Monday, August 31, 2009

August Comes to a Close

August may be over tonight, but that doesn't mean summer is gone. My friends in San Diego are filling their Facebook and Livejournal entries with moans about suffering from the heat and just wishing fall would hurry up and come already. Here in Seattle, it's pleasant in the 70s and I'm dreading another long cold snowy winter. An Indian summer would be fine with me!

Look back over your last three months. Have you enjoyed your summer? Did you grasp every opportunity to go outside, savor sunshine, eat outdoors, spend time in your garden if that's something you enjoy? Did you live a lovely life?

If not, you can put some thought and soul searching into what to do differently next year to maximize your happiness and your enjoyment of summer. Not everything is under our control (I certainly didn't plan to lose a grandmother a couple months ago) but we can make choices every day to live a lovely life.

Tomorrow I'll look ahead through the month of September and also into the upcoming wonderful autumn and holiday season.


- Need to do any special grocery shopping for back-to-school meals?

- Any grocery shopping you can do now to prepare for Labor Day Weekend? I need to get hotdog and hamburger buns, plus some fruit, but it's a few days too early, as those wouldn't stay fresh. I don't need to buy any paper plates or napkins - I'm glad I checked so I didn't panic and overbuy.

- Take inventory of your basics. Do you have lightbulbs, matches, toilet paper, garbage bags, Ziplock bags, tape, Kleenex and paper towels? Add anything needed to your shopping list.

- Make menu plans for the week and check over your grocery shopping list

- Toss out or recycle any old magazines that are from before June and probably won't get read.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Maintenance Cleaning

Pick a drawer, shelf, closet or cupboard and remove everything. Clean and dust, sort and throw things away, then replace items in an organized manner. Add to your charity or recycling pile if possible.

I am going to pick a guest room closet. This room will be turned into a nursery in the next couple months, so I might as well get the closet cleaned out so it's ready to paint. My biggest problem is there are some old Madame Alexander dolls I am storing in this closet. They're sentimental (I collected them with my mom), too dirty to give to charity or sell, and pretty much sell for only $18 on eBay anyway. Not enough to take the risk to the hit on my feedback if a whiny doll collector left a negative and didn't give me the chance to fix things. I have to figure out what to do with these dolls so I'm not storing them in closets all the time.


The new movie from "The Piano" director Jane Campion opens in theaters September 18. It's about the love affair between poet John Keats (who died tragically of consumption at age 25) and Fanny Brawne. It has fabulous costumes, beautiful interior set design, and I am dying to see it!

Bright Star, at IMDB

Bright Star (Official)

Bright Star Production Scrapbook

Bright Star Trailer, at Apple

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remnants of Summer

Be sure you are enjoying everything about the season while you still can. Buy fresh watermelon, corn, tomatoes, peas, cherries and artichokes and enjoy eating them. Drink white and rose wines, orange and grape soda, lemonade and limeade. Eat popsicles, sorbet, ice cream and gelato - you may not feel like it this fall when it's cold. Use the park; picnic; eat outside at a restaurant with a patio; go for a warm evening walk in an artsy shopping neighborhood and window shop; attend an outdoor film or concert.

Make your day extra fun by playing classic summer music - whatever makes you think of summer. For my father it would be the Beach Boys; disco for my stepmom; for me it's songs like "Cruel Summer," by Bananarama (and the cute cover of it by Ace of Base), "Summertime Rolls" by Jane's Addiction, and "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley.


- Vacuum the whole house. For me this means two bedrooms, a hallway, two living rooms, and the foot traffic area in my home office. I'm doing this as a quick project today, so I'm not moving any furniture to vacuum under it.

- Need to go grocery shopping today?

- Finish school shopping if needed

- Finalize plans for Labor Day travel, parties, and activities

- Do you have a spare toothbrush or two for guests or emergencies? Add one to your shopping list if needed.

- Fit in some reading time this weekend, whether by yourself or with other family members. Read any magazines or books you're behind on or looking forward to enjoying. This may mean being firm with yourself and turning off the TV, going out of the room away from your computer and cell phone.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Summer Yardwork

If you live in a house with any sort of yard or landscaping (whether you own or rent), it's time to do some yardwork. Even if you are so fabulously lucky as to have a gardening service, you still might benefit from doing some work yourself outdoors.

You'll get the benefit of exercise, sunshine, mental relaxation, alone time, and focus. I'm sure with even the most diligent gardener, you can still find a few weeds to pull here and there. Spend some time wandering around with a hose giving extra water to parts of your yard that might need it, or to some of your favorite plants. Trim roses or flowers, and pick a few for a vase indoors. Fertilize anything if needed. Peek in your garden shed and see if there's extra things piling up in there that should get used: Miracle-Gro, weed-and-feed, etc. If so, use it up, and stop buying it so you aren't cluttering up your shed with poisons you aren't going to use up any time soon.

Also, it's not too late for some hardier plantings. I'm going to pick up just a few inexpensive $2 pots of pansies and $3 potted mums today to fill in some bare spots. Almost time to start thinking about which fall bulbs I'll plant.

For those of you living in condos or apartments without yards, use this time to water and care for houseplants. While some of us are out mowing and weeding, use your time to wash your car instead if needed.

LOVELY TV: Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

In December, PBS will run a documentary about the life of author Louisa May Alcott. I'm eager to see it - I read a biography of her many years ago but have forgotten many of the details. And as a bonus, I'll enjoy the costumes and furnishings too.


LOVELY BLOGS: The Hungry Asian

This blog seems to mostly be a nail polish review blog, but I love it! I guess it isn't a sushi blog after all, laugh. Just about every day, she shares a picture of her nails done up beautifully in one of her new polishes. It reminds me that I'm boring and should stop wearing beige nailpolish on my hands all the time!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday in the City

OPI's "No Spain No Gain"

Today I'm doing the bare minimum of work (and housework) and then dashing off into downtown Bellevue this afternoon with a friend. We'll eat lunch, get pedicures, and take her nieces to see Ponyo. This will be a nice treat after my stressful months away from home dealing with family issues.


- Make weekend socialization plans

- Need to clean your coffeemaker or espresso machine? Then it will be ready to go for the weekend!

- Fill your car with gas if needed, and grab cash at an ATM for a bit of pocket money

- Take a quick look at yourself today. Need to touch anything up? Nails looking good? Need to remove any chipped nail polish (don't forget your toes?). Time to give yourself a manicure or pedicure today, shave your legs real quickly before you go anywhere tonight? Need to make a color appointment or dye your roots this weekend? Are you wearing something that makes you feel pretty? (I currently have on a limp tank top and faded shorts, so I'm about to go put on a dress!)

- What will you be doing a week from today when Labor Day weekend starts?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Bathroom Touchup

This morning I cleaned my bathroom briefly. It took less than three minutes because I've been keeping up nicely with my maintenance cleaning. I'd already mopped the floor recently, and scrubbed the shower last week. So a quick swish in the toilet, wipedown of the toilet tank, emptying of the wastebasket, switching out a handtowel and bathtowel only took two minutes.

Next I worked on my bathroom counter, sinks and mirror. This took around three minutes - most of that clearing things off. The first priority was sanitizing, then decluttering. I had too many perfume bottles sitting out on the counter. Now there's just a candle (Bath & Body Works' Sea Island Cotton), three perfume bottles, a lotion, an empty vase awaiting flowers, and my stack of clean washcloths. My toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and hairbrush are tucked out of sight in their rightful place in the top drawer.

Now when I get dressed to go out today, I'll be doing it in a bathroom that's not only clean, but fresh, beautiful and relaxing.

LOVELY TELEVISION: Samantha Brown's Great Weekends

I'm excited that Samantha Brown has a new show on the Travel Channel. I had really enjoyed her Passport to Europe show, and I've missed seeing her on the air. (I can understand how her bubbliness could annoy some people though!)

In this new show, she attends Sundance, visits the Florida Keys, Santa Fe, Colorado, Chicago and Philadelphia. Set your DVR to catch a couple episodes - they are a nice pleasant show to watch while you fold laundry, pay bills or catch up on magazines.

Samantha Brown, at Travel Channel

LOVELY WEBSITES: Long Ago Captures

This is a fabulous resource for anyone who enjoys costume dramas and fantasy films. It's absolutely full of screen captures and promotional stills from dozens of movies. They have everything from "The 300" and "Alexander" to "Cold Mountain" and "Phantom of the Opera." There are close to 100,000 images here you can browse. It's a dangerous site because it makes me want to run out and rent or buy a whole bunch of movies!

LOVELY BOOKS: Bite-Size Desserts

So much for my "stop buying books, Carrie" campaign. After sorting and sorting books in my garage, in my living room, and in my bedroom, you'd think I would learn my lesson. But I couldn't resist this beautiful cookbook. I justified it by telling myself I do truly throw at least one dinner party a week when I'm home. (I usually buy dessert though, not make it, if I must be honest!) And even if I don't end up baking anything out of here, think how much fun I'll have thumbing through the pictures a few times a year!

Bite-Size Desserts, at Amazon


Old-Fashioned Blueberry Cake (101 Cookbooks)

Ultimate Summer Desserts (Cooking Light)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Decluttering Day


- Need to change or scoop cat litter?

- Made Labor Day weekend plans? Inviting people over, or going somewhere yourself?

- Inventory your paper supplies. How well are you stocked up on toilet paper, paper towels, Wet Wipes, Kleenex and Puffs for the upcoming cold season? I never want to be that lady who has an entire shower stall or linen closet crammed full of toilet paper rolls. But I also want to have enough on hand that I don't have to run to the store if I'm sick or snowed in.

- Wipe down microwave inside and out if needed. This took me less than 30 seconds, so I should do it more than once a week!

- Wipe down front and sides of refrigerator (and top if you can reach it) with the same cloth or sponge you just used for the microwave.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Decluttering Day

I'm home for just a couple days - I leave for a Vegas market trip on Sunday - so I'm doing some quick catchup cleaning. I did four loads of laundry last night, and finished folding while catching up with my missed TV shows (including Weeds).

Today I am making a sweep through every room of the house, decluttering as needed. I just got rid of two boxes of junk in my bedroom. Next I'll empty wastebaskets, move my stack of magazines off the coffee table onto a waiting bookshelf I've cleared, carry stray dishes and water glasses to the dishwasher, and put items back into their proper homes in closets, cabinets, and on shelves.

The dining table is clutter-free, so the breakfast nook table just needs some dishes moved off before I can launder its white tablecloth.

Next I'll head into both living rooms for damage control. Both have some miscellaneous items that have crept out where they don't belong (shoes, fingernail polish remover, various pens and pencils).

In the laundry room, I have one load of dark clothes that needs to be folded or hung up and put away. Next, I want to wash my bedding which gets extra dirty this time of year from the cats tracking in pine needles and burrs from the yard. That way I'll come home from Vegas to a nice clean bed.

In the kitchen, I'll empty the recycling bin, fill and start the dishwasher, and try to see if I can remove some clutter from my kitchen counters.


What a beautiful blog to explore! "Eye candy for the visually hungry." She posts about art, design, photography, food, and fashion. You'll probably find something you enjoy here right away.


Lunch and Snacks for Back-to-School (Epicurious)

What's Ahead for Lovely Living

August 2009:

- Labor Day Weekend entertaining: reminders; links to recipes and party tips; staycation ideas

- More back-to-school reminders and projects

- End of summer reminders and summertime wrapup

September 2009:

- "The Girl With No Shadow" is our book of the month at the Lovely Living Book Club

- Tips and resources for starting a book club for your friends, neighbors, family, etc.

- "Back to School For You" - Encouragement to take college courses, cooking classes, online classes, writing classes, and to join online book clubs

- Fall and Early Christmas shopping budgeting suggestions

- Fall decorating; fall wardrobe switchover

- Fall kitchen organizing, cooking

October 2009:

- Halloween shopping, costume preparation, ideas

- Around the World project - ethnic decor, style, recipes, cooking, themed parties, literature, etc. for many countries.

- Continuation of Halloween content, links, ideas, news

- Dinner party tips, recipes and suggestions

- Stocking Up for Fall

- Stocking your bar for fall parties

- "Practical Magic" is our book of the month at the Lovely Living Book Club

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lovely Living

Lovely Living's daily posts are moving here to Blogspot. Why? Livejournal's lack of customizable HTML editable templates; lack of support for Google Webmaster and Google Analytics, and other annoyances.

I DO like how easy it is for people to find communities they are interested in and likeminded people on Livejournal.

Lovely Living is not a community per se - members can't post or contribute other than commenting (which nobody seems to do lately). So I thought it best to move it off Livejournal.

Also, if you like homemaking topics, why not join the Lovely Living social network?