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january book giveaway!

December 30, 2014

page from Kinfolk pleasure in simple things blog

Hard to believe – not only is it the end of the month, but also the end of the year!  Where has the time gone?!

I am pleased to announce that Manda from Oklahoma is the winner of the December giveaway book Winter Cocktails by Maria Del Mar Sacasa!  Congrats Manda!  I know you will enjoy the book!  The two calendars are going to Ashley from Texas and Mary from Chicago.

For the first giveaway book selection for 2015, I have chosen The Kinfolk Table:  Recipes for Small Gatherings by Nathan Williams.  This book is definitely a winner!  The recipes in this book are a collection of recipes from home cooks from around the world where the author has taken us into the home of each of the contributors.  “Here you will find recipes not just for one-pot stews and refreshing salads, but for evenings spent with friends when the hours pass effortlessly, conversation flows naturally, cooking us participatory, and the meal ends with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.”

free giveaway book for January by pleasure in simple things blog

The book is a great way to set the tone for the start of a new year that includes many wonderful friends and many wonderful meals – demonstrating the joy in casual entertaining.  As much a coffee table book as a recipe book, this selection is sure to please!  (So much so, I am willing to send all 344 pages of this large, heavy book to the winner via mail!)

Leave a comment here or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to be entered to win this great book selection that will help you discover the simple pleasures of a shared meal.  Good luck!

For those on Instagram, this month’s challenge is Winter Whites!  Whether it be your skinny white cords paired with a white angora sweater or the piles of snow outside your back door, white in winter is special…a visual treat! For the month of January, let’s share photos of winter whites, using hashtag #pleasuregram. I can’t wait to see your photos!!

Jan 2015 Instagram Challenge pleasure in simple things blog

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I am excited to start a new year sharing pleasure in simple things with you!  Happy 2015!  xo Jackie


personalizing homemade party crackers

December 26, 2014

personalized party crackers for 2015 pleasure in simple things blog

Party crackers are nothing new. But, last year when a family member used them as wedding favors, I started giving them a little more thought. Why not make my own personalized version of a party cracker? So, I had been thinking about them for a while…I even saved all my empty toilet paper rolls (for over a year!) to use in creating some of my own.

For my research, I spoke to my friend from London. Julie filled me in on proper party cracker etiquette. The three required items that must be contained in the cracker – per tradition – are: a toy, a paper crown, and a joke. I planned on following tradition, but for my version, I decided to substitute a treat for the toy.

candy for new year's party crackers pleasure in simple things blog

I had the design aspect in my head and I was pretty sure I could come up with a good looking cracker as well as the right combination of contents…but, what about the noise the cracker makes when it is opened?! That was the part I wasn’t sure about! After looking around online, I found the ‘crack’ was actually a thin strip of paper that contained a little bit of gun powder called a cracker snap.  I purchased the cracker snaps from Olde English Crackers and found a video they posted on the assembly steps to create the crackers. Click here for the instructions. (Note: I did not use the rollers shown on the video and had no trouble making the party crackers without them. I did find it was very useful to make a center line with a pencil on both the toilet paper roll and the wrong side of the decorative paper to use as guides. )

papers for party crackers pleasure in simple things blog

Since my first set of party crackers were being created for New Year’s Eve, I decided the outside of the crackers would be black (with an added hint of green for an accent color) to coordinate with a set of black dishes I planned to use for New Year’s Eve dinner. If you decide to make some crackers, think about what color(s)/pattern(s) would look best on your dinner table!

I bought sheets of decorative paper at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store (on sale) for just pennies a sheet. I chose coordinating black patterns with stripes, stars, and script writing. I personalized some circle gift tag stickers with ‘2015!’ from Tiny Prints (click here for website) in my black and green color theme and I used a green sparkle ribbon to tie the ends of the crackers.

contents of personalized party crackers pleasure in simple things blog

For the inside contents of the crackers, I decided on a neutral color scheme. I printed jokes on my home computer that I found online – adding a little embellishment with a gold marker. I crafted the paper crowns from a pretty taupe and white patterned tissue paper. And, for the treat, I made up little bags of champagne flavored candy that I found at Williams-Sonoma…so elegant and so appropriate! A little handful of homemade confetti added a little extra touch of gold to the contents!

making jokes for party crackers pleasure in simple things blog

Party crackers are so much fun to create – personalizing them is the best part! The only limitation is keeping your contents within the confines of the inside space of an empty toilet paper roll!

making personalized party crackers pleasure in simple things blog

I hope I have inspired you to try your hand at creating some party crackers on today’s Friday field trip! I already have some in mind for my 4th of July party this summer! If you need help with some ideas or have questions, send me an email and I’d be happy to help!

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

Sharing with The Shabby Nest and Elizabeth & Co.

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snowballs for dessert

December 23, 2014

great holiday dessert ice cream snowballs pleasure in simple things blog

Do you need a quick and easy, stress free, last minute holiday dessert?  Small individual desserts at a meal are especially perfect at the holidays. Since there is so much snacking and treat eating between meals, a small refreshing sweet is ideal.  Do you want to know what I think fits the bill perfectly? Snowballs!

icecream snowball for dessert pleasure in simple things blog

Some of the best desserts are the simplest. And. at the holidays, snowballs are perfect!  Just 2 easy ingredients – vanilla ice cream and coconut – create a delicious snowball for dessert. This dessert looks so seasonal on a holiday table, and it is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages!  There is no better way to bring back memories of creating snowmen or participating in long ago snowball battles!

vanilla bean ice cream to make snowballs for dessert pleasure in simple things blog

I love ice cream snowballs. They are such a festive winter dessert.  Just make a round of a good quality vanilla bean ice cream and roll it in coconut – voila!  A snowball!

For an easy upgrade, a pool of chocolate or raspberry sauce can easily be added to the bottom of the bowl.  Or, for those over 21, add a favorite liquor – peppermint or peach are great choices. Myself – I prefer just a garnish of sugared cranberries or raspberries and some mint.

seasonal cranberry and mint garnish on snowball for dessert pleasure in simple things blog

I use red mini latte bowls from Anthropologie to serve – the perfect size for a single snowball!  (The dishtowel is also from Anthro.)

If you have little children, you may want to consider stacking the snowballs to make a snowman or serving a ‘snow fort’ on a platter, to be portioned out at the table!  Enjoy!

Wishing you and those you love a very blessed holiday.  Thank you so very much for sharing pleasure in simple things with me!

See you after the holiday, Jackie xoxo

Sharing with House of Hipsters, The Shabby NestElizabeth & Co., and Sand & Sisal.


forest in a jar centerpiece

December 19, 2014

forest in a jar pleasure in simple things blog

Originally, holiday 2014 in my house was intended to have a sea glass theme using aqua as an accent color. But, as you know if you read my blog, I was so wrapped up in last year’s outdoor theme that I had to continue it for one more year…I just had too many ideas left to use! The sea glass theme is being pushed out to 2015…can’t wait!

easy to make  forest in a jar pleasure in simple things blog

You may also know, one of my fascinations this year has been with jars, bottles, (even salt shakers) …any type of glass container. I just can’t seem to get enough! Putting some favorite items in a jar can really elevate them to the status they deserve and it puts a smile on your face in the process!

DIY forest in a jar pleasure in simple things blog

Case in point – my favorite trees from Terrain this year. The trees are just so beautiful, I wanted to highlight them in some way. I decided to make a very simple forest in a jar! Rather than use the typical snow for the bottom of the jar, I used white beans. I love the simplicity of the design!

outdoor theme holiday decor pleasure in simple things blog

The jar? I bought it at Target. In fact, I bought quite a few. They come in 3 sizes and are very reasonably priced – ranging in price from $3.99 to $14.99.

easy forest in a jar pleasure in simple things blog

neutral tree cookies pleasure in simple things blogThen, I got so stuck on the forest in a jar idea, I made one out of cookies also! On this one I used sugar ‘snow.’ I made gingerbread cookies and let them sit around for a while so they got really rigid before I used them – better for standing!  The cookies can easily be decorated to match your decor!

Happy planting! What will you use to make your forest in a jar?

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I hope you enjoyed Friday field trip’s quick and easy way to create a holiday centerpiece!  Have a fabulous weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at House of HipstersThe Shabby Nest, Crafts a la Mode, and Craftberry Bush.



diy feather ornaments

December 16, 2014

white feather glitter ornament pleasure in simple things blog

It is hard to believe Christmas is only a little over a week away! But, there is still some time to make some ornaments as gifts. I am sharing two easy DIY ideas on making feather ornaments. A woodland holiday theme needs to include feathers, nests, and birds – don’t you think?

One way is to put a feather or feathers into a clear hollow glass ornament. I did this in three different variations this year:

1.  I used a clear drying glue to add silver glass glitter to the outside bottom of the glass globe and added a spotted feather inside the globe.

dotted feather ornament pleasure in simple things blog

2.  I used a cotton swab to add dots of clear drying glue and glued white glass glitter to the dots. When dry, I added a white feather and a pinch of silver glitter inside the globe.

white dot and feather ornament pleausre in simple things blog

3.  I dipped two feathers into some silver glass glitter before placing them into the globe. To keep them positioned correctly, I used a glue gun to glue the tops of the feathers near the top of the ornament. This doesn’t show, because the place where the feathers are glued is covered when the metal piece for hanging the ornament is repositioned on the ornament top.

close ups of glitter feather ornaments pleasure in simple things blog

The second way isn’t using an actual feather, but rather… using heavyweight cardboard to create a feather design. Simply draw or trace a feather onto cardboard (I made mine black for purposes of demonstration – it is best to use the same color as your glitter so a different color will not show through). Cut out the feather shape using a craft knife and cut a hole for adding a string or ribbon. Use clear drying glue to cover the cardboard with glass glitter – one side at a time.

process of making a feather glitter ornament pleasure in simple things blog

Add a ribbon or string for hanging. I used black and white baker’s twine because I am giving my feather ornament as a gift, and the black and white color scheme best reflects the taste of the recipient.

packaged feather ornament pleasure in simple things blog

I decided to package it with a favorite Emily Dickinson quote. I used my computer printer to print the quote onto a clear label and used the label to seal the ornament in a clear cellophane bag. I think it makes a thoughtful gift.

emily dickinson quote pleasure in simple things blog

I hope these ideas have inspired you to create some ornaments using feathers.  Have fun with it!

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Elizabeth & Co., Sand & Sisal, and Coastal Charm.

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salt shaker snow globes

December 12, 2014

Salt Shaker Snow Globes pleasure in simple things blog

With the current bottle and jar love I have going on for my holiday décor, this post should not surprise you!

Remember a few years ago when Anthropologie carried salt shakers with little trees in them?  Many crafters were inspired by this cute idea and I saw a number of versions created soon after the little beauties hit the Anthro stores.

Salt Shaker Snow Globes pleasure in simple things blog

I didn’t hop on that bandwagon and create a batch of salt shaker inspired items back then. That changed recently when I inherited quite an extensive salt shaker collection…(don’t ask – that interesting story is for another post!)

So, now in possession of so many salt shakers, I was prompted to create some salt shaker ‘snow globes’ and I am sharing some of my creations on Friday field trip today.  (Okay, so technically they are not snow globes since I haven’t added water.)

Salt Shaker Snow Globes pleasure in simple things blog

And, because of my preference for neutrals, I made my salt shaker snow globes with natural bottle brush trees.  I just added a little ‘snow’ and a tree to make a wonderful little favor or piece of holiday décor. (My recent inheritance gives me enough salt shakers to fill a mantle a couple of times over!)

Salt shakers are easily found at thrift stores or can be purchased very inexpensively at restaurant supply stores. Cute, aren’t they?

Salt Shaker Snow Globe with snowflake  pleasure in simple things blog

The best thing about them is that each creator can add a personal touch by choosing a favorite tree and ribbon or embellishment. For example, in one of my creations, I hung a little snowflake from a piece of thread. The variations are obviously endless!  Create something that matches your decor.  The stainless tops to the shakers can easily be spray painted with an oiled bronze or rusty look finish if that is your preference…or, spray in a glossy red or green!  You can also tie on a rusty jingle bell or other favorite item around the top of the shaker.  Or, glue a little ornament to the tree like I did with the Santa ornament my friend Phyllis gave me below. ;)  Group a bunch together and add some lights for a wonderful glow! :)

Salt Shaker Snow Globes and light pleasure in simple things blog

I hope I inspired you to create some salt shaker snow globes that coordinate with your individual taste and décor.  You don’t even have to ‘hold the salt’ – you can use it for the ‘snow!’

santa salt shaker snow globe pleasure in simple things blog

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

Sharing at Thoughts from Alice, Finding Silver PenniesHouse of HipstersCoastal Charm, Crafts a la Mode, Shabby Nest, French Country Cottage, and Craftberry Bush.


zip code pillow gift

December 9, 2014

adding a zip code to a pillow gift pleasure in simple things blog

I love using zip codes in gifts! Giving a gift with the zip code from a special place – a hometown, the location of a new home, a vacation or honeymoon spot, or a college town – is such a thoughtful way to recognize a favorite or significant place of the gift recipient.

You may remember the decorative zip code tray I made a while back. (Click here for instructions to make a zip code tray.) Today, I am sharing instructions on how to add a (no sew) zip code to a homemade pillow!

I made a pillow with the zip code for Breckenridge – one of my son’s favorite snowboarding places in Colorado – to add to a group of snow themed pillows I had made for his apartment.

pillows for snow boarders pleasure in simple things blog

I had planned on using an iron-on fabric adhesive to keep the zip code numbers in place and then to add decorative stitching around the edges of the numbers. As it turned out, the instructions on the adhesive I choose said “do not sew” on the instructions so, I ended up not including the decorative stitching to my design.

I chose linen for the pillow and gray felt for the zip code numbers. I used a product I purchased at a fabric store called HeatnBond Ultrahold to adhere the numbers.

zip code pillow on a bed pleasure in simple things blog

I decided on a 12” x 16” finish size for my pillow and cut the fabric appropriately. (If you decide to use a pillow form for your pillow, be sure to create a size that will accommodate it. If you are using polyfill to fill your pillow, you obviously do not need to be exact in your measurements.)

So, before proceeding to make the pillow, the desired zip code needed to be added to one of the pillow pieces. This was not hard to do, but took a little time and patience.

zip code pillow collage of instruction photos pleasure in simple things blog

First, I printed out numbers from my computer in a size and type style that looked appropriate for the finished pillow size. I cut out the five numbers from the computer paper.  (Cut only one paper number for a duplicate number.) I cut a piece of felt in an appropriate size to accommodate the five numbers I cut out. Following the instructions on the fabric adhesive, I used an iron to adhere the fabric adhesive to the BACK of the felt. Then, I flipped the numbers and traced them onto the paper of the adhesive. BE SURE to trace the numbers BACKWARDS (flipped on reverse side) so that they will come out the appropriate way when cut! I carefully cut out each number from the tracings. I removed the adhesive backing from the felt numbers and positioned them onto the right side of the linen piece I was using for the front of the pillow. Following the instructions on the adhesive, I ironed and bonded the numbers to the fabric.

Zip code complete! I then proceeded to finish sewing and stuffing the pillow. It is perfect for the snow themed holiday gift for my son…the perfect addition to a snowboarder’s apartment!  Now I am thinking I should make more – so many snowboarding states, so little time!  I also made one for a new home owner.  (For my own home I am thinking zip codes from favorite beach towns in neutral and sea glass hues!)

Love a themed gift! It’s snow much fun! ;) I can’t wait to coordinate the wrapping!

snow themed pillows pleasure in simple things blog

Note: The snow pun pillows in this post were ordered from Tiny Prints. Every year when I order my Christmas cards, I go a little crazy ordering other products I see on their site…this year; I couldn’t resist all the wonderful pillows that were available to personalize. If you want a zip code pillow and would rather not sew it yourself, you can easily personalize one using this website (click here for website)…or, even add a photo to a pillow. If I had a photo of my friend’s new home, I could have made a pillow with a photo of the home on the front! Next, I may order a pillow with a photo of my son snowboarding to add to his gift!  Another option to create a zip code pillow is to buy a pre-made pillow cover (Ikea has some nice ones) and follow the instructions I’ve provided to add a zip code.  I hope I have inspired you to create a themed gift for someone special!

Thanks for stopping by! Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with Thoughts from Alice, Elizabeth & Co., House of Hipsters, and Sand & Sisal.


shop hop 2014

December 5, 2014

putting together lunch for Shop Hop 2014 pleasure in simple things blog

Planning a shopping day filled with holiday inspiration with friends – what could be better?  Today’s Friday field trip is a special seasonal road trip to visit shops across Connecticut.

holiday shop hop 2014 pleasure in simple things blog

I made a holiday music CD for the car (actually my son made it, but hey –it was my idea!), decided on a box lunch menu (don’t want a restaurant lunch to slow us down!), and planned an itinerary for Shop Hop 2014!  The destinations?  Well, these are a surprise…but, I will share them with you in this post!

photos of Grace in Niantic pleasure in simple things blog

Shop Hop invitations are sent out in advance – promising a day of friendship and inspiration touring favorite shops in Connecticut. My 2014 ‘south central’ edition is spanning four counties in Connecticut – all easily accessible by highway I95. (I am including my hop locations in this post in the event you live in Connecticut and would like to replicate my hop.) Be sure to like my Facebook page by clicking here, so you can see a gallery of photos from each of the hop locations and share some of the inspiration – even if you don’t live in Connecticut!

photos from Taken for Granite pleasure in simple things blog

This is how our day goes… I pick up the gals at a designated location in the morning. They are not informed of our predetermined shop locations. ..makes it so much more fun this way! (For the most part, Shop Hop locations are best as isolated areas…save your clusters of stores in a town or a favorite local spot, for a day all on its own.)

Christmas at Terrain pleasure in simple things blog

A Christmas CD sets the holiday mood…this year, it was definitely a very eclectic mix! Click the three links below to hear three of this year’s selections:

This is my very favorite Christmas song by my very favorite entertainer.
Do you remember which recent fun holiday movie featured a version of this song?
Got to love my son’s sense of humor on this one!

2014 shop hop no 299 pleasure in simple things blog

A box lunch is the best way to avoid schedule interruptions. Believe me, this is for the best! A restaurant lunch wastes far too much precious time better devoted to inspirational adventures! Just be sure to use a cooler if you pack anything perishable!  I packed mine in take out containers and added a label on the outside that I cut from chalkboard contact paper.  A selection of flavored waters and ice tea rounded out the refreshments.  We can always pick up a hot tea or coffee on the road to go with our rosemary shortbread cookies. :)

boxed lunch for shop hop 2014 pleasure in simple things blog

For 2014, these are the five locations I chose for our hop:

Grace, 46 Pennsylvania Avenue, Niantic
Maynard Gardens Holiday Shop, 87 Ingham Hill Road, Old Saybrook
Taken for Granite, 409 Leetes Island Road, Branford
No. 299 Fairfield, 318 Villa Avenue, Fairfield
Terrain, 561 Post Road East, Westport

favors for Shop Hop 2014 pleasure in simple things blog


Lastly, I like to leave my friends with favors – what fun is a special event without favors!



We visited some beautiful shops, but spending the day with my friends was the special part of the day! :)

I hope you are inspired to plan your own Shop Hop! Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or need suggestions. Have fun with it!

car at Grace in Niantic pleasure in simple things blog

Have a fabulous weekend filled with holiday inspiration, Jackie

P.S.  The movie was Elf.

Sharing with City Farmhouse, Coastal Charm, Crafts a la Mode, The Shabby Nest, and Craftberry Bush.

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december book giveaway!

December 2, 2014

Dec2014 book giveaway pleasure in simple things blog winter cocktails

December is upon us!  Today I am announcing Tracy in Connecticut as the winner of the November giveaway book, Mast Brothers Chocolate.  Congrats Tracy!  The recipes in this book are super for creating holiday gifts of chocolate!  Next Friday I will be sharing the chocolate granola recipe, so be sure to stop back to see how cute it can be wrapped for giving!

The December giveaway selection is a great seasonal choice – Winter Cocktails by Maria Del Mar Sacasa.  Leave a comment to be entered to win this great selection and make some wonderful drinks (both with and without alcohol) – from mulled cider and hot toddies to lavender hot cocoa!

Recently, when I was in Anthropologie, I saw these cute 2015 calendar pages that seemed to fit in with this month’s giveaway perfectly!  So, I decided to pick up two and I will be giving away the calendars also!  Three chances to win this month!  Good luck!

cocktail calendar giveaway pleasure in simple things blog

Thanks so much for stopping by!  As December continues, I am excited to share inspiring ideas for the holiday season!  Please join me all month for creative ways to celebrate the season!

For those of you on Instagram, this month’s challenge is to share tree ornaments!  Let’s use hashtag #pleasuregram to share some of the wonderful variety of ornaments you may find.  I can’t wait to see your favorites!

Instagram december 2014 challenge pleasure in simple things blog favorite ornaments

Remember – especially during this holiday season – to find pleasure in simple things, Jackie