Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring Cleaning, Interrupted

My balcony at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle

I had intended to have all my Spring Cleaning all finished long before the end of April. However, I couldn't resist taking advantage of two opportunities to vacation with loved ones this month. I enjoyed a weekend staycation at a hotel with my boyfriend's mom, and a Spring Break trip to San Diego with cousins and a nephew. On top of that, I traveled for work for half a week. I haven't been home much to complete my self-assigned cleaning projects. I'm going to try to make up for that this weekend and get everything done!


My nephew took this picture of me in front of the Hotel Del Coronado during our San Diego vacation this month.

  • Time to launder pet beds?
  • Let's freshen our cars up a bit as needed. Mine needs a quick vacuuming, a wipe of the dashboard, trash bag emptied, dog water bottles refreshed, extraneous lipsticks removed, and windows wiped.
  • Speaking of cars - is yours due for a service? Mine is 2 months overdue (!) so I need to schedule an appointment for this week.
  • Try to phone an elderly relative this weekend. I try to avoid the hours between 1pm and 4pm as my grampa and great-aunt are usually napping during that time. Sometimes I'll call on Sundays before Game of Thrones, while I'm home doing laundry and chores.
  • Energize yourself with a brisk walk today before getting started cleaning.
  • Plan a special Sunday breakfast for tomorrow. Even if it's just you!
  • Plan a special reward for yourself and any helpers who work hard today helping you Spring Clean. A movie later tonight, root beer floats, perhaps a family game played around your dining table?
  • Start a load of laundry (Blankets and throws? Towels? Cleaning rags?) that can get going while you're working doing other things today.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Spring Cleaning the Family Room

Wood for Good Polish, from Method Home

I'm back from my travels and ready to re-tackle Spring Cleaning. Since I have a nice long cloudy Saturday stretching ahead of me, I feel up to tackling the Family Room. I've kept this room fairly well maintained and clean, but it does get a lot of use - this is where the big TV and surround sound system live!

I have several pieces of furniture to move today in order to vacuum under them: A couch, an armchair, a bookshelf that holds my DVDs, the coffee table my TV stands on top of, a side table, and my heavy wooden bar. I think I can scoot all this furniture around by myself.

There are also two dog beds in this room. I'll launder them while I'm cleaning the rest of this room.

I'll move the furniture to dust the walls behind it and mop the laminate flooring underneath it. I'll vacuum and spot clean my couches. I wish it were a dry, warm sunny day so I could air my decorative couch pillows in the sun outside, but alas, it's not.

After I've replaced the furniture and cushions, I'll wash this room's four windows, take down the curtains to send to the dry cleaners, dust baseboards, wipe light switches, dust my lamp fixtures and the overhead lighting, then dust the TV and electronic components.

I've kept up on keeping my DVDs dusted and alphabetized, so it will only take a moment to quickly dust the shelves. I'll dust the red lacquer tray I use as a coffee table to hold remotes and drinks, and I'll wipe down all the remotes with antibacterial wipes.

My last step will be to light my home fragrance oil diffuser to make the room smell lovely. I'll then sit down and take a mental inventory of anything this room might need in the future. Anything I need to improve upon, fix, repair, budget for or add? I think I have several years left on my couches; my curtains are in good shape; my smoke detector is up to date and has fresh batteries. I might want to replace the boring old light and outlet covers sometime this year, and my lacquer tray is getting a little scratched up. I could use some artwork over the mantel (where I hang a wreath at Christmastime) and perhaps artwork to hang over my bar. Other than that I think this room is in good shape.

Tonight I'll be watching a movie in a fresh, clean, warm and cozy little den!

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Harney & Sons Iced Teas

I was pretty excited to find these bottled iced teas yesterday at my local Metropolitan Market. I don't usually purchase bottled iced teas (unless I'm on a road trip or out doing errands) since I make fresh iced tea or sun tea daily. But I was thinking these might be nice to bring on a picnic or serve at one of my fancier backyard garden parties. They're a bit expensive, so I'll consider them a splurge not a necessity. I was delighted to taste the Black Iced Tea this morning and realize it's not very sweet at all. I prefer unsweetened teas. Next up, I'll try their Lemonade to see if it's guestworthy.

Harney & Sons Bottled Iced Teas, at


"Celebrating the warm and cozy since 2009." Laura blogs about home decor from the Ocean State (Rhode Island). Her goal is to "create a cozy, creative, positive corner of the internet." I'm enjoying her past posts on Turkish Tulu rugs, what she loves about her home, and her Etsy and home decor finds. I wish she blogged more frequently!

LOVELY BOOKS: A Flower Wedding

This charming vintage illustrated book was drawn by Walter Crane and published in 1905. You can browse through it online for free. The illustrations are darling!

A Flower Wedding, at The Internet Archive


"60 Ways to Create & Give Joy." Here's the lovely new book by Joy Cho who runs the "Oh Joy!" blog. The book is a "guide to help anyone bring joy and whimsy into their lives with stylish projects, from home decor to food to fashion." This looks like such a fun book - there are recipes for striped cakes, intriguing suggestions for entertaining, inventive gift wrap projects, fashion tips and colorful home decor ideas. I love happy, whimsical books like this!

Oh Joy!, on Amazon

LOVELY KITCHEN: Rectangular Layer Cake Pans

I'm not exactly the best cake froster in the world, so I'm pretty sure any of my attempts to exactly recreate this gorgeous cake shown above would fail. I bet the cake would still look pretty (in its own way) and taste great though.

I'm very tempted to pick up a set of these four rectangular thin cake pans. They'll store easily, and they're well within my budget. With as much cake baking as I did yesterday, I do think I'd find several opportunities to use them each season!

Rectangle Cake Pan Set, from Sur la Table


Beet, Walnut and Honey Dip (Vintage Mixer)

The Best Charcuterie on the planet is 4,770 Feet Above Sea Level (Bon Appetit)

Curried Chicken Salad with Mango (Season With Spice)

Do-It-Yourself Copper Shelves (Vintage Revivals)

How to Make the Best Crispy Cheesy Quesadillas (The Kitchn)

How to Make the World's Greatest Spaghetti and Meatballs (Epicurious)

A Make-Ahead Vegetarian Dinner Party from Ina Garten (The Kitchn)

Orzo Salad with Fava Beans, Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes (Black Girl in Chef's Whites)

Quick Artichoke Asiago Broccoli (Sumptuous Spoonfuls)

Strawberry & Limoncello Rose Sangria (The Kitchn)

12 Vintage Baby Girl Names That Were Originally Nicknames (Huffington Post)

Ways to Use Pomegranates (Love From Berlin)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Baking and Cooking Day

Stonewall Kitchen Lemon Pound Cake Mix, on Amazon

Tonight after work I'm planning to get into the kitchen and cook up a bunch of yummy things to eat over the weekend and into next week. I have a bit of work to do later tonight on my blogs, so I probably won't be doing a lot of baking from scratch. To save time, I'll use some of the baking mixes I've stored carefully away in my pantry for opportunities like this.


  • Look to the weekend ahead - have you made social plans yet? Your friends might already be busy, so invite them to do something fun as soon as you figure out what that might be!
  • Go into the weekend with a full tank of gas. While you're out, do you need to pick up a movie from Redbox, drop off mail or dry cleaning, get some cash from an ATM?
  • The weather is getting nicer - carve out some time for a couple walks this weekend.
  • How are you doing on your Spring Cleaning progress? Wish mine were already done. Perhaps by the end of this weekend it will be!

TODAY'S PROJECT: Baking and Cooking

Mini Wheels Pasta, from Barilla

Today I'm taking time to make some things I'll share with friends and family, enjoy over the weekend, and eat next week. This past week, I had a crazy, chaotic workweek. I (sadly) ate breakfast at the computer each morning - yogurt usually. I barely had time to make a sandwich or throw together an uninspired salad for lunch every day. I ate leftovers for dinner, or quickly threw together some vegetarian tacos. I'm anticipating another hectic workweek next week, so I hope to plan ahead a little better and prepare some tasty foods for myself ahead of time.

I plan to make:

  • Hard boiled eggs for salads and egg salad sandwiches to eat through the week next week.
  • Roasted beets for salads and Family Night dinner with a bunch of beet-loving cousins.
  • Lemon pound cake to slice and bring to outdoor picnics.
  • Cold pasta salad for my lunches and to bring on picnics.
  • A baked pasta dish and a macaroni and cheese to freeze and reheat for family meals next week.
  • A couple of enchilada dishes to freeze and reheat for upcoming dinner parties.
  • Refried beans to use next week. It will be nice to eat fresh and not canned refried beans!
  • A lemon cake to serve on Family Night.

When's the last time you had an uninterrupted three or four hours in the kitchen to experiment, bake and cook tasty things, and play around with ingredients? I'm glad I could prioritize this time and deter myself from just going out to a movie tonight like I'd been tempted to. I can watch a movie on Netflix while waiting for my cakes to bake!

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Iris Bleu & Iris Blanc

New for Spring from L'Occitane - Iris Bleu & Iris Blanc. I suspect they put this out specifically in time for Mother's Day. I don't have a mother to gift this to, so I might have to just indulge in it myself. However, I have yet to smell these! I'll head down to my local L'Occitane store next time I'm at the mall and check it out. The collection includes an eau de toilette, a body milk, a hand cream, a shower gel, and a mini fragrance set.

Iris Bleu & Iris Blanc, at L'Occitane USA

LOVELY BLOGS: My Danish Kitchen

Blogger Gitte lives in the US now, but is originally from Denmark. She shares her recipes for both classic and modern Danish dishes, and also blogs about other Scandinavian recipes. Currently she's blogging about chocolate almond biscotti, a lovely Hazelnut cake with nougat cream, and sharing how to make rye bread without a sourdough starter. I'm also intrigued by her post on Magic Custard Cake.

LOVELY BOOKS: The Follies & Fashions Of Our Grandfathers

Here's a charming antique book from 1807 you can read online for free. There are thirty-seven color plates showing court and morning dresses as well as gentlemen's outfits. The text is a bit dry, providing fashion tips and a bit of gossip on long dead fashionable people from yesteryear. Several of the illustrations look like they would fit right into an antique edition of Pride & Prejudice. The artwork, long out of copyright, might prove useful to some of the blogging, crafty readers of Lovely Living.

The Follies & Fashions Of Our Grandfathers, at Archive.Org

LOVELY BOOKS: The Residence

"Inside the private world of the White House." I don't care at all about politics, but I've always been fascinated by the behind-the-scenes machinations that keep our presidents safe and our White House running. I've devoured books by White House chefs, White House decorators, secretaries, and Secret Service agents.

Now this weekend I'm treating myself to the hardcover edition of this book. (I almost got it on my Kindle, but I think I have a couple friends who will want to borrow this book after I'm done with it, so I got the paper copy I can hand over to them soon).

The book was written after hundreds of hours of interviews with staffers and former staffers, including butlers, ushers, maids, chefs, florists, and doormen.

Chapters include "Controlled Chaos," "Discretion," "Devotion," "Extraordinary Demands," "Dark Days," "Sacrifice," "Race and the Residence," and of course, "Backstairs Gossip and Mischief." I'm also looking forward to the chapter called "Growing Up in the White House."

The Residence, on

LOVELY FOOD: Babushka Chocolates

These adorable truffles are part of Moonstruck's Mother's Day collection. So cute! They also offer a ginger & sea salt truffle made to look like a Babushka doll, too.

Babushka Doll Truffles, at Moonstruck Chocolates

LOVELY HOME: Ruffled Shower Curtains

I'm not really in need of a new shower curtain - I redid my guest bathroom just last Spring, in a lovely soft lavender shade. But I'm really intrigued by these ruffly shower curtains. I may just keep them in mind for the next time around. I'm not sure if these would look wrinkly or "too girly" though. I just thought they are a refreshing departure from the plain style I currently have up. The curtains come in five or six color options - I think the Ivory is hideous but I like the blues-greens curtain very much.

Ruffled Shower Curtains, on Amazon

LOVELY SHOPS: Blue Terracotta

This Etsy shop is run out of Lyon, France. The seller creates precious, delicate brooches based on butterflies, moths, and leaves. There are also hair fascinators headbands, and hair clips. If you like butterflies and are looking for a special statement piece for your hair, take a browse here. I'm having trouble picking just one "favorite" here!

Blue Terracotta, on Etsy


Blueberry Elephant Macarons (Raspberri Cupcakes)

Easy Lemon Cake Recipe (Bakers Royale)

Elegant Spring Checkerboard Cake (Bakingdom)

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa and Avocado Cream Sauce (Annie's Eats)

Hydrangea Meringue Cookies (Haniela's)

Lemon Blueberry Bread (Love From the Oven)

The Many Faces of Rosie the Riveter (The Atlantic)

Mexican Grilled Corn Avocado Toast (How Sweet It Is)

Red, White and Black Fancy Cake Pops (Pint Sized Baker)

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Herbs (CHOW)

Strawberry Mint Julep (Baking Bites)

Vintage Cocktail Friday: Champs Elysees (Mid-Century Menu)

Weekday Vegetable Soup (101 Cookbooks)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gardening Day!

Some of the plants I'm putting into the ground today

Today I'm forcing myself to get my gardening chores done. I'm dreading the planting and weeding, but I do enjoy watering, so at least I can look forward to that ritual at the end of the evening!


  • Have you shopped for your Mother's Day present? (Don't forget your mother-in-law, grandmother if she was more like a mother to you, or other important maternal women in your life). Mother's Day is May 10 this year.
  • Make menu plans for the week and write up your grocery list, if needed.
  • Look over the week ahead - Who has a doctor, dentist, or haircut appointment coming up? Any pets going to the vet? Any birthdays you need to remember to call or send cards and gifts for?


I really, really do not enjoy gardening. Unfortunately, however, I really really do enjoy buying flowers and plants. I love driving up and seeing beautiful splashes of color in my yard.

I've been guilty so many times in the past of taking so long to plant flowers after bringing them home, that they died before I could put them in the ground! This spring I promised myself to do better. Buy fewer flowers, plant them right away, and spend more time caring for them.

So today, a lovely sunny 70 degree Seattle day, I've cleared my afternoon for planting and weeding. I noticed myself stalling earlier today by doing important chores - laundry, washing dishes, making an elaborate lunch for myself. I have to kick myself in the rear and get outdoors and finish this chore!

I have three flats of flowers to plant in the front bed, two flats of ranunculus to plant by the front door, and three pink jasmine to plant in my back yard. Plus endless weeding.

Hopefully this evening I'll be done with my dreaded gardening, and can relax with a glass of vinho verde wine and a magazine in my back yard!

Do you have any gardening to do today? Whether it's in your backyard, on your patio, front yard, or just involves taking care of some houseplants?

LOVELY BLOGS: Crinoline Robot

"Vintage, alternate histories, and the world of tomorrow." I'm enjoying looking through the archive of Mim's past posts. She's a journalist from the UK, and collects all sorts of interesting vintage tidbits to share on her blog as she goes along. She shares the occasional vintage outfit posts, blogs about costume drama type TV shows she's enjoying such as Poldark, shares tips on buying items from charity shops, and writes about the vintage fairs and events she attends, including Vintage Nostalgia. Check out her helpful post on how to look after and shop for vintage perfume.

LOVELY BOOKS: Floral Illustrations of the Seasons

Here's another lovely out-of-copyright vintage book you can look through and enjoy online for free. I wonder if some of the more artistic crafters among you might find the vintage flower illustrations useful for some upcoming projects. Treat yourself to a few minutes of looking through at least the Spring flowers here!

Floral Illustrations of the Seasons, at Archive.Org

LOVELY FOOD: Chocolate Caramel Honeybees

I think these chocolate caramel bee-shaped candies would be perfect for a spring birthday gift or a Mother's Day gift. They're by John & Kira's. They also make an adorable set of chocolate praline red ladybugs.

Chocolate Honey Caramel Bees, at Dean & Deluca

LOVELY MOVIES: Learning to Drive

I find the premise of this show extra compelling, as I have so many East Coast friends who don't know how to drive. I like Patricia Clarkson, and who doesn't love Ben Kingsley? This looks like the perfect movie to take my aunt or mother-in-law to.

LOVELY SHOPS: Danielle Origami Lamps

These paper origami lamps aren't cheap - they cost just as much as a regular lamp. But I love how unusual and different they are! I'm not sure they'd fit in with my old fashioned decor - they'd look nice in a midcentury modern style home though. The "Aladdin Pink" lamp is my favorite.

LOVELY TV: Younger

Lately I've been enjoying this TV Land original show about a woman in her 40s who re-enters the workplace and finds it's easier to get ahead of she pretends to be in her 20s. I like the lead actress, don't care either way about her co-star Hilary Duff, and I'll good naturedly pretend the main actress could actually pass herself off as being in her late 20s. I find it fun to have these episodes on in the background while I work. I'm a bit annoyed though that the main character supposedly doesn't know much about Pinterest, Instagram, or the Internet in general and has to be taught by one of the twenty-somethings about those things. Heck, I have been using the Internet for over 20 years and I was on all those services right away before any 20 year old hussies discovered them. Sheesh. Anyway, if you need some harmless fun TV watching in your life, check out a couple of the episodes offered online.

LOVELY TV Back in Time for Dinner

This is totally my current obsession. I love this show! A British family volunteered to be filmed for this reality show for several weeks. They will live their life (at least on the ground floor of their home, which is refurbished for a new decade every week) as though they were back in time. The first episode is set in the 1950s, where the mom of the family struggles to cook under post-war rationing conditions and without a refrigerator or microwave. The second episode (of six) is set in the 1960s, and the final episode gives us a glimpse at the future. As much as I love vintage retro style and food history, this show has completely captured my imagination.

Now there's also a book based on the show. "Back In Time For Dinner: From Spam to Sushi: How We've Changed the Way We Eat." I'm dying to read it - perhaps we'll read it together at the Lovely Living University book club.

Luckily you can find the episodes all over YouTube. Join us over at Lovely Living University where we'll be watching an episode together and chatting about it in our chatroom, every Sunday.

Back in Time for Dinner at BBC

Back in Time for Dinner Sequel Set (The Guardian)

Back in Time for Dinner Episode 1, on YouTube


Blackberry and Lemon Curd Tart (Edible Etcetera)

A Decluttering Bible Boosts Business at Secondhand Shops (Chicago Business)

How to Make Meyer Lemon Curd (Baking Bites)

Princess Crown Cookies (The Bearfoot Baker)

Sandwich Cookies with Raspberries and Lemon Curd (Olive Oil and Lemons)

Strawberry Basil Sorbet Bellini (The Cookaholic Wife)

What "Food Porn" Does to the Brain (The Atlantic)

Why Women Aren't Having Children (The Atlantic)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

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