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visiting the st. augustine lighthouse

June 27, 2014

visiting the St. Augustine lighthouse pleasure in simple things

The latest issue of Coastal Living Magazine named St. Augustine, Florida in the top 5 for happiest seaside towns in America.

For today’s Friday field trip, I am taking you on a lighthouse visit – one of my happy places during a recent weekend visit to the “Nation’s Oldest City” in the Northeast part of Florida.

St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida pleasure in simple things

Completed in 1874, after taking three years to build, the lighthouse is St. Augustine’s first and oldest surviving brick structure and rises 165 feet above sea level.

Staircase in St. Augustine lighthouse pleasure in simple things

Walking past the nine windows in the lighthouse provided beautiful panoramic views as I ascended the 8 flights of cast iron spiral stairs – a total of 219 steps.

St. Augustine lighthouse pleasure in simple things

This is what one of the windows looks like from the inside…now, check out some of the views to the outside!

view from lighthouse pleasure in simple things

A view of the keeper’s house from one of the St. Augustine lighthouse windows.

view from lighthouse window pleasure in simple things

view from St. Augustine lighthouse window pleasure in simple things

I was able to make it to the observation deck at the top of the lighthouse just before an impending lightning storm cut my visit short.

top of the St. Augustine lighthouse pleasure in simple things

Jackie at the top of the ST. Augustine lighthouse pleasure in simple things

The lightning storm was probably a good thing – no telling how many photos I would have taken if I was given the opportunity!

top of the St Augustine lighthouse pleasure in simple things

I hope you enjoyed sharing my visit to the St. Augustine lighthouse on today’s Friday field trip.  Thank you so much for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie


diy bird nest garden stakes

June 24, 2014

diy bird nest stakes pleasure in simple things

Sometimes the easiest project can bring the most pleasure!  I adore these bird nest garden stakes and they are so easy to make!

Garden stakes can definitely be an art form and I love collecting beautiful or unique designs to add some personality to my garden.  Today, I am sharing a super easy one you can make yourself and it is sure to cheer up any garden or potted plant!

diy garden stakes pleasure in simple things

Inspired by one I saw at the Brimfield Fair this year, this DIY garden stake just requires a cast-off  branch from your yard and a couple of mini bird nests attached to it with twine.  You may decide to use more or less bird nests depending on the size/shape of the branch you choose.  The tiny birds’ nests are easy to find in a dollar store or craft store – usually sold in multiples in a plastic bag.

diy bird nest garden stakes pleasure in simple things

diy bird nest garden stakes pleasure in simple things


diy bird nest garden stakes pleasure in simple things

After making some for your own garden, make up a bunch and use them in pots when you give plants for gifts.  These cute bird nest stakes would also be wonderful in centerpieces for a garden party or outdoor bridal luncheon (a little slip of paper – like a fortune in a fortune cookie – in a single nest can be a table number…or, if the branch has two nests; one nest can hold the future bride’s name and the other nest can hold the future groom’s name)

diy bird nest garden stakes pleasure in simple things

I know, I know…they are missing some little eggs!  They really need some!  None of the real little eggs I have were small enough…I may need to make some!

easy bird nest garden stakes

Happy gardening!

Thanks for stopping by and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Finding Silver Pennies and Crafts a la Mode.

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the beekman boys’ fabulous tomato tart

June 20, 2014

pleasure in simple things tomato tart

You may already know of my infatuation with the Beekman Boys.  I had the good fortune to meet them at the Philadelphia Flower Show this past year and then, lucky enough to see them again at the Country Living Magazine Fair this past month.

I adore their dessert cookbook and now, I am equally enamored with their new vegetable cookbook. The first recipe I tried from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook was the tomato tart and it is definitely a winner!

beekman boys tomato tart recipe

I was so excited by the results; I decided to bring you into my kitchen for Friday field trip this week to share the recipe for this easy and delicious tomato tart.  Using heirloom tomatoes in a variety of sizes and colors helped my tarts resemble works of art!  Everyone should include this recipe in their summer repertoire as an elegant way to serve up the summer harvest!

I suggest purchasing some interesting varieties of tomatoes at your local farmer’s market (or use some from your own garden) and create this awesome tart making sure to include some of your favorite wine and favorite friends!

tomato tart recipe pleasure in simple things

Tomato Tart Recipe


  • Flour, for rolling the pastry
  • 1 sheet (about 8 oz.) frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed but still cold
  • 2 Tabs olive oil
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta, drained
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ pound assorted tomatoes, cored, cut into slices, and halved

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry to a 10 x 15 inch rectangle and transfer it to the baking sheet.

With a paring knife, score a border 1 inch in from the edge all around the rectangle, cutting into, but not through, the dough.  With a fork, prick the dough inside the border all over (this will allow border to rise higher than the center that’s been pricked). Brush the center with 1 tablespoon oil.

In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, basil, ½ tsp salt, and pepper.  Spread mixture over the center of puff pastry sheet.  Top with tomatoes, overlapping slightly.  Sprinkle tomatoes with remaining ¼ tsp salt and remaining 1 Tab oil.

Bake 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is set.

This recipe is for one tart…I doubled it to make two and found it is almost easier to plan on making two when purchasing the ingredients (quantities of goat cheese, ricotta, and puff pastry – 2 sheets come in a box – were easier to purchase for two.)

making a tomato tart pleasure in simple things

Keep this recipe handy for when your garden tomatoes become abundant – it is a super way to celebrate your garden treasures!  If you are interested in more recipes for vegetables, there are many more great ones (and stunning photographs) in The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook.

The Beekman Boys at the Country Living Fair 2014 in Rhinebeck NY pleasure in simple things

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge – ‘The Fabulous Beekman Boys’ – discussing the newly released The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook with me at the Country Living Magazine Fair 2014 in Rhinebeck, NY.

I think this recipe is the perfect one to start the summer!  Enjoy! 

Thanks so much for stopping by and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

P.S. My friend Phyllis planted a white variety of tomatoes in her garden this year…how cool would they look in this tart?

Sharing at Crafts a la Mode.

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patriotic mason jars

June 17, 2014

patriotic mason jars pleasure in simple things

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint can be very dangerous.  Once you have some in the house, you can think of so many ways to use it!

patriotic mason jar with peony pleasure in simple things

Painting mason jars is nothing new, but since I had some leftover paint from my last furniture project, I thought I would share how I decided to paint some blue Ball jars to use at my 4th of July celebration at the beach.

patriotic mason jars pleasure in simple things

I liked the idea of using blue jars so that it would be possible to catch glimpses of the inside blue hues even after the jars were painted.

patriotic mason jars pleasure in simple things

I started by painting the outside of the jars with two coats of Paris Grey.  Then, after cutting a kitchen sponge into a star shape, sponged stars onto the jars using Primer Red.  I used some sandpaper to distress them a little bit and then gave them a coat of clear wax.

pleasure in simple things patriotic mason jars

For the one jar I wanted to use as a candleholder, I masked off a star shape (a little smaller than the size of the sponge star) before I started the painting process (also leaving the metal top ring screwed into place).  By masking off the star, the clear blue jar stayed clear in the masked area, enabling light from a candle to shine through.

patriotic mason jar candleholders

I finished them off by tying some twine around the tops of the jars.

patriotic mason jars

Fun and patriotic!  I will use them on the 4th to hold picnic utensils, but they will also be great all summer for flowers, candles, etc.

pleasure in simple things sparklers in a patriotic ball jar

Thanks for stopping by and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Shabby Nest, Craftberry Bush, and Finding Silver Pennies.

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country living magazine fair 2014

June 13, 2014

country living fair 2014 pleasure in simple things

With picture perfect weather and inspiration around every corner, The 2014 Country Living Magazine Fair in Rhinebeck, NY was awesome!

Birdhouse pleasure in simple things

Visiting Rhinebeck, NY is always great…getting together with good friends is the best, but in the beautiful surroundings of Rhinebeck, this feeling is intensified.  My last trip to Rhinebeck (to my friend’s awesome woodland retreat) also included a special treat – The Country Living Magazine Fair!

country living house of the year 2014

Visiting the 2014 Country Living Magazine House of the Year was awesome! Here are some photos of the outside…check out the September 2014 issue for more photos of all the decor!

The beauty of this three day event is that each visitor has a unique experience.  No two people are inspired in the same way or by the same things.  What can visitors experience at this fair on the lovely Dutchess County Fairgrounds?  Tons of vendors, craft and decorating demonstrations, lectures, celebrity meetings, samplings, book signings, and a visit to the 2014 Country Living House of the Year!  (Not to mention, plenty of clean bathrooms, a great food court with lots of seating and free parking!)

country living magazine fair 2014

It is a busy few weeks for me with very few free moments, but I had to share some photos from the fair on Friday field trip this week – a small sampling of my personal experience…enjoy a glimpse of The Country Living Fair 2014 through my eyes!  If you went to the fair, I would love to hear about your favorites!

Country Living Fair 2014

The beach themed fairy garden really caught my eye…and, aren’t the toolboxes adorable for Father’s Day?!

Jan Blough pleasure in simple things

The silhouettes by Jan Blough were one of my favorites…especially the garden themed designs!

whale painted rock pleasure in simple things

The Beekman Boys (I am a huge fan!) were my favorite of the many fun people to meet at the Country Living Magazine Fair 2014.

pleasure in simple things Beekman Boys

The photo below shows a few of the many demonstrations offered during the three days at The Country Living Magazine Fair 2014. Michael Devine, author of Flowers by Design creates a vegetable topiary, Libbie Summers offers 15 Fun & Festive cake decorating ideas (like this PEZ covered cake), and Cari Cucksey of HGTV’s Cash & Cari offers painting and repurposing tips.

demonstrations at the Country Living Magazine Fair2014

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful weekend…I have an exciting one planned!!

Rachel Hardage Barrett

Country Living Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Rachel Hardage Barrett.

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Little Red House and Coastal Charm.


diy cupcake bath bomb

June 10, 2014

diy bath bombs pleasure in simple things

Special occasions are cause to celebrate and a great time for a little self-indulgence.

cupcake bath bomb pleasure in simple things

I have a very special occasion coming up…my daughter’s pinning ceremony and graduation.  My “baby” will soon be officially pinned as a nurse and then receive her undergraduate nursing degree – all in the same weekend!

Most times when I visit my daughter, I stay with her in her apartment.  It is a special treat when, instead, we stay in a hotel.  Last time this occurred, we made a trip to Lush (a natural beauty product shop) to pick out special bath bombs from Lush’s huge selection to make full use of the hotel bathtub!

With a special hotel visit coming up, I decided to create homemade bath bombs to bring as a surprise to my daughter to use in the hotel bath during our stay.

pleasure in simple things bath bomb recipe

Not having any experience in creating natural beauty products, I looked to Ecobeauty from last April’s giveaway book to utilize one of the many recipes from Lauren and Janice Cox’s book.  I discovered bath bombs are easy to create and, I like to think, can rival any similar product sold at Lush!

cupcake bath bomb pleasure in simple things

The materials can be purchased at a grocery store or natural foods store.  By following the directions in Ecobeauty, I was surprised at how quick and easy I could create such great results!  At first it seemed a little strange to me to add sprinkles, but I was instantly relieved when the recipe in the book read  “Don’t worry; the sprinkles will dissolve in the tub!”  (I plan on keeping the silicone cupcake holders solely for beauty product use.)

steps in making a bath bomb pleasure in simple things

I love the way they came out …I think the cupcake design is adorable!  I packaged them like real bakery cupcakes to bring on the big graduation trip!  I think they would also make great favors for a bridal shower or a gal’s get together.  I cannot wait to give one to my daughter!  Of course I may need to test one before I do. ;)

packaged diy bath bomb pleasure in simple things

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

Sharing at No Biggie.

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fun with gelatin

June 6, 2014

D & P Pimms jelly shots

You have heard of signature drinks?  What about a signature jelly shot?

For Friday field trip this week, I will show you just that…and, some other fun with gelatin!

After my nephew’s wedding this past summer, I was able to secure the recipe for his signature drink – the D & P Pimm’s Cup – from his wedding venue.  When Thanksgiving rolled around, I used the signature drink as an inspiration to create the D & P Pimm’s Cup cupcake by incorporating the signature drink ingredients into a cupcake recipe.

Pimms cup jelly shots

Wanting to continue the D & P signature drink inspiration for the newlywed couple’s first year of holidays, on Easter I created the D & P Pimm’s Cup Jelly Shot!

D & P Pimm’s Cup Jelly Shot

  •  4 strawberries
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 1 (1 inch piece) cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 2/3 cup ginger ale
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed & strained)
  • 2 envelopes Knox gelatin
  • Garnish (optional) basil, strawberries, lemon, cucumber

Muddle (mash) strawberries, basil and cucumber in a large cocktail shaker.  Add the Pimm’s and the ice cubes and shake vigorously.  Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.

Combine the ginger ale, lemon syrup, and water in a medium saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin.  Allow the gelatin to soak for a minute or two.

Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 2/3 cup of the reserved Pimm’s liquid, stirring well to blend.

Pour into a standard size loaf pan and chill overnight or until fully set.   Cut, serve, and add garnish as desired.

Pimms cup jelly shots

This recipe is a variation of a recipe created by the jelly shot master Michelle Palm – Michelle has been my inspiration to start playing with gelatin. :)

Since these jelly shots can only be consumed by those over 21, I also created a fun jelly shot for the younger set.  During Jell-O brand gelatin’s heyday in the 1960’s, a recipe for ‘Broken Glass Jell-O’ was printed right on the side of the Jell-O box.  It is the technique from this recipe that I implemented to create my ‘kid friendly’  jelly shots.  The recipe – the name wisely updated to ‘Stained Glass Bars’ – is available on the Kraft Foods website.  I cut the completed recipe into small cubes and added mini marshmallows to the skewers…there are so many fun variations based on a party theme, color scheme, etc.

jelly shots for kids

jelly shots for the kids

I hope you will use these ideas to help inspire some of your own gelatin fun!

P.S. For more jelly shot fun, you might like a school of pink lemonade fish jelly shots.

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

Sharing with Craftberry Bush.

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7 ways to use spring blooms

June 3, 2014

flower petals as garnish pleasure in simple things

Here in Connecticut, we had a loooooong winter and spring was very hesitant in getting started.  As a result, gardens were a little behind in blooming this year…the usual ‘planting on Mother’s Day’ was stalled big time!  So, when the spring blooms finally started to emerge, it created a sense of celebration like no other year I can remember!

Today, I am sharing my appreciation for the first blooms of the season.  Because, after all, the best part of gardening is appreciating the results!

Here are seven ways I used the first of my garden flowers.

As a garnish.

Pansies are a pretty garnish for a dessert.  I press petals from organic pansies overnight in a book and then wet them with water and add sugar.  (I  know egg whites are usually used for this, but they scare me a little, and I can usually get the sugar to adhere with just water.)

 To make a pretty ice cube.

flower petals in ice cubes pleasure in simple things

flower petals in ice cubes pleasure in simple things

I have always loved adding unexpected items to ice cubes…here, I added flower petals.  They look so pretty at a garden party, bridal shower, or brunch.  I am careful to use flowers that are safe and edible.

 Add to a placesetting.

flowers in a place setting pleasure in simple things

flowers in a place setting pleasure in simple things

What better way to add some springtime to a place setting than to adorn napkins with a bloom from the garden?  Even a tiny garden can spare a few stems for a spring table.

Give to a friend.

flowers to give away

Sharing flowers from the garden is always fun.  I had a neighbor that recently moved into a retirement facility.  I decided to grab some of the lilacs off the bush that bordered her yard when I last went to visit, intending to put them in one of her vases when I got there.  I casually wrapped them in some old sheet music to transport them, knowing the nostalgia would make her smile when she received them.  .

 Bring the garden indoors.

flowers around the house pleasure in simple things

flowers in the house pleasure in simple things

Arguably, the best way to use flowers from the garden is to put small vases everywhere in the house.  A taste of the garden in every room is a great way to experience the season.  Just a sprig or two of a bloom can add beauty and a scent to any corner!

Create an arrangement.

spring flowers in an arrangement pleasure in simple things

Creating an arrangement is a big statement in using garden flowers.  This was a quick and casual arrangement I put together with garden flowers and a clearance vase from Anthropologie for the refreshment table at a monthly garden club meeting…a great way to share my spring garden with friends who love flowers!

As an ingredient.

using spring herbs in the kitchen pleasure in simple things

Not exactly a flower, but the herbs from the garden have already been in use.  I have already made one dessert from some of the mint and, the basil has been utilized for appetizers as well as used as a garnish many times.

What are some ways you used your first flowers of the season?

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

Sharing at Sand & Sisal.

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