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monthly book giveaway for january!

December 31, 2013

Vedge cookbook

It is that time again…a new month, a new giveaway!  Congratulations to Julianne for winning December’s giveaway book selection One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp…a great inspiration book to start your new year!

Now, for this month…the last time I offered a cookbook selection, there was a great response – so, I thought I would offer a really magnificent cookbook selection for the start of 2014!

Vedge cookbook

I chose the book Vedge by Rich Landau & Kate Jacoby.  The authors are the award-winning chef/owners of Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia.  I was very excited when I discovered this book was being released since I am such a fan of the restaurant.

The most amazing thing about this restaurant is that you don’t have to be a vegetarian to love it!  Yes, it is true that Landau has been in the forefront of vegetarian dining since 1994, but don’t let the name of his restaurant fool you…the food is superb by any standard – meat eaters are certain to be just as impressed as vegetarians with his outstanding creations.

Vedge restaurant in Philly

The restaurant Vedge in Philadelphia, housed in an elegant nineteenth-century townhouse, where chef-proprietors Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby serve amazingly flavorful and ingenious vegetable dishes.

Vedge opened in 2011 to rave reviews and I understood why after my first visit…what an awesome place!  You may not live near Philadelphia and have the chance to visit Vedge, but this new cookbook gives you the opportunity to recreate some of the restaurant’s selections in your own kitchen.

Just leave me a comment to be entered for a chance to win this wonderful cookbook offering recipes for 100 plates – large and small – that redefine vegetable cooking!

Good luck!

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

For Instagram users, please take the January pleasure in simple things Instagram challenge.   In the spirit of healthy eating for 2014 and a nod to Vedge, this month’s challenge is for photos of fruits & veggies!  Post your photos of fruits and vegetables throughout the month of January using the hashtag #pleasuregram.  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!

January Instagram Challenge


fireside field trip

December 27, 2013

white hot chocolate

How was your Christmas?

I want to share a recipe for something I enjoyed in front of the fire on Christmas Day…white hot chocolate!

candy canes for white hot cocoa

A nice change from the usual hot cocoa, white hot chocolate is comforting and delicious!  The key is to use a good quality hot chocolate – like Lindt or Ghirardelli.  I also add peppermint candy – crushing up some candy canes.  White chocolate peppermint…so festive…so yummy!

white hot cocoa

If you enjoy a really rich drink, substitute some of the milk in the recipe with heavy cream.  And, an ‘adult’  version is easy to create by adding some peppermint liquor.

white hot chocolate recipe

This tastes so good in front of the fire on any winter evening…enjoy!

white hot cocoa

Thanks for stopping by.

Remember to find pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Finding Silver Pennies and Pinch of Joy


almost wrapped & ready

December 24, 2013

woodland theme wrapping

I have really enjoyed embracing nature and the outdoors with my woodland holiday theme this year. 

woodland theme wrapping

I wish I had more time to create, but working most all of my waking hours made it difficult…so many ideas – so little time!

Maybe I should consider using the same theme next year so I can put more of my ideas to use!

woodland theme wrapping

As I wrap my gifts and set my table, the very best part of the holiday is approaching – the time spent enjoying time with family.  I want to spend my Christmas Day truly living in the moment…

Woodland theme Christmas tablesetting

No matter how many gifts I may open this year, none compare to the gift of family…

I thank you all for sharing pleasure in simple things with me and I wish you and your family a most blessed holiday filled with joy.

Peace & love, Jackie

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christmas sweets

December 20, 2013

Italian Christmas cookies

Only a few days until Christmas and I haven’t even started my baking!

With this year’s work schedule, I haven’t had time for any of my usual holiday preparations.

Friday field trip this week is a kitchen visit as I fit in a little late night baking session to make the top priority holiday cookie.  I am referring to the one most requested by my family – the “Italian” cookie. 

Italian Christmas cookies

My recipe comes from an old Italian woman many years ago.  She was very ‘old world’ so I have always thought this recipe must be very authentic and I have never altered it.

And, I always stay true to the original recipe and use margarine, even though I never use it in any other baking. 

Holiday cookies

I am sharing the recipe with you here.  (I topped mine with white non-pareils.)

Italian cookie recipe

So now I have the favorite cookie baked and ready for Christmas Eve.  If I can’t squeeze in any other holiday baking, at least I have the most important baking done!  I hope you have time to bake some of your favorite holiday sweets!

Are you thinking these cookies aren’t very consistent with my woodland theme this year?  Don’t worry, I got that covered…maple crème brulees, ice cream ‘pinecones’ and fireplace s’mores should fit the bill…don’t you think?

Christmas cookies

Have a wonderful weekend! 

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

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brown bag tree ornaments

December 17, 2013

paper bag treat ornaments

I enjoy making treat containers using brown paper.

You have seen some of my brown bag creations for holidays in the past.

For Christmas, it is easy to use the same premise to transform brown bags into tree ornaments.

borwn bag tree ornaments

Using holiday bags is a fun and festive way to recycle!  (Click here to see other items you can create from brown bags.)

Many stores imprint their bags with a holiday motif at this time of year – my favorites are the ones from Trader Joes…such fun patterns!  They also happen to tie in well with my woodland theme this year. :)

I simply sew two pieces of brown paper together – stopping to fill them with treats before sealing them completely.

paper bag ornaments

I use a sewing machine, but they can just as easily be sewed by hand.  (Colorful embroidery thread works well.)

If desired, shapes can be created to fit your theme – doves, angels, snowmen,bells, trees, etc. are all possibilities.

paper bag ornament

Try this festive way to repurpose brown bags.  If you prefer not to enclose edible items, batting or cotton balls can be used to ‘stuff’  the ornament.

I hope you are enjoying your holiday preparations…remember to take pleasure in simple things

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jackie

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seasonal spirit

December 13, 2013

Christmas pin

It seems every year I forget to wear my Christmas pins until the season is almost over.  I really should have a special calendar note reminding me at Thanksgiving to take out my holiday pieces!

holiday wreath pin

I thought I would share a couple of my favorite ‘jewels’ with you on Friday field trip today and it could serve as a reminder for you to be sure and wear your seasonal jewelry…or scarves…or socks.  Or, maybe to acquire some! ;)

Holiday pin

One of my favorite holiday pins…a miniature frame that contains a photo of my daughter dressed as an angel one Halloween long ago.

Wish pin

My first Christmas pin was given to me by my grandmother when I was a young girl.  It was a battery operated Santa pin and if you pulled a string, Santa’s nose would light up red!  I loved it!  One of my favorites in recent years is a hand painted one by artist Roberta Hyatt that says “I Believe.”

vintage woodland pin

This year my favorite is a special pin to coordinate with my woodland theme…it is a vintage piece that is leaves and acorns – so perfect!

Feel free to share your favorite holiday accessories on pleasure in simple things Facebook or Instagram…would love to see them!

Dust off that old stocking cap and take pleasure in the season and simple things!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jackie

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diy woodland tree garland

December 10, 2013

diy woodland tree garland

Have you noticed paper drinking straws now come in so many great colors and patterns?

I decided to take advantage of this to create garland for my woodland themed Christmas tree this year.

diy christmas tree garland

Using paper straws printed in a simulated birch bark pattern and some small collected pinecones, I created a DIY garland that was simple to make and perfect for my tree!

I simply cut the straws into sections and alternated them on strings with the little pinecones.  So easy!  A great late-night fireside activity. :)

Helpful tip:  I always use dental floss or fishing line to thread garland because both are very sturdy and hold up well when creating long strands.

diy woodland garland

My choice of straw fits in well with my woodland theme.  Now I just need my tree! 

Come up with a combination of materials to coordinate with your décor!  Straws come in so many varieties – both paper and plastic.  You can replace the pinecones I used with beads, candy, pom-poms, berries, popcorn, etc.  to create something appropriate for your décor.

diy woodland tree garland

Have fun with it!

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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an anthro home for the holidays

December 6, 2013

Anthropologie holiday

Do you have favorite places to visit during the holiday season?  Are there a few stores you visit as an annual tradition?  Anthropologie is one of those places for me.

Anthropologie Christmas towel

I always enjoy checking out the unique home items in the store, but I find it especially fun at holiday time.

Anthropologie Christmas

As a tradition, I always purchase a tree ornament as a gift for my daughter…but, I can always find some great stocking stuffers as well…

Anthropologie hair ornaments

Anthropologie Christmas tree candle

If you are an Anthro shopper, you know that the store always provides a fun package tie-on for gifts purchased at the store during the holiday.  This year, there are a couple choices – one is a miniature Russian nesting doll…cute!

Anthro inital ornament

Of course I took special note of some of the woodland themed items!

Anthro bunny plate

Anthro deer pillow

Anthropologie glasses

Anthropologie is always a fun place to visit…I hope you enjoyed sharing a few of my favorite things in the store on this week’s Friday field trip.


You have seen two of my annual store traditions – one last week and one this week…do you have any stores you visit as an annual tradition at the holidays?

Anthro ornaments

Thanks so much for visiting.

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

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diy advent calendar

December 3, 2013

diy advent calendar

This year, I am using jars for my Advent calendar.  I think my creation ties in well with my woodland holiday theme and jars are great for stashing surprises.

I started collecting baby food jars about a month ago.  Some of my coworkers thought it strange when I offered them baby food at lunch break, but geez…who wouldn’t want free organic fruits and vegetables as part of their lunch!  (Granted, they were in pureed form!)

diy advent calendar

After eating all the baby food and cleaning all the jars, I spray painted the outside of the jars with a cream colored spray paint.  I didn’t want any paint inside the jars since I planned on putting edible items inside them…I didn’t want to risk chipped paint in my woodland treats!

diy advent calendar

Paint will chip off glass, though this was not a big concern for me since my calendar was planned for a one-time use.  A clear coat can be applied if a more durable finish is desired.  I sprayed the tops in forest green and created labels by cutting shapes from chalkboard Contact paper.

As a decorative touch, I added some bells around the rims – also a great security device to discourage any premature jar openings!

diy advent calendar

What am I putting in the jars?  Some examples include spiced nuts; maple sugar candy leaves; candy rocks; marzipan mushrooms and acorns; and gummy bears, worms, snakes, frogs, and spiders.

diy advent calendar

The fun part is arranging the jars on the mantle among forest inspired items.

This is a great project that can be easily adapted to any theme and can be arranged creatively in any nook, shelf, or corner – stack them up or spread them around.

diy advent calendar

If you plan on making one of your own, I highly recommend buying plenty of banana mango baby food…it was my favorite. ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jackie

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monthly book giveaway for december!

December 1, 2013

one thousand gifts book giveaway

Well, it is December and it is hard for me to believe that a month has already gone by since the last book giveaway!  Things have been extremely hectic for me, but I can’t let today go by without announcing the November book giveaway winner and announcing next month’s book selection.  First, I want to congratulate Nancy from New Jersey for winning a copy of Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon for the November giveaway…it is a beautiful story…especially for the holiday season!

At the end of the year, we all think about fresh starts and resolutions…

So, I thought One Thousand Gifts by New York Times Bestseller Ann Voskamp would make a good  book choice for December!

A beautifully practical guide to living a life of joy,  One Thousand Gifts invites you to wake up to everyday blessings.  As Voskamp discovered, in giving thanks for the life she already had, she found the life she’d always wanted.  Just leave a comment here, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram to have a chance to win this inspirational read.

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

For Instagram users, please take the pleasure in simple things December Instagram challenge…use hashtag #pleasuregram to share a favorite holiday ornament…it can be one you own or one you see in your holiday travels.  I will be on the lookout for woodland themed ornaments!

december instagram challenge