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pumpkin tower in columbus

September 22, 2017

closeup pumpkin tower

Even though the temperatures here in Connecticut this weekend will feel more like summer, it is now officially fall!

pumpkins and squash

Because it seems so appropriate, for today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing some photos of the pumpkin ‘tower’ at this year’s Country Living Fair in Columbus.

pumpkin tower in ohio

Don’t worry…that’s not it on the fair…I will be sharing some fun finds from the Country Living Fair next week!

pumpkins at country living fair

Thanks for stopping by!  Enjoy your first weekend of fall!  I have already bought plenty of white pumpkins and I am working on some neutral velvet and cashmere handmade pumpkins!

close up pumpkins

I hope you are inspired to put out some fall décor!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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picking asian pears

September 15, 2017

asian pears close up on tree

What is better than getting fresh fruit at a Farmer’s Market?  Getting fresh fruit from a farm, of course!  Today, for Friday field trip you are joining me as I pick some Asian pears!

asian pears on the tree

Have you tasted an Asian pear?  They are delicious!  With a texture similar to apples, the light sweetness and crispy texture (maintained long after they are picked) of this pear make it a really great addition to salads.

asian pear taking a bite

Asian pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years.  The most common grown in the U.S. are Japanese varieties which have a shape similar to an apple.

asian pear close up

The first documented appearance of an Asian pear in the United States was recorded in 1820 when a Chinese sand pear was imported to Flushing, New York.

asian pear top of tree

Today Asian pears are grown not only throughout Asia but in Italy, Spain, Australia, France, Chile and New Zealand as well. In the United States, the bulk of commercial production comes from California and Oregon with a smaller supply coming out of Washington State, Kentucky and Alabama.

asian pear bunch on tree

We are so lucky to have some Asian pears growing here in Connecticut and people come from far away to pick them!

If you haven’t ever tried an Asian pear, I hope I have inspired you to do so!  Sliced on a green salad and garnished with a fig vinaigrette…yum!

asian pear field

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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inspiration to kickstart fall decor

September 8, 2017

fall neutrals

Since I have gotten a little bit of an itch for fall décor this week, I am resharing my 5 easy tips for fall décor for today’s Friday field trip.

white pumpkins

Click here for guidelines to kickstart your fall décor planning!

pumpkins and dusty miller

Have a wonderful weekend!  Thanks for stopping by!

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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nybg

August 25, 2017

The best part about visiting a botanical garden is knowing that every visit is unique. There are so many variables that contribute to creating the environment – ensuring that no two visits are ever the same! And, with 250 acres and over 1,000 plants, there is certainly plenty to admire! For Friday field trip today, we are visiting the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Spanning 250 acres and containing over 1,000 plants, there is certainly plenty to admire and each visitor to NYBG is sure to experience it in a different way. Here are a few of my favorite glimpses from a visit on a rainy day in August! Enjoy! Have a fabulous weekend! Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

The best part about visiting a botanical garden is knowing that every visit is unique.  There are so many variables that contribute to creating the environment – ensuring that no two visits are ever the same!  And, with 250 acres and over 1,000 plants, there is certainly plenty to admire!

NYBG herb garden

NYBG water lilly

For Friday field trip today, we are visiting the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG).  Spanning 250 acres and containing over 1,000 plants, there is certainly plenty to admire and each visitor to NYBG is sure to experience it in a different way.

NYBG hydrandgea

NYBG fern

Here are a few of my favorite glimpses from a visit on a rainy day in August!

NYBG bench

NYBG water garden

Enjoy!

NYBG black eyed susans

NYBG rock garden waterfall

NYBG conservatory

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

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chihuly at new york botanical garden

August 22, 2017

Chihuly NYBG Sapphire Star 2016

On a recent trip to the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), I had the opportunity to see glass art installations created by the renowned artist Dale Chihuly.  Created specifically for the venue, the more than 20 installations in the garden are the first to come to New York in more than 10 years.

Chihuly NYBG YellowChihuly NYBG Red Reeds on Logs 2016

Sharing photos from my recent visit, I hope you are inspired by Chihuly’s work – his lifelong fascination with glasshouses growing into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings.

Chihuly NYBG Blue and white

Chihuly NYBG pink

I really like the subtlety of the way these glass leaves play against the real ones!

chihuly NYBG blue and green leaves

Blue Polyvitro Crystals Chihuly NYBG 2006

Chihuly NYBG white

If you live near New York or are planning a trip soon, schedule a visit to the Bronx to see Chihuly’s art.  The NYBG is always a beautiful spot to visit and the addition of the Chihuly exhibit makes it extra special!

Chihuly NYBG 2017

chihuly NYBG blue spikes

To see the works spectacularly illuminated, schedule an evening visit to NYBG on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday in September or October and visit CHIHULY Nights.  Can you imagine this piece illuminated?

Chihuly NYBG Neon 2017

Thanks for stopping by!

Chihuly NYBG Float Boat 2014

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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harkness memorial state park

August 4, 2017

garden flowers

Today, I am sharing a few photos from my walk around Harkness Memorial State Park.  The park is the home of Eolia, the former summer mansion purchased in 1907 by the Harkness family, set on over 230 seaside acres in Waterford, Connecticut.

gate at Harkness Park

shore at Harkness

Never having been to the park, my goal for my first visit was to explore the gardens on both the east and west lawns as well as the Alpine rock garden.

gardens at Harkness

Tree over a century old Harkness State Park

And, as it happened, the facility was being set up for a wedding on the afternoon I chose to visit, so I did not venture inside the mansion itself.

the mansion at Harkness State Park

column Harkness State Park

I hope you enjoyed a few photos of my walk around Harkness Memorial State Park.  If you should be in the area, it is definitely worth a visit and the park is easily accessed from I-95.

queen annes lace pleasure in simple things

ferns pleasure in simple things

The 200+ acres were left to the state of Connecticut in 1950; becoming a part of the state park system in 1952.  The park is open from 8:00 am to sunset all year long and entrance only requires a minimal parking fee.

Harkness coastline

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a fabulous weekend!

daisies at Harkness State Park

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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repurposed calendar diy

July 18, 2017

pleasure in simple things calendar repurpose

Do you have a calendar that is just too pretty to throw away?  This is the perfect DIY to repurpose it and to create something beautiful in the process!

Let me share how I repurposed pages from a calendar to create some special mementos!

The calendar I am using in this example is my Anna Rifle calendar.  This beautiful calendar was actually one of my previous giveaways – if you were the one to win it, you already have the start to create some wonderful gifts!

Calendar diy Anna Rifle calendar

All you need to do is to use the page of the month from the date you have chosen, circle the date, and frame to your liking!  So pretty and so easy!

My calendar choice has metallic gold accents, so I circled my chosen date with a gold metallic marker.   Use any permanent marker that coordinates with the page you have chosen.  Gold leaf, calligraphy ink, or watercolor paint can also be used, based on your taste and the style of the calendar you are using.

calendar diy repurpose Anna Rifle

Here, rather than using a frame, I have clipped the calendar page to a clipboard I covered with a metallic dot wrapping paper.

repurposed calendar diy with clipboard

What special date do you want to remember?  A baby’s birth date, a special anniversary, the arrival of a new pet – many possibilities – any date you may want to commemorate is fair game!

If you plan on framing the page, remember to think about the frame size when you purchase the calendar since the cost of your project will be much less if the calendar fits a stock mat/frame.   Of course, you have the option to have the piece professionally framed, if you prefer.  You may also come up with other ideas –using a clipboard as a frame or slipping the page under a piece of glass on a serving tray.

calendar repurpose diy

Think about gifts for showers, anniversaries, or wedding dates – if you don’t have a calendar to reuse, buy a beautiful calendar after the year begins, when they are drastically marked down in price!

I hope I have inspired you to create a special gift for yourself or for someone special!

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

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botanical wedding details

July 11, 2017

botanical wedding escort cards pleasure in simple things

For a botanical themed wedding held in the woods by a lake, I had a blast coming up with some fun little details to carry the vibe!  Here are a few you may want to incorporate into your own event!

wedding hashtag cards pleasure in simple things blog

Beautiful paper products are always a must for any event I plan, and this wedding was no exception!  I think a “hashtag card” should be a standard these days with social media having such a strong presence at a wedding.  Creating something similar to a business card, but using the couple’s hashtag is a beautiful way to spread the word!

botanical wedding details hashtag wedding cards

For this wedding, I created two different cards using illustrations on the front and the hashtag on the back.  A fashion illustrator created two different designs for me at a very reasonable price. (You can use her too, by emailing inquiries to AlexaMackDesigns@gmail.com).  One depicted the couple from behind and the other was an illustration of the gazebo where the couple was married.  I used them to create square, heavyweight cards with rounded corners that I ordered online using Moo.

signature drink cards for botanical wedding theme

wedding details botanical wedding straws

Another great paper product for a wedding is the recipe for the couple’s signature drink.  In this case, the recipe cards were added to the couple’s hotel welcome boxes (Kraft paper boxes were used in place of bags) as well as provided at the bar (near the birch bark straws).  This idea can also be incorporated into thank you cards if the drink proves a big hit at the wedding!

Hotel welcome boxes botanical themed wedding

Personalized napkins are not new for weddings, but including ‘factoids’ about the couple is so much more personal than just printing them with initials.  I created 6 different designs that included how the couple met and other interesting personal stories about them.  These are simple to create online on Wedding Paper Divas.  (I waited for a big sale and personalized to my liking.)

gray and white wedding details fun fact napkins

Doing away with a typical centerpiece by a florist opens up a whole new way of thinking for bridal tables!  Why not create your own!  Using a beautiful potted planting or designing a terrarium is fun to create and adds a personal touch to a celebration.

making terrarium centerpieces for a botanical themed wedding

For this event, I got together with a few special friends (who happen to have huge green thumbs!) to build my terrarium vision…perfect for a botanical theme!  The table numbers were written on rocks inside the terrariums and fairy lights were also added.  Lanterns I purchased from HomeGoods were used for the vessels and plants were purchased from local nurseries, as well as Trader Joe’s.  Event planners, take note:  If you need reasonably priced plants for centerpieces, think of your local Trader Joe’s as a source…the flower department at the store could not be more helpful when ordering in bulk, and the pricing can’t be beat!

diy wedding terrarium centerpieces

moss wedding wreath botanical weddingPlenty of moss, rocks, and organic materials added to the botanical vibe at the venue.  Rocks ordered at Home Depot were used as escort cards.  Table numbers were written on the underside of the rocks so the guests could reuse the beautifully lettered rocks as paperweights or decorative objects after the wedding.  (If you want someone to do lettering for you, check out Sam Epstein Design on Etsy!)  Fresh plantings in pretty containers joined the table arrangement of ‘escort rocks’ as well as tiny fairy lights, pretty votives (Jamali Garden), and a lighted moss wreath on a beautiful gray silk ribbon (Silk & Willow).  A lantern was used for gifts of cards.

 

rock escort card at botanical themed wedding

The favors. arranged on the salad plates. were small tin camp cups filled with gray-toned candy beach stones ordered from Stonewall Kitchen.  A gray grosgrain ribbon, in keeping with the wedding accent color, (The bridesmaids wore gray Vera Wang dresses.) adorned the cup handles.

Botanical themed wedding favors

birch straws in cup botanical weddingI hope you found some of the details at this botanical themed wedding inspiring…I will share photos at the venue in an upcoming post!  If you need any ideas for your own celebration, shoot me an email – I’d be happy to help you brainstorm some ideas to personalize your own celebration!

 

mens bathroom basket at botanical wedding

The women’s room wasn’t the only bathroom to get attention – the men’s room had a necessity basket on-theme as well!

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

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