Sunday, November 04, 2012

November Begins and Here Comes the Festive Season

Beaded Pumpkins and Gourds, at Z Gallerie

This month I'm working hard to get my house ready for the festive season ahead. There will be dinner parties, birthday parties, Family Dinners, movie nights, a cocktail party or two (I hope) and of course, Thanksgiving.

I'll need my kitchen in top working order (and I'll need to keep it well organized as the month progresses). I want to entertain guests in clean, orderly, welcoming and cozy living and dining rooms. And should we have overnight guests, I want them to be comfortable in a luxurious, well-appointed, uncluttered and warm guest room.

I'll make a major push to clean and organize the house (emphasizing on the kitchen) this month. That will leave my December freer for Christmas shopping, holiday parties, and festive activities. (I'll still have to clean and organize in December, but mostly it will be about maintaining the lovely home I created in November).


  • Did you set your clocks back an hour last night, for Daylight Saving Time?

  • Did you finish paying bills, rent, and mortgage on the first?

  • Look over the month ahead. Think about your financial budget, and your time budget as well. See what upcoming birthdays are in the month, as well as doctor, dentist, vet or salon appointments. Anybody in your family need a trim on their haircut?

  • Fridge and freezer maintenance - Clean one drawer, one shelf, or two door trays in your fridge and freezer. Doing this every week means your entire fridge and freezer get cleaned out once per month.

  • It's recommended we change our flashlight and smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector batteries now, during the fall time change. I also like to flip, vacuum and rotate my mattresses so they for sure get that done twice per year.

  • Look over your calendar for upcoming birthdays during November. Mail cards, send gifts, or order flowers for anybody on your birthday list for this week.

  • Are you attending any plays, musicals, concerts or symphonies this winter? Buy tickets now if you haven't yet.

  • Do you need to rake leaves in your yard/s today (or better yet, inspire a family member to do it for you?)

  • Do you have your Thanksgiving hosting or travel plans set and confirmed?

  • Make menu plan and create your grocery list for the week. Shop as needed.

Monday's Project: Living Room

Eddie Accent Chair, at Z-Gallerie

On Monday night, I plan to do a thorough cleaning on my upstairs living room. The most light-filled room of the house, this room is our favorite. I use this room in the mornings sometime to sort mail, pay bills, and read a magazine while drinking tea and trying to wake up. In the afternoons I watch a recorded cooking show or comedy from the night before while I'm taking a break from my work or eating a late lunch. In the evenings, we might catch up on the news and eat dinner in this room rather than at the dining table. (We probably should eat at the dining table though). My fireplace is currently broken, so I suspect we'll use this room less until I get it fixed.

Besides the dining room, this is the main room I entertain in. When guests are over, I spread appetizers and drinks on the coffee table, play music on the living room stereo, light candles on the mantel, and light a fire in the fireplace (when the glass doors aren't broken!) Guests are welcomed into this room while they wait for dinner to be served. They do tend to hover in the kitchen, but there's always the hope that appetizers will lure them into relaxing in this room.

Because I do entertain so often, I need this room to always be ready to go at a moment's notice, looking cozy, neat and clean. (I will admit that I often rush upstairs right before a cocktail party to hide the cluttery pile of mail and magazines I was working on earlier that day on my coffee table).

I plan to:

  • Wash the living room windows and remove the tape from my previous Halloween lights

  • Watch the news or listen to music while I work, to make my task more pleasant

  • Dust the fireplace mantel, bookshelves, baseboards and three windowsills.

  • I'll move the couch, coffee table, mail table and end tables and vacuum under them. The two leather couches, dusty from the front door being opened often, need to be wiped down. The curtains were laundered during Spring Cleaning, so I will just Febreze them and leave them alone. The lamp should be dusted, and dead tea light candles removed from their votives.

  • For a finishing touch, I'll put a bowl of Satsuma oranges on the coffee table. I'll fluff the decorative pillows, refold the throws we keep on the couches, and be ready to settle in late tonight with hot cocoa and the current book I'm reading.


Marimekko Lumimarja Tablecloth, at Crate and Barrel

Let's get our dining rooms ready for the upcoming holiday entertaining season! Whether or not you are throwing Thanksgiving at your own home, you'll want a clean, organized, enjoyable dining room to eat dinner in over the holiday months. You might throw impromptu cocktail parties, or have friends over for a soup-and-salad meal. Maybe you'll do late-night or rainy-day crafts, spread out on your table.

I don't imagine this will take very long, since I keep my dining room clutter-free and dust regularly. I'll start by removing any cobwebs from the ceiling and corners, then using the same broom to sweep the floor. Next I'll wash my two dining room windows and the glass door that leads to the kitchen. I'll hang freshly cleaned autumn velvet curtains at the windows. (The summery embroidered curtains I'm taking down will get laundered and folded away in my linen closet).

Next I'll vacuum, then sponge off my beige upholstered chairs. This takes just about 1 minute per chair. I'll dust the table, windowsills, and baseboards. I'm going to dust the wood slats on each chair, then dust the outside of the curio cabinet that sits in my dining room. I cleaned out the curio cabinet last week, so it's looking nice.

Terra Candles in Cinnamon/Orange, at Z Gallerie

Don't forget your light fixture or chandelier - mine gets dusty really quickly. It needs some light bulbs replaced. Climbing on a chair and dusting this is the most time consuming part of this project tonight, I think.

The last part of my project is thoroughly mopping the hardwood floors, using an almond-scented wood floor cleaner. When I'm done, I'll put a clean dark brown and teal harvest-themed tablecloth on the table. For table decor, I'll set out a long wooden candle holder that has eight holders for tea lights. I'll set a vase of dahlias on the table (my neighbor's garden is still blooming, and she generously gives me flowers often).

Cranberry Joy Room Spray, at The Body Shop

I'll finish my project tonight by spraying a cranberry scented room spray around the room. I won't overdo it - we have to eat food in here - but it will start the evening off with a lovely fragrance.


The lush purple throw I've been coveting at Z Gallerie

I will have cleaned my upstairs living room last night. So tonight after dinner I'll work on the downstairs Family Room. (If you have only one living room/family room, you have the night off! Lucky you!)

This is currently the dustiest, dirtiest, muddiest room in the house. That's because it's the room the dogs spend most of their time in when they're not outside. As you can imagine, several times every day they come running in from the rain with muddy paws. The door is open often, so dust just wafts in and coats everything.

  • I'll begin by sweeping the room and shaking out the door rug.

  • Next, I need to move all the furniture and vacuum under it. I can't move my television (and the heavy table it stands on) by myself, so I'll try to do my best vacuuming under them with the vacuum attachments.

  • The TV and the TV stand need to be dusted.

  • I'll pop my fluffy throws into the laundry and Febreze my curtains

  • I need to dust my end tables and bookcases dusted, and I'll dust the few picture frames and knicknacks I have on my end table and mantel.

  • Let's not forget to dust the baseboards, too!

  • My upholstered couches have slipcovers that are washable, so those will go into the laundry tonight too.

  • My fireplace mantel is cluttered with empty candle holders and used matches from the candles we burned on Halloween. I'll reset the mantel with two fall-scented candles and wipe down the bricks.

  • I use a red melamine tray in place of a coffee table. It needs to be wiped down and have drinking glasses removed from it. I need to declutter some magazines and set out a fresh box of Kleenex.

  • I'll wash windows in here, even though it will be dark outside. I think I can get them fairly clean any way.

  • I'll finish by turning on the gas fireplace, lighting scented candles, and enjoying some television and magazines while I wait for the laundry cycles to finish.

THURSDAY'S PROJECT: De-Cluttering and Prioritizing

I was really tempted by this cute Santa salt and pepper set, but I decided it wasn't a priority. Especially since I already own nice plain functional salt and pepper shakers.

Today I'm cleaning off all sorts of surfaces in my house. Dressers, counters, night stands, coffee tables, the mail table, TV stands, bookcases, wall shelves, end tables, mantels, and the tops of bookcases and curio cabinets.

I'll also take a minute to wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters, which seem to need this service on an almost daily basis. I'll declutter the bathroom counters, but I'll save kitchen decluttering for my kitchen project this weekend.

I am doing this project today to de-clutter before I haul out Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and clutter everything up again. I don't like having a lot of "knick-knacky" stuff around. Just a few beautiful or useful things in each room. "A place for everything, and everything in its place."

However, I also don't want to have an austere, sterile home either, where people are afraid to sit down or touch anything. That's why each room has a few (just a few) decorative objects: vases, colorful candle holders, scarves, or decorative pillows.

The less you have out, the fewer items you have to dust or dust around and worry about breaking. I tend to rotate out some of my favorite decorative objects seasonally. When not in use, they're carefully stored in the garage cupboard in a Sterilite storage bin. That way I have time to enjoy looking at all my possessions, rather than having so many items cluttering up an end table that I can't really see or appreciate each one.

Then, every time I sort, I reevaluate if an object is worth keeping til next year. Any items I haven't set out to display for a year or two should be given away, sold, recycled or thrown out.

I decided to prioritize beautiful decor, and tossed out an ugly boring black frame, replacing it with this Pier 1 mosaic frame instead.

Tonight after work, I'll make time to declutter, sort, put things away, dust thoroughly, and edit which items I have sitting on top of bookcases and surfaces. I'd like to just have a scarf (or other fabric decoration) on top of a bookcase. On end tables, I like to have just one coaster for a beverage, a colorful placemat, a vase of fresh flowers if possible, a candle and a framed family photo or two. And I am careful to have a box of Kleenex in every room of the house.

This project will make my house cleaner (less dusty), more organized, less cluttery, and more relaxing to spend time in.

LOVELY BLOGS: Baking Serendipity

Sarah blogs from Cleveland, Ohio about her baking efforts. She comes from a long line of women who shared recipes on scraps of paper and spent time laughing together in their kitchens. Check out her recent recipes for Almond Butter and Pumpkin Iced Coffee; Apple Cider Pancakes; Apple Pomegranate Scones and Seven Pancakes Meant for Fall. I love the seasonal emphasis on the recipes she chooses to present!

LOVELY ENTERTAINMENT: Pinkalicious the Musical

I've so enjoyed the Pinkalicious series of books, though I have to read them by myself - my boys don't enjoy them. I'm hoping to be able to take a niece to see "Pinkalicious: The Musical" someday if it ever tours Seattle. It just looks so fun, innocent, playful and pretty.

LOVELY FASHION: Anna Karenina-Inspired Clothing at Banana Republic

Banana Republic is introducing its collection inspired by the movie Anna Karenina, due out on November 16, 2012. The lovely clothing here features black, faux fur, sparkle, and things such as wool capes and beaded clutches. So glamorous!

Anna Karenina Clothing, at Banana Republic

LOVELY KIDS: Fairytale Clothing at The Gap

I excitedly clicked on this Gap Kids clothing line, hoping to see fairies and winged pixies embroidered or printed on the clothes here. No such luck. But I found this line very charming after all. There are teapots, plush faux fur, a plush bunny wristlet, ruffly skirts and shirts, glittered shoes, and this adorable pink band jacket with shiny buttons. Wish I had a little girl to dress in these! (I have a tomboy teenager and three boys instead!)

Fairytale at Gap Kids


This famed Spanish home decor shop finally opened a webstore in the United States. There was sure a lot of buzz in the homemaking blogosphere about this opening! I think you'll really enjoy browsing their Thanksgiving and Christmas lookbooks; browsing their lovely bedding and bedroom accessories, and admiring their beautiful, affordable tableware and table linens.


CHOW's Classic Thanksgiving Menu (CHOW)

Easy Acorn Treats (Our Best Bites)

Garage Sale Home Economics: 10 Lessons You May Not Read Elsewhere (Worth the Whisk)

The Greenest Salad (101 Cookbooks)

Onion and Ricotta Frittata (Joy the Baker)

Pumpkin Beer Bread (Bake at 350)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding (One Perfect Bite)

What to Cook Now: Root Vegetables (Epicurious)


Jenni Key said...

Carrie, I'm so glad you're continuing to blog. This comes to an email I don't check daily but when I do I "catch up" on all your great ideas--I "lost" you for a few years but have re-found your Lovely Living blog. It's one of my favorites--practical, realistic, warm and like a good friend. Thank you.

Carrie said...

Thanks Jenni, Sometimes I feel like I come across as bossy though! And I want to blog more honestly about mistakes I make and times my own house is really really messy. (Like today!)

Jen Milstead said...

I love the new format, I hope it works better for you! I love the idea of honest blogging; House*Tweaking recently started it as well and I'm loving it! And you are never bossy, my dear! I love your blog 'voice'! Looking forward to Friday!

Lori said...

I like your plans to get your home in order for the holiday season! I feel like I am forever in a state of chaos and clutter, but you do make it seem manageable, if I would just stay on top of it. :-) I like the idea to rotate in and out decorative things, that is an excellent plan!!