Saturday, September 06, 2014

Going Back to School For You and Me Too

I treated myself to an inexpensive "Sorbet Peach Melba" viola plant to brighten my front steps

Now that Labor Day is over, kids in my area are back in school. I live right next to an elementary school - every morning I hear children's happy, excited little voices as they are being dropped off. Now that my nephews have moved away, I no longer go next door every day at 3:25 pm to pick someone up, give him a snack, help him with homework, take him home and fix dinner for him and his brothers. It makes me a little sad to hear the school bell every day, missing him. But then again, now that I'm not spending all those hours every day doing those things for him, I have time to take some classes myself.

I'm so jealous! I want to go school supply shopping; take down notes in a fresh new notebook; pore over a syllabus of upcoming readings. I want to sit in a classroom soaking up interesting knowledge. I might even look forward to a writing assignment or two.

If you at all have room in your life, see if you can make time this fall for some enriching classes you will enjoy. Be a lifelong learner. Continue to explore your interests and passions. It doesn't have to be something related to your job or career.

Whether you take classes at a cooking store, community college, karate school, yoga center, or online, give yourself the gift of knowledge. Maybe all you can fit in is a weekend workshop this fall, or an online course you do at night after your kids are in bed.

You might have to trade babysitting with another mom, ask a family member for one evening a week to yourself, arrange to leave your children with your partner one night a week, or barricade yourself in your room for an hour a night to finish an online course. You might have to give up TV two nights a week, or limit your daily computer time until the class is over. If it's important to you, you'll find and make the time for yourself.

I know it's hard if you're working, especially if you're a working parent, to find time after you get home tired every weeknight. But you do still have weekends, and people in your life to trade favors with, and an Internet and TV that will still be there after you turn them off for two hours a night.


  • When's the last time you personally visited a library? Even if you don't check out any books, you can enjoy sitting in peace and (hopefully) quiet for half an hour or so, thumbing through magazines, browsing the shelves, and soaking in the atmosphere.
  • Wipe down kitchen sink and counters; fill or empty dishwasher as needed
  • Take out trash if needed, or make someone in your household help you
  • Have any magazines you need to finish reading and then recycle or give away this weekend?
  • Clean one shelf, two door shelves, or one drawer in both your fridge and your freezer.
  • If it's still nice weather in your neighborhood, take a long walk this evening while you still can.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Sign Up for a Class

Gorgeous Windsor Writing Set on Amazon

If you can carve out the time in your life and you're interested, see what kind of class you can sign up for. Your class might be a one-shot cooking class at your local cooking store or health food market; or you might have one night a week to take a writing class at the local community college. Maybe you have a small child at home, so you'll barely have time to take one quick online course.

Whatever you sign up for, give yourself time and energy to learn something for yourself. We shouldn't stop learning just because we're done with high school or college.

I'm taking four classes this month at the PCC Natural Market near my house. Each class is just three hours during the evening. I'm also teaching three online classes myself this month, so I'm a bit stressed about only having three "at home" or socializing nights every week. But I'd rather be busy than not, and rather be learning than staring at the TV (especially some of the dumb shows I succumb to watching, like Below Deck.


Class Central


Craftsy's Free Online Classes


Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) List


Open Culture

Writing University

LOVELY ACCESSORIES: Lulu Guinness Backpack

Since I'm taking classes online, and not actually leaving my house to go to a nearby campus, I don't actually need this backpack. Sigh. So I'll just have to admire the picture of it!

Hands Backpack at Lulu Guinness

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Wary Meyers Soaps

I haven't smelled any of these soaps yet (the scents include Lemon Verbena, Grapefruit & Clementine, Oud Wood, Violet and Sea Air) but I love the way they look! They remind me of those horrible tasting, but lovely, licorice square and rectangular candies. These are made in small batches by a couple in Portland, Maine.

Wary Meyers Soaps, at Shop Pretty Mommy

LOVELY BLOGS: Paper and Salt

"Paper and Salt attempts to recreate and reinterpret the dishes that iconic authors discuss in their letters, diaries, essays, and fiction." Nicole blogs from NYC. She's currently writing about Ezra Pound's spaghetti recipe; Edna St. Vincent Millay's wild blueberry pie and Hunter S. Thompson's huevos rancheros. I love the mix of literature and cooking here! Really intriguing blog to read.

LOVELY BOOKS: Puffin in Bloom

I am so delighted by the new Puffin in Bloom series of children's books. They're illustrated by artist Anna Bond of the Rifle Paper Co. They just came out last week. I definitely need these lovely books on my shelf. I might skip "Heidi" though, I don't really enjoy that book. I definitely need to get "A Little Princess" as that was my favorite children's book of all time growing up.

Puffin in Bloom, on Amazon

LOVELY CHALLENGES: Give Something Away Today

Last week when my house painters were here, I found myself working really hard to empty the curio cabinet my dishes are stored in, so the men could move it to paint behind it. Piles and stacks of dishes were on my dining room table. As I looked over them, fantasizing about future Family Nights and dinner parties I'll throw this autumn using these dishes, I did feel like I own too many things. I looked through and decided I hadn't used this lovely teapot at all in the last year other than during a spring tea party. I have other teapots that are lovelier and more sentimental. This one was inexpensive, doesn't hold any particular meanings or memory for me. So I put it in the car to take it to The Salvation Army. On the way I stopped by the bookshelf in the garage where I keep my autumn decor and dishes. I scooped up four pretty IKEA glass plates I never use, and found FOUR "tea for ones" in great condition to donate. (Not sure why so many people have gifted me tea for ones over the years. It's a nice thought, but I never end up using them!) I never donate anything chipped or cracked, so I carefully inspected these all for damage before donating them. There's a Salvation Army truck parked in the parking lot of my local Fred Meyer, so on my very next errand day I dropped everything off. It took less than 30 seconds to interact with the friendly donations man.

I challenge you to give away something today!

LOVELY WEBSITES: School House Craft

"Schooling you in the business of craft." The classes here aren't free, unfortunately. But if that's what it takes for them to present high quality classes for crafters, that's ok. This business is located in Seattle - they offer real world classes, not online classes. I'm tempted to take a couple of these even though I'm not a crafter. Upcoming classes include Braking Into the Handmade Wholesale Market, Getting Started Selling Online, Subversive Craft, and Turning Your Creative Ideas into a Book.


Autumn Sipping: Make Your Own Personalized Pumpkin Spice Latte (Plum Deluxe)

Baked Avocado Eggs (The Baking Fairy)

Baked Nutella Turnovers (Barbara Bakes)

Baked Omelettes in Bread (Full Fork Ahead)

Baked Pasta Tart with Smoked Tofu (Gourmandelle)

Crispy Baked Chicken Croquettes (The Kitchen Whisperer)

Mini Maple-Dipped Glazed Pumpkin Muffins (Diary of a Recipe Collector)

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti Recipe (Cully's Kitchen)

Spotted on Shelves: Chobani Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice and Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt (The Impulsive Buy)

Troubles With Life in the Big House (WSJ)

Monday, September 01, 2014

September Begins - Sliding Back into School and Work

The flowerbed I'm going to have to weed tonight, like it or not!

Have I ever mentioned that I really, really, really don't enjoy gardening? Yet I love having pretty flowers in my yard. I have got to force myself to weed out these horrible nettles or thistles, whatever they are, out of the bed I worked so hard to plant and my cousin worked so hard to clear out and weed a few weeks ago. If I don't keep up my garden, I should be living in a condo not a home. So off I go with a whiskey and lemonade, a blanket to sit on, ugly gardening gloves and a bucket to carry the yard waste to my bin in. Not a bad way to spend my sunny Labor Day afternoon and early evening, I suppose!


  • Is school starting for your kids tomorrow? Prepare a special dinner, help them pick out what they're wearing, make their lunch etc.
  • Make meal plans for the week ahead.
  • Is everyone sleeping on clean sheets tonight?
  • Clean one drawer, one shelf, or two door shelves in your fridge and freezer today. Doing this makes sure your fridge and freezer both get completely cleaned out every 4-6 weeks (depending on how many shelves you have).

TODAY'S PROJECT: Flowerbed Weeding

Some dahlias that miraculously have survived the summer in my neglected garden

I have to suck it up and go tend my poor flowerbeds. I bet I can get the whole thing done in just half an hour. The sooner I start, the sooner it will be over and I can curl up and watch Houdini on the History channel!

LOVELY BLOGS: The Fashionable Hostess

Amanda's styling tips for home, wardrobe, and babies. Recent posts include September Beauty Essentials, a post on strawberry water, a project for making DIY champagne party favors, and how to host a champagne celebration. The photography here is gorgeous!

LOVELY BLOGS: Silver Screen Suppers

I usually only review one blog per Lovely Living post. But I don't want to neglect mentioning this awesome blog that specializes in Hollywood-themed parties and vintage celebrity recipes. They're currently blogging about Vincent Price's Pepitas a la Curry, Jane Wyatt's beer bread, and the Louella Parsons cocktail. It's refreshing not to have anything from modern trampy young celebrities here, focusing instead on old Hollywood glamour!

LOVELY FOOD: Ben & Jerry's New Cores Flavors

I refuse to stop eating ice cream just because summer is ending and the weather is a teensy bit chillier! I'm excited to try the new Cores flavors from Ben & Jerry's. The deal is, down the center of the pint, there's a core of fudge, caramel or raspberry jam. I wonder if it's tasty, or if the texture is weird. One way to find out!

Cores, at Ben & Jerry's

LOVELY HOME: Hidden Passageway

Wouldn't you love to have a secret hidden passageway leading to a tiny room in your home that nobody else knows about? Creating Home Engineering specializes in things such as this for people who can afford it. I can't, so I'll just have to make do with my not-very-secret storage space under my stairway. Anyway, browsing the gallery is pretty fun.

LOVELY KIDS: Jane Austen Paper Dolls

I think I need a set of these! I'm not ashamed to be an adult cutting out and playing with paper dolls. Especially when they're based on my two favorite Jane Austen novels, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I have this categorized under Kids, but I don't think actual children (most likely not having heard of or read these books) would care to play with them, with the old fashioned costumes and characters they've never heard of.

Jane Austen Paper Dolls, on Amazon

LOVELY KITCHEN: Coffee Pod Ferris Wheel

I don't use coffee pods - heck, I don't even drink coffee - but I couldn't resist sharing this adorable storage device. So amusing! It definitely would be allowed to take up space on my kitchen counter if I used coffee pods regularly.

Coffee Pod Ferris Wheel, at Pottery Barn


Acting French (The Atlantic)

Blackberry Rose Gin and Tonic (The Picky Pantry)

How Not to Make a Peach Pie (A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn)

When Labor Day Meant Something (The Atlantic)

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Waffles (Zen & Spice)