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book giveaway for april!

April 1, 2014

Ecobeauty by Janice cox

Congratulations to Jenna, the winner of the March book giveaway Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist!  I hope this book provides you with some inspiration to celebrate the extraordinary nature of everyday life!

It’s April 1st and I have a special “how to” book to announce for the April giveaway selection!  Ecobeauty by Lauren & Janice (photo above) Cox is a great DIY book with a hundred different projects that are easy and economical to create.  It even includes instructions on creating henna tattoos!  This mother and daughter team have created some really easy recipes to make beauty products at home as a great way to save money and help the environment.

Included are some wonderful photographs of ways to package the products and also hints for shopping for natural ingredients.  With the help of this wonderful book, you too can create products that will rival the products sold at the natural beauty product chain at your local mall!

The book offers some great gift ideas and will be the perfect inspiration to create some wonderful beauty products for your own use or as really thoughtful and beautiful Mother’s Day gifts!

Leave a comment on this post, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter during the month of April as a ‘chance’ to be entered to win!  Good luck!

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

Instagram users, please read on!  For the monthly pleasure in simple things Instagram challenge, use hashtag #pleasuregram to share egg photos throughout the month!  Share your decorated eggs, eggs that inspire you, or any cool egg finds during the month!  Have fun with it!

April Instagram Challenge

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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



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


monthly book giveaway for november!

November 1, 2013

Penguin and the Pinecone

penguinYikes!  November already?!  That month sure went fast!  The October giveaway selection of Backyard Foraging signed by author Ellen Zachos goes to Jennifer!  Congratulations!

This month’s giveaway is a picture book that tells a special story of friendship…

a perfect gift for any little one on your holiday gift giving list.

One of my friends introduced me to Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon and I just fell in love with the book!

In keeping with my woodland holiday theme this season, the story is set in the forest and offers some great tie-in gift options…

I can’t wait to show you the gifts I am creating to give with the book!  Be sure to check in to see my ideas for gifts to use with this charming storybook!

Leave me a comment here or on twitter, facebook, or instagram to be entered to win this lovely storybook!

Have a great start to the month!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie   Instagram users, read on…

For November’s Instagram challenge use hashtag #pleasuregram to share your woodland inspired photos!

aaaaPicMonkey Collage


monthly book giveaway for august!

August 1, 2013

author colum mccannWriter Colum McCann

Congratulations to Jacqueline, who writes the blog Marbles Rolling, for winning July’s giveaway!  I know you will enjoy the signed copy of Wonder by R. J. Palacio!

The August selection is a New York Times bestseller written in 2009.  I read Let the Great World Spin some time ago and found it so wonderfully fascinating that when I got the opportunity to see the author speak in Philadelphia last week, I jumped at the chance.

Colum McCann spoke at the Free Library in Philadelphia and read selections from his newest book Trans Atlantic.  Although his newest book seems to contain the same poetic passion that I enjoyed in Let the Great World Spin, I decided to have his last book signed for the giveaway since it was such a favorite of mine.  A passionate, beautifully written book set in New York City in the ’70′s,  McCann provides a very unique reading experience that includes a richness of characters and a vivid depiction of New York.

The New York Times Book Review wrote:

“An emotional tour de force…electric, profound…Like a great pitcher in his prime, McCann is constantly changing speeds, adopting different voices, tones and narrative styles as he shifts between story lines…It is a mark of the novel’s soaring and largely fulfilled ambition that McCann just keeps rolling out new people, deftly linking each to the next as his story moves toward its surprising and deeply affecting conclusion…Let the Great World Spin (feels) like a precursor to…The Bonfire of the Vanities.”

Meeting Colum McCann in Philadelphia

My favorite part of meeting Colum McCann was when he asked me to signed his book!  How fun…although it did catch me off guard!  I guess I should have been a little more thoughtful in what I wrote (Big Fan!?)…but, I was so excited to meet him!

Be sure to leave a comment on a post or on my Facebook page (or Twitter or Instagram) to be entered in the random drawing to win a signed copy of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.  Good luck!

Thanks so much for visiting, Jackie

P.S.  Instagram users, please read on for the August word prompt challenge!  Share your photos daily with hashtag #pleasuregram.

august instagram challenge



monthly book giveaway for july!

July 1, 2013

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Congratulations to Emma from Connecticut, winner of the June giveaway book Little Princes by Conor Grennan!  Emma, I know you will enjoy this wonderful read signed by the author.  Now, for our July giveaway selection…

Wonder tattoos

Temporary tattoos distributed by the Fairfield Library during the Fairfield University appearance of author R.J. Palacio, who’s book Wonder was chosen for Fairfield’s 2013 town read.

I don’t like vampires…or zombies…so; I am not a big reader of Young Adult fiction.  Yet, every once in a while a really special book shows up in the YA category that deserves attention.  Books like The Fault in Our Stars or The Book Thief come to mind.   Recently, a book categorized for even younger readers –  9 to 12 year olds -was added to my list of recommended titles.  This book is Wonder by R. J. Palacio, and it is a must read for all ages.

I was lucky enough to catch an appearance by the author when she was in Fairfield, Connecticut, and I am thrilled to be able to give away a copy of Wonder signed by R. J. Palacio to one of my blog readers.  Just leave me a comment during the month of July to be entered into the drawing…each comment qualifies as an entry.

The book’s message?  Choose kindness.  Sounds simple, right?  It certainly should be…and this is the sentiment illustrated beautifully in the story of a young boy with a facial deformity, named August, who mainstreams into school for the first time in fifth grade.  The book starts from Auggie’s point of view, continuing on with the perspectives of others to help tell this story of friendship and acceptance. 

R. J. Palacio, author of the New York Times best seller Wonder.

R. J. Palacio, author of the New York Times best seller Wonder.

Inspired by her own personal experience, Ms. Palacio touches the hearts of all who read the story of young August.  Put this book on your summer reading list.  You will be so glad you did.  And when you finish, you can let your children read it. :)

Be sure to enter to win this marvelous book!

Have a wonderful start to July!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie   Instagram users, please read on… Please share your simple pleasures on Instagram!  Use these word prompts for July to inspire photos to share.  Be sure to tag your  #pleasuregram …share today or every day!  Enjoy!

Instagram #pleasuregram word prompts for July

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celebs writing books

June 7, 2013

photo of Giada DeLaurentiis

Last week I attended the Book Expo America in New York City.  I will be reviewing some of the wonderful books I discovered on upcoming posts, but for Friday field trip this week, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the celebrities that attended the event to promote their books.  Much to my pleasure, some celebrity chefs were represented, as you can see by the photo above of Giada De Laurentiis.  You probably already know I am a big Food Network fan by my visit to the ‘sacred ground’…a tour of Food Network…or, by my sharing of Bobby Flay’s Vanilla Bean Bourbon Milkshake recipe…so I was one happy camper to have the opportunity to meet some Food Network chefs while attending the Book Expo America!

Giada wrote a delightful new young readers series called Recipe for Adventure available in September 2013.  I read the Naples! edition and it is a wonderful story…incorporating foods and adventure and even some recipe cards!  A really awesome gift for any young readers on your holiday gift list this year!

photo of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

I have attended more basketball games in my life than I could ever count, and certainly more than any other sport…So, it was a thrill for me to get the chance to talk to basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and to shake the hand that sunk enough balls to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer…the hand that shot the infamous ‘sky-hook.’  Like Giada, he too wrote a book for a young audience.  Already a best-selling author, the title of his newest book Sasquatch in the Paint is aimed at readers 8 to 12 years old and is loosely based on challenges he faced while growing up.

photo of Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler’s newest book is titled Uganada Be Kidding Me.  Described as a travelogue, it is due out in October.

Photo of Snooki

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi  of Jersey Shore fame wrote Baby Bumps:  From Party Girl to Proud Mama, and all the Messy Milestones Along the Way due out in January 2014.

photo of Debra Messing

Debra Messing narrated the book The Little Red Hen due out in the fall.  (I love that this beautiful redhead narrated The Little ‘Red’ Hen!)  You go on to bigger and better things Debra, but you will always be Grace to me!  A truly lovely person.

Photo of Paula Deen

Paula and I did not discuss the cookbook she has coming out in October:  Paula Deen’s New Testament – we talked about our kids!  My admiration for her connection with her sons ensued a discussion of relationships with our children.  I know she has a really big personality, but I don’t think on television you can appreciate what a beautiful woman she is…she is stunning!

photos of Jim Carrey

This guy attracted an awful lot of attention!  I was wondering what type of book Jim Carrey would write…a children’s book seems appropriate for this comedian and his new picture book looks to be as fun as he is!  Wonderfully illustrated, the book is about a wave named Roland and is titled How Roland Rolls.  This is an excerpt from a letter Jim Carrey posted on the book’s website – written to the parents of children reading his book:   “I wrote How Roland Rolls specifically as a way for parents and grandparents to enjoy some quality hang-time. I hope the message of the story will help them feel connected, worthwhile, and a part of something vast and grand.”

photo of John Stockton

Another basketball legend I was honored to meet!  John Stockton played point guard for the Utah Jazz for 19 seasons and had an amazing career – playing on a team that never missed the playoffs while he was on it!  In my opinion, he is also part of the reason people know the name Gonzaga!  He is an all-around nice guy and I am excited about his new autobiography Assisted that shares glimpses of his personal life as well as his amazing basketball career.

photo of Julianne Moore

My discussion with this gal started out about Alec Baldwin, but we did discuss the premise of her new children’s book, which I totally fell in love with!  My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me addresses the experience of growing up with a mom from another country.  Like in her Freckleface Strawberry books, Julianne Moore writes from experience, which helps her books ring true with her young readers.  I see this as an important book for youngsters.

photo of Ann Romney

Former Presidential Candidate’s wife Ann Romney was on hand to share some recipes from her new cookbook coming out this fall, The Romney Family Table.

photo of Anne Burrell

Fellow Food Network fans will recognize ‘Rock Star’ Anne Burrell.  Anne has a follow-up to her bestselling debut cookbook called Own Your Kitchen:  Recipes to Inspire & Empower that is expected for release in October.

photo of T. Colin Campbell

T. Colin Campbell has written a newly released book Whole:  Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.  Dr. Campbell is featured in the documentary Forks Over Knives:  How a Plant-Based Diet Can Save America and is co-author of The China Study.  I have been strongly impacted by Dr. Campbell and his research since I saw Forks Over Knives and I am looking forward to reading his latest book.

photo of famous illustrator

This celebrity may not be as familiar to you, but I had to add him in my collection of celebrities since meeting illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti was a big deal to me.  Highly acclaimed in the art world and a creator of comics, painting, and illustration, Lorenzo Mattotti actually illustrated something for me on the spot when I met him…so cool!

I hope you enjoyed checking out some of the celebrities that attended the 2013 Book Expo America on this week’s Friday field trip.

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

Sharing at The Tablescaper and A Pinch of Joy.


monthly book giveaway for june!

May 31, 2013

author conor grennanphotos of author Conor Grennan

Congratulations to May’s winners Lenny, Angela, and Betty!  You will each receive a signed copy of last month’s selection  A Diary of Healing, My Intense and Meaningful Life with Cancer  written by Mary Ann Wasil.  I know you will enjoy this heartfelt memoir.

Now, on to June’s selection.  Since it is the last day of the month, this week’s Friday field trip will be to visit the author of June’s giveaway book… 

I meet a lot of authors.  And, once in a while I have an admiration for an author apart from an appreciation for his/her writing.  This month’s author is one of those cases.  His name is Conor Grennan and he is from my home state of Connecticut and a NY Times bestselling author. 

photo of the book Little PrincesI got the opportunity to talk with Conor on several occasions when his book Little Princes:  One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal was chosen as a town read selection in a nearby town.  He not only made an appearance at the town library, but also talked with the town in a couple of Skype sessions.   In my estimation, when a town chooses an author’s book for a town read, the author can’t help but develop a special bond with the readers.  The entire town, after all, is embracing his/her labor of love!  I am not sure if that was the reason for my immediate admiration for Conor or if it was his genuine nature and old-school values.  In any case, I liked him instantly.  He also has a wonderful sense of humor for the everyday, which you may know if you have read his posts on Huffington Post or follow him on Facebook.

At 29 years old, Conor Grennan decided to spend a year traveling the world, beginning with three months as a volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal.  After arriving at the orphanage, Conor soon discovers that the children are not orphans, but had been taken from their families by child traffickers.  And what starts as a volunteer assignment to help legitimize a trip traveling the world turns into an experience that shapes Conor’s life…as well as the lives of the families he reunites.

Little Princes is a true-life story documenting Conor’s experience and demonstrates how one man can truly make a difference.  It is a remarkably inspirational memoir that is sure to captivate.  A signed copy of the book will be given away randomly at the end of the month.  Just leave a comment to win!  Good luck!

Thank you so much for visiting!

Have a fabulous weekend, Jackie   Instagram users, please read on…

In an attempt to promote some sharing on Instagram, I am posting prompts for each month…share one day or every day!  Just add #pleasuregram:) to your photo!  I put the :) on the end to be sure our hashtag is totally unique!  Have fun with it!  Here are the June prompts:

June prompts for pleasuregrams:)


monthly book giveaway for february

February 2, 2013

author ayad akhtarphotos of Ayad Akhtar

Congratulations to Lucy, (from the blog Craftberry Bush) for winning the giveaway book for January!  I used to pick a winner from the author of every comment that was made to pleasure in simple things during the month of January.  Lucy has won a copy of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York’s newest book Ballerina Rosie (click here to see more about it.)  I don’t know if Lucy has any small children, but knowing she is an artist, I am sure she will appreciate this beautifully illustrated picture book signed by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

A signed copy of Ayad Akhtar’s debut novel American Dervish is February’s giveaway book.  Last September I had the opportunity to meet the award-winning filmmaker, playwright, actor, and novelist Ayad Akhtar when he visited the Wilton Library in Wilton, Connecticut.  The author discussion with Ayad Akhtar was truly one of my very favorites in some time.  As an American-born, first-generation Pakistani-American, I found his discussion of the Muslim-American experience extremely enlightening.

photo of American DervishAmerican Dervish is a fresh and touching coming-of-age story of a first generation Pakistani-American that gives the reader a look inside the interplay of religion and modern life.  The book examines the strong cultural forces at play for young men and women growing up Muslim in America.  The child of immigrants in the story struggles to find a place in his life for the traditions and beliefs of his ancestral homeland in a new world of broader possibilities that are both enticing and threatening.  Although the main narrative unfolds in pre 9/11 America, it is a timely and thought-provoking story.  I always enjoy a read where I can better understand a culture different than my own and through the Shah family in American Dervish; the reader most definitely better understands the struggles, complexities, value, and cost of being Muslim in America.

photo of ayad akhtar

It is a great read and I am excited to give it away to one of you!  Make some comments during the month of February and you may win a signed copy of this beautifully written first novel by Ayad Akhtar, February’s giveaway book, American Dervish.  Good luck!

Hope you are all enjoying a wonderful weekend :)

Thanks for visiting, Jackie

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1,000 places to see before you die

August 24, 2012

field trip friday

This week’s field trip is to the bookstore.  Have you heard about the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die?

In my very wildest dreams I could not visit the 1,000 places listed.  Who could?!   Who has the time, or more importantly, the resources to accomplish it?  Flipping through the book certainly makes me feel inadequate – I have seen very few of the places even listed in the U.S….heck, I haven’t even seen one of the four places listed in my state!

We live in a global society and I have seen very little of the globe.  I am lucky to live in a time when technology affords me the opportunity to discover many places I can’t visit.  I know watching television documentaries or reading a book is not the same as actually experiencing a destination with all five senses.  This was very obvious listening to Patricia Schultz talk about her travels at RJ Julias in Madison, CT where I saw her promoting the second edition of her New York Times bestseller, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.  Admittedly, she hasn’t seen all 1,000.  Although, I really started to believe she may have while listening to her, almost breathless, excitedly sharing all her knowledge of faraway places. It definitely seems like she has been everywhere!

As I sat waiting for the evening to start, I was sure I would be depressed knowing how many of these marvelous places I haven’t been.  But, it did not take long listening to Ms. Schultz to realize her presentation was more a reason to develop a love for travel, rather than a motivation to create a checklist of places visited.  Instead, she provides a list of opportunities…hoping to whet the reader’s appetite to discover someplace new.  Her enthusiasm is contagious.  And, although I don’t have much of a budget for travel, I came home inspired to try and visit more places.

A photo of Patricia Schultz discussing her book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”…a signed copy will be Septembers giveaway selection.

Ms. Schultz decided to pick 30 of the 1,000 places from around the globe listed in the book and present them in the form of a slide show.  Yes, the photos were incredible….but, equally incredible was the knowledge and love Ms. Schultz has for travel..and her thirst for learning about other lands and cultures.  She tours the world extensively. ..a  far cry from the first journey she credits with the start of her love to travel…instilling a desire  for adventure – Atlantic City!  As a child, from her home in New York state,  she couldn’t wait for the annual family journey to the shores of New Jersey.

So, I didn’t come home depressed at all….I came home exhilarated.  Ms. Schultz was enchanting.  And her presentation left me with a feeling of wanting to experience so much more.  So, even if many of my ‘visits’ are merely reading from her book, I feel motivated to experience more of the world.

Like I did, I want you to share some of Ms. Schultz’s enthusiasm for world travel.  If she is in your area, be sure to see her.  A signed copy of her book will be the giveaway book for September…so you too can catch some of her love for travel.  It may just give you the inspiration to visit a place nearby that you were always meaning to visit….or you may just book that faraway place you always wanted to see – it will open your mind to 1,000 possibilities.

‘Like’ my facebook page, follow me on twitter, or leave a comment on a post anytime during the month of September for a chance to win a copy of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, signed by Patricia Schultz.  (During August is a chance to win Yes, Chef signed by Marcus Samuelsson)

Happy trails!

Thanks for visiting, Jackie

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