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book giveaway for march!

February 28, 2014

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
Since it is already the end of February, today’s Friday field trip will be used for the book giveaway.  First, Congratulations to Kelly from Michigan, the winner of the book Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake signed by author Anna Quindlen.

For March, I have chosen a book titled Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist.  It is unusual for me to select a book I haven’t yet read, but that is the case this month.

I was looking for a book that might serve as an inspiration as we head into spring – a time for renewal.  Searching for a book that offers a fresh perspective and outlook on life, I came across Cold Tangerines.  This book is described as an inspirational collection of 40 short essays that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in everyday life…sounds like the perfect way to begin the season!  And, because it is a collection of short works, perfect for even the busiest of lifestyles!

Just leave a comment here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for a chance to be entered into the monthly contest.  A name will be chosen randomly from all the comments left during the month of March.  Good luck!

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

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie 

Instagram users, please read on!  Finding a fun spring fashion on a shopping trip…noticing a new bud on a favorite tree or a crocus popping through the snow…these are things that scream spring to me – what says spring to you?  For March, the pleasure in simple things Instagram challenge is to document signs of spring!  Use hashtag #pleasuregram to share photos that signal spring’s arrival!

march instagram challenge



diy snowman gift bag

February 25, 2014

diy snowman gift bag

Today, I am creating an easy hand painted snowman gift bag.  I know snowmen are usually associated with Christmas decor, but based on the frequency of snowfall here in Connecticut this winter, a snowman certainly seems an appropriate motif for any project…so, it is with tongue in cheek that I use a snowman design for my gift bag.

If a snowman is strictly holiday for you, make up a batch of these gift bags to store away with your holiday wrappings for next Christmas…a fun activity to do with the children on the next snow day. ;)

snowman gift bag supplies

With just a few craft supplies, it is an easy item to create using a brown paper handled bag.  These bags are very inexpensive at the dollar store or paper supply store.

I like to use puff paint in squeeze bottles for the details on the snowman because it creates some dimension.  You can just as easily use paint and a paint brush.  If you don’t have a sponge shaped like a snowman, just cut your own from a household sponge…I happen to have a snowman shaped sponge, but I very often cut my own shapes from a sponge for my gift wrap designs.

This project is super easy…it just requires some drying time in between steps.

painting a diy gift bag

First, dip your sponge into some white paint, adding a thin coat on the entire sponge surface, and press onto the bag to add your snowmen.  Then, using a cotton swab, add the ‘snow.’  A cotton swab is the perfect tool for creating a snow storm!  (Opening the bag and standing it up will enable you to add additional ‘snow’ to the two sides of the bag.)

When this is dry, use the puff paint to add a scarf, buttons, eyes, mouth, and – of course – an orange carrot nose!  If preferred, paint and a brush or markers can be substituted for the puff paint to add the details to the snowmen.

When all the paint is dry, add an outline to the snowmen with a thin marker.

snowmen on diy gift bag

Repeat the same design on the other side of the bag, or, if preferred – just add ‘snow’ to the back of the bag.

And, that’s it!  Just add tissue paper and raffia to complete the look.  In addition, (for a little snow overkill) I plan to cut a snowflake from white felt to tie onto my package!

snowman giftbag tutorial

Hope you enjoyed this easy tutorial for making a snowman gift bag…a fun hand painted bag to add to your gift giving!

Here in Connecticut, we may just have to consider adding a snowman to our state flag!

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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diy button anchor wall hanging

February 21, 2014

diy button anchor wall hanging

For today’s Friday field trip, I am turning an item from the past into something unexpected that can be permanently displayed and fondly admired.

While my children were growing up, our family vacations always involved water – even when we were away from our own beach, we were tent camping on a lake or visiting the ocean at a state park. 

diy anchor wall hanging

Shortly after my children were born… I don’t think my oldest was even a year old… I splurged and bought a couple of good quality staple items to be used for our family’s water time…a mesh bag to tote toys (there were always plenty) and a large cotton beach blanket – both purchased from L.L.Bean.  Every family trip to an ocean, lake, or pool was accompanied by the large mesh bag filled with water toys and the brightly colored cotton beach blanket.   

Over the years, the mesh bag disappeared as the mountain of plastic toys was replaced with sand chairs and Baggo.  But, the blanket always remained…that is, until this past summer…when I noticed (to my horror), that someone had decided this old beach blanket, now a shredded mess, should be put out of its misery.  I found it tossed in an outdoor garbage can! 

discarded beach blanket

What did I do?  I immediately took it OUT of the trash, of course – determined to save it and preserve all the memories associated with this sacred beach blanket.  I gave it a good washing and decided I would come up with some way to use some part of it to keep forever.  After all, this blanket was like part of the family!  I can’t even begin to explain all the wonderful moments that happened on and around this blanket!

So, I came up with a wall hanging that serves the battered old blanket perfectly and evokes memories of happy times with my children every time I see it!

If you want to create something similar, here are the steps I used:

preparing a diy wall hanging

  1. Stretch fabric (blanket) onto an embroidery hoop sized appropriately for the design you have chosen.
  2. Sew buttons onto the fabric in a desired pattern.  (First, work up your design on a flat surface to determine the buttons you want to use and the size of the design.  I was inspired to use the anchor by a photo of a tote bag I saw in Marie Claire.)
  3. Trim the fabric edges and glue them to the back of the hoop edges.
  4. For a decorative edge, attach a thin piece of twine around the edge of the hoop using a glue gun.
  5. Tie on a piece of twine for hanging.  (This is a decorative option since the hoop can be hung without it.)
  6. Use a glue gun to add on a ribbon accent.

wall hanging close up

Have you found unexpected ways to display items with special meanings?  I would love to hear about them…I still have blanket left. ;) 

Thank you for stopping by.

Have a wonderful weekend, Jackie

Sharing at Craftberry Bush and Common Ground.

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beauty in the details

February 18, 2014

pretty vitamin jars

For me, beauty is definitely in the details. 

I love William Morris’s golden rule:   “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  But, I would take that a step further since I believe anything useful can also be beautiful.

As you know, taking pleasure in simple things makes my heart sing…and I truly believe even the smallest detail in a home can (and should) be one that brings joy. 

William Morris quote

A wonderful example of this in my home is in my kitchen.  Until I found a way to replace the unsightly vitamin bottles on my kitchen table, I could not be happy.  I tried keeping them in the pantry and out of view, but this only succeeded in my forgetting to take them!   

My solution was to find some vintage looking jars to house my vitamins right on the kitchen table – replacing the ugly plastic vitamin containers.  Now my vitamins are housed in these aesthetically appealing beauties…I love to look at them! 

Keeping vitamins looking pretty

To make my vitamin regime even easier, I marked the inside of each jar top with the contents and description of dosage on a piece of attached masking tape.  If I should purchase a different mg than usual of one of the vitamins, I am sure to include that right on the tape.  Convenient, right?  And, no ugly labels on the jars…beautiful and useful!  (Of course after writing this post I had to redo the labels under the jar tops…now they are perfectly printed….beauty in the details!)

keeping vitamins

Since I am always on the lookout for a variety of items for my home, I ended up finding these jars in three different places during my travels.  The numbered jars actually came from the Christmas Tree Shops and cost 99 cents each!  I just used a little sandpaper on the painted numbers to ‘rough them up’ a bit.  

Have you found any super ways to put beauty in some of the little details around your home?  I would love to hear about them!

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at City Farmhouse.

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a valentine delivery

February 14, 2014

flowers in a teapot

This year is my favorite Valentine’s Day.

For Friday field trip today I am sharing the reason why.

I don’t have any big dinner plans…I didn’t receive a romantic gift…

I was given the opportunity to create and deliver fresh flower arrangements to residents of senior living facilities in my hometown.

Flowers for nursing home

The arrangements were created by some of the members of my garden club.  With some basic flower choices from a local wholesaler and some miscellaneous containers collected by members, arrangements were lovingly put together one night this week.

The gals got together – clippers and gloves in hand – enjoying conversation and indulging in refreshments homemade by some of the members.

There is such a joy in giving Valentines to people that may not otherwise receive them, and although I did not personally know any of the residents receiving the gifts of flowers, strong connections to all the nursing facilities visited made the impact of the gesture very real to me.

Nursing home on Valentine's Day

If you belong to a garden club, consider adding this activity to your calendar for next year  :)…if you don’t belong to a garden club, think about inviting a group of friends over next February for a special Valentine activity.  Cute containers can be collected all year at yard sales or from flower arrangements you receive.  (Just remember to keep the arrangements small since there is usually limited space in resident rooms.  Also, call the residence in advance to find out about any special needs.)

quote about senior citizens

Thank you for stopping by.  Have a wonderful evening.  Here is my Valentine gift to you…the best  ‘set the mood’ songs of all time!  Enjoy!

Here in the Northeast we are again getting blanketed with snow.  Luckily, the Valentine’s Day arrangements have all been safely delivered. :)

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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diy dishtowel pillow

February 11, 2014

diy dishtowel pillow

I am not much of a seamstress.  My only formal training was in 8th grade home economics class where I attempted to make a purple skirt.  The school colors were purple and gold and I wanted to make something worthy I could wear on purple and gold day…Go Hawks!…Sadly, I don’t think it was ever even worn.

I do know the basics of using a sewing machine and I can sew a (pretty close to) straight line.  As far as following a pattern – that is not something I picked up in 8th grade.   But, when I am determined to make something, it does get made. 

Pedal power dish towel

So when I saw the cutest bicycle dishtowel in Anthropologie and decided it needed to be a pillow, I knew it would become a pillow…

making a diy pillow

I was determined to keep the integrity of the towel – without cutting or damaging it in any way.  By simply using folds and straight sewing,  I was able to create the pillow I wanted.  Admittedly, the hardest part was pinning the trim into place! 

DIY dishtowel pillow

1. “Pedal power” dishtowel from Anthropologie   2. I added material to the length of the towel to use as part of the back when it was folded (I used four of the bicycle photos on the front of my pillow and two on the back).    3.& 4. I positioned and pinned trim on the left and right sides of the pillow between the front and back.   5. View of the back.    6. After the sides were sewed with the trim, I turned the pillow inside out. Then, I sewed the bottom edge, leaving some room to add polyfill. (I added almost an entire 12 oz. bag.) I completed the pillow by turning it right side out and stitching the opening closed by hand.

I am enjoying it so much more as a pillow than I ever would as a dishtowel!  A fun addition to a spare bedroom!

a bicycle pillow

dishtowel pillow

Wouldn’t this pillow make a great Valentine gift?  If you don’t want to take the time to make a pillow, just wrap up the towel with a homemade card that reads:  my heart races for you!  :)

Thanks for stopping by.   

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

P.S.  If you are a bicycle lover, you may also enjoy this bicycle post. :)

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


super bowl 2014 review

February 7, 2014

NYC for pre Super Bowl

For Friday field trip today I am sharing a few photos from my trip into New York City last weekend to celebrate Super Bowl XLVIII.  Also, I am including some links to my favorite Super Bowl moments – none of which are clips of the actual game!

Macys Super Bowl 2014 NFL shop

This year, the pregame frenzy associated with the Super Bowl was amped up in our area…for the very first time,  the Super Bowl was played in the Northeast – my part of the country – hosted by New York and New Jersey.  So, of course I couldn’t resist checking out all the excitement associated with this nationally recognized sporting event and cultural phenomenon we call “the Super Bowl.”

Super Bowl pregame craziness 2014

No, I didn’t attend the game – I traveled into New York City to check out all the pregame craziness!  And, craziness there was!

Craziness was witnessed from the time I got onto the train in Connecticut heading to New York City, where people were popping opening bottles of champagne at 9:45am – drinking to celebrate their favorite team’s anticipated win the following day!

Super Bowl Boulevard in NYC 2014

New York City Super Bowl 2014

And in New York City, Times Square hadn’t seen such action since New Year’s Eve…where the entire area from 34th to 44th was turned into ‘Super Bowl Boulevard’ celebrating all things football.  The week-long schedule of events culminated on Saturday with contests, freebies, interactive booths, visiting NFL players signing autographs for the crowd, and a photo ‘op’ with the Vince Lombardi trophy (stand in line to get a photo with a hunk of metal shaped as a football…I don’t think so!).  

Vince Lombardi trophy in NYC

There was a time when I would watch the Super Bowl every year.  Not to watch the game, mind you.  I couldn’t miss the commercials!  Or, the halftime show.  Now the commercials are all available on YouTube before the game is even played…and, the halftime show is just as accessible online after the big contest.  This eliminates any reason for me to actually tune in to see ‘the big game.’

Fox Sports in NYC Super Bowl 2014

And if you were wondering, no…the ‘Puppy Love’ commercial was not my favorite commercial.  I like an ad that uses a little humor, is cleverly done, and best uses talent that makes sense in promoting the product.  These were my top three favorites in no particular order:

 Top Super Bowl 2014 Commercial Ellen

Top Super Bowl 2014 Commercial Tim,

Top Super Bowl 2014 Commercial Anna

There was also one commercial that was notable and worth watching…it starred the 10 year old Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (who was gifted a Maserati for her role in this ad)…awesome job and wonderful photography.  You can see the Superbowl XLVIII Maserati commercial here.

NYC Pepsi Ad Super Bowl 2014

As for the halftime show – this year, the Bruno Mars concert was definitely worth a watch in real time  – Congrats to Pepsi and Bruno for an awesome halftime performance!  No wardrobe malfunctions or gimmicks here…just straight up talent and a wonderful display of showmanship: 

Some Bruno Mars Super Bowl performance highlights are here.

A real cool part of being in New York City Saturday pregame – aside from all the energy surrounding me – as I battled the crowds to get back to Grand Central Station to head home, I was able to watch the Super Bowl inspired contest results determining what colors would light the Empire State Building.  

Empire State building prior to Super Bowl 2014

All week prior to the ‘big game’, the colors illuminating the building were determined by tweeting NFL fans.  Each night, the colors (I have admitted I am color obsessed, so this was right up my alley.)  displayed on the building were determined by the largest number of tweeting fans…orange and blue if Broncos fans tweeted the most…blue and green if Seahawks fans tweeted the most.  

Here is the closing ceremony light show for the Seahawks:

You can see the Empire State Building Super Bowl XLVIII Light Show here.

So that’s my Super Bowl 2014 review…hope you enjoyed it…if you expected game highlights, sorry…that’s not my thing.  I only enjoy watching football games where I know the people playing. ;)  Not that I would mind knowing Eric Decker personally!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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care in a package

February 4, 2014

Care Package supplies

Do you remember the best Valentine gift you ever got?  Mine was from the first man I ever loved – my Dad. 

It was a heart-shaped sugar cookie frosted in red.  I can’t remember what the white icing on top spelled out, but I do remember that my mom thought the message made the gift totally inappropriate for a dad to give his daughter.

Maybe it said “lover” or something similar…but it didn’t matter…any sense of inappropriateness went over his head – and mine.  I was just thrilled to get a Valentine…and, I was thrilled my Dad thought to give me one.

Even now, with my Dad gone over twenty five years, his cookie Valentine to me remains my favorite Valentine’s Day gift of all time.

Maybe it is because of the significance of that gift from my Dad that I always show my kids some love on Valentine’s Day.  It isn’t ever anything grand – a card…a favorite treat…something to show I am thinking of them with love – like my Dad did for me so long ago.

For a daughter in college, this is always a care package to arrive on the 14th. 

As I assemble my daughter’s Valentine, I am sharing three easy ways to give your care packages some special ‘care’ this Valentine’s Day…and help create a lasting memory.

Think personal, not expensive.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to send some great gifts.

Any favorite baked items that can survive the trip serve as great gifts!   Whether you are sending a package to your child in college or to a special someone – you know which items you bake that the recipient likes best – make their favorite!   Maybe there is a specific food item in your area that is not available in the area the recipient lives – a perfect item to include!

If your package is going to a college student, there are some things every college student appreciates.  Socks or underwear help delay the dreaded laundry run and are always appreciated – fun patterns for Valentine’s Day are available in all the stores.  Find a pattern that relates to the recipient of the gift.  Coffee or k-cups are always welcome for the apartment coffee maker and are sure to be available in the gift recipient’s favorite blend.  (I found that Target sells a two-pack so it is not necessary to buy a large box.)  Flash drives are used by all students and can be found shaped as items to reflect the recipient’s personality – I have found ones shaped as surf boards and sushi!  Fun!

Add humor.  Adding humor is always required when creating a care package.  Find something fun to tuck into the package.  After a long, hard day of studying (or work), anything that can bring on a little smile is a great addition.  For my package, I found some chip clips in the dollar store that were shaped like lips – so fun, so perfect for Valentine’s Day, and so practical!

lip clips

Chip clips shaped like lips, found in the dollar store, add some humor to a Valentine’s Day care package.

Create some packaging flair.  Decorating your package – both inside and out – makes it special for the recipient.

For my package, I painted a 69 cent unassembled brown box with messy pink stripes.  Then I found a decorative packing tape – packaging tape now comes in many different colors and patterns and adds so much more flair than using something traditional!  For a sports fan, this can be school colors or colors of a favorite team…be creative…the large selection at the hardware or craft store is sure to spark your imagination.   I chose a pink polka dot packaging tape to seal my daughter’s care package.

adding flair to a care package

Messages can be written on both the inside and/or outside of the box to make it personal.  When my son was in college,  it became a tradition that I would always write the address for a cool new website on the inside flap of his care packages.  If the gift is for one of your children, write a favorite saying or song lyrics from a song you both enjoy…or write something you always say before bedtime. :)

My daughter is a nursing student and I once decorated the outside of a care package, to arrive before a big anatomy test, with body part stickers.  Hey, it must keep the delivery person amused!

Create flair with your packaging material as well.  For my Valentine’s Day care package, I purchased some inexpensive neon pink tissue paper and put it through my home shredder…so easy and inexpensive.  Try using old book pages, newspapers, sports or fashion magazines, etc.  There are so many options…and, so many ways to make the gift personal…the stock pages from the Wall Street Journal for a finance major recipient, for example.

paper shredding

Add flair to a care package by using a home shredder to create packing material. Use tissue paper, newspaper, old book pages, fashion or sports magazine pages, etc. to personalize the gift.

I won’t show you the gifts I included in the care package I created, since I don’t want to spoil the surprises!  ;)  Just remember that the gifts you select should be unique to your recipient…a sure way to make the package personal and memorable.  My kids have exceptional senses of humor, so anything related to an inside joke is always a perfect choice!

Have fun with it!  I would love to hear some ideas inspired by this post and also some memories about your favorite Valentine’s Day gift! 

Send me an email if you need some help with ideas for your personalized care package.

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

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