Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ready for the Weekend

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Visit an ATM machine and fill up with gas for the long weekend. Do this early in the day as everyone will be gassing up today.

  • Tidy house for the weekend. Refresh toilet paper, empty trash cans, wipe sinks and mirrors, vacuum at least the living room, tidy kitchen.

  • Clean pets' water and food bowls and clean or mop floor under them.

  • Make weekend socialization plans, either by phone or email.

  • Don't lose sight of the purpose of Memorial Day. It's not just a three day weekend.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gardening Day

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Make any Memorial Day preparations. If you're traveling, do you need to pack? Hosting a party so you need to shop and clean?

  • Need to buy any graduation presents for upcoming June celebrations? Can you fit the gifts into your budget?

  • Freshen up bathrooms for the weekend. Launder towels and rugs, clean mirrors and sinks, wipe down counter, sanitize toilet, mop floor. I have three bathrooms, so expect this to take about 25 minutes tonight.

  • Feel like writing in your journal or diary tonight? Blogging? Updating your Livejournal, Facebook, Myspace or website?

  • Consider writing a quick cheery note to a relative you haven't written to for some time. Maybe snap a quick pic of your kids, print it out and enclose that too.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Gardening

If it's not raining later this afternoon, I plan to mow my front lawn and do some tidying and weeding in front. I only have a couple hours to spend doing this, since I'll want to shower and get dressed up to go out to dinner and a movie.

Those of you who live in apartments or condos that have your gardening done for you, lucky you! You get to sit around doing something fun today instead! :) But you might check on any houseplants.

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Boots Hawaiian Islands


I'm delighted that my favorite brand of body products, Boots, has a whole new line of scented products. "Hawaiian Islands" features jasmine, coconut, pomegranate, and avocado scents. There are body scrubs, body washes, and body butters. I'm not a big fan of coconut, but my love of jasmine made me try these anyway. So far I'm loving the Avocado Pomegranate body wash. Looking forward to smelling it again tonight after my post-lawn mowing shower.

Boots Hawaiian Islands, at Target

LOVELY DRINKS: Absolut Berri Acai


I just picked up a bottle of the newest Absolut flavored vodka. I love berry flavors, and while I wouldn't call Acai one of my favorite flavors, I can always pretend I'm getting antioxidant benefits in every cocktail!

So far I've tried Berri Acai in cranberry juice with a lime.. Not fabulous. I'll try it again in lemonade tomorrow and see if that is tastier.

Absolut Berri Acai

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Get a Glimpse of Niihau, Hawaii's "Forbidden Island" (Seattle Times)

Rise of Food Blogs Creates Pasta Paparazzi (Seattle Times)

Rules for Margarita Greatness (CHOW)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May Showers


I just gave these pretty "popsicle" lollipops to a friend for her birthday

It's raining again, but still so warm I can have the doors and windows open to let in the fresh, wonderful smelling air. I'm glad I didn't pack away all the hot cocoa and teabags, and that I left a few Duraflames in my fireplace caddy. My puppies are not very happy about having to be indoors so many hours today though!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Empty trash cans (don't forget bathrooms and bedrooms) and recycling. I don't like to let these things pile up. My house feels so much fresher when the trash has been taken out.
  • If you have outdoor lights that are on a timed schedule, have you adjusted them for the longer days? I noticed my lights were on at 4pm yesterday - how silly! I need to update the timer to have the lights turn on at 8pm.
  • Have you had a healthy snack today? A handful of blueberries, a handful of nuts, half an avocado, a banana?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Dining Room and Breakfast Nook

Today I am tidying and doing maintenance cleaning on my dining room and breakfast nook. I just threw a dinner party last night, and this morning there are bits of dried rice crunching under my bare feet!

The dining room needs to be swept, then mopped (Sweeping first makes the mopping job take less time). The tablecloth needs to be laundered, table dusted, chairs dusted and chair pads sponged with a washcloth. The curio cabinet needs to be dusted (but I'll only do the outside today). Since it's a cloudy day, this is the perfect time to wash my dining room and breakfast nook windows.

My breakfast nook table tends to get cluttered up quickly. Today I'm finding new homes for a teapot, hot pink candle, two empty vases, and eight different bags of doggie treats.

The wood floor needs to be swept and mopped too, and the tablecloth laundered, table dusted, etc. I expect both rooms to take less than an hour total to clean today. I'll finish by cutting myself a pink peony from my front yard (they just bloomed today!) to put in a vase on the breakfast nook table. The last thing I'll do is spritz both the dining room and breakfast nook with my Lilac home fragrance spray.

LOVELY BLOGS: The Paris Apartment


This blog author lives in Florida and runs a lovely shop there. She's currently in Paris at the markets and exploring. Be sure to take a peek at her blog which is currently filled with gorgeous photos of Parisian decor, buildings, and other goodies.

The Paris Apartment

LOVELY DRINKS: Twinings' Cold Brewed Iced Tea


I was recently delighted to discover that Twinings accepts Paypal. I raided my stash of "Monopoly money" in my Paypal account to have several of their new cold brewed iced teas shipped to me. I immediately filled up a pitcher with the Earl Grey and enjoyed several glasses throughout a long hot afternoon.

I discovered that Earl Grey doesn't keep well overnight. I'd left the pitcher with its leftover tea, right on my kitchen counter overnight like I do every time. My Lipton cold brew teas stand up well to that. This one didn't. Cloudy and bitter tasting. So I threw it out and I'll make smaller batches next time. So far the English Classic iced tea is my favorite, with Lady Grey next. I probably won't buy the Earl Grey again. Meanwhile, I am glad to know I can restock my iced tea supplies any time I have cash in my Paypal account!

LOVELY FRAGRANCE: Papier d'Armenie


I'd never heard of this concept until today, and I'm fascinated by it. (Perhaps I'm more attuned to home fragrance issues lately since I have smelly baby puppies peeing in my house!) This French company has been making these products since 1885. I love that the booklets of paper are decorative, not just functional.

You light the little strip of paper on fire, then blow it out. As it smolders, it supposedly removes pet and food cooking odors from your home. I'm game to try it!

Papier d'Armenie

Papier d'Armenie at Wikipedia

LOVELY GARDENING: Dwarf Citrus Trees


I was so excited when I saw Sur la Table's new dwarf citrus trees that I literally started tearing up. I've been looking for nice dwarf citrus trees forever! I have seen them online but it was always from some nursery I'm unfamiliar with, or a company I didn't trust enough with my credit card number.

I'm afraid my bad gardening skills will make these die or just never bear fruit. But I want to try. I have a nice sunny patio they can live on in summer, and a sunny breakfast nook they can winter in. I think I will pick up the Meyer lemon tree, a perfect size for tabletop right now. And I'm thinking these would make great gifts for some garden-loving aunts and friends, too.

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Crushed Peas with Feta and Scallions (Epicurious)

Making Homemade Kosher Dill Pickles Without the Pickling (Wicked Good Dinner)

45 Things to Do With Fresh Sage (Chocolate and Zucchini)

Monday, May 17, 2010

My New Outdoor Office


I am so delighted to be able to work outside for a few hours every day. Sometimes it's too sunny to see my laptop's screen, but there's plenty of other things I can do: pay bills, read books for research, skim through magazines related to my jobs and blogs, etc.

My outdoor office is all set up now. It's just a patio table and chairs, a long outdoor extension cord running from an outlet inside the house all the way out to my laptop, a wireless connection, an iced tea pitcher, sunscreen, a printer (not shown), and a rug for the dogs to lay on when they feel like taking a break from chewing up the yard.

To make my office pretty, I have a potted African violet, and tomorrow I'll put out a candleholder with a summery candle. It doesn't make sense to burn it during the day, but if I'm working into twilight, it will be nice to have a scented candle by my side.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Make menu plans and create grocery list for the week

  • Did you get all your laundry done over the weekend? Need to fold and put some of it away?

  • Can you set aside an evening this week for family time, or just for yourself? An evening when you don't have to go anywhere, see anyone or do errands. Just chill at home?

  • Did you write any letters or pay any bills over the weekend? Need to stamp and mail them? Have any of those pesky magazine subscription envelopes that you need to process? Write a check and send it off, or shred and recycle the letters?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Home Office

I'm finishing setting up my outdoor office today so it's usable, workable, efficient but also pleasant. But I also have to clean up, sort and organize my indoor office too. I use it in the mornings when it's too cold to go outdoors, and in the evenings when it's too dark or cold to be outside. I have trash to empty, paper to recycle, vacuuming to do, and a whole bunch of paperwork to file away.

If you have a home office, spend some time tonight dusting, organizing, finding things, putting things away, decluttering, and making yourself an efficient space to get your work done in.

You get work done faster in an organized office, which leaves more time for
socialization and relaxation!

LOVELY BLOGS: Busy Bee Lifestyle


This blog's focus is on entertaining and decorating. There are an incredible amount of helpful and inspiring posts here. There's a section called Tip Tuesday, one called Fabulous Finds, and a section for Seasonal posts. A lot of the posts are heavy on showing you products and material items, but it's not shoved in your face like an affiliate website. It's still very fun to look around here.

Check out the article on Retro Foods of the 60's and 70's while you're here.

http://www.busybeelifestyle.com/

LOVELY MOVIES: Secretariat


This movie doesn't come out until October, and I don't usually care about horses or horse movies. But the trailer looked SO good! Perhaps I'm influenced by my love of Diane Lane's acting abilities. And the female empowerment theme doesn't hurt, too. I'm looking forward to seeing this in the fall!

Secretariat Trailer, at Apple

Secretariat, at IMDB

Secretariat, at Wikipedia

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Black and White Pudding Parfait (Every Day With Rachael Ray)

Healthy Recipes for Spring (Epicurious)

Herb and Brie Omelette (Williams-Sonoma)

Making Perfect Pies (Epicurious)

Planning Your Vegetable Garden (Martha Stewart)

Summer Cocktail Party Menu (Every Day With Rachael Ray)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Middle of May


Look what's blooming in my yard this week!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Get out your iced tea/lemonade pitchers so they're easily accessible. Stir up a pitcher of your favorite summery beverage. Need to make room in your fridge so the pitcher will fit?

  • Is it time to throw away your bedroom pillows (or those of your children) and buy new ones? This should be done about every two years due to dust mites and oils building up inside the pillows. I just picked up two perfect, down-free pillows (I'm allergic) at Costco for $10.

  • Sort and process mail. Any bills that still need to be paid?

  • Look over your birthday list for the second half of the month. Write and send any cards, wrap and mail gifts, order flowers if needed.

  • Have time to take your dog on an extra-long walk today?

  • Make the kitchen sparkle. Remove everything from counters, spray and wipe down counters, replace items. See if you can find a new home for one thing previously living on your counters.

  • Vacuum any carpeted rooms. That's one less thing to do tomorrow during your workweek.

  • Slice and enjoy any fruit you have in your fruit basket. Make room for new fresh fruit from your next grocery shopping trip.

  • Fridge and freezer maintenance. Clean, sort and sanitize two door shelves, or one drawer, or one shelf in your fridge or freezer.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Preparing for Outdoor Living

It's been absolutely beautiful here in Seattle the last few days. I've been enjoying spending a lot of time outdoors, especially now that I have puppies. I entertain outdoors frequently, but I also love to be out there by myself reading or doing projects in the sunlight. Today I'll prepare my outdoor spaces (lawn, upper patio, lower patio) for relaxing and entertaining in a lovely manner.

I need to rewash all my windows, inside and out, to fully take advantage of the sunlight that's streaming in. I did this over a month ago, but they sure get dirty again fast, particularly my kitchen windows. I also have kitty kiss marks to get off my office window where they sit on the ledge.

Next, my back porch needs to be hosed off, scrubbed of mold, patio chairs hosed down and dried in the sun, and patio tables washed. My fire pit table needs to be cleaned out, ashes removed, table washed, and the cement patio it stands on should be hosed down and swept too. The firewood stored nearby needs to be examined for wetness, and a few misc pieces of trash need to be thrown away.

Today I absolutely have to mow my lawns, especially the front one, visible from the street and to my poor patient neighbors. I've been waiting for a dry day, and though it isn't sunny, today is the day. My front lawn only takes about 20 minutes, but the back lawn is huge and I dread it immensely. Since I haven't mowed the back at all this season, it's longer and will take a lot more time.

I don't hire gardeners (although once in a while I pay my kids) because it's really good to do it myself while I'm still young and healthy. Mowing the lawn isn't a weight loss or cardiac health solution, but it does get me out there working hard for a few hours at least every two weeks. And I do feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when I sit back and look at my neat yard afterwards.

As a finishing touch, I'm getting out my light blue, lime green, and bright yellow candles, summer pillows, and dishes. Tomorrow afternoon I hope to be sitting on my (slightly moldy) patio chair, with a yellow pillow behind me, sipping iced tea out of a lime green glass, reading a magazine, while my blue candle stands ready to be lit in the evening.

I'll pretty much be exhausted after I finish, so I can't expect to get any other projects done tonight after it gets dark. I'll still have to make dinner and clean up after it. I expect to take a nice long shower after mowing and dinner, then flop down to watch TV and flip through magazines.

LOVELY BATH & BODY Fresh's Citron de Vigne


Generally my favorite shower gels are citrus, especially grapefruit. So I was excited to see (and smell) this new shower gel by Fresh. It's inspired by champagne - even cooler!

Citron de Vigne, at Fresh.com

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Advanced Chocolate 201 (The Food Channel)

Fall 2010 Accessory Report (Style.com)

Forbes' Guide to Worldwide Travel? Early Summer (Forbes)

Fresh Strawberry Cake With Strawberry Glaze (Calla's Creations)

Fresh Strawberry Daiquiris (The Food Channel)

Make Arts & Crafts From Old Books (Ladies Home Journal)

Mango and Berry Cobbler (Baking Bites)

Perk Up a Plain Bathroom (Better Homes & Gardens)

Rhubarb Crisp That Stands up to Pie (NY Times)

Try Martha Stewart's Tasty Fruit Tarts (Today Show)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do Something Childlike Today

Today I want to encourage us all to enjoy doing something childlike, something fun. I don't mean childish, as that puts me in mind of tantrums, immaturity or not taking responsibility.

Rather, I'm thinking of playing, doing something fun, reliving a bit of our childhoods. Being young and playful, just for today.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Treat yourself to a special breakfast today. You have time to linger over it, since it's the weekend.

  • Made your weekend socializing plans?

  • I need to make a couple phone calls to elderly relatives. Do you?

  • Need to do any grocery shopping? Make a Costco run? Drop off library books? Return movies? Pick up or drop off dry cleaning?


TODAY'S PROJECT: Do Something Childlike

Maybe you'd like to take the opportunity over the weekend to re-experience something you used to enjoy doing as a child. Color in a coloring book; play with paper dolls (I plan to!); go roller skating if you can find or rent a pair of skates that will fit; play with some Barbie dolls (even if it's just by yourself); sneak out your daughter's EZ Bake Oven and play with it; make a friendship bracelet; jumprope or Hula Hoop. Splash in puddles, or climb a tree to read a book. (I won't feel silly if someone sees me up in a tree!)

You might even browse through a toy store just for fun, taking all the time you want, now that you're grown and your parents aren't here to hurry you along.

Re-live and enjoy.

LOVELY BLOGS: Shelteriffic


"Where People Who Love Their Homes Click." This home decor blog is chock full of interesting links and finds. There's a mix of product links, inspirational photographs, do-it-yourself tips and the occasional food-related post. There are multiple posts per day - I don't know how they manage to keep up and maintain such an interesting blog every day!

http://www.shelterrific.com/

LOVELY CANDLES: Flower Tealights


I'm very tempted by these flower tealights for my summer patio parties. They'd look lovely on my patio table on a long warm, dark summer evening.

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Filipino Dessert: Polvorons (Moonglow Gardens)

Fresh Berry Upside Down Cake (Madeline's Restaurant)

The Last of the Ramps: How to Pickle Them (Huffington Post)

Roasted Pistachio Ice Cream Recipe (CHOW)

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade (Willow Bird Baking)

Spotty Coverage: The Polka Dot Trend (Style.com)

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe (IS LY)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Computer Organization

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Going somewhere for Memorial Day weekend? Do you have your plans finalized, reservations made, tickets purchased, budget adjusted?

  • Need to do any mid-week laundry?

  • Empty any trash cans and recycling bins throughout the house.

  • Do you have a mud room or utility room? How is the sink looking? Need to scrub it? Muddy footprints on the floor to clean up? Coats to rehang?

  • Any books due to be returned at the library? Conversely, do you need to stop by the library to select some interesting books for your family members to enjoy reading?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Computer Organization

My Christmas present to myself was a new computer, running Windows 7. It's been five months, and I only just today installed my old copy of Photoshop 6.0 on that computer. I have another two or three programs I need to install, now that I've owned the computer for five whole months - doh!

Today I'm working on cleaning out and organizing my current bookmarks, cleaning out a few months-old files, removing a bunch of older photo albums from my Facebook account (no sense keeping personal pics sitting around where they could be vulnerable to prying eyes), sorting and naming pictures.

I'll also be changing lots of my passwords today, something that should be done every few months, if not more frequently. (Remember not to use the same password more than once. Your Facebook password should be totally different than your Yahoo password, different than the one you use for MySpace, email, eBay, etc).

I have a semi-new email address I use, and I totally ditched and abandoned my old one, so I'm making sure that my accounts at Amazon, Facebook, etc. use the updated email address. If I forget or lose my password, I wouldn't be able to ask those websites to email me a new password, since they'd be emailing to the old account I can no longer access.

After I'm done sorting my bookmarks (which should take 3-4 hours, ugh) I will be working on updating various webpages, blogging, deleting boring old blogs and communities I started and abandoned, and doing other minor creativity housekeeping tasks like that.

Before I go to bed, I'll start the spy/adware/virus download updating process, and run a disk defragmenter to help clean up my new computer and free up space.

LOVELY BLOGS: House Wren Studio


Charlotte is an artist and a designer. Here on her blog, she shares her projects, as well as lovely things she finds while going about her daily life. She recently went to the Mary Engelbreit workshop, and on a trip to St. Louis. Poke around a bit here, I think you'll enjoy your visit.

http://housewrenstudio.typepad.com/charlotte/

LOVELY HOME DECOR: Tiffany Style Fireplace Screens


I am totally coveting this Tiffany style fireplace screen. It's gorgeous! I could afford it, if I skimped on my restaurant and entertainment budget for a few weeks. But I use my fireplace quite often, and I realize this screen would get really dirty and take extra housecleaning time to maintain. It would be better for an unused fireplace that needed a bit of decorating. So I'll just smile and move on and not buy one, even though they are gorgeous!

LOVELY KITCHEN: Pepper Mills


These Pylones of Paris pepper mills make me smile. One depicts an Inuit girl, the other a Russian lady.

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

"Babies" Movie Review (NY Times)

Culinary Nostalgia Gone Very Wrong (Salon)

David Bowie Cocktail (Cocktails.About.com)

How to Be a Perfect Sitcom Mom (TV Comedies.About.com)

How to Make a Summer Chore Chart for Kids (eHow)

The Rise of Company Gardens (NY Times)

10 Cosmetic Uses for Everyday Foods (CHOW)

Veggie Side Dishes for Spring (Chatelaine)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Furniture Freshening


What a great way to avoid having tons of mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard bottles all over your outdoor table: a condiment caddy! I think I need one!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Time to do mid-week laundry?

  • How are your supplies of air fresheners doing, assuming you use such a thing? I'm more conscious of needing to use air fresheners right now while I have puppies and while the weather isn't nice enough to keep my windows open. Plus, I have several unscreened doors, so I can't leave doors wide open or my puppies will wander off! I'm checking my stock of air fresheners and probably buying more next time I go to the store.

  • It's still cold enough I'm using my fireplace frequently. Does yours need a quick cleaning out?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Furniture Freshening

Today I'm cleaning all the seating in my house. I'm vacuuming and Febreezing my two office chairs (they really take a beating in this house). I'll vacuum (using a special attachment) the embroidered chair and footstool that sit in my bedroom - the cats love to sleep on it and get it furry.

In the dining room, I'll be sponge cleaning the upholstered chair bottoms, and dusting the wood on the chairs. In the breakfast nook, where I sadly have only folding chairs, I'll be sponge mopping the seats too.

Downstairs, the harder work begins. I have two slipcovered couches and a slipcovered chaise longue. It's time to launder the slipcovers - we spill food on them, sit on them with dirty feet or sweaty bodies, and the cats and puppies get hair on them. While the couches are taken apart for laundry day, I'll be moving them to vacuum under them, and vacuuming the couch bases thoroughly to remove dust mites from the unupholstered cushions, etc. I'll Febreeze my couch cushions (while their covers are off in the laundry) and let them dry for a bit.

LOVELY BLOGS: The Martha Blog


I can't believe I haven't come across The Martha Blog before. I regularly read Martha Stewart Living magazine, so I'm not sure why I didn't stumble across her blog before. There are no housekeeping or homemaking or entertaining tips here (for those, read her website or her books and magazine). Instead, Martha shares things she's currently involved in or thinking about. Right now she's blogging about the terrible Nashville floods. It's a bit more personal look at Martha's life than you get from the magazine (which is mostly written by other people). See if you enjoy it as much as I do.

www.themarthablog.com

LOVELY PARTIES: Boutique Tents


I can't afford any of these beautiful custom tents, but I sure enjoy browsing them and daydreaming about the parties I'd throw under some of them. They remind me of the magical tents in "Glinda of Oz."

http://www.boutiquetents.net/

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday in May

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Going somewhere for Memorial Day weekend? Do you have your plans finalized, reservations made, tickets purchased, budget adjusted?

  • Charge cameras, cell phones, MP3 players if needed

  • Need to do any battery sorting, organizing and inventory of your battery supplies? I just struggled to find my D batteries for a flashlight last night. After spending only 5 minutes straightening my junk drawer, all my D and AAA and AA batteries are now all nicely organized and accessible.

  • Make menu plans and create grocery list for the week.

  • Need to take any vitamins today?

  • It's the rainy season (at least here in Seattle). Do you have umbrellas, windbreakers, and rain boots handy?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Car Washing

We have a sunny day, so I'm using it to wash my car. It doesn't take me too long, so I'll have time to give the dashboard and inside windows a quick wipe down. I'm pretty good at taking trash out of my car every time I exit it, so I don't have much cleanup to do on the interior.

Tomorrow when I go out to dinner, I'll be driving myself in a nice clean car. I try to take good care of it as it's new and cost me hard-earned money to buy. I want to appreciate my possessions and take respectful care of them.

LOVELY BLOGS: Decor to Adore


This blog is by an interior designer. I love that her name has "Laura Ingalls" as part of it! She shares her finds, currently including a wee tea pot, vintage postcards, a beautiful bedroom from an HGTV episode, and pictures of the decor she's working on currently for her job.

http://decortoadore.blogspot.com/

LOVELY MOVIES: Letters to Juliet


I'm thoroughly looking forward to this romantic chick-flick. I loved Amanda Seyfreid in "Mamma Mia," and I'm eager to see the Italian scenery. This is a perfect movie to see on Saturday afternoon with my sister and a girlfriend!

Letters to Juliet (Official)

Letters to Juliet, at IMDB

Letters to Juliet, at Wikipedia

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

"Babies" Movie Review (Slate)

How to Make Rice Pudding (CHOW)

Patio Menu for Spring (SweetHome)

Working 10 Hours or More a Day Can Kill You (Bloomberg)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Beauty Day


Aveeno's new Fig and Shea Body Wash, what I'm currently enjoying using

Today I'm catching up with all the beauty regimens I've been lax about the last couple weeks. I've been really busy with work, the new puppies, and traveling to visit family. Leg shaving and other things weren't really a priority.

I don't look hideously ugly quite yet, but I do like looking my best, so tonight it's time to get some things handled.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Vacuum your living or family room if needed, to freshen it up for the weekend.

  • Do you have fresh orange juice in the house? Need to add that to your grocery list, if that's something your family enjoys drinking?

  • Does your kitchen herb garden (if any) need tidying, watering, or weeding?

  • Wash your kitchen window, if needed. I have four to wash, and they're all very grimy inside and out.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Beautification

Tonight I'm staying home, making a simple plate of pasta, pouring some sangria I picked up at Whole Foods, and catching up on my beauty rituals. My hair dye (Feria, burgundy) takes first priority. It only takes 25 minutes to work (plus five minutes to clean up the inevitable drips, 15 minutes for my shower, and 2 minutes to start laundry on my hairdyed towels and the clothes I was wearing). I really hate dyeing my hair, so I always put it off too long. Then I have grey and brown roots growing in - yuck.

While I'm showering the hair dye off, I'll give myself a sugar scrub to soften my skin, and do my shaving. Lotion time after that, and I might as well throw on a mud mask since I'll just be watching TV and nobody will have to see me.

Then while I'm watching a movie or something, I will give my heels and feet a good extra scrub and lotion treatment. I got a pedicure last week, but I run around barefoot a lot.

After I wash off my mud mask, I'll give myself a quick manicure - nothing fancy, just my favorite everyday neutral: Opi's "Samoan Sand." Last thing I'll do before I go to bed is put on my teeth whitening stuff. Can't do it earlier because you can't drink wine immediately after whitening! :)

LOVELY BLOGS: Hoosier Homemade


"Making Your House a Home." This cooking blog offers recipes, budget-friendly meals, and lots and lots of posts about cupcakes. It's not the most picture-heavy blog you'll ever see, but the quality of posts here is excellent.

http://hoosierhomemade.com/

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Getting Ready for Summer


Sea Life Tray, $14.95 at Z Gallerie

It doesn't feel much like summer this week - Seattle is 55 and cloudy today - but I know it's coming. I'm eager to wear flowery sundresses, traipse about in pink or silver sandals, sit in the sun reading magazines, and serve dinners on my porch. I miss the sound of sprinklers watering my yard, and I won't mind hearing the excited shouts of noisy neighborhood children playing late into the evening.

This week I'll be putting away the last of my winter and spring items - spring colored pillows, heavy velvet curtains, extra heavy blankets, and sweaters. I'll be getting out the blue, green, orange and yellow dishes and placemats I stored away carefully at the end of summer last year. Away go my pink and purple candles, and out come my blue, yellow and orange ones.

Once I have everything out, I can take a quick inventory to see if I need anything new this year. Maybe I'll treat myself to a quick trip through some fun stores. Target has their summer stuff out in many of their stores now, though I haven't really liked what I've seen so far. Pier 1 is always a good source for inexpensive summer decor, and Crate and Barrel usually manages every year to have a tempting, colorful selection.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Need to stop at the grocery store on the way home tonight? What does your grocery list have on it?

  • Done paying all the beginning-of-month bills and mailing them off?

  • All set to go for Mother's Day?

  • Freshen up a bathroom. Do a whole cleaning if you have a lot of time; otherwise just spiff up the mirror, fixture and sink, swish your scrubber around the toilet, and swap out the bath and hand towels for clean, fresh ones.

  • Plan Memorial Day weekend/summer travel and book tickets, if you haven't already

  • Schedule camp, classes or summer activities for your kids, if you haven't already

  • If it's warm enough out, go for a brisk 20 minute walk tonight, preferably with another family member or a roommate.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Summer Readiness

Get out your beach towels, bug spray, sunscreen, outdoor decor, citronella candles, patio table/chairs, outdoor dishes, grills, picnic baskets, umbrellas, ice chests, and anything else you'll use in warmer weather. Wash everything off that needs it, and launder towels so they're fresh. Scrub your grill (or get a man to do it!) so it's ready for use on the next warm day.

If you're lucky enough to have a pool, now's the time to get it cleaned out and ready to go. Same for pool toys - examine for wear and tear - and lifejackets.

Take inventory of your sunscreen. Keep in mind sunscreen becomes less effective after a couple years, and can go rancid. See if it still looks and smells ok. Add sunscreen to your shopping list for this week if you are running low. I try to keep some in my car just in case we forget to bring some on the way to a beach or a hike. Be sure you have a variety of SPFs, and sunscreen formulated for children and babies, as well. You should also have enough for summer guests. I have guests coming who prefer 30 SPF and guests coming who plan to tan and will need 8 SPF tanning lotion.

I always pick up some aloe vera or after-sun spray too in case someone doesn't take good care of themselves and gets burned.

Put up summer patio light strings, if you use any. Next time it's possibly warm enough, sit out on your porch in the evening enjoying a beverage and some music.

I'm excited for warmer weather. I love falling asleep to the noise of my whirring bedroom fan, sucking in fresh air from my open bedroom windows.

LOVELY BLOGS: Little/Big Magazine


This is a design-oriented blog with a shop component to it. It focuses on interesting design for children's products. There are sections on eating/drinking, toys, furniture, art and design, books, and interiors. If you are interested in design, you'll probably find a lot of interesting things to look at here.

http://www.littlebigmagazine.com/

LOVELY DISHES: Strawberry Plate


I try not to have kitschy dishes sitting around in my kitchen, but I almost can't resist this cute strawberry plate from Pier 1 Imports.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mid-Week

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Do you have your Mother's Day gift already? Planning to take your mom out on Sunday?

  • Run a load of laundry, if needed, so you aren't stuck doing laundry all weekend

  • Declutter your pile of mail and magazines tonight, if needed

  • Clean pet dishes, refill water bowls, and check bedding for possible laundering needs. Inventory pet food and medicine supplies

TODAY'S PROJECT: Bathroom Counter Decluttering

I have way too many items on my bathroom counter. It doesn't look like a peaceful, relaxing spa bathroom. Instead, it looks like a drugstore counter! Time to remove items I don't use every day, and see if I can stash even some everyday items in a convenient (but unseen) spot.

I currently have three different lovely candles on the counter, but I only burn one at a time, so two should be put away. I have three perfume bottles on the counter, but I mostly use the same Escada "Marine Groove" perfume every day. So the other two bottles should go down into my perfume drawer.

After I'm done decluttering, reorganizing, and sanitizing the mirror and counter, I'll light a candle, set some fresh flowers on the counter (recluttering it a bit, I admit, but I want flowers!) and relax on my nearby bed with a good magazine.

LOVELY BATH & BODY:


I'm a sucker for everything cherry scented, so I'm excited to try the new Happy Blooming bath melt from Lush.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Provisioning for Good Weather


Raya Pitcher, at Crate & Barrel

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Get out your iced tea/lemonade pitchers so they're easily accessible. Stir up a pitcher of your favorite summery beverage. Need to make room in your fridge so the pitcher will fit?

  • Sort and process mail. Any bills that still need to be paid?

  • Look over your birthday list for the second half of the month. Write and send any cards, wrap and mail gifts, order flowers if needed.

  • Do any laundry you might need to do so you and your family will have clean clothes to wear tomorrow and clean beds to sleep in tonight.

  • Fridge/freezer maintenance: Clean one shelf, one drawer or two door shelves in your fridge or freezer.

  • Want to avoid crowds at Home Depot, garden and home stores this warm spring weekend? Make a quick trip tomorrow night after work instead, if you have plants or home renovation items on your shopping list.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Provisioning for Summer

Today I'm pulling out my outdoor entertaining dishes and pitchers, taking inventory of summery tablecloths and napkins, and finding my ice chests and picnic basket. I'll wash all the dishes so they're ready for use at my next outdoor party - perhaps even tonight!

I'll also make sure I have gas for the lawnmower, lighter fluid and charcoal, and the little sticks we use for fires to cook over in my fire pit table.

I definitely don't need any new dishes or table linens, but it's time for a nursery run for some planters, flowers, and potting soil. I'm also going to pick up some sunscreen today too!

LOVELY BLOGS: EpiCute

This is "The Cute Food Blog." They find adorable things to showcase. Recently they've shown a sushi-themed cake, a frosted ball of cake, triangular strawberry ice cream rolls, and flowery fudge cupcakes. Mouthwatering!

http://epicute.com/

LOVELY KIDS: Handbag House


This dollhouse is shaped like a handbag. It's so cute, I just wanted to show it to you. I'm not sure if the fairy doll comes with the house, but supposedly it has a fairy bed inside.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Rainy May Day


Edgar, enjoying a brief moment in the sunshine before the clouds came again

Happy First Day of May!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Pay bills, rent, mortgage

  • Do you need to update the list of Emergency Numbers you keep by the phone? Have any family or friends changed their phone numbers since you wrote that list up? Has anybody taken a more active role in your children's life and should be added as an emergency contact?

  • Look over birthday list for this month. Plan gift purchases, order flowers to be sent, write and mail cards tonight for at least people born in the first two weeks of this month.

  • Do you need to make any appointments for yourself, pets or family members for this month? Dermatologist, dentist, checkup, vet, hair salon, eye doctor?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Getting Ready for Parties

This upcoming week, I'm planning to host two dinner parties. They're weeknight dinners, so I will have been working all day before hosting them. So the more preparation I can do this weekend, and the simpler the menus I select, the easier my parties will be.

I strive to keep my house in party-ready condition at all times. I don't always succeed, but luckily this weekend I'm on track. I had the carpets cleaned yesterday (optimistically believing my puppies to be mostly potty trained at this point). My kitchen is clean (though it will get messed up this afternoon when I experiment with recipes). The bathrooms are clean, and my living rooms are decluttered.

So now mostly I just have to dust, select the tablecloths and linens I'll use during my parties, select the CDs I will play as background music, clean out my fridge and go grocery shopping.

That way, all I will have to do the night of the party is a quick vacuuming, a quick wipedown of the bathrooms, a changing out of hand towels, light candles, and start cooking.

LOVELY BLOGS: Stem Parties


This blog is by a professional party planner. It's not just a long advertisement for her services though. She shares interesting party ideas that she finds, neat products for entertaining, and pretty party photos she's come across.

http://www.stemparties.blogspot.com/

LOVELY HOLIDAYS: May Day

I forgot last night was Walpurgisnacht, I would have lit a bonfire in my back yard! A small one, confined carefully to my fire pit table, but still, a bonfire!

I don't have a May Pole to dance around, so I will celebrate Spring just by having extra beautiful flowers around the house. I will squeeze in time for a walk this afternoon, too, in between my cleaning chores.

LOVELY DRINKS: Absolut Berri Acai


I'm excited to try the new Berry Acai flavored Absolut vodka. There are some cocktail recipes over at Notcot and at Intoxicologist.

LOVELY DRINKS: Glow in the Dark Soda Cans


I love these glow-in-the-dark cans from Schweppes. The flavors aren't ones usually sold in the US (Agrum, Indian Tonic, and Dark Side) so I wonder if I'll get to try any of these.

LOVELY WEBSITES: Couturious


Have you played around with this virtual dress-up site? You choose your model, then try out a variety of outfits and accessories on her. The idea seems to be to advertise new clothes and jewelry from various designers. It's a fun way to kill about twenty minutes!

http://www.couturious.com/create

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Bacon, Sushi and Cupcakes: Chewing on the Decade's Top Foods (Luxury Las Vegas Magazine)

Build Your Own Burrito Bar (CHOW)

Mother's Day Recipes and Menus (Epicurious)

Parisian Sweets (CHOW)

Spring 2010 Cocktail Rings (Auction Shopaholic)

Tacos for Cinco de Mayo (Epicurious)