Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Cleaning Our Dining Rooms and or Breakfast Nooks

The Lush Decor curtains I'm tempted to get for my dining room windows

Last night I skipped Spring Cleaning and went to Family Night Dinner at our local Olive Garden instead. I was initially annoyed at myself that I didn't tackle a Spring Cleaning project when I got home, but decided after a long Monday workday I was entitled to put my feet up and watch an hour of TV before collapsing in bed. Now I'm glad I gave myself permission to take a project-free night. I've got more energy for the project I'm tackling today!


  • If you're a coffee drinker, is it time to clean out your espresso or coffee machine? Run a cycle of hot water and vinegar through the machine?
  • Take inventory of your coffee filters - need to add them to your shopping list? I don't drink coffee but need to check my supplies for guests.
  • Made plans for your kids for Spring Break? I'm currently booking our family Spring Break trip to see some sunshine!
  • Need to water any houseplants, or rotate them into the sun? Need to give up on any dying or ones? (I do!)
  • I forgot to take my Vitamin D this week. Here's our weekly vitamin taking reminder!


I don't have room in my tiny dining room for a buffet, but if I did, I'd be sorely tempted by this Palais 4 door buffet!

Tonight I'm Spring Cleaning my small, narrow dining room. This would be a fairly easy weeknight evening task (since I keep this room so clean on a regular basis) except for my giant curio cabinet that's overfilled with goblets, vases, tea cups and tea pots. I don't want to just dust the outside of it and call it good - I should remove everything, wash the dishes (they get dusty, even in a closed cabinet), dust the shelves, try to think about donating or selling dishes I dont use frequently, dry the shelves and put things back nicely.

*NOTE:* Remember that during Spring Cleaning, we're not just cleaning. We're sorting, repairing, maintaining, and improving. Even if we can't afford to improve things right now, we can make a budget and a prioritized checklist, and refer back to it often in the next year. Therefore, if you're taking down your curtains and notice they're frayed, it's probably time to take a look at your budget and see where you can make wiggle room to buy new curtains. As you're dusting your baseboards, notice if any are chipped, scratched or stained and need to be replaced. While you are wiping down walls, look at how your paint job is holding up - is it time to repaint your dining room? Do all your dining chairs have their foot pads so they don't scratch your floor, or do you need to replace some? Is it time to reupholster your dining chairs? (It is for me.. that will be an upcomin weekend project soon!) Is your heater vent attractive, or is it time to think about replacing it? Mine is tarnished but probably salvageable.

The Mission-style Tiffany pendant chandelier I'm considering buying for my dining room.

Following is my list of things to do to spruce up my dining room before bedtime.

  • 6 Dining Chairs - Sponge off seats, let dry, plus dust chair backs and wood slats thoroughly
  • Artwork - Dust frame and glass.
  • Dining Table - Move to mop underneath; dust thoroughly.
  • Floor - Mop wood, take out rug and beat dust out of it outdoors
  • Curio Cabinet - Remove all the items, wash any dirty glasses or teacups (probably that means most of them), dust cabinet, replace items, try to de-clutter.
  • Chandelier - Dust hideous 1980s gold and glass light fixture, and replace any burned out light bulbs. Look over budget and shop for a lovely new fixture.
  • 2 Side tables - Dust; swap out candle holder for one from storage that looks better for Spring.
  • Heater vents and baseboards - Dust and clean.
  • 2 windows - Wash windows, and use crevice tool to clean inside of window sill (dead flies!)
  • Curtains - Take down and launder tonight, rehanging right before bed hopefully.

I expect this project to take around two hours because of the many items in my curio cabinet. I'm a bit discouraged, but really, mopping the floor only takes eight or ten minutes, dusting the side tables and windowsill only a few seconds, washing the windows that I've washed within the last 2 weeks should take but a few moments, and wiping the baseboards is only about a minute.

After I finish fighting with the chandelier and putting everything back in the curio cabinet, I can look forward to my evening television show followed by book reading! And my dining room will be beautiful, clean and ready for the baby shower being hosted at my house this weekend.

How long do you think it would take you to Spring Clean your breakfast nook or dining room tonight?

LOVELY BABY: Milkbarn Organic Baby Clothes

I've had a couple friends and family members give birth recently and I'm thinking of including a Milkbarn outfit or two in my gift bags for them. It's nice that these are made from soft organic cotton, but what I'm really excited about is the unusual designs. I love the fox print (but probably wouldn't gift it until autumn) and when's the last time you saw a darling hummingbird on a baby's outfit? Some of the other baby outfits feature hedgehogs and geese. I'm not impressed by the whale print - tons of baby companies put whales on their clothing. The outfits include rompers, sleepers, and onesies.

Milkbarn on Amazon

LOVELY BLOGS: The Wright Table

Elizabeth lives in Belize. She's sharing her efforts to adapt her recipes into something that will work with her local produce and ingredients options. Lately she's been blogging about pork adobo, chicken bacon pasta, slow cooked curried chickpeas (I want to try this one!), and buttermilk banana bread.

You can visit her family's blog on their relocation experiences at, too.

LOVELY BOOKS: Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

This book is by the author of the Simple Bites blog ("Whole food for the family table.") The author and her family are urban homesteaders. I love that the book is organized into seasons, featuring "Sugaring Off," Brown Eggs, and Picnics for Spring; backyard grilling, day trips, and a harvest dinner for summer; jam jars, orchard outings and comfort foods for autumn; and holiday gatherings, Sunday dinners, batch cooking and pantry staples for Winter. It was Aimee's lovely introduction that really sold me on this book. See if you can read through it on the Amazon preview.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, on Amazon

LOVELY HOME: Conservatory Roombox

Swoon. I almost teared up when I saw this lovely roombox. I could never afford it, but I so understand why it's so expensive. The hundreds of hours it must have taken; the painstaking attention to detail. This would be an incredible dining room tablescape or coffee table conversation starter. Kept under glass or Lucite, of course, to prevent naughty children from spoiling it. (I sound like the cranky old lady I could become if I don't watch out, don't I?)

Conservatory Roombox, on Etsy


This crafter from Ukraine makes the most adorable needle felted creatures and flowers to be worn as brooches. There are fruit-themed, bird-themed, and mouse brooches.

I rather wish this needle felted blue poppy was a hair accessory instead of a brooch!

TaniaFelt on Etsy


Avocado and Blush Orange Salad with Yogurt Miso Dressing (Rachel Phipps)

Carrot Cake Bars (The Taylor House)

Five Spring Cleaning Tips (The Two Seasons)

Lemon Meringue Bars (Pretty Plain Janes)

Our 10 Best Tofu Recipes (The Guardian)

Red Beet Eggs (Crafty Cooking Mama)

Skinny Sugar Snap Pea Soup with Miso (Pickled Plum)

Twice Baked Cheese and Bacon Mashed Potato Casserole Recipe (Roxana's Home Baking)

Zucchini Crusted Pizza (Apron and Sneakers)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

Lovely Living on Facebook

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Cleaning: Garage, Attic or Basement

Sterilite Storage Bin, at Target

Today my Spring Cleaning project is to clean and organize my garage. It's half full of family keepsakes, Christmas decorations, and kitchen/home decor storage; and half full of merchandise for my eBay business. I actually have done a good job of sorting lately and have cleared about 25% of the garage. I'll never be able to park my car in it (there are boxes of photos and Christmas ornaments I can't ever imagine myself parting with, and I don't have a basement or attic or storage room), but I am creeped out by garages anyway and don't mind parking in my driveway.

My goal today is to move every box out of the garage (weather permitting - I don't want them getting rained on in the driveway), peeking in to see exactly what's in there, sweep and possibly mop the garage floor under them, sort and organize, and return the boxes I'm keeping back into the garage in an organized fashion. I expect this to be an all-day project, sigh.


  • If you didn't clean out your fridge yesterday during the kitchen project, do you need to clean out one drawer or one shelf today in both your fridge and freezer to keep on top of things?
  • Pamper your hands after you're done with cleaning projects today. Use a sugar scrub on the back of them, give yourself a manicure, freshen polish, and apply lotion and moisturizer as needed.
  • Know what meals you're sending with your kids in their lunchboxes this week? Plan menus and pick up groceries if you have time today.
  • Set out the clothing you'll wear to work tomorrow so you won't have to rush so much in the morning.
  • Laundry done for the weekend? Folded and put away? I intend to not let my regular Sunday routine (washing sheets and towels) collapse just because I'm doing a huge Spring Cleaning project today too.
  • Can you book some down time for yourself tonight, to relax, snuggle up on a couch with a blanket and perhaps a pet, read a magazine, or watch a half hour comedy?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Garage Organizing

Evercare Corn Broom, at Target

So .. my garage.. is really, really cluttered and messy. (Except for the 20% path I've been able to clear by decluttering! And the half of it devoted to merchandise is nicely sorted and organized, because I need to find my items quickly in order to ship fast and keep customers happy.)

I'm a pack-rat but not a hoarder - I can throw things away, but I do cling to things with sentimental value. Things such as porcelain dolls my mom made, family photographs, two boxes of my old record collection, and three or four boxes of handwritten letters that friends and family have sent me over the years. I'm proud to say though that in the past six months, I've made great strides in getting rid of things. I've removed photographs from their bulky old albums (though they're now terribly disorganized, tossed in a Sterilite tub) which cleared out about three tubs worth. I donated my childhood dollhouse and also my best friend's childhood dollhouse (with her permission). I started slowly selling many of the Madame Alexander dolls my mom and I collected (keeping a few favorites, and selling the rest at a loss just to clear up space in the garage).

There are some useful things I can't imagine ever parting with, though I can help the situation by not buying any more Christmas decorations, for example. I have around 13 tubs of Christmas decorations and lights, though I may pare that down in coming years if my nephews don't come over here for Christmas any more. The rest of what's stored in my garage are kitchen appliances, extra dishes, and some belongings of my former teenagers are in four Sterilite tubs.

What I hope to be using several of today, for things that can't be recycled or donated

Today I will try to throw away, give away or recycle as much as possible, then organize the rest. I'll pay special attention to my merchandise - I need to take inventory and reorganize it so it takes up less space. I've had some big Spring sales this month, and that's helped clear out some of the old inventory.

As I work, I'll remind myself that it's important to not add to the problem. Stop acquiring. Use and enjoy what I have. Replace it if it breaks. Get rid of 1-2 items before bringing in something new.

Today is going to be a very long, dirty, spider-infested day! I hope late tonight around 10pm I can collapse in front of the TV with a beer and put my feet up and successfully report cleaning out my garage wonderfully!

I challenge you to spend today cleaning your basement, attic, garage, or wherever you store your "stuff."

LOVELY BLOGS: Whisked Away

Jamie is a mom of four who moved from Arizona to New Zealand with her family. (You can follow their New Zealand Adventures at her other blog, The Young and the Restless). She's sharing her experiences cooking with new unfamiliar ingredients, which I find fascinating. Recent posts include a battered ciabatta ham and cheese melt, baked salted caramel popcorn (baked?), apple orchard bars, and tortellini chicken noodle soup.

Whisked Away on Facebook

LOVELY BOOKS: Floral Emblems

I can only assume the gorgeous floral illustrations in this 1825 book were hand tinted, since color printing hadn't been invented yet? I don't know much about the provenance of this book, but I thought some of you (especially the arts-and-craftsy types) might enjoy getting inpsiration from the flower pictures here. This is an early example of the "Language of flowers" that was so popular in Victorian times (this book was written during the Regency era). Skip over the boring text and head straight for the pictures, I say!

Floral Emblems, on The Internet Archive

LOVELY BOOKS: Homemakers: A Domestic Handbook for the Digital Generation

Author Brit Morin walks you step by step through the rooms in your home, giving advice on how to fix them up with DIY projects and modern technology advancements. The introduction also has a nice history of homemakers. I almost have to wonder if she's old enough to have actually made a home long enough to offer much useful advice, and I don't mean that in a snarky or negative way. This is a really "maker" focused book and could be really inspiring if that's your thing.

Homemakers Book, on Amazon


This Latvian crafter creates exquisite, adorable baby booties, mittens and knitted caps. There are bees, strawberries, Spring tulips, christening shoes and knitted summer sandals.

I'm having a really hard time choosing a pair for a friend's newborn baby girl - perhaps I will end up selecting these orange and green summer sandals.


Cake-Themed Origami Paper (Random Good Stuff)

Five Things I Learned When I Said Yes to My Daughter for 24 Hours (Huffington Post)

The History of the Toe-Cap on Shoes (Look Online)

How to Perfect Roast Chicken (BBC Food)

Raspberry Ricotta Cake (Orangette)

Snow is Delicious, But Is It Dangerous to Eat? (NPR)

13 Cute Plus-Size Jackets for Spring (The Gloss)

What Different Diamond Sizes Look Like on Real Girl Hands (PopSugar)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living