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bird feeder diy valentine gift

January 17, 2017

making diy bird feeders pleasure in simple things blog

A bird feeder is a great gift you can make yourself.  Who doesn’t enjoy watching a free nature show from their window?

Hanging bird feeders made from bird seed are really simple and inexpensive to make.  A simple DIY, the bird seed is held together with clear gelatin and hangs from a tree branch with a piece of twine.

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As a Valentine, a feeder can be packaged up really cute with a corny Valentine saying!  I love  “Valentine, you are so very tweet!”  So appropriate for a bird themed gift!  And, a small bird from a craft store is the perfect addition to the wrapping!

Choose an appropriate shaped cookie cutter to use as a mold.  I chose a heart to go along with a Valentine theme, but also chose a state-shaped mold to make a ‘state pride’ feeder to gift to an out-of-state relative.  Cookie cutters are available in virtually any shape so, have fun with it!

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Supplies Needed:

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 envelopes unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 2 cups bird seed
  • Large baking sheet
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • Cookie cutters
  • Cooking spray
  • Drinking straw
  • Twine

Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on a flat baking sheet.  Set out desired cookie cutters onto the sheet.  Use cooking spray to spray the surface/cutters.  Cut the straw into 2” pieces and set aside.

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Heat 2/3 cup water in a medium saucepan; removing from the heat just before it starts to boil.  Sprinkle the contents of 2 envelopes (4 come in a package) of Knox unflavored gelatin on top of the water and let dissolve, stirring as necessary.  After the gelatin is fully incorporated, let the mixture stand 5 minutes – enough to cool down, but not enough to completely set.  Stir in 2 cups of bird seed, mixing thoroughly.  I used the seed for small birds – small seed pieces best stick together.

Place the bird seed mixture into the cutter molds; pressing firmly in place.  Insert a piece of straw into each piece to create a hole for hanging.

Place the sheet in fridge to set.  After an hour or two, remove each feeder from its cookie cutter and lay flat to dry overnight.

Remove straw pieces and let dry a couple days before adding twine to each feeder for hanging.

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Package as desired.  Makes approximately 2-4 feeders, depending on the size of the cookie cutters.  (For example, one batch could fill one 5” cookie cutter, one 4” cookie cutter and one 3” inch cookie cutter.)

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Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you are inspired to make and gift a bird seed feeder for Valentine’s Day!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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caring for a fiddle-leaf fig

January 6, 2017

Terrain in CT pleasure in simple thing

This week I welcomed a new addition to my household – though not actually a person, this new addition IS a living thing.  I got a new Ficus Lyrata.  Or, as it is commonly referred to, a fiddle-leaf fig.

For quite some time I have wanted to replace a plant that, until recently (RIP), had resided in a corner of my dining room for decades.   I used a Christmas gift certificate to my favorite home and garden store to acquire a replacement plant.  Because of the popularity of fiddle-leaf figs, particularly with decorators, shipments don’t last long at Terrain.  But because I visit the store often, I was able to catch a new shipment arriving.

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I spent a bit of time sizing up the contenders at Terrain.  After looking through them all, I found one I connected with…does that sound crazy?  So, with the help of one of my favorite (as well as lovely, knowledgeable and helpful)  Terrain associates, I reviewed the care required for my new household addition.  Knowing that too much love (aka over watering) was the number one reason for fatalities in this variety of plant, I took the suggestion to purchase a water meter.  It is a handy item to own and I do have the tendency to over love my houseplants!

a shipment of fiddle-leaf figs at Terrain

purchasing a fiddle-leaf fig at Terrain

Getting some help picking out a fiddle-leaf fig from one of my favorite Terrain associates in the Westport, CT store.

So, I brought my new addition home and, with his (I have no idea why I immediately decided its gender) large beautiful leaves, this bold plant is the perfect one for the bright corner in my dining room!

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My new fiddle-leaf fig in his new home!

I know many of you own one of these plants or would like to own one, so I am sharing tips for success, courtesy of Terrain, on today’s Friday field trip.

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Light:  Fiddle-leaf figs prefer abundant, indirect light.  Too little light will cause the plant to lose leaves and thin out.  They also tend to grow towards the light, which can create a leaning shape.  Rotate the plant regularly to keep it growing straight and full.

Temperature:  Grow best in humid conditions with temperature consistently above 65 degrees.  It is best to place your fig outdoors in summer when the weather is hot and humid.  When the plant is indoors, place in an area with a consistent temperature and free from drafts.

moisture meter for plants pleasure in simple things blogWatering:  The fiddle-leaf fig thrives with short, dry periods between waterings.  Generally, water every 14 days – adjust depending on the amount of light your plant receives.  Water thoroughly, but be sure that the soil and pot can drain completely.  Do not allow the plant to sit in water, or it may suffer from leaf drop and root rot.

 

Tips:  Dust the leaves periodically to assure that the plant can absorb as much light as possible.  Use a soft, dry cloth to gently remove any dust buildup.  Do not dust with your hands, as rubbing the leaves can damage them and cause drops of white, milky sap to appear.

Hope this is helpful to fiddle-leaf fig owners or future owners!

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The only other houseplant in my dining room – this cute little fern.

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful weekend, Jackie

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a terrain holiday

December 2, 2016

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I do feel so sorry for those of you that may not live close enough to a Terrain store to experience it at holiday time!

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It is such an inspirational experience!

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For today’s Friday field trip, I am providing a few glimpses of the Terrain holiday display so you can experience it for yourself!

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If you live close enough for a visit, please don’t miss the chance to experience a Terrain holiday!  Enjoy!

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Thanks for stopping by!  Have a fabulous weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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december book giveaway!

November 29, 2016

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The giveaway this month is not a book…it is a calendar!  I am giving away the cutest herb garden calendar from Rifle Paper!  Don’t you just love Anna Rifle designs?  Why not add a little happy to 2017 by looking at a beautifully designed calendar each and every day!

annarifle-calendar-giveawayJust leave a message on this post, and you will be entered to win this herb garden calendar!

I want to thank everyone who left a comment to win the November book Sea Salt Sweet by Heather Baird.  (Click here to read more about the title.)  The winner of the book is Carol P.  Congrats to you Carol – enjoy!  And, thanks for the beautiful email!

For those that use Instagram, please read on for this month’s challenge!

Of course, the December challenge is to share favorite ornaments! It can be photos of ornaments you own, ornaments you see in a gift shop or on a tree, or ornaments you make yourself!  Use hashtag #pleasuregram to share…can’t wait to see your favorites!

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

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a vermont country home

October 25, 2016

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I must admit, I have never really considered a move further north than my home state of Connecticut.  I have tent camped in every state in New England and I certainly appreciate the beauty of them all…but, to live?

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Why would I never move to Vermont myself?  That infamous four letter word…s-n-o-w.  But that is exactly one of the reason’s my childhood friend Donna loves living in Vermont.  Although skiing every day in the winter is not a motivator for me, it is part of the appeal of living in snow country for Donna and her husband!

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Ready for winter! Donna’s son and the rest of the University of Vermont lacrosse team made short work of stacking up this stockpile of firewood!

 

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Today, I am sharing a little bit of the home that could actually make me consider a move!  With a wonderful sense of style, great resourcefulness and vision, and unique collaborations, my friend and her husband have created an amazing home inside and out!

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Though frost was called for during the week, a couple garden plants were still hanging on!

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Starting with a wonderful respect for the view and using many reclaimed materials from the area, this couple has spent the last five years creating a home that is uniquely their own.

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I hope you have enjoyed the photos of this home and its amazing views.  If you want to see a few sneak peeks of the inside, I have shared a few photos on Facebook and Instagram…you will have to wait till spring for a full inside tour! :)

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Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things…like visiting childhood friends,  Jackie

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white pumpkins & neutrals

October 11, 2016

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Last week I gave you some fall decor tips and took you to Terrain for some great inspiration on implementing them.  This week, I am sharing some of my color palette for fall…neutrals, or course!  And, Terrain definitely does a neutral right – so, some photos of their lovely grounds…all in neutral!  Enjoy!

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

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5 easy tips for fall decor

October 7, 2016

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For today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing 5 easy tips to help inspire you to create great fall displays.  And, even more exciting, I have included photo examples from Terrain – my favorite home and garden store!  Here goes:

Highlight one unique piece.  Find one really unique pumpkin or gourd and use it as a focal point.  It may be a gourd with magnificent coloring, a pumpkin with many bumps, a gourd with a unique shape, or a pumpkin with a really cool twisty long stem!  Put a focus on that unique piece by displaying it on its own in a basket, on a table, or under a cloche.

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Stack ‘em up.  A really easy way to create some drama is to stack up some pumpkins for a fall ‘topiary.’  Since this can be done on any scale, it is a great decorating idea on any budget!

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Display en masse. Using any one item in multiples makes a design statement.  Put multiples of a piece or plant in a basket or on a chair or bench for an easy but impactful display. The ‘odd man out’ is also a fun way to display pumpkins.  Add an ‘odd man’ to a display of multiples.  For example, have tons of mini white pumpkins and add one orange pumpkin – or vice versa.

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Open it up.  If you are displaying a bunch of items, particularly colorful ones, use an open container to give a full view of the items on display.  If you look around, you probably already have something you can use – like an old tomato cage or some chicken wire!

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Add a pumpkin.  A very simple tip, yet an effective one, is just to add a pumpkin or two to any of your existing vignettes or plantings – indoors or out.  Without much expense, a few pumpkins can go really far to transform your current arrangements for the season!  Maybe add a little hay and some Spanish moss as well…easy!

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I hope I have inspired you with today’s fall design tips and a visit to Terrain!  Thanks for stopping by!

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

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roasted bell pepper walnut dip

September 13, 2016

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I love this dip!  I was inspired to create it by a recipe in last month’s giveaway book.  (Click here for more on the book.)  I had all the ingredients on hand and thought it sounded great to use as a veggie dip.

After making it and tasting it, I decided this dip is a ‘must make’ for fall.  When the sour cream and chips or cheesy nachos make an appearance during television football, I am enjoying this healthful dip with some veggies or some crisp whole wheat pita chips!

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The recipe says red bell peppers, but any color sweet bell pepper will do – I have used yellow or orange as well.  I recommend serving this dip warm or at room temperature, and I think my flavorful Penzy’s smoked paprika makes it extra special!

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To make :

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the peppers with the coconut oil and put them onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until blistered and blackened in a few places.  Transfer the peppers to a bowl and immediately cover it with plastic wrap.  Set the covered bowl aside for 10 minutes to give the steam the chance to make the skins remove easily.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Spread the walnuts on a separate baking sheet and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, watching carefully that they do not burn.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Remove the peppers from the bowl, and after giving them a chance to cool, slip off their skins and discard them.  Remove and discard their stems as well.

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and process to preferred consistency.  You may want to leave the dip a little chunky.  Season to taste – I used 1/2 tsp fine sea salt.

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The end of summer farmer’s markets have some wonderful bell peppers right now!  I hope I have inspired you to try this healthful dip or to create one of your own!  Enjoy!

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

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summer garden mint

September 2, 2016

apple mint pleasure in simple things blog

Now that summer is on its way out, you are probably thinking about all the ways you can use or preserve the remaining herbs in your garden.

For Friday field trip today, I am sharing a way to use your overwhelming crop of garden mint.

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If you grow mint, you know exactly what I am talking about!  Mint can easily take over a garden!  I learned years ago, the best way to plant mint in the garden is to first plant it in a terracotta pot and then plant the entire pot in the ground.  This contains the growing area and prevents the mint from taking over the entire garden!

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A great way to use your mint is to make some mint syrup!  I love to experiment with all types of simple syrups, but this easy, three ingredient recipe I am sharing today comes from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

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Make up plenty, keeping some for yourself and package some up in pretty bottles to give as gifts.  It can be used in iced tea or seltzer or spooned over fresh fruit or ice cream.  Or, in my case, used on shaved ice or spooned over The Pantry’s sorbet!  Enjoy!

Fresh Mint Syrup

  • 1 ¼ cup packed, fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

In a medium saucepan of boiling water, cook the mint leaves for 10 seconds to set their color.  Drain, run under cold water, and drain again.  Transfer the mint to a food processor and puree.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to melt the sugar.  Stir in the mint, remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Strain the syrup thought a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, pushing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  To store, transfer to a jar and refrigerate up to 1 month.

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Remember, if you don’t have mint growing in your garden, you can always purchase some at your local farmer’s market or specialty store.  The photos here are from Gilbertie’s Herb Farm in Westport, Connecticut – a great source for fresh herbs.  As you can see, mint comes in many varieties at Gilbertie’s!   Chocolate mint, grapefruit mint, orange mint, ginger mint or any of the many varieties sold at the herb farm would be wonderful to create a syrup this year – and, when planted – many years to come!

Have a fabulous holiday weekend!

flowers at Gilberties pleasure in simple things blog

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

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an evening full of love… & white flowers

August 23, 2016

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Shortly after I contemplated appreciating summer gardens, I had the opportunity to party amidst the breathtaking grounds of the Burr Homestead in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

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The beauty of the surroundings was overwhelmingly surpassed by the incredible feeling of love filling this wedding celebration on a hot, summer evening.

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My good friend’s daughter was married on this evening, and the vision the bride and her mom had for the venue aesthetics was implemented to perfection by a talented florist.

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And, to my delight, the flowers were done in my favorite flower color – white!

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I hope these few photos help you share with me the beauty in the details created for this special celebration.

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So special – the tomatoes in the salad course were grown in the garden of the bride’s dad!! :)

Love you Phyllis & Mrs. G.! xo

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

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