Thursday, June 30, 2011

End of June


Foxglove in my garden

Have you been enjoying your summer so far? Have you picnicked in a park, gone to the beach or a lake (if you have one nearby), had a barbecue, eaten at an outdoor cafe, indulged in a fudgesicle, drank an Orange Crush, gone for long walks, stargazed, napped in a hammock, gardened, swung, and run through sprinklers?

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Make menu plans for the week and create grocery list

  • Make socialization plans for the week - what are you doing for Fourth of July? Be sure to leave time for Family Night (if you do that sort of thing) and I always try to leave one evening empty for a quiet night at home.

  • Dump out your purse during a break today. Clean and sort it, throw out unneeded items and trash. See if there are two items you don't need to carry with you every day. I typically have five or six pens, and two boxes of Tic Tacs when I only need one, etc. I also have three or four lipsticks more than I need. I should put those back in my bathroom drawer where they belong.

  • Read your local newspaper (online if you don't subscribe) for a quick 5 to 10 minute catchup on what's going on around you. Or watch your city's evening newscast tonight. I recently chatted with someone who had no idea who Casey Anthony is. Not that she's all that important, but it proved how clueless and out of touch with the world my friend was - he needs to watch more newscasts I think!

LOVELY PARTIES: Summer Party Ideas


Summer Party Cups, on Amazon

I was just talking to my best friend yesterday about the long dry spell for holidays that comes after the Fourth of July. We love holidays and parties, and celebrate as often as possible. We're sad that other than Labor Day Weekend, there won't be a big holiday until Halloween.

Unless we throw a pre-Back To School celebration, we're going to have to come up with some ideas for summer parties. So I spent some time thinking about this today, and here are a few things I came up with:

  • Scavenger hunts: Either hide things in your backyard, or send your friends out chasing down clues. With gas prices so high, maybe the hide things in the backyard idea is better. I do have woods really close to my house, but don't want the neighbors to freak out with people clambering through there digging things up.

  • Sorbet tasting party: I think my guests really enjoyed this last time I did it. I bought seven or eight different sorbets (and a couple gelatos), set out crackers and a few salty snacks, then did a sorbet tasting party. I needed a lot of help to serve the sorbet fast enough to all eighteen guests before it melted. Meanwhile, everyone hung out in the backyard visiting.

  • Backyard luau. I'm not about to roast a pig, but otherwise Hawaiian themed parties are pretty easy to throw. Most party stores have lots of fun tacky, inexpensive Hawaiian decorations. The theme food is a bit trickier, especially if you have guests who don't like coconut.

  • Camping party. If you have a big backyard and warm nights, invite friends to an outdoor sleepover. Have someone bring a tent or two, and offer your coziest outdoor picnic blankets and comforters. Especially if you have a fire pit or cooking table. This party works best when your guests are not the rowdy drinking and talking loud type - so that your neighbors don't come over angrily at 3am.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Gardening and Weeding


Garden Push Cart, at Pottery Barn

I'm hosting a Fourth of July party this week, and need my backyard to be in perfect condition for the barbecue, fire pit, outdoor dining table, and picnic blankets I'll throw around the yard. I've already mown my front and back lawns, so that helps a lot.

But I have tons and tons of weeds everywhere. Flowerbeds, cracks in the sidewalk, and all over the lawn. Last night I discovered it took less than 10 minutes to completely weed one flowerbed, so I hope I can get a lot done in the hour or two I'll spend today. I'll probably weed after dinner, maybe from 7pm to 9pm, when it's a bit cooler outdoors.

Those of you with condos and apartments, enjoy a nice quiet peaceful evening doing something relaxing and fun. Think of me out there in the heat weeding and ruining my manicure!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mid-Week in June


Strawberry Ice Mold, on Amazon

The days are so nice and long right now. Let's not squander our opportunities to enjoy warm sunny evenings. Go for walks, go berry picking, sit on the porch visiting with friends, go to outdoor cafes. I've banned myself from watching my shows on Tivo until it's dark or too cold to be outside, and I won't go see a movie on a sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Movies are for nighttime right now!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Declutter mail table if needed

  • Any houseplants need watering? I have a yellow begonia in my kitchen that would appreciate my attention today.

  • Take inventory of condiments for picnic and BBQ purposes. Do you need to throw any out? Have enough mustard, relish, ketchup, mayo? Pickles? Sauerkraut, if you like that kind of thing? If you use mayo alternatives, do you have a small jar of the real stuff to offer visiting guests who might not enjoy your alternative versions?

  • Do you have summer plans for your kids in August? Any classes, sports, activities, camps you want to sign them up for?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Mid-Week Maintenance Cleaning

I'm tidying the house so I won't have so much to do on Friday evening before I go out. I'll sweep my front entry hall, mop the kitchen, vacuum both living rooms, vacuum the upstairs hall, do a load of dark laundry, declutter the coffee table, and spend some time getting the kitchen back in order.

I'll also probably make time to dust the downstairs living room. The tray we keep remote controls and drinks on gets dirty very fast. Due to our pets, I have the doors and windows open so much that my bookcase and end table get dusty very quickly.

While I work, I'll be airing out the cushions and pillows from the living room, placing them outdoors in the sun.

LOVELY BLOGS: Ommorphia Beauty Bar


I like to stop by this blog now and then to see what's new in the world of nail polish, lipstick and other cosmetics. This blogger (sorry, I can't easily find her name - no about me page?) spends an extraordinary amount of time painting and removing and repainting her nails with the colors she's showcasing. I love how she will post pictures of the nail polish on herself both in sunlight and indoors - that's so helpful! She's currently reviewing several Illamasqua shades.

http://ommorphiabeautybar.com/

LOVELY FOOD: Summer-Themed Cookies


Though I wish I did, I don't have the talent to decorate cookies so beautifully as these. So when I want to send someone a surprise cheer-up or appreciation gift, I select some from this whimsical collection. Their summer cookie themes include Under the Sea, Fish, Lighthouse, Summer Fun, Barbecue and Camping. Adorable, and tasty too!

Summer Cookies, at Beautiful Sweets.com

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunny Monday

I love being able to work outside - with just the right amount of shading over my office table, I can still see my laptop. My dogs get more exercise and we're all happier this way!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:


Citronella Tealight Candles, on Amazon

  • Take stock of your citronella candles, mosquito repellent (if applicable), and other outdoor candles. Need to add anything to your shopping list? Using and enjoying the candles you already have?

  • Go for a walk tonight.

  • Hose down patio furniture if needed (Mine has bird poop on it!)

  • When's the last time you had some fresh summer corn?

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

TODAY'S PROJECT: Bathrooms


Purple Bathroom Rug, on Amazon

I have three bathrooms, so if I clean one a week, then skip a week lazily, my bathrooms are only getting cleaned once a month. That's not enough!

So tonight I'm thoroughly cleaning all three. I expect it to take about 1.5 hours, mostly because of scrubbing bathtubs and showers. Otherwise, everything else will require only a quick wipedown because I've been so good at regular maintenance cleaning.

I'm removing rugs and towels, laundering anything that needs it, cleaning toilet paper holders, emptying and sanitizing wastebaskets, wiping down baseboards, washing walls where needed, wiping light bulbs and light switches, wiping down towel racks, scrubbing toilets inside and out, mopping floors, scrubbing showers and bathtubs, scrubbing sinks, and wiping down mirrors and counters.

I don't need to sort the inside of cabinets since I've had so many cabinet sorting projects lately.

When I'm done cleaning, it will be too hot tonight for a long bath. But I might take an extra long shower in my freshly scrubbed bathroom. I'll treat myself and use plenty of my favorite Aveda shampoo that I hoard since it's expensive.

LOVELY HOME: F. A. Seeds Company


What a great place to get home care supplies! Open since the late 1800s, the F. A. Seeds company sells useful home maintenance kits including the "Parlor Maid's Helper" and "Chef's Cutlery Kit." Or you can buy individual bottles of silver polish, wood treatment oil, silver polish, and leather care items. It makes me want to put on an old episode of Upstairs, Downstairs in the background and get to scrubbing!

http://faseeds.com/

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lovely Sunday

I am having the most delightful morning. I slept in late, played with my dogs, set up my outdoor office with magazines, catalogs, books, computers and iced tea, and read in the sun for an hour. I lazily made myself scrambled eggs and ate them slowly while I leisurely read. I love summertime!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Get your grocery shopping and errands done, if needed. I'm trying to do all my errands in one fell swoop, to save gas.

  • Nine weekends left of summer. Do you have fun plans for most of them? I was thinking about holding a garage sale, but why waste one of my nine Sundays?

  • Look over your schedule for next week. Do you have a weeknight you could host an impromptu small cocktail or dinner party? A very casual one that you can easily throw even after coming home from work? Inviting just one to three friends? Summer weekends get so busy for everyone, this is sometimes the only way to catch up with people.

  • Need to run the dishwasher?

  • Doing any laundry today? I'm doing a load of musty blankets from the linen closet, the picnic blanket I carry in my car (it got muddy), and a load of sundresses.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Under Stairs Closet; Airing Linens


Pink Waterproof Picnic Blanket, on eBay

Do you have a closet under your stairs? I do - that's where I store blankets, throws, colorful pillows I swap out seasonally, board games, and the tool chest. It's been smelling very musty lately, to the point that recently laundered blankets smell bad after spending a couple nights in there.

So today I've removed every item from that closet, and I'm airing the blankets and pillows outside in the sun. My grass is dry, so I just laid them on the grass, where they'll stay for six or seven hours. I'll flip them over halfway through so each side gets some sunshine.

If I was overly concerned about them getting grass stained, I would have put them out on top of old sheets. I'm not concerned about the bright, hot sunlight fading their colors, since the pillows are just out for a few hours. I have a few of the throws hanging on my deck railing, and I'm doing a load of the worst smelling blankets. I'll take inventory to see if I can throw anything away, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Six Months til Christmas


Christmas Gift Wrap Organizer, on Amazon

Are you an advance planner? Then maybe today you've noticed we have six months left until Christmas. I'm looking forward to it - I love the holidays!

I'll put some thought into restocking my gift closet, picking up gifts for friends and family here and there when I find them, and negotiating with family which city we'll spend the holidays in. Likely, as every year, I will have all my Christmas shopping done by December 1st.

My Christmas lights go up on December 1, so I'll be shopping for the special bright LED lights I like beginning in early November.

But I won't obsess and drive myself crazy planning and obsessing over Christmas. I just am reminding myself today that it's six months away.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Wipe down kitchen counters (if needed)

  • Do midweek laundry - a load of whites or towels perhaps?

  • It's summertime. Have you enjoyed a mojito lately? Fresh squeezed lemonade? Corona with lime? Orange Crush? A fudgesicle?

  • Spend some time thinking about your New Year's resolutions, yearly goals, etc. The year is half over. Have you accomplished what you wanted? Finished projects you started? Achieved goals? Fixed something major in the house? I've cleaned my house totally, but I still have some problem areas on the deck, a broken cupboard door, and a hallway carpet that needs to be replaced.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Party Preparation


Fourth of July Bunting, on Amazon

I'm getting ready for my cul-de-sac's 30 person Fourth of July party. I won't have to stress about the party because it's potluck and I already own enough decorations. I just need time the day before the party to clean bathrooms, vacuum carpets, and drag my outdoor furniture into the street where we'll be setting up.

Today I'll do some grocery shopping for things I can get ahead of time - soda pop, popsicles, pickles and cheeses.

Because I'm preparing for the party early, I will be all done and able to enjoy my party and friends on the Fourth!


"Inspiration for stylish entertaining." Current posts include an ice cream social; a paint-inspired dinner party; paper flowers for decorations; and tabletop styling ideas. Beautiful photographs here!

http://celebrationsathomeblog.com/

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cleaning on a Sunny Day


Pacifica's "Gypsy Spirit" Candle Trio, on Amazon

Somehow cleaning on a nice sunny day makes me happy. You'd think I'd be bitter about my wasted time indoors - I should be outside enjoying the sun, not indoors bending over my vacuum.

But with my doors and windows open to the fresh air, a candle burning, summery music playing, my freshly mopped floors drying in the sunlight that's streaming in, and my cat napping on sun dappled cushions, I am in a pretty good mood.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Burn a nice scented candle. Candles aren't just for fall and winter! I'm burning Pacifica's "Gypsy Spirit" this afternoon.

  • Do you need to make an appointment for your half-yearly carpet cleaning?

  • Fill up with gas for the weekend, and visit an ATM for pocket cash

  • Tidy up the house for the weekend. Empty trash cans, tidy kitchen, wipe down mirrors and counters in bathrooms, remove dead houseplants, freshen hand towels and kitchen towels if needed, vacuum family room, declutter dining table. Spritz with home spray for freshening.

  • Do you need to shave your legs or fix your manicure or pedicure before going out tonight?

  • Vacuum any room that needs it. How about your carpeted stairs, if any?

  • Throw something away today. I just put a big, bulky, pretty, itchy, worn-twice white sweater in the Goodwill pile. I feel bad about donating something to charity that's so itchy, but maybe the homeless person who gets this will be glad of its warmth, come winter.

  • Put on some music that you enjoy listening to in the summer.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Pantry Shelf Sorting


Munchkin Eco Friendly Snack Bags, on Amazon

I can no longer find anything on the "snack" shelf of my pantry (where I keep peanut butter, chips, nuts, unopened salsa jars, raisins, canned olives, and crackers). It's a deep, dark shelf, and I'm tired of digging things out and having sunflower seeds spill on the floor.

Time to remove every item from the shelf, wipe and dust the cupboard walls and shelf, examine items for freshness and usefulness, then put the remaining items back in an organized fashion.


Pantry Organizer, on Amazon

Truth be told, my entire pantry needs to be sorted out (not just this one shelf), but I'm trying to find a manageable project to accomplish today. I still have to work a few more hours, empty all the trashcans in the house, take the trash can and recycling bin to the curb, make dinner, clean up after dinner, and do a load of laundry. I also have three dogs and a cat eager for me to spend some time playing with them.

LOVELY SHOPPING: Five Stripes


I love this concept! Everything this store sells has stripes on it, whether colorful or just black-and-white. They carry bags, stationery, home decor, kitchen items and fun gifts.

http://www.fivestripes.com/

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sunny Day in June

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Sweep front and back porches, and front entrance, if needed

  • Set out a pitcher of sun tea if you like to drink tea

  • Look over budget for the rest of June. Can you afford to treat yourself to a little something (a houseplant, a new body wash, a scented candle, a movie, a small fancy cheese?) this week?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Dinner Outside


Working Class Studio Melamine Dinner Plates, on Amazon

In many parts of the country tonight, it will be warm enough to picnic outdoors. If you have a nice backyard, why not eat outdoors tonight?

Or email some friends today and invite them to a short notice picnic in a nearby park.

Since our dinner last night was popcorn (we went to an 8pm movie), I want to have a really nice dinner with fresh, healthy ingredients. If we eat at home, I'll do fresh corn and asparagus, watermelon, strawberries, and some sort of veggie protein. If we picnic, I'll go heavy on the salad and have fabulous sandwich ingredients on delicious fresh baked bread I'll pick up at Trader Joe's.

LOVELY BLOGS: A Scrapbook of Inspiration


Here's a beautiful blog by a creative artist. I love seeing how she arranges her crafting supplies in such a lovely manner. She's been published in Artful Blogging magazine. Reading through this blog makes me eager to get out some of my supplies and create something!

http://karenharveycox.blogspot.com/

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day Weekend

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Go for a walk if it's nice enough out.

  • Do your sheets need washing today? I'm looking forward to sleeping on fresh clean sheets tonight.

  • Look over your calendar for the rest of the month. Any birthdays coming up? Need to write any cards, send any gifts, plan any parties?

  • How are your beach towels looking? Do you have nice fluffy ones for the summer? (Even if you don't have a nearby beach, you might have an apartment pool, a backyard, a lake, or the community pool to use beach towels at). Have any old much-used beach towels that should be cut up and converted into cleaning rags? Have too many beach towels, so you need to sort and give some away? (I definitely do not need to buy any more beach towels until the year 2015 or so).

  • Are you still well stocked on Kleenex? With the allergy season upon us, and Seattle's slow start to summer, my guests and I have used up almost all my tissues.

  • Take inventory of your sunscreens. Need to throw any old or potentially rancid ones out? Do you have a range of SPFs so visiting guests have their preferred sunblock? (I use 30 but try to have some 15 for guests who tan and 50 for serious heliophobes). Do you need to pick up some kids or baby sunblock?

  • Ready for Father's Day? Phone call planned if you live far away, card or gift sent, restaurant reservations made?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Tea Cabinet and Gift Closet

Today I'm cleaning out my gift closet. It's nearly empty now that we're halfway through the year. I've raided it of almost all its guest soaps, lotions, scented candles, chocolates, and pretty books I keep around for emergencies. I was really glad I had all those supplies since a couple cousins' and friends' birthdays snuck up on me the last couple months.

I've also completely exhausted my supply of little stickers, color books, and picture books I send occasionally to my niece and nephews as "I'm thinking of you" gifts.


Working Class Studio "Flora" Gift Bag, on Amazon

I seem to have plenty of pretty gift bags, wrapping paper and ribbons, so I don't need to restock any of those. Otherwise, I now have a legitimate reason to go "gift closet shopping" at the outlet mall next week. Woohoo!

I'm also sorting out my tea cupboard yet again. I need more decaffeinated tea, something I rarely buy. (I need caffeine!) I only have two kinds of decaf tea - mint, which some people don't like, and chamomile, which also isn't necessarily anyone's favorite.


Acrylic Tea Organizer, on Amazon

I have a tea serving box that's designed to hold lots of teabags for presenting to guests, but I've let it get disorganized and nearly empty. Time to rearrange my teas, wipe down the cabinet, consolidate where I can, and take inventory. And I seriously need to not buy any more Earl Grey until I drink up two or three of the six boxes I already have!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Weekend


My cousin came over to help me tackle this garden project! We started the day with a horrible bed of nasty weeds, and finished the day with a garden of colorful dahlias, zinnias, and impatiens!

This weekend I've been sunning, gardening, reading, going to the dog park, eating outdoors, and only doing the bare minimum of housework I can get away with. I was trying to avoid sitting indoors in front of the computer as much as possible.

I know summer days are longer, but these beautiful afternoons and evenings seem to rush by so quickly. I actively try to savor every warm, sunny moment.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Do you have your gift and card picked out for the upcoming Father's Day?

  • Launder any beach towels or picnic blankets used over the weekend, if needed

  • Drag out your picnic basket and eat dinner in a park tomorrow night after work. Or eat outdoors on your own porch. Sound like fun?

  • Slice and enjoy summer fruit - berries, melons, cherries? this evening.

  • Set out a pitcher and make sun tea.


TODAY'S PROJECT: Toy Sorting


Red zinnias waiting to be planted in my yard

It's been six months since Christmas. If you put away some of your kids' gifts so they wouldn't get sick of them all at once, it may be time to rotate old toys out and new toys in.

Involve your children in the toy sorting process. Put away toys they're currently bored of, then bring out toys that seem new and fresh. See if there are any toys they will let you throw away (if in bad condition) or donate (if in good condition). Give unwanted toys to friends or charity only if they're in great condition - even Goodwill doesn't want faded, broken, wilted, boring, or sad looking toys.


Enchantmints Fairy Lodge, on Amazon

I don't have kids of my own - I'm just an aunt - but I have lots and lots of toys at my house for whenever they visit. Right now I have four toy boxes in my garage. I'd like to whittle it down to two. One for infants, and one for older kids. (I also have a toy box in my guest room for the 2 year old who visits frequently).

I need to evaluate if I have the right mix of toys for the ages of children who visit me. My friends' infants are over a year old now, so I can get rid of the tiny infant toys I'd stocked up on. I can always buy fresh new ones if any friends have more tiny babies.

I always have plenty of books to entertain children with. Those I hang onto regardless of which age child will enjoy them.

This afternoon I'll drag my two toy boxes outdoors so I can still enjoy the sunshine and breeze while I sort. I will ziplock all my Playmobil pieces into their own baggies, ziplock the tiny Hello Kitty dollhouse pieces, and dust off a couple car race track toys.

Last year I got rid of all but one stuffed animal (a Sesame Street Grover) since kids never play with those when they come over here. I keep Grover around in case a child needs something soft to hug during their naptime here.

LOVELY BLOGS: Art is In the Kitchen


This blog is full of amazing photos of delicately carved fruits and veggies, plus some intriguing recipes I want to try. I'm going to try making cupbread this week. I don't have the artistic skill to attempt the stained-glass style pancakes with fruit jelly and chocolate!

You'll enjoy looking at the watermelon in bloom and amazing carved zucchini glasses.

http://michelangelointhekitchen.blogspot.com/

LOVELY MOVIES: The


Not having read the book, I wasn't excited about this movie initially. But all my book-club type friends are raving about how excited they are to check this out. They'll risk some disappointment if the movie changes some details from the book, but with the amazing actresses in this, I bet it's worth the two hours and $10 to check it out. Sure to be more intellectual than most summer fare, it will be a welcome relief from the 3D animated kids' movies my nephews are begging me to take them to!

The Help Trailer, at Apple

The Help (IMDB)

The Help Movie (Facebook)

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Backyards For Your Lifestyle (Sunset)

Baked Potato Chips with Sour Cream and Caviar (Kate Spade)

Cold Brew Coffee: The Japanese Trend (NY Times)

Cooling Summer Cocktails (Better Homes & Gardens)

Father's Day Crafts for Kids (Martha Stewart)

5 Minute Avocado Sorbet (Luxirare)

Kiwi Raspberry Sorbet (Savor the Senses Blog)

Make Your Own Mustard (CHOW)

Moths and Mice: It's You or Them (NY Times)

Summer Reading Inspired by the Fall Collections (Vogue)

Summery Dining Room Curtains (The Inspired Room)

34 Potato Salad Recipes (Martha Stewart)

25 Easy Summer Hairstyles (In Style)

Wine Cocktails (CHOW)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Family Emergencies and Other "Fun" Surprises


Trying to think of an excuse to justify buying this Kate Spade posy vase, but I have an orange/rust kitchen, a blue living room, teal outdoor decorations, and burgundy family room. Must think harder!

Sometimes your family has an emergency and you have to drop everything to help out. In this case I'm currently helping out with three young cousins as their parents go through the beginning stages of a separation and establishing two different households.

I'm having to work, clean my own house, babysit, cook for other people, be a sympathetic ear but not take sides, and try to make time for myself.

I'm glad I have savings to draw on for unexpected expenses (snacks and activities for the kids, summer clothes for them, and time off work for me). I also have a good network of friends to call upon for support or help entertaining three lively boys.

LOVELY BLOGS: Everyday Dutch Oven


I am so impressed with the amount of high quality posts and interesting, useful recipes here. I love outdoor cooking (though I'm not a camper) and I'm looking forward to learning more interesting techniques. (Currently I just throw things in my outdoor fire pit, wrapped in aluminum foil).

Today's post features scrumptious looking lemon blueberry upside down cake; yesterday's offered cream cheese potato soup.

My very favorite part of this blog is the many step-by-step photos included in each recipe. You see what the ingredients look like as they are poured into the dutch oven. This really helps me learn how to cook the recipe properly. I'm so impressed by this blog, I'm adding it to Lovely Living's links sidebar!

http://www.everydaydutchoven.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

5 Perfectly Good Reasons Why You Might Be Single (Glamour)

New Food Plate Icon - Will It Change How You Eat? (Boston Globe)

9 Classic Black-and-White Striped Accessories (House Beautiful)

Reese's Peanut Butter Cookie Cups (Cake, Batter and Bowl)

Rhubarb & Blueberry Crisp (Honest Cooking)

Strawberry Shortcakes With Balsamic and Black Pepper Syrup (Bon Appetit)

Taste Testing Vegetarian Sausage: Which Fake is Better? (Slate)

10 Healthy Summer Veggies (Canadian Living)

21 Pretty Nail Polish Ideas to Try This Summer (Glamour)

Why Aren't Airplane Seats Designed More Thoughtfully? (Slate)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Nothing Wrong with a Little Retail Therapy


Acrylic Stacking Old Fashioned Glass, at Crate and Barrel

I was having a bad week, so took a sunny afternoon off for some mental relief and retail therapy. Maybe this wasn't the healthiest way to deal with my present difficulties, but enjoying a mid-afternoon glass of white wine at an outdoor restaurant, browsing the extremely colorful Crate and Barrel store and wandering aimlessly through Pottery Barn Kids and Anthropologie did wonders for my spirits.

I managed to leave every store empty handed, except for Crate and Barrel. I spent around $30 on eight colorful acrylic glasses I can use outside. (I bought four green and four orange). They go well with my existing summer decor (teal, orange, green and yellow) and they'll brighten up my outdoor festivities. Before I bought them I made myself think through the purchase: Do I have room to store them? Do I have room for this in my budget? Will I actually use them? My three "yes" answers secured my purchase, and I've been enjoying drinking my sun tea out of these on sunny afternoons.

Sometimes a little retail therapy is just what a girl needs - so long as you aren't bankrupting yourself, still have savings in the bank, aren't in credit card debt, aren't hoarding your house, and will actually use and enjoy your small purchase.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Tidy up for the weekend. Remove misplaced items from dining table, mail table, coffee table, stairs, and front doorway. Empty or fill dishwasher as needed; empty trash cans and take out recycling; wipe kitchen and bathroom counters; refill toilet paper; swap out fresh hand towels in bathrooms.

  • Need to clean out your purse for the weekend?

  • Fill up with gas as needed; get cash from an ATM for the weekend.

  • Rent movie or stop by a Redbox if you don't use Netflix.

  • Grab a pretty sundress or something that will make you feel lovely when you wear it tonight.

  • Finish making socialization plans for the weekend.

  • Gather any items you might need for the weekend. Tote bag? Picnic blanket? Sunscreen? Sunglasses? Summery book?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Patio, Porch and Deck Cleanup


Moroccan Mint Iced Tea, at Stash Tea

I'm going to a family member's house tonight for Family Movie Night. I know I will want to spend much of this warm, sunny weekend outside, so before I leave, I'll spend about an hour cleaning up my outdoor areas. My front porch needs to be swept, welcome mat shaken out, and a plant needs to be finished planting. I'll sweep my deck and toss out two dead plants that sit on it. In the back yard, I need to hose out the pool for the dogs, refill it, hose down the cement patio, wipe off my tables, wipe down my outdoor chairs, and tidy the pillows.

I've set out a pitcher of sun tea, and I'll refrigerate it just before I leave this evening.

LOVELY BLOGS: Miss Party Smarty


This parties-and-entertaining blog has some really creative ideas. I'm currently enjoying reading about activities such as guests bedazzling their beverage glasses, learning some inspirational phrases for graduation parties, a pearls, lace and diamonds party for a teen birthday, and a Keep Calm and Carry On English tea-themed bridal shower.

http://misspartysmarty.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Avoiding "Tunneling" from Overmixing Muffins (Baking Bites)

Bear and Watermelon Bento (Bonita's Cooking and Bento Wonderland)

Dishes for Cheese Lovers (CHOW)

Sauteed Summer Zucchini (Honest Cooking)

Summer Sunshine in a Bowl (Honest Cooking)

Summery Cookout Bento (Kat's Bento Love)

Watermelon Tequila Cocktail (Cooking Creation)

What to Cook Now: Berries (Epicurious)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

First of June


Flowers waiting to be planted in my yard

Because June is the sixth month, I always think of it as the midpoint of the year. It's actually not - today, we're only five months in since the New Year. By July 1st we'll finally have had six months.

Still, I use it as a mental halfway point for things like changing mattresses, updating batteries, reviewing my goals and progress so far, and planning the second half of my year.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Look over your calendar for the month, noting birthdays. Send gifts and cards, order flowers, and make any party plans needed.

  • Budget your time and money for the upcoming month.

  • Make doctor, dentist, salon, veterinarian and any other appointments for the month ahead or for July.

  • Need to hand wash any stockings, pantyhose, socks, lingerie or other delicate items?

  • Does your coffee pot need a good soaking in vinegar and a nice scrubbing out with hot water after?

  • Midway through the week, do you have any laundry piling up? A quick load or two tonight can take the laundry pressure off of your upcoming weekend.

  • Make plans for weekend socializing. Summertime can be really busy for people so if you don't invite them with plenty of notice, they might not be able to join you.

TODAY'S PROJECT: MidYear Reflection


Foxglove waiting to be planted in front of my living room window

Think back about the past five months. Have you:

  • Kept your New Year's resolutions?

  • Budgeted well, making inroads on debt, adding to your savings, but also allowing yourself occasional little treats and luxuries?

  • Spent quality time with friends and family?

  • Eaten well and exercised?

  • Spent time reinforcing pets' training?

  • Kept your house well maintained (not just "clean") and orderly?

  • Given to charity since Christmas? Volunteered your time?

  • Written letters, made phone calls and really spent time with friends and family, not just online?

  • Made time for yourself to enjoy your hobbies, writing, journaling, book clubs, etc?

We're not beating ourselves up over the above list, we're reflecting on areas we've done well on and can be proud about. And we'll find things we want to do better on for the second half of the year.

Besides reflecting on the past several months, I'm thinking forward to the next six. How am I going to spend the second half of my year? Where will I travel, what goals will I strive for, and what am I working towards?


Cherry Cotton Kitchen Towels, on Amazon

Inside my house, I am performing some mid-year maintenance tasks as well. It's time to hire a gardener for my initial summer cleanup - this is something I've been budgeting for and saving for. My carpets get cleaned every three months, thanks to having three dogs and a cat.

I rotated and flipped my bedroom mattress and changed batteries in my smoke detector during the spring time change. But other tasks one should do every six months might include:

  • Rotating the guest room mattress

  • Cleaning heater vents and replacing furnace filters

  • Servicing major appliances - cleaning filters and vents on microwave, fridge, oven, etc.

  • Getting your car serviced

  • Throwing out kitchen sponges and scrubbers, starting anew

  • Tossing your 5 worst rags into the cloth recycle in; making your 5 worst kitchen towels into new clean rags; and buying 5 cheerful, colorful inexpensive new kitchen towels.

  • Cleaning dryer vent and hose, even if it means calling a professional.

  • Replace old shelf liners and drawer liners if the papers are getting sticky and icky looking.

  • Does your house need to be painted this year, whether inside or out?

  • Remove storm windows, if any, and get out screens for summertime.

LOVELY BLOGS: Camille Styles


This attractive blog is run by Camille Styles and her team of event planners. Besides intriguing party inspiration type posts, she blogs about her life, food, and travels. Recent posts you might enjoy include Recipe for a Country Picnic, Spring Vegetable Frittata, and Recipe for a Palm Springs Fete. I sure feel like throwing a summer party after browsing through the beautiful photos here.

http://camillestyles.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: The Book of Awesome


This is a great "bathroom book" or the perfect book to keep in your car for those times you're waiting to pick up kids. "The Book of Awesome" really reminds you of all the simple pleasures of life, things we take for granted.

The usual stereotypical things are here, such as "The smell of cut grass," "dangling your feet in the water," "the smell of gasoline" and "finding money in your old coat pocket." But I love finding things I celebrate in common with the author: "Watching your odometer click over a major milestone;" "Squeezing through a door as it's shutting without touching it;" "The first scoop out of a jar of peanut butter;" and "When the guy at the border doesn't ask any questions."

Leafing through this book reminds me why I'm glad to be alive. I suggest getting a copy of this book from the library, enjoying it and sharing a few pages with friends next time you see them.

The Book of Awesome (Amazon affiliate link)

LOVELY HOME: Jonathan Adler Candles


I'm intrigued by several scents in Jonathan Adler's collection. "Tomato Pop" would be great for a summer kitchen; I can't resist tea-scented candles such as "Earl Grey Pop," and "Watercress Pop" would freshen up my guest bathroom for summertime. There are also candles named for cities - Palm Beach is scented with citrus, white rose petals and lychee; Capri with citrus, moss, musk and wood; Acapulco with pineapple, orange, red currant, blackcurrant, and apple.

Jonathan Adler Candles

LOVELY STATIONERY: Kate Spade


As you know, I am addicted to stationery. So I let out a girlie scream today when I just accidentally happened to open the Kate Spade website. (Ok, I was checking to see what color their ring of the month is for June!)

Kate Spade has added several new products to their paper collection, including safari pocket journals, letterpress cards with spades on them, colorful thank-you notes, and expensive purse organizers.

I miss browsing Kate Spade products at the now-closed Crane Stationers at Pacific Place. I probably have a lot more spending money than I would have if they were still open though!

Stationery at Kate Spade

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Cantaloupe Carpaccio with Aniseed and Lime (SnailsView)

Cantaloupe Sorbet (Dishes From My Kitchen)

Does Reading Great Books Make You a Better Person? A Jane Austen Education (Salon)

Easy Crusty White Bread (BBC Food)

Honeydew Melon Bellini Recipe (Laylita's Recipes)

Mango Berry Sorbet (Blended Bliss)

Most Excellent Macaroni and Cheese to Feed a Crowd (Worth the Whisk)

Plum Lovin': What to Make With This Seasonal Fruit (Food Network)

Summer Health & Safety Tips (Pediatrics/About.com)

Tiny Figures Scale Fantastic Foodscapes (Today Show)

Top 10 Summer Reading Lists for Kids (Children's Books/About.com)

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake With Instant Fudge Frosting (Sweetapolita)