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monthly book giveaway for june!

May 31, 2013

author conor grennanphotos of author Conor Grennan

Congratulations to May’s winners Lenny, Angela, and Betty!  You will each receive a signed copy of last month’s selection  A Diary of Healing, My Intense and Meaningful Life with Cancer  written by Mary Ann Wasil.  I know you will enjoy this heartfelt memoir.

Now, on to June’s selection.  Since it is the last day of the month, this week’s Friday field trip will be to visit the author of June’s giveaway book… 

I meet a lot of authors.  And, once in a while I have an admiration for an author apart from an appreciation for his/her writing.  This month’s author is one of those cases.  His name is Conor Grennan and he is from my home state of Connecticut and a NY Times bestselling author. 

photo of the book Little PrincesI got the opportunity to talk with Conor on several occasions when his book Little Princes:  One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal was chosen as a town read selection in a nearby town.  He not only made an appearance at the town library, but also talked with the town in a couple of Skype sessions.   In my estimation, when a town chooses an author’s book for a town read, the author can’t help but develop a special bond with the readers.  The entire town, after all, is embracing his/her labor of love!  I am not sure if that was the reason for my immediate admiration for Conor or if it was his genuine nature and old-school values.  In any case, I liked him instantly.  He also has a wonderful sense of humor for the everyday, which you may know if you have read his posts on Huffington Post or follow him on Facebook.

At 29 years old, Conor Grennan decided to spend a year traveling the world, beginning with three months as a volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal.  After arriving at the orphanage, Conor soon discovers that the children are not orphans, but had been taken from their families by child traffickers.  And what starts as a volunteer assignment to help legitimize a trip traveling the world turns into an experience that shapes Conor’s life…as well as the lives of the families he reunites.

Little Princes is a true-life story documenting Conor’s experience and demonstrates how one man can truly make a difference.  It is a remarkably inspirational memoir that is sure to captivate.  A signed copy of the book will be given away randomly at the end of the month.  Just leave a comment to win!  Good luck!

Thank you so much for visiting!

Have a fabulous weekend, Jackie   Instagram users, please read on…

In an attempt to promote some sharing on Instagram, I am posting prompts for each month…share one day or every day!  Just add #pleasuregram:) to your photo!  I put the :) on the end to be sure our hashtag is totally unique!  Have fun with it!  Here are the June prompts:

June prompts for pleasuregrams:)


homemade nautical gift wrap

May 28, 2013

diy nautical giftwrap

Do you want to create some gift wrap?  A nautical design?  A certain color scheme?   Done, done, and…done!  All easily accomplished with kraft paper.

I have a thing for brown kraft paper…I admit it.

I love the way it looks and it is just so versatile.  I actually have two commercial size rolls housed in my basement as you read this.

I recently created some gift wrap using kraft paper for a beach-themed shower coming up and thought I would show you how easy it is to create.

homemade giftwrap with anchors

The supplies needed to create this anchor patterned gift wrap:

  • kraft paper cut to the size(s) needed for the gift(s) you are wrapping
  • off-white (or desired color) acrylic paint
  • anchor (or desired motif) shaped sponge*
  • ultra fine point black permanent maker

visual tutorial diy nautical giftwrap

*Note:  You can use a precut sponge or cut one yourself.  Popular shapes are available precut at craft stores.  If you want an unusual shape, you may need to cut the sponge yourself.  (I once wanted one in the shape of the Tin Man for a Wizard of Oz party theme – needless to say, I had to cut it myself – I still have it though, if you should ever have the need to borrow it!)

diy nautical wrapping paper

diy nautical wrapping paper with anchors

Directions:  Cover one side of the (moistened) sponge with paint and blot onto a paper towel.  Press lightly onto the kraft paper to print the design.  Continue to print the motif in the pattern desired on the paper, filling the sponge with paint as needed.  After letting the paint dry thoroughly, outline (messily) each anchor design with the marker.

diy nautical gift wrap

You are ready to use your paper as gift wrap!  Just tie with some twine, rope, or raffia and you are good to go!  You can also add a starfish or some other ‘beachy’ item if you are so inclined.

homemade nautical gift wrap

Hope you enjoyed this simple kraft paper gift wrap tutorial.  One of the many great ways to use kraft paper!  Use the motif and color you desire and have fun with it!

Ahoy & happy giving!

Thanks for visiting, Jackie

Sharing at Coastal Charm,  Pinch of Joy, and Craftberry Bush.


congratulations 2013 graduates!

May 24, 2013

Fairfield UniversityFairfield typography

A great thing about living in Connecticut is the large number of colleges and universities located here.  It is so easy to frequent great libraries, lectures, author appearances, performances of all types, art exhibits, museums, sporting events, etc. because of the easy accessibility to so many institutions of higher learning.

University of New Havengraphic

This past weekend may have been one of the times where living near so many schools had a down side…traffic in Connecticut was made worse by all the graduations across the state.   If you were lucky, you weren’t on the Merritt Parkway or Interstate 95 at the time any of the many ceremonies were concluding!  

Congratulations to all the 2013 graduates and their families!   

In the spirit of celebrating academia, and in tribute to all the 2013 graduates and their families, for today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing some of the beauty I find at Connecticut schools…all are photos I have taken within the past month on a Connecticut campus…there is so much beauty, it was hard to choose just a few photos!  Enjoy! 

Quinnipiac university campusquinnipiac typography

Flowers at Yale Universityyale typography

University of BridgeportUB typography

Flowers at Quinnipiac UniversityQU typography

Fairfield University Bellarmine Hallbellarmine typography

sleeping giant from Quinnipiac Campustypography QU

Yale librarysterlingtypography

wisteria at Yale Universityyale typography

Holy Spirit Chapel at Sacred Heart UniversitySHU typography

And, for those of you welcoming home a college student for the summer, you may enjoy these Five Tips for Surviving Summer with Your College Student Home from the archives.  Good luck!

Sorry I couldn’t get all the campuses in!  Please feel welcome to share your favorite college campus photo on my facebook page.

Have a wonderful weekend, Jackie

Sharing at The Tablescaper and Mona’s Picturesque.


thoughts and prayers to moore

May 23, 2013

Names of those lost in Moore, Oklahoma tornado

no comments

patriotic marshmallows

May 21, 2013

extra large marshmallows dipped in white chocolate

The patriotic holidays always motivate people to create red, white, and blue food creations.  Who hasn’t made a flag atop a cake using strawberries and blueberries?  Watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries can all become elements of the creative process come Memorial Day or the 4th of July.

Me?  Although I have been know to make a red, white, and blue fruit skewer, I am more apt to cut food into star shapes (like in this watermelon salad) or use linens to create the patriotic spirit.

patriotic fruit skewers

But, with Memorial Day so close, I used some red, white, and blue sprinkles as an easy way to add a little patriotic flair to these simple-to-make marshmallow sweets.  Perfect for a post-parade picnic and sure to be a hit with kids of all ages!

patriotic marshmallows

This marshmallow creation came about after receiving a gift of the extra large marshmallows from my mom last year…seems like a strange gift?  Not really.  It was motivated by my love of gourmet s’mores.  I found the marshmallows were too big to create the correct proportions for my ideal s’more.

melted white chocolate and marshmallows

marshmallow on a stick dipped in white chocolate

So, in experimenting with how to use the extra large variety marshmallow in the best way, I came up with marshmallows on a pretzel stick dipped in white chocolate…the white chocolate and extra large marshmallow are the perfect combination!  The extra large marshmallow makes for the perfect proportion of marshmallow to chocolate ratio.  For Memorial Day, I just added a few sprinkles.

patriotic marshmallows

patriotic pretzels on a stick

red,white, and blue sprinkles

Do you have a favorite way to make a picnic food patriotic for Memorial Day?

Memorial Day fruit

Thanks for visiting.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at A Pinch of Joy, Craftberry Bush, Little Red House, and Coastal Charm.


a hip brunch in philly

May 17, 2013

peanut butter chocolate dessert tapas at Continental Mid-town in Philly

Enjoying the tapas-style desserts at The Continental Mid-town in Philadelphia.

When you say the name Stephen Starr in Philly, it means two things:  good food and long lines.  Starr is the restaurateur who owns over a dozen restaurants in the city – all hot spots.  For this week’s Friday field trip, we are visiting one of Starr’s restaurants.

Continental Mid-town in Philly

Hip decor at Continental Mid-town in Philly

On my last trip to Philadelphia, we were looking for a different place to go to brunch and decided on The Continental Mid-town.  We knew it was a Stephen Starr restaurant and that was enough of a recommendation.

Decor at The Continential Mid-town in Philly

Trendy, fun, and looking like a perfect set for a Mad Men episode, Continental is easy to spot by the big martini olive adorning the outside corner of the restaurant.

oatmeal at The Continential Mid-town in Philadelphia

A photo of brunch food offered at The Continental Mid-town in Philadelphia

We were in a breakfast mood, and ordered some ‘brunchy’ type food, but with all the creative tapas-style desserts on the menu, we couldn’t resist trying some out after our meal – which ended up being our favorite part since we felt justified in ordering several ‘tastes’!

s'more dessert tapas at The Continental Mid-town in Philly

A S’more tapas-style dessert at The Continental Mid-town in Philadelphia.

tapas-style desserts at The Continental Mid-town in Philadelphia

lime cotton candy at The Continental Mid-town in Philly

The cotton candy chef’s selection (lime) of the day on our trip to Continental Mid-town in Philadelphia.

After finishing our food, we investigated the three floors of the restaurant before we left and decided it must be a popular Rittenhouse Square nightspot since it has a really cool rooftop dining and lounge area on the third floor.

olive outside Continential Mid-town

A fun spot to visit on your next Philly trip!

Salad at Continental Mid-town in Philly

The remains of a flavorful salad during brunch at The Continental Mid-town in Philadelphia.

Thanks for visiting today’s Friday field trip to The Continental Mid-Town in Philadelphia.

Have a fabulous weekend, Jackie

Sharing at The Tablescaper and Little Red House.

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displaying a special treasure

May 14, 2013

grandmas wedding ring

The most valuable piece of jewelry I own is probably made out of stainless steel.  It is my grandmother’s wedding ring.

Paper Source paper

Most valuable because it is a symbol of the generations…because of my grandmother’s wedding came my mom, because of my mom came me, because of me came my children….how can you measure the value of a symbol like that? 

displaying a wedding ring

This symbol was the one piece of jewelry I never took off…until recently…when I was getting a medical exam and I was asked to remove it.  Well, you know what?  I could not get it back on!  It seems my finger had miraculously grown in an extremely short period of time!  I certainly was not cutting the ring.  So, with Mother’s Day still fresh on my mind, and memories of generations of moms filling my thoughts, I decided to create a way to display my prized possession.

displaying a vintage ringI had a beautiful Pottery Barn frame in my closet for a long (too long) time, waiting to be used.  I had ordered a bunch of frames for a series of photographs and one had arrived to me broken.  The nice people at Pottery Barn quickly replaced it and told me not to go to the trouble of returning the broken one…So I was saving it for a future project.  Displaying my grandmother’s ring was the perfect use for it! 

To make it look a little more modern, I decided to cover the mat and headed out to the Paper Source that just opened in our area to select a suitable paper.  They have such a large selection of archival quality papers in an amazing array of patterns and colors.  Rather than choosing something nostalgic looking, I decided to go with something more modern and chose a paper that had a brown matte background with a silver metallic nature design.

It was an easy project.  I just glued the paper onto the mat board and sewed the ring onto a piece of linen after adding a piece of ribbon.  I love this project…so fitting for a nostalgic Mother’s Day activity.

steps to displaying a wedding ring

I hope my next nostalgic project will be one of wedding songs…The songs from my mom’s and my grandmother’s wedding….I asked my grandmother when she was still alive and 92 years old, the title of her wedding song…I wrote it on a piece of paper.  I asked my mom the same and added it to the list.  My intention was to create something special using the two song titles and the title of my own wedding song. 

paper from paper source

When I recently went to look for the song titles in the ‘safe place’ I had left them, I discovered I couldn’t remember where that ‘safe place’ actually was!  I hope to run across that slip of paper one of these days…I can no longer replicate it since my mom no longer remembers what her song was and my grandmother is no longer with us…maybe I will find that slip of paper before next Mother’s Day.  Hope so :) 

vintage wedding ring

Thanks for stopping by and sharing some memories with me.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with Coastal Charm, Craftberry Bush, and Shabby Nest.


personal reflections at longwood gardens

May 10, 2013

Longwood Gardens

Friday field trip this week is to Longwood Gardens.  With over 1,000 acres of garden, woodland, and meadows, it almost doesn’t seem correct to refer to it as  ‘gardens’ since it is so much more like a museum than a garden.  And, like a museum, a visit to Longwood is a very personal experience.  Today, you are seeing Longwood through my personal reflection.

tulips at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens fountains

My visit was in late April and most visitors were preoccupied with the tulips in bloom – certainly the sheer number of blooms was awesome…no question about that.  The Flower Garden Walk display boasted over 100,000 bulbs in bloom!  So, I am sure many left Longwood the same day as I, with cameras filled with photos predominately of tulip masses.  Not the case for me.  In fact, the rose arches I was so obsessed with were not even in bloom! 

Rose Arch at Longwood Gardens

This trip, my personal favorites…in order of fascination were – the copper beech trees, the whimsical topiary garden, and the rose arches.  And, I should mention (in case you don’t already know), that I have a special affinity for all flowers white!  (If you need some proof, you can check out the white flowers in my garden last spring.)

white tulips en masse at Longwood Gardens

Copper Beech trees at Longwood Gardens

Copper beech tree at Longwood Garden

copper beech at Longwood Gardens

Recently named #2 on the national list of top public gardens, Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is a truly amazing place to visit.  Each visit is a unique and visually exciting experience.Topiary Garden at Longwood Gardensdaisies at Longwood Gardens

Topiary Garden at Longwood Gardens

Every day this living museum provides something different bursting into bloom – cycles differ year to year.  Even the weather changes the way things look each visit.  On one trip you may observe a hummingbird that changes your whole perspective of a flower… or a sunny spot one visit may be in the shade the next visit and change the experience…Longwood showcases nature at its most inspiring.  

Longwood Gardens

We took full advantage of the beautiful day by enjoying a picnic lunch in the space provided by Longwood.  I am so glad we did since I enjoyed the beauty of this tree while we ate…

magnolia tree bloom

Less than an hour outside Philly, Longwood is an easy place for me to visit while staying with my daughter in the city and I continue to visit…each time a new adventure :)

Thank you for visiting and sharing my visit to Longwood Gardens.   I will leave you with a very amateurish video of the beautiful Italian Water Garden…sorry, I have only used the camera a couple of times and I am still trying to learn how to use it…but, you can get some idea of how beautiful the water garden is!  Couldn’t resist adding the song!

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!  I love celebrating the results of my motherhood – my two greatest accomplishments in life :) 

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with:  Tablescaper, Craftionary, Mona’s Picturesque, Craftberry Bush, Nuture Photography Spring Challenge, and Common Ground.


may is national bicycle month

May 7, 2013

bicycle image by Vitis Viniferacredit: Vitis Vinifera

May is National Bicycle Month.  Because bicycles hold a very special place in the hearts of my family, I wanted to recognize them in a special way.

bicycle quote

So, to pay homage to the bicycle, I would like to share a few of my favorite bicycle images from Pinterest.

bicycle image from temp filescredit: temp files

You are welcome to also share my favorite bicycle quotes…I will post them throughout the month on my facebook page.  If you want to check out some more great bicycle images, check my pinterest board a love for bicycles.

bicycle images by Clairecredit: Images by Claire

bicycle anders schennemann photographycredit: Anders Schennemann Photography

bicycle in sunsetcredit: unknown

I hope you enjoyed these beautiful cycling images in celebration of National Bicycle Month…

If you need more to satisfy your cycling self, maybe you would like to

listen to the best bicycle song ever

or, share some of my favorite bicycle items from around the web:

pick one of these cool bike bells or handle bar airplanes to add to your ride

get a book with a magnificent collection of cycling images

read the story of a very talented cyclist I know and like, or

a great book to learn about the Tour de France past doping culture first hand

hold your book collection with these cool bookends

watch a great film

find a special spot for this beautiful pillow with a vintage bicycle image

enjoy a post-ride beverage from these beautiful bicycle printed glasses

write a special note on extraordinary personalized stationery sporting a red bicycle….

Happy cycling!  Cyclisme heureux!  :)

Thanks for stopping by, Jackie

If you have any great cycling images, please feel welcome to share on my facebook page.

I am sharing at Coastal Charm and A Pinch of Joy.

1 comment

handcrafted fabric tableware

May 3, 2013

handmade coasters with sea glass

I recently fell in love with the handcrafted fabric placemats, coasters, and table runners created by artisan Eileen Duffy.  For Friday field trip this week, we are taking a trip to Eileen’s studio.

Now living in Connecticut and commuting into New York City, Eileen can be found selling her wares at upscale farmer’s markets in Connecticut on the weekends.

photo of handcrafted fabric coasters

closeup of handcrafted coaster

A former Ralph Lauren designer, and more recently the designer of her own handbag collection, Eileen has decided to focus on creating her table accessories while she continues her fashion and prop styling work in the city.

handcrafted table runner

Can you guess which ones are my favorite?

handcrafted fabric coasters with starfish

Eileen seeks out really cool textiles from a variety of sources to create her beautiful, and surprisingly affordable, handcrafted table accessories.

handcrafted fabric coasters

Some of her fabrics feature some really great flower photography.

handcrafted fabric coasters

handcrafted fabric tableware

In the photo below, you can see one of Eileen’s inspirational ‘mood boards’ hanging in the studio.

handcrafted fabric tableware

If you live in Connecticut, or are close enough to visit on a weekend, Eileen can be found at The Dudley Farm Farmers’ Market in Guilford.  It is a great place to purchase local and organic seasonal produce and handmade crafts.  The market sits on ten acres of sheep pasture and gardens filled with flowers and heirloom vegetables.  Check the Dudley Farm website for the current time schedule and directions.

handcrafted table runner

I hope you enjoyed today’s Friday field trip to Eileen Duffy’s studio to see some of her handcrafted fabric coaster, placemat, and table runner creations.  Thanks for letting us take a peek Eileen!

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

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

I am sharing at The Tablescaper, The Shabby Nest, Craftionary, Little Red House, and Craftberry Bush.