Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Madness?

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You've heard of March Madness, but have you heard of Book Madness?

Have you voted yet for your favorite books yet @ Out of Print Clothing?  My bracket is looking pretty good right now.  My friend Ann Marie said she thought it would be fun to read the Final Four.  :D  I agree.

Round two voting begins Monday.  Here is the link!

I love the t-shirts and other products at Out of Print Clothing.  Shanley Belle has a few of their t-shirts.  I want this one because it was one of my favorite books as a kid:


It's a lovely day here @ Lake Martin.  Waiting for the teenagers to wake-up and then go boating.  I hope you are enjoying your Easter weekend!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Confession: Choc-Lit! ;P


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It's confession time with Aubrey @ High Heeled Love!

I confess...
I confess that there's lots of chocolate around thanks to the Easter Bunny. Yep, you won't be able to drag a confession out of me about that.....it's the Easter Bunny's fault!   :/


I confess that I have eaten a wee bit fair portion of the chocolate. 
The Pilates Nazi is going to *kill* me next week!

I confess...
I confess that I actually did decorate for Easter.  But I didn't blog much about it because I associate Easter with warm weather, not record low temperatures.  Meh!  I spent one day this week under two blankets trying to get warm!  Meh X 10!



The breakfast room table.
I didn't take many photos because I confess I've been *lazy* this week!  ;P
More chocolate thanks to that dastardly bunny!


I confess...
I confess that I found some Choc-Lit.  Yep.  Choc-Lit with ZERO CALORIES!!!  *giggles*  Choc-Lit is a website about books "where heroes are like chocolate....irresistible!"  Get it....choc-LIT as in LITERATURE?  :D   


Here is the link to the website.

I read a wonderful book from one of the Choc-Lit authors.  I was very presently surprised!  I would have liked more character development, but in all fairness it was a sequel and I didn't read the first one. But the story was great, and the setting (Scotland) was excellent!


This book won a best historical romantic novel award last year.


I confess...
I confess that I cried like a baby when I read Clockwork Princess.  You can read my review here.  So I really needed a happy book from Choc-Lit and *real* chocolate to make me feel better.

So.....Thank-you, Easter Bunny!!!



I confess...
I confess that I still love that commercial and M&M's!  ;P

I hope you have a blessed Easter!

Until next time...

Easter blessings!
Ricki Jill


Literary Friday: Clockwork Princess



I was so happy when Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare was released on March 19th on our 25th wedding anniversary.  :D  But I must say that I approached reading the book with much fear and loathing as I knew that there was no way it could end happily.  After all, Cassie said that the series is a loose retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, and everyone remembers how that book ended for Sidney Carton.  Because I love most of the characters in the Infernal Devices series, especially Will and Jem, I didn't want a sad ending for anyone.  What a conundrum this series has become for me and millions of readers worldwide!

Let me give you a brief synopsis of the series so far.  Tessa Gray has left New York for Victorian London to find her brother who's been working for the evil Mortmain.  Mortmain is building an army of advanced automatons to destroy the Shadowhunters.  Shadowhunters are Nephilim, or children of the angel.  They have superhuman abilities that protect normal people, or Mundanes, from Downworlders (fairies, vampires, werewolves, and warlocks) and demons. Mostly they hunt and kill demons before they harm Mundanes. The question is why does Mortmain hate Shadowhunters so much, and why does he need Tessa Gray to bring about their destruction?

Early in the first book Clockwork Angel, Will rescues Tessa from Mortmain's clutches, and the London Institute doesn't know what to do with Tessa.  She has abilities like a warlock, but she is unmarked.  What exactly is she? Will's best friend and parabatai Jem becomes infatuated with Tessa, and Tessa has feelings for both Will and Jem.  Jem is dying from a demon attack, and the only thing that's keeping him alive is a drug that will also kill him eventually.  Will is cruel to everyone except Jem, and he pushes everyone away because he's harboring a devastating secret.  Although the love triangle between Tessa, Will, and Jem is a big part of the series, don't be fooled into thinking that the series is only about them.  Magnus Bane plays a huge role in the story, and some of the minor plots are intriguing, too.


Psst!  I'm Team Jem all the way....but don't tell Will.  LOVE Will, but I've always had a thing for musicians.  ;P


So the big question is: Who will Tessa choose if she is even given the choice?  The second big question: What exactly is Tessa?  Let me just say that Cassie is a literary genius.  Although I cried the entire second half of the book, Entertainment Weekly was correct in saying that Clockwork Princess does have a satisfying ending....if you can make it to the Epilogue, of course!  ;P  But please make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand and chocolate.  You'll need it!



In case you missed it I'm Team Jem.


As much as I love TMI (The Mortal instruments), I think I like this series a wee bit better. Cassandra Clare makes Victorian London come alive, and I like the Steampunk vibe of the series.  Clare also includes literary quotes at the beginning of each chapter that relate to the chapters' content.  I truly enjoyed the quotes in this installment because she quoted one of my favorite poets Gerard Manley Hopkins several times.  Clare's books make me want to channel Grigg from The Jane Austen Book Club.  He read every book referenced in his assigned book, Northanger Abbey.  I would love to slowly read through the Infernal Devices series and do the same.  Does that make me a nerd?  ;P

I have stated before that I think Cassandra Clare is by far the best young adult writer, and she just keeps improving with each and every book she writes.  She is starting a new series based in present-day Los Angeles called The Dark Artifices with Emma Carstairs as the heroine. *squee*


Clockwork Princess trailer




You can read my review of Clockwork Angel here and Clockwork Prince here.

I hope you're enjoying Holy Week.  We have had a nice time visiting with family and relaxing. Have a blessed Good Friday!


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Free Opportunity to Grow Your Blog!


If you're looking to grow your blog or social media following, we have a great and FREE opportunity for you!  Free is good, right?  Well, Free is AMAZING!


Isabelle from Le Chateau des Fleurs recently released a new Android app called Smartphone DNA, and to promote it she is giving away a Kindle Fire HD-which she is sponsoring entirely. The giveaway will be hosted by My So-Called Chaos, but what we need are other bloggers to share the giveaway on their blogs in order to spread the word! In return, you'll get two of your links in the Rafflecopter to get extra promotion for you in return for posting.  This is entirely free, there is NO buy in, we just need two posts from you.
  1. Post this announcement on your blog (code will be given after you request to join) to ensure your readers/followers have the opportunity to be a part of this giveaway too! 
  2. Post the actual giveaway (full Rafflecopter and all! People will be able to enter directly from your blog!) 
If you are interested in participating in this FREE promotional opportunity, please email Miss Angie and once accepted into the giveaway you will be given all the information you need for your posts.

Giveaway is set to run from 4/10/13 to 4/30/13.
All requests to join required by 4/5/13!



Hello, Peeps!  


Not you....I mean the Peeps who read my blog!  *My* peeps!  ;P

I've followed Miss Angie for a long time, and I've also followed Isabelle for a while, too.  Love both their blogs, and I hope you'll consider participating in this opportunity!  

More later in April!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Happy List: Spring Break Edition

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I am so happy because it's spring break.  :D   I am also happy that it's Holy Week, but it seems weird that they're coinciding this year.

My Happy List

It's nice to have no plans other than some church-related stuff.  YAY!  I want to do the following during Spring Break:

1.   I want to see The Host.  I must admit that although I'm not a "Twi-hard" or a Twilight Mom (although I fully admit to being a Mundi Mom, LOL) I *loved* reading The Host, and I hope that the movie does the book justice.


The Host 
movie trailer


2.   I want to read fluff.  Fluff would make me happy at this point!  I finished Clockwork Princess and I cried for the last half of the book.  Mr. Art @ Home is concerned for my sanity because I'm so upset about fictional characters.  More on Clockwork Princess on Friday, but for now, I need mindless spring break fluff to read.  I'm open for suggestions!


3.   I want to play on the internet.  I probably won't post much this week, but that's okay.  I'd rather read a few blogs and play on Pinterest.  This is one of my favorite pins lately from my Shabby Chic Outdoor Spaces Board:






4.   I want to bake something fabulous for Easter.  Shelley will enjoy helping, too.



I want to bake this.  Here is the link.  :D








I hope you'll share your happy (and book recommendations) with me  ;P

This is a linky!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Monday, March 25, 2013

Musical Monday: Carried Away




This week I've been listening to Passion Pit, and Carried Away in particular.  :D  We love the video, and my girls are HUGE Sophia Bush fans.  I think she's adorable in this video, too.

I really needed an upbeat song this week, and this video reminds me of the crazy fights Mr. Art @ Home and I used to get into when we were young and dumb.  ;P



Passion Pit
"Carried Away"


Since my heart is golden,
I've got sense to hold in,
Tempted just to make an ugly scene.
No, I'm not as proper.
My money's in copper,
Ripped down from the brownstones to the street

Listen,
I'm your friend, don't quote me,
But not a friend worth noting.
Yes, please don't ever note me as your friend.
Who says we have cold hearts?
Acting out our old parts,
Let's perform my favorite little scene.
Oh oh oh oh.

I get carried away, carried away, from you
And I'm hoping and I'm praying,
Cause I'm sorry, sorry 'bout that,
Sorry 'bout things that I've said.
Always let it get to my head.

Oh, European, once again with feeling.
Higher education making sense?
Justify your thesis, certain that you need this.
Tell me what your point is in defense.

Listen,
I don't really know you
And I don't think I want to,
But I think I can fake it if you can.
Let's agree, there's no need, no more talk of money,
Let's just keep pretending to be friends.
Oh oh oh oh.

I get carried away, carried away, from you
And I'm hoping and I'm praying,
Cause I'm sorry, sorry 'bout that.
Sorry 'bout things that I've said.
Always let it get to my head.
[x2]

Wake up in the morning, wake up in the evening,
Wake up when you want to,
'Cause no one's really watching,
Or else you'll have something to say about it.
But we all have problems,
We're all having problems,
And we all got something to say.

I get carried away, carried away, from you,
And I'm hoping and I'm praying,
'Cause I'm sorry, sorry 'bout that.
Sorry 'bout things that I've said.
Always let it get to my head.
[x2]

[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/carried-away-lyrics-passion-pit.html ]


What are you listening to this week?  Link-up to Musical Monday @ My So-Called Chaos!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Appetizer That Didn't Make It To the Table

Happy Palm Sunday!!!
I hope you are having a great one.

This is the appetizer that didn't make it to the table because it was eaten rather quickly at the breakfast bar just as soon as it was brought in from the grill.  The dressing is supposed to he drizzled on, but a helper poured it on, so I had to make more dressing for the salad  :/


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Grilled Bacon-wrapped Scallops

Ingredients:
One doezen scallops
Six slices bacon
Four bamboo skewers
Citrus champagne vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Method:
1.   Slice bacon in half.  Wrap each scallop with a bacon half and place on a skewer.  You should have three scallops per skewer.
2.   Grill over hot coals for four minutes per side.
3.   Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Citrus Champagne Vinaigrette

1/3 c olive oil
2 T champaign vinegar
2 T orange juice
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients well in a small bowl with a whisk.


That's my "didn't quite make it to the table" story, and here's another table story via Anthropologie:




Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, March 22, 2013

Literary Friday: The Diviners



This week I read The Diviners by Libba Bray.  It is the first book in a brand new paranormal series set in New York City during the roaring twenties.  I loved reading this installment, and I can't wait for the next one in the series!

Seventeen year old Evie O'Neill is the "pos-i-tute-ly" wild heroine in this series.  Due to her out of control behavior, her parents send her from a scandalous situation in her hometown of Zenith, Ohio, to New York City to live with her erudite Uncle Will.  Will owns The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, better known as the Museum of "The Creepy Crawlies."  When he's asked to help the police in a series of heinous murders, Evie tags along with Will to a murder scene.  Unable to control herself, Evie touches a buckle on the victim's shoe and "sees" the murder victim's memories.  Evie, Uncle Will, and an incredible cast of characters try to find clues that will help solve the murders and stop a serial killer before he strikes again.

I love character-driven books, and the characters in this book are all fascinating.  Evie is a bit vapid especially at the beginning of the book, but she more than makes up for her youthful hedonism through her bravery.  She just might be the bravest heroine in YA fiction.  Ever.  :D Then there's her friend Mabel whose parents are early twentieth century Progressives.  One would think that Mabel and Evie would have nothing in common, but perhaps there's more to Mabel than meets the eye.  Sam Lloyd is a street-smart conman who can literally influence people to ignore his activities.  Memphis Campbell is a Harlem numbers runner with a love for poetry.  He's a healer, and his little brother has "the sight."  Evie's friend Theta is a Ziegfeld chorus girl, and I couldn't help but picture Louise Brooks as Theta while reading the book. Theta has a dark secret and a terrifying gift.  And then there's tall and mysterious Jericho, Uncle Will's ward.  Jericho has feelings for Evie, but his self-loathing holds him back from expressing how he feels.  But perhaps the most awe-inspiring character is Naughty John, you know, the one who does his work with his apron on?  Yep.  That one.  He is the most creeptastically frightening villain I've read in a very long time.  He might even beat Mr. Croup from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

Libba Bray's research and her attention to detail in this period novel are "pos-i-tute-ly" fantastic.  I enjoyed the references to the Harlem Renaissance (both music and literature), the Ziegfeld Follies, fashion, fads, slang, politics, and speakeasies.  There is definitely something Fitzgerald-esque about the novel, and not just the fact that Uncle Will's last name is Fitzgerald. I got a sense that there is an all-knowing "eye" observing the characters like they're on a game board, similar to the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg billboard in The Great Gatsby.  The separate plots in the novel converge as characters' lives intersect, and the main characters were just starting to make connections to each another by the end of the book, so it will be fun to see how they mesh in the next.  The book hints that they will all need to work together because of what is headed their way.  As much as I enjoyed reading The Diviners, I would not recommend it for younger teens due to violence and adult situations.  



The Diviners book trailer



So what have you been reading?  This is a linky!


Until next time...
Happy Reading!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wit & Whimsy: Retro Bloom




I found a new blog I love:  Jennifer's Life In Bloom.  Jennifer is a very talented floral designer in the Los Angeles area.  She is a genius!  Click on the link under the photo for a wonderful article about Blooms on a Budget. Here is a link to Life in Bloom.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Happy List: The Trifecta of Happy

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Mr. Art @ Home and I love mid-March.  From the Ides of March through the end of the month, we are super-busy with activities and fun (including spring break).

But what is the trifecta, you may ask?  

The trifecta is March 17, March 18, and March 19!

My Happy List

1.   March 17

We love celebrating St. Patrick's Day, and Shanley Belle and her boyfriend Charles came home to celebrate.  So happy to spend time with them!


2.   March 18

My grandmother's birthday is March 18.  This year she turned 93.  Happy Birthday, Big Mama!!!  My Big Mama always makes me happy. Unfortunately we had to cancel her party yesterday due to the severe storms here in Alabama, but we will celebrate within the week.  :D

3.   March 19

Happy Anniversary to me and Mr. Art @ Home!  This year we're celebrating our silver wedding. I can't believe it's been 25 years!  I love you, babe!


I hope that we can enjoy our anniversary.  We will be meeting at Shelley's school today to literally beg for services she needs in order to be successful at school.  We will also request {again} that they implement all the services in her IEP.  As some of you know, Shelley has mild CP, and she struggles in school.  This year she has also had to endure bullying.  Please think about us today at 2PM CDT as we meet (for the third time this school year) with *many* teachers and administrators at her school.  There are a couple of folks who will be present who are good educators, and I hope and pray that they will try to do the right thing.   I could also use your prayers.  If you would pray for us to communicate clearly to the school so we're competent advocates for Shelley.  But more importantly pray for Shelley.  She is a sweet young lady, and the school is destroying her spirit.


Thank-you.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Irish Spuds


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Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, how about some Irish Spuds for dinner ;P

Irish Spuds

Ingredients:
4 potatoes, poked with fork
2 T butter
4 oz. corned beef, chopped
3 T Thousand Island Dressing
1 cup sauerkraut
4 oz. sliced Swiss cheese
parsley

Directions:
1.   Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.   Microwave potatoes on high for ten minutes.  Rotate and cook seven minutes longer.
3.   Cut off top third of potatoes and scoop out flesh.  Mash with butter, and return to potato skins.
4.  Top with corned beef, dressing, sauerkraut, and cheese.
5.   Bake 10 minutes.

Okay, so this is really like a rueben sandwich in a potato, but I think it looks and tastes Irish!


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Yummy!  


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Our favorite sauerkraut





Until next time,

Irish Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Confessional: I'm McLovin' My New Kitchen! {plus a recipe}

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I confess...
I confess I've been spending a LOT of time in the kitchen lately.  :D  I'm loving it!

I confess...
I confess that I burn way too many candles.  I love nice fragrances!


Geranium bourbon candle


I confess...
I confess that I cooked a gourmet recipe from the Uptown Acorn blog.  I confess that it had more than $10 worth of cheese in it.  :/   I made it for Shelley because she loves Mac & Cheese!




I confess...
I confess I had to do something to make up for the grocery budget deficit form the Mac & Cheese.

I confess...
I confess that I don't like leftovers.  But I found a great solution!


This is one of my favorite risotto recipes!


Risotto with Leeks and Sugar Snaps


Ingredients:
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb. sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 oz. pancetta, minced
2 leeks, white and light green portions, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbs. minced fresh tarragon
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Coarse kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
In a saucepan over high heat, bring the broth to a boil. Add the sugar snap peas and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sugar snap peas to a bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to low.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until opaque, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until absorbed. Add about 3/4 cup of the hot broth; adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles and is absorbed slowly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the liquid about 3/4 cup at a time and stirring frequently, until the rice is just tender but slightly firm in the center and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the sugar snap peas, cheese, tarragon and a generous amount of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Fresh & Fast, by Kristine Kidd (Williams-Sonoma, 2011).




What to do with the leftovers, you ask?

Turn any leftovers into risotto cakes: For 3 to 4 cups of risotto, mix in 1 egg yolk and 1/3 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Using wet hands, form the mixture into 2-inch balls, then flatten into rounds 3/4 inch thick. Dip the cakes into beaten egg and coat with more panko, then brown in olive oil, about 4 minutes per side.


I served the risotto cakes over slaw with Creamy Miso dressing.

Join Aubrey @ High Heeled Love for Friday Confessional.

I hope y'all have a great weekend!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: The Vintage Tea Party Book


For the past couple of weeks I've been reading The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree.  I. Love.  This.  BOOK!  :D  It's the cutest tea party book I've ever read.  You really need to go to your local library and check it out.  I bet you'll want to buy a copy once you do.  I did! 

Normally I don't include the book synopsis from the back of the book in my book reviews, but I love the synopsis on the back of The Vintage Tea Party:

Angel Adoree cordially invites you to accompany her on a journey to create your perfect vintage tea party. Expect glamour, roses, rabbits, headscarves, foxes, teapots, crows, parlour games, cake stands, hair and make-up tips and, not forgetting, humongous amounts of magical tea party food that is fit for the Queen of England, and easy enough for you to make.

Angel Adoree was a favorite on BBC's The Dragons' Den (the Brits' version of Shark Tank). She wowed the judges with her Vintage Patisserie business plan:  Vintage Tea Party events in unusual venues.  I enjoyed reading the autobiographical information about Angel.  Her story is amazing!

The Vintage Tea Party is divided into three main sections:  Brunch, Afternoon, and Evening.  I loved the brunch section....the idea of a tea party for breakfast is something I love because breakfast is usually my favorite meal of the day.  There is also a section on style that's fun, too. The pretty vintage vignettes with interesting cups, plates, teapots, and other oddities would make any tea party *fun*  (not to mention the fantastic collection of recipes).   I read every single recipe, and they all sound delicious!   I've only tried two and I was very happy with the results of both.  The original artwork by Angel and the photography is eye candy.  I have spent hours looking at this wonderful book, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I!




Scones with lavender cream



Angel Adoree
Isn't she cute!  Her favorite style is vintage forties.



I decided to throw my own breakfast tea party inspired by The Vintage Tea Party Book.  I chose the seventies for my inspiration.  I think the table has a slight seventies vibe!  Shelley is having a difficult time waking up and starting her day with the time change.  Special French toast might be just the ticket to get Shelley up and dressed for school!






My grandmother gave me the teacups, creamer, and sugar bowl for Christmas.













Blueberry and maple pancake elephant cookies









French toast 





Toasted Chocolate Shamrocks

Ingredients:
1 brioche loaf
6 T Nutella
2 eggs, beaten
3 T butter
Caster sugar or powdered sugar to taste

Procedure:

1.  Cut 12 slices of brioche 1/2 inch thick.
2.  Spread 6 slices with a tablespoon of Nutella each.  Place the other 6 slices on top to make sandwiches.  Cut into shamrock shapes with a cookie cutter.
3.  Coat each sandwich with a little beaten egg.  Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the sandwiches on a medium heat until golden brown on both sides.  Serve immediately.
4.  Sprinkle generously with sugar and serve!

Adapted from The Vintage Tea Party Book.

Resources:
Tablecloth, tecups, creamer, sugar, berry basket, plates, and jam jar:  Anthropologie
Napkins:  Pier 1
Berry bowls, berry spoon, serving bowl, flower pot:  MacKenzie-Childs
Berry basket and cookie cutter:  Williams-Sonoma
Toast rack:  One Kings Lane




The Vintage Tea Party Year will be released on April 23. 
I've pre-ordered it!



What have you been reading lately?  This is a linky!


Until next time...
Happy reading!
Ricki Jill