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diy basil infused salt gift

November 14, 2017

packaging diy basil infused salt gift

Before the first frost, what do you do with the last of the basil from your garden?  Do you make batches of pesto to freeze?  Have you ever thought about making some basil infused salt?

I recently had the good fortune to stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida.  The Ritz on Amelia Island has a fabulous selection of infused salts for sale.  Trying some of the salts from their collection, and watching the kitchen staff demonstrate how it is made, inspired me to use my ‘last of the season’ basil to make some of my own infused salt!

basil infused salt holiday gift diy

Basil salt makes the perfect seasoning for a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad when the basil from the garden has long gone…and, when packaged, it makes a great holiday gift as well!

It is super simple to create a basil infused salt!

making infused herbal salt

First, I pulsed ½ cup kosher salt and ½ cup packed basil leaves together in the food processor.  I dried this mixture by spreading it on a baking sheet in a 225-degree oven (tossing it every 15 minutes) for about 40 minutes – until dry.

After letting it cool, I pulsed the mixture one last time to make the salt extra fine.  Of course, you can control the coarseness by the number of pulses used.

salt tube trio diy

For packaging, I used some glass tubes I had purchased for another DIY.  I think three tubes tied together are a great way to package the salt as a gift.  If you try making some other herbed salt flavors, you can even package three different flavors of salt to gift as a trio!  If you would rather use a more conventional container, small Weck jars or glass spice jars would also look super cute!

I hope I have inspired you to use some herbs from your garden to create some infused salt!

homemade gift salt

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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amsterdam green dresser redo

November 7, 2017

ferns on dresser drawer

Annie Sloan Amsterdam Green.  I have been so eager to paint a piece of furniture with this color Chalk Paint!

I got my chance on a recent dresser renovation.  My color choice was inspired by the Ikea Strandkrypa floral patterned duvet cover.

The dresser is part of a guest room décor project of mine.  The bed in the room is covered with the Strandkrypa comforter  – giving me a botanical/gardeny vibe inspiration for the room.

Ikea comforter inspiration

When I came up with my plan for the room, I wrote down my ‘dream’ dresser dimensions for future reference and hoped to find a cast-off dresser in the future.  It was only about 3 weeks later that a sturdy wooden dresser out on a curb, ready for the trash pickup, would catch my eye and end up matching my measurements almost exactly!  Unreal!  And, when I asked the homeowner if it was okay to take the item from his front yard, he proceeded to load it into my car!  When does that ever happen?  Perfect dimensions AND no heavy lifting?!

before and after dresser Annie Sloan Amersterdam Green

I wanted the room where the dresser would reside to have a gardeny vibe, inspired by the bedding.  I  had already refinished an heirloom bedside table for the same room – now my mission was to redo my new- found, no cost discovery!  (To see the side table before and after, click here.)

Amerstdam green Annie Sloan dresser

I thought bin pulls would be perfect to replace the old drawer handles.  The only reasonably priced ones I was able to find were in a silver tone.  Since the ones I found were perfect, except for the finish, I just sprayed them with Rustoleum spray paint (in hammered bronze).

dresser drawers Amsterdam Green Annie Sloan

Though I was tempted to sand and stain the top of the piece, I knew the owner would rather a solid color piece, so I resisted the temptation!  If I was redoing it for myself, I would have stained the top in a darker color stain – like a Minwax dark walnut – but, for this client, a light distressing and simple whitewash was all the piece needed…A pretty straight forward painting project.

fern stencils on dresser drawers

I sealed the piece first, since experience has taught me old stains can bleed through and I wanted a true Amsterdam Green.  Then, I painted the piece with two coats of the Amersterdam Green.  For the white wash, I used Annie Sloan Old White thinned with water – about 60% water.  I painted on the wash and quickly rubbed it down with some cheesecloth to give it an old, weathered look.  I let the paint set a few days, before giving it a coat of clear wax.  I later added an extra coat of clear wax.  Lastly, I added the new pulls.

white birch drawer liner

Since I always try to add some interesting details, I came up with a couple for this dresser.  I stenciled some ferns, using the same Amsterdam Green, on the sides of two of the drawers for an unexpected surprise and also added some birch bark looking paper as drawer liner.

Complete!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing my latest painting project!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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marbleizing baby boos

October 24, 2017

diy marbleizing pumpkins

The best part of October is getting creative with pumpkin decorating!  And, there are so many ways to do so!

Today, I just wanted to take a moment to share the simple technique for creating a marbleized pumpkin.  I thought most people had tried this technique by now, but if you haven’t – you need to!

A marbleized pumpkin is super easy to create.

baby boo and diy green marble

The only materials needed are some warm water, a bottle of nail polish, and a disposable container large enough to accommodate the pumpkin you are planning to marbleize.

I use a disposable container to make clean-up quick and easy and to avoid damage to a regular dish or bowl.  For mini pumpkins, a disposable foil lasagna pan is perfect.

Fill the container with warm water.  Drizzle some of the nail polish over the surface of the water by pouring it in a thin stream in an irregular pattern.  Not much is needed.

marbleizing pumpkin processHold a pumpkin by the stem and dip it into the water.  The nail polish will adhere to the pumpkin in an irregular pattern.  Twist the pumpkin while in the water to create varying patterns.  If you are not understanding how this could work, don’t worry!  After trying it with one pumpkin, you will experience an ‘aha’ moment.  After that one try, you may well be addicted to the process and its many possible outcomes!

some diy marbleized pumpkins

I like to use white pumpkins with a nail polish that coordinates with my décor.  The green I used on these pumpkins creates a look that looks great in my dining room amid my ferns!

Of course, dark colors look the most dramatic.  And, you can use more than one color on a single pumpkin if you’d like.

I hope I have inspired you to try marbleizing a pumpkin!

white baby boo green marbleizing

P.S.  There is a video in my Instagram feed and on my Facebook page if you’d like to see the green marbleized pumpkin creating in process!

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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pumpkin tower urn diy

October 17, 2017

white stackable pumpkins

Today I am sharing a simple DIY.  Remember my ‘ferns in urns’ project?  I bought some inexpensive urns at HomeGoods and planted them with ferns for a wedding?  You may remember one of those urns was transformed into a fall planter.

specialty pumpkins for stacking

You may wonder what happened to the second urn.  Well, it got transformed into a pumpkin tower for my mom’s house!  I just love stacking pumpkins, don’t you?  Pumpkins can get pretty pricy at garden stores when they are classified as ‘specialty’ pumpkins.  Not true when you purchase them from Trader Joes!

I found a big selection of what would be called ‘specialty’ pumpkins at Trader Joes for just $6.99 each!

Before and after wedding urnTo convert the urn I used for the ferns, I purchased 3 carefully selected pumpkins from Trader Joes and a can of flat black spray paint from Home Depot.

pumpkin tower at Terrain Westport

After the sprayed urn dried, I added an old grapevine wreath and some faux greens to the rim before stacking my 3 purchased pumpkins…perfect!  An easy DIY to convert one of your planters for some fall décor!  Just spend a little time picking out the stackable pumpkins so they work together.  Before you go to the store, measure the diameter of your container so you know what size will work for the bottom pumpkin.  Either bring a ruler or measure out a strip of paper to the size you need and tuck it into your purse.  For the best-looking tower, make sure your smallest pumpkin choice (top spot) has a pretty stem!

pumpkin tower with moss

Other things you may want to add to your tower are hay, straw, Spanish moss, or green moss.  Add your own personal style with the container and accessories you add!   To give you some pumpkin tower inspiration, I have included in this post some photos of pumpkin towers created by Terrain in Westport, Connecticut.

three white pumpkin tower

If you don’t have a yard for a tower outside, it is easy to create a ‘mini’ pumpkin tower for your inside décor.  Buy a pretty container, flower pot, or pedestal at HomeGoods or local garden store and create a smaller version of a pumpkin tower!

pumpkin stack with Spanish moss

I hope I have inspired you to create a pumpkin tower of your own!

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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velvet and cashmere pumpkins

October 6, 2017

gray with gold dot pumpkin

Making velvet pumpkins is an annual activity for me. Each year, I save pumpkin stems (the stems are everything!) and use them the following year on my newest pumpkin creations.

gray cashmere pumpkins

Finding new fabrics keeps my pumpkin making interesting each year.

velvet pumpkin on books

This year, I added some gray cashmeres to the mix!

cashmere pumpkin

If you follow the blog, you may remember I shared instructions to make these pumpkins some years back. If you want to try your hand at making some, click here for the post with the tutorial on how to create them.

velvet and cashmere pumpkins

velvet pumpkin under cloche

 

Thank you for sharing my newest pumpkin creations on this week’s Friday field trip. My first few are as a gift to celebrate a friend’s new home. I hope I have inspired you to try making some yourself!

 

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

Sharing at Craftberry Bush.

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mini lantern with pumpkins

September 5, 2017

pumpkin lantern for fall

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!  I spent a recent weekend in the woods visiting a friend – and, one cool evening by a fire, my thoughts turned towards the fall season.

When I got back home and was thinking about fall (and, of course white pumpkins), I went into my closet and pulled out all the velvet pumpkins I have made over the years.  Like every other year, I will make a few new ones in neutral shades this year to add to my collection!   I started thinking about what new fabrics I will use for the current year…

inside a mini pumpkin lantern

While I was contemplating the pumpkin box and fabrics, I noticed a little misplaced holiday lantern that didn’t make it into one of the Christmas storage boxes – seeing it immediately inspired me to use it for fall!

Inside the lantern, I added a couple of the smaller pumpkins I have made, a little Spanish moss, some of my DIY bleached mini pine cones and a couple acorns I had painted.

velvet pumpkins in a lantern

Instantly, my holiday lantern is transformed into fall décor!  Maybe, as the days get shorter, I will add a few white fairy lights.  So, just like that, fall décor has sneaked up on me…and, you know how that goes…now I am all in!  To add fuel to the fire – my favorite garden store starts selling white pumpkins this week!

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope I have inspired you to repurpose something from another season for your fall decor!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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from ferns to fall

August 29, 2017

fall planter with Home Depot plants

Remember the DIY of the ferns in urns?  Look how easily one of the wedding décor urns can be transformed for fall!

The couple who walked down the aisle decorated with the urns of ferns are now enjoying one of the same urns, from their wedding day, with a fall planting on the front porch of their first home!a planter two waysAll it took was a quick trip to Home Depot and under $30. to change the whole look of the urn and its planting.  I was determined to get everything I needed in one trip, so even though I couldn’t find the charcoal gray spray paint I wanted, I settled for a lighter gray and I chose plants that were available at Home Depot.  My purchase included a can of spray paint, a tall burgundy grass (millet), 4 small white mums, and 2 small vines.

ferns to fall plants

I started by spray painting the planter – a quick and easy color change!  And, the simple arrangement of plants was easy enough to plant in the urn.

I placed the completed planting on the front porch and watered it thoroughly…it will look even better when it gets established!

I hope I have inspired you to change up a planting for fall!

fall diy planter

What’s next for this urn?  Maybe some black spray paint, white lights, and an evergreen for the holidays?

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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4 ways to enjoy lavender in the kitchen

August 8, 2017

butter cookies with lavender and lavender glaze

I love the floral note lavender adds to desserts – part of the reason why my ‘must have’ summer ice-cream flavor is lavender fig made at a nearby ice-cream shop!

I recently used a culinary grade lavender (I wouldn’t use it from the garden since I’d be worried about contaminants!)  to experiment a little bit in the kitchen.

Here are a few ways I came up with to use it…I hope to inspire you to come up with some of your own creations!

Lavender Iced Butter Cookies.  I added a tablespoon of dried lavender and 2 drops of lavender essential oil to a standard butter cookie recipe.  After the cookies were baked and cooled, I glazed them with powdered sugar, thinned with milk, and garnished the top of each cookie with dried lavender while the glaze was still wet.  The finished product – butter cookies with that great subtle floral note of lavender!

a butter cookies with lavender

Lavender Butter.  A fabulous butter to use on scones – I just crushed some dried lavender and added it to softened butter.  Great to serve with tea and scones!

Lavender Lemon Bars.  Adding a teaspoon of crushed, dried lavender to the crust of lemon bars, as well as using some as garnish, adds the floral note of the flower to this summer dessert classic!

lemon bars with dried lavender crust

In addition to baked goods, lavender is great in summer beverages.  I played around a little with ingredient quantities and came up with this satisfying lemonade!

Honey Lavender Lemonade Recipe

  • 3 cups cold water
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup dried lavender (make sure it is culinary grade)
  • 1 cup boiling water

Add the dried lavender to the boiling water, cover and let steep at least 15 minutes.  Strain the water to remove the lavender.  Dissolve the honey in the hot water.  Add the cold water and lemon juice to the mixture.  Serve over ice.

honey lavender lemonade recipe by pleasure in simple things

I hope you enjoyed my lavender experiment results!  I’d love to hear how you have added lavender to your summer recipes!  I recently found a recipe for lavender white chocolate ice cream that I may need to give a try before the summer is over!

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

P.S.  Here are some links for other ways I have used lavender!  Enjoy!

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2 ingredient ice pops

August 1, 2017

super easy ice pop recipe

Ice pops are synonymous with summer!  And, what could taste better on a hot, summer day?!  I really love icy treats – evident since I own an ice pop mold, an ice shaver, and an old-fashioned ice cream maker!

Every year, I make many variations of homemade pops, but for today I am sharing a super-fast way to create some with a minimal amount of time and ingredients.  Just two easy ingredients are needed – your favorite yogurt and some baby food!

yogurt mango ice pop recipe

Yes, baby food!  Haven’t you ever bought banana baby food to make banana bread?  Using baby food is an easy way to get some good quality prepared fruit for a recipe without any fruit cleaning or waste!  Plus, you can keep some on hand without it going bad!

baby food for easy mango ice pops

To make 6 pops, I use 3 jars (4.25 oz.) organic baby food (I like Beech-Nut in Just Mango) and 3 (5.3 oz.) containers of yogurt.  Ice pop molds are super easy to come by these days – a quick trip to HomeGoods or Marshalls will fill the bill!  If you don’t want to be bothered with another pan to clutter your cabinets, get small, 3 oz. paper cups and some wooden sticks – these will work just as well!

easy mango yogurt ice pop recipe

I use a plain yogurt because I like the tartness and it mixes well with the mango, but you may want to use vanilla or a favorite flavor that will mix well with mango (or whatever fruit you choose).   For those of you that like extra sweetness – you can add maple syrup or honey to the yogurt before using it in the pop.

super easy 2 ingredient mango ice pops

Just put the yogurt in the molds, alternating it with the fruit, and freeze – that’s it!  The fruit gets so nice and icy!  If you use the cup method, the yogurt is thick enough to keep the sticks standing up straight while the pops freeze.

yogurt and baby food ice pops

I hope you enjoy this super easy ice pop recipe!  Vary the yogurt and baby food flavors to come up with your own favorite combination!  Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things…like enjoying a cold ice pop on a summer day!  xo Jackie

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popcorn with ‘everything’

July 21, 2017

everything but the bagel seasoning blend

I often eat popcorn.  Using plain kernels and popping them in the microwave makes for a great snack with lots of fiber and no trans fats. I add my own seasonings, usually parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary, for a savory combination.

For today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing my newest popcorn seasoning discovery.

Have you heard of Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend?  This tasty blend makes any toasted bread with cream cheese taste like an everything bagel.  And, I discovered, it also makes for a great popcorn seasoning!

popcorn on the beach

Trader joes everything but the bagel seasoningHere’s how to make it:  After making plain popcorn in the microwave, spray it with sunflower oil.  A spray bottle is the best because it distributes a small amount of the oil evenly over the popcorn.  If you don’t have a spray bottle, drizzle the oil over the popcorn and toss lightly.  Something is needed to make the seasoning ‘stick’ and sunflower oil is perfect since it has very little taste – plus, it is a healthful alternative to butter.  Trader Joe’s has recently started selling sunflower oil, so both the seasoning and the oil can be purchased there.  Next, just sprinkle the Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning over the prepared popcorn and toss.

Even if you don’t like popcorn, I suggest you buy the seasoning – for under $2. there is plenty of experimentation that can be done with this yummy spice mix!

closeup seasoned popcorn

Popcorn is ready…movie on the beach, anyone?

coastal ct evening on the beach

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great weekend!

sunset at the CT beach

Remember to take pleasure in simple things…like enjoying popcorn while watching an outdoor movie!  xo Jackie

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