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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Good morning...

Untitled #2987

Hey, I hate to have to tell you this, but there will only be a Monday and a Friday book review post this week. I have been down for several days with migraines and have been unable to work at a computer. The book reviews were already done, so they are all set. But no fashion, home dec or art. I will be back next week with a full week of postings for you.
Judi and the Blue Cat

Friday, October 21, 2016

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

Three Amazing Things About You
by Jill Mansell

GoodReads Summary:
Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her; he's even single. But he's out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie hasn't got long to live.

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more...

Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. She's about to get a new heart. But whose heart is it?

My Review:
This is one of the most heartwarming stories I've ever read. Initially, I was a bit confused with the three story lines. They seemed so unrelated other than all being in England. I followed the stories and wondered why the main character was always so isolated. She seemed to be surrounded by people, but she really was totally alone in her illness. No one knew what was really going on in her head, or her heart. Seeing Mansell weave these three story lines together as she did was amazing. Nothing clinical or cutesy. Just life happening and people communicating and being people in a really good way. Mansell created some really wonderful characters in this book. This is definitely a must read for a rainy day -or a sunny day -or a snowy day -or any day. It's just a must read. Now, I'm going to go buy everything else Jill Mansell has ever written and read it. You're sure to see more reviews of her work here on my blog.

I was provided a digital copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. The opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley

Thursday, October 20, 2016

By the #s

As promised, each of these pieces has numbers in them. Some of the numbers are incidental and just a part of the work. Others are more a part of the focal point of the piece or a hidden hint to the meaning of the piece.
What is the Message in the Dream?
What is the message in the dream?
by mrscharley
DaDa'ween Fun
by elsiemarley22
He was just trying to pay of student loans...
He was just trying to pay off his student loans!
by mrscharley
I'm just a girl~♥
I'm just a girl~<3
by cherrylayne
Three Butterflies
Three Butterflies
by mrscharley
He Watches Me
He Watches Me
by skpg
Losing It
Losing It
by mrscharley
Jardin Botanique
Jardin Boutinique
by skpg

Well? Did you figure them all out? Which ones were hints or part of the focus? And what did they mean? In one, was the year the artist was born and a zero in a good color. The Bible reference, of course. The date stamp for mailing something. The number of the butterflies. The math problems for the student loans. The ticket number. In one the numbers are incidental and just a color spot. While in still another, the number has hidden meaning or none.

Hope you enjoyed this week's presentation! Don't miss tomorrow's book review. It's a really good book!
Have a great day!
Judi and the Blue Cat

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shabby Chic: It's All in the Details

Shabby Chic is a cozy style that makes most people think of pink and white bedrooms with lots of lace and pillows. But it's much more than that. Shabby Chic is all in the details.
Shabby Chic: It's All in the Details
One of the details you'll see in Shabby Chic is cast iron. You'll see beds with all those lovely curlicues at the head and foot and sometimes along the sides. You'll see lots of fleur-de-lis designs in cast iron. And you'll see keys and doorknob designs. Lots of hooks and such. Switchplates for your light switches. And you'll see rings for your towels. Lots of things done in cast iron with plenty of curly decorations on them.
Shabby Chic: It's All in the Details 2
Then there's the embellishment. The furniture needs to have embellishment. Nothing plain. Every edge must have some sort of design. Lamps and lampshades are adorned heavily. Lots of fringes, lace and beads there. Mirrors and picture frames are painted and draped with laces and veils. Sparkly things are added as well. Even floral arrangements are decorated. Tied with bows and set on lacy tablecloths.

Then there are the pillows. Not only are there lots of pillows in Shabby Chic decor, but they are usually well plumped and well embellished. Beads, silk flowers, ribbons, and lace are all part of the pillow look for this fun decorating style.
Shabby Chic: It's All in the Details 3
The third detail isn't so much a detail as an overall aspect of the style. Everything about Shabby Chic is totally feminine. The soft colors, even when the color is gray. The lines of the furnishings are all curvy. Everything is embellished and decorated to within an inch of its life. Even when you do the simplest of Shabby Chic looks, you have plump pillows, pretty lamps, and layers of soft accessories with soft colors. It's just such a feminine look. It always makes me sigh. It makes me feel girly, too. Like I'm playing house.

I often wonder when I see pictures of Shabby Chic, how a guy would do living in a house done this way. Would he feel out of place? Do any of you have Shabby Chic in your homes?

Have a delightful Wednesday,
Judi and the Blue Cat

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What do Mermaids Wear in the Fall?

Mermaids still wear their favorite sea greens in the fall. From dark to light and dull to bright, mermaids still shimmer in the fall.

Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall?
Varied stripes and a pencil skirt that stops at the knees. Pointed toe suede flats and a great little faux croc bag. Pretty earrings and bracelet in greens. 
Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall? 2
A bodycon dress topped by a floral and fringed kimono. Tone on tone handbag and ankle tied heels. Multihued earrings to match the flowers in the kimono.
Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall? 3
Cropped trousers, a checked shirt, and a long v-necked pullover tunic sweater. Top it with a raw cut coat in lots of greens and a touch of black. The clutch and heels also have touches of black. The bracelet and earrings add some drama.
Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall? 4
A pleated skirt in navy and green, a green sleeveless blouse with a ruffled front, and an argyle cardi. Green snakeskin heels, a multihued bag, and black and green earrings finish the look.
 Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall? 5
A green pencil skirt and a print chiffon blouse topped by a green car coat. Green ankle strap heels and a green and black handbag. Pretty green ear huggers for sparkle.
 Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall? 6
Cocoa trousers, a sleeveless green blouse, and a green pullover sweater. Green flats and bag. Tie a green scarf at the neck and top it with a green wool jacket with blue buttons for fun. Pretty leaf earrings finish the look.
Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall? 7
Dark wash jeans and a green scoop neck top. A green faux leather moto style jacket and a Black Watch plaid scarf. Dark green bucket bag and shiny green flats. Green and blue earrings and a green beret finish the look with style!
Do Mermaids Swim in the Fall? 8
Medium wash jeans and a light green striped tee topped by a light green hoodie. Light green suede flats and a bag in multi-toned greens. A pretty green print silk scarf and green earrings finish this look.

The answer is "mermaids wear lots of green in the fall!". Are you a mermaid? When you look in your closet do you see lots of these pretty green tones? If you do, you might be a mermaid!

Hope you're having a great week!
Judi and the Blue Cat

Monday, October 17, 2016

Out of Practice by Phoebe Fox DUE OUT TOMORROW!

Out of Practice by Phoebe Fox

ebook, 274 pages
Expected publication: October 18, 2016, by Henery Press     DUE OUT TOMORROW!

GoodReads Summary:
When your relationship is on life support, the Breakup Doctor is on call. 

There’s no shortage of broken hearts in Breakup Doctor Brook Ogden’s successful breakup counseling practice—if love is a battlefield, then Brook is the cavalry. Luckily her own love life is in full recovery: after a long, tortuous road, she and Ben Garrett are finally headed down the aisle. 

But when a local TV personality—and former frenemy—invites Brook onto her show, she’s blindsided live on the air when the interview turns into an act of long-delayed revenge meant to publicly humiliate her. Brook’s an expert at getting back on your feet when life knocks you down, but as the blows keep piling on—with a betrayal she never saw coming and a family crisis that threatens to pull the foundation out from under her—her confidence starts slinking away. With her clients dropping her faster than a one-night stand, suddenly the Breakup Doctor’s career is in critical care. 

Brimming with both the sublime and ridiculous aspects of love—romantic and otherwise—Out of Practice is a funny and heartwarming tale about loss, grief, and failure that will resonate with all who have loved, lost…and dared to love again.

My Review:
This is the only book in this series that I've read and this is the fourth and last one. Not exactly the best place to start a series. Typically I would go back and read the previous books, but this time, I didn't. Maybe I would have been more taken with the characters if I had read the whole series, but I didn't. I felt like a lot of the relationship between Brook and Ben had already happened and that I needed someone to bring me up-to-date on it. It was strange and sort of flat up until the end when they finally actually put some effort into getting married. 

Brook's experience on the TV show was horrifying and so cruel. Then to have the newspaper editor take Madison's notes and recording and rewrite her article about Brook so soon afterward. All this very public embarrassment causes Brook to pull back from all her involvements and doubt herself. But talks with the people in her life help her work through what is important to her and find her way. Once she gets her thoughts straight, she charges ahead putting all the aspects of her life in place. She paves the way for HEA.

I think I would have liked some of the previous books in this series, but I'm not going to go back and read them at this point. This book has such a forward motion and emotion to it, that going back just isn't an option. So, if you want to read this book, I strongly encourage you to read books one through three first. Then you will be ready to read and enjoy book four thoroughly.

I was provided a digital copy of this book by Henery Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own. 
~ Judi E. Easley

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Upcoming Week

Untitled #2985Good evening, all. It's been a busy weekend! I went for a long ride through some absolutely gorgeous fall colour and lots of wonderfully funny scarecrows today with my husband. It was so relaxing. New England is beautiful this time of year. But we are still seeing the results of the drought this summer. Our reservoir is still down almost four feet! We need more rain. I hate to say that just after Hurricane Matthew hit the southern part of our country and Haiti, but it didn't do us any good up here.

Well, this week, I have book review on a book that's due out on Tuesday. So, you'll hear about it on Monday and can buy it on Tuesday! It's called Out of Practice by Phoebe Fox. I gave it 4 stars. It's a contemporary romance, woman's lit type of book. Take a look at Monday's review and see if you want to add it to your "to read" list. Tuesday I have the secrets of a mermaid's wardrobe for you.Untitled #2986
I mean, do you know what mermaids wear in the fall? There's only one way you would know... Read Tuesday's post all the way to the end, and you'll know!

A Peek Inside is about the details in Shabby Chic. And The Digital Gallery is all about Numbers! Then back to books on Friday with a very heartwarming book called Three Amazing Things About You. This is one that really gets you. It's by Jill Mansell and it's another contemporary romance but it's really mostly a women's lit book. I fell in love with this one and put it on my "Favorites" list. Do read the review and pick up a copy of it.

Have a wonderful week!
Judi and the Blue Cat

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Trilogy, The Grantham Girls by Amanda Weaver

The three books of The Grantham Girls series by Amanda Weaver are, A Duchess in Name, A Common Scandal, and A Reluctant Betrothal.
GoodReads Summary:
Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham's finishing school, she's been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can't matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement.

Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he's devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family's fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn't care to know.

Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn't so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.

GoodReads Summary:
Finishing school taught Amelia Wheeler how to put on a well-mannered performance—when she’s not bored and looking for trouble. Lady Grantham’s is behind her and now it's time for Amelia to keep her promise to her dying mother: marry a title and leave her wild days behind. 

That promise would be much easier to keep if Nate Smythe hadn’t just reappeared in a London ballroom. The son of an impoverished sailor, Nate—Natty, as he used to be called—has grown up to become handsome, rich and polished. He claims to be looking for a proper bride who can advance his business interests, but that doesn’t stop him from seeking out Amelia every chance he gets. Challenging her. Kissing her.

Suddenly, struggling against her simmering passion is the least of Amelia's problems—one of her titled suitors is hiding a desperate secret that could stop Amelia from pleasing her parents or finding happiness with Nate. As a weeklong house party threatens to derail her hard-won future, Amelia must decide: fight against disaster or act like the lady she's promised to become? 

GoodReads Summary:
From the seaside villas of France to the sumptuous drawing rooms of London’s Victorian aristocracy comes a tale of star-crossed lovers desperate to escape their irresistible—and terribly inconvenient—passion.

When Grace Godwyn is introduced to her soon-to-be fiancé’s closest friend, she can hardly keep from fainting. The man whose angry gaze confronts her is none other than the handsome stranger who came to her aid in a dark French alleyway. The stranger with whom she’d shared a moment of reckless passion. And now, with a single word, he could destroy her one chance for security.

Julian St. John, Lord Knighton, owes his friend too much to allow him to fall into the clutches of a craven fortune hunter. He knows all he needs to know of Grace Godwyn: that she’s the orphaned and penniless daughter of a disgraced viscount; that her lips taste incomparably sweet. There is no way he is going to allow this marriage to take place.

Yet the more time Julian and Grace are forced to spend in each other’s company, the more irresistible their desire grows—and the more devastating the potential consequences.

My Review of the series:
Each of these books could have been read as a stand alone. They are not written so closely that they aren't whole stories all on their own. In fact, the connection is rather slight among the three books. It's explained in the first book, A Duchess in Name, mostly to explain the relationship between the three girls and to set the stage for who they are and how they know each other. It also explains the "Grantham" aspect. Grantham is the name of their teacher, their finishing teacher. When you are finished by Lady Grantham, you are prepared to face the real world and find a husband who can support you in decent style.

The first and second books were quite lovely and the girls did their job and found gentlemen who could support them in more than decent style. In fact, Victoria ended up in grand style and quite in love with her handsome husband. And, of course, Amelia had been in love with Natty since they were children. And he can support her in high style, too.

The third book in the series just didn't appeal to me as much as the first two did. The Reluctant Betrothal is about Grace. She starts her story without any money and it seems to create a chip on her shoulder that she doesn't seem to lose through the whole story. Even her HEA ending doesn't seem to be so happy. I did give it three stars since it was well written. But there just didn't seem to be enough life in it. It seemed a bit sad the whole way through.

The third book, The Reluctant Betrothal, was provided to me by Carina Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley

Thursday, October 13, 2016

gears and grunge

Keeping with the week's theme, I give you Gears and Grunge. This took me awhile to like and even longer to attempt. Even now, I'm not always really comfortable with it. Probably because my mother taught me to clean house every Saturday when I was young and it sort of stuck with me, so this grunge stuff bothers me a bit. But, here it is!

Knock on My Door
Knock on My Door
by mrscharley
by lovetodrinktea
by mrscharley
Untitled #2683
by rawrat
Beauty is Only Skin Deep
Beauty is Only Skin Deep
by mrscharley
Girls Night Out
Girls Night Out
by gml2535
Abstract Halloween
Abstract Halloween
by mollygrant
by jennifer
Crossing Boundaries
Crossing Boundaries
by mrscharley

So, is the grunge style shown here to your liking? Do you like Steampunk, too? Do you like the "almost abstract"? It can be quite challenging to create digitally. I think it would be easier to achieve in mixed media or just paints. Finding the right elements to use to combine and get the effect you're looking for can be quite difficult and time-consuming. I do hope you enjoyed this presentation.
Enjoy the rest of your Thursday! Don't miss tomorrow's book review trio on The Grantham Girls by Amanda Weaver.

Have a great weekend!
Judi and the Blue Cat 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

industrial decor made simple

industrial decor
All that industrial stuff out there looks rather interesting, doesn't it? But what do you do with it? Do you really want to change your home decor to steampunk? I don't, but the various items are so interesting. They don't go with everything, though.

The pipes look really good with plump, stuffed chairs and sofas with rounded arms. Something about the plump furniture balances out the skinny pipe parts so well. Velvet and brocade and leather seem to work well, too. The luxury of the fabrics also seems to counterbalance the harsh metallic of the pipes.
Industrial decor 2
Exposed light bulbs are such a part of this look. And old fans. But don't forget metallic art pieces and mirrors for the walls and tabletops. Paintings seem to fall into the abstract or grunge category, though some rustic art might work as well. This is a total look, so it's one time where your art does need to work well with the sofa.

This is a casual elegance look. You're mixing some high end pieces such as a velvet chesterfield sofa with a some lower end pieces. Add in book shelves and table made from repurposed wood and copper piping. Andy Warhol paintings on the wall. And a bare wire waste basket by the table. Leather bound books on the shelves with concrete pots of succulents by the window. Balance and counterbalance.

Hope you have fun trying (or just imagining) this unique style of home decor!
Happy Wednesday!
Judi and the Blue Cat