Autumn Tablescape *plus* a Warming Chili Recipe

Thursday, October 8, 2015
Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!  We've been fluffing our home for autumn, and I must admit I miss our cooler temperatures from last week because it's flipping hot here today!

Let's take a look at my latest tablescape for autumn:

These napkins match the rooster table runner.

I've been collecting glass pumpkins for years.  The three glass acorns from Pier1 are my newest additions (new this year).

Here are a few of our glass pumpkins from around the house:

I like the Halloween-inspired votives on our mantel.  I found these at Leaf 'n Petal.

Autumn votives in the art studio

Plush pumpkins!

As promised, here is a wonderful recipe featured at The Fresh Market this month.  I followed the recipe as written.

Mole Style Chili

1 lb. ground chuck
1 c onion, chopped
1 clove garlic , chopped
1/3 c Starborough Sauvignon Blanc
1 oz Scharffenberger 99% unsweetened baking chocolate bar, coarsely chopped
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 c water
2 tbsp chili powder, substitute 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder if you prefer (I did!)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt & pepper
sour cream and cilantro as garnish

Cook beef in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until browned, stirring using a wooden spoon to crumble. Drain, if necessary, set beef aside and return pan to heat.  

Lowder heat to medium and add onion and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until tender. 

Add Starborough Sauvignon Blanc and use a wooden spoon to scrap up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add Scharffenberger baking chocolate, tomatoes, water and bring to a simmer. Add cooked beef, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper; cover and simmer 20-25 minutes. 

Serve hot topped with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro.

Serves 6

This is an easy chili for a busy weeknight!

Have a cozy evening!  
Come back tomorrow for Literary Friday and next week for Halloween decor!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Autumn and Pumpkin Random

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all have had a great start to the week.  Just for the record, I'm in DYI purgatory.  We're repainting our basement bathroom, and it took us three days to remove the wallpaper.  *crying myself to sleep every night*

I think all the mess (including tons of sheetrock dust) has made my asthma really bad, so when decorating for fall, I used glass pumpkins and have nothing fresh in the house at the moment.

But when I bring some fresh back in I think I want to make this arrangement:

Don't you just love the pretty golden roses with a touch of soft orange?  The orange rose is a Dark Milva and the yellow roses are Capriccio roses.

Here is a preview of our glass pumpkins.  I'll post more of our pumpkin decor later this week.  

Have you seen the new fall flavors of Chobani Greek Yogurt?

I like both, but the pear and cinnamon is my favorite!

My oldest daughter bought me a little surprise.  Can you tell I'm crushing on gold lately?

The little footed teacup looks orange in the photo, but it really is more gold.

If you want to read a creepy book, pick this one up by one of my favorite writers, Katherine Howe:

I just started reading it, and it is fantastic!

And finally, Finlay was blessed at the Blessing of the Animals at our church Sunday afternoon.  He was full of Westietude the entire service!  

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Was this post random enough for you?  Come back Thursday for Fall decor and a wonderful chili recipe!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: Banned Books Week 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Happy Literary Friday!  I hope y'all have been celebrating your right to read this week.  I know I have!  I'm so thankful that I can read my Bible without fear of being persecuted.  I'm grateful for a wonderful library system in my community.  I'm also one lucky duck that I can spend a little money on favorite books to stock a home library.  Yep!  Life is good, but it's better with a great book in your hand!

Below is a wonderful infograph of the most challenged and banned books from 2014.  All artwork and photos on this post are courtesy of the American Library Association.

There are several books on that list I've been wanting to read, especially #1.  I've read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I think it's an important book for OLDER teens, not younger ones.  Again, parents need to be engaged and guide their children in reading age appropriate books.

By the you know the number one most challenged and/or banned books from the list of classics?  I'll give you a hint:  It's one of my all-time favorite novels, and I required Shelley to read it last year as part of her American Literature curriculum.  Give up?

How crazy is that?

Since I'm not posting a review this week, there'll be no linky, but PLEASE link-up next week! 

Share your favorite banned/challenged book in the comments below!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Pretties Found In My Inbox

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Happy Thursday!  I haven't had much time this week to play on social media, but surprisingly I found some lovely things in my gmail inbox.  I thought I'd share them with you today.

This first photo is the stunningly beautiful Kitchen of the Year according to House Beautiful Magazine:

Don't you just love that pink island?  I know I do....I feel vindicated.  Here's our kitchen island:

I love the pretty entryway (below) all decked-out for autumn.  I even like the "blowing leaves" although I'd probably clean them up after about fifteen minutes.  Still, it's a pretty entry.

Tomorrow I'm bringing out our pumpkins.  Below is some pumpkin inspiration from my favorite online source for all things gardening, Terrain.


That's about it for today.  My lesson plan book awaits my attention (not to mention the scary mountain of laundry threatening to spill over into the kitchen).

Come back tomorrow for a scary Literary Friday!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Banned Books Week: Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

Monday, September 28, 2015
Happy Monday!  This week we celebrate our freedom to read.  If your a student of history, then you probably remember that the second thing the Nazis confiscated after guns was books.  It would take a really big Nazi to take a book away from me.  Maybe two….

I also believe that parents should guide their children in what they read and no one else. I've spent countless hours previewing books before making the decision of whether or not my daughters were ready to read them.

I hope you celebrate your freedom to read this week by reading either a challenged or banned book!
I'll be sharing one of my favorite banned/challenged books on this week's Literary Friday post.

I hope you'll join me there!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: The Copper Gauntlet

Friday, September 25, 2015
Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!

THANK GOD this is the last week of Piers the Ploughman (homeschool).  It has kicked our butts!  It's interesting that the book is so incredibly timeless, and it means more to me reading it now than it did when I was in college.  We as human beings haven't learned a thing since medical times, apparently.

This week I also read The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Casandra Clare.  It's the second book in the Magisterium Series.  I reviewed book one, The Iron Trial, last week.  You can read my review here.

The book begins during the summer after Call's Iron Year at his mage school The Magisterium.  He's returned home with his chaos-ridden wolf Havoc which adds to the strain between his father Alistair and himself.  Both father and son seem to be at crossed-purposes, and finally a confrontation with Alistair forces Call and Havoc to run away to his friend Tamara's estate.  He's shocked to discover his friend Aaron and "frenemy" Jasper in attendance at a lavish party upon his arrival, and  he's mesmerized by the level of wealth Tamara and other mages enjoy.   After a couple of weeks of fun in the sun, the four return to The Magesterium to begin their second or Copper Year.  

At school Call learns about a sinister plot involving his father.  Recently an artifact called the copper gauntlet has been stolen from The Collegium, and Alistair is the number one suspect in the theft.  If caught, he will be killed without a trial.  The danger of the copper gauntlet is it can separate chaos magic from a mage.  The process is deadly, and it would threaten the life of their Makar Aaron.  The Makar is a rare (once in a generation) mage who can wield chaos magic, and Aaron must be protected at all costs.  Call is loyal to his friends, but he now questions his original judgment of Alistair's actions during the summer.  Can he get to his father before Assembly mages find and execute him?

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are two favorite young adult writers, but this series is for middle readers, grades 3 - 7.   I enjoyed this second installment of the series even more than the first.  I would still preview the series first for younger readers as there are some frightening monsters and scary situations in the book.  This should be a hit for Black and Clare, and I'm already looking forward to book three!

What are you reading?  Please share!  This is a link party.

Pssst!  You can see what I'm currently reading by viewing the Goodreads widget in my sidebar on the right.

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

A is for Apple and Autumn!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy Autumn, Y'all!  Today is the first full day of autumn, and you won't find any pumpkins around here.....yet.  I like to ease into autumn with apples.

We have been crazy busy with field trips, riding lessons, senior portrait sittings, and church activities plus everyday academics.  But still I wanted to treat the family to a delicious, fun dessert.

I made Apple Upside Down Cake, but I cheated by using a cake mix.

Apple Upside Down Cake

1⁄3 cup butter, cut up
1⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
6 small cooking apples, halved, stems removed, cored (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb.)
1 box Simple Mills Vanilla Cake Almond Flour Mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup water
1 T vanilla


Preheat oven to 350°F Place 1/3 cup butter in a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Place in oven 5 minutes or until butter melts. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter; stir. Arrange 9 apple halves in mixture, cut sides down. Bake in oven 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven.

Whisk eggs, oil, water, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Add baking mix to the wet ingredients and stir until complete combined.

Spoon over apples and spread evenly.

Bake 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edges; invert onto platter. Cool 20 minutes; serve with ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Makes 9 servings.

Let me know if you try this!  Upside Down Cake is an old fashioned dessert, but what makes this recipe nice is it's gluten-free, and the cake mix helps save a few steps!  Don't substitute the grapeseed oil.  It truly makes a huge difference in the flavor.   I served this to the family and my friend and her husband.  It was a huge hit!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill
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