Friday, May 25, 2012

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 filling up today.

  • Visit the grocery store tonight after work if you feel up to it. Stores can get really busy on pre-Memorial Day Fridays!

  • Tidy your house for the weekend. Refresh toilet paper, empty trash cans, wipe sinks and mirrors, vacuum the living room, tidy kitchen, de-clutter stairs and dining table.

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

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

  • Finalize weekend socialization plans with your friends and family.

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

  • Hang up and fly your American Flag.

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 pet sitting, purchase a hostess gift, and find your camping gear. If you're entertaining, you'll need to cook, shop, clean, plan, and devise entertainments.

Besides spending time with friends and family, I'm hoping to fit in some time to read magazines, snuggle in bed with my cat and a book, catch up on some entertaining 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, our beautiful homes. We can continue keeping up with messes as they happen, but not spend our long weekend cleaning and organizing!

LOVELY BLOGS: House of Earnest


This blog specializes in home decor, hand made items, and style for parties. Recent posts include Bold Beauty; a cute shipping tag Save-The-Date card; and Your Perfect Pantry.

http://www.houseofearnest.com/

LOVELY FRAGRANCE: Icelandic Moonflower Candle


Red Flower's Icelandic Moonflower Candle is scented with apple blossom, boronia (an Australian evergreen shrub) and moonflower. Fresh and light for spring. I like to burn it on my bathroom counter to freshen my bedroom in the evening. Also available on Amazon.

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

5 Recipes to Make This Memorial Day (Sweet Tooth Sweet Life)

Rhubarb Finds its Tender Side (NY Times)

Sprout Salad (101 Cookbooks)

20 Somethings Go Home to Regroup (Seattle Times Pacific NW Magazine)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Anticipating a Long Weekend


Still enjoying my fuchsia Gerbera Daisies

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, sunscreen, 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. It's great to get your airfare sooner rather than later, and get your campground (if any) reserved early.

  • Pay bills now so they're done by the 1st of the month. That way you don't have to scramble when you get home from your Memorial Day vacation.

  • 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


Darien Stripe Shower Curtain, at Pottery Barn

Today, in between my work, caring for pets, cooking dinner and taking my teenager to the dentist, 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 very 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 one has all the cleaning supplies out and ready, she might as well keep going if she has 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 a sink, wipe the counter and mirror, empty the trash, and wipe down the walls.

I'll also swap out the four towels, two hand towels and bathroom rug for clean ones, and start the laundry washing before I prepare and eat dinner. Later 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 BATH & BODY: Aveeno's New Blackberry Vanilla Body Wash


My current body wash (I keep just one in the shower at a time, to keep it from getting cluttered up) is this new one from Aveeno. I wasn't so sure about the vanilla component of the scent - it's pleasant, but far from my favorite. However, this made my dry skin feel so soft and hydrated, it's worth ignoring the vanilla scent and focusing on the blackberry!

Aveeno's "Blackberry Vanilla" Body Wash, on Amazon

Aveeno.com

LOVELY BLOGS: Taste of Beirut


The first "ethnic" cookbook I ever owned was a Lebanese cookbook. I was fascinated by it, and I've actually made quite a few recipes from it over the years. (Contrast that to my hoarded cookbook collection - I browse through the lovely photos, but hardly ever make any of the recipes). I found Lebanese cooking to be quite adaptable to my lifelong vegetarian diet - many cookbooks are almost useless to me due to the sheer quantity of meat recipes.

I'm delighted to find this Lebanese cooking blog, which offers recipes such as lentil and bulgur pilaf, tumbleweed stew (wow next time I go visit relatives in Eastern Washington I will stock up on tumbleweeds!); and what to do with fresh chickpeas. Yum!

http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

The Best Dress Shape for Your Body This Summer (Good Housekeeping)

The 5 Best Pints of Storebought Ice Cream (Bon Appetit)

Pickled Spring Onions and Asparagus (San Jose Mercury News)

Potato Salad Recipes (Martha Stewart)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Little Bit of Gardening


White Rhododendron

On Friday I played hookey and visited the Rhododendron Species Foundation garden with friends. An enjoyable tour, it reminded me that I am an absolutely atrocious gardener. Rather than being inspired to do better, I was shamed into at the very least weeding my poor beds and attempting to learn how to fertilize the four rhodies in my yard.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Make any Memorial Day preparations, as needed. 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 blog, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, or website?

  • Consider writing a quick cheery note to a relative you haven't written to for some time. Maybe snap a quick photo 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


Picotee Blue Morning Glory Seeds, on Amazon

Today my cousin will come over for dinner and a quick gardening lesson in my yard. An amazing gardener, she will whip me into shape and guide me at doing a better job of planning, planting, maintaining and weeding.

It's raining today, but that can't stop a Seattleite from doing a project. We'll wear rain slickers (raincoats are too bulky) and hunch under umbrellas, then venture back into the house for a dinner of hot soup.

After she leaves, I still have a lot of gardening projects to do. I think they can wait for a sunnier dryer day though. My back yard needs to be mowed, and a vine is trying to take over my garden gate.

If you live in an apartment or condo where 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 you own, seeing if they need water, repositioning or snipping.

LOVELY DARE OF THE DAY: Seed Packets


Do you have seed packets, bagged bulbs, or even live plants waiting to be planted in your garden? Here's where I confess to having around eighty (and I am not exaggerating) packets of seeds I've purchased over the last couple of years. Maybe even three or four years. I'm not sure if the seeds are even "good" anymore - would they still sprout if I plant them? It's a bit late in the season, already, for planting a flower garden that I hope to have survive and bloom into our frost-filled October.

But today I dare myself (and you, if applicable) to actually get those poor seeds into the ground. Or immediately give them away to a gardener friend who will actually use them soon. And I dare myself to not buy any more this year, or even next, until I prove to myself I can actually plant, care for and raise these plants.

LOVELY BLOGS: Between the Pages


Here's a really fun blog that showcases beautiful baked creations they find all over the web. They're currently showcasing a Wizard of Oz cake; Angry Birds cake and cupcakes; and some of the coolest Star Wars cookies I've yet seen.

Between the Pages

LOVELY TV: Million Dollar Rooms


While I don't actually want to live in a million dollar home (even if I won the lottery, I swear!) I really am enjoying this show lately. It's featured a fabulous indoor/outdoor two story living room; the most incredible indoor pool I've ever seen; an incredible black giant gourmet kitchen installed in a 1920s style mansion; and the homeowners featured never really seem too arrogant, just excited to show their design choices.

As long as watching this show doesn't make me discontented with my own modest home furnishings, I'll let myself watch and enjoy it.

Million Dollar Rooms, on HGTV

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

5 Common Sunscreen Mistakes (Skin Cancer Prevention/About.com)

Green Rice with Smoked Paprika (101 Cookbooks)

Meet My Knives, and Discover a Home Economist's Dirty Little Secret (Worth the Whisk)

Prepping Your Outdoor Spaces (Martha Stewart)

Sunshine Sweet: Citrus Curd in Desserts (Sweetapolita)

Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice (Smitten Kitchen)

Why Not Stop Competing With Others? (The Simply Luxurious Life)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rainy Springtime Tuesday


A vase of flowers I brought into my light filled upstairs living room

After a week of extremely warm, sunshiny days, it's almost nice to have a rainy morning. I've lit the fireplace and made hot tea to keep me cozy while I do my computer work today.

Do you live in an area experiencing nice warm sunny weather right now? 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:

  • Look over your calendar for the next week or more, all the way through the end of the month. 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?

  • Need to shake out any throw rugs or doormats at the entryways to your home? In my house, with two dogs, two cats and multiple children, this is a daily task.

  • Any light bulbs that have burned out? Changing them takes just a couple of moments. Need to stock up on bulbs? Add bulbs in the correct sizes to your shopping list.

  • Is your home stocked with clean clothes, clean towels, and clean sheets on the beds? If not, time to do laundry tonight!

LOVELY DARE OF THE DAY IN MAY: Kitchen Gadgets


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 I or someone in my home used this particular gadget?" If it's honestly been used in the last week or two, great, put it away. If you can't remember using it, now's the time to make a plan to use it in the next day or two, or else immediately put it into your donation bin. Then it will be ready to give away to charity at your next dropoff. (Promise yourself not to reneg and pull it out of the donation bin to put back in your kitchen).
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Strawberry Huller and Knife, from Sur la Table

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


Cameron Bookcase, from Pottery Barn Kids

Here's a perfect quick weeknight project: Sort out a drawer, a cupboard, a bookshelf full of cubbies, or a whole chest if you have time. This is something easy to do after dinner and when the kids are in bed. 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? Am I keeping it because it is a symbol of an unrealistic fantasy? (Ie, my cupcake decorating supplies, which rarely get used)

  • Am I only keeping this because I feel guilty for spending money on it, or worried it will go to waste if I get rid of it?

Get rid of (throw away, give away, donate, recycle) anything you possibly can. Keep things that are lovely or you that you will truly 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, fewer things to dust or maintain, 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!

LOVELY BLOGS: Retro Renovation


Exploring this home design blog is super fun. The blog's focus is on decorating your mid-century ranch house, your Cape Cod home, colonial home or modern home in vintage style. There are so many helpful articles here, including how to strip paint from your kitchen cabinets to return them to their original 1950s wood; creating a romantic retro bedroom focus wall; a link to her new blog about loving knotty pine; and tons of posts on sourcing furnishings, paints, and supplies.

If you're interested in the topic, expect to spend quite a bit of time enjoying this blog!

http://retrorenovation.com/

LOVELY SHOPS: Cocktail Vibe


As someone who frequently throws parties (especially cocktail parties), I'm really digging this specialty niche store. It sells everything you need for hip, chic cocktail entertaining. The Urban Rescue Kit, shown above, would make a great Father's Day gift, depending on your dad's personality.

Cocktail Vibe sells ice buckets, all shapes and sizes and purposes in cocktail glassware, shakers and bar gear. They also sell some tablewares and decorative accessories to help your party have the right atmosphere.

http://www.cocktailvibe.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Cheddar Onion Quick Bread (Baking Bites)

Spring Goat Cheese Risotto (Cake, Batter and Bowl

10 Spicy Snacks (CHOW)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Enjoying Spring


Flowers I brought home to make my house lovely

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

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 raining too much. So instead, I'll work in the garage today.

I run an eBay business from my home, so my garage is half 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 should have done that months ago.


Stacking Storage Bins, from The Container Store

I've managed to donate six more books, take a box of VHS movies to the Goodwill truck, and listed a stack of collectible entertainment magazines on eBay. (If they don't sell in 2 months I'll recycle them, but I do expect them to sell). I managed to sort and compile three boxes of Legos into one storage box.

I've also wiped down the shelves and straightened the beverages I keep in my outdoor refrigerator.

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

LOVELY DARE OF THE DAY: Underwear


Recently while sorting my closet for Spring, I went through my underwear bin. I decided to count, and was aghast that I own over 50 pairs of panties. Even with a power outage we had for 7 days that prevented me doing laundry, I didn't need more than ten pairs to get through that time. So I went through my underwear drawer and threw out anything that doesn't fit me (a shameful amount of them are now too small for me), is too difficult to wash or is hand wash only (Ie, the sexy ones), or had any loose frayed elastic, rips or stains. Life is too short to wear stained underwear. I got rid of two thirds of my panties, and the rest are folded neatly in their storage bin. I have more than enough in every color, and I will have plenty of clean pairs to wear if I take a break from doing laundry for a week (though that's not likely!) I won't even let myself go shopping for another couple brand new pairs until fall when these current ones have had time to wear out.

Today I dare you to find and throw away at least FOUR pairs of stained, ripped or ill fitting panties. I bet you have more than enough to get through your next week or two without them.

LOVELY BLOGS: Love and Lemons


Here's a lovely seasonal food blog full of fresh, healthy food inspiration. Recent recipes I want to try include peanut soba noodles with edamame and kale (though I really have a hard time enjoying eating kale); brown rice pasta bake with Swiss chard; and lemon walnut quinoa chickpea salad. The food photography here makes my mouth water and I long to dash into the kitchen and whip up one of these healthy meals. That will have to wait for tomorrow as I just enjoyed a large salad for dinner!

http://www.loveandlemons.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Kabobs with Sweet & Sour Apricot Sauce (Pink Parsley)

Mango Avocado Salad (Worth the Whisk)

Save Time on Homekeeping Tasks (Martha Stewart)

Strawberry Margaritas Done Right (CHOW)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fabulous and Fun Friday


White peonies with just a tinge of pink in the center, adorn my dining room

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'll eat dinner in my backyard with its freshly-mowed lawn, play with my 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 bad tasting? 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 I 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

I used to have to mow my own lawn, which isn't the worst thing that can happen to someone. But now I have an eager money-hungry teenager living here who does that for me. I do have to help her start our finicky mower, and supervise a bit to be sure all the parts of the yard get mowed that I want.

With my lawn freshly mowed, I'm ready to host an impromptu yard party should the mood strike me this weekend!

LOVELY BLOGS: Sweet Tooth Sweet Life


This blog focuses on healthy eating, but admits that sometimes you need a little dessert too! There's more than just recipes to this blog too - she posts updates about her life, pets, parties she's gone to, and what's going on in her family's life.

http://www.sweettoothsweetlife.com/

LOVELY FRAGRANCE: Violet Black Currant


My current living room candle is Violet Black Currant from Anthousa. It's a lovely Spring fragrance and not too overwhelming. Also available on Amazon.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Dare for the Day in May: Nail Polish


OPI "Vintage Minnie Mouse Collection" for Summer 2012, at Beautezine

LOVELY DARE OF THE DAY: Nail Polishes



I bet I am not the only one here who owns far too many nail polishes - yet wears the same 1 or 2 colors 95% of the time.

Today I dare you to sort through your nail polishes, coming up with one you know you'll enjoy but wear rarely, and two (or more) you can bear to throw away, right now.

(Now every time I mention throwing something away on Lovely Living, there's always a person or two who gasps in abject horror, "NO! donate it! Recycle it!". You might have a teenager who would actually use the colors you're getting rid of. But otherwise, we don't donate yucky used things to charities, only nice things. Chances are if you didn't enjoy your nail polish color and use it, nobody else would either. It's not worth the time and chemicals to get your nail polish out of the eensy glass bottle to recycle the bottle, and I bet your recycling company wouldn't accept the bottle anyway. Chuck it into the landfill and do your part next time to keep trash out of the landfill, by not buying new nail polish unless you're absolutely out the ones you already have.)

I dare you to put on a color you haven't worn in a long time today, either on your toes or fingernails; and I dare you (and myself) to get rid of a minimum of two colors you know you won't actually be using. (Mine are a weird metallic light silvery blue I thought would look nice in summer, but is too light; and a bright orange I got for summer that doesn't look good on me after all).

Let's use and enjoy our things we own, and de-clutter the things that aren't actually making our lives lovelier. I dare you.

LOVELY BLOGS: Almanac of Eats


Every day this year, blogger Steph Deschenes is attempting to eat whatever is the "National Day of..." food for that day. So on Sunday, she ate Crepe Suzettes, and yesterday she made a vegan version of roast leg of lamb. I like her quirky attitude and her enthusiasm. Wish her blog had a weekly index so it was easier to browse recent posts.

http://www.almanacofeats.com/

LOVELY TV: Hotel Impossible


I just discovered this new Travel Channel show, which premiered back in April. Struggling hotels hire Anthony Melchiorri to come fix their problems. So far he's assisted hotels in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, South Beach, the Hamptons, and given advice to a struggling resort & spa in Livermore, California.

I don't get to travel and stay in hotels much anymore (too many kids now!) so I like vicarious visuals of hotels. As a business person, I'm intrigued by the steps recommended in solving the hotels' problems. I love seeing the hotels' decor, but also learning more about the behind-the-scenes work - maintenance, laundry, reception, etc. Check out this clip on hotel front desk etiquette.

Hotel Impossible, at the Travel Channel

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

The Crazy Rules for Preparing a Mint Julep, and Which Ones You Can Ignore (Slate)

Owl Cake How-To (Martha Stewart)

Rhubarb and Rosewater Syrup (101 Cookbooks)

Strawberry Tart with Citrus Pastry Cream (CHOW)

Waffles with Strawberry Basil Sauce (Made from Scratch)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Dare of the Day in May: CDs


If you're one of my younger readers, you might listen to music only on your iPhone, computer, or MP3 player. Maybe you don't own any CDs at all. For those of us (cough) slightly older ladies, there might be a significant stash of CDs in your house and possibly in your car.


Today I dare you (and myself) to sort through your CDs. Find one CD you know you enjoy listening to but haven't heard in a long time (months). Immediately put it on your home stereo and enjoy it. If you really like it, keep it out where you can find it easily, or put it in your car for more listening over the next week. Let's enjoy our possessions and use them.

Next, I dare you to find a CD you know you don't enjoy all that much, and you actually aren't going to listen to it any time soon. I dare you to give the CD away (but don't make it someone else's problem), or throw it away if it's scratched. Sell it on eBay if you can get more than a couple bucks for it (not worth your time/energy and dealing with cheap CD buyers for less than that). I dare you!


Today I'm listening to The Cranberries "Everybody Else is Doing It" album, enjoying it so much I'm a little miffed at myself for putting it away in a box in the garage for so many years.

And I'm getting rid of "The Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack" CD - no idea why I owned that to begin with!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A Dare a Day in May

This month I'm daring myself to do something every single day to de-clutter my house and my life. I'll dare you too! Let's see if we can push ourselves to do some difficult but necessary small de-cluttering tasks.

DARE OF THE DAY: Rags


I dare you to go to your rag pile (where you keep cleaning cloths, old cut up towels, soft diapers or other textiles you use to clean with) and select your two worst rags to get rid of. Recycle them if fabric recycling is available to you, or just toss them.

I bet you, like me, have stockpiled way more rags than you actually need and use on a weekly basis. We often think we'll have some future emergency where we need tons of clean rags. Sure, we'll need a few. Maybe even several (I'm thinking of my three nephews and multiple pets right now).

Let's start this project off with a baby step. I dare you to live a lovelier life by throwing away two rags without hesitation right now.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Prepare something from spring's fresh veggies for this week's meals. Think asparagus, snap peas, rhubarb, new potatoes, artichokes, and strawberries. Yum!

  • Are any farmers' markets open where you live yet? Now that it's May, a few near me will open soon. I can't wait to shop for my produce at a farmers' market again!

  • If you're throwing a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend, have you done your party planning, invitations, grocery shopping and house cleaning?

  • Need to do any mid-week laundry or vacuuming to keep your house well maintained? Does the kitchen need a quick once-over so you aren't spending Friday or your weekend catching up on cleaning?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Letter Writing

I have several thank-you notes to write (a few for my birthday trip to Vegas, a few for my trip with my nephews to Palm Springs, and several for my birthday gifts).

Also, I've missed a couple birthdays in the last week, and have a few more coming up. I'll use my quiet time tonight to write cards, wrap gifts, package, stamp and mail these all to my friends and relatives. I think I'll do this without the TV on - maybe I'll put on some relaxing music and really be present in the moment while writing my cards.

LOVELY BLOGS: Hampton Hostess


This blogger sadly doesn't have her "About me" page filled out, so I don't know her name. She blogs about style, food, decor, entertaining, and travel. Lovely recent posts I've enjoyed include an article on zig zag home decor patterns, some outstanding, amazing floral hats at an awards luncheon in NYC recently, bold prints, and David Hicks' hexagonal wallpapers. Lots of beautiful things to glimpse here.

http://hamptonhostess.blogspot.com/

LOVELY FASHION: Cake by Petunia


I've drooled over Petunia Picklebottom diaper bags for years, but alas, my lack of an infant made me feel too silly to buy one. They also make purses, however, and I'm enjoying browsing through their new collection of cake-themed satchels, carryalls, clutches and pocketbooks. Pictured above is a "Berry Chiffon" satchel I'm contemplating purchasing.

http://www.petunia.com/cake/

LOVELY HOME: Cabana Collection Candles


I can't wait for my local gift shop to stock the new Cabana line from Archipelago Botanicals. Not only do I want to find a couple yummy summer scents for my home, I think these candles would make fabulous hostess gifts. I'm looking forward to smelling Bermuda (Citrus, Mango & Papaya), Ibiza (Spanish Moss, Bergamot & Lemon Leaf) and Aruba (Citron, Sweet Neroli & Clementine). I'll skip the one with coconut, not my favorite! The fragrances also come in travel tins, which I tend not to buy - I never seem to remember to pack them in my luggage.

Cabana Collection, from Archipelago Botanicals

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

America's Best Spring Drives (Travel & Leisure)

Black Rice and Spring Vegetable Pilaf (Love and Lemons)

Cinco de Mayo Crafts and Decorations (Martha Stewart)

Easy Little Panda Cupcakes (Bakerella)

Margarita Recipes (CHOW)

Mini Glazed Lemon Corncakes (Worth the Whisk)

Mother's Day Gifts, Articles, and Recipes (Epicurious)

Why Do Recipe Writers Lie and Lie About How Long They Take to Caramelize Onions? (Slate)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Happy May Day


A lovely, colorful flowerbed, sadly one not belonging to me!

Happy May Day! Happy Beltane!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • 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?

  • Shake out any throw rugs or doormats; sweep entryway and front porch. Get rid of last month's dirt, begin the month fresh and new.

  • Celebrate Spring. Go for a walk, eat a meal outdoors, go on a picnic, work in your garden, etc.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Setting Up for Summer


My outdoor office

I work at home, and as soon as the weather is warm enough, I set up my outdoor office and work outside. (Sometimes I do have to wear a coat). My dogs are happier, keeping me company nearby and playing in the yard. And I can't hear my home phone, which rings unnecessarily often during my work hours. Bonus!

I keep my office set up with a minimal amount of items. A candle holder or two, a pitcher of iced tea and a glass to drink it out of, my laptop (hooked up to a plug in the house via a very long extension cord), my cell phone, and the magazines I'm reading.

Today I'm getting my back yard ready for outdoor living and entertaining. We still have many rainy days ahead of us, so I'm only setting out items that can safely get rained on or windblown. (Obviously my phone, laptop and magazines come back in the house with me every time I leave or close down for the evening).

My tasks include:

  • Sweep, then hose down patio and deck

  • Throw out dead outdoor potted plants

  • Wash and Windex outdoor tables and fire pit table

  • Sweep off and wipe down outdoor chairs

  • Pick up dog poop (sigh)

  • Mow back yard

  • Wash outdoor vases and candleholders; fill with candles and flowers

  • Get out and set up outdoor umbrella

  • Inflate and fill backyard pool for dogs

  • Prepare fire pit and light bonfire to enjoy tonight

Later tonight, it will be wonderful to sit down dressed warmly, wrapped in a blanket, with a glass of wine (an inexpensive bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe's), burn a bonfire, flip through Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn catalogs, and watch my dogs romp in their outdoor swimming pool.

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Dry Soda Company


I'm stocking my garage fridge with refreshing beverages for the sunny spring days ahead. Today I'm going to Whole Foods to pick up some Dry Soda. It's made by a company right here in Seattle. What I like is it's not diet soda (I don't like artificial sweeteners) but it's also not very high in sugars. The soda uses real cane sugar, but not much of it. My favorite flavor is Blood Orange, and on a hot summer day I like their Cucumber also. (Trying to get used to the Lavender but I don't think I'll become a fan any time soon).

http://www.drysoda.com/

LOVELY BLOGS:Cooking Melangery


"From saute to souffle." Gorgeous food photography showcases delicious recipes such as Cabbage Salad with Carrot & Apple, Onion Marmalade with Balsamic Fig Vinegar, and Four Grains Soup and Potato Stuffed Flatbread. The blogger, Yelena, writes from Newtown, Pennsylvania.

http://www.melangery.com/

LOVELY SHOPS: Designs By Bora


Here's a delightful shop for crafting supplies. This Netherlands-based Etsy shop sells adorable fairytale fabrics, such as Little Forest orange woven ribbon, colorful trees on fabric, and cute Little Red Riding Hood fabric covered buttons. This is a charming shop to explore!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ByBora

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Beach Month (Gorgeous Shiny Things)

Blackberry Cabernet Wontons (Domestic Fits)

Chipotle Bearnaise (Domestic Fits)

Chocolate Trifle (4 Men 1 Lady)

How to Clean Lucite (Little Green Notebook)

Katie's Office Reveal (Bower Power)

Painting Wooden Spoons (Little Bit Funky)

Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad with Walnuts (Sumptuous Spoonfuls)

Spicy Lemon Coconut Sauce Recipe (101 Cookbooks)

Yes YOU Can Make Homemade Tamales (Worth the Whisk)