Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tiptoeing Into Summer

My new outdoor living room, and favorite place to be in the evenings

I'm peeking at the weather for the rest of the United States, wondering what it's like for my friends enjoying a beautiful sunny 75 degree day in San Diego, for my friends in Dallas where it's hitting 95, and sympathizing with my friends in Boston who have a cloudy day also. This year, Seattle has had an unusual pattern to our summer weather. It was in the 90s for a few days in May (totally shocking to us), then raining as normal through much of June. Here I am in July, turning on my furnace at night, and unable to use my beautiful outdoor living spaces much of the time due to rain!

I'll try to look at my blessings - free water for my grass and garden, cool temperatures and no mugginess, very few mosquitoes for the most part.. Still, I am discouraged. I managed to have a couple outdoor dinner parties so far but had hoped to have more. I really hope we get a real summer this year - evenings warm enough to sit out watching the stars, dining on my patio at midnight, hot days to brighten my tomatoes, etc.

Is your summer progressing as hoped? Let me know in the comments below!

I've been obsessed with mint juleps lately!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Does your porch, patio or deck need sweeping off? Mine's a bit rainy so I can skip this chore this weekend!
  • Are you and your family members going to work, day care, camp or activities tomorrow in clean clothes? Returning home at night to clean sheets? Time to do some Sunday evening laundry!
  • Clean one shelf, one drawer or two door shelves in both your fridge and freezer. It should take less than ten minutes to remove everything from the shelf, wipe the shelf down, inspect the food for expiration dates or mold etc., dry the shelf and return the food in an organized manner. Doing this every weekend means your whole fridge gets cleaned out every month!
  • Do you have a second refrigerator, like I do in my garage, for beverages and extra popsicles and ice cream? Don't forget to sort and clean a shelf or drawer in that one too!
  • Make your menu plan for the weeknights ahead; create your grocery list.
  • Try to carve some downtime for yourself - just yourself - tonight if possible. Extra time for journaling, sketching, reading a book or magazine uninterrupted for twenty minutes if possible? A long hot bath instead of a quick shower perhaps?
  • Glance at your calendar for the week ahead. What doctor, dentist, salon, vet, or other appointments do you and family members have this week? Any upcoming birthdays you need to remind to call, or send cards, gifts or flowers for?

How to enjoy a Friday night alone on a nearly-summer evening!

LOVELY PROJECT FOR TODAY:

My outdoor office, where I work in the evenings when it's not too sunny to see my laptop!

Today I am cleaning and organizing my indoor and outdoor bars! This might be a fun project! I want to take inventory to make sure I have the right beverages for my upcoming parties, for weekend entertaining, to treat my dogsitters while they're here for a week or two, and to delight houseguests who might drop by this summer.

I'm going to give up on a bottle of Sambuca we got for an Arabian Nights party two summers ago. Four or five people took a shot out of it, enjoyed it, but it hasn't been touched since. I think if we haven't had any of this strong licorice tasting beverage in two years, nobody is likely to, and it shouldn't be taking up room in my bar cabinet. I'll pour it down the sink and recycle the bottle, since I don't have any friends who want this type of liquor either. I'm already noticing I'm low on tonic in my mixers cupboard, and almost out of cherries for my Manhattans! Adding to my shopping list!

This project should take less than 20 minutes, including dusting my bar indoors and wiping down the outdoor one. This gives me a nice quick useful project before I go to my friend's house to watch a movie later tonight.

What project might you tackle today?

Here's a peek at my herb and veggie garden on my deck

LOVELY BLOGS: The Cookie Rookie

Becky's blog specializes in sharing the easy, delicious recipes she's learning to cook. Also, once a week or so, her friend Maryanne stops by from her The Little Epicurean blog to share a lovely link roundup of recipes she's found in the blogosphere. Today's, for example, is 17 Campfire Recipes.

Check out Becky's recent recipes for Chicken Enchilada Skillet Pie, Skinny One Pan Caribbean Jerk Chicken, and a Stuffed Caprese Chicken Sandwich. I enjoy her photography as well!

http://www.thecookierookie.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Puddings and Dainty Desserts

Here's a charming vintage 1886 cookbook you can look through at The Internet Archive. There aren't any illustrations inside, sadly, but the book is full of intriguing old recipes such as Orange Sponge, Blackberry Short-Cake, Velvet Cream, and Banana Charlotte.

Chapters include Miscellaneous Dainty Desserts; Various Fruit Desserts; Custards and Omelettes as Desserts; Puddings; and Pies.

Let me know in the comments if you try out one of these old recipes!

Puddings and Dainty Desserts, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY COSMETICS: Too-Faced's Le Grand Chateau

I'm sorry to throw such a delightful yet expensive temptation in front of you! I can't possibly splurge on this for myself, but I'm thinking this attractively packaged set of makeup palettes might be a fantastic over-the-top gift for a good friend's birthday or Christmas present. I'm swooning at the package design!

Le Grand Chateau, at Amazon.com

LOVELY DISHES: Sur la Table's Hydrangea Collection

I can't decide if I love these hydrangea dishes (I have blue hydrangeas like this planted all over my back yard!) or if they are too "old lady" for me at this stage in my life. They're currently on sale for 50% off. Definitely colorful and summery, but perhaps too busy a pattern for many people? Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Hydrangea Collection, at Sur la Table

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Baked Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Shells (Naturally Nutritious)

Corn Fritters (Alexandra's Kitchen)

Couscous Salad with Pesto, Goat Cheese and Veggies (The Kittchen)

Gluten Free Ricotta Heirloom Tomato Tart (Bakerita)

Grilled Berry Pizza with Whipped Ricotta (Baking a Moment)

Grilled Corn Couscous Salad Recipe (Party Bluprints Blog)

Grilled Corn Salad Recipe (Le Creme de la Crumb)

Italian Squash Blossom Fritters (The Taste SF)

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Almonds (Honest Cooking)

Pimento Cheese Rice (Spicy Southern Kitchen)

Ricotta and Goat Cheese Tomato Tart (Italian Food Forever)

Zucchini Fritters (Framed Cooks)


-Copyright 2016 Lovely Living

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Master Bedroom

I wish I could own this pretty upholstered Laurel bed, but I'm afraid my black dogs and naughty scratching cat would ruin the upholstery!

My bedroom, as you will see from my pics, is in terrible condition. I've been vacationing, then catching up with tons of extra work, so I haven't spent enough time maintaining it. So I've saved this massive spring cleaning project for a Saturday!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Clean one shelf, one drawer, or two door shelves in your fridge and in your freezer today. Doing so makes your entire fridge get cleaned out once per month! We can't neglect our weekly chores just because today is a big Spring Cleaning project.
  • Tonight when I get back from dinner I will most likely flop onto the couch, tired from Spring cleaning my bedroom. While I watch the inevitable two or more TV shows this evening, I'm going to work on cleaning out my personal email inbox. Is yours as stuffed with unneeded emails as mine?
  • If you're Spring Cleaning your bedroom today too, be sure to let yourself celebrate your efforts by sleeping in tomorrow!
  • It's the end of the month. Let's take a moment to reflect on our past month. Did we take good care of ourselves? Of our families? Accomplish some goals? Did we read our book club books, write in our journals, give ourselves time to paint or create? Did we work towards living our loveliest lives? What might we change next month?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Spring Cleaning the Master Bedroom

I often refer to my kitchen as the heart of my home or the most important room. But now that I think about it, the bedroom is pretty dang important. I sleep and read in here, and (more on this later), do about half my workday in this room.

This is the way my bedroom looks in the late Spring and throughout summer. I have a blue/silver/white flowery bedspread and pillows, and I've taken down my wintertime heavy burgndy velvet curtains and replaced them with shimmery silvery blue curtains. I'm not very good at making my bed, but I admit when it's made nicely I look forward to bedtime more. And naptime!

Most of my master bedroom will be easy to care for today since I've been dusting and decluttering regularly. I recently replaced hideous old mauve 1980s lamps with these inexpensive Home Depot silver ones.

Vacuuming will be tough though. I have one bed, two pet beds, two lamps, two nightstands, a small clock, a bookshelf, a hope chest, a floor lamp, and an office chair and desk in my bedroom. For regular vacuuming, I just lift up the pet beds and vacuum around things, occasionally vacuuming up crumbs from under my office chair. This is Spring Cleaning though, so I want to move all the furniture to vacuum under it and wipe the baseboards behind everything.

Also, I have a big problem area - my hope chest is littered with my current reading list. My current reading list is a bit out of control. There are only three or four books I'm reaching for at bedtime. The rest are some children's books I need to scan and put away elsewhere, or books from the library I'm researching for possible future Lovely Living University classes.

I really should not have a home office in my bedroom. Supposedly one relaxes and sleeps better without thinking about work. Right now though, I sleep just fine (once I drag myself to bed too-late at night). I live alone, so I'm not sharing a bedroom or bothering anybody else with my whirring desktop computer fans. My playroom gets too much use and enjoyment from nieces and nephews, so I'm not ready to turn it into an office; and I love having two guest bedrooms on offer, not just one. For now, I'll leave things be.

After I'm done vacuuming, dusting baseboards and moving furniture back, I'll dust the wooden furniture. This is Spring Cleaning, so I will want to open up the nightstands, hope chest and desk and sort, declutter, and put things away in an organized fashion. I recently tackled the bookcase and sorted, donated, or sold extra books. This will save me time today - just dust it and move on!

Next I'll want to dust the lamps and clock, wipe down wall switches, dust the ceiling for cobwebs, and use wood cleaner on the front and back sides of the bedroom and master bathroom doors. I just recently put up the curtains, so don't need to worry about laundring them, but I'll take a quick moment to wipe and clean the two bedroom windows and their sills.

I'm saving my closet for another day, and counting my vanity area as part of the bathroom.

I expect my project to take nearly two hours because of all the furniture moving.

I'll finish by burning one of my nice Spring candles, relaxing on my nicely made bed, and contemplating any future improvements I might want to make to the room or its furnishings. I still do not own a headboard for this bed, so need to think about budgeting for that. My mattress and box spring are only a year old, so I won't have to worry about replacing them for many years to come. I'm tempted to put another bookcase in the room, to help with my cluttery hope chest situation. Perhaps I'll allow myself to do that someday when I've removed my home office from this area. Meanwhile, my computer desk is big, ugly and clunky, so I might put saving up for a smaller, prettier replacement a priority for this year.

Are you going to sleep in a restful, decluttered, clean and fresh bedroom tonight?

LOVELY BLOGS: The Glamorous Housewife

"Rediscovering the lost art of homemaking." I am really enjoying this blog right now! "The Glamorous Housewife seeks to teach women how to be inspired and motivated in their daily lives as proud homemakers by using the best tips and tricks from the past to influence our futures, and we try and do it with a large dose of humor because being a housewife should be fun, not drudgery!" Amen, sister.

According to this blog, the Glamorous Housewife takes pride in her role as CEO of the household; knows routines are the foundation of a well-run household; believes fresh flowers are a necessity; and takes care of herself along with her family.

Recent posts include fashion tips, glamorous recipes, ideas for toddler-friendly parties, ideas for how to add simple glamour to your table, and some lovely crafty DIY tips.

http://theglamoroushousewife.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: The Forest Feast for Kids

As a vegetarian who lives near vast woods and has a foresty area in my backyard, I especially enjoyed "The Forest Feast" cookbook. I'm delighted to get ahold of the sequel, a cookbook that teaches kids how to make easy, kid-friendly foods and throw creative parties. This book celebrates "rustic simplicity." Besides the recipes, there are kitchen safety tips and explanations of culinary terms. The photography is gorgeous, too!

The Forest Feast for Kids, on Amazon

LOVELY BOOKS: The Hostess of To-Day

You already know how I adore these vintage homemaking books. This one was published in 1899. There are chapters on Dinners and Luncheons; 5 O'Clock Functions, Evening Collations (whatever those are!), and Chafing Dish Creations. You'll likely enjoy the charming illustrations that appear now and then. Peeking at the recipes, I find them simple and easy to accomplish. It's fascinating glimpsing into what was thought as nice dinner party fare over 115 years ago!

The Hostess of To-Day, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY GARDEN: Garden Pods

I wanted to show you these odd garden pods. They're quite unusual, and I thought it might be diverting to explore the website a bit. These are very expensive, and I can't imagine why one would want to spend time inside them if you happened to be in a beautiful garden or back yard. Perhaps because of bugs, or if you possessed a severe addiction to modern styles? Let me know what you think of these in the comments below!

Garden Pods, at John Lewis.com

LOVELY MOVIES: Love & Friendship

I'm already in the mood for another Jane Austen movie, so I'm eagerly looking forward to this adaptation of "Lady Susan." It premieres in US theaters on May 13, and stars Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. Can't wait to see their costumes!

Love & Friendship Trailer, at Apple

Love & Friendship, at IMDB

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Little Changes That Will Make You a Happier Person (PopSugar)

Mozzarella Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Roll-Ups (Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)

Our Verdict on "My Street Food Kitchen" (A Cookbook a Month)

Pineapple Cinnamon Margarita (Spicy Southern Kitchen)

Pine Nut Tarte (La Petite Paniere)

Spicy Cucumber Gin and Tonic (Hos Josephine)

Strawberry Rhubarb Margarita (Nutmeg Nanny)


--Copyright 2016 Lovely Living

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