Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Rainstorm in Summertime

The lavender pound cake I'm baking today while in domesticity mode

Today's stronger-than-expected thunderstorm and rain showers have put me into a delightfully domestic mood. Don't get me wrong - I love summertime, and I've been thoroughly enjoying the warm sunny weather, long days, and outdoor activities. We certainly have enough rain here in Seattle other months of the year. But today it feels good to open all the windows to let in the smell of the rain - something it would be too cold to do, most of the year. I can leave my back door and kitchen door open to let fresh air in too, without worrying about my rain-shy dogs wandering outside to get into mischief in the back yard.

I have a full workday today and errands to run, but in between, I'll find time to do a few domestic things this rainstorm has put me in the mood for. I'll bake, organize a cupboard, clean the kitchen, and enjoy a cup of hot tea instead of iced for a change. Sadly, it's too warm out to light a fire in my fireplace, so I'll light candles instead.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

Some "dinner plate" dahlias I was contemplating at the grocery store today. Wonder if I could keep them alive through late August for a party I'm throwing in my back yard.

  • Mid-week vacuuming or laundry to do so you aren't swamped with those chores this weekend?

  • Are you tired of the music in your car? I need to update the CDs and USB stick I keep in my car (I don't stream via my poor already-overworked phone). I'll swap things out for some music I haven't heard in a long time.

  • Do you have social plans this weekend? Figure out what you're going to do for fun - even if you end up just enjoying an evening or two by yourself.

  • Making sure to enjoy summer's fruit bounty? Pick up some fresh cherries, watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, Tuscan melons, blueberries and raspberries at the store. They're more affordable right now than they will be come fall and winter.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Party Prep

In late August, my cousin and I are throwing a "1001 Nights" themed party. It's a "Day to Night" party - child/kid friendly during the day, cocktail party for grownups after 7pm. I've laid out some of the party supplies on my dining table so I can assess the situation. I need to put them away tonight though; my dining table shouldn't be cluttered like this for very long. I'm taking a look at our decorations (silks and flowers I'm bejeweling) and the plastic cups and plates I'll use to serve. I'm attempting to throw a glow-in-the-dark Arabian Nights party in the evening, using blacklights, these colorful cups that glow under light, and tons of Cyalume lightsticks. I'll keep you posted on my successes or failures along these lines!

One of my errands today is to run to Pier 1 to track down a few more of these lovely teal and gold lanterns. I'll also pick up some LED candles - I normally prefer real candles, but can't risk an open flame in the fabric-swathed tents I'm creating.

The rain today is preventing me from practicing setting up and decorating the tent canopies and air mattresses I bought for the party. I want to do a couple trial run throughs long before the party so I get the look just the way I want it. Instead, I'll do some errands and gather some supplies for the party (like pomegranate soda) from Cost Plus and Pier 1 today.

LOVELY BLOGS: Damn Delicious

Chungah blogs from Los Angeles. She started her cooking blog two years ago. I love that her blog includes a recipe index. Current posts include Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes; Bacon and Pea Macaroni and Cheese; and Zucchini corn pancakes. It's refreshing to find a high quality cooking blog that isn't focused on baking 90% of the time. (I love baking blogs, but if I want to see stuff about baking, I go to a baking blog. Needing to learn to cook a wider variety of foods, I need to spend more time on blogs focusing on cooking).

http://damndelicious.net/blog/

LOVELY BOOKS: Woman's Favorite Cook Book

This charming cookbook was written by Annie R. Gregory ("assisted by one thousand homekeepers") and published way back in 1902. It's remarkable how many color illustrations are included in this book - expensive and unusual for the time. There are chapters on relishes and chutneys; bread, biscuits, muffins and waffles; cakes; canned fruits and vegetables; dinner table novelties and decorations; arranging the table; ice creams, ices and sherbets; jellies; meat and fish; pastry, pies and tarts; puddings and pudding sauces; "soups made of meat" (Huh?); special menus for holidays; and much much more.

The book is over 600 pages long! I am so excited we can read this for free and peer back into the history of cooking and homemaking.

Woman's Favorite Cookbook, at the Internet Archive

LOVELY FOOD: White Peach Sangria Sorbetto

I have a confession to make - I bought this in order to serve it at a dinner party I'm having tomorrow, but I've eaten it all up myself in the past two days! So delicious and fresh tasting! It's a perfect summertime after-dinner treat. It's one of Ciao Bella's seasonal summer offerings. That means I probably won't be able to find it in my local stores come fall. I'd better go shopping and get some more to enjoy (and serve at my dinner party tomorrow).

White Peach Sangria Sorbetto, from Ciao Bella

LOVELY HOME: Secret Ships Towels

I'm intrigued by these towels that can be used as shawls, scarves, beach towels, or sarongs. I don't think I'd want to towel off with something with tassels though, that's kind of weird. Still, I love the colors and the look of these. The idea of using your sarong as a beach towel is appealing, too.

Towels, at Secret Ships

LOVELY MOVIES: The Hundred Foot Journey

I am so desperately looking forward to this film! I love Helen Mirren, and I'm intrigued by the premise: "The opening of a new Indian restaurant in the south of France, next to a famous Michelin-starred eatery, is nearly cause for an all-out war between the two establishments until Le Saule Pleureur’s icy proprietress Madame Mallory recognizes her rival’s undeniable brilliance for preparing masterful meals." A foodie movie! The film comes out August 8.

The Hundred Foot Journey page on Facebook

The Hundred Foot Journey Trailer, at Apple

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

BBQ Cookies: Hot Dogs & Hamburgers (The Bearfoot Baker)

Cook for the Cure (Bakerella)

Cookies and Cream Baked Chocolate Doughnuts (Raspberri Cupcakes)

Holographic Chocolates Look as Good as They Taste (NPR)

How Family Game Night Makes Kids Into Better Students (The Atlantic)

The Importance of Eating Together (The Atlantic)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Domestic Day

The pink rhododendron off my back deck

Today I'm taking a half day off from work to get some domestic things done around the house. I worked for four hours this morning; now I'm getting some annoying little chores done. Things that pile up and aren't super important so you don't rush to do them. Then you turn around and your house is falling down about your ears and you wonder why!

I'm not doing anything mundane like laundry or closet sorting. I'm doing some routine things that will help my house be lovely and livable; plus doing a few domestic things I enjoy, such as baking and tweaking my home decor.

Here's a peek at my to-do list for today. What things need to go onto your own to-do list?

TODAY'S PROJECTS:

  • Wait for, and converse with, the wasp nest removal man.
  • Change a hard-to-reach light bulb in the hallway. It's been burned out for a week - it's past time to do this.
  • Bring in a ladder and change another hard to reach light bulb in the dining room.
  • Superglue a broken wooden arm on my patio umbrella.
  • Sweep out and clean outdoor playhouse - the neighbor kids were too afraid of spiders to enjoy playing in it last weekend!
  • Go to Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up a rubber non-skid mat to go under my kitchen doorway rug. Cut and shape it to fit, so we'll stop slipping on our way out to the deck.
  • Rinse out smelly, empty yard waste bin.
  • Make a pitcher of fresh squeezed limeade.
  • Bake muffins and cornbread.
  • Febreze all the curtains in the house to freshen them up a bit.
  • Take my summertime couch decor pillows outside to air out in the sunshine.
  • Make homemade vegetarian chili
  • Rinse out, clean and refill the dog swimming pool.

LOVELY BLOGS: Simple Bites

Simple Bites focuses on teaching how to prepare unprocessed, nourishing food, eating seasonally and locally, and emphasizing the importance of bringing the whole family together around the table on a daily basis. Recent posts include teaching kids to make homemade crackers and wheat thins; a recipe for a Middle Eastern taco salad, and a recipe for fresh strawberry pie.

http://www.simplebites.net/

LOVELY BOOKS: Tiny Folk of Sunny Days

Here's another charming antique book you can flip through. The illustrations are by Maud Humphrey, and feature children from around the world as well as flowers from the region they live in. The book was published in 1889.

Tiny Folk of Sunny Days, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY LUGGAGE: Calypso

Next month I'm taking a luxury vacation to a Ritz Carlton property in California. (I'm celebrating my new ability to travel, now that all my foster kids have moved away. Just this once, I'm splurging on a more expensive hotel than I normally choose to stay at). It just occurred to me that while my clothing is perfectly nice enough to stay at the Ritz without embarrassing myself, my poor old beaten up cheap hot pink suitcase from Target won't do. I might feel a little reluctant to let the smartly dressed bellboy at the Ritz carry that filthy old suitcase for me.

So I decided it's time to pick up a nice new suitcase. I still intend to keep and use my perfectly good (albeit old and dirty) hot pink suitcase for my family vacation trips. But I'm running to The Container Store tomorrow to pick up this attractive and affordable Calypso Stripe wheeled duffle.

Calypso Wheeled Duffle, from The Container Store

LOVELY WEBSITES: Savvy Auntie

"The first community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers, and all women who love kids." I really enjoy this website - I too, love being an aunt to my nieces, nephews and friends' kids. There are fun and useful articles here: topics like traveling with your nieces/nephews, avoiding the Summer Slide by encouraging book reading, informative articles on measles, etc. There are also interesting forum discussions, on how you found out you were going to be an aunt, how to answer kids' questions about why you aren't married, and how to celebrate non-moms on Mother's Day. I am sure I will stop by this website often to see what's going on.

http://savvyauntie.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Black Fig and Pear Jam with Honey and Vanilla (The Preserved Life)

Blueberry Pies for the Fourth of July (The Bearfoot Baker)

Chai Milkshakes are Amazing (CHOW)

Flax and Oat Porridge with Grilled Peaches (A Cozy Kitchen)

Old Fashioned Fun for the Fourth of July

Pineapple Pendants for Chandelier Decor (Aunt Peaches)


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