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the woman behind the man

October 28, 2016


A recent work trip to Texas gave me the opportunity to visit the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin.

I had never before been to a presidential library and always thought of them as archives and not necessarily something I wanted to visit.  I found out in Texas that I was wrong on that thought.  The LBJ library was not just archives – though there was plenty of that, all stored neatly and expansively in red covered boxes.


In addition to the traditional archives, the building is a storehouse of memorabilia and artifacts, interactive displays, replicas, and presidential telephone recordings – all exquisitely displayed.  Quite honestly, regardless of party affiliation or political beliefs, this historical record of Lyndon Baines Johnson, our 36th president, is fascinating!


The Oval Office from 1963 to 1969, when LBJ served as president.

I enjoyed my entire visit, but my favorite part of my tour was the top floor where all the former first lady’s artifacts were on display.  Mrs. Johnson – Lady Bird – was an amazing woman.


A portrait of Lady Bird Johnson at the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin, Texas

On Friday field trip today, I am sharing a couple of my favorite photos from my visit to the museum.  The trip created a new motivation to try and visit all of the presidential libraries!  I even picked up a ‘passport’ that I can use to document my visits to each of the 13 libraries!


Lady Bird’s office during the time she worked on the LBJ Library & Museum.

If you want to learn more about Lady Bird, I highly recommend a great recent nonfiction book (that reads very much like a fiction) titled Lady Bird and Lyndon:  The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President by Betty Boyd Caroli.

Another recent title you might also enjoy if former first ladies are of interest to you is  First Women:  The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower.


The outside of the LBJ Library and Museum on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a marvelous weekend!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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a vermont country home

October 25, 2016


I must admit, I have never really considered a move further north than my home state of Connecticut.  I have tent camped in every state in New England and I certainly appreciate the beauty of them all…but, to live?



Why would I never move to Vermont myself?  That infamous four letter word…s-n-o-w.  But that is exactly one of the reason’s my childhood friend Donna loves living in Vermont.  Although skiing every day in the winter is not a motivator for me, it is part of the appeal of living in snow country for Donna and her husband!


Ready for winter! Donna’s son and the rest of the University of Vermont lacrosse team made short work of stacking up this stockpile of firewood!



Today, I am sharing a little bit of the home that could actually make me consider a move!  With a wonderful sense of style, great resourcefulness and vision, and unique collaborations, my friend and her husband have created an amazing home inside and out!


Though frost was called for during the week, a couple garden plants were still hanging on!


Starting with a wonderful respect for the view and using many reclaimed materials from the area, this couple has spent the last five years creating a home that is uniquely their own.



I hope you have enjoyed the photos of this home and its amazing views.  If you want to see a few sneak peeks of the inside, I have shared a few photos on Facebook and Instagram…you will have to wait till spring for a full inside tour! :)


Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things…like visiting childhood friends,  Jackie

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new england autumn splendor

October 21, 2016


Vermont is certainly the quintessential place to observe the beauty of autumn.  I was lucky enough to visit during the peak of leaf peeping.

Even though the weather was cloudy during my visit, the beauty of the season was inspiring.


For Friday field trip today, I am sharing some of the beauty of Stowe, Vermont.







Thanks for stopping by!  Have a really wonderful weekend!


Remember to take pleasure in simple things…like enjoying the beauty of the season, Jackie

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a vermont wedding

October 18, 2016


This was the year of special weddings for me. You may remember I shared a spring spectacular overlooking the ocean at Castle Hill in Newport, Rhode Island and a summer mansion wedding in a garden in Fairfield County, Connecticut.  Today, I am sharing with you the finale of my magnificent weddings this year – a fall foliage stunner at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vermont.


The wedding day was a little overcast and there were a few raindrops.  But, this wedding needed a little rain and a few clouds – the brilliance of the couple, in addition to the brilliance of the surroundings, was almost too much to take – I don’t think we could have handled full sun!


No matter how full the fall foliage was on display this special October afternoon, nothing could have outshone the beauty of the bride as she made the life-long commitment to marry her best friend.



With this wedding, I celebrated not only the special wedding of my godson, but I also celebrated a special part of my life…a celebration of friendships that made up a big part of my childhood.   I am certain the person I have become was strongly influenced by these friendships and the many experiences I shared with these friends as we grew up together.

wedding-cuisine-top-notch-pleasure-in-simple-things-blogYou know those special lifelong bonds?


With these friends I can pick up just like we left off – literally, without missing a beat!  This was demonstrated brilliantly when the groom’s uncle and myself danced the 13 step at the reception – the same dance we had practiced together in his parent’s basement so many, many years ago!



Thank you so much for including me in your special day K & J! Love you D & J!


Thank you for stopping by!  Be sure to follow my posts next week for more Vermont fun!


Remember to take pleasure in simple things…like hugging a special friend,  Jackie


a visit to ben & jerry’s

October 14, 2016


A trip to Stowe, Vermont wouldn’t be complete without a tour of Ben & Jerry’s!  A recent trip to attend a wedding gave me the perfect opportunity to be a real tourist and check it out!  I am sharing today on Friday field trip!


The 30 minute tour started with a short video about how the ice cream phenomenon called Ben & Jerry’s got started and some history on its growth over the decades.  Started by two guys in 1978 after they took an ice cream making course at Penn State, the first Ben & Jerry’s shop opened in Burlington, Vermont in a renovated gas station.


My favorite fact?  Putting cookie dough in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was started after an anonymous tip was received from a customer in 1984!

Guests to the Ben & Jerry’s facility are asked not to take photos of the actual manufacturing room, so I am sorry I can’t share that part of the tour with you.


From there, the tour took me to the Tasting Lab.  A flavor called Caramel Apple was in process for the employee Halloween party…sounds yummy!  Fun fact:  Employees can take home free pints every day!  Of course, some tasting went on in the Tasting Lab…for me, Strawberry Cheesecake!


My favorite flavor has always been Phish Food, so I was surprised to find out the number one seller isn’t Phish Food but Half Baked!


Over time, I switched my Ben & Jerry’s purchases to the yogurt, then Greek yogurt flavors when those became available. Now I may need to decide which non-dairy flavor I like best – there are currently four available.

Surprisingly, the tasting was not my favorite part of my visit.  The best part of my visit to Ben & Jerry’s was actually outside the factory – a walk through the Flavor Graveyard looking through the retired ice cream flavors!


I hope I have inspired you to make a visit to Ben & Jerry’s next time you are in Vermont!  Or, maybe just to try a new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s from your local market!

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

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white pumpkins & neutrals

October 11, 2016


Last week I gave you some fall decor tips and took you to Terrain for some great inspiration on implementing them.  This week, I am sharing some of my color palette for fall…neutrals, or course!  And, Terrain definitely does a neutral right – so, some photos of their lovely grounds…all in neutral!  Enjoy!








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

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5 easy tips for fall decor

October 7, 2016


For today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing 5 easy tips to help inspire you to create great fall displays.  And, even more exciting, I have included photo examples from Terrain – my favorite home and garden store!  Here goes:

Highlight one unique piece.  Find one really unique pumpkin or gourd and use it as a focal point.  It may be a gourd with magnificent coloring, a pumpkin with many bumps, a gourd with a unique shape, or a pumpkin with a really cool twisty long stem!  Put a focus on that unique piece by displaying it on its own in a basket, on a table, or under a cloche.


Stack ‘em up.  A really easy way to create some drama is to stack up some pumpkins for a fall ‘topiary.’  Since this can be done on any scale, it is a great decorating idea on any budget!





Display en masse. Using any one item in multiples makes a design statement.  Put multiples of a piece or plant in a basket or on a chair or bench for an easy but impactful display. The ‘odd man out’ is also a fun way to display pumpkins.  Add an ‘odd man’ to a display of multiples.  For example, have tons of mini white pumpkins and add one orange pumpkin – or vice versa.




Open it up.  If you are displaying a bunch of items, particularly colorful ones, use an open container to give a full view of the items on display.  If you look around, you probably already have something you can use – like an old tomato cage or some chicken wire!



Add a pumpkin.  A very simple tip, yet an effective one, is just to add a pumpkin or two to any of your existing vignettes or plantings – indoors or out.  Without much expense, a few pumpkins can go really far to transform your current arrangements for the season!  Maybe add a little hay and some Spanish moss as well…easy!




I hope I have inspired you with today’s fall design tips and a visit to Terrain!  Thanks for stopping by!


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

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top 3 trader joes pumpkin

October 4, 2016


Trader Joe’s is brimming with pumpkin flavored items during this time of year and I love trying every one!  As new items are added for sale each year; there are always plenty to taste test!

Today, I am sharing my top 3 seasonal pumpkin picks at Trader Joe’s.

My number 3 choice is a tie between pumpkin panettone and pumpkin mochi.

You are probably no stranger to panettone for the holidays – particularly if you are Italian.  Well, Trader Joe’s has started a new tradition, in my book, with its fall version of this holiday classic.  If you like panettone, you will definitely enjoy Trader Joe’s seasonal version of this Italian sweet bread.  It contains a very subtle note of pumpkin flavor with candied pumpkin pieces replacing the traditional candied citron.  And, some added pumpkin cream adds a little yummy surprise.  It is the perfect coffee or tea companion.


After trying this panettone last year, I was disappointed when I returned to the store for more and found it was all sold out.  This year, after noticing the expiration date on the package was in February 2017, I picked up a few extra to use at the holidays.  I think it is the perfect first thing on Thanksgiving – pregaming for Thanksgiving dinner!

Another Trader Joe’s variation to something I love is the pumpkin mochi!


If you are not familiar with mochi, it is a popular treat in Japan.  A sticky rice is used to create a chewy and sweet outside coating for a small ball of ice cream. Trader Joe’s offers these taste treats with pumpkin ice cream!  Can you see the little brown specks?  Pieces of graham!   These fun little pops of pumpkin flavor come packaged in boxes of six individual pieces.


Runner ups in the sweet category are items that are great to use as hostess gifts for your seasonal celebrations – pumpkin caramels, pumpkin seed brittle, and pumpkin macarons.  Trader Joe’s also has some really cute iced pumpkin cookies as well as iced mini cakes that are perfect to bring to surprise special little children you may be visiting during the fall!

favorite-sweets-trader-joes-pleasure-in-simple-things-blogComing in at number 2 on my favorites list is pumpkin shaped pasta.


It may not be the most healthful or flavorful item in the store, but it is so darn cute!  Just imagine this pumpkin shaped pasta served with pumpkin sage cream sauce or as a base for a seasonal pasta salad!  Any meal you serve using this pasta will definitely scream fall!

And…drum roll please…coming in as my number 1 favorite fall pumpkin item at Trader Joe’s…

Organic pumpkin!  This 15 ounce can of organic pumpkin is my favorite seasonal item at Trader Joe’s for the fall.  The ingredient label on the can reads “organic pumpkin.”  That is it!  A great starting ingredient to any pumpkin dish and super affordable!  If you don’t use the entire can, leftovers are great for beverages –like pumpkin smoothies or to flavor cream for pumpkin lattes!


I hope I have inspired you to make a trip to Trader Joe’s and discover your own fall faves!

P.S.  To my friends that crush on white pumpkins as much as I do – Trader Joe’s carries baby boos for .69 cents each!

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

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