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diy book a day advent calendar

November 25, 2014

DIY making a book a day advent calendar pleasure in simple things blog

I love to read.

So, I guess it won’t come as a surprise to you when I tell you that books have always had a place as part of my holiday celebration.

In my home, reading holiday books is as much a part of preparing for Christmas as leaving cookies for Santa or trimming the tree.  Every November, the stack of holiday picture books packed away with the rest of the holiday trimmings, makes its way downstairs.

A great tradition I am sharing with you today is to create a more formal celebration of holiday books by making them into an Advent calendar. Wrap up 25 holiday books to stack by the fireplace or a cozy couch and have the children open one to read each evening during Advent.

using books for an advent calendar pleasure in simple things blog

stack of books advent calendar pleasure in simple things

The books don’t need to be about the holidays in the literal sense. You can choose stories of love, family, friendship, travel…or, even cooking –all appropriate themes relating to the holiday season.  There are so many great books – you don’t need to limit yourself to How the Grinch Stole Christmas or  ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  If you need some suggestions, here are a few titles we have enjoyed to get you started:

Santa Calls by William Joyce
Christmas in New York City by Roxie Munroe
The Finest Tree by John and Anne Hassett
Penquin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Tree that Came to Stay by Anna Quindlen
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

diy book a day advent calendar pleasure in simple things blog

Be sure to include some titles with beautiful illustrations:

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki and Ivan Gantscher
Simon and the Snowflakes by Gilles Tibo
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Also, it is fun to include titles that promote activities:

I Spy Christmas by Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo
Snowmen by Peter Cole, Frankie Frankeny, Leslie Jonath
Recipe for Adventure Series by Giada deLaurentiis and Francesca Gambatesa
Kids in the Holiday Kitchen: Making, Baking, Giving by Jessica Strand

book advent calendar pleasure in simple things blog

When wrapping the books, you can choose a color theme to match your décor, holiday theme, or favorite color of the child(ren). I used kraft paper this year to wrap the books and added stickers I personalized with ‘book a day advent’ at Tiny Prints (click here for the website).  Their stickers are great – so many cute designs to choose from, they can be personalized as you wish, and a set is very inexpensive. I added numbers to my personalized stickers using rubber stamps and added one to each wrapped book.

When adding the numbers, be conscious that you can be strategic by coordinating number placement with book selection. Number an activity book for the weekend, time a relative’s visit with an appropriate theme/title, or read  ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas on the appropriate evening.

book a day advent diy calendar pleasure in simple things blog

You can use books you already own and/or library books for this activity…no need for it to be an expensive project!  Your local children’s librarian can help with your title selection if you need it.  And, if you own the books, when opening your gifts this year, use the discarded wrapping paper to wrap up the books for next year’s book calendar!

I hope you are inspired to create a book Advent calendar this year! Have fun with it!  I would love to hear your favorite titles!  The children will love this activity  – and, what better tradition than one that promotes a love for reading? :)

Thanks for stopping by. Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with House of Hipsters, Thoughts from Alice, and Sand & Sisal.

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rooms with a view in ct

November 21, 2014

neutral room from rooms with a view pleasure in simple things blog

rooms with a view banner pleasure in simple things blog

 

Today we are taking a peek at a weekend in design featuring an Opening Night Gala; vignettes of interior design; a marketplace; a holiday fashion show and luncheon; and dinner with event chairman, Thom Filicia. (You know I love Thom…click here for our first meeting!)

Now in its 20th year, Rooms With a View has helped Southport Congregational Church help others by raising well over a million dollars for charitable causes.

 

The room vignettes are always inspiring…

Rooms With A View designer inspiration pleasure in simple things blog

My favorite room this year was designed by Forehand + Lake – a bright and styling cabin…

ski house rooms with a view pleasure in simple things blog

Every year I find different takeaways from the event.  A couple of the lighting choices were really interesting this year…How cool is the lighting in this “Starry Night” themed room designed by NYSID students and alumni?

starry night rooms with a view pleasure in simple things

And, I found this light fixture, used by Jenny Wolf Interiors, as a unique choice…

light fixture rooms with a view pleasure in simple things blog

Rooms With a View provides a great opportunity to get a jump on holiday shopping by offering a marketplace of vendors.  You can see these items fit right in with my holiday theme!

wares from Rooms with a View pleasure in simple things blog

Much like Susan Leggitt’s artwork inspired by the Maine Coast, I found these hand painted stars really awesome!

Artist Susan Leggitt at Rooms with a View pleasure in simple things blog

The meal and fashion show is always the most fun for me.  The clothes from Millie Rae’s in Westport were my favorites and it is great the way the event people mix some thrift store finds in with the new fashions from local stores.  This year, I loved that Borrowed (a rental company that specializes in bringing unique, mismatched, and whimsical touches to an event) provided an eclectic mix of plates to the luncheon service.

eclectic mix of vintage plates pleasure in simple things blog

The meal provided by Festivities was delicious…

luncheon served at Rooms with a View in Southport,CT pleasure in simple things blog

But, for me, the plates stole the show!  How many more plate photos can I add?  I just loved them!

vintage place setting pleasure in simple things

vintage plate from Borrowed plesure in simple things blog

The other wonderful design touch to the tables were the wallpaper runners provided by Farrow & Ball (no, those wallpaper scraps aren’t just for book covers)…

wallcovering as tablerunner pleasure in simple things blog

Rooms With a View is a great way for friends in Fairfield County, Connecticut to get together and be inspired. I hope some of the photos of the event on today’s Friday field trip have inspired you!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a wonderful weekend, Jackie

Sharing with Liz Marie Blog, Crafts a la Mode, and Shabby Nest.

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tiny houses diy advent calendar

November 18, 2014

advent calendar with birch log pleasure in simple things blog

I love Advent calendars!  Every year I end up making a least a couple!  I’m not one to make a hanging calendar…I much prefer the 3D variety.  The first one I am sharing with you this year uses a collection of simple paper houses.  (Last year I shared one made from baby food jars, remember?  Click here to see.)

advent calendar house plesure in simple things

I used white card stock to cut out a two piece house.  I had planned on using gray card stock for the roofs, to create a nice contrast against the white ‘snow,’ but since the copy center was out of gray, I ended up painting the white card stock gray for my roofs.  I used rubber stamps to add the numbers to the front of each house (and added a little glitter).  I then added glass glitter ‘snow’ to the roofs…

making an advent calendar with paper houses pleasure in simple things blog

You don’t need a mantel to display an Advent village…here is the village on a birch bark lined tray…

advent calendar houses on birch bark lined tray pleasure in simple things blog

Or – you can use any shelf, table, or little corner in your home to add these tiny houses.  To make them really magical, they need some snow and lights…don’t you think?

advent calendar village pleasure in simple things blog

I am keeping mine pretty simple…just the houses with some snow – and, to go with my woodland theme, I added a white birch log…

small house advent calendar pleasure in simple things blog

So easy and so pretty!  This is a wonderful project to create with children.  I have another Advent calendar in the works to share soon!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Craftberry Bush,  Sand & Sisal, Thoughts From Alice, and Finding Silver Pennies.

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balmy beach day in november

November 14, 2014

life guard chairs pleasure in simple things blog

A balmy day in November certainly warrants a trip to the beach – no matter how brief.  There are signs of the season here – the fall colors in the marsh…

fall colors at the marsh pleasure in simple things blog

an occasionally leaf under the docks…

stray leaf under the docks pleasure in simple things blog

but even with an odd sixty degree afternoon in November, winter is on its way.

canadian geese at the beach pleasure in simple things blog

signs of birds at the beach pleasure in simple things blog

For Friday field trip today, I am sharing a few photos from my trip to the beach this balmy day…

beach grasses on the sand pleasure in simple things blog

I’m here to collect some items for holiday crafts…

scavenging at the beach pleasure in simple things blog

It is so much fun to repurpose collected materials from nature!

under the dock pleasure in simple things blog

Today was the perfect day to do some scavenging!

beach grass pleasure in simple things blog

Snow is predicted this week in Connecticut, so soon this fall scene will make way for the white stuff!

geese at the beach pleasure in simple things blog

Thanks so much for stopping by!

And, remember to take pleasure in simple things…some of the very best things are the simple things!

Have a great weekend, Jackie

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diy tree in a bottle xmas ornament

November 11, 2014

 tree in a bottle ornament pleasure in simple things

Yes, I have admitted I am going through a little bit of a bottle obsession phase of late…creating holiday décor with little bottles has been really fun! Today, I am sharing a really easy DIY ‘tree in bottle’ Christmas ornament.

supplies for making a tree in the bottle ornament plesure in simple things blog

Like these Thanksgiving place card holders I shared, I used miniature bottles to create these tree ornaments. I have added a little ‘snow,’ and a miniature tree inside the corked bottle to create the cutest ornament!

supplies for a DIY tree in a bottle ornament pleasure in simple things blog

The little bottles and trees are easy to find in a craft or dollar store. I chose a natural colored bottle brush tree for my creation since I have a passion for neutrals. For the ‘snow,’ use your favorite glitter, salt, or artificial snow.

DIY holiday ornament pleasure in simple things blog

To be able to hang the ornament, I screwed a tiny screw eye into the cork and added a length of brown and white baker’s twine. (The screw eyes are easy to find in the hardware section of your local Home Depot – you can buy a package and will have enough to make several ornaments.)

tree in a bottle ornament pleasure in simple things blog

That, my friends, is it! Easy, right? And, so cute!

pleasure in simple things blog tree in a bottle ornament

I hope you enjoyed today’s easy Christmas ornament DIY.

Thanks so much for stopping by and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with The Shabby Nest, Sand & Sisal, and Thoughts from Alice.

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for the love of hazelnuts ~ homemade spread

November 7, 2014

using pretty jars to package homemade chocolate hazelnut spread pleasure in simple things

When I was a kid, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house was cracking and eating nuts! My grandmother would serve a basket of mixed nuts in the shell, providing a metal nutcracker so that we could open them ourselves. It took so much longer to open the nuts than to actually eat them, but then I guess that was what contributed to the fun – all that hard work!

My first exposure to hazelnuts was when they were in the Thanksgiving nut basket…of course, I had no idea they were called hazelnuts at the time. ..the same was true of pretty much all the nuts (including the silly looking Brazil nuts) in the assortment – except for the more familiar walnuts.

hazelnuts for chocolate hazelnut spread pleasure in simple things

As I got older, and was able to identify the individual nuts and their flavors, hazelnuts were one of my favorites! So, it is no wonder that I had an instant love for Nutella …chocolate and hazelnuts? With these two flavors, how can you go wrong?!

This year, I thought about trying to make my own hazelnut spread. Of course it would be much easier to buy it prepared, but I wanted to taste a fresh batch of homemade! When I realized there was a hazelnut spread recipe in the Mast Brothers cookbook, I knew I had to try it!  So, come into my kitchen for today’s Friday field trip to make some spread!

roasting hazelnuts for chocolate hazelnut spread pleasure in simple things

Roasting hazelnuts to use in homemade chocolate hazelnut spread.

I have included the recipe adapted from the Mast Brothers in this post and I will be giving away a copy of the Mast Brother’s cookbook as November’s giveaway selection. (If you leave a comment on this post, you are automatically entered to win!) Since I will be making several of the recipes in this wonderful chocolate cookbook to give as gifts this holiday season, I thought some of my friends may want to do the same! The Mast Brothers are chocolate masters, and I am hoping to use some of their expertise to create some of my own chocolate edibles this holiday.

chocolate hazelnut spread recipe pleasure in simple things

When I buy nuts in bulk for recipes – like pistachio, pine, or hazelnuts – I usually purchase them at Trader Joe’s since I have always found they carry a good quality product that is reasonably priced. So, when I needed recipe ingredients for my hazelnut spread, guess where I shopped?

I had fun making the spread and I am eager to test out some recipes using hazelnut spread. I packaged up my spread in jars and plan on giving them as Thanksgiving gifts. Maybe I will make copies of some of the recipes I find to include with the spread and add a tie-on tag.

packaging for home made chocolate hazelnut spread pleasure in simple things

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will try making your own hazelnut spread…it has such a great, fresh flavor! If you should have any great recipes using hazelnut spread, I would love to hear about them!

cute packaging for homemade chocolate hazelnut spread pleasure in simple things

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

(If you’d like to see my Friday field trip to Mast Brothers Chocolate, click here.)

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thanksgiving diy place card holders

November 4, 2014

DIY place card holder for your Thanksgiving table pleasure in simple things

So many things look so much cuter in miniature, don’t they? Today, I am showing you how to use a miniature bottle to create an easy DIY place card holder for your Thanksgiving table. Reminiscent of a fairy garden, these mushroom place card holders are refreshingly different than the standard turkey motif! A small piece of moss, a tiny faux mushroom, and some bendable wire are the only other supplies needed to create a little mushroom in a bottle…so small, and so adorable!

mushroom in a bottle place card holder pleasure in simple things

Small corked bottles are easy to find at a craft or dollar store. I found a great selection in the jewelry supply section of my local craft store. (They are also great for displaying small pieces of sea glass and hanging from a chain!)

making a Thanksgiving place card holder pleasure in simple things

Any little piece of moss will do inside the bottle…you may be able to find some outdoors. You won’t need much! Then, add your mushroom. If you have any trouble manipulating the mushroom into the bottle, try using a pair of tweezers.

DIY mushroom place card holder pleasure in simple thingsUse a small length of bendable wire – these come in many different finishes in the craft store – and shape a couple circles to use to position the place cards. Leave a little piece of the wire at the bottom to push into the cork stopper.

Now, just repeat the process for the number of place card holders you wish to make! They don’t all need to be the same exact size or shape.

Aren’t they adorable?

DIY thanksgiving place card holder pleasure in simple things

I hope you enjoyed this easy DIY for Thanksgiving place card holders. I can’t wait to share my Christmas version! I’ve been busy making holiday items using bottles and jar/containers…so much fun!

mushroom in a jar place card holder for Thanksgiving pleasure in simple things

Thanks for stopping by! Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

P.S. If you can’t give up on the turkey motif, you may also enjoy this cutie for your Thanksgiving table!

Sharing with Sand & Sisal, Elizabeth & Co., Coastal Charm, Finding Silver Pennies, Craftberry Bush, City Farmhouse, and Thoughts from Alice.

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november book giveaway!

October 31, 2014

Mast Brothers Chocolate pleasure in simple things

It is that time already…time to announce the winner of the October giveaway and to announce the selection for November!

Congratulations to Phyllis from Ohio for winning the October giveaway book The Cheesemonger’s Seasons: Recipes for Enjoying Cheeses with Ripe Fruits and Vegetables by Chester Hastings. Enjoy!

The November selection is a wonderful first cookbook by The Mast Brothers! Do you remember when I took you to their flagship factory and retail shop in Brooklyn for a Friday field trip?

a Mast Brothers Chocolate Products pleasure in simple things

Rick and Michael Mast are chocolate masters. Roasting cacao beans in small batches, The Mast Brothers create truly handmade chocolate – one of the few American chocolate makers to do so.

In this first cookbook, Mast Brothers Chocolate:  A Family Cookbook, the brothers tell the story of how they began their journey as chocolate makers.  And, in keeping with the Mast Brothers’ philosophy – elegant simplicity – recipes emphasize great ingredients and straightforward preparations. This book includes beautiful photographs and the Mast Brothers’ signature custom paper designs throughout.

page from the Mast Brothers Chocolate Cookbook pleasure in simple things
I plan to use recipes from this book to make some very special chocolate gifts for the holiday season.  Win a copy of this book so that you, too, can use the recipes to create some very special (and delicious) gifts. Just leave a comment, and you are entered to win!  Good luck!

Instagram users – for this month’s challenge, the theme is gratitude. Please use the hashtag #pleasuregram to share your photos.

November 2014 Instagram Challenge pleasure in simple things

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Have a safe Halloween and a wonderful weekend.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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in awe of autumn

October 28, 2014

view of Heublein Tower from a distance pleasure in simple things

If you follow my blog, you may have noticed that I visit at least one spot each year out of my normal routine (like when I took the fall steam train ride) to observe the beauty of autumn. Sometimes, removing myself from my daily surroundings really helps to provide me with a new perspective and an added appreciation for the beauty of nature all around me.

fall trail walk in CT pleasure in simple things

Placing myself in some new surroundings was my intent when I made a visit to Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury, Connecticut to hike up Talcott Mountain to the Heublein Tower. With two friends joining me, we picked a day that ended up being a beauty! The sun was shining and the weather was perfect! We probably missed the peak of the changing leaves by a week, but the foliage views were magnificent just the same!

beauty of fall at Talcott Mt State Park pleasure in simple things

The hike on Tower Trail to reach the Heublein Tower, at the top of the Talcott Mountain, is about 1.25 miles and we were enjoying every step of it!

enjoying ct in the fall pleasure in simple things

Because of the time of year, the views were fantastic the entire walk; causing many stops along the way.

Heublein Tower in Simsbury, CT pleasure in simple things

It was fun having a destination, but the hit of the day was definitely the foliage – not the tower!

fall beauty at Talcott Mt State Park pleasure in simple things

The tower is a 165-foot structure built as a summer home in 1914 by Gilbert Heublein.  Heublein was a celebrated German-born hotelier and restauranteur as well as an innovator in the American gourmet food and liquor industry.  The tower holds some interesting history…in the early fifties, two future presidents visited the tower – General Dwight D. Eisenhower (who was asked to run for office there) and Ronald Reagan, then president of the Screen Actors’ Guild!  History buffs are sure to enjoy the photographs and historical information on display throughout the building.

fall at Talcott Mt State Park in CT pleasure in simple things

The tower is open and accessible to the public through the entire month of October.  The hike to the tower is a wonderful family outing, especially since it is not a difficult climb and the park requires no admittance charge or parking fee.

looking up at fall trees pleasure in simple things

Once at the tower,  visitors (like me) can climb the six-storied structure to the top and admire the beautiful views of Connecticut and beyond.

Heublein Tower window pleasure in simple things

On the horizon, Mount Monadnock, eighty miles away in New Hampshire, is discernible.  To the northwest, the Berkshires dominate the horizon.

water view from the Heublein Tower pleasure in simple things

In addition to river views, Long Island Sound is revealed as a thin blue streak to the south.  Those with sharp vision can see an area estimated to be 1,200 square miles.

view from Heublein Tower pleasure in simple things

This photo is the view out the door of the tower as we were leaving to head back down the trail…

view of front entrance of Heublein Tower pleasure in simple things

And, this view is one from a stop along the trail heading down the mountain.

walking the trail to the Heublein Tower pleasure in simple things

A truly wonderful afternoon sharing the beauty of the season with friends –  in awe of autumn.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Craftberry Bush and Friday Finds.

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christmas in october

October 24, 2014

brush trees terrain pleasure in simple things

Hi friends!  Earlier this week I shared my first Christmas post of the season with a gift tag tutorial.  Today, I am continuing the holiday spirit with a shopping trip!  Who doesn’t love a shopping trip, right!  For today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing some of the items I’ve seen on an early shopping trip and am excited about for the upcoming holiday season.  So, grab a cup of cocoa or tea on this cold, windy day and enjoy!

The first photo is one of some bottle trees at Terrain.  You probably already know of my love for Terrain.  This season, they are carrying bottle brush trees in many shades – including aqua and teal (did you see the photo on my Instagram?)…so exciting!  Another really cool item I saw in the Westport store, was a candleholder in the shape of a house and made of cinnamon bark…can’t you just imagine the smell when the candle is lit!?  I wish you had a scratch and sniff screen!

cinnamon bark house terrain pleasure in simple things

I also loved these cocktail napkins..so natural yet elegant!  Since there are only two Terrain stores in the country, you may not have the opportunity to shop this fabulous home and garden resource.  If not, take some time to check the website for some great holiday inspiration.

cocktail napkins terrain pleasure in simple things

Talking about inspiration…what about this chalkboard wrapping paper at Paper Source!  Definitely 50 feet of fun!

chalkboard wrapping paper source pleasure in simple things

Christmas always involves ornaments and I love looking at the variety of ornaments offered at each of my favorite stores throughout the holidays.  With my passion for typography, I could not ignore this stunner from Pottery Barn!  I want to hang them up in many word combinations…like fa la la and ho ho ho!

Initial Ornament pottery barn pleasure in simple things

I have been enarmored with this mistletoe ornament at Crate & Barrel for a couple of years now…so happy they are still offering it!  I love to put them on packages of bridal shower or engagement gifts…so lovely!

silver-mistletoe-ornament crate and barrel pleasure in simple things

I LOVE this Terrain ornament!  Any favorite dried flower can be added…from your own garden or from a special bouquet!  Even a lock of hair or small photo would be a great addition!

terrain ornament pleasure in simple things

Mercury glass votives are always a lovely way to add some sparkle during the holidays.  This year, Crate & Barrel not only offers some really inexpensive options, but has colors that remind me of the sea.  At only $4.95 each, you can create a pretty cluster at a reasonable price for a beautiful sea inspired glow.  :)  Also, be sure to check out their snowflake hurricanes.

mercury-turquoise-tealight-candleholder crate and barrel pleasure in simple things

Fresh flowers are great all the time, but at the holidays they are always a requirement.  Anthropologie has not yet put out their holiday merchandise, but I love these pinched vases as an artistic way to display a few beautiful blooms.

pinched glass vase anthro pleasure in simple things

Ballard Designs always offers some beautiful holiday items, and this year is no exception.  These gray and white antler totes really appeal to my neutral color passion!  The Suzanne Kasler collection this year also features bears in a gray tone.

Tote bag ballard designs pleasure in simple things

Christmas is always so very exciting for the children and it is wonderful to find great items for the kids (or the kids in us!) :)  This cookie stamp from Crate & Barrel is sure to leave a smile on the faces of the kids during a Christmas Eve cookie making session for Santa!

cat-baked-for-santa-cookie-stamp crate and barrel pleasure in simple things

Decorating the children’s rooms in a special way during the holiday is a great way to add to the excitement to the season.  This year, Garnet Hill  has a pattern called “North Pole” that is cheery and seasonal…

north pole sheets garnet hill pleasure in simple things

And, for the cutest little night light, how about this flameless squirrel candle from West Elm that can be used all year long!

west elm squirrel light pleasure in simple things

With all the shopping and decorating, a relaxing cup of tea is always in order during the holidays…even better in a pretty mug.  This monogrammed vine mug is from Terrain and oh, so pretty!  It would also make a great holiday gift for that special teacher!

vine mug terrain pleasure in simple things

The last item I am going to share is also from Terrain.  I love this inexpensive hanging zinc bucket as an alternative to a front door wreath!  Filled with greens or holly, it makes for a really interesting addition to the outdoor decor!  Don’t you love the dots!  It would also make a great indoor organizer for wrapping supplies.

zinc wall bucket terrain pleasure in simple things

So that is it for today’s Friday field trip!  I hope you enjoyed our little preseason holiday shopping trip!  There is so much more to explore as the stores start stocking up…let me know some of your favorites!!

Please note that none of the photos in this post were taken by me…they came from the respective store websites.

Have a wonderful weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Shabby Nest.

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