Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best Home Decorating Books of 2011

This year, two home decorating books were by far the best that I read:

Patina Style by Brooke and Steve Giannetti


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and Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces by Rachel Ashwell.


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If you can only buy two home decorating books published in 2011, these are the two to buy.  You can read my post about Patina Style here, and my post about Shabby Chic Inspirations here.

Did you read any home decorating books this year?  Which ones are your favorites?


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

The Best Books of 2011

I had the most difficult time whittling down the list of my favorite books this year.  My short list consists of twelve excellent books out of the sixty or so books I read.  Usually I can pick three easily, but this year I have four on the list.

Please click on the links below each book to read my Literary Friday posts.  I have also included videos about each book, too.



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These also made my short list:

The Distant Hours
The Matchmaker of Kenmare
City of Fallen Angels
In the Garden of Beasts
Graveminder
The Language of Flowers
I Am Half Sick of Shadows
The Sisters Brother

What are your favorite books of 2011?

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill




Friday, December 30, 2011

Literary Friday: The Sisters Brothers

Good afternoon!  I am taking a quick break from skiing to write my Literary Friday post at Starbucks because their internet is faster (and there is cell phone service here, too).  :D



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On the flight out to Colorado, I read one of the most talked about books of 2011: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.  I do understand the hype surrounding this book because it is so well written, and it is not your typical Western.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are hit men based out of the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, to be exact) at the peak of the Gold Rush.  They have been ordered to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, a prospector who supposedly stole something from their boss, the Commodore.  His last known whereabouts is his claim near Sacramento, and as the notorious and infamous Sisters Brothers set out on their mission, Eli is on his new horse named Tub.  I must say that Tub is one of the most interesting characters in the book.  I love Tub!  Eli's interactions with Tub reveal much about his heart, and his heart is not into this particular job.    Eli is one of the most endearing characters in spite of his chosen profession, and I enjoyed the story as it was told through his point of view.  Eli is a bit overweight, and he does not share his brother's love for violence and brandy.  He is having a bit of a midlife crisis: he is questioning his life and how he wants to spend the remainder of it.  He has also made a commitment to weight loss and dental hygiene with his new toothbrush and mint flavored tooth powder.

Some of the most humorous moments in the book is their pitstop in San Francisco where the brothers are meant to rendezvous with one of the Commodore's scouts named Morris.  San Francisco is booming, and prospectors are spending their gold as quickly as they can on food, lodgings, whiskey, and women.  The spending has inflated prices to ridiculous heights, and everyone is wild there.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. It is said by a man whom Eli and Charlie have just met as they are seeing San Francisco Bay for the first time.   Eli asks him what his feelings are about San Francisco this morning:

He shook his head.  "Yesterday I saw a man leap from the roof of the Orient Hotel, laughing all the way to the ground, upon which he fairly exploded.  He was drunk they say, but I had seen him sober shortly before this.  There is a feeling here, which if it gets you, will envenom your very center.  It is a madness of possibilities.  That leaping man's final act was the embodiment of the collective mind of San Francisco.  I understood it completely.  I had a strong desire to applaud, if you want to know the truth.'

There are so many intriguing and unique characters in the book, and one of my favorites makes appearances in the book's two intermissions.  She is a little girl with "the sight" and a penchant for poison.  I wish there had been a third because I would like to learn more of this morbid Wednesday Addams of the Old West!  The story, characters, point of view, and dark humor are certainly pluses in The Sisters Brothers, but there is definitely a negative: animal cruelty.  I want to forewarn you about it before you read it.  The violence did not bother me as badly because I expect violence in a Western.

Sorry about the brevity of this post, but  my family is getting a bit anxious to leave Starbucks. Tomorrow I will post my Best Books of 2011 Lists. Hopefully it will be easy because I wrote them before leaving home.  In the meantime, please enjoy this cheesy The Sisters Brothers book trailer.




Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Happy List #38




Please join Miss Angie for My Happy List  :D

I am keeping My Happy List short and sweet this week due to the very slow internet here at the resort.  It has taken me about two hours to put together this short post including the photos.   :/

My Happy List


1.     Dragons and bunnies and bears....oh, my!!!  Winterfest has been a blast this year in Beaver Creek.  This year's theme is "Find the Penguin."  There have been penguin ice sculptures, penguin disco skaters, and penguin cookies.  These are the only penguins I have found...so far.... Winterfest makes everyone happy!




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2.     Both girls cooperated in having their picture taken...at the same time...{go.figure.}  Cooperative teenagers make me very happy!




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3.     Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's longtime NFL passing record last night during the Saints v. Falcons game.  Congratulations to Drew!!!  The Saints are having an amazing season, and are headed to the playoffs, which makes Saints fans very happy!  A trip to Indianapolis would make me very happy, too!  :D


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Until next time...

Blessings for the New Year!
Ricki Jill



Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Greetings from Beaver Creek, Colorado


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Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
I love all of my bloggy friends!  Y'all are the *best*.

Christmas  Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, December 23, 2011

Literary Friday: Clockwork Prince

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Cassandra Clare proves yet again why she is the very best young adult writer in this second installment of the Infernal Devices series.  Clockwork Prince is one of the best books I read this year. I did not want to put it down, yet it took me two weeks to read it because I was helping Shelley study for exams.

Tessa Gray is living and training at the London Institute thanks to her help in uncovering a plot meant to devastate the Clave's ranks.  She is still grieving over her brother Nate's betrayal of her to the dangerous Magister, head of the Pandemonium Club.  The club's goal is the destruction of the Nephilim through an army of clockwork soldiers who will one day be animated with demon energy.  Tessa still seeks answers to her true parentage and identity: it is evident that she is a warlock in spite of the fact that she bears no demon mark.  It seems there are several characters who know who and what she is, yet they speak to her about it in riddles. These questions about Tessa's parentage, who and how she was made, and what she actually is are ones I want answered in the third book.  I have my theories!  ;P

Two of the young Shadowhunters training at the institute share Tessa's heart. Jem, the silver-haired musician who is kind and  brave, and the passionate Will who pushes everyone away with his stinging quips.  Both Will and Jem are cursed with heartbreaking secrets that affect every decision each makes. They are also parabatai, which means that they are partners in battle. Shadowhunters can only have one parabatai ever, and the vow lasts a lifetime. Tessa is torn for her love for both of them, and I was stunned at where her heart takes her in this installment.    

There is so much to love about this book: an amazing masked ball scene; a betrayal I did not see coming; fantastic literary quotes at the beginning of every chapter not to mention numerous literary allusions throughout;  Magnus Bane's awesomeness; and Cassandra Clare's attention to detail in her descriptions of Victorian London.  This book also has Steampunk coolness like the first one, and even Henry enjoys the victory of a successful invention that saves the day.




I hope you will read this series.  The first book, Clockwork Angel, made my Best Books of 2010 list.  You can read that post here.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Ornament Shopping

Every year right before Christmas, the girls and I shop for new Christmas ornaments.  We went shopping today, and these are the ones we bought.


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We were out in stormy weather (tornado watch in Central Alabama).


What are some of your fun family Christmas traditions?


Linking to:

Thursday Favorite Things




Until next time...

Merry Christmas!
Ricki Jill

2011 Goals Revisited


Here are the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.  I accomplished three out of the five.  I am quite pleased, actually.  You can read my original post here.

My 2011 Goals:



1.     Fluffing my daughter's dorm room:  check!  You can read all about my daughter's dorm room here.



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2.     Converting our living room to an art studio:  check!  I am enjoying it so much, and so is Shelley!  It is one of the smartest things we have done to our home.  Here is a link to the post about our studio.



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3.     Learn how to bake brioche:  epic.  fail.....   I did not accomplish this goal, but I must say in my defense that my doctor put me on a gluten free diet, so it seemed almost cruel to learn how to bake it.

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4.     Remodel our master bathroom:  Not.  Even.  Close.... but we have not had the time this year for such a major project.  Maybe it will be a goal for 2012!


5.     Decoupage a large vase for our coffee table:  Check!  You can read about this fun project here.



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I have not written any goals for 2012 yet.  I have a few ideas, and I think I shall think about them next week.  Do you set goals or make resolutions every year?

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We Want to Know Wednesday #13





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Crazymama is hosting We Want to Know Wednesday this week, and she wants us to answer one of the four following questions with five answers:

1.     What do you want for Christmas?


I already answered this one.  You can read my Christmas list here.


2.     What do you want to get done before the holidays?

I have so much to do that this one is depressing!  ;P


3.     What are your Christmas traditions?


4.     What are your five favorite Christmas songs?

I have already posted a couple I like (you can read that post here), but my favorite Christmas carol is "O Holy Night," and my favorite secular Christmas song is this:




I might even be a "Belieber" after viewing this video.  I think Justin and Mariah's duet is adorable!



....so I guess I will answer number three:  What are your Christmas traditions?

1.     Skiing.  We go skiing every year for Christmas.

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2.     Ornament shopping.   Every year (usually Christmas Eve Eve) the girls and I go out to brunch and then shopping for one special Christmas ornament each.  When the girls have homes of their own, I will pack their ornaments and send them to their new homes.  I started this tradition when Shanley Belle was two years old; she bought the ugliest glass tiger ornament you have ever seen, and we are a University of Alabama family.  We hate all things tigers!

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3.     Charity.  Usually we adopt a child or family and purchase Christmas presents for them.



4.     Reading.  In addition to reading the Christmas story from Luke, we also enjoy reading Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory.


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5.     Baking.  I have family favorites I enjoy baking every year, but Shanley Belle has decided that we will construct gingerbread houses every Christmas. This year was our first go at it, and you can read about it here.


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Do you want to share any of your Christmas lists?

Until next time...

Christmas blessings!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Happy List #37




Miss Angie is hosting My Happy List for Mamarazzi again this week.

My Happy List


1.     Shanley Belle is home from college, and Shelley is taking her last final exam today.  I am so happy, and I am so proud of my girls!  Shanley Belle made all A's in her college courses this semester, and Shelley made a 93 on her Language Arts exam.  We are hoping for a B on her science exam she took yesterday.  Today she is taking her world history exam.  If you wonder where I've been the past two weeks, I have been helping Shelley with study guides and studying.  This is the first year for exams in our school system. Eighth grade is hard!



2.     We are having a Christmas present exchange party today after school. Exchanging Christmas presents makes me very happy!  I will post more about this tomorrow.



3.     We are packed for our ski trip.  Mr. Art @ Home will be shipping out skis and other ski paraphernalia today.  Skiing makes me very happy!  We ski every Christmas, but we did not get to go last year due to my surgery.


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I hope to visit some of your blogs now that exams are over.  Yay!!!


Please join Miss Angie, and share your Christmas happy!




Until next time...

Merry Christmas!
Ricki Jill



  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our First {ever} Gingerbread House

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While Shelley was taking her exams today, Shanley Belle and I made a gingerbread house.  We had so much fun, and we ate more candy than made it on the house  ;P



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We will work from a plan next year.  We were winging it today.


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Until next time...

Merry Christmas!
Ricki Jill

Friday, December 16, 2011

Literary Friday: Clockwork Angel

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This week I have been rereading Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.  It made my Best Book of 2010 list.  You can read last year's post here, but I thought I would cut and paste my synopsis below:


Clockwork Angel is the first installment in Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series, which is the prequel to her highly successful and very well-written Mortal Instruments series. Cassandra Clare is the best young adult writer today, and I am so pleased she has set a very high standard for the genre.  If you have young adults in your life, you must introduce them to her series. This is definitely not your typical young adult vampire series.  As a matter of fact, although it has a little bit of a gothic vibe, it has a strong Steampunk influence, and I like it!

In Clockwork Angel, New Yorker Tessa Gray must travel to Queen Victoria's London to find her missing brother.  When she arrives, she is kidnapped by the creepy Dark Sisters who are members of a notorious secret society called the Pandemonium Club.  Tessa soon learns that there is a parallel reality comprised of Downworlders, or supernatural beings with special abilities, gifts, and curses. The only people who protect normal humans (mundanes) from this world are the Shadowhunters: descendants of the Nephilim.  Tessa quickly learns that she belongs to this otherworld, a legacy that has been hidden from her since birth.  As Tessa allies with the London Institute of Shadowhunters, she meets two best friends, Will and Jem, who intrigue and frighten Tessa in different ways and for different reasons.  With tutelage from the Institute, will Tessa utilize her gifts and find her brother? Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for me in this book is Magnus Bane.  No spoilers here other than to say his storyline is fun.


The reason I have been rereading Clockwork Angel is because Clockwork Prince, the second book in the Infernal Devices series, was released on December 6th.  I am glad I took the time to read Clockwork Angel again.  This time I concentrated on Will's character and the possible source(s) of his teenage angst.  Tessa is also a conundrum wrapped in a mystery, and I hope some of my questions are answered in Clockwork Prince.  I began reading Clockwork Prince last night, and I cannot wait to write about it next Friday.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



New Orleans Nostalgia


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If the following names mean anything to you:

AT II's
Morgus 
The Butterfly
Miggie's
Do Drive In
You Boutique.....
...then you probably grew up in New Orleans like Mr. Art @ Home.


My sister-in-law, Lundy, and her friend, Margie, are making and selling the most AH-dorable pillows (and other items).  The pillows are 100% linen and screen printed with a black linen border. They are down-filled, soft, and too, too cute.  Mr. Art  Home loves reading the names while reminiscing about his fun childhood growing up in New Orleans.


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M & L Nostalgia pillows can be found at LundyRyanDesign.com.  Here is the link.  Now if I could just persuade Lundy and Margie to design nostalgic fabric for Tuscaloosa.....  ;P


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two Great Christmas Giveaways!

Good morning, sweet friends!  I want to tell you about two great Christmas giveaways.

The first one is from Karena's blog, Art by Karena.  Today is Karena's Twelfth Day of Christmas giveaway, and she is gifting a lovely piece of art by Mary Maxam.  Look at these lovely paintings:


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Please click on this link for this fantastic giveaway!  You have until midnight tonight to enter all twelve days of her fabulous giveaway!  {Day 5 is a gift of French Essence...got to love it!}

Katherine at Katherine's Corner is hosting a fun Christmas giveaway with three prize packages with three different themes: Holiday Tea, Pamper Me, and Noel.  All are adorable prize packages!  Here is the link, or click on the button on my sidebar or below!


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Holiday Tea gift


Good luck entering these giveaway!  I hope you win!!!  :D

Until next time...

Merry Christmas!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All I Want for Christmas Is...... {drumroll, please....}

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From Gorsuch




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Of course I had to visit the mother ship....




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iPad case from Shabby Chic





Santa, I have been so good this year  ;P

I hope you will consider the above options for Christmas.  And because I am so thoughtful, each item can be purchased online.  :D

What is on your Christmas list this year?  Are you on Santa's Naughty or Nice list?


Linking to:

Thursday Favorite Things

Until next time...

You'd better watch out!
Ricki Jill