Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Draws Near

Some of the colorful autumn trees in my neighborhood this week


Duncan Hines Cranberry Orange Bar Mix

  • Remember that the time changes this weekend. We'll turn our clocks back on Saturday evening (after we get back from our Halloween festivities!)
  • Need to do any baking for Halloween? I'm making a batch of cookies, and perhaps some cranberry orange bars, to bring to a party I'll attend.
  • If you're going to a party, do you have a hostess gift ready?
  • Do you need to do any last minute costume shopping, creation or preparations, whether for yourself or your kids?
  • Survey your Halloween candy, if you expect trick-or-treaters. Do you have enough? How about stickers, pens or small toy items for kids with allergies?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Halloween Preparations

Beeswax Jack-o-Lantern Candles, on Etsy

Tonight my favorite cousin is coming over to watch scary movies, eat a bunch of yummy appetizer type foods we've picked up at Trader Joe's, take silly witchy photos in my photography room, and consume perhaps a bit too much whiskey. We're going to different parties tomorrow, so I'm grateful we can enjoy some Halloween festivities together ahead of time.

To get ready for her visit (she'll be drinking, so will bring her little dogs and spend the night) I'll need to refreshen the guest room, sanitize the guest bathroom, vacuum and sweep the house, and set out fresh flowers. I'll also spend a bit of time in the kitchen today cleaning and tidying in case we have a drunken baking frenzy.

What Halloween preparations do you need to do? Costume readiness, baking, cleaning for a party you're hosting, frantically rushing to the store for candy for trick-or-treaters? Checking flashlight batteries in the lights you'll send with your kids? Preparing to make a special Halloween brunch or breakfast for your family tomorrow?

LOVELY BATH & BODY: Glazed Apple

I'm all pumpkin spiced out, thoroughly sick of the admittedly nice fragrances; and I'm not yet ready to start slathering on Christmasy mint, pine, or cranberry fragrances. So I'm excited to see The Body Shop's harvest-themed products for this season in between Halloween and Christmas. Glazed Apple comes in a lotion, shower gel, body butter, body polish, hand cream and more. I'm delighted that I coincidentally happened to use up my last bit of lotion last night, so I have no excuse not to indulge in one of these!

Glazed Apple bath and body products at The Body Shop

The Body Shop's Glazed Apple Products on

LOVELY BLOGS: A Year at the Table

This is the perfect blog for this time of year especially. I love seasonal cooking blogs, and this one definitely caught my attention. Currently they're posting about healthy comfort food recipes, such as Jerusalem Chicken and Couscous, Indian Grilled Chicken with Fresh Peach Relish, and their "Last Push Panzanella" dish. I love that the recipes are archived by season at the top of the blog.

LOVELY BOOKS: The Bar-Tender's Guide (1887)

I thought this charming vintage book might come in handy during the upcoming festive holiday season of parties and entertaining. "Containing receipts for mixing all kinds of Punch, Eggnog, Juleps, Smashs, Cobblers, Cocktails, Sangarees, Mulls, Toddies, Slings, Sours, Flips, and 200 Other Fancy Drinks." You can read the antique book right online in your browser.

I'm intrigued by some of the old-fashioned drinks here I'd never heard of before: Morning Glory Cocktail, Whiskey Fix, Saratoga Brace Up, Sherry Cobbler, and a Parisian Pousse Cafe. I can't wait to try all, erm, a few of these!

The Bar-Tender's Guide, at Archive.Org

LOVELY BOOKS: Shopaholic to the Rescue

If you've been reading Lovely Living for a couple of years, you likely have surmised that I have an incredible weakness for the "Shopaholic" series of books by Sophie Kinsella. They're light and fun and easy to read after a long day of staring at a computer, cleaning and trying to keep my dogs from destroying my house.

So I was overjoyed that a new one arrived on my Kindle this week. It's the continuation of the plotline from "Shopaholic to the Stars." I'm so looking forward to reading another few fun chapters in bed tonight!

Shopaholic to the Rescue on Amazon

Shopaholic to the Rescue at Barnes & Noble


Apple Yoghurt Cake with Brown Butter Glaze (A Daily Something)

Bourbon and Brown Butter Salted Pecan Ice Cream (Food Hunter's Guide)

Cranberry Pepita Pumpkin Bread (Nommable)

Cranberry Upside Down Cake (From a Writer's Kitchen)

Fig and Goat Cheese Tart (Diary of a Lifestyle Mommy)

Flaky Apple Dumplings with Salted Maple Caramel (Joy the Baker)

Goat Cheese Frosting (Spinach Tiger)

Green Chile Whipped Goat Cheese (101 Cookbooks)

Halloween Marzipan Truffles (Just About Baked)

Mushroom and Goats Cheese Bruschetta (The Interiors Addict)

Orzo with Goat Cheese and Arugula (Aggie's Kitchen)

Pear and Toasted Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette (Veg Kitchen)

Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oats (Our Eating Habits)

Roasted Butternut Squash and Browned Butter Sage Pasta (Simple Comfort Food)

Tiny Homes for the Homeless (The Atlantic)

What Do the Most Innovative Chefs Keep In Their Fridges? (Smithsonian Magazine)

Whole Wheat Bread with Hazelnuts and Cranberries (The Messy Apron)

The Wisdom of Pumpkin, Sage, and Browned Butter Cake (FoodGal)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

Lovely Living on Facebook

Lovely Living University

Monday, October 19, 2015

Quick and Easy Weeknight Cupboard Sorting

What I'm burning in my kitchen this week: Apple Slice soy candle, from Method Home

Tonight I need a bit of downtime, and I'm too restless to read (though I do love reading books). So I'm catching up on a couple shows on my DVR, in between working on a quick kitchen organization project. I want to get ready for the baking, cooking and entertaining season approaching, so I'll sort out one of my kitchen cupboards tonight.


  • I'm challenging myself to declutter 1 object from every room tonight. Take something that doesn't need to be there, and get rid of it (throw out, donate, give away, sell) or put it in its proper home. This could be as simple as recycling a magazine or catalog you've either read or not made time for.
  • Have you had a Family Night recently with your own household members? What about one with any cousins or relatives that live in your town or nearby? Perhaps look at your schedule and host one before the busy holiday season arrives?
  • I forgot to call some of my elderly relatives this weekend to see how they are doing. I'm going to try to build in some time to do that tomorrow evening before it gets too late at night to call them. I don't want to only call them when the holidays arrive - that seems ungenuine.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Kitchen Cupboard Sorting

This is one of the main cupboards in my kitchen. I store spices; mixing bowls; sandwich, garnish and cookie cutters; a small selection of my baking and cupcake decorating supplies; my two mandolines (why do I own two?) and some sushi-related items in this cupboard.

It's so hard to find anything in here, it drives me crazy. Several times I've wanted to decorate chocolates or a cupcake and not had the energy to climb up on a chair and hunt for the item on the top shelf. Also, I rearrange and realphabetize my spices every few months, but they've gotten messy again already.

I've forced myself to commit to finishing this project tonight by taking everything out and dumping it on the counter below. I don't want to go to bed tonight with this mess left here, so I'm motivated now to get this done.

I'll wipe down the shelves and dry them before replacing things. I'll be firm with myself and get rid of things I actually haven't used, or find better homes for things that don't need to be in this particular cupboard.

Alright - I'm all done. This is the "after" picture. You can see the cupboards are still really full, but I promise I threw some things away and donated some others (especially duplicates, like one of my two mandolines). I've put some of my frosting/decorating supplies in a bin so they're easier to get out when needed. I'm proud of myself for getting rid of around a dozen cookie cutters I know I won't use. (Plastic ones in the trash; metal ones in the donation box).

I'm looking forward to making dinner tomorrow night with my spices so easy to find now!

What kitchen cupboard might you be able to tackle for an hour some weeknight this week in your own home?


Bourbon purists would most likely scoff at this, but I love the idea of this seasonal apple bourbon. I probably wouldn't want a very big bottle of it. It might be a refreshing way to slowly enter into autumn. If it's as tasty as I imagine, I bet my household will drink it up long before Thanksgiving!

Jim Beam Apple, at

LOVELY BLOGS: Reluctant Entertainer

Sandy blogs to encourage reluctant entertainers to "feast on life." Currently she's written a lovely and thought provoking post on Being Grateful and Generous With Apple Walnut Cake, and I've enjoyed her recent posts on Falling in Love and Roasted Chicken with Honey Bacon Pears and Reminiscing Pumpkin Season with Apple Pumpkin Cupcakes. I know there are a million cooking blogs in the world, but I think you'll enjoy her friendly, approachable writing style and attractive photographs.

Reluctant Entertainer on Facebook

LOVELY BOOKS: Gone with the Gin

I generally cannot resist the temptation of cocktail recipe books, especially quirky or whimsical ones. "Gone with the Gin," by the author of "Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist," comes out next week and will probably arrive on my doorstep shortly thereafter. I'm excited to check out "Monty Python and the Stoli Grail," "Mrs. Stout-Fire," and "The Maraschino Candidate." This probably would be a fun coffee table book to have laying around if you have holiday guests coming over to browse through it with.

Gone with the Gin, on Amazon

Gone with the Gin, on Goodreads

LOVELY SHOPS: Chocolat by Adam Turoni

Here's an Etsy shop full of delicious and beautiful chocolates and truffles. They're made in Savannah, Georgia. There are interesting and unusual selections here, such as the Bacon Butter Pecan Toffee truffle; the Red Velvet Cake truffle; and Mint Julep truffles. Don't miss the interesting modern take on the pumpkin truffle, too.

The truffle here that sounds the most delicious to me is the Roasted Fig Cognac truffle!


Apple Butter Recipe for the Crock Pot (Amanda's Cookin')

Apple Cinnamon Walnut Butter (A Clean Bake)

Buzzy Fall Books for Every Mood (Chatelaine)

Cate Blanchett to Play Lucille Ball in New Biopic (The Guardian)

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Dark Chocolate Bark (A Clean Bake)

Guide to Winter Squash (Running to the Kitchen)

Healthy Freezer Meals and How to Preserve Them for Longer (The Healthy Maven)

Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Puree (Blogging Over Thyme)

How to Throw the Perfect Pumpkin Carving Party (Zillow)

Pulled Pork Pizza (The Optimalist Kitchen)

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes (Peachy Palate)

Pumpkin Seed Butter is the New Peanut Butter (The Kitchn)

--Copyright 2015 Lovely Living

Lovely Living on Facebook