Sunday, October 28, 2012

Caring for My Curio Cabinets

Garrett Glass Cabinet, from Pottery Barn

Most of the material objects that are very sentimental to me are housed in my two curio cabinets. Antique dishes passed down from my great grandmothers, family goblets we drank milk out of at the dinner table growing up, and the martini glasses I use to make memorable parties for my friends are all in here. I need to treat my ancestors' valued possessions with care just as they did, but I also use them weekly. I wouldn't want them to be wasted sitting gathering dust because I was too afraid to use them. I'd rather enjoy them carefully and hope they don't break.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Finalize Halloween costumes, put up decorations, or clean up after any parties you threw today or yesterday.


  • Spot-clean your kitchen and bathroom floors as needed. Or just use a few cleaning wipes on them. This will make them shine and make your weekend cleanup go faster.


  • Done with the weekend's laundry? It's folded and put away? Bed linens changed?


  • Make meal plans for the week ahead; create grocery list; shop as needed


  • Is there room in your coat closet for actual coats? See if you need to de-clutter, get rid of unused coats, or move cluttery vacuums and brooms to a different closet.


  • Use your fragrance oil infuser, burn a candle, or spray your favorite home fragrance to make your home smell lovely today.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Curio Cabinets

Rojo Tall Cabinet, at Crate and Barrel

I own two curio cabinets. In each, I store wine glasses, martini glasses, teacups, dishes and keepsakes. Today I'm sorting out both cabinets and dusting. I generally do this twice a year - in Spring and in Fall. (I should dust them more often than that though!)

I'll remove everything, including the glass shelves, and wash all the dishes and stemware - they're all murky and dusty. I have to wash them by hand as they're antiques or fragile fancy martini glasses, so they don't ever go near a dishwasher. At a recent Family Night I used an entire set of blue goblets, so they've been recently washed and shined - I can skip that part of my task!

I can't move the curio cabinets by myself to vacuum under them, but I will reach as far behind them as I can with my vacuum attachment. I'll clean the cobwebby walls behind the cabinets as far as I can reach, too.

In Spring I got rid of anything I could possibly get rid of, as each cabinet was looking cluttered. At this point I think everything in these cabinets is something I either use frequently for entertaining, or keepsakes I'm too sentimental about (like my great-aunt's ivory toothpicks she brought back from Africa in the 1940s). I'm thinking though it's time to admit I do not need 24 mini colorful shotglasses, since most of my friends have newborns and we're not drinking aperitifs or cocktails as much anymore. It might be time to give up and sell those on ebay just to get rid of them.

Metallic Blue-Green Stemware, at Pier 1

In the living room cabinet I have martini glasses, wine glasses, a china figurine of a witch I've had since I was a little girl, three or four amethyst glass vases, pink Depression glass dessert dishes, an unusual art glass bowl I use to serve M&Ms or peanuts, and a few other miscellaneous pieces of glassware. Almost all need to be washed as dusting alone won't help them. The glass shelves will be washed too, as well as the glass in the doors.

I expect the project to take around an hour per cabinet. I'll turn on the news in the kitchen so I can get updated from the nearby dining room. When I move to the living room, I'll put on "The Nightmare Before Christmas" to sing along with while I work.

LOVELY BLOGS: The Baker Chick

Audra, an actress, documents her baking efforts from her New York City home. Recent posts I've enjoyed include Flaky Mini Biscuits with Spiced Pumpkin Butter; Pink Velvet Cupcakes for Breast Cancer; and pumpkin-filled snickerdoodle cookies. I love that the current recipes she shares here are filled with seasonal flavors.

http://www.the-baker-chick.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Glowing Severed Hand Halloween Punch (CHOW)

Make Your Bash a Graveyard Smash (Bon Appetit)

Stormy Weather: Prep Your Kitchen for Hurricane Sandy (Bon Appetit)

The Woman Who Invented the Kitchen Couldn't Cook (Slate)

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Future of Lovely Living

Beautiful colorful trees grace a small park in my neighborhood

Now that I have four foster kids in four different schools, my life is much busier and I don't find myself able to make time for blogging every morning. I have only posted two or three times in October. But it didn't seem like anybody even noticed when I did manage to post.

So I was wondering what you readers might think of my new plan:

Lovely Living will post just once per week.

I'll probably post on Sundays, sharing my plans and schedule for the week ahead. This will make Lovely Living even more of a seasonal-themed blog, compressing lots of daily projects into a weekly format instead. There will be just one Lovely Blog of the week (it will be hard for me to choose just one to share, when I'm used to being excited about seven blogs per week!) and I imagine the Lovely Links for the Week link list will be quite long!

However, I am a bit discouraged by the lack of interaction from readers. Most posts generate no likes on Facebook; only two people have left comments in the last six months; nobody answers the questions I ask in posts or on Facebook; and no new readers/fans on Facebook in several months. I'm not posting hoping to get "likes" but it can be an indicator that people are enjoying what you're sharing. I do know that Facebook recently changed their Edgerank and is showing Lovely Living's posts to fewer fans, too though.

Last year I posted an intensely personal post about how my life changed after two relatives died and left their young children in my care. I asked for comments and advice, and not a single person commented. Four people "liked" the post on Facebook. (I do wish Facebook had a Dislike button so people could register sympathy or that they didn't like the news you just shared!) It really made me feel like nobody is actually reading the posts or connecting with me or the blog in any way.

While I don't write Lovely Living for attention or praise or whatever, it does make me feel sad if I'm just writing into a void or trying to give advice to people who don't want or need my tips and ideas. If it's not resonating with people, I shouldn't continue.

Is Lovely Living not relevant or interesting to you guys any more? It's possible, and I have to consider that. I have several other blogs I enjoy working on too, but Lovely Living has been my favorite. I'd be sad to shut it down, but I don't want to bore people and I could channel this blogging energy into some of my other blogs.

Would you stick around and enjoy a weekly blog? Is it worth keeping going? Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I prefer honesty!

Thoughts?

-Carrie

Almost Halloween

Jack-O-Lantern Cake, from Dean & Deluca

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Have you tried on your Halloween costume and accessories to be sure they fit and look the way you want them to?


  • Need to rake leaves on your lawn yet (or better yet, have a kid do it?)


  • Dust your bedroom really quickly, if needed. I don't know about you, but my bedroom gets dusty so quickly. Maybe it's that our unusually warm weather has let me open the windows so often. I have to dust one bookcase, two night tables, a wooden jewelry box and the "hope chest" my television sits on. And the television itself needs to be dusted, too.


  • Fill up with gas for the weekend; visit an ATM for cash if needed.


  • Have you looked through your city's local events/arts newspaper lately? It can give you really good ideas for fun things to do - upcoming concerts, plays, restaurants to try, etc. Today during my lunch break I'm going to read my copies of "425" and "Seattle Magazine" for a little catching up on what's going on in my city.


  • Take inventory of pet food, and do a collar inspection. Are your pet's collars fraying? dirty? Still reflective (for pets who go outdoors)? License, rabies tag and identification still attached and readable? Address and phone number up to date?


  • Tidy up real quickly for the weekend. Wipe down counters and mirrors, empty trashcans, remove magazines and clutter from the living room. Empty off the dining table and breakfast nook table if they need it. Remove items piled on stairs to be taken upstairs; hang up coats, put away umbrellas and shoes.


  • Throw out dead flowers; replace with fresh new ones to enjoy


  • Take quick inventory for your shopping list if you intend to go shopping this weekend. Shampoos/bath stuff? Cleaning supplies? Groceries? Light bulbs? Batteries? Fresh flowers? Laundry detergent? Toilet paper/paper towels? Cold medicine? Christmas shopping?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Halloween Preparation

Velvet Pumpkins, from Z Gallerie

If you're throwing a Halloween party this weekend, you might have a lot of things to do today to get ready.

If you're a mom, you might need to finish shopping or help your kids get their costumes ready.

Need to buy candy to give to trick-or-treaters, if you are staying home? Do you have music and movies picked out and ready to enjoy on Halloween, if you aren't going out to a party?

Tonight I'll make sure my "Maleficent" costume fits, and I'll probably practice the makeup I'll wear on Halloween. Then I'll settle in tonight for my yearly tradition, watching "The Nightmare Before Christmas.

LOVELY BLOGS: Dessert for Two

"Southern desserts scaled down to size." Christina specializes in dessert recipes that feed two people. She even has recipes for making very small batches of cupcakes. She also very occasionally includes recipes for dinner for two, like this Tuna Noodle Casserole. My favorite section here is Drinks for Two.

http://www.dessertfortwo.com/

LOVELY HOME: Mrs. Meyers' Holiday Scents

I have been using a lot of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products lately. I'm excited to see they're coming out with two special scents for the holiday season: "Orange Clove" and "Iowa Pine." The product line includes hand soap, dish soap, countertop spray, and a soy candle. I don't need any hand soap any time soon, but I just used up my counter spray and burned up my kitchen candle, so I think I'll add a couple of these to my shopping list this autumn.

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Gorgeous Flower and Insect Fabrics from Jane Sassaman (Auction Shopaholic)

Roasted Plum Ice Cream (Spabettie)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Making Myself a Cozy New Workspace

I work at home, and lately have found myself uncomfortable in my home office. My office chair (and the slumpy way I've been sitting in it) has injured my back slowly over a long period of time. I'm finding I work better lately sitting on the couch, on my bed, or on my outdoor patio furniture (as I did all summer until the weather got too cold).

Today I'm creating myself a homey little workspace in my kitchen. This is the former breakfast nook that I converted into a sitting area so guests would hopefully not congregate right in front of my fridge and oven during parties.

The bookshelves are filled with my cookbooks but also my blogging resource books and reference books. I'm a bit worried this room might be too cold in the mornings - I may have to get out my little space heater.

I'm visualizing working away merrily while my teenager gets her breakfast ready and departs for school; and being around and available (yet still working) in the kitchen when she gets home too.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Get your home ready for the weekend. Empty or fill dishwasher as needed; wipe down kitchen counters and sinks; empty trash and take out recycling; sweep front hall, porch or entryway; de-clutter coffee table and dining table if that's a problem; fill vases with fresh flowers; put out fresh hand towels in the bathrooms.


  • Fill up with gas for the weekend; visit an ATM for cash; pick up or drop off Netflix or Redbox DVDs


  • Do you have a busy weekend coming up like I do? Try to see what you can do to carve out an hour or two for yourself for quiet alone time. Read a book, go for a walk alone; hide in the bathtub or whatever might help you de-stress.


  • When's the last time you stopped by the library, to either browse magazines (so you don't spend money on them and bring clutter home) or to pick out a book to enjoy over the next month?

TODAY'S PROJECT:

I'm vacuuming off the cat-hair laden furniture, wiping it down for dust, thoroughly dusting the bookshelves, washing the windows, tending to the houseplants, and then mopping the floors. I have a jack-o-lantern beaded coaster at the ready to hold my ever present mug of hot tea.

Even if you don't work at home, do you have a home office, study or workspace that needs tending to a bit today? Dusting, reorganizing, de-cluttering perhaps?

LOVELY BLOGS: Baker Bettie

"Get busy in the kitchen with me." Kristin has a stressful job and enjoys working in the kitchen for stress relief. She's a self taught cook and photographer. Recent posts I've enjoyed include Cinnamon Salted Caramel Sauce, Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls, and Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. There are quite a few vegan recipes here too.

http://bakerbettie.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Colorful Pasta Monsters (Crafts by Amanda)

Fennel Mushrooms (101 Cookbooks)

Office Space Inspiration (Henry Happened)

Popcorn Ball Pumpkin Patch (The Bearfoot Baker)

3-D Pumpkin Cookies (Glorious Treats)