Thursday, February 26, 2015

Doing Three Lovely Things for Ourselves Today

We work hard to take care of our families, homes and friends. Today, let's take time and make a priority to do three nice things for ourselves. It's not selfish - a happy homemaker makes for a happy home!

You'll know what your three lovely things might be. For me, I'll take a long bath instead of a hurried shower; I'll carve out 30 minutes to leisurely read a magazine while sipping iced tea in a sunny window; and I'll take extra time at lunch to make my favorite sandwich - and savor it - instead of just gulping down yogurt in front of the computer.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Now that we're at the end of February, have you been able to put away your Valentine's decorations? Time to get out your Spring, St. Patrick's Day or Easter themed decor, if you decorate for those holidays or for this season.
  • We're almost through the workweek! Anything you need to do so you're not falling behind on housework? A quick bit of vacuuming, a quick mop down for the kitchen floor, a load of laundry washed and folded and put away?
  • Make social plans for this weekend so you and your friends have a bit of advance notice of something fun you'll do together.
  • Will you be eating dinner on a clean tablecloth tonight? Be sure to change yours if it is soiled or crumb-encrusted. It's attention to the little things like this that make a regular home a lovely home.
  • Plan a special Friday lunch for your kids (if you are the one who packs their lunch boxes.) It will be easier to surprise them with something special tomorrow if you plan ahead today.
  • Need to pick up any milk, fresh veggies or fruit on your way home today?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Do Three Lovely Things for You and You Alone

Tupelo Lemongrass Honey Bath, from The Thymes

Do three pleasurable things today, just for you, even if they seem selfish or indulgent. Maybe we shouldn't be partaking in ice cream if we're watching our diets, or taking time away from important tasks that will make us feel guilty later. But I bet we can slip in enough time tonight to do three easy things to make ourselves happy. Maybe just a small portion of ice cream!

Perhaps it's a bath, an uninterrupted phone call to a good friend, half an hour with a home decor or cooking magazine, indulging in a mind-numbing TV show, or lingering over a latte at Starbucks. Just do something you enjoy, something that will make you feel nice, something to honor yourself.

LOVELY BLOGS: Adventures in Decorating

This is Becca's blog showcasing her home decorating projects and holiday decor. I'm currently enjoying looking through her beautiful Valentine's Day decor and her Valentine's Day mantel- she put so much time into this and it looks fabulous! You can also peek into her Winter Great Room. I can't wait to see what she does for Easter!

http://adventuresindecorating1.blogspot.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Dessert for Two

Christina from the Dessert for Two blog just published her first cookbook. I'm so excited to check it out. I like dessert (but tend to prioritize an appetizer or cocktail instead, if I'm watching my caloric intake) but find portions too big. I seem to run out of steam or get bored before I can eat them. So I love this concept of tiny desserts that are just enough for two people to share. Chapters include Cookies, Bars, Cakes, Southern Delights, and Candy.

Dessert for Two, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: House Tin Cookies

My house-shaped packaging obsession led me to seek out these cookies. Sadly, Dean & Deluca does not provide any info about them. They appear to depict a windmill, but I can't tell what they'd taste like. That will help me control myself and not buy them!

Coffret House Tin, from Dean & Deluca

LOVELY SHOPS: Claudine Hellmuth Printables

This Washington DC-based artist creates beautiful and whimsical printables you can use for gifting and party needs. Once you buy the item, print it out, cut and glue or tape it and use it right away. My favorite item is the retro oven cupcake box, with the printable pink retro camper a close second. There are also some printable paper dolls, but I don't really like the style of artwork on them. Her Christmas printable favor boxes are extremely adorable - check out the Christmas Sweet Shoppe favor box for example!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/claudinehellmuth

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Botanical Gardens are the Cathedrals of Our Time (New Statesman)

Easter Decor in the Sunroom (Penny's Vintage Home)

How Skiing Went From the Alps to the Masses (The Atlantic)

Learning to Like Spicier Food (The Atlantic)

Miss Vintage UK Says 'Dress Like a Lady, Get Treated Like a Lady' (Daily Mail)

Refrigerators of the World (The Atlantic)

You're Doing Kids' Allowances Wrong (Slate)


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting and Staying Ready for Guests

Happy Easter Eggs Pillow, from Pier 1 Imports

I just had a houseguest stay for two nights over the weekend; I have a guest staying one night this weekend; and a guest staying over the first weekend in March. I'm delighted to finally have guest bedrooms (two of them!) to offer guests instead of a couch. I have a lot of work to do though to swap out clean sheets, keep guest rooms and bathrooms freshened, and maintain my home in a clean and nice smelling manner so people will feel at home and want to come back again!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Brighten your home a bit with some inexpensive tulips or daffodils, if you can fit it into your budget. Most grocery stores should have them available right now.
  • Can you find primroses for your garden? I've put several affordable containers of them on my front porch for a colorful welcome home, and I'm considering adding some to my back deck too.
  • Take inventory of your paper and plastic products. Do you need more Kleenex, paper towels, toilet tissue, garbage bags, sandwich bags? Add anything you need to your shopping list for the weekend.
  • Do you have any library books due to be returned this week? Any movies you rented this weekend from Redbox that need to be returned today?
  • I haven't remembered to take my vitamins all week until just now. How about you?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Guest Room Readiness

Chenille Throw in Citron, from Pier 1 Imports

Tonight I'm throwing a dinner party, so I don't have a lot of time for a big project. I bet after my guests leave and I've tidied the kitchen, I can find time to whisk a guest room back into shape. I can throw the sheets into my washer and run it while I'm cooking dinner, then run the dryer inconspicuously downstairs while we eat dinner. It won't take but a couple minutes to put the sheets back on the bed, sweep and dust so the guest room is ready for the next guest.

Upstairs in the other guest bedroom (which didn't get used last weekend) I just have to do a sniff test, making sure the bedding smells fresh still. There's nothing worse than sleeping at someone's house and having your bed smell dirty, musty, or dusty. I'll take extra care to check the warm fuzzy throw I leave on the ends of my guest beds. Next, I'll quickly dust, and vacuum. That's a quick project I can easily do in between commercials.

Before guests arrive, I will want to put a vase of fresh flowers in each room, open the window that day for an hour or two of fresh air if possible, and spritz one gentle, quick spray of home fragrance spray in the room a couple hours before they arrive. (Not too much though!)

I'll worry about my guest bathrooms another day!

If guests came to your home this weekend, would you be ready for them?

LOVELY BLOGS: The Retro Housewife Life

Nicole is a retro housewife living in Arizona. She feels like she was born in the wrong era, and proudly embraces her role as a homemaker. She shares her retro housewife fashion, and lets us peek at her amazing cleaning schedules. I might have to take a closer look and possibly adopt some of these into my own housekeeping organization method. I'm enjoying her recent pep-talk post on being a domestic goddess, I'm peeking at her menu for this week, and reading her advice on getting motivated to clean and organize.

http://theretrohousewifelife.com/

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Sangria Iced Tea

I really love sangria, but let's face it, there's only so much of it one can drink before one is suspected of being a giant lush. So I'm excited to try this new bottled iced tea from Republic of Tea. They're not shipping it during this wintry time of year, so I'll look for it at my local Cost Plus World Market.

Sangria Bottled Iced Tea, from Republic of Tea

LOVELY BOOKS: Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home

Emily from the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog has just published her second book. This one focuses on entertaining at home. That's one of my very favorite subjects, so I probably can't resist picking up a copy!

Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home, on Amazon

LOVELY BOOKS: Wild Flower Children

Here is a charming book of flower fairy illustrations. It was written by Elizabeth Gordon, illustrated by Janet Laura Scott, and published in 1918. I love leafing through the color illustrations here, and thought you might like to idle away a pleasant ten minutes or so on your coffee or tea break today. My favorite illustration so far is the mischievous imp pictured on the Fireweed page.

Wild Flower Children, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY FOOD: Mrs. Bridges' Jams and Jellies

There are so many tasty things to use jams and jellies and curds on - scones, bagels, toast, muffins, tartlets, waffles, crepes..! Some of these lovely pantry products are a bit expensive as they make you buy a 3-pack, but if you nose around a bit on the Mrs. Bridges Amazon offerings, you can find a few nice things that aren't too dear. I absolutely have to treat myself to the Scottish Blackcurrant Preserve, and I probably can't pass up the Marmalade with Whisky.

Mrs. Bridges Jams, Curds, Marmalades and Chutneys, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: Pastel and White Cookies

I think these lovely cookies would be a perfect hostess gift, should you be attending an Easter brunch, Spring tea party, book club, or springtime dinner party. They're a changed-up version of "black-and-white" cookies. They'd also make a nice surprise birthday gift, mailed to your far-away relative or good friend.

Pastel and White Cookies, at Dean & Deluca

LOVELY SHOPS: Bobka Baby

This shop sells stunningly gorgeous ballerina-style wedding shoes and also baby shoes. The colors are fantastic! Many of the shoes here have some sort of lovely beaded embellishments, such as on these taffeta ankle strap shoes. Don't miss this stunning pair of fuchsia flower girl shoes - love the ribbons! There's also a section for white christening shoes.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BobkaBaby

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Charred Cauliflower Carbonara (How Sweet It Is)

Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake (Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

How to Cut and Peel Hard Winter Squash (Chocolate and Zucchini)

Italian Chopped Salad (Annie's Eats)

Moussaka Shepherd's Pie (Foodess)

Outer Space Cookies (The Bearfoot Baker)

Paris Cookies (Bake at 350)

Spaghetti Pangrattato with Fried Eggs (Smitten Kitchen)

Spring Picks - Cake Stands (Sweetapolita)


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