who is about a year or so younger than Larry.  The boys could not be more different: Larry is a nerdy bookworm who loves Stephen King, and Silas is an athlete with a strong pitching arm. Circumstances end the friendship which devastates Larry.

Fast forward over twenty years and Larry Ott, known as "Scary Larry" to most of the town, is a lonely mechanic with very little business.  His community has shunned him because they blame him for the mysterious disappearance of a high school coed over twenty years ago who was last seen on a date with Larry.  Her body was never found.  In the present, another young woman, the mill owner's daughter and an Ole Miss coed, is missing.  The townspeople instantly point their collective finger at Scary Larry.  In the meantime, Silas has returned to his Mississippi hometown as the constable.  He disbelieves Larry's guilt, but he has never done anything to help exonerate Larry, either. Unfortunately, Larry befriends a younger man named Wallace with terrible habits and issues.  Larry, desperate for a friend, trusts Wallace: a mistake that almost costs him his life.  Silas finds the body of the missing girl and becomes determined to clear Larry's name once and for all.

This is a very well-written book.  You truly have a distinct sense of place while reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.  The depiction of Larry's loneliness is devastating, and almost unbearable. Silas's life, his unravelling of family secrets, and determination to do the right thing is exhausting. You truly care for these characters, odd quirks and all. This is a quick read, lots of interesting plot twists, and a hopeful ending.  I could not put it down!  It is heartbreaking to think how we can treat others, especially when we don't have all the facts. It is equally heartbreaking the way we treat those who are different or odd.  I have taught my daughters that weird is something we can tolerate, but we do not tolerate mean. Okay, so I'm stepping off my Mommie Soapbox now.  Just read the book.  ;D

Until next time...

Happy Reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Design Influence: Kaffe Fassett

I thought it would be fun to blog about the artists and designers who have influenced me in how I've decorated our home.  The first designer/artist I am featuring is Kaffe Fassett.

Kaffe is a San Francisco-born artist who now lives in England.  I first discovered Kaffe at a needlepoint shop.  Kaffe has designed kits for the Ehrman company for many years.  I have worked many of his kits, and they are all beautiful!  Kaffe also designs fabric, rugs, and quilts; he is a very talented artist.  He has also written many inspiring books.  I would love to own one of his paintings!

Kaffe loves color and pattern.  His motto is "Don't be afraid of colors."  I will try not to be, Kaffe! (Don't tell him about the white interiors series I am painting now.)  You can visit his website here.

This is a picture of Kaffe from his website.   Isn't the painting he is working on stunning!

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Now I would like to share with you how Kaffe's fun style has influenced my decorating choices. I hope Kaffe would approve!  These are canvases I bought through an online auction.  The colors and patterns remind me of Kaffe's style.

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Here are a group of pillows in our guest bedroom.  They are a combination of Simply Shabby Chic from Target, Ralph Lauren Home, Country House, and a needlepoint pillow I stitched from a kit designed by Kaffe. His pillow is the rose pillow in the center. I love the details in the Country House pillows.

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Here is a close-up of the pillow Kaffe designed and I stitched.  Doris Haver at Doris Haver Interiors helped me find the perfect fabric and trim to make the pillow.

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The tile surround on our fireplace reminds me of Kaffe.  I think he would appreciate the different colors and patterns.

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In our master bedroom, I have used many different patterns from different companies.  Our bedding is a combination from Neiman Marcus (got to LOVE their Last Call sales), Yves Delorme, and a pillow I stitched a long time ago from Laura Ashley.

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My art teacher Dori was painting this small painting on aluminum, and I thought it looked familiar.  She was using several images from books and magazines to create her painting.  I told her that it reminded me of Kaffe Fassett.  She let me look at her inspirations, and sure enough, the chair she was painting was one of Kaffe's designs!  So you know I had to buy the painting for our family room.

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Look at the close-up of the majolica collection on the mantel in the painting.  I have always wanted to collect majolica, but I do not own a single piece of it. But I love it, and maybe one day I'll buy a few pieces.

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I hope you have enjoyed seeing how Kaffe Fassett has influenced me in my decorating of our home.  I hope you take the time to visit Kaffe's website.  He has posted videos that are a treat to watch!  Who has influenced you in your home decor?  I would love to hear from you!

I will share two more design influences over the next two weeks.  Stay tuned!

As usual, I will be joining Courtney at her linky party.  Click on the button below!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Eau de Nil Fantasy"

This is my latest interior.  I have always fantasized about having gorgeous Eau de Nil silk curtains that cascade and puddle on the floor.  I do not have said curtains, but a girl can dream, right!?!  So, the painting within the painting has my fantasy curtain.  I love white interiors, don't you?

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My art teacher was telling us about how Vermeer put beads of white paint on his paintings at the very end.  So I put a few little beads of white paint on my painting.  It will take at least a week or two for the beads to dry before I can put my final coat of Liquin on it.  I have too much fun in my art class :D

I will be joining Faded Charm's White Wednesday.





Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Boss

Our amazing West Highland White Terrier, Bonnie, is The Boss.  Even if Bruce Springsteen were in the room she would still be:  The Boss!!!  She is the sweetest, most loving dog. She is loaded with personality, loves running errands with me, and boating.  She loves trips to the lake, and she knows when we are packing-up to go.  Here are some pictures of Bonnie. By the way, she hates cold weather, and had much rather snooze in the sun on a warm spring day than play in the snow.  Come on, Bonnie!  Your homeland, Scotland, is "verra cold."

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Busted!  Shelley and Bonnie are in my bed watching Nickelodeon!

I would love to hear about your favorite pets!

I am joining Miss Debbie and Miss Lucy at their linky party for pets.  Click on the button below!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

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