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sweet & handpainted for baby

February 26, 2013

diy handpainted onesie

Today I am making a baby gift for a friend and thought I would share the DIY instructions so you can create one for your favorite little one.  I love to paint baby clothes with original designs…this particular one is not difficult to create and can be accomplished quite easily no matter what your skill level.  This particular design creates a garment that is also very appropriate as an Easter gift.  I am breaking it down into simple steps that can be fit into your day between other activities.

Start out by purchasing your desired baby garment in an appropriate size for your recipient.  If the gift is for a baby that has not yet arrived, I recommend not getting the 0-3 month size.  Newborns vary in size and you don’t want to risk it being too small.  Always better to go bigger rather than smaller!   I prefer 100% cotton items for babies and I check the label to be sure I am purchasing an all-cotton item.  Wash and dry the garment to be sure any shrinking is done before you paint your design.  Paint also adheres better to a washed garment.

bannerdiy handpainted onesie

While your garment is in the dryer, you can make your stencil and assemble your materials. For the first part of the project, you will need the paint color you decide to use for the lollipop…pick a pastel pink, blue, or yellow.  I mixed my color, but you can purchase or use craft paint in the exact color you desire.  You will also need a stencil brush and a stencil.  No need for a fancy stencil.  I used a piece of cardstock…you can use a piece of a gift box, cereal box, or any miscellaneous cardboard that is ready for the recycling bin.  After you locate a piece, simply cut out a 2 1/2” circle.

Insert a piece of cardboard between the front and back of the garment to protect the back side of the garment in case the paint bleeds through.

Hold the stencil firmly in place and paint the color you have chosen using an up and down motion with the stencil brush…using an up and down motion will prevent paint from seeping under the edges of the stencil.

Let the paint dry thoroughly.

diy handpainted onesie

Iron the painted area, keeping the cardboard inserted and putting a clean rag over the design first to protect your iron.  This step will set the paint.

Now you will need a cotton swab, clear glitter paint, dimensional paint in a color close to the one you used for your circle, a dimensional paint in an off-white or beige for the stick of the lollipop, and a scrap of 3/8” ribbon – I like a polka dot ribbon, but any ribbon in a coordinating color will do (just make sure it is colorfast).

Next, use a cotton swab (one of my favorite ‘go-to’ utensils) to put glitter onto your painted circle.

Then, use a dimensional paint to add a spiral to your painted circle, starting from the middle of the spiral and painting free hand to the outside of the circle.  Then, paint the stick of the lollipop.  You may also decide to personalize the gift with the baby’s name.  If you decide to do this, wait until all the other paint is dry to reduce the risk of smudging it.

Let this dry overnight before sewing on a ribbon embellishment.  Be aware that small items can be potential choking items for small children.  I brush a little clear nail polish on the edges of the ribbon to prevent fraying.

I have used this same design idea to embellish a canvas tote bag, using three lollipops (pink, blue, and yellow) side by side and personalizing with the baby’s name.

handpainted onesie tutorial

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on creating an adorable painted garment for your next baby gift.  Have fun with it!

I will be sharing this week at Craftberry Bush, The Shabby Nest, Craftionary, A Pinch of Joy, and Crafts a la Mode.

Thanks so much for visiting!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie


a vintage egg cup collection

February 22, 2013

vintage egg cup

For Friday field trip this week, I am taking you with me for a cup of tea to the home of a friend.  She collects vintage egg cups and I thought with the Easter holiday approaching, it would be a fun thing to share with you.  The vintage egg cups are scattered throughout my friend’s beautiful old home located in a historic district.  I have always been fascinated with her collection and had fun examining it once again while we chatted over tea.

vintage egg cup

My favorite piece is definitely the sweet little chick egg cup in the opening photo.  The egg cup below holds some incense, but most of the egg cups throughout the house are empty.  How fun would it be to fill them with colored Easter eggs?

vintage egg cup


vintage egg cup with rooster

vintage egg cup

This piece was really unique to the collection because it was the only one of clear glass…

vintage egg cup

Some of the pieces looked extremely old, like the striped one in the photo below…

vintage egg cups

This piece proudly displays the owner’s heritage…

vintage egg cups

The collection displayed on the stove held wishbones from Thanksgivings gone by…

vintage egg cups

vintage egg cup

vintage egg cup

Roosters seem to be a popular egg cup motif…I love these with the pink interiors…

vintage egg cups with roosters

orange vintage egg cup

vintage egg cups

vintage egg cup

I hope you enjoyed sharing this vintage egg cup collection with me.  I don’t have photos of every egg cup I saw, but I do have additional photos I will post to my facebook in case you are interested in seeing more from the collection.  I am also sharing at the Inspiration Gallery, Crafts a la Mode, Common Ground, The Charm of Home, and Craftionary.

Thanks for sharing.  Have a wonderful weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie 


a gift of saffron

February 19, 2013


I enjoy some Middle Eastern foods, but as far as preparing authentic dishes myself, I can’t say I have a big Middle Eastern selection in my personal repertoire.  Like many people I know, I have made hummus and I have toasted pita bread to make my own chips…not much else.

Many years ago, when I landed my first ‘real’ job I made a good friend that was of Middle Eastern heritage…not yet a U.S. citizen when we first met.  He taught me how to make baklava…if you can perfect only one Middle Eastern recipe, believe me, this is the one to perfect!

I was thrilled to learn how to make an authentic baklava and for many years this became my ‘go to’ dessert to make and bring to parties and holiday gatherings.

Like the cool discovery of baklava with my friend long ago, a recent discovery with a new friend has gotten me excited once again about Middle Eastern flavors. This time, the motivation was a gift of a Middle Eastern spice called saffron from this friend’s native country…the largest producer of the spice.  Most people have heard of saffron, but I don’t think many know exactly what it is.  Saffron is the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus.  And because these stigmas need to be collected by hand, and only a few are contained in each individual flower, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world!

iranian saffron

I discovered rosewater as an ingredient for the first time when I learned to make baklava. Now in much the same way, I am exploring saffron and cardamom ….and using these flavors in combinations with additional Middle Eastern flavors of the rosewater and pistachios.  Using these flavors in various combinations and recipes really illustrates to me that there is so much more to Middle Eastern cuisine than just hummus and baklava.




One of my favorite recipes is the one I found for Persian Love Cake  from a 2005 issue of Bon Appetit (aah, the beauty of the internet!).   This cake really embraces a subtle saffron flavor as well as cardamom, rosewater, and pistachio.  It is so wonderfully delicious, it was gone – devoured by my family – before I could even finish making the candied rose petal garnish!

persian love cake

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog, you know how I get on my ‘secret ingredient’ kicks… In true Iron Chef style, in my house we have been experimenting with our gift of saffron as our secret ingredient…recipes for appetizers, main dishes, and desserts are being explored…the Persian Love Cake is a wonderful example.

Persian Love Cake

Photo of Persian Love Cake...a recipe that embraces the Middle Eastern flavors of saffron, rosewater, pistachio, and cardamom.

Photo of Persian Love Cake…a recipe that embraces the Middle Eastern flavors of saffron, rosewater, pistachio, and cardamom.

Thanks for sharing my gift of saffron.  I would love to hear about your favorite Middle Eastern recipes.  My next project will be using the wonderful golden-yellow hue of saffron as an Easter egg dye…

I am also sharing at A Pinch of Joy.

Thanks for visiting,  Jackie


winter whiteness

February 15, 2013

friday field trip…a walk through a white weekendFEB STORM 038

“You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there–the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.”

~ Frederick Buechner, “Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale”


snow 2 055



“Whenever she turned her steep focus to me, I felt the warmth that flowers must feel when they bloom through the snow, under the first concentrated rays of the sun.”

~ Janet Fitch, “White Oleander”



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“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened”

~ Rachel Cohn, “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares”

snow 2 078


“Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity”

~ Novala Takemoto, “Missin’ “

snow 2 063

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”

~ Markus Zusak, “The Book Thief”

snow3 and love cake 044

Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend, Jackie


a valentine’s day playlist

February 12, 2013

felt fortune cookies 014

No one can deny that many great events in life are marked by music.  Whether it be a song that marks a wedding, a sporting event, or a formal dance.  Songs can transport us back to our first school dance or remind us of a favorite movie.

There is definitely a special bond between music and romance, so in honor of Valentine’s Day, I compiled a list of 20 (in no particular order) of the most memorable of all-time (in my estimation anyway).

You should be able to find one or two to set the mood for the day ;)   Just click on the song title to bring you to the YouTube link.  Turn your volume down first…I don’t want to cause a commotion in your office!  To start you off, the first is sung by my favorite musical artist… It Had to be You ~ Harry Connick, Jr….enjoy!

20 Best ‘Set the Mood” Songs of All Time


What a Wonderful World ~ Louis Armstrong

I Will Always Love You ~ Whitney Houston

At Last ~ Etta James

Unforgettable ~ Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole

I’ve Got You Under My Skin ~ Frank Sinatra

Sway ~ Dean Martin

Reasons ~ Earth, Wind & Fire

Over the Rainbow ~ Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole

Lover Man ~ Billie Holiday

Chances Are ~ Johnny Mathis

Moonlight Serenade ~ Glenn Miller & His Orchestra

Can’t Help Falling In Love ~ Elvis Presley

Always and Forever ~ Heatwave

Got to Give it Up ~ Marvin Gaye

Your Song ~ Elton John

Crazy for You ~ Madonna

My Everything ~ Barry White

Just in Time ~ Tony Bennett & Michael Buble

Fever ~ Peggy Lee

I hope you enjoyed my list of the 20 best ‘set the mood’ songs of all time – compiled for you in honor of Valentine’s Day.


Enjoy your Valentine’s Day…I hope you find some music to bring back some great memories and also to create some new ones!

Thanks for visiting, Jackie xoxo

 P.S.  I made the felt fortune cookie to slip into my daughter’s Valentine’s Day care package :)


in search of bubble tea

February 8, 2013

bubble tea 080

This week, our Friday field trip is to an Asian market to get the scoop on making bubble tea.

Bubble tea is a sweetened cold tea drink mixed with chewy tapioca pearls (boba).  If you have had it, you probably have thought, like me, ‘how the heck do they make this?’

bubbe tea 090

Since it originated in Taiwan, I thought an Asian market would be the best place to do some research on how to authentically create this beverage.

I made a trip to the most authentic Asian market I could find and discovered the manager was from Taiwan…perfect!

If you are a bubble tea lover, you know that the two most important requirements are 1. the tapioca pearls or boba, and 2. the straws… Yes, the straws are major.  An extra wide straw is needed to accommodate the boba.  Without the availability of the special straws, continuing the research seemed a waste…so, I first needed to confirm these two items were available in the market.  They were!!  I was so worried the straws would be hard to find.  But, the market carried them and a package was only 99 cents!

bublle tea 078

Now to figure out how to actually make the beverage…It quickly became evident that the manager did indeed know how to make bubble tea, but my accurate translation of her explanation was another story completely!  She barely spoke English and most every product in the store had few markings in English.  This would be a challenge!

I did find that the store sold a commercial mix for bubble tea in a variety of flavors, but I decided against using a mix since I thought this would be cheating!  I wanted to have an authentic bubble tea experience.  Plus, I wanted to forgo adding any unnecessary artifical ingredients to my beverage.

So, after quite a bit of discussion (and some creative sign language) I learned how to prepare bubble tea.  The store manager suggested coconut as my flavor of choice…I ran with it!

coconutmilkThe items I purchased at the market were:  boba, a can of coconut milk, STRAWS, and palm sugar.

Although it is not a difficult drink to make, the tapioca or boba used in the drink require some advance preparation.

tapiocapearls 002

The preparation of a sugar syrup also requires advance preparation.  I discovered, after some experimentation, I preferred the sugar syrup over the palm sugar as a sweetener for the drink.  Palm sugar was a sweetener option that was suggested to me.

A photo of Tapioca pearls (or boba) prepared for Bubble Tea.

A photo of tapioca pearls (or boba) prepared for Bubble Tea.

Tapioca preparation

bubble tea 064Add one cup of tapioca pearls to a couple of cups of boiling water.  The pearls should float – keep them stirred so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  Boil the pearls for 25 minutes and then turn off the heat and let the pearls sit in the water for another 25 minutes.  Drain and rinse the pearls with lukewarm water.  The final consistency of the pearls will be like chewing gum.  I only prepared enough pearls for what I was going to use because I was told they harden over time.

bubble tea 100

Sweetener preparation

Combine 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup dark brown sugar with a cup of water.  Cook over medium heat until the sugars cook down and the mixture boils.  Cool and store in the fridge.  (If you don’t care about being authentic, you can sweeten your tea with honey or sugar while still hot and forgo this preparation.)

Coconut Bubble Tea Recipe

Prepare black tea. You will need 4 oz. for each serving.  Put in fridge to cool.

Combine 4 oz. of water, 4 oz. of coconut milk, 2 oz. of milk, and 4 oz. of prepared tea for each serving.  Add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of the prepared sugar syrup sweetener.  Blend until fully mixed.

Spoon 4 Tablespoons of cooked tapioca into the bottom of a large glass.  Pour coconut mixture into the glass.  Add ice.  Serve with an extra wide straw.  ENJOY! 


I hope you enjoyed sharing today’s field trip.  I was so excited to discover the authentic way to make bubble tea!  I don’t think it is something I will make on a regular basis, but it will be nice to be able to make it when the mood strikes… and, I may try making some other flavors in addition to the coconut!

Have a wonderful weekend…here in Connecticut we are expecting BIG snow…

Thanks for visiting and remember to enjoy pleasure in simple things, Jackie


valentine coconut lime truffles

February 5, 2013

Valentine truffles

There is a certain amount of class in going ‘against the grain’…like wearing white in winter.

To me, this element of surprise adds a certain elegance…the same holds true in creating food…

This is the feeling that is captured in the coconut lime truffles made from white chocolate that I am creating for Valentine’s Day giving.  Although my Valentine’s Day confections may look like little snowballs, the flavor is more reminiscient of a tropical locale.  The white chocolate is a refreshing departure from the typical Valentine’s Day choice.

Valentine truffle

A photo of a Valentine coconut lime truffle… sure to steal a heart :)

If you haven’t made candy before, don’t despair…even a novice candy maker can have excellent results with truffles…no candy thermometer is needed, and there is plenty of room for creativity.  Try substituting your own favorite flavors and coatings.  If you don’t like coconut, you can try crushed gingersnaps as a coating – I have tried them  also and the flavor combination with the lime is great.

coconut lime truffles

Valentine Coconut Lime Truffles Recipe (makes 12,  1  1/4″ truffles)

  • 7 oz. of good white chocolate (Ghiradelli or Lindt)
  • 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup flaked,  sweetened coconut (spread onto a plate for easy clean up)

Melt the chocolate, very slowly, in a double boiler.  Remove from heat and whisk in cream and lime juice.  Put into fridge until firm enough to roll into balls (about 2 hours).  Roll into 12 balls – then rolling each into coconut to cover.  Store in the fridge, but be sure to let sit a little before serving so they will melt in your mouth :)

Funny that I buy 4 oz. bars of chocolate and my recipe calls for 7 oz. ;)

valentine truffles

What better way to a heart than a homemade truffle?  Enjoy.

valentine coconut lime truffles

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

P.S. I am sharing this recipe at Pinch of Joy, Blissful Whites WednesdayThe Well Crafted Home, and The Inspiration Gallery at Craftberry Bush.


monthly book giveaway for february

February 2, 2013

author ayad akhtarphotos of Ayad Akhtar

Congratulations to Lucy, (from the blog Craftberry Bush) for winning the giveaway book for January!  I used to pick a winner from the author of every comment that was made to pleasure in simple things during the month of January.  Lucy has won a copy of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York’s newest book Ballerina Rosie (click here to see more about it.)  I don’t know if Lucy has any small children, but knowing she is an artist, I am sure she will appreciate this beautifully illustrated picture book signed by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

A signed copy of Ayad Akhtar’s debut novel American Dervish is February’s giveaway book.  Last September I had the opportunity to meet the award-winning filmmaker, playwright, actor, and novelist Ayad Akhtar when he visited the Wilton Library in Wilton, Connecticut.  The author discussion with Ayad Akhtar was truly one of my very favorites in some time.  As an American-born, first-generation Pakistani-American, I found his discussion of the Muslim-American experience extremely enlightening.

photo of American DervishAmerican Dervish is a fresh and touching coming-of-age story of a first generation Pakistani-American that gives the reader a look inside the interplay of religion and modern life.  The book examines the strong cultural forces at play for young men and women growing up Muslim in America.  The child of immigrants in the story struggles to find a place in his life for the traditions and beliefs of his ancestral homeland in a new world of broader possibilities that are both enticing and threatening.  Although the main narrative unfolds in pre 9/11 America, it is a timely and thought-provoking story.  I always enjoy a read where I can better understand a culture different than my own and through the Shah family in American Dervish; the reader most definitely better understands the struggles, complexities, value, and cost of being Muslim in America.

photo of ayad akhtar

It is a great read and I am excited to give it away to one of you!  Make some comments during the month of February and you may win a signed copy of this beautifully written first novel by Ayad Akhtar, February’s giveaway book, American Dervish.  Good luck!

Hope you are all enjoying a wonderful weekend :)

Thanks for visiting, Jackie

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discovering orchids at terrain

February 1, 2013


It is no secret, whether I am in Connecticut or Pennsylvania, one of my favorite stores to visit is Terrain.  If you are a frequent visitor to pleasure in simple things, you have shared quite a few visits with me to the Connecticut store since its opening in Westport, Connecticut last spring.


Friday field trip this week is to Terrain to check out a demonstration on planting orchids.  Not knowing very much about orchids, I was intrigued watching Mary Ann from Terrain demonstrate how easy an orchid can be planted and also to learn that their care is not that difficult.  This particular weekend, Matthew, the Terrain landscape designer from the Pennsylvania store, was also on hand.  It was great to have the opportunity to speak with him.  He is a great resource for design questions – pertaining to landscapes or to interiors.


I watched Mary Ann carefully remove an orchid from its pot, removing as much of the moss as she could.  She trimmed away any rotten or blackened roots (with the really pretty scissors they sell at Terrain!)  This particular orchid was put into a container Mary Ann had crafted from birch bark and made to hang.

planting orchids


In nature, these plants thrive in strong light (but not direct late afternoon sun); high humidity; air flow around roots; regular periods of drying, alternating with drenching rains; and in temperatures between 50 degrees and 85 degrees.  So, the closer you replicate nature, the more success you will have in growing orchids.


At Terrain, the orchids are watered infrequently, but misted on a regular basis.  In the summer orchids need to be watered weekly, but in the winter, closer to once a month.


Did you know in nature, orchids are epiphytes?  That means they grow on other objects, clinging to rough bark or even stone.  Here, Mary Ann has created an orchid planting very much embracing the way an orchid would grow in nature.  After covering the roots of the plant in moss, she tied it to a piece of a white birch log.  Terrain actually sells pieces of white birch logs so that if you wanted to create one of these plantings yourself, you could do so.  A screw eye, picked up at Home Depot, is easy to attach to the top of the birch log for hanging.  Or, you could have Mary Ann create one for you!  Either way, it makes for a beautiful hanging.


I had fun admiring many other beautiful orchids in varying colors and varieties throughout the store.





I think this deeply hued hanging orchid would make a wonderfully romantic Valentine’s Day gift!


I have a new appreciation for orchids after my visit to Terrain…I also feel a little less intimidated about trying to repot some plants myself!  This field trip definitely made me yearn for spring though!!  How many more days!?

I hope you enjoyed our Friday field trip to Terrain to discover orchids…maybe it inspired you to create a planting of your own?   Or, to give one as a gift?

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend, Jackie

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