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book giveaway for february!

January 31, 2014

Lots of Candles, Plenty of CakeThe months sure go by fast…don’t they?  Because it is month’s end, Friday field trip today will be used for the book giveaway since it is already time to announce the winner of January’s book selection, Vedge by Rich Landau & Kate Jacoby.  This wonderful cookbook goes to Erica from Illinois.  Congratulations Erica!  I know you will enjoy this wonderful collection of recipes!

For February, I have chosen the book Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen for the giveaway.

Anna Quindlen has been a favorite author of mine for a long time.  As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, this Pulitzer Prize winning author uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages.  She celebrates it all – as she considers marriage, girlfriends, mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.

“Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter.  But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends.”

Candid, funny, and moving, this irresistible memoir is filled with sharp insights and revealing observations.

Anna Quindlen

Just leave a comment on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for a chance to win this month’s author-signed selection.  Good luck!

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

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

For Instagram users, as a nod to the monthly book selection, February’s Instagram Challenge is to post birthday celebration photos!  Use hashtag #pleasuregram to share your photos!  Looking forward to lots of candles and plenty of cake. :)

February Instagram Challenge



sweet nothings

January 28, 2014

 Valentine teabag diy

Do you ever write personal notes?

A few well- placed words can make anyone smile.  And, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, a corny pun is definitely in order!

Valentine teabags

A note slipped into a lunch box or a jacket pocket can let someone you care about know you are thinking of them.

Valentines Day pun

You can type a message or use stamps to create one, but I prefer a hand written one – nothing beats it on Valentine’s Day!

Diy valentine teabags

Here, I am using tea bags as a spot to include a Valentine’s Day message.  I love to ‘personalize’ mine using paint chips.  An easy DIY – just sandwich two heart shaped pieces over the tag and add a message.

personalize teabags with paint chips

Where can you place an unexpected pun on Valentine’s Day?

Thanks for stopping by.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at City Farmhouse and  Coastal Living. 

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sweet scones

January 24, 2014


I think it is a natural instinct to have the urge to prepare food when the weather is cold.  With the temperature dipping into the single digits, and 10 inches of snow freshly fallen here in Connecticut, it is no wonder this instinct has kicked in!

photo of scone recipe

The result of this urge today are some freshly baked scones.   A friend gave me the recipe for these particular scones, written on a brown paper bag, well over twenty years ago.  I call these ‘the sweet scones.’  So, for Friday field trip today. we are taking a trip back to twenty years ago as I share the recipe given to me by my friend Kathy.

cutting scones

scones with sweet glaze

The scones after adding the sweet glaze.

With a sugar glaze, these scones are sweeter than the ones I typically make.  Other than adjusting the cooking time for my oven, I haven’t changed this recipe a bit over the years… and, the result is still as delicious as when I first tasted these scones at a regular get-together of friends.

recipe for scones with sweet glaze

They are wonderful to bake for some friends stopping by because they are very quick to prepare – give them a try!

Thanks so much for stopping by to share.  Have a fabulous weekend!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things,  Jackie


a special birthday cake

January 21, 2014

birthday candle

Part of being a great hostess is to know your guests.  Today, so many people have dietary restrictions and part of good entertaining is taking the special needs of your guests into consideration. 

Recently, I needed to come up with a birthday cake for a special birthday dinner where the guest of honor had some dietary concerns.  The solution I came up with was quick, easy, and delicious.

Angel food cake recipe

I served an angel food cake with a fresh berry topping and a Nutella filling.  All the items were purchased in the grocery store and the dessert took very little time to prepare.  I chose not to make my own angel food cake since our local grocery store offered one in the bakery section that cost less than the price of the tube pan I would need to purchase to bake my own.

Made with just sugar, flour, and egg whites;  angel food cake is a great alternative to a traditional birthday cake for many special diets.  As an optional filling, I sliced the cake horizontally with a serrated knife and spread one side with Nutella.  For the strawberry topping, I hulled and halved a pound of strawberries  – heated them up slightly in a pan on the stove with a tablespoon of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Easy, tasty, and all ready for a birthday candle! 

caramel walnut biscotti

And, so quick…I had time to bake up some biscotti.  With an impending snowstorm, what is better than biscotti by a fire?  This batch is caramel walnut…

biscotti by a fire

Thanks for visiting.  Hope you enjoyed sharing my ‘special’ birthday cake recipe. 

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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persian cotton candy

January 17, 2014

Persian cotton candy

I am excited for Friday field trip today to share a dessert from another culture.  For Valentine’s Day this year I can serve a dessert that I find new and exciting… So, move over chocolate… this year I am serving Persian cotton candy! 

Persian cotton candy

I enjoy exploring other cultures and having a friend from the Middle East helps me learn about foods from that part of the world.  Remember that wonderful Persian Love Cake I made last year?   

My latest food introduction was a Middle Eastern dessert that compares with our cotton candy.  It is made from sugar like the American variety, but also contains shortening, flour, and cardamom and has a very delicate flavor.

Persian Cotton Candy

Interesting, isn’t it?

Because it is sold in a box, the challenge is to find a pretty way to serve it to guests.  It is very soft and separates into strands easily.  I found out from my friend that it is often packed into a glass to give the candy a shape and it can be served with nuts.

Since pistachios are so often used in Middle Eastern cuisine, I decided to use some chopped pistachios as a garnish for my cotton candy dessert.

Persian cotton candy

And, on one of my presentations, I could not resist adding a pool of honey.  I know – the ingredient is mostly sugar, so why add honey?  But, it tastes really good!

I hope you enjoyed exploring another culture with me as I tried Persian Cotton Candy. 

Persian cotton candy

Thank you so much for stopping by.  Have a really wonderful weekend.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

1 comment

diy menu board

January 14, 2014

diy menu board

Do you have a favorite plate that is chipped or cracked and yet you just can’t seem to throw it out…even though it isn’t used?  A great way to repurpose an imperfect piece is to create a menu board…giving the piece a new life without serving food on it!

supplies for a nautical menu board

The only supply required is Con-Tact brand adhesive chalkboard paper!  Creating a beautiful new menu board is as easy as cutting an appropriate sized piece of Con-Tact paper!  Since I wanted my creation to take on a nautical flare, I added some shells and twine to my supply list to add as embellishments.

menu board supplies

Because china has a slick surface, using Con-Tact paper works much quicker and easier than paint (eliminating the need for a primer).  Plus, the Con-Tact can be removed after use, if desired.

For my nautical menu board, I cut a piece of chalkboard Con-Tact paper to fit the inside section of the chosen plate.  After attaching it, I adding some twine and shell embellishments using a glue gun.  Viola!  How cute is that?

nautical menu board detail

Using a plate stand is a nice way to display the menu board…or even, hanging the menu board on the dining room or kitchen wall.  Such a great way to repurpose an old plate!

Maybe create one for a special Valentine’s Day meal?  :)  Have fun with it!

valentine menu board

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Remember to find pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with French Country Cottage, City Farmhouse and Coastal Charm.

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2014 word for the year

January 10, 2014

2014 word of the yearfood for the soul

I hadn’t planned on assigning a word of the year for 2014.  I had seen many others choose one and I wasn’t particularly motivated to choose one for myself.  I toyed with the idea of using the word renewal …but, I decided against it; thinking it sounded like such a cliche…and how could I possibly use a word like that for the entire year…the idea made me think of the movie Groundhog Day. 

Okay, I thought…no word for the year.

Then I met a friend for lunch that I hadn’t seen for a while.  One of those friends that you can just jump right into a conversation the second you get together…start right where you left off with no hesitation.

meaning of friendship

So today’s Friday field trip ends up being the short journey I took to discover my word for the year.

It didn’t happen right when we devoured the artisan cheese plate…

artisan cheeseplate

Or even as I ate my local greens salad….

local greens salad

It wasn’t until sometime during my banana cream pie with sweet potato sorbet and pecans as I reached over to try my friend’s chocolate hazelnut budino, and spooned into the caramel at the bottom of the glass, that it really hit me…

My word for the year… Friendship.

It had to be Friendship.

Because the true nourishment that afternoon did not come from the food…the true nourishment came from a friendship…two friends connecting in a special way that only friends can.

food at Le Farm

In the words of Marcel Proust “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” 

Even when I think of my wonderful family relationships, it is the friendships that make them special.

So for 2014, I want to acknowledge all the friendships that make my soul blossom…reconnect with some old friends… get together with some I don’t see as often as I would like…schedule regular family get-togethers…let those that I do see know how much they mean to me…

For it is truly the people in my life that give it meaning.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”

I value and acknowledge my friendships with a special focus this year and I look forward to creating some new friendships. :)

favorite friend quote

Thank you so much for stopping by. 

Have a wonderful weekend, Jackie

P.S. The photos in this post were taken at the wonderful restaurant Le Farm in Westport, Connecticut…a “must try” if you live in the area or plan on visiting.

Sharing at Craftberry Bush and Finding Silver Pennies.

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cute as a button

January 7, 2014

button pushpin diy

Do you save all the extra buttons you get when you buy new clothes?  I do.  I sometimes even take buttons I like off a piece of worn clothing before I toss it.

buttons for diy

I have accumulated quite a collection of buttons that I can’t seem to part with and I have created many craft projects over the years to accommodate my growing collection.  (Christmas ornaments, jewelry, etc.)   Since organization is always a priority at this time of year, I am sharing an easy DIY that not only repurposes extra buttons, but also helps make bulletin boards look ‘cute as a button’ as they get reorganized in the new year.

diy decorative pushpins

making diy decorative pushpins

decprative pushpin from buttonSimply use a glue gun to add a bead of glue to the head of a plastic push pin and attach a button!  Cute, right?  I bet you have quite a few buttons that are not being used…

I often attach small shells to my push pins since I favor a beach theme, but buttons can easily adapt to any decor or color scheme.

Lining a bulletin board in pretty fabric and making some button push pins to coordinate makes a thoughtful and pretty gift…maybe as a Valentine?  Add some to a Valentine’s Day care package headed to a dorm room.

They can be packaged in a small tin or on a piece of decorated corrugated cardboard – cover the cardboard in fabric or scraps of wallpaper for a pretty presentation.

Decorated push pins also make a great teacher’s gift or a great gift for anyone that appreciates pretty details.

There are so many possibilities of color and style combinations…I hope I inspired you to try some!

diy decorative thumbtack

decorative pushpin diy

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Common Ground  Crafts a la mode and Coastal Charm.


a time for renewal

January 3, 2014

out with the oldIt is sad when Christmas is over…it comes and goes so quickly!

Christmas tree


Taking all the ornaments off the tree is a sign of another Christmas come and gone…


Today’s Friday field trip signals the end of Christmas with the last signs of the season leaving my home…


I pause to admire the tree one last time before I remove all the lights…







And put all the ornaments back into the storage boxes to be packed away until next year…

Clear the mantel of the last of the holiday decor…

lemon spruce tree

And start contemplating the new year…

The start of 2014 signals an excitement of starting something new…possibilities…a renewal…

I love to learn new things and to be open to new experiences…I look forward to new challenges in the coming year, and

I wish you all the best of possibilities as you start 2014…

Renewal quote

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I look forward to sharing 2014 with you.  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie 

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