Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Happy List #10

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It's time once again for my favorite upbeat linky party of the week, Mamarazzi's My Happy List @ Dandelion Wishes.  Please join the party here.  To tell you the truth, I need this party more than ever this week!

Friends, please note that our internet is very sketchy right now.  We have service for maybe half an hour or an hour, and then it goes away again for several hours. Please be patient, and I will eventually get around to emailing all of you who have been so kind to leave comments.  You all have touched me so much with your care and concern for Alabama and other Southern states.  Bloggy friends are the very best!  


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My Happy List has a theme today:  Water for Elephants




1.   Fantastic Book:  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is one of my all-time favorite books.  If you have not read it yet, you are missing out!  Good books make me happy!!! You can read my Literary Friday post about Water for Elephants here.


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2.   Delightful Tea Party:  How about a Water for Elephants themed tea party? How much fun is this! This is my birthday weekend, so everything is all about *me*  :D  We are enjoying a full afternoon tea with tiny finger sandwiches and even smaller chocolate biscuits instead of dinner.  Water for Elephants is set during the depression, and a popular dessert of that era was chocolate biscuits (not cookies, but Southern biscuits), especially in the South. Tea parties make me happy! 


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We must save room for popcorn because....


3.   Tear-jerker Movie:  We have passes to see Water for Elephants tonight starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.  Going to the movies makes me happy!  I do not picture Reese as Marlena, but she is so talented that I bet her performance is Oscar-worthy.


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I am so excited!  I have many other blessings that have made me happy this week, real blessings, but I thought it would be fun to stick with a theme today.

Linking to Tabletop Tuesday @ A Stroll Through Life.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Friday, April 29, 2011

Literary Friday: Water for Elephants

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This week I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen for the second time.  I wanted to re-read it before seeing the movie.  I am so happy I did because it is such a well-written book. My book club read it about three years ago, and it was one of the best book discussions we have ever had! Some of you probably have a keeper shelf: books you will keep and revisit for the rest of you life. Water for Elephants is definitely on my keeper shelf, and if it is not part of your library yet, it really should be.

Water for Elephants is basically about the train circus culture during the Great Depression. Gruen highly researched this topic for the book, and I appreciate the attention to detail she shares with her readers: the language (or slang) used by circus folk; the unspoken but diligently followed rules between the workers and performers in circuses; the tragedy of those affected by "jake leg," or paralysis from drinking Jamaican ginger extract; hobo jungles and speakeasies; and the hunger and deprivation of the era.  Part of the book takes place in the present-day as the book's protagonist, Jacob Jankowski, is eagerly anticipating the arrival of a circus down the block from his assisted living home. Most of the story is told in flashback about his adventures when he was a young man working as a veterinarian for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth during the summer of 1931. When Jacob's story begins, he is sitting for his final exams during his senior year at Cornell.  He is studying veterinary medicine, and during one of his exams, his professor interrupts him to tell him that his parents have been tragically killed in a car accident.  His father, also a veterinarian, mortgaged his home and practice to pay for Jacob's Ivy League education.  For many months folks paid his father in beans and eggs, so the bank gets everything because the entire estate is mortgaged.  Jacob is so distraught he cannot sit through his exams, so he begins walking until he meets a circus train and hops aboard.  He is soon hired to look after the circus's menagerie.

The antagonist in this book is the circus's animal manager, August Rosenbluth.  He is a cruel, psychotic, paranoid schizophrenic.  He is married to the beautiful Marlena, the star of the circus's horse act.  Marlena and Jacob meet, and it is love at first sight for both of them. When the circus's owner buys an elephant, Jacob, Marlena and August must work together to train Rosie for the new elephant act.  The elephant does not understand English: she only answers to Polish commands, and Jacob is fluent in Polish. He tutors August in simple Polish commands and trains with Marlena, Rosie, and August for several weeks until the act is perfected.  This is not a great situation because Marlena and Jacob are growing closer, and August is a sadistic jerk.  I hate him.  I hate him more than almost every other fictional character I have ever encountered in a book. The couple must also endure one of the most horrible circus disasters of all time.

Please read this book if you haven't.  I have been meaning to read some of Sara Gruen's other books (especially Riding Lessons and Flying Changes since we are horse people), but I have not gotten around to it yet.  I have also heard that her latest book, Ape House, is amazing.  Have any of you read Ape House yet?  I would love to hear what you think about Water for Elephants, too.

Until next time...

Happy Reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Plans

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Please note that I wrote this post yesterday before knowing the magnitude of the tornado devastation here in Alabama.  If this post seems frivolous to you, please forgive me.


I am ready to wake up early and celebrate the royal wedding.  I am so excited!  I have the coffee table set for tea.


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The tea towel is Belgian, the napkins are Jacquard Francais "Orleans," the napkin rings are our first wedding gift, the crystal vase is Waterford, and the china is Wedgwood's "Amherst."


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I will be serving Taylors of Harrogate's Scottish Breakfast tea in honor of St. Andrew's College (where William and Kate met) and plain scones.  Only one daughter will be joining me, so I only have two places set.

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity posted about Prince William's groom's cake. The girls and I made it today.  You can view Grace's post here.

*I am currently stitching the Royal Wedding sampler pictured at the top of this post. It was designed by Beth Russell, and you can order it here.  The orange blossoms represent eternal love and fruitfulness, and the forget-me-nots represent remembrance and true love.*

What are your plans for the Royal Wedding?


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

A Sad Day in Alabama History

Yesterday's tornado outbreak unfortunately made history.  The death toll has reached 131 in Alabama and is expected to rise.  My heart is breaking for those affected close to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  Parents are frantically arriving in Tuscaloosa looking for their missing children who are students at the university.  I saw a couple from Texas looking for their daughter, and I can't get them off my mind.

My immediate family is okay, and we did not have any damage to our property in Birmingham. Our neighborhood on Lake Martin in Dadeville, Alabama, was directly hit by tornado, but we have not heard of any injuries to our neighbors or damage to our property yet (the cell towers around Alabama are down).  I am thankful we were in Birmingham rather than Dadeville!  We did have some friends and family who sustained property damage in Jefferson and Walker counties, but they were not injured, thankfully.

I have some fun posts ready, especially one about the Royal Wedding.  I just don't feel like posting about it now, but maybe I will later on today.  I don't want to disappoint my daughters because they have been excited about the wedding.  My oldest has school today, and she was apprehensive about going.  She attends school in downtown Birmingham, and all of the Birmingham City and Jefferson County schools are closed.  It took her two hours and fifteen minutes to get to her school which is only fourteen miles from our home.

I want to thank you for all the kind emails.  Our internet went down last night, and we are now back online, but I am unsure for how long.  If I do not get back to you immediately, please understand that I am a little busy, and I have a couple of folks I need to help today.


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{The sunrise breaking over Double Oak Mountain and shining on Oak Mountain this morning.}


~Ricki Jill



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Tornado Outbreak in Central Alabama

We are experiencing a tornado outbreak today in Central Alabama that is making history.  I do not know when I will be able to blog in the next few days, but please pray for all the storm victims and their families.  One is bearing down on my hometown, and I am worried about my family.  I have a few posts "in the vault" that I might be able to post eventually, but if we don't have power, then I can forget about it.  Our children's buses did not show-up today, and schools were dismissed at 10:30 for those children who were able to make it to school.

I will update later if I am able.


~Ricki Jill

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bunny Seed Gift Tags

I wanted to share the neatest bunny item with you {other than chocolate bunnies} :D

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These little white bunny gift tags contain wildflower seeds.



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Here are the instructions:

Plant this biodegradable tag in a small amount of soil.  Water and place in a sunny  location. Plants will appear in 2 to 3 weeks.  Keep moist until plants are large enough to transplant. Wildflowers will attract hummingbirds and butterflies!


We are going to try these!

I will keep you posted on their progress.

Linking to Faded Charm's White Wednesday.




Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Shanley Belle's Senior Portrait

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I just picked-up Shanley Belle's senior portraits, and I wanted to share one with you.  This is definitely her because she reads all the time, and she aspires to be a published writer. Amanda Traywick @ Precious Memories photographed Shanley.   You can visit Amanda's beautiful website here.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Monday, April 25, 2011

Can you survive the rock?

After the Easter sunrise service on the lake, Shelley and her friend, Eliot wanted to jump off of Chimney Rock.


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{The M&M's are making googly eyes at each other and don't seem interested in Shelley and Eliot's shenanigans.}




Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Free Fiestaware!

I was cleaning out a hard to reach corner of a kitchen cabinet at our lake cabin, and look what I found!  A cute Fiestaware sugar and creamer set!  I have always wanted to collect Fiestaware because the colors are so much fun.  If any of y'all know anything about Fiestaware and want to share with me anything about my "find" I would greatly appreciate it! I was so excited because I rarely find anything this cool at flea markets.


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Linking to Today's Thrifty Treasures @ Southern Hospitality.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Happy List #9

Happy Easter!





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I am joining Mamarazzi @ Dandelion Wishes for the My Happy List Linky Party.  Please join us for the most upbeat party in blogland!

1.   I am happy that we are not living in a perpetual state of Holy Saturday.  He is risen!


2.   Living on a mountain makes me happy, especially in the morning.  We are in the clouds {fog really}.  This is the view from my front door:

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Let's hear it for developers who leave the trees!!!




3.   Filling Easter baskets for my girls makes me happy!  

The writer:

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The artist:

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I think these little peat pots with vintage Easter tags and French wire silk ribbon are fun.


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4.   Happy activity of the day: Dyeing Easter Eggs!!!

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How are you spending Holy Saturday?  We are going on a quick boat ride before we dye the eggs.

Until next time...

Happy Easter!
Ricki Jill

Friday, April 22, 2011

Literary Friday: The Fixer Upper

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I have always wanted to buy an old cottage and renovate it while maintaining its character.  I would try to use historically accurate materials and colors. When discussing the possibility with a friend, she suggested I read The Fixer Upper by Mary Kate Andrews (she knows how much I enjoy reading).  I think many of my followers who love DIY will enjoy this book.

Dempsey Killibrew is a willing exile to Guthrie, Georgia.  Her father, Mitch, has recently inherited the family ancestral home, Birdsong.  The house is in need of some TLC before it can be listed and sold. Mitch sends Demspey to Guthrie because she has absolutely nothing better to do: as a Washington, D.C. lobbyist in the midst of a political bribery scandal, Dempsey is jobless, homeless, broke, and unhirable within the beltway.  A home decorating magazine junkie, Dempsey accepts the challenge and heads to Georgia.

Guthrie is a tiny town about an hour south of Atlanta.  When Dempsey arrives, she meets many characters almost as colorful as the Pepto-Bismol-hued Birdsong: and they all seem to know her "bidness" (that's "business" for you folks who live north of the Mason-Dixon line).  The whole town knows about Birdsong, her scandalous firing from Hodder and Associates, and the FBI investigation. Dempsey finds that Birdsong also comes with a squatter: one of Dempsey's elderly distant cousins named Ella Kate and Shorty, her cocker spaniel.  The house needs a new roof, so Dempsey hires a talented and ingenious general contractor who helps Dempsey with the restoration. An over-zealous realtor appears on the scene and paints over the Pepto-Bismol pink with Benjamin Moore's Dill Pickle Green (I truly can't decide which color is worse).  There is also a father/son attorney duo hired to represent Dempsey as the FBI investigates her involvement in the scandal; the FBI agents are fun characters, too.

This book is a fun, easy read and would be a great book to take to the beach or lake this summer.  I enjoy books with the theme of "finding one's home" especially when it is completely unexpected by the character.  Plus, the plot has a heaping-helping of romance and DIY.  The Fixer Upper has been the perfect read for a very busy week.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Good Friday

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I am spending Good Friday with my husband and one of my daughters (the other one is in school today).  I hope all of you have a blessed Good Friday and a peaceful weekend.

I will post my Literary Friday post later today and Mamarazzi's My Happy List tomorrow. Hopefully I can "blog jog" later in the weekend.

Until next time...

Easter Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Update on Aphrodite

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Shelley won a gold medal today at the Greek Festival for writing the best original myth entitled "Why Hephaestus Invented Braces."  According to Shelley's myth, Hephaestus invented braces to straighten the teeth of one of Aphrodite's admirers. He was jealous of Aphrodite's many worshippers, and he was trying to "steal away" some of hers by making them even more beautiful by making braces for their teeth.

I am so proud of Shelley.  Her painting of Aphrodite was also a winner, too. She worked almost eight hours total on the project.

We are celebrating her success tonight with Chinese food, so I won't be able to post my Vintage Easter Post until tomorrow.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Get Her to the Greek

{Festival}

Shelley's Greek Fest is today.  She dressed-up like Aphrodite.  The tank under her dress is to keep her in dress code.

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I am pretty busy today with preparations for the festival, so I apologize if I don't get around to visiting your blog today.

Until next time...

Have a blessed Maundy Thursday!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Succulent Pots

I planted pots filled with succulents over the weekend.  I am hoping they will be a little more heat tolerant than other plants.


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This is a little wall pocket I bought from the Etsy shop, Bella Inspirations.


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I planted three little plants in it.


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What new have you planted in your garden?

Linking to Fishtail Cottage's Flora Thursday, and Tootsie Time's Fertilizer Friday.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Glass and Metal Study


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                                            Tarnished Reflections
                                                     9" X 13"
                                              oil on gesso board


Linking to Faded Charm's White Wednesday, and Savvy Southern Style's Wow Us Wednesday.










Don't forget our What We're Reading Linky Party tomorrow!  Bonnie @ The Boatwright Family is hosting.  Please share your book love with us!






What We're Reading


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holy Week Blessings

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I have been given some pretty crosses over the years.  I thought I would share them today for the beginning of Holy Week and Mosaic Monday @ little red house.

Easter blessings!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Horse Show at Fox Lake Farm

Shelley participated in her first horse show of the season today at her barn, Fox Lake Farm.

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She placed third in equitation and first in her first jumping class, and third in her second jumping class.

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Shelley rode Buddy today. He was a good boy!


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Here are Shelley and two other riders in her class getting critiqued by the judges after their classes.

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It has been a perfect day for a horse show.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill