Monday, October 20, 2014

Autumn Is In the Air!

Good afternoon, My Lovelies!  I have missed y'all so very much.  I'm hoping that I can return to blogging soon because I miss it…I miss writing, posting, blog jogging, commenting, and basically enjoying a community of amazing bloggers.  Fingers crossed, I'll return to blogging on a regular basis soon.

Yesterday we celebrated Shanley Belle's 22nd birthday.  I always consider her birthday the start of autumn because the season seems to turn about this time of year.  Before her birth, I endured a very hot pregnancy in Scottsdale, Arizona.  It was summer until I went into labor at a New Orleans Saints v. Cardinals football game.  Two days later when we took Shanley Belle home, autumn had arrived, and we could feel coolness after months of oppressive heat.

Happy Birthday, Shanley!

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I decorated the house in bright pink and green, Shanley Belle's sorority colors.  Not very autumn-like at all!

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I cheated and bought a caramel cake…

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…because I made an apple clafoutis with a whiskey caramel sauce.  I served it with vanilla ice cream and poured the sauce over both.  Please find the recipe here.

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My grandmother, Shanley, and my mom

This morning it made me a little sad to see that all the pink and green decorations had been taken down.  It's time to decorate for autumn!

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The flowers are all that remain from the party…

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…and now it's time to bring in some pretty mums for autumn!

This year we're not decorating for Halloween because it will be fall break for the girls, so we're going to the beach at the end of the month!  We're looking ahead to Thanksgiving, and today we started decorating for it.

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I'm still enjoying the Hot Skwash!  I want to find a few more for our Thanksgiving decor.

Homeschooling is going very well.  I feel so privileged that I'm able to homeschool my sweet second daughter.  We are truly having fun, especially with art classes and field trips to Auburn.  Although I'm not painting as much as usual, I am doing a little bit of art everyday, and I hope to share more later. Lately I've been working on a fun series of unusual doorknobs.  Odd subject, but it has been fun.

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I still have several washes left before I finish this pink one!

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We've been enjoying lots of crafts across the curriculum, and this is a very cute box of goodies from the funkie junkie.  This little box is filled with autumn cuteness!

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Speaking of cuteness….Finlay loves coming to school every morning.  He knows to head to the classroom when I say, "It's time for school, Finlay!"

I have been reading a lot, and I really need to update my Goodreads account. I definitely want to start posting Literary Friday posts soon, maybe after the first of the year.  I am updating what I'm currently reading in my sidebar if you're ever interested!

Also, I'm planning a new blog!  Details coming soon…

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Your emails have meant the world to me, and I hope you can take the time to leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Monday, September 8, 2014

Just Checking In~

I'm spending lots of time in the art studio now that school has started!

Good afternoon, My Lovelies!  I have missed y'all so much, but I have been one busy mom!

First of all, I want to thank you for all of your kind comments and emails.  They have meant so much to me!  Y'all are all so kind.  I couldn't reposed to everyone but I did read each and every single one, and I appreciate them more than you will ever know.

I want to update you on what we've been doing since I last posted here.

We've started school, and we're getting into a nice routine.  Shelley loves her art classes at the Red Dot Gallery, and she's also enjoying her art extension classes at Auburn University.  Her IEA team looks like it's going to be fierce this year, and she's looking forward to another season of competition.

Shelley's first day of school

Team practice

Finlay likes to attend school.  He's waiting for me to come upstairs and begin the school day.

Shaney Belle is back in school, too, and she's a senior!  So hard to believe…..
She is on year-round j-board for Alabama's Panhellenic, and she was privileged to have helped a lovely young woman with CP navigate sorority recruitment last month.

Shanley during 2014 recruitment, front row, right.

New KD pledge class

Shanley and Becca in golf cart

Shanley and Becca @ KD House.  Welcome home, Becca!

We've been spending time at Lake Martin, and our backyard is FAR FROM BEING FINISHED.  Truly, it's getting on my very last nerve.  I'll post photos once there is something not involving mud and dirt to post.  :/

For those of you who follow me on social media, you'll notice that I haven't been very active with the exception of Pinterest.  I've been a pinning fiend, but mostly I've been pinning to garden, landscaping, and patio-related boards.  I'm trying to decide what we want, and I think the boards will help the hardscape and landscape designers.   Here are a few of my favorite pins:

We're still in summertime mode around here due to the heat, so I'm still decorating for late summer and back to school.  I know when the weather cools some I'll be interested in fluffing the nest for autumn.

Although I have been reading a whole lot lately, I've completely neglected my Goodreads account.  When I post books over there, I'll update my blog with links.  In the meantime, I highly recommend this book:

I know this will make my best-of list this year!

I'm also LOVING this one, too.  It's a collection of short stories that are incredibly well-written and creative.  Beth, you must read it, although I might have gotten this recommendation from you….

I've been painting a little, and I was able to show three paintings in Red Dot Gallery's Tenth Anniversary Show.

The show will be up until the end of October.

Here is my most recent painting, but I didn't finish it in time for the show:

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Peonies in a Mercury Glass Vase
9" X 12"
oil on canvas

I would love to hear from you!  I'm going to try and get back into blogging in a few weeks, once we're a bit more settled into our routine and our backyard is finished.  If you've posted something you know I'd love to read (most of you know what I like) please email me with a link because I don't want to miss out!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill

Friday, August 1, 2014

Winner! Plus a fond farewell for now....

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  I have a winner for my Mad Tea Party giveaway!

*drumroll, please.....*

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congratulations, Beth!  Send me an email with your address and I'll send it out to you ASAP!

With a very heavy heart I must say goodbye for a little while.  So what will I be doing during this time?  Some of you know that I'll be homeschooling Shelley for the rest of high school, and I'll be spending most of my time refining curricula and developing a plan to help her reach her goals for the next chapter of her life.

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I love this kiddo!  I also want to enjoy her big sister's last year in college.

Shelley chose art as her elective this year, and don't you know that I'm thrilled!  She'll be taking lessons from my art teacher with me as well as exploring art at home and at Auburn University monthly.

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We'll use art journals across the curriculum this year.

We're still about a month out from finishing the backyard and patio, so I'll be planting even more hydrangeas (different varieties), plus many other plants, planters, and turf.  I'm trying to finish before school starts, so I'm on a strict timetable! 

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I will also continue painting, and I hope that we get lots of use out of our studio.

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Thanks for the adorable Mason jar, Donna!
Donna has one of the cutest studios in blogland.  Check it out here!

I hope to paint a few paintings on rather large canvases, and I'll continue painting my minis

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"Winter Apples"

Tears are running down my cheeks as I write this.  I hope I can return to blogging one day, but so much of that depends on Shelley and her progress. We have a lot of work to do!

I will check back in with y'all after Labor Day at the latest.  I hope that I don't have to give up blogging forever, but for now.....

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, July 25, 2014

Literary Friday: The House At the End of Hope Street and Love In the Time of Global Warming

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  I hope you've had a great week.  We had a great time in New Orleans, but Mr. Art @ Home had to visit a Doc in the Box while we were there, and both girls caught the funk.  So far I've escaped it *fingers crossed*…

During the road trip, I read two books:  The House At the End of Hope Street and Love In the Time of Global Warming.

I received The House At the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag for the Books 'n' Bloggers Swap because it was on my wish list.  I was interested in it because a blurb written by Sarah Addison Allen (one of my favorite authors) is on the cover, and I like magical realism.  I rarely post the Goodreads blurb, but here it is:

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen. 

First of all, the house is the most intriguing character in the book.  It provides its residents with encouraging letters and supplies to enable them to turn their lives around.  There are also photos of the women who've stayed there lining the walls, but unfortunately the house must not have a fantastic track record because a few of the most outspoken former residents include Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Vivian Leigh.  Okay.  So these temporary residents are supposed to take advice from these women about how to turn their lives around?  Really?  (The portraits talk like the ones at Hogwarts.)  The women living at the house are underdeveloped, especially the one chosen to be the house's caretaker.

Alba is very young, and she's taken advantage of by a horrible academic advisor who gets completely away with it (complete disappointment).  She has a few special abilities that are given less attention than deserved, and there's even a glossary in the back of the back concerning these gifts that aren't fully integrated into the plot.  I read the glossary before I read the book, so I suppose I had higher expectations for Alba's gifts being a bigger part of the story.

The main problem I have with the story is that these women end-up at Hope Street because they are stupid:  They are not victims.  To make matters worse,  two of them basically continue with the same behavior that got them into trouble in the first place.  Pink's Stupid Girls kept playing in my head during most of this book.  I'd skip this one even though it has a high Goodreads rating.

Love In the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is part allegory and part fairy tale.  It's about an older teen named Pen who has survived an apocalypse of devastating proportions in Los Angeles not caused by global warming, actually.  The title of the book comes from a chapter title in the book.  I purchased this book because it was recommended to me by a bookseller at one of my favorite Indie bookstores Octavia Books in New Orleans.

SIDEBAR:  Have you noticed how scientist no longer refer to it as global warming but climate change because science doesn't support the global warming arguments according to progressive scientists?  But I digress….

Pen survives a catastrophic Earth Shaker that basically destroys all of Los Angeles, yet her home is spared (the reader discovers later in the book why). With her wits, a little help from Homer, and butterflies, Pen set out on a quest to find her family swept away by a tsunami.  She quickly notices a parallel between her journey and that of Odysseus's, so she uses The Odyssey as a guide as she faces: giants that caused the Earth Shaker, lotus eaters at the Culver Hotel, a Circe-like witch, and very creepy Beverly Hills sirens.  

Allegory aside, this is the tale of four young people with magical abilities trying to not only navigate a post-apocalyptic world, but to develop self-acceptance none had before the Earth Shaker.  This story is a great companion for older teens as they read The Odyssey.  Block has written a sequel, The Island of Excess Love.  In this installment, Pen relies on Virgil’s epic Aeneid as her guide.  This is on my To Be Read List.

How's your summer reading so far?  Link-up and share!

Literary Friday
Until next time…
Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shelley's 17th Birthday Party

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We celebrated Shelley's 17th birthday with a small family party.  We have four family birthdays this month.  :)

I decided to purchase new table linens that were on sale @ April Cornell from the Garden Patchwork and the Zinnia Garden Collections.  I didn't see them in person first, but I thought that the collection would work well with my MacKenzie-Childs Wallcourt Collection, and I was correct (this time).  I love the linens, and I think they'll be used a whole lot in the coming years.

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Because the colors in the linens match the Wallcourt dishes so well, I think I'll use them often.
Keeping with the flower garden-themed party, I put together informal summer blooms in mason jars with flower frog lids.

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Shelley chose the menu for her party:

Chocolate cake with chocolate icing
Prosciutto and cheese roll-ups
Vanilla scones
Turkey finger sandwiches
Cheese and sausage balls
Coca-Cola in mini bottles
Coffee and tea

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NOTE:  My girl has been fighting a sinus infection, and the antibiotics have made her terribly ill.  I'm worried about dehydration, so I'm keeping a close watch on her today.

Until next time…

Ricki Jill