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pink velvet pumpkins to celebrate health

September 16, 2014

velvet pink pumpkins help celebrate october breast cancer awareness pleasure in simple things

I make velvet pumpkins at this time of year, as you may already know!  One of the fun parts about making the pumpkins is choosing the fabric. I love finding new and different velvets each year to make my velvet pumpkins – adding real pumpkin stems as a finishing detail.

 velvet pink pumpkin for breast cancer awareness pleasure in simple things

One velvet that I continue to use every year is a pink one. Since breast cancer awareness month is in October, what better way to celebrate it than with a pink velvet pumpkin!

pink pumpkins for breast cancer awareness pleasure in simple things

Every year I make some pink pumpkins to give to friends that have survived breast cancer that I may see during the month of October. (One year I had the opportunity to give a pink pumpkin to breast cancer survivor Hoda Kotb when I met her at a book signing!)

breast cancer awareness pink pumpkin diy

A pink pumpkin makes a thoughtful gift for a breast cancer survivor and displaying one is a wonderful reminder of breast cancer awareness month.

pink velvet pumpkins for breast cancer awareness pleasure in simple things

This year, for a friend celebrating 5 years cancer-free, I added a ‘5’ using a wooden tag stamped with the number 5.

pink velvet pumpkin with 5 year cancer free tag pleasure in simple things

A pink velvet pumpkin is a subtle and beautiful reminder of breast cancer awareness month. If you would like to make your own velvet pumpkin for yourself or a friend, click here for my tutorial.

Thanks for stopping by, Jackie

P.S. The ribbon used on the ‘5’ pumpkin was inexpensive white seam binding tape I bought on clearance and dyed with strong coffee…some of my favorite ribbon!

Sharing with Sand & Sisal.

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the best park in nyc

September 12, 2014

 view of the Hudson River from the High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

 view of city streets on the High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

I can’t deny that Central Park is magnificent, but it is not my favorite park in New York City. For Friday field trip today, I am sharing a glimpse of my favorite park in the city. It not only provides an amazing display of shrubs, grasses, trees and perennials that rival any public garden, but also provides a unique view of the city from 30 feet above the ground!

 black eyed susans along the High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

 grafitti on the High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

view of hydrangea on the High Line in NYC pleasure in simple things

Running from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, the High Line is a one mile New York City linear park built on a section of an old railroad spur. This unique park, 30 feet above street level, contains innovatively designed seating areas and beautiful plantings in addition to expansive views of New York City and the Hudson River.

view from the High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

walking the High Line pleasure in simple things field trip

The park provides a view of life in New York like no other.

office along the High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

A view of an office from the High Line in New York City.

art on the High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

Seasonal blooms (click here for September list), art on display, and scheduled activities are all part of the High Line culture. Dining is also an option during a visit and a fun way to take a rest and admire views of the Hudson River.

one of the many food options on the High Line in NYC pleasure in simple things

It is an exciting time to be a High Line fan, because on September 21st a new High Line section, from 30th Street and 10th Avenue to the curve near 12th Avenue, and up to 34th Street will be opened to the public. I can’t wait to check out the new design features and plantings in the new Rail Yards section!

 flowers amid construction High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

original rail tracks on the High Line in NYC pleasure in simple things

Cleverly designed seating amid the original rails on the High Line in New York City.

If you should visit New York City, be sure to include the High Line in your schedule of activities.

 view of a window on High Line NYC pleasure in simple things

Thanks so much for stopping by for Friday field trip. Have a wonderful weekend!

Remember to find pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Finding Silver Pennies, and Crafts a la Mode.

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roasted chickpeas recipe

September 9, 2014

roasted chickpeas pleasure in simple things

Have you tried roasting chickpeas? For me, roasted chickpeas are a great alternative to eating a pint of sorbet! I can eat a can (or two) of chickpeas in one sitting and not feel nearly as guilty!

Roasted chickpeas as a snack are so simple to prepare and require very few ingredients – chickpeas and spices and you are good to go! I always have canned chickpeas in the house, so the ingredients for roasted chickpeas are always at the ready. And, with chickpeas costing 65 cents a can, they produce a very inexpensive snack!

roasted chickpeas recipe pleasure in simple things

If you want to experiment with the recipe I provided, use any spice you may love to flavor the chickpeas – try some of your favorites. I love to use fresh rosemary, but smoky flavors also work really well. I don’t use much salt since I am not a big salt fan, but a smoky salt would work great if salt is your thing.

roasted chickpeas in a bowl pleasure in simple things

When you rinse and dry the chickpeas, be sure to dry them thoroughly. By doing so, you will ensure you get a crispy snack. The other key to crispiness is not to use too much olive oil – if you use too much, your chickpeas will be soggy. I put 2 tablespoons in the recipe – use a little less if you can, but never more than 2 tablespoons.

chickpeas on a baking sheet plesure in simple things

After I rinse them, I also remove any loose casings – but it is not a big deal if you miss some.

I turn the chickpeas once during cooking, but if I happen to be in the kitchen while they are in the oven, I will shake the pan a couple times also.

This snack is the best when eaten shortly after cooking. I usually do not have any leftovers, but on the one occasion when I do, I find I can ‘recharge’ the crispiness of the chickpeas by putting them back into a 400 degree oven for a short time to remove any moisture.

making roasted chickpeas pleasure in simple things

I hope you will try roasting some chickpeas if you haven’t already…they are a great crunchy snack!

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

Sharing at Crafts a la Mode.

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in the fabric mood

September 5, 2014

Mood home decor fabrics pleasure in simple things field trip

It is very hard for me to admit that summer is coming to an end. It is my favorite season, by far!

We all have our end of season traditions and I’m no exception. One of mine is to start looking for some fabric to make velvet pumpkins. Last year I also started making velvet acorns to go with my woodland themed holiday décor for 2013.

So, for today’s Friday field trip, I am taking you to my favorite fabric store – Mood in New York City. If you watch Project Runway on television you may recognize the name as the store used by the show’s fashion designer contestants. Located in the fashion district of Manhattan, it is a popular place for students of fashion design to shop for supplies.

Although I do often shop for fabric at the local craft store, it does not compare to the selection available at Mood. And, fabric is one of those things I prefer not to purchase online… I need to see and feel the fabrics I am selecting for my projects.

 home decor fabric at Mood in NYC pleasure in simple things

 mood home sign in NYC pleasure in simple things

At Mood, I can be sure to find a huge selection of fabric to admire! Starting downstairs, in the home décor section, I start by looking at upholstery fabric. I have a couple chairs to upholster and I want to find just the right fabric. I have brought my handy paint color swatches – they make it so much easier to compare paint colors to the colors of various fabrics.

choosing fabric at Mood pleasure in simple things

pleasure in simple things visits Mood fabrics

 pleasure in simple things matching colors at Mood fabrics in NYC

So many great choices…it is hard to choose! Can you guess what I decided to purchase? You may recognize some of these fabrics in upcoming projects!

pleasure in simple things visits Mood fabric in NYC

I am always a sucker for a great awning stripe! There are plenty to choose from at Mood in New York City.

My next stop is upstairs to the apparel fabric section. Here I will look for velvets that I use to make velvet pumpkins and velvet acorns. It is so inspiring to find so many different choices and my creative juices are in overdrive! My budget limits me to only a couple choices, but it is so fun to pick up some new fabrics and to imagine the pieces I will create!

entrance to Mood apparel fabrics  NYC pleasure in simple things

velvet fabric selection at Mood NYC pleasure in simple things field trip

Upholstery fabric…check! Velvets…check! Mission accomplished! That’s it for today’s trip! I had fun discussing my projects with the Mood staff and talking about some of the new fabric trends. Mood is always an awesome and inspiring place to visit!

Thanks so much for stopping by.

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

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september book giveaway!

September 2, 2014

september 2014 giveaway book pleasure in simple things blog

Congratulations to Jenna, winner of the August selection Ocean Fishes by James Prosek.

I hate to even admit it is September, but today I am announcing the September giveaway selection.  The book is Inspire: The Art of Living with Nature by Willow Crossley.

When I first saw this book at Terrain, I instantly fell in love.  Many of the projects are close to my heart – some similar to projects I have created in the past.  Ms. Crossley does an amazing job of bringing nature indoors in lovely and inspiring ways.

inside the book Inspire: The Art of Living with Nature giveaway book pleasure in simple things

You will find the photographs are really lovely and the projects are wonderful!  A really beautiful book for a time of year when walks outdoors can be so inspiring!  This book will definitely help you celebrate the season with projects from nature.  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook or Instagram to be entered to win…good luck!

Inspire:  The Art of Living with Nature

I am such an Instagram nut!  I love it!  For those of you that share my passion, please read on!   You know summer is almost over when….Halloween candy is showing up for sale in the discount stores? College kids have moved back to campus?… What is it that signals summer’s end to you? For September we are using hashtag #pleasuregram to share photos that illustrate the end of summer.  For me – my annual trip to the fabric store to buy velvets for pumpkins and acorns is a major signal of summer’s end!!

Instagram challenge september 2014 pleasure in simple things

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

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chocolate excellence at mast brothers

August 29, 2014

Mast Brothers chocolate products pleasure in simple things

Have you tried Mast Brothers Chocolate? It is really something special. And, the excellence of this product extends to the packaging…it is truly a work of art! You know how I feel about package design! My first purchase of a Mast Brothers chocolate bar some years ago was actually motivated by the packaging. I really didn’t expect to be so wowed by the product!

display of chocolate at Mast Brothers in Brooklyn pleasure in simple things field trip

This display of chocolate bars at Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn reminds me of a museum installation!

For Friday field trip this week, I am taking you to the company’s flagship factory and store in Brooklyn, NY where these sophisticated chocolate products are created.

bags of cocoa at Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory pleasure in simple things

 Mast Brothers Chocolate Products pleasure in simple things

To get to Mast Brothers Chocolate from Connecticut, take Metro North into the city. From Grand Central Station, either walk or take the subway to Union Square. From there, an easy trip on the L to Bedford. The store is located in Williamsburg at 111 North Third Street, near the corner of Bedford and 3rd – the Brew Bar just a few feet away at 105A.

Mast Brothers Brew Bar in Brooklyn pleasure in simple things

This visit, I was particularly interested in the newly opened Brew Bar. Opening only a few weeks ago, the Brew Bar creates and serves chocolate beverages that are quite possibly the first of their kind. High quality cocoa nibs are brewed in water for 24 hours and used to create a drink with an essence of chocolate. On my first trip, I tried an iced variety.

Angela at Mast Brothers Brew Bar pleasure in simple things

Angela at Mast Brothers Chocolate Brew Bar in Brooklyn.

Servers Angela and Derrick were extremely accommodating on my visit and took time to explain the process used to create the drinks and the varieties of chocolate available. The beverage itself is the color of a tea and has a subtle chocolate fragrance and flavor. It is extremely unique…I enjoyed it. I am sure most patrons probably add sweetener – a simple syrup is offered – I drank mine unsweetened. The subtleness of the flavor really appealed to me – so much different than a milk-based chocolate drink like hot cocoa.

Mast Brothers Chocolate store pleasure in simple things

Rick and Michael Mast are extremely passionate about their work and it shows in everything they produce. If you would like to learn a little more about them and their business, click here for a video. (If you would like to visit, sign up in advance online for a 45 minute tour of the factory at the cost of $16. by using Eventbrite.)

outside of Mast Brothers store pleasure in simple things

Thanks so much for joining me on Friday field trip today for a little glimpse of Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn.

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

P.S. I purchase my Mast Brothers Chocolate locally at Whole Foods Market.

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top 6 summer obsessions 2014

August 26, 2014

Pleasure in simple things 2014 summer obsessions

Here in Connecticut, we are not experiencing the usual hot August days this year and I have been trying to fit in as many painting projects as I can before the weather turns cool. So, I have been posting quite a few painting projects. Today, I am posting something a little different…I am sharing my top summer obsessions.

So sit back with a cup of coffee or cold drink and enjoy…hopefully, after you read this, you will be inspired to share some of your summer obsessions with me! ;)

THE BEACH  Of course, the beach will always be my number 1 summer obsession (and, clearly, this obsession is not limited to the summer!) This summer, I got the chance to visit a new beach. Although very briefly, I had the opportunity to visit St. Augustine, Florida – named one of America’s Happiest Seaside Towns by Coastal Living Magazine  When visiting a new area, checking out the local beach is always on the top of my list!  In St. Augustine, I even got the chance to visit a lighthouse!

Summer obsessions 2014 pleasure in simple things St. Augustine, FL

Oh, while I am on the subject of beaches, I must include my favorite float/beach toy this summer. Have you seen the cool pool floats at Urban Outfitters? They were a must-have this summer. Definitely obsession worthy. The donut is my favorite…I’ll take mine with sprinkles, thank you very much!

TATTOO BRACELETS   Bracelets are probably my favorite piece of jewelry. The trouble with wearing them, particularly in the summer, is that they get caught on everything! My hands are just too busy working, painting, crafting, etc. to wear a bracelet without it snagging and breaking. This summer, I came up with the perfect solution! These metallic temporary tattoos are a great alternative to a traditional bracelet and look so pretty on a tanned body! This cool arm or (insert name of body part here) candy from lulu dk is a great way to add a little bling to the ‘bod’ and a must have for the summer!

TOP CHEF DUELS  This summer another food show was added to my TV viewing schedule…Top Chef Duels on Bravo! I love watching all the Top Chefs and this show is a win-win since Top Chefs compete against one another. Also, it happens to be hosted by two of my favs – Curtis Stone and Gail Simmons.

Meeting Curtis , Gail, and many of the Top Chefs (including one of my very favorites – Richard Blais) and getting the chance to TASTE THEIR FOOD helped make my summer complete! Aaaah, the beauty of living close to NYC! Clear the couch Wednesdays at 10:00…gotta love me some Top Chefs!

pleasure in simple things summer obsession 2014 painting with Annie Sloan

ANNIE SLOAN CHALK PAINT  Painting has always been a part of my life…pretty much, you name it and I’ve painted it! And, the summer is always a great time to paint furniture since it can be done outdoors. This summer, I did tons of experimenting with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I was late to the game on getting started with this paint, but I think I have made up for it this summer – from accessories to furniture, I have been having a fun time with it. The little to no prep required with this paint affords so much more time for the ‘fun’ part of painting furniture – different finishes and detail painting! I have to beat the clock with furniture painting in the good weather since I really don’t enjoy it as much indoors.

FROZEN TREATS  Something frozen is always part of my summer treat repertoire! This summer, I did some experimentation with ice pops using the plastic sleeves that are now available for purchase – just the fact that the frozen treat is in the plastic sleeve makes it taste better! But, my top frozen obsession this summer isn’t made by me.

pleasure in simple things coconut lemongrass sorbet  summer obsession 2014

It is produced by a gourmet food store in Fairfield, Connecticut and is a store-made sorbet. My flavor of choice? Coconut lemongrass! O.M.G. I can eat a single serving (isn’t a pint a single serving?) plain or, at the serving suggestion of my friend Phyllis, enhanced with fruit. Either way, it is a big time winner!

Runners up in the food and beverage obsessions for me are watermelon water and (an every year summer obsession) fresh tomato pizza.

SPECIALTY STRAWS  Summer is all about frozen drinks and what could be more fun than a cool straw to add to them?! I get involved with a lot of party planning and my current obsession for any occasion is specialty straws! I like using them for every summer party!

a beach straw pleasure in simple things summer obsession 2014

Some applications include: the name of a school for a graduation party, Mr. & Mrs. for a casual beach wedding, a new baby’s name or all the possible choices a new baby will be named, etc. A party accessory that can easily be adapted to any theme and so much fun! They are really great for summer frozen drinks or for a signature drink created for a party. And, such a fun takeaway! Order the word(s) of your choice from Krazy Straws and add some extra fun to your summer soiree!

So there you go…the things I have been obsessed with this summer! There are still some summer days remaining and some time left to add a few more obsessions to my list. Do you have any contenders? Do tell!

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

The photo of the metallic tattoos is from the lulu dk website…I had a heck of a time trying to photograph my own arm! ;)

Sharing with Crafts a la Mode, Craftberry Bush, Shabby NestFinding Silver Pennies, Coastal Charm, and Sand & Sisal.

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seaside summer lunch

August 22, 2014

queens annes lace by the sea pleasure in simple things

In an attempt to squeeze every last sun-filled second out of summer, today I am taking some time to have lunch with a friend at the beach and you can join me for today’s Friday field trip.

 lighthouse pleasure in simple things

This is the time of year when I panic to think I haven’t truly appreciated my favorite season! Couldn’t I have done more summer ‘stuff?’  The season change already threatens with some cooler nights…one night has already been flannel worthy!  Shouldn’t I have taken more time to make s’mores, attend an outdoor concert, or float in a tube on Long Island Sound?  So, today I am fitting in some summer ‘stuff’ by having a lunch that truly celebrates summer in all its glory…

apiece of driftwood and Henry James quote pleasure in simple things

What do you think I am having for lunch?  Lobster roll?…Hamburger?  Nope!… Pizza!  Pizza may not sound much like typical summer food, but with fresh, seasonal, limited- time garden tomatoes, how can you beat this plum pie with pesto? So seasonal and so good!

a fresh tomato pie at the beach pleasure in simple things

And, for dessert…doesn’t this scream summer?

a ice cream cone at the beach pleasure in simple things

Hope you enjoyed our quick summer lunch.  Have a wonderful weekend!  I hope you will stop back on Tuesday when I continue to celebrate summer by sharing my top summer obsessions of 2014. :)

queens annes lace by the sea pleasure in simple things

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

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diy mirror to chalkboard

August 19, 2014

before and after mirror to chalkboard pleasure in simple things

It has been a while since my last large chalkboard project when I used an old skim board to create a nautical themed chalkboard. I have wanted to make another large chalkboard for quite some time and when I saw this mirror, I knew it would be perfect to repurpose!

Mirror before renovation pleasure in simple thingsThe frame had such great detail at the top and it was in wonderful shape.

Today I am sharing the easy steps I used to create a chalkboard.

I took apart the mirror – separating it from the frame. I put a coat of shellac on the frame using a soft, clean cloth.

Then, I used Annie Sloan Chalkboard paint in French Linen with a Pure White wash (the same process I used for this Newport table). French Linen is one of my favorite Annie Sloan colors and I really love the way it looks with black… perfect for a chalkboard frame!

After using clear wax on the completed finish, I did a little distressing and then added a second coat of wax to the frame.

Mirror turned chalkboard detail pleasure in simple things

To create the chalkboard, I used chalkboard spray paint in very light coats (probably 5 or 6) right over the back side of the mirror. Why the back? I just figured it could always be used again as a mirror if I kept the mirror side intact.

Chalkboard spray paint works so well on smooth surfaces – the smoother, the better. For this reason, any picture frame or mirror repurposes really well as a chalkboard. These items are pretty easy to come by at yard sales or thrift shops. Or, maybe you are holding onto a frame you really like, but aren’t too crazy about the print in it…perfect to refinish as a chalkboard!

Mirror detail pleasure in simple things makeover

After the chalkboard paint was good and dry, I ‘seasoned’ the board by using a piece of chalk on its side to color in the entire surface and then wiped it off with a soft, clean rag.

Mirror turned chalkboard pleasure in simple things

After putting the mirror back into the frame, my project was complete! And, the mirror already had a hanger on the back so I didn’t need to add one. I love this kind of project – when I use all materials I have on hand…I didn’t need to purchase one supply to complete it!

completed chalkboard from a Mirror pleasure in simple things

I added a favorite ‘beachy’ quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson and my project is complete! Can’t you just see this elegant chalkboard in the entry way of a coastal home?

I hope this has inspired you to repurpose an old picture frame or mirror into a beautiful ‘new’ chalkboard!

Thank you for stopping by.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with Finding Silver PenniesElizabeth and Co.Sand & Sisal and Coastal Charm.

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newport table (before & after)

August 15, 2014

pleasure sin simple things Annie Sloan coastal table

For Friday field trip today, I am sharing the before and after photos of a newly refurbished piece I named Newport.

When I first saw this table, I loved the way the sides came up and the detailed legs…isn’t it pretty? Of course, I wanted to ‘beachify’ it!

pleasure in simple things Newport table before

As I suspected, the finish gave me a little trouble. Looking at the color, I thought the finish may require a shellac coat before I painted it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I tried to get by without one, but realized after the first coat of paint that I would need the shellac. No worries! I just put a coat of shellac right over the paint and continued with my business!

For this piece, I used French Linen, probably my very favorite Annie Sloan color. I just love the way a white wash looks over French Linen!

 pleasure in simple things after photo coastal table Annie Sloan french linen

Here were my steps in revamping this piece:
• Clean the piece
• Apply one coat of Annie Sloan Old White
• Apply (with a clean cloth) one coat of Zinsser shellac
• Apply two coats of Annie Sloan French Linen
• Add a white wash – a mixture of Annie Sloan Pure White and water (probably about 60   percent water) using a dry brush technique and then using a soft cloth to soften some areas
• Hand paint seahorses across the drawer fronts with Annie Sloan Graphite
• Apply one coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax
• Lightly distress
• Apply an additional coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax

I made sure that my brush strokes were visible as I applied the paint so that later they would show when I added the white wash to the piece.

pleasure in simple things Annie Sloan coastal table

I chose to keep the original hardware since I planned on painting a sea inspired design on the front and I didn’t want the hardware to distract from the design.

pleasure in simple things Annie Sloan french linen finish coastal table

I painted the seahorses freehand, but patterned them from a design I found online. After looking around the internet for something with a vintage feel, I found a great pattern on The Graphics Fairy and used it as a reference as I painted the images.

pleasure in simple things Annie Sloan coastal table seashores

I didn’t do a lot of distressing on this piece, but since I didn’t want the seashores to look newly painted, I gave them a sanding with some fine sandpaper until I got the worn look I wanted.

pleasure in simple things Annie Sloan coastal table

As a final detail, I added drawer liners cut from a sheet of paper I chose from the large selection at The Paper Source.

Newport is complete! What do you think?

pleasure in simple things coastal table Annie Sloan french linen NEWPORT

Thank you so much for stopping by for Friday field trip and sharing my table transformation!

Have a fabulous weekend, Jackie

Sharing at City FarmhouseJennifer RizzoFinding Silver PenniesMiss Mustard Seed, Craftberry Bush, and Shabby Nest.

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