Monday, June 29, 2015

Maximizing Outdoor Time in Summer

Here in Seattle, we have a beautiful three or four month summer - sometimes it rains all June, sometimes it's sunny all October. The rest of the year, as you can imagine, is rainy, cold, and windy. So I like to spend as much time outdoors while I still can.

I maximize my time by creating outdoor dining spaces, living room spaces, and an outdoor office where I do some of my work every day. (There's too much glare on my laptop from about 10am through 5pm, so I work indoors for those hours, sadly).

This is a lovely way to live my life, but it does cause me to have three more "rooms" of furniture to care for and three spaces to keep neat. It's worth the extra work though!


The first rose of summer to appear in my garden

  • Are you hosting a party for Fourth of July? Have you created your menu, invited your guests, grocery shopped?
  • Are you traveling for Fourth of July? Have you packed, made arrangements for pets, purchased your hostess gift? Prepared your car for a road trip if applicable?
  • I'm trying to pick just one intriguing Fourth of July food to attempt from some boards that intrigued me on Pinterest. I won't try to be perfect and won't try to over-attempt things beyond my skill level. I should be enjoying the Fourth of July party I'm attending, not showing off culinary feats.
  • Look over your past month. How did you do with personal goals, housecleaning, budgeting, socializing, keeping up with your book club, journaling (if that's important to you), making time for quality time with your significant other, remembering birthdays and anniversaries, keeping appointments? What do you want to work on next month?
  • Do your pets' beds need an end-of-the-month laundering?
  • Make menu plans for the week ahead if you haven't any.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Beautifying My Outdoor Living Spaces

After a long day of running errands, I so look forward to coming home and lounging on my chaise lounge. It's also my outdoor office in the afternoons and early evenings.

Today I'm re-cleaning my outdoor living areas. I plan to wipe down the patio dining table, wipe down all six outdoor chair cushions, mow the lawn, brush off my chaise lounge, throw out some dead plants cluttering up the deck, look for an outdoor rug I've stored somewhere and put it next to the chaise lounge, sweep the deck, wipe off the bistro chairs and table I eat breakfast at, and water my herbs and plants I keep on the deck.

I also will work on beautifying the area and setting a nice scene and mood for my lounging later tonight. I need to refill my lantern candle holders with fresh candles, get out more incense to burn, pick some flowers to put in a vase on the outdoor dining table, and get out my iced tea pitcher.

I expect these chores to take around an hour, counting the time it will take me to shower off the yucky grass and dirt after I mow.

Towards the end of the evening, I'll drag sprinklers around and set them to water my front and back lawns for an hour.

I can't wait to lounge around sipping decaf iced tea and reading magazines out in the fresh air!

Do you have any outdoor living related chores you might attempt to take care of tonight? Even if you have just a small balcony or a front porch you use in the summertime?

LOVELY BATH & BODY: MOR's Correspondence Collection

I am excited to gift some of these beautifully packaged, nice smelling bath and body products when I travel this summer. They aren't the perfect hostess gift for just anyone, but I have quite a few friends who delight in writing and receiving letters. The collection includes triple-milled soap bars, hand creams, body cream, hand and body wash, candles, and home fragrance diffusers. The scents are quite unusual - Sencha Verbena, Pepperberry Cardamom, and Quince Persimmon.


Of late, I've had so very many friends raving about drinking almond water (and maple water, which we just got at our local Trader Joe's) that I want to try some. I love the vintage retro packaging on these almond waters from Victoria's Kitchen, so I might pick up a bottle next time I go to a gourmet grocery store in my town. Have you tried any almond waters? What do you think of them?

LOVELY BLOGS: Tattooed Martha

Sasha strives to share how she creates "a life filled with art, delicious food, messes, and above all else, passion." She shares recipes for healthy food, cocktails, and desserts. Her recipes incorporate fresh ingredients whenever possible, and she makes as much of her food at home as possible.

I've enjoyed her recent posts on pineapple habanero margaritas; jalapeno mango sorbet; her post letting us peek into her daily life; and her recipe for a zucchini lemon basil pizza.


I really enjoy Hannah Miles' cookbooks, so I might have to break my "no new cookbooks in 2015" resolution and pick up Naked Cakes. The beautiful cover photo has totally sucked me in! I'm fairly certain, knowing myself quite well, I won't actually be able to turn out any of her lovely creations very well, but they'll probably taste delicious enough to be worth the effort!

Naked Cakes: Simply Stunning Cakes, on Amazon

LOVELY FOOD: A L'Olivier Gourmet Vinegar

I've been slowly stocking my pantry with these delicious gourmet vinegars from A L'Olivier. I started with the Cassis one, and loved it so much (I use it on strawberries, salads, and tomatoes) that I almost immediately bought the Fig one. Not a fan of peppers, I'll skip the Sweet Pepper Fruit Vinegar. Instead, next paycheck I'll treat myself to the Lemon Grapefruit vinegar. Imagine that on an avocado butter lettuce salad!

A L'Olivier Fruit Vinegars, on Amazon

LOVELY MOVIES: After the Ball

I can't resist modern fairytale retellings, especially Cinderella ones! So I'll check this out even though it went nearly straight to iTunes and I don't recognize any of the actors' names. Maybe I'll wait til it's $1 on RedBox. At the very least, the costumes should be amusing.

After the Ball Trailer, At

LOVELY SHOPS: Chambre de Sucre

I don't personally take any sugar in my tea, but I like to have some on hand for guests who do. I'd love to have a box of these beautiful flowered and pressed sugars awaiting my tea and coffee drinking guests' pleasure! These are gorgeous. They'd be so wonderful at a baby shower or fancy tea party!

LOVELY TV: The Astronaut Wives Club

I've now watched two episodes of this new show, and I'm enjoying it more than I thought. I liked the book, but was worried the show would be too "Desperate Housewives"ish. Not that there's anything wrong with that! However, I've noticed that I'm not dying to find out "what happens next week" on this show. I'm just pleasantly delighted when I see a new recording on my DVR.

Have you seen this show? What did you think?


Cherry Zinfandel Sorbet (Blender Babes)

The Colonnades Afternoon Tea (Edinburgh Etiquette)

Crabmeat Grilled Cheese (Tiny New York Kitchen)

Don't Worry So Much About Whether Your Food is Processed (The Atlantic)

15 Spiralized Salad Recipes (Cupcakes and Kale Chips)

Frozen Cranberry Orange Mimosa (Crunchy Creamy Sweet)

How to Make a Simple Royal Icing Primrose (The Bearfoot Baker)

Italian Lemon Ice and Lemon Simple Syrup (Spinach Tiger)

Mini Potato Crab Cakes for Sunday Supper (Magnolia Days)

Peach Upside Down Cake (Tutti Dolci)

Raspberry Limeade Ice Cream Sandwiches (Dessert for Two)

Roasted Apricot Vanilla Creme Fraiche Pops (Hungry Girl Por Vida)

Three DIY Projects to Enjoy This Summer (Dolly Dowsie)

Une Glace Paris (Paris Breakfasts)

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