Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Sign Up for Free Classes at Lovely Living University

Treat yourself to some interesting and stimulating free online classes on topics including the history of Christmas; World War 2 Victory gardens; Jane Austen's life and works; the history of Christmas music; holiday baking; the life and works of artists Alphonse Mucha and Erte; and many more. Plus we run intriguing book clubs each month, including M.F.K. Fisher's "How to Eat a Wolf" and Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness at Home."

Start by visiting www.lovelylivinguniversity.com and click the "Sign up" button on the upper right hand corner.

Provide your email address (we will never spam you or give your email address away!) You can set your preferences on our network to never get emails from us, or just reminders about classes and events, as you choose.

Check your email for the email verification link. Click the link to verify your email. This helps us keep spammers out of our cozy, lovely little network!

Last step! You're almost in! Create your profile. Share whatever you're comfortable with, privacy wise. You do need to leave one working link to one of your social media profiles so we know you're a real person. (You can always edit it later once your admission is approved). Your profile helps fellow students get to know you, and assures us that you're not a spammer or marketer.

Please be sure to leave a working link (not an email address) in the space provided. (Several prospective students have had their applications unfortunately denied for putting things like jane@facebook.com instead of www.facebook.com/jane).

Once your account is approved you'll be welcomed into Lovely Living University and can take a look around, explore a bit, and figure out which free classes you might want to sign up for!

--Carrie

www.lovely-living.com

www.lovelylivinguniversity.com

Monday, November 17, 2014

Simplifying Christmas

Holiday Simplicity

Because this blog often (ok, every single time!) features shopping related info, images of things I've bought to enjoy in my own home, and excitement about new products, I hesitate to spend too much time talking about frugality. There are enough blogs on the net talking about money saving tips and budgeting. Lovely Living has a completely different focus.

However, I appreciate the idea of a simpler, less hectic, less stressful Christmas. That's part of why I begin my Christmas shopping early in the year, and finish by December 1st whenever possible. I shop for fewer items, and I try to make very careful decisions about the few gifts I am going to buy. I spend less time shopping and more time with family and friends.

You can simplify Christmas, and yet still enjoy shopping, just by cutting down on the amount of gifts you purchase. I love shopping but I don't feel the need to buy a gift for everyone I know. I love giving gifts, but this year I'm only buying presents for children. I will buy just one small gift, one piece of clothing and one book each for my nephews and nieces.

No Need to Buy More Decorations

I realized a few years ago that there is very little I need to buy for my own home for Christmas, other than a fresh live tree. I can cut down greenery in my own back yard to use for garlands and wreaths. I already have far more ornaments than I have space to fit on the tree; plenty of holiday decor; I already have more than enough hoarded Christmas wrapping paper and beautiful ribbons to wrap the few gifts I'll purchase. I don't have children living here any more, so don't need stockings, and I'm not feeling the need to hang up stockings for my dogs and cat!

I don't need Christmas-themed kitchen towels, placemats or tablecloths (though I did break down and buy a cute gingerbread-kids themed kitchen towel at JoAnn's last week). Until something wears out, I have plenty of holiday linens and tablecloths. I already have Christmas dishes, which I have to store in the garage because I don't have room for them in the house. I have a wreath for my front door, and tons of Christmas lights for outside. It appears that I don't have room (or need) in my life for any more holiday decoration supplies. At least not until I give some away, throw some away or recycle them, or trade them with a friend.

So this year the only things I should be buying for the holidays are a few gifts, fresh food and some fun beverages. I am proud of myself, by the way, for resisting the temptation to walk into Pier 1 Imports today while I was next door buying pet food. I knew if I went in I'd end up buying something Christmas-related that I didn't actually need!

TIME:

I'll be frugal with my time and activities too. I want to prioritize enjoying time with family - even if it's just doing something simple like making popcorn and hot cocoa, then settling in to watch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Or we might play board games all night. Some years I've had two Christmas trees (one in each living room) and a tiny tree in the kitchen. This year, I'll budget my time carefully. I'll keep it simple. One medium sized tree.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • I like eating hard-boiled eggs on my salad, or for a quick shot of protein in the morning. But I don't often plan ahead enough to have hard boiled eggs on hand for convenience. Today I'm going to take just a few minutes to put four or five eggs on the stove, set a timer, and take them out once they're done. I'll label the eggs with a pencil so I know what day I made them. Tonight my salad can be adorned by some tasty hard-boiled egg slices! Want to make some to store in your own fridge?
  • Make menu plans for the week ahead; create grocery list.
  • Recycle old newspapers (if any), catalogs and magazines. Any newspaper that's more than a week old, throw out mercilessly. Don't be one of those people who accumulate a huge stack of newspapers thinking they'll get around to reading them someday. You can always visit your favorite newspaper on line and scan the headlines to catch up. Also, instead of keeping an entire catalog so you can remember something you want to check on later, pull out that page instead, then recycle the rest of the catalog.
  • If you're going to any plays, operas, ballets, or concerts this season, do you have tickets yet? I'm really tempted by Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Check over your Christmas gift list - do you keep one in your purse or on your tablet or smartphone? (If you don't keep a list with you when you're out and about, I highly recommend this technique). Cross out anything you've bought, add any new ideas you've had.
  • Need to stock up on gift wrap tape or packaging tape?
  • Let's exercise for at least twenty minutes today.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Travel Plans

Next weekend I'm flying to San Diego to attend my father's 70th birthday party. I bought my airline tickets months ago, but need to finalize my hotel plans, arrange for a rental car, make an appointment for my dogs at their favorite pet hotel, and pack my suitcase.

I also need to take time to make some appointments for myself here at home in Seattle before I leave on my journey: Hair color, pedicure, and a massage to help relax my back injury so I can more comfortably walk on hard airport floors and sit on the airplane. Tonight I'll be making phone calls and arranging things via the web, then listening to my new Stevie Nicks album in my bedroom while I pack my sundresses!

LOVELY BLOGS: Evermine

This holiday gift inspiration blog is run by personalized paper goods store Evermine. Right now they're focusing on unique ideas for Christmas gifts, including homemade hot chocolate mix, cornucopia candy favors for Thanksgiving, and a Hanukkah gift of personalized coasters. The photography here is gorgeous, and it doesn't feel super commercial or full of ads. I'm really enjoying looking at the gift ideas here.

http://www.evermine.com/blog/

LOVELY KIDS: Bonnie Jean Thanksgiving Outfit

If I had a little girl, I'd bring her to Grandmother's house over the woods, through the snow, and wearing this adorable turkey outfit. The Bonnie Jean company has so many cute Thanksgiving themed outfits, it would be hard to pick just one. There are even Thanksgiving coats to keep your little one warm (and stylish) on the journey! However, it may be a little unfrugal to buy a one-use outfit - your little girl will grow out of it by next Thanksgiving. I'd be more likely to purchase this if there were younger girl cousins to hand it down to for the next couple years of Thanksgiving festivities.

Bonnie Jean Thanksgiving Outfits, on Amazon

LOVELY TV: Hallmark's 12 New Movies of Christmas

I just got finished watching my DVRed movie Northpole (it bugs me so much that they ran the words together!) It was much cuter and less sappy than I thought, and totally family-friendly. I was intrigued by a couple of the other new movies they advertised during the movie, so went to the website to check out the offerings. I'm looking forward to seeing A Royal Christmas which stars Jane Seymour and Lacey Chabert. Christmas Under Wraps is also tempting me!

12 New Movies of Christmas, at The Hallmark Channel

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Autumn Style Salads with Grilled Chipotle Chicken (Gourmet Girl Cooks)

Beet Hash with Eggs (Delicious Shots)

Best Ever Sausage, Sage and Apple Stuffing (The Comfort of Cooking)

Five Reasons Why You Should Make Gravy Ahead of Thanksgiving (The Kitchn)

Four Best Thanksgiving Sides (Worth the Whisk)

A Fun and Fancy Child's Holiday Table (Home-ology Modern Vintage)

Helpful Thanksgiving Tips to Get You Through the Holiday Season (The Kitchen Revival)

Hot Chicken Sandwiches (Creatively Domestic)

Kale Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing (Love & Lemons)

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pie (Hungry Couple NYC)

Turkey Breast in a Pot with Gravy (Solid Gold Eats)

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Bread Salad Inspired by Stuffing (NY Times)


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