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beachy bridal shower

June 28, 2013

beach themed decorations

A visit to a bridal shower is today’s Friday field trip.  I am sharing some of the decorations I created for a beach themed bridal shower, hoping it may provide inspiration for some of your own party planning.

beach theme invitations

The first impression for any party is created by the invitation.  So, for this party we needed something really ‘beachy.’  What better than a message in a bottle for an invite?!  I created the message on my home computer and printed out copies on a color printer.  The messages were rolled and inserted into glass bottles and mailed off in boxes the size of the bottles (with a little extra room to protect them with some bubble wrap).

Not only does the invitation create the mood, but gives guests the opportunity to wrap their gifts in the theme and also to dress the part!

beach themed bridal shower

Welcoming guests into the party also creates a great opportunity to set the mood.  I used a skim board chalkboard with the future couple’s initials at the entryway to welcome guests to the party.  And, don’t forget that summertime playlist…Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett need to be included!

The labels for the takeaway favors were also created on a home computer and printed on label sheets using a color printer.  Inside each ‘beach pail’ were some realistic looking candy rocks, salt water taffy, and homemade decorated sugar cookies cut in the shapes of shells and fish.

bloody mary at a bridal shower

Beach themed wines or frozen drinks are great for a beach themed party, but for a bridal shower, including the future bride’s favorite drink is a must!  All the fixings for this guest of honor’s favorite were included at the drink bar.

beach themed bridal shower decorations

This shower was held at the future groom’s parent’s house.  ‘Beachy’ photos of the future groom as a child were collected and printed out in black and white on a home copier.  I ripped the photos rather than cutting them to create a ragged edge.  The photos were used in old jars and placed down the center of the tables.

beach themed bridal shower decorations

I used a burlap runner down each table and decorated with old jars, lanterns, twine, raffia, shells, sea glass, driftwood, and rocks to set the mood.

beach themed bridal shower decorations

Some of the jars were filled with sea glass and water to fill with daisies…always a great symbol of summer.

daisies at a beach themed bridal shower

The same decor was carried through to decorate the bathrooms and the area where everyone gathered to watch the future bride open gifts – where a large white washed anchor set the tone.

beach themed bridal shower

“Beachyness” was included in every detail.  The dessert bar included cupcakes topped with graham cracker crumb ‘sand’ and garnished with variegated chocolate shells, seahorses, and starfish that were made by the future groom’s mom.

beach themed bridal shower decorations

Those are some of the decorations…I didn’t have enough space to show you every detail, but feel free to send me an email if you are having a beach themed party of your own and I would be happy to give you some more ‘beachy’ ideas ;)  I hope you enjoyed today’s Friday field trip to check out the decorations at a beach themed bridal shower.

beach themed bridal shower decorations

Thank you so much for visiting.  Please be sure to click ‘like’ on my facebook page so you won’t miss any of my beach photos this summer.  Have a wonderful weekend!!

Sending saltwater kisses, Jackie

Sharing at The Shabby Nest, Craftberry Bush, and The Tablescaper.


essence of roses

June 25, 2013

rosewater meringues

I am working on a menu for a charity garden tour, so I have been experimenting with recipes for both sweet and savory items that utilize flower and herb components.  I fell in love with the combination of the Middle Eastern flavors of rosewater and pistachios when I made a Persian Love Cake.  Thinking about the flavors of that wonderful cake and still having roses in my thoughts, I decided to try and create a rosewater meringue.

rosewater meringues

I was very happy with the result and wanted to share the recipe with you.  This light and airy cookie has a wonderful essence of roses…perfect for my garden tour menu!

pretty photo quote about roses

Recipe for Rosewater Meringues

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 whites from large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon rosewater (you can purchase bottled rosewater…if you make your own, be sure to use organic rose petals!)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped unsalted natural pistachios

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.  Line 1 large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Sift the confectioners’ sugar twice to remove all lumps and divide into two equal portions.

Put the egg whites in a medium bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy.  Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites hold soft peaks.  Continue beating while gradually adding one portion of confectioners’ sugar.  Beat until firm, glossy peaks form.  Add the rosewater and mix briefly.  Sift the remaining confectioners’ sugar over the meringue and gently fold in until blended.

Scoop the meringue into a large pastry bag fitting with a large star tip.  Pipe swirls (about 1 ½” wide and 2″ high) about 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet.   (If not using a pastry bag, just drop the meringue by 2 Tablespoonfuls).   Sprinkle the finely chopped pistachios over the meringues.

Bake until dry and crisp, about 3 hours.  Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven for 1 hour.  Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.  (And since I don’t have air conditioning, I can strongly recommend from experience to store your cookies in a cool place until you are ready to serve.)

This recipe was adapted from a meringue recipe in a wonderful book called Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Johnson Dodge that contains recipes for flavorful desserts using just four ingredients.

rosewater meringues recipe

I hope you enjoyed sharing my rosewater meringues recipe.  Thank you so much for stopping by.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Timewashed and Mona’s Picturesque.


little cakes with big attitudes

June 21, 2013

clean & serene cupcake

Do you like cupcakes?  For the second time, a Connecticut team won the top prize on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars. 

SuzieCakes of Milford won the top prize of $1,000 and the opportunity to make 1,000 cupcakes for a Hollywood inspired poker party!

The "All About Ethel" cupcake

The bestselling “All About Ethel” cupcake at SuzieCakes in Milford, Connecticut, winners of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

Cousins Sue Schowerer and Darlene Delaney are the owners that create “little cakes with big attitudes” at the newly opened shop on River Street and I wanted needed to check it out! 

owners of SuzieCakes

aaaaPicMonkey CollageAfter seeing the episode featuring the Connecticut store, I knew I had to feature it on a Friday field trip.  Of course, this required tasting some of the products! 

I sampled five different varieties, including the top seller inspired by the show I Love Lucy.  Seeing themselves as a modern day Lucy and Ethel, Sue and Darlene named their bestselling cupcake “All About Ethel.”  This tribute to Ethel Mertz is a chocolate cake filled with peanut butter mousse, topped with chocolate mascarpone frosting, and finished off with a mini peanut butter cup.  Intense!

aaaacupcakes 067

But, my favorite was a different chocolate and peanut butter creation called “Mail Guy.”  A chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and caramel drizzle garnished with a chocolate dipped pretzel and crunchy pretzel salt. 

Mail Guy Cupcake

cupcake from SuzieCakes

The shop features some of their most popular flavors on a daily basis, but also rotates additional flavors each day.  I decided I need to go back on a Wednesday to try a “Rosie.”  This is a pistachio and rosewater cupcake with rosewater buttercream, custard filling, dark honey/vanilla buttercream and crushed pistachios on top.  Sounds wonderful!  If you find yourself in the vicinity of Milford, the shop is definitely worth an exploratory visit. ;)  Bet you can’t try just one!

SuzieCakes in Milford, CT

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you enjoyed Friday field trip to Cupcake Wars winner SuzieCakes in Milford, Connecticut.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things and have a wonderful weekend, Jackie

Sharing at The Tablescaper, and Crafts a la mode.


got nuts?

June 18, 2013

squirrel gift jar

For a friend’s birthday, I wanted to give her a little something acknowledging her squirrel obsession.

squirrel jar

squirrel jarInspired by many jars I have seen across the internet, I decided to find a plastic squirrel to affix to a jar to make a birthday gift.

To make something similar for a friend or as a party favor, decide on something to fit an obsession or theme and purchase a toy version at a craft or dollar store.

For myself I would have chosen a mermaid or something sea inspired ;)

Once I found the squirrel, I glued the figure onto a jar rescued from the recycling bin.  After the glue dried, I spray painted the jar top…figure and all.  I know the brown I chose isn’t a very summery choice, but I wanted to match the décor of the recipient.  Chalkboard paint would have been a fun option as well -“got nuts?” could have been written right on the lid with chalk.

top to squirrel jarThere are so many fun alternative ideas for this gift.  I know exactly what I would have made for my son if he were still small…I would have used an army man, painted the top with olive drab, and wrote “got ammo?”, filling the jar with water balloon ‘grenades.’    Or, I could have addressed his childhood train obsession and put a train on the lid top.  Of course, the contents would have to be bubble gum so I could write “got choo?”  A perfect choice for a train themed party favor!

Other ideas?  A shark on top with gummy fish…“got fish?”  A fish on top with gummy worms… “got worms?” A baseball player with sunflower seeds…”got seeds?” …come up with some using your favorite theme or obsession.

I decided to tie the “got nuts?” message onto the jar so it could be removed, but you can use whatever you prefer.  A chalkboard label on the side of the jar is a cute option.  Or, even etching cream … etch the words onto the side of the jar for an elegant look. 

easy to make squirrel jar

I filled the jar with peanuts and it is good to go.  A perfect ‘little something’ designed specifically for the recipient.

squirrel gift jar

Can’t understand a squirrel obsession?  Does this National Geographic photo I found on the web change your mind? 


See more examples of squirrel cuteness I found across the web on my Facebook page by clicking here.

I hope you will use this tutorial as inspiration to come up with your own gift creation!  Thanks so much for visiting.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Better With Age and Craftberry Bush.

1 comment

but i don’t care for roses…

June 14, 2013

beautiful rose

A rose has never been my favorite flower.  When all my friends would hope for a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day, I was wishing for an arrangement of many different varieties of flowers – all white.  Or, a single variety of something unique or exotic.

So, when a friend suggested I visit the rose garden in bloom at Boothe Memorial Park in Stratford, the idea of making the trip was met by me with lukewarm enthusiasm.  Not one to dismiss new experiences, I decided to surrender a little bit of my time to the roses in bloom.  


Today’s Friday field trip is a visit to this rose garden.  And, with hundreds of different types of roses represented, it was really hard to edit my photos to just a few representations.   The weather had been very rainy and I was lucky to time my visit between a series of rainfalls.  I thought the weather actually added character to the photos, although an excursion like this really makes me yearn for a good camera.  (hint, hint Santa!)

pink roses

Enjoy our little stroll through the garden…

white roses

pink rose

collage of pink roses

rose photo

collage of yellow roses

pink rose photo

pink rose

And yes, I did change my mind a little on the roses…still not my favorite, but I definitely have a new respect for them after this experience…hard not to, right?

caretaker of the rose garden

I hope you enjoyed sharing the Boothe Memorial Park rose garden with me.  We even happened upon a lovely volunteer caretaker during our trip :)

red and white rose

I will be posting more photos from the Boothe Memorial Park rose garden on my Facebook page in the coming days…please ‘like’ my page if you haven’t already and please feel free to share any rose experiences!  Also, please feel free to ‘pin’ any photos you like :)

Have a wonderful weekend.  Thanks so much for visiting.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Mona’s Picturesque, Little Red House, and The Tablescaper.


diy patriotic spoons

June 11, 2013

patriotic spoons

We make a lot of hand churned ice cream in my family and the batches are huge…so, ultimately we eat a lot of ice cream also.  A really fun thing to do when serving ice-cream, particularly at the beach, is to decorate disposable spoons for the occasion.  This is a fun and easy way to add a festive spirit to your beach or yard get together. 

For our upcoming Fourth of July bash on the beach, spoons of the patriotic variety are in order! 

DIY patriotic spoons for Fourth of July

patriiotic spoon

I am providing some easy DIY directions for you to make patriotic spoons, but there are so many more ways you can personalize spoons with your own colors or themes just by using different colors, motifs, or letters…so be sure to experiment!

Here are the supplies my project required:

  • disposable wooden spoons*
  • permanent stamp pad ink in red and blue
  • a sponge cut into a thin rectangle, approximately ½” wide and at least 1” long
  • a pencil with an unused eraser
  • an X-Acto knife
  • natural twine
  • red & white baker’s twine
  • glue

I used the X-Acto knife to very carefully cut a star shape into the eraser of the pencil to use as a stamp. Then I cut a strip of sponge ½’ wide to use as my stripe stamp.

These two stamps will serve as the way to imprint the stars and stripes on the handles of my spoons.   

Using the stamp pad ink, I added the stripes and stars to the spoons using my stamps.  Using permanent ink ensures the ink doesn’t come off on hands or clothes should the spoon handles get wet.

star stamp for decorating spoons

stripe stamp

striped spoons

Striped disposable spoons are easy to make and give a festive flair to any get together!

For a fun addition, I added some twine “finger grips” to some of the spoons by simply wrapping twine around the spoon a few times – adding a dot of glue on the beginning and ending spot of the twine.

patriotic spoons

That’s it!  Easy, right?  And so cute!  They are hard to throw away! 

DIY patriotic spoons

Going back for seconds on the ice-cream?  Don’t want to lose a favorite spoon?  You can always wear your spoon as a necklace ; )just add some extra twine!  Problem solved.

patriotic spoons

Hope you enjoyed this easy tutorial on making patriotic spoons for your Fourth of July shindig!  You can easily make up some forks and knives also! 

*P.S.  I get my spoons at Garnish. 

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

 Sharing at City Farmhouse,  The Shabby Nest, Finding Silver Pennies, and Craftberry Bush.


celebs writing books

June 7, 2013

photo of Giada DeLaurentiis

Last week I attended the Book Expo America in New York City.  I will be reviewing some of the wonderful books I discovered on upcoming posts, but for Friday field trip this week, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the celebrities that attended the event to promote their books.  Much to my pleasure, some celebrity chefs were represented, as you can see by the photo above of Giada De Laurentiis.  You probably already know I am a big Food Network fan by my visit to the ‘sacred ground’…a tour of Food Network…or, by my sharing of Bobby Flay’s Vanilla Bean Bourbon Milkshake recipe…so I was one happy camper to have the opportunity to meet some Food Network chefs while attending the Book Expo America!

Giada wrote a delightful new young readers series called Recipe for Adventure available in September 2013.  I read the Naples! edition and it is a wonderful story…incorporating foods and adventure and even some recipe cards!  A really awesome gift for any young readers on your holiday gift list this year!

photo of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

I have attended more basketball games in my life than I could ever count, and certainly more than any other sport…So, it was a thrill for me to get the chance to talk to basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and to shake the hand that sunk enough balls to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer…the hand that shot the infamous ‘sky-hook.’  Like Giada, he too wrote a book for a young audience.  Already a best-selling author, the title of his newest book Sasquatch in the Paint is aimed at readers 8 to 12 years old and is loosely based on challenges he faced while growing up.

photo of Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler’s newest book is titled Uganada Be Kidding Me.  Described as a travelogue, it is due out in October.

Photo of Snooki

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi  of Jersey Shore fame wrote Baby Bumps:  From Party Girl to Proud Mama, and all the Messy Milestones Along the Way due out in January 2014.

photo of Debra Messing

Debra Messing narrated the book The Little Red Hen due out in the fall.  (I love that this beautiful redhead narrated The Little ‘Red’ Hen!)  You go on to bigger and better things Debra, but you will always be Grace to me!  A truly lovely person.

Photo of Paula Deen

Paula and I did not discuss the cookbook she has coming out in October:  Paula Deen’s New Testament – we talked about our kids!  My admiration for her connection with her sons ensued a discussion of relationships with our children.  I know she has a really big personality, but I don’t think on television you can appreciate what a beautiful woman she is…she is stunning!

photos of Jim Carrey

This guy attracted an awful lot of attention!  I was wondering what type of book Jim Carrey would write…a children’s book seems appropriate for this comedian and his new picture book looks to be as fun as he is!  Wonderfully illustrated, the book is about a wave named Roland and is titled How Roland Rolls.  This is an excerpt from a letter Jim Carrey posted on the book’s website – written to the parents of children reading his book:   “I wrote How Roland Rolls specifically as a way for parents and grandparents to enjoy some quality hang-time. I hope the message of the story will help them feel connected, worthwhile, and a part of something vast and grand.”

photo of John Stockton

Another basketball legend I was honored to meet!  John Stockton played point guard for the Utah Jazz for 19 seasons and had an amazing career – playing on a team that never missed the playoffs while he was on it!  In my opinion, he is also part of the reason people know the name Gonzaga!  He is an all-around nice guy and I am excited about his new autobiography Assisted that shares glimpses of his personal life as well as his amazing basketball career.

photo of Julianne Moore

My discussion with this gal started out about Alec Baldwin, but we did discuss the premise of her new children’s book, which I totally fell in love with!  My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me addresses the experience of growing up with a mom from another country.  Like in her Freckleface Strawberry books, Julianne Moore writes from experience, which helps her books ring true with her young readers.  I see this as an important book for youngsters.

photo of Ann Romney

Former Presidential Candidate’s wife Ann Romney was on hand to share some recipes from her new cookbook coming out this fall, The Romney Family Table.

photo of Anne Burrell

Fellow Food Network fans will recognize ‘Rock Star’ Anne Burrell.  Anne has a follow-up to her bestselling debut cookbook called Own Your Kitchen:  Recipes to Inspire & Empower that is expected for release in October.

photo of T. Colin Campbell

T. Colin Campbell has written a newly released book Whole:  Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.  Dr. Campbell is featured in the documentary Forks Over Knives:  How a Plant-Based Diet Can Save America and is co-author of The China Study.  I have been strongly impacted by Dr. Campbell and his research since I saw Forks Over Knives and I am looking forward to reading his latest book.

photo of famous illustrator

This celebrity may not be as familiar to you, but I had to add him in my collection of celebrities since meeting illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti was a big deal to me.  Highly acclaimed in the art world and a creator of comics, painting, and illustration, Lorenzo Mattotti actually illustrated something for me on the spot when I met him…so cool!

I hope you enjoyed checking out some of the celebrities that attended the 2013 Book Expo America on this week’s Friday field trip.

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

Sharing at The Tablescaper and A Pinch of Joy.


monogrammed shell package tie-on

June 4, 2013

monogrammed shell package tie

‘Tis the season for gift giving.  I know it is not December, but I find this time of year requires more presents than the holidays!  There are so many showers, weddings, and other festive occasions.

I have the uncanny ability to turn any gift-giving opportunity into a ‘beachy’ moment.  This summer I am truly in my element since I am invited to several beach-themed bridal showers.  For one of the showers, I created a simple, diy package tie-on using a couple of shells, a little bling, and some twine…easy and elegant!

monogrammed shells for gift wrap

Find or purchase two shells that you like and coordinate well with the item you are using them with.  The first thing to do is to put a couple holes in the top of each shell.  You may want to have a couple extra shells on hand in case this part of the process should offer up any complications…aka break the shell.  I am lucky enough to have a friend that has a dremel tool that can help me out with projects like this.  Using a dremel with water is the optimum way to go if you make holes in alot of beach finds!  If you don’t have this type of tool or can’t borrow one, you can use a nail, but there is a higher chance of cracking or breaking the shell.  You can get by with one hole in each shell…for my application, I found that the shells hung better with the two holes.

creating monogrammed seashells

diy monogrammed seashell package tie-on

You have seen me use chalkboard paint to write on the inside of shells…this time I wanted something more elegant, so I am using self-adhesive rhinestones that I bought at a craft store.  It is really easy.  Using tweezers, I just attached the rhinestones one at a time onto the inside of the shells in the shape of the the initials of the future bride and groom.  The rhinestones are inexpensive and go a long way…I still have some left from my Easter egg decorating!

monogrammed shell package tie-on

I am using my tie-on on a tote bag, so I used twine to tie a shell on each end and placed it around the handle of the bag as an alternative to monogramming the tote.  (The rest of the gift will be shared on a future post.)  So sweet!  A wonderful way to make a gift for a special couple truly special!

I hope you can use this idea and make some monogrammed seashells for one of your special bridal shower gifts this summer!

Thanks so much for visiting!  Please take a moment to click ‘like’ on my Facebook page and if you use Instagram, please click ‘follow.’  for more sharing!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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