Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Pep Talk for 2014

Here's my Thanksgiving pep talk for this year. Hope you'll take some comfort from it, if you're nervous, stressing, or feeling overwhelmed this Thanksgiving morning!

Think positive.

We can do this!

We're lucky to have family and friends to spend time with (even if they drive us crazy) and fortunate to have food to eat at our feasts today. We have good friends who may be delighted to spend time with us later this weekend. They'll celebrate with us and listen to our stories about our more colorful relatives and their antics today.

Let's not stress ourselves worrying about how our Thanksgivings will go. Whether we're traveling, hosting, or spending the holiday at someone else's house, let's try to have the best day possible. We can let the stressful parts roll off of us gently, and laugh about them later.

Nothing has to be perfect today.

Thanksgiving is about being with family and friends. If you undercook or overcook the turkey, that's ok - people will happily eat your mashed potatoes and stuffing instead. If old rude Uncle Bill starts in on you about politics, that's ok, you knew he would. Sigh inwardly and try to change the subject. Your tablecloth is stained or a bit ratty? Who cares - it was put on the table fresh and clean, right? The furniture your relatives are sitting on has cat-scratch marks on it? Oh well, it means you have pets you love. Stains on your apron or clothing from cooking? Good, that means you worked hard to make something nice for your family. June Cleaver isn't here in her pearls and heels and immaculate freshly starched dress.

If something spills, wipe it up with a smile. Laugh if something breaks. If someone cries, hand them a tissue, and give them a hug. If that person is you, have your cry for a couple minutes but don't let it ruin your day, and don't let yourself contribute to or escalate family drama.

There are some things that will never change. There are some things we can't control. No, our houses will never be as clean as our mother-in-laws' homes. I won't be able to cook food anywhere near as delicious as my boyfriend's Swedish mother does. We will likely never have a nicer car or as big a house as our brother-and-sister in law do. We're good cooks, but there's always an Aunt Edna or a Grandmother known for being the best cook ever. That's ok, let them enjoy that title. We still still make our own delicious food.

It's all going to be ok. We can do this.

We'll take care of ourselves first this morning. One thing that helps a lot is having some quiet alone time today, even if it's just for a few brief minutes. Try to do something relaxing in the morning (Read a few pages in your book? Browse a magazine? Go for a quick walk? Play a quick Facebook game?) to de-stress before the stress even starts. Give yourself permission to take time for yourself, so you can give more of yourself as the holiday begins.

Delegate! Thanksgiving is not all about you, and you can't and shouldn't be the Queen of Thanksgiving. If someone offers to help, let them. If someone offers to bring a dish, let them. (Worried Aunt Edie will bring her nasty sugary marshmallow yams? That's ok, let her and be grateful she's not bringing her mushy overcooked cold mashed potatoes).

One of the things I usually do every year to emotionally survive the holiday is this: I throw a special after-Thanksgiving casual movie night on Saturday night for any friends who are still in town. I'll clean up my house a bit, but not stress over it. We'll wear comfy sweats or pajamas, eat leftovers or fresh fruits and veggies, and watch fun movies while relaxing. Friends are the family you choose, and I choose to be around happy, fun, easygoing people on my four-day weekend. This year I'm going to a Friendsgiving instead of being around family, so I might not need to throw a de-stress party. Still, there are some friends returning from stressful holiday travel who might need to be cheered up and tell stories to a sympathetic listener.

Now for a special note to anybody reading this who might be spending their Thanksgiving alone. It's ok, it happens to all of us. Not everybody has family close by, or the ability to travel. Sometimes we get sick right before Thanksgiving and choose not to share our germs with loved ones. Sometimes people have to work on Thanksgiving or the day after. On more than one Thanksgiving in years past, I absolutely couldn't face the whole thing and voluntarily stayed home alone. I truly did have a good time. Instead of sitting there feeling sorry for yourself for being alone, think of all of your friends who are stuck in airports and freezing cold in winter snowstorms! Make yourself a special delicious treat to eat, watch a movie or put on your favorite music. Enjoy your relaxing alone time. If you are feeling a bit blue, skip the alcohol and have hot cocoa instead.

A special challenge:

Try to be there "in the moment" during the entirety of your Thanksgiving meal, plus during the preparation before it and recovery after it. What do I mean by this? Put your phone down. Don't spend your time texting your friends; don't spend all day on your cell phone talking to people who aren't there in person. (Call a few relatives to wish them a happy Thanksgiving, sure, but keep your calls brief so you can pay attention to the people directly in the room with you). You can talk to your friends and text them all day long some other time. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about reconnecting with family who you don't see often. Give them respect by giving them your full attention. Unless you're an emergency room doctor, there really isn't a reason for your cell phone to be at the table or even in the room with you on Thanksgiving.

This is obviously quite a pet peeve of mine. I implore you to try, if you can, to spend quality time (not texting time) with the people who took time out of their busy lives to spend today in person with you, celebrating with you face to face. Your text buddies will be there tomorrow and always.


Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving for you!

--Carrie

www.lovely-living.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Preparing for Holiday Guests

Are you ready to host your holiday guests? Even if you don't have any immediate plans for family or friends to visit, you might want to check to be sure your guest room (or pull-out sofa) is ready for company. You never know who might drop in, or if weather will suddenly strand someone overnight at your house. Or perhaps someone might need to stay the night after over-imbibing at your cocktail party!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Look over the remaining few days of this month. What appointments do you have coming up in the next few days, if any? Who has a birthday coming up? Do you have a quiet night at home booked in and solidly enforced (That means if someone calls to invite you somewhere last minute on that night, you firmly say no, sorry that's my quiet time?)
  • Anybody in your household need to go get a quick haircut so they look nice for Thanksgiving?
  • Sniff your house. Need to spray some home fragrance, burn a pot of cinnamon sticks on the stove, or light some candles?
  • Do you have your bags packed and host/hostess gift ready, if you're traveling or going to someone else's house for Thanksgiving?
  • Anything you need to start cooking or preparing before tomorrow?
  • Pay any end of the month or beginning of the month bills you have laying around, in case you forget during the holiday festivities.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Guest Room

Plum Chenille Throw, from Pier 1 Imports

Today I'm thoroughly cleaning my guest room. I've kept it pretty clean, but it's been unused and I worry about it smelling dusty or feeling "closed up." Also, I've kept the door closed most of the time, but pets have wandered in - I'll want to be sure they haven't left anything behind (pee, fur, bones and chew toys).

I'll launder the bedding so it's fresh smelling, and I'll Febreze the curtains and throw pillows.

Next I'll vacuum the carpet, give the baseboards and closet doors a quick dusting, wash the windows and sill, dust the nightstands and bookcase, and wipe down the lamps.

Let's check - Is there room in our guest room closets for guests to hang their clothing? Or do we have it cluttered up with stuff we're storing?

I'll make sure there's bottled water in the room for guests to drink, and a box of Kleenex within reach.

I have two lamps and an alarm clock next to the bed. I keep a selection of four different firmnesses of sleeping pillows on the bed for someone to choose between.

Have you ever slept overnight in your guest room so you know if the bed is comfy, the blankets adequate, the pillows restful, the lighting good for reading in bed, and the temperature in the room ideal? We won't have time to experiment with this before the holiday begins, but it's something to think about before the December holidays.

Are you hiding clutter in your guest room (under the bed perhaps?) I used to store my holiday dishes under the guest bed, but last year I moved them to a bin in my storage area in the garage instead.

Right before guests actually arrive (perhaps as soon as next weekend) I'll spritz the room with just a tiny bit of cranberry or cinnamon-scented room spray, put fresh flowers in the room, and set a thoughtfully curated collection of magazines on top of the bookcase.

LOVELY BLOGS: The Spice Train

This blog focuses on recipes that celebrate spices. Nicole blogs from the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. Currently she's sharing recipes for pumpkin spice desserts for Thanksgiving; her recipe for Hummus with sumac; and her inventive Nutmeg Sweet Potato Stacks.

http://thespicetrain.com/

LOVELY BATH AND BODY: Almond Glazed Shampoo/Shower Gel

I may set out a bottle of this new shower gel in my guest bathroom for holiday guests to enjoy. From Philosophy, it's a limited edition that can be used as a bubble bath, shower gel AND shampoo. I think it's a nice transition scent between fall and winter.

Almond Glazed Shampoo and Shower Gel, at Sephora

LOVELY GIFTS: Monarch Desk Calendar

I like to think there are a few people out there besides me who still enjoy paper calendars and allow them to take up space in our homes. I love this 2015 Monarch desk calendar that's made to stand up on your desk like an easel. The calendar is by Rifle Paper Co. The artwork features female monarchs from a variety of countries, including Tonga, France, Scotland, Hawaii, India, Nigeria, and more. The illustrations are gorgeous! I was thinking this might be a nice gift for your stylish aunt, history or fashion loving sister, or that fabulous gay uncle.

Monarch Desk Calendar, on Amazon

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Chart: How Black Friday Invaded Thanksgiving (Mother Jones)

Chocolate Caramel Apples (The Bearfoot Baker)

Cranberry Pie with Thick Pecan Crumble (Smitten Kitchen)

How Famous Artists Would Plate Thanksgiving Dinner (This Is Colossal)

How to Keep Your Cool Traveling with 41 Million People (Time)

Is Turkey Actually Good For You? (Time)

Let it Snow and Make a Pot Roast (The Culinary Cellar)

Southern Side Dishes for Thanksgiving (Homemaker in Heels)

Surviving Holiday Small Talk (The Atlantic)

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes (101 Cookbooks)

Watch How Macy's Creates Their Holiday Windows (CNN)

Why Americans Call Turkey 'Turkey' (The Atlantic)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

Lovely Living on Facebook

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Getting Our Dining Rooms Ready for the Holidays

Confession time - this is the current state of my dining table! Luckily I'm not hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Besides Thanksgiving, there's a busy season ahead with upcoming parties, gatherings, holidays, visitors, and perhaps (dare I hope?) some impromptu game nights. Let's get our dining rooms ready for the meals and festivities ahead!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Are you attending any plays, musicals, concerts or symphonies this winter? Buy tickets now if you haven't yet.
  • Do you have fresh fruit and the fixings for salad on hand? In the next few days we'll likely get tired of heavy, rich Thanksgiving leftovers and crave fruits and fresh veggies, I bet!
  • Light and enjoy your harvest and autumn scented candles. Time to burn them up so we can switch out for Christmas and winter scents!
  • If you're going to someone else's house for Thanksgiving, write your thank you note today. You can leave it on their mail table or somewhere they can find it after you leave their home at the end of your celebration.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Dining Room

Briar Table Runner, from Crate and Barrel

Let's get our dining rooms ready for the upcoming holiday entertaining season!

As you can see from my picture at the top of this post, my decision to no longer have a home office is sort of backfiring. (I chose to keep a playroom, since I have so many children visiting constantly, and I wanted two guest bedrooms for guests). Stuff has been piling up on the dining table - magazines and things I use for work and research. Time to haul them off, find a corner to store them until I can process them, and maybe rethink having a home office in a corner of one of my guest bedrooms.

Whether or not you are throwing Thanksgiving at your own home, you'll want a lovely, clean, organized, enjoyable dining room to eat dinner in during December, the festive season. You might throw impromptu cocktail or dinner parties, or you might invite friends over for a soup-and-salad meal. Maybe you'll do late-night or rainy-day crafts, or put together puzzles, spread out on your table.

I'll start my 45 minute project today by removing cobwebs from the ceiling and corners, then using the same broom to sweep the floor. Mopping is next. I'll make a cup of tea and drink it while the floor dries.

Next I'll wash my two dining room windows and the glass door that leads to the kitchen - it always gets kid hand prints and dog nose prints on it.

I'll hang freshly cleaned curtains at the windows (I love washable curtains! Curtains get so dusty!)

Next up are my upholstered dining chairs. I vacuum them with the upholstery attachment, then sponge them off. This takes just about 1 minute per chair, and I have six of them.

I'll dust the table, windowsills, and baseboards in this room. I'm going to dust the wood slats on each chair, then dust the outside of the curio cabinet that sits in my dining room. I cleaned out the curio cabinet last month, so it's looking nice.

The Tiffany style pendant chandelier I'm coveting, on Amazon

Don't forget your light fixture or chandelier. Mine is grimy, dusty and needs some light bulbs replaced. Climbing on a chair and dusting this is the most time consuming part of this project today, I think.

When I'm done, I'll put a clean harvest-themed tablecloth on the table. Just a few more days until I'll swap out this tablecloth for a Christmasy one! For table decor, I'll set out a fragranced candle (but that's something I'd want to remove before serving food). I always put fresh flowers on the table, and finish by spritzing the room with an autumn-themed room spray.

LOVELY BLOGS: The Culinary Life

Steph's goals for her blog are to "teach you how to cook, to improve your health alongside your relationship with food, to make sure you enjoy your time in (the) kitchen." This week her posts include how to cook pheasant, sharing her simple chicken stew recipe, and sharing her blackberry pie recipe.

https://www.theculinarylife.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Literary Eats

I love the concept of this book! It's a compilation of recipes by literary greats, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson, William Faulkner, Harlan Ellison, Ursula Le Guin, Benjamin Franklin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Eudora Welty, and Walt Whitman. I want to try making Louisa May Alcott's "Berry Pudding Without Eggs" and Emily Dickinson's "Black Cake." This might make a wonderful Christmas gift for your foodie bookclub friend.

Literary Eats, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: Krusteaz Flatbread Mixes

If you're a regular Lovely Living reader, you know I'm a lazy cook, and perfectly willing to open a box mix so I don't have to measure. I'm pretty excited about these new flatbread mixes from Krusteaz. You can use them to make pizza crust, or just a nice tasty flatbread to dip into good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I'll probably skip the whole wheat one (boring!) and try the garlic & onion mix first.

Flatbread Mixes, at Krusteaz.com

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Asparagus with Tomato and Feta (A Fork in Each Hand)

Bacon Apple Gorgonzola Bites (Sumptuous Spoonfuls)

Chicken Etoufee - Crockpot Edition (Healthy Lifestyle Journey)

Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce (Delicious on a Dollar)

Iced Oatmeal Cookies (Life Made Simple)

Pork, Sage and Macadamia Bites (Belly Rumbles)

Presence, Gratitude, and Gorgonzola Grapes (French Foodie Baby)

Southern Pecan Pie (Served Up With Love)

Spinach Artichoke Dip Bites (The Gunny Sack)

We Buy An Obscene Amount of Clothes - What it's Doing to Thrift Stores (Huffington Post)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

Lovely Living on Facebook

Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Sign Up for Free Classes at Lovely Living University

Treat yourself to some interesting and stimulating free online classes on topics including the history of Christmas; World War 2 Victory gardens; Jane Austen's life and works; the history of Christmas music; holiday baking; the life and works of artists Alphonse Mucha and Erte; and many more. Plus we run intriguing book clubs each month, including M.F.K. Fisher's "How to Eat a Wolf" and Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness at Home."

Start by visiting www.lovelylivinguniversity.com and click the "Sign up" button on the upper right hand corner.

Provide your email address (we will never spam you or give your email address away!) You can set your preferences on our network to never get emails from us, or just reminders about classes and events, as you choose.

Check your email for the email verification link. Click the link to verify your email. This helps us keep spammers out of our cozy, lovely little network!

Last step! You're almost in! Create your profile. Share whatever you're comfortable with, privacy wise. You do need to leave one working link to one of your social media profiles so we know you're a real person. (You can always edit it later once your admission is approved). Your profile helps fellow students get to know you, and assures us that you're not a spammer or marketer.

Please be sure to leave a working link (not an email address) in the space provided. (Several prospective students have had their applications unfortunately denied for putting things like jane@facebook.com instead of www.facebook.com/jane).

Once your account is approved you'll be welcomed into Lovely Living University and can take a look around, explore a bit, and figure out which free classes you might want to sign up for!

--Carrie

www.lovely-living.com

www.lovelylivinguniversity.com

Monday, November 17, 2014

Simplifying Christmas

Holiday Simplicity

Because this blog often (ok, every single time!) features shopping related info, images of things I've bought to enjoy in my own home, and excitement about new products, I hesitate to spend too much time talking about frugality. There are enough blogs on the net talking about money saving tips and budgeting. Lovely Living has a completely different focus.

However, I appreciate the idea of a simpler, less hectic, less stressful Christmas. That's part of why I begin my Christmas shopping early in the year, and finish by December 1st whenever possible. I shop for fewer items, and I try to make very careful decisions about the few gifts I am going to buy. I spend less time shopping and more time with family and friends.

You can simplify Christmas, and yet still enjoy shopping, just by cutting down on the amount of gifts you purchase. I love shopping but I don't feel the need to buy a gift for everyone I know. I love giving gifts, but this year I'm only buying presents for children. I will buy just one small gift, one piece of clothing and one book each for my nephews and nieces.

No Need to Buy More Decorations

I realized a few years ago that there is very little I need to buy for my own home for Christmas, other than a fresh live tree. I can cut down greenery in my own back yard to use for garlands and wreaths. I already have far more ornaments than I have space to fit on the tree; plenty of holiday decor; I already have more than enough hoarded Christmas wrapping paper and beautiful ribbons to wrap the few gifts I'll purchase. I don't have children living here any more, so don't need stockings, and I'm not feeling the need to hang up stockings for my dogs and cat!

I don't need Christmas-themed kitchen towels, placemats or tablecloths (though I did break down and buy a cute gingerbread-kids themed kitchen towel at JoAnn's last week). Until something wears out, I have plenty of holiday linens and tablecloths. I already have Christmas dishes, which I have to store in the garage because I don't have room for them in the house. I have a wreath for my front door, and tons of Christmas lights for outside. It appears that I don't have room (or need) in my life for any more holiday decoration supplies. At least not until I give some away, throw some away or recycle them, or trade them with a friend.

So this year the only things I should be buying for the holidays are a few gifts, fresh food and some fun beverages. I am proud of myself, by the way, for resisting the temptation to walk into Pier 1 Imports today while I was next door buying pet food. I knew if I went in I'd end up buying something Christmas-related that I didn't actually need!

TIME:

I'll be frugal with my time and activities too. I want to prioritize enjoying time with family - even if it's just doing something simple like making popcorn and hot cocoa, then settling in to watch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Or we might play board games all night. Some years I've had two Christmas trees (one in each living room) and a tiny tree in the kitchen. This year, I'll budget my time carefully. I'll keep it simple. One medium sized tree.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • I like eating hard-boiled eggs on my salad, or for a quick shot of protein in the morning. But I don't often plan ahead enough to have hard boiled eggs on hand for convenience. Today I'm going to take just a few minutes to put four or five eggs on the stove, set a timer, and take them out once they're done. I'll label the eggs with a pencil so I know what day I made them. Tonight my salad can be adorned by some tasty hard-boiled egg slices! Want to make some to store in your own fridge?
  • Make menu plans for the week ahead; create grocery list.
  • Recycle old newspapers (if any), catalogs and magazines. Any newspaper that's more than a week old, throw out mercilessly. Don't be one of those people who accumulate a huge stack of newspapers thinking they'll get around to reading them someday. You can always visit your favorite newspaper on line and scan the headlines to catch up. Also, instead of keeping an entire catalog so you can remember something you want to check on later, pull out that page instead, then recycle the rest of the catalog.
  • If you're going to any plays, operas, ballets, or concerts this season, do you have tickets yet? I'm really tempted by Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Check over your Christmas gift list - do you keep one in your purse or on your tablet or smartphone? (If you don't keep a list with you when you're out and about, I highly recommend this technique). Cross out anything you've bought, add any new ideas you've had.
  • Need to stock up on gift wrap tape or packaging tape?
  • Let's exercise for at least twenty minutes today.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Travel Plans

Next weekend I'm flying to San Diego to attend my father's 70th birthday party. I bought my airline tickets months ago, but need to finalize my hotel plans, arrange for a rental car, make an appointment for my dogs at their favorite pet hotel, and pack my suitcase.

I also need to take time to make some appointments for myself here at home in Seattle before I leave on my journey: Hair color, pedicure, and a massage to help relax my back injury so I can more comfortably walk on hard airport floors and sit on the airplane. Tonight I'll be making phone calls and arranging things via the web, then listening to my new Stevie Nicks album in my bedroom while I pack my sundresses!

LOVELY BLOGS: Evermine

This holiday gift inspiration blog is run by personalized paper goods store Evermine. Right now they're focusing on unique ideas for Christmas gifts, including homemade hot chocolate mix, cornucopia candy favors for Thanksgiving, and a Hanukkah gift of personalized coasters. The photography here is gorgeous, and it doesn't feel super commercial or full of ads. I'm really enjoying looking at the gift ideas here.

http://www.evermine.com/blog/

LOVELY KIDS: Bonnie Jean Thanksgiving Outfit

If I had a little girl, I'd bring her to Grandmother's house over the woods, through the snow, and wearing this adorable turkey outfit. The Bonnie Jean company has so many cute Thanksgiving themed outfits, it would be hard to pick just one. There are even Thanksgiving coats to keep your little one warm (and stylish) on the journey! However, it may be a little unfrugal to buy a one-use outfit - your little girl will grow out of it by next Thanksgiving. I'd be more likely to purchase this if there were younger girl cousins to hand it down to for the next couple years of Thanksgiving festivities.

Bonnie Jean Thanksgiving Outfits, on Amazon

LOVELY TV: Hallmark's 12 New Movies of Christmas

I just got finished watching my DVRed movie Northpole (it bugs me so much that they ran the words together!) It was much cuter and less sappy than I thought, and totally family-friendly. I was intrigued by a couple of the other new movies they advertised during the movie, so went to the website to check out the offerings. I'm looking forward to seeing A Royal Christmas which stars Jane Seymour and Lacey Chabert. Christmas Under Wraps is also tempting me!

12 New Movies of Christmas, at The Hallmark Channel

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Autumn Style Salads with Grilled Chipotle Chicken (Gourmet Girl Cooks)

Beet Hash with Eggs (Delicious Shots)

Best Ever Sausage, Sage and Apple Stuffing (The Comfort of Cooking)

Five Reasons Why You Should Make Gravy Ahead of Thanksgiving (The Kitchn)

Four Best Thanksgiving Sides (Worth the Whisk)

A Fun and Fancy Child's Holiday Table (Home-ology Modern Vintage)

Helpful Thanksgiving Tips to Get You Through the Holiday Season (The Kitchen Revival)

Hot Chicken Sandwiches (Creatively Domestic)

Kale Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing (Love & Lemons)

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pie (Hungry Couple NYC)

Turkey Breast in a Pot with Gravy (Solid Gold Eats)

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Bread Salad Inspired by Stuffing (NY Times)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

Lovely Living on Facebook

Lovely Living University

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Lovely Sunday in Autumn

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Maintenance clean one shelf, one drawer or two door pockets in your refrigerator and in your freezer. This will help keep our fridges and freezers ready for Thanksgiving foods! I have an inexpensive refrigerator and freezer outside in my garage too, so I'm actually doing TWO fridge shelves and TWO freezer shelves today.
  • Launder your bedding (and your kids' bedding, if applicable) so you all have fresh sheets to sleep on tonight (unless you do your bedding on a different day of the week).
  • Need to do any Christmas shopping this weekend before the malls get really crazy in the next couple weeks?
  • Make a plan for a special breakfast this upcoming weekend. Buy a paper newspaper if you normally don't, or stop by the library to pick up a local events calendar paper. Pull out a couple magazines you've been wanting to browse. Take extra time to make pancakes, omelettes, fresh (not frozen or boxed) hash browns, crepes, waffles, or other breakfast treats. Treat yourself to a latte or cappuccino if you normally don't. Enjoy a leisurely morning eating your tasty breakfast, reading the paper and magazines, even though you'll have a bit of a kitchen mess to clean up!
  • Have you baked an apple pie yet this autumn?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Major Cleaning of One Room

Plum Bergamot Clove Limited Edition Holiday Countertop Spray, from Caldrea

Pick a large, major room in your home that needs cleaning really badly. Is it perhaps your living room, your master bedroom, the kitchen, the basement? Attic? Garage? Bathroom or two? Mine is definitely the bathrooms - I need to thoroughly clean all three.

Do a total overhaul cleaning on your chosen room today. Decluttering, sorting, dusting, scrubbing, washing, laundering, vacuuming, mopping, light bulb checking, deodorizing, and more. Dust the door/s, wipe down light fixtures and light switches, and don't forget to dust the baseboards and windowsills.

BEGIN:

Walk into the room and pretend you're seeing it through someone else's eyes (a relative, your boss, your best friend, a home decor magazine stylist, a realtor, Oprah or Martha Stewart, your mother-in-law, or whatever helps motivate you!)

Put on music and make yourself a nice beverage. Light incense if you like. Let's make this a pleasant task.

Start by removing clutter. Throw away or put into the charity bin or recycling bin anything you can possibly part with. Next, empty wastebaskets, recycling, and find some items to put in storage if you can't part with them. Remove any drinking glasses, dishes or any other items that don't belong. Do you have too much furniture in this room? Too many things on the walls? Too many kitschy knickknacks?

WASH:

Thoroughly clean ceiling fan and light fixtures, then lamps. Wash and dust windows, windowsills, trim, closet doors and the room's door (on both sides). Don't forget to clean the wood at the top of the doorframe, too. Do your curtains need dry cleaning, or your blinds need wiping down? Wash walls. Check to see if you need lightbulbs. Clean baseboards and air vents before you vacuum.

VACUUM:

Move furniture to vacuum, sweep or mop under it. If you really are inspired or have strong helpers, remove most furniture from the room before you vacuum and/or mop. Open drawers on tables and nightstands and sort them before replacing furniture in the room.

If you're deep cleaning a bedroom, don't forget to vacuum the mattress (and flip/rotate if needed).

Wash and replace any floor rugs. If it's a bedroom, wash the bed linens (Don't forget to wash the dust ruffle and mattress pad, too!).

DUST:

Endust Dust Cloths, on Amazon

Dust your furniture and any knick-knacks. Replace any decorative candles that are looking discolored or crooked; remove half-burned votives and replace with fresh candles. See if any upholstery needs to be spot cleaned or professionally cleaned (I have a couch with far too many pet hairs and pet stains to handle by myself!) Clean any items that need to be put back on tables, dressers, shelves, etc, and replace them in an orderly manner.

Water houseplants and dispose of any dead or dying ones. If the houseplants are looking dusty, spray them down in the kitchen sink. (This is a great time to get rid of any tacky fake plants!) Polish doorknobs on both sides of the door, and on closets if needed.

FINISH:

Finish by spraying the room with your current favorite room freshener or a home spray. Or by burning a scented candle (while you're still in the room to attend to it). My current favorite home fragrance oil is The Body Shop's Frosted Cranberry. I'll burn some in my fragrance diffuser in this room.

Put fresh flowers on a small table, if this is a room used frequently.

The weather's getting much colder - does this room have a nice soft throw waiting on a nearby chair? Is there a box of Kleenex accessible? A nearby trash can for convenience?

Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit down and relax for a while in your fresh, clean, clutter-free room.

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Shiseido's Translucent Soap

I am so excited to gift this new limited edition translucent soap to a couple stepsisters and female friends this holiday season! I'll probably gift the red one, but it also comes in green. I'll of course want to smell it before committing to buy it. I like that it is quite possibly "lightly scented" so it's not overwhelming.

Honey Cake Red, at Sephora

LOVELY BLOGS: Awful Library Books

I'm really conscious about not posting any sites that make fun of anybody or anything here - that's not very Lovely. However, this entertaining site from a couple of professional librarians is just too fun to browse through. You also can learn a lot about history just from some of the weird old books they find to weed out. The post categories here are hilarious: They include Animal Love, Bleeding Edge, But it's Historical!, Celebrity Fun, Condition/Processing Fail, Feeling Good, For the Kids, Friday Fiction, Getting Crafty, Living the Good Life, Looking Good, Parent Trap, Practical Librarian, Spanning the Globe, The Unexplained and Just Plain Crazy, Vice Patrol, Working 9-5, and You Ate What? You can also learn a lot about how libraries work and how librarians decide which books to buy, keep, and get rid of. I'll bet you get sucked into spending way more time browsing this blog than you expected to!

http://awfullibrarybooks.net/

LOVELY FOOD: Barilla's Regional Specialty Pastas

I eat way too much pasta, and should probably cut back. But I've been really enjoying trying these new regional pastas. Only one chain grocery store near me carries them - Fred Meyer. I've tried the Bucatini, Casarecce (my favorite so far) and the Spaghetti alla Chitarra so far. I've had to do some research to figure out which kind of pasta sauce works best with these. And I can report that they all taste excellent with a glass of Merlot and a side of garlic toast!

Collezione, at Barilla

LOVELY FOOD: Autumn Velvet Cake Mix

I don't know why, but I am totally giggling at the picture of this two-colored autumn velvet cake. It just delights me! I can't wait to make it. I'm sure it won't turn out as pretty as the one baked and photographed by professionals, but I'm sure it will taste good. The two mixes are "brown velvet" and "orange velvet." I'm still chuckling.

Autumn Velvet Cake, from Duncan Hines, on Amazon

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Free Christmas Gift List Printable (Joyful Homemaking)

Gruyere and Green Olive Rolls (Joy the Baker)

Homemade Ketchup (The Handy Homemaker)

Kabocha Sage Creme Fraiche Pappardelle (Two Red Bowls)

Mini One-Bowl Yellow Cake with Malted Chocolate Frosting (The Cake Merchant)

No Bake Cranberry Cheesecakes (My Baking Addiction)

Pretzel Parker House Rolls (Smitten Kitchen)

Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta (Traditional Cooking School)

Turkey Pot Pie (Miz Helen's Country Cottage)

What is it Like to Be a Full-Time Homemaker? (Apartment Therapy)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

www.lovelylivinguniversity.com

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Current Thoughts on Holiday Simplicity

Thanksgiving Napkin Ring Kit, from Paper Source

I'm putting some thought into how I want to spend my holiday season this year. How wonderful to have so many options to choose from!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

Celebrity Chefs Stamps, at USPS.com

  • Have you dropped off cans of food at your local food bank or food donation drop box recently? There's a canned foods box at my library, which makes it super easy for me to donate since I'm at the library almost every day.
  • Have you gotten your flu shot for this year yet? How about your family members? I should have gotten mine by now - I've got to do this when I get back from my San Diego trip!
  • Do you take your children for Santa pics? If so, have you made time, plans, and room in your budget to do so?
  • How are your supplies of printer paper, ink, tape, stamps, and other office supplies? Need to add anything to your shopping list? Those of us who mail holiday gifts especially need to be sure we have a way to print labels and tape boxes together.
  • Kitchen maintenance - Today I plan to wipe down the front of all my cupboards and appliances. The microwave probably needs wiping too.
  • Is your diary or journal up to date? It's the middle of the month. Did anything happen this month that you want to document to read back on in the future? Before things get busy with Thanksgiving?
  • How is your progress on your book club reading, if you participate in a book club; and your NaNoWriMo writing, if you are attempting that this year?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Home Office Organization

Kate Stockholm Letter Organizer, from The Container Store

Today I'm working to organize and clean my home office area. I no longer have an actual "home office" room in my house. I decided it was more important to have two guest bedrooms, and a playroom. (So many kids come visit me and play at my house!) So now I have a desk in my bedroom. I don't like having it in here but can't find room for it in either family room or living room. The desk holds my computer, printer, scanner, and mailing supplies. Unfortunately I can't find a better place to keep a box or two of office paperwork, so they're sitting next to my desk, cluttering up my bedroom.

It's very dusty in here from me leaving the bedroom window open often. There's clutter on top of my desk and bookshelf. I also need to dust off my printer, monitor and scanner.

When I'm done clearing off the desk, I want to sort my four desk drawers, reorganize and try to get rid of things I don't use every week.

Is your workspace where you pay bills and do paperwork clean and tidy? Can you find things when you need them? Do you have scissors, tape, pens, and notepaper easily ready for you? Do you have a phone nearby? If so, does it need to be cleaned off, wiped down of makeup and fingerprints? Have you cleaned germs off your computer keyboard recently?

LOVELY HOLIDAYS: Christmas Simplicity

Christmas Ornament Storage Box, from Storables

This week I'm thinking a lot about how I want to spend my holiday season. Last year I decided, despite having four foster kids to ferry to appointments, supervise homework for and make dinner for, to throw a massive holiday cocktail party for the grownups. This year, with no foster kids to take care of, and way more energy and money to devote to the holidays, I can either go all out and have an even bigger party, or indulge in a simple, quiet holiday season. Much as I love parties, I'm leaning towards the latter this year.

Do you let your holiday preparations take over and become all-consuming? In the next few weeks, will your life become all about holiday planning, cleaning, freaking out, running to the mall to shop, stressing about cooking, etc? Will you miss out on social events and opportunities to spend time with your friends and family because you've chosen to be "too busy" with holiday preparations? I'm asking these questions because I've been guilty of all in past years, and know people who tend to put themselves through hell during the holidays.

I've been very amused by reading the Holiday forum posts over at Etiquette hell. A lot of what people's family members and in-laws are reported to do around the holidays are a great reminder of what we should not be doing!

Holidays are wonderful, a lovely part of life. It's so nice to have something to look forward to especially in the dark and cold of winter. It's ok to be excited and anticipate the holidays. But only if we don't make ourselves (and our families) crazy with the preparations. We shouldn't ignore the other important parts of our life (friends and family) because we're so frazzled getting ready for the holidays. What are we getting ready for the holidays for, after all? To spend time with friends and family. More and more, I'm embracing shortcuts, and leaving things out if there's no time to do them. (I'm probably not hand crafting any tablescapes, and the list of people I'm hand writing Christmas letters to is shrinking).

Are you stressed out because you are doing too much - throwing too many parties, taking kids to too many after-school activities, taking on too many take-home extra work projects, attending events you feel obligated to attend but don't want to go to, volunteering to bake cookies for the school bake sale, etc.? Ask yourself why you are doing all these things? Where do your expectations come from? Who tells you to do so many activities? Spend some soul-searching time to see what the cause of your stress is. Then figure out a way to de-schedule your life.

You can cancel events, do without some homemade baked goods, bake cookies or a cake from a box mix or packaged mix, throw one less party, skip a school PTA meeting, stop shopping for gifts, and insist on more family at-home nights if that helps you. Carve time out of your life for things that are important, and cancel things that aren't.

Being "busy" is not a race or a competition, and even if it were, it's not one we should want to win. I am striving for a good balance between being the least busy person I know (I'd feel lazy or unsociable) and the most busy. I don't want to brag about how busy I am. I don't need to feel important from being busy. I want to be right in the middle: Busy enough to be involved, giving back, being productive and having an interesting life surrounded by good people. But not so busy I am stressed or can't find time to share with loved ones. I love taking advantage of last-minute dinner invitations, because I've left an evening open and can then accept.

I've strengthened my resolve to consciously try to have a simpler Christmas. What traditions do I want to keep? Which ones can I let slide, or do in simpler, less grandiose ways? What do I really want to spend my time doing?

FOOD:

Walker's Shortbread Festive Shapes, on Amazon

For me, the big Christmas meal is not really all that different than the one I eat at Thanksgiving. Turkey for the meat eaters and Tofurkey for the vegetarians, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a couple veggie side dishes. One simple dessert (a cake or pie I can bake the night before) should do it. You don't have to have ten kinds of home-baked Christmas cookies around the house.

DECORATIONS:

LED Trees, from Pier 1 Imports

My outdoor Christmas lights, plus the ones we put in each of my windows, take more than two whole afternoons to put up. I do it with the help of a young cousin, so that probably saves me another afternoon of work. We make a special fun time of it, and enjoy a nice meal together afterwards. The tree will take an hour to buy at a nearby farm and set up. Dragging it into the house is the worst part! Decorating it will only take one pleasant evening - another opportunity to spend fun time with friends or family, as I always invite people to join me for the decorating.

I won't spend more than a couple hours decorating the rest of the house - a few candles here, a couple of garlands on the banisters and mantels, but not so much I get stressed about the time it takes. Mostly it just takes time to haul my decorations out of their storage space in my garage. Since I'm not throwing a big holiday party this year, I don't feel the need to decorate in every room of my house.

GIFTS:

This year I'm not buying gifts for adults. Just for the children in my life. Every year I try to get my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving, so I don't have to stress about it.

ACTIVITIES:

Activities are something very important to me since it's something you enjoy with other people. You create memories and have a fun time together. With time and budget constraints in mind, I'm going to carefully pick and choose which activities I get involved in. I love everything about the holidays, but to keep myself sane, I'll carefully book two "at home" evenings by myself each week. Activities I can pick and choose between include caroling, attending cocktail parties, babysitting friends' kids so they can go shopping, going on a dinner cruise to see the Christmas Ships, movies, theater, shopping, dinners out, gingerbread house making, baking, Christmas card sending, newsletter writing, gift wrapping, game night, karaoke night, a long evening spent reading a book, driving around to look at Christmas lights, white elephant parties, and more dinners out!

A Dream Come True

For years my dream has been to stay home in my own home for Christmas. Last year that dream came true! I don't look forward to traveling alone across dangerous snowy roads or through crowded airports to visit relatives hours away and staying overnight in their homes year after year. I like hotels! It's fun, but I am so excited to once again stay in my own home this Christmas. I'll invite a couple family members over to spend an hour watching their kids open gifts and drinking cocoa with me. Then I'll spend time with my dogs and my fireplace, and savor staying cozy in my own home. Right now this sounds like the loveliest, warmest, most simplistic, stress-free Christmas of all.

What are some of your dreams for this Christmas?

LOVELY BLOGS: See Vanessa Craft

Vanessa lives in Arizona. Her mission in life " to spread my love of hot glue guns and glitter to others." Hehe. I thought you might enjoy her recent posts on a bacon wrapped chicken holiday appetizer, glazed sweet potato fingerlings, organizing her family command center, and her craft tutorials for button bracelets and pine cone door decor.

http://seevanessacraft.com/

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Bigelow Tea's Pomegranate Pizzazz Cocktail (Bigelow)

Bourbon Glazed Meatloaf (The View From Great Island)

British Carrots: Sticky Roast Chantenay Carrot Medley with Pomegranate Molasses (Lavender and Lovage)

Christmas Tree Decorating Tips (Cakies)

Cranberry Pot Roast (Feasting at Home)

Pomegranate Bundt Cake (Afrodite's Kitchen)

Pomegranate Chicken Wings (Manu's Menu)

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins (Crunchy Creamy Sweet)

Psychedelic Purple Risotto (The Amateur Gourmet)

Skillet Corn with Browned Butter and Sage (Lemon Tree Dwelling)

Sparkling Pomegranate Christmas Cocktail (Happy Hour Projects)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Beginning to Enjoy Autumn

I'm working on my attitude about autumn - bundling up and taking the dogs for walks to see the fall colors in our neighborhood; enjoying my fireplaces; drinking copious amounts of hot tea; and lighting candles against the darkness. The fresh autumn air does smell really good, and I notice I have time to read more books now that I'm not out and about on light-filled summery evenings.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Do you need to light a fire under someone in your household to rake leaves in your yard? I'll be raking leaves today after we get back from the dog park. Right now there is just a loose covering of them on the lawn. I don't want it to get worse - wet, muddy leaves are messier and heavier to lift into my yard waste bin. Though it's quite cold today, the surprising amount of sunshine we have will make this chore cheerier. I won't be surprised if my retired next door neighbor hears me out raking and comes out to rake his lawn too so we can chat while we work.
  • Just a thought - If you plan to have a holiday party for friends or your co-workers, it's time to start looking at dates. Announce your party as soon as possible. This year December has just four Fridays and four Saturdays available. People's social schedules can fill up quite quickly.
  • Speaking of looking ahead at the holidays, do you have your Thanksgiving travel plans set, or have you invited people to your home yet?
  • I'm a big believer in staying informed. Have you watched your local evening news lately? Read a newspaper (whether the paper version or online) and watched a national news program in the last week or two? Lately I've been DVRing the news so I can skip over boring things I don't care about, like the sports coverage.
  • Take a quick peek in your cupboard. How are you doing with your supply of soups, chilis, hot cereals, hot teas, hot cocoa, spiced apple cider mix?
  • Maintenance cleaning: Pick a floor, whether it be bathroom, kitchen or laundry room, and mop it if needed. I have a front hallway with muddy dog prints and a bathroom with spilled kitty litter I need to attend to today!

TODAY'S PROJECT: Family Room

Oslo Throw, at Z Gallerie

I cleaned my upstairs living room yesterday after the carpet cleaner left and the carpet dried. So tonight after dinner I'll work on the downstairs Family Room. This is a project I can do while enjoying the Home for the Holidays Viewing Party at Lovely Living University.

This is currently the dustiest, dirtiest, muddiest room in my house. That's because it's the room the dogs spend most of their time in when they're not outside. I live in Seattle, so as you can imagine, several times a day my dogs come running in from the rain with muddy paws. The door is opened frequently, so dust just wafts in and coats everything.

I'll begin by sweeping the room to get the big clumps of hair up so the vacuum doesn't have to. Next, I need to move all the furniture and vacuum under it. I can't move my television (and the heavy table it stands on) by myself, so I'll try to do my vacuuming under them with the vacuum attachments.

The TV and the TV stand need to be dusted; my fluffy throws laundered; velvet curtains Febrezed; end table, bar and bookcase dusted. I'll put away a Halloween candle I found still displaying itself on the mantel. I'll dust the few picture frames and knicknacks I have on my end table and mantel. Let's not forget to dust our baseboards, too!

Heirloom Pumpkin Candle, from Illume

My fireplace mantel is currently cluttered with empty candle holders and used matches from the candles I've been burning recently. I'll reset the mantel with two fall-scented candles and scrub down the bricks.

My sliding glass patio door needs to have fingerprints, paw prints and dog nose prints washed off of it. It will only take a moment to wipe down the two light switches in this room, which have collected fingerprints on and around them. I'll fluff the couch pillows (and probably zap them with Febreze too), and vacuum the upholstered couches to get pet hair off them.

I use a red melamine tray in place of a coffee table down here. That needs to be wiped clean and have drinking glasses removed from it. My remotes and the laptop I use in this room should probably be wiped down and sanitized, too.

Tonight when I'm folding laundry and watching "Home for the Holidays," I'll be doing it in a clean, nice smelling, orderly family room. If I have extra time, I'll use it to realphabetize my DVDs.

Does your family room need some attention tonight?

LOVELY BLOGS: Retro Mummy

"Baking and making with my family of 7." Corrie blogs from her home in Sydney about knitting, sewing, quilting, crafting, baking, and renovating. Lately she's blogging about Christmas cookie truffles, rum balls, the things she's hoping to craft for Christmas gifts, and a super easy girls skirt she sewed recently. I think you'll enjoy her energy and enthusiasm!

http://retromummy.com/

LOVELY FOOD: Krusteaz' New Meyer Lemon Products

To me, anything flavored with lemon doesn't feel very autumn or winter seasonal. I like to eat lemon things in the spring and summer. But apparently other people disagree, and come out with Meyer lemon products for the holidays. Still, I love baked goods mixes very much, and especially like Krusteaz products, so I was unable to pass these new products up at the store when I saw them yesterday. My sister even mentioned she is craving pound cake and gave me permission to sabotage her diet by baking her one this weekend!

Meyer Lemon Cookie Mix, at Krusteaz

Meyer Lemon Pound Cake Mix, at Krusteaz

LOVELY HOME: Tea Kettle Oil Warmer

Sometimes the little things in life can bring so much joy. Yes, it's materialistic of me to be so very excited about this recent purchase I treated myself to. I was so delighted to see this. I love that the little holder for the tea light is shaped like a pan! I use an oil warmer and tea light almost every day to help bring pleasant scents to my dog-smelly home. My current oil warmer is a perfectly lovely brown-and-gold mosaic glass warmer. It, however, looks out of place in my kitchen, with my Christmas decor, and with my spring and summer decor color schemes. I'm planning to keep and use this adorable oven-shaped oil warmer in my kitchen year-round. I like to have a fragrance besides the smell of food cooking, warming my kitchen while I work.

Stove-Shaped Tea Kettle Oil Warmer, on Amazon

LOVELY MUSIC: Stevie Nicks' New Album

Any Stevie Nicks fans here besides me? I am treating myself to her new album, "24 Karat Gold." This is a "Songs from the Vault" album featuring 14 never-before-released songs. You can listen to the whole album here on YouTube but I prefer to buy it properly and own it. You can also watch her official videos for the new album, including "Lady" at the official Stevie Nicks YouTube channel.

24 Karat Gold, on Amazon

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Apple-Cheddar Scones with Sage (Not Derby Pie)

A Guide to the Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner (Epicurious)

Rigatoni all' Amatriciana (The Literate Chef)

Spicy Carrot Harissa Hummus (CHOW)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

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Lovely Living University.com

Lovely Living University on Facebook

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Middle of November

My new bar! Now that I don't have kids living at home, I splurged on this. It's set up now for holiday festivities, cocktail parties, dinner parties, and snowy evenings requiring whiskey.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Check over your budget (financial and time wise) for the rest of the month.
  • Look at your calendar, noting any doctor, dentist, vet, hair or other appointments. Check for upcoming birthdays, too.
  • Clean out your fruit bowl - any spoiled fruit you need to throw out? Need to put fresh fruit on your grocery shopping list? I'm eating up a pear and resolving not to buy any more avocados since they go bad too fast.
  • Is it time to get your snow tires put on your car? Around here I don't have to worry about that yet, but since I drive over a snowy mountain pass to see family, I might need to do this in a week or two.
  • Do you have an ice scraper in your car?
  • Return any phone calls or texts you might be behind on - I've forgotten to get back to three or four people since Monday!
  • Need to do any mid-week laundry or vacuuming?
  • Try to clean out your email inbox (if needed) today. Answer and delete or archive emails.
  • Need to wrap and label any Christmas gifts tonight? Or like me, have you not been shopping yet?
  • Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks. How are you doing with preparations for your meal, guests, or your own travel?
  • Do you send out Thanksgiving cards? I have just a couple families I want to especially tell that I'm thinking about them on Thanksgiving. So I'll mail some cards off this weekend. I'm hoping to finish writing them tonight - and I don't mean just signing my name!
  • Start thinking about making your New Year's Eve reservations. In some major cities, by now it's already too late to get a reservation at the chicest, swankiest hotels and trendiest restaurants. But you can always try! I've found the hostesses try really hard not to laugh out loud when you call late and they're completely sold out.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Overall Cleaning and Tidying

Spray Bottles, from The Container Store

Today I'm doing a quick once-over on almost every room of my house. I've worked hard to clean and organize it this autumn, but I want to make sure it's still in good shape. I'm not hosting Thanksgiving, but suspect I'll have overnight guests in the form of nephews or friends staying here during power outages. I also have a mind to throw some dinner parties. I want my house ready to go, and pleasant to come home to after my San Diego trip next week.

I'll quickly vacuum my living room and family room, put a freshly laundered autumn colored tablecloth on the dining table, empty my kitchen and bathroom trash cans, declutter my mail table, sweep the front entryway and front steps, do a quick mop on my kitchen floor, put a few dishes into the dishwasher, wipe down the sink, and make my bed. I suspect I'll need to dust off my home bar and mail table too. I'll run around the house really quickly looking for mugs and drinking glasses that need to make their way into the kitchen, and I'll check to be sure that all three bathrooms have toilet paper, clean hand towels, and a lack of kitty litter on the floor.

What overall housecleaning projects might you need to get done today?

LOVELY BLOGS: The Old Design Shop Vintage Image Treasury

Here's a really useful blog. The author shares out-of-copyright and public domain vintage images and clip art from her personal collection. You can use the designs on your blog or craft project. She also sells high resolution images for your art or blog projects in her Etsy shop.

http://olddesignshop.com/

LOVELY BLOGS: The Vintage Mixer

Becky romanticizes her grandmother's era. She writes, "The heart of Vintage Mixer is about a meal, a table and a conversation." Instead of cooking with processed foods, she likes to cook the way her grandmother did, using fresh ripe veggies and fruits, fresh eggs, and real butter. I'm enjoying her recent posts on Honey Whole Grain Dinner Roll Recipe; Pumpkin Yogurt Waffles with Local Honey; and her Seasonal Produce Guide for November. (A lifelong vegetarian, I had to skip over her graphic post on Proscuitto-Wrapped Turkey for Thanksgiving but many of you may enjoy it!

http://www.thevintagemixer.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: The Children's Book of Thanksgiving Stories

This vintage 1915 children's book might lend a short story or two for you and your children to take turns reading aloud on Thanksgiving. (Read the stories first and pick a couple that might be appropriate and not too preachy for modern young ears?) Too bad most of the pictures inside are black and white or uninteresting. I'm going to skim through a few of the stories here, as they have intriguing titles: Thanksgiving at Todd's Asylum; Miss November's Dinner Party; Mistress Esteem Elliott's Molasses Cake; and The Master of the Harvest.

The Children's Book of Thanksgiving Stories, on The Internet Archive

LOVELY FOOD: Turkey-Shaped Pasta

I love serving shaped, themed pastas for various seasons. I usually serve it with a simple Alfredo or cheese sauce so the shapes show up (gloppy tomato sauce seems to obscure them). Or better yet, I make a cold pasta sald with them! Here's a cute set of turkey-shaped pastas. One for you and one to make and drop off for a friend!

Turkey Shaped Pasta, on Amazon

LOVELY GIFTS: Thanksgiving Cornucopia

I'm thinking of sending a cornucopia to some relatives I won't be spending Thanksgiving with (I refuse to become part of the crazy travel holiday, so I stay in town). I also might want to send one to the hostess who has invited me to join their Thanksgiving meal - though I worry if I send it ahead of time, she'd feel obligated to put it on the main table despite any possible earlier plans for a different decoration. I'd hope she would use it somewhere else in her house as part of the decor! I've had great experiences ordering from this florist in the past.

Thanksgiving Fresh Flower Cornucopia, from Calyx & Corolla

LOVELY MUSIC: Bette Midler's New Album

Here's a gift idea for your mother-in-law, aunt or great-aunt who is older than you, or other ladies of a certain age who might be fans of Bette Midler. Her "It's the Girls" album is a series of cover songs from girl bands including The Ronettes, The Andrews Sisters, The Shirelles, the Chordettes, and (of course?) The Supremes. This looks like a really fun album! You can listen to "Be My Baby" on YouTube; as well as "One Fine Day" and "Waterfalls."

It's the Girls, on Amazon

LOVELY TV: Northpole

Hrm. It's REALLY early to be showing a Christmas themed movie. Still, I might just record it on Saturday night (8pm on the Hallmark channel) and watch it in a couple weeks when it's actually December. I really like the actress Tiffani Thiessen and this might be a nice pleasant film to have on in the background while wrapping Christmas gifts and decorating for the holidays.

Northpole, on The Hallmark Channel

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Cranberry Bread Pudding with Honey Whiskey Maple Sauce (Will Cook for Smiles)

Cranberry Butter (Sugar Dish Me)

Crunchy Cole Slaw and Vegetarian Borscht (Lifewise/Canoe)

Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie (Sally's Baking Addiction)

Fig Cranberry Sauce (TheKitchn)

Garlic and Chive Mashed Sweet Potatoes (A Couple Cooks)

Grilled Eggplant with Pomegranates (Olive Oil and Lemons)

History of Reading: Traveling Library Made in the 17th Century (Slate)

How to Seed Pomegranates (Grateful Table)

The Man Who Kept Trader Joe's Whimsical (The Atlantic)

Pear Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad (Busy at Home)

Pomegranate Apple Cider with Amaretto and Whiskey Cocktail (Saucy Pear)

Pomegranate Cheesecake (My Persian Kitchen)

Pomegranate Margaritas (Pink Parsley)

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion, Pomegranates and Orange Slices (Greens and Sweet Things)

The Undisputed Right Way to Chop an Onion (Slate)

Vanilla Rum Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream (White on Rice Couple)

Veterans' Day's Other Name: Armistice Day (The Atlantic)


--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

www.lovely-living.com

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www.lovelylivinguniversity.com

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