Monday, August 31, 2015

A Quick Weeknight Tidying Project - Laundry Room

In summer, I like to use Lavender detergent on my laundry

I'm tired after a long Monday workday, but don't want my house to completely slide. Tonight I am setting myself an easily accomplishable but still important task: Sorting my cleaning supplies and organizing them in my laundry cupboards. (I don't do busywork - this task will help me clean the rest of my house more efficiently going forward!)


  • All done paying bills for the month ahead?
  • Create a menu and grocery list for the week as needed.
  • Figure out what you're packing in your kids' lunches for tomorrow (or do they do it themselves?)
  • What is everyone wearing to school or work tomorrow? Want to lay it out tonight so it's ready tomorrow?
  • If you still have nice summer weather in your area, try to squeeze in even a brief walk tonight after dinner!
  • Tonight is the last night of August. Look back over your month. Did you accomplish your goals? Socialize enough? Enjoy time outdoors? Pick those berries before they rot on the bushes?


Tonight it took me less than fifteen minutes to clean and organize my tiny laundry room. (Luckily, I spent last night, my regular laundry night, sorting, folding and putting away laundry so it's out of my way).

I wiped down the top of my washer and dryer, wiped up a detergent spill, dusted the light switch, and removed everything from my shelves. I took inventory of my cleaning supplies - it's always interesting to me to wonder if I have three Windex because I bought too many or because I haven't been cleaning my windows enough! I consolidated two half-full Windex into one, rinsed and recycled the bottle, and put my rarely-used oven cleaner to some good use upstairs. (That only took an extra 60 seconds!)

After wiping and dusting the shelves, I put the cleaning supplies, light bulbs and cleaning rags back in an organized fashion. A quick scrubbing of the laundry room floor (laminate) and I was all done.

I gave myself permission to go flop in front of the TV with a glass of iced tea and a magazine and relax for the evening!

Is your laundry room clean and organized so you can find things and efficiently get your laundry done?

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Wine Country at Bath & Body Works

I don't like to rush the seasons - I'm savoring summer and making the most of it while it's still here. I generally don't put out any pumpkin or autumn scented candles until October 1st. So I was a little hesitant to walk into Bath & Body Works the other day, expecting it in late August to be filled to the rafters with ten thousand kinds of pumpkin candles. They did have several pumpkin fragrances, but I was pleased to find their "bridge" line: Wine Country.

They stock Wine Country fragrances in candles, hand soaps, shower gels, body creams, and room perfumes. So far my favorite scent in the line is Black Cherry Merlot, followed by Sparkling Pear Riesling. I bought the small and medium candles so they'll all be burned up and enjoyed by the time October rolls around and I'm ready to light apple, pumpkin and "leaf" type scents.

Wine Country, at Bath & Body Works

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Sonoma Chardonnay Iced Tea

Sadly, we can't actually drink chardonnay all day long. (Maybe on a nice summer Sunday when we have alone time all afternoon, but other than that..) It's not good for us. Instead, here's a suggestion - chardonnay flavored iced tea! I'm just finishing up my last pitcher for this summer. Almost time to start stocking my autumn-inspired teas. Wonder if they have a Merlot flavored hot tea coming out soon?

Sonoma Chardonnay at Republic of Tea

Sonoma Chardonnay Iced Tea, on

LOVELY BLOGS: A Beautiful Bite

Melanie blogs about "where passion and the plate collide." She is a mom of four who works with brands to help them develop recipes. You can read about her recent trip to the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando; read her recipe for Chicken Marsala Lasagna; check out her Chesapeake Crab Melt; and learn to make her Moroccan flank steak with blistered peppers.

LOVELY SHOPS: The Little Stitcher Shop

This Italian Etsy shop makes me want to learn to cross stitch! They sell darling PDF patterns you can print out to help you create storybook, fairytale, Christmas, and other adorable cross stitch designs. There are witches, seasonal patterns, old-fashioned clothing, and darling sampler patterns like this Princess Peacock. Hope you enjoy looking around the store as much as I did!

The Little Stitcher Shop, on Etsy


Blueberry and Bacon Salad (Honest Cooking)

Blueberry and Lemon Verbena Jam (Prospect: The Pantry)

Blueberry and Peach Ricotta Tarts (Haniela's)

Blueberry, Peach and Lavender Perfect Pie (Hummingbird High)

Crispy Peach Cobbler (Smitten Kitchen)

A Final Tribute to Summer: My Favorite Peach Recipes (Simmer and Boil/Cooking Light)

Gardens: Late Summer's Soft Fruit and Berries (The Guardian)

Magnificent Movie About the Charged Relationship Between Household Help and the Household: The Second Mother (Slate)

One Bowl Peach and Almond Cake (Piece of Cake)

Peach Almond Crumble Bars (Dinner at the Zoo)

Peach and Avocado Summer Rolls with Tamarind Dipping Sauce (Olio by Marilyn)

The Story Behind the One-Pan, 9 Minute Pasta Recipe That Took Over the Internet (Slate)

Video: How to Ship Cookies Like a Pro (The Bearfoot Baker)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Making the Most out of Summer

One of the plants I water during my nightly 20 minute watering ritual this summer


  • Let's do several special things to enjoy our weekend. This is probably one of the last weekends of summer. Whether you're gardening for pleasure (instead of for chores), doing something active like biking, hiking or roller blading, going to the beach or camping, reading a book for an extra long time today, going out for dinner and a movie, lounging in your yard or on your patio, or whatever you find fun and relaxing.. do it! Give yourself the time.
  • Weekends can get lonely for old people, divorced people, or singles. What do you say we book some time into our weekend to make a phone call or two? I'm going to step away from my blog and call my widowed grandfather for a quick chat before he goes to dinner.
  • My neighborhood blackberry bushes have berries starting to rot on the vine. I'm going out berry picking tonight. I'll be making blackberry pie and blackberry ice cream tomorrow!

TODAY'S PROJECT: Outdoor Living Area Maintenance

I'm laughing because I seem to have replicated most of the important living areas in my home to my back yard. I have a living room (shown here) where I read books and magazines and chat with guests.

Here's a fire pit where we cook cornbread, steam potatoes, cook aluminum-foil wrapped corn, and make baked beans; plus our dining table where we eat outdoors; and a chaise lounge to nap on after a long session of reading magazines.

In Seattle, with a mild winter but 8 months of rain or gray skies, I really try to take as much advantage of our summer as possible. Any time I can be outdoors, especially for meals, I do it. I work outside if it's not too sunny to see what's going on on my laptop; I take naps outside if it isn't too hot; and my summer parties are all outdoors.

Today I'm taking time to clean, maintain and refresh my outdoor living areas. The neighbor boy mowed the lawn yesterday, which meant I had to move all the outdoor furniture so as to maximize his mowing. (On second thought, I should have the kid moving the furniture, mowing, and moving it back). I didn't water my lawn because I knew it was going to rain, so kept the furniture out of the way to maximize the surface area of my lawn that the rain would hit.

Now that the rain is over, I'm wiping down the outdoor furniture, bringing the cushions back out, wiping or scrubbing cat hair off them, Febrezing as necessary, and making sure my outdoor living area is useful and beautiful.

My patio table and side tables need wiping off, incense and matches replenished, patio swept, dead plants removed, live plants watered and fertilized.

I eat breakfast on this part of my patio. The chairs need fallen leaves brushed off them, the lantern needs its candle replaced, and I need to recycle the magazines I've enjoyed today and replace them from my "to read" stack.

Today's chore is an extremely pleasant one - I'm making my outdoor living space lovely again, and I'll enjoy it tonight after the rains have gone and after my work is done.

I'll have all autumn and winter to enjoy being indoors in my lovely home. For now, I'm reading in the sun, watching my dogs play in the yard, listening to the wind as it blows in the trees above my head, and enjoying hearing neighborhood children play at the school playground next door.

Do you have an outdoor living space, whether it's a deck, backyard, patio or small lawn, that needs tending to today?

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Pearl's New Lime Basil Vodka

I'm making refreshing summer drinks with just this new Pearl Lime Basil vodka, tonic, and a piece of mint or two from my kitchen garden. The only problem is, they're so light tasting, it's hard to know how many one has had in a long lazy summer afternoon! I won't buy a second bottle when this one is all drunk up - it's a summer flavor, after all. I'm excited to see what Pearl might come out with in time for the autumn and fall holidays.

Lime Basil Vodka, at Pearl

LOVELY BLOGS: It's Only Vintage But I Like It

Here's a pretty blog with recent posts on Pyrex, vintage jugs, vintage finds from a car boot sale, vintage charity shop finds, and lovely fabric prints. Wish the blogger had an "About me" page so I could tell you more about her!


I checked "Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter" out from my local library.. and enjoyed it so much, I got a late fee for not returning it. Oops! I turned the book back in, sheepishly paid my fee, and bought the book on Amazon so I have my own copy. There are lots of pie books out there, but this one has easy to follow recipes, beautiful photography, and writing that speaks to me in a way I can understand. I've already baked way more galettes, tarts and pies than I normally would have felt confident attempting! I may have to hold off on baking for a while so my friends and family aren't overwhelmed by unsolicited pie drop-off gifts on their front doorsteps!

Pie School the Cookbook, by Kate Lebo

Pie School, on Amazon

LOVELY ENTERTAINING: Andie's Specialty Sweets

I am saving "Andie's Specialty Sweets" in my bookmark folder for Magical Entertaining. I am so impressed by the sugar confections offered here. There are vintage style edible buttons, painted chocolate autumn leaves, edible oyster shells and sand dollars, cocoa bean candy acorns, and a cute chocolate deer (I wouldn't hesitate to bite its head off, either!) They need quite a long lead time to custom produce your order, so order as early as possible. I'm trying to get their green autumn leaves in time for a party I'm throwing in mid October. This is a good resource for wedding reception planning, too, I imagine.

LOVELY SHOPS: Pictorial History

Kathleen creates lovely pillow covers out of prints inspired by vintage ephemera. There are so many things I want here!

There are intriguing Ernst Haeckel floral, botanical or insect prints here.

My favorite section is the Art Deco Flappers area.

I suspect many of you Lovely Living readers will enjoy her Romantic themed pillow covers section.


Baked Ricotta and Honey Cheesecakes with Candied Carrots, Walnuts and Thyme (Figs and Pigs)

Cauliflower Noodle Spinach Lasagna (The Iron You)

A Deliciously Simple Lemon and Raspberry Dessert (The English Kitchen)

Fig, Prosciutto and Ricotta Flatbread (We Are Not Martha)

Fig, Ricotta and Olive Oil Muffins (Eat In My Kitchen)

Fight Malaria with 1897 Quinine Gin (Cocktail Enthusiast)

Gin Made With Asparagus Launched (The Drinks Business)

Lemon and Blueberry Roulade (The Spiffy Cookie)

A Summer Luxury: Pasta with Fresh Ricotta (Seattle Times)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

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