Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Domestic Day

The pink rhododendron off my back deck

Today I'm taking a half day off from work to get some domestic things done around the house. I worked for four hours this morning; now I'm getting some annoying little chores done. Things that pile up and aren't super important so you don't rush to do them. Then you turn around and your house is falling down about your ears and you wonder why!

I'm not doing anything mundane like laundry or closet sorting. I'm doing some routine things that will help my house be lovely and livable; plus doing a few domestic things I enjoy, such as baking and tweaking my home decor.

Here's a peek at my to-do list for today. What things need to go onto your own to-do list?


  • Wait for, and converse with, the wasp nest removal man.
  • Change a hard-to-reach light bulb in the hallway. It's been burned out for a week - it's past time to do this.
  • Bring in a ladder and change another hard to reach light bulb in the dining room.
  • Superglue a broken wooden arm on my patio umbrella.
  • Sweep out and clean outdoor playhouse - the neighbor kids were too afraid of spiders to enjoy playing in it last weekend!
  • Go to Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up a rubber non-skid mat to go under my kitchen doorway rug. Cut and shape it to fit, so we'll stop slipping on our way out to the deck.
  • Rinse out smelly, empty yard waste bin.
  • Make a pitcher of fresh squeezed limeade.
  • Bake muffins and cornbread.
  • Febreze all the curtains in the house to freshen them up a bit.
  • Take my summertime couch decor pillows outside to air out in the sunshine.
  • Make homemade vegetarian chili
  • Rinse out, clean and refill the dog swimming pool.

LOVELY BLOGS: Simple Bites

Simple Bites focuses on teaching how to prepare unprocessed, nourishing food, eating seasonally and locally, and emphasizing the importance of bringing the whole family together around the table on a daily basis. Recent posts include teaching kids to make homemade crackers and wheat thins; a recipe for a Middle Eastern taco salad, and a recipe for fresh strawberry pie.


LOVELY BOOKS: Tiny Folk of Sunny Days

Here's another charming antique book you can flip through. The illustrations are by Maud Humphrey, and feature children from around the world as well as flowers from the region they live in. The book was published in 1889.

Tiny Folk of Sunny Days, at The Internet Archive


Next month I'm taking a luxury vacation to a Ritz Carlton property in California. (I'm celebrating my new ability to travel, now that all my foster kids have moved away. Just this once, I'm splurging on a more expensive hotel than I normally choose to stay at). It just occurred to me that while my clothing is perfectly nice enough to stay at the Ritz without embarrassing myself, my poor old beaten up cheap hot pink suitcase from Target won't do. I might feel a little reluctant to let the smartly dressed bellboy at the Ritz carry that filthy old suitcase for me.

So I decided it's time to pick up a nice new suitcase. I still intend to keep and use my perfectly good (albeit old and dirty) hot pink suitcase for my family vacation trips. But I'm running to The Container Store tomorrow to pick up this attractive and affordable Calypso Stripe wheeled duffle.

Calypso Wheeled Duffle, from The Container Store


"The first community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers, and all women who love kids." I really enjoy this website - I too, love being an aunt to my nieces, nephews and friends' kids. There are fun and useful articles here: topics like traveling with your nieces/nephews, avoiding the Summer Slide by encouraging book reading, informative articles on measles, etc. There are also interesting forum discussions, on how you found out you were going to be an aunt, how to answer kids' questions about why you aren't married, and how to celebrate non-moms on Mother's Day. I am sure I will stop by this website often to see what's going on.



Black Fig and Pear Jam with Honey and Vanilla (The Preserved Life)

Blueberry Pies for the Fourth of July (The Bearfoot Baker)

Chai Milkshakes are Amazing (CHOW)

Flax and Oat Porridge with Grilled Peaches (A Cozy Kitchen)

Old Fashioned Fun for the Fourth of July

Pineapple Pendants for Chandelier Decor (Aunt Peaches)

--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rainy Day in Summertime

Last night I forgot to check the weather forecast before I spent a few hours lugging hoses around, setting out sprinklers, watering my lawn, and then putting everything away again. I woke to rain this morning, ensuring my green lawn stays green, and giggling at the extra work I did last night that was unneeded.


  • It's nearly mid-month. Need to pay any bills? Make any doctor, dentist or vet appointments? Does anybody in your house need a trim on their haircut or a summer cut?
  • Drop off any Netflix or Redbox DVDs and pick up your weekend's movie entertainment as applicable. (Or are you streaming everything nowadays?)
  • Drop off any library books, dry cleaning, and plastic bags to be recycled. I love to do annoying-but-necessary errands like this while I'm already out-and-about driving anyways.
  • Fill up car with gas for the weekend; stop by an ATM for cash if you need some.
  • Tidy your home for the weekend. Vacuum your living or family room if needed; empty or fill dishwasher; wipe kitchen and bathroom counters; empty trash cans from each room; dust off coffee table and declutter as needed; swap out a new tablecloth on your dining table if yours has any food or dust on it.
  • Finalize weekend socialization plans. Which friends and family members are you going to see this weekend?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Refrigerator

Refrigerator Wipes, on Amazon

My usual habit is to clean one shelf, one drawer, or one door shelf in my fridge and in my freezer each weekend. That gets my entire fridge cleaned out every five weeks. Lately, however, I've neglected this task. So tonight before I go out to dinner and a movie, I'll clean out the entire fridge and freezer. I'll start by removing the containers of bulk goods I keep on top of it (rice, sugar, flours, etc) and scrubbing the dusty fridge top. I'll wipe down the dusty containers, and replace them in an organized fashion. This will be a good reminder to cook and enjoy these foods more often.

Next I'll remove everything from the fridge, including condiments, wipe down the shelves, sort and check dates on the foods. I'll dry the shelves before I remove everything, tossing any soon-to-expire food I know I won't eat before I get back from my trip this weekend. Then I'll do the same for the freezer.

I suspect I'm going to have to toss lots of salad dressings. I need to be more careful when I buy them - I always think I'll be home eating salads for dinner more often than the reality. I go out to eat so much, I might as well not shop for fresh salad fixings.

It will be nice to come home to a clean fridge when I return from my weekend trip!

Do your fridge and freezer need a major cleanout or a minor tidying?

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Peach Bath Sponge

This adorable peach bath sponge is on sale for just $3. What a nice addition it would make to a gift bag full of The Body Shop's wonderful Vineyard Peach bath and body products. With a couple good friends' birthdays coming up, I sense a trip to this shop in my future soon!

Peach Bath Sponge, from The Body Shop

LOVELY BLOGS: Worn Through

"Apparel from an academic perspective." I stop by this blog often because their fashion-related posts are so very interesting! The recent post on Planning Your Fashion Filled Summer Vacation is full of useful links to upcoming fashion exhibitions at museums; you might enjoy this post on artists' dress and identity; and here's a post on recommended reading for critical studies in men's fashion.


LOVELY BOOKS: Aunt Louisa's Nursery Favorites

This delightful book of fairy and folk tales was published in 1870. Remarkably, it includes a few color illustrations. The stories include one of my all time favorites ("Diamonds and Toads") as well as stories I'd never heard of ("Dick Whittington," "Lily Sweetbriar," and "Uncle's Farm Yard.") It's a nice little online read for a rainy Friday afternoon.

Aunt Louisa's Nursery Favorites, at The Internet Archive


Cheesy Risotto Cakes with Poached Eggs (The Curvy Carrot)

Elderflower and Coriander Vodka (101 Cookbooks)

Fried Egg Breakfast Tacos (CHOW)

Garlic and Serrano Ham Mushroom Tapas (Fiesty Tapas)

How You Know Where You're Going When You're In an Airport (The Atlantic)

Mini Roasted Poblano Risotto Cakes with Grilled Corn Salsa (How Sweet Eats)

Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad (Smitten Kitchen)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gardening Chores on a Summer Evening


  • Take stock of your citronella candles, mosquito repellent (if applicable), incense sticks and any colorful outdoor candles you use. Need to add anything to your shopping list? Using and enjoying the candles you already have?
  • Go for a walk tonight.
  • Hose down patio furniture if needed (Mine has bird poop on it!)
  • When's the last time you had some fresh summer corn?
  • When's the last time you made homemade fresh squeezed limeade or lemonade?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Garden, Deck and Patio Tidying

Today I'm planning to take an hour to tidy up my outdoor living areas. I'll sweep the deck and my front steps; carry in some drinking glasses we forgot and left outside; I'll do a little weeding; water my flowerpots; wipe down the outdoor dinner table; and tidy up the shed I store my summer things in. Since I'll get to be outdoors in the warm sun, this will be an enjoyable way to spend an hour doing chores. I don't feel like I'm doing busywork. I'm beautifying my home and the area I spend most of my time in during the summer.

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Vitoria Regia Flower Soap

I haven't smelled this new flower soap from L'Occitane yet. I love the way it looks, and will probably pick some up for my guest bathroom if they smell as nice as I suspect they do.

Vitoria Regia Flower Soap, at L'Occitane

LOVELY BLOGS: Risky Regencies

Here's a fun, frivolous blog for a day when you need a fun pick-me-up. The blog specializes in news and reviews of risque Regency romances. Here you can read about earls behaving badly, taboo topics and the movie Belle, and read about a Regency style wedding plan.



This blogger writes about sustainability, self care, making space, DIY projects, having a happy life, and of course food and recipes. She tries to love what she has instead of craving other things; soak up beautiful moments; avoid toxins and chemicals; and create a beautiful space. Recent posts include 3 Ways to Grow Food in Your Kitchen and Home is the Backdrop for the Story that Is Your Life."


LOVELY BOOKS: Les Robes de Paul Poiret

You can page through this charming book of Paul Poiret costume designs for free at the Internet Archive. This book was published back in 1908. I'm also enjoying the illustrations of antique furniture in the backgrounds here.

Les Robes de Paul Poiret, on the Internet Archive

LOVELY BOOKS: Summer at Tiffany

I stumbled across this delightful book at the library, and read it in one sitting the other evening. It's the true story of a summer the author and her best friend spent working as page girls at the Tiffany store in NYC. I loved hearing their Iowa farm girl perspectives on the events they witnessed that summer, such as the Queen Mary ("The Gray Ghost") steaming into the harbor full of returning soldiers during World War II. The author wasn't afraid to do a little celebrity name dropping - find out what Judy Garland was shopping for when she stopped into Tiffany one day!

Summer at Tiffany, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: Bartlett Pear Hibiscus Sorbetto

I am so excited to try this new sorbetto flavor from my favorite gelato company, Ciao Bella. I've tried two grocery stores in my area - no luck so far. I'll keep looking and hoping!

Pear Hibiscus Sorbetto at Ciao Bella Gelato


Cornmeal Biscuits (An Organic Wife)

Home Inspiration from Greece: House on Tinos (Decorology)

Lentils with Wine-Glazed Vegetables (101 Cookbooks)

Pineapple Crumb Cake (Bake or Break)

Rhubarb Jam Macarons (Erica Mulherin)

Rhubarb-Wrapped Pineapple Mousse Cake (Sprinkle Bakes)

Slow Cooker Savory Oatmeal (CHOW)

Tiki Iced Tea (Baking Bites)

Tortellini with Kale Pesto and Peas (Annie's Eats)

Monday, June 09, 2014

A Summery Week Stretches Ahead

Candles I light on my patio table each evening

Let's be sure to take advantage of the long light-filled evenings. Eat outdoors whenever possible; sit outside and enjoy your deck, patio, yard or porch. Bring out a magazine or two, play music, light incense, sip wine or tea, or chat with neighbors.


  • Make menu plans for the week and create your grocery list
  • Make socialization plans for the week and plan next weekend if possible. Be sure to leave time for Family Night (if you do that sort of thing). nd I always try to leave at least one evening empty for a quiet night at home.
  • What are you doing for Fourth of July?
  • Dump out your purse during a break today (or while waiting in the car during kid-related activities). Clean and sort it, throw out unneeded items and trash. Can you find two items you don't need to carry with you every day? I typically have multiple pens, and two packs of tissues when I only need one, etc. I also have three or four lip glosses more than I actually need. I should put those back in my bathroom drawer where they belong.
  • Take inventory of your condiments for picnics and barbecues. Do you need to throw any out? Do you have enough mustard, ketchup, relish, and mayo? Pickles? Sauerkraut, if you like that kind of thing? If you use mayo alternatives, do you have a small jar of the real stuff to offer visiting guests who might not enjoy your alternative versions?


I have a never-ending quest to clean out my garage, de-clutter closets, and get rid of unused items. Today I'll work towards this goal by sorting this box of my paper doll collection. I doubt I will be able to get rid of any of these, but I want them out where I can look at and enjoy them. They aren't any good to me sitting in a box in the garage. I'll make room for them on a bookcase in the playroom. This means something else is going to have to go, however, to make room for these. I suspect I can find some books we're not reading and games we're not playing, to donate or recycle. I expect this project to take less than an hour, depending on how much time I spend oohing and aahing over my paper doll treasures. I suspect I'll become intrigued by something and spend a bit of time cutting out more outfits!


I think these cute daisy soaps would be delightful in a guest bathroom in summertime. I'm not sure guests actually work up the courage to use cute decorative soaps, but a bowl displaying these would sure brighten up a bathroom.

Tocca Daisy Soap Set

LOVELY BLOGS: Sift & Whisk

This blog specializes in from-scratch dessert recipes and baking tips. Recent posts I've enjoyed include Baking Basics: Homemade Vanilla Extract, Berry Pies, and Vanilla Ice Cream Two Ways.


LOVELY BOOKS: Mother Earth's Children

"The Frolics of the Fruits and Vegetables" was published in Chicago in 1914. It features Elizabeth Gordon's charming illustrations. What fun to take a moment to rest between work and housework and browse through the quaint images! My favorite is "Miss Parsley."

Mother Earth's Children, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY FASHION: Summer Stripes Dress

I'm so delighted with this simple striped maxi-dress I bought from The Gap this month. It's already come in handy for my vacation to Lake Chelan, been worn to a recent casual dinner party, and kept me stylish during a recent trip to the farmer's market. Soft, comfortable, and easy to accessorize

Striped Dress from The Gap


Are 'Tiger Moms' Better Than 'Cool Moms'? (The Atlantic)

The Barcelona Gin and Tonic (CHOW)

Guide to Summer Cooking (Cooking Light)

How to Make Royal Icing with a Hand Mixer (The Bearfoot Baker)

Fashion Editorial: Paris in the Spring (Solis Magazine)

Laduree Tea Salon Opens in NYC (Vanity Fair)

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches (Pint Sized Baker)

9 Stunning Strawberry-Rhubarb Desserts (Epicurious)

Ten Pretty Summer Skirts You'll Want Right Now (Chatelaine)

The 13 Most Important Kitchens on Television (Bon Appetit)

Waffle Macarons with Maple Bacon Buttercream (Raspberri Cupcakes)