Monday, February 28, 2011

February Comes to an End

The view out my upstairs window. I like to work here in the morning, watching the snow or admiring the whiteness every time I look up from my laptop.

February is over. How did you do with your goals this month? Did you remember birthdays, pamper yourself a couple times, go to any parties, throw any parties yourself, read your book club book, exercise, spend time with your family and pets, spend time with friends, keep your home clean and lovely? What will you work on improving in March?


  • Pay and mail any bills that are due tomorrow.

  • Set aside some time tonight to read a book or your favorite magazine. Winter is perfect for catching up on enjoyable reading.

  • Make meal plans, menus and grocery list for the rest of the week.

  • Reach out to any distant relatives you haven't managed to make time to talk to this month.


I've caught a cold, so I'm resting tonight, staying in bed with my book club book (I need to finish Mansfield Park by March 15). I might do a little light dusting and organizing of my bedside nightstand - it currently holds my thermometer, mug of honey lemon tea, tissues, remotes, and the spray bottle I use to keep my cat away in the middle of the night.

But that's about all the housecleaning I'll do tonight. Nights like tonight, when I am sick, achy, tired, and grouchy, are exactly why I work every single day to do something towards maintaining my home in a clean, tidy, mostly organized condition. That way when I accidentally get sick, I can take a couple guilt-free days respite from work, socializing and cleaning, in order to get myself better.

LOVELY BLOGS: Old Fashioned Homemaking

This cozy blog provides craft ideas, family resources, homemaking tips, and recipes. She's recently posted about St. Patrick's Day crafts, a checklist for cleaning the bedroom and kitchen, and described the kitchen as the heart of her home.


Consumers Use Products Longer as Result of Recession (NY Times)

Madagascan Vanilla Cupcakes (From the Sweet Kitchen)

Red Velvet Recipes and Crafts (Martha Stewart)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Frozen Friday

Sunshine on the treetops across from my house, early in the morning

Snow, frost, ice, hail and a cold snap have come to Seattle. Today I'm dressing extra warmly, making a huge pot of hot tea, and being very careful how I walk on slippery grocery store parking lots.


  • Get ready for the weekend! Fill up car with gas, visit an ATM for cash, stop by a Redbox for a movie, drop Netflix returns into outgoing mail, stop by the library to pick up or drop off books.

  • What are you wearing tonight? Put some extra time and thought into your outfit - look fun and fabulous tonight! I'm struggling with how to look cute and still stay warm in our 28 degree weather.

  • Tidy the house so you come home to a clean cozy home tonight after your evening's entertainment. Sweep front hall if needed; vacuum living or family room as needed; empty or fill dishwasher; wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters; replace kitchen towel and bathroom hand towels with clean ones; empty trash cans.

  • Treat yourself to some fresh flowers to enjoy over the weekend.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Party Prep and Provisioning

I had to cancel my Wednesday dinner party due to the snowstorm that hit Seattle. Fortunately I hadn't bought any groceries specifically for that party, so nothing went to waste. This also means I have lots of room in my fridge to store groceries for my Saturday brunch. Time to hit the store for fresh fruit, produce and orange juice.

I'm going to as many grocery stores and Trader Joes as I need to in order to get just the right shade of pink tulips to fill my house with for the party.

When I get home, I'll need to unpack the groceries, check over my lists, clean some spots on my carpet, clean the kitchen, and bake muffins for tomorrow. All this has to be done before I go out to dinner tonight!

LOVELY BLOGS: Delicious, Delicious, Delicious

"Because life is too short to eat bad food." Mr. P.'s food blog, written from Wales. You may enjoy his recent spate of posts on Lamingtons, with gorgeous food photography. Besides lamingtons, he's been busily blogging about Nigella's gingerbread, pies, and pumpkin carrot cake cupcakes.


Architectural Salvage: The New Old Kitchen (Food & Wine)

Celebrate the Oscars With These Themed Cocktails (MSNBC)

Chestnut Cakes (Worth the Whisk)

Cupcake Fad Continues (Boston Globe)

Perfect Cheeses (Epicurious)

Seeds Straight From Your Fridge (NY Times)

Target Brings Back Limited Edition Dresses ( Fashion)

Top Rated Veggie Recipes (Cooking Light)

Where to Go Next: Winter Travel 2011 (Food & Wine)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Last Week of February

I was delighted to find golden raspberries at the grocery store yesterday! They taste a bit sweeter and less tart than regular raspberries, I find.

What shall we do with our last week of February? Spring is coming slowly, and it's not yet time to put away winter.


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

  • This morning I threw away some vivid green eyeshadow that I remember buying for a specific event. The event occurred in 1999... Do you have anything similarly old you can throw away today too?

  • Take inventory of your firewood, fireplace matches, and kindling supplies. It's still cold at night - wouldn't your family members like to come home to a cheerful, cozy fire tonight?

  • How are your supplies of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, hot cider mix and other warm wintry beverages?

  • Are you hosting any upcoming parties or festivities? An Oscar party, perhaps a Mardi Gras party? If so, time to get out a pen and paper to make notes and lists and get your party organized!


I'm throwing two parties this week: a dinner party on Wednesday night and a spring brunch on Saturday afternoon. Besides making sure my house is clean and tidy for the parties, I need to do some party prep ahead of time to make things go smoothly.

So today I'm planning menus; cleaning out the refrigerator to make room for new groceries for the parties; creating my shopping list; selecting the dishes I'm going to use and washing them; getting out vases for the copious amounts of pink tulips I'll buy for the Spring brunch; and ironing the tablecloths I'll use at both parties.

I'm also struggling with a couple stubborn pet stains on the living room carpet (sigh), deodorizing the carpet, Febrezing my curtains, and doing other tasks to freshen the house before my parties. I just remembered to charge my camera batteries, too, as I want to be better about photographing my friends at parties.

LOVELY BLOGS: The Makeup Mole

I don't usually make time to read beauty or fashion blogs. They're fun, but I tend to prioritize cooking and food blogs for my Internet time instead. So I'm enjoying catching up on interesting things in the world of cosmetics, beauty and fashion at Makeup Mole. She posts makeup reviews, info on current beauty trends, cosmetics related videos, and interesting info on new products. She's recently posted about facial oils, the new Nars collection for Spring, and a review of Becca's shimmering skin perfector. I learn a lot every time I visit this blog!

LOVELY BOOKS: Encyclopedia of the Exquisite

"An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights." I was so thrilled when I discovered this book at Anthropologie. For some reason it really hit me emotionally. I actually teared up in the store and clutched the book to me tightly the entire time I browsed around before checking out. It was just so lovely, it seemed written just for me and girls like me. (I might be 41 so "middle aged" but I still think of myself as a girl when I'm out shopping and finding beautiful things!)

Among this book's intriguing entries are boudoirs, carousels, Nepal's living goddesses, lightning, painted ladies, saffron, whistling, pillowbooks, shabby chic, and even more disparate topics.

I'm keeping this book, beautiful and elegant with its red foil stamped cover, next to my bed. I read an entry every night just before going to bed. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's well-researched entry on champagne.

Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, on Amazon

LOVELY SHOPS: Tokyo Pen Shop

If you're a longtime reader of Lovely Living, you likely know what a stationery and office supply addict I am. I try to control myself because I really, truly don't need any more pens to write with. What I need to do is actually USE my pens to write more letters than I actually do.

But here I find an extremely tempting store full of lovely ballpoint pens, highlighters, and gel ink pens from Japan. They make it so easy to obtain Japanese stationery supplies for people who don't live near an Asian market or don't have time to fuss with buying things on eBay. They even sell notebooks and pen cases.

My only hesitation here is I don't see a Paypal logo - I wish I knew what forms of payment they accepted before I fill up a shopping cart and register for their site.

LOVELY TV: Ice Brigade

This new Food Network show premieres on Thursday, March 3. Not a cooking show, this showcases the ice carving work of Randy Finch and his team. They create things like furniture, pool tables, grand pianos, punch bowls and entire bars out of ice. I'm excited to see the parties showcased in these episodes, as well as the ice art.

Ice Brigade, at Food Network

Ice Brigade, on Facebook


Baked Apples Stuffed With Mincemeat (Wartime Housewife)

Candied Orange Peel (The English Kitchen)

Cooking With Winter Greens (CHOW)

Fast Weeknight Dinners (Epicurious)

Kids' Winter Crafts (Martha Stewart)

Rosemary White Bean Soup (Celebrations at Home)

Russian Cupcakes (Octoberfarm)

Slow Cooker Comfort Food Recipes (Martha Stewart)

Tangerine Pudding With Citrus Yogurt (Worth the Whisk)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Use and Enjoy Your Beautiful Things

I own many beautiful things, but also some less beautiful, more functional items. Lately I'm reminding myself to use and enjoy my beautiful things. Today I'm not just slopping my morning tea into a mug I just microwaved. Instead, I'm pouring it into a delicate Art Deco teacup I bought on eBay a few years ago and display proudly in my curio cabinet.

And later today when I go out to do errands, I'm not just throwing on my boring errand clothes. I'll put on a cute skirt and some new leggings to keep me warm in our cold Seattle weather. I'll take the time to select some pretty earrings, instead of going bare-eared.

Are you using and enjoying your most beautiful possessions? Or are they gathering dust while you use boring, ugly blankets, dishes, towels or clothing instead? Let's appreciate what we have, take good care of our lovely possessions, and add beauty to our lives wherever possible.


  • Fridge and freezer maintenance: Clean one drawer, one shelf or two door shelves in your fridge and freezer both. Doing this each weekend means your whole fridge and freezer get cleaned out every month!

  • Grocery shop and see how many errands you can get out of the way in one trip. That way you can go do other fun things or return home and relax at the end of the day. Bank? Post office? Library? Costco? Dry cleaning? Hardware store or Home Depot? Dropping off clothes or books at a donation box? Returning borrowed items to friends' houses?

  • Clean out your car if needed. Mine needs the dashboard wiped, floors vacuumed really quickly, trunk de-cluttered, and dog kiss marks wiped off the back seat windows.

  • Don't just spend the weekend camped in front of the TV, enjoyable though that is! Plan something fun to do tomorrow out of the house, whether it's elaborate and expensive or simple and free. We're going for a long walk in the woods with our dogs tomorrow, and visiting the Museum of Flight.


One of my teenagers is visiting this weekend, so I want to focus on spending time with him, not housecleaning. Still, I have two parties coming up next week and I don't want the house to get out of control.

Dusting is something I can do in the morning while my roommate and teenager are still asleep, without disturbing them. It's also something I will need to re-do again on Wednesday and Saturday before my next parties - our doors opening so frequently for the dogs means that dust accumulates here rapidly. This morning I can easily finish the upstairs living room, kitchen and dining room, and it won't take more than five or six minutes to dust the downstairs family room when we get back home tonight.

LOVELY BLOGS: Bump Smitten

Unless one of my close friends has some surprising news for me, I am not aware that I'm hosting any baby showers any time soon. Still, I can't help but enjoy this beautiful baby shower inspiration blog. It's so fun to look through pictures from various baby showers that have taken place recently. The photography here is excellent! The blog showcases ideas for baby shower invitations, favors, table settings, decor, and of course food. Many of these lovely ideas could even be converted over to a regular dinner or cocktail party, too.


Carrot Soup With Carrot Muffins (Spittoon Extra)

The Digital Lives of Babies (NY Times)

Fun Crafting With Felt (Martha Stewart)

How to Cut a Butternut Squash Without Injuring Yourself (Rachael Ray)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies (101 Cookbooks)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Returning From a Trip

Tired from my work trip, I'm looking forward to slipping into a hot apple-cinnamon bath tonight using this Fizzbanger bath bomb from Lush

This week I went to Las Vegas for work, to the Magic retail trade show and to Accessories the Show. I'm tired from the exhausting trip, but also a bit overwhelmed by all the things I have to do here at the house after being gone four days.

I'm going to try to stay focused, do my tasks in order (not flit from this to that) and balance my homemaking time with time for me, friends and my other work.


  • Have you put away your Valentine's decorations? Time to get out your Spring themed decor, if any?

  • Almost through the workweek! Anything you need to do so you're going into the weekend with a clean home? Vacuuming, mopping of kitchen floor?

  • Make social plans for this weekend so you and your friends have a bit of notice and advance planning.

  • Will you be eating dinner on a clean tablecloth tonight? Be sure to change yours if it is soiled.

  • Plan a special Friday lunch for your kids if you are the one who packs their lunch boxes. It will be easier to surprise them with something special tomorrow if you plan ahead today.

  • Anything you need to pick up from the dry cleaners? If so, drop off any clothing that needs to be cleaned, since you're already there.

  • Need to pick up any milk, produce or fruit juices on your way home today?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Recovering From a Trip

I'm planning a stay-at-home quiet night tonight after all the excitement of Las Vegas. I'll unpack my suitcase, do laundry, spend extra time with my pets, and whip the house back into shape. Afterwards, I'll put my feet up and catch up on some mindless TV.

The kitchen looks great, thanks to my roommate, so I'll be able to focus on vacuuming, mopping floors, sorting my mail, catching up on email, and clearing off my messy bathroom counter that became a tornado area as I packed for my trip.

I'm also slowly starting to take down my Valentine decorations and put up general Spring ones. My theme is beige and light pink. I'm switching out candles, placemats, table runners and tablecloths tonight.

LOVELY BLOGS: Purple Chocolat Home

Today I'd like to share with you a nice food and decor styling blog I stumbled onto. Check out the quiches and Paris tablescape, a lovely reminiscence of spending Valentine's Day in Paris, a tour of the blogger's favorite kitchen gadgets, and a tutorial on making fresh chocolate raspberry cups. You'll love browsing the beautiful posts here!


2011 Oscars Party Planner (Epicurious)

Why You're Not Married (Tracy McMillan, Huffington Post)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Before Valentine's Day

White Chocolate Box, at Dean & Deluca


  • Wear something pretty tonight, whether you're going out or staying in. You're doing this for you, not for other people.

  • Make a quick run through your house, tidying up ahead of the weekend. Empty trash cans, take out recycling, wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters, pick up items in your living room, de-clutter your dining table and mail table, hang up coats in closets, put away shoes, remove dead flowers or dead houseplants.

  • Fill up your car with gas, stop by an ATM for cash and a Redbox for movies if needed.

  • Need to mail out any last minute Valentine letters? Return any Netflix movies?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Kitchen Tidying

I'm going out tonight, so I don't have a lot of time to work on maintaining my home. I can't take on a big project before I leave, but I can accomplish a few needed tasks in the kitchen.

Someone already ran the dishwasher this morning, so I just need to empty it and put a couple dirty glasses from the sink back into it. I scrubbed the stainless steel sink yesterday, so I just need to wipe it down. I plan to sort the cabinet under the kitchen sink - it's very hard to find anything under there. I'll move some of the cleaning supplies under there to their proper home in the laundry room, and check the batteries in the flashlight I keep there. I'll put my collection of plastic bags in my trunk to recycle at the grocery store next to the restaurant I'm going to tonight. The granite counters need to be sprayed (with my lemon basil counter spray that smells so nice).

Right before I leave, I'll mop the kitchen floor and close the door behind me. The floor will dry so much faster without dogs and people walking across it right after I mop!


Recipes for Romance (Epicurious)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Taking Care of the Little Things

Vintage Style Valentine Cookies, at Eleni's

Even the most well-maintained home has several small, annoying things that need to get done. If we let all of these pile up, we soon are left with a disorganized home, a disappointing day or two of annoying errands, and maybe even a sense of dread. Today I'm working on a few "little things" that need doing. It will feel so good to have them checked off my list.


  • When's the last time you sanitized your phones, keyboards and remote controls? Take a couple quick minutes to grab a Clorox wipe and wipe down your landline, cell phones, Blackberries, keyboards, video game controllers, and keyboards.

  • Check over your kitchen gloves, bathroom gloves, sponges and scrubbers. Anything getting worn out or holey? Need to toss any and buy new supplies?

  • Take just two minutes to grab a sponge, a cloth and your stainless steel cleaning spray and really make your kitchen sink shine (if it needs it).

  • Baking any treats for your family and friends for Valentine's Day? If so, do you have all the supplies you'll need? Can you find your heart-shaped molds and baking pans, cupcake liners, and decorating supplies? Need to make a trip to the store for any baking related groceries?

  • Mail out any last leftover Valentines you haven't sent yet.

  • What are you doing for fun this weekend? Make plans with your friends and family before the weekend begins.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Taking Care of the Little Things

What's on your list of little (yet necessary) things that you need to do around the house or get done for yourself? Take some time today to either get these things done, or make a concrete plan to get them done over the weekend. Some of your things might require taking time off work (ie, waiting for an electrician or plumber), so plan far ahead. If you have a child home sick from school anytime this winter, use that day at home with them to schedule last-minute appointments, if possible, with carpet cleaners, plumbers, home maintenance professionals, etc.

What's on my list:

  • Fix a broken shelf on my biggest bookshelf. I already have the parts, ordered last week off Amazon.

  • Get my tabs renewed - a quick 45 minute round trip to a vehicle licensing bureau. Which happens to be next to a pet food store, so I can cross off two errands at the same time. And on the way home, I can stop to pick up my dry cleaning.

  • Replace two extremely ugly forced air heating vents with new brass ones. This is a bit difficult as they're not a standard size. I'll have to take them personally to Home Depot and see if they can help me. Not a completely necessary errand, but my home will look better with two brand new shiny brass heating vents instead of the old dirty ugly beige ones.

  • The electrician is on his way over to fix some non-working bathroom outlets that I've ignored and gone without for too long. (6 months).

  • Tonight we're hooking up my Tivo to the Internet, so I won't need to drag a phone cord across the house every time I want to download an updated guide.

  • I'm replacing the cracked, rotted rubber stopper on one of my spring loaded curtain rods. Not a major priority, but it will make changing out the curtains so much easier this spring.

  • This weekend we're replacing two old, cracked, filthy, uncleanable sink fixtures in two bathrooms. It will require a trip to Home Depot and two inexpensive replacement fixtures. I'm looking forward to turning the taps on in my bathrooms without cringing at the cruddy old knobs!

What's on your list of annoying little things that need to be done so your house isn't slowly crumbling down around you?

LOVELY ART: Frank Cadogan Cowper

I love browsing art by this artist, described often as "The last Pre-Raphaelite." His ladies wear beautiful, flowing, colorful gowns, and have beautiful feminine long hair and glowing translucent skin. One of my favorites by him is La Belle Dame Sans Merci.

Frank Cadogan Cowper, at ArtMagick

Frank Cadogan Cowper, at Wikipedia

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Plum Blossom

I was so excited to try L'Occitane's new spring line. I didn't really care for last year's Cherry Blossom scent, so I did without. I want to try the polishing shower gel and I definitely need the skin moisture gel. I'm going to control myself and not get the eau de toilette, since I already have more than enough perfumes.

Plum Blossom, at L'Occitane

LOVELY BLOGS: My Own Sweet Thyme

A nice baking and cooking blog from Lisa in Portland. Join her as she discovers the art of cooking. Recent interesting posts include Borderland cornbread, A Cozy Crown for Epiphany and some lovely peppermint meringues with chocolate ganache.

LOVELY DISHES: Kate Spade's "Illustrated" China

I normally like Kate's more elegant dishes, but there's something whimsical that calls to me about these illustrated plates and mugs. These would be so fabulous at a cocktail party or dessert buffet.


How Do You Make Snow More Fun? Turn It Into Art! (Inspiring Pretty)

One-Pot Dishes (CHOW)

Valentine's Day Chocolate Heart Cake (Ingrid Creates)

Valentine's Day Heart Cookies (Cake, Batter and Bowl)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Thank Yourself Today

Trader Joes now makes a hot cocoa. My nephews are enjoying it, but I find it too milk-chocolatey for me, I wish it had more dark chocolate in it!

Let's face it - Most of the time, mothering and homemaking is pretty much a thankless job. Even if you have the world's most unselfish children, and a tender, communicative, appreciative husband, you just aren't going to hear "thank you" as often as you deserve it.

After you serve everyone a particularly delicious meal, you might hear kind words about your cooking, or a thank you for the tasty food. Once or twice in your marriage your husband might let you know how much he appreciates coming home to a clean house, or always having clean laundry to wear. Or someday you might overhear him telling someone how lucky he is to come home to a comfortable, well appointed house he can be proud of.

But there are so many little things you do every day that nobody else but you probably notices. The windows are always clean, because well, you clean them every month. The bathrooms never look dirty - did little magical elves come in last night and scrub the toilets? Wow, there's always lots of good things to eat in the pantry - some invisible person must have gone to the store and made thoughtful selections. And do you think anybody but you will notice that recently all the light switches in the house were de-fingerprinted, and if you run your hand along the top of the wood trim over your doorway, it won't come away dusty? Did fairies come in the night and dust the baseboards? Nobody else probably notices, but you can see them gleaming.


Go ahead today and give yourself some mental pats on the back for your hard work. (Quietly, no muttering under your breath!) Walk through a room you've worked on lately that you're proud of. Sit in one of your cozy, restful rooms. Open your linen cupboard and look at your carefully arranged stacks; peek in your well-organized pantry and admire your food stocks. Peep into your children's rooms (only if they're clean though) to see the safe haven you're providing for them. Put your feet up for a few moments, relax with tea and a magazine or catalog, and honor yourself and your home efforts.


  • Empty or fill dishwasher if needed

  • Make menu plans and create grocery list for the week

  • Sock sorting day! Grab a sock drawer that needs it and start sorting. If the drawer belongs to someone else other than an infant, give that drawer to that person and race them with your own. Give up on any mismatched socks, tossing them into the rag bin. Your family likely has more than enough matching pairs to get you all through the next couple years without you needing to hold onto holey socks or socks with no mates.

  • Are you hosting an Oscars party this year (February 27)? If so, have you sent out invites, set your menu, made your lists for shopping and cleaning?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Guest Room Checkup

Remember how hard we worked back in November to get our guest rooms ready for the holidays? Well that was over three months ago, and my guest room is a bit dirty and messy again.

I don't have any overnight guests coming that I know of - but life is full of surprises. I want my guest room to be ready to go. I'm washing windows, laundering the curtains, dusting the nightstand, dusting the lamp (and bulb), making sure there is a coaster for a glass of water, putting out a fresh box of Kleenex, dusting the baseboards, vacuuming, laundering the sheets and bedding (they're dusty from sitting out for over a month unused), removing a box of keepsakes that should be stored in the closet, and removing my folded-up porta-Crib to a closet where it belongs.

I'll finish by spraying a green tea scented room spray to freshen the room.

LOVELY BLOGS: Lady Katherine Tea Parlor

Here's a lovely, restful blog about afternoon tea, weaving and knitting, collecting china, and growing rose gardens. Recent posts are about a Valentine Breakfast Tea and a day spent with her grandson and a little red hen. It's very warm and homey here, I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I did.

LOVELY BOOKS: Sense and Sensibility

I'm re-reading Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" for a book club I joined this month. It's been years since I read it, and I'm so glad I am revisiting it. Seeing all the various iterations of the movies isn't the same - this book is so much better. I'm grateful to the Classic Literature section for including the etext in such an easy-to-read format. I can easily pick up a chapter here while I'm waiting for laundry to dry and there while I'm waiting for my bread to bake.

Sense and Sensibility, at

LOVELY PERFUMES: Escada's "Taj Sunset"

Every year Escada makes the most wonderful limited edition fragrance for summer. I didn't like last year's very much, so I am delighted at how much I enjoy "Taj Sunset." It smells summery (floral and sweet and citrusy) but I can't wait that long to wear it. It will be my signature fragrance this spring, making me feel happy and lovely.

LOVELY TV: My Fair Wedding

I was so excited to recently discover My Fair Wedding. I loved David Tutera's earlier TV show, "The Party Planner." His party decor ideas were so elegant and unique. Now I'm enjoying his theme weddings: Phantom of the Opera, Alice in Wonderland, and Wizard of Oz especially. The hour-long episodes are full of eye candy. I find myself unable to do laundry or read magazines much while watching it - I don't want to miss anything!

He also just came out with a book to complement the show.


African Violets: Do They Just Need an Image Consultant? (The Garden Buzz)

Cooking With Beans (CHOW)

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bars (Baking Bites)

White Pepper Chicken Barley Soup (Worth the Whisk)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

First Day of February

I just treated myself to this arrangement of spring flowers, to add some cheerful spring colors to my porch

Happy St. Brigid's Day!


Imbolc - February 1 and 2

Candlemas - February 2

Superbowl Sunday - February 6

Chinese New Year - February 3

Valentine's Day - February 14

President's Day - February 21

Mardi Gras - March 8

Easter - April 24

Which holidays and celebrations are you looking forward to taking part in? Are you hosting any parties or events?


  • Need to buy any stamps? Many of us are paying bills online now, but you still need interesting paper stamps to mail attractive handwritten letters and personalized notecards.

  • Review January in your mind. How did you do on your New Year's resolutions (if you made any?) Have you been eating well, exercising, making time for friends and family, spending quality time with partner, kids and pets? Made time for charity, stuck to your budget, read a book or two you enjoyed, kept up with the news? What will you do differently in February?

  • Look over upcoming birthdays in this new month of February. Write cards, arrange to have gifts or flowers sent.

  • Pay bills, mortgage/rent, etc.

  • Make upcoming dentist, doctor, veterinarian, and salon appointments for the month for yourself and family members.

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

  • Laundry done so you're going into the workweek with clean clothes, empty laundry baskets and a clean, tidy laundry room? Sleeping on fresh clean sheets tonight?


Victorian Fireplace Screen, on Amazon

This winter, as always, I'm using my fireplace quite often - probably every night. Not to heat my home, but to make it cozy and cheerful. Especially when my hard-working roommate rides his bike home 10 miles late at night in the cold. I like to have a warm fire lit and candles burning when he arrives home in the dark. Plus it's a nice way for me to wind down my evening - a cup of chamomile tea in front of a cheerful fire, pets clustered around me snoozing!

So today my project is to make sure my fireplace and surrounding area are in great condition for my next fire this evening. I'll clean out the ashes, vacuum the carpet around the fireplace, and wash the glass fireplace windows. Next I'll dust off (but not take time to polish) the fireplace tools, and straighten my fire logs as they rest in the holder. I keep a basket of small firestarters and kindling wood next to the fireplace as well, and that will need tidying and vacuuming underneath too.

Cleaning the fireplace windows is the most time consuming part, as they get quite smoky. When I'm done washing them, I'll load wood into the fire ready to light later tonight. Next I'll replenish the wood, kindling and matches I keep next to the fireplace. I'll take inventory and probably buy some more Duraflames and firewood at Home Depot today.

I will replace the burned out candle on the mantel with a fresh new one (a bright cheery red, for the upcoming Valentine's Day) waiting to light when it gets dark tonight.

Do you have a decorative fireplace screen that needs to be cleaned off as well? I use fireplace screens in the summer or when guests bring their small children over.

LOVELY ART: Pulp Fashion Exhibit

I so hope this turns into a traveling exhibition and comes to Seattle! Isabella de Borchgrave recreates historical costumes from rag paper. This exhibit features dresses based on gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette, as well as more modern fashions designed by Frederick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel. If you have a bit of spare cash laying around and you love fashion, you might want to grab a cheap flight to San Francisco for a weekend this spring. The show runs from
February 5, 2011 through June 5, 2011.

LOVELY BLOGS: The Simply Luxurious Life

"Ideas for a lovely, stylish, fulfilling and decadent life." Besides enjoying her blog, don't miss her latest newsletter, Creating a Simply Luxurious Year." I think you'll really enjoy and benefit from her month-by-month tips. Lately she's posted about the coffee table as center of attention in your home; achieving grand things little by little; and taking control of your spending. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs!

LOVELY HOME: Fleur de Sel

New at Williams-Sonoma: Fleur de Sel hand wash, lotion, and dish soap. They also make an all-purpose cleaner and a counter spray. It's scented with verbena and juniper, along with lily and rose. I'm looking forward to freshening my guest bathroom with the hand soap and lotion. Plus, my guest bathroom is done in chocolate brown and light blue, so the colors will go nicely together too!

LOVELY WEBSITES: High Gloss Magazine

Another fancy, slick web style/decor magazine premiered this morning. You can flip through the pages of the magazine online, ads and all. This issue includes Must Have Wardrobe Staples, Embracing Color in One's Wardrobe and Home, tips on serving breakfast in bed, some home makeovers, an article on pillows, links they love, and other stylish topics. I like to read it set to fullscreen so I don't have to squint at the fonts. What do you think of this magazine?


The Blizzard Cocktail (Martha Stewart)

Cast Iron Apple Cobbler (Worth the Whisk)

Homemade Chocolate Indulgences (Victoria Magazine)

Faberge Opens Pop-Up Shop (PSFK)

Harry Potter's Butterbeer (Gourmet Mom on the Go)

Maximize Your Day (Woman's Day)