Friday, May 27, 2011

Ready for Memorial Day 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, if you can, as everyone will be gassing up today.

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

  • Locate your sunscreen and sunglasses. Hopefully you'll need them!

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

  • Finalize weekend socialization plans, either by phone, Facebook or email.

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

TODAY'S PROJECT: Preparing for the Weekend

Today, do whatever you need to do to get ready for the weekend. If you're leaving town, you might need to pack, gas up the car, make arrangements for petsitting, purchase a hostess gift, and find your camping gear. If you're entertaining, you'll need to cook, shop, clean, plan, and devise entertainments.

I'm staying home this year, attending the Northwest Folklife Festival on Saturday, enjoying my yard with my dogs on Sunday, and going to a friend's backyard picnic on Monday. I'm hoping to fit in some time to read magazines, snuggle in bed with my cat and a book, catch up on some silly TV watching, and perhaps do a bit of writing.

Because we've kept our homes so well maintained throughout Spring Cleaning and the months that followed, I bet very few of you need to do any big cleaning projects this weekend. Let's relax and enjoy our family, friends, beautiful homes, and continue keeping up with messes as they happen, not spending our long weekend cleaning and organizing!

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Absolut Orient Apple


My ginger allergy is unfortunately going to prevent me from tasting the new Absolut Orient Apple, launched in Frankfurt recently. It's based on Absolut Brooklyn, with a couple modifications. It sounds tasty, so I might stock it to serve to lucky guests who have no allergies to ginger!

Absolut Orient Apple (Popsop)

LOVELY BLOGS: Sip, Chat, Chow


"Adventures of a glam foodie." Sip, Chat, Chow follows Tricia’s dining adventures in NYC and the other cities she travels to on occasion. I so enjoyed living vicariously through her as she visited the En Japanese Brasserie!

http://sipchatchow.com/

LOVELY HOME: Lafco Dream Home Candles


I so adore the concept for this line of candles. "A candle for every home." Each candle in the line is designed to match a particular style of home or lifestyle.


"Lake House," on Amazon

"Lake House," for example, is scented with water hyacinth; "Penthouse" features champagne, ginger, raspberry and pink grapefruit; "Carriage House" is a blend of currant, magnolia, mandarin and cypress; "Ski House" is reminiscent of a cedar log fire, crisp mountain air and evergreen.


Lafco "Bathroom Marine," on Amazon

There are also scents intended for particular rooms of your home. "Bathroom" features a Marine scent; "Kitchen" smells of cilantro and orange; "Office" is scented with rosemary and eucalyptus. A bit pricy, these would be a big investment in the way your home smells every day.

Lafco NY

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Em Dashes - Why Writers Should Use Them More Sparingly (Slate)

Fearing the Phase-Out of Incandescent Bulbs (NY Times)

In Praise of Unknown Actors: 10 Movies That Took a Chance on a Newcomer and Were Better For It (Slate)

Marinating For Memorial Day (Honest Cooking)

The Secrets to Party Hopping (Yumsugar)

Spring/Summer Pies and Tarts (CHOW)

S'mores on a Stick (The Decorated Cookie Blog)

Traveling the Globe Page by Page: The Best Travel Writing (Newsweek)

Wedding Foods Around the World (Epicurious)

Zucchini Pasta with Almonds and Lemon Zest (Chocolate and Zucchini)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anticipating Summer


Set of 9 Multi-Colored Votives, at Crate and Barrel

I needed a little retail therapy on a recent gloomy rainy day. I was so happy to be wandering aimlessly through a bright, colorful Crate and Barrel with friendly employees. I'd told myself I could only spend $20 at most in the store, so these little summery candles quite fit the bill at just $7.95. I've already burned three of them in my outdoor votive holders on an unseasonably warm afternoon this week. Lovely! I am so eager for more summery days.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Freshen up bathrooms for the weekend. Launder towels and rugs, clean mirrors and sinks, wipe down counter, sanitize toilet, mop floor.

  • Plan ahead for how to entertain kids and visiting relatives, if any. Rent movies for the weekend from Redbox, if you don't have anything fun arriving from Netflix. Your preferred movies might sell out on Friday as everyone stocks up for the weekend.

  • Need to shake out any rugs outdoors? A front hallway rug, a kitchen rug, a front door mat? I vacuum my indoor hallway rug often, but nothing seems to help get the dust out like simply shaking it vigorously out the front door for a couple minutes!

LOVELY BLOGS: Hip Hip Hooray!


Here's a delightful, fun blog full of tips and inspiration for children's parties. Their current posts include Icy Treats for Memorial Day, a Lego pirate party, colorful homemade sprinkles, and a look back at a Cinco de Mayo party. I think after you read this pretty blog, you'll be itching to throw a party - even if you don't have any kids to invite!

http://hiphiphoorayblog.com/

LOVELY FOOD: Trader Joe's Frozen Bento Box


I've been saving up this new Trader Joe's bento box in the freezer for a couple weeks. Today I was rushed at lunchtime so found the 3 minute microwave time so helpful. It was fun tasting all the pretty-looking foods in their small squares. A delicious treat, but I wasn't quite full after finishing it.

http://www.traderjoes.com/

LOVELY TV: Million Dollar Decorators


You've already guessed, I'm certain, that this show is from Bravo. Premiering May 31, this reality show follows Kathryn Ireland and other decorators/designers as they redo Los Angeles area homes for wealthy clients. I'm sure drama and lots of whining will ensue, but that's not why I'm watching. I'm looking forward to the fancy houses, the lavish interiors, and the luxe furniture the show will highlight.

http://www.bravotv.com/million-dollar-decorators

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Fearing the Phase-Out of Incandescent Bulbs (NY Times)

Homemade Strawberry Milk (Savory Notes)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Doing a Bit of Gardening


Wildflower Seed Bombs, at Uncommon Goods

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?

  • Is it time for some mid-week laundry?

  • Feel like writing in your journal or diary tonight? Blogging? Updating your Livejournal, Facebook, 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. This is a great time of year to do this, as there's no guilt or pressure associated with your note (It's not Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day or your relative's birthday).

TODAY'S PROJECT: Gardening


Blue Himalayan Poppy Seeds, on Amazon

This afternoon I'll take a break from my work and do some quick tidying and maintenance in the yard. I mowed my lawn last weekend, but there are already some spots in the back yard that have grown up high. It will be easier to mow now that the longest grasses are already cut. I bet I can finish the back yard in just ten minutes.

When I'm done mowing and I've put the mower away, I'll work on my weedy front flower beds that look embarrassingly messy. My reward will be to cut some of my pink peonies to bring into my bedroom and set on my dining table.

Tonight is one of the rare nights I have to myself at home. I'm not going out to dinner. Instead, I'll eat salad and sandwiches in my yard in between playing with the dogs and working on my flowerbeds.

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

LOVELY BLOGS: Copy Cat Chic


http://www.copycatchic.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Cauliflower and Leek Fritters (Donna Hay)

Endive Boats Filled with Mediterranean Chickpea Salad (Trader Joe's Fan on Facebook)

Lemon Cornmeal Bundt Cake (Worth the Whisk)

Make Your Own Pudding Pops (CHOW)

White House Kitchen Garden Seeds: A Gift Fit for a Prince (Baltimore Sun)

Zucchini Fritters (Living the Gourmet)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Perusing Old Homekeeping Books


Rhododendrons are in bloom now in Seattle!

Today on my lunch break I enjoyed looking through Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. I'm enjoying the chapter on the confidence to be the Mistress of your house, as well as the chapter on the Mistress's second in command, the Housekeeper. (In my house, with my budget, I have to play both roles!)

Though written so long ago (the 1860s), I find the advice still very helpful. And there are sooo many recipes in this book! I suspect I'll still be leafing through this later tonight after dinner.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Make plans for your Memorial Day Weekend, if you haven't already.

  • Today would be a great day to shop for Memorial Day weekend supplies (hotdogs and buns, potato salad, corn, watermelon, marshmallows and graham crackers, beer?) because stores will be crowded on Friday and the weekend.

  • If you're traveling, camping, or doing a road trip for Memorial Day, why not pack today so you're done and ready to go?

  • Make plans for Fourth of July travel or festivities.

  • Pay bills now so they're done by the 1st of the month.

  • Wipe down one appliance in your kitchen if there are any that need it. I can do my stove/oven, refrigerator, or dishwasher in just the time it takes to heat water for tea.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Bathroom


Marimekko Samovaari Berry Bath Towels, at Crate and Barrel

Today, in between work, caring for pets, and going out to dinner, I'll thoroughly clean one of my three bathrooms. I don't want to spend my Memorial Day Weekend cleaning, so I'll do a nice project every night this week and relax on the weekend.

If I clean one bathroom thoroughly per week, my three bathrooms get cleaned a little more often than once a month. That's not quite often enough, so I want to remind myself to clean all three at the same time sometimes. When you have all the cleaning supplies out and ready, you might as well keep going if you have the time!

It will take me less than twenty-five minutes to scrub the toilet and shower, wipe down the toilet tank, mop the floor, scrub two sinks, wipe the counter and mirror, empty the trash, and wipe down the walls. I'll swap out the four towels, two hand towels and bathroom rug for clean ones, and start laundry washing while I'm at dinner. Tonight it won't take but a moment to toss the washed bathroom towels into the dryer and take them out to fold before bed.

I'll be removing makeup, moisturizing, and brushing my teeth in a sparkling clean bathroom tonight!

LOVELY BLOGS: The Nesting Project


"A working girl's account of nesting dangerously." I wish when bloggers put an About Me page they'd put their name in there so you know how to reference them! This girl blogs about domesticity, baking, cooking, knitting, etc.

Recent enjoyable posts include Chocolate Cherry Waffles, Sweet Potato Pancakes, and Raspberry Chocolate Pancakes. (I'm sensing a breakfast theme here!)

http://www.nesting-project.com/

LOVELY FASHION: Kate Spade's Straw Hat


This hat just embodies summertime to me. I don't look good in yellow, I think, so I probably won't buy it. But I love looking at the picture and fantasizing about wearing a straw hat on the beach on a warm summer day, with nothing to do but relax, read a magazine, and figure out where to go for dinner!

Boardwalk Stripe Straw Hat, at Kate Spade

LOVELY FOOD: Summer Getaway Cookies



These are a bit expensive to treat myself to, though they are adorable. I'll likely buy them as a hostess gift when I travel to a beach house this summer.

Summer Getaway Cookies, at Dean & Deluca

LOVELY HOME: Fondue Set


Summertime is a bit warm to be serving fondue, but with Seattle's continued rainy days in May and probably early June, I could just get away with serving fondue in this adorable, colorful set. Maybe I'll skip the cheese course and go straight to the chocolate and strawberries!

Jonathan Adler Fondue Set, at Barney's

LOVELY QUOTE FOR TODAY:

"You will find that the mere resolve not to be useless, and the honest desire to help other people, will, in the quickest and delicatest ways, improve yourself." --John Ruskin

LOVELY WEBSITES: Matchbook Magazine


Yet another one of the new trendy online-only digital magazines. This one celebrates "classics - shaken and stirred." They cover fashion, art, decor, travel and culture.


You can read about the Matchbook girl (She could live happily off of red cake forever), and "thumb through" the lovely May issue. This month's articles include a tour of Charleston, a visit to a San Francisco boutique and a jewelry designer's studio, and a whole bunch of articles on wedding planning.

http://matchbookmag.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Flowers in the Mail (Bakerella)

Kate Spade's Orange Julius Smoothie Recipe (Kate Spade)

Listgeeks, a Social List Making Tool for the Organizationally Obsessed (Lifehacker)

-Carrie

Copyright 2011

Lovely Living

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pushing Myself to Do Something Really Hard

TODAY'S PROJECT: Sorting Cassette Tapes and Old Computer Disks



This nasty old cardboard box full of old cassette tapes has been stored in my garage for 7 years; in a basement for four years before that; and in a box in another basement for several years before that. Soon it will be empty, then broken down and put in my recycling bin.

Today I finally forced myself to go through an old box of cassette tapes and floppy disks from my older computers. For years I've been clinging to this box of nostalgia and memories, unable to think of parting with any of them. This is ridiculous since I no longer even have a way to play cassette tapes; I own tons of fabulous music on CD and on MP3s on my computers; and there's no reason to hold onto extremely old versions of WordPerfect and other outdated software.

I had to keep reminding myself that I have not used, enjoyed, listened to or even looked at anything in these boxes for at least a decade. Why am I keeping them around then? Fear of leaving something behind. Fear of forgetting. Fear of not having something and regretting it later. It's time to conquer those fears and lay them to rest, replacing them with common sense, order, organization and moving on to new pursuits.

I'm a packrat, but not a hoarder, so today I was able to finally throw away 95% of these antiquities. (Before the recycling police start freaking out on me, please do realize that no charities want a cassette tape, very few people under age 40 even have a way to play them, and there's nothing to be gained from trying to recycle and melting down a bunch of plastic tapes and covers. Any Soldier barely even asks for CDs anymore - they request the easier-to-store MP3 files if you send music to soldiers.)


In the "olden" days before the Internet, penpals used to make each other elaborate, beautiful cassette liners using magazine clippings, pictures out of old books, or elaborate drawings. This one, sent to me by a penpal, used H.R. Giger artwork from a magazine

Most of my collection was cassettes of bands I've already rebought on CD: My U2 albums, Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, Jane's Addiction, etc. The rest were mixtapes I'm sentimental about, but will honestly never listen to again. I kept just a few (less than five) cassettes from obscure punk bands that I'm not sure I could find CD recordings of on eBay ever. I'd met wonderful penpals via the classified sections in the back of paper zines, Flipside and Maximum Rocknroll (remember this was before the Internet!) and we traded music and paper zines back and forth.

I also kept three totally irreplaceable cassette tapes (which I will soon pay to convert onto a digital format) of my elderly missionary aunt talking about her adventures in the 1940s in Africa.

The hardest thing for me to do was toss unlabeled cassettes and computer disks into the trash without trying to play them or look at them to see what was on them. I have to count on my childhood self as being organized enough to label what was important and just use unlabeled disks as temporary storage for unimportant things. I might have lost a few text letters written long ago, but since I haven't tried to look for them or read them in almost 20 years, they can't possibly be THAT important.



Just when I thought I was all done sorting, I was shocked to find this old gym bag full of even more cassettes and disks. Sigh.

I had a genuinely fun time reminiscing and remembering as I looked through everything here. I got a hankering to listen to Jane's Addiction, so put on a CD when I got back into the house. My dogs played while I sorted in the sunshine, shedding the occasional tear now and then when I saw a beloved friend's handwriting on a mixtape cover, a disk label or a cassette insert.



I got emotional on seeing this friend's handwriting again. The fun of mix tapes was hearing music by artists you'd never heard of, or marveling at the particular combination and order of songs your friend selected for you.

And afterwards, putting two trash bags into my bin and breaking down the filthy cardboard box to recycle, I felt a wonderful sense of relief at having this project done.


At the end of a long day of working, cleaning, and sorting, it was nice to eat dinner (and drink wine!) outside by candlelight

Next weekend, more ancient boxes await me in my garage..

What would be something very very difficult for you to sort through?

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Spices-a-Go-Go (Dean and Deluca Blog)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fabulous and Fun Friday


My current favorite perfume for sunny warm-weather days: L'Occitane's Jasmine

It's a beautiful warm, sunny day in Seattle. I refuse to spend the evening indoors in front of a TV or a computer screen. I won't even eat dinner inside a restaurant tonight. Tonight, I'm taking three young nephews to a picnic dinner at a lakefront park. Then it's back to my freshly-mowed lawn to play with dogs, walk in the nearby woods, and make smores over a bonfire.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Take an ice cube out of your freezer and taste it. Does it taste and smell fresh? Or is it time to dump out all your ice and start over? Whether you have an ice maker or a set of cube trays, make sure you have fresh tasting ice for the upcoming days of iced tea, lemonade and cocktails. My fridge takes more than one night to replace all the ice it can make, so I got started yesterday. Meanwhile, my dogs had fun chasing the old yucky ice cubes around the yard as we threw them!

  • Get ready for the weekend - Empty waste baskets; refresh toilet paper holders; declutter dining table, coffee table and mail table; empty or fill dishwasher; wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters; water houseplants.

  • Make weekend socialization plans.

  • Visit an ATM for cash and a gas station to fill up, as needed.

  • Get outside this weekend!

TODAY'S PROJECT: Mowing the Lawns

Today I mowed my front and back lawns. My back yard is really big, so I usually do the front yard first and save the back yard for the next day. However, I didn't want to spend a beautiful spring Saturday mowing, so I finished it today. I'm exhausted!

I'm now lounging inside my house gulping iced tea and waiting for three young nephews to be dropped off. We're going to have a lakefront picnic tonight and then come back to my house for a bonfire and smores.

What are you doing for fun tonight?

LOVELY FASHION: Elephant Basket


This is one of the most innovative handbags I've seen! It makes me giggle a bit. I'm not sure if the odd shape would be annoying to carry around, or if I'd even have the guts to carry it in public. I sure like the idea though!

Kate Spade's Elephant Basket

LOVELY STATIONERY: Moo Business Cards


I hadn't heard of this custom business card company until one of my friends posted a link on Facebook. I love the modern, beautiful designs they offer for business cards. I'm so very glad to have found out about this company - and I'm extremely excited that they accept Paypal for payments!

I ordered my pack of cards, enjoying the easy design process, and had a hard time settling upon which design to use! I opted for rounded corners on my cards.

They also offer innovative mini cards, but I wonder if the odd shape would make them get lost in someone's wallet. You can also design postcards, greeting cards and sticker books. (I find the stickers disappointingly small to be very useful).



The box my cards came packaged in

My cards came in an adorable, highly functional box. I showed them to a friend at dinner and he rushed home to order some for his wife as a surprise.

If you needs cards for your cooking blog, you might like this Lara Cameron design.

I am very happy with my cards, and am not an affiliate of the company, just wanted to let you know about this extremely cool printing company!

http://us.moo.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce (The Bitten Word)

Chevre Truffles (CHOW)

Gnocchi with Pancetta, Mushrooms and Gruyere (Cake, Batter and Bowl)

It's Taco Night with Chef Roberto Santibanez (Epicurious)

Lentil and Kohlrabi Salad (Chocolate & Zucchini)

Sharpen Your Knife Skills (Epicurious)

Strawberry Patch Cupcakes (The Decorated Cookie Blog)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Laundry Day in Late Spring


The forested area near my home - my dogs love to go for walks here!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Need to scoop out the litter box? Or is it time to fully empty it into the trash, clean and sanitize the box and start over with fresh litter?

  • If needed, grab a cloth and some Windex and swipe all the bathroom mirrors in your house. I only have 3, and it takes me less than 2 minutes to do this. You can also wipe down the faucets in less than a minute, too.

  • Empty trash cans as needed, take out recycling.

  • Need to sort mail or organize your kitchen desk or the space you pay bills on?


TODAY'S PROJECT: Laundry


Method Peony Blossom Laundry Detergent

I'm working until 5 tonight, then I have about an hour and a half before I leave for dinner. I'll need a bit of time to get dressed, but that leaves me with about an hour to work on my housekeeping project for the day. I've chosen laundry, as it's something I can start and leave, then return to when I get back from dinner.

At 5 I'll drop a load of whites (my bathroom towels, bathroom rug, and some dustrags) into the laundry and start it. My load of towels will be ready to go into the dryer before I leave for dinner.

When I get back around 9pm I will start a load of darks (much of the clothing I happen to choose to wear is black!) I'll fold dustrags and hang up the towels, replacing my bathroom rug, while watching TV and waiting for my dark things to finish. They can go into the dryer and wait til morning to be taken out and put away. Everything in that load is cotton that won't wrinkle and won't need to be taken out right away. I love keeping things easy!

Tomorrow I'll have fresh clean clothes to wear that smell like peony blossoms, and I'll dry off with clean towels and step on a clean bathroom rug!

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Mixed Berries Iced Tea


I go through a lot of iced tea during the summertime. Today I was running low on my favorite Twinings iced tea, so ran down to my local Cost Plus World Market. I grabbed my regular English Breakfast iced tea box, but was also delighted to find the new Mixed Berries. I don't normally drink berry tea as it often isn't caffeinated. I really, really need my caffeine in the mornings. But this berry tea is made from black tea. I have a pitcher brewing outside in the sun right now - I am eager to drop some ice cubes into a glass and try it!

Mixed Berries Cold Brewed Iced Tea, at Twinings USA Shop

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Tiki Cocktail Mixes


During my naughty shopping trip yesterday (I played hooky on a sunny Seattle day, visiting the University Village shopping center) I couldn't resist picking up one of the new cocktail mixes at Williams-Sonoma. I love mai tais, so that one went home with me. I don't enjoy coconut, so I left the Pina Colada on the shelf. Later this summer I'm sure I'll be tempted to try the Beach Cruiser mix too. I'm excited to serve mai tais at my cocktail party this weekend!

Tiki Cocktail Mixes, at Williams-Sonoma

LOVELY BLOGS: Food in Jars


Everything you want to know about canning. Surely after reading this blog for a few weeks we'll all be inspired to try it ourselves this summer. I have plum trees in my back yard so I have no excuse! Recent posts include Chive Blossom Vinegar, info on a new brand of mason jars, how to bake eggs for breakfast in half jars, and using jars to store bulk foods.

http://www.foodinjars.com/

LOVELY ENTERTAINING: Flower Flash Paper Plates


I just picked up a set of these gorgeous, colorful paper plates yesterday. I'll use them at my cocktail party this weekend. They'll accentuate the melon martini I'm serving, and they'll look great with my teal outdoor decor.

Flower Flash Green Cafe Plates, at Celebration Sensations

LOVELY FOOD: Marzipan Ladybugs


Even though these ladybugs were sold as part of Dean & Deluca's Mother's Day selection, I think they're perfect for summer gifts. So cute, I wonder if anyone could actually bite into one to eat it. I might be tempted to just display one under a glass dome!

Marzipan Ladybugs, at Dean & Deluca

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

"Children at Play" Signs Imperil Our Kids (Slate)

8 Ways to Add Spanish Flair to Your Home (Sunset Magazine)

5 Dream Vacations In Your Own Back Yard (Sunset Magazine)

Handmade Gifts for Father's Day (Martha Stewart)

Lemongrass and Citrus Zest Infused Simple Syrup (In My Kitchen)

Lemongrass and Ginger Granita (Yummy Supper)

Pickled Watermelon Rind (Roots Vegan Blog)

The Temptations of Heartbreaker Daphne Flowers (Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine)

Using the Good Stuff (Personal Finance Advice)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mid-Month Monday


Is there anything more delicious than a tomato sandwich eaten outside in the sunshine, washed down with freshly made iced tea?

Now that it's warmer and sunnier, I'm eating meals outdoors whenever possible. I do wear a coat or sweater in order to enjoy my meal more, but I know more warm and sunny days are on their way.

If you have a patio, sunny front steps, a porch, a nearby park or a back yard, I highly recommend eating outdoors as often as you can.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Pay any bills that are due mid-month

  • Look over your calendar for the next two weeks. Any upcoming birthdays, appointments, meetings, doctor visits? Have you booked time for Family Night, time for you to spend with your girl friends, time to spend with just your spouse/partner, quality time with your kids, and some alone time with just you?

  • Any light bulbs that have burned out? Changing them takes just a couple of moments.

  • Are you going into the workweek with clean clothes, clean towels, clean sheets on the beds? If not, time to do laundry tonight!

  • Open your drawer where you keep small kitchen gadgets (cutters, peelers, squeezers, etc). Close your eyes and (carefully, so as not to cut yourself) take one out of the drawer. Ask yourself when is the last time you used this particular gadget. If in the last week or two, great, put it away. If you honestly can't remember using it, now's the time to make a plan to use it, or else immediately put it into your donation bin, ready to give away to charity at your next dropoff. If you can't bear to part with the gadget, make a promise to go to the store tomorrow, buy whatever food that gadget is made to work with, and actually use the gadget tomorrow evening.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Cupboard, Cabinet or Drawer Sorting


A perfect quick weeknight project: Sort out a drawer, a cupboard, or a whole chest if you have time. This is something easy to do after dinner and the kids are in bed, and you can watch TV or listen to music while you work.

As you sort, ask yourself a few questions about each item:

  • When is the last time I used this item?

  • Can I envision a need for this item in the next 2 months?

  • Is the object useful or beautiful?

  • Am I hoarding this object against a nonexistent need?

Get rid of (throw away, donate, recycle) anything you possibly can; but keep things that are lovely or you will use in the next couple months (aside from holiday-related items).

Editing your possessions like this simplifies your life. You have less clutter to stress you out, less items to worry about, and you will more easily be able to find the items you actually need and use.

Organize what's left and put it back neatly in your drawer or cupboard. If you have time, dust the piece of furniture, the dresser drawer or cupboard before you go to bed. You're now the proud owner of yet another piece of well organized home furnishings!

Avery Bombe Chest, at Crate and Barrel

LOVELY BLOGS: The Godless Housewife


If you enjoy reading homemaking and mommy blogs, but aren't comfortable when you run into some that are especially preachy or self righteously religious, here's the blog for you. This Seattle-area mommy/homemaker happens to be an atheist, but doesn't push her views or even mention them outside her "About" page. There's no agenda, just a refreshing lack of preaching.

Her blog focuses on what's really important to her: her baby and husband, family, friends, and the cozy home she works so hard to create.

I bet you'll like her sense of humor, displayed in her posts such as Ten Things That Wake Baby, and Unexpected Houseguests.

Follow along as she enjoys spring, watches her baby learn to walk, experiments in the kitchen during her inventive "International Food Month" and celebrates her life.

http://godlesshousewife.blogspot.com/

LOVELY COSMETICS: Revlon ColorBurst Lipgloss


I just treated myself to Revlon's newest lipgloss, which I'll enjoy wearing this spring. I had a hard time deciding between Strawberry and Rose Pearl, but finally settled on the darker hue of Rose Pearl, which goes with more of my outfits. I just threw out a lipgloss that I remember buying last summer, so it's now old and icky.

ColorBurst Lipgloss, at Revlon

LOVELY FASHION: A Flowery Dress for Spring


Every spring, I buy a new dress to enjoy wearing to various events and celebrations. While I buy dresses now and then, on and off throughout the year, the spring dress shopping trip is always my favorite. It's so fun to pick out something colorful and pretty after a long gray rainy winter of wearing mostly blacks and browns, sweaters and velvet skirts.

Almost every year I end up choosing a pink dress, and this year is no different. I loved this almost-coral dress on the rack, and was nervous in the dressing room hoping it would fit and flatter me. It did! I've since worn it on Mother's Day, out shopping, and to the theater yesterday to see Mary Poppins. Now that I've worn it three times, it's off to the dry cleaners, but I'll have it back in time for next weekend's Sunday afternoon party I'm throwing.

If you can fit it into your budget - not just the money the dress will cost, but the time it will take you to shop for it - see if you can find a spring dress to add to your wardrobe. If your budget is tight, try Ross Dress for Less, Target or Marshalls. Don't buy something just to buy it - wait until you try on something that makes you feel pretty, carefree, and happy when you wear it!

Floral Embroidered Dress, at Macy's

LOVELY FOOD: Spirits Truffles


I'm excited about the new Spirits collection from Moonstruck Chocolates. Part of their Father's Day gift offerings, the truffles are flavored with port wine, whiskey, or cognac. My father doesn't like the taste of alcohol, so I'll have to gift him something else - I'll grab a box of these to serve at my next cocktail party.

Spirits Truffle Collection, at Moonstruck

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Dragonfruit: A Fruit with a Future (NY Times)

How to Make Creamy Ice Cream with Just One Ingredient (The Kitchn)

Mad for Macaroons (Martha Stewart)

Make Your Own Veggie Chips (CHOW)

Make Homemade Southern Biscuits (Today Show)

Spring Gardening Calendar (Boston Globe)

Tuscan Pear and Fig Tart (Worth the Whisk)

Vines and Valleys in Oregon: Combining Hiking and Wine Tasting (NY Times)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Enjoying Spring



A cheerful bouquet of rananculus for my kitchen

Are you enjoying our long-awaited spring? Walking around your neighborhood, going to farmer's markets, visiting parks to see flowering trees in bloom?

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Remove any items of clothing that are hanging in your bathroom. Launder them or hang them up.

  • Swap out towels and hand towels in your bathroom for fresh ones.

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

  • Clean out your car if you take it out to do errands today. Throw out trash, wipe dashboard, clean windows, and apply leather cleaner to seats as applicable.

  • Fridge and freezer maintenance - clean one drawer, one shelf or two door shelves in both your fridge and freezer.

  • Check expiration dates on your salad dressings - these can really sneak up on you!

TODAY'S PROJECT: Garage Cleaning

I planned to do some yard work and planting today, but it's pouring rain. So instead, I'll work in the garage today. Because I run an eBay business from my home, my garage is full of merchandise. I don't always spend the time I need to keep it organized, so it is a bit messy right now. Also, I have some decor from last season that needs to be put away in my holiday storage bins.

I'm also looking through storage bins to find the seasonal outdoor lights I'll use to create a fairyland in my garden this summer. (I'll share pics at some point!)

Does your garage or carport need some sorting, sweeping, cleaning and organizing this weekend?

LOVELY BLOGS: The Cooking Photographer


Laura's lovely cooking blog features recipes such as Grandma's Pineapple Carrot Cake, Vanilla Plum Crisp and Shortcut Potato Gnocchi. As she was previously a professional news photographer, her food is photographed beautifully. Peek into her kitchen and see what she's working on next!

http://www.thecookingphotographer.com/

LOVELY FOOD: Mini Ice Cream Cones


I delighted three young nephews with these mini ice cream cones after dinner the other night. Since the cones were tiny, I let each boy eat two. We enjoyed them so much, I'll be sure to keep a box or two in my freezer this summer.

Trader Joe's

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

New Food Network TV Show for the Pioneer Woman (The Kitchn)

Pistachio Cake (With Sprinkles on Top)

Pistachio Goat Cheese Balls (Food Snob)

Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad (Whole Foods)

13 Ways to Let Spring Into Your Home Today (Home Ever After)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

May Day



Today I participated in the Top Pot Doughnut Dash 5k
.

7am is awfully early to get up on a Sunday morning, but at least I got a doughnut at the end of the event! I'm a walker, not a runner, so it took me around 55 minutes to finish. A gorgeous sunny day, with lots of beautiful blooming trees to look at as I walked around Greenlake.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Create menu plans for the upcoming week; write up grocery list; shop as needed.

  • It's the first of the month - time to pay rent, bills, or mortgage?

  • Look over your calendar for May. What upcoming events are you looking forward to? Any birthdays or anniversaries you need to send cards, gifts or flowers for? Any birthday parties to plan?

  • Need to schedule any vet, doctor, dentist, or salon appointments for yourself or family members?

  • When's the last time you got your carpets cleaned? Time to schedule an appointment?

  • Fridge and freezer maintenance - Clean one drawer, one shelf or two door shelves in both your fridge and your freezer. Doing this every week means your entire fridge gets cleaned out every month!

  • Make any Sunday night phone calls to relatives that you might have time to do.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Setting Up for Summer


My outdoor office, kept to a minimal amount of items. A candle holder or two, a pitcher and a glass of iced tea, my cell phone, and the magazines I'm reading.

Today I got my back yard ready for outdoor living and entertaining. It was so fabulous to have nice sunny relatively warm weather (66 degrees) to do this in. After all my tasks (including the morning's 5k and mowing my lawn later) it was wonderful to sit down with a glass of wine (an inexpensive bottle of white zinfandel from Trader Joe's), burn a bonfire, flip through Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn catalogs, and watch my dogs play in their outdoor swimming pool.

Want to peek at my to-do list from today?

  • Hose down patio

  • Throw out dead outdoor potted plants

  • Wash and Windex outdoor tables and fire pit tiles

  • Sweep off outdoor chairs

  • Mow back yard

  • Wash outdoor vases and candleholders

  • Get out and set up outdoor umbrella

  • Inflate and fill backyard pool for dogs

  • Get out hurricane vases and fill with candles; set out on patio

  • Prepare fire pit and light bonfire to enjoy tonight


Burning up sticks we scavenged from my wooded backyard

Happy May Day!

--Carrie

Lovely Living