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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.


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.


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.


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.


easy plastic bottle vase

August 12, 2014

diy plastic flower vase pleasure in simple things

Did you ever need a large quantity of centerpieces for your outdoor party tables? An easy DIY is to create vases from plastic bottles and add a few garden or meadow flowers!

The only materials you need are some bottles from your recycling bin…they don’t even need to match…some flowers or greens, and some leftover Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and wax.

diy plastic flower vase pleasure in simple things

Flowers are great to add to any occasion…or, even to no occasion at all!  My choice for vases gets a little more casual when I entertain outdoors, because I don’t like the thought of breaking any of my favorites at an outdoor party. So, when the entertaining gets more relaxed, so do the vases.

I like using old tea tins or oatmeal tins for flowers when entertaining outdoors, but sometimes rummaging through the recycling bin can be inspiration for a DIY vase!

diy upcycled flower vase pleasure in simple things

A plastic bottle can easily be upgraded to a fun flower vase to use for flower centerpieces at an outdoor party…no worries about breakage and so easy to make up large quantities!

upscale plastic bottle vase pleasure in simple things

I like the leaf detail imprinted in the plastic on this plastic tea bottle and I happened to have a case of empty ones in my recycling bin…perfect for my project!

Queen Anne's Lace in a diy vase pleasure in simple things

I simply painted the bottles with Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint! One of the great things about this paint is that you can virtually cover any surface! I added a coat of clear wax to protect it and it is good to go! Because I wanted my pattern to stand out, I did add a little dark wax in the patterned areas of the plastic. The amount of materials for one vase is very minimal. If you don’t have leftover paint, you can purchase a small sample size and have plenty to create some vases!

easy diy flower vase from a plastic bottle pleasure in simple things

Not bad for a plastic throwaway, right?! And, no worries about it breaking. I just added some wildflowers that were growing as ‘weeds’ and tied a piece of twine on the neck of the bottle and my centerpieces are complete! Fresh herbs are also a great option in place of flowers…there is so much mint, basil, and parsley in the garden at this time of year and they all make a great (and fragrant) addition to a vase.

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Sand & Sisal, Coastal Charm, and Crafts a la Mode.

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shopping coastal cool

August 8, 2014

pleasure in simple things field trip to Grace

For Friday field trip today, I am sharing a little eye candy from one of the best coastal lifestyle stores in Connecticut.

pleasure in simple things field trip to Grace

In addition to the best in home, personal, and gift wares, this store carries both Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint! The only shop in my state to sell both paints, Grace in the center of Niantic, is definitely a one-stop shop for everything beautifully coastal!

Pleasure in simple things jewlery at Grace

pleasure in simple things visits Grace in Niantic

pleasure in simple things visits Grace in Niantic

I definitely needed a ‘beachy’ fix today…I hope you agree!  It is such a great time of year and I am having trouble thinking about it ending!  I am having a really tough time seeing Halloween candy in stores already! :(  Walking into Grace is like walking into a warm salt water breeze! :)

pleasure in simple things visits Grace in Niantic

pleasure in simple things Friday field trip to Grace in Niantic

a shirt from Grace in Niantic pleasure in simple things

pleasure in simple things friday field trip to Grace in Niantic

Coastal cool friday field trip

My detailed nature always prompts me to make one final observation when I leave a location – at a restaurant this is always a trip to the ladies room – was as much thought put into the ladies room decor and amenities as in the rest of the restaurant?  In a shop, this test is in the way the purchases are presented to the customer…

package wrapping at Grace in Niantic

I think Grace has it covered nicely!

I hope you enjoyed Friday field trip to Grace in Niantic.  If you are in the area, be sure to visit…Niantic celebrates Main Street’s Bargains by the Bay Tent & Sidewalk Sale now through Sunday so this weekend would be the perfect time to plan a visit!

Have a wonderful weekend!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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oyster shell place cards

August 5, 2014

pleasure in simple things diy oyster shell place card

Today, I am sharing a diy on painting oyster shells to use as place cards.

Growing up in Connecticut, crafts using materials from the beach started at an early age. Making necklaces out of small golden shells was more common than the macaroni variety and, constructing items from rocks or driftwood… or any items found on the sand…occurred regularly.

Fishing trips with my dad when I was really young were more often about creating adventures and finding ‘treasures’ than actually fishing. Remember back when playing with the worms was more fun that catching the fish?!

My crafts got more involved as I got older. In my high school crafts class, I once made clay tiles that were imprinted from found shells. Painting the smooth rocks found on the shore was always a fun activity. As I got older, creating wreaths or mirrors from shells seemed more in order…my favorites always made from oyster or mussel shells. I even created the paint palette for my home using the delicate colors from the inside of an oyster shell.

oyster shell place card

So, for me, painting shells is nothing new. But, sometimes details are perfected over time. I feel this way about oyster shells. I love using them as place cards and today, I am sharing a feminine way to paint an oyster shell to use as a place card…perfect for a bridal shower or luncheon.

oyster shell ring holder pleasure in simple things

Everyone has their own cleaning system for shells. My method is to boil found shells in a pot on the stove first and then soak them in white vinegar. After rinsing them in cold water, I let them air dry.

There are so many ways to paint oyster shells and you can experiment to fit the occasion…I think the inside of an oyster shell is so beautiful and I often just paint the outside of the shell, leaving the inside natural…try Krylon blue ocean breeze as an outside color!

For this project, I spray painted (insides only) of the shells with two coats of an off white (using Rust-oleum gloss navajo white). Then, I used a little gold leaf around the edges in an irregular fashion to add a little sparkle and to create a more formal look. (If you don’t have any gold leaf, you can purchase a small gold leaf kit online or in a craft store that includes the gold leaf sheets, an adhesive, and a protective coat.)

pleasure  in simple things a diy shell place card

As a place card, just use a small piece of decorative paper to hand write or stamp a name or table number and lay inside the shell…easy! Add a ‘pearl’ or pretty piece of sea glass. So pretty and so coastal!

Because this shell can be used as a ring holder, it makes a wonderful gift for a newly engaged friend. It also makes a great soap dish or salt cellar. For a bridal shower, a handmade beaded bracelet could be a pretty favor to include in the shell. Or, add a small square soap or sea glass shaped soap pieces. :)

pleasure in simple things oyster cell ring holder

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

P.S. You may also enjoy monogrammed shell gift tie-on, beachy bridal shower, nautical gift wrap, shell candles, or beachy shower gift.

Sharing with Finding Silver Pennies, Craftberry Bush, Coastal Charm, and Sand & Sisal.

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august book giveaway!

August 1, 2014

pleasure in simple things giveaway book ocean fishes

Today’s Friday field trip will be announcing the July book giveaway winner and also the title for the August selection. Congratulations to Amy, winner of the July giveaway book Summertime.

The choice for this month’s giveaway book is one that I also happen to own and love. I grew up boating and fishing the waters of Long Island Sound, and over my lifetime have developed a great appreciation for the native fish of the area waters.

Ocean Fishes depicts the beauty of these fish in reproductions of detailed watercolor paintings by Connecticut native James Prosek.

I had the privilege to attend a showing of Prosek’s original artwork when it was on display at The Academy of National Sciences in Philadelphia in 2013. At that time, Prosek was honored with the Academy’s Gold Medal of Distinction in National History Art. My favorite painting on display in Philadelphia was a 15-foot life-size blue marlin…an incredible expression by the artist.

pleasure in simple things giveaway book ocean fishes

Dubbed “the Audubon of the fishing world” by The New York Times, Prosek is known for his detailed and arresting watercolor paintings.

This book is a great one for any lover of the sea and is perfect to add to a coastal library collection.  Just leave a comment to let me know you would like to be entered to win this wonderful book.

Instagram users, please read on! For August, let’s share our treasures from the sea…a sea creature, a smooth piece of sea glass or driftwood, a beautiful shell , an unusual rock…any coastal find will do! The summer is passing so quickly and there is still much scavenging to do! Use hashtag #pleasuregram to share your beach finds!

pleasure in simple things instagram august challenge

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful weekend, Jackie