Sunday, February 24, 2013

Being Honest With Ourselves

The cheerful, colorful primroses that greet me at my front door each day

Today I've picked out several small sorting projects that I can do while watching the Academy Awards. I don't want to just veg out in front of the TV for a few hours and not have anything productive to do. I'll be sorting three bathroom drawers of cosmetics and nail polishes, plus a box of crafting supplies I've neglected for the last four or five years.

It's time to face up to the fact I'm not using many of the lovely things I've purchased, not crafting with my supplies, not wearing my cosmetics or finger nail polishes. It's time to let go, stop buying things I don't need and won't use, and stop cluttering up my home.


  • Need to do laundry for the upcoming week? Sheets, towels/washcloths, a load of clothing?
  • Clean one drawer, one shelf or two door shelves in both your fridge and your freezer. This is an easy project you can do in between Oscar commercials.
  • Create menus for the upcoming week's meals and lunchboxes.
  • Write up your grocery/shopping list.
  • Glance over your appointment calendar for the next week. Any upcoming birthdays? Appointments?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Being Honest with Myself While Decluttering

Tonight I'm being honest with myself as I sort through this box of crafting supplies. I have not made a single craft with these items, nor used any of the rubber stamps or inks, in the past four or five years. I've been saving (hoarding?) these items because of unrealistic fantasies: "I'll use these rubber stamps to embellish all my outgoing eBay shipments;" "I'll handcraft beautiful personalized greeting cards, adorn them with these stickers and mail them out;" "I need all these pens because I write so many letters and I really need every one of these colored inks."

It's time to admit the fantasy is over. If I haven't used anything in this box in the past four or more years, I'm not ever going to. Fortunately I've stopped my shopaholic tendencies when it comes to craft supplies - I haven't bought any pens, papers, stickers or stationery in over a year.

This box of rubber stamps, mostly all unused, is going up on eBay. I'll do a bit of research tonight during Oscars commercials, to see what a fair price I should set them at. It's not about making a profit though, I want to get rid of the whole lot. Meanwhile, I'll be sorting out the pens, papers, dried up glues and inks, and getting rid of unusable craft supplies. I will see if there are a couple sticker books my friends' little girls might enjoy, but I can't make my clutter someone else's problem.

After I'm done sorting this box, I will wipe it clean and give it to a friend who is moving and needs some organizing supplies. This will free up a 3 foot by 1 foot space in my garage that no longer will need to be used to store items I will never likely touch or use or enjoy.

What can you sort tonight and be honest with yourself about?

LOVELY BLOGS: Tartan Tastes in Texas

This blog initially caught my attention because it focuses on Scottish cooking. I'm Scottish, and don't know much about my family's food heritage other than to avoid haggis completely. Angela is an ex-pat from Scotland who now lives with her family in Texas. I've enjoyed her recent posts on making over a chest of drawers, her Flower Jammy Dodgers recipe, and her Scottish macaroon bars with cherry that look so scrumptious! I appreciate that she includes step-by-step pictures as you work your way through her recipes. You can also follow her Pinterest boards.

LOVELY FRAGRANCE: Jo Malone's Sugar and Spice

Next time I'm in my favorite department store, I plan to head over to the fragrance counter to sample the new limited edition Sugar & Spice fragrances from Jo Malone. I don't quite need a new perfume, but if I were to convince my cousin to take home a couple of my perfumes she's enjoyed borrowing from me lately.. I'd feel ok about treating myself to one of these for Spring. The scents include Redcurrant & Cream, Lemon Tart, Elderflower & Gooseberry (the least tempting sounding one to me), Ginger Biscuit, and Bitter Orange & Chocolate. What a fun collection!

Sugar & Spice, at Jo Malone

LOVELY HOME: Italian Lemon Dishes

Again I wish I had the courage to redo my kitchen in yellow. These bright, cheerful Italian lemon dishes would be perfect for my spring and summer entertaining. I'm enjoying looking through the adorable serving pieces here, too, such as the lemon-shaped sugar bowl. I'm sure my food would taste even better if displayed and presented on such lovely plates!

Italian Lemon Dishes, from Sur la Table


Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes (Petit 4 Chocolatier)

Caramelized Winter Vegetables with Polenta (Two Blue Lemons)

Cream Puffs with a Quick Boozy Raspberry Ssauce (Gimme Some Oven)

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Banana Muffins (Picky Palate)

Ginger, Lemon and Thyme Tonic (Petite Kitchen)

Lemon Thyme Pots de Creme (TasteFood)

Roasted Vegetables with Caper Vinaigrette (Apartment Dining)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hints of Spring

The first snow drops have arrived in my yard!

Spring is surely arriving soon - these snow drops give me hope. Meanwhile, I'm greeting spring in my own home. I'm putting away the red-and-white decorations (candles, tablecloths, placemats, fluffy throws, decor, pillows) I had up for Valentine's Day. I'll replace them with my pastel pink, green, blue and yellow Spring and Easter decor this weekend.


A bud vase I slipped a few baby roses into, then tucked into a windowsill for spring cheer

  • Prepare your home for the weekend. Empty trash/recycling throughout the house; sweep front porch (if you have one); empty the mail table; clean off the dining table and coffee table; freshen houseplants and throw out any vases of dead flowers; bring in fresh flowers if you can; empty or fill the dishwasher as needed.

  • Need to fill your car up with gas for the weekend? Should you stop by an ATM for cash?

  • Drop off/pick up Redbox or Netflix movie rentals?

  • Drop off/pick up dry cleaning?

  • Finalize your social plans for the weekend. Throwing an Oscars party? Do you have your grocery shopping done, plan in place for cleaning and prepping? If you're attending an Oscars party, what will you wear?

  • Don't forget to book some quiet "me time" for yourself this weekend though, where you can take a bath or read magazines or write in your journal for an hour uninterrupted.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Freshening Up for Spring

This planter of spring primroses greets visitors to my front door

Before I begin my Spring Cleaning projects in March, I'm decorating my home for Spring. I'm not hosting the family Easter party this year (I'd like to give someone else a turn to enjoy being Hostess) so I will tone down my Easter decorations. But I'm delighted to decorate with fresh light Spring colors and burn spring-scented candles in my home this month.

I'm replacing my red Valentine's Day decorations with pink or lavender placemats, throw blankets, decorative pillows, throw rugs, tablerunners, candles, and decor items. I'll clean and carefully put away the items I'm replacing. As I'm storing them away, I'll evaluate if I really need to keep them. Can I do without a couple items, so I'm storing less items in my home? (I just watched another episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive" last night, and it traumatized me!)

When I'm done decorating my home for Spring today (after a run to Trader Joe's for fresh flowers and houseplants) I'm settling in for a quiet evening at home to enjoy some downtime and cozy up in my clean, fresh, inviting home. I'll burn a fire, watch a couple movies and catch up with my pile of library books.

What are your plans for this evening?

LOVELY BATH: Method's Spring Hand Wash

I'm replacing the hand washes in my bathrooms (as soon as they're used up this week) with Method's new Spring-scented foaming hand washes. Their two refreshing scents are Watermelon or Daffodil. I like to use seasonal scents in both my hand washes and dish soaps. With so many Family Dinner nights, visiting cousins, and house guests, my hand soaps get used up frequently enough I can indulge in this practice and keep the scents relevant to the season. Almost all my Winter and Cranberry scented hand washes are ready to be rinsed out and recycled.

Spring Foaming Hand Wash, at Method Home


Emily's lovely blog presents refreshing recipes such as Rosemary Lemon Shortbread with Rosemary Lemon Spritzer; Roasted Tomato and Garlic Whole Grain Bread; and tasty recipes such as salted caramel chocolate biscotti. You can also visit the Jelly Toast Pinterest boards.

LOVELY HOME: Home Sweet Home Decorative Prints

Suzy Ultman's adorable, cheerful prints were inspired by New England landscapes. This book of 12 posters contains bright apple orchards, homespun townscapes, sunlit harbors and lively forests. Frame them to your liking and use them to brighten up your home.

Home Sweet Home Decorative Prints, on Amazon

LOVELY KITCHEN: Le Creuset "Soleil"

I'm not sure I have the guts to change over my red kitchen into a yellow-themed one. But every Spring, I start wishing I could freshen up my kitchen with cheery bright yellow accents: yellow and blue curtains, a bright shining yellow teapot, and yellow cookware. This month, Sur la Table announced their exclusive new shade of yellow enamel cookware from Le Creuset: Soleil. I've so enjoyed dreaming over the cookware pictures here. It's made me want to cook a lot of soups, stews and casseroles!

Le Creuset "Soleil" Collection, at Sur la Table


This shop sells adorable needle felted Easter toys and decorations. (Plus other seasonal gifts such as Christmas Santas and gnomes).

Check out this adorable felted wool egg with chick toy!


2013 Oscar Party Planner (Epicurious)

Beets with Red Onion Vinaigrette (Worth the Whisk)

Blueberry Pull-Apart Buns (The Vagabond Baker)

Blueberry, White Chocolate & Lime Muffins (Raspberri Cupcakes)

Cameo/Silhouette Cookie How-To (Sweetopia)

Cucumber Mint Raita (Easy Cooking)

Elegant Snacks and Drinks for Your Oscars Cocktail Party (CHOW)

Foolproof Soft-Boiled Eggs (The Bitten Word)

Homemade Lemon Curd (Martha Stewart)

Marjoram Sauce with Capers and Green Olives (101 Cookbooks)

Mashed Potatoes with Greek Yogurt (The Faux Martha)

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies (The Bearfoot Baker)

10 Free Knitting Patterns for Adorable Baby Shoes (Blissfully Domestic)

A Trio of Recipes for National Margarita Day (Imbibe Magazine)

White Chocolate and Blueberry Bread Pudding (The Lush Chef)

-Copyright 2013 Lovely Living

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

February Begins - Another Festive Winter's Season

The heart-shaped wreath on my front door welcomes us home

February teases a hint of spring. Here in Seattle we enjoyed a beautifully sunny, relatively warm day yesterday. I took advantage of it and brought my dogs to the dog park for an hour of play in the fields and river. I paid the price for taking off a couple hours in the afternoon, stretching my workday into Friday evening, but it was worth it.


  • Need to buy any stamps? The rate just went up again, to 46 cents. Many of us are paying bills online now, but you still need paper stamps to mail Valentines, lovely handwritten letters and personalized notecards.
  • Review this past January in your mind. How did you do on your New Year's resolutions (if you made any?) Have you been eating well, exercising, making time for friends and family, spending quality time with your partner, kids and pets? Made time for charity, stuck to your budget, read a book or two you enjoyed, kept up with the news? What will you do differently in February?
  • Look over upcoming birthdays for the month of February. Write cards, and arrange to have gifts or flowers sent as applicable.
  • Pay bills, mortgage/rent, etc.
  • Make upcoming doctor, dentist, veterinarian, and salon/haircut appointments for the month for yourself and family members.

Meri Meri Valentine Cake Box, on Amazon



Aspire Metal Fireplace Screen, on Amazon

Each winter finds me using my fireplaces quite often - just about every night. They don't heat my home, but they make it cozy and cheerful. My foster daughter and I study and eat dinner in our upstairs living room by a cheerful fire. Later in the evening, though the fire is dying by then, I enjoy a cup of chamomile tea in front of the fireplace, pets clustered around me snoozing! If we're watching TV in the chilly downstairs basement, the gas fireplace there helps us keep warm in our blankets. (No, we don't wear those horrible Snuggies!)

Sadly, my upstairs fireplace has a broken glass door, and the downstairs one is having trouble with the pilot light. So this week I need to prioritize making a repair appointment for both of them. Today my project is to make sure my fireplaces and surrounding area are in great condition, ready for our first wood fire and gas fire after the maintenance company leaves.

Panacea Fireplace Tools, on Amazon

I'll clean out the ashes, vacuum the carpet around the fireplace, and wash the glass fireplace windows (at least the non-broken ones). Next I'll dust off the fireplace tools, and straighten my fire logs in their basket I keep next to the fireplace. I also keep a basket of small firestarters and kindling wood next to the fireplace as well, and that will need tidying and vacuuming underneath too. The tiles in front of the fireplace and surrounding the opening need to be wiped down.

I'll dust off both mantels, then replace the two burned out red candles on the mantel with two fresh new bright cheery red pillars, for the upcoming Valentine's Day. I had the chimney sweep visit us in the fall, so everything is ready to go other than the minor repairs needed.

Do you have a decorative fireplace screen that needs to be cleaned off as well? I use fireplace screens in the summer or when guests bring their small children over.

LOVELY BLOGS: Geeky Hostess

Here's a really fun blog by a woman named Tara. Like me, she lives in Seattle and well.. is geeky! She loves entertaining, and her blog is full of fun ideas for parties, geeky home decor, and serving related themed foods. Right now she's posting about some cute Dr. Who cookie cutters; some Valentine gift suggestions; and introduces some interesting cosmetic companies I'd never heard of. I can't wait to see what she finds next!

LOVELY TV: Dukes of Melrose

I'm looking forward to checking out this new show when it debuts on March 6. I don't have a lot of room in my life for TV, but I can't resist this show about boutique owners trying to find vintage couture treasures.