Monday, October 20, 2014

Time For Us Week - Pampering Ourselves

One of the books I intend to read while snuggling a dog in front of the fireplace in the evenings this week

For the last few weeks, we've been working very hard to clean, beautify and organize our homes for our families and to welcome guests. Now it's time to think about ourselves, turn inward a bit, to pamper ourselves and to enrich our own lives.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Long winter nights are approaching. Consider joining an online book club or book reading group if that's something you'd enjoy.
  • Make yourself a manicure, pedicure or hair appointment for this week, or just go get a walk-in service. (Or whatever would make you feel pampered!) If your budget is tight, just make room in your schedule to give yourself a manicure or pedicure at home using your own nail polish.
  • Can you make plans to have lunch with a friend this week? Or perhaps you two can go to a movie some evening. Working on a tight budget? Re-watch an old favorite DVD or find something intriguing on cable. Then pop in a tasty but high calorie frozen dinner or pizza you already own and have been storing in your freezer. Also, how about ice cream for dessert?
  • Make a list of fun things you'd enjoy doing this week. Definitely take your budget into consideration, but spoil yourself a bit if you can.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Pampering

Mango Bubble Bath, at Sephora

Whatever pampering means to you, see if you can treat yourself to some of it tonight. Get your partner to give you a massage or foot rub maybe (or something more fun, if you aren't too tired!) Take a long, hot bath with iced lemon water to sip and a book or a magazine. Watch a TV show that isn't very good for your brain but is deliciously fun to watch. (I recommend "Below Deck" on Tuesday nights).

Go out to dinner, or grab fast food (something I try not to do too often) for a one-time treat. Think just about yourself, doing the bare minimum you can do tonight to keep your house in order and your family happy and fed. Then go off by yourself for some YOU time. Remember that a happy wife and a happy mom makes for a happy household.

Let's be a little selfish. Make time for yourself. Demand it, you deserve it! Ask your partner to spend time with the children while you get a manicure - or drop the little ones off at a grandparents' or friend's house for a few hours. You can always trade babysitting with a neighbor mom nearby.

Encourage your spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend to go out with their friends, so you can go out with the girls or just have a few quiet hours at home alone. Read that book you've been dying to finish (uninterrupted! Imagine that!); lazily leaf through magazines enjoying the pretty and unrealistic pictures; take an extra long bath. Linger just a bit longer over your morning hot beverage of choice. Play dress up with your closet, makeup, hair and jewelry, and take selfies just for you!

LOVELY BLOGS: Eat Cake for Dinner

Here are Jenn's recipes for baked goods as well as entrees and savory dishes. Recently she's shared a cute spider web dessert pizza, Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken, white chocolate pumpkin bread with a streusel topping, and Pumpkin Molasses sandwich cookies.

http://www.eatcakefordinner.net/

LOVELY KITCHEN: Autumn Wreath Bundt Pan

Here's an example of me displaying some self control and not buying something I want (for a change). I really, really want this Nordic Ware pan. Imagine all the wonderful cakes (and maybe Jell-os?) you could make with this! Envision the festive ice ring you could make with this, to float in a larger punch bowl! I have to face the reality though - I don't bake Bundt cakes all that often (despite no shortage of molded pans for them) and I don't have a large family to feed treats to any more. (My neighbors, I suspect, are wearying of my proffered baked goods). While I could afford the $26 or so this costs (though that takes away from my manicure or movies budget), I can't afford the shelf or cupboard space. Alas, I have to move on and let it go!

Autumn Wreath Bundt Pan, on Amazon

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Breakfast Sandwich Stackers (Amy's Cooking Adventures)

Carrot Cake with Cider and Olive Oil (Smitten Kitchen)

Cream Cheese Apple Coffee Cake (Yammie's Noshery)

Creamy Broccoli Chicken Shells and CheesE (The Comfort of Cooking)

Crispy Baked Butternut Squash Fries (Foodess)

Cute Pumpkin Cookies (The Bearfoot Baker)

Fall Gourd Cake Pops (Pint Sized Baker)

Grilled Tomatillo Guacamole (A Spoonful of Thyme)

Kahlua Holiday Fudge (Worth the Whisk)

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Bread (Love From the Oven)

Pink Velvet Swiss Roll (Garnish & Glaze)

Pumpkin Gingersnaps (Juniper in Her Hair)

Spinach and Spaghetti Squash Fritters (The Bitten Word)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Fragrance Sorting Friday

Jo Malone Cologne Collection, at Nordstrom

Today I'm sorting through my perfumes, making sure I am not hoarding things and cluttering up my house with perfumes I don't actually wear or enjoy. I did this extensively last year, and didn't acquire more than one or two perfumes as gifts since then, so I shouldn't have to spend too much time doing this before I head out on my Friday night adventures.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Let's get ready for the weekend - Need to visit an ATM for cash, go to Redbox to pick up a movie, drop off or pick up library books, or fill your car with gas?
  • Tidy up quickly so your home is nice to come home to tonight. Remove extraneous shoes from your entryway, empty trashcans, empty or fill dishwasher, wipe down kitchen counters, declutter stairs, vacuum or sweep as needed. Dance through your bathrooms real quickly, refolding hand towels or swapping them out for fresh clean ones, hanging up or laundering any towels your kids threw on the floor, changing toilet paper rolls if needed, and tidying.
  • Does your microwave need cleaning? Mine does, despite thoroughly cleaning it during our kitchen preparations last week. I can wipe it down and sanitize it in under two minutes.
  • Sort through and read, then recycle any catalogs which have shown up this month. Right now quite a few catalogs are flying into my mailbox, despite me never signing up for them. Because I have recently ordered in some items from Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma, I've gotten their catalogs in the mail.
  • Perhaps tonight before it gets dark, you might like to take your children, partner/spouse, roommate or neighbor on a nature discovery walk. Look for fall leaves, pinecones and acorns. Let the children bring a few home to arrange on their dresser or in a windowsill.
  • Make weekend restaurant reservations or social plans.
  • Tidy up your mail table. Recycle junk mail, read and recycle catalogs, pay bills, and respond to letters.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Fragrance Sorting

Acqua di Parma "Rosa Nobile" at Sephora

Some of you might not ever wear fragrance or use scented products. So today instead your project might be to instead, sort out your unscented soaps, bath products, etc.

SORTING:

Sort out your perfume counter, drawer, box or cupboard, preferably in a room with an open window. Sniff and smell every perfume, but only try on those you really are unsure about ever wearing again. (Wash yourself off before family members come home so they don't get overpowered!)

Now normally when I sort several things out and throw or give many of them away, I let myself get a new replacement or two. But in the case of perfume I will not go shopping or replace these any time soon. I usually get given two or three perfumes over the holidays or for my birthday as gifts. I won't need to buy perfume for years to come.

RE-GIFTING:

Unless your perfume is old, funky or discolored, you probably won't want to throw away something perfectly nice that you just know you won't wear. If it's unopened or not obviously used, you can re-gift it. Just be sure you know for sure who gave it to you - so you don't regift it to that very person! I like to trade or gift perfumes outside my direct circle of close friends. Or sometime after Christmas, I'll host a ladies' Perfume Trading party to find new appreciative homes for our fragrances we all don't prefer.

KEEPING AND DISPOSING:

Acrylic Vanity Trays, at The Container Store

For perfume you are keeping, put away or store your spring and summer perfumes (The citrusy and flowery ones). Keep out the perfumes you like to wear in autumn - perhaps the more woodsy, amber or warm ones.

Getting rid of some perfumes? Here's the hard part: Perfumes deteriorate more quickly than you might think. You don't want to hand off a half-used bottle of perfume to a friend (and certainly not to Goodwill or another charity). It's rude to donate items that aren't in pristine condition.

If you're not going to use it, don't let perfume clutter up your home. Throw it away. We're not supposed to throw perfumes in the trash or pour them down the sink or toilet, as they are flammable and can contaminate water. Instead, we're supposed to open them and let the fumes dissipate. I've found that's not so easy - several of my old perfume lids were difficult or impossible to remove without breaking the bottle. Frustrating! It could take a long time for an entire half a bottle of perfume to dissipate, too. Try doing a quick Google search on the best way to dispose of unwanted perfumes.

Dust off and clean your fall/winter perfumes, then arrange them attractively on a counter or dresser. Be sure they're not exposed to direct sunlight. To avoid clutter, only display four or five of your perfumes. Store the rest in an easy to find place. Sometimes I rotate which perfumes I keep out so I don't forget to wear favorites.

SCENTED LETTERS:

If you're a letter writer, think about choosing a perfume to spritz very gently and minimally on your outgoing letters - but only if you are sending them to people who aren't fragrance sensitive.

PERFUME ETIQUETTE:

Let's all be aware of perfume etiquette: Don't wear any if you are spending time with someone with asthma or allergies; don't wear any if you are riding on an airplane (your seatmate may find it oppressive), don't spritz any on before a dental visit or massage, anything where a person has to be very close to you; and put very very little perfume on at all to begin with. We should be dabbing, not spraying, for the most part. There's never a reason to spray more than once directly on our clothes, hair or bodies. Less is more! I've also read that you shouldn't ever wear perfume to a wine tasting, as it can affect the taste of wines for some people.

HOME FRAGRANCES:

Bitter Orange and Cedar Home Fragrance Mist, at Thymes.com

Sort out your room sprays and home fragrances, tossing out any your spouse, boyfriend, kids or roommates have complained about or don't like. Get out any mulling spices - the kind you boil on the stove to scent your house, and actually use one of them up today. Pay special attention to your potpourri - if it's old and dried and doesn't look nice, toss it. If it doesn't smell strong, use your potpourri recharge oil or get rid of it. Is anybody even using potpourri anymore? It seems so 1980s.

Spritz your house with your favorite home spray. Or you might like to boil a cinnamon stick in water for a nice holiday scent (though it's more Christmasy than autumny, I suppose).

LOVELY LIVING: In the Weeks Ahead

Next week is "Time for Us" week. I love blogging about, and living through, this week. I designed this concept in order to relax myself and any readers who accept the challenge, before we enter the busy holiday season. We've been working our butts off to clean up our homes, cook for our families and loved ones, and decorate things all pretty for fall. What's coming up in November and December? We'll be working even harder to get our houses ready for company, parties, holidays, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, houseguests and the like. Plus we hopefully will be finishing our Christmas shopping long before December 15th.

Cinders Bath Bomb, at Lush

I don't know about you, but I'm going to take some time this next week for ME. I'll be pampering myself, taking extra-long hot baths with lovely bubbles and fragrances, indulging in a few food and beverage treats, reading and watching TV and movies that I enjoy. I'll go to a movie or two by myself, something I enjoy doing when I can't convince a friend to go see a particular picture with me. I've already taken four cooking classes, so that won't be something I'll do next week. I'll catch up with the two books I'm reading for my book clubs.

I still have to go to work, keep my house clean, do errands and take care of my pets. But I'm going to not obsess over cleaning or do any major projects other than moving some things so new carpet can be installed. Since I've worked so hard lately to "maintain" the house in good shape, the truth is I don't have a ton of cleaning jobs that need doing right now. There's plenty of time in November and December for being hard working, unselfish and helpful.

Right now, I'm going to be a little bit selfish. Want to join me? Can you arrange some babysitting time (if applicable) so you get some time to yourself? Can you do a little extra work on Monday so you can sneak a couple hours on Tuesday to pamper yourself or do things just for you? If you can't convince your spouse or partner to spend time with kids so you can sneak out for a pedicure, can you drop your kids off at a friend or relative's house for a couple hours? Trade babysitting with a neighbor?

LOVELY BLOGS: Jessica Gavin

Jessica Gavin is a certified culinary scientist. Here on her blog, she shares recipes, restaurant reviews, and lifestyle insights. Check out what she's up to in her test kitchen. Today I'm reading her posts on pumpkin pecan streusel coffee cake, her cute Halloween Graveyard Brownie Cupcakes, and her Apricot Almond Granola Bars.

http://www.jessicagavin.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Triplets

This 1899 book compiles three children's books with lovely Walter Crane illustrations. You can read "The Baby's First Opera," "The Baby's Bouquet" and "The Baby's Aesop." Most of the book is comprised of music sheets of quaint nursery rhyme songs for babies.

Triplets, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY FRAGRANCE: Paddywax's Mixology Collection

I keep forgetting about the Paddywax candle company. I love their candles, but don't often run into them in stores near me. Here's their fun Mixology collection, with retro keepsake jars and cocktail-themed scents. The fragrances include Sazerac, Negroni, Old Fashioned, Dark and Stormy, and Mint Julep. I'm thinking this might be a perfect hostess gift for a couple cocktail-loving dinner-party-throwing ladies I know.

Mixology, at Paddywax

LOVELY TV: Peter Pan Live

Last year NBC showed a live performance of "The Sound of Music." This year, they're airing "Peter Pan Live" on December 4. Starring - ooh, I am so excited - Christopher Walken as Captain Hook!

Peter Pan Live, at NBC.com

Peter Pan Live Info on Today.com

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

The Best Lipstick Colors for Fall 2014 (Elle Canada)

Curried Tomato Gruyere Fondue with Spiced Arancini (Katie at the Kitchen Door)

Monster Eye Asparagus Gruyere Tart (Pizzazzerie)

Sauteed Sweet Potatoes (Sisterhood of the Simmering Pots)

Savoury Gruyere Green Onion Drop Scones (Scrumpdillyicious)

Spooky and Creepy Halloween Wreath (The Thrifty Groove)

Why People Love Costco Sized Portions (The Atlantic)