Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sprucing-up The Powder Room

I wanted to brighten-up our tiny little powder room at the lake cabin.  It is tucked underneath the stairs, and the lighting was horrible.  We decided to make a mosaic mirror from all the broken MacKenzie-Childs pieces we have saved over the years.  I love this lighted mirror because it makes everyone look so pretty!  We also added a tiny little backsplash for our pedestal sink with MacKenzie-Childs tiles.

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We have some pieces left over, and we will be making another mirror for our Birmingham powder room soon.  I might even post a tutorial now that we know what we are doing  ;P

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Linking to a bowl full of lemon's One Project at a Time.



Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vintage Aroma

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This weekend, we attended an art show at Children's Harbor.  Children's Harbor is a camp on Lake Martin near Alexander City, Alabama, that provides services for seriously ill children and their families.  The annual art show draws over thirty regional artists, and this year did not disappoint.

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Scenes from Children's Harbor Art Show



Shanley Belle and I loved Jeffrey Long's booth.  Jeffrey is an artist who also makes handmade, fragranced soy candles poured in original vintage and antique glassware.  He attends the World's Longest Yard Sale (127 Corridor Sale), and buys lovely containers for his candles.  I love how Jeffrey combines his environmental sensibilities and appreciation for the past into his eco-friendly and beautiful candles.   Jeffrey had sold all of his art by the time we arrived at his booth, so I can't share any of his art with you (and we did not get to purchase any of his art, either).

Here are a few pictures of Jeffrey, Shanley Belle, and Jeffrey's adorable booth.

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Shanley wanted a candle for her dorm, so she chose the Southern Afternoon candle in a purple glass. It smells like heaven: the scent is a combination wisteria and sweet iced tea. You can't get any more Southern than that!


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I chose the Sunny South scent that smells like lemon and verbena.



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It was so hard to choose from the different lovely scents!

What have you been doing this Memorial Day weekend?  I would love to hear from you!

Please join Nita @ Mod Vintage Life for her Mod Mix Monday.

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Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunny Carvalho's Art

I met an imaginative artist when we visited Mentone's Rhododendron Festival last week. Her name is Sunny Carvalho, and she is from Pinson, Alabama. She is a multimedia artist, and I adore her work. Please visit her website here and her blog here.

I bought this small painting to hang in our art studio for inspiration:

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My daughter loves all things Manga, and one of Sunny's pieces had a Manga vibe to it. Sunny's art truly appeals to her, too. (I regret not buying that piece).

Please go visit Sunny's blog and say hello!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Happy List #14

I am joining Mamarazzi @ Dandelion Wishes for My Happy List, the happiest linky party in Blogland!



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This week's happy list is short and sweet, with a school and summer school related theme ;P

1.   School.  Is.  OUT!!!!!  *squee*  A summertime full of fun with my family makes me very happy!


Check this out:

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Do your stairs ever look like this?  Mine do.  Often.  During the school year....but no more. The mess of book bags, backpacks, lunch bags, books, etc. are gone!  You can see our stairs now!!!  Mama is happeh!


2.   I have "met" some incredibly generous friends through my blog.  Bloggy Friends who share make me very happy!  Look at what Maggie sent me:

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This is the only thing relating to summer school allowed around here, LOL.  Maggie wrote a book review about Summer School here and it sounded so good, I wanted to read it. She sent it to me with this sweet card. Maggie is the best, and I cannot wait to read it next week. Please visit Maggie at her amazing blog, Normandy Life.  Hers is one of my favorites because Maggie really knows how to live and enjoy life!  She should be a life coach :D.

What is making you happy today?  Visit Mamarazzi and share your happy with us!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, May 27, 2011

Literary Friday: In the Garden of Beasts

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This week I read In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson.  This nonfiction story is about William Dodd's appointment as ambassador to Germany in 1933.  Dodd was not FDR's first choice by any means and Dodd did not fit the typical ambassador mold: he was not an independently wealthy ivy league graduate.  Instead, he was a Southern history professor at the University of Chicago who owned a small gentleman's farm in Virginia.  Dodd loved spending his free time at the farm among the orchards and cows.  He also enjoyed working on a history entitled Old South. Dodd proudly described himself as a Jeffersonian Democrat, so I was interested to read his thoughts on Nazi Germany and Hitler's rise to power.  Dodd served in Berlin and lived across the street from the famed Tiergarten, a huge centralized garden in Berlin.  The Spree River served as its northern boundary, and the city's zoo was in its southwest corner.  Tiergarten means "animal garden" or "garden of the beasts."  The book's title is appropriate on many levels, but literally the garden was used as a safe haven for diplomats to speak freely with one another.

Dodd took his wife, son and daughter, Martha, with him to Berlin.  Most of the book centers around Dodd's post and Martha's active social calendar.  Both Dodd and Martha kept detailed daily journals and were prolific letter writers.  I must admit that although Martha was a tart, I found her fascinating!  She had affairs with some very big players in Berlin at the time: Rudolph Diels, the first chief of the Gestapo; Boris Winogradov, a dashing Russian spy; Armand Berard, the handsome Third Secretary of the French Embassy; and Thomas Wolfe, one of the best Southern writers ever.  Martha also often wrote to Carl Sandburg who seemed almost obsessed with her and Thornton Wilder.  One of the surprising revelations  in the book is how surprisingly chivalrous Rudolph Diels was.  He certainly was no saint, but I do not think his "Prince of Darkness" description was accurate, either. Dodd was able to work with him, and Diels was instrumental in working as an intermediary in extracting foreign nationals and others from concentration camps as well as exerting influence in punishing SA men responsible for attacks against Americans across Germany.  Oddly, Diels was not a member of the Nazi party.

Martha fell in love with Russian spy Boris Winogradov.  Boris was one of my favorite characters in the book.  Although he was married and had a daughter, he seemed to truly love Martha second only to his country.  In one of the more bizarre scenes in the book, Boris takes Martha to his embassy quarters where he shows her a traditional Russian icon corner dedicated to his love for Martha.  It had her pictures, letters, a dried stalk of mint from one of their picnics, and other trinkets from their affair;  Martha was touched by his romantic display.  Her relationship with Boris made her detest the Nazi party and embrace Communism.  How the rest of their story played-out is troubling and also confusing.  I do not want to give away any more spoilers about Boris and Martha, but I do wonder if his motivations were solely for Russia.

Another strange account in the book is when Goering invites dignitaries to visit his bizarre estate Carinhall.  His constant costume changes, bison herd with a bull named Ivan the Terrible, a bizarre mausoleum for his wife Carin surrounded by standing stones like Stonehenge, and opulent medieval-style lodge was entertaining and insightful enough to recommend this book.  After Goering's open house, Great Britain's Ambassador Phipps had this prophetic observation: "...And then I remembered there were other toys, less innocent though winged, and these might some day be launched on their murderous mission in the same childlike spirit and with the same childlike glee."  Thank God Hitler did not allow Goering to build jets like he wanted.

Based on Larson's account, I think that William Dodd was an excellent ambassador even though he tended to lecture and treat his peers almost as if they were his students.  I thought he was brave to stand-up for American values even when the state department did not have his back.  Dodd changed his moderate perception of the Nazi regime, and I think it shows how open minded he was to the political landscape in Berlin.  He also thought that the Nazi mistreatment of Jews was waning when he arrived in Berlin only to discover that this was not the case.  Dodd understood Hitler's agenda way before the State Department. The bureaucrats wanted Germany to pay for their bonds and not default, and they also looked toward a lucrative future in trading with Germany.  I think it is shameful how and why Dodd was removed from office.  Thomas Wolfe praised Dodd, saying that Ambassador Dodd instilled in him "a renewed pride and faith in America and a belief that somehow our great future still remains."

I highly recommend this book although it did make me ill to read it.  I am not kidding, I got a terrible headache and became physically sick to my stomach. I cannot understand how so many turned their backs on what was happening to those who did not fit Hitler's Aryan ideal. Also, I know one should always write about literature in the present tense, but I could not bring myself to do so in this case.  I intentionally wrote this post in the past tense. Please forgive me, I know better, but I just could not write about this book in the present. Erik Larson is a fantastic writer, and this book reads more like a narrative than an expository work.  I will probably read The Devil in the White City this summer because I enjoyed In the Garden of Beasts so much (in spite of it making me sick).

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill





Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Magnolia Blossoms

I can't think of anything more romantically Southern than magnolia blossoms. I thought I would share some magnolia love from my garden with you today for Cottage Flora Thursday at Fishtail Cottage.


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We had lows in the thirties last week, and highs in the nineties this week.  I think my magnolias are unhappy!


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sunshine in a Bottle

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Sunshine in a Bottle
8" X 10" oil on Ampersand Artist Panel




Painted for Ms. Linda Drennen, instructional support teacher extraordinaire. Thank-you, Ms. Drennen, for all you have done for Shelley.

You are sunshine!


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Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill



Fun Etsy Stuff for Your Kitchen

I was recently indulging my etsy habit when I stumbled across a neat store called Cosy Kitchen Decor. I found the neatest coffee press cozy which I truly needed.  Sometimes my single-serving press does not make enough coffee for me, yet when I make coffee in my larger press, it cools down way too quickly.

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Isn't it cute!!!!

The Fresh Market has a great new dessert coffee out for summer.  It is called Put De Almond in the Coconut.  It is delish!!!  :D

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I sometimes like to start off my day with dessert coffee and cereal, especially if I have been up for a little while before having breakfast.

What do you like to drink in the morning?

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Monday, May 23, 2011

Emeril Is Not My Friend!

My in-laws brought us some fresh shrimp from New Orleans, and my husband wanted me to make one of Emeril's recipes using the shrimp.

The recipe is Emeril's Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto, and you can find it here on Good Morning America's website.

Twenty-six ingredients and three hours later, I got this:

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{Just kidding, Emeril.  You are still my friend.  The recipe was easy (although long), and it tasted absolutely sinful.}

This recipe is truly worth it, y'all.


Linking to Home May'd Linky Party at Southern Hospitality.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill




Sunday, May 22, 2011

Scenes from DeSoto State Park

I wanted to share with you some scenes from a recent visit to DeSoto State Park near Mentone, Alabama.  Pictures include DeSoto Falls, Little River Falls, Grace's High Falls, Hawk's Glide, and the Little River Canyon.  Little River Canyon is around 17 miles long and has an average depth of 400 feet, 700 feet at its deepest point.  The Little River is the only river in the world that flows mostly on top of a mountain (Lookout Mountain in Northeast, Alabama).

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Linking to little red house's Mosaic Monday.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Happy List #13

Please join me for Mamarazzi's My Happy List linky party @ Dandelion Wishes.





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1.   My daughter graduated from high school last night.  She had three grandparents and one great-grandparent present at the ceremony held at the historic Alabama Theatre in downtown Birmingham. The Alabama School of Fine Arts orchestra and choir did an amazing job with the music. The orchestra played Summon the Heroes by John Williams for the processional, and the choir sang Oread Farewell by Dan Forrest.  These are just a couple of the evening's lovely musical selections.  I am so happy and proud for our daughter, one of fourteen Math and Science students enrolled at ASFA since Grade 8. Congratulations, Shanley Belle!

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2.   Our family enjoyed a delightful dinner at  Hot and Hot Fish Club after graduation.  Chris Hastings is one of the best chefs in America, and I love his and Edie's restaurants. Delicious Southern food makes everyone happy!

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                            The Chef's Counter at Hot and Hot Fish Club




3.   Shelley only has one week of school left until summer vacation.  She has had a very successful year per her annual IEP meeting held this.  Shelley is attending a fantastic middle school.  Shelley's success makes me happy and proud, too.




4.   Shanley Belle is successfully enrolled at the University of Alabama for the Fall 2011 semester. Her freshman orientation and registration for classes was earlier this week.  My daughter attending my Alma Mater makes me extremely happy, Roll Tide!

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                                            The President's Mansion

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                                      Clark Hall, College of Arts and Sciences


5.   I have tons of chores to finish this weekend.  This does not make me happy, but once I'm finished I will be very happy because guess what came in the mail yesterday?  Yep!  My copy of Summer with Matthew Mead. Summerlicious inspiration makes me very happy!  

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I have missed visiting my bloggy friends this week.  I will try my hardest to get caught-up with you next week.  I appreciate all the sweet emails from y'all!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, May 20, 2011

Literary Friday: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake



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This week I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  I have had a very busy week, and I was worried I might not be able to finish a single book.  Well, no worries because I could not put this book down.  I had a couple of late nights reading it because it is that good.  Aimee Bender is a delightful writer.  Her prose is smooth, lyrical, and lovely.  The manner in which she writes about the love for family is sweet, poignant, and moving. This is the first of her books I have read, but it will not be the last.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake begins on the eve of Rose Edelstein's ninth birthday. Her mother has baked her a lemon cake with chocolate icing, and when Rose takes a bite, she can taste her mother's sadness.  She can also taste every nuance of the source of that sadness: a feeling of smallness and hollowness.  Rose's new skill soon develops to the point that she can not only detect the mood and thoughts of the person who made the food, but also locations from where ingredients derive. Naturally, Rose tries to protect herself by eating the most processed foods she can find, preferably manufactured by robotics. As a young adult, Rose eventually finds a French restaurant where she can tolerate the thoughts of the cook. Madame loves to cook, and her mood and thoughts are food-centric. Rose is in heaven eating at Madame's restaurant. She wants to learn more from Madame, so she takes a job there as a dishwasher.

Rose's "skill" pales in comparison to her big brother Joseph's.  Interestingly enough, unusual skills seem to run rampant in the Edelstein gene pool.  At first I thought Joseph had autism due to his interaction with people and other behaviors.  His "skill" was completely unpredictable and shocking. I do not want to ruin this part of the storyline with spoilers, but I will tell you that the relationship between Rose and Joseph is so sweet.  The parents' relationship is heartbreaking to me.  It begins sweetly and very romantically, but evolves into secrecy, transgression, and loneliness.  After all, Mom does not carry Edelstein genes, and Dad chooses to not share information that could have made all the difference.

I hope you will consider reading this book. Although it is not a happy read, it is an excellent one; you will not be disappointed.  Please join Bonnie and me for our What We're Reading Linky Party today.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I am taking a break this week....

.....from blogging.

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Shanley Belle's Freshman Orientation is today, and her graduation is on Friday.  We are expecting out of town guests to arrive on Thursday, so it promises to be a very busy week.

I will participate in our What We're Reading Linky Party on Friday with my Literary Friday Post. Bonnie is hosting again this month.  Thanks, Bonnie!




What We're Reading


I look forward to getting caught-up with all of you next week.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vintage Pyrex

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I found a piece of vintage Pyrex at an antiques market a couple of weeks ago.  I like the turquoise color, and it cost $1.75. The pattern is called Butterprint, and it was made in the early nineteen sixties.

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Imagine my surprise when I saw this article in the May issue of Country Living Magazine:

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This issue is all about bargains, and if you don't have it yet, you should really check it out!

I like using Pyrex and Corning Ware refrigerator boxes and casserole dishes because I think it is safer than petroleum-based products like plastics.  They can go from oven, to table, to refrigerator, to microwave.

I also found this Hazel Atlas Kitchen Aids pattern small mixing bowl.  I bought it for $2.00.

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I found a great website all about Pyrex.  It is a great resource, and you can visit it here.  Do you collect vintage (or new) Pyrex?

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Happy List #12

It's time once again for the happiest linky party of the week, Mamarazzi's My Happy List.




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1.   Last night, Shelley and many other middle schoolers in the neighborhood played flashlight tag until late.  Mr. Art@Home and I sat on our front porch and watched while we drank wine (Mr. Art@Home) and coffee (me).  It was so much fun hearing their giggles and laughter in the cul de sac. Children's laughter makes me happy!  We are so blessed Shelley can run with her friends.  The fireflies were out for the first time last night, too, which made it even more special.  Mayhap I shall order me this fun mug from Zazzle:

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Did you ever play flashlight tag when you were young?

2.   Shelley received the Principal's Award for her grade Tuesday at school. We are so proud of Shelley.  Teachers and administrators who see the potential in Shelley make me happy!

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3.   My bloggy buddies who have given me some great advice for my hydrangeas make me so, so happy.  Y'all are the best!

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4.   We are going to the library today.  :D  We have wonderful libraries close by, and they always make me happy.  I have my eye on these books:

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5.   I have enjoyed getting to know some amazing people through my blog. Bonnie Boatwright is one of them, and I can't wait to see Bonnie this summer!  We host a  "What We're Reading" linky party the twentieth of every month.  Our next one will be next Friday.  I have enjoyed meeting other bloggers who are passionate about literature.  Our linky party makes me happy!  Please share your book love with us next Friday!

What We're Reading


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill 

I Need Hydrangea Advice!

Many of you know that we planted hydrangeas last October.  You can read all about it here. This is how they looked then:

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And this is how they look now:

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We used aluminum sulfate according to package instructions.  Are the hydrangeas supposed to look like this?  They are a very pale lavender color with a green tinge.  Is there anything else I should be doing for them?  I am a newbie when it comes to growing hydrangeas, so any help would be appreciated.

Thanks so much!

Linking to Tracie's Cottage Flora Thursday @ Fishtail Cottage, and Tootsie's Fertilizer Friday/Flaunt Your Flowers.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, May 13, 2011

Literary Friday: Welcome to Temptation

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This week I read a couple of decorating books (I will post about them at a later date) and Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. I want to apologize up front because I still have a few things missing from my blogger account, and I thought my first review was better.  It is too late for me to write a better post, unfortunately.

At first, I was turned-off by the subject matter and the language (lots of "f" bombs).  The story is about an actress who returns to her hometown of Temptation, Ohio to film a movie she wants to use as an audition tape.  She hires the team of sisters who shot her wedding (Sophie and Amy Dempsey) to film the movie. The Dempsey sisters come from a long line of conmen. The book is full of con rules that they follow in order to manipulate their marks. Sophie also inserts movie quotes into conversations when she's nervous. Phineus Tucker, the mayor of Temptation, is as handsome as a Greek god. He makes Sophie very nervous.

The plot thickens as it becomes evident that Clea the actress wants to shoot not only an audition video, but she wants to also shoot a soft porn movie.  Will the fine people of Temptation stand for the corruption of their town, a town where "We believe in family values" is their motto?  Amy is complicating things even further as she is secretly shooting a documentary on Clea's homecoming.   Then there are a couple of murder mysteries thrown into the mix. Eventually, Clea's estranged husband, famed Cincinnati news anchor Zane Black, tries to put an end to the film's production and Clea's comeback as an actress.  Davy Dempsey, the sisters' brother, shows-up and instantly hates Mayor Tucker and his involvement with Sophie.

Although Temptation is tiny, it is chock-full of depraved and over the top characters: gossipmongers, blackmailers, murderers, pornographers, liars, adulterers, cheaters, conmen, and pool sharks.  This is not a group in which you want to be the center of attention, and Phin and Sophie are definitely the center of attention.  The more involved they become with each other, the worse the other characters behave...kind of like the domino effect.  Plus, someone wants Sophie dead, and there are at least three attempts on her life.

As Sophie tries to defend her sister and brother, she lies and becomes an accessory to a crime. Phin's daughter shows-up on Sophie's doorstep and proceeds to give her a test which determines Sophie's motherhood abilities. Phin did not plan on this little complication, and Dillie instantly loves Sophie. But the matriarch of the Tucker family, Liz, will not hear of her son cavorting with pornographers, especially with the mayoral election only six months away. Everyone in Temptation, even the newcomers, value their families and will do anything to protect them.  However, their definition of family values is not the same as the rest of the world.

The book starts out slowly, but as the plot thickens it is very entertaining, especially the murder mystery part of the plot.  I just don't like bad language, and although the content was more PG-13 in spite of the title and topic, I like love stories that are more romance and less obsession.

Until next time...

Happy Reading!
Ricki Jill