Monday, April 28, 2014

Tidying Up and Appreciating Spring

This year my Spring Cleaning has been haphazard. I like to start in March and be done in April, but this year there's been too much going on. And I'm not unhappy that I got to enjoy a week in San Diego for Spring Break, instead of staying home cleaning for a week! This year I'll start my Spring Cleaning on May 1st. That's just a few days away, but I'll get started a little bit right now so I don't get overwhelmed next month.

Are you done with your Spring Cleaning already, or will you follow along with me in May as we refresh, declutter, organize and beautify our homes for the Spring and Summer ahead?

Lovely Living is no longer a daily blog, but I hope to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with projects for the days following.


  • Did bedding get washed this weekend? Are you and your family members sleeping on clean sheets tonight?

  • Make meal plans for the week ahead; create your grocery shopping list

  • Do you have a too-large stack of magazines on your couch or coffee table that need to be read, enjoyed, recycled or given away? I do!

  • Look over your calendar for the week ahead. Any birthdays or appointments coming up?

  • Any library books or Redbox DVDs you need to return from this past weekend?

  • Need to drop off any dry cleaning today that you can pick up later in the week?

  • Are you appreciating Spring? Filling your home with tulips and daffodils, opening your curtains to welcome in the morning light, doing a bit of gardening if that's something you enjoy, going out to restaurants to enjoy the longer evenings?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Spice Cabinet

It's occurring to me that I didn't go through my spice cabinet last fall when I was doing a big kitchen clean up project to get ready for fall cooking and entertaining. I did a bit of research today about how long you can keep spices - they don't necessarily "go bad" but they lose some of their potency and flavor. This Woman's Day article is full of some helpful tips. I think since I have access to inexpensive Trader Joe's spices, I'll toss everything and start over. Since I haven't shopped for spices in a long time, I'll be able to tell by how empty/full a bottle is, whether or not I really truly need to replace that spice. My chili powder looks like it was opened but not used more than once - and sure enough, I don't remember making homemade chili in the last year!

Time to really be firm with myself and only buy things I need and will really use. It's a fantasy that I'm cooking lots of homemade meals. I'm not - the reality is we eat out at restaurants way too often.

Today I'll be removing everything from my spice cabinet, throwing out everything but the salt and pepper, and creating a very limited shopping list for replacements. And for tonight's homemade cream of mushroom soup I'm making from scratch, I'll stop at the nearby PCC Market to pick up fresh thyme, not dried.

TUESDAY'S PROJECT: Inventorying Cleaning Supplies

Glancing under my kitchen and bathroom sinks, and peeking into my laundry room cupboards, I see that I have a problem with cleaning supplies. I'm either over supplying, or under cleaning - probably both! Why, since I only have a couple of granite countertops in my kitchen (and none in the bathrooms) do I own not two, not three, but four granite cleaners? Have I not been cleaning my kitchen counters often enough, or have I forgotten how much granite cleaner I already had, and bought more on impulse?

On Tuesday, I'm going to remove every cleaning product from every cupboard in the house, count and inventory it, and try to use up things I have too much of. I'll replace cleaning products in places that make sense - no need for wood floor polish in the cabinet in the tiled bathroom, and no need for granite spray under my master bedroom's bathroom cabinet. (I don't have small children in the house, so I store cleaning supplies within reach, but still guarded with childproof cabinet locks in case of young visitors). I feel like this is a good weeknight project - not time consuming, will help me move forward with my Spring Cleaning plans, and it will tidy up the cupboard under every sink in my house as I sort and reorganize.

I've already noticed that I do actually need Windex or some sort of window spray - I used it all up cleaning my kitchen and dining room windows last week!

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Grapefruit Soapy Suds

A long time fan of Bliss's Lemon & Sage soapy suds, I was delighted to smell their newer soapy suds at a recent Girls Night Out shopping spree. Here's what I'll be enjoying using in my shower this springtime! It's slightly expensive so I'm trying to ration it and not use gigantic palmfuls!

Bliss Grapefrut Aloe Soapy Suds, at Sephora

LOVELY BLOGS: Saipancakes

This dad is a math teacher, illustrator, and pancake artist. You'll be astounded at the intricate designs he can make with pancakes: Star Wars creatures, bunnies, sharks that my shark-loving nephews would gobble up in an instant, and wait til you see his Cinderella. I'm really curious about his process and how many "rejects" it takes to get these lovely creations.


I don't often read home decor or decorating inspiration books - they just make me depressed about my clutter, lack of budget, muddy paw prints, and the dog hair covering my carpets and couches. But this "Classic decor from A to Z" book is charming and refreshing. It's written by Jennifer Boles, the blogger behind The Peak of Chic blog. I love her idea to incorporate an orangerie into your home - this looks truly possible! For a glimpse at pics from the book, see this blog post.

In With the Old, on Amazon

LOVELY BOOKS: Marigold Garden

Here's a delightful illustrated children's book you can read online for free at the Internet Archive. You can turn the pages right in your browser. Kate Greenaway's illustrations are so charming, and the little rhymes are cute. I'm so glad that someone digitized this old antique book!

Marigold Garden, by Kate Greenaway

LOVELY DISHES: Avington at William Yeoward

I have too many dish sets already, so I can only admire these Avington dishes from afar. I love the colors! It probably would be difficult to purchase just one place setting from each color - I bet they're sold in minimum sets. How fun it would be to set a spring dinner table with an assortment of these though!

William Yeoward Crystal

LOVELY FOOD: Cocktail Truffles

I haven't tried these gorgeous cocktail truffles yet, but I'm dying to! I love the way they look, and how could I not like the flavors: Dark chocolate Lemon Drop, Ivory Chocolate Cosmopolitan and Milk Chocolate Mojito Mint? They're part of Moonstruck Chocolate's Mother's Day collection.


Bailey's Custard Tart (The Caked Crusader)

Blackberry Custard Cake (Bakers Royale)

An Eater's Eye View of Literature's Most Iconic Meals (NPR)

How to Structure the Ideal Workday (The Atlantic)

A Peek Inside the Mother-Daughter Collaboration That Brought us the 'Little House' Series (Slate)

Rethinking Spring Cleaning: It's an Antiquated Ritual But It's Never Been More Important (Slate)

Women Wear Too Much Makeup Because They Mistakenly Think Men Want Them To (The Atlantic)

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