Monday, October 31, 2011

Debbiedoo's Copy Cat Challenge: Halloween Edition


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I needed some last minute Halloween decorations, so I turned to last year's Country Living Magazine (October 2010).  I thought these little ghosts were so cute when I first saw them! They are made from wedding bells you buy at the party store, black construction paper, and cheese cloth.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Here is the magazine's version of a haunt of ghosts:

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And here is mine:

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We are in the throws of an all-out haunting, I tell ya!  :D

Are you a magazine copy cat?  If so, please join Debbie for her Magazine Copy Cat Challenge!

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Think Pink with Zeta Tau Alpha

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I hope y'all were able to write a post for Project Pink @ The Artsy Girl Connection.

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As a member if Zeta Tau Alpha, I am so proud of my sorority's efforts in breast cancer awareness, education, and fund-raising.  Our national philanthropy is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  ZTA began an association with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® in 1992 when it became the first national sponsor of the Race for the Cure’s National Series Breast Cancer Survivor Recognition Program. Since that year, ZTA has continually served as a national sponsor of the Survivor Recognition Program.

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Also, throughout the month of October, ZTAs partnered with the National Football League to distribute pink awareness ribbons at 26 stadiums, with Yoplait® Yogurt to Save Lids to Save Lives®.

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You have probably noticed NFL players wearing pink somewhere on their uniforms during October. Last weekend, my favorite team, the New Orleans Saints, Partnered with ZTA to distribute information cards and pins at the game against the Colts.  You can read about it here.

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I have been wearing my Zeta Tau Alpha pink ribbon for most of the month.  It made me so happy to see many wearing our pink ribbons at the University of Alabama's homecoming game. Breast cancer affects so many women and families.  I hope to one day witness a cure for breast cancer and an end to suffering and grief caused by this disease.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, October 28, 2011

Literary Friday: The Imperfectionists

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The Dixie Diva Book Club's October selection is The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman.  This is not a novel; it is a collection of vignettes about different staff members of an unnamed English language newspaper based in Rome. Each chapter title is actually a newspaper headline from 2005-06, and each headline relates to the chapter in some way.  Between each chapter is a small entry discussing the paper's illustrious history. These entries tie the vignettes together.

I think some readers have been turned-off by the book because it is not a traditional novel, but there is more cohesion to the story; it is not a collection of short stories because the staffers' lives are interconnected.  It is a character-driven book, but most of the characters are unlikable. I literally could not stand one of the copy editors, and most of the women in the book settle for either losers are horrible situations just so they will not be alone.  I kept singing Pink's "Stupid Girls" in my head while reading this book, but then I reminded myself that it was written by a man.



Some of the situations in the book are shockingly funny, but the humor is dark.  In one chapter entitled "The Sex lives of Islamic Extremists," a young stringer (fresh from graduate school) is literally used to the point of absurdity while on assignment in Cairo.  His name is Winston Cheung, and unfortunately he cannot speak Mandarin because his parents would only speak English to him.  A veteran stringer, Rich Snyder, contacts Winston and requests that Winston pick him up from the airport.  Snyder then crashes at Winston's apartment, steals his laptop, and mooches off of poor Winston in every way imaginable.  To add insult to injury, Snyder pushes Winston to harass a lady in a hijab at a market place and ask her insulting questions, like: "Ask her if she plays around.  Is that common in Islamist circles?"  Of course the crowd gets hostile, and it only escalates from there.  And might I point out how the headline does, in fact, relate to the chapter.

The book is also a metaphor for the future of all print newspapers.  In the age where a daily paper is literally yesterday's news, with so many other, more immediate media at our disposal, how can daily print newspapers possibly survive?  How many of you read a paper from cover to cover everyday, or how many of you even still subscribe to your local daily newspaper? In spite of many unlikable characters, I really liked this book.  It was different, thought-provoking, and very well-written.  Although we had a small group at our book club meeting last Tuesday night, everyone seemed to like the book and was happy that it was one of our selections for 2011.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Think Pink

Think Pink this Sunday, October 30th


Marilyn at The Artsy Girl Connection is hosting a Blog Party for Breast Cancer Awareness.  I plan on participating, and I hope you will join the party, too.


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You can post anything for this party:



Craft For A Cure
Share Your Stories For A Cure
Creatively Capture For A Cure
GO PINK FOR A CAUSE!!
Please email Marilyn for more questions via 
{theartsygirlconnection@gmail.com}


Link your blog & sign up to go P I N K for a cause on October 3oth!!
This is a Blog Hop!



See you Sunday!

Blessings!
Ricki Jill



Thursday, October 27, 2011

What's Blooming this Fall in Our Garden

This is probably the last of my hydrangea blossoms.

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Our roses are a little bit more hardy, so they will probably continue to bloom for another month, and then go dormant for about three months.

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We finally have our first camellia blooms!  :D

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What's blooming in your garden?

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We want to Know Wednesday #8


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This week's questions are from Queso!


1. Do you shop til you drop, or are you in and out as quick as possible?
I hate to shop, so I literally map out a plan and get my shopping done as soon as possible!

2. Are you a price conscious shopper?
Yes.  But I am also careful of bargains because I don't want to buy something just because it is on sale.  I always ask myself if I would be willing to pay full price for it (In other words: do I really like it that much).  If the answer is yes, I will buy it.

3. What store could you spend HOURS in? 
Barnes & Noble

4. What is the most frivolous purchase you have ever made?


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Notice the ridiculously tiny little brush?


Don't tell Mr. Art @ Home, but I actually bought Clinique's Bottom Lash Mascara.  :/   Please do not unfollow me due to my stupidity.  I had a short circuit in my brain that day!


5. What was the last thing you bought for yourself?
LOL oddly enough, it was Clinique's Naturally Glossy Mascara in Jet Black.  I bought it on Monday!  {I bought the bottom lash mascara back in May, I think.}

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

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The cookies are ready for the oven!


Last night at our October Dixie Diva Meeting, we discussed Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists.


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The book is set in Rome, so I served Italian Sesame Sesame Seed Cookies from my new cookbook, Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook.  (Thanks again, Sue!)


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I thought I would share the recipe with you today because I have seen it all over the web.  The cookies are great after a heavy meal because they are light and not very sweet.  They are delicious with cappuccino.


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Italian Sesame Seed Cookies


1/2 c salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1 large egg
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 c raw sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease one cookie sheet or line it with a Silpat.

Cream the butter and sugar till soft and creamy.  Add the vanilla and egg. Mix them well.

Mix in the four and baking powder.

Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl and set it aside.

Form the dough into small balls and roll them until they are smooth.  Toss the balls one at a time into the sesame seeds, pressing lightly on all sides.  Place them on the cookie sheet.  Press them down until they are about two inches in diameter.  The cookies do not spread very much, so they can be placed fairly close together.

Bake them for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are golden brown all over.

Yield: 32 cookies


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The first batch is ready for book club.


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First, I shall try a few for an afternoon snack.  Quality control, of course!


I hope you will try these cookies!  I cannot say enough nice things about the Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook.  You can order it from the Tate's Bake Shop website here.  I highly recommend it!

Linking to:




Thursday Favorite Things


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Happy List #30

I am getting used to the move of the My Happy List Linky Party from Saturday to Tuesday.  I think I like it on Tuesdays because It helps get my week off on the right foot!



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My Happy List


1.   I have been working on a funny interior painting of a French kitchen.  It has golden harvest appliances in it circa 1973.  ;P    Painting in our art studio makes me happy!

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2.   I won another giveaway!  This one was hosted by Sue @ I Need Mom! and it is a collection of Tate's Bake Shop cookies and cookbook.  These cookies came in handy over the weekend with all the kids in and out of the house.  New cookbooks always make me very happy! Thanks so much, Sue :D

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3.   Mr. Art @ Home and I completed an indoor project in our kitchen over the weekend.  If you missed yesterday's post, you can read about it here. Completing projects makes me so happy!

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4.   Shanley Belle was initiated into her sorority Friday evening.  She is so happy!  She is always saying, "My sisters...this *and* my sisters, that." Happy kids make me ridiculously happy!

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5.   The Dixie Diva Book Club is meeting tonight!  I am the hostess, and I cannot wait. Reading great books and discussing them with the Dixie Divas makes me happy!  I am serving a delicious Italian dessert tonight. More later!

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Please join Mamarazzi @ Dandelion Wishes, and share your happy!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Monday, October 24, 2011

Built-in Kitchen Desk Project

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We had our formica countertops replaced a few years ago with granite.  I like the granite on our island where our cooktop is located, but I do not like it in the rest of the kitchen because it was installed incorrectly, and I just don't like it.  So we will be replacing it with white ceramic tile eventually, but in the meantime, Mr. Art @ Home decided to go ahead and tile my built-in desk. The granite guys did not replace it with granite because we have a hutch that is attached, and they were too craptastic to know how to install the granite.  I suppose it was a blessing in disguise since I do not like the granite anyway. You can see a post about our kitchen here.

This is what the desk looked like before:

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And here is the reveal:

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Mr. Art @ Home updated the electrical, too.  Now I can recharge my macBook, iPad, cell phone, and digital camera on my desk.



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We use this desk for surfing the 'net, blogging, homework, and writing grocery lists and menus. 



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I could not pass up these roses because of their name: Yaba Daba Do!  I love the bright coral color.



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I am all ready to blog now.  :D



We are slowly getting through a list of projects we want to accomplish this fall and winter.  I cannot wait to tackle more projects soon.

Linking to:

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Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Outdoor Autumn Decorations

I do not decorate much for autumn outdoors, but I thought I would share our decorations with you anyway ;P   The decorations are basically pansies, ornamental cabbage, a pumpkin, violas, mums, and succulents.

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The pumpkin is on a little iron stand with a spike on top.  It holds the pumpkin in place.


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I really should be embarrassed about this post.

Maybe I should put out our Great Pumpkin inflatable, or something.    :/

Linking to:

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Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, October 21, 2011

Literary Friday: Russian Winter

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This week I read Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay.  I have been on a roll lately: after many disappointing reads this year, I have been on a streak of fantastic books.  :D  There are so many things I love about this book: ballerinas, poets, intrigue, and romance, just to name a few.  It could also be classified as a  historical fiction because part of the plot revolves around artists during Stalin's regime in the former USSR.

Nina Revskaya, a former prima ballerina, defects to the West after she achieves success with the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet.  Eventually settling in Boston, Nina decides to sell her extensive jewelry collection at auction and donate the proceeds to the Boston Ballet.  One of the most intriguing sets included in the auction is a matching set of amber earrings and bracelet.  The set contain specimens: insects that are frozen in time as the resin encapsulates them. Coincidentally, a middle aged Russian Literature and Language professor, Grigori Solodin, also donates an amber pendant with a perfect specimen of a spider and its egg sac to the auction.  It appears to be a part of Nina's set, and together the pieces should raise lots of money for the ballet.

Grigori Solodin was born in Moscow in 1950 at the height of Stalin's dictatorship.  His mother was supposedly a ballerina with the Bolshoi, and she died from hemorrhaging shortly after the birth.  When Grigori was 13, his adoptive parents (scientists who also defected to the West) gave him a purse that contained letters, photographs, and the amber pendant.  Nina Revskaya and her poet husband, Viktor Elsin, were in the photographs. Grigori confronted Nina as a young college student, but she would not tell him anything about his mother.

At the Boston auction house, Drew Brooks, a young associate, is writing the auction brochure and supplement.  She wants to solve the mystery of the matching amber set, and she presses Grigori and Nina for answers.  Nina is obstinate, and the reader does not understand why until much later in the book.  Grigori is a bit more helpful, but he is not telling his whole story, either. Grigori becomes increasingly attracted to Drew, which is a huge surprise to him.  He has been grieving for his wife, Christine, who died two years ago from cancer.  Once Grigori tells Drew everything he knows, Drew has insight that surprises, yet disturbs Grigori about his past. Ironically, Drew also has a strange connection to the story through her Russian ancestry.

As the story weaves back and forth from Stalinist Russia to Boston in the early '00's, Kalotay spins a heartbreaking story of lost friendship, deception, heartbreak, and hope.  The book also teaches an important lesson that it is never too late to do the right thing, and that sometimes forgiveness begins with forgiving oneself.  This one just might make my short list, although it was published in late 2010.  I am just now getting around to reading it!

There is still time to link-up to our What We're Reading Party.  Please join Bonnie and me and share your book love!



What We're Reading




Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Thursday, October 20, 2011

What We're Reading #9

Good morning!  I am a little late getting this linky party posted because Mr. Art @ Home wanted a big breakfast before work, and once I started cleaning my kitchen, I realized what a mess it truly was, so I cleaned it to within an inch of its life!

Welcome to What We're Reading, hosted by Bonnie and me.

I cannot wait to see what y'all have been reading lately.  I have been reading two very good home decor books:

Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Inspirations,

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and Fifi O'Neill's Romantic Prairie Style.

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Rachel's new book features a bold new color palette of mostly bold blues and raspberries.  Many of the homes featured are Rachel's, and the reader gets a nice preview of Rachel's new B&B, The Prairie, in Round Top, Texas.  The London flat of Rachel's friend, Sera Hersham Loftus is so dramatic and pretty. But the book is worth its price, in my opinion, for the chapter called Glamour and Bling.  This chapter features Sharon Osborne's stunning new dining room and foyer.  Sharon Osborne has the best taste in all of Hollywood.  I adore her style, and I wish I could have a decorating consultation with Sharon!

Fifi's book is delightful just like her blog.  Although the romantic prairie style is a bit rustic for my taste, I do have many prairie style elements in my home. My favorite two chapters are Prairie Pretty and Urban Prairie.  I found tons of inspiration in them, and I definitely want to make the book page display shown on page 96.  I will create something very similar (and soon) and when I do, I will post some photos.

Have you read any wonderful home decor books lately?  Please write a post, and link back to What We're Reading.



What We're Reading



Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill