Sunday, September 28, 2014

Easing Into Autumn

The trees in my neighborhood are slowly beginning to change colors, just a little bit, hinting at the riot of color soon to come

It's cold in the mornings now, here in the outskirts of Seattle. That prompts me to drink lots of hot tea and cuddle up with a dog and my overheating laptop while I get computer work done. Afternoons are warm and sunny, making me long for summer to stay just a little longer. I love fall, and look forward to pumpkin season, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. But it's so hard for me to say goodbye to long summer evenings, warm weather, and sunshine.

An electric stove similar to the one I picked up at Fred Meyer today to add ambience and cheer to my cold kitchen in the mornings

I'm dreading the dark days ahead. That's making me a bit of a shopaholic right now, stocking up on candles, batteries, fire logs, matches, and treating myself to an electric fireplace to make my kitchen or guest room extra cosy.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

This tree near my house is trying really hard to turn orange!

  • What chores do you tend to do on Sunday? I wash all my sheets and towels so they're fresh for the week ahead.
  • Know what you're making for your kids' lunches and after school snacks this week?
  • What is everybody wearing to school and work tomorrow and in the days ahead?
  • Clean one drawer, one shelf, or two door shelves in both your fridge and freezer.
  • Set aside some time, if possible, for just you tonight. Recharge, relax, and prepare for the week ahead with some quiet time. Even if you can only snatch 15 minutes to zone out to TV or flip through a magazine, take a longer bath or shower, or pet a dog or cat while drinking herbal tea.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Putting Away Summer Things

Colorful flowers greet guests on my front porch

I'm doing what might be my last lawn mowing of the year (unless we have awesome weather all through October like we did last year). After that, I'm feeling cranky because it's time to bring my outdoor living room back inside. My wicker love seat, two chairs and footstool are getting rained on too often, and I'm not sitting outdoors using and enjoying them. Time for them to come home to my kitchen, where guests can relax and chat while I'm cooking meals.

This isn't that easy of a project - I want to sweep and then mop the kitchen floor before hauling the furniture in; I want to wipe down the furniture and remove cat hair from, then Febreze, the cushions; and the furniture is not necessarily heavy but is quite awkward and unwieldy. I'll want to dust the side table I keep in my kitchen, set out the coaster I keep there to protect the wood, and find some fresh flowers from the yard to tuck into a little vase.

I expect this project to take about an hour; then I can relax with a book and TV before bedtime tonight!

What summer items are you no longer using that need to be put away? (I'm guessing - your barbecue grill?)

LOVELY BLOGS: The Kitchen Paper

This blogger, Mary, is originally from Oregon. Recently she's been exploring southeast Asia. I've been enjoying her recent recipies for Orange, Tomato, and Turmeric Coconut Soup, her flourless chocolate torte and her Fried Egg on Toast with Smoked Paprika and Maple Chard.

http://www.thekitchenpaper.com/

LOVELY FRAGRANCE: Bath & Body Works' Pumpkin and Autumn Scented Candles

With October so close, I'm finally letting myself purchase (and burn) autumn scented candles (pumpkin, caramel, wood smoke, apple, etc). I'm usually not that big of a fan of food-scented candles (they're too sweet, or make me constantly hungry) but I have to admit my current favorite is Pumpkin Pecan Waffles. I think Bath & Body Works has sort of overdone it with their pumpkin offerings this year - Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, Pumpkin Cupcake, Pumpkin Caramel Latte, Pumpkin Sugared Doughnut, Caramel Pumpkin Swirl, Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow, and Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun. I can barely tell them apart in the store. Luckily they have other scents - Sweater Weather, Autumn, Mahogany Teakwood, Fireside, Leaves, Autumn Mums, Harvest Gathering, Autumn Night, Salted Caramel Corn, and more.

Bath and Body Works

LOVELY KITCHEN: Le Creuset Burgundy

I can't justify investing in a Le Creuset quite yet - I'm still practicing with the inexpensive red Dutch oven I got from Cost Plus World Market. And I am not cooking for as many people in my house as I used to.

My kitchen is currently a teal theme, so I wouldn't be able to get these burgundy dishes anyway. But that's not stopping me from drooling over them - they are gorgeous and I daydream about all the tasty meals I'd want to cook in them!

Le Creuset Burgundy, at Sur la Table

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Autumn: 5 Recipes for Using Up a Glut of Apples (Made by Mrs. Jones)

Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake (Floral and Feather)

Blackberry Cheesecake (Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt)

Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte (See Aimee Cook)

The New Yoga Pot Stew (Green Kitchen Stories)

Plum Pie (The Artful Gardener)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding Shots (That's So Michelle)

Taco Pasta Bowl (Framed Cooks)

Weeknight Foods: Brown Sugar Glazed King Salmon with Cabbage Salad (A Half Cup)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Photo Post: More Arabian Nights Party Pics

About a week before the party, I started staging the tents in the back yard, practicing putting them up. I didn't want to leave them out because of our summer Seattle rains, and I couldn't leave a rug sitting on the grass as it would kill it.

This party took an incredible amount of provisioning, with trips to craft stores (for faux flowers and fabrics), items arriving from Amazon, and lots of trips to Cost Plus World Market. I kept the party supplies in the playroom, staged on a card table and piled everywhere. I had to keep the door shut so my dogs wouldn't get into everything! Sadly, this staging room rendered my playroom unusable for the children who visited in the meantime - but we at least had a summery sunny backyard to enjoy instead!


This is what my two buffet tables (one borrowed, one purchased at Wal-Mart - I'll use it for Thanksgiving and Christmas) looked like once the food was set out.

Here's what my backyard looked like during the child-friendly daytime portion of the party:

Here are my three tents as they looked in daylight. I don't have very many pictures of the way they looked at night, lit up with lanterns and fairy lights, because I was too busy running around hostessing the party!

At the end of the night my dogs were exhausted from all the extra attention and petting lavished on them. They helped themselves to crashing out in one of the tents!
They know a comfy spot when they see one.

The hostess, me!

This was the party that took the most time to prepare, plan and set up. I probably will never do a party that takes this much work again, but I'm so glad I did it - what a blast. I can only hope my guests had fun too - that was the whole point! You can bet I spent the next two or three days cleaning up, resting, sleeping, cleaning up some more, and eating leftovers!!